Thieves & Kings
Kraven - The Beastlord
The Blood Harvester, The Reaper, The Glutton, The Ravenous – God of Beasts, Blood, Hunters and Werewolves
Kraven is the lord of predators and hunters, a primordial and savage creature who revels in the hunt and the blood of the kill. He delights in the fear of his victims, literally smelling and tasting their essence of terror. Known under many names at various times and eras, Kraven is one of the most dangerous threats to the safety of border towns and frontier villages.
Origins of Kraven can be dated to the days when beasts first stalked the land. He has always hated the Eldar Folk, with elves taking the bulk of his ire. Over the centuries, he has tried to wrestle among the other gods to usurp their powers, with varying degrees of success. The Beastlord fights against the gods of peace, civilization and nature, namely Korg, Alya and Galana.
The Creed of Kraven
Hunt often, in honor of the Beastlord. Slaughter your quarry bloodily, so it knows both its slayer and its doom. Slay no young, no gestating creature, and no deepspawn so as not to lessen the quarry for hunts ahead. Ignore laws, and battle the law keepers. The only true law is the will of Kraven, and where Kraven is silent, the law of the wild prevails; the strong do as they please, and the weak flee, obey, or die.
It is the will of Kraven, that a quarry which escapes a hunt never be hunted again, but instead be treated with respect of the title “Unblooded”. Stand against woodcutters and clearers of the land, feed the hungry with the bounty of your hunts, and obey no priest of another god. Taste the blood of those you kill, and never slay from a distance. Know cunning and the ways of the wild, but never fear. Face your foes and prevail.
Kraven clerical domain is Nature.
Kraven is widely feared. His rust-clothed priests are murderous psychopaths who work in secret against all that is considered good. Kraven’s clergy are known as Bloodhunters, though in some lands they’re simply known as Beasts, a name of which most are proud to claim. Although nominally allied to various evil cults, in practice Bloodhunters trust no one and make allies only if they see no other hope of survival – and then only temporarily and reluctantly. They are often bidden to slaughter clergy ofon sight.
Because they have been spurned and treated with open contempt and mistrust for centuries, some Bloodhunters decide to become implacable foes of all societies and people. However, they do not attack openly and in so doing risk getting overwhelmed, but skulk with subtlety. These Bloodhunters pounce on rulers, courtiers, envoys, and law keepers they can assault without witnesses, and tear them apart so the aftermath looks like the work of wild beasts.
In, some Bloodhunters have taken to quietly accepting payments to make certain “inconvenient” individuals the quarries in their hunts. In this way, they slowly build up small personal fortunes. They are well aware that they are easy scapegoats, though, and are alert for attempts to betray them, or send them into hopeless situations.
Other Bloodhunters have taken to living wild in caverns, dedicating themselves to out-hunting bears and goblin-kin for their lairs. From there, they mount infrequent raids in great force on nearby settlements, passing caravans, and farms. Raiding Bloodhunters seek to kill everyone and leave no witnesses. Then they withdraw in such a way as to lure any pursuers into a prepared trap where they can slaughter from a position of advantage. Then they plunder the fallen, taking food and other gleanings back to their lairs, and plan where to strike next.
Priests of Kraven pray for their spells at night, preferably under a full moon. They also offer prayers to the Beastlord before the chase, during pursuit, and while drinking a toast of their victim’s own blood over the fallen corpses. “The Bloodsong”, the droning incantations intoned over the bodies of all creatures slain in their hunt, is a specific holy ritual to sanctify their prey as a feast to the Beastlord.
Two other great rituals are the “Feast of the Stags”, and the “High Hunt”. Clerics and worshipers in The Feast of the Stags hunt plenty of game before High Harvestide, and then invite others, especially those not of the faith, to join them where they pledge to provide for the needy over the winter. This ritual is one of the most common ways the religion appeals to outsiders. The High Hunt, held each season, has worshipers adorn themselves in kill trophies, and hunt a sentient humanoid, who can win the boon of their freedom by escaping the hunters for a day and a night.
Temples to Kraven are rare, with most Bloodhunters choosing simple shadowed wilderness glades, often former stone circles of Galana. In the rare urban setting, they are hidden within extensive limestone caverns accessible through a sinkhole in the center of a stone circle. These twisting, labyrinth passages are often used as hunting grounds in which particularly powerful worshipers hunt sentient prey captured from the streets above.
Ceremonial gear includes a headpiece made from the pelt and head of the most impressive beast the worshiper has personally slain with their are hands; usually a bear or great cat, but sometimes an owlbear, displacer beast or even stranger, exotic creature. They carry a hunting horn, and numerous bladed weapons such as daggers. Woodland garb of red and brown (often rust-colored clothing stained from the blood of their prey) is favored during hunts and rituals, but is often concealed beneath a woodland cloak of black, gray and green. Many also wear necklaces of animal bones, fangs and claws and a variety of pelts.
The church of Kraven is loosely bound and without central hierarchy. It is centered around the concept of the Hunt and consists of local, independent cells. This makes it all the more difficult to counter or remove, for as soon as one den is cleaned out, another rises to take its place. Huntmasters are the informal religious leaders, and might be clerics, druids, rangers or or werewolves. They decide the locale, time, and prey of the rituals of the faithful. The office of Huntmaster is won by challenge – a fight to the death if the incumbent does not resign.