Magic & Religion.   Posted by Game Master.Group: 0
Game Master
 GM, 4 posts
 Aleatoric
 Actor-in-Chief
Mon 10 Oct 2016
at 03:17
Magic & Religion
quote:
The gods for this campaign are taken from the Book of the Righteous, a standalone pantheon sourcebook published by Green Ronin back in D&D 3e. There is a vast amount of information on the mythology, gods and their churches, so feel free to ask for more details if you plan on playing a worshiper, cleric, or are just plain curious.

edit: BotR has been updated to 5e, so there are no official new domains and oaths for clerics and paladins, along with a variety of archetypes, backgrounds and feats suitable for other characters!

MYTHIC HISTORY

First Epoch: The beginning of history, when the Nameless One created Himself and discovered the words for the four elements.

Second Epoch: The time of creation, when the Nameless One created the Four Pillars, the Great Sphere, the Prime Material Plane and Kador. In this time the Nameless One spoke the Three Prophecies and left the Sphere. Kador convinced the earth, the waters and the skies to unite into three gods: Rontara, Shalimyr and Urian, and these three gods gave rise to Eliwyn, the tree of life. From the tree were born the four chief gods, Morwyn, Tyrak, Tynel and Zhenkeef, and also the race of the div. With their birth, the epoch ended.

Third Epoch: The time of the gods. In this epoch, Tyrak and Tynel slew each other in the Theomachy; Zhenkeef killed herself on their funeral pyre. These tragedies gave birth to Death, who is called Mormekar. The three gods were reborn by Morwyn's grace and raised by her. During this epoch Morwyn discovered the Corpus Infernus and cast it out of the gods. She declared the Three Laws of the gods, gave birth to the god born of the womb, Maal. The gods then rose up against Kador, and in the Diablomachy eventually cast him into Hell. During the peace that prevailed after Kador's fall, the twins were born (Korak and Anwyn to Tyrak and Morwyn; Aymara and Darmon to Zhenkeef and Tynel) and the div rose up against the gods in rebellion and were cast out into the pillar of fire for it. At the end of the epoch, the five mortal races (humans, gnomes, halflings, elves and dwarves) were born.

Fourth Epoch: The current epoch; the age of mortals. During this epoch the gods formed the Compact, empowering mortals to determine their own fates based on the temptations of evil and the guidance of good.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:40, Sat 09 Sept 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 9 posts
 Aleatoric
 Actor-in-Chief
Wed 11 Jan 2017
at 07:08
Magic & Religion
The Great Church

Lawful Good; Symbol: A white tree with five golden fruit; Portfolio: Any.
Church of the common person, where respect can be shown to all of the gods and the pantheon as a whole, along with a calendar of saints and divine heralds. It is widespread, with a complex hierarchy, and is often involved in worldly political affairs. Clerics are called simply that, and holy warriors are called paladins.

The Old Gods

The Old Gods were forged of the primal elements, granted life, will and the spark of flame. The represent and embody the fundamental fabric of Carthas. Unlike the younger gods, they are said to dwell upon the mortal sphere (aside from the Nameless One).

Urian, God of the Air, the Radiant, the Thunderous, the Windwright
Neutral Good; Symbol: An orb, half silver, half gold with sunrays; Potfolio: Air, Contemplation, Good, Sun, Moon, Night, Winds.
God of the downtrodden, the enslaved, wanderers, those seeking freedom from internal strife, the contemplative. Temples are called eyries, clerics are skylarks, and holy warriors are called eagle knights. God of the air, Urian is the heavens and the winds. He is kindly and gentle, but also gives in to the stormy side of his nature from time to time.

Rontara, the Goddess of the Earth, the Foremother, the Wellspring, the Venerable
Lawful Good; Symbol: Sheaf of wheat, diamond or mountain peak; Portfolio: Agriculture, Earth, Fertility, Healing, Good, Mining, Law, Plant, Natural Wealth.
Goddess for farmers, miners, lovers of the earth and its treasures. Temples are called foundations, clerics are sowers, and holy warriors are wardens. Goddess of the earth, Rontara is the second oldest of the gods created by the Nameless One; only Kador is older. Rontara is the embodiment of all the lands of the material plane. She is considered the grandmother of of creation, and is the mother of Eliwyn, the Tree of Life.

