The leering pagan god from B5

Weird red metals, dominions, immortals, hollow planets, invisible moons, and a lot of glorified magic zeppelins. It's all here.
The Book-House: Find Mystara products, Find Known World products.

Moderators: Havard, Cthulhudrew, Gawain_VIII, Seer of Yhog

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3219
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

The leering pagan god from B5

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:51 pm

At the top of this steep, rocky hillside is a hideous idol, carved from granite by some forgotten race. The statue is a fat, squatting, vaguely humanoid figure, whose face is twisted into a hideous leer.
The double doors of this building are elaborately carved with a leering face and grotesque torso. The creature’s mouth is gaping open to display row upon row of hideously pointed fangs. Two long, claw-tipped arms are carved in relief: they seem almost to be reaching out to gather in anyone standing before the doors.
This room is dominated by the familiar image of the leering pagan god, as usual carved from a block of granite. The gems that occupied its eyesockets have already been plundered.
In your opinions, who is the "leering pagan god" depicted in B5 Horror on the Hill? What forgotten race crafted the idols?

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 18029
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Havard » Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:22 pm

Great find! First Immortal who came to mind was Leptar, but I'm sure there could be others. Looking at the Module Placement thread, to see if that could help finding candidates for the race. Maybe Hobgoblins or other humanoids? Maybe dating back to the Gnoll invasions? Hutaakans is another possibility I suppose...

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Yaztromo » Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:24 am

Perhaps it could also be the god of the Temple of the Frog ;)
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

User avatar
paleologos
Bugbear
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by paleologos » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:37 am

I'm actually running this right now for my son and a couple of his friends.

I wonder whether Doug Niles was thinking about the cover to the AD&D Player's Handbook when he wrote this (the description certainly fits). Plus there's this:
At one time, two niches within the statue’s eyes held a pair of fabulous jewels, but these were looted long ago.
The "black-hearted cult" who built the monastery on the hill predate the arrival of the hobgoblin king, and were human clerics. Their last surviving member is living with the hobgoblins in the dungeon.

I searched around a bit, and found this on the Role-playing Games Stack Exchange:
In the D&D Podcast, "Dragon+: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, 2/6/18" Designer Mike Mearls confirms that the demon is in fact Moloch, an identity which was earlier based on speculation, but now made explicit.

He explains that the demon was used twice in official material beyond its original appearance on the cover of the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

There was a creature called an eidolon in 4th edition that was described as an animated statue, which used the idol design as the basis for its illustration.

Mearls goes on to relate a possibly apocryphal story based on Chris Perkins' research. Supposedly, the artist, Dave Trampier, nicknamed it "Molly". Later on, in Monster Manual II, the demon Moloch was illustrated to resemble the cover idol, so the inference was made that the idol was an image of Moloch.

Moloch is slated to appear in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes as a fully statted and described demon, and its appearance will be based on that idol.

User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Yaztromo » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:05 am

Image
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

User avatar
religon
Bugbear
Posts: 134
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:09 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by religon » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:24 pm

I read online before a user speculate that it was Tsatogghua, the Lovecraft horror. I doubt that was the intent, but it seems thematic. Niles also wrote Cult of the Reptile God about the same time. That module has a lot of elements consistent with Lovecraft.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 18029
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Havard » Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:53 pm

paleologos wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:37 am
I'm actually running this right now for my son and a couple of his friends.

I wonder whether Doug Niles was thinking about the cover to the AD&D Player's Handbook when he wrote this (the description certainly fits). Plus there's this:
At one time, two niches within the statue’s eyes held a pair of fabulous jewels, but these were looted long ago.
The "black-hearted cult" who built the monastery on the hill predate the arrival of the hobgoblin king, and were human clerics. Their last surviving member is living with the hobgoblins in the dungeon.

I searched around a bit, and found this on the Role-playing Games Stack Exchange:
In the D&D Podcast, "Dragon+: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, 2/6/18" Designer Mike Mearls confirms that the demon is in fact Moloch, an identity which was earlier based on speculation, but now made explicit.

He explains that the demon was used twice in official material beyond its original appearance on the cover of the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

There was a creature called an eidolon in 4th edition that was described as an animated statue, which used the idol design as the basis for its illustration.

Mearls goes on to relate a possibly apocryphal story based on Chris Perkins' research. Supposedly, the artist, Dave Trampier, nicknamed it "Molly". Later on, in Monster Manual II, the demon Moloch was illustrated to resemble the cover idol, so the inference was made that the idol was an image of Moloch.

Moloch is slated to appear in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes as a fully statted and described demon, and its appearance will be based on that idol.

That is fascinating. I like that Niles was inspired by the AD&D 1st Ed painting.

Not sure how I would feel about introducing Moloch into Mystara? Will have to give it some thought.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4070
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:23 pm

The physical description actually reminds me a little bit of the illustrations of Cretia from module X3: Curse of Xanathon.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image

User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Yaztromo » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:18 pm

Havard wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:53 pm
That is fascinating. I like that Niles was inspired by the AD&D 1st Ed painting.
You mean this one?
Image
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 18029
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Havard » Mon Mar 26, 2018 8:39 pm

Yes, I assume that is what Paleologos was referring to :)

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3219
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:10 pm

For whatever reason, I thought the stone demon statue with closed eyes (that turns victims to stone when it opens them) found in the City of Brass in GAZ 2 might be related somehow. The Nithians are literally a forgotten race.

