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Morrigan (the Raven Queen)

Morrigan, angel, dark, fantasy

The MorrĂ­gan (“terror” or “phantom queen”) or MĂłrrĂ­gan (“great queen”) (also known as MorrĂ­gu, MorrĂ­ghan, Mor-RĂ­oghain, sometimes MorrĂ­gna).

She is associated with sovereignty, prophecy, war, and death on the battlefield. She sometimes appears in the form of a Common Raven, flying above the warriors.

Ulster Cycle

 CĂșchulainn encounters the MorrĂ­gan as she drives a heifer from his territory. He challenges and insults her, not realising who she is. By this he earns her enmity. She makes a series of threats, and foretells a coming battle in which he will be killed. She tells him, enigmatically, “I guard your death”.

In the TĂĄin BĂł Cuailnge queen Medb of Connacht launches an invasion of Ulster to steal the bull Donn Cuailnge; the MorrĂ­gan appears to the bull in the form of a crow and warns him to flee. CĂșchulainn defends Ulster by fighting a series of single combats at fords against Medb’s champions. In between combats the MorrĂ­gan appears to him as a young woman and offers him her love, and her aid in the battle, but he spurns her. In response she intervenes in his next combat, first in the form of an eel who trips him, then as a Wolf who stampedes cattle across the ford, and finally as a red heifer leading the stampede, just as she had threatened in their previous encounter. However CĂșchulainn wounds her in each form and defeats his opponent despite her interference. Later she appears to him as an old woman bearing the same three wounds that her animal forms sustained, milking a cow. She gives CĂșchulainn three drinks of milk. He blesses her with each drink, and her wounds are healed. As the armies gather for the final battle, she prophesies the bloodshed to come.

In one version of CĂșchulainn’s death-tale, as the hero rides to meet his enemies, he encounters the MorrĂ­gan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford, an omen of his death. Later in the story, mortally wounded, CĂșchulainn ties himself to a standing stone with his own entrails so he can die upright, and it is only when a crow lands on his shoulder that his enemies believe he is dead.

Mythological Cycle

She is listed among the Tuatha DĂ© Danann as one of the daughters of Ernmas, granddaughter of Nuada.

 Ernmas’s other three daughters: the Badb, Macha, and the MorrĂ­gan. A quatrain describes the three as wealthy, “springs of craftiness” and “sources of bitter fighting”. The MorrĂ­gan’s name is said to be Anann, and she had three sons, Glon, Gaim, and Coscar. According to Geoffrey Keating’s 17th century History of Ireland, Ériu, Banba, and FĂłdla worshipped the Badb, Macha, and the MorrĂ­gan respectively, suggesting that the two triads of goddesses may be seen as equivalent.

On Samhain she keeps a tryst with the Dagda before the battle against the Fomorians. When he meets her she is washing herself, standing with one foot on either side of the river Unius.  After they have sex, the MorrĂ­gan promises to summon the magicians of Ireland to cast spells on behalf of the Tuatha DĂ©, and to destroy Indech, the Fomorian king, taking from him “the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valour”.

As battle is about to be joined, the Tuatha DĂ© leader, Lug, asks each what power they bring to the battle. The MorrĂ­gan’s reply is difficult to interpret, but involves pursuing, destroying and subduing. When she comes to the battlefield she chants a poem, and immediately the battle breaks and the Fomorians are driven into the sea. After the battle she chants another poem celebrating the victory and prophesying the end of the world.

The MorrĂ­gan as Battle Crow. Artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 - 1951).
The MorrĂ­gan as Battle Crow. Artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 – 1951).

In another story she lures away the bull of a woman called Odras, who follows her to The Otherworld via the cave of Cruachan. When she falls asleep, the MorrĂ­gan turns her into a pool of water.

Nature and functions

The MorrĂ­gan is often considered a triple goddess, but her supposed triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent. Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: the MorrĂ­gan, the Badb and Macha. Sometimes the trinity consists of the Badb, Macha and Nemain, collectively known as the MorrĂ­gan, or in the plural as the MorrĂ­gna. Occasionally Fea or Anu also appear in various combinations. However the MorrĂ­gan also frequently appears alone, and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with the Badb, with no third “aspect” mentioned.

