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  1. #1
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    So I've been trying to imagine how BR's polytheistic religions really work. There's obviously a great deal of competition and rivalry between temples and temple regents, but there also seems to be a fair bit of tolerance, acceptance of certain sects by certain other sects, and even occasional alliances or "companion" churches.

    Breaking it down to real facts, we see that in general, only 1 or 2 temples dominates a given region in most places in Cerilia. As I understand the domain rules, the levels of temple relative to the province level should give us a proportion of a province's dominant faith and spiritual loyalty.

    The problem with all of this is that it doens't seem reflective of a polytheistic approach to religion, wherein each of the gods is revered and believed to preside over an essential aspect of life or the world.

    For instance, Neserie's clergy are supposed to be responsible for presiding over the rites of the dead, and then maintain a period of mourning and remembrance for a certain time after a death to ensure the soul reaches the gods' realms. Now if we (or the people of Cerilia) are to give this any real credence, what happens to the souls of the dead in the 95% of Cerilia that doesn't have a Temple of Neserie?

    Must we assume that the Neserians are called in as travelling clergy to do these rites?
    Have the other temples learned to do without, and now have their own funerary rites?
    Or do the temple levels represent Major Temples only, but it's safe to assume that there are minor shrines and household offerings, along with a small body of attendant priests, in most provinces where the gods or goddesses are venerated at all?

    Finally, another question: How does all of this reflect upon the spiritual bractice and beliefs of the typical Anuirean, Brecht, Khinasi, Rjurik, or Vos? Do most of them believe in the existence of all of the gods? Are most of the gods venerated? (Historical examples would say yes, as most commoners always want to be on the safe side when it comes to appeasing the gods or gaining their blessings&#33

    Anyways, thought this would be an interesting topic for general discussion while adding yet more depth and a sense of reality to the world of Cerilia.

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    Ok there are a lot of different things to talk about here. I think you really have to take each race separately the rjurik generally only see erik as worth worshiping and don’t really follow a pantheon like say the anuirians. Indeed the rjurik also have no afterlife to speak of so they have no need of nesirie.

    The anuireans and brechtur both seam to follow more of a pantheon with many gods having places in a hierarchy led by a dominant god haelyn in anuire and sera in brechtur.

    The khinasi revere avani and like the rjurik generally only see her as worth worshiping.

    The vos worship the gods of darkness and this could be viewed as a second pantheon of darkness separate from the pantheon worshiped elsewhere. Why would the vos want nesirie presiding over their dead it is more likely the kriesha will fill this area.

    There are of course exceptions in each of the area's that can be seen as the differences between Christian or Muslim sects.

    I prefer to think of the temple level as church attendance rather than faith.

    The book of priest craft gives each of the greater gods no superior making them the head of the pantheon for that race with the other gods lower down the scale.

    There is a lot of room for interpretation.
    MORNINGSTAR

  3. #3
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    There is a lot of room for interpretation.
    Oh yeah...that's why I thought it would be a great topic for discussion. I look forward to seeing some grand treatises in coming posts.

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 05:37 PM 3/7/2004 +0100, Osprey wrote:



    >
    There is a lot of room for interpretation.

    >
    >

    > Oh yeah...that`s why I thought it would be a great topic for

    > discussion. ;) I look forward to seeing some grand treatises in coming

    > posts.



    Well, if that`s the case... here`s a treatise that I`m going to split up

    into two posts (it`s too long for one.)



    This information is a first draft of a chapter in my little fan-produced BR

    text that might contextualize some of the issues of the Cerilian attitude

    towards death, the afterlife, and the role of the gods in relation to

    death. While it doesn`t specifically address all of the above questions it

    does address a few.



    One could see the following info as being the BR equivalent of the

    Ghostwalk setting, though it isn`t particularly inspired by that

    campaign. (At least, I started it before I saw the GW stuff.) It lacks

    stats for the Spirit Guides, lesser and greater Lost souls, which I`ll post

    once I come up with them. What I`d like to do is have some examples of

    "challenges" faced by souls as their traverse the SW, to outline the

    process itself, but that`s going to have to wait for a bit since it seems

    like all I want to do for BR materials right now is write up materials for

    new awnshegh and ershegh....



    Comments welcome,

    Gary



    ---ooOoo---



    Death: The Final Adventure

    “Look upon me, sojourner. I am the angel of death. I am come for

    thee. Cast your eyes down to the ground at thy feet. There thy mortal

    form lies. Thou art dead. Thou hast been slain in battle serving thy

    lord. Fear not for I am here to guide thee to the halls of heroes. Come

    now, let us tarry here no longer. There are many souls to gather up this

    day, and the paths of death are long and shadowéd.”



