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  1. #1
    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    Sidhelien Spirituality

    Seeing as how we seem to agree on at least that one point, I thought it would be best if I did post a new topic on the matter...


    The Sidhelien, as far as most Cerilian humans know, are adamant: they won't worship a god. It is interesting to note that dwarves and goblins actually do have a faith of their own that has nothing to do with human religion.

    We do know that they don't worship the new gods, but we also know that they do not seem to have ever worshipped even the patrons of these gods when they were still mortals. So we can be certain that it's not a matter of the once-mortal nature of them that distanced the Sidhelien from worship.

    I don't they view the gods as lesser to any extent, though: in fact, I think they simply don't see the point in worshipping them. Much like how they cannot abide to the rigidity that lawful alignments lend themselves to, so can they not have any sort of faith in a divine aspect of quite about anything.

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 03:57 PM 12/18/2007, RaspK_FOG wrote:

    >I don`t they view the gods as lesser to any extent, though: in fact,
    >I think they simply don`t see the point in worshipping them. Much
    >like how they cannot abide to the rigidity that lawful alignments
    >lend themselves to, so can they not have any sort of faith in a
    >divine aspect of quite about anything.

    I don`t think it`s even a matter of personal perspective, faith or
    culture. Cerilian elves simply cannot worship the gods in the way
    that humans or other Cerilian races can.

    In a campaign setting that is sometimes rife with counter examples to
    the game mechanics that were used and even setting materials itself,
    the restriction on elven priests and temple holdings has no such
    example. No Cerilian elf is described as having taken levels as a
    priest nor creating temple holdings. There are temple holdings in
    elven lands, but the setting materials always note that those temples
    are led and address the non-elven members of a domain`s
    population. Given how broad the religious aspects of the setting
    are, and the fact that elven spirituality/theology is addressed in
    various ways in the setting materials, the lack of actual temple
    holdings or any elven characters who break the mold is particularly notable.

    There are more wizards who control sources in lands controlled by
    races who cannot themselves become wizards than temples in elven
    lands despite the fact that clerical magical powers are described as
    a major influence in the dominance of human immigrants to Cerilia
    over the original elven inhabitants of the continent. Despite
    millennia of this supposed conflict, no Cerilian elf appears to have
    EVER tried to worship a god, of any pantheon, and got other elves to
    give it a go if only for reasons of personal power and
    influence. (And let`s not kid ourselves about non-elves worshipping
    the gods and creating temples for reasons of personal power in a
    setting designed to define such power relationships....)

    So the weirdness in the original BR materials is that there`s nothing
    that says a Cerilian elf absolutely cannot create a temple holding,
    yet none has any. The setting materials often have "rules"
    describing the limitations of races and classes, but breaks those
    rules from time to time--yet did not do so in this particular
    case. All that leads me to infer that the issue of religion for
    Cerilian elves isn`t really a matter of choice at all, but somehow
    hardwired into their very nature.

    Gary

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    Member Cargaroth's Avatar
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    Spirits vs. Souls

    I remember some reference to elves having spirits rather than souls. I don't remember whether this was in the original birthright material or in some of the articles written by roger Moore in old Dragon articles. If this was the case it might explain why an elf cannot be a druid or cleric, and why elves cound not create enough "prayers" to formulate a temple holding. It does not have to relate to a particular elf's respect for or personal belief in supernatural beings, but rather a part of their essential spiritual make-up.

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 07:59 PM 12/18/2007, Cargaroth wrote:

    >I remember some reference to elves having spirits rather than souls.
    >I don`t remember whether this was in the original birthright
    >material or in some of the articles written by roger Moore in old
    >Dragon articles.

    I don`t recall reading anything explicit regarding souls/spirits that
    was from any official source for BR. This particular rationale goes
    back to some of the more Tolkienesque aspects of BR since JRRT`s
    elves didn`t have quite the same immortal soul as humanity. The
    spirit vs. soul nomenclature works perfectly well to explain that distinction.

    >If this was the case it might explain why an elf cannot be a druid
    >or cleric, and why elves cound not create enough "prayers" to
    >formulate a temple holding. It does not have to relate to a
    >particular elf`s respect for or personal belief in supernatural
    >beings, but rather a part of their essential spiritual make-up.

    I`ve used that as part of the rationale for not allowing elves to
    justify that restriction. It`s one of those things that is sometimes
    problematic in BR, though, since part of the emphasis of 3e+ was to
    remove such restrictions....

    Gary

  5. #5
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Well the elven spirit vs souls arguement is one of those locked in 2nd somewhere (not BR specifically).

    There are allusions to this in various aspects (2nd ed of course) pertaining to things like the difficulty in raising or ressurecting elves compared to other races and the like.

    But, IMO, this has nothing to do with BR at all - considering that elves in other setting could be priests.

    I generally agree with Gary on this one. There is only one text source in all of the BR material that might even have the slight appearance of being in conflict with this premise and that is in the PS of Tuarhievel, but my personnal observation of the consistency of the PS in general puts that as very low source of "rules" material for the setting.

