Mythos and History
In the beginning, there was only endless Potential. Into this came the ungrown Grower, who created from itself the waters of Eron, the land of Gata, and the light of Halamalao. The Grower then manifested itself upon Gata as Falamal, the first tree and center of the world. He sunk his roots deep through Gata to be nourished by Eron, and raised his leaves high to be warmed by Halamalao.
Falamal shook free seeds, which fell upon Eron, Gata and Halamalao. There they sprouted into the three sisters, Murthdrya, Haladrya, and the greatest who was Aldrya. Aldrya was the forests of the land, whose children were trees, bushes and flowers.
Into this paradise came many minor spirits, who created wild animals to live within Aldrya and her sisters. Eventually Falamal had covered the entire world, and still grew further. His roots and branches cracked the edges of the world, and released Oblivion.
Oblivion began to destroy everything it could, lessening the world with each death. Aldrya granted some of her children the ability to move and fight, and these became the first Elves. They fought with spear and bow against the forces of Oblivion, but could not hold it back forever.
A new force appeared in the world, equal to that of the Grower. It was Taker, and it sought to destroy the Grower. It turned Gata to dust, extinguished Halamalao, poisoned Eron and pulled up Falamal, leaving only Aldrya and her children to fight. Taker then created new creatures and twisted others, creating Trolls and Dwarves, and turning the animals into monstrous things that ate plants.
Eventually, between the Taker and Oblivion, the children of the Grower were all gone. The Taker then began to Take itself, until there was nothing left, and Oblivion was gone.
Now came a miracle. There was one seed left of the Grower, and from this was reborn both the Grower and Taker. They had both came to understand each other, and had learned of each other's roles in the world. The Grower would create new life from Potential. And the Taker would destroy that which was old, or weakened, so that new growth could occur.
With this arrangement made, Grower regrew the world.
Nature of the Cult
Humans often think of Aldrya as the goddess of the forest. Her worshippers know this is not true, and that Aldrya is the forest herself, and that without her worship, the trees themselves would sicken and die.
Aldrya is worshipped in some human cultures in secret, often disguised as the worship of a subcult of the local earth goddess.
A few rare elves are unable to initiate into the Aldrya Tradition. These rootless elves do not have the Lifesense which allows the greatest communion between elves, and so are outcasts, even when they have not left their communities. Rootless elves often join allied cults, often fulfilling some role that other Elves find taboo. Others leave the forests, and become wanderers and vagabonds.
Amongst elves, Aldrya is represented by a tree bearing many different kinds of leaves and fruits. Humans, including her few human worshippers, instead depict her as a dryad of some local tree.
Particular Likes and Dislikes
Aldrya has many friends amongst the human pantheons, usually amongst the Earth goddesses, such as Overdruva for the Orlanthi, or Erenbaya for the Pelorians. Solar cults are also common allies, especially Yelmalio, who the Elves claim learned his magic from Halamalao.
As well as friends, Aldrya has many foes. Especially the Dwarves and Trolls and their gods. The Elves have a special enmity for the Troll god Zorak Zoran (who the Elves know as Zazakor), who slew Aldrya's lover Falamal during the Great Darkness.
Like all right thinking entities, Aldrya is an enemy of Chaos, and Elves are willing to ally with their ancestral foes to destroy this mutual threat.
Cult Organization and Holy Places
The Aldrya Tradition is centred around the Great Trees, direct seedlings of Falamal, and in existance before Falamal perished in the darkness. Each of the great ancient Elven forests had a single Great Tree, although many have perished since time began. In the forests where that has happened, the Elves follow seedlings of the Great Tree, although their power and unity are diminished.
Surrounding the Great Trees are councils of Gardeners, who make decisions for Elven communities by means of their age and experience.
Aldrya has three High Holy Days over the course of the year.
The first occurs on Water Day of Fertility Week in Water Season. This day celebrates the awakening of the forests, and the return of Falamal. It is a joyous time, filled with rowdy festivals and ceremonies of unity.
The second High Holy Day is on Clay Day of Fertility Week in Earth Season. The day starts off with celebrations and ecstatic dances, but as the day progresses more and more of the revellers break off to sleep for the long winter ahead. The day ends with a recreation of the death of Falamal, and only the few Green or Yellow Elves remaining awake.
The last Holy Day occurs on Wild Day of Truth Week in Storm Season. As the forest is still asleep at this time, only the Yellow and Green Elves are awake to perform the rituals. They march around the forest, performing the dances and songs to begin the long awakening of the forest, while fending off attacks by their enemies, especially trolls.
The Aldrya Tradition
- To join the Aldrya Tradition you must first have a Plant Rune. Almost all Elves are initiated to Aldrya as soon as they can walk and speak, as are runners and pixies. Non-Elves must petition a Gardener (a Shaman of Aldrya) to let them join the Tradition. Traditional Elf-foes such as trolls, dwarves or Chaos are never allowed to join the Tradition.
- For game purposes, any hero with a Plant Rune can join the Aldrya Tradition at the same rating as their Plant Rune. Simply add Aldrya Tradition (Plant, Earth, Life) keyword after the Plant Rune.
- Instead of providing the Spirit Sense ability, the Aldrya Tradition keyword provides the Lifesense ability, which as well as allowing you to hear, see and communicate with spirits, also allows you to sense the health and emotions of plants, including Elves. Non-Aldryami heroes cannot take Lifesense as a breakout ability.
- When joining the Aldrya Tradition, you recieve a number of charms, as described in the HeroQuest core rules (page 112). Charms of the Aldrya Tradition typically include Bear Fruit, Change Paths, Deflect Weapon, Ever Green, Move Unseen, Shade from Sun, Strong, and Tall.
