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Note: The use of religion within the live action game is intended to produce fictional drama and background for other stories. The following material is not real. It is make believe, and should not become the basis of real world choices, identity, or associations.

The Ancient Religions

The glory of the ancient world has been lost, and with it, much scholarship and understanding of the ascendant beings that touch the world of mortals. The refugees from long-abandoned Vargainen brought only token knowledge with them, and rebuilt their faith from these scraps. Stories persist of ancient temple-cities, elaborate week-long ceremonies, and a belief that lifelong rigorous faith could extend life, increase aptitude, or even change the world.

What is known is this: That the Aspected God Illumitas, the three baleful gods of Nox, Darkness, and Grak, and the serpentine Draconus were the gods that followed their mortal races to Novitas. What is not known is what gods were left behind -- and why.

Religions Today

Throughout the continent and its distant colonies, worship is a natural part of life. Rare are the mortals who have never felt the grace (or spite) of the gods upon their shoulders. In a world where miracles are confirmed, there is very little doubt that divine beings exist and occasionally answer the call of their followers. Still, there persist those who resent the divinities; be it for their errant fate-writing, blasé interference, or mercurial attentions. These secular “orphans” represent only the slimmest of percentages in the mortal populations, however.

The particulars of worship are cultural as well as personal. Only Vlean, with its rigorous orthodoxy, has any formal national doctrines, prayers, and systems of grace and sin. In other lands, worship is much more local or even individual. It may be found in a pastoral chapel, which is as much a bulwark against threats to the flesh as threats to the spirit. Families may keep private prayer circles, usually led by the matron. A sacred grove may be tended by a faithful forest hermit. A complicated hinge may be stamped with the maker’s mark as well as a prayer to the Craftsman. A wound in battle may be dedicated to the gods of conflict. Gravetending may be undertaken to please the death-aspected gods. Ritualized household shrines may be dedicated to god, spirit, or ancestor alike, and certainly, black cults might gather in dark dank places for secret ceremony.

Also, it should be noted that stories of the gods often disagree on certain key points and explanations. This is to be expected; the tales that worshippers tell often paint their patron in the most favorable light. Therefore, canon doctrines for each of the gods are often a matter of tradition, propaganda, and mythology.

On this, there is little fact. At times, the gods seem as individual and personalized as anyone met in a marketplace. At other times, they are a thunderstorm: empty of personality and intent yet forceful and present in their power. And on many occasions, they are known only by the individual works of their followers.

To be certain, though, there are some truths that have been discovered, recorded, taught, and observed.

The Sept

When Illumitas was destroyed he shattered into shards, each shard containing a unique quality of his existence. After his destruction, these shards reformed into the seven children of Illumitas, known today as the Sept. These seven gods fought on against the Dark Three, and still do this day, to preserve Novitas from their foul designs. Most civilized and good creatures of Novitas worship the Sept. Civen, Vlean, Terra, Evenandra, and the Great Forest are all lands in which the seven-pointed star of the Sept is proudly held in reverence.

The Sept work in concert to exemplify the seven aspects of a good life. Through their teachings and actions, they work to guide mortal beings to live a good life, and the eternal rewards that come afterwards. This divine guidance is their principle concern.

The Neutral Gods

Not all gods fall on one side or the other. Those gods who favor neutrality rarely involve themselves in the workings of Novitas or its contested divinities. Their goals and projects are instead alien and unknowable.

Draconus Worship

Worship of the Godbeast, Draconus, happens in myriad ways. As the Nightmare has not sent His Avatars down to share His whim with mere mortals in the same way that the Sept or the Three have, His followers discern His will by observing the world, purporting to use logic, and following the visions that He shares with them. As such, there is no known orthodoxy for the Lord Moon. There was a time that scholars of Draconus met regularly to share their findings and try to find threads of consistency, but these meetings frequently devolved into arguing over apocrypha, with individual religious conviction holding sway over arguments from logic and observation. Great convocations were called in the past, and petty politics made these great compromises fall apart. Some believe that a not-so-asleep Draconus looked on in the meanwhile, sending contrary dreams or visions to His followers out of some master plan. Or boredom. Still others say that His massive, alien consciousness washed over these followers unwittingly, sending visions so incomprehensible that misinterpretation and misremembering led to these conflicts. None can say for sure.

As such, Draconus worshipers have divided off into several different cults and monasteries - each hoarding texts and transcribing alleged visions, each believing it has proprietary knowledge on what the Nightmare's will is for mortalkind.

