Wee Jas Resurrected
Date: Thu, March 31, 2005
Topic: Gods & Followers
Welcome faithful follower of Wee Jas. The Suel Greater Goddess of Death, Magic, Law, Vanity and Witches waits to embrace you!
You've heard what? Nonsense! Those are just the prattlings of lesser beings. Boccob is unmanned by Wee Jas. Nerull stinks like death. Iggwilv? Have you read about her and Grazzt? And Iuz? Heh! Consider the source. And Wee Jas is the great source of all things Suel magical and deadly.
Now, enter the sacred confines of the Goddess and learn that there is much of Wee Jas that you do not know and would not guess. You will enjoy your visit, learn much or die. Or is that _and_ die? Such is Wee Jas!
Wee Jas Resurrected
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Wee Jas. The name is variously spoken with reverence, awe, and suspicion; and frequently with outright contempt. Derided as the pretty goddess of death, magic, law and vanity, Wee Jas is seen by many Oeridians, and even Suel, as a pretender to powers belonging to others and as a deity with such a varied portfolio and demeanor that she cannot be taken seriously – Wee Jas, the trifling goddess, the dilettante, the one who doesn’t fit, who has no true place. Such views are born of prejudice compounded by ignorance and a blessed inability to see beyond the end of the nose.
How did Wee Jas come to be so regarded and what is the truth of the matter? To answer these questions it is necessary to examine not only the goddess but three other beings of great power.
Wee Jas and Boccob
Boccob is the god of neutrality, magic, arcane knowledge, foreknowledge and foresight. To most of the Flanaess, Boccob is the god of magic. Wee Jas is an after thought, who must somehow be explained away. The truth is more complicated.
Wee Jas is a Suel goddess, daughter of Lendor. She was born divine and her people ruled for generations, enslaving the Oeridians, only grown great after the Suel Imperium’s fall. In all that time, Wee Jas reigned supreme as the deity of all things magical and arcane. Her tradition is divine and of the greatest antiquity come down now to the current age.
Boccob’s origin is not divine. He is but a recently ascended mortal. When relations between Boccob and Wee Jas are said to be respectful, it is Boccob who respects Wee Jas. The goddess is respectful in turn in the way any person of better breeding will be polite to social upstarts who have bulled their way into a society into which they were not born. That the dross of non-Suel magicians genuflect in Boccob’s direction is more a sign of the poor state of their Art and low breeding than anything else.
So too, Wee Jas is female and attractive at that. This frightens the paternalistic and patriarchal Oeridian sages and mages, who prefer women, openly or behind a feinting egalitarianism, to “keep to their place.” This is no small cause for merriment and arch comments among the goddesses’ faithful, that Boccob’s adherents and advocates must have some “small problem” that does not plague Suel men.
Attempts to define Wee Jas as a patron of magic items or of spells or any of these use, rather than accepting her individuality and primacy of place as the Suel goddess of magic, older than any other, may be seen then as a poorly reasoned attempt to put her “in her place” and elevate Boccob to a station to which he has no right.
Wee Jas and Nerull
Wee Jas fully respects Nerull, even if the reverse is not necessarily true. While both deities have death as an element of their portfolio, they are of totally different natures. Nerull is dangerous in a way Wee Jas is not. Nerull is the death bringer, the destroyer, the active personification of the heedless loss of life. Wee Jas is the mistress of the afterlife and death’s door, the keeper of the passage to life beyond life and death, the personification of transition and penultimate knowledge of the eternal.
Nerull is a cackling villain. He wants everything dead and himself the master of a dead world. Wee Jas administers death as an essential function of life. Life is a type of magic and law decrees that which lives must die. Death is not to be courted but neither is it possible to avoid it. This is the key to understanding Wee Jas’s “varied” portfolio – magic is life, death is the ultimate consequence of life, law governs when life gives way to death or undeath.
Nerull is a far more simple deity of death. He is easy to understand – you die now. Wee Jas is complicated. Her doctrine is as much a philosophy as a religion. Simple minds have trouble grasping Wee Jas’ portfolio and prefer Nerull’s simplicity and cackling villainy. And the chauvinism of the sages, savants, mages and scholars of the Flanaess is again on display, grown more virulent for their confinement to the strict confines of the Flanaess and their own company.