Shalimyr, the God of the Waters, the Raging, the Magnificent, the Endless
Chaotic Neutral; Symbol: Cresting wave; Portfolio: Chaos, Water, Destruction, Storms, Humility, Sacrifice, the Sea.
God for sailors, fishermen, fathers, the humble. Temples are called basins, clerics are mariners, and holy warriors are ascetics. The gods of the waters, Shalimyr is wild. He is the personification of all the waters of the material plane. With Rontara, he created Eliwyn. Shalimyr is engaged in a long-lasting affair with Zhenkeef that is a secret only to Tynel, who refuses to see it. Shalimyr hates arrogance and pride over all else.

Eliwyn, the Tree of Life, the Precious, the Giver of Life
Neutral; Symbol: A great tree with golden leaves, silver blossoms and golden fruit.
From the union of Shalimyr and Rontara and tended by Urian grew the Tree of Life, the source of the second generation of gods and mortal life. There is no formal church of Eliwyn, but it is said that druids are the protectors of the great tree and its last, sacred life-giving fruit.

The Nameless One, the Creator
Neutral; Symbols: A single point or a Moebius ring.
Worship of the Creator is rare and unrewarding, though it is said that monastic orders contemplate their own nature through His. The Nameless One created Himself and the universe by speaking His own name. If His name is ever spoken again, the universe will cease to exist. He has left the Great Sphere and has not been heard of in two epochs.

The Treeborn Gods

Four of the Gods of the Tree emerged from four of the fruit hanging upon the Tree of Life, and the fifth from an act of violence between them. They represent great philosophical principles, forces or states of being: life and death, madness and wisdom, strife and magic.

Tynel, the God of Magic and Knowledge, the Aloof, the Heavenly Archmage, Lord of the Countless Locks
Chaotic Good or Neutral; Portfolio: (Chaos), (Good), Knowledge, Truth, Magic, Secrets, Science.
God of magicians, those who rely on or admire magic, scholars, the perpetually curious, seekers of truth. Temples are called scriptoriums, clerics are inceptors, holy warriors are mage guards. The god of magic and knowledge, Tynel has long struggled with his brother Tyrak. Tynel believes that the individual is the supreme force and that nothing is greater than a single person's quest for knowledge. Tynel's heart is divided - sometimes he is most interested in the good an individual can do when she seeks knowledge, and sometimes he cares nothing for the mortal work and wants only to collect lore.

Zhenkeef, the Goddess of Inspiration, Madness and Wine, the Red-Haired, the Wild-Eyed, the Mother of Madness
Chaotic Neutral; Symbol: Various; Portfolio: Chaos, Oracle, Inspiration, Trickery, Turmoil, Intuition..
Goddess of madmen, geniuses, vintners, inventors, half-wits, dreamers, outsiders. Temples are called vinyards, clerics are called goliards, and holy warriors are joyous siblings. Zhenkeef is the wildest of the gods. She believes that the world is suffused with unavoidable tragedy and stasis. The only proper response, as she sees it, it to embrace novelty, invention, madness, drunkenness and change. Zhenkeef is married to Tynel but cuckolds him with Shalimyr. She is the mother of Darmon and Aymara.

Tyrak, the God of War, Valour and Struggle, the Bold, Marshal of the Gods
Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good; Symbol: Fasces or axe with one golden bit and one black; Portfolio: (Good), Law, Protection, War, Strength, Unity, Struggle.
God of soldiers, warriors, any who must face physical conflict, weapon makers. Temples are called redoubts, clerics are marshals, holy warriors are crusaders. The god of war and the body, Tyrak has always opposed his brother Tynel. Terak believes the greatest force int he world is the unification of peoples into nations and armies; as long as the many band together against those that would harm them, much good is possible. Tyrak's heart is divided - he desires to see the strong protect the weak, but he also desires to see mortals unite their strength first and foremost.

Morwyn, the Goddess of Healing, Wisdom and Mercy, the Gentle, the White Lady
Lawful Good; Symbols: Wreath of white flowers or crystal teardrop; Portfolio: Good, Healing, Protection, Knowledge, Peace.
Goddess of those who revere wisdom, mothers, healers, the compassionate, the charitable, those in need of mercy, common leaders (such as reeves and mayors). Temples are called healing halls, clerics are matriarchs, and holy warriors are faithful sons and daughters. Morwyn is the eldest of the gods born of the Tree. She is their 'queen' in that she leads them, but by her own law may not command them. Morwyn believes that the universe is on a constant progression towards perfection. It will grow better as long as all people find charity and love in their hearts. Morwyn is married to Mormekar and Tyrak; with Mormekar she has a son, Maal, and with Tyrak she has twins, Korak and Anwyn.

