Mnogos has the looks of a traveling healer - a simple brown robe, graying long hair, a sack full of herbs and remedies on his back. He comes into the village with a slow step, his sandals slapping quietly in the evening dusk. He enters the inn, if one can be found, noting its name and sign, and after getting some food from the innkeeper starts asking questions about it. Then he asks if there are any recently injured people in the village and how to find them, offering his services as a healer. If he can, he finds a friendly household to spend the night.
The next day he seeks out the ill and injured, talks to everyone, even the children, and by the time the last runny nose is accounted for he already knows if there is an interesting story to be found around the place. In the evening he sits down and records all he has learned through the day, preparing himself to call on the local spirits the next day.
This scholar (the word "elderly" still doesn't apply fully for him) has made a life out of the local minor deities and spirits, sometimes referred to as totemos. An orphan, he grew up in a quiet and peaceful monastery, tucked into the feet of a mountain far away. Bit by bit, he has developed an interest in the minor spiritual beings, living in this world. These beings, he reasons, have a closer relationship with the peoples of the earth, and although they are given some thought less often than the gods of the prevalent religions, if thought about at all, they exist in the background of everyday life. The uncovering of these spirits and the recording of their history has given his life a purpose, that he pursues far off the grounds of the monastery, his home.
Once in a while, Mnogos returns to the monastery to deposit his accumulated knowledge in the library, and to take a rest from traveling for a week or two. Then he marks a new destination and sets off on his search. The abbot of the monastery tolerates his interests, because Mnogos travels as a healer, helping the people on his way.
Calling the spirits
The next day after arriving in the village, if there are no more sick people to attend to, Mnogos starts looking for a convenient place to call on the spirits of the place. Many times it's just the main square, street or crossroads, in their role of the main concentration of life force in the village, when there are no places of worship worth investigating. In that case he spends the day sitting near the spot and listening to the sounds of the gathering of people, trying to hear some shadow of the former spirit that moved through their minds and souls in the past times. Maybe he hears nothing, maybe he really touches another plane of existence, no one can tell for sure. At the end of the day he opens a book and starts writing, often drawing the attention of the kids from the village. He ends up giving away pictures he drew on his travels, spending the precious paper that he has to replenish from time to time in bigger cities or from traveling merchants.
If the totemos has left an imprint in the form of a mascot, an image worn by a group of people in the area or village/town, Mnogos tries to come in contact with then, talk with them about their everyday chores and how they live their life. He would ask a direct question about the image if he is sure there will be no discomfort or worry for the people that use it. His manner is very composed and non-invasive, trying to soak in the spirit of the totemos, instead of extracting it from the people that carry it. He will often offer help to the group under the totemos, to be able to get into their shoes even more. As a result a lot of people that carry the sign of a totemos have heard about him, even if they don't know or remember his name.
When there are (or were) notable places of worship, however old and hidden they might be, a single rumour is enough for Mnogos to go searching through the nearby forests, plains, mountains and deserts for any remains of these ancient spots. He has an uncanny knack for finding spiritually significant places, which the players can feel if they travel with him. When a place of worship is found, he examines it from every possible direction, touching the remains of the shrines and altars, searching for the energy of the spirit. Again, there is no outer sign of what he feels or sees, or hears, but after such an examination he has a lot to write in his spirit tomes.
Mnogos has a strong connection with the spirit world, so much is already obvious. He really has visions and hears the mirrored sounds of the totemos acting and moving through the people of the earth. He doesn't see the spirit itself, but senses the way it guided the actions of people, be it with fear, faith or respect. He sees the imprint spirits leave on/in people. This stretches to places and objects by way of the importance people put in them, or the way they acted there and then. He can see the power of a totemos that was worshiped at a shrine a thousand years ago by feeling the imprint of the emotions and actions of people in this places, that were caused (the actions) by the totemos.
