For Writing and Gaming: The Gods of Asmer
There are six gods in the realm of Stormtalons, but not everyone calls them by the same names or worships them in the same manner. While theocratic Rheligor does largely influence most of the world, there are places that set up their own practices. Some due to defiance, like Skalaunt, the biggest enemy of Rheligor. Others due to the simple fact that they are isolated from Rheligor’s reach and theirs came about due to their culture and society.
Only in Rheligor does worship of the gods govern daily existence; elsewhere in Asmer, individuals pray privately to the gods, usually at small homebuilt shrines (though hermit priests are often sought out for crucial decisions, reached after prayer led by them), following visible signs and dream-visions for personal divine guidance. Whether those signs and visions are actually from the gods is a matter of faith.
When it comes to religion in Asmer, think more actual Greek mythology than D&D® polytheism. The Greeks were careful to give service to all the major gods, particularly those who would directly impact an upcoming event (Demeter for harvest, Poseidon for a sea voyage, Ares for battle, etc.) There were cities dedicated to a specific god (which you have in Rheligor but nowhere else in Asmer), but more often than not the worship was spread across the pantheon without anyone picking a particular god for their everyday life, rather it was situational and dependent on the circumstances at the time.
The six gods, like their priests, are locked in a constant contest for supremacy, to order the world as each of them desires it to be — but this strife is never personal. Rather, it is carried out only through “thinking mortals” (people and intelligent beasts), and is known to be opposed by Dragons, who “were here before the Six, and will be here when the Six are gone.”
But their strife among men is very subtle. Their “thinking mortals” rarely know for certain they are an agent for the divine, unless they happen to be one of the unfortunate rarities actually resurrected by a god (the only bringing back from the dead magic in Asmer, actually) in order to perform some task. Compelled and often not understanding why, the poor soul is driven to fulfill the god’s will. And after the job is done, the god may or may not remember to grant the miserable creature true death once more.
The gods are the Great Three (Pelaspur, Vraevre, and Morian) and the Small Three or Lesser Triad (Sroon, Tlarore, and Noroedryn). If someone says “the Three,” they mean just the Great Three. The Small Three or Lesser Triad are seen as older deities who have become less interested in fighting for dominance, and whose worship is more personal; they have fewer clergy and work more through signs and sendings (beasts or items that appear, in such a way as to indicate their favour or will, and either remain as personal tokens, or vanish again when their divine message has been conveyed).
What this means is the gods do not stride among men, doing divine deeds. They do not talk directly to anyone, nor do they appear in any visions they might send. They have no avatars, and no one gets to visit their home dimensions. They do interfere when one of their devotees is particularly sacrilegious, but the infraction must be serious indeed for one of the Six to take notice. And even then, usually the punishment is not some long-lasting curse, but a simple death. The gods have better things to do than concoct complex curses rife with poetic justice, and when they do decide to intervene, are generally much more decisive and direct. Although the occasional accursed individual does pop up now and then in myth and legend.
They will guide with cryptic visions and portents most understood after the fact, assist with spells and the very occasional miracle, and very, very subtly lead their worshipers to doing their bidding and gaining more of the faith. Most of the time the desires of a god are felt as a compulsion, with the belief (but no actual proof) that “this is what [insert god] wants me to do”.
Additionally, all gods are the Six. No matter what cultural names they are given, no matter what attributes are ascribed to them, they are and always will be truly the Six. Their “true selves” are described below, although there are many cultures across Asmer that have different titles for them, and much more specific territory in their divine domain. For example, in Skalaunt they worship “the Flame”, believing that there is only the Flame and no other deity. In reality, prayers to the Flame are received by the god of the Six to whom it is most relevant.