Mormekar, the God of Death and Rebirth, the Quiet, the Shadow, the Last Guide
Neutral; Symbol: Burnt staff; Portfolio: The Dead, Protection, Desctruction, Rebirth.
God of the dead, crusaders against the undead, those who must face death regularly, those afraid of death, seekers of rebirth and redemption. Temples are called sacristies, clerics are ministers, holy warriors are obedient siblings. Mormekar is an outsider, even among the gods. He sees himself as a creature of duty, fulfilling a cosmic function - some even question whether he has free will.

The Gods of the Womb

The third generation of gods were born from the couplings of the Treeborn Gods. They represent the deeds, institutions and drives of the mortal races.

Maal, the God of Justice, Law and Judgement, the Steely-Eyed, the Judge of Souls
Lawful Neutral; Symbol: Sword with scales for a hilt; Portfolio: Protection, Law, Justice, the Dead
God of judges, seekers for justice, those in need of retribution. Temples are called courts, clerics are officers, holy warriors are justiciars. Maal is the first god to be born of the womb. Maal believes the world would be perfect if only it were structured around a perfect set of laws. He judges the souls of the dead to determine their fate, making him one of the most powerful gods. Maal is one of the Three Companions; on their great journey he found his wife, Naryne.

Darmon, the God of Travel, Trade, Joy and Rogues, the Silver-Tongued, the Many-Faced, the Golden Messenger
Chaotic Good; Symbol: Golden circle; Portfolio: Chaos, Good, Knowledge, Luck, Trickery, Travel, Wealth, Joy.
God of merchants, and other professional travellers, diplomats, messengers, thieves, jesters, the mischievous, those who live by their wits. Temples are called happy houses, clerics are wayfarers, holy warriors are errants. Darmon is called the Champion of the Gods, because he once used his wits to best them all. He is the messenger of the heavens and it was he, in his many travels with Korak, who taught the mortal races many of their useful skills. Darmon believes that mortals and gods should strive towards happiness and playfulness. His joy and laughter are as irrepressible as his fascination with, and love for, the mortal races. He is one of the Three Companions; on their great journey he fell in love with Canelle, who does not return his affections.

Aymara, the Goddess of Love and Art, the Fairest, the Sister of Songs
Chaotic Good; Symbol: Silver lyre; Portfolio: Chaos, Good, Inspiration, Beauty, Love.
Goddess of lovers, those suffering from unrequited love, bards, artists of all kinds, those who hate devils. Temples are called lyceums, clerics are fellows, holy warriors are aesthetes. The fairest of the gods, Aymara seeks a world full of beauty and love. She cannot bear any measure that represses the natural affinity of the mortal races to love one another and celebrate life with art. For this reason she opposes Kador more vehemently than any of the other gods, as he has always sown dissent and hatred and created ugliness and tyranny. Aymra has been in love with many mortals, and long ago had seven children with a mortal king named Aragos - her children are the notes on the musical scale and patrons of classes of instruments.

Korak, the God of Forge, Skill and Artisans, the Forger of Souls, the King of the Crucible
Neutral Good; Symbol: Hammer and anvil; Portfolio: Earth, Fire, Forge, Good, Creation.
God of smiths, architects, craftsmen, labourers, apprentices. Temples are called guidhalls, holy warriors are arcstones, clerics are divided into orders based on craft. Korak is one of the favourite gods of the mortal races. In his many travels with Darmon he taught the mortal races many of their practical skills like smithing that they use to this day. Korak believes that all people must work, by whatever means are available to them, to improve the world. Korak is one of the Three Companions; he is in love with Thellyne, but that love is unreciprocated.

Anwyn, the Goddess of the Home and Hearth, the Plentiful, the Blessed, the Giver of Gifts, the Lady of the Feast
Lawful Good; Symbol: Fire in a stone circle; Portfolio: Home, Good, Law, Protection, Fire.
Goddess of home, hearth, servants, peasants, the lowly, the impoverished. Temples are called hearths, clerics are manciples, holy warriors are hearthkeepers. Anywyn is the youngest of the gods.She is noted for her quiet smile and gentle ways, like her mother, but also for her deep desire to protect the sanctity of the home, like her father. Anwyn desires a world where simple folk may dwell in peace.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters were neither born from the Tree of Life nor from the wombs of the gods. Their origin is mysterious, but they have joined the pantheon and are venerated alongside the other gods, and one has even taken a God of the Womb as her husband. The three goddess share temples, called triad altars.

