Faiths of the Known World

Tālism | The Three | Elven Animism | Shiæda Gods | Arazandism

Tālism

NAME AL INFLUENCE PRONUNCIATION
Arath LG god of civilization, fire and industry a-rath
Belen NG god of strength, justice and mercy bay-len
Jorah N god of mysteries, magic and death jaw-ruh
Kadrey CN god of inspiration, invention and change ka-dray
Mantas CE god of destruction, plague and madness man-tes
Tanith LE god of darkness, undeath and black magic tan-nith
Vela LN god of the fields, community and fecundity vay-lah

The Tālist faith is common among the various human peoples – with the sole exception of the Tenegar – and probably the most widespread faith in the Known Lands. Tālism is a polytheist religion centered on seven gods, the Tāl. While all of the seven gods have their accepted place in the universe, some are feared or placated more than they are venerated. Tālists are enthusiastic (though rarely aggressive) about spreading their faith to non-humans, such as the Szerathi, though such endeavors have met with mixed success.

Tālism is not an invasive faith by nature. Most Tālist communities have a more standard approach to places of worship, and provide weekly tithes of coin or their own time to ensure that their temple grounds are appropriately tended. Beyond this tite, Tālism requires few rituals; the faithful enter the temples when they desire to leave offerings to one or more of the gods, or seek the wisdom of the priests on mundane or spiritual matters. Though Tālism is popular among the Chay, Chay priests of the Tāl do not build temples, but instead set up “community halls” where the populace’s donations of food and goods are redistributed to the needy. Most strange are the practices of the Krolan, who maintain heretical beliefs that other Tālists find unsettling.

In all cases, holy days are colorfully and enthusiastically celebrated on the summer and winter solstices, and on certain days considered sacred to a particular god.

Symbol: There is no symbol that represents the pantheon as a whole; each god has its own holy symbol. Though mundane priests may carry more than one, true clerics channel the divine energy of a single patron god, and wear only their symbol.

ARATH, THE FIRETAMER (LG)
Symbol: A stylized flame, usually in gold or red/yellow enamel.
Arath is a fire goddess, divine smith, and patron of art, industry and commerce, prayed to by craftsmen, merchants, or others seeking prosperity and wealth. Legends tell of her great quest to tame fire and learn its secrets, and her conquest of the City of Lanterns (a poetic name for the sun), and of her winning Belen as her consort. Although the hammer is her tool, the bow is her weapon, and when in her more warlike aspect she is known as Arath the Huntress. In this form, she embodies discipline, honor, and swift vengeance upon her foes. As the patron of craft and commerce, she is also titled the Glorious Artisan.
Oaths
• Fairness: I shall eschew unfairness and fraud, and seek to promote proper exchange for all things. I shall not seek to undermine an item or creature’s worth, nor inflate it.
• Instruction: I shall spread the true teachings of the faith, and knowledge of the civilized world to those who linger in the darkness of ignorance.
• Vengeance: I shall seek retribution on those who do wrong, and brook no forgiveness for acts of treachery until a proper penance is paid.
Rituals: Every day at dawn, ritualistically assemble an incense brazier from a complex array of prayer tiles (portable braziers are typically 5 lbs, though larger and more complex versions exist), then burn sacred incense while meditating on the tasks ahead, and their service to Arath.
Restrictions: A priest of Arath must possess no body hair of any kind, and shave daily; A priest of Arath may not consume raw food.

BELEN, THE NIGHTWARDEN (NG)
Symbol: A full moon emblazoned on a silver sipar (round shield).
Belen is a god of war and strength, but also of justice and compassion. He shares the palace of his consort, Arath, in the City of Lanterns, although he is rarely found there; the Nightwarden fights an endless crusade against creatures of darkness, the Abyss and other supernatural threats. He is well known as the patron of athletes and warriors, and both pray to him for glory and victory in combat, but Belen is also the patron of healers, granting his strength to the sick and the infirm, and his gentle mercy to those unable to fight on.
Oaths
• Justice: I shall bring justice to the guilty, and ensure that all crimes are met with an appropriate punishment. Those innocent shall not suffer for crimes they have not committed.
• Mercy: I shall temper my justice with mercy, and give mercy to those in need.
• Vigilance: I shall remain vigilant against darkness, and never turn a blind eye to transgressions of any kind for they may lead to greater ones.
Rituals: Every day as night falls they greet their master’s vigil with ritual preparation of a herbal tea that aids digestion, rest and recovery. Every day as the sun rises, they shall greet the end of the night with a vigorous set of exercises and martial arts forms.
Restrictions: A priest of Belen may not torture or cause willful harm to the helpless. A priest of Belen must accept surrender when it is given, though justice may still be dispensed. A priest of Belen may not lay idle beyond what is required for proper rest and recovery.

