|the Fist of Oppression, Tyrant of the Black Staff
|A Panopticon of Gears
|A Black Staff
|Tyranny, subjugation, dread, cruelty, bureaucracy, attrition
|Watchers, spies, petty officials, legal enforcers, authoritarians
The shuddeni god of tyranny, Rveyelhi seeks to rule with an iron fist.
While the deep histories of the shuddeni remain shrouded from the world at large, the rise of Rveyelhi's faithful is easily traced to a singular period in time: the occupation of Var Bandor during the War of Night. While the forces of the Arhakhla were well-suited to seizing the city, they were less equipped to subjugate the population. Surviving records indicate that wholesale slaughter of its inhabitants could not be considered; too many of their resources were devoted to outward campaigns. However, something had to be done to keep the remaining subjects of New Yithoul in line. Otherwise, the city could never serve as a proper base of operations on the surface.
The solution came from a commander known only as Rveyelhi, of no known clan. His origins are a mystery; much like his near-contemporary Arkhural, period scholars posit a variety of theories: that he was merely a powerful scholar of Void who later ascended, or that he was a divine entity born into flesh for a specific purpose, are among the most popular. Regardless, unlike Arkhural, meticulous records of Rveyelhi's actions while apparently mortal remain to this day, and are considered by His faithful to be sacred religious texts.
Rveyelhi implemented a system of organization and an efficient methodology for dealing with the population which were as brutally effective as they were ingenious. Shuddeni overseers were set to indigenous groups with clear delineations of responsibilities, while the inhabitants of New Yithoul were presented with strict codes of conduct. Additionally, a reward system was established, offering great and public benefits to those who assisted their new foreign masters. It particularly emphasized the need to ferret out those who dared to plot against the shuddeni. However, these codes also normalized a return of trade and limited religious practices. After the horrors of the recent past, this arrangement allowed survivors a chance to return to a semblance their former lives. As such, a surprising number of inhabitants willingly collaborated with the shuddeni. The regime was undeniably brutal, painting the city’s famous central square with the blood of countless executions. However, the willingness of its citizens to sacrifice others for their own security created a lasting symbiosis. With New Yithoul under control, the shuddeni were able to dabble in further expansion, while their subjects assisted in their own oppression.
This had a number of far-reaching consequences in both Var Bandor and the world at large, even as the shuddeni lost the War of Night. Var Bandor’s modern bureaucratic government has roots in Rveyelhi's methods, and his faithful claim credit for the modernization of the reward system used by the Guardians of Law. Of Rveyelhi's personal fate little is known; he vanishes from history with the close of the War. Shortly thereafter, records speak of his lieutenants and particularly sterling collaborators being marked with his personal sigil– that of the black staff– strongly suggesting that he went to take his place amongst the divine.
Goals and Methods
Where many deities concern themselves with broad existential concerns and moral philosophy, Rveyelhi’s mandate is one of societal control, and he views power in terms of domination and subjugation. In practice, He is by far the most relentlessly individualistic of the lawful deities– under Rveyelhi’s systems, one only distinguishes oneself by grinding down others. This may be in the more literal sense of physical force, but more typically there is an encouragement to ferret out flaws in one’s fellows and exploit them. Under Rveyelhi’s societies, every person is a potential enemy, and every person is united under the purpose of seeking out those internal enemies.
There must always be an enemy in order for His direction to be feasible, and so if there is not an obvious one (Raiders and Champions both are frequent targets for adventurers) one must be created. This need not be based on any real criteria so long as a target can be singled out and and in some way named chaotic. Chaos is an omnipresent threat and must be wiped from the face of Avendar. It is a powerful, all-consuming threat to orderly way of life, and yet its proponents are fools, incompetents; the tack will change depending on context, sometimes even within the same conversation.
Unlike many deities, Rveyelhi’s followers strictly organize into clear groups. With one exception, these are no mere informal structures or loose bands; they have absolute heirarchies which may not be broken. These groups include, but are not limited to:
The Blackened Hand
- "The dogs leave by the gate, Archmage. Come."
Most open followers of Rveyelhi disdain subtlety, but are more than willing to use it. Rather than plot or scheme, the Blackened Hand seek allies of convenience. Adventurers are easily mobilized against a perceived threat, and the Hand will speak loudly of the need to crush them. The Hand gain support amongst those who share common enemies, or those for whom an orderly enemy is preferable to an unpredictable one. Most of the Blackened Hand will find a home amongst the Guardian house, which only makes it easier for them to curry favour. By the time their sometime allies are ready to turn, the follower of the Hand will have become powerful enough through the association to deter betrayal. Earth scholars have been the most traditional members of this sect, but it also appeals to fighters and those more able to make themselves useful to others than able to stand on their own.
