[Male, Chaotic Good]
Rhode, the god of free-spirited travel, is a deity who protects mortals with a penchant for travel, either as a means of occupation, pleasure, or simple necessity. Rhode is known for being very whimsical, always curious about his environment, and other creatures that find themselves in his presence are almost always taken by his nature, becoming more exploratory themselves. From one moment to the next, Rhode is constantly changing his interests. Communicating or praying to him often requires a great degree of patience on the behalf of the worshiper. He most commonly appears as a thin halfling with long, pointed ears more akin to a sprite than an elf. He has shimmering eyes, the patterns of thousands of stars reflected within them, and a disorganized mop of shining golden hair atop his head. He wears a pair of sturdy travelling boots that fit snugly over his over-sized feet, dark blue breeches, a black shirt, and suspenders.
Rhode seeks to aid travelers of all kinds, utilizing the sky as their guide. The moon and the stars provide a wealth of knowledge for those who heed his call. He prefers to attract the open-minded and free willed, individuals who prefer to move through life with little expectations and a desire for trying new things. Those who embody these aspects of the God of Wanderlust will always find themselves in the most interesting places, never wanting for adventure or excitement.
Portfolio: Travel, Moving On, and Waderlust
A priest in service to Rhode rarely undergoes formal training. While their are numerous shrines and churches dedicated to the deity throughout the world, nearly all who wish to join in service are sent out into the world, sometimes stopping at these places of worship as checkpoints along their journey.
On the first leg, the prospective cleric is accompanied by a priest or higher ranking member of the following to give them pointers on how to read the skies for direction, the principles that guide the Church of Rhode, and how to feel the divine energies of their god. Once they arrive at their initial destination, the now Acolyte is expected to continue on ahead without aid.
On the second leg, they are left to determine their next stop, and decide how they would best like to get there. The only requirement on where they go is that they must end on another continent. If they encounter humanoids in need of guidance or protection, they provide them aid before continuing on. Clerics of Rhode must be self sufficient in their duties, and so this second journey, which can take upwards of 1-3 years depending on the destination, teaches them both the joy and hardships of free travel.
On the final leg, they are required to gather a small group to travel with them, and journey on a chosen route selected by a High-Priest. They are responsible for all aspects of the journey: supplies, navigation, defenses, morale, and leadership. If they reach their final destination with their group in high spirits and good health, they are often promoted to a Cleric of Rhode soon after.
The World Atlas
Considered an impressive undertaking by any mortal’s reckoning, this quest is open to the bravest of Rhode’s worshipers, and they need not be a priest, paladin, or other servant of the church. The one who undertakes this quest must complete an accurate, recent, and comprehensive atlas of the world. Given the size of the world, it is extraordinarily difficult to accomplish this feat in the scope of a lifetime without Divine or Eldritch aid. Not to mention the fact that by the time many have completed roughly half of the Atlas, much of the work they have done has become obsolete. The ravages of nature, war, and time change the landscape dramatically, and many a weary adventurer have found themselves giving up on their journey out of frustration and a sense of hopelessness.
Only the bravest and most resilient have managed to complete this divine mission, and to date there are only 3 creatures that could make such a claim. One, a Silver Dragon, another a Halfling Paladin who was known for being infectiously likable, and the third an archmage of incredible eldritch mastery who completed the quest on a bet with his inner circle. The methods they each used varied greatly, and their finished works were heavily influenced by their differing perspectives. The Dragon’s for example, contained an extensive detailing of every kingdom’s aerial defenses, whereas the Paladin’s work provided insight into the personalities and quirks of the wide variety of creatures he encountered. The Wizard, known for being haughty and overly analytical, provided detailed explanations on how otherwise remarkable landmarks and natural wonders functioned. He proclaimed most of them to be boring, whimsical dalliances crafted for emotional children.
The Walk of Roads
Look to the sky as you watch your step. With the two in sync, you shall never forget your quest. To know where we’re going is less important than knowing why we left.
Rhode has very few large churches or temples, both him and his followers preferring roadside shrines and small outposts built to reinvigorate and resupply travelers. The majority of these locations are linked together by travelling Clerics who travel from one location to the next, refilling water, food, maps, and simple but vital equipment for wayward souls.
The Northern Line
The Northern Line is one such series of shrines, found stretching throughout East and West Oblian from shore to shore. The Shrines themselves always posses some sort of effigy of Rhode, mainly for identification purposes. There is always enough space for several bedrolls, and walls enough to provide protection from the elements. Every shrine is supplied monthly with trail rations, fresh and sturdy travel clothing, and a variety of travelling implements such as compasses, knives, and rope. Depending on the region, some of the shrines of The Northern Line have additional amenities more appropriate to the dominant cultures in the area. Shrines found in areas heavily inhabited by dwarves, for example, may delve into a network of caves, and thus provide torches and climbing gear.
