Churcainn - The Green Rider

I've written a lot of stuff for my D&D 5e campaign, and one of the better things I came up with was a write up for one of my campaign gods, Churcainn.

I started with a few ideas -- the first was building something the druidic faith could build around -- rather than a formal deific pantheon, create a "Thomas the Rhymer" style court of powerful fey beings that might be misinterpreted as deities by non-druidic, non-fey folk.

There was a movie I watched as a kid, Sword of the Valiant, which was the story of Gawain and the Green Knight -- Sean Connery played the Green Knight, a capricious (and glittery) fey creature that attempted to bargain with Gawain.  Using him as a concept for a capricious trickster fey appealed to me.

The other idea was writing out a full background article for a deity -- not just the usual "you worship Bob, God of Fire.  Bob is LN and grants fire spells", but something that fully detailed the origin and ethos of a divine creature, outlining it's religious texts, allies and servants, its realm of the afterlife and how faithful spirits might get there.  On top of that, I wanted a smattering of D&D 5e rules that would grant some flavour to clerics and druids, but also faithful non-casters.

Below is my campaign exerpt -- enjoy!

     (The Green Rider, Lord of the Ashwood, Guardian of the Wisterwyll, Wolf-Friend) leads the wild hunt, wearing leaf armor and a helmet adorned with great horns of a stag.  He wields the silver longsword Branbaddel.  He often attempts to make bargains with mortals that never end to their benefit.  Churcainn is also worshipped as a keeper of animals by farmers and others who use domestic creatures, and his followers are encouraged to wander, much as a river wends its way through the land.

Origins & History

     It is said that Churcainn is the son of Ydel, an elf princess of the fey court who dwelt in a hall made of ash-wood and mithral called Halcuvel, set on the edge of a great forest known as the Wisterwyll.

     Ydel was a cruel and negligent mother, and often forced him out of Halcuvel to venture in the emerald green wilderness of Avalor.  As a young boy, he was tricked by a great elven lord in a cloak of gold, a tunic of scarlet, and a flaming bow to venture into the Wisterwyll. 

     Churcainn wandered for many days and nights, and rather than the creatures of the forest devour him, a great grey stag guarded him from a distance, and had other creatures of the forest fetch him food and build him shelter for him to find.  Churcainn then learned to speak the language of the animals, and befriended them, and called them close to him.  His first friends in the wood were a pack of wolves with coats as red as blood, which he named Cur Annun (which means “hunters. In the twilight”), who taught him to hunt and run with great speed.  He then befriended a small but fierce creature named Tanglebrock, who had a beard twisted with thorns, and rode a fierce flesh-eating badger, who introduced him to the brownies and red caps and other capricious spirits of the forest, and taught him the black humor of the elven court.  And finally he befriended the Pale Stag who had guarded him for his entire childhood, who gave him his horns to wear upon his head, and allowed him to ride upon his back, and took him from Wisterwyll to the Elf Queen’s court at Kelael.

     Upon arriving in the silver castle of the Elf Queen, she was greatly impressed with his mastery of the woodlands, and his varied woodland friends who had accompanied him, and named him a knight of her court.  In Kelael, he met the golden-cloaked prince who set him into the woods named Amon, and the tales of rivalry between the Red Archer and Churcainn are many and legendary.

     After being gone from his home for many years, his aging and now feeble mother Ydel heard of his fame, and traveled to Kelael and asked her son to support her in her old age.  Churcainn swore to tend to his family as his family had tended to him, at which point he had the wolves of Cur Annun devour her.

     When the Elf Queen Saenschel died, the Elven Court was disbanded for a time, and the people of Kelael returned to their homelands.  Churcainn returned to Wisterwyll, and found Halcuvel had been overtaken by the forest, and trees had grown through the floors of the hall, and birds had made nests in the boughs touching the rafters.  Red caps had tended to the hearth, and cooked meat upon a spit, which they then shared with the wolves of the wood.  Churcainn was glad of this, and took his place at the high seat of the feast in Halcuvel, and has called it home ever since.