The MorrĂ­gan is usually interpreted as a “war goddess”: W. M. Hennessey’s “The Ancient Irish Goddess of War,” written in 1870, was influential in establishing this interpretation. Her role often involves premonitions of a particular warrior’s violent death, suggesting a link with the Banshee of later folklore. This connection is further noted by Patricia Lysaght: “In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb”.

It has also been suggested that she was closely tied to Irish mĂ€nnerbund groups (described as “bands of youthful warrior-hunters, living on the borders of civilized society and indulging in lawless activities for a time before inheriting property and taking their places as members of settled, landed communities”) and that these groups may have been in some way dedicated to her. If true, her worship may have resembled that of Perchta groups in Germanic areas.

However, MĂĄire Herbert[24] has argued that “war per se is not a primary aspect of the role of the goddess”, and that her association with cattle suggests her role was connected to the earth, fertility and sovereignty; she suggests that her association with war is a result of a confusion between her and the Badb, who she argues was originally a separate figure. She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king – acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily a war goddess.

There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na MĂłr RĂ­oghna (“cooking pit of the MĂłrrĂ­gan”). The cooking connection also suggests a connection to cooking the meal of dogflesh that brings the hero CĂșchulainn to his doom.

Arthurian legend

There have been attempts by some modern authors of fiction to link the Arthurian character Morgan le Fay with the MorrĂ­gan. Morgan first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin) in the 12th century. However, while the creators of the literary character of Morgan may have been somewhat inspired by the much older tales of the goddess, the relationship ends there. Scholars such as Rosalind Clark hold that the names are unrelated, the Welsh “Morgan” (Wales being the source of Arthurian legend) being derived from root words associated with the sea, while the Irish “MorrĂ­gan” has its roots either in a word for “terror” or a word for “greatness”.

Role-playing Notes

Intermediate God

Morrigan is the goddess of war. She is a fearsome warrior, causing great fear in her opponents, driving home her own battles with a spear in either hand. She is terribly ugly, laughs a maniacal laugh, and has dreadful manners. She expects all people and especially her followers to fight constantly, encouraging petty wars where there otherwise would be none. She can shape change to fool her opponents, and often calls upon four minor goddesses of war to fight by her side. At one time, Morrigan tried to seduce the hero Cu Chulainn, but on failure she turned against him and nearly killed him.

Morrigan is bent on warfare every turn. She will readily pick fights, preferring to get mortals to fight each other by whatever means. She will use many forms to trick otherwise peaceful parties into conflict. Morrigan often observes battles and will not tolerate fear among her followers – she will strike dead any follower that turns and flees from a battle she is watching

Liber Mysterium
The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks

By Timothy S. Brannan and The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Team

Morrigann

Macha 1
“Macha Curses the Men of Ulster”, Stephen Reid‘s illustration from Eleanor Hull‘s The Boys’ Cuchulainn (1904)

Morrigann, who is also known as Morrigu, is the goddess of war and destruction ·the “Crow of Battle” or “Raven Queen”. She is also a deity of lust and envy, turning to hatred when not satisfied. Morrigann is usually depicted as three goddesses, and will often appear with her two “sisters” (who are identical to her in almost every respect): Macha and Bobd. Thus, it is said if one witnesses three crows (or raven) acting together on a battlefield, this is an unfortunate omen that Morrigann watches over the battle, and that it will be particularly terrible. Otherwise, seeing three crows together is often seen as a portent of violence and death. Morrigann will typically (through her priestesses or Raven Maidens) appear as a beautiful woman when trying to seduce heroes; but in a moment’s notice turn into a hideous hag eager for blood and flesh.

Alignment: Neutral Evil

Domains: Destruction, Mutation (new), War.

Symbol: Raven. Priests of Morrigann usually wear a cloak covered with crow wings, and in any case wear shields on which appear a crow on a red field.