Judging by the qualitative differences in confirmed Draconic visions, many scholars believe that Draconus is massively powerful but of limited sentience. Primal. A thing moved by moods and animal drives - devastating when pushed to action.  If the Sept are the embodiment of how to live a good life, and the Dark Three are necessary evils we sometimes have to embrace, Draconus is those immediate impulses that color what we do, or think, or say: The revulsion of seeing a butchered animal, the flash-red rage of betrayal, the triumphant roar of dominance after a victory. The untamable, in other words. Unbreakable, undeniable, the "lizard brain” incarnate. Ego itself.

His followers are frequently indulgent of ego as well -- any mortal who claims full knowledge over the Nightmare's desires is claiming opinion as fact. Plagued by delusions of grandeur, followers of Draconus will frequently justify great amounts of greed and vanity. Those who have been given a Draconic vision often feel entitled to model their behavior after His. They hoard items of great value and magical power in the same way the Godbeast is alleged to have stored mountains of treasure on the moon. Draconus is often considered the patron god of Thieves’ Guilds, who wear His likeness and invoke His name for luck. Like the Godbeast, perched on his Moon, followers of Draconus are often content to watch the world instead of taking action. They thus favor intelligence over action – spying and gathering information while rarely putting it to use. His Drake followers in particular preen in vanity and self-importance rather than taking part in worldly affairs, just as Draconus ignored the realm’s need in the war between the gods to coddle his offspring. And since He has never attempted to clarify His intentions, followers of the Godbeast manage to justify all manner of bizarre behavior in His name – which leads to a great deal of petty squabbling, disagreement, and judgment between those with differing viewpoints.

Cultists and individual followers of Draconus tend to emphasize the chaotic nature of the Dragon God, finding less meaning and pattern in the lore and recorded visions than their scholarly counterparts, who pore over every scrap of lore with the passion of a zealot.

And like all people of faith, followers of Draconus seem to spend more time bickering about smaller points than agreeing on larger ones. Disagreements rage on the nature of Drakes (have they been purposefully neglected, or is Draconus unaware of their decline?), on why Drakes have devolved, on where Draconus is (taking care of something more important? Sitting on the moon and watching? Somewhere else?), on why He left, on whether or when He will return, on His leanings toward the Sept or the Three, on His true desires, on the significance of visions, on the use of necromancy, on His direct impact on the world (does He effect werewolves? Tides? More than we know?).

One thing is for sure: all followers of the Godbeast ardently hope for His return. They may not agree on when this will happen, or if it will happen, but many dedicate their lives to preparing the world for this day of reckoning. Etched into the meeting room of any Draconic monastery, and always in Draconic, is this ominous phase:

“When the students are ready, the teacher will arrive.”

The Dark Triumvirate

The Dark powers are ancient gods that predate Novitas. These powers work against the Sept directly, which they see as holding the mortal races of Novitas hostage with their demands. Each has their own reason for their fight, and their followers are turned against the Sept faithful as well. These gods are worshipped openly only in the Snow Kingdom of Gersh, the Dellin Tribelands, and by small but savage clans of Earthkin.

Worship of the Dark Three

The vast majority of the denizens of Novitas worship the Sept, and worship is so varied from region to region that sections have been devoted to the peculiarities of these different practices within their specific regional chapters. The following is an account of how worship of the less popular Gods is practiced. While still somewhat varied, worship of the Dark Three (as well as Draconus) tends to not vary as much region by region as worship of the Sept.

The worship of the Dark Triumvirate is oftentimes a secretive practice, and for good reason. Many Kingdoms have laws against such worship, and so many must hide their reverence for the Three. The ways in which one practices Dark Three worship depends upon which of the Three one favors most. As the Three are quite different from one another, so are their worshipers.

The Worship of Darkness

Worshipers of He Who Is Made Of And Dwells In Darkness tend to be the most secretive about their worship. These worshipers are typically manipulative Snow Goblins or humans who seek to manipulate the world and help it fulfill Darkness’ vision for it. Their work requires them to blend into their surroundings and be good con-artists and actors. They are thought to pull the strings of entire Kingdoms from within the shadows.

Cults of Darkness worshipers are found most often in the Freelands, where persecution comes only from vigilantes rather than organized governments. The higher-ups in these cults speak Black Speech, a unique language developed solely to keep their secrets hidden from others. Being a Darkness worshiper means keeping secrets, manipulating people, and being an executor of gruesome deeds for the Dark Lord of the Three. Darkness is worshiped openly by many in Gersh, and details on Gershen worship of Darkness can be found in the regional chapter concerning Gershen religion.

