Religions in the Low Kingdom
For two centuries there was only one religion in Uruhr, the Deh’wheri faith, also known as the Autumnic Temples. It was that temple that crowned the Uruhrian kings, baptised the children, cremated the dead, and launched the crusades that made Uruhr the most powerful country in all of Malaan. Then the Apotheosis came, and the center of the faith changed. It moved from Calasi and the heartland of Uruhr to Enduir and new capital of Irrefas. The dream of the great religion came true, the gods came to Malaan in physical form and took their seats on the Thrones made for them in the holy Lands to the north.
The consequences in Uruhr were two fold. Most priests and loyal followers were called to the Holy Lands to serve the gods directly. They abandoned their churches and flocks and made the great pilgrimage to the holy lands. There was, of course, considerable unhappiness from the Uruhrian nobility to lose their clerics and the stability the church brought. The kingdom of Uruhr was for long the center of the church and the source of its vast wealth. This led to wide spread hostility towards the church and many temples were looted and burned by angry citizens. The chaos that followed the Apotheosis and little Succession War resulted in a loss of central authority to both the country and the church. This change also created a vacuum in the religions of the Low Kingdoms. Religions Old and New began to find followers among the angry populace. For the most part, there is no longer a state religion in the Low Kingdoms, and there are few temples that attract major crowds. But instead numerous small temples have arrived, some brought to the people by the Gods themselves, others resurrected from the ancient religions that never truly disappeared from the land.
Deh’wheri Church (Autumnic Temple)
Although generally not visible in this land, the Autumnic Temple is still a presence in the land. Despite the events of the last two hundred years, is still greatly influenced by the teachings. It is still common for the people to follow the ancient leaf laws, burning the dead, eschewing magic and the like. There are occasional appearances of the official church. First there are still pilgrimages from the country to the holy lands. Pilgrims travel mostly in secret and disguise their true intents, but there are safe houses and priests and paladins who help the transit. Few of these pilgrims ever return, but some do and build small underground worship groups. The second sort of Deh’wheri presence seen is in the form of questing knights. These good hearted paladins and priests travel on missions to recover ancient relics and combat ancient foes of the religion. They also try to assist the religious education and immigration to the Faithful Realms of the faithful that remain in the Kingdoms. There is also a reasonably large number of Uruhrian nobles who keep small shrines in their homes and pay homage privately at least to this religion of their ancestors.
The rules of the religion are somewhat dynamic. The church is not designed around a text, but rather around the worship of the Gods, and obedience to the hierarchy. That said, there are some basic guidelines to the religions. It is considered the religious duty of any Deh’wheren to obey their church superiors and the central tenets of the Leaf Laws.
Not surprisingly the temple is overwhelmingly Lawful. Since most people are lawful, this is not generally a problem. Neutral and Chaotic beings may find themselves the frequent recipients of extra duties, penance or other reprimands for their casual attitude.
The Deh’wheri believe that the dead travel to the citidel of their patron deity where they join with the divine being in a union. In a sense they become part of the divine being though some may become avatars at various times retaining their shapes, personality and memories. Some particularly faithful and useful servants are resurrected or animated in the form of powerful undead (followers of Och) and allowed to continue their lives (as such). Any faithful servant who dies is honored and held in the highest esteem by the worshippers. Their names are recorded and revered, they are kept sacred by the church and its followers.
Auteil – Domains [, Death, Life] May not spill the blood of another (general prohibition against active participation in violence, but may accompany others who fight.)
Velrey – Domains [Sovereignty, Fire, Defense] Must remain pure, chaste, clear headed (No alcohol, sex, drugs or other impurities)
Remaht -Domains [ Vengeance, Air] Must fulfill any promise or accepted charge or quest, or die trying.
Peruul – Domains [Water, Judgement] May not tell a lie (although one may be silent.)
Norbin -Domains [Magic, Knowledge] May not destroy any knowledge (include forbidden texts)
Although many in the Kingdoms associate the Heroic Cults with the Fifth Empire unfavorably (thinking the Empire was partially responsible for the destruction of the Kingdom) there are many who are sympathetic to their aims. Heroic Sanctuaries have sprung up in numerous cities and the Chosen Paladins continue to champion the cause of mortals against the gods. The Heroic clergy, the Wardens, welcome those who disdain the gods and resist their controlling influence. Heroic Sanctuaries find a mixed welcome by the various lords of the Kingdoms, many still sting from the Undeclared War which claimed the lives of many young lords and ladies (and was supported by the Cultists).
