Religion in the Provinces
The Primary Gods of Men
Humans in the Five Provinces (the Imperials to be precise) have three main patron deities, known together as the Triad. The prophet Sol (good) is the lord of goodness and light, and is worshipped by most humans. His opposite, The Grim One (death) is the patron of the selfish and wicked. To Justicar it matters not what is right or wrong, as long as the laws are obeyed.
According to legend these three started out as humans, thousands of years ago, but they came to believe that any person could improve their lot in life almost without end. After a long, hard path, they ascended into divinity and enlightenment, sacrificing their physical bodies so that they could walk the earth in spirit, providing guidance to those who needed it.
Sol chose the path of selflessness, deciding to guide and protect Men in their journey through life, nudging them to the path of virtue and self-improvement that he discovered. The Grim One chose to guide Men in a different way. He is the whisperer in shadows, always urging people to take the quick and easy path, to maximize their short-term earthly gains and pleasures regardless of the consequences. Justicar followed the tenets lain upon him by those he considered his Patrons and followed the rules without remorse, thereby judging sinner and saint alike by the rules that were current at that time.
The journey of the Triad is recorded in the weighty Codex of Ascension, the primary religious text of the Five Provinces. “In the name of the Triad" is a common exclamation in the lands of Men.
The original Codex was allegedly compiled by Sol himself, and contains the extensive journal of the Triad on their path to ascension. The book is uniquely complex and difficult to understand even for those who spend their lifetimes in its study. Today’s copies are weighty tomes, usually bound in the finest materials and lavishly adorned. They are usually imprinted with a special symbol showing a circle with six arrows extending outward, representing the different choices an individual make in life. The books are expensive, copied only as required for the new churches, and treasured by the priest who owns them.
The layout of the Codex is unique. Each page is made of a specially treated parchment, which is white on the front and black on the back. If one opens the book from the “front” the right hand page will always be the journal of Sol, in black ink upon white pages, with some pages adorned with elaborately painted illumination. The left-hand page is black parchment and written in silver ink, upside down. These are the pages of The Grim One, properly read by turning the book and starting from the back, at which time The Grim One’s pages are on the right and Sol’s are on the left, upside down. The Grim One’s journal is interspersed with a variety of riddles and complex diagrams, particularly the latter portions.
A variant of the Codex is also used by the clerics Justicar who try to see both sides of every story. However it is a slightly different version, containing a number of added provisos and documents. They believe the Sol/Grim version is incomplete and edited, and have taken measures to correct that, to incorporate the Words of Law.
It is said that every human at some point has to make a choice between the three paths – that Sol, Justicar or The Grim One eventually visit everyone and secretly test them. "The Testing," as the trial is called, takes the form of a moral dilemma, usually early in life. Few people can pinpoint when their Testing was, for the gods are subtle and clever, never showing themselves directly. The rare individuals that can clearly see the test and the gods before them are blessed and almost always become clerics or paladins.
Clerics can be good, neutral or evil. They attempt to emulate their patron's lives, often traveling in their footsteps and attempting the same trials their gods undertook so long ago. Those rare few that succeed become saints and they Ascend to take their place as divine agents of the Triad. This is a rare and special event; only a score of people have ever Ascended to a god's side.
Structure and worship.
While the Church of Sol has a very formal structure and rich history, the worship of The Grim One is a solitary thing. Rarely will one see so much as a shrine in his name, and her clerics are secretive.
However, almost all of the humans in the Five Provinces are strong believers in the central teaching of the three – you create your own destiny, and your lot in life is not fixed at birth. Justicar governs matters of laws and rules and is consulted in disputes of matters small and large.
Archons of the Three
The Archons are the Triumvirate’s divine servants. They are very real entities with distinct personality. Archons are all once former mortal heroes of various walks of life who ascended upon their death to serve the Three in a higher form.
The Ascendants serve as intermediaries between the Three and his following and sometimes intervene directly in mortal affairs. More often they prefer to provide indirect inspiration and guidance. Each Archon serves a number of the priesthood but whether this is random, geographically determined or actually has any form of reason at all is a matter of differing views and great debate.
The Church of Sol
The church of Sol is the most powerful religious institution in the Five Provinces, being the de-facto religion of three of the five human regions (Asran, Holm and Wallidor). The faith of Sol has been brought into Asran by the Skian and has since branched into several slightly different though fundamentally similar faiths.
Hence, Sol is known as Solar, Lifebringer, Lord of the Day, Lord of Mercy, and many more names. The state religion of the Triumvirate only acknowledges Sol though. Sol is depicted as a wise, sometimes blind, elderly and kind man.
Historically there have always been more male than female clerics of Sol, but there is no exclusion of women from the clergy and a number of the most popular Ascendants are female. Similarly, clerics are encouraged to marry, have children, and lead good lives outside the church.
