|Praxian depiction of Star Witches on a Pavisite pot.|
Mythos and History
During the long night when the Sun had been killed but before Waha had been born, the Star Khans descended from the sky to try and teach people how to live as they did.
Few listened for without the Sun they were as dull as Herdmen, and lived by scratching at the dust and weeds. The Star Khans despaired, for they could not help people as dull as this. But as they walked, weeping and mourning, some of the women turned to watch.
The women followed in the wake of the stars, and listened as they went, learning the secrets that the stars tried to teach.
The women became witches and when the Star Khans went to leave, to return to the sky, the women approached them and showed them what they had learned.
The stars rejoiced, knowing that they had succeeded. They taught more secrets to the witches, filling them with their knowledge. And then, when they went home, begged the witches to teach others.
The Star Witches did so, becoming the earliest of Prax's magical traditions. They shared their star secrets with many, teaching them to follow the heavens -- although keeping many secrets to themselves.
When Waha emerged from the Paps and created his Covenant, the Star Witches dispersed and became members of the tribes he had created. In this way, the star lore would be preserved in all tribes, without distinction.
After the return of the Sun the Star Witches' fortunes began to rise. The powers of the sky were strengthened, and many new stars were born, and old ones became reachable.
Unfortunately, this was not to last. Many stars have now been lost or changed allegiances. The Lucky Star vanished uncountable summers ago; while Bright Treasure and the Twinstars were enchanted by the Moon, and many of their followers have left to join the Red School of Masks -- taking with them some of the Star Witches' secrets.
Nature of the Cult
The Star Witches are counted as one of the Magical Secret Societies of Prax, providing the nomads with a way to deal with spirits which are outside the way of Waha.
The nomadic lifestyle of the Praxians has given them great respect for the night sky, for its many stars and spirits can be used as guides for both physical and spiritual journeys.
The tradition has members in many of the great tribes, with the Impalas favouring it greatly. The Sables once had so many members that they were said to be lead by the Witches, but with the coming of the Lunars their influence has waned.
Cult Organization and Holy Places
The tradition has little in the way of hierarchy, with the only ranks acknowledged being members and the Star Witches themselves. The Star Witches as the tradition's shamans, lead rituals with their followers and assistants, but otherwise keep to themselves. In fact their position as a shaman is often a well kept secret, with only those who have gone to meet with them in the night ever truly knowing their identity.
The holy places of the tradition are found where the sky and earth have met. The most accessible is the oasis of Moonbroth, where the waters of the earth jump and leap to meet the night sky. The most famous is the Star Crystal Mountain, in the Tunnelled Hills. Here was the Celestial Pillar, where Pole Star first leapt down to protect the world against the devil's hordes. His blood litters this great peak, shining in the night.
A ritual is held at night on Fireday of Death Week each season, communing with whatever stars a member feels most connected to. This may be a private ceremony, or all members of a particular clan may head off into the dark to perform the rites together.
During Dark Season, the holy day is a lot more important, for it marks when the shamans of the tradition are said to meet together in the sky world, sharing their secrets even if they are miles apart in the mortal world.
The Star Witches Tradition
Any praxian with the Sky Rune has the potential to join the Sky Witches Tradition; despite the name, many members of the tradition are men in both spirit and body.
A prospective member must seek out a Star Witch (a shaman of the tradition) and persuade her to initiate them into the Star Witches Tradition.
In game terms, the hero can join the tradition at the same rating as their Fire or Spirit Rune. Simply add Star Witches Tradition () keyword after the appropriate Rune.
When you join the tradition, you receive several charms, as described in HeroQuest Glorantha (page 136), following all the restrictions there. Typical charms of the Star Witches Tradition include Starlight, See In Darkness, Stay Safe At Night, and Follow Star.
A hero with at least 1W in their Sky or Spirit Rune, or in a charm, may join a spirit society as described in HeroQuest Glorantha (page 136)
The Star Witch Tradition has numerous spirit societies, each associated with a particular star. Each tribe has its own favoured star, whose spirit society counts as the core spirit society for them. The Bison Tribe favours Bronze Treasure (and stubbornly keeps to that name), the Impala favour Pole Star, the High Llamas favoured Lucky Star, the Sables favour the Twinstars, the Morokanth favour the Evening Star, and the Unicorn Tribe favour Sun Daughter. The Morning Star is the patron of no tribe, preferring not to play favourites.
This large brazen star moves across the southern reaches of the sky, patrolling the Bleak Shore against enemies. He is proud, not allowing himself to be cowed even by the blazing Sun. He is said to have gifted men with the gift of bronze, tearing off his own leg to turn into a sword, giving him his strange gait across the sky. Certainly, his braves love metal, and many will demand their charms be made of it. Bronze Treasure's braves include:
Jealous Brave. This spirit is one of Bronze Treasure's braves who's been coaxed into a spear, sword, or other weapon. Its presence allows the wielder to make Deadly Strikes with the weapon. The taboo of Jealous Brave is Use No Other Metal Weapon.
Friendly Shield. This spirit acts as a shield bearer for others, just as he has for Bronze Treasure. He can help by making a shield Protect Against Projectiles. The taboo of Friendly Shield is Never Kill with Projectiles.
Breaker of Bones. This spirit wields a heavy bone weapon, which he swings with reckless abandon. He helps others Make Thunderous Strikes, which maim and cripple their foes. The taboo of Breaker of Bones is Never Spare The Same Foe Twice.
Once the lover of the Sun, Evening Star followed him to the far west when he was slain, even trying to follow him into death. When she was refused, she instead stood watch over the gates of death, forbidding any to enter or leave. When the Seven Seekers came, she relented, seeing their resolve. She then returned to Prax, leading her handmaidens to guard others as she once guarded the gates of death. Her handmaidens include:
Gate Mourner. This spirit is eternally weeping, mourning all who try to pass through the gates of death. Her tears and pleas can Postpone Death. The taboo associated with Gate Mourner is Always Mourn Death.
