Ysshara the Lorekeeper

Like Mirklak, Ysshara received a brief mention in the Great Grey Land of Thar booklet of Elminster’s Ecologies. With Mirklak and Vaprak, the three deities form a nice small pantheon for ogres, and I felt I needed to give considerable depth to her, so she didn’t seem like just an ogre version of the orcish Luthic. Ysshara turned into what I think is a very interesting deity, with considerable potential to make ogres into a more well-rounded race in any AD&D campaign.

Ysshara (PDF Version)
(The Lorekeeper, the Restorer, the Teller of Tales)
Demipower of the Abyss, NE

Portfolio:  Healing, heroic deeds, history, genealogy
Aliases:  None
Domain Name:  524th Layer/Shatterstone (Ysshara’s Den)
Superior:  Vaprak
Allies:  Baba Yaga, Mirklak
Foes:  Luthic, Stalker, the orcish pantheon, the goblin pantheon, Vaprak’s foes
Symbol:  A club overlaid on a broken shield
Wor. Align.:  LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Ysshara (EE-shaar-ah) serves Vaprak by maintaining the health and vitality of the ogrish race. She is said to know the history of every ogre, and ensures that those of proper bloodlines rule and guides them to take mates who keep the bloodlines strong and healthy. She is also said to inspire young ogres to bravery and heroics by sending dreams of the great ogre heroes of old. Finally, her herb-lore is legendary amongst ogres, and she is said to have granted the first ogre shamans all her knowledge in that field.

Not much is known about Ysshara’s origins, although she is known to be a very old deity. Depictions of her can be found in the ruins of the oldest ogrish kingdoms. Her exact relation with Vaprak is unknown, as myths portray her in various roles, sometimes wife, sometimes sister, and sometimes daughter; the only role in which she is never portrayed is his mother. Similarly, she is never portrayed as the mother of the ogre races, even when Vaprak is called their father and she his wife. Few stories revolve around her directly, but she often plays a part in Vaprak’s tales. She is often portrayed in the tales of heroic ogres, either as their patron or inspiration, or as a sort of narrator. Those stories that do revolve around her are usually offered as the origins of knowledge and herbs, and in fact, many medicinal herbs bear her name in the ogrish tongue.

Ysshara has little interest in the activities of deities outside of the small pantheon of ogre deities; she generally dislikes those Vaprak hates and works with those he calls allies. She reserves significant animosity for two deities in particular, however. Ysshara and Luthic, the orcish goddess of caves and healing, have had a number of confrontations over the years. Ysshara despises the orcish goddess for taking prime living space for orcs, and healing those orcs injured in clashes between orcs and ogres. The other god Ysshara comes into conflict with is Stalker, who is the closest thing ogres have to a native death god, as the Cold Death preys upon them almost as much as he does the goblinoid races. While not powerful enough to confront him herself, she works to stymie his activities towards ogres, often by attempting to distract him with weaker races, and if necessary calling upon Vaprak or Mirklak to turn his attentions away directly. Some non-ogrish legends portray her as connected in some way to Baba Yaga and Cegilune, but her true relationship with those two is unknown, although she does seem to have a long-standing alliance with Baba Yaga.

Unusually for a demipower, Ysshara is able to send her avatar to the Prime Material plane unaided. Sages of the divine in Sigil speculate this is because she was once more powerful, and the ability is the last vestige of her former status. Regardless of the reasons, she is very active on the Prime Material plane. She does not act openly, preferring to masquerade as an old hermetic ogress, seeking out ogres with heroic or leadership potential and offering cryptic prophecies and information to inspire them to greatness. Such excursions are also an opportunity for her to partake in her favorite foods, namely the flesh of pregnant female humans, demihumans, and non-ogrish humanoids. These activities often leave a mark on the myths and folklore of those races she comes in contact with, leading to many stories of ogresses lurking in the untamed wilds and preying upon female travelers.