    Birthright Cosmology and the Gods

    There is no god of death in the Birthright pantheon. Not even the most

    powerful of the gods are immune to death. In the hearts and minds of many

    Cerilians Azrai came to symbolize much of that aspect of the spiritual life

    of Cerilian mortals, but in the end Azrai was defeated and even he

    succumbed to death. Despite the fact that they were able to pass on their

    power to their closest mortal followers does not diminish the fact that the

    gods themselves died at the Battle of Deismaar. In such a world death

    itself is greater than godhood. It is part of the primal nature of existence.

    In the Birthright setting one of the most important roles of death is

    embodied in the Shadow World and its relationship to the world of

    light. Some scholars and theologians speculate that it was Azrai’s

    connection to the Shadow World in his role as the god of shadows that gave

    him access to the energies of the Shadow World itself, and that he gained

    the ability to utilize the power of that dark reality. It is this supposed

    ability that explains his unusual power in relation to the other

    gods. Theories on the divine mechanisms of this relationship abound. One

    theory is that the shadow god tapped the Shadow World in a manner similar

    to the way Cerilian wizards establish source holdings and forge ley

    lines. By tapping the power of an entire plane Azrai gained access to

    great power and influence, for in the Shadow World lies not only the

    darkened image of the world of light, but the embodiment of the

    supernatural forces associated with that power; entropy and death. Another

    theory is that the Shadow Lord was unable to completely control the forces

    that he tampered with and that it was this lack of mastery the gods who

    opposed him at Deismaar exploited to create the explosion in which they

    sacrificed themselves and destroyed Azrai in the process. Others speculate

    that it was the consciousness of the Shadow World itself that rebelled

    against Azrai’s control, and it was this rejection that that resulted the

    Dark Lord’s ultimate defeat. In the end, however, what matters is that

    Azrai was not himself the master of death, as is evidenced by the fact that

    he was subject to the same primal forces as any other being.

    Whatever the truth of these matters may be, the power of the Shadow

    World and its influence upon the world of light is felt not only in the

    occasional breech of the veil between the two realities which creatures

    from either world use to travel back and forth. The Shadow World and the

    world of life and light are intertwined. The Shadow World touches all

    things just as all aspects of the Shadow World are influenced by the world

    of light. Manifestations of reality are paralleled on both planes and,

    though there is variation in physical form and location, all things that

    exist on one plane exist on the other. To a person from the world of light

    the manifestation of objects and places on the Shadow World seem a warped

    and twisted version of reality, dark and ominous. A Shadow Worlder,

    however, would find the manifestation of objects in the world of light

    equally strange and degenerate, perverted by the nature of the world of

    light and life.



    The Power of Light and Shadow

    One important difference between the two planes is the generative power

    of the world of light and life where new souls are continually created,

    developed and released from their mortal, material forms. Most living

    things in the world of light have a dark, deathly parallel on the Shadow

    World. A tree, for instance, will have a withered and twisted counterpart

    on the Shadow World. The life cycle of a tree in the world of light is

    constantly recycled reincarnated, if you willso that the overall energy it

    represents on the plane of light remains relatively unchanged. This allows

    its Shadow World twin to remain similarly a constantalbeit less tied to the

    cycle of birth, growth and death as are living things. Similarly, the

    non-sentient life of the world of light and the World of Shadow exist in

    equal proportion on either plane remaining in constant balance to one

    another. Animate dead or similar forces in the Shadow World requite the

    energies of living things. As such, the two realities are inextricably

    linked. Nothing can exist in one reality without a counterpart on the other.

    However, those beings with souls that exist on either plane are not

    paralleled on the opposite plane. There are living beings in the Shadow

    World, of course, many beings are even born, live and die there, but they

    are far fewer than those of the world of light and the immortality of their

    souls somewhat questionable. The energy of the immortal soul is greater

    than that of life alone and represents a disharmony in the planar balance,

    creating a state of flux. When the mortal form that houses a soul

    perishes, its energy cannot remain in the world of light. It must pass

    beyond to a final destination beyond light and shadow.

    Thus, when a mortal dies his soul must traverse the Shadow World where

    the process and ordeals it endures during its travel releases the energies

    that return the worlds into balance before it can pass on to its ultimate

    destination in the afterlife. While traveling through the Shadow World the

    soul expends energies by facing challenges that not only release energies

    into the plane, but test its worthiness to enter whatever version of

    paradise awaits it. The number and types of challenges faced by the

    aspirant soul varies according to that soul’s allegiances and purpose in

    life as well as its ultimate destination, but there are some commonalities

    to the process. All souls face challenges that test their faith in a

    higher power, challenges that test how closely they adhere to the beliefs

    they espoused in life, and challenges that determine whether the soul is

    ready to move on to a more spiritual existence, away from their mortal

    concerns of the body; food, sleep, comfort, physical pleasure, possessions,

    etc. No two souls are identical. Each will inspire unique challenges, so

    the challenges themselves come in an infinite variety.

    The Final Journey through the Shadow World is a long and perilous

    one. Many souls are not ultimately successful in passing through to the

    planes beyond. They expend their energies on the Shadow World, and are

    ultimately absorbed into the plane itself.