Children of the Forest
The Children of the Forest is the core spirit society of the Aldrya Tradition; most members belong to it before joining any other spirit society. The Children of the Forest deals with the spirits of trees and other residents of the forests. A member of the Aldrya Tradition may join the Children of the Forest spirit society when they have an Aldrya Tradition rating of 1W or higher. Simply add the Children of the Forest Spirit Society (Plant, Spirit) keyword after the Plant Rune.
- Animal Brother. These spirits were ancestors of many of the creatures that dwell in the forests. They grant the charm Command Woodland Animal. The taboo of this charm is Never Eat Meat.
- Elf Bow. This plant spirit is always embodied in a special seed, planted when someone joins the Children of the Forest spirit society, which grows into a living bow. It grants the charm of Arrow Trance. Most Elves take the Elf Bow as a Spirit Ally. The taboo of this charm is Use No Other Bow.
- Marching Tree. These plant spirits are the defenders of forests. Their charms can be used to awaken plants to aid in fighting enemies. The taboo of this charm is Always Attack Elf-Foes.
- Medicine Tree. These plant spirits despise the White Lady and her plagues. They provide charms to fight many kinds of disease. The taboo of this charm is Never Deny Healing.
Gardeners - Aldrya Shamans
- After at least twenty rings (or years, in human terms) of service to the forest, a worshipper with an Aldrya Tradition rating of 11W or higher can become a Gardener, a shaman of Aldrya.
- The petitioner is taken by other Gardeners to a sacred grove, where they are buried to await the coming of the White Lady. The White Lady inflicts upon the petitioner all the pains the forest suffered during the Great Darkness. If the petitioner is able to weather the assaults and emerge from the soil in rebirth (as a major plot obstacle) they have awakened their fetch, becoming a Gardener of Aldrya.
A Gardener's fetch is a Great Tree, which manifests in the spirit world shading the Gardener from harm. The Great Tree performs all the functions of a fetch (c.f. HeroQuest pg. 114), but also manifests in the natural world when the Gardener sleeps. Eventually a Gardener may sleep forever, leaving the Great Tree to mark where they once lived.
Other Aldrya Spirit Societies
Eron was the first of the ancient Protectors of the Elves. He formed from the Grower's tears and sap, freely given, to provide substance to the world. When Falamal rose to the heavens, his seeds mixed with Eron's body, producing the Blue Elves and their goddess Murthdrya. As such, he is most favoured by them, although all species of Elf revere him.
Eron's spirits are those of the cool water, providing succour and healing to those who need it.
- Healing Water. These spirits are the pure tears of Eron mixed in with his sap, preserved since the Great Darkness. They provide charms to Heal Wounds. The taboo of this charm is Never Kill.
- Wetroot. These rain spirits dampen everything around them, making things harder to burn. They provide a charm to Quench Fire. The taboo of this charm is Never Seek Shelter From Rain.
- Quiet Rest. These water spirits provide a gentle susurration which relaxes the spirit and body. They provide a charm to Sooth Aches. The taboo of this charm is Never Pollute Water.
Gata was the second of the ancient Protectors of the Elves. She formed from Eron, as resin forms from sap, to provide stability to the world. When Falamal rose to the heavens, his seeds fell upon Gata's body, producing the Green Elves and their goddess Aldrya. Later, the Green Elves were divided into the Green, the Brown and the Yellow Elves. But all revere their ancestor Gata.
Gata's Spirits are those of the soft Earth, providing food and strength for all who want it.
- Lost Flower. These are earth spirits which once bore woods and forests, but are now bare earth, longing for plants to grow once more. They provide charms to Grow Plants. The taboo of this charm is Plant Seeds Every Day While Awake.
- Quiverloam. These are earth spirits who have been touched by some of Eron's nature, making them malleable and capable of soothing wounds. They provide the charm of Healing Mud. The taboo of this charm is Sleep With Feet In Earth.
- Earth Power. These are the earth spirits who raise the largest of trees and bear buildings of stone and wood. They provide the charm Strength of Earth. The taboo of this charm is Never Leave The Ground. (Due to their connection to Gata, trees are also counted as ground for the purposes of this taboo.)
Halamalao was the third of the ancient Protectors of the Elves. He formed from Gata, rising as light sparkles off amber, to provide hope to the world. When Falamal rose to the heavens, his seeds ascended into Halamalao's heart, producing the White Elves and their goddess Haladrya. The White Elves and their goddess were lost in the Great Darkness, as was Halamalao himself. The other Elves worshipped him still throughout the Darkness, and were rewarded at the Dawn when he returned. They hold out hope for the White Elves to return eventually as well.
Halamalao's spirits are those of warm Light, providing protection and joy to all who ask for it.
Spirits of Reprisal
- Light Child. These light spirits are those of sunbeams that shine through the canopy of the forest. They provide charms of Blind Foe. The taboo of this charm is Never Hide From Sun.
- Petal Jewel. These blossoms contain light spirits which fell upon them at daybreak. They provide charms of Bright Light. The taboo of this charm is Always Greet The Dawn While Awake.
- Sun Follower. These flowers constantly point towards Halamalao in the sky, and call upon their kin to do the same. They provide the charm of Ripen Plant. The taboo of this charm is Never Fight at Night.
Any member of the Aldrya Tradition who violates their taboos risks a visit from the White Lady. Each night she inflicts one of her many blights against them, such as Frost, Petal Rot, or Galls.
If the member does not make amends with the spirit he has offended, the combined diseases will cripple them and eventually they will die. The blight spirits cluster around him on the spirit world, allowing members of other traditions to recognize the member as an oathbreaker.