No universal doctrinal agenda exists for worshipers of the Darkness, but scholarly inquiry into their motivations has uncovered a far more intricate set of principles than one might assume after encountering a weak-minded zealot, driven mad with the Darkness’ taint.

Followers of Darkness believe that Illumitas invaded the Void, wherein Darkness dwelt, before creating His world. With the aid of Grak and Nox, Darkness is said to have punished the Great God and shattered His mind. Rather than destroy the creation that now festered within the Void, Darkness showed it mercy and preserved its existence. Though the Transgression had been punished, new warriors had emerged from the Great God’s corpse. The Sept sprang forth and launched an attack on Darkness. Thus did the Holy War begin.

In the centuries to follow, the children of Illumitas never ceased their persecution of Darkness; assault after assault, crime after crime, were heaped upon it. Through it all Darkness suffered in silence, never once lashing out at the world itself. Only after suffering imprisonment in Wakharn and subsequently freeing itself did Darkness wage war in earnest against the realm, and even then it targeted only the Sept and its blind followers.

Indeed, worshipers of Darkness believe it favors generosity over destruction. Trolls were given the powers of regeneration, and Scholar shattered their minds. Darkness gave Orcs strength, and the Elemental cursed them with passions too great for any to control. Snow Goblins were given longevity, and the Stranger spitefully twisted their very forms.

The true Chosen of Darkness attempt to follow its example, and desire not to destroy Novitas, as is conventionally understood, but to unify it. If the goal were destruction, it is thought, Darkness would have never acquiesced to delegate its touch on the realm to its Avatars. No, worshipers of Darkness believe that the entire realm is malleable given enough time to be worked. Darkness is thought to fight the infection of the Septon understanding of morality, parasitically invading the minds and hearts of mortals and rewiring them to do its bidding. Faith in Darkness is faith in the corruptibility of mortalkind… and worshipers of He Who Is made of And Dwells in Darkness are said to secretly fear what the Darkness would do if mortalkind proved ultimately incorruptible.

The Worship of Nox

Worshipers of Nox the Putrescent come in two varieties: the living and the undead. As the undead are Nox’s progeny, many gravespawn, Nosferatu, liches, and other sentient undead worship Nox openly, striving to further his goals to eradicate all life in any way they can. Living worshipers of Nox are rare, but they do exist. Essentially madmen, these are tortured sparks that find pleasure in pain, delight in devastation, and want nothing more than to watch all life suffer and die. Some of these unfortunate beings are deluded into thinking that they will be spared Nox's wrath if they offer him worship and assistance. Living Nox worshipers are quintessential extremists – radicals desperate to die for their twisted god of disease and suffering. Nox himself rarely rewards them with anything but the eternal agony of undead existence. Being a Nox worshiper means hating all life, wishing suffering upon others, and consequently being riddled with madness.

There are less twisted living worshipers of Nox – those who delight in the torment of others, imbibe untold amounts of mind-altering substances, and with to sew pain for pain’s sake, but these practitioners tend to speak aloud of their patronage only in secretive meetings and private parties (that tend to be horror shows).

The Worship of Grak

Worshipers of Grak the Destroyer are complex and varied in their faith to the Iron Father. While some worshipers are truly evil warriors who wish to fight and kill any who cross their path, many are simply fighters motivated face overwhelming odds, who find glory in combating worthy opponents and pushing their bodies and minds to the breaking point. Strength and fortitude are valued above all else, as strength and persistence beget power and glory. The worship of Grak differs from the worship of the Soldier in motivations more so than actions. A soldier of the Sept seeks glory on the battlefield, but obeys his god in an effort to help his fellow man. A warrior of Grak helps only himself, and cares only for personal glory. Worship of Grak is most often seen in the Tribelands, and to a lesser extent the Terran Reavers, though his followers can be found anywhere that personal ambition and power are valued.

The true Iron Sons are not daggers in the dark, no. They are the first into battle. Their war cries reverberate endlessly in the hearts of the defeated. “Witness!” is the last thing often heard before all goes black, Grak’s followers hoping that the God of Glory take notice of their awesome prowess. Following Grak means seeing those around one as a stepping stone – even Grak himself. The most battle-tested of Grak’s followers will take a pilgrimage to the mountains of the Tribelands, where it is rumored that an Avatar of the Iron Father himself resides, beckoning challengers to try and dethrone him.

Categories: Game Setting | Religion

Page last modified on November 16, 2017, at 02:59 PM
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