The Black Butterfly: The Silence Between
When Desna hung her stars in the sky, the negative space between them birthed a dark mirror of the goddess, known as the Black Butterfly. This empyreal lord is regarded by other deities as a twin sister of sorts to her creator. While the Silence Between shares Desna’s love of freedom and wandering, her areas of concern are distinct, and her worshippers follow a very different path.
After Desna brought her forth from the darkness, the Black Butterfly began exploring the far reaches of the cosmos with great curiosity. However, what she observed on her journey has chilled her passionate nature. Tabris recorded in the Chronicle of the Righteous that she took a vow of silence, so that she might never unleash her dangerous knowledge about the Dark Tapestry into the world. The most common myth about her recounts an incident early in her existence in which she naïvely led Zon-Kuthon back to heaven from the outer reaches of space, not recognizing the effects of his dark transformation until it was too late. Today the Black Butterfly is a wiser figure, if far more stoic, and she represents a respect for the unknown and caution in the face of danger.
The Black Butterfly is even more aloof and distant than Desna herself. Hers is a way of life far removed from that of her capricious sister; the Black Butterfly roams more out of duty than enjoyment, observing the world but rarely sharing what she knows of it. Though serious, she can occasionally be taken with whimsy, and often rejuvenates herself by observing the innocent and carefree at play.
The Black Butterfly values inner peace and generosity over strength and intelligence, and her followers hold her in high esteem for her embodiment of a steadfast heart in the face of life’s crushing indifference. She is commonly worshipped by the those who are blind, deaf, or mute. Individuals with anxiety, hallucinations, and other psychological ailments also turn to her for healing and support. Vows of isolation and silence are common among her clergy, and monasteries dedicated to her teachings are far more common than is typical for an empyreal lord. While she sees solitude as a virtue, she also provides relief for those suffering imprisonment or loneliness, recognizing that the company of others is a panacea to most beings. While her sister rules over all forms of travel, the Black Butterfly claims distance itself as part of her portfolio. Lovers separated from one another find themselves under her guidance, as do those who intentionally put leagues between themselves and someone they’d rather not see again.
Priests are required to adhere to several general edicts to maintain their divine powers. Just as Desna forbids the casting of nightmare, the Black Butterfly abhors the casting of insanity and requires her vassals to undo the spell and destroy copies of it where they find it. Priestesses may not speak words intended to harm another, and may not engage in acts of vengeance. They must also maintain confidence, never sharing a secret willingly unless keeping it would truly bring another to harm. Those who stray from these ways egregiously enough or often enough lose their divine powers until they atone.
Unlike Desna’s bold and gregarious lot, adventurers who follow the Silence Between often have a skittish, world-weary air about them. Many of them have suffered unfortunate consequences as a result of involvement with eldritch occurrences, such as wizards touched by insanity from reading unspeakable tomes and investigators obsessed with the fate of lost loved ones. While their companions may find them mousy or stuck-up, these adventurers prove unyieldingly kind and brave in the face of fear. However, they have a strong tendency to keep things from even trusted friends, which can lead to devastating falling outs when secrets are revealed.
Relations with Other Deities
Desna and the Black Butterfly regard each other as twins and trust each other more than anyone else. The Black Butterfly shares her sister’s enmity for Ghalunder, a horror which should never have been unleashed from the cosmos, and often helps hunt him. Lamashtu’s twisted ways similarly displease her, although not as personally as they do Desna. The Black Butterfly feels the greatest hatred for the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones, whose works and aims she tirelessly opposes. Her cults frequently come into antagonistic contact with the insane worshippers of these dark powers, and the results can be explosive.
The Black Butterfly looks fondly on Pulura, Ghenshau, and Milani, whose company rejuvenates her when the howling horrors of the Dark Tapestry test her limits. She stolidly avoids the Boneyard, leading many to believe she does not respect Pharasma; in fact, it is Groetus she wishes to stay away from, and it is rumored that she may know what it is he is waiting for. Some mad prophets even claim that the Black Butterfly herself will usher in Groetus’s apocalypse.
Lavinia Helmin (human ghost, mesmerist 7) was an academic in Oppara some hundred years ago. She became obsessed with a mysterious outbreak of nightmares among the librarians of the university after they came into contact with a book unearthed in an Osirian tomb. Unable to relieve their nightly suffering, she eventually set out to investigate the root of the problem, and never returned. She responds to call planar ally or similar calls for aid from worshippers, though she takes offense to being asked about the journey that proved to be her end. As a reward for her aid, she asks only that her summoner provide her with a dream journal containing at least two weeks’ worth of dreams.
