Who is Odayla?
Odayla is Orlanth's son by a mysterious figure called The Lady of the Wilds, Velhara. Tales of the circumstances of his birth vary, as does whether he was born a bear or became one later, but all agree that at some point Odayala hunted the Great Bear, and tracked him through all the world, the realm of Heroes and the lands of the Gods until finally he gave up and started for home. He found that the Great Bear (who may have been his grandfather) was now hunting him. Odayla tried every trick he could but eventually he bowed to the inevitable and met the bear, wrestling with him for days, maybe years. In the end one slew the other, and wore the skin of the defeated.
But which won? Man or bear? In the far off land of Sylila they say it was the bear, but in Dragon Pass they say it was Odayla. The followers of Odayla say it was neither; Odayla was the Great Bear all along and it took the greatest and longest hunt of the God-time for him to realise it.
Odayla helped the other Thunder Brothers many times during the God's war, but he never spent long at Orlanth's Stead. The food he brought kept his relatives alive, but he could never stand their company long and always returned to the wilds.
Who worships him?
The Orlanthi have other hunting gods; Yinkin the Alynx and Ormalaya, (who some clans say is Odayla's brother), but their followers live in the stead like their gods did. Odayla's followers live in the depths of the forests almost full time, and they are usually alone for weeks or seasons on end. The very greatest hunters don't come home for years.
When they do appear they are the epitome of the wild hunter and outcast, clad in rough furs and almost monosyllabic in a culture where eloquence and boasting are considered virtuous.
Sometimes Ormalaya worshipers from the villages join their rites, more often their fellow hermits the Kolating shamen do, as they too hunt for survival.
Lay members are anyone who hunts and remembers Odayla in their prayers for success and who leaves a bit of their catch in a tree for him. Those who feel more comfortable out challenging the wilds than at home in their hall or cottage and happier with a bow in their hand than a plow tend to gravitate towards initiatehood.
An initiate must impress an Odayla Acolyte or priest that he has the required skills. He will have to participate in a Great Hunt (see below) and must show that he has 50% in five cult skills, one of which must be Tracking. Initiates will begin to become a bit odd, gaining a Passion, Loner, equal to their POW x2%; roll for an increase each season in the same way as a skill, but using +POW not +INT until it is at least equal to the Theology(Odayal) or Devotion(Odayla) skill. This passion will act as a penalty to any social skills and will need to be rolled against each week the initiate spends in 'civilisation' or they will become increasingly bad tempered and liable to lash out.
Odayla's cult skills are
Legend: Resilience, Craft (Butcher), Craft (Fisherman), Theology (Odayala), Lore (Hunting), Perception, Spear and Bow Combat Styles, Unarmed, Stealth, Survival, Track.
RQ6: Endurance, Craft (Butcher), Craft (Fisherman) Devotion (Odayla), Lore (Hunting), Perception, Stealth, Survival, Tracking, Wild Hunter combat style (Skirmishing, Shortbow, Axe, Spear, Javelin, Dagger, Unarmed)
Odayla Initiates are encouraged to learn the following Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Strength, Beast Call, Endurance, Speedart
RQ6: Might, Beastcall, Speedart, Vigour
They can also devote up to 25% of their POW to the god and they may learn Beast Charms, a kind of Shamanic magic. Each Beast Charm takes one point of dedicated POW, and an initiate can never have more than one.
Available Divine Magic:
Legend: Heal Wound, Soul Sight, Sureshot
RQ6: Heal Wound, Soul Sight, Sureshot
Acolytes must have 70% in four cult skills as noted for Initiates.
They may also devote up to 50% of their POW to the god and may use this POW to bind Beast Charms. They may have a maximum of 25% or their CHA in charms.
Acolytes are even more eccentric than Initiates due the effects of the multiple passions gained through their Beast Charms. In addition they gain a new passion, Bearishness, at POW%. This makes them inclined to violence, gives them a taste for honey and salmon in season, makes them slow and sleepy during Dark Season and makes their beards and body hair grow luxuriantly. The Acolyte may act unconsciously like a bear when he is trying to be on his best behaviour back at the stead, unable to resist dipping into other people's stores, growling and snarling when woken and possibly attacking livestock or pets. He may also use it as bonus to his Endurance roll if wounded.
Acolytes gain access to two new Divine Magics, Bear Claws and Sleep Back to Life
Duration: Intensity in Minutes, Rank Acolyte
The caster gains the claws of a bear to fight with using his Unarmed combat skill. He must drop any weapon or shield he is using while the spell is in effect. The claws do 1d6 damage plus his damage bonus, and count as a medium weapon for parries, though intercepting a blow with them may result in harm to the limb. The user gets an extra action point which can only be used for a claw attack, OR he can wrestle like a bear using the Grip special effect and crushing a foe with an automatic 2xSTR bonus in damage until it gets free.
Sleep Back to Life
Duration: special, Rank Acolyte
The caster falls into a deep sleep lasting up to one day per point of intensity. Each day he heals one hit point of damage in every wounded location. This may heal any wound, even serious and critical ones, though it will not reattach a severed limb and will not resurrect the caster. It will stop bleeding though. If interrupted the healing stops and the caster wakes like a bear with a sore head, and may attack the person waking him without mercy if he fails to roll over his Bearishness passion.
Lastly sufficiently skilled acolytes may undertake heroquests to gain exceptional hunting abilities, following in the footsteps of various heroes. For example Kadar Golden Feather could shoot an arrow for over mile, Maboo the Fisherman could track fish by their scent and Ranoo Longlegs could run after prey for days on end.
