The Greater Deities of Farland
Table of Contents
Khuldul Rockcarver (Dwarven)
Khuckduck Gemcutter (Gnomish)
Bunga Proudfoot (Halfling)
Heshtail (Merciful One)
Power of Caelestin, Lawful Good
Heshtail is pictured as a wise old man who carries a staff and a sword. He is also pictured as a venerable healer, carrying bandages and food to the sick. On top of other worship, his followers revere him by holding a midnight vigil once a month where candles are burned on a special star-shaped pallet, which is held by the high priest. No priest of Heshtail will refuse to grant aid to the wounded, nor will they hesitate to slay the fatally ill out of mercy. The worship of Heshtail was very popular before the Dark Times, but now it is expressly forbidden in occupied lands.
Heshtail commands his followers thus:
- Aid the sick.
- Succour the wounded.
- Work to promote justice.
- Fight against evil for goodness and light.
Holy days: New Moon, New Year, Yule (25 of Belos), 15th of Reaanos, Radae worship (7th day of the week)
Holy Month: Heshtalos (5th month)
Ceremonies: Candles are burned on a special star-shaped pallet at midnight on the new moon, Radae worship (7th day), Sun Ceremony at noon on 15th of Reaanos, Ceremony of the wounded during Yule time, Ceremony of Laws (12th of Bestalos), others
Church structure: The temple is arranged according to a very structured hierarchical order. There are two main branches of the temple; they represent the staff and the sword of Heshtail. The first branch is the order of the Faithful, representing those concerned with the day to day operations of the temples themselves. They are ranked from: Low Friar, Friar, Prior, Abbot, Cleric, High Cleric, Bishop, to Potentate. The other branch is the order of the Militant, representing the armed forces of the church. They are ranked: from Attendant, Hospitaler, Templer, Sergeant Faithful, Drapier, Marshal, Seneschal, to Master General. Individual temples are ranked according to Districts, with each district having a Potentate. In unoccupied lands, all the districts are ruled over by the High Potentate. The other minor branch of the church of Heshtail is actually the temple of Reeanan. This temple is technically a part of Heshtail's church, but it has its own structure and is semi-independent.
Tithe and donations: 5% to the sick or poor, 5 % to the temple. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Heshtail Elsewhere in the World
In a world so beset by evil, it should come as no surprise that the God of Mercy is perhaps the most frequently invoked deity in the pantheon; with even the Dark Folk guiltily offering up whispered prayers to Ghauvglier or Peaceforger, as they know him. However, the base words of this name are ghvaal, being the onomatopoeic intake of breath on the verge of death, and glir-glir, a famous kobold pejorative for a small-minded bully who demands obedience without care for if others even can obey-- the implication being that the forced peace imposed by Heshtail actually answering their prayer is fragile and generally unwanted.
The crumbling realm of Ishia worships him as Hatmeht-ka the Herald of Floods, a colossal fish too mighty to suffocate in air, and who is said to hold all the waters of the world in his belly, safe for when they are needed. On his sacred day, a great festival is held in his honor, culminating in the release of thousands of elvers into the swollen Ishi River, that the baby eels may grow safely to maturity in its dark depths, and be caught as adults in the leaner months to come. Their eggs are also collected and raised to the elver stage in dedicated fishery pools at this time, ready for the next year.
The nomads of the Cen-Cenla Desert revere him as Hu Aladhi Yuefi, He Who Brings Absolution, and by tradition reserve the last prayer of the day to him. They ask for the strength to overcome whatever petty desire for revenge or lift from them any grudges they may hold, not just out of a wish to purify their souls of evil, but to keep their tribe free of infighting that may destroy it. In this guise, Heshtail is the patron and protector of the holy city of Njarakere, wherein no violence may take place upon pain of complete tribal expurgation.
Elsewhere in the continent of Eruna, he is named Ishtevaan by the Badalans, and is portrayed as a wandering holy man weighed down by the weight of his wisdom and healing herbs. He is credited with inventing the great prayer wheels of the country's temples and shrines, each inscribed with a thousand messages of hope and charity. These are spun to send these well-wishes to the rest of the world, in a selfless spiritual act of kindness.
Heshtail is also known as the Olive God in the Selfhaven Archipelago, its inhabitants gleefully and incomprehensibly claiming mercy and olives to be the same. More reasonably, he is named Brother-of-Calm by the Teregnaven of Forntol, and is second in their hearts only to Lady Bestra herself.
Bestra (Lady of Goodness)
Power of Efferenus, Neutral Good
Bestra is pictured as a beautiful woman armed with a shield and a harp. She is kind and nurturing, prayed to by mothers everywhere. Her worshipers hold a yearly feast with the crops that Bestra the Good has allowed to grow. Her clerics tend to wear a cloth of red satin somewhere on their body, to symbolize the love of Bestra. She is also the patron of poets, minstrels and bards everywhere. Her clerics will never fail to do their best to protect a good creature.
Bestra commands her followers thus:
- Revere nature, for it is beloved of Bestra.
- Nothing is greater than love.
- Protect life even if it means giving your own.
Holy days: Wedae worship (1st day), Harvest, Planting, Midsummer, Yule, 1st of Calbros
Holy Month: Bestalos (4th month).
Ceremonies: Yearly feast of Bestra on Harvest day, Dance of Midsummer 20th of Reeanos, Ceremony of the mothers on Yule, Harp ceremony (24th of Heshtalos), Protection service (24th of Calbros), others.