- Interaction and Tutorship
Mnogos is a very friendly character, offering aid to the party even if they don't have a way to repay him. Of course the best way is to offer him an opportunity to practice his skills. If there is a character that belongs to a group with a totemos, like a knight or possibly a mage, Mnogos will be interested in their group practices and life, and in their totemos, if the character is open to him. He will explain his work and can act as a tutor to some characters that have an inclination towards the spiritual. Such characters does not have to be priests or mages, or psychics. The most ordinary warrior can have an interest in the way spirits move in our world, either as a hobby or a perceived way to further his training and skills. Martial arts, and most arts in general, usually have a spiritual part, and the awareness Mnogos can offer is a great step towards (and possibly beyond) the state of mind of the samurai and ninja of legend.
- The Spirit Tomes
Mnogos writes down his observations on each and every totemos he encounters, and these notes are put on separate sheets of paper, bound in thin wooden slats with leather straps. He usually carries around two or three of these tomes. The interesting thing to mention is that although he mostly sits around, looking and listening to people, when he starts writing the most intricate and detailed descriptions or rituals and traditions and rules are put on paper. One can almost believe that he traveled back in time and witnesses the rites himself, before describing them. This makes his notes very valuable to people interested in the old spirits. More often than not such people are of the evil-dark-spirit-power-wielding persuasion, and Mnogos is aware of that. That's why he never gives away the level of detail he sees in the places where old totemos dwell. Even if he is tutoring a character, he will not tell them the significance of his full works.
- Dealing with a spirit gone rogue - Sometimes things in the spirit world change, for better or worse, and ordinary people can suffer from it. The party is put in the middle of such a change, either by being directly targeted, or just passing by at the moment. In this case they should know about Mnogos beforehand (or meet him on the spot), as a person at home with totemos, even as one that has studied the spirit in question.
- The PCs meet Mnogos and are drawn in his latest search for a lost totemos. A nice way to hook up a journey through the jungles/harsh mountains, looking for the lost shrine of the spirit. Even if it is a simple rock pedestal, with no treasure and no monsters, if the party is one that recognizes the spiritual part of the world, they can get some experience (not only in the XP-points sense) and feel for the world they live in. Treasure and monsters/cults/natives/anything-else are addable at any point of course.
- Mnogos asks the party to travel with him to the monastery. This is possible if he really trusts them as it brings them closer to his work.
- Rescuing Mnogos from imprisonment - an overprotective group of people, possibly a cult, have put him in a cell because they think he is after their secrets. The party receives a plea for help from a friend of Mnogos, or maybe they are currently looking for him? A way to put them in the path of a cult, or vice-versa.
- A task for an evil character or party - to obtain Mnogos's notes on a certain spirit, or maybe as much as possible of his works, and use them to gain power. How the players know about his notes is left to the GM. How an ancient totemos of unknown strength reacts when summoned on the spot by a ritual that hasn't been used in a thousand years is also in GM's hands, but can become the players' problem.
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? Responses (8)
Nice. Not every NPC has to be a noble, a villian or a warrior.
I like this Elbin, I can feel an almost over-the-shoulder cameraman History channel series vibe. This week, Mnogos is in the Judhakar valley, his senses tell him that there are many little gods here, and possibly a totemos or two... I like very much.
If I understood correctly, Mgonos learns about the various totemos he encounters by tapping into the ancestral memories of the native people of the region? Thanks. I got to say that the existence of such a character opens up some really fascinating possibilities. Well done.
A good, well detailed NPC and you incorporated an existing sub as a fundamental part. Nicely done indeed!
Elbin, come back and post more. I really like this.
Really great. I can see him being consulted by PCs to learn about secrets in a place that only a minor god would know.
On a somewhat related note, I first road the tagline as 'A traveling scholar, digging up the roots of *tomatoes* that he encounters.' Which in itself would be... curious.
and probably worth a stub! :)
I believe everything I want to say has been covered by previous comments already. Good work.