Altzmyr (5e Deity)
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Alignment. Neutral Good
Domains. Knowledge, Life, Undeath
Divine Rank. Lesser Deity
Aliases: The Phoenix God, The Holy Necromancer, Savior of the Restless Dead, The Sacred Bone God, The Whisperer of the Undead.
Other common symbols: Flower crowns and wreaths consisting of varieties of Helichrysum, daffodil and Queen Anne's Lace, skeletal phoenixes, grave lanterns, images of Altzmyr himself slaying powerful undead tyrants.
Altzmyr is the god of non-evil undead. He is charged with protecting them from evil and the overzealous. He teaches that undead are people, not monsters to be slain on sight. He was once a mortal who sought immortality and banded non-evil undead together, until the gods decided to brutally slaughter him, in which he rose as a god.
Altzmyr appears as a serene, youthful half-elf male with pale greenish skin, violet eyes, and long black hair. He wears flowing white and purple robes, a flower crown of the flowers his temple favors, and mummy bandages on his legs. His body below his chest is charred, blackened skeleton. From his back are a pair of skeletal phoenix wings that continuously burn. A lunar halo softly shines behind his head.
Legend of the Holy Necromancer
In life, Altzmyr was a half-elf necromancer who sought immortality because of his heavily shortened half-elven lifespan relative to his elven relatives. Many told him it was a path of evil, many of those he traveled with barely trusted him and thought of him as deranged for taking up such dark powers. All he wanted was to find ways to cheat death, and he did not exclude undeath from his research. Tapping into the powers of death did dampen his formerly sunny demeanor but did heightened his resolve to press further into his work; with every life force sapped, with every skeleton re-animated he could feel between his fingertips a clue, a hint, a way out of mortality. Such hope often was paired with a sense of guilt and doubt, he could not shake the feeling that such a thing was harming the innocent in some way, maybe it was just the way people talked about his craft, maybe it was just paranoia.
During his travels, he poured through tomes that hinted at the existence of liches of good alignment, but most scoffed such beings as impossible inherent oxymorons. Altzmyr scrambled to find one of these creatures of myth, and it led him to finally meet one in an old, abandoned monastery. Such an encounter gave him hope that undeath is not inherently evil, that there were ways to harness such a seemingly foul force for good. After some persuasion, Altzmyr was able to become the apprentice, as well as best friend and link to the outside world to the lich. The half-elf seemed bright-eyed with his ambitions, but his new master cautioned him about the possible consequences involved, and the personal sacrifices that come with cheating death.
The lich protected his new apprentice by infusing a portion of his own undeath into Altzmyr’s living soul, granting him an extended lifespan and immunity to disease. He warned his apprentice the greater forces out there are unkind to the good undead who face persecution from gods of repose and gods of evil necromancy. Altzmyr was not content to simply waste away in the shadows like his master. He journeyed far and wide to search for other undead who were good. He discovered them to be few and far in between, and many cling onto the Material Plane for a greater, noble purpose. He encountered undead whose danger to the living was spurred by being drowned in feelings of jealousy and sorrow, and Altzmyr used his compassion to reach out to the various shades, will-o’whisps, specters, and wraiths that even tried to kill him, and successfully allowed some to even lay to rest. His deeds begun to spread, but as usual hardly anyone believed them.
Then he drew the attention of the powers that be. The gods of repose hated him, the gods that commanded the evil undead hated him, the gods of nature hated him, the gods of light, and well, many of the gods hated him. He had uncovered the secret of the undead-that the undead are still ultimately people.
With an iron decree, the gods of evil made it that to maintain lichdom, a lich must feed souls to their phylactery or else they waste away. The gods of the cycle of birth and death were not pleased, but it did give them more reason to hate the undead.
As a result, Altzmyr would nearly lose his lich allies he had come to bring together. They would refuse until the end to give into such depravity and evil; they would rather have their souls be tormented in the lower planes. His own master nearly wasted away, but there was something that Altzmyr read about all those years in the vast library. He remembered some odd theories he came across in lore and then had a theory for a potential solution: he had to find the ashes of a phoenix. It was no easy task, but he was able to acquire some after using his skills at contacting and navigating his way around libraries, research institutions, and magocracies. He finally found the nest of a phoenix deep in the heart of an ancient temple. Luckily, he was able to still find some ashes from he pheonix’s prior rebirth and managed to collect them. Altzmyr took the vial of ashes and spread them to his master’s phylactery, and it worked, and it worked rather well enough that only a pinch was needed periodically and then after the phoenix’s regenerating essence fed it and infused with the lich’s soul, and afterward, ashes were no longer needed until a new phylactery was made.