Church structure: The church is structured in a dual way. There is the Order of the Temple, which tends to its daily maintenance. It is ranked: from Holy servant, Healer, Father or Mother, Deacon, to Counselor. The other branch is the Order of Service, which consists of traveling clerics or monks. It is ranked: from Novice, Cellarer, Planter, Healer, Cantor, to Sancristan. The Church of Bestra values pragmatic service more than rank. The church has no over-all leader, but has a High Counsel, made up of each temple's Counselor from the geographical area, which rules it.
Tithe and donations: 8% to temple. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Bestra Elsewhere in the World
If Vornoth is the most hated of all gods, then the most beloved is Bestra, whose expulsion from the ancient Ishian faith would be mirrored by her 'corruption' of an entire breed of trolls-- infusing an unquenchable spark of light within these Dark Folk. Today, their descendants in the Teregnaven of mysterious Forntol offer homage to her above all others, empowering their souls at the cost of their ancestral bodily might. With the exception of the Frozen City, itself a bleak monument to the Walker-in-Darkness, no other religious site in the world approaches the grandeur and majesty of the Spire of Bestra, and its sanctity is such that evil creatures are physically repelled by the mere sight of the resplendent edifice-- a greater ward against aggressors is yet to be devised.
Among the refugee seafolk of Amphitrite's aquatic domain in the Endless Sea, Bestra is held sacred above even Reeanan. The solemn, war-wearied survivors of merrow expansion worship in austere silence, remembering those lost to unspeakable rites, and sadly embrace the Havenish druids who flee the oppressive islands in hope of more peaceful sub-nautical lives. Others who have overcome the vilest of adversity also give thanks to her as Benthe Invictrix, for in abominable Jila there are no gods save the fiendish minions of Vornoth, and few women escape the life of chattel slavery into which they are born. To them, 'Unvanquished She' is both salvation and vengeance, and is gentle Bestra roused to a righteous and apoplectic fury.
The Cen-Cenlans title her as Dalil Al-Salam, the Guide of Peace, and know her as one of the five oracles who offer advice to the Weaver of Fates. They say that when a person seeks to know what path to take in life, if the answer they receive encourages cooperation and unity even with a dire enemy, it is because this time her arguments has swayed the Weaver of Fates.
In curious Badala, she is cow-headed Droshvanni, Mother of Gods, at once eternally despairing of the malevolent antics of her most infamous children, and ever hopeful that in some distant future they will be brought back into the light. That the great gods of evil are openly, almost calmly, acknowledged and respected in Badala is due to the influence of Bestra's church encouraging acceptance over repudiation.
Although unconfirmed, rumors are also spreading east from Kale that a former war band of tieflings out of the Wild Lands have abandoned the faith of their late cambion mother, and have instead turned to the Lady of Goodness in search of moral guidance. The frontier township of Covax is said to be the locus of this strange new congregation, further diminishing the believability of these stories. That said, reports of tieflings with peculiar western accents and singularly martial arguments on the responsibilities of Good creatures are on the rise throughout the Liberated Kingdoms, suggesting an unusual truth to these tall tales out of the long-ignored West...
Kantor (The Crusader)
Power of Aeron, Chaotic Good
Kantor is pictured as a bearded old man in chainmail, wielding a battle axe. A hawk named Deepsea perches on his shoulder. He wears a great, battered old helm and smells slightly of the sea. His clerics are the most violent of the good clerics, but only in the defense of good, never in aggression. His worshippers do not care for laws, but believe in helping their neighbors. Once a year they make a pilgrimage to the nearest large body of water and burn a piece of ash at its shore. The clerics of Kantor are among those who despise the rule of evil the most.
Kantor commands his followers thus:
- Do whatever you can to forward the cause of goodness, even if you must work outside the law.
- Live life to its fullest.
- Never pass up the opportunity to fight evil.
- Kantor smiles on the brave.
Holy days: Suildae worship (5th day), 30th of Thrantos, Yule, Midsummer, 1st of Janoros
Holy Month: Kantalos (1st month)
Ceremonies: Ash Pilgrimage during Kantalos, Ceremony of Storms during 30th of Thrantos (3rd Month), Feast of Fallen Heroes during 1st of Janoros (read a Funeral Prayer of Kantor from this ceremony here), Ceremony of Navigation (first Suildae in Flamgos), others.
Church structure: The Church of Kantor has little over-all organization. Each temple is mainly left to its own devices, handling its own administration and daily business. Only in times of war do the temples of Kantor band together into a Holy Protectorate, electing a High Priest-Marshal to oversee all of the temples in the geographical area. When the crisis has passed, the Protectorate dissolves, leaving the temples to go about doing the good business of Kantor unfettered. The internal hierarchy of each temple differs, although it is generally loose nit. A common arrangement might be: from Servant-brother, Priest, Cardinal Priest, to High Priest.
Tithe and donations: 10% to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Kantor Elsewhere in the World
Of all the gods to which the Dark Folk are opposed, Kantor ranks highest in their estimation. The martial values he espouses, and his patronage of warriors and champions many and mighty, have made him into the Vakremmoth, or "Supreme Enemy" (from vakra, 'ideal/perfect' and kummoth, 'to challenge'). A more recent, unpopular opinion among certain elven scholars holds that an equivalent translation might be "Finest Competitor", but in the absence of any confirmation from the Dark Folk, few wish to countenance the notion that their brutality and warmongering is somehow inspired by a militaristic respect for Kantor.
Kantor is an important secondary deity to the gnomes, who consider him the patron of a singularly gnomish virtue called “urab.” Though it has no direct translation, the word indicates a type of frenzied and ingenious inspiration brought about by desperate necessity. As the gnomes have historically devised some of their most effective tools and weapons in response to Dark Folk threats, for them to thank Kantor for these successes is almost understandable.