The rivalry between Wee Jas and Nerull is the rivalry between the constable and the rabid serial killer. Wee Jas is fully aware of Nerull’s power and the need to hold him in check but is wise enough to avoid a confrontation that could well prove her undoing. Clerics of Wee Jas work to thwart Nerull’s naked grabs for power by undermining those efforts directly but more often through third parties or by covertly aiding Nerull’s opponents. The subtlty in their rivalry is Wee Jas’. Nerull is unsubtle.
In such affairs, or otherwise, Wee Jas’ and her clergy are fully as conversant and skilled with undeath as Nerull and his followers. Again, however, Wee Jas is subtle. She is not given to flamboyant displays of undeathly power. But neither will she scruple when matters come to a head. Nerull revels in death and undeath. For Wee Jas, it is but another state which must be ordered through the application of law.
Wee Jas and Iggwilv
Because Wee Jas is subtle where Boccob is obvious and Nerull is brutal, there is some tendency to see Wee Jas as an indistinct personality or even benign. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The relationship between Wee Jas and Iggwilv is intense and revealing.
Iggwilv is the Mother of Witches. She is the foremost witch in the Flanaess if not Oerik and perhaps all of Oerth. Her progeny and paramours are legend. Her failures are spectacular but her successes, her survival and growing puissance being foremost, are even more so. Iggwilv is less than a goddess but has grown to be something far more than human, if she ever was truly human. Covens of witches throughout the Flanaess look to Iggwilv for guidance, inspiration or are secretly controlled by the Mother of Witches. Her influence is everywhere spread like a thin, vaporous poison, settling in hollows and depressions in the hearts of the greatest cities and the most wild of wildernesses. And she despises Wee Jas. Iggwilv envies and covets her divine status and power.
Wee Jas is the foremost goddess of witches and her rivalry with Iggwilv is unthinkably vicious and deadly. Iggwilv will acknowledge no superior, goddess or no, and offers direct challenge to Wee Jas. The goddess full returns the enmity. Covens dedicated to Wee Jas war ceaselessly with covens dedicated to or controlled by Iggwilv, with no quarter asked or given. There is no coexistence possible. If rival covens operate in close proximity, when they are aware of each other, they are at war. Iggwilv, though less powerful than Wee Jas in pure might, may operate directly on Oerth, while Wee Jas cannot. The end result is a terrible stalemate and bloody attrition that sees neither side long holding a decisive advantage.
Those witches beholding to Wee Jas are not “good,” even by any simple-minded comparison to those aligned with Iggwilv. While witches guided by Wee Jas have more varied alignments than those in Iggwilv’s train, the variance is not so great in practice. The witchy followers of Wee Jas align LG, LN and LE; law is paramount. Those of Iggwilv align NE, CE and LE; evil is paramount. In both witchy camps, LE predominates for the Craft is dominated by an ethos of self-serving evil that would impose its order, bending all to its will. The battle between the Mother of Witches and the Goddess of Witches is then a battle between twin evils only slightly leavened by those followers of the goddess who yet pursue the good or seek neutrality and balanced again by those followers of Iggwilv of a chaotic bent.
The wild card in this feud are those witches who will declare allegiance to neither side, for there are many other powers who will sponsor witches, even if Wee Jas and Iggwilv are foremost in their offers of patronage. The Craft is diverse, even as it is dominated by evil.
The Little Death
If Wee Jas is then capable of being understood in the context of complex interrelationships among powerful beings as something more than a trifling deity but rather an ancient and powerful force in her own right, something must still be said about the addition to her portfolio of the vanity domain. From where does this come? And what does it signal?
The simple answer is that Wee Jas’ appearance and all the comments, reflecting a certain attitude or belief, about her appearance have begun to transform the deity, adding to her portfolio and her power. If so many see her as attractive and regard her by some measure in sexual terms, that belief feeds power to the goddess as it would to any divine being. Expressed in terms of “vanity” that mirrors Phyton’s description as a Suel god of “beauty,” Wee Jas is evolving in her newest role.