Favored Weapon: longsword.

Area of control: War and death, and lust and envy.

Typical worshippers: Bloody and evil warriors.

Duties of priesthood: Priests of Morrigann are clerics instead of filidh. They must wander around in search of battles in which participate, or opportunities to incite war between clans or against any available enemy around.

Special Benefit: Priests of Morrigann are always proficient in the longsword (the goddess’ favoured weapon) in addition to all simple weapons (see Celtic cleric in Character Classes chapter). Hence, when they take the War domain, instead of gaining Martial Proficiency in that weapon, they gain the Weapon Focus feat in it.

Originally Posted by Stycotl of the Giant in the Playground Forums.

On this Thread

The MorrĂ­gna
Medium
outsider (Chaotic, Native)
HD50d8+750 (1,000 hit points+20 temporary hit points)
Initiative+11
Speed60 feet
Armor Class62 (+11 Dexterity, +20 natural, +12 armor, +7 shield, +2 insight), Touch: 23, Flat-footed: 51 (can’t be caught flat-footed
Base Attack/Grapple+54/+74
AttackSpear +82 melee (1d8+28/19-20×3), or bastard sword +80 melee (1d10+26/18-20), or composite
longbow
+65 ranged (1d8+27/x3; shocking and thundering), or shield bash +79 melee
(1d8+25)
Full
Attack
Spear +82/+78/+73/+68 melee (1d8+28/19-20×3), or bastard sword +80/+75/+70/+65/+80 melee (1d10+26/18-20), plus off hand shield bash +79/+74/+69/+64 melee (1d8+25), or composite longbow +65/+60/+55/+50/+65 ranged (1d8+27/x3; shocking and thundering)
Space/Reach5 feet/5 feet
Special Attacksepic spells, martial maneuvers, raven’s crown, song of the bean sĂ­, spells
Special QualitiesAspects of the morrígna, call the charger, heart of the triune, immortality, immunities, magic of the tuatha dé, peerless warrior, primal rage, queen of the wild, resistance acid 15, cold 15, and fire 15, soul of the changeling, SR 65, stalker of the mounds, storm crow, weaponsmaster
SavesFort +46 (+27 base), Ref +42 (+27 base), Will +38 (+27 base)
AbilitiesStrength 50, Dexterity 32, Constitution 41, Intelligence 28, Wisdom 25, Charisma 31
SkillsBalance+36, Bluff +39, Climb +29, Concentrate +72, Craft (armorsmithing) +39, Craft (stonemasonry)+54, Craft (weaponsmithing) +49, Diplomacy +35, Handle Animal +55, Heal +16, Hide+40, Intimidate +70, Jump +64, Knowledge (Arcana) +66, Knowledge
(history) +33,Knowledge (local) +30, Knowledge (nature) +44, Knowledge (nobility & royalty)+30, Listen +39, Move Silently +35, Performance +35, Ride (Dexterity)+51, Search +61, Sense Motive +29, Spellcraft +66, Spot +33, Survival +24, Swim +26
Feats(B) Track, (B) Power Attack, Cleave, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Improved Shield Bash, Lockdown, Quick Draw, Improved Trip, Defensive Sweep, Epic Spellcasting, Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Rend, Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting, Iron Heart Aura, Stormguard Warrior, Improved
Disarm
EnvironmentAny
OrganizationSolitary, pair, or all three sisters together
Challenge
Rating
30
TreasureSee below, and standard (magical items only)
AlignmentChaotic neutral
Advancementby character class
Level
Adjustment

A beautifully featured woman of regal countenance approaches on horseback. Her mere presence causes a mixture of panic and awed reverence, like the coming of a surging tempest. Long, glossy ribbons of hair as black as pitch frame a fair-skinned face of perfect proportions. Though youthful in limb and feature, her eyes have an air of antiquity, and shimmer silver and black with the reflection of experience and divine insight. She wears black armor made of the finest leather, a large gray shield and an unstrung bow at her back, and carries a bronze-headed spear in her left hand. A sword hangs at her right hip, and in her right hand she holds the bridles to a magnificent warhorse of immense size and the deepest charcoal color. The horse prances and stamps, flaring its nostrils and tossing its mane, never holding still. Its fierce demeanor and restless anticipation seem to be a mirror to the soul of the otherwise calm woman. Somewhere in the distance, a crow caws…

