RELIGIONS IN WYRMSHADOW
There are many different faiths in Wyrmshadow, but by far the most prosperous and influential of faiths pertain to the Pantheon of Arcadia. Ruled by three Elder Gods, the Pantheon of Arcadia is worshiped by nearly 90% of the sentient creatures in the world, and with good reason. In Wyrmshadow, the works of the Gods are plain to see, and the reasons to worship, to revere, to respect, and to fear the Pantheon of Arcadia are irrefutable.
The Elder Gods:
The Lesser Gods:Spirys
The Elder Gods
In the beginning, there was only the Legendary Wyrm. To help him rebuild the ruined world upon which he awoke, the Legendary Wyrm created his first children, the Ancients. Some of the Ancients rose to greater prominence than others. Asmous, the Ancient of Ambition, went off to find new worlds to rebuild and repopulate. Phoenix, the Ancient of Sacrifice, unraveled the very fabric of reality, dying in the process only to be reborn, again and again, as a mortal being possessed of a greater understanding of reality than any other being in existence. Aeolde, the Ancient of Discovery, explored the cosmos in all its glory and discovered the nature of mana, introducing magic to Wyrmshadow for the first time.
However, of all the Ancients, three in particular shone brighter than their brothers and sisters. Aos, Nus, and Phi were the Ancients of Nature, Death, and Justice, respectively, and they would come to be known as the Elders among their peers. As the other Ancients evolved and transformed themselves into the Elves, Sau, Dwarves, Humans, and other races of Wyrmshadow, these three Elders served at the foot of the Legendary Wyrm, helping the creator in his glorious quest to restore life to the dead world upon which he awoke, and to protect the world bathed in the Wyrm’s shadow from falling prey to chaos, injustice, and entropy. Aos, Nus, and Phi would eventually become known as the Elder Gods of Wyrmshadow.
In order to enable them to come to better understand the lives of those upon whose faith, fear, and reverence they so fully depended, the Elder Gods sacrificed their own immortality. In order to carry onward in their holy quest to safeguard Wyrmshadow from falling prey to the same fate as the World Before, Aos, Nus, and Phi had to bestow their memories, powers, and responsibilities to candidates, chosen with great care, from among the mortal races of Wyrmshadow. Once chosen, this candidate would become the new Elder God of Nature, Justice, or Death, and he or she would carry onward with the sacred duties of the Elder Gods, only to eventually repeat the cycle, choose new candidates for their powers, and perpetually preside over the lives and deaths of Wyrmshadow.
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Hyronius, the Just
The Elder God of Justice
Hyronius is the 421st host of the powers, memories, and duties of the Ancient Elder, Phi. As the Elder God of Justice, Hyronius ensures that the laws set forth by the Legendary Wyrm are upheld, that the good and just of Wyrmshadow are protected from evil, and that those who are wronged are rightly avenged. At the last Imperian Census, 54% of all Imperian citizens were counted as Hyronites, and it is conjectured that more than a third of the world’s population worships Hyronius or one of his subordinate deities, Dyna, Enduria, Eradia, Cantus, H’Ruyn, or Lushirys.
The five Great Tenets of Hyronius include:
- The Righteous Must Be Praised With Ascension.Those who serve in the interest of others above themselves, those who make sacrifices in the name of justice, in the name of their nations, in the name of their families, should be adored by their peers and elevated among them. Heroes must be treated as heroes. To do otherwise is akin to insulting the God of Justice himself.
- The Strong Must Defend The Weak.Those who are capable of protecting others must use that strength whenever necessary to defend those who are incapable of protecting themselves. The farmer who takes up his pitchfork in defense of his family is just as valiant in Hyronius’s eyes as the trained soldier who takes up his sword in defense of the law. Valor is not dependent upon social status, but upon the willingness to do the right thing, even when it does not offer any other benefit than to aid others.
- The War Must Be Fought By The Willing.This tenet is meant to be taken in two ways. First, any war must be entered not by the wealthiest landowner for the sake of lining his coffers, but by the consensus in the interest of defense. Second, when war is called for, true Hyronites should be willing to serve in defense of their families, their lands, their nations, and their god. However, no one should ever be forced to fight for a cause which he does not believe in. For those who desert war, judgment will be levied by Hyronius, and weight will be given to the merit of the deserter’s position.