Ysshara’s Avatar Cleric 20, Diviner 16)
Ysshara appears as a large ogre female with pale violet skin and dark green hair. She wears a robe of animal hides upon which are stitched symbols and images representing various animals and monsters. Dangling from the fringes of the robe are small bones, teeth, horns, ears, and other such fetishes from a wide variety of creatures, including humanoids. She wears a hooded cloak made from the hide and feathers of an enormous peryton, with the beast’s head and antlers forming the hood. She casts spells from the schools of abjuration, divination, illusion/phantasm, and necromancy and the schools of all, combat, divination, healing, necromantic, and protection.

AC 2; MV 12; HP 150; THAC0 8; #AT 1
Dmg 2d6+9 (great club +2, +6 Str) or 2d4+9 (knife of wounding +3, +6 Str)
MR 20%; SZ L (12 feet tall)
Str 18/00, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 17, Wis 17, Cha 16
Spells P: 11/11/10/8/7/5/2, W: 6/6/6/6/6/4/3/2*
Saves PPDM 2; RSW 5; PP 5; BW 8; Sp 6
* Numbers assume one extra divination spell per spell level.

Special Att/Def:Ysshara prefers to use her illusionary and abjuration magic to avoid physical combat, but if forced to defend herself, she wields a simple great club +2 known as Silencer and a large knife of wounding +3 known as Livercutter. She can inspire an ogre to great feats of bravery and combat ability once per turn; ogres are affected as if by a potion of super-heroism (regardless of class or lack thereof), and they need never check for morale.

By concentrating, Ysshara can maintain any divination spell she can cast for as long as she desires, regardless of the normal duration. Any priest spell from the healing sphere she casts will always have the maximum effect. At a touch, she knows the history of any object and the lineage of any creature if she desires. Once per day she can summon 2d6 perytons to serve her.

Ysshara is immune to nonmagical weapons, as well as all cause wounds spells. No normal or giant animal will attack her, nor will monstrous beasts native to the Prime Material plane unless magically compelled or attacked by her first.

Other Manifestations
Ysshara’s manifestations typically take one of two forms. In the first form, she empowers a follower to great feats of strength and ability; such power duplicates the spell Ysshara’s inspiration. Those affected by this manifestation shine with a dull white aura, similar to faerie fire, but without that spell’s effects. In Ysshara’s second manifestation, she grants a single follower the ability to cure wounds (light or moderate are most common, but greater abilities are sometimes granted) or lay on hands as a paladin. Such abilities can be used once per day for as long as Ysshara desires it, but one week or one month is typical. Often times such abilities are conditioned upon a stricture by the goddess, such as requiring the follower to stay near a great chieftain or accompany an ogre warrior on a quest. Regardless of the manifestation, followers so affected cast the shadow of a peryton.

Ysshara communicates often with her priests through dreams. These dreams place the priest in a tale or parable which holds some significance to a situation faced by the tribe, although how it relates must be interpreted. Dreams may also reveal truths about the history of a specific ogre or item, and may contain a message the must be passed on to a specific warrior about a quest or task he must undertake.

Ysshara is served by perytons and all manner of beasts featured in ogre myths and legends. She shows her favor through the discovery of ancient items of ogrish manufacture, or items made by other races that depict ogres, as well as antlered deer skulls, blackish-green feathers, and green and black tourmalines. She expresses her displeasure through the discovery of items that depict other races in victory over ogres, as well as items that normally indicate her favor which crumble to dust at a touch.

The Church
Clergy:                      Clerics, specialty priests, shamans
Clergy’s Align.:      LE, NE, CE
Turn Undead:           C: No, SP: No, Sha: No
Cmnd. Undead:         C: Yes, SP: No, Sha: No

All clerics and specialty priests of Ysshara receive religion (high ogrish) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency.

Ysshara’s clergy is only well known in large ogre kingdoms or remnant populations of such kingdoms, as well as ogre magi clans. Within such groups they are valued highly for their abilities to return ogre warriors to battle and inspire them to greatness. They maintain the health of their community and preserve the oral traditions and history of the local ogres. They recite stories to guide and teach young ogres, inspiring them to greatness over rivals and enemies, and impress the inherent superiority of the ogrish races upon all members of the tribe.

The priesthood of Ysshara maintains simple shrines only, located within temples of Vaprak or near shrines to the Destroyer. Such shrines are simple affairs, with a small altar beneath totemic symbols of their community. They may also contain relics of past victories of ogres over their enemies, such as banners, shields, or holy objects from defeated forces.