The gods of the Six are:
Morian, the Dark One
Seen as a tall, thin figure in a sweeping black cloak, cowl up to conceal the face, only two cold green eyes visible—and if pressed, nothing but the cloak, for it hangs empty, as if an invisible solid body inhabits it. Morian flies, as a comet-shaped black streaming cloak, as often as he walks, and when he points or reaches out with a hand to grasp creatures or items, his hand “is like roiling smoke, or writhing shadow, and chills living flesh like a cold flame that leaves a brand or scar.” Morian is the Duke of Death and Lord of the Undead, and stands for the fear of mortality and what facing it can compel, of the ongoing rise of the undead and of those who do murder, of decay, and of plague and infection. He is the “Spur of War.” Morian clergy see to burials and make pacts with the living to prevent their loved ones rising as undead for decades, and teach that for life to have meaning and to replenish and renew, death must be with us in “the Great and Root Cycle of All,” and that what makes us fear or loathe Morian is his power—that the only thing greater than Morian is the Flame of Life. They banish and curb undead, but also lead them in battle and keep them as guardians of Morainyte temples and holy places.
An irregular lump of charred bone, on which has been painted two green eyes (priests often affix two green gems to serve as the eyes, to bone that is either from a priest of Morian who died in battle, or from a foe of the faith slain by Morian clergy.
Noroedryn, the Wise Walker
(“Nor-OH-drin”) Seen as an old, weathered-faced, bearded man in a cowled cloak and robes, who bears a tall Gnarled Staff—or just the staff alone, hovering upright in empty air. Noroedryn is the Old Wizard, the Seeker After Wisdom, and stands for the accumulation and preservation and responsible sharing of lore, both magical and mundane. He is the patron of sages and wizards, and the Keeper of Arcana (books of magic), who causes spell-scrolls and even spellbooks to mysteriously disppear from wizards’ tombs and as mysteriously appear elsewhere. Noroed clergy are charged to copy books of magic and of wise sayings, of cookery and of craft secrets (smithing, weaving, tanning, dyeing, the making of chain and rope and footwear), and to sell these but also to (in secret) give some of them away freely to those in great need or who show great talent. Noroed clergy receive writings as offerings , and are charged to record what they overhear or can learn, and to establish caches of writings everywhere, “high and low,” for the “betterment of all,” for “wisdom is the sword that fails not.”
A miniature staff (usually the length of a grown man’s hand, and worn strapped to a forearm, but sometimes elsewhere about the body if concealment is desired, such as beneath the breasts of a woman, or high on an inner thigh surface). Noroed clergy usually strap metal-tipped pens to their miniature staff, and often wrap scraps of parchment or vellum around the bundle thus created, carrying all together so as always to have writing implements to hand.
Pelaspur, the Shining Shield
Seen as a tall, handsome, silver-plate-armored warrior of calm or grave temperment, who bears a variety of weapons and a huge, glowing, plain silver-hued shield—or just the shield, flying silently upright, growing or diminishing in size and radiance. Pelaspur is the Lord of Light, and stands for justice, order, obedience, and a future of clear roles and definitions for all. His priests are charged to adjudicate, make and continually refine laws, sway customs to accept and come into accord with laws, and to “define” everything (items, processes, professions, the meanings of words, and so on) so order can be refined. A Pelassran priest wants a tunic to be precisely defined and differentiated from a jerkin, and a wasp from a hornet—by everyone, with Pelassran clergy as the judges and guides. A Pelassran shrine is marked by an upright plain silver shield, and is often a grand building limned in white and silver.
A thumb-sized silver shield, tall and straight-sided, convex, with a central bottom point. Some are fashioned as rings, or made to serve as picks for stringed instruments.
Sroon, the Flame of Life
Seen as a white vigorous dancing gout of flame that scorches or ignites only what she chooses to, and needs no fuel nor support (she can hover in midair, or be seen under water or in the rushing torrent of a fast stream). Sroon, the Awakening, is the unquenchable force of creation and life, of birth and renewal, of purging disease and taint and ascending to new vigor and strength. Sroon cannot be slain or defeated, though she may be forced back or away for a time. Sroon is the Truth, or rather the force that drives intelligent beings to seek truths and take strength in knowing and embracing them, the essential truth being honest and utter self-knowledge. A Sroonyte priestess disrobes and dances unharmed in a fire, or rolls around in one, for fire—and lightning—cannot harm those wholly dedicated to Sroon. A Sroonyte altar is a hearth or firepit, and Her holy places are leaping flames—that turn white to indicate her presence or favour.
