Heralds of Azdromoth
“O’ Heralds Mine, bearers of the mark, receivers of our blood, yield unto Me.”
-Azdromoth the Firstborn, speaking through a Herald to her congregation.
This piece has been written for two main reasons: to make Heraldry into a magic that is worth the slot it is capable of taking up, and to expand on the idea of Heralds beyond just being servants or allies of Azdrazi, turning them into a more important and relevant part of Azdromothian culture.
I’ve done this by diminishing the magic’s reliance upon Azdrazi- though not completely doing away with it- and by expanding its capabilities significantly. As a way to avoid completely upending the current norms, I’ve separated it into a feat and a 1-slot option, with the former aimed towards replicating the treatment and purpose seen in current Heralds, and the latter meant to be more independent and versatile for those who earn it.
One of my main desires for this lore is for it to see that Heraldry becomes more legitimate as a magic of its own, so that while some Heralds may still ultimately aim to become Azdrazi, it would be feasible and reasonable for someone to seek it for its own sake. To this end I have expanded on the culture of Heralds, hoping to give those who dedicate themselves to the practice a more fulfilling experience.
Creation & Erasure:
The initial creation of a Herald is a simple process. At the hands of an Ordained Herald or Azdrazi, the Dratho Rihk inscription ability may be used to etch upon the flesh of a willing mortal their initial Azdromothian mark, the sigil of an eye wreathed in flame both branded and tattooed upon their flesh; always over the heart or somewhere on the centerline of the body.
After the placement of this marking, the mortal will find themselves capable of comprehending the low draconic tongue, as well as utilizing a handful of minor abilities. This mark functions as an indirect bond or tether to Azdromoth, inherited from the Ordained Herald or Azdrazi that places it, and from it stems a flow of Azdromothian draan that can be utilized for their various abilities both as base Heralds and later as Ordained ones. This draan also has mild impacts on the psyche of those that possess it, discussed in a later section.
This stage is used as a first step in testing a Herald’s worth, as it provides them ample capability to do their duty, but nothing extra. Notably, in this stage, any Ordained Herald or Azdrazi that knows Dratho Rihk is capable of erasing the mark, leaving only a scar behind; hence, these entry-level Heralds must be diligent and careful not to misstep.
In the case of Ordained Heralds marking others, one could essentially frame the passage of this Azdromothian mark as a ‘lineage’, a bond originating from Azdromoth passed down from Herald to Herald. Naturally, most of the lineages one might find tend to originate with an Azdrazi, rather than the Titan Himself. One Ordained Herald or Azdrazi, however, cannot mark more than three mortals with this Azdromothian bond.
Due to the nature of this inherited bond, the individual who places it always holds the ability to take it away, being the most efficient means for a misbehaving 1-slot or ‘Ordained’ Herald to be robbed of their draan and markings.
It is in the bolstering of this initial mark to grant a Herald their full set of tattoos that the complexity lays, for beyond this point they are not so easily done away with. To Ordain a Herald, two Azdrazi will be required, alongside two separate mixtures of one part the Herald’s blood, and one part that of the Azdrazi.
With each Azdrazi working with a mixture of their own blood and that of the Herald, the pair will in unison and with painstaking care, use it to paint upon the flesh of the Herald their expanded high draconic tattoos. These markings will ultimately cover two limbs, at least one of which must be an arm, with each Azdrazi working upon one. Unlike the first Azdromothian mark, these appear simply as luminous red tattoos, involving no tissue damage. It is through these tattoos that the draan gifted to them through their bond to Azdromoth can be harnessed and directed with greater finesse.
Once finished, the newly Ordained Herald shall be able to learn and utilize the vocal portions of their magic, and may now only have their markings taken away by the Ordained Herald or Azdrazi who initially marked them, or the same pair of Azdrazi which created their expanded tattoos.
Naturally, it is within Azdromoth’s power to perform every part of this process on His own, the initial marking, Ordainment, and the removal thereof- though it is unthinkably rare for Him to do such a thing. Those who are given such a rare honor are answerable to none but the Titan, marked by His influence such that their abilities cannot be taken by any other- this remains true even if He did not place the initial mark, but did do the Ordainment. In this case, there may be minor aesthetic differences to the markings, per the Titan’s will. These individuals are the beginnings of ‘pure’ Heraldic lines and lineages, sourced from Azdromoth directly rather than one of His children.