The Rites of the followers of Rhode are usually very brief, as very few are expected to spend time on traditions that could get in the way of new experiences. Most rituals require a simple circle be drawn and an offering of freshly walked upon dirt to be used as a way to form a divine connection.
Rituals focus on magics that grant safe travel, protection from the elements, guidance, swift movement, favorable winds, and resilience during long journeys. Clerics and Paladins performing these rituals are sought after quite frequently for the substantial power they lend to them, commonly being hired out by adventurers or armies.
Rhode is fairly indiscriminate in who he aides with these rituals, as the spirit of exploration can thrive in any living soul, the only beings he will not willingly provide aid to are undead, recognizing they are travelling in an unnatural state.
Burial Rites: A long standing tradition in the Church of Rohde is to bury a traveler in the place they enjoyed visiting the most. If this is not possible (such as the environment has become hostile, or no longer exists in its past state), a secondary tradition of burying them where they last traveled to is applied.
In either case, the funerals of a worshiper of Rhode are not lavish affairs. Even for the richest members of the church, cheap coffins made of wood that degrades back into the earth are used to ensure that the deceased aids the travels of others with both their body and spirit. The poor are simply bound in cheap cloth, some even rubbed with liquids and soil that speed the decomposition process. To outsiders this sometimes seems disrespectful, as many cultures prefer to try and preserve the memory of their loved ones. In the eyes of a follower of Rhode, however, this is the best way to honor their memory, by making them apart of the lands they so loved. Many believe that doing this infuses the land with their spirits, enabling them to aid other travelers from the afterlife.
Tithes to Rhode are very rarely of the monetary kind. The Church favors supplies, resources, and travel aides. Since most members of the church spend a great deal of time on the road and uncharted territory, money has little value. The most common donations expected from a worshiper are gifts of food, clothing (quality footwear in particular), and camping equipment.
Clergy are required to regularly resupply the shrines of Rhode with essentials gathered from their duties. Since the faithful rarely keep more possessions than they can carry, meeting these demands is not difficult, simply offering up their excess gains at the end of every month.
For the particularly poor, offering knowledge of a local area to visitors several times a month as a guide is also considered a noble way to tithe.
Benefits: Clerics of Rhode are gifted with Divine fortification in their travels. Their bodies rarely tire through long journeys and they are able to move easily over nearly any type of terrain. The guidance of the moon and stars provide them with an almost cosmic sense of understanding and they are able to gain great insight from their experience. It is almost impossible to get lost in any setting, and Rhode provides them with powerful divine weapons against monsters known to use the phases of the moon for hunting. Lastly, they learn to use the sky itself in their adventures, protecting themselves from dangerous falls, inhospitable environments, and even walking through the air itself should the land be impassable.
Followers all gain access to an impressive network of guides and travel methods. They can find support in virtually any region they journey to, so long as they can display a symbol of their god to other members. Every worshiper tends to offer help to another upon recognizing their affiliation, as to do otherwise is to indirectly proclaim that their journey’s success matters little. The church also provides its followers with steady supplies for their travels, offering food and shelter whenever possible. For this reason, many vagabonds and the homeless join Rhode’s flock, along with adventurers, seamen, and caravan masters.
Herald and Allies:
The Herald of Rhode goes by the name Leaf. Appearing as a short and particularly lithe elven maiden, even by her race’s standards, she prefers a deep green tunic and cap paired with well worn travelling breeches and boots made of brown leather. She has fair features almost always accented by a mischievous smile. Those who have encountered her have claimed that she appeared as a more or less normal elf, but something in her laugh and excitable nature made her seem like she was much more. This detail is only ever realized after the fact, once her divine presence disappears.
On her back she carries an elaborately designed ivory bow, on her hip a similarly ornamental silver dagger and a sturdy leather quiver full of arrows. She also wears a travelling pack that always seems to have whatever someone needs, as long as it aids them in their travels.
Leaf appears predominantly in woodland areas and other natural settings where individuals tend to get lost. She walks among mortals far more regularly than most other divine beings, her primary purpose to serve as a guide to Rhode’s followers when they are in dire need of help. She sometimes acts on her own, even against Rhode’s wishes, to offer help to mortals she finds particularly interesting or attractive. While many other deities would find this flirtatious behavior unacceptable, the results of Leaf’s various encounters with mortals almost always end up with the bettering of their connection with Rhode himself, and thus the strengthening of his following.