In a more traditional vein, the lands of Ishia and Badala view Kantor as a warrior-king of unmatched competence and expertise, though with very different motivations. As Ishia's lion-headed Padmek-ka, he is a vengeful and expansionist war god demanding the subjugation of neighboring realms; merged in their faith with Thranton and Flamgart as a merciless bringer of ruin to all who oppose Ishia. Yet as the royal man-tiger Idimba of Badala, he is a noble protector of the people and a stalwart champion of truth and justice for all.
The Cen-Cenlans, caught between these two interpretations, see Kantor as a dangerous and erratic god of war-- titling him only Riah Al-Harb, the Wind of War, stirring up violence and conflict without regard for who may be caught up in it. On the rare occasions they describe him, for to speak of him risks his attention, he is a swirling dust-devil that speaks honeyed words to impressionable youths, and seeks to stir the embers of hate in the hearts of the wise elders.
Neltak (Lord of Law)
Power of Cogiton, Lawful Neutral
Neltak is generally regarded as a large muscular man, bare-chested from the waist up. He carries a large headsman's axe, which he maintains all laws with. His clerics revere Neltak above all others, and as such, are sticklers for the laws of their society. They generally are a benefit to their society because they uphold its laws so well. The religion of Neltak was the state religion of Farland the Great before its occupation. The priests worship Neltak by gathering in a ceremonial "Court of Neltak" once a month, wherein the laws of the sect and of the society are discussed. The head Priest of Neltak in an area always carries a great, ceremonial axe. His worshippers hate thieves, usually. Specialty priests of Neltak are called Guardians.
Neltak commands his followers thus:
- Defend the law, for it is your only bulwark against chaos.
- Property and ownership are blessed.
- Do not lie, and punish those who do.
- Seek justice.
Holy days: Hoarmdae (3rd day), 7th of Neltalos, New Years, Summer Solstice, Vernal Equinox
Holy Month: Neltalos (2nd month)
Ceremonies: Court of Neltak, held on the 7th of every month except Vornos, ritual of Augury on the 14th of Neltalos, Ritual of order on the 21st of every third month, ritual of law on the 7th of every 7th month, Ritual of Justice (3rd of every 3rd month), Ritual of Protection (14th of Calbros)
Church structure: This extremely organized church is divided into four parts. These are, in decreasing order or authority, the Pontifices (the advisors of the Church), the Sacris Facundis (in charge of rituals), the Bellonium (the division of the Church in charge of war), and the Augurs (these are the clerics and Priests). Each individual in each branch is ranked from: Dialis, Unos, Flamen, Divanarum, Ritualost, Pietos, to Maximus. Thus one could be a Dialis Pontifice, a Flamen Augur, a Unos Sacris Facundis, or a Maximus Bellonius. Each rank also has a high and a low level. Thus one could be a High Maximus Pontifice. There is only one High Maximus Pontifice, who resides in the Far City and who presides over the entire church of Neltak.
Tithe and donations: 10% to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Neltak Elsewhere in the World
As a deity whose importance is linked with societal stability, Neltak is generally considered a useful 'supporting' god-- a fine example being his standing among the dwarves, who venerate him as the executor of Khuldul's will-- and tends not to receive the gratitude or veneration his followers, ardent legalists all, feel he deserves. Worse, many cultures have forgotten the role that justice is meant to play in matters of the law, and invoked his name to legitimize tyranny.
Nowhere else is this more horribly visible than in Ishia, whereas the female, crane-headed Shemzan-ke, his adherents preach total subservience to church and government as the natural state of things-- for in this realm, Neltak and Janora are one divinity, and a predestined life of servitude is the only legal right permitted to the masses. With the deities of law and destiny united in such a way, disobedience and rebellion are transfigured from mere crimes into an outrage against creation itself, and it would be untrue to suggest that the Dark Walker's church has not benefited from malign inspiration here.
It is curious to note that, despite their infamous predilection for treachery and deceit, the drow show a marked preference for Neltak over the other gods, and even their hellish patron Salystra has made no obvious effort to turn them from this. A few scholars have made the tentative suggestion that the otherwise self-destructive society of the dark elves is only able to survive through sufferance of the Lord of Law, essentially by imposing an alien and paradoxical framework for when chaos may be orderly conducted.
Neltak is almost wholly unknown in the piratical Selfhaven Archipelago, though the restricted isle of Sudenpoort-- to which the abominable Jilans sail north for the trading of goods both legitimate and unspeakable-- is under his protection for the sake of all who alight there. It is from here that the nigh-godless Jilan slavers received an inkling of understanding of Neltak, but he remains the least and most hesitantly worshipped god in that bleak land.
In the furthest east, some say Neltak has an entire species giving him thanks for uplifting them from animalistic savagery to erudite philosophers, but no sane man believes these lunatic tales of ratmen monks and wizards below mystic Yrrkune. South over the Greatwall Mountains to Badala, Neltak is portrayed as the hermit Gautama meditating on ethics atop the highest of mountain peaks, his skin turned blue in reflection of the purity of the sky. It is said the god preached the early law books, the smriti texts, to noble pilgrims seeking enlightenment. The Cen-Cenlans similarly portray him as the wise elder Saladin who preached the laws to the first tribes.