JORAH, THE ARBITER OF THE GODS (N)
Symbol: A pair of scales weighing a human heart against a thick book.
Jorah is the genderless god of knowledge and mysteries, fate and magic, and through his association with the unknown he is also the god of death. Despite attempts by Tanith to gain control over all aspects of magic, Jorah remains detached and inscrutable. The Krolan believe this is because Jorah cares nothing for the lives of mortals – traditional Tālists, however, believe Jorah dares not involve itself in a war between gods, lest the world be destroyed.
Oaths
• Abstinence: I will never dull my senses with substance, for my mind must always be open and clear, and I will forgo all distractions of the flesh
• Learning: I swear to seek out knowledge and its true meaning, for all knowledge is sacred. I shall temper my use of this knowledge with wisdom.
• Judgement: When considering any matter, I swear to be impartial and logical, and not allow my personal feelings to cloud my judgement. I will not refuse a call to preside as judge over any matter.
Rituals: At dusk, a priest of Jorah must meditate on what knowledge the day has brought. At dawn, a priest must scribe their deliberations into their holy texts, and mark in dye upon their skin a symbol that represents the efforts of the previous day (these marks typically fade after a month).
Restrictions: A priest of Jorah may never willfully destroy the written word. A priest of Jorah must always act with deliberation, never out of rashness or passion. A priest of Jorah must never blind their senses to the world, and cannot wear armor or use shields.

KADREY, THE FACELESS GOD (CN)
Symbol: A counter-clockwise spiral.
Cunning but lacking in direction, Kadrey is a trickster who constantly seeks new amusements, yet he is also the wind, and his character changes from mischievous to tempestuous in the blink of an eye. He is the source of inspiration, the highest of muses, although not all of his revelations are as brilliant or helpful as they may first appear. Arath despises him, for he embodies undisciplined creation, and yet without Kadrey life would inevitably stagnate.
Oaths
• Celibacy: My life is dedicated to the service of the Faceless God, and I shall not marry.
• Experimentation: I shall not let new experiences go untested, and always seek out the new and different.
• Inspiration: My experiences shall not remain mine alone; I shall find others to share them with, and bring new ideas to closed minds.
Rituals: Every day at dawn, a priest of Kadrey shall mark the direction of the wind, and perform a one-hour ritual of their design, but not one they have performed for at least a month.
Restrictions: A priest of Kadrey may not form a regular routine, other than that marked above. The rituals a priest of Kadrey performs cannot be codified, and must be improvised at the time.

MANTAS, THE RIDER IN THE WASTE (CE)
Symbol: A locust.
He is the drought, the blizzard, the wildfire; he is famine and disease, plague and parasite; he spurs the unwary to acts of violence and destruction; he is Mantas, the Rider in the Waste. The god of destruction, disaster, suffering and hatred. He is a force of nature. For all that he is feared, in times of hardship, terror, or sickness, many plead with the god, praying for him to turn his attention elsewhere. A few try to curry his favor by spreading terror in his name. The true faithful know he does not care.
Oaths
• Endurance: I will weather the heat, the cold, the rain and the wind. I will let Mantas’ touch wash over me and endure.
• Humility: I will be humble for Mantas and his aspects and show no hubris, for he will brook none.
• Sacrifice: I will be ready to offer all that I possess to Mantas, if he so demands. I accept that my life is an appeasement to my god.
Rituals: At dusk a priest of Mantas must burn an offering drawn from what was gathered or obtained that day as appeasement to their god. During inclement weather, but no more than once per day, a priest of Mantas must prostrate themselves for a minimum of one hour beneath the deluge and endure, without complaint or protection.
Restrictions: A priest of Mantas may not be evil. A priest of Mantas may not possess a home, nor pay for accommodation or luxuries, though may accept charity if offered freely. A priest of Mantas may not wear armor, but may use shields.

