The So-Called Great Demon of the Ocean
There are a great number of evils in this spiritually alive world. Many of these are called demons, devils, imps, and a variety of other monikers. The oceans, with their vast size and unknowable depths have traditionally a greater number of negative beings attached to them. These lesser demons are often known by their geographical domain, such as the Seven jawed demon of the Sargasso, or by their regular appearance such as Lharfu the wave-rider. These demons, regardless of their influence, power, or deeds are all relegated to an ancillary status to one specific demon; Ma-O. Some scholars and seasalts would scold me like a child for writing the name of the Great Demon of the Ocean, many going so far as to make warding gestures against their bodies. I find this level of superstition to be fascinating as the demon Ma-O rarely makes appearances more than once every 1000 or so years, and has no organized worship outside of a few widespread and disjoined death cults.
Excerpt from the diaries of Siobhan, sailor of the Kestral-Angel
Spring 45, Year of our Blessing 3210…The Kestral-Angel has made good time, which is a boon. Our supplies of everything are thin to threadbare. The winds have tossed us six directions to the pole star and the navigator says he doesn’t know where we are. Weather-eye says there will be bad storms for the week ahead, but the winged scouts have found an island, shelter. Maybe a chance to forage some provisions.
Spring 47, Year of our Blessing 3210…The island is a boon, as the storms are violent beyond the ken of even a seasoned sailor as the captain. We are battered even in the harbor. The seas are filled with rage, and with a spyglass we can sight things beyond the barrier island. Tentacles writhe in the water, each looking a cable-length long, and as big round as a bull. It should give me enough fright alone to have seen such a creature. The bosun called it Kraken, and said while rare, such giants were kings of the sea as sure as his Eminence is king of the land. I said it should, but in the storm I saw something more, something I cannot explain and cannot yet put to paper.
Spring 53, Year of our Blessing 3210…I am plagued by nightmares. The storms have abated and upon the shore was washed the corpse of the Kraken. It’s body, as long as our ship three times over was rent and broken like a child’s plaything. In my sleep I see the form of it’s destroyer. Six pillars rising from the ocean, shrouded in mist and rain. They rise too high for me to see their tops, but I know what is there, each is capped with a head, loathsome and evil. It looked at me, it sighted me through the rain and the squall and looked through the spyglass and into my own eye. I am glad is was raining as none of the other crew were wise to the fact that my bladder was released such was my fright. Until my final day, I will recall those cold eyes burning into my soul, shining with an undescribable color.
Siobhan, along with five other sailors all committed suicide before the badly damaged and severely battered Kestral-Angel returned to a safe port.
The Dark Lord of the Ocean
Here are recorded the words of Irna, Sea-Witch and devoted of the Great Demon of the Ocean
The oceans are deep, filled with cold and darkness. This is not a place for the gods of men, not the golden haired ever-youthful god of the harvest or the whore goddesses of sex and lust. The oceans are among the most ancient of places, the domain of the elder gods. Some people, intent upon their divine superiority, call the elder gods demons and devils. What is good and what is evil to a being who predates life and death, the sun, moon, and stars? Ma-O, blessed is his name is the Dark Lord and God of the Oceans. The black depths are his home, the storms and the sharks are his minions. He cares not for the whey-like faith of men. He cares nothing for churches or congregations muttering prayers and begging while offering a pittance for his favor. His is an old god.
Call me a fool if you wish, I do worship Ma-O, blessed is his name and countenance. I do not bow my head, I scream his name into the face of his storms, I dance naked in the surf while it threatens to pull out to a watery death of dash me against the stones for a bloody end. I have slit the throats of lovers and dumped them into the water, I have drowned my own young, holding them in the brine until their eyes became glassy and their bodies limp in the surf. I offered the Dark One my own life, casting myself into the deepest water I could find. I drowned. Oddly enough I did not awake in your pretty idea of personal hell, I awoke on the beach, alive. I could feel his power within me. It was like laying with a man and finding him endowed as a horse. Ma-O’s might filled me so that I was fearful that my body would burst, pain made me cry out and weep. But I live and I serve my God of the Deep, the one you so foolishly call a demon.
Primordials and Gods
Ma-O, the Great Demon of the Ocean is a Primordial God, one of the elder and alien beings that was largely responsible for the creation of the world. These elder gods are vastly removed from the realm of humanity and care nothing for the trials of mortals. Most of the Primordial beings have fallen into two major camps, those who have transcended and those who have been slain. The transcendant elder gods have given up their old mantles and have become alien gods of unknown power. They are also so far away from the level of humanity that they have no sway over man. Those elder gods who have been slain in truth are the demons and devils whose essence is trapped in the negative realms called commonly Hell. In fact, it is the death of a being that predates the concept of Death that created these hellish realms. Each greater Hell realm is the fortress-mausoleum-prison of a slain primordial. Ma-O and a few others remain menaces to the world as they have neither given up their ancient dominions, nor have they been overcome and slain or imprisoned by man, god, or elder being.
The Great Demon of the Ocean Reborn
Ma-O is the strongest and most powerful demon of the oceans. Thankfully for mankind, his interests and conflicts are not often with the land, but with the other greater denizens of the oceans, including other demons, powerful anima-gods, and most commonly, elemental lords. Ma-O’s greatest rivalries are with the Elemental God-Kings of Magma and fire whose fortresses are underwater volcanoes and boiling abysses. Second to these are the tectonic Emperor-elementals that hold up the continents and the islands. Ma-O would most like to see the world swallowed up by the oceans, so that dry land and flame alike were both quenched.
