Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga
Grandmother Pain; Stormwitch

Symbol: A chicken leg
Home Plane: Prime Material (Highly Mobile)
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Cleric Alignments: Neutral, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil
Portfolio: Witches, warlocks, Old Age, Respect for elders
Worshipers: Witches, warlocks, old women, goblins, ogres, hags, harpies
Domains: Darkness (Loss), Knowledge (Memory), Luck (Curse), Magic, Weather (Storms)
Favored Weapon: Greatclub (preferably shaped like her pestle)

Physical Description:
A withered-looking old crone on first sight, robed, hooded, and hunched over, Baba Yaga's true appearance tends to be a shock to those who first see her face: Baba Yaga is hideous! More than hideous, the very sight of her causes pregnant women to miscarry, babies to become colicky, cows to give sour milk for years afterward, and the weak of heart to die. When she decides to show her full grandeur, she can stand head and shoulders over the height of a full-grown man, her simple peasant's clothes turning to storm-streaked robes of night. One does not approach Baba Yaga lightly by any means, and one never really knows when a lonely old woman might in fact be Baba Yaga in disguise.

Baba Yaga is most freqently encountered in one of three ways. Firstly, she may take to the road as a tottering old woman dressed in rags. When she is in this form, she is generally actively seeking opportunities to deal out minor blessings to those who treat her with respect, or (much more frequently) significant cursings to those who treat her poorly or ignore her. Since Baba Yaga is an old woman, however, she prefers to avoid walking except when she is in an especially foul mood. Secondly, Baba Yaga enjoys traveling by flying around in a huge magical mortar, which she steers by means of a large pestle, which also serves as a deadly weapon in a pinch. This is fun for Baba Yaga, but also very tiring since she must continue to work the pestle while flying. She tends to spread a host of misfortunes and violent storms over the lands she flies above while travelling in this fashion. Thirdly and finally, Baba Yaga has a large hut with long chicken legs, which she generally allows to wander as it pleases with its limited intelligence. If she or it should need rapid transportation while in her hut, it can sprout a pair of dark-feathered wings from its sides to fly for relatively short distances, but the hut finds this tiring and seldom does so except when it is in peril or Baba Yaga exerts her mighty will. Baba Yaga gets around in her hut most frequently because the hut likes the exercise, and Baba Yaga likes to relax inside her house.

Description of Nature, Personality, and Dogma:
Baba Yaga is the very personification of cantankerous old age. Though Baba Yaga is physically stronger than all but the largest giants, and easily able to crush even the mightiest heroes in her skinny arms, exerting the force of the weight of years in her grip, she always feels all the aches and pains of her many years except in a few rare instances. Because of this, and her general disdain for the young and beautiful, Baba Yaga is usually in a bad mood. Rarely an especially pleasant day will find her rhematism and arthritis not acting up so badly, or a new potion will be working well for her, or she will have caused an especially satisfying bit of harm upon someone who genuinely deserved it (in her view, at least), and she will be almost pleasant to deal with, at least for a short period.

Though Baba Yaga generally could care less about the veneration of mortals, she is nevertheless, like many elderly persons, highly interested in getting respect from those younger than her. She also dislikes naughty children (except in stew), and tales warning children of the dangers of disobeying their parents are frequently quite true when Baba Yaga is involved. Besides this, Baba Yaga has a sweet tooth, and so most people regularly attempt to placate her by leaving out tasty treats on dark and stormy nights to turn Baba Yaga's wrathful eye away. Most of Baba Yaga's interactions with mortals, actually, are the efforts of mortals to keep her attention turned elsewhere, and essentially all of the many minor rituals and offerings that she accepts are intended for that purpose.

Clergy, Places of Worship, Important Rituals, and Servitor Races:
Who would want to be a cleric of Baba Yaga?! Well, all right, but do not say that you were not warned. Baba Yaga does not generally take many people into her clergy, and fewer still of those that she does are from one of the dominant humanoid races. The very old and the very ugly of any race might find favor with Baba Yaga, as long as they do not make too much of a nuisance of themselves. Young, handsome men might also be able to attract her attention and gain the powers she can bestow; attempting this is not generally recommended, however, since Baba Yaga also has a taste for handsome young men - in the culinary sense. Simply because of her nature, Baba Yaga's clergy, which are few and far between to start with, have a high rate of turnover. Goblins do frequently draw her attention, however, as do ogres, and a number of other similarly unpleasant races, though she generally only grants elderly female worshipers of those races her blessing and clerical assistance. Hags of all kinds, of course, as well as harpies, are frequently clerics of Baba Yaga…when they are not too busy with their own wicked devices, of course.