- The Wicked Must Be Brought To Justice.It is the solemn duty of all Hyronites to ensure that all enemies of justice, all criminals, all those who would plot against the sanctity of life in Wyrmshadow must face justice. However, even more important is to remember that none of those who walk on Wyrmshadow are worthy of deciding what is or is not just without providing the accused with an opportunity to be proven innocent or guilty.
- The Law Must Be Upheld By All.Nobody, no matter the title or wealth, no matter the position of authority, is above the law. Similarly, nobody is exempt from their solemn duty to uphold the law. Witnessing a crime and not reporting it is a sin in the eyes of Hyronius. This fifth Great Tenet is, by far, the one that is most often overlooked, much to the chagrin of the God of Justice himself.
The Grand Temple of Hyronius is built in Eastgates, Imperia. It is home to the Emerald Academy, a royal institution devoted to training the holy warriors known the world around as the Diocene Knights of the Emerald Order. Hyronite colors are emerald green, dark gray, and black with gold or silver accents. The favored weapon of most Hyronites are swords, lances, and longbows.
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Ehlonn, the Wise
The Elder God of Nature
Ehlonn is the 612th host of the powers, memories, and duties of the Ancient Elder, Aos. As the Elder God of Nature, Ehlonn ensures that the order and balance of creation remains in a comfortable state of neutral, swaying neither toward stagnation and entropy nor chaos and turmoil. Ehlonism is a form of religious belief built upon a foundation of self-reliance, introspection, respect for nature, and above all else, freedom. At the last Imperian Census, 27% of all Imperian citizens were counted as Ehlonites, but it is believed that more than half of the remainder of Wyrmshadow’s population counts itself as followers of Ehlonn or one of his subordinate deities, Spirys, Pharos, Gaius, Hydrus, or Arteia.
The five Great Tenets of Ehlonn include:
- Mind Your Own Business.Ehlonites do not like others trifling in their personal affairs, and they tend not to trifle in the affairs of others. It should be noted that the “business” of family and close friends can be considered one’s own, as their interests and goals are in line with one’s own, and thus any who tamper with said interests could be considered as if they are tampering in one’s own.
- Waste Not, Want Not.There isn’t much that aggravates an Ehlonite more than seeing someone kill just to kill, destroy just for the sake of destroying, or cry about what they want while they have no appreciation of all that they already have. Most Ehlonites are not materialist, not interested in riches or amassing wealth or social prominence, but in merely doing “good enough” to get through life. As a result, most Ehlonites life a simple life and seem to be happier with less than it would take to make others happy.
- Don’t Start Fights That Don’t Need Starting.Ehlonites aren’t afraid of combat, but they are also uninterested in seeking out conflict when there are other ways to resolve a problem. For example, an Ehlonite would rather let a thief get away with a paltry sum of gold than take the “poor bastard’s” head off. It is only money, after all. However, if that money was to pay for something important, or if the thief caused personal harm to the Ehlonite in the course of the theft, the fight is deemed necessary, which brings us to the fourth Great Tenet of Ehlonism.
- Show No Mercy To Those Who Would Show None To You.Ehlonites tend to be terrible people to have as enemies. This Tenet is an extension of the Mantra: “Survival of the Fittest”. If a person has wronged the Ehlonite enough to provoke a fight, then the Ehlonite is inclined to do whatever is in his or her power to put a permanent end to the threat this person has caused. If it was merely a theft, then the Ehlonite may leave the thief naked and alone in the woods with a warning never to show his face again. If it was a more serious offense, the Ehlonite would feel no guilt in ending the perpetrator’s life. To their reckoning, if that person was meant to survive, he shouldn’t have crossed the Ehlonite to begin with.
- Don’t Let Anyone Boss You Around.This last Great Tenet is what puts Ehlonism at odds with Hyronism, as the two seem to negate one another. However, nothing about this tenet gives the Ehlonite free reign to commit criminal acts against others, as the first Tenet precludes that. This Tenet essentially declares that the Ehlonite will not be made subject to arbitrary policies from random people who he or she has never met and will never know. To Ehlonites, laws and rules are constructs of desperation by citified bureaucrats and politicians. The real world that the Ehlonites live in only requires the Five Great Tenets of Ehlonn to survive.
Ehlonites do not have formal temples, nor do they gather on specific times or in specific manners to worship. There are priests, but they do not sit in rectories or gather flocks of followers. They walk the hard earth and traverse the deep forests, swim the waters and climb the mountains, just like everyone else. For Ehlonites, the whole of Wyrmshadow is their temple, and the great, open skies above are their shrine to the God of Nature. Ehlonite colors are brown, tan, and black with silver or brass accents. The favored weapons of most Ehlonites are axes, spears, and staves.