Servants of Churcainn

     The Wolves of Cur Annun are led by a particularly large pack leader called Jengreydd.  They are a pack of wolves that have coats of blood-red fur, and are able to speak like men, and hunt those who have wronged their families.

     Tanglebrock is the father of red caps, and due to his history with Churcainn, worshippers who know the right words can hold malicious fey at bay.

     The Pale Stag is a ghostly grey stag with leaves entwined in its antlers, and stands as tall as two men.  The stag is the warden of Wisterwyll and the herald of the Green Rider.

     The Knight in Bronze is Churcainn’s representative to the Queen in Kelael, a secretive figure never seen without his al-encompassing arm or of bronze.  His name is Brachaedd, and his skill with a sword is legendary.  Amon often comes to court and attempts to taunt Brachaedd into a duel, but so far has been unsuccessful.

The Rede of Halcuvel & the Church of Churcainn

     The Rede of Halcuvel is a series of tales in Sylvan that detail the life of Churcainn, and sets the tenets of belief that his worship is based around.  This is not a religious text, as Churcainn was never meant to be worshipped by man, but it has been taken by the disciples of Harraweth.

     Harraweth was believed to be the first worshipper of Churcainn, having met the Lord of the Ashwood and survived a wager with him.  He took up worship of nature, and learned the ways of the druids, and spent his life learning the Rede of Halcuvel from the sprites and fey of the forest.  He then took the Rede and used it as the basis for worship of the Green Rider.

     It is believed that druids hold mistletoe to be sacred due to its abundance in Wisterwyll.  Mistletoe appears in many tales of Churcainn and his servants.

     The tenets of the Green Rider as taught form the Rede are stern lectures on respecting your family and clan, never being wasteful, being wary of the fey, but celebrating their history, and remembering hard lessons learned.  Druids teach these philosophies through a series of parables.

     Many worshippers of the Lord of the Ashwood are those who have never set foot in a city, instead living in rustic villages, lonely shacks, or quiet towns in the wild, content to lead lives of tranquility – these common folk do not always depict Churcainn as benevolent, and warn against his temper and displeasure. 

     Worshippers of Churcainn have many strange customs as taken from the Rede of Halcuvel.  They believe a pair of stag antlers hung over a lintel are considered to bless a home in Churciann’s name, shunning cold iron as it is harmful to fey spirits, and that pastries left on the hearth will placate any friendly spirits living within the home.

     The Rede of Halcuvel describes Churciann’s home as “a circle of friends surrounded by a circle of ash-wood surrounded by a circle of teeth and antlers”.  Religious sites to Churcainn are circles of bone and antler set in the ground, that can be uprooted and moved as the clergy move about.

The Afterlife

     Worshippers of Churcainn believe that those who successfully befriend the fey or animals and can be considered kin and family to them may grant their spirit passage to Wisterwyll, to dwell near Churcainn’s hall, and be watched over by the Lord of the Ashwood while dwelling in Avalor in harmony with the animals and fey of Churcainn’s forest.

     A burial of the faithful of Churcainn involves one of his family or a close friend hunting a wolf, and upon slaying it, the deceased and the wolf are buried in the woods together, so the wolf can carry the deceased to Halcuvel.  These woodland graves are marked with a  circle of antlers to keep them save from woodland predators.


     Druids of Churcainn can be found in Gnelland, on Glanting Isle, throughout the Cairnlands, the wilderness of Nordell, and even as far east as the Graven Hills..  More organized churches of Churcainn can be found in Candletower, Brael Mar, Tanner Mar, and Hearthall.

