BRCS:Chapter four/Gods and religion
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Main Page » Chapter four/Gods and religion
The pantheon known to the humans of Cerilia is not the same pantheon recognized by the ancient tribes who came to Cerilia before the War of Shadow. The old gods gave up their existences in order to destroy their evil brother Azrai at Mount Deismaar. Their essences imbued hundreds of champions and common soldiers with the beginnings of Cerilia's bloodlines, and have shaped history every since. More importantly, the god's mortal champions, closest to the old gods in their ideals, took the brunt of the divine essence released by the gods' death and were elevated to create a new pantheon.
The new gods numbered eight; Haelyn, assuming Anduiras reign over nobility and war; Erik, the druid, ruling nature in Reynir's stead; Sera, taking the place of Brenna as the goddess of commerce and fortune; Avani, taking the mantle of Basaïa as lady of reason; the Vos warriors Kriesha and Belinik, absorbing the energies of Azrai to become the Ice Witch and the Prince of Terror; Nesirie, absorbing the power of Masela and gaining power over the sea; and Ruornil, inheriting from Vorynn domain over magic and arcane secrets.
At first, the new gods worked closely together in the flesh; they fought, loved, had children, and helped the peoples of Cerilia recover from the War of Shadow. Nesirie and Haelyn formed a strong alliance and bore Cuiraécen, a new god of battle and storm. Likewise, Avani and Erik bore Laerme, goddess of fire and passion, and Sera and Ruornil bore Eloéle, goddess of the night. As centuries passed, however, wars and feuds between mortal followers ensued, fragmenting many of the god's alliances and creating argument and rivalry. Fearing a repetition of Deismaar in any future conflicts, the gods agreed to a universal pact: Never to battle each other in physical form.
The powers continue to increase the prestige and well-being of their worshippers, priests, and temples, but, for the most part, now restrict their guidance to dreams, inspiration, and prophesy. A few scholars may argue that gods no longer exist, and perhaps never existed, but most Cerilians believe implicitly in the existence of their gods. The divine abilities of blooded scions and divine spellcasters provide seemingly irrefutable proof of the continued existence of the gods and the history of their ascension at Deismaar.
Throughout Cerilia, personal faith is an important characteristic of every character, from the meanest peasant to the highest lord. Most people of Cerilia say an occasional prayer to more than one deity on a regular basis, but dedicate their lives to one patron deity. Cerilians believe that one's patron deity oversees all of the important aspects of existence. No one deity controls birth, coming of age, marriage, death, or the afterlife; each deity cares for such needs for their faithful.
Each major human culture, and most humanoid cultures in general, have a specific god that looks after the well being of the people of that culture or race. This does not preclude members of that race from worshiping another patron deity, but most characters naturally seek advice, guidance, and support from the faith of their people. The gods of the human pantheon have complex relationships, but most humans pay respect to all of the gods that are not considered enemies of their faith. An Anuirean Knight might worship Haelyn, but also pray to Sera, Lady of Fortune, before taking a great risk. Table 4-1 lists the principle faiths of Cerilia by race/culture. As long as one's own deity is not at odds with another, acts of simply piety towards the other deity are not considered offensive.
As a general rule, Cerilian deities do not overtly punish sinful behavior or reward faithfulness. The deity's rewards and punishments are measured in the afterlife. The clergy of a deity's church are responsible for meting out punishment and acclaims in the mortal world.
A divine spellcaster forges a personal connection to a source of divine power in the rituals and rites that bind them as a priest of a religious order. Once forged, this divine link allows the channeling of divine energy and the casting of divine spells. Cerilian deities do not (and perhaps can not) judge how this power is used; the powers are granted to men, and it falls to men to decide how best such powers shall be used. Should a spellcaster act outside the precepts of his or her faith, it falls to the clergy of the faith to guide or punish the offender.
A divine spellcaster who forsakes his or her deity does not lose the ability to cast divine spells; only a ceremony of excommunication is capable of severing the divine link between man and god once forged. Should a divine spellcaster wish to take up the faith of another deity, they may do so without immediate penalty. Accepting ordination in a new faith forever severs a spellcaster's connection to their previous deity. Divine spellcasters who abandon their deity are often considered to be guilty of most heinous blasphemy and may find themselves harshly judged by their peers (as well, perhaps, in the afterlife).
All blooded scions contain with them some small spark of divinity; the more powerful the bloodline, the more powerful the spark. Any scion with a True bloodline is capable of channeling enough divine energy to cast divine spells without a patron deity. The divine abilities of any scion that has accepted a bloodform far exceed those that do not. Scions that have a completed bloodform may cast divine spells without a patron deity with only a Great bloodline. Bloodformed scions with True bloodlines are capable of forging a link with worshippers that will allow the casting of divine spells.
Throughout Cerilia, priests are held in high regard and most nations have a recognized state religion. In general, the state religion of any realm is the faith with the most levels of temple holdings in the realm. In cases where the measure is very close, the state religion may vary from one ruling line to the next (or even one ruler to the next), as different dynasties declare their own religious loyalties.