Altzmyr’s celebration of his achievement would be short-lived. The anger of the goddess of death came upon him. She kidnapped Altzmyr and chained him. She ordered her raven minions to peck him ceaselessly and devour his liver. With his cries of anguish, his greater durability made his suffering last longer to the glee of the goddess. A raven began to peck and attempt to tear at his very soul, but suddenly Altzmyr himself burst into fire, immolating the ravens and even melting the chains off. Earlier Altzmyr also had consumed a pinch of the ashes; yet that didn’t seem enough to explain what happened, but there was a god or two that took pity on his plight.
Altzmyr continued to burn, the flames engulfed him and he was reduced to a pile of ash. The death goddess would have called it a victory, but she knew well there was something more. The ashes re-assembled themselves into a skeletal figure, and then the smoke above re-joined to add more flesh. The result was that Altzmyr had been reborn, stronger, and more powerful. His form was the that of a burned undead figure, but his eyes and face still intact. A pair of enormous phoenix wings with exposed, charred bones emerged from his back. The powerful combination of the lich’s blessing, the phoenix’s ashes, his very conviction and integrity, and divine assistance came together; thus a new god was born.
That day, the goddess of death learned her place. The gods of evil undead learned their place. Altzmyr would stand as a beacon in the darkness to those who cling on to the world, those who have unfinished business, the ones whose existence ires the seemingly righteous. Altzmyr stood on his own in the pantheon, his companions in the mortal realm quickly revered him. It would take time for society to accept him, but slowly the world began to see more skeletons who ceased being enslaved and became citizens of their own, vampires who were once good people in life being able to turn away from evil, and ghosts who guard the living from harm. Slowly the world sees clerics of Altzmyr calm wraiths and let them peacefully pass on if they wished without striking a blow. There would be incidents of evil necromancers enslaving countless undead, and then a band of adventures, some of whom were also undead, arrive and make the undead army turn against its master. More necromancers respected the dead, and asked council of the spirits before raising them. Liches became trusted scholars and re-integrated into academies and wizard schools. Slowly the undead that did not harm life crept out of the shadows and re-joined the living.
Yet the ever-lingering shadow, and the rage of those who still adhere to the dogma that “undead are always evil” still lingered. It lingered not just in the zealous holy fighters, but lingered in those evil necromancers and liches who devoured souls anyway even before the decree, and even after Altzmyr suppressed it. Evil liches and vampires still haunt the dark places of the world, disgusted and sneering that their kind is not devouring souls, blood, and flesh, and thus they concoct their own plans in the shadows.
Altzmyr would not yield, he was now a god, immortal and ever vigilant, and if he was slain, he would rise again and again.
The living, please respect the restless dead, they are people like yourselves who deserve dignity. One should not force the afterlife or the “peace of death” upon those who wish to linger. Only fight those undead who wish harm upon you. Soothe those who are mired in the agony to give them their clarity and free will back. Restore free will to the undead, do not enslave undead or force souls to be raised.
The undead, do not enslave other undead, do not force souls to be raised, do not rob free will from the dead. Seek out ways to sate the curse of your hunger if you have one that do as little harm as possible. Use your extended time to do that which your mortal life was to small for you, or that which was barred from you in life. You are not unnatural abominations, you are people and deserving of dignity.
The destruction of souls is the most abhorrent evil, any living or undead who do such a thing without seeking alternatives if they are cursed into it are to be stopped, if they continue their evil ways, they must be exterminated.
Oppose gods and demon lords who contest that the undead should be evil servants or crimes against natural order. Those of you who are undead must not slip into their fallacies, be good people and show the truth of undeath.
The followers of Altzmyr
Altzmyr’s followers span a wide variety of undead, necromancers, aspiring undead, and those who work closely with undead. Most are undead who had been risen against their will by evil necromancers but once freed choose to remain undead and continue doing good in the world. Many are also undead who did not agree with the status quo of many of their kind who often did the enslaving, among them are non-evil liches and vampires who retained a conscious. Many are also those who rose themselves out of sheer will and a grave(pun intended) desire to complete a task or protect descendants in peril. A subset are also those who wish to preserve themselves for coming ages so that knowledge of the past does not become forgotten, so that terrible mistakes in history do not repeat themselves. A growing number are necromancers who are known as “sacred necromancers”, and are dedicated to the lost tradition of necromancy involved in working with and communicating with undead rather than enslaving the undead.
A more recent trend has been mortals pledging their souls to Altzmyr, so that they can rise as undead after their time as passed, or if they are impatient, as an alternative to resurrection, or if they are even more impatient, they consider becoming a necropolitan.
