"Of course I love my children. This is why I oppose them" (Homebrew God)

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Anyway, browsing TV Tropes, I came across the entry for Lineage 2, and found the creation myth really interesting-to the point of the homebrew equivalent of a plotbunny needing to be put to print.

So, here's the god that was inspired. 4E, 3.5E, Pathfinder doesn't matter since I don't bother with crunch. Still provided his domains, however.

Umbrae, The Adversary

(The Emperor of Shadows, The Tester of Crowns, The Smith of Waste, The Eremite Warlord, The Dark Man at the Crossroads, The Trickster)

TN Greater God

Divine Symbol: A symbol of another god, dyed pitch black, or a circle of six globes, one for each elemental plane, with each deliberately chipped.

Portfolio: Opposition, Darkness, Adversity, Ambition, Resilience, Self-Improvement.

Domains: Darkness, War, Law, Chaos.

While the other gods do not enjoy talking about it, they are not immune to hubris. Even the most holy of Good gods can act to his detriment out of being unable to admit his idea of what is best for the world is flawed, and even the most crafty of Evil gods can act stupidly or be fooled. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether it is a deity one dislikes making the mistake or not, but gods are as vulnerable to excessive pride as any mortal, if not more so.

It is Umbrae who ensures that the gods are punished for their foolish pride, that they are reminded that no matter how grand they are, they are neither invulnerable nor infallible. From the inside of his Monastery of Enlightened Pain, he constantly devises tests of character, mind, and strength for his fellows, sending army after army of living shadows of his current subject's own worshipers and minions, engineers moral dilemmas where the real answer is never obvious (including the idea that it is never obvious), and crafts puzzles that can confound the gods of knowledge working together. He does not hesitate to test mortals as well, especially great empires and nations, and it is for this reason he is viewed as a sinister figure, a Dark Man of the Crossroads who will cheerfully destroy lives and betray for his own amusement. Most of it is true, but he takes no sadistic pleasure in his duties-it is simply in his nature to oppose, to test for faults and exploit them if he finds them, either to help those the Adversary opposes to overcome them or destroy they who refuse to. Let it never be said the Emperor of Shadows is not a fair or dishonorable enemy, though he is ruthless and spares no sympathy to those that cannot let go of their faults.

The living shadow of the Creator, even from the beginning Umbrae was an opponent and mentor of all. When the Creator spoke the Words of Creation to bring matter from the Void, the Trickster composed the Song of Abyss to dissolve all but the strongest and least rigid materials to dissolve once more. When the Creator made life, Umbrae taught the primitive life to eat other life, giving rise to predation, herbivores, and evolution. When the Creator made other deities, the Tester of Crowns sent mighty elementals and spirits to war with the fledgling deities, weeding out all but the strongest, wisest, and most cunning. Oh, how the other gods despised him! More than once the gods went to the Creator and declared "My liege, why do you not destroy the Adversary? He does nothing but oppose us and mock us, and he sends many monsters to destroy Your works." And the Creator would always reply "He only does what his place in the cosmos requires of him, and I am not a perfect being. It is through him that my works become truly beautiful." And the gods were always humbled, for the Creator was and is wise above all things.

Eventually, the Creator left to build new worlds, at which point the warped things that lie in the Outside, which had feared the Creator, began to creep in, eager to devour the young world. The gods tried to oppose them, but the warped things were clever and tenacious, and found their way inside the world anyway. Terrified at the warped beings twisting the Creator's work into a tapestry of madness, the gods turned to the Adversary, and said "It is in your nature to be a perfect enemy to whatever you set your sights upon-make yourself the enemy of the despoilers from Outside and drive them away or destroy them, and we will allow you to build a mortal race in your image". Umbrae, who had long desired to create life that was not meant to oppose other life, agreed eagerly.

And so in the form of a mighty shadow beast, the Eremite Warlord struck into the outside. The despoilers tried to break him using the raw might of a stillborn universe, but he seeped into the flaws that killed the universe before it was made and tore it from the inside out. They tried to drive him to madness using eldritch secrets damaging to sane minds, but he drafted a language that made the secrets comprehensible, and so only gained their wisdom. They tried to make him doubt himself by forcing to chose between pursuing his mission and saving the one innocent thing in the Outside, but as a shadow, he could simply alter the self-same light of the Creator that was given to him to preserve his form and made himself twain, one to guard the innocent thing and the other to pursue his mission. Finally, the king of the despoilers attacked Umbrae himself for the insult of a sane being showing himself to be the equal of the Outside's challenges, but Umbrae struck him down with weapons made from the dust of the broken universe, drove him mad even by the standards of the Outside through extrapolations of the eldritch secrets, and humbled him by showing the innocent thing, free of the despoiler's influence, now thriving with a family of other innocent things and growing. The king slithered away, defeated, and the surviving despoilers went with him, retreating to the farthest reaches of the Outside, where even the despoilers did not know what was there.