Naryne, the Goddess of Nobility, the High, the Breath, the Dark Sister
Lawful Neutral; Symbol: Golden crown with five stars; Portfolio: Law, Knowledge, Protection, Rulership.
Goddess of aristocrats and rulers. Clerics are called seneschals, holy warriors are swan knights. Naryne is the queen of the dead. One of the Three Sisters, Naryne is often called the Dark Sister for her black hair and eyes. She believes that there would be a perfect world were all the mortal races to properly obey and follow rightly-appointed nobility.

Canelle, the Goddess of Strength and Victory, the Fleet-Footed, the Triumphant, the Arm
Chaotic Good; Symbol: Wreath of leaves; Portfolio: Strength, Luck, Chaos, Good, Victory, Travel.
Goddess of athletes, competitions, victory, glory. Clerics are called red masters, holy warriors are the purified. Canelle has fiery red hair and an equally fiery temperament. She is arguably the strongest of the gods in any game or test of skill. She seeks a world in which each person is able to find and achieve her personal best.

Thellyne, the Goddess of Woodcraft, Nature and the Hunt, the Silent, the Keen-Eyed, the Woodland Guardian, the Eye
Neutral Good; Symbol: Crown of antlers; Portfolio: Good, Animal, Plant, Protection, the Hunt, Nature..
Goddess of woodsfolk, trappers, rangers, those who rely on the woods and animals. Clerics are woodwardens, holy warriors are hallowed hunters. The goddess of the woods and the hunt, Thellyne is the shyest of all the gods. One of the Three Sisters, she is rarely seen even by her siblings. Thellyne has golden hair and is a master of all woodcraft. She seeks to protect the natural beauty of the world. She is also the guardian of Eliwyn, the Tree of Life

The Firstborn

Kador, Asmodeus, the God of Lies, Power and Fire, the Perfect One, Fire's Father
The first being given life by the Nameless One, Kador was given dominion over fire and trusted to give it to all that came after him. He was corrupted, however, and became convinced that he was the rightful king of the universe. Kador ended up in a war with the gods, resulting in his imprisonment in Hell. He now also goes by the name Asmodeus, the god of fire, power, lies and vengeance. He has a secret alliance with the Three Brothers.


The Three Brothers

The dark mirror of the Three Sisters, the Three Brothers are only worshipped in secret or on the fringes and in the deepest shadows of society.

Canarak, the God of Destruction, Violence and Rage, the Fierce Brother, the Savage Hand
The god of bloodlust, wrath and carnage, Canarak is the most feral of the gods. Once of the Three Brothers, he has red hair and teeth like fangs and tusks. He has an insatiable hunger for violence, and often influences his mortal worshipers to commit unspeakable atrocities. Many orcs and gnolls revere him as their patron.

Thellos, the God of Greed, Gluttony and Desire, the Hungry Borther, the Feasting Maw
God of gluttony and greed, Thellos has sandy hair and a piggish nose. The most hidden of the Three Brothers, he pull strings from the background. He prefers to collect wealth and indulge himself than come into conflict. The goblinoids revere him as their god, a fat goblin who will lead them into a land of milk and honey.

Naran, the God of Tyranny, Pride and Cunning, the Wise Brother, the Piercing Eye
The god of tyranny and pride, Naran thinks himself the prince of the universe, second only to Asmodeus. Some day, he will topple the king and rule the universe with his brothers at his side. One of the Three Brothers, he is the most visible, act as open patron to slavers and tyrants the world over. Like Naryne, he has black hair and dark eyes.

This message was last edited by the GM at 09:39, Wed 11 Jan 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 31 posts
 Aleatoric
 Actor-in-Chief
Fri 13 Jan 2017
at 19:43
The God of Air and Sky
The Eyries of Urian
Radiant, Thunderous, the Wind Lord, Sky King, Sky Father, Great Sky, the Moon and Stars, Windwright

Myths

Dragging the Sun and Moon
For long and long, the sun and moon simply hung in the heavens as part of the Great Sky. There was no need for them to move, and it was eternally day in one part of the world and night in the other. Into this world the div were born, and before long those in the dark pleaded with Radiant Urian for light; those in the eternal light cried out for restfulness of night. But how can this be? For a man can no more move his eye from his head to his toe than the Sky Father could move the Sun into the dark parts, and the Moon into the bright.