St. Elmo’s Fire/Will o’ The Wisp and the Aurora Borealis are all called Sroon’s Mantle, and are said to appear when she is pleased. If one follows and gets lost or dies, it is considered that they were not strong enough/faithful enough/etc. to truly receive what Sroon was trying to lead them to.
A blackened piece of wood from a fire built by Sroonyte clergy and used for the worship of Sroon, that has been carved into the shape of a leaping flame and painted white. Usually it has a hole bored through it so it can be worn on a thong around a devout Sroonyte’s neck, next to the skin. (If a Sroonyte priest wears such a token outside their clothing, so it can’t touch their skin, they will always have another token, worn elsewhere, that is touching their skin.)
Tlarore, the Beastmother
Seen as an everchanging-in-shape hulking monster that snarls, ceaselessly gives birth, and very frequently lashes out with claws and tentacles and snapping jaws. Tlarore is the Lady of Fangs and Claws, and stands for hunting and wild savagery and natural killing and devouring, the essential inner “nature” of all beasts, intelligent or brutish. She is the Wild That Cannot Be Tamed, the Spiller of Blood, the Gore-Drenched One, patron of successful hunters and—Tlaroan clergy claim but all others dispute—Tamer of the Stormtalons (Her priests believe she has the power to hold back the Stormtalons and to guide and aid those who venture into them, but other clergy and most sages say this is a spurious claim, and Tlarore has no more power within the mists than any other god). Tlarore is the Lady of Beasts, venerated by most intelligent “monsters” except Dragons, and She is the Cloak of Outcasts, the diseased, disfigured, exiled, and fugitives from justice; she champions loners and the insane.
A necklace of (pierced, and strung on a thong) talons and fangs from any sort of wild beast. Larger teeth and claws denote piety or high priestly rank, and wearing the “savage bits” of a monster is the ideal (it’s best if the wearer had a hand in slaying the monster, and the ultimate is to have vanquished it alone, as a deliberate offering to the Beastmother).
Vraevre, the Lady of Stars and Shadows
(“Vurr-AY-vrur”) Seen as a barefoot, long-limbed, large- and dark-eyed beautiful woman with knee-length blue-black hair that constantly swirls and coils, who moves silently and gracefully, and wears flowing gowns and half-cloaks that often briefly part in random places to reveal glimpses of her. Vraevre, She of the Forest, is the deity of wonder and night and mystery and intrigue, of enticement and romance and lust, of passion and friendship and cooperation in the keeping of secrets. Her priestesses stand for personal choice and the inner personal journey that the life of every intelligent being should be, that creeds should be personally assembled and definitions personally made (rather than being blindly accepted from others). True harmony comes not from regimented order, but from finding one’s own way and taking personal responsibility for what one does—and a true life is full of secrets and whimsy and play and small manipulations and deceptions. A Vraevran priestess dances on moonlit nights “under the stars and amid the shadows,” on the edge of a wood or in a forest clearing, to worship “the Lady” and to receive guidance—in the form of visions, visible to all, that appear in front of the dancer—from the goddess. Vraevre stands for personal freedom and style, for the soft word rather than the harsh denunciation—but also for violence, often involving daggers, when the need for resistance cannot be avoided any longer. A Vraevryte shrine is marked by a tall oval of nine stars, often as nine shards of glass glued to a stone.
An oval of black stone around which have been glued (or affixed on a dark wire frame or mesh) nine gems or faceted cut glass stones, in such a way as to hold a tangle of blue-black female human hair stretched over the oval (in an irregular manner).