The Cult of Heroes is still firmly Atheistic, in that they worship no gods. The gods are viewed as hateful things that seek to rule the mortal races. The Cultists tend to focus on the ancient gods of the Empire as the main problems, but oppose all gods, including the gods of the other pantheons. Each god is associated with certain evils and the Heroic seek to redress or fight those evils. Tyranny, Betrayal, Ignorance are but a few of the forces they oppose. The gods can be opposed in two ways, their destruction at the hands of true heroes, or their subjugation by powerful forces (such as those harnessed by the Fifth Empire).
Priests of the Cult, also called Wardens, are primarily concerned with protecting the common folk from the ravages of the Gods and their minions. They sometimes base themselves in a Sanctuary, or local temple, on quests against the gods and their servants, or seeking out the heroes, both old and new among the population. The Priests of the Heroic Cults are not generally associated with civic authority instead tending to be more closely associated with the peasants and lower classes. The exception to this rule is in the Fifth Empire where the clergy are part of the civic authority.
Role of PC-Clerics – typically these would be adventuring priests directing their attentions against the foul gods. There is no dirth of divine influence in the world. PC clerics might be ambivalent between the role of protecting the innocents and seeking out the heroes.
The Lorist Bards are the keepers of the Epic. This is a vast epic poem with the tales of all the ancient heroes who first stood against the gods. Lorist bards seek to protect and transmit that information as well as add to the stories with accounts of modern heroes. They also seek out the reincarnations of the great heroes and attempt to help them recall their true identities so that they might serve the cause of mortals against the gods.
Role of PC Bards – they will not likely have copies of the Epic, but they could certainly be interested in following up on leads about reincarnated heroes and new heroes in the world. They might accompany a part of adventurers thinking a hero might be among them.
The Chosen. These are the paladins of the Cults. Unlike most other Paladins the Chosen need not be Lawful though they must still be good. They are rarely connected with the church directly though they may consult with priests and bards on occasion, they are more likely to resemble the heroes of old in that they are defenders of the common folk and resist the role of the gods.
Role of PC Paladins – likely to be wandering do-gooders. It is tradiational for the Chosen to be the epicenter of various tragic events. The DM will make sure the Chosen ones have plenty of opportunity to be heroic. Failure to live up to the standards usually results in great hardship to the common folk around them.
Against Folon – LG – [Sanctuary, Defiance, Time]
Against Assern – CG – [Freedom, Trickery, Travel]
Against Gerius – NG – [Animals, Hunting, Beastmastery]
Against Iiresa – LG – [Love, Vengeance, Community]
Against Udu – NG – [Weapons, Repair]
Against Perifin – NG – [Healing, Curing]
Against Typhane – LG – [Knowledge, Magic]
Temple of Arboren
The Reluctant God. Arboren is recognized by the Cult of Heroes as the greatest hero of the history of Malaan. When the Apotheosis occured many believed that he reincarnated on Malaan and lives now fighting the other gods. They more than revere him, in fact they have elevated him to divine status. Even they recognize the irony of this, but they believe he has the power to intervene and will answer the prayers of his followers. For this reason they call him the “reluctant god.” Arboren is impressed with self-assertive and independent people and will “help those who help themselves.” The followers of Arboren have a tenuous relationship with the Cult of Heroes, sometimes their goals are aligned, but other times they seem to be distasteful of each other.
Role for PC-Clerics. They seek to emulate Arboren and fight against tyanny and the gods whereever they can. There is little needed to motivate a cleric of Arboren to action, heroism is their calling.
Arboren – NG – [Heroism, Good, Sacrafice]
Temple of Oriander
The Fatespinner. There are worshippers of Oriander in the Deh’wheri temple as well as apart from it. Oriander is usually portrayed as a spider god or a multi-armed man at the center of a great web. This web represents the fates of all mortal beings, and they are seen as all intertwined. The cult has had a secretive existence for hundreds of years, and only now does it deign to open its doors to the public. Apart from the role in the Deh’wheri temple the individual temples serve as sorts of oracles possessing incredible abilities of prognostication. The temples is traditionally a pretty mysterious place, even for its own initiates. Clerics rise slowly through the ranks and as they do they are initiated into the secrets of the cult. The temples are frequently refuges for hundreds of spiders which are held as sacred creatures. Spider silk robes are worn by all priests.