Servants and Slaves
Ma-O is served by a great many beings of the deep ocean. His most ardent minions are Shark-Demons and infernally minded Kraken and leviathans. While Ma-O doesn’t have a unified following, he does have several dozen small cults that worship him. These are the frightening types of cults as most are almost completely secret. They are also disturbing in the acts of evil that they will commit to honor their patron. The clerics of Ma-O are rare in the extreme, but those few that are, are always female and often insanely potent. These Sea-Witches can command storms, summon sea serpents, cause the dead to rise from the waves, and in one case, raise entire ships with undead crews from the oceans. A sea-witch can with a mark of ash, blood, and salt, make someone a slave to Ma-O, forced to do the bidding of the elder god or his servant the sea-witch.
Northron Sea, 7 degrees north of Vapori Island, heading N-NW.
The Kimi is heading out into the Northron, out into the gray wastes north northwest of Vapori island. Even the locals don’t travel this far out hunting for the whales. The wind is stiff and cold, and some of the ropes have snapped for ice and wind. But the sun is shining, and we are not alone. For a time, a school of dolphins rode out bow wave, dancing in the water. Some of the men fancied harpooning one for dinner but the captain, bless his boots, convinced them otherwise. The dolphins stayed with us for two days. There was a spot of storming, and it calmed. We found something wondrous then.
Dearest, there are unicorns that swim in the seas. They look akin to dolphins but they are larger, and from their head they have a spiraling horn almost a fathom long. We laughed and hooted at the creatures and in turn they whistled at us and sent up plumes of mist from their blowholes. All the while we never saw sight of a decent whale to take with the spears and the longboat. For lack of harpooning, we dropped the nets and trawled the cold waters. By the time we returned to Narva, the Kimi’s holds were stuffed with sea cod the size of a man.
A Light in the Dark
Not all is darkness and doom, there are forces that have for ages balanced the might of Ma-O. Otherwise, the Great Demon of the Ocean would have long ago brought the ruin of the land and quenching of all flames. The Anima-Gods of the Whales and the Wise creatures of the sea have always stood against Ma-O and his deep and cold blooded ways. The chief and foremost of his opponents is Ithy-Ra, the Sun Dolphin and the Laughing Wave. This patron of islanders, joy and fertility is a great foe of Ma-O and his main warriors, the shark-spirits.
Second, but not certainly any less potent is Rorqual the Ice Singer, Sheppard of the Ice Floes and Cold Seas. As the unicorn of the seas, the narwhal whale ventures deep into the war to destroy the unnamed beasts and horrors that come creeping up from the depths; strange sightless fish, monstrosities that are all jaws and little body and things stranger.
The largest and most potent of the Anima-Whales is the ancient Physeter, the cachalot whale. Greater in size than all but the most grand and massive of ships, this whale god is the slayer of Krakens, and his appearance is enough to send a shoal of shark-kin warriors fleeing for their cold and empty lives.
Recollections of a Sea-Priestess, Marylenna of Cote Tora
I remember one day, when I was still very young to the spirits of the sea, and while I swam with a dolphin, I asked of it, Is not man the most wicked of creatures? I was very proud of my gifts, and scornful of the other folk who lived off of the sea but did not share my reverence for it. Dolphin spoke to me, telling me I was foolish and did not know wickedness, for even men have the potential to be good, and most have goodness in their hearts even if their eyes are closed and the deeds of the hands ignorant. So I asked again, the shark, he must be the most wicked of creatures for all he does is kill and swim in blood and eat. Again Dolphin laughed and called me foolish. Shark is as shark is. And shark is a cunning hunter, and most sharks only take the weak and the old, the sick and injured, keeping the others strong and healthy. This is the way of the ocean. Just as man, there are wicked sharks who do kill not for food, but to just swim in the blood and for the lust of murder and death.
Dolphin showed me what the face of wickedness was. In my mind’s eye I saw a silent storm, it’s force greater than the cyclones that come out of the tropical seas. In the center there was a beast, it was made of roaring water and hatred, a dozen necks rising from the water. Each was huge and I felt faint with fright. Some of the necks would fatten, and split in half obscenely to create two entirely new necks. Wicked and evil heads sat atop the roaring waterspouts, each jaw opening, howling obscenities into the heavens. I was afraid even as one head turned and bit off another and absorbed it’s shrinking pillar of a neck into itself. Rage, hatred, all boiling at a frantic pace. And it radiated malice and anger, and hatred and feeling for which humans cannot experience and thus cannot name.
Dolphin took me to the shore then. I wept, knowing that such a thing could exist in a world of bright corals and happy fish. Even shark seemed kindly in the face of such a thing. It was nearly a week before I entered the water again, and it was not without a taint of fear.
Ma-O is the great demon of the ocean, an idea that Cheka took and made into a submission about three years ago. Seeing the Oceanic quest, I felt inspired to write up Ma-O as I envisioned the great demon of the ocean. As the great demon of the ocean (really all oceans) Ma-O is the fear of the unknown depths and all the horrors from the harmless angler fish which looks gruesome and horrific to the below freezing waters that can kill with only a few minutes exposure. Most of all, Ma-O is the hatred of the storms that come on the ocean, unimpeded by natural terrain like mountains or forests.
Most sane games will never see a group of NPCs facing Ma-O in battle. I envisioned Ma-O almost as irresistible as the elements themselves or the changing of the seasons. Most of the time, the Great Demon of the Ocean rarely notices the goings on of human nations let alone a few upstart heroes. But what would be more heroic that facing a nigh invincible demon-god from flooding and destroying a nation, hunting down and slaying a cell of Drowned Cultists, or finding relics of the past and hints that Ma-O comes like a Biblical plague and it is up to the PCs to figure out what or who has drawn the seething hatred of the demon god of water.