In the event that the Ordained Herald or Azdrazi who marked them, as well as those two Azdrazi who etched their tattoos, are dead or otherwise incapable of regulating their own Ordained Herald, it becomes possible for a group of two unrelated Azdrazi alongside one Ordained Herald to remove their markings instead. The loss of only one of these options for disconnection has no such effect. This applies to those marked or Ordained by Azdromoth as well, should He ever be incapable of monitoring them Himself.
The loss of one’s Heraldic markings has no particular cost, neither mental nor physical, leaving only the branded scar created by the initial bond to Azdromoth after the magic or feat is removed.
Ordainment is handled as a new magic app with the prior feat application linked in the comments, alongside confirmation from both Ordaining Azdrazi. The marking of a new feat-level Herald is also tracked on the marker’s relevant application, with a maximum of three per person.
Whilst the most convenient method of removing an Ordained Herald’s Heraldry is through the individual from which they inherited their Azdromothian bond, removing it in the same manner it was placed, (see: Dratho Rihk in Abilities) it is not the only means.
Erasure is the process by which the two Azdrazi who Ordained a Herald may rescind those marks, and the bond to Azdromoth along with them. It is also the same process used by a group of two Azdrazi and one Ordained Herald to remove them when those otherwise responsible for the offending Herald are otherwise indisposed, with only a slight change for the assisting Ordained Herald’s part.
Erasure is a relatively simple ritual, albeit an exceptionally painful one. By channeling their own draan into the offending Ordained Herald, the Azdrazi may begin to slowly overload the markings they themselves placed, to the point at which they begin to destabilize and vanish. This process generally requires the subject to be restrained before it is undergone, as it essentially inflicts the most severe possible form of magic ‘exhaustion’ that Heralds experience, in the form of their tattoos feeling as if they are heating up.
An Ordained Herald undergoing this process will feel after just a few moments of the process starting, as if their relevant limbs are completely consumed in fire, a mind-numbing and maddening agony that will last about three narrative minutes until both the tattoos and bond to Azdromoth have been erased. The reason why this bond is severed alongside the Ordainment, is because the tattoos themselves and the mark of Azdromoth are inseparable; part of the same system that once created, cannot exist without one-another. Though no lingering physical damage is done, the experience can inflict some mental trauma.
In the case that this is a ritual performed in lieu of those otherwise responsible for the Ordained Herald, requiring two azdrazi and one Ordained Herald, the process is similar. The Azdrazi, as with the method, will channel their draan into the Herald to begin erasing their Ordainment tattoos; this is, however, far more taxing due to neither tattoo being made by said Azdrazi. It is then the duty of the assisting Ordained Herald to ‘weaken’ the subject’s bond to Azdromoth, essentially by infusing and tangling it with their own Azdromothian draan to disrupt it; this will permit the Azdrazi to fully negate their connection in the same way they might if they had Ordained the subject themselves.
“Revere Him? No, not particularly. I do pay respect to Him, though! I’d be a fool not to.”
-A Herald making an offering to the Firstborn.
In times past, Heralds have served a role significantly lesser than that of the Azdrazi, dependent upon them for the limited draan they once wielded, and at their mercy should one ever seek to remove the markings with which they were imbued. Though some Azdrazi positioned their Heralds as priests and carriers of the Azdromothian faith, others still made them simple minions for their disposal, leveraging the ambitions of mortals seeking to become dragons in order to make them instruments of their bidding. Though Heralds were meant to be respected, circumstance led this power to be treated more as a bond of servitude.
In His bolstering of the powers afforded to His Ordained Heralds, Azdromoth has in tandem done away with this perversion of their purpose, reclaiming those leal mortals as servants of His own will, and that of no other. No longer relying on the Azdrazi for anything beyond their Ordainment itself, Ordained Heralds function specifically as representatives of Azdromoth, their abilities based upon His own and their draan sourced directly from Him.
Though ultimately no mortal can match the status of a dragon, Ordained Heralds are those who are closest to their stature without undergoing such a transformation themselves. They are close allies and honored friends, conduits of the Firstborn’s will. Like the Azdrazi, those who have become Ordained have proven themselves in service to Azdromoth, and are regarded with a proportionate amount of respect for their hard-won status.
There is a meaningful difference, however, between the treatment of Heralds who have been Ordained, and those who have not. Unordained Heralds are left open to the kind of treatment that had previously defined the status- they may be tested, tasked, and otherwise troubled by the Azdrazi they seek Ordainment from. These unordained Heralds are those mortals that are unproven, and must work to earn acceptance- albeit, it would still be ill-regarded to treat them too unfairly.