  5. #5
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    The Menagerie of Death

    Spirit Guides do not accompany a soul through every aspect of its

    travels through the Shadow World (their duties are many and the souls they

    shepherd unlimited) but their aid can greatly assist an itinerant soul

    complete its journey. Ultimately, every soul must face and overcome its

    own challenges. The Spirit Guide may not intervene directly but it can

    help prevent the soul from becoming lost between challenges as well as

    offer some assistance (in the form of hints or advice) and

    encouragement. The Spirit Guide also acts as proof of the ultimate reward

    for the soul should it overcome its challenges. When a spirit is stripped

    of its mortal trappings by completing all the challenges that it must face,

    the soul passes on to the appropriate location in the planes of existence

    beyond the Shadow World for its race, ethos, morality and ultimate reward.

    The dead do not reckon time in the same way that mortals do. In fact,

    they hardly reckon time at all, so there is no time limit set upon the

    length of a soul`s journey. Because time is often not a factor in

    determining the success or failure of a challenge, a soul`s journey can

    take years. The journey of some souls may take many times the length of

    their mortal lives. Generally speaking there is no "failure" of a

    challenge. Souls cannot die in the Shadow World though they can be

    dispersed in such a way that they must reconstitute, a process that can

    take the equivalent of several weeks in mortal time so they can attempt a

    challenge over and over again until they complete it. Many challenges,

    however, are insurmountable to a particular soul, effectively trapping it

    in the Shadow World in perpetuity. Such spirits become ghostly permanent

    residents of the Shadow World. Souls that exist for too long in the Shadow

    World may begin to take on some of the characteristics of Shadow. They

    lose their sense of purpose and become lost in the glooming mimicry of the

    mortal existence that is the Shadow World. Eventually, the Shadow World

    itself becomes their ultimate destination. The lost souls of the Shadow

    World are often driven mad by their frustration. Filled with bitterness,

    envy and hatred for all things living and dead. The weaker souls that are

    unable to move on become lost spirits whose ghostly, wind-like voices howl

    or weep eerily. Eventually, they lose the capacity to even understand the

    nature of their predicament and their energies disperse into the stuff of

    the Shadow World itself.

    The stronger souls trapped in the Shadow World sometimes become the most

    feared agents of evil on that plane. They can become Greater Lost

    Souls. Filled with jealousy and malice they revel in sabotaging the

    efforts of sojourning souls to reach their final destination, as well as

    tormenting any living beings they come across. Such beings take on

    monstrous forms as warped as their own tortured souls. On rare occasions

    these tortured beings have been able to employ complex rituals (invariably

    involving the sacrifice of mortal lives) in order to cross over into the

    mortal world. Such beings wreak havoc upon the living for not only because

    are they cruel and hateful, but also because their power is both deathly

    and beyond death.

    Because of the difficulty of traversing the Shadow World the gods have

    created beings to aid souls in their journey. These beings, sometimes

    called "guides" by mortals, act as advisors and mentors to the souls of the

    dead, assisting them through the paths they must take to escape the Shadow

    World.

    The deaths of many mortals on the material plane will often attract the

    attention of the agents of the gods. Battles of great size will attract

    several guides, as will the death of great heroes. Though they are visible

    only to the souls of the dead, their appearance is often seen by the living

    as a shimmering or glowing around or above the dead. To the dead a guide

    appears to be a mortal of noble bearing and demeanor. A guide usually

    takes on a form similar to the race and cultural heritage of the soul or

    souls it is sent to gather.

    Amongst humans Spirit Guides are called "Wolken" by the Rjurik, and

    "Valkyr" by the Brecht. The Vos call Spirit Guides "Walkarai." Both

    Anuireans and the Khinasi use angelic terms for the Spirit Guides;

    seraphian, cherubian, etc. in the belief that there is complex spiritual

    hierarchy or classification to which each belongs.

    Elven souls remain rooted in the Aebrynial plane upon death, rejoining

    the natural energies that drive the world of light, but they know of and

    have interacted with the beings that shepherd the souls of mortals after

    death. Elves call them Annwndalien ("those beyond death.") Much like

    their attitudes and beliefs regarding the gods, elves acknowledge the

    existence and power of Spirit Guides, but attach no special reverence to

    them. They are respected for their role in the cosmos as well as their

    personal grace and power, but since they do not figure prominently in the

    spiritual life of Cerilian elves they are not given any theological reverence.

    Halflings have their origins in the Shadow World, and they do not speak

    of Spirit Guides openly. The soul having to return to the Shadow World in

    death represents a special terror to many of that race, so it is not a

    commonly discussed belief among halfling theologians. Whether their racial

    distaste for the subject affects their ability to traverse the Shadow World

    after death is a matter for debate. Some human scholars have speculated

    that most halfling souls enter the Shadow World and remain rooted there for

    eternity much the same way elven souls remain in the world of light. In

    effect, they pay for their ability to enter the Shadow World in life by

    having difficulty passing through it in the afterlife. Whatever the truth

    of these matters, halflings find the topic of the soul`s disposition after

    death extremely unsettling, not to mention distasteful. On those rare

    occasions when they do refer to Spirit Guides they are content to describe

    them using whatever word is used by the culture in which they are living.

