Chitza-Atlan, the Guardian of the Gateway to the Underworld

The most unusual centaur deity is Chitza-Atlan, an interloping undead deity who is said to guard the passage to the underworld and the afterlife.  Little is known of his origins, but he has connections with the lord and lady of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli and Mictanchihuatl, and is known to the Olman peoples of Oerth.

Chitza-Atlan (PDF Version)
(The Guardian of the Gateway to the Underworld, the Death Guard, the Mummified Guardian)
Lesser Power of Gehenna, LE

Portfolio:                 Death, the dead, undead, guarding the underworld, mummies, centaur death practices, nuckalavee
Aliases:                     None
Domain Name:           Mungoth/Gateway to the Underworld
Superior:                   None
Allies:                       Mictlantecuhtli, Mictanchihuatl
Foes:                           Brilros, Fanthros, Kheiron, Linroth, Skerrit
Symbol:                     Mummified centaur
Wor. Align.:             LE, NE, CE

Chitza-Atlan (sheet-ZAH ah-TLAHN), is the desiccated and mummified Guardian to the Gateway of the Underworld in centaur mythology. He is a dark interloper who has established himself as the one who controls which spirits are allowed past him, both into the underworld and back out again. In this role, he guards both the tombs and cemeteries of centaurs to ensure the sanctity of their corpses, and wields power over the undead who threaten the living.

Little is known about the origin of Chitza-Atlan, although he is clearly an interloper, related in no way to Skerrit, Naharra and Fanthros, or the Olympian centaurs. His role as the guardian of the gates to the underworld has led many sages to speculate on his origin as a former servant of other powers of death, and his close alliance with the lord and lady of Mictlan offers strong evidence of an origin with them. In fact, it is said the only way for those who are not spirits of the dead to gain access to and exit from the nine levels of Mictlan is through the gateway that he guards in Gehenna. How Chitza-Atlan gained true divinity is unknown, but it appears his centaurine form is his true shape since he has never been known to appear in any other guise. At some point, he either discovered, or was discovered by centaurs, and found their lack of a deity of death a perfect place to establish himself, with Skerrit being unable or unwilling to stop his interloping on the pantheon.

Chita-Atlan’s external origins can be seen in centaur myth through the utter lack of stories relating him to the creation of their race, or the creation of their world. There is infrequent mention of Chitza-Atlan interacting with the other deities, although it appears some myths have been reworked to include him. One thing he is frequently credited with, however, is the creation of the nuckalavee, horrid amphibious relatives of centaurs, although sages speculate this is still a late addition to centaur canon, pointing to faerie myths relating their creation to the Queen of Air and Darkness. In addition, like the Olympian centaur powers, the Mummified Guardian does not answer to Skerrit as a superior power, but unlike those other powers he does not respect the Forrester as an ally and friend. Chita-Atlan does not appear to have designs on the pantheon’s leadership, however, and as much as the other gods seek to end his creation of undead, he does not seek out confrontation with them. As far as can be determined, Chitza-Atlan is content with his role as guardian of the dead and their burial places.

Chita-Atlan’s realm on Gehenna is a dreary place full of undead. It is one of the only places that is completely free of the ashen snow and other natural hazards of the plane, but this is little comfort to visitors, who are quickly torn apart by the wandering undead. Situated in a narrow valley in the mountains, the Gateway itself is a natural arch that divides the realm in half, and standing beneath it at all times is Chitza-Atlan himself. A well-kept secret about the realm is that any who can pass through the Gateway can easily find passage to virtually any realm of the dead known in the lower planes, as well as each layer of Baator. Crossing this threshold is a monumental task, however, for the Mummified Guardian takes his duties very seriously and is quick to strike down those who offer bribes; although it is said even he has his price.

