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Basic Information

A Baetylus is a name for the important sacred rocks of the ancient world. Many of these rocks are meteorites, revered as holy because they fell from the "heavens". Some do double-duty as Palladia, holy artifacts that protect the specific city that houses them. Others are deemed to be avatars of specific gods, a piece of the divine in rocky form, descended to earth. In many cases, these rocks preceded the gods themselves or their myths, with the worship of the “sky rock” itself having eventually grown into the worship of a god who sent the sky rock.

Most baetyli are large, and some are made of meteoric iron or other rare minerals. Some have been preserved in whatever shape they came to earth in, others have been carved or decorated in some way to honor the Gods who bequeathed them to humanity. Often temples were built to house them, either on the site where the crash happened, or else back home in the capital city or some other place sacred to the people (and thus sacred to the divine source that sent this particular Baetylus).

Baetyli were recognized as holy by the following cultures at the very least, and probably by more that history has forgotten:



Game and Story Use

  • A Public Domain Artifact such as these could be the inspiration for a powerful magical item in your campaign.
  • The PCs may be on a pilgrimage to a city that contains a Baetylus (or Palladia), or they may be hired as bodyguards for a VIP in such a caravan.
  • An invading army may smelt down the baetyli of cities they conquer, and use the meteoric iron to make treasure such as a magic weapon.
    • This may provoke the wrath of the Gods! Perhaps the powerful invaders are destroyed by the vengeance of the stones.
    • Or it may deal such a terrible blow to the culture that worshipped the stones that their society collapses and they cease to exist.
    • Even more radically - especially in a shamanistic/animistic setting where being a god does not necessarily make you all that powerful - re-forging an idol may enslave the indwelling spirit, binding the city's tutelary deity into the service of the conquerors. This would still be the sort of thing that myths get woven about, and probably a vast act of hubris unless commanded by someone with at least divine sanction, but it's not that out of scope in context.
      • For example in the Glorantha campaign setting (the default world for the Runequest fRPG), this is exactly the sort of thing the Lunar Empire might attempt with the idols of conquered gods.
      • Might not have been out of scope for some of the real-world "God Emperors", whether Chinese, Japanese, Mesopotamian or Egyptian - there's no record that they did, but it would be all that surprising for one of them to attempt to enslave a god.
      • As a source of a god-killing weapon, in the right setting, this is probably a good bet.
  • Stone-Flying Wizards may worship baetyli
    • Or attempt to steal them from other cultures
    • Or may be the source of baetyli. If the art of stone-flying is lost to history, (or was known only to the precursors in the first place), than any stone they moved may be by default worshipped by the current generation.
  • Pulp horror is full of things that came to Earth on meteorites - any given baetylus could have carried such an unwelcome passenger, up to and including juvenile Great Old Ones.
  • In Night's Black Agents, one of the possible "vampire" type examples is basically alien baetyli that dominated Rome until it burned, and dominated the cathars until the crusade that wiped them out. It's one of the coolest optional secrets in a game full of crazy what-ifs.
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