    Dwarven clerics refer to Spirit Guides as the Truok, and their role as

    guardians of the dwarven people is believed by many of that race to be more

    extensive than merely shepherding their souls through the Shadow

    World. Dwarves believe that the Truok represent a higher level of

    advancement for a dwarven soul and that exceptional members of their race

    will return to the worlds of light and shadow as Spirit Guides. The

    "ascension" of the dwarven soul into Truok represents an extensive system

    of ancestor worship. There are long, hagiographical lists of Truok that

    have been compiled by dwarven theologians, including the names of those

    believed to have been the first dwarves ever created. Furthermore, dwarves

    believe that Truok influence their daily lives. They watch over the

    dwarven people and inspiring dwarves in all aspects of life. Dwarves will

    commonly evoke the names of particular Truok as part of daily ritual and

    observances. Many dwarves emboss their equipment with runic symbols

    referencing particular Truok, call out their names in battle, while forging

    metal or working in stone. "Illich vanikar Truok vey" is a common dwarven

    expression meaning, "I was inspired by a spirit guide."

    Amongst the humanoid races, goblins call the Spirit Guides the Kachar,

    while among orogs they are called the Chacktar. Though it appears their

    souls must go through the same ordeal as the souls of other mortal beings,

    gnolls and most other races of Cerilia have no independent concept of the

    Spirit Guides. There has been some speculation by theological scholars

    that patron gods of goblins, orogs and gnolls draw some of their power from

    the Shadow World and thus find the concept of their follower`s souls

    diffusing into that realm more acceptable.

    Upon rare occasions a Spirit Guide will appear to a living being. Such

    an appearance is usually viewed as a sign of impending doom. However,

    there are tales of great heroes seeing a spirit of death in a moment when

    his fate is near, but by cheating death avoiding his journey through the

    Shadow World (for a time.) In other fables the nobility, bravery, beauty

    or virtue of a mortal facing certain death has swayed a Guide and rather

    than gather up that hero`s soul the Spirit Guide instead assists him in

    cheating death. A favored tale of the Rjurik skalds is that of a Walkar

    who in defiance of the supernatural order took on human form for love of a

    mortal she was sent to gather up. One of the elven creation myths suggest

    their ancestry and connection to the elemental aspect of their nature

    arises from just such a marriage between an elven princess and an annwnda

    who took on elven form for love of her. The death of this supernatural

    being is said to have infused some of his spirit into her and all her

    kin. Invariably, the moral of such stories is that in the end no one can

    escape his doom, and that the cost of such love is often terrible,

    requiring great sacrifice and an existence of constant peril as the Powers

    seek to recall their agent and end the life of one who can tempt away a

    spirit of death.

    Upon occasion a Spirit Guide is sent by a deity as a messenger to a

    mortal to warn him of an imminent and untimely death, and on those

    occasions when the mortal ignores or otherwise fails to heed the warning,

    to gather up his soul. Though such stories occur in nearly all the

    Cerilian cultures, these tales of tragic fate and unavoidable destiny are

    particularly popular in Rjurik culture.



    [The stats for the Spirit Guide below aren`t quite complete. I still need

    to figure out skills and special abilities. I have not yet written up the

    stats for lesser and greater Lost Souls.]



    Spirit Guide

    Medium-sized Outsider

    Hit Dice: 12d10+48 (102hp)

    Initiative: +8 (+4 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)

    Speed: 40 ft, fly 60 ft

    AC: 22 (+4 dex, +4 armor, +4 natural armor) touch 14, flat-footed 18

    Base Attack/Grapple: +12/+17

    Attack: Sword +16 melee (1d8+5)

    Full Attack: Sword +16/+11/+6 melee (1d8+5)

    Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.

    Saves: Fort +13, Ref +8, Will +9

    Abilities: Str 20, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 20, Cha 20

    Skills: Listen +?, Spot +?

    Feats: Alertness, Blind-fight, Improved Initiative, Track

    Environment: Any land (Shadow World)

    Organization: Solitary or squad (3-5)

    Challenge Rating: 14

    Treasure: No coin, double goods and standard items.

    Alignment: Varies

    Advancement: By character class (fighter is the preferred class for Spirit

    Guides.)

    Level Adjustment: +2



    A Spirit Guide appears to be an extraordinarily beautiful member of

    whatever race it has been sent to gather up. Using their Alter Self

    ability, a spirit guide will appear to wear ornate clothing and armor

    appropriate to that race or culture. In fact, they wear the equivalent of

    a chain shirt.



    Combat

    A Spirit Guide can use any martial or simple weapon in combat. They

    generally prefer longswords or scimitars, however, and eschew missile weapons.