Chitza-Atlan is quite active on the Prime Material Plane, but he interferes little in the works of other powers. His actions consist primarily of creating and instructing undead guardians for tombs, barrows, and cemeteries, and direct conflict with him is likely to only arise should these activities be interfered with. He seems to care little for what his mortal followers do with the power he grants them, as his hold on them is only truly in place once they die, at which point he causes many to reanimate as undead guardians, sending them off to locations he wishes them to guard.

Chitza-Atlan’s Avatar (Cleric 29, Necromancer 22)
Chita-Atlan appears as a desiccated corpse of a centaur with dried skin the texture of paper and dyed jade-green. The wispy remains of a long mane of black hair can be seen falling down his back. Two glowing red points of light can be seen in the empty pits where his eyes should be. He wears ceremonial armor of lacquered leather, copper jewelry, and a large feathered headdress. He draws his spells from the spheres of all, astral, charm, combat, divination, elemental earth, guardian, healing (reversed only), necromantic, time, travelers, and wards, as well as the schools of abjuration, conjuration/summoning, divination, invocation/evocation, necromancy, and alteration.

AC −1; MV 18; HP 166; THAC0 2; #AT 3
Dmg 2d6/2d6 (hooves) / 2d6+6 (long spear +4, Str)
MR 35%; SZ H (12 feet tall)
Str 18, Dex 13, Con 22, Int 17, Wis 19, Cha 7
Spells P: 12/11/11/10/9/9/7, W: 6/6/6/6/6/6/5/5/4*
Saves PPDM 2, RSW 3, PP 5, BW 7, Sp 4
* Numbers assume one extra necromancy spell per spell level.

Special Att/Def: In battle, Chitza-Atlan wields Death’s Door, a long spear +4 that animates any creature it slays as a corporeal undead creature if he wishes it. Such undead serve the Mummified Guardian unconditionally. Against undead, the spear acts as a mace of disruption. In addition to his spear, Chitza-Atlan can strike with his fore hooves or kick with his back hooves, but he can’t attack with both in the same round. Any creature struck by his hooves is immediately infected by an advanced form of mummy rot that can only be cured by simultaneously casting heal and restoration; cure disease is ineffective, although a wish can also cure it. Within 1d3 hours, the afflicted creature loses 2 points of Strength and Constitution, as well as 4 points of Charisma as their flesh starts to flake and rot away. The disease is fatal in 2d12 hours, and no damage a creature suffers while affected by the rot can be healed through normal or magical means. Curing the disease does not restore the lost ability scores.

Priests within 100 yards of Chitza-Atlan turn or control undead as if 4 levels lower; paladins are not affected in this way, however. The Mummified Guardian can be turned as a Special undead, unless he is guarding a portal to his realm or within his realm itself. He can cast animate dead at will, and wither or Abi-Dalzim’s horrid wilting once per day. He automatically controls any mummies within sight, as well as corporeal undead with 6 HD or fewer; he has the normal chance for a priest of his level to control other forms of undead.

The Mummified Guardian is immune to weapons of +1 enchantment or less, as well as cold, sleep, hold, and poison. Regardless of the power of a weapon’s enchantment, he only takes half damage. His dried, mummified body is especially susceptible to magical fire, however, and he suffers an additional point of damage per die from all flaming attacks. He is immune to normal fire.

Other Manifestations
The Mummified Guardian rarely manifests his power to aid his followers. He has been known to animate fallen priests as mummies, but his reasons for doing so are inscrutable, and he instructs recipients of such beneficence directly. Otherwise he seems content to allow his followers to live or die under their own skill and power.

Chitza-Atlan is served primarily by his Sacred Offspring (see the spell below) and mummies of all sorts, as well as carrion birds of all sorts, crypt cats, crypt servants, crypt things, death tyrants, guardian yugoloths, nightmares, observers, skeletons, spectators, and zombies. He displays his favor through jade (with tomb jade displaying particular favor), copper, natural salts, and yellow-orange flowers. He shows his displeasure through the dry sound of hooves clicking on sandstone behind the listener, jade and copper that dissolve into salt when touched, and a warm wind in the faces that carries the scent of decay and a soft, dry moaning.