Yet Thunderous Urian was moved by their pleas, and so he set to earth in his common guise and wandered among the div, finding the two mightiest of the race – Aly Mustafis bin-Homar and Pharouk al-Bann. These two div were the greatest heroes of the time, and had come to be renowned among the Efreet and Marid for their rivalry. They had wrestled twelve time before, and never had one of them won.

When Urian came upon them, it was before their 13th match. Every hundred years the div from around the world (who did not wither and age) would gather for great athletic contests between the strongest and swiftest among them. All eyes were upon the great champions, each of whom swore that he would be victorious this time. The Sky King came to them and made each an offer – should he win, Urian would place him in the heavens for eternity. Both readily accepted.

The two strove for three days, their longest match yet, and at the end neither was victorious. When the Windwright came to them afterward and sighed sadly that he only had room for one in the sky, each demanded the place. Each fervently swore that he would serve gladly and diligently in the heavens just to keep his rival from the honour. At the end of their oaths, Urian smiled, for he indeed had room and need for both.

And so, Aly Mustafis bin-Homar was renamed Alimus and set in garments of of pure gold. Urian placed in his hand a great flaxen cord that was lashed about the sun, and every day Alimus drags the golden orb across the sky.

For his part, Pharouk al-Bann was renamed Faro, and he was set in raiment of shining silver. Into his hand was committed a perfect thread of mithril that girded the moon. His commission was to drag the moon across the heavens in the evening.

To this day, the two uphold their duties, though sometimes Faro shows up his rival by racing onto the field of the sky early, and so the moon can be seen in the heavens during the day. And sometimes, though rarely, the two ancient rivals come to wrestle once more and the sun and moon are eclipsed as they strive; to look at the sky at such times is folly, for the wrestlers have such might and glory in them that to gaze at them with the mortal eye is to be blinded.


The Chaining of the Winds
When Darmon and Korak taught the mortal races to build great water vessels and Wily Darmon taught them to sail those tall ships across Shalimyr's back, there were many obstacles in the learning. The mortal races needed to overcome their fear of floating on the water, which was as unnatural to them as flying through the air; they needed to learn to navigate when out in the great and chartless sea; but most important, they needed to learn to harness the wind for their travels.

When Urian the Wind Lord tried to keep his winds in check for the benefit of these mortals, still they were wild and untamed. Just as a man's mind can wander and contemplate that which horrifies him, just as a woman can find her hand striking her child whom she loves more deeply than her own life, so were the Sky King's winds raging against his will. For while the winds were a part of him, they had possessed a spirit of their own from the beginning. Two of them hated those that walked the earth and sailed the seas, and they sought to destroy them all.

The bitter North wind called out, “I shall bite all I see, tear their flesh and turn them to ice!”

The terrible East wind responded, “I shall shake them and break them, rip them and strip them! I hate them all, I do, and the East wind will destroy!”

But the South wind and the West wind tried to stop the East and North from destroying the mortals, and often the winds would clash in the skies, causing terrible gales that tore up everything in sight.

Perhaps the winds that are part of Urian the Moon and Stars are only a small mirror put to the spirit of the Great Sky Himself. For surely, Radiant Urian has shown through the ages that he both loves and abhors others – sometimes he is placid and lovely, and at other times he is dark and terrible; so too were the winds that were a part of him, but not a part of him.

At last, the raging of the winds became too much. The mortals had learned to sail their tall ships and to build beautiful homes at the water's edge, but whenever they set out on the great journeys that would some day connect the mortal races in trade, the winds would rise up – South against North, East against West – and the ships would be dashed against the rocks or lost at sea. One day, Darmon Silver Tongue came to Urian to entreat him to calm his winds:

“Sky Father! Will you not still your raging winds? For do we not all love these clever mortals and wish to see them travel across the land and sea? Yet they cannot venture beyond the shore, for your winds destroy their ships; you rage where even your mad brother Shalimyr does not.”

And the Sky King thought on this and determined that little Darmon was right. He did wish to see these mortals travel across the seas and someday, perhaps, high in the air. So he spoke to his winds and demanded that they be still. But they would not!