    BR Rulebook pg 12
    “The Sidhelien have no deities at all (thus, Cerilian elves cannot be priests).”

    BR Rulebook pg 35

    Temple holdings can be controlled by any class of regent character, but only priests who control temple holdings can cast realm spells.”

    BR Rulebook pg 41
    Only priest and paladin regents gain regency from temple holdings

    Book of Priestcraft pg 75

    Elven Investiture

    “Since elven cultures have unique views on the roles of gods and priests, they do not have any priest regents to cast the investiture spell. Instead, elf regents enjoy some special rules concerning investiture and similar matters.. . .

    Most elf regents (depending on the domain) do not actively select their heirs, but instead allow the land to decide when the time comes. See Land’s Choice, later in this section.”
    Duane Eggert

  6. #6
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    More relevant info from 2nd ed material

    Blood Spawn pg 5
    When two worlds were one (sidebar)

    The sages say that long ago, perhaps before humanity existed on Aebrynis, the world of Daylight and the world of Shadow were as one. The landscape of Aebrynis had not completely formed then, and the world could change according to its own rules, without rhyme or reason. A lake might form where a mountain had been, white glaciers moved over deserts, and rivers flowed through the sky. This was a time before the gods, but it ultimately resulted in their creation.

    The gods, it is believed, were formed out of the land, and their natures bound them to it. Not wishing their natures to change without warning, as did the land, they began to enforce their will upon the world. Mountains, rivers, shores, and seas all took shape and stayed constant, bent to the will of the young gods.

    But one god delighted in the ever-changing world and refused to bind his will and his being to the land. That god became Lord of Shadow, the god of Chaos and Change. He became Azrai.

    Little is known of the gods’ earliest years in this time before humans and, perhaps, before elves. Giants walked the earth along with near-immortal beasts and other beings lost to the passage of time. It is said, however, that in the beginning Azrai alone of the gods willed change and evolution into being. If this is true, the race of humanity—as well as many of the other races now inhabiting Aebrynis—owe their existence to him.

    The elements of permanence and transience—light and shadow—warred in those early days, and their battles grew so great that a rift formed between the land of Shadow and the land of Daylight. Passage between the two was still possible, even common, in those days, but soon (as gods measure time) the Shadow World and the world of Aebrynis solidified their borders. Aebrynis remained constant, only transforming in response to the actions of its inhabitants over long periods, while the Shadow World remained mutable and ever-changing.

    Then came Deismaar, the destruction of the gods, and the cleaving of the world. The Shadow World became a place of fear and strange tales for those remaining on Aebrynis and now, more than fifteen hundred years later, only a scant number of people know more than a few tales of the Shadow World and its inhabitants. The Shadow World remains in flux. Halflings alone of Cerilia’s races may still pass freely between the two worlds and, since halflings fled the Shadow World in response to a terror they will not reveal, most are loathe to do so. And even a halfling would find it difficult to navigate the ever-changing land of Shadow.



    Blood Spawn pg 27
    Seelie Faerie ecology (discussion of the Sie)

    The seelie faeries were the first children of the Shadow World. Long ago, when the waking world and the Shadow World were one, a race known as the Sie (“see”) populated the land. These creatures were beings of great magic, innate wielders of both sorcery that worked with nature (priestly spells) and sorcery that broke the rules of nature (wizardly spells). They cast their spells not by the prayer of priests or the rote memorization of human wizards, but rather the gathering of magical energies (the process yet employed by today’s elves).

    The force that spilt the world into two halves was so strong that it also split the land’s inhabitants, ripping the Sie in twain. Each creature became two separate entities—a faerie (seelie) in the Shadow World and an elf (Sidhe) in Cerilia. The seelie retained control of natural magic and gained power over a new force in the Shadow World: the Seeming. The Sidhe retained control of wizardly magic and became bound to the land itself.



    Note that the Sie (and now the seelie faeries) can cast priestly magic without gods. In 2nd ed (and 3.5) terms this translates into "directly from nature" and not from "a nature god".
    Duane Eggert

  7. #7
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    PS of Tuarhievel pg 19

    "The elves of Cerilia do not worship gods. They are aware that the gods of Deismaar existed and that new gods descended from the deities destroyed in that epic battle, but they do not pay homage to them. After their deception and betrayal by Azrai, the Sidhelien have been adamant in their refusal to worship the modern human gods."

    "To the elves, spiritual development is the responsibility of the individual. The path 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 on such an individual is that of silence while within the elven lands."

    I see this as pointing out the importance of individuality and personal development to the point of even accepting an individual elf's choice to go against the very basis of their cultural aspects. To me that is the importance of pointing this out - calling into example something that is so very clearly contrary to the absolute nature of elven culture and saying that it is all right on an individual basis. Not that this is in any way the norm.

    Then there is the taelinri, whose role in elven cultures I see much like that of the druids in the Rjurik culture. Primarily that of teachers and counsellers.

    "The taelinri come from all social classes and profession, with one exception: No elf who embraces the doctrines espoused by worshippers of the deities of other races may ever become a taelinir."

