God of the Long Game, The Great Strategist
God of planning, strategy, foresight and cunning
Domains: Knowledge, Law, Nobility, Trickery, War
Favoured Weapon: Ranseur or crossbow
Istrilonius is the patient far-seeing god of planning and strategy. He is slow to anger and slow to act. He takes stock of the situation at hand and considers all possible outcomes and futures before putting the first stages of a detailed plan into action. Istrilonius’ followers pride themselves on always being a few steps ahead of the game, and always having one or more contingency plans.
It is difficult to catch one of the Great Strategist’s followers off-guard. While they are not adept at reacting quickly to unexpected situations, the number of these they encounter are few, as they learn to expect the unexpected. They may be seen to react quickly, but in truth, this is simply the enacting of a plan they have prepared earlier.
Politicians, nobles, lawyers, generals, warlords, investors and con artists all seek the favour of the God of the Long Game as they cast their eyes to the future and play out their moves while making educated guesses at the future moves of their opponents. Many of Istrilonius’ followers are patient and slow to speak, carefully weighing their words before opening their mouths. His faithful also tend to come off as arrogant and self-assured, yet many prove these attitudes to be well-founded.
Many of Istrilonius’ followers are ambitious, hungry for power or other gain, but others are not so self-serving, working for the greater good, such as generals holding off invading forces, investors trying to keep a small village or business afloat, and shrewd nobles lobbying for policies to benefit the public.
Some of Istrlionus’ followers lament the fact that their lives require such great forethought, but many revel in it, finding glee in their ability to outmanoeuvre opponents, especially when they work them into a corner or no-win situation. As such, they favour what many would consider dirty tactics, seeing them instead as the weapons of the intelligent strategist. Ambushes, traps, bottlenecks, misdirection, blackmail and other such approaches are all part of the arsenal of Istrilonius’ faithful.
Istrilonius’ favour is far-reaching and difficult to predict, but always requires further planning or strategy to take advantage of. Istrilonius’ favours are offers or opportunities – an overheard conversation of a proposed coup or murder that provides the opportunity to plan for it and defuse the situation, a misstep or red herring that allows the strategic culprit to frame another, a distraction that allows a plan to be enacted to cover up damning evidence. Similarly, his wrath is served cold, difficult to avoid and strikes at the worst possible time, as well-laid plans unravel due to an unseen loophole or cunning opponent, or the final contingency plan has a great unexpected cost or falls through entirely.
Prayers to Istrilonius usually come in the form of talking out loud or silently to the god, using him as a sounding board for planning. Followers often find that targeting their preparation towards their god brings epiphanies when they have otherwise not been able to see the way forward.
Istrilonus is said to have invented the game of chess, and many of his followers play the game with religious zeal, often as part of prayer. Istrilonius himself is never depicted, but his holy symbol is a chess board four squares long turned on its corner like a diamond, to represent that he sees all things and considers them from all angles.
Many of his faithful carry and contemplate a chess piece or a carving of his holy symbol while strategising. Istrilonius has no official garb or holy weapon, though his faithful often favour polearms, such as ranseurs for the reach and options they allow and crossbows that allow them to take careful aim and bring down their opponents from afar. His followers often wear clothing of black and white or sport chequered patches or patterns on their clothing or shields. Many also model the hilts or heads of their weapons to resemble chess pieces.
When it comes to Istrilonius’ shrines, they are as varied as his followers. Built to last, they are often made of stone or steel and placed in strategic locations – either easily accessible to the faithful, or hidden from those who do not understand the importance of planning. Depending on where the shrine is located, it will serve a different purpose.
Followers seeking their god’s favour will place useful goods in a shrine and even notices for services – when several followers do this, the shrine itself becomes a place that is prepared for whatever is to come, allowing the faithful to visit it for provisions, always trading, never simply taking. Shrines on the road through barren wilderness will contain food and water or notes about where these can be scavenged, shrines on battlefields will contain the notes and maps of generals past, while shrines frequented by con artists may contain passwords, notes of how to contact fences and information about guard patrols.
However, the shrines are not the community touchstones that they appear to be. In fact, they are but another way Istrilonius tests the cunning of his faithful. His followers are often very ambitious and so the shrines are usually filled with red herrings to mislead opponents and further the plans of whoever placed the goods or information there. Istrilonius actually enjoys such misdirection and power plays, and those who partake of a shrine’s contents should always do so with careful consideration.