Harstag

From Bestiary of the Hypogriph

Template:Deity

You dare presume to know me, my being, my place in this world?! I am the struggle of all life; I am that which drives you to survive, to thrive. I exist in every beast, person, and tree. Mine is the rage of winds, the howl of wolves. I am the Huntsman, the King of Beasts. I AM HARSTAG!
โ€” Harstag, to a group of adventurers who encountered him

Harstag is a demigod primarily associated with the concepts of struggle, thrill, and instinct, as well as worshipped as a god of the hunt by numerous cultures. Despite his rather impulsive drive to interact with mortals who interest him, Harstag is characterized by his inability to fully manifest other than in a few places with ties to him; the only time when he can truly walk among the mortals is for a single night after a grand sacrifice held in his name every hundred years. His symbol is a horned humanoid grasping two confronted animals of varying kinds.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

While able to take on the forms of several animals, Harstag's actual form has been accepted as that of a tall and muscular beastman of indeterminate basis. In fact, aspects of different types of beastmen and animals can be found in his anatomy, such as the lower half of a goat akin to his own breed of beastmen, fur similar in its constitution to that of wolves or bears, and the sharp, elongated fingers belonging to some species of monkeys. His most defining physical characteristic, however, is the deer skull he wears on his face, which is often reasonably believed to be his actual face, given that his pure red eyes seem to be perfectly placed in the skull's eye sockets. Harstag has also been depicted wearing a set of armor made from bones of other beings, and across all depictions has always carried a spear apparently made from copper and an unknown type of white wood with a sharp piece of obsidian inlaid in its tip.

History[edit | edit source]

Being a force of nature, and despite the relative obscurity of his exact origins as brought about by the passage of time, Harstag is known to have existed on the Material Plane for many millennia. Notably, the common perception of the horned demigod has evolved throughout this long existence; originally, he was seen in far more darker light and was thought of as a brutal and demanding deity. It was only with his defeat at the hands of the mortal man who would become his first Avatar of the Hunt that Harstag's tendencies began to shift towards being more affable and honorable with the mortals that he had terrorized for a long time.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Coming across as somewhat self-centered - acting in accordance only to his own interests - Harstag is often known not to personally involve himself in the fighting against incursions by the denizens of Irkalla and other such forces, and instead lets things play out as they are. Despite this, however, he is primarily known to be incredibly honorable with all mortals, and especially with those who he has set out to hunt, feeling compelled not to use the full extent of his powers against them and offering a chance at defeating him. Sometimes also described as a solemn entity, Harstag is noted to consider himself in peace while wandering amidst the fey in the more mystical places of the world.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Harstag can be described to be reclusive in his dealings with other deities, greatly preferring the company of mortals and shirking from making enemies from those who haven't provoked him themselves. Nevertheless, he has been associated with a number of other demigods, with his closest bonds being with three of his fellow forces of nature - Wulven, Arjorn, and Heidastir, who all also often appear in different pantheons alongside him. As a testament to this, Harstag has dedicated the deeds of his Avatars of the Hunt to each of his three respective brethren. Additionally, he is attested to have past dealings with members of the Dalmiric pantheon, as he is believed to have raised Shaqashah into her position as the goddess of the hunt, and, according to an amusing, if still perhaps factually incorrect legend, to have bedded her as well.

Cult of Harstag[edit | edit source]

Harstag is, unsurprisingly, worshipped primarily among hunters. To his followers, Harstag can be a great benefactor and generally acts cordially with them. This is of course only so, provided that the followers seek to overcome any adversities that come their way and grow from their experiences; self-pity and acquiescence to pressure are usually answered by Harstag with scorn. Rather paradoxically when compared to some of the other deities, he has also been noted to show his favor to any mortal who strikes his fancy, and not caring whether or not they hold him as their god. In fact, he is believed to take great pleasure in choosing his mortal champions from among those who don't have prior ties to him.

With his worship beginning as him being considered by the mortals to be an animistic representation of their struggles, this harstagian religion is attributed by some archeologists to have been one of the very first religions practiced on the Material Plane. Due to this, he has sometimes been considered to have a much more prominent religious following among cultures whose pantheons don't officially include him among their numbers as opposed to those that do. As such, some elves and humans in the outskirts of their respective societies give credence to him still in extant traditions harkening back to those ancient times.

Clergy[edit | edit source]

No priesthoods similar to those of many other deities exist for Harstag; any form of organized clerical structure among his worshippers is difficult to come by. What little semblance there is can be seen with druids, who are called on whenever a ritual demands their presence or for the preparation of sacrifices. Ruins of ancient temples dedicated to Harstag can be found nearly all across the world, with his followers travelling to them for religious gatherings from even hundreds of kilometres away. Other sacred sites of his can be found in the wilds; forests, lakes, and rivers drenched in mystical energies are often best left unexplored if one wishes not to rile up his followers, or, worse yet, disturb the demigod himself.

Festivals[edit | edit source]

A major celebration takes place in the spring among the demigod's Saiteir "children" throughout the century in anticipation for his grand hunt across the mortal world. Each year, a feast of increasingly larger proportions is held, until the year before Harstag's summoning, when one of such massive scale is held that the Saiteir are said to remain intoxicated from their revels for the rest of the year.

See also[edit | edit source]

Template:Forces of nature Template:Tusclandic pantheon