Priests of Odayla are creatures of the wild, held in awe by village bound people for the way they survive the deepest and most dangerous of forests and turn into bears. They are sometimes used as emissaries between Orlanthi clans and the Beastfolk and Aldryami and the spirits of the wilds. Priests cannot command worshippers, there are no temples, just shrines and rituals in the wild led by the most powerful worshipper present.
They must have 90% in three cult skills and they may, if they qualify, undertake a heroquest to follow one or both of the following dangerous paths.
Every night the Priest transforms into a bear that is immune to normal weapons and may only be harmed by iron. Most of his abilities are as they were when he was a human, he can even still cast magic, but he cannot use armour or weapons. He must have a minimum of 100% Theology or Devotion to Odayla, 50% Unarmed Combat, and at least 50% Bearishness. While he is in bear form he is to all intents and purposes a bear. He will eat any poor soul he comes across if he is hungry, he won't give a hoot about human concerns. But he will be able to start yet another passion – Humanity – at POW%age in order to retain normal human reason and control while a bear. This may never exceed 100-Bearishness.
A properly elected and consecrated Orlanth worshipping chieftain may be represented by an Odaylan Champion. A priest wishing to be a Champion must have a minimum of 100% in a combat style involving axes or spears, 70% Theology or Devotion to Odayla, no more than 50% Loner and at least 50% Bearishness. The heroquest to gain this ability binds the Chieftain and Champion together, and the power of the Champion may only be released with the permission of the Chieftain. The soul of the Champion manifests outside his/her body a great bear which may travel up to POW in kilometers and carry out whatever actions he/she likes. This bear is immune to blows from any weapon apart from iron. However the Chieftain will have to put with what amounts to a half tamed bear living in his hall and have to take legal responsibility for all the damage and violence that this may lead to. Chieftains who over use the champion, and champions who are happy with being used as a supernatural 'heavy' or assassin will get a bad reputation.
In Sylila where the cult of Odayla is far more important and has numerous subcults and variants there are High Priests, but in Dragon Pass, Ralios and Maniria no such position exists. Very powerful priests may be often found near Grizzly Peak in Tarsh and Bear Mountain in Aggar, but they are not leaders of the many independent and ornery cultists by any means.
To gain a beast charm an Odayla worshipper must have the help of a Kolating Shaman and knowledge of the Soul Sight divine spell. The Kolating can use his Spirit Walk or Meditation ability to bring the Odayla hunter into the spirit world and send him off on a magical hunt which will involve a particular kind of challenge along the way. Once successful the Odaylan can breathe in the last breath of the dead animal and return to the Kolating with the body. The Shaman can then create a charm from the body parts and have the hunter breathe the spirit back into it.
The beast spirits bound are normal Nature Spirits, and must be beaten in spirit combat by the hunter, using the Theology/Devotion to Odayla skill as a spirit combat skill, though at hard difficulty level (-1/3 skill or -20% depending on rules used). The charm holder can release and command them as any shaman can his spirits.
Each spirit has particular ability and also causes a particular passion. Kolatings can appear half mad from the proddings of their spirits, and some Odaylan hunters are not far behind. The table gives only examples, other beasts are possible but no Odaylan would ever try this trick on a bear.
Spirit / Challenge / Ability / Personality
Badger / Willpower / Digging / Grumpy
Deer / Archery / Alertness / Jumpy
Eagle / Climbing / Keen Eyesight / Proud
Rabbit / Stalk / Alert / Lusty
Thrush / Hide in Cover / Sing / Vain
Waterfowl / Stalk / Eat Mud / Noisy
Wild Cattle / Wrestling / Strong / Slow-witted
Wild Pig / Running / Smell Food / Bad Tempered
Wild Sheep / Jumping / Know Weather / Stubborn
Odaylan hunters can learn to be Shamen themselves, but each spirit outside the Odaylan tradition they bind counts as two against their maximum limit for spirits. If they ever raise their Spirit Binding skill over that of their Devotion/Theology of Odayla they are deemed to have become full time spirit worshipers and each divine spell they know will reduce their maximum bound spirits by two, unless they renounce their use.
Odayla as a subcult of Orlanth
Orlanth worshippers may take Odayla as a subcult as described here, but they are rather limited in what powers they may gain from this. If they take the Passion Loner as decribed under Initiates above, they may gain the use of Beast Charms
Legend: Brawn, Survival
RQ6: Brawn, Survival
Legend: Strength, Speedart
RQ6: Might, Speedart
Legend: Initiate: Sureshot
RQ6: Initiate: Sureshot
Odayla in Sylila
In the land of Sylila far to the north of Dragon Pass traditionally Odayla was considered to be Orlanth's equal, if not his superior. Odayla and his wife (not worshipped elsewhere) had a brood of divine bear children, were less distant and antisocial and commanded a wider range of powers. Sylila was conquered by the Lunar Empire centuries ago and while Orlanth is now unknown a whole pantheon of Moon-Bears has sprung up out of Odayla worship.
Worshipers of these ridiculous deities (the silly sods even have a farming bear!) are now in Dragon Pass as Lunar soldiers and administrators, where they are widely mocked behind their backs by the locals. Missionaries have been sent into the woods to convert the wild and furry Odaylans to the Moon Bear; most have failed to find any hunters at all, a few have come to the usual sticky end, but a couple have suffered an even worse fate - they have rediscovered the primal purity of storm-bear worship and joined the rebellion.