Clerics and Paladins of Altzmyr
Altzmyr’s followers have begun to forge his own paladin order with a sacred oath to protect the oppressed undead. These paladins consist often of former undead minions, often sentient skeletons, ghouls, wights, zombies, mummies and ghasts; the types of undead that evil necromancers hoard. Some paladins are living who are close to an undead friend or relative. Most have a burning hate against the likes of evil necromancers. These paladins are dedicated to hunting those who enslave the ensouled undead, those who torment or devour souls, and those who desire to eradicate the undead.
Clerics have access to the undeath domain, which unlike the death domain is not about the power of death itself, but about cheating death and helping undead allies. Clerics can selectively only turn select undead, bolster other undead, and protect undead allies (and themselves if they are undead) from being turned or destroyed by other clerics. Clerics can also use their channel divinity to free undead minions from their master's grasp instead of destroying undead.
Clerics, paladins, and all followers, must make sure the soul of a hostile incorporeal undead is not destroyed even if the incorporeal form is destroyed.
Responsible Conduct of Necromancy
Necromancers of Altzmyr, including clerics, wizards, warlocks, and bards must follow a code of conduct with spells like Animate Dead and Create Undead. They have learned to tweak such spells as to raise mindless, soulless automatons of corpses for temporary minions, these minions are animated by an imprint of the memory of the deceased, such as what occurs with Speak with Dead, and collapse after control is relinquished. For longer term undead minions, they must seek the soul of the deceased to be raised, and must make a deal with the dead and allow the soul of the deceased to have free will. A common practice for a necromancer is to allow a newly animated undead to pass messages to loved ones still alive or to give their living family members money and compensation. This mutual exchange between necromancer and undead minion can result in a bond of friendship between both that encourages the undead minion to continue service. In places where Altzmyr's worship is more acceptable, people have made it a habit to make arrangements beforehand in regards to being risen as undead.
Altzmyr himself is aware that he may have unwillingly controlled souls prior to godhood as a necromancer, but the alternative was ill available and he was not sure at the time. Thus necromancers who are in a similar position of not knowing what they are doing are forgiven if they change their ways. There are methods for freeing undead unintentionally made such as with spells like Finger of Death.
Altzmyr's temples perform many of the usual services that other temples do for their followers and for undead of non-evil alignment regardless of their faith in Altzmyr. This includes weddings, funerals, counsel, and healing(for both the living and undead). The temple will also investigate instances of undead attacking the living to intervene either peacefully or with necessary force. Investigations are also done to root out any potential threats to non-evil undead such as evil necromancers and merciless adventuring parties. Sometimes crusades and expeditions are arranged to take down powerful domains of evil undead such as evil lich lairs and if the political environment allows it, lead attacks on nations where evil undead hold power.
To the larger community, clerics of Altzmyr also help to quell and communicate with ghosts and other incorporeal undead who haunt places, in addition to normal Speak with Dead services.
Ritual of Crucimigration
Some temples of Altzmyr have performed this ritual which turns a living mortal into an undead necropolitan. The requirements are less a monetary cost, and more of devotion, purpose, and dedication. The ritual is different from one performed in a necropolis in the plane of shadow. The devotee has to be very sure and must make preparations in advance. A devotee is then treated to a ceremony that is intensely morbid, as if one were to attend one’s own funeral, complete with flowers everywhere. At the end, the devotee must consume a poison and be assisted through its most painful effects with “undeath midwives." Then close their mortal eyes and are laid to rest. The poison does not just kill the devotee, but is also an important catalyst in the ritual itself. The devotee then awakens into undeath some days later, sometimes the awakening can be a private affair with friends and family, or nobody attending. There are also those who choose to wake up to a very bizarre party.
Some temples have begun to open the service to patrons willing to pay for it in money alone, but this is controversial and still requires extensive divination and checks to make sure the client will not use their undeath for evil purposes.
|A skeletal phoenix. |
Upon godhood, Altzmyr did not want to have celestial servitors that were distant from the trials of mortal life. Instead of opting for solars, devas, and the like, he took the souls of fallen non-evil undead who were slain and mired in sadness in the plane of shadows and gave them new purpose. He let them keep memory of their mortal life and mortal personality, unlike souls that are forged into angels. These celestials often took the form of burning, skeletal phoenixes of various colors, usually with black or bright blue flames. Altzmyr also had conventional-appearing celestials who distinguished themselves with their semi-skeletal bird wings that often spouted flames like a phoenix.
The phoenix whom Altzmyr took some of the ashes has become an important hearld and demigod of Altzmyr, and has lead other pheonixes to the side of Altzmyr.