Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pellatarrum: Cursebreaker Durga

Rumored to be the child of one of the legendary Shapers of dwarven history, Durga is believed to be as old as Pellatarrum itself. This claim is not as unbelievable as it sounds: every educated soul on Pellatarrum has heard of Durga; she is the matriarch of an entire clan of curse-breaking dwarves; and honestly, she looks older than dirt.

Durga is a witch, and every one of her children has a magical talent of some form. Most are wizards, clerics and witches, though paladins are not unknown (bringing a highly literal interpretation of their clan name through their actions) and, in one notable exception, a bard*.

The Cursebreaker clan has a very simple purpose in life: destroying curses and malevolent magical items. Usually this is simple, as those who are cursed seek out a Cursebreaker and pay to have dispel magic, remove curse, or break enchantment cast upon them. (Stone to flesh is also popular but requires very good friends, and often an additional housecall fee.) However, sometimes adventurers stumble upon something far more potent -- say, an intelligent and strong-willed sword, or an artifact from the Godswar that somehow made it way across the planes and into Pellatarrum -- and normal spells are unable to break the bond or neutralize the cursed artifact.

That is when the Cursebreaker clan seeks the guidance of Grandmother Durga. Usually all that is required is a high-order spell (such as wish) or dropping the cursed item into the elemental torrent within the heart of the Dayspire. If that is insufficient, Durga will consult her extensive library, cast ancient and powerful spells lost to time, and send her family out on quests for information. Given enough time, Durga can break any curse or destroy any artifact. Of course, those afflicted with truly powerful curses may not have the luxury of time...

There are two important things to know about the Cursebreaker clan. The first is that when they give their word to break a curse, you may rest assured that they will break that curse or die trying -- in which case a family member will take their place and continue their kin's work.

The second is that, unlike others with the ability to remove curses, they never charge money for their work. Those they help are instructed that "One day, one of my kin will come to one of your kin and ask you to do something in return. You must do this thing without question or pause." These debts are recorded in Durga's library, as well as the amount of difficulty it took to solve that problem. It is a point of honor that a Cursebreaker has never asked for more than someone's ability to pay.

To the best of anyone's knowledge, no one has ever failed to repay a Cursebreaker. This has less to do with gratitude or personal honor than with the belief that any curse which can be broken may just as easily be reinstated...

* Cursebreaker Simenov's inability to actually remove curses is more than made up for by his ability to tell lurid stories that are both gross and engrossing. The fact that his bulging eyes and gravelly voice give him a "creepy old guy" demeanor actually adds to the telling of the tales, which are retold often but never as well as by Simenov himself. He is the reason every civilization on Pellatarrum has heard of Durga in the first place.

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