The Cargo Cult of Quatrex

On the small island of Quatrex, in the sea of Unbekannt, there is a remote tribe with a somewhat unique magical tradition.

Since their earliest days, the Quatrexians practiced a fairly typical shamanistic animism which focused on reverence of natural forces and the land. Their primary spellcasters were adepts who might occasionally reach some basic druidic ability, but never, or so seldom as to be the subject of myths, attained druid wildshaping ability. The clerical arts of domains and energy channeling were completely unknown to them.

Their island was in time visited by a group of wizards exploring the uncharted sea. The natives were fascinated and awed by the frightful power these men and women wielded, but while the wizards shared the boons of their abilities, none ever taught the natives how such marvels were attained, rendering them god-like figures in the Quatrexians’ minds.

After the adventurers set up a base camp with many strange and arcane devices, and did some basic good will work with the natives to ameliorate potential conflicts, they tromped off into the jungle from which awesome sounds and lights would emanate. Eventually the meddling wizards awoke a great monster who slept within a mountain. The fiery beast slew most of the wizards in its rampage towards the Quatrexian’s impressive bronze age settlement. In the final half mile, it was halted by the last wizard, who eventually was forced to sacrifice themselves to stop the beast.

The Quatrexians viewed the events through the lens of their beliefs, and interpreted the wizards as powerful spirits of a previously unknown primal force–Arcana. They arrived to reward the Quatrexians for their reverence for the land, but also out of Arcana’s mild jealousy that it’s sibling forces–wind, fire, water, earth, storm, light, dark, and others–were so revered but it was unknown to the pious people. The spirits of Arcana were destroyed as they tried to save the Quatrexians from a monstrous beast of primal fire.

The Quatrexians still revere the primal forces, but now revere Arcana above all for it’s power to harness and call the other forces. They were left with a wealth of arcane resources–potion labs, wondrous item workbenches, a library of spell tomes, magic items of all sorts–but no idea how to use it all.

But they had watched the wizards. They knew not the methods behind the words and motions, but they knew them. They didn’t know how to tap the arcane energy of the multiverse, but they knew it could be done.

They began to copy the motions and incantations of the wizards in their rituals, and slowly, they developed a clerical caste as some began to show the ability to copy the might of the wizards.

Quatrexian Arcana is its own clerical faith. Practitioners have access to the Spell and Magic domain, and their holy symbol is a spellbook into which they have copied “The Tracks of Arcana” (being a culture with no written tradition, they interpret the writing of the “Arcana Spirits” to animal tracks). These are functionally identical to wizard spellbooks, and allow Quatrexian Arcana clerics to cast Anyspell, but do not allow them to prepare wizard spells. Quatrexian Arcanians also have access to any domain which shares a name with a school, subschool, or descriptor of spells, such as Fire, Evil, or Charm.

The vestments and regalia of the priestly caste of the Quatrexians is entirely predicated on the faithful reproduction of wizard garb, and so while many non-priestly Quatrexians still wear the simple linen loin clothes and wraps they always have, priestly vestments are elabourate robes and skirts, often with capes and gaudy jewelry (frequently, but not always, enchanted). Where other priests might wear mitres or other psued0-crowns, the Quatrexian priestly caste wears well-worn wide brimmed pointed hats, frequently embroidered with symbols of the primal forces they choose to focus on.

Quatrexian priests practice a sort of apprenticeship model of theological instruction, with older priests instructing a no more than a handful of pupils. The acolyte-apprentices wear simple linen and woolen robes until they are deemed to have learned the rituals sufficiently that they may be gifted their vestments-magically fabricated luxurious wizard’s robes.

Quatrexian Arcanism dogma is an unusual philosophy of benevolent mastery of nature and the world, and of being at once the sum of and a part of the multiverse, founded on the principles of arcane magic.

The brood-matriarchs of Baal

A Brood Matriarch of Baal (as conceptualized, she would probably be nude save for adornment, but this isn't an NSFW site, so she is covered in leather throws)
A Brood Matriarch of Baal (as conceptualized, she would probably be nude save for adornment, but this isn’t an NSFW site, so she is covered in leather throws)

In the center of the continent, lies the fens of Baal, home to a group of goblins which would be called a culture, were those inclined to use the word not loathe to apply it to goblins.

Goblins are, generally speaking, small, fecund and highly variable, and often lacking in much in the way of a social structure more complex than “horde” (or so the general opinion goes). The goblins of Baal, on the other hand, squatting in their murky dens dug into the muck, have established a matri-oligarchy, similar in some ways to a hive of social insects.

The culture of the Baal goblins is ruled over by a group of fertile females, called Brood-matriarchs, whose primary function is to become pregnant and give birth to litter after litter of goblins. Because goblin life tends to be short, often artificially so, due to lack of caution or extermination with extreme prejudice enacted by neighbouring cultures, the typical goblin hyper-fertility has started to be seen as a blessing by the Baali goblins.

Holding the blessing of their god, and controlling, literally, the means of production of new goblin warriors, the fertile females of Baal rose to power. They receive counsel from other goblins more able to travel, but make all decisions for the clan. They are always pregnant, or nursing and receiving males to become pregnant. The opportunity to become the father of part of the next generation has become a highly sought after form of prestige amongst the males, and copulation with a brood-matriarch has become a reward for those who perform valuable services for the clan, and those who perform their duties above and beyond all expectation. The opposite fate, awaiting those who too-frequently fail their clan, is castration, the utter revoking of the opportunity to ever serve the clan as anything more than fodder or labor. Those who fail again after already being castrated are often given the duty of guarding the brood matriarchs. Far from the honor this might be seen as, it is a constant reminder, in the form of the wanton and lascivious brood-matriarchs and their open rutting with more honored clan members, of the guard’s failure and the fact that he cannot perform for his clan the highest service a male goblin can-fathering the next generation.

As they are the direct power behind the greatest strength of the goblins–numbers–the brood matriarchs receive the greatest respect, honor and treasures of the clan. They have no responsibilities, only privileges. The privilege of giving orders, the privilege of not working, the privilege of food at their mere request, the privilege of their pick of mates, and the privilege of the spoils of raids.

Not all females of the clan are brood-matriarchs, however. When a power behind being fertile began to condense, those females of the time who were pregnant sealed that power away. They, essentially, created an eldritch poison which made females barren when ingested, and had shamans enchant their bodies to produce this poison in their milk. They then created an antidote, and jealously guarded that formula. When a female goblin has proven worthy of great honor, she may be selected for possible fertility, and given the choice. Should the female accept, she will be given the antidote, and shortly become fertile and take her place. If she declines, she is given another position of high honor–high priestess. All females of the Baali goblins serve the shrines in some function, usually as acolytes, but only those who have proven their worth to the clan, and decided that brooding is not a life for them, may lead the clan’s holiest rites.

The goblins of Baal are otherwise normal goblins for the most part. However, the brood-matriarchs keep a constant watch for strong males who could potentially pass their strength on to children. Due to the highly adaptable nature of goblins, they are able to be impregnated with almost any male’s material. The mother’s system will pick out the most useful traits and add them to the genetic concoction assembled from her many paramours, and, after a certain period of time, begin to grow the fetuses of the new litter, saving copies of the best genetics to potentially impart on the next, much like a cat’s reproductive system save with a complex and sophisticated intelligence all its own.