Dekk (Lord of Balance)
Power of Concordia, Neutral
Dekk is pictured as a wizened old sage or wizard, dressed in robes and a cloak. He has a long white beard and is bald. He is often the God of sages and wizards, as well as his personal priests, who are often very much like wizards themselves. Some are often mage/priests. The worshippers of Dekk try to be as neutral in all matters as possible, because they believe that only in such a state can they accurately garner and record knowledge. Their ire is usually aroused only when someone insults their God, who they revere greatly, or when someone needlessly destroys some source of knowledge. Dekk's priests gather to worship Dekk by venerating his great golden scale (one in each major temple) once a month. The priests of Dekk usually value knowledge greatly.
Dekk commands his followers thus:
- Seek knowledge.
- Maintain balance in everything.
- Revere your homeland and nature.
- Magic is the blessing of Dekk.
Holy days: Dwardae (6th day), 1st day of Janoros (6th month), Winter Solstice, Yule, solar and lunar eclipses (both full and partial)
Holy Month: Dekkos (10th month)
Ceremonies: Ceremony of the Golden Scale on the 6th day of the last week of every month, Ceremony of Twilight on the 30th of Janoros, Ceremony of Dawn (1st of Flamgos), Day of Holy Knowing (1st of Janoros), Day of Holy Secrets (30th of Belos)
Church structure: The Church of Dekk is entirely monastic. This monasticism is arranged in a dual structure. It is divided into Holy Transcribers, responsible for ceremonies, rituals, and histories, and Holy Brethren, responsible for everyday operations of the church. The Holy Transcribers are arranged from: Novice, Scribe, Teacher, Refectorian, Librarian, to Sacristan. The Holy Brethren are arranged from: Infirmarian, Cellarer, Kitchener, Almoner, Canter, to Abbot. All of the Holy Monks of Dekk work together in a perfect unison and harmony, and none are above getting their hands dirty in some hard work, as they believe that hard work leads to a clear mind and inner neutral harmony. The church has access to more goods than one would think, due to their monastic lifestyle. This is due to the sub-church of Dekk, the Official church of Janora.
Tithe and donations: 12 % to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Dekk Elsewhere in the World
The eldest of the gods is Dekk, who arose from the first instant of the harmonic convergence of planes into Concordia, the plane of perfect balance. Whilst many deities exemplify a particular trait or skill, only Dekk has a mastery of them all, and stands highest in the council of immortals. Even at the very height of the Ontological War, when the Shrouded Triad-- Lagur the Archtyrant, Grlarshh the Diseased, and Soggoth the Calamitous-- combined their power to birth Vornoth, it was due to a hateful respect and acknowledgement of Dekk's deific majesty.
Dekk is acknowledged as the most common patron of druids, who claim that once they all followed his example of absolute neutrality, until the cataclysmic advent of something they guardedly refer to as the Octal Fulcrum. Though there are none now on the continents of Farland and Eruna who recall the truth of this event or entity, a singular scroll is held in the deepest library of the Spire of Bestra on Forntol, detailing the answer to this and many other ancient mysteries. The Teregnaven who hold grim vigil over these archives are the Codicier-Chaplains, and alone of their race praise Dekk above Bestra.
Dekk is also an important deity to the Ishians, who merged him with Grlarshh into the fearsome death god Nekhbet-ka, who stands eternal guard at the precise halfway point between life and death, his twin vulture heads watching the path in either direction and judging those who walk it. As the Shadowgate Warden, it is his duty to ensure that none pass who do not deserve their destination-- the damned must forever stay dead, and the worthy called before their time may be sent back along the way.
In frozen Cadocia, Dekk is the only god who can still reveal himself to the oppressed without arousing the attention of the Wintervale, and is subtly revered as the Firstfather of all Cadocian tribes, who hide his true divine status behind mountains of allegory and metaphor. Equally, in the sweltering Erunian Sutherlands, Dekk is the hidden patron of all the tribal ancestor gods and spirits, working here to subvert the influence of the tyrannical Azwan tribe that long ago gave themselves over to Vornoth.
The Cen-Cenlan Turuk nomads see him as a distant deific figure far removed from the world that he created, and say that the Sleeper Al-Naayim shall only awaken when the time comes for this world to die and be remade. However, their Abussi cousins hiding away in secret oasis villages throughout the desert venerate Dekk above all others, taking their cue from enigmatic and monstrous allies beneath the sands.
In Badalan religion, he is seen as the source of all divine beings and is 'depicted' most commonly as the esoteric phrase AUM, uttered in every mantra and prayer to reflect his omnipresent nature; but also as the philosophic concept neti neti, meaning 'neither this nor that', as Dekk, who exists outside and encompasses all aspects of reality, is fundamentally indescribable by mere mortals. Indeed, to the Badalans, the other gods are usually seen as intrusions of particular facets of Dekk into the universe-- to worship them is to worship Dekk, and to worship Dekk is to pay homage to them all.
Bel (Lord Rogue)
Power of Nemux, Chaotic Neutral
Bel is pictured as a manlike being. His features are indeterminate, as he is wrapped in a large black or brown cloak. He wields a dagger. His worshippers are very thief-like, and Bel's temples are often havens for thieves. The temples themselves are often built in a purposely chaotic pattern. The clerics of Bel always wear a brown or black cloak, to symbolize the cloak of their God. This is the only religion that is allowed in the dark times. In fact, it is often encouraged. However, priests of Bel tend to secretly resent their masters, as they try to take over their religion too much. These priests are not evil, after all, only very whimsical.
Bel commands his followers thus:
- Get what you deserve.
- Whimsy is the spice of life.
- Never come in the front door when you can sneak in the back.
- Storms are holy.
Holy days: Every 11th day, 11th of Flamgos, Hallowed Eve (12th of Vornos)
Holy Month: Belos (11th month)
Ceremonies: Varies by temple.