Even kings must bow to the wishes of their state religion in matters of spiritual consequence. When the time comes to install an heir, the church must provide support by performing the coronation ceremony to complete the investiture. Without the support of the church, the new regent receives only half of the normal regency points. The church (or churches) performing the coronation becomes recognized as the official state religion under that regent's rule. The official state religion has the authority to challenge any landed regent's actions (or even his right to rule) if they fly in the face of the precepts of the faith.
Churches often claim the right to hold their own courts and to administer the enforcement of a variety of religious crimes (canon law), including blasphemy, heresy, and witchcraft (the use of magic to cause harm to others). Such claims can bring them in conflict with secular legal powers unless the realm's regent supports the churches activities. The methods of trial and the penalties handed out vary significantly from one faith to another, but most temple courts are required to obtain secular consent to death penalties or any trials against nobility; this formality is often ignored by some faiths.
Cerilian gods are generally associated with worshippers of a specific race. Each of the deities was once a champion of a different race, and that association remains. Even so, as gods with various portfolios there is a universal appeal to each of the gods and so worship for each of them appears throughout Cerilia. Humans may be clerics of any human deity, but are most likely to worship the god associated with their tribe, culture, or region.
Your character may or may not worship a specific patron deity. Clerics, druids, and paladins always have a specific patron deity. If you want your character to have a patron deity, consider first the deities most appropriate to her race (Table 4-1: Human deities by region, and Table 4-2: Non-human deities), or class and alignment (Table 4-3: Human deities by class).
Each deity description follows the same general format.
Deity name (level of power)
Each entry begins with the deity's common name among their race/culture of primary worship. Following the name is the deity's level of power. In descending order, the levels of power are greater deity, intermediate deity, lesser deity, and demigod. These ranks represent relative levels of power among deities only and do not affect the abilities or spells of the deity's divine spellcasters.
Titles and aliases
A few of the more common titles used by a deity's worshippers are listed under each entry. This is not an exhaustive list, but represents several of the names by which a deity is commonly invoked. If a deity's name differs between different cultures/races, the deity's regional name is also listed by region.
The deity's symbol is used by the faithful to represent the deity. The holy symbol used by clerics of the deity must take the form of the deity's symbol, although it can vary significantly in size, cost, and utility.
The deity's alignment provides a guideline for the general behavior of their faiths. Each sect of a deity's religion has an alignment. A sect's alignment can differ by at most one step from the deity's alignment.
Likewise, a cleric's alignment can differ by no more than one step from the alignment of their particular church. Therefore, most of a deity's clerics will have the alignment of the deity. It is thus possible (but uncommon) for a cleric to have an alignment that differs by two steps from her deity's listed alignment.
The deity's portfolio includes those areas of human experience or nature over which the deity claims dominion, power, and control.
The listed domains are those granted to the clerics of a deity and reflect the deities’ alignment and portfolio. As with the deities listed in the Player's Handbook, a cleric chooses two domains from the deity's list and acquires the granted powers of those two domains. Domains listed in italics are campaign specific, and are detailed in Chapter Three: Magic.
The deity's favored weapon is usually a representation of a method of punishment used by the deity against foes or those who sin. Spell such as spiritual weapon take the form of the favored weapon listed in parenthesis. This weapon may differ by sect. Weapons of the listed type are the conventional favored weapons of the clerics of each faith and therefore their most likely armaments.
The first paragraph of the deity's description includes the deity's attitude, temperament, and general nature. The second paragraph describes the deity's church. This overview explains the church's organization and the common duties of the clergy. The third paragraph lists the time of day a deity's clerics pray for their spells. If more than one time of prayer is listed, the cleric must choose a specific time and use it thereafter. This section also lists well-known holy days of the faith, which the cleric may be expected to attend/perform.
Finally, the most common multiclassing options (if any) for clerics of the faith are given. The cleric is not obligated to multiclass. Paladins of deities that have a common multiclass may advance in their deity's favored multiclass without forfeiting the ability to advance further as a paladin.
Dogma and relationships
The dogma of the faith contains the tenants of a religion that all clerics (and divine spellcasters) of a deity must hold dear. The interpretation of these tenants, however, provides the basis for many of the splinter sects of worship. The deities hold themselves aloof from such schisms, leaving it to man to find truth through their own trials. This section is written as if it were an excerpt from a holy text of that deity. Likewise, the relationship between the deity's major temples and the faiths of other human deities are provided as if discussing the relationships of the deities themselves. Members of the faith are expected to treat worshippers and clergy of other faiths as the deities are perceived to treat each other. This is complicated by the fact that the relationship between any two deities is not necessarily perceived in the same light by both sides.