Role of the PC Cleric – Trying to find out the secrets of the order. They will be ‘used’ as lures of the ‘flies.’ Those are relatively unimportant people whose lives have significantl impact on the tapestry of history.
Oriander -[Fate, Planning, Spiders, Knoweldge]
Selaye is an Elven word meaning “cycle”, the basic tenet of the Selaye is the belief that all things in nature are cyclical. A person is born, grows, struggles eventually dies and is the reborn in the form of another being. The cycle is ‘powered’, so to speak by the driving force of four aspects. These aspects or spheres are repeated throughout the universe. These cycles are not without meaning. Rather than consider the universe to be an endless repetition of pretty much the same thing, the Selaye believe that through the cycle an evolution takes place. Perfection is possible given enough energy put into the process. Perfection is not guaranteed but a gradual betterment of the world will undoubted bring it about. To achieve any of this, the cycle must be moved. The forces of nature left alone will eventually reach perfection, however the influence of certain intelligent beings using extra-planar jeopardizes this perfection. Thus for the cycle to accelerate rather than decline, an effort must be made along one or more of the four drivers of cycle. These four drivers reflect the four aspects of nature (this repetition of the number four is common in Selaye philosophy). All life plays a part in the motion of these drivers symbolized by the four aspects of nature. Intelligent beings can direct their energy toward(in) one of the four aspects. This is the duty and nature of the Selaye people. They must choose an aspect (more often a discovery than a choice) and live their lives according to that way or ‘Rei’. The four ‘Rei’ of the Selaye represent the four seasons, four positions in the food chain and four stages of life and reincarnation. They are difficult to define in simple terms but rather express a melange of views that coalesce into a fairly predictable pattern of behaviors. They are:
Rei Tsaer: The Tree, Spring, Birth. The beginning usually represented by a tree or other form of plant life. Those of the Tsaer following believe in the potential of all things to blossom into something great. They are beautifiers and planters. They are inevitably vegetarians. The Tsaer are lovers of new things, technology, art and improvisation are loved by them. Their ceremonies often make use of these things. A Tsaer is often unpredictable trying to take a new approach to every problem. This aspect is traditionally associated with water and substance. Followers of the Rei Tsaer are often radicals in politics and colonists. They move from place to place establishing homes then abandoning them soon after to seek a new life. They are often artists.
Rei Xeicaené: The Stag, Summer, Growth: The living period. This sphere is a strong one, usually represented by a great stag or other herd animal. The Xeicaené is also the sphere of growth and is usually the patron of settlements, (for no city wishes to be known as a dying one). Rei Xeicaené is the embodiment of the heartiness of the cycle at its best. Followers often try to excel at all or a given trade or activity. They demand physical and spiritual health. Xeicaené is associated with the element of earth and the spirit. The followers of Xeicaené are often healers and leaders.
Rei Vaelense: The Lion, Fall, Struggle: This is the time of challenge, and violence. Often this comes to be the time or people of war. It is represented by any great predator, usually a lion or similar beast. Vaelense is the aspect of war and misery. It is part of the necessary course of things. Rather than look down or become weary and depressed about this, followers of the Vaelense seek to enhance it, feel it and take joy in it. This surprises many people not privy to the ways of the Selaye. Vaelense is often connected with the element Fire and the concept of change. The followers of Vaelense are often violent, lusty and dedicated to war and hardship. Often you will find them wandering, never happy with their situation unless it is by mosts accounts unpleasant. The Vaelense believe that conflict is essential to growth and without it the cycle grows weak and degenerates.
Rei Yaverhé: The Vulture, Winter, Death: This is the aspect of death and the return to earth. The end feeds directly into the beginning and from it comes birth. Yaverhé is usually represented by scavengers of the more nobler types. Yaverhé is the mark of finite existence in an infinite system. Follows often seek to disrupt a stagnated or stable situation. Thieves are seen as true signs that nothing is permanent save the cycle itself, and as such are honoured. Followers of Yaverhé are less numerous than the others due to their somewhat morose dispositions and occupations. However like the Vaelense they take pride and joy from this. They are often rebuilders and restorers. The Yaverhé do not regret death but seek to make new what is old. Often they serve as judges where such are needed. The aspect of Yaverhé is linked to the element of Air and the concept of Division.