The Church of Churcainn

     Druids of Churainn refer to themselves as Cur Annun Harraweth, liking themselves to members of Harraweth’s wolf pack, and faithful friends of the Green Rider.  They attempt to live their lives as that of a wolf, traveling with other druids, hunting for their food, wasting nothing that they hunt or gather, protecting their kin with their lives, and traveling with all their possessions upon them, never living in one place for very long.

     More recently, the worship of Churcainn has happened to grow in acceptance in the walled cities of the Marchlands.  The worship of the Green Rider is now by city-travelers, owners of inns, pilgrims, and by those who want to ward off evil spirits from their homes.  Clerics have organized churches of the Lord of the Ashwood, calling themselves Green Men, and often these churches are hostels for travelers, and a place to trade stories from far-off lands.  There is no further organization to the church, and one hall dedicated to Churcainn might we wildly different in another city.

     The holy symbol of Churcainn is a stag horn.  This can vary wildly in appearance from stag horns mounted on a helmet, to a piece of antler carved into some sort of pendant, or a horn handle of a hunting knife.

Calendar and Holy Days

     The Night of the Cur Annun is believed to be a night when the spirits of Churcainn’s wolves possess their lesser brethren throughout the Western Marches, granting them vigor and the power of speech for one night only.  However, it is considered a dire omen to hear a wolf speak, and it is believed that an unlucky soul who hears the speech of a Cur Annun on this night will have their soul travel to Halcuvel within a fortnight.  Those who worship Churcainn spend this night by the fire, which will ward off wolves.

The Night of Cur Annun
During the 15th of Manthel, some wolves may gain advantage on Strength-based checks, saving throws, and attacks, and gain the power of speech.

     Harreweth’s Feast is held on the first day of spring which is considered to be Ramel the 15th.  It is a day where druids and those who hold to the beliefs of the Elven Court to honour their forefathers and those who first communed with nature.  It is a day for druids to gather in their circles, celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of seasons, and exchange gifts.

     The Ashwood Festival is a week-long celebration in winter that lasts from the 8th day of Madrel until the 15th.  Each feast day is dedicated to a great lord or lady of the Elven Court, typically Maelbine, Amon, Mauglara, Churcainn, Laerith, Caiden Kallaine, and the Pale Stag.  Some feast days to Mauglara involve the sacrifice of a bird to ward off the Raven Queen.  Each of these feasts is to be held around the largest Ashwood, but often times boughs of the largest tree are cut and hung over the mantle of homes.  Often this time is used for unbottling mead or wine laid down, singing and merriment, and peace between clans.

Rituals of Churcainn

     A worshipper of Churcainn who bears a holy symbol of antler upon his person and recites the correct passage from the Rede of Halcuvel can bolster his faith and perform many inspired acts. 

     Only one ritual can be performed per day per worshipper, and they only affect the worshipper himself.  Each ritual is an action to perform, and requires a successful Knowledge (religion) check of DC 20. 

     The faithful who make the check can cite the Praise of Jengreydd to ask for good hunting conditions and clear trails, granting advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks for the day. 

     Reciting the Tale of Tanglebrock with a successful check reminds the worshipper how to stay wary of fey creatures that should not be trusted, and grants cover (+2 AC) versus fey, and advantage to saves vs. enchantment against any fey.

     Finally, if a creature who worships the Green Rider can cite the Ride of the Pale Stag in the presence of an animal and can make a successful Knowledge (religion) check allows the worshipper to make an immediate Charisma (Diplomacy) check to influence the animal, even if the creature does not share a language or has a method of communicating with the animal.  If successful, it can change the attitude of the animal.  A helpful animal would allow it to be ridden.

     Alignment: CN
     Domains: Nature, Trickery
     Symbol: An antler

Magic of Churcainn
Clerics, rangers and druids of the Green Rider can prepare expeditious retreat as a 1st-level spell.
     Clerics of Churcainn are also able to cast Conjure Woodland Beings as a 4th level spell, and Conjure Fey as a 6th level spell.  All creatures summoned have the power of speech, and speak and understand Sylvan.

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