Table 4-7: Human deities
|Avani||A rising sun||Sun, reason, magic||Khinasi, scholars, philosophers, magicians|
|Belinik||Crossed axes||Battle, feuds, fear||Vos men, fighters, barbarians, tyrants|
|Cuiraécen||Sword and lighting||Storms, conflict, battle||Warriors, the reckless|
|Eloéle||Black dagger||Night, darkness, thieves, deception||Rogues, thieves, smugglers, spies, liars|
|Erik||Oak tree||Nature, harvests, hunting||Rjurik, druids, rangers, hunters, barbarians, farmers, hunters, travellers|
|Haelyn||Sword and sunburst||Courage, justice, chivalry, rulership, war||Anuireans, regents, officers, paladins, nobles|
|Kriesha||White hand||Winter, hardship, beasts of the cold||Vos women, barbarians, witches|
|Laerme||Harp and flame||Fire, love, art||Bards, artisans, young lovers|
|Nesirie||Trident and wave||Ocean, grief, healing, remembrance||Masetians, healers, sailors, mourners|
|Ruornil||Moon and night sky||Night, moon, magic, mystery||Spellcasters, explorers, undead-hunters, advisers, counsellors|
|Sera||Silver scales||Wealth, luck||Brecht, merchants, rogues, bards|
|Name (Power)||Alignment||Favored Weapon||Domains|
|Avani (G)||Lawful Neutral||Shortspear||Knowledge, Law, Magic, Reason, Sun|
|Belinik (I)*||Chaotic Evil||Greataxe||Chaos, Evil, Strength, Terror, War|
|Cuiraécen (L)||Chaotic Good||Longsword or shortspear||Chaos, Good, Strength, Storm, War|
|Eloéle (L)||Chaotic Neutral||Dagger||Chaos, Illusion, Night, Trickery|
|Erik (G)||Neutral||Greataxe or shortspear||Animal, Earth, Plant, Wilderness|
|Haelyn (G)||Lawful Good||Greatsword or bastard sword||Good, Justice, Law, Nobility, War|
|Kriesha (L)*||Lawful Evil||Light mace or heavy mace||Evil, Law, Suffering, Winter|
|Laerme (L)||Chaotic Good||Shortbow||Chaos, Charm, Fire, Good|
|Nesirie (I)||Neutral Good||Trident||Good, Healing, Protection, Sea|
|Ruornil (L)||Neutral||Quarterstaff||Knowledge, Magic, Moon, Spell|
|Sera (I)||Chaotic Neutral||Light flail or heavy flail||Chaos, Luck, Trade , Travel|
*See the deity's description for special rules regarding selection of this deity as patron.
Table 4-8: Non-human deities
|Cold Rider||Cloaked rider||Undead, the shadow world, deceit||Undead, the power-hungry|
|Moradin||Hammer and anvil||Dwarves||Dwarves|
|Torazan||Sword and horn||Orogs||Orogs|
|Name (Power)||Alignment||Favored Weapon||Domains|
|Cold Rider (D)||Neutral Evil||Unarmed||Charm, Death, Evil, Magic|
|Kartathok (G)||Lawful Evil||Shortspear or longspear||Destruction, Evil, Law, Strength|
|Moradin (G)||Lawful Good||Warhammer||Earth, Good, Law, Protection|
|Torazan (D)||Lawful Evil||Longsword||Earth, Evil, Law, War|
Refuges from the shadow world, halflings have no specific patron deity. Although capable of deep spirituality, halflings tend towards introspection and are dependent on the moral compass of their community to help guide their actions. Halflings are welcomed by human churches in their community. Although halflings are not often inducted to the mysteries of the church, most churches do not exclude them from the clergy.
The elves can call upon the forces inherent in wood and water, field and air, but have never worshiped deities. They are aware that the gods of Deismaar existed and that new gods were created, but they do not pay homage to them. Particularly after their deception and betrayal by Azrai, the elves have been adamant in their refusal to worship human gods. To the elves, spiritual development is the responsibility of the individual. The path that an elf takes is a decision that only he or she can make. So strong is this belief that if an elf chooses to worship one of the human gods, so be it. The only restriction placed upon such rare individuals is that they not discuss their religious ideologies within elven realms.
Celestials, demons, and other powers
In addition to the major deities, dozens of lesser entities are worshiped by the denizens of Cerilia. It is believed that the homes of the gods are reachable through the spirit world and that it is there that the servants of the gods make their homes. Whether such beings are servants of the gods, manifestations of a people's desire, or monsters preying upon the superstitious is subject to debate. Such servants may be referred to as being celestial in origin; although those horrific or believed to be evil are often referred to as demonic or infernal. For the most part, Cerilia's gods are close to human kind; their imperfections and weaknesses, their attitudes and objectives, are comprehensible to mortals. The same is not necessarily true of celestials and demons. These powers may have alien desires and needs or inflexible lines of action; dealing with them is often perilous.
Some celestials/demons have the status of demigods and are capable of granting the ability to cast divine spells. Likewise, True scions that have accepted a bloodform are capable of granting the ability to channel divine energy to their worshippers and are considered demigods.