Karontor is the giant deity of deformity, hatred, and beasts, and god of the fomorians and verbeeg.
Karontor, with Grolantor, is one of the two "runts" of the Ordning—the smallest and weakest of the giantish pantheon, and the most degenerate and disappointing to their father Annam. His pursuit of dark magical powers corrupted his body and spirit, as well as those of his followers, the fomorians and verbeeg. For his crimes against the Ordning, he was banished by Annam and stripped of his magic, and so now he seethes in anger, hatred, and jealousy, waiting for the day he will regain his power and return to wreak "justice" upon the other giantish gods.
Some myths say that Karontor was once beautiful and shining, but his jealousy of Stronmaus caused him to twist into a form as hideous as his heart. As the corruption grew, he descended into the underworld where he learned dark secrets from an ancient race of subterranean hags. On his return, he used this magic to twist some of the fairest mortal giants into fomorians and verbeegs as hideous and corrupt as he is.
Karontor is worshipped by many fomorian and verbeeg giants, as well as other giants considered deformed by most.
The clergy of Karontor is shunned and despised by much of giantish society, with the general exception of fomorian, verbeeg, ettin, and hill giant tribes. They always attempt to dominate other priesthoods within their tribe, and only rarely work alongside them. The exception is the priesthood of Iallanis, who Karontor's followers do not tolerate under any circumstances; this is due both to the opposition her portfolio to Karontor's, as well as to myths amongst some tribes that she was responsible for the Deformed One's cursed appearance. The only priesthood they are willing to work with on a regular basis is that of Memnor; however, they are always the junior member in such a relationship, though they usually do not realize it, and if they do, they will not admit this fact. Despite Karontor's domain over giantish lycanthropy, such creatures are rarely tolerated within tribes who worship him. They are either killed or run out of the tribe, and most see it as a curse inflicted upon someone who has failed the Master of Beasts. Those few infected lycanthropes who embrace their curse, however, see it as a blessing and zealously try to infect as many others as they can.
Karontor's priests have few regular duties. Primarily, they attempt to goad their tribes into conflict with good creatures, especially if there is a chance to slaughter many without much danger to their own people. If outright warfare is too dangerous, they encourage banditry and raiding, focusing on isolated communities and travelers. They encourage the taking of captives on such attacks, for use as slaves and sacrifices. When not actively engaging in raids or performing ceremonial functions, Karontor's clergy typically train predatory animals and monsters for hunting and defensive purposes. They condition these creatures to be especially bloodthirsty and malicious, and often turn them on sick or injured captives for sport. The Deformed One's priests are also keenly interested in acquiring magical items of any sort; any they cannot personally use will simply be hoarded, although they can occasionally be tempted to trade them for other items they can use.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garments used by the priesthood generally vary from tribe to tribe, usually finer versions of the standard clothing worn in the tribe. Verbeeg priests wear reasonably well-made clothing of high quality materials captured in raids, while fomorians, ettins, hill giants, and others wear much cruder garments. Color varies by availability, but white, dark red, and brown are preferred. Shamans also tend to use a large predator's skull as headwear, although the practice is not unknown in tribes with more organized clergies. The only universal requirement is a cloak of wolf fur, preferably winter wolf. The holy symbol used by the priesthood is a talisman in the shape of a wolf's head. Baked clay is typically used for the holy symbol, but more advanced tribes may craft them from alabaster, silver, or another form of metal.
When not performing ceremonies, and adventuring, priests of Karontor generally wear the finest garb they can acquire. Verbeeg in particular demand expensive cloth and fine leather garments to emphasize their importance, and may initiate a raid specifically to acquire such material. All priests also demand the best pieces of armor they can wear; while some tribes manufacture their own armor, most construct piecemeal suits made from salvaged remnants once worn by their foes. In addition, all priests wear the wolf-fur cloaks that mark their positions. Clubs are always the favored weapon of the clergy, although they will use other weapons as situations warrant.
HierarchyNovices of the Deformed One are known as Whelps. Full priests are formally known as Howling Predators of Karontor, although this is frequently shortened simply to Howlers. Clergy members refer to each other as Brother or Sister Howler. Titles used by the clergy are simple indicators of position within the hierarchy, such as First or Alpha for the head of the local clergy, Second or Beta for the priest ranked below the head, etc. Advancement within the ranks is by political discrediting or dominance via combat. Verbeeg prefer the former method; often plotting for years, using bribery and trickery to cause their superiors to foul up, enabling them to take the higher rank. On the other hand, fomorians prefer physical dominance through combat; lethal combat is discouraged, however, as is murder or other methods that would displace higher ranked priests without a chance for defense. Specialty priests are called Fimbululfar.
TemplesTemples are rarely built by the priesthood; shrines are generally the normal place of worship. The Master of Beast's shrines are typically located in shallow caves, with crudely carved stone altars upon which sacrifices are made. The caves are heavily decorated with the skulls and claws of carnivorous animals and monsters, displayed as trophies. The skins and furs of those kills are also displayed, often prominently showing the rents and gashes from the weapon strikes that slew them; the more violent the creature's death, the more sacred it is. There are no particularly favored sacrifices; anything from a rabbit to another giant is considered suitable. Neither is there a preferred method of killing such victims, but generally the crueler the better, with repeated bludgeoning being the general favorite.
RitualsThe Deformed One's clergy has no regularly occurring holy days or ceremonies that are observed by the whole clergy. Priests are required to sacrifice a living creature of some sort at least once per week; good intelligent creatures are preferred, but anything alive will do, although small animals are used only in the most desperate of times, and continual sacrifices of that sort are likely to lead to punishment from Karontor.
OrdersKarontor has no martial orders associated with his priesthood. On some worlds, there are rare bands of giantish lycanthropes who are devout followers of the Deformed One; most of these are shadkyn, but sometimes an infected lycanthrope who has been expelled from his tribe will take up worship of the Master of Beasts and forge a small band of marauders from others he has infected; such bands are usually short lived, as infighting is common and the death of the leader usually results in the band dissolving.
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The injustice of the other members of the Ordning will one day be their downfall. Crush their followers whenever possible, and obey his commands to the letter. When he brings final justice to the villains who unjustly exiled him, he will reward his true followers with great power. Vicious beasts are to be admired and used, as they channel the rage and hatred the Master of Beasts feels towards his jealous kin. Deformities are the mark of jealousy left on Karontor and his servants by Annam and his other children; when justice is returned to the Ordning, all will be returned to what they should be. Seek out and hoard magic for the day of Karontor's return to the Ordning, for he shall make use of it.
Karontor appears in one of two forms when he manifests an avatar. His primary form is as an enormous, hideously deformed fomorian giant carrying a club. He exudes a horrid stench from the thick, unwashed, rotting furs he wears. His misaligned eyes gleam red with hatred.
His second form, which he can change into at will, is that of a huge winter wolf with shining silver fur and a jaw filled with more teeth than is natural in such a creature. The change between forms takes one full round.
Karontor, like his brother Grolantor, is one of the third generation of the Giant pantheon, one of the so-called "runts." He is far more evil than his brother, and far more intelligent.
Annam All-Father, the Father of all true giants, banished Karontor for his missdeeds, and the grudge he bore his father runs deep.
The dwarven Father of Battle, Clangeddin Silverbeard, considered Karontor one of his greatest enemies.