The MorrĂ­gna is a trio of war spirits of the fey. The MorrĂ­gan, Macha, and Badhbh are sisters, triplet daughters of Ernmas, royalty of the Tuatha DĂ© Danann. They are of the first generation of Danu’s people, and have the majesty and might of true gods, though they do not consider themselves to be divinity.

The sisters are so alike in both appearance and personality that they have often been thought to be the same fey spirit. Only when all three sisters are together is it clear that the MorrĂ­gna is a group of three.

With great power over war and death, the MorrĂ­gna has been rightfully awarded a place of respect–even worship–among the haughty Tuatha DĂ© Danann and other fey.

The MorrĂ­gna is not solely confined to the spheres of warfare and combat, however.

Each sister has a specialty with which she is concerned; Anann is the MorrĂ­gan, the Great Queen, the Mistress of Prophecy, Sovereignty, and Phantasm, and she manipulates fate, rules nations, and sees the death of any creature that she looks upon; Badhbh is the Battle Crow, the bean-sidhe, and personifies the frenzied havoc and violence of battle; and Macha is the Rider, the Lady of the Fortress and the High Places, and a master of horses, wolves, and ravens.

Though they each have their particular realm of focus to which they have devoted their service, all three sisters share the same power over those forces. Macha is as much of a queen as Anann, and as much of a feral killer as Badhbh. They are three separate, but identical entities, and together, they stand as the single greatest reason for the success of the Tuatha DĂ© Danann. In fact, it was the craftiness of the MorrĂ­gna that kept the Tuatha DĂ© from being completely obliterated by their enemies in their latest defeat, some three thousand years ago now.

The MorrĂ­gna speaks any language, and can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature up to a mile away. They can also communicate telepathically amongst themselves at any distance, on any plane.

In fact, communication would be the wrong term to use between them, since they are of the same mind; once one of the sisters is aware of something, they all are. They all share the same insights at the same time, no matter how far or how specific the situation.

Combat

The MorrĂ­gna is a terrifying foe. Terrible magic flies effortlessly from her fingertips even as she wields her sword, spear, and bow with a mastery that rivals that of the gods.

Because they are identical, the stats of the MorrĂ­gna presented here apply to Anann, Macha, and Badhbh equally.

The MorrĂ­gna wields powerful magical items of epic quality. Its spear is of cold iron and never reflects light even on the brightest of days. It is called black badhbh’s spear, and it is treated as a +8 keen, returning spear of distance that can be wielded one-handed without penalty. The MorrĂ­gna wears supple leather armor with adamantine studs called danu’s embrace, functioning as +10 magic-eating leather armor, that continually enchants her with Foresight, freedom of movement, and greater heroism, and does not hinder her in any way (no max Dexterity, armor check penalty, etc). The MorrĂ­gna’s bastard sword, fury of the stars, is a mithril +6 keen bastard sword of speed that counts as any material and any alignment in order to overcome damage reduction, and casts heal upon its wielder every time it threatens a critical hit. The large wooden shield of the MorrĂ­gna is called castle on the mound, and is a +5 bashing shield of arrow deflection that does not hinder her in any way (no max Dexterity, armor check penalty, etc), and is enchanted as a weapon. Lastly, her +7 shocking burst, thundering composite longbow of speed is made of elk horn and sinew, and is made for a creature with a 50 strength, creates the arrows as it puts her fingers to the bowstring, and is known as squall crow.

Aspects of the MorrĂ­gna: The MorrĂ­gna shares a powerful bond that allows the sisters to share in each others’ expertise. All three sisters enjoy the following abilities.