“Nay, Lord! We will rage and blow and destroy, for our hearts hate!” the North and East said.

“Nay, Lord!” We must rise to oppose our brothers, or they will destroy the world!” the South and West said.

And at this Urian started, for surely the winds were a part of him as were the stars, and as were the Sun and Moon, and yet they resisted his will. And so he reached into himself and plucked the winds from him, as a man might rip out an offending eye or cut off his own hand were it to spite his desires. Urian Windwright then sent Darmon forth to summon the twins, Korak and Anwyn. For the Sky King, Master Korak built four mighty halls in the clouds and mountain peaks to house the winds, and adamant hains to hold them. From these halls, Blessed Anwyn made homes, with furs and fires and splendid feasts.

Urian now resides in these four halls, moving from one to the next, unchaining his winds for a while when he sees fit, knowing that the North and East seek to scout the earth, and the South and West seek to give succour. It is said that two of the halls are in caves atop the tallest mountains in the North and South of the world, and should any be foolish or brave enough to climb these peaks, he might find Urian Windwright or, at least, one of the winds bound in mighty adamant chains forged by Master Korak. And in the highest clouds of the East and West, one might find two more halls, and in them imprisoned those winds. But in all four halls one thing is assured – winds that were once a part of the Sky Father are shackled, yearning to be free.

Let us never forget, therefore, that Radiant Urian, who cherishes freedom, so loved the mortal races that he pulled from himself the most vital part and enslaved it to be our servant; we must forever honour this sacrifice.


Associations
Urian is the god of the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the winds, freedom and salvation. His voice is heard in thunder, and his countenance is seen in lightning. To most, he is the father of storms, though all agree that rains come from and return to Shalimyr, the waters.

In the animal kingdom he is associated with no animal more than the eagle, though all the beasts of the feather are referred to as his children wards of his domain. Among more magical creatures, he is associated with the griffin, which is part eagle and was born of his servant.

Urian is ardently worshipped by primitive people everywhere, and has among them more names than can be counted. The odds are good that barbarians and nomad societies worship Urian, or some aspect of Urian under some name of their own devising.

Alignment
Urian is Neutral Good.

Representations
In icon, Urian is shown as a mighty old man, with a great white beard made from the winds and wild hair that shines with lightning. In his eyes are the stars and the moon, and when his mouth is open it shines with the light of the sun.  He is sometimes shown with four beasts behind him on leashes of chain -  the four winds, two of which are shown to be snarling, fierce beasts, and two of which are shown to be placid and kindly.

When represented symbolically, Urian's faith is summoned visually with an orb, half gold, half silver; the gold half casts off the golden rays of the sun. This symbol is worn by the Urianath, particularly those of his church. In times of haste when such symbols are not possible, this symbol is made as just a simple orb flanked by four lines – the winds. This is a hasty symbol and will not be used if the more formal symbol is possible. It is most often seen in small stamps on weapon hilts, etc.

Purpose
Urian is the sky and the heavens. His purpose is to continue to shine on the earth with his sunlight and to make the landscape glow with the silver light of the stars. Bound up in this, though, is the central mystery of the worship of Urian, Shalimyr and Rontara; all three gods are the elemental parts of the world, but they are also the guardians of those elemental parts, wandering among them and looking after them. There is a legend of Darmon stealing stars from Urian, and Urian finding the fakes with which the Wily Darmon replaced them. How is this possible if Urian is the stars? It is a mystery that anyone who worships him must ponder.

Outside of stewardship of the heavens; unleashing the winds, lightning and thunder when they are needed; overseeing Alimus and Faro; and presiding over his four great halls, Urian wishes to reach the ignored nooks and crannies. There are places in the world that none care for – perhaps they are ugly or horrible or devastated by evil; Urian reaches them still with his sunlight and starlight, his moon and his winds. He seeks to bring the beauty of the heavens to all peoples and all places, and for this he is dearly loved by those imprisoned and enslaved in such places, for he represents their hope and their freedom. The most common visual theme among these faithful is a prisoner reaching through the bars of his cell for the stars.