Novices of Ysshara are known as Morkar, which roughly means “the unlearned.” Full priests are known as Vatikar, a term that toughly translates to “divinely inspired lorekeeper.” Specialty priests are called yrakutars, which means “speakers of knowledge.” The hierarchy of her clergy is loose, and varies from tribe to tribe. Titles usually incorporate elements of ogrish oral history, such as Teller of the Orc Tale, Teller of the Mammoth Tale, Teller of Vaprak’s Victory Over the Goblins, etc. The vast majority of Ysshara’s clergy are female (92%), and it is fairly evenly divided between shamans (40%), clerics (30%), and specialty priests (30%). The priesthood consists of ogres (65%), ogre magi (20%), half-ogres (6%) ogrillons (5%), and merrow (4%).

Dogma: Inspire the younger generations to perform great deeds by reminding them of the tribe’s heroes. Injured ogres cannot continue the struggle against the tribe’s foes; heal them so they can destroy their enemies. Remember the bloodlines of ogres so only the worthy rule.

Day-to-Day Activities: Priests of Ysshara spend most of their days tending to the young and injured of the tribe. They teach the next generation about the history of the tribe, focusing on the great deeds and great ogres of the past in the hopes of inspiring them to similar heights. They teach those of noble or heroic blood that their natural right is to rule their fellows and all the lesser creatures, while teaching the unblooded that their natural place is to serve and fight for the tribal leaders. Injured and sick ogres are usually in the care of the Yssharan clergy, with priority given to the leaders, nobles, and warriors over the old, females, young, and non-combatant males. They are called upon to judge the blood of the tribe’s ogres in order to determine their placement in the tribal hierarchy or worthiness to rule, and they usually keep mental records of the parentage of the tribes nobles. Finally, they often entertain the tribe with stories and myths of the tribe during celebrations or evening meals and gatherings.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Ysshara’s clergy celebrate events and dates surrounding the tribe’s mythic or legendary heroes, often in concert with the priesthood of Mirklak. The Yssharan priesthood’s roles in these events often include a ritualistic retelling or re-enacting of the hero’s deeds with an aim of inspiring young ogres to the same level of greatness.

Major Centers of Worship: Sites considered holy to Ysshara are places of heroic deeds by ogres, such as a pass where a single ogre held off a large horde of orcs, or a site where an ogre champion slew a human warlord in single combat. Near such sites, Yssharan clergy set up small shrines and make yearly pilgrimages to worship at them.

Affiliated Orders: Ysshara’s priesthood maintains no military orders. Sometimes small groups of ogre warriors form with the intent of performing heroic deeds in her honor, such as hunting down powerful monsters in their lairs or defeating enemy goblinoid tribes, but most such groups are short lived and not officially sponsored by her priests.

Priestly Vestments: When performing their official duties, the clergy of Ysshara wear elaborate robes and headdresses that represent animals or monsters from local mythology, usually ones that are powerful and dangerous. Robes and headdresses representing mammoths, giant elk, dragons, and chimerae are common. The holy symbol of the priesthood varies from tribe to tribe, but is usually some sort of tooth, tusk, or horn of a large predatory or dangerous creature.

Adventuring Garb: Ysshara’s priesthood prefers to wear no armor, as they typically keep away from battles. If battle is unavoidable, they prefer light armor such as leather or hide, and utilize clubs or heavy maces.

Specialty Priests (Yrakutars)
Requirements:          Wisdom 10, Charisma 12
Prime Req.:                Wisdom, Charisma
Alignment:                NE, CE
Weapons:                   Any bludgeoning (wholly type B) weapons, knives
Armor:                       Any non-metallic up to hide, no shields
Major Spheres:         All, charm, creation, divination, guardian, healing, summoning, wards
Minor Spheres:         Elemental, necromantic, protection
Magical Items:         Same as clerics
Req. Profs:                Healing
Bonus Profs:             Herbalism, local history