Flutterdust (unique celestial gloomwing): This enormous gloomwing flies through the sky on new moons, the dust from its wings bringing calm to creatures it rains down on. While it is capable of communicating verbally, it expresses itself in disjointed and heavily accented celestial, making it difficult to understand. Flutterdust is willing to aid the faithful in battle, but it requires that the recipients of its aid care for one of its pupa young until it cocoons. Thankfully these tenebrous worms are not nearly so violent as their counterparts from the Shadow Plane, though their size and grotesque appearance can provide a significant inconvenience for the month that this task requires.
Blueflame (unique yamah): This somber azata is the herald of the Black Butterfly. Perpetually silent, she communicates only through sign languages or written celestial. She detests being out in the daytime, and is easily disturbed by loud noises or bright lights. Cults that summon her bear no memory of her company afterwards, and are only able to determine that she was ever there at all through careful deduction.
Well, before the final challenge, in a lot of myth, is the time for purification, and revelations. Not a comfortable time for a "passing" kitsune Ninja. With the importance of dragons in the celestial hierarchy, wouldn't it be more thematic to have the dragon turtle ferry them across? They will have to show they are worthy of the honor. You should be setting the stage for some rainbow imagery for the storm giving way to the sun in the finale. (Where of course, the seeds of the next cycle of the storm occluding the sun are planted.) Has the party tried to use the farmer analogy to calm the Sun Goddess and the Storm God? You know, it takes both Sun and Rain for life to grow.
This is a great way of rethinking it! You're right that this is far more thematic, mythologically; perhaps I've gotten stuck thinking in terms of western plot structures in the back half of this campaign, compared to the early stages. Thank you!
My homebrew campaign has been stalled a lot lately because I'm having trouble coming up with a good penultimate installment for the story. One player suggested perhaps online forums would be a good place to brainstorm and swap ideas about the issue,so I'm giving this a try.
Campaign setting is East Asian fantasy, centered on traversing a country based on Tokugawa era Japan. The nation has been crippled by a terrible magical plague that is killing off only human men, causing social upheaval and political turmoil all over. The party, one kitsune monk and one "human" ninja (actually a kitsune who hasn't yet been noticed as such), are escorting a pregnant teenager to the mouth of the underworld to give birth to the newest incarnation of the recently missing sun goddess. The hope is that when the goddess is reborn, the plague will be cured (though presently they haven't quite pieced together whether the goddess actually caused the sickness in the first place). They're very nearly at their destination; after a variety of adventures and mishaps, they only have to get on a boat, cross the straits between one island and the next, and then they'll reach their ultimate destination. The finale is already planned, so I'm not worried about that.
However, I'm torn about how to handle the boat crossing portion. I don't want it to be too easy, but I also feel like at this late stage of the story I can't afford to be wasting time with side adventures any more. Still, there are a few loose ends I could pull in to make their seafaring more interesting:
- The party recently killed a popular cult leader, a warpriest of the storm god. This fight was *way* too easy due to me mismanaging the board, so the relatively tough boss went down with barely a whimper. The storm god is pissed off that his favorite disciple died a pathetic death at the hands of the heroes, and is also worried that if the sun goddess does return he'll lose his prominent new position in the heavenly order. He'll be looking for a chance to ruin the party's mission.
- The sun goddess being carried by their pregnant charge has been increasingly enraged; the goddess has started to posess her, causing violent magical outbursts and rapid deteriorations in her bodily health. The last time the goddess incarnated herself in a mortal form, she was betrayed and murdered, and thus has about the same level of emotional baggage you'd find on the average revenant. The heroes have missed several opportunities to mitigate this problem (mostly by being too cautious to confront an angry deity), and if they don't do something to address it before they reach their destination they might be doing more harm than good by returning the sun goddess to her full power.
If possible, I'd like to incorporate both these elements into the next phase of the game. The current plan is to make the party convince a local undine merchant to carry them across in her boat, risking attack by the infamous dragon turtle that lurks in the crossing. (However, the party is level 10, minus a bit for low number of players; this won't be too much of a challenge). With the storm god looking for revenge I have considered dropping the players into the middle of the ongoing feud between him and the ocean god, but I wouldn't want them to be staring these deities in the face, obviously. Dealing with a bunch of angry, feuding gods at the level of mortals has been a challenge for the whole campaign, and now things are really coming to a head.
Does anyone have any suggestions about what sort of challenges the party could face on the water, ideally including some of the recent plot elements? Any ideas are appreciated, thanks in advance!
-Firstworld/fey themed campaign
and my out-on-a-limb answer:
-Something involving Acavna's soul trapped in the Mordent Spire.
Though perhaps that's TOO big a thing to see involved in an AP!
Keep up the great work Paizo Staff, we'll love whatever you make!
Hi everyone. I'm a first time poster here, so if this isn't the right forum I apologize. Some fellow players told me this was worth sharing in case others would find it useful. We're playing a campaign set in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and so I designed a custom divination rune set for my character. I posted a photograph of them here.