Many beings on the outer continents, such as Prynis, the Outlands, and Ka’thik, worship Rhode intensely. Those with the power to do so often enjoy leaving these lands to explore other parts of Nexxen. Due to the boundaries of some of these landscapes, they must often request Divine aid to make these journeys, and who better than the God of Roads himself?
Prynis holds a small city of gnomish tinkerers and inventors known as Windsprocket. They spend much of their time crafting mechanical devices that utilize the power of wind to accomplish mundane tasks, such as harvesting grain, smithing, and of course travel. Doldalo Picklenose is the wildly eccentric captain of Leaf on the Wind, an air-faring vessel that utilizes a complex series of balloons, alchemical gasses, fire, and wood and metal manufactured wings resembling a dragon’s. Doldalo began his career as a Cleric, but soon found the lure of the skies too great to remain on the land performing Rhode’s work.
When he retired from a 30 year career as a priest, he found the divine spirit of Rhode encouraging him to pursue his dream, and created his incredible ship. With it he aids creatures on the main continent in accordance with Rhode’s wishes, providing transportation, emergency supplies, and occasional smuggling. Doldalo and his crew are well known for being extremely hyperactive and excitable, often changing course on a whim should they discover an amusing object in the distance or a stranded creature. While this behavior can become irksome to any current passengers, the speed at which Leaf on the Wind tends to travel far outweighs the occasional delays caused by Doldalo’s short attention span.
Relationships with other Gods: Rhode is the immortal enemy of Scay, although he appears to be blissfully ignorant of this fact. The goddess of imprisonment finds Rhode’s existence to be an affront to everything for which she stands and has a long term goal of eventually capturing Rhode for torture and eventual destruction. Fortunately, Rhode is extraordinarily difficult to restrain, even among the gods, and views Scay's attempts on his life as harmless flirtations, which only raises her ire further.
Rycyt and Myte share something of an affinity, although they prefer to focus on travel for a practical pursuit such as transporting cargo or survival. The two find his penchant for aimless wandering more than a little confusing, but also somewhat charming and humorous. On one occasion, Myte prevented the elimination of some wayward followers of Rhode, unbeknownst to the god at the time. They had ventured a bit too far underground and found themselves hopelessly lost in Myte’s domain. Despite their fears, they found themselves fascinated with the natural underground landscape and wandered even deeper. Recognizing their reckless and curious nature for what it was, Myte simply reshaped the surrounding lands into a pathway that would lead them back to their destination. Since then, the god of caves has found himself having to do this more and more, almost as if Rhode’s followers have become more interested in his domain.
The different factions of Rhode’s church are largely determined by the culture of the lands in which his shrines are found.
In eastern Lystomia, his shrines seek to aid those plagued by undead threats, specializing in holy relics as a means of defense. The roads there can at times be assaulted by a variety of unnatural denizens due to a great many acts of evil that occurred in the distant past.
Solmeria, unlike many of the other continents of Nexxen, has several large churches built to Rhode. This is due to the sometimes inhospitable weather in its harsh landscapes. Travelers will often find they must hold up in a safe location for weeks at a time to avoid being caught outside in the middle of a sandstorm. As a result, sturdier places of worship capable of caring for large numbers of humanoids had to be established in order to maintain a strong following.
The outer continents also have unique aspects to their respective denominations, many relying on Rhode’s blessing to provide them with food in areas that are often short on resources. They tend to be a bit less free-spirited than their mainland cousins as well, much of their energy and time spent keeping the roads safe from bandits and the occasional wandering monstrosity.
The Cloak of One Hundred Steps
This dark grey cloak appears to have been well used and rarely cleaned, housing a variety of stains and frayed edges. This item provides swift travel to its wearer, allowing them to travel far faster on foot than normally possible. While traveling, they our nourished via the God's very will, neither tiring or needing to stop for sustenance. If they ever stop moving, however, these protections against the basic facets of mortal life cease functioning until they start moving again.
The Map of Rhode
A somewhat unremarkable piece of faded parchment to the untrained eye, the initially blank map will magically inscribe a path to any location the user wishes to travel. Simply by thinking of the destination, a map is created in in direct accordance with their desires, simultaneously filling out the surrounding terrain of the areas they will be entering. If they wish a road fraught with peril, or one both uneventful and luxurious, the map will guide them in the direction most likely to satisfy that craving.
The map cannot create these factors on the material plane, only guide one along the road most likely to accommodate their wishes. A nomad wishing to travel through several lakes on a harsh desert landscape, for example, may find that the map can only locate an underground spring along the route, although the map will still mark it.
As the owner of the Map of Rhode travels, the map will self-erase lands already passed until the traveler has reached the edges of the map proportional to their location. It then redraws itself for upcoming areas.