User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
Posts: 3733
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Gender: male
Location: Texas, USA
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by RobJN » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:43 pm

In your opinions, who is the "leering pagan god" depicted in B5 Horror on the Hill? What forgotten race crafted the idols?
That demon statue from the front of the 1e PHB is (and was) quite literally the first thing to pop into my head when I read that description. :ugeek:

The fact that Trampier actually gave it a name makes me wonder if it wasn't inspired by an ex of some sort :x
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter

User avatar
paleologos
Bugbear
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by paleologos » Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:05 pm

I think it would be easy enough to ask Doug whether he was in fact basing the description of the idol from the cover of the PHB. I suspect he was, but it would be worth confirming.

I looked up the description of Moloch both in the Dragon magazine article he was described in, as well as historically, and it certainly fits the mood of the "black-hearted cult" who built the monastery!

I guess the question is whether that's enough to import a form of this devil into the Mystara codex of the immortals?

User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Yaztromo » Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:07 am

This can be a good real life example as well...
Image
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3219
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:58 pm

paleologos wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:05 pm
I guess the question is whether that's enough to import a form of this devil into the Mystara codex of the immortals?
Marco's methodology in the case of the more obscure references was generally to consider them aliases of better developed (or, at least, equally obscure) Immortals. For example, he decided Leptar was the same as Hircimus, who are similar enough that I think little is lost by merging them. I notice that Leptar/Hircimus's symbol is a cat o' nine tails, while Moloch in the 1st edition Monster Manual II is said to carry a six-tailed whip.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3219
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:28 pm

As an ancient god of fire, Zugzul seems to be pretty close conceptually to Moloch. Perhaps the "bloody cult of monks" who built the monastery in B5 were a group of Magian Fire Worshipers from Ylaruam, upholding the ancient worship of Zugzul under the name Molech or Moloch after being driven from their own land by Suleiman Al-Kalim.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 18029
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Havard » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:22 am

Both Zugzul and Leptar/Hircismus can be great aliases of Moloch, rip!

I guess whether you prefer having aliases or having them all as separate entities depends on how many different Immortals your campaign might need.

Whatever you decide, I think B5's details and the background provided by Paleologos does support the idea of Moloch existing either as an alias or as his own Immortal in the setting.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
paleologos
Bugbear
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by paleologos » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:19 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:23 pm
The physical description actually reminds me a little bit of the illustrations of Cretia from module X3: Curse of Xanathon.
I flipped through X3 this evening, and found that Niles also used gemstones for eyes in many of the statues of Cretia, interestingly enough!

Cretia is described as having a gorilla's body with bear claws - brings to mind the shaggy body of Leptar, again.

ripvanwormer wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:28 pm
As an ancient god of fire, Zugzul seems to be pretty close conceptually to Moloch. Perhaps the "bloody cult of monks" who built the monastery in B5 were a group of Magian Fire Worshipers from Ylaruam, upholding the ancient worship of Zugzul under the name Molech or Moloch after being driven from their own land by Suleiman Al-Kalim.
Now that you mention it, I think I drew that connection when I first ran B5 way back. The action in that campaign converged on DA4, in the end.

With all the geothermal activity under The Hill, an aspect of Zugzul is certainly a good fit.

User avatar
stebehil
Ogre
Posts: 251
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:37 pm
Gender: male
Location: Dresden, Germany

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by stebehil » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:59 am

Slightly off-topic here, but while reading the module recently, I stumbled upon the two greedy sisters (Area 13 on the hill, page 7). One is a magic-user and one a cleric. Now, when the module was written, there weren´t any immortals or churches other than law, neutrality and chaos (or something like that). When I read the entry, the question "what religion could that be?" came to my mind immediately. I don´t think that either of the Karameikan churches would seem to be fitting for this behaviour (well, at least not a natural fit). The powerful illusion hiding their home hints at something bigger at work here, maybe. Any ideas what is going on here?

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4215
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Sturm » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:15 am

The two sisters presence in the area is indeed curious, and naturally one thinks there is more behind them. I suppose they were just "helps" for the PCs in the author's intention, but I'd like to think they are two of the powerful Crone of Chaos aka Witches of Dymrak aka Nine Hags developed I believe by Havard and Agathokles from the original canon mention of the Crone of Chaos which I do not recall in which module it was?

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4215
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Sturm » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:52 am

Found out a Crone of Chaos appears in B8 Journey to the Rock but do not know if other crones/hags appear in classic adventures

User avatar
stebehil
Ogre
Posts: 251
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:37 pm
Gender: male
Location: Dresden, Germany

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by stebehil » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:03 am

I would also guess that these two are placed here simply to help the PCs for a price, given that the module is from a time when the approach to adventures was still more tactical/wargaming than story-driven, so we get them here without much of a backstory, rather as a magical shop/healing station/information center. Adding an explanation to these details is part of the fun when looking at the old stuff today IMO.

Didn´t the Crones of Chaos first appear in some british module, not necessarily a Basic one? However, as they are evil monsters, I don´t think that they would be an appropriate explanation for the sisters - unless they have a deeply hidden agenda and a reason why they act neutrally here (and would register as such if checked).

User avatar
stebehil
Ogre
Posts: 251
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:37 pm
Gender: male
Location: Dresden, Germany

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by stebehil » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:07 am

The crones might be an original design by B8s author, then. His name appears in the credits in the creature catalogue as well.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4215
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by Sturm » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:13 am

Yes but I'd like to use the Crone of Chaos/Hags more as "fairies hostile to humans" than nearly mindless evil monsters. Note also that Detect Evil only reveals creatures who wish to harm the cleric, not chaotic or evil creatures who do not wish to harm the cleric, if that what you mean with "if checked".

Noted about the Crone credits. Not sure if this was the only inspiration for Agathokles and Havard if, IIRC, imagined them as allies of Argos and followers of Orcus.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3219
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: The leering pagan god from B5

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:45 am

I believe part of the inspiration was Karelena, Solorena & Trilena, the witches from B7 Rahasia.

Post Reply

Return to “Mystara”