  6. #6
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    The whole problem here lies in the understanding that by, "the domain rules,

    the levels of temple relative to the province level should give us a

    proportion of a province`s dominant faith and spiritual loyalty."



    Change this to an understanding that, "the level of temple relative to the

    province level should give us a proportion of the political power and

    ability to extract a surplus."



    Every province of sufficient size (lets ignore 0 and 1 provinces because

    they might actually conform to the former understanding) is going to have

    some representation of clergy of every faith, and some part-time worship.

    After all, in a polytheistic model, part-time worship would be the norm.



    Here are some ideas that you can use to make this tangible as characters

    visit a province:

    * Some faiths are wrapped up into other temples. I generally rule that gods

    who are married and parent-child are often represented in one another`s

    temples or in some places, just give reflexive political support to the

    leading temple in the family. Suppose you come into Aerenwe. The Eastern

    Temple of Nesirie is the dominant temple. Its leaders are the most

    influential, the most connected, and have the unquestioned support of the

    temples of Haelyn and Cuiraécen. If the temples of Haelyn and Cuiraécen

    totally back up the ETN in matters of politics and defer to the leadership

    of ETN in political matters -- support the crown, oppose guilder X, expand

    influence here, take issue with IHH, &c. then we can understand them at the

    realm level as "part" of ETN, even though at the character level we can see

    a difference because they have different buildings, priests, and doctrines.

    So when Maire Cwllmie sits down to make realm decisions, and the PC`s are

    present, I`d include a small number of priests of Haelyn and Cuiraécen. In

    small provinces and little towns and villages, the priests of Haelyn and

    Cuiraécen might actually be inside the temples of Nesirie, in side buildings

    or rooms.

    * Temples which lack holding levels might well be large and opulant, but

    simply lack political influence and generate only enough money to cover

    expences, hence no RP or GB are generated. Then again, they may be small or

    sparce. Let`s turn our attention to Endier. Suppose Guilder Kalien

    contests the Celestial Jewel of Sarimie to nothing (not even a zero holding

    remains). The buildings are still there and some of priests are still there

    (some would leave to take positions in the CJS elsewhere, others would

    become polite by uncooperative to Temais Coumain) so from the street you

    might not notice that anything has changed. The priests of Sarimie who had

    access to Guilder Kalien used to be priests loyal to Temais Coumain and the

    CJS. Now its just a different set of priests. They have loyalty to no

    specific regent, just Sarimie. Of course Kalien could take actions to

    install friendly priests who would be loyal to him, but that`s a different

    situation. Let`s further assume that Rhobher Nichaleir and the WIT take

    advantage of the situation and rule up their holdings to 6 in Endier. The

    temples to Sarimie are still there, but they have no inflience. They may

    draw a substantial number of worshipers, after all Endier is a major trading

    center (probabaly ships can get this far up the Maesil) and full of

    craftsmen and merchants who will be attracted to a merchantile diety.

    However, people don`t give as much as they used to because more money is

    being given to the WIT, because they have more influence. The temple of

    Sarimie has lost tax exemptions and rights to collect income as she lost

    influence to keep those benefits. The WIT is not only collecting more from

    worshipers, but also uses her influence to gain tax exemptions and to

    collect revenues. When Sarimie had 3 holdings, perhaps she levied a small

    tax at the dockyards on sea captains over and above the contributions some

    of them made to insure Sarimie`s favor for a prosperous or lucky voyage.

    The contributions covered expences, but the tax was a surplus. They don`t

    get the tax anymore. The WIT is probably collecting extra revenue in the

    courts, for example. Consider the nice temple of Rournil in Endier. No one

    cares what they say or do (no influence) except a few wizards, rangers,

    students of esoteric secrets, and those who have a sensitivity to the Shadow

    World. They may or may not have money, but regardless of how wealthy they

    are, their income is matched by their expences, so no GB are generated.

    Only temples with holdings have enough influence to collect extra revenues,

    avoid certain taxes, and thereby generate a surplus for use at the realm

    level.



    Now let`s go back and see of we can`t get some understanding from the

    original statement, "the levels of temple relative to the province level

    should give us a proportion of a province`s dominant faith and spiritual

    loyalty." Yes, but not exclusively. Compare the worship of Nesirie in our

    two examples, Aerenwe and Endier. In Aerenwe everyone pays some obedience

    to the ETN, though they may also have greater commitments elsewhere. In

    Endier the Temple of Nesirie may outwardly look opulent (or perhaps a step

    below the majesty of the temple in Calrie) but people only attend worship or

    pay respects when they have dead relatives or an upcoming sea voyage. Other

    than sailors, they may have few regular visitors. So going by your

    statement, a province like Calrie tells us everyone has some loyalty and

    obedience to Nesirie as revealed by the ETN, in Endier not enough of anyone

    does to have an impact *at the realm level*. So let`s suppose that Nesirie

    is going to send great storms to clean the seas. Priestesses of Nesirie in

    Calrie and Endier tell sailors to stay in port the next few days storms will

    come. In Calrie the ships will likely stay in port and wait out the storms.

