Nemetondevos [Scion: Mysteries of the World]

Scion

Scion Hero art by Marco Gonzales

Greetings, true believers! Meghan here, with an excerpted preview of the Nemetondevos pantheon from Scion: Mysteries of the World. The Nemetondevos are the Gods of Gaul, a pantheon destroyed long ago by Caesar and only now beginning to return to the World. This preview gives you a rundown of their basic cosmology and current situation, followed by one of their Gods. Enjoy!

Cosmology

The Nemetondevos have no unifying Overworld. Their Sancta make up thousands of individual realms connected to the World via their nemetons. This has given the Nemetondevos a particular interest in preserving the natural Earth, as without it their realms would be eternally isolated, and so the stereotype of “druid as conservationist” is not without merit.

Most of these Godsrealms feature a “downward” theme (caves, pools, roots), but only the Wheel serves as the Nemetondevos’ Underworld. There, souls of the dead ride what looks like an incomprehensibly massive wooden Ferris wheel, weighed down by a lifetime of memories. When they reach the bottom, Belenos washes away these memories in his great cauldron, so they can ride the Wheel back up to their reincarnation. Memory, be it mortal or divine, is the fuel that keeps the Wheel spinning, and the Wheel moves the universe. Its upper half reaches into Taranis’ realm in the sky, the only Gaulish Overworld that fits the term literally.

Titans

The Materes gave form and immense power to primal concepts, creating the Titans of the Nemetondevos. The Gaulish Gods mostly dealt with these beings in prehistory one way or another. Perhaps that void left Fate to invite another pantheon to step into the role of the Nemetondevos’ eternal enemies.

The Nemetondevos’ approaches to Titans have always been as varied as the Nemetondevos themselves. Andarta made war on them, hoping the sacrifice of another Titan could create a World-altering nemeton and put the Gauls back on top. Esos put them to use, as Orgos serves as the Wheel’s center. The Gauls had no qualms about slavery, and the Forester knows the value of using natural forces to power industry. Belenos, ever an idealist, wished to see the Titans reborn into something benign, if not benevolent.

Orgos is death itself, whom the Romans conflated with Dis Pater (a Mantle of Hades). He coupled with the Materes to birth the Nemetondevos, and thus is the ancestor of all Gauls, mortal and divine. His Underworld, Dubnolissos, was a miserable place where the dead were stagnant and forgotten. When Esos bound Orgos into the workings of the great Wheel, it carried the souls back into the World while Orgos struggled to break free.

Unfortunately for Orgos, even though the Wheel stopped spinning when the Nemetondevos fell, his wooden prison did not break. But he is not entirely powerless, as his titanspawn, the Ankou, still do his bidding. These skeletal, scythe-wielding figures in wide-brimmed hats drive carts to collect the dead who have gone astray, a mockery of the wagons devout Gauls were buried with to ride to Belenos. They return these souls to Orgos, that he might break the Wheel’s bindings and return Belenos’ realm to his own control. Purview: Death. Virtues: Dominance, Fecundity.

The Tarvos Trigaranus: The decapitated head of the massive bull is buried deep beneath the World. While Andarta sacrificed the monster to create the first nemeton, the bull’s head still holds some power, creating the horrible tarasques that crawl out from beneath the earth. These nightmarish titanspawn resemble dragon-lion hybrids with spiked tortoise shells and a scorpion’s stinging tail, echoes of the Tarvos’ madness and cruelty.Purview: Beasts.Virtues: Dominance, Rapacity.

Primordials: The Materes

The Materes are not just mothers; they are motherhood. These three Primordial women, also known as the August Nurses, birthed the World and its earliest inhabitants. But they are more than just producers of life: they ache to protect and nurture their offspring well after the children grow to no longer need them. Like many mothers, they have difficulty admitting their children have reached that point. Their milk allowed the first bull to grow into the colossal Tarvos Trigaranus, which trampled mountains until Andarta slew it. The Materes themselves reside in a Terra Incognita deep beneath the World, where they sired the myriad Gaulish deities until their lovers fell to Caesar.

Callings: Creator, Guardian, Healer

Purviews: Health, Fertility, Passion (Maternal Love)

Religion: None

Unlike other pantheons in the World, the ancient powers of the Nemetondevos truly did go away. This left their mortal worship in the lurch, and while their priests, the druids, retained their remarkable knowledge, they could no longer access their Gods’ powers. Prayers were met with an eerie silence. Mistletoe stopped growing on the sacred oaks. The water of holy springs cured thirst, nothing more.

Over time, worship of the Nemetondevos faded. The druids had refused to write their tales down, believing their strong memories would power the Wheel upon their deaths. When the Wheel stopped, they lost their motivation to teach their lore to apprentices, instead moving on to other pantheons to share their gifts and wisdom. Votives and religious artwork became little more than names and pictures with no context. Movements tried over the centuries to reconstruct the old beliefs and rituals, but without the aid of sacred writings, Scions, or miracles, these efforts were futile on both scholarly and divine levels. On the rare occasion some definitive key to the Gauls’ beliefs popped up, it was met with an “unfortunate accident,” with a Scion of the Theoi not far behind.

With the Wheel turning again, their only religions are the cults of their Incarnate Scions. Some spread the Nemetondevos’ true rites, unearthing their Godly predecessors’ memories in their rebirth; they might quest for moments of revelation by seeking places where those Gods’ nemetons once were or hunting down clues in Terra Incognitae where lost lore might linger. Such moments are much more common the closer Scions are to the Memory end of their Virtue track. Insular druidic orders are happy to relearn their own faith’s funeral rites to keep the Wheel turning. Other cults are global organizations searching for returning Gaulish Gods to aid and protect. Still others labor over secret plans of revenge against the Theoi.


Belenos, Keeper of the Wheel

Alias: Vindonnus

Belenos, reviver of the dead, keeps the universe moving. The weight of memory turns the great Wheel, which moves the stars, the sun, and the World. Those dead who are buried with carts, wagons, or chariots (anything with a wheel) ride spectral vehicles from their graves on sacred days. When their souls reach a nemeton of Belenos, druids bless their passage onto the great Wheel. This impossibly massive wooden structure takes them to his divine realm, their memories of life weighing them down. Belenos washes away these memories in his great cauldron, and the purgation of these souls lightens them to rise back to the World to be reborn.

Belenos himself is the oldest of the Nemetondevos, first son of the Materes. His nemetons are circular, and his incarnation would be surprised to find his followers using henges and other megaliths for his rituals. Such monuments are either new to him or older than the God he was, but he doesn’t mind the change of venue. He gets a kick out of making cryptic references to people’s previous lives that only he, as Belenos’ incarnation, remembers. Those who meet him (and recall the experience) say he wears a friendly smirk, like a man listening to a joke he’s heard before but loves to hear again.

As keeper of the Wheel, he alone knows when and where a God or Hero reincarnates. He frequently leads other Gaulish Scions to their former Birthrights, sometimes acting as a Birthright guide himself. His own incarnations are no exception; the Virtue of Memory drives them to help their fellow Nemetondevos find themselves. The firstborn of the Gauls is likely to be the first reborn, too; some people think he must be for the Wheel to start turning again at all.

Callings: Healer, Liminal, Sage

Purviews: Death, Health, Stars, Sun