Last Midwife. This spirit knows rites that Calm Restless Ghosts, allowing them to find their way to the gates of death. The taboo associated with Last Midwife is Never Aid a Birth.
Torch Bearer. This spirit holds the guiding light of the Evening Star, and gifts this Red Light to others. The taboo associated with Torch Bearer is Never Let Red Light and Gold Light Meet.
The vanquisher of the Star Serpent is gone. Vanished from the sky for uncountable summers, many have forgotten it was even there. Despite this, the braves of the Lucky Star still tread their khan's former route. The braves of the Lucky Star include:
Oasis Seeker. This spirit can Smell Out Oases, and grants this power to its allies. The taboo of Oasis Seeker is Never Offend Oasis People.
Serpent's Curse. This spirit summons the watery serpents to follow it, dragging them along the dry land to Drown Enemies. The taboo associated with Serpent's Curse is Never Drink From a Serpent.
Fortune's Bannerman. This spirit travels the sky to hidden places, carrying a bright blue banner trailing behind it. When befriended by a hero he grants the ability to Find Hidden Green. The taboo associated with Fortune's Bannerman is Never Sleep In The Same Place Twice.
Like her sister, Morning Star was once the lover of the Sun. Unlike her, she never believed he was truly dead. Instead she went eastwards, following a light only she could see. There, at the end of everything, she saw her lover. When the Seven Seekers brought the Sun back, Morning Star was ready with her handmaidens to spread the word of her lover's freedom. Her handmaidens include:
Gate Herald. This spirit is always laughing and dancing, eager to tell all about the return of the Sun. Her eternal cheer can Restore Hope. The taboo associated with Gate Herald is Never Lose Hope.
First Witness. This spirit can reveal the invisible light of the slumbering sun, letting others See in Darkness. The taboo associated with First Witness is Never Abandon Others.
Torch Bearer. This spirit holds the shining light of the Morning Star, and gifts this Gold Light to others. The taboo associated with Torch Bearer is Never Let Gold Light and Red Light Meet.
The Stars' Khan of Khans, Pole Star was the first spirit to descend from the sky to aid mortals, leading his khans and braves into battle against the forces of Chaos. When the long night was darkest, he lept back to his home, shining in the center of the sky, so that the tribes could navigate in the gloom. His braves include:
Little Khan. This spirit serves the star khans by directing others. He provides the ability to Command Others. The taboo of Little Khan is Always Respect Your Followers.
Banner Boy. This spirit carries Pole Star's banner, trailing around him to direct others. He provides the ability to Send And Receive Silent Messages. The taboo of Banner Boy is Always Accept Parleys.
Spear Carrier. This spirit holds Pole Star's flaming spears. He grants their fire to others, giving them Burning Weapons to throw. The taboo of Spear Carrier is Never Throw First.
|Sun Daughter flanked by two unicorns.|
This child of the Sun was originally just a nameless handmaiden, hiding behind her mother's skirt. But when her father was slain, and everyone fled, she picked up his fallen weapons, and started to fight in his place. When the Sun returned, she gave him back his spear, bow, and shield; and in turn he gifted her with weapons of her own. She now rides where the Sun cannot, keeping watch where he cannot see. Her braves include:
Falling Star. This spirit was one of the arrows of Sun Daughter, flashing through the heavens to strike at her enemies. Now they provide the same ability of Flaming Arrows to others. The taboo associated with the Falling Stars is Never Befriend Darkness.
Shining Hooves. One of the heavenly steeds of Sun Daughter's braves, this spirit blesses' a hero's mount, granting them Hooves Of Starlight. The taboo associated with Shining Hooves is Never Ride Another Mount.
Ever Virtuous. This spirit was once a handmaiden at Genert's court. When it fell in battle, she joined with Sun Daughter as a brave, but never lost her purity. She can share her purity with others, letting them Be Pure. The taboo associated with Ever Virtuous is Never Have Sex.
Erelia and Verelia, two stars who move as one. These spirits had long been patrons to the Sable Tribe, although others have followed their weaving, dancing light when it's suited them. Always strange and wondrous, it was not too surprising when they and the Sables later allied with the Lunars. Many of their followers left to join the new School of Red Masks, but for those who keep the old ways, they still have some braves and handmaidens:
Dancing Woman. This spirit is constantly in motion, ever dancing to a silent beat. She teaches her strange and mesmerising dance to others, letting them Seduce Watchers. The taboo associated with Dancing Woman is Remain Pure.
Fighting Man. This spirit patrols eternally, keeping watch for some unseen danger. He teaches his focus to others, letting them Ignore Distractions. The taboo associated with Fighting Man is Never Fear Blood.
Weaver. This spirit is constantly weaving, creating new fabric out of nothingness. She can show others how to Create Illusions from nothing. The taboo associated with Weaver is Never Create The Same Illusion Thrice.
Star Witches - Star Witch Shamans
After many years of service and training, a woman with a Star Witch Tradition rating of 11W or higher can become a true Star Witch, a shaman of the tradition. The prospective witch must perform an elaborate, seductive, and highly secret dance to tempt down a Star Khan. If successful (overcoming a major plot obstacle), she returns with her awakened fetch. The woman is now a Star Witch, a shaman.
A Star Witch's fetch is a Star Khan, a mighty spirit of the night sky. The witch has seduced and entranced the khan, causing them to watch over the Witch when she is in the Inner World. When the Witch travels to the sky world, the Star Khan descends to guard her body. The Star Khan performs all the functions of a fetch (cf. HeroQuest Glorantha pg. 138)