Frame, God of Bones

[Sexless, Unaligned]
The God of Bones, Frame, is a mysterious deity who is worshipped in secret by many different cultures throughout Nexxen. It represents the resilience of earthly forces, the connection between the living and the land itself, and the bones that rest within both. Whether dead or alive, all things that have bones within them can be touched, controlled, or destroyed by Frame. The God of Bones is known to be uncaring, and at times sadistic towards mortals, but this applies only to those who do not recognize both their strength and frailty, a rare display of ignorance from one of its worshippers.

Frame appears as a bloated humanoid made of brown stone, surrounded by a skeleton of various bones, yet possesses no distinctive features in regards to gender or sex. In addition, Frame can sprout thicker and harder bones to replace the old ones as they are broken, manipulating its outer skeleton in almost any way it sees fit.

Frame wishes to strengthen its ties to primitive mortals, as they are the beings that are most likely to understand the value of what is naturally given. It disdains cities and well developed outposts of civilization. It prefers to have its worshippers build their temples underground where its power is greatest, the natural resources of both stone and bone buried within the earth easily shapeable into incredible and somewhat eerie works of art. The purpose of these constructions is to pull its followers away from other humanoids, so that Frame can lock its servants into an impenetrable bastion of worship.
Portfolio: Bone
Spheres: Bone, Earth, Strength, and Travel
Cleric Training:
There are not many traditional training methods to train a Priest or Priestess of Frame, as the god’s doctrines and desires are largely a secret among mortals to begin with. Those who wish to become a Cleric in service to the God of Bones must seek out their own meaning within their worship. For this reason, these practitioners come from a variety of cultures and alignments, some wishing to do good or bad in Frame’s name. There are some consistencies, however in how the spiritual connection is forged. Acolytes of the Cult of Frame must come to understand humanoid anatomy, focusing on the skeletal structure. As they advance, this training extends to other creatures as well: animals, monsters, even undead. Some may learn through studying of various texts and imagery explaining the physical makeup of creatures. Still others, particularly those in more rural areas without access to education, must learn through a more hands on approach. Such training is of course viewed as macabre and evil by most humanoids who are quick to judge, however, the concept of killing and battle is not one that is encouraged by Frame. Many clerics learn the ways of stone and bone simply by journeying to ancient battlefields and primitive gravesites where long forgotten and unattended remains are available for study and ritualistic practice.
The Underskin Walkabout
A most unusual trial to be undertaken be devout priests of Frame, this bizarre journey, unlike most quests, does not require the physical body of the charged to move anywhere. At least, not most of it.

The sworn faithful of Frame must enter a deep meditative trance that puts the body in a form of stasis held by pure divine energy for several months. The power required to complete this transition is immense, and so only the most powerful of the Bone God’s priests dare attempt it. While the flesh, blood and organs of the body remain in place, the bones of the faithful gently remove themselves from the skin over a period of a week, sinking into the earth below to begin their exploration.

The mind and spirit of the owner are also transferred into the bones, and while they are vaguely aware of the status of their original form, they become primarily focused on the arduous trek within the earth that awaits them. Their bones move throughout the crust of the planet, changing elevations from as far down as the Everdeep to just below the surface. Their bones travel throughout the entire planet to observe the connection between land and body, as well as gather divine energy that lays dormant within many forms of natural life connected to the ground.