TANITH, THE QUEEN OF SHROUDS (LE)
Symbol: A four-pointed star, usually in silver or black enamel.
Legend tells that Tanith was once the Queen of Stars, the most beautiful of the gods, but she sacrificed her beauty for the sake of power, in a bid to depose Jorah as the god of magic. She hides her now-hideous form beneath layers of black veils, her ‘shrouds’. The Krolan claim that she she seeks to usurp him in order to bring about an end to death, and consider her their patron. Traditional Tālists, however, believe that she seeks nothing but further power, and would sacrifice the world to gain it.
Oaths
• Ambition:
• Power:
• Subtlety:
Rituals: At midnight, a priest of Tanith must pray to their goddess and offer blood sacrifice in return for power. The nature of this blood sacrifice varies, though most priests of Tanith offer some of their own blood, or the life of a small animal.
Restrictions:

VELA, THE WOMB OF THE EARTH (LN)
Symbol: A sheath of wheat and a crook.
Vela is a chthonic fertility and hearth deity: a god of the field and plough, community and tradition, marriage and childbirth. She is an old deity, often said to be the mother of the Tālish gods, and is believed to have taught the principles of agriculture to mankind. While her primary concern is the cultivated lands and domestic beasts of mankind, Vela is known to look unkindly upon those who take from nature’s bounty and give nothing in return.
Oaths
• Exchange: I shall not take more than I give.
• Grace: I shall accept life as it comes without complaint or resentment. I shall strive always to live with grace, dignity and without hubris.
• Preservation: I shall never cause wanton harm to the community or world around me.
Rituals: Each evening a priest of Vela must ritually prepare a wholesome but humble meal for themselves and those around them. Each dawn, a priest of Vela must ritualistically purify and cleanse themselves, with special ointments, soaps and scrubs.
Restrictions: A priest of Vela may not use contraception, or other means of avoiding natural processes. A priest of Vela may not use bladed or piercing weapons, for they seek not to shed blood in the defense of their people.


The Three: Faith of the Tenegar

NAME AL INFLUENCE PRONUNCIATION
Chondassa NG god of the sun, nobility, athletics and medicine chaun-das-sah
Ellaraith LG god of the earth, industry, agriculture and craft el-la-rayth
Sharatar CG god of the moon, fertility, beauty and protection shar-a-tarh

The Tenegar maintain probably the granted religion in the Silent Seas. They build shrines and temples to their gods wherever they settle, but do not try to spread their faith to the other peoples; the relationship of the Tenegar to their gods is very personal, as they believe their gods are their ultimate ancestors. According to legend, Sharatar and Chondassa were the first of the gods, until they had a son, Ellaraith, who in turn fashioned the Tenegar people. It is believed that the gods guide their people with a gentle hand toward reclaiming the ancient glories of their past.

Symbol: Unlike other faiths, the Tenegar gods are worshiped as a triumvirate (called the Three), however each member of the Three have a dedicated priesthood whose duties are profoundly different to each other. Their holy symbol, however, reflects their connected nature: three conjoined circles – one of gold, one of silver, and one of iron.

CHONDASSA, GOD OF THE SUN (NG)

Priests of the Sun train in history, warfare, medicine and diplomacy. They act primarily as teachers, chroniclers, advisers and apothecaries within a community, possessing great insight, knowledge and negotiation skills that clan leaders find valuable, especially when dealing with other clans. They are not purely scholars, however; their broad education also covers athletics and the study of the body. As a result, Priests of the Sun make up the majority of trained physicians and healers. They are ritually obliged to exercise both mind and body. As part of their physical training, all Priests of the Sun are trained in one or more unarmed martial arts, exemplifying both their physical prowess and their discipline. They are the most likely Priests of the Three to wander from their home temples, either in search of knowledge or to seek training in other martial forms. Both men and women enter the Priesthood of the Sun, but there are usually more men than women.