Of course, Wee Jas has always been a sexual deity with aspects of a goddess of love. The affair between the LN Wee Jas and the CN Norebo is legendary. Opposites attract, but more than that, this love affair is the foremost love affair or affair of love between any of the Suel deities and indeed among any of the deities worshiped in the Flanaess, without exception. Wee Jas must hold a prominent place in any discussion of gods and love. She lives it.
Myhriss is the only chiefly definable goddess of love and is of uncertain origin. It is reasonably certain, however, that Myhriss is not a Suel deity for her beauty portfolio would be in direct conflict with that of Phyton. Digressions on the nature of beauty do not resolve the central conflict that would appear. Seeing Wee Jas as an emergent love goddess does not take away from Myhriss’ portfolio.
Wee Jas’ connection with witches, with whom there is a definable sexual tradition, ironically exemplified by Wee Jas’ great rival Iggwilv, only reinforces Wee Jas’ availability to be placed in or seen in the role of a goddess of love. That Wee Jas’ alignment is LN says nothing, neither directly and certainly not in light of Wee Jas’ romance with Norebo. It again appears that Wee Jas will defy easy pigeon-holing and will be as complex a character in her new role as in her ancient ones.
Sample Cults of Wee Jas
Being a goddess of magic and death, WeeJas is a natural patron of necromancers. Indeed, more necromancers venerate WeeJas than Nerull, for WeeJas exacts none of the servitudes or obeisance Nerull demands. WeeJas is also far more readily generous in her support, for her agenda includes no conquest of life or anything else so essential a facet of Nerull’s cackling villainy.
The Necromongers are one of the largest death cults that venerate Wee Jas as their patron. First appearing in the Flanaess in the van of the Brazen Horde, a quirk of history, the Necromongers long ago outgrew the confines of the northwestern plains. They now exist throughout the Flanaess and seek to bring about the Reign of the Dead - rule by necromancy. In many isolated localities, the Necromongers have succeeded in establishing their terrifying dominion.
Necromonger cultists include many warrior-necromancers and warriors, as well as the necromancers who lead the group. Warriors and other non-wizards inducted into the cult undergo the Death Rite, ritualistic murder or suicide from which they are revived with a taint of death that adds to their prowess in battle. As the Necromongers are found of saying, “You can’t kill us; we’ve already died.”
As devotees of Wee Jas, the Necromongers stand squarely against Nerull and his clerics. Death is a transcendent experience and state to the Necromongers, not an end as Nerull would have it. Nerull’s clerics loath the Necromongers and are largely responsible for limiting their growth beyond cult status. In Perrenland, there is a particularly fierce struggle between the Necromongers, Nerull’s clerics and Iggwilv’s minions. Perrenland’s military tradition makes it the Necromongers’ primary target for conversion but they are finding their reach may exceed their grasp.
The Gray Pardoners
In cities across the length and breadth of the Flanaess, a death in the family may be followed by a visit from a quiet figure all in gray and offering prayers for the deceased. These are the Gray Pardoners, who reflect a different aspect of Wee Jas’ death portfolio, distinct from black necromancy. Clerics of Wee Jas wielding powerful divinations and necromantic magics, the Gray Pardoners seek to assure the dead rest and their families peace of mind. If their ministrations are acceptable, the Gray Pardoners will contact the dead and assure them true passage to the afterlife. They will help the family move on or both the family and the deceased to conclude any unfinished business in this life that was left incomplete. Not a few so helped now say a prayer to WeeJas among their other devotions.
The Gray Pardoners are despised by the clerics of Pholtus. Accused of being ghouls, psychic vampires, mind rapists, ectophages and worse, the Gray Pardoners are harassed, even attacked by worshipers of Pholtus whenever, and wherever, they may cross paths. To the Pholtic Church, Wee Jas is sin incarnate, a symbol of Suel depravity that must be blotted out lest good folk be drawn astray. For their part, the Gray Pardoners offer no insult to the Pholtic clerics and attempt to withdraw rather than fight. This is unusual for followers of any Suel deity and raises questions among the thoughtful while raising cries of cowardice from the mob. The truth is elusive.