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Nehrul, the Dark
The Elder God of Death
Nehrul is the 440th host of the powers, memories, and duties of the Ancient Elder, Nus. As the Elder God of Death, Nehrul ensures that anything that controverts the natural process of death, such as necromancy or the wanton murder of the innocent, does not go unpunished. Nehrul’s role is to keep sacred the soul, to attend the fallen and guide their spirits to rest in Arcadia. Her wrath is fierce and merciless, and in times when the sanctity of death seem unjust or unnatural, Nehrul will not back down from Hyronius or Ehlonn in fulfilling her role as the Elder God of Death. There are no formal followers of Nehrul, whose powers are fed not by faith, but by fear and reverence. However, there are many in Wyrmshadow who are said to worship at the feet of one of Nehrul’s subordinate deities, Ashura, Eoldrayn, or Vesaelys. Though followers of Nehrul are uncommon, those who do worship her tend to don colors of black, brown, and blood red with silver or dark bronze accents. The favored weapons of most Nehrulites are scythes, daggers, and crossbows.
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The Lesser Gods
Subordinate to the Elder Gods are a pantheon of Lesser Gods, Materian souls elevated to states of god-like power and given stewardship over certain aspects of their liege deity’s divine doctrines. Each of the Lesser Gods, like the Elder Gods, was once a living being from Wyrmshadow who was chosen due to some quality of greatness their liege deity saw in them that made them ideal candidates for godhood.
Spirys, the Wind – Goddess of Air
(Spirysian Order, some Sailors, some Weren)Spirys was once a Faefolk Sprite named Espyrea Redpetal. She is the patron deity of the wind and is often worshiped by sailors and shipwrights, as well as many Avite Weren. The Spirysian Order is a small sect of monks who worship from a mountaintop temple in Windshear Crag. Their colors are white, light blue, and orange with silver accents. Their sigil is a trio of wavy parallel lines, light blue, orange, and silver on a white background. The preferred weapons of a Spirysian Skysword, the most elite warrior of the Spirysian Order, are longswords, spears, and darts
Pharos, the Flame – God of Fire
(Pharosian Order, some Islandfolk, some Smiths)Pharos was once a Yuan-ti shaman named Zaphar. He is the patron deity of fire and is worshiped by some blacksmiths and the tribal Humans from Paradisla. The Pharosian Order is a small sect of monks who worship from the swamp temple in Yal Tenbu. Their colors are black, orange, and yellow with gold accents, often adorned with rubies, garnets, or red stained crystal. Their sigil is a closed, black fist surrounded in bright yellow flames on an orange background. The preferred weapons of a Pharosian Warbow, the most elite warrior of the Pharosian Order, are longbows, staves, and curved swords (such as sabers, scimitars, and knopesh)
Gaius, the Stone – God of Earth
(Gaiusian Order, some Miners, Sculptors and Artisans)Gaius was once a Goliath sculptor named Gaionar Sharpstone. He is the patron deity of earth and is worshiped by some miners, but mostly by sculptors and other artisans who believe there is divinity in finding aesthetic beauty within a cold, ugly slab of stone. The Gaiusian Order is a small sect of monks who worship from an ancient limestone quarry they sculpted into a glorious temple at the base of Mt. Aorenn. Their colors are dark gray, dark blue, and russet red with iron accents. Their sigil is a dark gray mountain cracked in half by a dark blue hammer and chisel on a russet red background. The preferred weapons of a Gaiusian Stronghammer, the most elite warrior of the Gaiusian Order, are hammers, picks, and slings
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Hydrus, the Flood – God of Water
(Hydrusian Order, Naga, some Sahuagin, some Sailors)Hydrus was once a Merusian Elf ranger named Xahydrys Argyl. He is the patron deity of water and is worshiped by most Naga, some of the more civilized Sahuagin that live as soldiers for the Naga of Losarill, and most notably a great many sailors, privateers, and merchant marines. The Hydrusian Order is a small sect of monks who worship from a beachside temple of sandstone and magically blown sand-glass on the edge of the Shorecliffs south of Oldport. Their colors are dark blue, turquoise, and gray with silver accents. Their sigil is a turquoise rolling wave crashing against a silver trident stabbed into a dark gray stone on a dark blue background. The preferred weapons of a Hydrusian Tidespear, the most elite warrior of the Hydrusian Order, are spears, tridents, and weighted nets
Ashura, the Hidden – Goddess of Shadow