Oaths
• Discovery: I devote my life to one of discovery; about the world, about the gods, and about myself. I shall never assume I know all there is to know, and always keep an open mind.
• Excellence: I shall strive for excellence in mind and body, for only when my entire being is in harmony, can the wisdom of the gods flow through me.
• Mediation: I shall seek harmony within and without. When discord arises amid the children of the gods, I shall seek compromise and resolution.
Rituals: Each day at dawn, a priest of Chondassa must spend an hour in debate on a topic of interest, be it philosophical, academic, or even completely mundane. If no willing candidates are found to debate with, they can debate with themselves, but must do so vocally.
Restrictions: A priest of Chondassa may not wear armor or use shields. A priest of Chondassa cannot allow their physical or mental capabilities to be sub-par (No base ability scores under 10)

ELLARAITH, GOD OF THE EARTH (LG)

Priests of the Earth study the principles of agriculture, aquaculture, weather systems and animal husbandry, seeking to understand how the world itself works and how best to utilize its natural cycles. Many take to the earth literally, using their knowledge to assist planting and harvests. Others become craftsmen, primarily working with iron and clay. Those who do so are restricted to making functional items only, and are prohibited from fashioning figurative forms. A small number focus more heavily on animal life, and study alongside the Priests of the Sun to learn of medicine and physiology, but applied to animal bodies rather than humans. Priests of the Earth can be men or women. Many choose to join the priesthood as young adults, while others are born to the Priests of the Moon and are raised by the temple itself.

Oaths
• Diligence: I shall complete any task undertaken, and dally not in my work.
• Humility: I shall live simply, and boast not of my own accomplishments as my efforts have already been judged by the gods.
• Temperance: I shall never indulge to excess, nor reach beyond my grasp out of pride.
Rituals: At dawn and dusk a priest of Ellaraith must ritualistically bind their hands and feet in specially-prepared mud-soaked wraps, meditating until the wrappings dry, after which they must rinse their hands and feet in salt water.
Restrictions: A priest of Ellaraith shall not consume the flesh of any animal, be they mammal, fish, bird or stranger beast.

SHARATAR, GOD OF THE MOON (CG)

… It is said that Sharatar provided Ellaraith with a few strands of her luminescent white hair to fashion the people he named the Tenegar.

Priests of the Moon are an exclusively female priesthood whose rituals focus strongly on studies of music, the visual arts, dance, and other means of creating things of beauty. Many (but not all) Priests of the Moon also provide a ritualized outlet for passions in a manner that pleases the Three. Tenegar men pay to engage in the rites of the moon, which venerate the mother of the world through the act by which she conceived it. As the Priests of the Moon are forbidden from using contraception, children are the usual result in time, and such children are raised by the temple and eventually become Priests of the Earth. Priests of the Moon are greatly respected and honored by the community, and often act as counselors to those in need of emotional healing, assessing the needs of their clients and adapting their methods accordingly.

Oaths
• Artistry: I shall strive for beauty in all endeavors, and celebrate the beauty in people’s souls.
• Celibacy: I have given vows pledging my life and my womb to Sharatar. I cannot make those vows to another.
• Succor: I shall provide aid and shelter to those in need. I will bring hope to the hopeless. I will give peace to the troubled.
Rituals: Each day at dusk, a priest of Sharatar must sing the hymns of the Moon for an uninterrupted hour.
Restrictions: A priest of Sharatar shall never use tricks or magic to negatively affect another person’s mind (i.e. can not use mind-affecting magic that isn’t harmless). A priest of Sharatar shall employ no contraception, nor hinder the natural process of childbirth.


Elven Animism

The elves of the Known World do not believe in omnipotent, anthropomorphic deities – they believe in gods of a sort, though the elves call them férna, or spirits; most humans refer to these spirits as “small gods”, though that is technically incorrect.

The elven faith teaches that there are many spirits in the world, and each has a very specific and somewhat limited portfolio. They may be a spirit that protects a significant natural site (such as an ancient tree or a grotto), while more powerful spirits may claim an entire feature as their domain. Every river has its own spirit, as do each of the four winds.

The elves do not worship spirits, certainly not in the same way that humans worship their gods. The spirits of the world are beings to be placated and respected, but individually they are not powerful enough to justify lifelong devotion. Elven priests see themselves not as servants, but as mediators between the spirit world and the mortal world, able to calm and cajole the spirits with rituals and offerings in return for good fortune and the spirit’s goodwill.