Here are the various meanings and interpretations for the runes, in the order in which they appear. A slash mark separates the usual meaning from the inverted meaning.
Row 1: Animal Runes
Elk: An act of kindness, social cohesion, good will
Weasel: Persistence. Shoot first, questions later; dogged pursuit, sneak attacks.
Otter: Joy, celebration, a lucky streak / Saving for a rainy day, preparation, apprehension.
Fox: Wisdom, using cunning and wiles to survive.
Wolf: Loyalty, allegiance, the good of many. / Hierarchical order, tyranny.
Bear: A challenge or test, and obstacle you cannot avoid./ Life or death threats.
Mammoth: Heritage, inheritance. / Being true to yourself, knowing yourself.
Raven: Seeing worth in things, appraisal or appreciation. / Snatching something up opportunistically, stealing, or kidnapping.
Eagle: Allies, people one feels strongly for. / Rivals, more than it appears.
Seal: Quarrels, bluffs, displays of power. Struggle for dominance.
Wooly Caterpillar: Growth period, gestation, private matters one must handle alone.
Rabbit: Idiocy, greed, ruining one's own chances. / Dignity, naivete.
Lynx: Great knowledge, secrets, useful information.
Row 2: Environment Runes
Blizzard: "try again later", a clouded sight. Inability to do anything to impact the situation.
Sea: Mysterious discoveries. Open-mindedness. Be prepared to accept what you meet.
Northern Lights: Message from above, divine wisdom. Hope.
Lichen: Laziness, hesitation. Things go on without you.
Honeyberry: Nourishment, wealth, a gift.
Ice: Statics, preservation. Unshakable foundations.
Bones: Death, failure, and end. / A warning.
Mountain: Resolute strength. Being above a problem or influence.
Flower: Something brief, transitory. Self-actualizing, doing something for its own sake.
Thorn: an attack, retaliation, tit for tat. / A compromise, paying an unpleasant price willingly.
Thaw: Changing attitudes or situations. / Gullible folk or delicate situations.
Sun: Motivation, lifeforce, a distant dream. / Working too hard, burnout.
Forest: Improvisation, desperation, risk-taking, living hand-to-mouth.
Row 3: Civilization Runes
Hunter: Fear, victimization. / Mastery over fear, making an impression.
Hammer: Raw power or potential. Right use of power, chance to build or destroy.
Bonfire: Shelter, safety. Reassurance.
Blade: Coincidences, small moments of great weight, treat cautiously with open eyes.
Arrow: Natural order, culling the weak. / Adaptability.
Cup: Peace, emotional relief, being able to let one's guard down.
Vessel: Goals, long efforts. Journeys and discoveries.
Lute: A message, diplomacy or negotiation. Listening and being heard.
Judge: Justice, karma. What's done is done. / Persecution or wrongful accusation, a frame-up.
Mirror: Deception, trickery. / Denying the truth, not looking closely enough.
Crown: Respect, earned influence. All things have their time. / A pretender or poser.
Shield: Righteousness, true belief. Willingness to stand alone if necessary.
Forge: Needed tools or keys. Mysterious gains; a gift with no note. / A useless treasure, a compass without a map.
Row 4: Magic Runes
Linnorm: Greatness, victory. / Failure or shame.
Rusalka: Disappointment, resentment, past sins, guilt.
Wendigo: Weakness, helplessness. Paralysis. / Efficacy, competence.
Witchfire: Poison, blackmail or enchantment. / Foolishness, callousness, unintentional evil.
Primal: sudden, violent change. The truth comes out. / Unexpected tragedy, irreversible downfall.
Staff: Desire to effect change. / Temptation to impose one's will.
Blackmoon: Mysteries of the universe, things few can understand. An unknown factor, something forgotten.
Troll: Health, recovery. A comeback.
Einherjar: Self-control, self-sacrifice. / Carrying unwanted burdens or responsibility.
Kraken: inner darkness, anxiety, depression, or madness.
Were: Transformation, metamorphosis. / Two-facedness, treachery, imprisonment.
Worms: Balance, compromise, you need the opposite of what you want.
Dragon Turtle: Old history, deeds of past heroes. Lasting impact or consequences.
I created these runes with the Ulfen and Erutaki's daily lives in mind. While casters will of course see greater significance in them, ordinary folk are looking for quick, concrete predictions and interpretations to guide their actions. The meanings of the runes focus on aspects of life important to the Ulfen and Erutaki. In our game these runes are used across the Linnorm Lands, and some Erutaki believe them to have been handed down by the norns. The runes are composed of straight lines and dots because these are the easiest to carve with knives, so the runes can be made quickly by anyone who knows them. They're not used as an alphabet though, just as a mean of clarifying a situation or telling the future.
I also worked in a few references to other parts of the campaign setting:
I made my runes out of cardboard, so they were quite cheap and fast to make. Feel free to make your own if you like them.