Followers of the Selaye may revere and some or all of this cycle, but usually they limit themselves to the sphere they follow. Usually they will take the patron aspect of their parents or of something or event important to them. Each worshipper has two aspects that are important. There is the season of birth, or the Given sphere [PhielRei], and the Chosen sphere [KuenRei]. Parents often plan the days or season in which they want their children to be born. That season indicates the given sphere. The Chosen is one decided by the individual. Generally this follows maturity (or is closely tied with such rites) and involves some sort of mystical experience, like dreaming of an animal or the meeting a Selaye spirit lord.No one aspect, or spirit lord is considered intrinsically superior but each individual or cult may believe its set to be superior to the rest. High holidays are usually during the solstices and passings but vary from locale to locale. Meditation and Prayer are done daily at times appropriate to their beliefs.The Holy Symbol of the Selaye is a circle with four perpendicular rays each tangent to the circle pointing in opposite directions. Temples are usually simple and clerics are usually friendly to all Selaye, or at least tolerant of worshippers of Selaye. Weapon and armor restrictions vary from temple to temple as do restrictions on various spell abilities.
Spirit World: The spirits of all creatures live an unfulfilled existence for most of their many lives. The spirits as they are whole live in a part of the natural world where such creatures abound. They seek through reincarnation to make an exact duplicate of their spiritual self in a physical self. When this is accomplished the being becomes a spirit lord. Not a deity per se but a fully developed being that is perfect in that aspect or aspects. Creatures that have achieved this mark are revered nearly to the point of worship. Shrines and followers of these spirit lords or Deiçexeicaer(i) abound in all the races, certain races are more prone to this form of worship than others. Deiçexeicaeri possess the unique ability to see the spirit forms of any individual. They often use this ability to aid or harm the cause of that individual. On occasion individuals will take a particular spirit lord to be their patron and on occasion these Spirit Lords will take a person to be their ward. Many Deiçexeicaeri possess strange powers that they use to advance their aspect often aiding other Selaye in their quest. Deiçexeicaeri don’t have any special obligation to aid a Selaye or anyone. Deiçexeicaeri are living creatures and as such can be killed. Note: However that killing a Deiçexeicaer’s physical body is not destroying it. The spirit lord can reform the physical body if it so chooses.
Cosmic Torque: The Selaye believe that the four Rei drive the cycle. All energy put into the cycle through the Rei is used to move the cycle, however not all of it translates into momentum. There is a natural resistance to these driving forces. The result is that some of this energy is stored in the form of torque or what the Selaye call ‘Ceinearc’. This energy is used by the holymen (and Deiçexeicaeri) to power the spells and other powers that they receive. There is no one intelligence that decides or distributes this energy rather training and meditation allow one to access it.
The holymen of the Selaye fall into four sorts. Saran, Shacé, Avaerein and the Valenor or Selaye Paladins. The Priests are beings that chose to dedicate their lives to perpetuating the cycle. Each does so at a different level. Each race or regional group may have different means of worship. Most races have a somewhat ethnocentric view about the religion that places their race toward the top of the cycle. There is no official leader of the church nor is the teaching of one cleric, priest or spiritlord considered preeminent.
Saran: (Druids) The Saran are wandering holymen who seek to protect the substance of the world including the balance of nature. The Saran are not bound to a particular area but rather travel from place to place correcting imbalances and restoring the natural order of thing to the areas they travel through. Their power stems from their belief and excellence in a particular sphere and the rituals of meditation and incantation they use to channel the Ceinearc. Although they still follow the Reis, they are not intolerant of the other spheres, but rather seek to insure a balance between them. It is in all spheres’ interests that the balance of nature is preserved and so they seek to mend to unnatural changes in the natural order of things. Because of the necessity to restore balance, Saran often act in ways contrary to there own chosen sphere because it is necessary to preserve the cycle as a whole. This does slow down their own growth, and is considered to be a great sacrifice that they make. Saran do not, as a rule congregate or deal much with people unless the people are somehow involved in the imbalance. Saran are somewhat hostile towards other magics because it disrupts the balance of nature by introducing energies from outside the plane. As a result they are often quite ready to prejudge any spell caster. Although this has nothing to do with the Saran’s personal choice of Rei, Saran are often associated with the Rei Tsaer.