Symbol: Priests of the elven faith do not have a singular holy symbol, but instead channel their divine powers through symbolic representations of the world. Depending on the nature of the spirit being invoked or bargained with, a priest may use an icon carved from stone, fashioned from twigs or leaves, or of animal bones tied with sinew.

Clerics of the elven faith can choose either the Knowledge, Life or Nature domain.


Gods of the Shiæda

NAME AL INFLUENCE PRONUNCIATION
Anka CG god of cunning and creativity ahnk-a
Gildurak CE god of storms and natural disasters gil-duh-rak
Marat NE god of death and oblivion mar-rat
Urma NG god of home, hearth and fertility urm-a
Vægun CN god of war, glory and greatness vay-gun

Among the barbaric tribes of the Shiæda, five gods are recognized, with the greatest two being Urma, goddess of the hearth and fertility of both land and womb, and Vægun the Bloodreaver, lord of battle, king of the gods, and husband of Urma. Yet even Vægun, mighty as he is, still seeks wisdom from Anka, the heron god, for cunning and trickery is part of warfare. Though the Shiæda believe there is glory to be found in dying in battle, ultimately they fear and hate the god of death, Marat, whose imagery adorns cursed or taboo places, such as graveyards. And when storms rage across the seas, homes are flooded by endless rains, or crop fields consumed by fire, then the Shiæda blame Gildurak and make sacrifices of precious goods or food to appease his wrath.

Unlike most other faiths, the Shiæda do not produce clerics. The Shiæda believe that those who draw their abilities directly from divine are no better than thieves, stealing the power of the gods; divine casters other than druids and rangers are shunned from Shiæda communities, and sometimes burned as sacrifices in order to return the stolen power. Spiritual matters are overseen by specially trained individuals, who might possess bard or druid levels, but never cleric or paladin.

Some Tālist priests have suggested that the gods of the Shiæda are simply misrepresentations of the Tāl, perhaps through mingling with whatever heathens the Shiæda were ultimately descended from. Such claims outraged the Shiæda, and resulted in Tālist temples being vandalized and pillaged with vengeful gusto wherever the marauders go.

Symbol: Rather than abstract symbols, the Shiæda use animals to represent their gods. Such imagery can thus be found throughout their culture. Urma is represented by the tortoise, Anka by the heron, and Vægun by the orca: proudest of creatures against whom the Shiæda battle for food and precious bone. Marat is represented as the shark, terror of the deep, while Gildurak is symbolized by the albatross, whose bones are used to carve flutes said to keep the storm god’s wrath at bay.


Arazand: The True God of Man

NAME AL INFLUENCE PRONUNCIATION DOMAIN
Arazand LE god of order, purpose and tyranny ahr-a-zand War

Though by no means the most widespread of faiths, word of the god Arazand and the fanatical religion that follows him has reached all corners of the Known Lands. Arazand is given by his faithful such titles as the True God of Man, the Grantor of Purpose and the Lawbringer – yet to outsiders he is a tyrannical deity of oppression, subjugation and bigotry.

To followers of Arazand (who refer to themselves as the Purified), the True God created the world and all life within it, seeking to fashion perfection from the raw chaos of Before. His creations were flawed, however – tainted by chaos and the Otherworld. In their vanity and pride they turned from him and shattered the perfection of his world, introducing change and discord, and opening up the world to seductive and terrible forces that masquerade as false gods. And thus the Silence fell.

The Purified believe that only by returning to the embrace of Arazand and living strictly by his tenets can the world eventually be reborn as the paradise it was intended to be. But not all are capable – and not all are worthy. Only those humans who are true descendants of the original people (that is, of pure Akaian blood) can become respected and honored citizens of a society run by the Purified; all others are fit only to be slaves. The Purified tend to be avoided by outsiders, and especially by the Szerathi. As beings who trace their lineage to the Otherworld, “elves” are considered sub-human by the Purified and not even worthy of enslavement: they and all non-humans must be cleansed from the world to help relieve its taint.

Individualism is discouraged in Purified communities, as is the accumulation of wealth and unnecessary luxuries. The Purified lack many civil freedoms taken for granted by other societies, but their settlements are remarkably free of crime and corruption.

Faiths of the Known World

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