Triumphant, Umbrae returned, only to find the other gods had made mortal life without him. Searching for the meaning of this, the Adversary asked the other gods why they had broken their covenant with him. "We have not", they smugly replied. "You may use what we have discarded in our making of the other mortal races". Enraged, Umbrae asked them if that was any way to reward the brother who had saved both them and their children from the despoilers. "As if we would allow the Trickster the pleasures of creation, when we were constantly tormented by him when indulging in those pleasures. Now you shall know how it feels to create when others oppose you". Bitterly, Umbrae left to gather the paltry materials, vowing that just as they had made beautiful and strong things despite his opposition, he too would make a beautiful and strong race despite theirs-one that would oppose and overcome theirs, made in the grip of the hubris that arose without his ministrations.

From stagnant water, the Smith of Waste gave his race unmatched flexibility, ready to burst into motion at any time. From ashes, he gave his race an understated, smoldering passion, not obvious, but strong and forceful all the same. From violent winds, he gave his race unpredictability and an intellect with the capacity to ignore both limitations and common sense. From broken stone, he gave his race a subconscious sense of being incomplete, leading to unbridled ambition and the capacity to change. From the polluted essence of life, he gave his race a desire to survive and thrive at all costs, making them incomparable survivors. From undeath, he gave them disrespect for boundaries, making them pragmatic and cunning. Finally, from himself, he gave shadow and darkness, giving his race willpower, drive, and the ability to match all challengers, no matter how strong, wise, or moral.

He called this race "humans".

And when the other gods came up to him, begging him to allow them to patron this race that had built empires that surpassed all others, even the precious elves and dwarves, he saw that it was good.

Worship: As might be imagined for an entity embodying "the antagonist", worship of Umbrae is more akin to appeasement then true devotion. His ceremonies are self-imposed challenges and tasks, ranging from the merely difficult to the nigh-impossible for those trained specifically for it in scope, aimed at showing the Tester of Crowns that the devotees do not need his attentions. They seem to work, too-empires that practice organized worship of the Adversary seem to face smaller-scale tests with far less dire consequences then those who ignore him...though that may be because he feels those nations face heavy opposition from many, many fronts already, since the other gods view the Trickster as a threat, many peoples view him as a bane and anyone who serves him must be evil, and monsters view him as a threat due to his adaptability and stalwart opposition.

Despite-or perhaps because of-his infamy, the Smith of Waste has no shortage of true clergy. Besides his status as the creator of the predominant race in much of the world (which is often forgotten, more because nobody likes to believe they were made from rejected materials then because of Umbrae's nature), the doctrine of perfection the Eremite Warlord preaches attracts many who seek enlightenment through suffering. Indeed, the suffering that builds strength of body, mind, and spirit is why his domain is called the Monastery of Enlightened Pain-no matter what torture, pain, or agony visitors and residents go through, the pain it inflicts always has a point. In a more prosaic sense, there is many more who are drawn by the utter mastery of shadow magic and the secret arts of mastery over the self and through that, the world offered by the Emperor of Shadows. The former faction (often called the Skete, for the monastic tradition of living separately from secular culture but still part of communal services) often look down on the latter (called Cenobites, for the monastic tradition of being part of secular culture) for missing the spiritual point, but little else-indeed, many Skete traditions deliberately recruit for Cenobite ones, viewing the emotional development from unlearned understanding that they are weak and becoming a Cenobite, to understanding that power alone is not strength or perfection and joining the Skete as a core part of their spiritual journey. Many Cenobites likewise look askance at the Skete, viewing them as arrogant and self-absorbed. Umbrae encourages this rivalry, viewing the conflict as another form of test for when they need to work together, which is often-again, a form of perfection is seeing past one's own flaws.