(Ashurian Order, some Drao, some Shidi)Ashura was once a Shidiman Elf sorcerer named Kazukira Asurai. She is the patron deity of shadows and is worshiped by some Drao fringers who live outside of the great Underdark cities like Anzarach, and the Ninja clans of Shidima. The Ashurian Order is a small sect of monks who built their temple in a secluded Underdark cavern deep beneath the Shidima capital of Kouten. Their colors are black and dark gray with metal accents painted in dull black. Their sigil is a pure, black background. The preferred weapons of an Ashurian Shadowdancer, the most elite warrior of the Ashurian Order, are katana, caltrops, and shuriken
Eradia, the Bright – Goddess of Light
(Eradian Order, many Diocene Knights, some Weren)Eradia was once a Human priestess named Eralyssa Donlan. She is the patron deity of light and is worshiped by some Weren (due to the influence of moonlight on their psychology and physiology) as well as many Diocene Knights who operate outside the Emerald Order of Knights in Imperia. The Eradian Order is a small sect of monks based out of a temple built in the middle of an unmapped desert oasis in the heart of the Muhari Duskdunes. Their colors are white and light yellow with silver accents. Their sigil is a white sun with silver rays in the center of a light yellow background. The preferred weapons of an Eradian Lightblade, the most elite warrior of the Eradian Order, are curved swords (such as sabers, scimitars, and khopesh), polearms (such as glaives, halberds, and pikes), and throwing daggers
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Dyna, the Quick – Goddess of Energy
(Dynian Order, Gnomes, some Wizards, some Dragons)Dyna was once a Blue Dragon named Andynaris. She is the patron deity of energy and was worshipped by the Gnomes throughout most of history, though their looming extinction has led most Gnomes to abandon their faith altogether. Some wizards revere Dyna due to the belief that she sends lightning from the heavens to the earth, and wizards tend to obsess over the destructive force that lightning represents. Some dragons worship Dyna as well. The Dynian Order is a small sect of monks who worship her from the peak of Storm Claw Mountain, which is notorious for being under a constant barrage of lightning strikes due to its proximity to the Storm Coast. Their colors are white, blue, and black with diamond or clear crystal accents. Their sigil is a trio of white lightning bolts striking a black mountain peak on a dark blue background. The preferred weapons of a Dynian Stormheart, the most elite warrior of the Dynian Order, are spears, longbows, and dual-wielded short swords (which they grind together before combat to create sparks in honor of Dyna.
Enduria, the Still – Goddess of Tenacity
(Endurian Order, Giants, some Diocene Knights)Enduria was once a Dwarf Diocene Knight named Lady Nesira Endur, the Bulwark of the Broken Stone. Her tales are told to Imperian children as fables to remind them of the value of making a solemn vow and sticking it through, no matter the difficulty or danger. She is the patron deity of tenacity and is worshiped by many Giants due to the fact that the tiny Dwarf, on her own, protected her town of Broken Stone from a trio of mighty Hill Giants with nothing but a shield and a warhammer. The Endurian Order is a proud fraternal order of Diocene Knights who erected a fort on the site where Enduria made her final stand, Fort Nesira. Their colors are dark red, yellow, and gray with copper accents. Their sigil is a gray warhammer laying across a yellow, broken tower shield on a dark red background with copper grommets on the fringes. The preferred weapons of an Endurian Bulwark, the most elite warrior of the Endurian Order, are warhammers, crossbows, and tower shields with great copper spikes fitted to them.
Cantus, the Candid – God of the Mercantile
(Merchants, Traders, some Mercenaries)Cantus was once a Hafhie magister named Lucante Rosethorn. He is the patron deity of the mercantile, and is largely worshiped by those for whom trade and commerce are the most vital components of their lives. His worshippers include merchants and traders, but also some mercenaries and sellswords, who will pray to Cantus usually out of desperation to attain the wealth they desire to leave their sordid profession. A common prayer to Cantus is “Bring profits and wealth to your loyal few, and Lord Cantus will have all the love he is due.” Followers of Cantus do not have set colors, but they do tend to make use of a holy symbol, a copper coin punched through with a small hole and tied around their necks by a simple strip of leather. They clutch the coin at their neck for good luck in plying their trade.
