Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gods of Tel-Avi: The Nowhere Man

Much of the world of Tel-Avi was the result of long hours with nothing to do but intospect after the birth of my children. The religious of the world, especially, tend to have been inspired by songs I listened to while rocking babies to sleep (my son was not a good sleeper). Many of the gods have underlying concepts of doubt, disbelief, and the modern jackassery inherent in having only limited knowledge of a topic but not wanting to admit it. The nominal "head" of the pantheon, in particular, was inspired by two songs: Nowhere Man by the Beatles and Nothingman by Perl Jam.


The Nowhere Man:
He’s a real nowhere man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.

Doesn’t have a point of view,
Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere Man please listen,
You don’t know what you’re missing,
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command!

The “Nothingman” or “Nowhere Man” is at once the chief deity of the Seltaeb pantheon, and the least worshiped of their gods. Even his priests are unsure of the nature of their god or where their spells come from, for the chief precept of the religion is the non-existence of their god.

According to Seltaeb legend, the Nowhere Man was once the king of the Seltaeb gods, a god of Time, Seasons, and Storms and creator of Tel-Avi. Sometime between the beginning of time and the present, though, this great deity lost interest not only in his creation but also in himself. The god simply vanished, and no one, not even he, knows where he went. Some claim that he wanders through the mortal world, lost in thoughts to profound to be distracted from. Others claim that he entered the void beyond the stars, seeking new worlds to form.

Regardless of the cause, the end result is that the Nowhere Man is nowhere to be found. He never responds to attempts to contact him, and no being mortal or immortal knows what he looks like. All attempts to scry on him (even by other gods) reveals only a dark emptiness.

While no-one knows the whereabouts of the Nowhere Man, scholars of the planes speak of an area beyond the edge of the Spiritual Desert where the brilliant desert vanishes into darkness. Few have ever willingly wandered into this place, and none have returned to speak of what might lie beyond the darkness. Still, many have speculated that this darkness is the true “Nowhere Land”, the realm of the missing god from which not even he can escape.

The Nowhere man is now said to rule over the concepts of loss, forgetfulness, emptiness, and despair. Even those who do not worship him will often invoke his name when they become lost or fail to remember something, or else when there is something they wish to forget (such as the death of a loved one).

Aphorisms:

  • “He who forgets will be destined to remember.”
  • “Wherever you are, there you are.”
  • “I know I was born and I know that I’ll die, the in between is mine.”
  • “Sorrow grows bigger when the sorrow’s denied.”


Symbol: Unsurprising for worshipers of a god that they claim does not exist, the servants of the Nowhere Man use no symbols. When a divine focus is called upon by a priest’s spell, the priests’ of the Nowhere Man simply use an empty hand as their focus. Followers of the Nowhere Man identify and greet each other by raising both hands, palms outward, to show that nothing is there.

Walkabout: While many priests and other worshipers of the Nowhere Man may settle towns as other people, especially in the harsh wilderness of Seltaeb, more are to be found on a “walkabout”. A walkabout occurs when a follower of the Nowhere Man leaves his home, family, and work, often suddenly, to go out and “lose himself”. Many such worshipers spend many years, or even their entire lives on a walkabout. The purpose of the walkabout is to seek a greater closeness with their lord by making themselves lost. The worshiper will wander, seemingly at random, with the intent of finding a place where they are truly lost (with no knowledge of their location or how to return home). Unsurprisingly, many followers of the Nowhere Man take up the adventuring life, and can often be found delving into deep caverns and forgotten cities as part of their wanderings.

Prayer: The Nowhere Man’s religion does not dictate any particular prayers or prayer times for their faithful. Most prayer among the faithful takes the form of a short invocation of the god’s name when they lose or forget something, or a brief song of praise when lost things are found. Priests of the Nowhere Man may pray to regain their spells at any time, though the prayer must be made in a “hidden place” (often a closet, secret room, or similar space set aside for this purpose).

The Afterlife: Just as their god vanished into nothing, so do the worshipers of the Nowhere Man believe that they too will vanish upon death. After life is only void, so they claim, a dark peace that is not to be feared. Burial rights vary from church to church, though typically bodies are cast into deep pits or burried in dark catacombs beneath the earth. Markers are never left to identify the locations of these graves, as the faithful seek to treat the dead as if they had never existed.

Alignments: The Nowhere Man is said to be True Neutral, for that which does not exist cannot have an opinion or point-of-view. His priests and worshipers must be at least partly neutral, and most seek to embody the pure neutrality of “He who does not exist”.

Races: All races are represented among the Nowhere Man’s faith. A large number of Gnomes especially tend to be followers of the Nowhere Man, finding a kinship with the god in their lack of a society, homeland, or future as a race.

Classes: The Nowhere Man’s faith includes an equal number of Clerics, Druids, and Oracles. The noncommittal attitude of the religion attracts very few militant types, though occasionally an Inquisitor will emerge from the faithful, intent on finding the ancient secrets of their disappeared lord, or, for some less ethical ones, to extend his non-existence to their personal enemies.

Favored Weapons: Prior to his disappearance, the Nowhere Man was said to wield a bolt of lightning in battle. Clerics and Inquisitors of the Nowhere Man take the javelin or pilum as their chosen weapons.

Unique Magic: Regardless of class, all spellcasting worshipers of the Nowhere Man can cast memory lapse as a 1st-level spell, affecting up to one target per two caster levels. This spell is added to their class spell list and to their spells known or spellbook (if appropriate). In addition, any spell or effect that causes a creature or object to become invisible has its duration increased by 50% when cast by a follower of the Nowhere Man.

Once divided…nothing left to subtract…
Some words when spoken…can’t be taken back…
Walks on his own…with thoughts he can’t help thinking…
Future’s above…but in the past he’s slow and sinking…
Caught a bolt ‘a lightnin’…cursed the day he let it go…

She once believed…in every story he had to tell…
One day she stiffened…took the other side…
Empty stares…from each corner of a shared prison cell…
One just escapes…one’s left inside the well…
And he who forgets…will be destined to remember…