Even small villages in Triad-worshipping areas will have at least one Sol devoted shrine, usually overseen by a chaplain and his assistants. Larger towns or small cities will have a half a dozen churches, and perhaps even a cathedral overseen by a Prelate. Big cities may have a dozen churches, numerous Rectors, and several Prelates overseen by a High Prelate in the Grand Cathedral. Each church or cathedral is also served by a variety of laypersons. This includes paladins, fighters and warriors to endure the security of the church (referred to as “wardens”), members of the other professions such as sages or experts, along with acolytes and clerks.
The appearance and decoration of the churches varies widely depending on when it was constructed and investment of time and money. The basic shrine will be a well-lit alcove with a statue or figurine of Sol, generally of wood or stone. Surrounded by candles, the walls of the alcove are usually covered in a thin layer of hammered gold or silver to amplify the light.
These little shrines contrast with the grand cathedrals in some of the older cities, adorned with elaborate stained glass, vaulted ceilings, mosaics, numerous statues of Sol and the Ascendants, as well as paintings and frescoes showing great deeds of the god and his followers. Some churches are dedicated in the name of specific ascendants, in which case that ascendant will feature more prominently in the decorations.
Ceremonies vary, but generally involve the priest gathering his congregation and speaking about Sol’s life. There is a service once per week on the traditional day of worship, with other services based on major events in Sol’s Life. The faithful are individually expected to pray to Sol or his Ascendants once per day. Attendance at every church service is not mandatory, but the yearly Ascension Mass is attended by almost everyone. Otherwise, the church doors are always open to those seeking guidance, and arrangements can be made for special events such as marriages or funerals.
The following are the formal ranks in the clergy, from high to low:
Primarch – (His Supreme Holiness, the Primarch…)
The leader of the Church of Sol is a most holy position. Sol picks the Primarch directly by a manifestation of Archons. This position is always given to the most powerful and favored cleric of the faith. The Primarch presides in the Archcourt Cathedral in Asran Biak, and holds the positions until his death, at which time he ascends to serve as an Archon in the host of Sol, combining his spirit with the past Primarchs.
Vicars – (His Excellency, the righteous Vicar…)
Each Vicar is tasked to watch over large territories in which they are the ultimate church authority. They oversee multiple cites and towns, each with many individual churches and cathedrals.
High Prelate - The Highest Rank for Regular Clergy, they are responsible for a single city or large town, overseeing all the churches in their city from a cathedral.
Prelate - Responsible for smaller cities and towns or sections of a large city, they have administrative functions as a high Prelate, but oversee fewer churches.
Rector - The backbone of the faith, the high priests of their churches, in small towns a rector may be the highest-ranking cleric.
Chaplain - Honorific for priests who have served well.
Priest - Non-adventuring clergy who work with in the church
Cleric - Those clergy sent out on active missions in the church’s name.
The Grim One
Little is known of the church of The Grim One’s structure. Their Clerics are occasionally seen individually throughout the Five Provinces, spreading The Grim One’s word to the people who are the most receptive, often in the seedier side of a larger city or an isolated small town.
Only in the largest of cities do they hold official functions, often as part of the Triad as a whole. Kiva in particular is known for a great Cathedral devoted to The Three and contains an entire wing dedicated to the Grim One’s teachings.
- Each beginning must have an ending
- Every destination has a path
- Every conviction has a moment you must stand up for
Scions of The Grim One.
The following lists all the current Archons, called Scions, that serve as The Grim One's most powerful divine servants and serve as patrons for those who worship the goddess. Having a patron Scion is common both for evil clerics as well as superstitious criminals.
Sc. Aidan: Grave-Robbers, Treasure Seekers and Adventurers;
Sc. Bolis: Gamblers, Smugglers & Evil Merchants;
Sc. Delesle; Necromancy and Death;
Sc. Drayce: Thieves & Corrupt Leaders;
Sc. Ekris: Infernalists, Diviners and Tyrants;
Sc. Khorva: Patron of Assassins, Murderers, Thugs and Enforcers;
Sc. Lukas: Madmen, Rapists & the Depraved;
Sc. Nivara: Wizards & Sorcerers;
Sc. Roth: Soldiers, Mercenaries and Bandits;
Sc. Stacia: Evokers, Arsons, Champion of Female Wizardry.
Justicar, the Just Patron
Justicar is a strict, vengeful deity, usually depicted as a masked warrior towering over his disciplined army of worshippers. He demands adherence to a strict code of conduct – part of which is providing constant tribute to Justicar and his priests.
A cleric of Justicar is outwardly stern, contolled and a disciplined individual with the bearing of a soldier and the wisdom of a stern taskmaster.
The Vows a cleric of Justicar follows are Precepts of Law: justice, penitence, obedience, purity and wrath. To a cleric of Justicar these vows are as sacred as prayer and require that they make special rites and devotions as a sign of obedience and willingness to pursue the Lawgiver's will. By maintaining these vows, the cleric ensures his righteousness to serve as an instrument of Justicars will and his suitability to channel Justicar's power
Justicar's faithful hold the Commands close at heart; life is filled with struggle, pain and difficult choices – as it should be – and it is a constant struggle to maintain the Commands of the faith. Should these laws be broken, it falls to the Scrutators to determine to what degree and how the lawbreaker must be punished for breaking Justicars law. As such, most of Justicar's clerics maintain their vows with a militant level of discipline lest they draw the unforgiving eye of the Scrutators upon themselves.