In agreeing to Ordain a Herald, Azdrazi also accept that they are relinquishing their control over them; granting them status as a near-equal, no longer to serve them, but rather their Father. The training and teaching of a new Herald is viewed, in essence, as a process of preparing them for service to Azdromoth; one which, should the Herald lack in their duties post-Ordainment, reflects ill on both them and the Azdrazi who Ordained them. As such, it is not an honor lightly or thoughtlessly given. This said, as is covered in the Tenets below, Heralds Ordained or otherwise are expected to aid Azdrazi in dire need.
Though equated to priests, it is worthy of note that the dispositions of Heralds are not always so simple. Due to the nature of draconic faith and those it attracts, certain personality traits that may be looked down upon in other religious practices are instead tolerated, and even encouraged within the Heraldic priesthood. Ambition, pride, stubbornness, even an unwillingness to express traditional reverence are all permitted, for it is these traits which best reflect the Firstborn Himself.
The distinction between these traits and a lack of faith, so to speak, is simply obedience. Though an Ordained Herald may not behave as one might expect a priest to, all must ultimately adhere to and serve the will of the Titan. Heralds know their place as carriers of His desire, His intent, and those who do not are oft swiftly robbed of their capability- by their peers, or even by Azdromoth Himself should their folly be so great as to anger Him.
Part of Heraldic culture is adherence to a handful of Tenets, meant to provide a guideline for what is and is not conduct that will appease the Titan. Though playing no role in connection or disconnection, the breaking of one such Tenet tends to be viewed as sufficient justification for the removal of one’s Heraldry. They are the following:
The name of the Firsborn shall not be taken in vain, nor shall we permit it to be stained by the words of the ignorant.
The Dark and the Light are enemies of the Firstborn and this world, and we shall not allow ourselves to be seduced by them, nor to associate with their followers.
The Azdrazi are the children of the Firstborn, and so it is our charge to aid in their plights, for through them we glimpse His reflection.
Those who strike against the Firstborn or His Children are to be shown no mercy, for their folly is that which can be corrected only by death.
The cretin who slaughters our kin, the accursed Aengul who shall not be named, must be opposed at every opportunity, for he is our bane.
To briefly explain each Tenet:
“You know not the power of the Titan, but don’t fret... We will show you.”
-A pair of Heralds creating a fearsome display with Yol Zahkrii and Zil Kresh.
Exhaustion & Tells:
Heraldry does not incur a standard type of physical exhaustion, instead leading to an ‘overheating’ effect on one’s markings that becomes increasingly more painful and debilitating the more the Herald utilizes their Azdromothian draan. This is, essentially, a result of the markings failing to completely contain the potency of the draan which infuses them.
Notably, this is mostly a perceived heat, not tangible beyond at most a slight scalding warmth to anyone else who touches the marks, insufficient to cause actual burns. Though it does not require visual representation, one can display the increasing ‘overheat’ level of their marks by making them glow brighter- though never enough to even so much as irritate one’s eyes.
This discomfort or pain can range from a slight tingle for a simple and swift ability like a summoning with Bel Zahkrii, to a searing, nauseating agony in much more extended circumstances such as a heavy use of Dovra-kul. Using multiple small abilities within an encounter will also contribute to the further heating of one’s Heraldic markings.
As a rough guideline, it should take about 5 small spells (2 or less emotes), 2-3 medium ones (3-5 emotes) or 1 large one (6+ emotes) to cause enough discomfort to start creating meaningful negative impacts on focus and movement. Anything significantly beyond these bounds should lead to incapacitation. It takes 1 narrative hour without casting for an Herald’s markings to ‘cool down’.
A few abilities function without this cost, as is noted in their details.
Akin to Voidal magics, most Heraldic abilities come alongside a visual tell. A handful of options exist to allow Heralds some creativity in how they represent their magic.
Exhaling of smoke.
Glowing of mark or marks through armor, clothing, etc.
Ash falling or seeming to be blown off of their person.
Harmless embers igniting somewhere on their person.
Heat-like distortions around their eyes or hands.
Tells are displayed before the speaking of any words of power, as it is not a result of invoking a purpose for their Azdromothian draan, but rather of harnessing it in preparation to do so. Those spells that do not require a tell simply do so due to how little draan is needed for their use.
In all cases, this tell must be readily apparent to anyone observing the Herald. Emotes that do not require a tell will have this reflected in their emote guidelines and stated outright.
Herald abilities are separated into two types, ones that require the word or words of power only be understood, and those that require them to be spoken. Feat-level Heralds may only utilize Non-Vocal abilities, whereas 1-slot Ordained Heralds gain access to Vocal ones.