Urian is profoundly uninterested in the various petty conflicts of the gods, and he straddles both sides of the disputes between chaos and law. Sometimes he sides with one, sometimes the other; sometimes he takes no side at all. This is because Urian, more than any other of the gods, has a dual understanding of the world, and a dual interaction with it. Sometimes he is radiant and lovely and sometimes he is dark and cold. He sees both as legitimate, and he contemplates what is the proper time for each – when must he unleash the warm and gentle winds, and when must he let fly the bitter and cruel?

Servants
Urian has seven principal servants. There are the four winds, which can go alternatively by the names Rigyl or North, Ragyl or East, Wyndyl or South, and Wandyl or West. All of the winds are chained in the four halls of the Sky Father, unleashed only when they are needed and carefully controlled to avoid the destruction of all in their path.

There are also Alimus and Faro, who are forever bound to the sun and moon. Some cultures worship these two as gods in their own right, and some believe them to be brothers, having forgotten the true story of their origin. Indeed, they are quite powerful, for they have borne the most lovely of the heavenly orbs aloft for thousands of years, and it has affected them to the core. It is unclear whether worshippers of the two are actually receiving power from the intended targets of their worship or from Urian. Alimus and Faro are so powerful after these many years of toil that it is quite possible that they have ascended to the status of demigods.

Closest companion to Urian is Grifynne, his magnificent golden eagle. Grifynne is mother to the griffins which bear her name and the lamassus, both races of which were begot on her by Tyrak's golden lion, Metteron. Grifynne has a wingspan as long as a mighty river and her cry can be heard across the heavens. Her origins are mysterious, though most assume that Urian created her before the gods of the tree were even born.

The Church

Church Description
The church of Urian has grown weak in the civilised world. As more people move into cities and have ready shelter and warmth, the need to fear the winds and revere the sun has sublimated to reverence for more earthly forces like commerce, craft, war and medicine. Because of this, the eyries of Urian (as his churches are called) and the Urianath who worship there are rare in city settings. The exception to this is the Demisan Empire, where shrines to Urian exist in all major cities and serve an important symbolic role in public worship as the King of the Heavens and vanquisher of the institution of slavery. The eyries are not secularly strong, and one of their holy orders has vanished from the world. Indeed, the greatest of eyries are found high in the mountains, ancient and magnificent structures that offer a commanding view out across hundreds of miles of valley. These eyries are remote and hard to reach, and it is rare that the skylarks (the clerics of Urian) journey down from them. This does not make for a popular religion.

And yet, for those who seek freedom from enslavement – of the body, the mind, or the spirit – there are few greater places than the eyries. Homes of contemplation, beauty and austere wisdom, the eyries are a boon to many in the deepest need.

The eyries are roused to action when they are asked to aid the enslaved or downtrodden. Just as Urian's wind reaches every corner of the world, the Urianath believe that Urian's care should be available to all people and therefore abhor slavery. However, the Urianath are now so marginalised that, should they seek to topple a major power as they did with the Demisan Empire, they would have to seek aid from another church in the task.

The stance against slavery is a universal position of the faith. There are points on which the Urianath vary. There are some among them who are devoted most to the sun and light of the Sky King. These Urianath strive against the undead and other forces of darkness. Others among the Urianath revere the Sky Father's cold light of moon and stars above all, and these seek individual strength and glory, as the stars are individual points of beauty and light.

Church Structure
The eyries have four holy orders, one of which has been lost to history. Each order is named after a beast of the feather: the skylarks (the clergy) are the dominant order and have two levels of status, the wings and the songs; the eagles (the holy warriors) have three levels, the talons, eagle riders and eyrie lords; the warhawks have no levels of status; and the griffins are now an extinct order.

There is no central authority to the Urianath faith, only ancient traditions. The highest authority in any eyrie is either the oldest skylark's song or the eyrie lord if one is present (though the skylark's song will have authority on all matters spiritual).

The average eyrie may have five or six wings and two songs. There may be one or two talons and one eyrie lord, though some eyries have no members of the order of the eagles at all. These eyries are instead protected by the warhawks, and the average such eyrie will have at least four warhawks in residence.

Doctrine
quote:
“The sky is light and dark. The wind is hot and cold. The sun gives life and death. But the sky is dark when the world needs dark, and death comes of necessity. Can we question and rail against the cold while we praise and hallow the warmth? Can we hate the sun in the desert when we love it in the winter? All of these are part of the Sky Father, and all of these have a purpose in his plan; we must be grateful, even for darkness and death.”

- Skylark's Song Abu Goldenfeather's 'For I Have Tasted the Stars.'