Some lawful high-level clerics who are favored by Justicar’s Archons become Scrutators, the feared church police and policy-makers.
- There is but one Truth that is true for all, lies and deceit are the way to ones doom;
- The rules of the few shall be applied to the many and in return shall the many dictate the Truth of the few;
- Without emotion or momentary whim vision is unclouded;
- There is no transgression so great that amends cannot be made;
- justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status
- cut fact from fiction; there is no middle ground.
Priest of the Triumvirate
A very few and very determined priests devote their life not to one of the three, but to all three. To reach this stage of enlightenment however, the must travel a difficult and dangerous road for they must serve each individual god in turn.
Their path leads them past Archons of all three Deities and so scrutinized they cannot merely acknowledge the god but must follow their ways, be it light or dark, fully, to better understand their sources of power and influence.
It is said that to reach the highest levels of piety and devotion, and be exposed to the most powerful of spells, one must have mastered all three paths.
The Dwarven Ancients
The Dwarves do not have a single patron deity. Instead, they worship a group of divine forefathers, the twelve exemplars that spawned their race. These divine Great Fathers founded the original Twelve Families millennia ago and their blood is said to provide all Dwarves with their legendary fortitude. The Great Fathers' most direct descendants are called the Stone Lords and these powerful and respected individuals sit at the head of the Dwarven Gathering today as they have since the first days. Being strong with the Great Fathers' blood, the Stone Lords are unusually hardy and live a very long time, often surpassing three hundred winters.
Each Dwarven Father is, practically speaking, a demigod, though Dwarven folk only worship them as a lawful neutral unit. An individual Great Father is never singled out as a cleric's sole patron, for this is considered disrespectful and ignorant. The Fathers as a group gave life to Dwarvenkind, and as a group they will always be worshipped. Nonetheless, each Father has his own personality, holidays, parables and sphere of influence, and it is common to say a prayer or a curse in a particular Father's name as the situation warrants it.
Although some humans find it surprising, the majority of clerics of the Great Fathers are female. This tradition stems from the fact that the first clerics of the Great Fathers were their own wives, known as the Claywives. However male dwarves are also permitted to serve as clerics and have become more numerous in the last few centuries.
Great Fathers' Clerics domains:
Cleric Weapon of Choice: Warhammer
Faith of Goblyns and Orcs
Grakh is considered the One God by all Goblinoids, that embodies all Three aspects of life: Life, Judgement and Death.
The Ancient Faiths
It is rumored that Trollkin, barbarians and druids venerate Gods as old as the world itself, in the form of the Ancient Dragons. These divine creatures resemble the denizens of the Underworld in name only. The Ancient Dragons, also known as Ancient Ones, Ancient Keepers, The Allparents, Drachen and many more names, each bear within themselves the power of good and bad emotions. For example, one Allparent may harbour both Humility and Pride within himself, while another is responsible for Kindness and Envy.
According to legend, the Ancient Ones reside on the world of Partikles itself, perhaps even being Partikles.
Considered a primitive religion by the "civilized" races of the Five Provinces, worship is widespread among the more peaceful nonhuman races. According to these races, the world and all intelligent life are aspects of the Dragons, the creators of the world. They argue that without the emotions embodied by the Allfathers, there would be no difference between civilization and animals.
Further, worshipers of the Dragons do not expect to experience an afterlife when they die, but instead believe in reincarnation where their souls are recycled to be born again. The Dragons’ faith is relatively passive and has no large agenda or plans, nor is there any form of central organization or structure. Each race has its own representation of these Gods, but the most common is a (sometimes very abstract) sculpture or figurine of a large, wingless serpent.
The followers of the Triad are not tolerant and consider the Dragons worship simply another face of the Devourer Wyrm.
Although often referred to as a legendary monster rather than a god, the Devourer Wyrm is the ancient foe of all life according to the believes of the original inhabitants of the lands now known as the Five Provinces
Also known as the Beast of Many Shapes, Lord of Predators and the Unsleeping One, the Devourer is an ancient force of natural chaos that hates everything civilized. When the Triad was not yet the dominant religion, the Devourer was considered the great foe, although its role as enemy of mankind has been reduced since the rise of the current civilization and the faith in the Triad.
Despite its reputation the Devourer has always drawn worshipers among many races, particularly those living in the wilds or of chaotic alignment. Many human barbarians, orcs, kobolds, trollkin, and ogres, to name but a few, worship the Devourer, and claim this god is the most ancient power from the dawn of the world. Since the near extinction of the human barbarian tribes, there are no longer any large territories in the hands of Devourer worshipers. The largest pockets are found in the mountains of Holm, the Waterdown Marches, and the Scharde Islands. Small cults to the Devourer can be found across the Five Provinces, usually in remote locations or in secret tunnels beneath cities and towns.
Human druids in the Five Provinces believe their power derives from the Devourer and the Great Dragons, but do not actually worship this entity.