Church structure: The Church of Bel has little structure. Each individual temple is left to govern itself. The church individual temples have never been known to band together, although the members of each temple respect priests from other temples. Internally, each temple is loosely arranged according to the power of the priests, from: Friar Servant, Friar, Cleric, Holy Cleric, to High Cleric.
Tithe and donations: 8 % to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Bel Elsewhere in the World
A curious figure among the pantheon, Bel is at once revered and loathed, for most consider him the most mercurial and changeable of all deities, as much a danger as a benefactor-- as the trickster god who is patron to thieves and adventurers, the name of Bel is a byword for impulsiveness and chaos. The respect shown to him by the common man is more out of a healthy respect for the damage he can do, and a hope that by praising him, Bel will avert disaster by sending it onto someone else.
That the faithful of Bel are the only ones who are tolerated by the Black Church of Vornoth does not help matters in the slightest, for history has shown clearly that Bel is intended to be the last god slain by the Dark Walker, barring some opportunistic attack that Lord Rogue would no doubt approve of, were it not fatal to him. Some, including Archmage Seldorius and Fingalion the Returned, have even claimed that Bel created the yugoloth fiend-mercenaries of Carcus to battle the forces of Vornoth on their own terms, and that he gifted Grlarshh the secret of their command to allow the beleaguered death god to withstand his nemesis.
Thus most civilized societies frown upon him as being antithetical to the lawful, ordered foundations they are built upon. In Ishia, Bel is the Great Deceiver, the serpent-headed Seket-ka whose authority and powers were stolen from the other gods; and to the Cen-Cenlans he is known as the First Outcast, Awal Majrim, for having instigated the Ontological War and been responsible for all crime and conflict ever since. However, his qualities are held by the Badalans to be a vital part of the cosmic order, for as the mischievous child-god Ashura, he ensures the other gods remain humble and aware of their own shortcomings.
The hositan view him as the third-most important deity, an opposite to the equally whimsical prankster Bucca Tunnelly whose antics at least are always well-intentioned. It is Bel who the hositan consider responsible for all ill fortune, and for driving previously good and responsible youngsters to take up the life of an adventurer. Famously, Carl Merribuck of Westdelving outed himself as an actual paladin of Bel, which did more than anything else to reinforce common halfling opinion on the god, though also introduce a mollifying aspect to their beliefs-- for Merribuck, the Valiant Paladin, was undoubtedly a true hero.
Bel is said to be the father of all fey, and such creatures as satyrs and nymphs do indeed worship no other god so fully, not even Dekk. He also competes with Reeanan for the hearts of the Havenish, for despite these pelagian people being utterly dependent upon the good temper of the Bright Goddess, their loyalty is tested almost hourly. Lord Rogue used to be an important god in the elven faith, until the flight of the Ranarim took him to the Luvam Wood, and the Altarim no longer hold him in such high regard as once they did.
Vornoth (Vornok, Vornosh, He-who-walks-in-Darkness, The Walker, The Dark Walker, The Night Walker)
The Walker is a mysterious god worshipped in different forms by many of the evil races. His form is represented as different by every race, but it is always horrible. This worship was expressly forbidden before the Dark Times, although it was practiced in secret. Now it is the Occupied Kingdoms' legal human religion, and the only one that is not hunted out (with the sometimes exception of Bel). Clerics of The Walker often practice blood sacrifices of all races. It is said that The Walker exacts some price from all of his clerics, but this is not proven. Nonetheless, the percentage of deformed clerics of The Walker is unusually high.
Vornoth commands his followers thus:
- Every creature should worship the Dark One, and it is your duty to make that happen.
- The world belongs to the Walker-in-Darkness, and you may share in his glory if you promote his cause.
- Weakness deserves death.
- Take what is yours. If others cannot keep it, it was never theirs.
Holy days: Khamdae worship (2nd day), Feast of the Fallen, Dark Day, Hallowed Eve (12th day of Vornos), Ceremony of Absolute Majesty
Holy Month: Vornos (12th month).
Ceremonies: Blood sacrifice of a sentient being during the ceremony of Dark Day (1st of Vornos), Releasing of a great swarm of bats amidst holy chants as part of the Ceremony of Absolute Majesty (1st of Heshtalos), Ceremony of the Entombing (1st of Janoros), others
Church structure: Secret (also it varies). At least one constant is that priests who worship Vornoth and not one of his incarnations hold the Dweller in the Vale to be the head of their Church.
Tithe and donations: 10% to temple.
The Worship of Vornoth Elsewhere in the World
At the height of the Ontological War, the Shrouded Triad came together to fashion a new god that could wield all of their energies in complement, and thus win for them the struggle. Lagur the Archtyrant, spawn of Barathus, provided the relentless drive to subjugate and repurpose. Grlarshh the Diseased, spawn of Carcus, provided the dispassionate impulse to bring death and decay. Soggoth the Calamitous, spawn of Malor, provided the insatiable urge to distort and mutate. So it was that Vornoth, youngest and most terrible of the gods of Evil, came to be; and no other member of the pantheon has ever presumed him anything less than an eternal and indefensible adversary.
In the Dark Speech, he is Vorna'ith, the Rûg-a-rûggi, God of Gods, master or maker of all the foulest beings to trouble the mortal plane. It was by his perversion of druidic transformation that the first werebeasts arose, and through his corruption of regenerative magic that necromancy was devised. Of those who know his true nature, only the most deranged and deluded worship him by choice-- even the Dark Folk do so out of resigned terror, knowing that he crafted them to serve as living tools of genocide and enslavement, and that they are utterly replaceable. Kobolds in particular resent this state of affairs, and some say that the vast majority of the species is actually working towards the downfall of Vornoth.
