Laj, the Hollow Judge
Appearing as a golem like spectre, Laj is a large and imposing Little God. His body is clad in iron plates and bound with burial shrouds. Ribbons stream from Laj's head, each inscribed with judgements rendered against the most legendary of villains and criminals. He has a single opaque eye, blind but still seeming to possess a strong sense of location. The little god of Judgement stands 12 feet tall and is 5 feet wide and five feet thick. The god speaks seldomly, and it's voice is booming and deep, echoing like a voice down a well or echoing across a canyon.
The Divine Law
Laj is a spirit of divine law, not the laws of man. The spirit follows the laws laid down eons ago by the eldritch gods. The laws of the gods are plain and simple, the killing of the weak, the infirm, children and the unarmed who seek succor. Theft, barbarism in the face of the gods, blasphemies of magic and the like. When a man is brought to the Temple of Laj, he is almost assuredly guilty of something terrible. Minor offenses such as stealing bread, land disputes, matters of man's haggling over coins and reputation are best handled elsewhere. Laj has but two verdicts, death and exile.
The Verdict is death, Laj thundered above the roar of the crowd. The man stood, physically and emotionally beaten. He had a good run of it, the weapons and the gold, the women and the potions. He had owned the civil guards, had owned all of the mortal judges either through coercion or coin. No one dared lay a finger on him. Then he had been abducted, beaten repeatedly and then delivered, trussed up like a hog for the feast. He had been proud for a moment, until he looked into the great dead fish belly white eye of the spirit. He knew in his heart that there was going to be no bribery, no coercion, no threats or promises. The spirit raised its ghastly gauntleted hand and let out a terrible screaming moan. The man, once an untouchable, one of the privelaged elite, a master of thieves and assassins shuddered. The crowd gasped as they saw his soul ripped from his body, sucked into the now gaping black gash that was the mouth of Laj. His corpse collapsed to the platform, not even a twitch or spasm shook his body. There was no life left inside the shell of blood, meat, and bone.
The Verdict is Exile, the Final Arbiter thundered. The crowd went wild. It was rare that the spirit of judgement passed the verdict of exile. The woman became hysterical and the guards had to chase her before she leapt off the platform and into the bloodthirsty crowd. The guards drug the screaming struggling woman back in front of the spirit. His eye blazed out bright light and she was paralyzed, like being caught in the gaze of a dragon or a cobra. The front of the spirit's body unraveled from crotch to blazing eye and a terrible and alien light spilled out of his hollow body. The members of the crowd near the front could glimpse into the body of the spirit, many fainted, others were overcome with screaming fits or catatonia. The woman was drawn into the luminescent maw and vanished. A blast of light later, the woman and the spirit alike were gone. One of the witnesses weeped and spoke of seeing flowers, while another man was overcome with violent shivers and could describe seeing a battle fought years ago.
Death and Exile:
A person slain by Laj has their spirit excised from their body and is instantly and irreversibly dead. The spirit can be seen being drawn from the body and is composed of light and snaking tendrils. A small portion of this is retained by Laj, and the spirit remembers perfectly every soul it has judged and slain. Only divine magic of great magnitude can restore a victim of Laj to life. To be slain by Laj the victim must have commited an unforgivable cardinal offense. Cold blooded murder, massacre of the innocent, or causing a great deal of pain and suffering. While stern, Laj does have mercy and will not kill someone who accidentally caused death or someone who was justified in their actions, such as a cheating spouse being killed by their betrayed partner. Those who Laj releases, thay are considered to be innocent of what they were accused of.
A person exiled by Laj has a much stranger fate in store for them. They are bodily drawn into the body of the spirit where they are for a time incarcerated in a private prison purgatory designed just for them. Once an alloted time has passed, Laj will expell the exile back into the mundane world. They are only vaguely aware of the time spent inside the god, be it a matter of days gone or years gone. The time is remembered like a bad dream, and most carry psychological aversion to whatever crime they commited and were judged on. The rapist exiled might carry an irrational fear of women when he emerges.
The City Judge: A stern city has found a way to regularly summon Laj as a Final Arbiter of their courts. The PCs are likely to have witnessed a hanging or a beheading, but Spirit Execution is much more rare. The Hollow Judge is extolled as being incorruptable and immaculate in his decisions. This might not interest most PCs, until one of them are apprehended and slated to stand before the Final Arbiter. And so far, they haven't seen the arbiter deliver anything but guilty verdicts.
The Judge of Dread: A traveling axiomancer (law mage) has the ability to summon Laj. The mage can summon the spirit to defend him if he is attacked, or as an impartial observer of a situation. The axiomancer can summon Laj for a fee so that small villages and townships dont have to decorate their walls with gallows or have other death machines present.
The Greatest Hunt: A chaos mage has taken a notion to hunt down and either capture Laj or destroy him as the spirit is a potent force of divine law, in the face of infernal chaos. The Mage has started hiring allies to find ways to bind or defeat the spirit.
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? Responses (4)-4
A *good* God who does a lot of good.
I really like Laj. As a setting element alone, he's great, and I love that he's easily flexible enough to fit in almost any game: he could be a robot, a transhuman AI, a Buffy-style demon, fantasy god; there's a lot.
One thing that isn't quite addressed here (though I don't think it needs to be) is whether Laj is all-knowing and a perfect judge, or if he can convinced, and is simply utterly impartial. That is, are there lawyers who specialize in dealing with Laj? You could run a Law & Dungeons game, with the PCs travelling the world to collect solid evidence against incredible evil-doers and then coming to present it in the court of Laj.
I don't know; I really like it.
He could be the entry point for a campaign. The pcs have commited a crime or perhaps not - who can understand the ways of the gods.
Off they go to somewhere interesting....
Really like this inflexible bastard and LOVE DLMs 'lawyers who specialize in dealing with Laj' idea! Something about this Little God spurns the imagination.
This line should be the tagline...'When a man is brought to the Temple of Laj, he is almost assuredly guilty of something terrible.'