Just a heads up/content warning that since this is a Fiend Pact patron in this blog series, there’s going to be some content related to characters being pressured to go past their comfort zone in a sexualized context. So feel free to give this one a skip if you’re not looking for that sort of thing.
Oh and on that note it’s doubly important to use safety tools before introducing any of this into a game, above and beyond what you’d already want to do for a naked character.
When I think about Fiend Pact patrons, there’s countless options for aggressive malicious vice but the subtler fiends like Rakshasas hardly get any love outside of intrigue-heavy settings like Eberron. But from a pragmatic perspective it seems like the ones that aren’t melodrama villains going around kicking puppies for the sake of Teh Evil are both a lower friction choice for a non-evil PC and also less likely to get Lawful Stupid paladins picking fights. Which, okay, sometimes that’s the conflict you want in a fiend warlock, but variety is good too, right? Here’s a fiend who prefers to savor the subtle, personal, twist that need not collapse societies or institute hierarchical brutality to spread and draw power.
Other Titles: Gardener of Beauty, The Discomfiter, Sahiba of Salacity, Quaversmith
Kur Ettesh desires influence above all else. Influence not in the sense of governmental corruption or ability to raise armies or steering nations, but personal influence—she desires the knowledge that her power leads individuals to act in ways they otherwise would not have. She does not demand obeisance in exchange for the power she grants, but rather she has woven the power in such a way that it can only be used by someone acting out of step with one of their own personal taboos or virtues. She is supremely patient, and her own power grows slowly as those in her sway willingly acting in accord with her influence.
In the distant past, Kur Ettesh dabbled in granting abilities based on transgressing various taboos, such as the thrifty having to spend wastefully or the brave gaining power in avoiding confrontation, but there are few generous people seeking ways to be miserly or serene people who wish to be more effective at wrathfulness. Over the ages, she has come to focus on a vice which she finds especially pleasing, which does not provoke crusades, and which many people feel they are lacking in and are willing to overcompensate. Kur Ettesh has chosen to foster the abandonment of modesty—especially among those who are quite handsome or beautiful even when they are shy and modest, but who could be foci of incredible desire and temptation with a bit of guidance.
Those who she has granted power to must regularly behave in ways that transgress their own modesty taboos or sense of propriety with regards to nudity. Sometimes she will also incorporate power that feeds from the making of sexual overtures and promiscuity if especially relevant to the individual, but for the most part she revels in knowing people are embarrassing themselves and putting their beauty on display to be casually ogled because of her influence.
How to Use Kur Ettesh in the Game
Kur Ettesh introduces a theme of reluctant exhibitionism/embarrassed nudity to the game, which works best when the society/culture the party is operating within has nudity taboos (or at least the player character in question is from such a place) but not societies where those taboos are strictly enforced with an iron fist. The former kind of prevents the whole theme from engaging properly, and the latter likely causes too much complication. Of course there is the option of societies that officially are the latter but in practice it doesn’t happen within the game, but that’s a balancing act of suspension of disbelief that might be tricky to walk effectively.
Most places in standard D&D settings are fine choices for this theme. For the most part the Forgotten Realms has no laws against nudity, but while social nudity exists in some contexts (particular festivals, certain athletic competitions, public baths, the wilder festhalls), it is usually limited to just those contexts simply by social convention (and sometimes climate). Greyhawk tends to have a more conservative (and less Greenwood-ian) sense of propriety, but nearly everywhere is almost continually preoccupied by much higher priorities that there may not be the spare resources to enforce such rules even if the authorities were willing to be distracted by petty matters. Eberron has no particular canonical standard but given that the largest population center (and default campaign starting point) is squarely in a tropical rain forest climate (The King’s Forest and the Dagger Wood, both visible from Sharn, are more jungle than temperate forest) it doesn’t require a stretch to decide for the purposes of a campaign that it is similar to the Forgotten Realms. Eberron also has the benefit of powerful rakshasas being major players in the supernatural intrigue of the setting, making up a large (and continually in-fighting) percentage of the Lords of Dust faction.
While the obvious (and likely most common) way that Kur Ettesh grants power is as a Fiend Pact patron, rakshasas are immortal in an even truer sense than most fiends, and could also function as patron for an Undying pact warlock. Fiends are also known to frequently bestow powers in other ways than through warlock pacts, with many sponsoring clerics, druids, and in some rare cases even paladins. Kur Ettesh is no less flexible, so here is a list of especially suitable classes/subclasses that her magic might empower:
Barbarian: Path of the Beast, Path of the Storm Herald, Path of the Totem Warrior, Path of Wild Magic, Path of the Zealot
Bard: College of Glamour, College of Whispers
Cleric: Arcana Domain, Nature Domain, Trickery Domain
Druid: Circle of the Land (Forest or Swamp, especially), Circle of the Moon, Circle of the Shepherd, Circle of Wildfire
Monk: Way of the Drunken Master, Way of the Open Hand, Way of Shadow, Way of the Kensei
Paladin: Oath of Conquest, Oath of Glory, Oath of Vengeance
Ranger: Gloom Stalker, Swarmkeeper
Sorcerer: Divine Soul (non-good), Shadow Magic, Wild Magic
Warlock: The Fiend, The Undying
Also, as is starting to be tradition at this point, here is a Level 1 pregenerated character for a quick-start to using Kur Ettesh in a game: Jhessail Thann, Human Warlock