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

All clerics, specialty priests, and shamans of Chitza-Atlan receive religion (centaur) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency.

Lay followers of Chitza-Atlan are tolerated in centaur communities as conductors and keepers of the society’s burial customs. Full priests are viewed with fearful distrust at best and outright hostility at worst, and only communities with no other priests will tolerate their presence for long. On their own, his living priests tend to create undead in large numbers to serve their whims and execute their greedy or violent wishes. After death, they are almost universally found as mummified guardians in tombs and crypts. Interestingly, his priests are also found as members of death cults in some human civilizations, especially those that worship the Lord of Mictlan. They tend to form the guardian wings of these cults, ensuring interlopers do not plunder their temples and shrines.

Centaurs do not build temples to the Mummified Guardian, but some communities dedicate shrines in burial grounds. Such shrines typically have a small carved wooden figure of a recumbent centaur bound with linen wraps and painted a jade green. Independent or outcast priests rarely create shrines in their personal abodes, as Chitza-Atlan does not require such shows of devotion. In human cults, his shrines are the same, but the rare minor temple in his honor have been found, universally as a smaller stepped pyramid in a larger temple complex.

Novices in the service of Chitza-Atlan are called the Unprepared, and full priests are called the Embalmed. Priests of the Mummified Guardian create their own individual titles or eschew them altogether, although undead members of the clergy are called Revered Guardians. Specialty priests are known as natrions. Specialty priests (45%) and shamans (40%) comprise the majority of Chitza-Atlan’s priesthood, with an additional minority of clerics (15%). Males (80%) outnumber females (20%) by a substantial margin in the Mummified Guardian’s clergy. Centaurs (45%) and humans (30%) make up the bulk of the clergy of the Death Guard with nuckalavee (18%) forming a significant minority; the rest of the priesthood consists of centaur-kin (4%), bariaurs (1%), chevalls (1%), and other tauroid creatures (manotaurs, wemics, etc.; 1%).

Dogma: Death and undeath are the domains of the Mummified Guardian, for he determines who is allowed to pass through the Gateway. The living dead serve the Death Guard and carry out his will. The dead guard the dead and the living ensure places of death are respected and customs of death are followed. All things die, and the when and why matter not.

Day-to-Day Activities: Priests of Chitza-Atlan surround themselves with death and the dead, or places of death. They favor living in crypts and tombs, and create undead servants and guardians to guard themselves and those interred with them. They are restricted from disturbing the properly buried, but the Death Guard makes no restrictions on the slaying of creatures to be used as undead servants, which many priests engage in with gusto. Where they are found within communities they focus on handling the burial customs of their people, as well as creating traps and guardians to ensure the sanctity of burials, tombs, and crypts. This is sometimes done without the community’s knowledge, for it often involves the creation of undead. While they follow their community’s death customs when burin get others, those within the priesthood have a strict requirement of mummification for themselves when they pass; typically this does not lead to a state of undeath, but in some cases Chitza-Atlan intervenes to elevate a dead priest to the ranks of the undead, and requires them to serve as a tomb guardian. Those priests who choose instead to transition to undeath before their natural demise are also compelled to become guardians in some place of burial.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: The first day of summer is a holy day among the Chitza-Atlanian faithful. On this day, known as The Window of Death, followers believe the dead can look in on the living to see how friends and loved ones are faring, and if they are remembering those who have passed. As such, a great joyous celebration is held where people share stories of deceased loved ones and leave offerings on their graves. In some communities, parades are held where people dress up as the dead and follow a ceremonial representative of Chitza-Atlan to their local place on interment, and a party is held on the graves of their loved ones. Priests of the Mummified Guardian rarely oversee these ceremonies, leaving them to lay followers, and instead spend their time creating or maintaining their undead guardians, for they believe Chitza-Atlan personally observes their work and strengthens their magic. The Window of Death ceremony is only found where the faith of Chitza-Atlan is tolerated, even if actual priests are not. It is quite popular with the people, but frowned upon and discouraged by the priesthoods of the other centaur deities. Where the Mummified Guardian’s faith is widely reviled, this day is said to be dangerous, for Chitza-Atlan personally animates the dead to harass the living later in the year.