Format used is:
-Moderation notes (if needed)
Non-Vocal abilities are those spells that do not require their corresponding Low Draconic invocation to be spoken. These abilities are the only ones available to unordained Heralds.
Bel Zahkrii (Combat)
A Herald may summon and dismiss two draan-bound items at will. This requires 1 emote for both summoning and dismissal, or 2 emotes for retrieval when disarmed or thrown.
A Herald may speak and understand Low Draconic, though their mortal nature lacks the capacity for a flawless recreation. This is a passive ability and has no emote requirement.
Zil Kresh (Non-combat)
A Herald may exert their will upon flame to harmless effect. Ignite or extinguish man-made fires, as well as warp the shapes of flames to create displays. This requires 1+ emotes.
Vocal abilities are usable only by Ordained Heralds, and require their corresponding Low Draconic invocation to be spoken aloud in order to harness their power. Words of power cannot be whispered, and must be spoken at a volume that others nearby can readily hear.
Yol Zahkrii (Combat)
An Ordained Herald may invoke these words to set their weapon aflame and imbue upon it an edge of dracanium. This requires 1 emote.
An Ordained Herald may invoke these words to exude an aura of significant warmth, suitable for protecting themselves and others from frigid temperatures. This requires 2 emotes.
An Ordained Herald may invoke these words to blend their own draan with that of an Azdrazi, harnessing the combined power to mend their wounds. This requires 3+ emotes.
An Ordained Herald may invoke this word to bring forth their affinity for flame, avoiding its touch and ensuring that they aren’t burned. This requires 2 emotes and lasts for 3 emotes.
An Ordained Herald may invoke this word to draw forth the fumes of Az’Uznath, muddling the minds of those who breathe in the fragrant incense. This requires 3-5 emotes.
A subsect of Vocal abilities, Inscription allows Ordained Heralds to etch their intent upon a surface, item, or individual.
Dratho Nar (Non-combat)
An Ordained Herald may invoke these words to inscribe, carve, or scorch a surface with words in any language that they know. This requires 1 emote.
Dratho Zha (Non-combat)
An Ordained Herald may invoke these words to imbue upon an item of their choosing a defensive enchantment, granting it an extremely threatening aura. This requires 4 emotes.
Dratho Rihk (Non-combat)
An Ordained Herald or Azdrazi may invoke these words to mark an inheritor of their bond, granting a willing mortal the feat-level version of Heraldry. This requires 2 emotes.
Though there is no tier system used for Heraldry, each word or phrase of power must be taught before they can be used, as knowledge of them is not inherent. Simply hearing a phrase or word is not sufficient to utilize it.
Heraldry does not have a TA system, meaning that any Azdrazi or any Ordained Herald is capable of sharing knowledge of these words, provided they themselves know them. Feat-level unordained Heralds cannot teach others words of power. Though Azdrazi may share knowledge of the words to enable their use, all abilities are Herald or Ordained Herald only, with the lone exception of Dratho Rihk, which may be used by Azdrazi who have, themselves, been taught it.
Knowledge of Dratho Rihk is noted on the relevant application, as is the marking of new Heralds, up to the maximum of 3 per person. If one such Herald is disconnected, the slot they took opens up for another to take their place.
Heraldry does not use a tier system, it is separated into a feat version and a 1-slot version, wherein the only variation is a matter of what abilities are known. All can be received at once, or individually over time, depending upon the teacher’s judgement.
Heraldry (both feat and 1-slot) is compatible with:
All voidal magics except Unsound.
All misc magic.
All feats except Seer.
Heraldry (both feat and 1-slot) is incompatible with:
All Dark magics.
All Deity magics.
All CAs not listed as compatible.
Should this lore be accepted, I am slightly uncertain on how to proceed with its implementation. Given the limit of 3 Heralds per Ordained Herald or Azdrazi, simply grandfathering all current Heralds as Ordained or even just feat-level would make little sense, as surely there are Azdrazi with more than just 3.
It’s also worth considering that due to how lacking in detail prior Herald lore was, this lore has a significant learning curve for its basic logic and abilities in general, meaning that I’m not sure I want to carry over every Herald by default. Even abilities prior Heralds may think they are familiar with now function in different ways, if only subtly. I’m taking no strong stance on this, but I do intend to consider the possibility of an MA wipe for this reason.
In any case, I do not intend to give knowledge of Dratho Rihk, the ability to mark new Heralds, to everyone capable of using it. Even if most or all Heralds are grandfathered, I am firm that Dratho Rihk will be handed out only to a few individuals- Azdrazi or otherwise- upon implementation.
Current Azdrazi / Herald Lore: