A Sauron, or Morgoth for Kelestia

Shaldlay's picture

Hey, I was wondering if anyone would have any ideas on how to do a Sauron or Morgoth (Morgoth as he was in the First Age before he was imprisoned at the end of the War of Wrath) for Kelestia. I loved the Mythical Medieval Fantasy angle; however, I'm not the biggest fan of the "all sides are grey" angle (not that there is a problem with that, I just like my milk-tea 'the devil is evil, go kill him' fantasy). One of the themes I love in Tolkien's and early TSR works is the idea of overshadowing Dark Lords that threaten not just this single kingdom but the whole world (or at least the continent). I like the idea of growing evil, corrupting, and poisoning like a parasite on the world itself.

That all being said, I get to my question, is there a good candidate for a Dark Lord for Lythia/Kelestia/Harn, if so, who, and if not, what are some tips on what to add?

For adding things, I've thought of taking the Awnsheghlien from the Birthright setting and making the Gorgon either the guy that started the Agrikan or Morgathian Churches.

Jan's picture

I would say that the most direct Hârnic counterpart to Sauron is Klyss the Necromancer, a demi-god, Morgath's second-in-command, and master of all undead and necromancy. On Middle-earth, Sauron is Morgoth's chief lieutenant and also sometimes referred to as "the Necromancer".

Granted, the way that Klyss interferes on Kethira is not as a great warlord, but more indirectly and mysteriously along the lines of Nyarlathotep from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. But you could create a campaign based on Klyss assembling an army of undead und human followers of Morgath (and maybe Agrik as well) to conquer a certain region (maybe all of Hârn?) or gain control of a specific powerful artifact (inspired by the One Ring?). That would be a really epic and grand-scale campaign -- but just like the heroes from Tolkien's stories, the player characters' role could not be to directly oppose Klyss, but to go on a quest that indirectly leads to the "Dark Lord's" defeat/banishment.

Alex Greene's picture

Harnworld is a scalpel. Tolkien is a sledgehammer.
Middle Earth (Midgard) has ever lacked any subtlety. Cards always laid out on the table with a heavy mailed fist, and why not? He was reading out his stories for children, and children require their stories in block images, primary colours.
When I read "defeat/banishment," my aging eyes originally parsed it as "disenfranchisement," which was hilariously misconstrued as like closing down a thousand McDonalds branches all over the globe.
I'm so tempted to drop a link to "Lucky Thirteen," wherein Oshynn of Llysgaled, grey mage in the making, goes to Golotha and meets a familiar face ...
Just remember, when a deity comes to you asking you to do them a favour, best to take their request seriously because they will owe you one ...

Jan's picture

Wonderful story, as always!

While I, too, like the "moral grayscale" of Hârn, I wouldn't necessarily say that Tolkien's works lack subtlety. Many of the characters, groups, and races to be found in the Hobbit and LotR exhibit weaknesses and personal dilemmas -- even several of the elves. Granted, mythology-wise, there is a clear source of the greatest evil in the form of Morgoth. Also, most of the other great evils of Middle-earth are directly or indirectly connected to Morgoth. So, one could certainly say that in Middle-earth, most of the greatest threats are *monocausal*. That is the case with many literary fantasy worlds.

As I understand Shaldlay, creating a campaign with a "true dark lord" is an attempt to emulate the dramaturgy of such literary epic fantasy in play. That can certainly work on Hârn! As faulty, ambivalent, "grayscale", or "realistic" individual characters or entire realms might be, in face of a common great threat to the life of many, the big picture would certainly look more black and white. So, I would say: definitely go for it! :D Klyss might be a good candidate for a main antagonist -- as might be a (new) champion of Agrik.

Shaldlay's picture

As you said, I am perfectly fine with grey; however, I still like having that mythological, fairytale-esque feeling in my games. I think using Klyss would be an interesting idea, and I would like to ask where I can find materials on him. One thing I fear with Harn is the cost of exploring the lore. The main thing that attracted me to Harn was the idea of having a "historical" version of Middle-earth and not having to worry about players being "a bull in a china shop" in terms of the lore of Middle-earth. I have a PDF of the Harn religion mod. But wanted to ask if there was anywhere else I get details.

Lastly, I wanted to ask how easily I could tie him into being an agent (or possible avatar) of Morgath. I always liked the idea of evil coming from a single place in mythologies and hoped to make Morgath into that figure. I say this as while I like dark lords; I don't like the "monster of the week" dark lords that settings like FR have. I like the idea of the dark lords being part of a larger purpose, even only around for a little bit, such as the Witch King of Angmar.

Jan's picture

For a well-founded medieval fantasy setting with some strong similarities (and even possible ties) to Middle-earth, there is probably no better choice than HârnWorld/Kethira.

Re Klyss sources: The most important canonic sources are the "Undead" and "Shadow of Bukrai" chapters in the HMG Bestiary (available in the Products section of this website). Most of that information is similar or identical to that found in the Religion module, but there are couple of additional bits that might be interesting. The Karejia module only mentions Klyss once as part of a myth about his origin, but that particular myth could be turned into a reality in your campaign.

Re Klyss as agent/avatar of Morgath: Canonically, Klyss *is* an agent of Morgath. He is both a demon prince and Morgath's chief lieutenant. While not exactly an avatar of his, he is certainly very strongly linked to him. That more or less resembles the Sauron-Morgoth relationship on Middle-earth, with Sauron also being a "paranormal" creature (a Maiar).

So, all in all, I would say that Morgath and Klyss are your best Hârnic matches for Morgoth and Sauron. If Klyss is also the best choice for a "dark lord" concept in your campaign, depends on whether you want a "paranormal" dark lord or a mortal/human one. Klyss, like Sauron, is of the first type (the aforementioned myth mentioned in the Karejia module adds another dimension to this).

Like I said before, Klyss' hitherto intereference on Kethira has been of a mysterious nature, certainly to spread evil, but not as a conquering warlord like Sauron. There could be various reasons why this changes in your campaign, though. Klyss could have a very particular goal -- like obtaining a highly powerful Earthmaster artifact --, or he could simply decide that the time has come to spread the Shadow of Bukrai on Hârn, another region, or an all of Kethira. Having a chief servant of a god trying to conquer the world would probably violate the Concordat (of the Illimitable Tome), but the implications of this could be a very interesting element in your campaign as well.

DarthLappen's picture

Hi there, Klyss being a evil overlord is a nice topic. In the german translation of the Book of Goods, the very first edition, there is more text included describing him. I didn't see this text in the english printed version form the '80s...

Second consideration is that I recently started a campaign with the Morgathians doing vile things to summon Klyss to Kethira... Anyway having contact between Morvins and Player Characters is really dangerous considering the effect of the bukrai. And the Morgathian church is for sure not as united as described if things like Balsha and Thekos can happen.

ken's picture

For my money, the big bad of Kethira is Bukrai. This thing is looking to destroy everything.