Major Centers of Worship: There are no widely-known centers of Chitza-Atlanian worship, nor are there any sites of holy significance that attract pilgrims.

Affiliated Orders: As open worship of the Mummified Guardian is rare, his clergy sponsor no martial or monastic orders.

Priestly Vestments: The clergy of the Guardian of the Gateway to the Underworld wear robes of jade green when conducting ceremonies. They complement these robes with copper jewelry, such as rings, armbands, torcs, and bracelets, and wear headdresses made of large feathers dyed a brilliant yellow-orange. The holy symbol used by the clergy is a square copper medallion with the image of a mummified centaur set within the borders. More powerful or wealthy priests usually use pieces of tomb jade in their medallions to color the centaur.

Adventuring Garb: When not engaging in ceremonies, priests of Chitza-Atlan typically wear somber robes of brown or grey unless they expect to engage in combat. In such cases, they don lightly or moderately encumbering armor that still allows them freedom of movement, with leather or mail armor and Harding common. For weaponry, they prefer spears or maces, although bows are a popular alternative, especially if they have undead they can use as screens to keep out of melee.

Specialty Priests (Natrions)
Requirements:          Constitution 13, Wisdom 12
Prime Req.:                Constitution, Wisdom
Alignment:                LE
Weapons:                   Any other than slashing (wholly or partially Type S)
Armor:                       Any up to chain plus shields
Major Spheres:         All, astral, charm, combat, elemental earth, guardian, healing (reversed), necromantic, wards
Minor Spheres:         Divination, time, travelers
Magical Items:         Same as clerics and see below
Req. Profs:                Necrology (The Complete Book of Necromancers), spear
Bonus Profs:             None

  • Natrions must be centaurs, nuckalavee, centaur-kin, bariaurs, pegataurs, chevalls, or humans.
  • Natrions are not allowed to multiclass.
  • In addition to those magical items allowed to clerics, natrions may use magic items that deal with undeath and those restricted to necromancers.
  • Natrions gain a +4 bonus to any saving throws versus special attacks from undead, such as a ghoul’s paralyzing touch, mummy rot, a ghast’s stench, a vampire’s gaze, etc. In addition, they gain an unmodified saving throw versus attacks that normally do not allow one, such as a wight’s energy drain. These bonuses do not extend to spell-like powers, such as a death knight’s fireball, or spells cast by wizardly or priestly undead, such as liches.
  • As they gain levels, a natrion’s skin becomes dryer and takes on the texture and consistency of paper, and they look more and more emaciated and skeletal. This causes the natrion no negative effects, but it is disconcerting for most other creatures. Because of this, natrions suffer a −1 reaction penalty per 3 levels they’ve obtained (for example, −1 at levels 1–3, −2 at levels 4–6, etc.) to a maximum of −5 at level 13.
  • Natrions can cast chill touch (as the 1st-level wizard spell) or invisibility to undead (as the 1st-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 3rd level, natrions can cast animate dead or cause disease (as the 3rd-level priest spells) once per day.
  • At 5th level, natrions can cast cloak of fear (as the reverse of the 4th-level priest spell cloak of bravery) or mummy touch (as the 3rd-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 7th level, natrions can cast summon Sacred Offspring (as the 5th-level priest spell) once per week. The nation is unable to use this power to summon a Sacred Offspring to guard a sanctified chamber; the normal spell must be cast for that usage.
  • At any point after attaining 10th level, nations can attempt to undergo a ritual of mummification and become an undead mummy. This process requires the purchasing of 10,000 gp worth of rare herbs, spices, wines, and a quantity of natural salts. The chance of successfully completing the transition to undeath is a base 40%, plus 1% per level and 1% per point of Wisdom. The success chance has a further 5% bonus for every 10,000 gp spent on materials for the ritual, to a maximum of 90%. If the roll succeeds and is below a 5 on a d100, the natrion has become a greater mummy. If the ritual fails, the natrion has died with no chance for raising or resurrecting; only a wish spell can restore them to life at that point.
  • At 15th level, natrions can cast finger of death (as the 7th-level priest spell) or Abi-Dalzim’s horrid wilting (as the 8th-level wizard spell) once per week.