    In Endier sailors may go from the temple of Nesirie to that of Sarimie and

    put a few extra coins in Sarimie`s offertory and pray for good luck on their

    voyage in order to avoid the storms, so you see how an action by priestesses

    of Nesirie on one place might demonstrate direct power and in another place

    might actually contribute to the might of another temple.



    Even in Rjurik, where Erik is the only temple with holdings (excepting the

    Siren, &c) one should have no problem imagining that the druids welcome the

    occasional priest of Avani or Laerme, who are probabaly actually a part of

    the ES or OG. Temples of Haelyn, Sera, Ruornil are welcomed as long as they

    don`t attempt to usurp the power of the druids and confine themselves to

    their narrow functions. So only nobles and lawyers take note of Haelyn, or

    commoners with special problems of fear, honor, or law. Only craftsment and

    merchants take note of Sera, or commoners with special problems of luck or

    wealth.



    Where the Book of Priestcraft identifies dieties as allies, assume welcome

    of other priests and faiths. At worst, they are regarded as rival faiths of

    the same god. Where the BoP makes no mention of allies or enemies, expect

    tolerance. Where there is an emnity, its possible that worshiping gods of

    enemies of the dominent faith are underground, furtive, or even

    non-existent. We are familar with the lack of worship or underground

    worship of Belinik in Anuire. Consider the same to be true of Kriesha in

    Rjurik. Most Rjurik, at least those of courage and commitment look to Avani

    to chase Kriesha away . So a hard winter will tend to create additional

    attention to the wife of Erik. There are some who will furtively pay

    offering to Kriesha in hopes that she will withhold her punishment.

    Obviously most Rjruik would disapprove, so its done quickly and out of fear.

    At the realm level, however, a hard winter would tend to send more people to

    call on Avani within the ES or OG and so would tend to increase the power of

    those temples, not Kriesha`s, even though a few additional coins or blood

    sacrifices are given.



    Kenneth Gauck

    kgauck@mchsi.com

  7. #7
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    Osprey said:

    > Oh yeah...that`s why I thought it would be a great topic for discussion.

    > ;) I look forward to seeing some grand treatises in coming posts.



    I have harped on about this in earlier times. I certainly agree that the

    Temple Holding system *as it is currently most widely interpretted* does

    not suit societies which are significantly polytheistic, in particular

    Anuire.



    This deficiency can be overcome be re-examining the way we look at the

    Temple Holding. I do not see a Temple Holding as being a gauge of the

    worship-patterns of a province. Simply because a province (4/1) has a

    temple (4) in it does not mean that every person in that province worships

    a single god. Instead I see Temple Holdings as centralisation and control

    over religious matters in a province. To my mind the division of temples

    in BR into the "Temple of [Deity]" is a flawed approach. In almost every

    conceivable example (possibly excepting the Vos temples who deliberately

    pursue a policy of persecution of any who venerate other gods) a temple is

    going to contain priests of a number of gods. The Temple Holding just

    reflects the respect and loyalty of priests to a certain priest (the

    holdings controller) in much the same way that a Law Holding represents

    obedience to a specific noble or alternative authority figure.



    This kind of approach allows for a huge expansion of the potentials for

    interesting problems in Temples since they are no longer homogenous blocks

    of "vanilla".



    Take Roesone, for example. In Roesone the religious affairs of the kingdom

    are largely controlled by the Impregnable Heart (the "of Haelyn" that

    generally follows has been deleted deliberately by me). However a seperate

    hierarchy is striving to become established among the faddishly mystical

    nobles of Caercas, namely, the Celestial Spell. The Impregnable Heart

    faces another problem though, an internal one. There are priests of other

    deities in the Impregnable Heart; it has Avanalaens to perform seasonal

    rites together with the Aericites and Neseriens and Ruornites to perform

    mourning and funeral ceremonies. There is currently a problem since the

    Ruornites within the Heart are being tempted by the establishment of a

    temple controlled by Ruornil`s faithful, however not all of the Ruornites

    wish to make a break with the Heart (they prefer being the top Ruornites

    to being just one of the herd, so to speak). There is another, possibly

    less obvious, problem though.



    The Light and Protection ("Life" sounds goofy if you ask me, and far less

    suitable) has been steadily expanding across Anuire from the east. The

    head of this faction teaches about an expanded role for Avanalae in

    Anuirean religion (In Anuirean religion she is primarily Aeric`s consort

    and patron of summer and scholars) and although there has been no open

    challenge of Haelyn`s principal role in the Anuirean religion the

    Haelynites and traditional priests are concerned. The Light and Protection

    is a more worrying phenomenon than the Celestial Spell, since it appears

    more universally popular; Avanalaens in the Imperial City have even

    submitted to its matriarch. Roesone is specifically mentioned (in PS:

    Roesone, IIRC) as having an Avanalaen monastery within its borders.