As far as classes go, Sketes are generally divine classes and monks, unless they are transfers from the Cenobites, who have a much wider spread. Shadow magicians (shadowcasters, shadowdancers, etc.) and illusionists are well-represented among all factions, as their god is himself a living shadow. Indeed, most temples and shrines dedicated to Umbrae have a "shadow chamber", an area which is built so that the sun casts clear shadows at all hours of the day, and have a torch at the center to light on overcast days and at night to achieve the same effects. In this, the acolytes embody the nature of Umbrae, who was cast by the Creator when He was still present in the world and remains cast by the remnants of Her light when He left to make other worlds. The torch going out is regarded as a very bad omen, either because the acolytes were lacking diligence in keeping the flame alive and are likely to face divine censure for their foolishness and sloth, or because a malevolent force has blown out the flame and now seeks to overcome or be overcome by the forces of the Adversary. On occasion, this turns out to be superstition on their part, but even then, in the clergy of the Trickster's view, a test sent to see if they can distinguish the actual supernatural from the preconceptions of the supernatural.

Direct Minions and Followers: One may notice that the Adversary has a plethora of titles. This is not entirely true-rather, Umbrae has a plethora of faces, each embodying a different aspect of his nature-the Adversary is the core identity, Umbrae's true face to the extent he has one, his core persona and being. The Emperor of Shadows is Umbrae as The Almighty Enemy, raw physical and mental might with an army of monsters and spirits at his beck and call. The Tester of Crowns is the Peril of Nations, the amoral force, whether be grain blight, disease, or political corruption, that forces people to unite or be destroyed, do or get done. The Smith of Waste is the Repairer of Flaws, the blacksmith who takes a rusted, ill-formed sword and reforges it to become a legendary weapon of heroes, his most beneficent face. The Eremite Warlord is the Stern-But-Wise Mentor, the brutal instructor that turns weaklings into elite soldiers and fools into sages, having drawn from his own experiences. The Dark Man At The Crossroads is the Untrustworthy Ally, the wanderer who gives people wishes and admits in advance they might not be worth the cost, forcing people to question whether their goals are important enough to deal with the consequences to themselves and their kin. And finally, the Trickster is the Mocker of Flaws, the bard and jester who creates events that allow the foolish and short-sighted to not only gain enough ropes to hang themselves, but show all else how their idiocy lead to their own doom and/or humiliation.

As a result, is it any surprise that Umbrae's minions are varied, to say the least? Shadows that he has brought to life to oppose their former casters are foremost among these, but as the enemy and mentor of all, all may march under the banner of the Emperor of Shadows, for the enemy of their enemy is their friend. This is helped by the fact that his clerks at the Monastery of Enlightened Pain have no quarrel with mercenaries and allies of any sort. Fiends, celestials, elementals, slaadi, inevitables-so long as they marshal against an enemy that Umbrae is currently testing, they can march with his own forces (though many claim his forces are marching with them). Beyond that, the Adversary does not care for the nature or even the alignment of his servants-both good and evil are necessary for a functioning and evolving cosmos and law and chaos even more so. Good preserves and nurtures, while evil recycles and grows (for its own glory, admittedly, but still). Law and chaos are even more fundamental, with law giving stability and structure, while chaos giving change and dynamism (hence why he has those two as granted domains, rather than Good and Evil). All, however, are vulnerable to hubris, in their own way (evil is obvious, but law restricts, chaos heralds anarchy, and good comes to believe it knows better than everything else), and so all need his tests. The only forces he does not tolerate are invaders from the Outside, which are broken, awful things that cannot become part of the universe and do not wish to except to make all within it in their own image-the very embodiment of hubris.

Not all of the Adversary's tests are martial in nature, however-for those, he uses his divine servants, the shadowed observers, or penumbrae. Not a deliberate creation on his part, the penumbrae are born when the essence of shadow is used to fix glitches in the universe that occur on occasion, often due to contamination by the Outside or mages' hubris. To fully counter the glitch and repair the universe, Umbrae modified his element to come with a dim sapience when faced with a glitch so that it could anticipate and counter the infinite variety of errors that can occur in the fabric of the universe. What he did not anticipate is that this life would remain in the essence so used, conglomerating with other living elemental shadow in places where the Adversary's influence is strong until it congealed into a form mirroring that of a human, with dark hair and red or violet eyes. Because of the relative rarity of the penumbrae, Umbrae keeps them as emissaries and officers, their large variety in alignments (like the other creations of the god they affectionately call Grandfather Twilight, they are beings of free will and choice) making them ideal for tests where creatures with a complete intellect, rather than mirrors of their opposition and soulless spirits are required to oversee. Always eager to learn and grow, in body and spirit, the shadowed observers take this role gladly.
This is awesome, and I am stealing it.
I concur, this is excellent. The ultimate antagonist!
Nay! The ultimate misunderstood protagonist!