More frequently than she accepts clerical worshipers, however, Baba Yaga has been known to accept students to learn the ways of the witch or the warlock from her. If an aspiring student can find her in the first place, and is of the appropriate alignment for one of those professions, and shows her great respect and politeness, and shows some modest promise as a student, and she does not have a present apprentice (she usually takes only one at a time), and she is in a good mood, and if the student agrees to the multitude of chores Baba Yaga will impose upon him or her, and if the student accepts Baba Yaga's demand for an additional and unspecified favor at a future time of her choosing, then Baba Yaga will park her hut for a time and spend a year or two giving an aspiring witch or warlock training in the basics of that class. After that year or two, Baba Yaga will send the apprentice out into the woods on some chore or other, and when the student returns, the hut will be long gone - Baba Yaga hates goodbyes. What the future favor might be depends entirely upon the individual and Baba Yaga's mood. Sometimes the apprentice dies before she can collect, and sometimes she forgets about a former apprentice altogether. Other times she may demand that the apprentice fulfill some great task for her, or give up something precious to the apprentice that Baba Yaga wants, though she never demands something from an apprentice that goes against that apprentice's alignment - Baba Yaga does have some standards, after all.

Stormy and lightning-wasted mountains and hilltops and isolated clearings in dark forests are the sorts of places that Baba Yaga likes best. Provided that she does not decide to have her chicken-legged hut settle on one of these lonely and desolate places first, her worshipers like to keep such places clear so that Baba Yaga will have a convenient landing point should she choose to make use of one. Most of these worshipers make sure that these locations that they have prepared are far away from anywhere that they might happen to be, just in case.

The Night of Storms is Baba Yaga's special holy day. This is a night right as winter turns to spring, officially considered the last night of winter in most countries. In the midst of these changing seasons, Baba Yaga stirs up a terrible storm on that night that will strike the land as a way of reminding people of her power and the respect that she demands. The only way to turn this storm aside is to leave out small sweet cakes on doorsteps to be eaten by beggars and similar unfortunates, and to give celebrations in honor of the elderly. These measures are usually enough to spare a community from the attention of Baba Yaga on the Night of Storms, though the moment such traditions cease or their observance becomes lax, that is the same moment that Baba Yaga will make sure the Night of Storms strikes all the more mightily.

Hags and harpies immediately recognize Baba Yaga's importance, and regard her with deep respect. She can call on the assistance of these races at any time, and those who somehow manage to gain her favor can also count on protection, and sometimes assistance, from these races as well.

History and Relations:
The exact history of Baba Yaga is unknown, but it is known that she first appeared on Therafim not long after the first humans arrived, and that the race known as hags appeared not long after her. While she is decidedly not human, she frequently appears as one, though this is generally thought to derive from the lack of respect that humans too frequently show to their elderly.

While Baba Yaga is not exactly friendly with anyone, god or mortal, she is also not exactly an overt enemy of anyone either. She and Grimrose have a working relationship at times. Grimrose regards Baba Yaga with something akin to amusement, and Baba Yaga regards Grimrose with resentment tempered only by fear, since Grimrose is the only being that can cause her to finally die of her ridiculously old age, but is also thought to be the source of her incredible longevity and powers. It is speculated that Baba Yaga was raised to demigod status by Grimrose from the first human who was about to die of old age on Therafim, as a sort of cosmic joke, but any efforts to find out the truth of such rumors from Grimrose has resulted in total noncommunication. Nobody who has asked this question of Baba Yaga has ever been heard from again.

Favored Offerings and Justifications for Direct Intervention:
For the most part, Baba Yaga could not care about the dealings of mortals. Despite her general disinterest, she receives offerings and worship from a great many people. This isn't because these people want her favor, however: they want to keep her away! Baba Yaga almost never directly intervenes in the lives of mortals in any positive fashion (though there are a great many stories told about her negative interactions with mortals, none of them pleasant). Very rarely, however, so rarely that they might as well be flukes, Baba Yaga will assist good and virtuous and attractive young people out of serious trouble, or get them started on the road to greatness, out of a sense of capricious compassion, or perhaps because of her gift of foresight. These times of her helpful assistance are so rare that they almost always end up as a part of some of the most famous stories involving Baba Yaga, stories which could easily lead other, less lucky individuals into thinking that she might be more benevolent than she really is.

Though Baba Yaga is quite wicked and is ever on the lookout for additional victims to put into her cooking pot, and deals out violence and misfortune almost randomly in her various travels, she does deal fairly with others, and will not harm the truly good and virtuous. The truly virtuous being as rare as they are, of course, this is seldom a significant source of protection. Baba Yaga does not give away anything for free (except in those rare instances mentioned above). However, frequently Baba Yaga is in need of a great many ingredients for her concoctions and dark spells, and she is almost just as frequently eager to collect interesting magical baubles and curiosities. If someone of capability and charisma is able to approach Baba Yaga directly, after locating her chicken-legged house and managing to enter it through some means, and also after passing whatever other security measures she might have put up around said house, and if that person is highly respectful of Baba Yaga, and if she is in a good mood at the time, then she might be willing to make a deal. As often as not, that deal will be a fairly dangerous but relatively minor service from the person approaching her in exchange for that person's (uncursed, uneaten, unmutilated) life. The other half of the time, Baba Yaga can be a source of very interesting quests, and at the end of those quests a source of very interesting rewards.

One significant exception to Baba Yaga's disinterest in mortal affairs is with the elderly. Baba Yaga regards the neglected and unrespected elderly of all races as kin, and may listen with favor to their earnest requests for her assistance, provided she is not too busy with something else at the time. The less attractive and more evil of disposition those elderly persons are, the more likely Baba Yaga is to assist them, especially if they wish ill favor on someone through Baba Yaga's intervention.