To the Ishians, he is Vornok-ka, the bat-headed supreme god who promises them a return to their glory days, if they will but struggle and die in his name for long enough. To the Havenish and Cadocians, closely watched by the agents of the Wintervale, he is the ultimate evil, given only enough lip-service veneration to avoid immediate torturous execution. The abominable Jilans do not know him, but praise many a greater fiend in his service such as Asmodeus or Belial or Demogorgon.
Beneath the waves of the Arned Sea, the vast Spirallius Dominion of the merrow is pledged to the Kraken Lord Dagon, said to dwell on the seabed and be responsible for the random appearance of the infamous Arned Maelstrom that consumes any ship attempting to sail west from Farland-- and Dagon is known to be the most singularly loyal of fiends in Vornoth's service.
In lands not under his sway, Vornoth is only openly venerated by the confusing Badalans, who make it a point of courtesy to pay their respects to this god precisely because he is a god, no matter how objectionable his ideology may be to them personally. Being known to these people merely as Saaya, the Shadow, one god among many, infuriates Vornoth no end, and his increased presence among the Cen-Cenlan nomads as Sultan al-Shayatin, King of the Fiends, is believed to be his response aimed at instigating a new war of conquest.
Interestingly, the fiends themselves do not uniformly praise the Dark Walker, save for when his attention is near enough to them to warrant self-preservation. It is well known that the Godsliver Fiends, born of fragments of the original gods of evil before their dissolution, serve only because it is convenient or necessary-- and a very few such as Baphomet, known as the Unbowed Princes, openly proclaim themselves independent and daringly challenge Vornoth to prove himself worthy of them, or else they shall align with Grlarshh against him.
Tal-Allustiel (Elven Power)
Power of Efferenus (Faerie), Neutral Good
Tal-Allustiel is revered by almost all of the Elhil. He is pictured as a tall elf whose beauty and majesty are awe-inspiring. Elves worship Tal-Allustiel by always upholding the noble ways of the Elhil and working to preserve the forests and all that which is elven. Tal-Allustiel has no temple; his priests worship him in the most beautiful glades they can find on bright sunny days. His priests only gather once every 5 to 10 years for the Meet-of-Elhil, wherein beautiful silver circlets and magic scrolls are sacrificed to Tal-Allustiel.
Tal-Allustiel commands his followers thus:
- As you are one with the planet, maintain it.
- The only thing that is immutable is art and beauty.
- Magic is art; art is magic.
- Evil means the destruction of that which is beautiful; fight it.
Holy days: Glorfinaer (5th day), 1st of Artanal, 1st of Yavekal (10th month), 15th of Silial (9th Month), others
Holy Month: Sulimal (4th month), and Artanal (5th month)
Ceremonies: Thranalhil (Meet-of-Elhil), Ranarmane (Ceremony of the Sundering, 17th of Valsal), Vanarimane (Ritual of Naming) , Balemane (Ceremony of Magic), Ithilimane (Ritual of Memory), others
Church structure: The Church of Tal-Allustiel is extremely loosely organized. Each Elven village has a temple organization, but the Priests simply meet in glades, meadows or clearings. Many Elven Houses have their own resident Priest. There is an unofficial "High Priest" in each village or settlement. This Priest has unofficial command over the other priests of Tal-Allustiel in the village. There is one High Priest of Tal-Allustiel in the Summervale who is the unofficial head of the Church. The elves feel that an official church or church hierarchy is unnecessary, as each Priest will gladly and willingly serve his superiors, his community or his people to forward the ways of the elves and of Tal-Allustiel.
Tithe and donations: 8 % to Community, Superiors, or House. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Tal-Allustiel Elsewhere in the World
Unique among the elder gods, Tal-Allustiel did not divide his power by creating a subordinate deity, instead pouring his energy wholly into the Elhil-- thereby making the ancient elves, and all their descendants, closer to the divine than any other race which followed. Not even the fallen dark elves have completely forgotten their reverence for Tal-Allustiel, and grudgingly acknowledge that it was he who first gave them the strength to rule over the world. A very few have tried to break away from worship of Salystra and return to the light, but to date none have survived long after this treachery.
Few other peoples revere Tal-Allustiel, usually paying him respect as part of the pantheon, but not offering up true worship. Following their liberation, the Kalais are attempting to revive his faith as a patron of the arts, with somewhat mixed results, but the neighboring Belendale appreciates their efforts and has hesitantly offered an exchange of embassies to King Dukalle.
He is remembered by the Teregnaven, portrayed as the advisor of Bestra, and oftentimes her bodyguard-- or perhaps lover, depending on how the stories are interpreted. Certainly there are no elves on Forntol, but the Teregnaven have not forgotten that they and their half-blood kin stood high among the mighty of past ages.
Less charitably, he is also the swan-headed Tenlennen-ke of Ishia, an idiotic and brain-numb goddess of no real value, condemned for her distracting whimsy as the reason for early famines before the farming of the Ishi floodplains was established. This portrayal is suspected to originate from Vornoth's priesthood, who delight in this humiliation of their ancient enemy.
Bewilderingly, Tal-Allustiel is held as the greatest of gods by a race that has no obvious connection to the elves at all-- the golem-like nemedenes with flesh of living stone. Almost nothing is known of these creatures, found almost exclusively in the Greatwall Mountains, with a few scattered tribes hiding in the Northern Teeth that seal Anaria off from the Endless Sea of the frozen north. Most believe them to be a myth of the Einar, or of the Dark Folk thrown from the Erunian mountains in ages past, and even the Belendale has officially stated it has no contact with these supposed followers of the Elflord they mutually revere.
