Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Totems: Bear, Part V

Bear Divinities & Folk Variations
"And when Arcturus leaves the main, to rise, A star bright shining in the evening skies; Then prune the vine."
– Hesiod

Characters can opt to substitute specific bear totem abilities, spells, side-effects, and tests for ones they would normally have, reflecting how the bear can come more to the fore with their divinity. Select or roll 1d6.

1. Thor: Berserkers (detailed in Volume I) may become more bearish, substituting some uses of their berserkergang ability to have the greater versatility (but less potency) of bear barbarian abilities. Other Norse characters may even have a bear ancestor, granting them select martial bear abilities mixed with their viking or cleric ones. 

2. Artio: Followers of this Celtic bear goddess instead more often turn into bears or have them as companions. This approach helps them to be focused with the land, favoring healing spells, though all bear abilities and spells can be used by her druids. The bear is also associated with kingship in some Celtic lands (e.g. 'Arthur'), so some Fianna and Gaesatae (see Volume II) may give up their move bonus to instead grant a +1 bonus to the morale of any who fight for them or their king.

3. Artemis: Those who call Artemis patron may tend towards bear transformation, especially for those who remain virgin in keeping with the tradition of Callisto. The same could be said for some other Greek divinities too: Zeus transformed Arcas/ Arcturus into a bear as well in order to prevent him from shooting his mother.

4. Mielikki: Similar to Artio in promoting the nurturing aspects of the bear, Mielikki's way also involves other woodland creatures. As such, her clerics might only select some bear spells of that type. Followers of other Finnish deities could do the same. In any case, they will never say their totem's actual name, instead using terms like "Pride of the Thicket", "Honey Paw", and other pleasant kennings.
5. Perun: Strong but nurturing, followers of Perun may select a variety of bear abilities and spells if they feel such an association. Being so popular, many other Slavic gods and goddesses might do some of the same, but the bear is universally respected in any case.
6. Cave Bear: The worship of the great bear is ancient, and some remaining isolated tribes of cave men continue to follow it as originally done, prizing the strength and endurance the totem gives above all others. Their approaches may be brutal and savage, but they do keep to the old ways.

Next week, our series on totems continues with the Raven!