Aspect of Anann: A diviner, a master of destiny, and a queen of shadow, the Morrigan commands the ancient magic of the planes, spinning enchantments and curses as a spider spins a web, foretelling the future of individuals and nations alike. She is the Phantom Queen, and she bends the multiverse to her whims.

  • Raven’s Crown (Su): With a standard act, the MorrĂ­gna can use mass charm monster and Hold monster as supernatural effects at will.
  • Magic of the Tuatha DĂ© (Su): The MorrĂ­gna casts any sorcerer spell from the enchantment and illusion schools as if they were supernatural effects and at a +2 bonus to both caster level and DC. Further, the MorrĂ­gna can add spells from the druid spell list and the Darkness and Domination domains to her known sorcerer spells.
  • Storm Crow (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna gains a +16 competence bonus to Intimidate checks, and gains the frightful presence special ability as detailed in the Monstrous Manual. This ability affects any sentient creature, even those immune to fear effects, unless they would otherwise be immune to epic fear effects.

Aspect of Macha: Strategy and martial skill are the hallmark of Macha, the defender of the hills and mounds, and the MorrĂ­gna is therefore without equal where combat, fortification, and riding are concerned.

  • Call the Charger (Su): The MorrĂ­gna can summon and dismiss a great warhorse with a standard action. These soot-black steeds are treated as Cauchemar, Nightmares; they are chaotic neutral, and tied to the Plane of Shadow rather than Hades. Even if her mount is killed or banished back to its home plane, with a standard action, the MorrĂ­gna can call it back to her.
  • Peerless Warrior (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna gains a +16 insight bonus to any Craft skill, Handle Animal, and Ride check.
  • Weaponsmaster (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna can receive the benefits of two martial stances at the same time. Further, the first martial boost or counter used in a round does not count toward the limit of one immediate or swift action per round. Thus, the MorrĂ­gna could also cast a quickened spell on the same round as initiating a boost or counter, or could initiate both a boost and a counter in the same round, or two of each.

Aspect of Badhbh: Wild energy pulses in the veins of the MorrĂ­gna, owing to Badhbh’s ties to the natural world. The instincts of a predator and the otherworldly fury of the fey is her legacy.

  • Queen of the Wild (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna can command and rebuke any animal or magical beast as a cleric whose level is equal to its hit dice, except that this is an extraordinary ability. Further, the MorrĂ­gna gains a +16 insight bonus to Knowledge (nature).
  • Primal Rage (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna can rage once per encounter. The rage lasts for as long as wanted, gives a +8 bonus to Strength and Constitution, a +4 bonus to Will saves, and -2 penalty to Armor Class. The MorrĂ­gna does not become fatigued after a rage, and has no limitation as to what kinds of actions, spells, or items are usable during a rage.
  • Song of the Bean SĂ­ (Su): The MorrĂ­gna can utilize the wail of the banshee as a swift action once per round.
  • Soul of the Changeling (Su): The MorrĂ­gna can wild shape at will into the forms of any animal, elemental, fey, or magical beast, of 50 hit dice or less, of any size. The forms of wild horses, wolves, and crows tend to be favorites, though the MorrĂ­gna has been known to take the shape of old hags, sylphs, and pillars of fire.
  • Stalker of the Mounds (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna leaves no trail and cannot be tracked. It may choose to leave a trail if so desired. Further, the MorrĂ­gna can move through any kind of terrain at its normal movement speed without suffering damage or any other impairment, magical or otherwise; no terrain is treated as difficult terrain for the MorrĂ­gna to traverse.

Epic Spells: The MorrĂ­gna can develop and cast epic spells as an arcane caster of 50th level, capable of casting 5 epic spells every day. The MorrĂ­gna currently knows a large number of epic spells, as all three sisters have been creating and finding them in their multiple millennia of existence.

Martial Maneuvers: The MorrĂ­gna initiates martial maneuvers as a 50th level warblade. This means that the MorrĂ­gna has the maneuvers and stances known of a 20th level warblade, but initiates as a 50th level warblade. The MorrĂ­gna can learn Shadow Hand maneuvers along with the rest of the disciplines available to a warblade. The MorrĂ­gna recovers maneuvers every time a foe fails its Will save against its frightful presence (storm crow) ability.

