Thursday 27 October 2016

Monsters from Central Asian Mythology 12: The Payna

In the mythology of the Turkic and Altaic peoples, the Payna (or Baianai) were spirits of the woods, patrons of hunting and bringers of prosperity. As usual, their legend took many different forms among different peoples: even basic issues such as whether there was one Payna or many, and whether they were male or female, vary widely from one retelling to the next. The version presented here certainly shouldn't be taken as being in any way authoritative; I've simply picked it on the grounds that it strikes me as being useful for gaming purposes. And also because I'm bored of female nature spirits always being sexy barefoot hippy chicks who wander around the forests with flowers in their hair, and thought I'd write one which was a scary fiery bird-woman who lived in a hollow tree, instead.

Image result for yakut woman

So: the Payna are a race of magical beings which inhabit the taiga, possibly the female counterparts of the brutish (and all-male) Shurale. Where they come from is unclear; they never seem to age, and while they do occasionally take mortal lovers, any children born from such unions will be humans (albeit humans with a knack for shamanism) rather than Payna infants. They resemble tall, long-haired women, with skin that glows with a subtle inner radiance; they wear long, loose garments hung with hundreds of feathers, and when they wish to fly these garments twist themselves into great gliding wings, allowing them to swoop across the canopy from tree to tree. They live a wild, solitary existence, dwelling in caves deep in the forest, or in the boles of huge and hollow trees; they are great hunters, and a feather-token bestowed by a Payna can bring good fortune to all who hunt and fish in the woods around her lair. For this reason, when a taiga clan discovers that a Payna is dwelling nearby, their young men and their shamans will often come to court her with gifts of meat and fire, and will hold feasts in her honour during the midwinter months when her aid is most required. Such courtship requires great tact, however; for when the Payna are angered their inner fire burns hot and bright within their eyes, and anyone they gaze upon will be stricken with fever and thirst.

For the taiga peoples, the Payna are valuable but prickly neighbours: their gifts can be a blessing to a whole tribe, but they are also eccentric, quick to anger, highly territorial about their homes, and very sensitive to possible insults. A clan which wins the favour of a Payna will enjoy great prosperity, at least until the day comes when she tires of their forests and seeks a new home elsewhere; but a clan which antagonises one will be plagued with droughts, fires, and diseases among their livestock until either the Payna is killed or appeased, or the clan is driven out of the area entirely.

Image result for yakut woman

  • Payna: AC 14 (agility and gown of feathers), 3 HD, AB +3, damage by weapon (usually bows and spears), FORT 10, REF 10, WILL 10, special attack: burning gaze.

Burning Gaze: When a payna is angry, anyone she gazes upon is filled with terrible feverish heat and thirst. They must make a FORT save; if they fail, they are at a -2 penalty to all rolls (including damage rolls) until they get a chance to drink lots of cold liquids and lie down somewhere cool for a few hours. (In combat, assume the payna is gazing at whomever she's currently attacking.) Anyone who passes their save cannot be affected by the same payna's gaze again that day. By staring fixedly at fields, streams, herds of livestock, or houses, a sufficiently angry payna can induce localised droughts, crop failures, and epidemic fevers among herd animals, or cause wood to dry out to such an extent as to massively increase the risk of it catching fire. 

Feather-Gown: A payna can cause her gown of feathers to twist into wings, allowing her to fly or glide for short distances - no more than a mile or so at a stretch, after which she must land and refold her gown for 1d6 minutes before taking off again.

Feather Token: Anyone to whom a payna willingly gives a feather token will be blessed with good fortune when hunting and fishing in the forests around her lair. The yield of any such hunting and fishing expeditions is increased by (1d6x10)%. 

No comments:

Post a Comment