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H’ruyn Blackhammer – God of the Forge
(Smiths, Jewelers, and other Craftsmen)H’Ruyn Blackhammer was once a Dwarf armorer whose hammer, Thundersong, was capable of folding magical energies into steel and bestowing armor with powerful enchantments. He is the patron deity of the forge and is worshiped by smiths, jewelers, and other craftsmen who pray to H’Ruyn for inspiration in working their crafts. A common prayer to H’Ruyn is “Lord H’Ruyn, guide my arm. Let my hammer fall true.” Followers of H’Ruyn do not have set colors, but they do tend to make use of a holy symbol, an iron headed hammer with the Dwarven symbol for Smith emblazoned on the head. They do not use this hammer to forge anything, but spin it in their hands while saying a prayer, then return it to their tool belt to take up the appropriate hammer for the job.
Lushirys Dawnstar – Goddess of the Glade
(Ilrasi Elves, Faefolk, Druids, and some Rangers)Lushirys was once an Ilrasi Elf renowned for her affinity with animals and plants. It was said that Lushirys was up with the rising of every sun, tending her grand gardens and spending time with the great beasts that held her in such high regard. She is the patron deity of the glade and is worshiped by the Ilrasi Elves, the Faefolk of the Ilrasi Wilds, many druids, and some rangers. A common prayer to Lushirys is “Lushirys, Goddess of the Glade, let the rivers flow, the trees sway, and the birds sing your name.” Followers of Lushirys do not have set colors, but they do tend to make use of a holy symbol, a twig from a birch, an elm, and a sentinel pine curled and woven together into a ring-like shape and worn about the neck like a collar.
Arteia Daystar – God of the Field
(Quae Elves, Farmers, some Rangers)Arteia was once a Quae Elf known throughout the Southern Kingdoms for his ability to sow fields where no others could. Many people said that the fields themselves spoke to Arteia, and that he was somehow able to coax the land into obeying his whims and desires. He is the patron deity of the field and is worshiped by the Quae Elves, some rangers, and farmers throughout Wyrmshadow. It is rare to see a Diocene Knight who owes her allegiance to Arteia, but not unheard of. A common prayer to Arteia is “Arteia, God of the Field, whisper sweetly to the grasses that we might sow, reap, and thrive.” Followers of Arteia do not have set colors, but they do tend to make use of a holy symbol, a simple leather pouch filled with dried wildflowers.
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Eoldrayn Deepstar – God of the Sea
(Merusian Elves, Sailors, Islandfolk, some Merchants)Eoldrayn was once a Merusian Elf who, long ago, created the first accurate map of the powerful underwater currents that run deep beneath the surface of the oceans of Wyrmshadow. Eoldrayn was able to make these currents visible to the eyes of the Merusian Elves, that they might use the currents to bring them rapidly from one side of the world to the other. He is the patron deity of the sea and is worshiped by the Merusian Elves, many sailors, some islandfolk, and some merchants who use the oceans to transport their wares from one port city to another. A common prayer to Eoldrayn is “Eoldrayn, God of the Sea, grant us calm waters, stormless skies, and smooth sailing.” Followers of Eoldrayn do not have set colors, but they do tend to make use of a holy symbol, three clam shells, one gray, one tan, and one black, attached to a seaweed string and hung about the neck. During particularly dreadful storms, even sailors who do not believe in Eoldrayn will often be seen clasping these seashell necklaces in their hands, fumbling with the prayer to the God of the Sea.
Vesaelys Darkstar – Goddess of the Underdark
(Draoish Elves, Illithid, some Miners, some Smiths)Vesaelys was once a Draoish Elf known for being the first of her kind to encounter the powerful Illithid and bending them to her will. The Draoish Elves struggled to survive in the Underdark, so used to life in their destroyed surface city of Neverdawn, they were. Vesaelys latched onto the idea of patterning their way of life to follow suit with creatures who found a way to thrive in the harsh conditions of the Underdark, most namely, spiders. She is the patron deity of the underdark and is worshiped by the Draoish Elves, the Illithid whom she enslaved and indentured to her people, some miners who delve into the deeper stone of the Underdark, and some smiths who work with metals only found in the realm of the Draoish Elves. A common prayer to Vesaelys is “Not seen, nor heard, nor felt, nor noticed. Vesaelys grant me passage without sound, light, sign, or trace.” Followers of Vesaelys tend to wear dark colors and, where metal is necessary, have it dulled and painted in flat black, to minimize the threat of reflection. They make use of a holy symbol, a black metal dirk with a blackroot handle and a shard of obsidian inlay within the hilt, the shape of a spider ready to pounce etched into the surface of the obsidian shard.
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