    Currently these clerics acknowledge the authority of the Impregnable

    Heart`s patriarch but there is some concern that in the future they will

    be tempted to abandon the Heart for the Light and Protection (creating a

    temple (0) for the Light and Protection possibly?). If this happens then,

    since the monastery is an important spiritual centre for Avanalaens

    locally, it is possible that the ranking cleric of Avanalae within the

    Impregnable Heart might switch his loyalty to the Light and Protection,

    resulting in the loss of some authority for the Heart (Great Captain

    event(s) perhaps?). IN this way having more diversely populated temple

    holdings makes for expanded opportunities for growth, or problems,

    depending on what players and referees do.



    Something else that others mentioned, and to which was briefly alluded to

    in my example above, is that the gods have different roles and places in

    the hierarchies of the different cultural pantheons. Avani is the most

    important deity in Khinasi incorporating law, learning, magic, the sun

    (and its fertility aspects), and leadership of the pantheon. By comparison

    Avanalae, Avani`s Anuirean version, is a vastly less important goddess.

    Her primary role is making the sun shine to provide fertility together

    with her consort Aeric, and inspiring the occasional scholar. Amongst the

    the Rjurik Lana is the wife of the head of the pantheon and is probably

    more important than Avanalae is to the Anuireans (the return of long days

    is probably an important time of the year in the far north). In Vos

    temples the sun goddess is probably reviled as an enemy god since she is

    both the bringer of thaw and the rational foe of chaotic fury. As for the

    Brechts, I still profess to being confused about how to deal with Brecht

    religion, possibly Avani is seen as a guardian of constitutional freedoms

    and an impartial "lady of law"? This interpretation greatly depends on how

    you view the Brecht civilisation and whether you equate freedom with chaos

    or not.



    There you go Osprey, I hope that was interesting and sufficiently lengthy.

    It is pared down a bit and might be a bit confusing, so everyone feel free

    to ask questions if you don`t understand what I am rambling about.



    --

    John Machin

    (trithemius@kallisti.net.nz)

    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."

    - Athanasius Kircher, `The Great Art of Knowledge`.

    --

    John Machin

    (trithemius@kallisti.net.nz)

    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."

    - Athanasius Kircher, `The Great Art of Knowledge`.
    NOTE: Messages posted by Birthright-L are automatically inserted posts originating from the mailing list linked to the forum.

  8. #8
    Site Moderator Fearless_Leader's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Osprey@Mar 7 2004, 05:16 AM
    Must we assume that the Neserians are called in as travelling clergy to do these rites?
    Have the other temples learned to do without, and now have their own funerary rites?
    Or do the temple levels represent Major Temples only, but it's safe to assume that there are minor shrines and household offerings, along with a small body of attendant priests, in most provinces where the gods or goddesses are venerated at all?

    Finally, another question: How does all of this reflect upon the spiritual bractice and beliefs of the typical Anuirean, Brecht, Khinasi, Rjurik, or Vos? Do most of them believe in the existence of all of the gods? Are most of the gods venerated? (Historical examples would say yes, as most commoners always want to be on the safe side when it comes to appeasing the gods or gaining their blessings&#33
    I imagine that the answers to all your questions is yes. All of the temples have their own funeral rites, though in many occasions, traveling priests of Nesirie are called in to perform their own rites, or sometimes even to supplement the rites of other priests. We may also assume that there are a number of small and independent shrines and unaffiliated priests of various gods throughout Cerilia. Naturally, these independent priests are going to face certain challenges. For example, a priest of Belinik in Anuire will face certain execution, as will a priest of Haelyn found in Vosgaard.
    As for the role of polytheism itself, its going to be complicated and open to vast amounts of interpretation. Take Anuire for example - within those lands you will find those who believe that only the Anuirean patron, Haelyn, is worthy of worship - to the exclusion of all others. You will also find those that worship Haelyn but often invoke prayers to other gods depending on the situation, such as when a Haelynite finds himself out at sea or lost deep in the woods. Then you will find those that worship other gods primarily - following any number of other temples such as the Eastern Temple of Nesirie or the Life and Protection of Avanalae. Many of these people will worship their chosen god yet still acknowledge their culture's patron diety as being at the head of the pantheon. Finally, there will be those within these temples who follow their chosen god because they believe that their god/ goddess is the most important - if they don't believe their god is at the head of the pantheon, then they believe that he or she should be.

  9. #9
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    Fearless_Leader said:

    > As for the role of polytheism itself, its going to be complicated and

    > open to vast amounts of interpretation. Take Anuire for example - within

    > those lands you will find those who believe that only the Anuirean

    > patron, Haelyn, is worthy of worship - to the exclusion of all others.