  • While most yrakutars are ogres or ogre magi, merrow, half-ogres, and ogrillons may all become yrakutars.
  • Yrakutars are not allowed to multiclass.
  • Healing and curing spells cast by yrakutars are more effective on a tribe’s warriors, and less effective on the tribe’s non-combatants. All cure wounds spells cast by an yrakutar upon tribal warriors (generally ogres of the warrior class and unclassed adult male ogres in their prime) grants one additional hit point of healing per die. When cast upon non-combatants (females, young, elderly, etc.), all cure wounds spells heal one fewer hit point per die, to a minimum of 1. Spells such as cure disease and heal only have a 70% chance of working on non-combatant ogres. Yrakutars may never cast healing or curing spells upon enemies or those without ogrish blood.
  • Once per week, yrakutars can cast improved phantasmal force (as the 2nd-level wizard spell). The illusion created from this ability can only take the form of an element from their tribe’s mythic history. At 5th level, this ability can be used once per day.
  • At 3rd level, yrakutars can cast know ancestor or cure light wounds or sanctuary (as the 1st-level priest spells) once per day.
  • At 5th level, yrakutars can cast speak with dead (as the 3rd-level priest spell) or protection from normal missiles (as the 3rd-level wizard spell). The latter spell can only be cast on others.
  • At 7th level, yrakutars can cast Ysshara’s inspiration (as the 3rd-level priest spell) or cure serious wounds (as the 4th-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 9th level, yrakutars can brew two potions of invulnerability per year. The brewing takes a full week; any breaks other than eating or sleeping ruins the process. Once one potion has been brewed, the yrakutar must wait at least three months before starting on the second one; if the first one has not been used by the time the second one is complete, it loses its magic entirely.
  • At 12th level, yrakutars can cast legend lore (as the 6th-level wizard spell) or heal (as the 6th-level priest spell) once per week.

Yssharan Spells
1st Level
Know Ancestor (Pr 1; Divination)
Sphere:                    Divination
Range:                     0
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 Special
Casting Time:          1 rd.
Area of Effect:         Special
Saving Throw:        None

By means of this spell, the priest may discern whether a living individual is descended from a specific ancestor. Typically this is used to verify rights of inheritance and claims of bloodlines, but it can also be used to verify parentage if a child is suspected of being illegitimate. This spell can only divine back five generations at most, so priests who use this spell frequently often maintain genealogies in order to verify relation to more distant ancestors by using known descendants. This spell does not detail all parents between the living individual and the specified ancestor; instead the priest is informed of the relationship with a simple yes or no answer. The priest is able to check for one ancestor for every level attained, to a maximum of five.

The material components for this spell are ten drops of blood from the creature whose ancestors are to be divined, which are mixed into a bowl of steaming water.

3rd Level
Ysshara’s Inspiration (Pr 3; Alteration)
Sphere:                    Combat
Range:                     Touch
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 1 rd./level
Casting Time:          1 rd.
Area of Effect:         1 creature
Saving Throw:        None

This spell temporarily enhances the combat abilities and life energy of a single warrior with ogrish blood. When cast upon an ogre fighter (including ogre magi, merrow, half-ogres, and ogrillons) of less than 7th level, this spell grants 1d3 extra levels, including the appropriate THAC0 and all attendant abilities, hit points, and saving throws. When cast upon an unclassed ogre, the spell grants 1d3+1 hit dice, including the appropriate THAC0, hit points, and saving throws.

Any damage the ogre sustains while under the influence of Ysshara’s inspiration is taken from his bonus hit points first. The bonus hit points vanish at the end of the spell, and the ogre returns to his own true level or hit dice. If the ogre is struck by an energy draining attack while the spell is in effect, bestowed levels and their bonus hit points are negated first.

The material component for this spell is a beverage concoction that includes powdered bull’s horn; the other ingredients are unimportant to the spell, but they must be flavorful and highly desired (rare herbs, mint leaves, etc.). The preparation requires an hour, but the beverage can be stored for up to a week. The recipient of the spell must drink the beverage while the priest regales them with a tale of heroics during the actual casting of the spell.


2 Responses to Ysshara the Lorekeeper

  1. Florian says:

    Typo: “Once per week, yrakutars can cast improved phantasmal force (as the 2nd-level wizard spell) once per week”
    – thanks for your work

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