The Naidji Kur
- "Yes, I saw her attack the guild-guard. Of course I have another witness."
The Naidji Kur represent a shuddeni concept of law enforcement: one brought about through perpetual observation. Relatively few people will cause disorder if they are in danger of being caught, and those few are easier to crush individually when so divided. The secret to their effectiveness lies in the breadth of their methodology; they are no mere secret police force. Some do operate that way, but others present themselves openly as a perpetual reminder of their threat, and others speak of the enemies the Naidji Kur guard against. In the more orderly shuddeni cities, their omnipresence is seen as critical to the way of life, according to them at least. Adventurers might join the Guardians and work openly; others have been known to stay on the outside and serve as informants. Some attempt to infiltrate the other Great Houses, but deific support makes this an unwise choice. Watchers are the most common agents of the Naidji Kur– indeed some name the Office of Records as one of their arms. Other rogues mesh well also, and psionicists can always put their talents to such purposes.
- "We cannot allow this blight to continue. I urge you to vote for this measure, for the sake of us all."
Not all who serve Rveyelhi's interests realize they do so. Many people will make calls for tyrannical rule while claiming to follow the tenets of other deities– or even no god at all. Such people will not receive the recognition they so deeply desire from the gods they choose to follow, and their resentment will only grow over time. They will demand their enemies be utterly subjugated, stripped to ruins far beyond mere defeat, as an example to others. They will make common cause with mortal (and moral) enemies in the name of such acts. Alternatively, they will equate disparate enemies in the name of painting all with the same brush, simply to win rhetorical battles. Rveyelhi does not brand such unwitting collaborators, and not all who act in such a manner empower him. However, the accusations and fears that 'secret' Rveyelhi followers are everywhere always do.
Followers of Rveyelhi insinuate themselves into organizations and make themselves invaluable to their day to day function, bringing a marked increase in efficiency. Few operate alone, even as they undermine their compatriots. Several of the most effective eras of Guardian dominance have been marked by the rise of Rveyelhi's followers; detractors claim their “success” predicated the Fourth Kankoran War. In Earendam, many whisper that Saevan is the true ruler of the city, though only behind closed doors. Even if this is so, Vaelania's rule has been one of the most prosperous and peaceful the city has ever known. Civil unrest is nearly unheard of, and few recall that there ever was a law against the child of one Patrician succeeding them. For many, the cost of Rveyelhi's influence is perceived as 'worth it', and by this, His followers prosper.
Among adventurers, Rveyelhi draws earth magi more interested in power than the sphere’s artistry, psionicists and assassins who seek a more practical purpose to their skills, and fighters who favour the military structure. Despite the historical precedence, Void magi do poorly with Rveyelhi; His nature does not mesh well with their academic bent or rhetorical flexibility. House Guardian is the only one that truly tolerates Rveyelhi followers.
Rveyelhi marks His chosen with His personal sigil, that of the Black Staff.
Rveyelhi disdains deific allies, and few have any fondness for Him. Lawful gods are the most tolerant of Him, finding a distasteful order preferable to none at all, but even they mistrust Him. Rveyelhi revels in this tolerance: much as Jalassa's faith teaches that She inevitably draws people to enlightenment by Her influence, so too does Rveyelhi's nature draw people to tyranny. Many a seed of oppression has been planted by Iandir's faithful consistently being unwilling to speak out against Rveyelhian influence. Among other evil gods, there is little love lost; while Lilune's expansionist and colonialist nature is not inherently incompatible, Her faithful are far too erratic to be of much use. Finding art to be a frequent outlet for rebellious notions, He despises Aeolis and Serachel with equal fervor, though Serachelians find Rveyelhi to offer a convenient shadow in which to walk. Though there is a personal grudge against Arkhural in their mutual war for the shuddeni soul, Rveyelhi largely lumps all chaotic opposition as one. All is anathema to Him, and all offer the most direct opposition to Him. In particular Rystaia, Girikha, and Nariel frequently ally against Him, finding Him uniquely repellent to each of their ideologies. The danger they present to Him is one and the same: they deny Him His place to operate through swift and immediate action and permit no negotiation.