Chitza-Atlanian Spells
In addition to the religion-specific spells found here, it is recommended that the potential spell selections of Chitza-Atlan’s clergy be expanded to include the priest spells found in the Complete Book of Necromancers.

2nd Level
Mummy Wrappings (Pr 2; Conjuration/Summoning)
Sphere:                    Necromantic
Range:                     30 yds.
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 2d4 rds. + 1 rd./level
Casting Time:          5
Area of Effect:         1 creature
Saving Throw:        Neg.

By means of this spell, one creature is wrapped tightly in long strips of linen cloth, hampering movement and speech. If the target makes a successful saving throw versus spell, adjusted by their to-hit modifier from Strength, they have torn the cloth away from themselves before it could bind tightly. Any further actions the target planned to take in that round are wasted, including attacks, movement, and spellcasting. Once bound, there is little the target can do until freed by another creature or the spell’s expiration; they are unable to move beyond falling over, talked beyond muffled unintelligible sounds, cast spells, or use any magic items unless activated purely by will. Should the target have a dagger, knife, or other small blade in hand, they can attempt a second saving throw versus spell at any time before the spell’s expiration to try and cut free, although this takes 2d3 rounds. At the DM’s option, other blades or sharp surfaces, such as finger blades, ear blades, or bladed armor may grant this second saving throw. At the spell’s expiration, the linen strips crumble to dust, freeing the bound creature. Carefully cutting the wrappings with a small blade also frees a bound creature, but takes 1d3+1 rounds; quickly cutting the strips away frees them in one round, but also deals normal damage for the weapon used.

Initially, this spell can only affect creatures of Small size or less; for every four levels the caster has achieved, they can affect the next larger sized creature. For example, upon achieving 5th level, they can affect Size M, at 9th level they can affect Size L, etc. Gargantuan creatures can only be affected if they are no more than 30 feet tall or long.

The material components for this spell are a small strip of cloth from a mummy (undead or not) and a pinch of natron.

5th Level
Summon Sacred Offspring (Pr 5; Conjuration/Summoning, Necromancy)
Sphere:                    Necromantic
Range:                     30 yds.
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 1 turn/level
Casting Time:          1 turn
Area of Effect:         Special
Saving Throw:        None

When this spell is cast, the priest summons one of the special creations of Chitza-Atlan known as the Sacred Offspring. This undead centaur will serve the caster in any way desired for up to one turn per level, but the Mummified Guardian frowns upon his children being destroyed by the tasks set before it. If the priest instead instructs the Sacred Offspring to guard a specific sacred or sanctified chamber immediately upon summoning it, it will serve until destroyed. If the caster orders the Sacred Offspring to leave the sanctified chamber at any point later, the Offspring immediately vanishes. Should the caster choose this option, they will be unable to summon another Sacred Offspring for a full year.

If slain, the Sacred Offspring vanishes back to Chitza-Atlan’s realm in Gehenna. In order to cast the spell, a priest must sacrifice a creature of size M or larger; such creatures can be animals, humanoids, or other creatures of any Hit Die value.