    "The philosophy taught by the taelinri consists of three basic beliefs. First, the elves beleive they were formed as the result of the union of the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. These elements natrually contest one another in an unending struggle for dominance. Within the elven spirit, they bring about the mood swings that characterize the elves."

    Now it should be noted that this is actually untrue since the elves were formed from the split of the Sie (which could have been formed in this manner though). But this split robbed both "races" of their past heritage as only the faerie queen remembers what actually happend, being the sole Sie in existance.

    "The second aspect of elven philosophy is one that most annoys other races, especially humans. The elves beleive that, as a result of the unique creation, they have a greater capacity to percieve the world around them and feel its inherent beuaty."

    "Third, the taelinri help their people achieve a sense of themselves as individuals."
    Duane Eggert

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    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    I agree with all the above, irdeggman; which is why I want to draw your attention to the method through which they drew their powers...

    The Sie are referred to as capable of drawing to them the energies of the land, whether in unison with or in contrast to it; to me, funnily enough, that pretty much asserts that the elves, whether Sie, Sidhelien, or Seelie, actually are some of the definitive spontaneous casters of the setting (which actually makes us reflect on the problems the current spontaneous spellcasting faces, but that's another story), no matter what kind of spells they cast (including, if one could say that, using the Seeming).

    Now consider such a creature; isn't it almost impossible for it to relate to the concept of calling unto a deific being and gaining powers from it?

    I believe that the Seelie and Sidhelien are sundered: they cannot cast the other kind of spells, whether arcane or divine, because they no longer have the capacity to draw such energies to themselves.

    Now, here comes the interesting part: there is no definitive reason why the elves cannot worship a deity; the contrary, their non-reason to do so, is given. By that, I mean that the elves did not feel like worshipping deities, instead working sorcery as one with the land (when they were still just Sie instead of half themselves), and thus the idea of worshipping a deific being is absolutely alien to them. After all, if the ever-mutable land is like a mother to you, nurturing and providing and exciting and thrilling, what reason do you have to turn to some other external force that you have so little to relate to? For one thing, we don't know how the Sie were created, but the evidence shows that, unlike the dwarves, the gods might have had just an indirect role in their creation, or even none at all, both being yet another creation of the land.

  9. #9
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaspK_FOG View Post
    I agree with all the above, irdeggman; which is why I want to draw your attention to the method through which they drew their powers...

    The Sie are referred to as capable of drawing to them the energies of the land, whether in unison with or in contrast to it; to me, funnily enough, that pretty much asserts that the elves, whether Sie, Sidhelien, or Seelie, actually are some of the definitive spontaneous casters of the setting (which actually makes us reflect on the problems the current spontaneous spellcasting faces, but that's another story), no matter what kind of spells they cast (including, if one could say that, using the Seeming).
    Yup it adds an entire new level to making them sorcerers (at least the primary source of sorcerers, with others having some semblance of elvne blood (even if not enough to be a half-elf).

    Now consider such a creature; isn't it almost impossible for it to relate to the concept of calling unto a deific being and gaining powers from it?
    Not really. The two can be distinct. It is entirely possible to have a spontaneous caster and still be quite deific, at least in my mind. I think the real crux comes from how they were created - essentially without a deity involved and thus have had no connection with deities in the worshipping context. At least that is how I see it.

    I believe that the Seelie and Sidhelien are sundered: they cannot cast the other kind of spells, whether arcane or divine, because they no longer have the capacity to draw such energies to themselves.
    Now I on the other hand have no problem seeing elven rangers casting divine spells as a remnant of their past with the Sie and their connection to the land. These spells are drawn from nature itself and not the meghhail of the land (which is in its essence arcane in nature).

    Now, here comes the interesting part: there is no definitive reason why the elves cannot worship a deity; the contrary, their non-reason to do so, is given. By that, I mean that the elves did not feel like worshipping deities, instead working sorcery as one with the land (when they were still just Sie instead of half themselves), and thus the idea of worshipping a deific being is absolutely alien to them. After all, if the ever-mutable land is like a mother to you, nurturing and providing and exciting and thrilling, what reason do you have to turn to some other external force that you have so little to relate to? For one thing, we don't know how the Sie were created, but the evidence shows that, unlike the dwarves, the gods might have had just an indirect role in their creation, or even none at all, both being yet another creation of the land.

    True - but the reason for them not worshipping was actually given in a round about manner. There are no elven deities. Hence nothing that they would inherently deify in that manner. There has never been any elven deities either, which is an important part. It is not that they evolved past worhipping deities but that it was never a part of their being at all and so is inherently at odds with what they are as a race.
    Duane Eggert

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    Has there ever been a discussion or effective answer as to why there are no elven gods now?

    There were enough humans, dwarves, gnolls, and goblins at Deismmar to ensure the creation of new gods from each species. Surely there must have been enough elves close enough to the epicenter to also absorb enough divine power to rise to godhood.

    Have I missed an explanation somewhere in the source material, or was this issue merely glossed over?

    Thanks
    Joe

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