Khuldul Rockcarver (Lord of Dwarves)
Power of Caelestin, Lawful Good
Khuldul Rockcarver is called God-Under-The-Mountain. He is said to have created dwarves from the Lifestone found at the heart of the legendary Mt. Creation, long since lost. Dwarves worship him by praying before a battle or other strenuous endeavor. Worshippers often dedicate any goblinoids they have killed to Khuldul, as he (and all dwarves) hates them. Rockcarver used to be worshipped by sacrificing excess gold to him when dwarves had their homes, but now he is exalted in the heart of battle. Priests of Khuldul often try to instill spirit and order to the fighting dwarves.
Khuldul commands his followers thus:
- Hearth and home are best in life. Make them strong and defend them.
- Work is enjoyment.
- Skill in craft or endeavour is the utmost goal.
- Deal justice.
- Fight against those that would unjustly take what is yours.
Holy days: Every fourth day, Full moons (All Forges Eve), Soulforge Gathering (every four years), Eclipses, New year
Holy Month: Khuldin (3rd Month)
Ceremonies: Un Kyldin (All Forges Eve), Os Oodin (Soulforge Gathering), Dy Dy Oindin (Consecration of Hearths), Os Tholus (New year Gathering), others
Church structure: The church of Khuldul used to be, in the time before the Lords of Sin, the center of Dwarven life. Before an artist's works were begun, one would give offerings in hope of completing a beautiful work at the end of the endeavor. Likewise, artists would go to the church again and give thanks for the success or ask for guidance in the case of failure. Warriors, mothers, farmers, royalty one and all gave to the temple financially, worshipped at the temple, and gathered for community dialogue there. Now with the loss of traditional homelands for the dwarves, the temple has become less of a focus in life. Khuldul is still worshipped heavily and the priests still hold gatherings regularly, but more energy now must be devoted to the survival of the race and less on ceremony. The church, extremely ordered in past days, has managed to retain much of its structure. The order of the over all church, called Odin Khuldl Os Uri, is arranged in a three part structure. The parts, called "Khuldul's Flame," "Khuldul's Stone," "Khuldul's Blood," respectively represent the bellicose, fiscal and legal, and ceremonial divisions of the church. A fourth part of the church, called "Khuldul's Brother," while officially an arm of the church itself, really represents the church of Dhurli Ironbeard. The priests of each of these divisions are in turn given a title according to rank. These are from: Khuldul's Children, Hands of Khuldul, Strength of Khuldul, Courage of Khuldul, to Khuldul's Wisdom.
Tithe and donations: 10% to church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Khuldul Elsewhere in the World
A stalwart ally of Tal-Allustiel, Khuldul Rockcarver is mostly worshipped by the dwarven and gnomish races, both of whom claim direct descent from him-- the latter, admittedly, via their own gods-- and both of whom seek to emulate his example. The dwarves took the path of martial prowess, of emotional fortitude, of metallurgic mastery; but the gnomes chose to copy his grasp of engineering, architecture, magic, and racial vengefulness.
Although the average dwarf would be content with reclaiming what was lost to the Dark Folk, and only avenging those wrongs inflicted against them, the average gnome seethes with an irrepressible loathing at the mere thought of the Dark Folk's continued existence. A dwarf venerates Khuldul in the frantic heat of battle, waging a just war; but a gnome venerates Khuldul with the glacial cold of patience, scheming for the utter ruination of everything that dared to offend the harmony of the world.
Kobolds portray him in their stories as the titanic white worm Vakkoz who pollutes the earth with his filth and likes nothing more than to feed on kobold eggs or hatchlings, despite not needing to eat at all. One of the first and most important things every young kobold is taught, so that they avoid the attention of Vakkoz, is the Litany of Silence. Nobody knows exactly what this entails, for even under the most intense magical and physical interrogation, no kobold has ever uttered a sound in explanation.
A version of this seems to have influenced his Ishian depiction, for they know him as the scarab-headed Khephri-ka, the burrowing Feaster Below who blasphemously consumes the corpses of the honored dead, and who delights in the torment of worthy souls he devours in this way. Kobold and Ishian alike see him as the bringer of despair and pestilence, and pray avidly for his ravenous evil to be averted.
Khuldul is worshipped in Forntol as well, by the exile dwarves who struggle to make that place a home, and to them he is Lord Shipwright, designing a great ark that will one day carry them back to their ancestral holds across the sea. The Forntol dwarves, in readiness for this day, cultivate the only specimens of steelbark trees left in the cosmos-- extinct now even in their native plane of Efferenus, thanks to a plot by Vornoth to seize the invaluable material for his own armies, but which only ended up wiping them out in the ensuing struggle.
Khuckduck Gemcutter (Gnomish Lord)
Power of Caelestin, Lawful good
Khuckduck is pictured as a giant gnome, and called King Underhill. For some reason, gnomes are highly secretive about him. Many scholars also claim that Khuckduck is in fact Khuldul Rockcarver, but the truth of this has not been confirmed.
Kuckduck commands his followers thus:
- Protect the Gnomish homeland.
- Learn as much as you can.
- Sometimes hiding is better than fighting.
- Be brave even against those larger and stronger, especially trolls.