This energy is eventually used to return the bones to their proper place within the body, and resume their mortal connection. Travellers who persist in the detached state for too long begin to find it difficult to locate their home body, and several over the years have lost all traces of their former selves completely, instead becoming one with the earth. Several sects of Frame’s cult actually view this is a form of transcendence, but the majority see it as carelessness, especially by those who had felt the pull and managed to return. Those who have gone from an individual being to part of a greater whole and back again come to fully understand their place within the cosmos upon their return, and never embark on the Underskin Walkabout again.
Chant of the Inner Body
Strong as steel or week as glass
Our inner selves mirror our bones
Weak mind and Weak body
Strong of faith and strong of Frame
Throughout our lives we travel the world
Within our without the bones endure
Prayer of Growth
We grow through trial, grow through pain. As we suffer our fate and learn our lessons, for the power to persist we give thanks to Frame.
The Spine Tunnels
In the middle of Lystomia lies The Spine Tunnels. Made up of the skeletons of a dozen colossal creatures long since dead and buried centuries ago, this mecca of worship for Frame’s followers was discovered a relatively short time ago, a mere 200 or so years in the past. Since the Cult of Earth and Bone does not keep any formal sort of records, its exact construction is difficult to determine. The remaining smaller bones along with the nearly fully intact spines of titans, dragons, and even a great undead amalgamation, have been hollowed out and moved within the earth by divine magic to create a vast, complex tunnel network that serves as a temple to Frame. Many who wish to hide from prying eyes visit this location to train or worship, secured underground and surrounded by like-minded servants and worshippers. Every inch of the underground structure is suitable to serve as a shrine and many different sects come here to worship Frame in their own way. To make this potentially dangerous melting pot safer for all who seek out The Spine Tunnels, each remaining “spine” is separated by the general disposition of the deceased creature it came from. The remaining backbone of a venerable Red Dragon, for example, has been set aside for Chaotic Evil Worshippers, while the “bones” of a benevolent, petrified treant of immense size has been designated as a safe haven for followers of Frame who also have a stronger connection to the Earth Sphere than Bone.
Rites: Most rituals that utilize the power of Frame involve the casting of blessed (or cursed) bones or bone dice, following a short prayer and any sacrifices of components required. These rituals do not use circular patterns like more traditional magic, but instead rely on the patterns of how enchanted bones interact with the land when cast, their placement just as much as the resulting face having significance as to the success or meaning of the ritual. A good deal of Frame’s Rites have to do with learning secrets hidden within the bodies of mortals or buried deep within the earth. The other kinds of rituals conducted focus on the mending and healing of bones, as there are no other healers in the world more skilled in this particular area. Despite being so skilled, the Cult of Frame is very cautious of outsiders, having been mislabeled as demon worshippers or necromancers many times in the past. To avoid opening themselves to such ignorant scrutiny, these services are rarely offered to non-worshippers, unless they are willing to pay a hefty price.
Burial Rites: The bones of the deceased are released from the flesh of their decaying bodies. Sometimes the flesh is neatly stripped, the bones then cleaned and bleached. In areas with a bit more alchemical knowledge, all the meat of the body is melted away by powerful corrosive agents, leaving only pristine bones behind. The bones are gathered and placed within a Wall of the Dead amongst other worshippers. In most cases the bones are placed indiscriminately, but together. In smaller or more family oriented tribal communities, the bones are placed among a space set aside for relatives of the deceased. Some of the oldest walls contain over 10 generations of a single family line, offshoots placed nearby in their own section. This creates not only a monument to the dead, but also a somewhat readable family tree of sorts for those with advanced knowledge of the skeletal system.
Tithe: Many sects of Frame’s cult do not use coin or paper money, as the large majority are tribal in nature. Still, offerings of wealth and harvest are still accepted, although the amounts vary greatly depending on the area and abundant resources. A more regular tithe, expected of followers and religious leaders alike, is an annual sacrifice of lacquered bone, fashioned into some simple trinket such as a necklace or bracelet. This bone can be acquired through any means, although taking it from family or neighbors is heavily frowned upon. Unlike with most churches, these offerings are not kept in a donation box or vault, but instead given to priests of Frame. It is believed that the small tokens strengthen their connection to their deity, which in turn allows them to greater serve their community. It is also a symbol of power among many of the more primitive societies, the most powerful clerics often covered in bone garments and jewelry earned from years of service.
Benefits: Clerics gain access to the rare and powerful Divine Sphere of Bone, learning how to manipulate their own bones for defense, and fortify their skeletal structure to resist powerful attacks that would crush a normal humanoid. They gain access to the powers of Divine Earth and Strength as well, enhancing their ties to both earth and body. This allows them command over earth creatures and a resilient form that transcends mortal limits. A Cleric of Frame can also become one with the land as they walk upon it, never growing tired and being able to move seamlessly through all earthen landscapes. Simple followers gain access to a deceptively powerful yet obscure branch of divine magic to help them through the injuries, journeys, and many physical trials that permeate existence. There is little monetary gain or prestige associated with following Frame, but the practicality and physical benefits of worship are quite appealing to a great many commoners, especially for toiling peasants and hard-working craftsmen.
Herald and Allies:
Sesoka Shackleskull [Herald]
Unlike most holy emissaries, Frame’s herald, Sesoka Shackleskull, was once mortal. A female Orc Shaman of a barbaric tribe wiped out nearly one thousand years ago, Sesoka was reincarnated with the spark of the God of Bones itself. In life, she was known for her countless ritualistic piercings made from the bones of sworn enemies who had crossed her. She favored a beautifully polished bone armor made from larger creatures that symbolize strength, such as powerful, giant lizards that have since gone extinct. To compliment her imposing appearance, she hollowed out the skull of a fire giant king who had dared attempt raids on the tribes under her banner and mounted it upon her own head. It was said that the tormented spirit of the tyrant burns with undead fury, seeking to escape its prison.

She wields a small fetish staff with the skulls of several humanoid races; elves, humans, orcs, and halflings among them. This weapon is capable of conjuring incredible structures or animated servants made from magical humanoid bones. Her true power, however, revolves around her ability to cast curses upon enemies of Frame. While most would require time and resource consuming rituals for such feats, Sesoka calls upon her former life as a Shaman and fuels the memories with the power of Frame to create curses that rival even other gods in terms of their power.