Shacé: (Priests of Nature) These priest have the job of dealing with and soothing the spirits. These include both the spirits of the Selaye followers and the Deiçexeicaeri that live around them. These priests are the type most likely to be found in an area and are usually quite amiable. They are not unwilling to fight or use their spells and magic to defend people or spirits but generally they are more concerned about the spiritual welfare of their folk. Some Priests of the Spirits devote themselves to a particular spirit lord. They tend to its shrine and give it sacrifices as a mark of honour (not worship). Often this gives them great favour with the Deiçexeicaer who may grant service to the Shacé in time of need. Some such priests serve both functions, tending to both the people and the lords. Their power comes from a devotion to the spirits and is often granted either by the consent of a Deicéxeicaer or by the general weal of the followers they tend to. Shacé may be of any aspect (if they choose to follow a particular Deicéxeicaer it ought to be of their own aspect) but the Shacé as a whole are associated with the Rei Xeicaené.
Avarein: (Monks Way of the Spheres) These priests are concerned with the grand scheme of things. That is the ultimate preservation of the essences of the spheres and the spirits. In this sense they often overlap with the other priests. Avarein are concerned with the protection of Malaan itself from possible assault or infiltration by outside forces (most notably such creatures as Githyanki and Githzeri). As a result the Avarein are willing to sublimate entirely their own desires and goals and work towards the safety of Malaan as a whole. They are farsighted and plan for eons rather than days. They are unconcerned with the daily comings and goings unless they have serious impact on the grand scheme of things. They are very rare and tend to act in secret rather act in the conjunction with other priests. Avarein themselves are nearly worshipped for their act of self-sublimation. Although the Avarein tend to disdain their personal Rei they are generally as a group associated with the Rei Yaverhé.
Valenor: (Paladins- Oath of the Ancients) Selaye paladins are not followers of a specific aspect or sphere, rather they believe that life with honor is the means of attaining the purest self. Because of the extreme rigor with which they test their fiber, the Selaye Paladins are able to channel Ceinearc to give them these special abilities. Valenor are said to move through the four spheres of awareness and gain certain abilities in each over their lives. In the first sphere, the Tsaer sphere, they learn the skills necessary for their survival in their area. They begin with nothing and must use only the rawest of things they find or kill for. At the end of this sphere they must confront a member of the next sphere and duel (either to death, or surrender). The next sphere (Xeicaené) is growth and strength. During this time the Valenor learns the use of other weapons and gains the ability to channel his or her energies to various effects. In the next sphere (Vaelense) suffering and violence the Paladin learns how to wield magics that either cause or relieve these sensations. In the final sphere (Yaverhé) the Paladin learns to control the very forces of change and finality. Valenor are most often Elves although any being could choose to be one. Although the Valenor seek to move through all the spheres the Valenor are generally linked to the Rei Vaelense.
Selaye Worship and Organization:
The organized aspect of Selaye tradition is one that is difficult for humans to completely understand. They do not actually have temples or formal instruction as a rule. They do have an abundance of shrines dedicated to the Deicéxeicaer. These vary in size and function from roadside markers indicating the sighting of a spirit lord, to huge subterranean cathedrals meant to house the spiritlords. Zealots bring gifts of food and art to the shrines for the Spirit Lords and priests maintain the larger shrines as a duty.
Services as such take the form of ornate dances or songs meant to tell a story of the Lord or describe their state of being. Some of these are carefully orchestrated with music and many participants. Other services are improvisation or folky sing-a-longs. Generally at some point or another the members all contribute to the service led by the priests.
Four times a year at the equinoxes and solstices the Selaye hold a special celebrations tuned to the new season and that sphere. These periods are cause for much celebration amongst the Selaye and often non-Selaye are invited into the activities and join into the fun.
The Selaye have a set of special religious words all from Olde Elvish that are in some ways words of great meaning power and authority. They are invoked at certain times when Selaye unity is needed. Some are:
Chuak’Selay:(Lit: Break the cycle) This invocation is a request for someone to take a longer view of their actions and consider the far reaching consequences. Often used to invoke an end to war or Orestean conflict.
Ner’yondra Kuton:(Lit: Now feel, the unity of our existence) Invocation implying that two Selaye have something in common that demands a certain consideration. For instance a lone elf wandering into an Orc village might plead this with the chieftain for his life.
Meyheri’Selay:(Lit: Close cycle) Respond as is proper to the events that have unfolded. Do not resist your destiny. Allow the change to come.
Laeridin’gatura:(Lit: Spirits preserve/protect me) An attempt to invoke intervention from the spirit world, perhaps to summon aid.
Ulenii’Selassi: (Lit: Suffer endless repetition) A curse, condemning someone to suffer an endless number of reincarnations.