Monday, April 29, 2013

Religions of Desylinn (Part One)

The Church of the Five:

The Church of the Five Glorious Transcendents, or the Church of the Five, is usually found under a single roof. The five separate cults share a common theme, the idea that through glorious acts even mortals can ascend as godly beings. Most of the clergy follow a single cult, though a small group of the clergy follow all Five Transcendents. They are usually in charge of overseeing the church as a whole and act as ambassadors for the church in other lands or to the Great Guilds. They also mediate between individual cults when there is conflict. The majority of followers live in Eartlinn, primarily Hub, where the church was founded and where it has a major influence on the city. The cults are as follows:

  • The Cult of the Beloved (God of Music and Altruism): The followers of Bjord Half-foot (the Beloved) know the path to transcendence comes from aiding others. Adherents strive for the same level of compassion that bard Bjord had during his life. The clergy are usually musicians, even if they are poor ones. This isn’t a strict requirement though, and any are welcome who are willing to give of themselves. Always striving for the easement of others through selfless acts, the only true sin is watching another suffer and doing nothing, particularly if that person is a child. 
  • The Cult of the Slayer (God of Justice and Destiny):  The followers of Omoshiroi Renga (Slayer of Tyrants) follow one of two paths: The followers of the path of Destiny are usually disappointed to discover they are not destined for great things. Only those destined to become divine can truly excel in the Destiny aspect of Renga’s portfolio. Most adherents are followers of Renga’s aspect for Justice and come from the ranks of the Blacksmiths Guild. The Arbiters are the clergy of this branch and are considered the fairest judges in Desylinn. Their verdicts are rarely opposed and their judgments are oft times profound, reaching the level of prophecy.
  • The Cult of the Strategist (Secrets and Revolution): The followers of Talasia (The Strategist) seek out secrets like thirsty men seek water. The cult’s primary goal is the acquisition of forbidden or suppressed knowledge. Using that knowledge to rout corruption makes this path a tricky one to follow. Followers are warned that knowledge can corrupt as easily as it enlightens. The clergy of this cult tend to be secretive, only keeping a token presence in any Church. Set up as small cells, they are treated with mild suspicion by outsiders especially because many members of the Music Guild are adherents. 
  • The Cult of the Self Ascended (Magic): Those that follow Bad-blood (the Self Ascended) all have the spark of magic running through their veins. Of all the Cults of the Five, the worshipers of Bad-blood seek raw power as a means to transcend. Shrines are found in nearly every Mage’s School, as well as in the Churches of the Five itself. Anyone with the ability to cast some magic will find themselves whispering a prayer to Bad-blood to bring about the Bliss or relinquish them from Despair. While widely worshiped her clergy are barely organized compared to the other Cults. 
  • Cult of the Kindred Father (War and Dance): The most popular cult among the Kindred, the followers of Wargog (The Kindred Father and The Wardancer) consider themselves a brotherhood. The clergy of The Kindred Father hope to guide the followers of Wargog through trials teaching that life is a great Dance. Also a god of war, the cult places more emphasis on the idea of sound strategy before the glorious battle. When battle must be engaged the Church teaches the worshipers to embrace it, it’s all part of the Great Dance.

The Churches of the First Born of Chaos:

The First Born of Chaos created the world of Desylinn. This does not make them “good” however.  While some, like Ariga or Ssita could be considered beneficent, they are most often indifferent to the world at large. Being more interested in studying the outcome of their experiment than they are in being worshiped. Even so many of the races praise the names of the First Born  and their cults are an important part of everyday life throughout Desylinn. Their worship is more informal than that of the Church of the Five, or the Chantries of Mar. The churches are as follows: 

  • Church of the Oldest(Fate):  The one requirement of the Church of the Oldest is that all clergy  must be able to cook. The priests learn to cook to gain knowledge of the subtle interplays of flavor. They parallel this with Fate, which is also subtle and easy to miss. The faith’s goal is to seek out knowledge to help understand intricacies of Fate. Unlike the Cult of Strategist, the knowledge the Church of the Oldest gathers is open to anyone. The clergy are eager to learn all things but place a particular emphasis on history and natural events. This church is not widely popular, but does have some followers ranked among spell casters, members of the Ogrekhan and the Shards, the latter worshiping the Old Man despite their inability to taste their own cooking. 
  • The Church of Ssitta(Creation, Sun, Moon): The most commonly worshiped of the Firstborn, Ssitta (The Chaosgate of Creation) is both the goddess of creation, as well as the goddess of the sun and moon. Her adherents follow many paths and her church is much less a church than it is a series of cults. Regarded as a benevolent goddess many crafters follow Ssitta, shrines existing wherever there is creation being done. Travelers also pay homage to the goddess, seeking her guidance as she looks down upon Desylinn. The Lash-ti-Nowish have organized their worship of her, placing shrines at regular intervals in the Dragon Sands. They have solemn ceremonies that have become common to the entire race. 
  • The Church of Ariga (Farming, the Seasons): Worshiped by farmers, lumberjacks and even miners, Ariga is respected by all who work the land. Closely tied to the seasons as well, every town, village, enclave or outpost will have a shrine to the goddess. Her church is simple the clergy hold ceremonies seeking the goddess’ blessing for the growing season, harvest, or even for a safe winter. While honored all over Desylinn, she’s most widely worshiped by humans in the southern islands, where her church has become central to the Kingdom of Arigunta. 
  • The Churches of Nhoj (Magic, Knowledge, Chaos): Nhoj’s (Chaos Gate of the Void) cults, while not forbidden, are regarded with suspicion. The cults are often linear in their worship. While one cult may embrace the pursuit of learning to the point of self-deprecation and asceticism, another may endeavor to meaningless destruction. The most predominate cult of Nhoj, The Cult of the Unmaker, is discussed below.  Most who worship the knowledge aspect of Nhoj do so in private. The exception to this is the Shards who venerate the god as a creator. It was his interference that prevented Daras from collecting their souls making her blind to their deaths and allowing the creation of the Unbroken. 
  • The Cult of Daras (Death): All mortals know Daras, the Gentle End, for all must die. She’s is rarely worshiped directly, but all will see her. One of only four gods able to penetrate the Seal, she’s the only god every living creature will meet. Although those around death will see her as she comes to collect the souls of those who’ve just died. She does not approve of worship, but she does tolerate a small cult that aides her in the gathering of souls, typically by summoning her manifestation. These manifestations are summoned to gather spirits that have not moved on or have become lost, or to punish those who have tried to escape her embrace.