The Marsh Witches
The Cold Marshes crawl across the northwestern Flanaess, spreading out in frozen bogs, fens and mires for hundreds upon hundreds of miles. Within the chill swamps of the northwest, the Marsh Witches make their homes. Descendants of Flan bogpeople, lost Baklunish travelers, dour Northrons from Blackmoor and some Suel witchmen on a mission from the south, the Marsh Witches are a unique, virtually tribal, culture that venerates Wee Jas for granting them the power to survive and thrive. Once enslaved by Iggwilv’s embassies, the bogdwellers were liberated by Sueloise followers of Wee Jas, who took the battle between the witch powers to the utter north. With the zeal of the convert and the enthusiasm of the liberated, the veneration of WeeJas was well solidified in this cold land.
In truth, the Marsh Witches are best described as a people supporting a particular magical practice as a central part of their culture, as much as a cult. The only goal of the Marsh Witches is to live free from Iggwilv and Iuz’ predations and practice their faith in peace. Indeed, as long as one ignores the occasional human sacrifices, ritual cannibalism and living interments, it is possible to coexist with the Marsh Witches in relative harmony. Surrounding peoples have, per force, adopted such a strategy, even seeking out individual Marsh Witches said to possess great healing or oracular powers. The greatest Marsh Witch is that one who has strayed furthest from home and become known - Thingizzard. Despite seemingly fatal reverses, the crone still haunts the north central lands.
The Court of the Summoners
As the LN goddess of magic, Wee Jas is venerated by those who summon outsiders and bind them to service. Wee Jas readily approves of and supports such activities. The Court of the Summoners is a cult that venerates Wee Jas for this patronage.
Located for the most part in the central and western Flanaess, the Court of the Summoners is a loosely organized group of individuals allied by their interest in summoning and binding magics. Individual chapters are styled “courts.” Thus, there is a Court of Greyhawk, a Court of Verbobonc, a Court of Gradsul etc. As a whole, the Court of Summoners has no organization wide agenda. It is a support and knowledge sharing group more akin to a specialized wizards guild.
The Court of the Summoners has only once acted in complete concert. It played an instrumental, but quiet, role in the recovery of the Crook of Rao. The Court, with all its various aligned members in agreement, fully supported the banishing of outsiders from the Flanaess during the Flight of the Fiends. Too many of these were not bound. The Court of the Summoners now again holds mastery of fiends as their special purview. To no ones surprise, there is extreme enmity between Iuz and the Court, irrespective of any considerations of alignment.
Combining Wee Jas’ portfolios of death, magic and vanity, Black Satin is an assemblage of courtiers, courtesans, panderers and harlots. Assassinations, necromancies, poisonings, debaucheries, indulgences and assignations of every kind are the stock in trade of this illicit guild. First founded at the sybaritic royal court in Niole Dra less than 100 years ago, Wee Jas is the revered patroness of Black Satin, sacrificed to in wild revels and drunken festivals. In less than a century, this group has crept up from the hot southlands to infest Suel courts in Leukish and Radigast City. Beyond these, agents are prominent in Greyhawk and Dyvers, as well.
Black Satin doctrine holds that death is the ultimate ecstasy and that to die in ecstasy is the ultimate sacrifice to the goddess. The most intimate practices of the cult are suitably sensational, lurid and fevered toward this end. The cult continues to grow at a remarkable pace, among both the elites and outcasts of society. Local thieves guilds, unsophisticated by comparison, are displaced by Black Satin in certain trades, as are guilds of assassins and those brokers of information found in every metropolis and court. In most cases, such local groups are infiltrated, co-opted and absorbed. Those not understanding the wisdom of a general and full-throated conversion make outstanding sacrifices and examples to others. At least their mingled screams of agony and pleasure are full voiced in praise of the goddess.
Wee Jas accepts Black Satin’s devotions as her vanity portfolio begins to grow into something much more vibrant, and sinister. A pretty goddess who wears skulls beckons. Dally with her but a moment or two. It and she are trifling things, you know. Please don’t be upset when the screaming starts. You are in fine voice.