Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus
The God of the Crossroads
The God of the Crossroads
Spheres of Influence: crossroads, travel, choice, decisions, transition, destiny, fortune, divination
Domains: Death, Knowledge, Luck, Travel
Symbol: an equilateral cross
Worshippers’ Alignment: any (very few worshippers)
The god of crossroads has no name and a thousand faces. It has been venerated in some way by almost every culture of the Flanaess. Some see it as a god, some as a demon. Many believe it to be some sort of spirit, but the most common perception is simply as a concept. When a traveller leaves bread to appease the spirits of a crossroad, this is a sacrifice. When a person begs himself, ‘let this be the right choice,’ he is offering prayer.
Many of those who perceive this force as a god confuse it with Istus, Norebo or, most often, with Fharlanghn. Though their spheres of influence are similar, none of these gods are in fact the god of crossroads. Those who speculate that it is some sort of demon or spirit are wrong as well. The god of crossroads simply is. It belongs to no known pantheon. No one knows when it first came to be. Perhaps it is simply superstition taken form. Sages who speculate on the nature of gods frequently study this one, in hopes it will reveal whether gods created Man or the other way around.
Crossroads have been attributed any number of magical powers, such as in the belief that a vampire must be buried at a crossroads. Also, they represent both protection and danger, and transition. This god is the embodiment of all the things crossroads have stood for; not merely the choice of paths to take when traveling, but also choices of paths in life, both taken and not taken. Because of this, decisions and consequences in general are represented, as well as destiny, chance, and fortune—and thus divination. However, Fate is not represented. People who venerate this god tend to believe that destiny is not fixed, but depends on the choices a person makes. Destiny, in fact, is another word for consequences. Because of this, Istus’ more devout worshipers often have philosophical conflicts with followers of this god, though it seldom goes beyond debate due to the laconic disposition of the Lady’s followers. To both groups’ amusement, scholars who do not follow either god tend to view the two as rivals.
This god has few true worshippers. The priests, rare as they are, make up the majority of active followers. They commonly believe that the god of the crossroads is truly the manifestation of choice, the moment of truth, the intersection of paths of possibility. As such, the god has no need of worshippers, since everyone comes into its arms at some point in their life. Indeed, perhaps it is no god at all, but simply the vivified concept itself, given form. This esoteric view is rarely shared by others, most of whom really could care less.
The god’s Avatar
The god of crossroads seldom takes form. When it does, it tends to appear simply as a dark-cloaked man with a staff, with the hood pulled down to shadow the face. An observant character may notice that the cloak and hood never blow about, regardless of weather. The god has also been known to appear as some sort of animal, in which case damage and attacks are per animal form. Note, however, that these are simply the most common forms the god takes; it can choose any it wishes, including young maids, wispy spirits, ghosts, or even a four-headed Hindu-like deity (there is a joke among the small priesthood that this is the god’s formal attire).
The god generally appears only at crossroads, usually at night (preferably dawn, dusk, or midnight), walking out of the distance as if materializing. If a wounded, sick, or starving character encounters it, it will aid them. If a character speaks with it, it may give advice. If someone was actively seeking it, it may give them assistance or answers to their questions. However, it will never answer a question that a character can find an answer to themselves, and it will not assist a character unless they are truly in need.
People in the habit of leaving offerings at crossroads are most likely to encounter this being. Thus many commoners and travelers are in the habit of leaving a little something, whether food, money, flowers, or whatever, in case they might need its aid someday. Also, there are certain rituals (known best by old herbwomen) to try and summon the being. Villagers often supplicate it for aid to sick children, ailing livestock, and so on.
The god will never fight unless attacked. Its aid is offered freely to anyone who knows enough to petition it properly. Though it may fight if attacked, it usually chooses to reveal its nature to the attacker and then simply depart, never to return to that person. If any soul is foolish enough to shun unconditional aid, then they don’t deserve it.
Though it will only physically manifest at a crossroads, the god might occasionally choose to send spiritual aid to a person standing at a metaphorical crossroads. This will never be anything material, such as money or magic. It is most likely to take the form of a vision or omen, which can point the person in the right direction if they understand the message. These signs are always quiet, but instantly recognizable by the person receiving them. Many villagers would attribute it to this god if they followed a fox across their field to a neighbor’s house, only to coincidentally discover their missing plough under the neighbor’s porch.
Alignment: any neutral
Raiment: there is no required clothing for these priests; however, the holy symbol must always be worn prominently, and the staff must bear a certain pattern of markings. Also, because of the typical appearance of their god when it manifests, they tend to favor black cloaks and robes.
There is no organization to the believers of this god. Anyone who offers their small prayers or offerings counts as a worshiper. Occasionally someone will embrace its beliefs more completely, perhaps even pursuing study of the religion (such as it is). Unlike many other religions, which at least have some sort of formal schooling, priests of this god are more likely to discover one day that powers are being granted to them as they learn on their own. Very occasionally, a priest active in the faith will find and tutor a student. Most often, however, study and research involve talking to a lot of midwives and old farmers, and a good bit of travel and meditation.
Priests of this faith tend to be non-judgmental. They travel a great deal, offering aid to any they meet who need it. They often turn up at the oddest times to get involved in key situations, especially when others are having trouble with them. They get along very well with clerics of Fharlangahn, with whom they are frequently confused, and though they have differences with clerics of Istus, the two groups’ shared philosophical background promotes a certain understanding of one another. On the other hand, these priests get quite surly when they’re confused or compared with clerics of Norebo, since as far as they’re concerned Norebo covers a totally different sphere of influence. The fortune of the god of crossroads has nothing to do with the kind of fortune Norebo deals with. Priests of Norebo tend not to care, or even understand, if they’re compared to priests of the crossroads god.
Though this god’s priests have no required raiment, they often prefer ‘outdoor’ colors, such as sky blue, green, brown, and grey. Also, they usually favor voluminous, dark cloaks. The markings on their staves bear religious significance, and are used in their few ceremonies, which are performed, naturally, at crossroads, at solstice and equinoxes. Additionally, the nights of both full moons and both dark moons are also holy.