Sesoka appears almost exclusively in the dreams and meditations of Frame’s children whom the god favors. Sometimes this can be to simply confirm or deny questions or ideas they have for their future, but can also include warnings, proposals, and even threats that serve Frame’s interests. Neither Sesoka or her master are known for benevolence, but rather the appreciation and development of strength. If a sect of the Cult of Bone should come under attack by a greater enemy, however, Sesoka may manifest on the material plane to either lay the enemy low with a dreadful affliction, or rescue her people from certain doom be moving them through the earth to a safer location.
Relationships with other Gods: Frame has always had difficulty in relations with other gods. While it is the God of Bones, it focuses on life and growth, and disdains necromancy. It is also a god of Travel, but is dedicated to the withstanding of arduous journeys on mortal soil. Frame’s obsession with mortal strength has always made other gods hesitant to ally with it, and the abilities belonging to Frame that could be used as common ground amongst other deities are often mimicked by those with sinister outlooks or goals that directly oppose Frame’s purpose. Much like Frame’s worshippers, it is often misunderstood amongst its own kind, and so has become a quiet, solitary being. The other gods are happy to ignore Frame, but are ignorant of the schemes it constantly formulates on the mortal plane. Frame seeks to expand its base of worshippers to such a great size that Nexxen itself swells with power belonging to the shunned deity. When this is complete it plans to elevate an army of mortals to the gates of divinity and usurp control of the pantheon. This plan will of course take many centuries, and is not aggressively pursued by Frame or its followers. A patient god, Frame understands that even the most unassuming of creatures can prove dangerous when placed in the proper position.
On the smaller northern isles of Tor’Nathik live a tribe of humanoid savages fanatically dedicated to frame, their current ruling bloodline claiming ancestral connection to its herald, Sesoka Shackleskull. They are a warlike race, and quite possibly responsible for the global reputation that other followers of Frame are often forced to endure. They are larger than their humanoid counterparts found in other regions, bodies possessed of both a thick skeletal structure and incredible musculature. They wear little clothing, and dress their skin in white body paint to imitate skeletal patterns, as well as wearing bones as piercing or armor. This creates a fearsome appearance and often leaves prey, either humanoid or animal, demoralized before a battle even begins.

Unlike most other tribal cultures, however, they embrace both Ritual and Prayer based magic, using it to deadly efficacy in their hunting of intruders. So effective are they in their elimination of unwanted visitors, that no documented research has ever made it off the island. They are xenophobic of other cultures, disdaining all who do not follow their ways. They are also quick to judge outsiders based on appearances, quickly attacking any who do not appear to worship Frame. On the rare occasions in the past where an interloper has managed to escape, the tribe shamans sent them to their watery deaths via powerful curse magic that destroyed their ship, body and even spirits, so that not even the after-life would learn of their existence.

In addition to the Unnamed Tribe of Tor’Nathik, Frame has many different branches of its church located above ground, but especially deep beneath the surface. The Church of Frame has a small presence within both East and West Oblian, small churches and shrines dotted throughout small cities and some natural environments such as caves and forests. Its churches are barely tolerated in more civilized areas, yet still a small amount of worshippers pay homage to the god in these locations for the assistance they gain in their physical work.

Within the solitary tunnels of the Everdeep lie several large denominations dedicated to Frame, although they are largely unaware of each other. One such faction is known as Madrok, a clan of Duergar making up the base of its membership. They believe their connection to Frame allows them a greater connection to both the land that imprisons them and their bodies that constantly toil to shape it. Unlike many Duergar, their works of craftsmanship favor bone over metal or stone, and the wares they create reflect their dedication to their god.
The Dice of Life
This well crafted pair of ten sided dice appear with bizarre symbology far different from those used in taverns for gambling. Each face of a die represents a phase of a creature’s existence, one die representing youth, the other showing aging. Each die has a face that shows the being as they currently are. Any creature who holds them sees different symbology that speaks to them personally. When the dice are rolled, the greatest phase, either backwards or forwards in time, takes precedence, and the lesser phase is counted against that greater phase. The final result indicates the aging of the player’s body and bones which then immediately takes place. A creature could be brought back to the days of their youth, a strong back supporting them for a second chance at life, or it could steal from them the many years they had yet to live, turning their skeleton and flesh decrepit, even to the point of death.
The Giant Skull
Made of the skull of an actual giant, this bone helmet is currently worn by the herald of Frame, Sesoka Shackleskull. This item is suffused with both the dark magic of the reborn shaman and the hateful will of the Fire Giant King she slayed. Those who wear it can potentially gain great power, but must have the strength of will to overcome both creature’s spirits. Even when they manage to gain dominance over one, the other will slip from their grasp and renew their attack. Someone who manages to control the artifact gains immunity to fire, the strength of a giant, and the extraordinary power to cast and lift curses without the need for any material components or foci.