The MorrĂ­gna’s martial maneuvers list has been known to change from time to time, and somehow seems to fit whatever situation the sisters are dancing wildly into.

Spells: The MorrĂ­gna casts spells as a sorceress of 50th level. It can choose spells from the sorcerer list, the druid list, and the Darkness and Domination domains to her spells known. The saving throw DC of any of her spells is 20 +spell level, unless they are of the enchantment and illusion schools, in which case they are DC 22 +spell level, and count as supernatural effects, not spells.

The MorrĂ­gna’s spell list has been known to change from time to time, and, like MorrĂ­gna’s martial maneuvers, somehow seems to be just what was needed in any given situation–almost as if Anann was reading the stars in order to determine the MorrĂ­gna’s needs.

Convocation of Sisters (Su): As a swift act, the one of the MorrĂ­gna can summon any or both of the other two sisters to an adjacent square or pair of squares, crossing planar boundaries when necessary. Any summoned sister acts on the same initiative as the first, and takes her turn immediately after arriving. There is never any conflict of interest in summonings; if one sister thought it important enough to bring one or both of the others, then all three of them thought it important enough. Because of this, it is possible for one of the sisters to in effect, summon herself to the side of one of her other sisters.

Heart of the Triune (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna shares the same life force, and one of deific power. Any beneficial effect (enchantments, healing, etc) that targets one of them affects all three of them, even across planar boundaries. In order for the MorrĂ­gna to be destroyed, all three must be killed on the same plane. If even one of them survives, the slain sister or sisters will return, fully regenerated, within 1d4 hours.

Immortality (Ex): Though not immortal in the strictest sense of the word, the MorrĂ­gna is ageless, and if left in peace, will never die of natural causes.

Immunities (Ex): The MorrĂ­gna is immune to any electricity, sonic, fear, disease, or poison effect, and all enchantment or illusion effects of a caster level lower than her own.

Mind of the Triple Goddess (Su): The MorrĂ­gna acts in perfect unison; all three of the sisters

Skills: The MorrĂ­gna gains a +8 racial bonus to Listen, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks.

Special: If the divine ranks in Deities and Demigods are in use, treat the MorrĂ­gna as a rank 5 demigoddess.

Treasure: black badhbh’s spear, castle on the mounds, danu’s embrace, fury of the stars, and squall crow; further, the MorrĂ­gna carries a shifting array of other magical items that changes with the current state of affairs.

Lore

The MorrĂ­gna is a well known spirit of the fey, and many mortals are even aware of the name, though what they knows is usually suspect. Characters with ranks in Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (local), or Knowledge (religion) can roll to see if they know of the MorrĂ­gna. The DCs are 5 higher for any Knowledge other than Knowledge (nature).

  • DC 20 – The MorrĂ­gna is a fierce goddess of the fey, with power over warfare and death. The MorrĂ­gna has been known by many names at different times, such as Anann, Badhbh, and Macha.
  • DC 35 – The MorrĂ­gna is actually a name of reference given to three sister goddesses, Anann, Badhbh, and Macha, who have been instrumental in saving the Tuatha DĂ© Danann–their race of fey creatures–from destruction throughout the millenia.
  • DC 50 – The three sisters share a special bond; they work in perfect harmony, share the same thoughts and inspirations at the same time, and can communicate over long distances with hardly a thought.
  • DC 65 – The magic that binds the MorrĂ­gna together also makes them incredibly hard to destroy. In order to kill one of the sisters, all three of them need to be destroyed on the same plane–if even one of them survives, the others will return.

Liber Mysterium The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks

By Timothy S. Brannan and The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Team

The Raven, the Celtic goddess of war. Known as The Morigann, Morigan, Macha and Morigu. She is the Goddess of war, battle and death, but not evil.

She is part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.

  • Alignment: CN or CE
  • Areas of Influence: Chaos, War
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