6th Level
Death Pact of Chitza-Atlan (Pr 6; Necromancy, Alteration)
Sphere:                    Necromantic, Summoning
Range:                     Touch
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 Special
Casting Time:          1 hr.
Area of Effect:         1 individual (usually the caster)
Saving Throw:        Special

This manifestly evil spell is a variant of the death pact spell from the Complete Book of Necromancers. This powerful pact has enabled many “slain” priests to return from the dead and eliminate their enemies. By completing this ritual, a priest forges a powerful pact with Chitza-Atlan. The covenant ensures that a chosen individual will survive an untimely death, to an extent. A death pact of Chitza-Atlan is triggered whenever the protected individual is reduced to fewer than 0 hit points (mortally wounded) due to combat, spell, or accident. In the same round, the subject receives the following benefits.

The individual {or his or her remains) and all possessions are transported immediately back to a religious sanctuary as if by a word of recall. The location of the sanctuary must be specified at the time of forging the death pact of Chitza-Atlan.

Upon arrival, any severed or amputated limbs are restored, as if by a regenerate spell. The body is cleared of lingering enchantments with a dispel magic (bestowed at caster’s level), whether beneficial or baneful, and cleansed of blindness, curses, insanity, and similar effects. Finally, unlike the original death pact spell, the recipient of this spell is not raised, and instead is animated as an undead mummy.

Death pact of Chitza-Atlan remains in effect indefinitely until the conditions established at the time of its forging have been fulfilled. The pact may be established to benefit an individual other than the caster. The chosen one need not be in good standing with the faith of Chitza-Atlan, although the spell must be cast in location sanctified to the Guardian of the Gateway to the Underworld. If cast on an unwilling individual, they are entitled to a saving throw vs. death magic to resist the pact. A dispel magic cannot end a death pact of Chitza-Atlan prematurely, although a remove curse followed by a successful dispel magic both cast by a spellcaster of higher level than the caster of the death pact; an unwilling recipient is unaware of these requirements, and is under a geas that prevents them from telling any other creatures through spoken or written word that they have been placed under a death pact of Chitza-Atlan.

This powerful spell is not without its costs, however. Forging a death pact is an exhaustively stressful process, drawing the casting priest (and a willing spell recipient, if other than the caster) into draining audiences with extraplanar powers. As a result, establishing a death pact of Chitza-Atlan ages the caster five years and requires at least one week for complete recuperation for the spell’s caster and a willing recipient, during which time the priest cannot cast any spells or engage in any physically demanding activity. This recuperation and aging can be mitigated if an intelligent creature of 5 HD or greater is sacrificed in Chitza-Atlan’s name during the casting of the spell. The sacrifice of another such creature inflicts a −2 penalty on an unwilling target’s saving throw, as well.

Upon being animated as a mummy, a priest of Chitza-Atlan, or a willing recipient, is granted a grace period to exact revenge on any creature or group that placed it in the position to trigger the death pact, so long as it can be completed in a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the Dungeon Master. After the revenge has been exacted or the time expires, the mummy is compelled to search for a place of Chitza-Atlan’s choosing and guard it for eternity. Unwilling victims of this spell are similarly compelled to search out such a location immediately upon being animated; the only escape from this existence is permanent death or being the target of a resurrection spell, which restores them completely to life, free of the restrictions of the death pact of Chitza-Atlan. Mummies created by this spell keep any priestly spell levels they had in life, but otherwise become standard or monster mummies, depending on form.

The spell’s material components are seven drops each of the caster’s blood, the recipient’s blood, unholy water, and the sacrifice of five creatures of 1 HD or greater.

2 Responses to Chitza-Atlan, the Guardian of the Gateway to the Underworld

  1. Barastir says:

    Nice entry, but in some places (at least in the 3rd and 4th paragraph, and avatar entry) I found a typo, with the deity’s name missing the “z” letter (Chita-Atlan). In the Special Att/def there is a mention I’m not sure if is wrong: “fore hooves” instead of “forehooves”.

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