    I do not believe that this is the case in Anuire, at all. I believe that

    some priests think that there is no other god *for them*, but I do not

    think that they see other gods as unworthy of worship. The priests are, in

    any event, not normal. Priests often personally devote to a single god

    above, but not excluding, all the rest whereas most other people remain

    general polytheistic venerating whoever if appropriate to their lives and

    situations, as Kenneth mentioned.



    As an aside, I think that in the Imperial Age, before the extreme level of

    political factionalisation of religion, there were probably "generic"

    priests who did not have a dedicated relationship with one single deity

    (and the benefits and problems that provides) but instead followed all the

    "acceptable" deities of the Anuirean Pantheon (Haelyn, Neserie, Aeric,

    Avanalae, Cuiraecen, Laerme, Ruornil, and Saramie; not Eloele) at once.

    For HeroWars/HeroQuest fans out there this can be seen as the difference

    between a relationship of Devotion and a relationship of multiple

    Initiation within the pantheon.



    > Then you will find those that worship other gods primarily - following

    > any number of other temples such as the Eastern Temple of Nesirie or the

    > Life and Protection of Avanalae. Many of these people will worship their

    > chosen god yet still acknowledge their culture`s patron diety as being at

    > the head of the pantheon. Finally, there will be those within these

    > temples who follow their chosen god because they believe that their god/

    > goddess is the most important - if they don`t believe their god is at the

    > head of the pantheon, then they believe that he or she should be.



    I think there are very few of these temples. I think that the Eastern

    Temple only reflects the religio-political dominance of the priests of

    Neserie in a temple that is mainly based in the pro-Neserie kingdom of

    Aerenwe. The only example of a temple where most of the priests are of one

    god and where that temple is primarily concerned with one god is

    *possibly* the Celestial Spell, and I think that there is good

    justification for there being priests of other gods within the Celestial

    Spell as well (Avanalae and Neserie spring to mind, but any deity can be

    worked in with little problem). The only reason why the Celestial Spell

    exists as a seperate temple is because of the political persecution of

    Medoere by Diemed and the personal charisma and status of Suris Enlien as

    Ruornil`s Prophet. Without these I expect that it would not exist

    seperately and we would simply note that there were larger than normal

    numbers of Ruornil`s priests in the South Coast.



    Unfortunately, for some, applying the polytheism implied by the setting to

    BR means that we have to do a lot more homework for temples than simply

    noting the dominance of one faith, a cast of other deities` priests must

    be created for each major religious faction.



    --

    John Machin

    (trithemius@kallisti.net.nz)

    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."

    - Athanasius Kircher, `The Great Art of Knowledge`.
    NOTE: Messages posted by Birthright-L are automatically inserted posts originating from the mailing list linked to the forum.

  10. #10
    Site Moderator Fearless_Leader's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Birthright-L@Mar 7 2004, 05:10 PM

    I do not believe that this is the case in Anuire, at all. I believe that some priests think that there is no other god *for them*, but I do not think that they see other gods as unworthy of worship. The priests are, in any event, not normal. Priests often personally devote to a single god above, but not excluding, all the rest whereas most other people remain general polytheistic venerating whoever if appropriate to their lives and situations, as Kenneth mentioned.
    While I agree with some of what you've said on this subject, I think you misunderstood what I meant. The fact of the matter is that there will be a group of hardcore fanatics who believe that Haelyn (or some of the other gods for that matter) is the only god worthy of worship. They don't deny the other gods existance for certain, but these individuals will find that the other gods in the pantheon should not be worshipped by any "true blooded Anuirean," arguing, among other things, that from Haelyn's tenents come civilization and that those that do not follow these tenets are little better than barbarians. These people are the kinds of regents that are most likely to expel merchants and priests of other faiths, believing that they subvert the word of the Book of Laws with their ideas of the middle class, merchant dominated societies, and an end to serfdom. These people are most likely to be found in the more reactionary elements of the OIT, a few other temples (the NIT sticks out in my mind), and among certain nobility.

    On the generic priest idea, I have to say I don't agree at all. I've always seen the priests and the pantheon constantly competing against one another. In the Imperial Age, this was more likely to take the role of a political machination rather than an outright religious war. I've also seen the old Imperial Temple as perhaps incorporating branches of Nesirie and Cuiraecen's faith. The Militant Order of Cuiraecen could, for example, have been descended from a sub-temple of the Imperial Temple, similar to the relationship between Imperial Temple and Haelyn's Aegis. As for the temples of other gods, I don't think they were in much abundance before the fall of the Empire. Certainly a few existed, but were tightly regulated and perhaps had to pay a tax to the Imperial Temple.

    In the end, I don't really agree with your interpretation of the temples - that being that they have many priests within them and the priests of one god are dominant. That model could have been applied to the Imperial Temple - maybe. What I do agree with was the earlier statement on how temples represent the political dominance of one faith or another (I forget who said it). The example of Endier was used where the CJS loses all their holdings, yet the Sarimite priests remain with their temples, their congregations might simply decrease and they lose their political power (the example of collecting an extra tax on the docks was used).

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