Holy days: In Dwarven: Thorwan (6th day), Eclipses of the Moon, Summer Solstice, others
Holy Month: In Dwarven: Dundin (6th month)
Ceremonies: Ceremony of the Gems, Ceremony of Knowledge, Discretion Service, others
Church structure: The church of Khuckduck is hierarchical. It only has one branch, called the Purveyors of Knowledge. Within this branch, clerics go by titles, from lowest to highest, "Acolyte, Learner, Expert, High Expert, Master, Holy High Master." The Church of Barlifandorf is considered a sub-branch of the Church of Khuckduck, although sometimes there is political in-fighting among the two churches.
Tithe and donations: 10 % to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Khuckduck Elsewhere in the World
There are many questions surrounding Khuckduck Gemcutter, and if the gnomes who claim descent from him know the answers, they keep them to themselves. Dwarven theologians have long claimed that Khuckduck is an inferior version of their own Khuldul, but gnomes have always offered praise to Khuldul as a separate deity. The few elves interested in this subject suspect Khuckduck was created by Khuldul, but clerics of both gods have denied this.
He is associated in the Ishian faith with Khuldul, as a fellow desecrator of the dead and spreader of disease, merged in their religion with Bunga Proudfoot and Barlifandorf as the rat-headed Heshket-ka, the Scuttling Despoiler. They claim he spontaneously manifested from the rotting detritus of the first plague to sweep across mankind, and has longed to bathe in the noxious pools of pestilential corruption ever since.
Bizarrely, only the trolls have offered any explanation which fits, naming Khuckduck as a child of the Penumbra, produced by the Shadow Realm in imitation of the greater gods born of the Outer Planes. That the Penumbra is usually seen as a place of insidious fear and disquieting malice, a dismal reflection of the Material Plane, explains much about the trollish portrayal of the god of their ancestral foes. The gnomes themselves, though mostly serene when it comes to their creator, are invariably driven into a frenzy upon exposure to this interpretation.
Whatever the truth, it is certain that Khuckduck is in his own way as mysterious a god as Bel, and is the patron of choice for illusionists and diviners. Those brave, or foolhardy, few who journey into the Penumbra also perform rituals of supplication to him by long tradition-- even if they disagree with the trollish explanation of why.
Bunga Proudfoot (Halfling God)
Power of Efferenus, Neutral Good
Bunga is the gracious lord of halflings. They pray to him to protect them from the ravages of the clumsy large folk, and to keep them out of adventures. Halflings worship Bunga by saying a short prayer before every meal (hopefully six times a day). Priests of Bunga are notable peacekeepers and diplomats. They often serve as go-betweens with the outside world. Priests of Bunga are often Sheriffs of their respective shires.
Bunga commands his followers thus:
- Leave danger to the bigger races.
- Food and home are life's greatest enjoyments.
- A small stature hides a stout heart. Be brave and Bunga will bless you.
Holy days: Khamdae (2nd day of week), New Year, Mid-year's Day, Harvest, and Yule (25th of Belos)
Holy Month: Belos (11th month)
Ceremonies: New Year, Mid-Year, and Yule feasts, Harvest festival, Khamdae poetry reverence
Church structure: Hositan religion is extremely folksy and mundane. Unlike humans, halflings have never felt out of touch with nature or the world, and their religion shows it. The church structure is surprisingly lax for a lawful good society, with many feasts and outdoor services. There is a hierarchy of the church, from Brother, Monk Brother, Deaconer, Monk Deaconer, Almist, Monk Almist, to Father (or Mother). Priests in the Church of Bunga are always well-respected in halfling society, and are community leaders.
Tithe and donations: 10% to Church. Players are encouraged to add suitable ceremonies and other details of their own.
The Worship of Bunga Elsewhere in the World
Many recall that Tal-Allustiel Elflord and Khuldul Rockcarver were brought forth by the planes of Good in response to the early ravages of Vornoth; but few remember that the new god, being empowered by three forces of Evil, needed to be faced by three deities of Good to restore cosmic balance. The third of these was Bunga Proudfoot, creator of the hositan, and a vastly under-appreciated ally to the mighty gods of elf and dwarf.
Whilst the Dark Folk know and fear Tal-Allustiel and Khuldul as mighty warriors and spellslingers, they reserve the more intimate terror of their souls for Bunga Proudfoot. To them, the laughing pot-bellied god of the hositan is a horror no less great than Vornoth-- for Bunga will serve up their souls at his eternal feast, renewing and dining upon them as delectable morsels forever and without end. Many Dark Folk believe Bunga to be the originator of vampires, and to keep kennels full of barghests for his hunting of their souls.
Curiously, both chromatic and metallic dragons hold Bunga Proudfoot and his creations in considerable esteem. Many of those considered wise by their peers treat with halflings with nearly as much courtesy as their fellow dragons, even if violence is to ensue. By long custom, a dragon opens any such meeting with "Luckwearer and Riddlemaker, greetings and defiance!" to which the knowledgeable hositan should reply "Be it tempest or calm, I shall meet your eye!"-- and from there does their exchange proceed.
Bunga Proudfoot also acts as Jadhupaur the Overseer of Heaven in the Badalan faith, who is responsible for guiding several other deities in their duties as members of his Court of Expertise. His three closest aides are Tal-Allustiel, named Nagir and who is patron of artists and sorcerers; Khuldul, named Krishupan and who is patron of athletes and warriors; and Khuckduck, named Dhimdaur and who is patron of alchemists and inventors. The Badalans portray each god as an archetypal reflection of their creations, and make the claim that the finest works are limited to those who receive patronage from more than one of the gods-- and that by extension, cooperation between their creations will cause the best results in any given endeavor.