The Urianath practise a goodly faith. This is important to remember because sometimes they praise and glorify things that others find evil (like bitter cold, the blood moon, or darkest midnight) – and it is precisely because others find them evil that they praise them. The core premise of the Urianath faith is that Urian loves the world and its peoples. After all, he opposed Kador bitterly, and he pulled the winds from his own body and enslaved them – he who loves freedom most! He gave light to the dark parts of the world, and gave evening to the light parts. It is therefore unquestionable that he loves the world and the mortals who inhabit it.

So why, then, does he sometimes let the wind rage and destroy ships? Why does his cold winter wind come down and kill unprotected children? Why does his sun burn the skin and suck the water from a man's body, leaving him to the vultures of the desert? Why does night serve as a haven to thieves and monsters?

The contemplation of these questions, and their reflection in every mortal spirit, is the heart of Urianath practise. For these great and difficult questions are reflected in the hearts of men: Why does a good and happy woman consider hurling herself to the rocks below whenever she stands at the edge of a cliff? Why does a loving father consider casting his own child into an open fire? Why do good people do terrible things? The contemplation of these questions is of central importance to the Urianath, and their understanding is that it is the freedom to do evil that makes people good. Just as the Great Sky must sometimes let awful things happen so that the mortal races fully appreciate the good of the world, so too must all people contemplate the darkness of their own souls to fully appreciate the good.

One can see, therefore, why the Urianath so oppose tyranny and slavery. A slave is not free to walk the good path, to explore the depths of her spirit. Tyrants seek to control the thoughts, the hearts of their subjects – though thoughts and hearts must be free to soar or sink. But just as the Urianath oppose the extremes of law, they oppose the extremes of chaos. They believe that discipline and rule are necessary for a person to fully appreciate his goodness. The path of the Urianath is between order and disorder – a path of contemplation and balance on the road to compassion.

The eyries are often visited by those wrestling with the darkness of their own spirits, just as the sun and moon wrestle, just as the North and East winds wrestle with the South and West. Those who strive to conquer what they see as their worse nature, those who feel imprisoned by past deeds or wicked desires, find succour in the faraway and hidden eyries, high in the mountains. Whenever they are apart from their eyries, the Urianath seek to bring spiritual guidance and support to people across the land. They seek to bring freedom of the mind, the heart and the body to all they encounter so that all people may explore the the dual sides of their nature – the light and the dark – and understand that both are necessary for goodness.

Common Prayers
The Urianath have many mantras and koans they repeat over and over again as they contemplate the world and their own spirits. One of the most common is a meditation on light:

quote:
“Father Sky, the Sun and Moon
Giver of the golden boon
Silver twilight, radiant dawn
The cycle ceaseless carries on

“Hallowed heavens, pitch and star,
Thou kindle even near and far
Thy light shines out when all is dim
They darkness forms the nightly hymn.”


Holy Days
The Urianath view each dawn and dusk as a holy event, and most are sure to be outside of observe these events daily. Whenever there is a complete solar or lunar eclipse, the Urianath celebrate indoors, as they consider it taboo to be under the sky at such times. Some cultures have special celebrations of the sun at harvest or planting time. These are usually festivals to Urian, and the local skylarks will aid in the celebrations – but they are not universal celebrations across all cultures.

The eyries do not have regular times for services, as they are places of constant meditation.

Saints
The Urianath recall the names of saints as those who have aided in the freedom of all people. Should someone deter an empire from conquering the world or stop an infernal plan to subjugate the mortal races, she would find herself revered as a saint by the Urianath (regardless of her faith). Usually for the Urianath, sainthood requires martyrdom, as it is highly unlikely that one will achieve such ends without the sacrifice of one's own life.

Most notable of the saints revered by the Urianath is Griffin Saint Mathilde, who was the last of the Griffins. Her entire order was wiped out by a demonic cult planning on bringing one of the most powerful demon princes to the earth. The cult did not realise that Mathilde had survived, however, and in the last moments of its black rite to summon the demon prince she sacrificed herself to close the gate; the power of the closing wiped out the cultists and barred the prince from the earth for one hundred years and a day. Since that time there have been no Griffins, for there is no one to train them; their sacrifice is remembered, though, for they saved the world from certain doom.

Urian's View of the Church
Urian has a peculiar view of the world; he either focuses on the highly specific details of people's lives or pays attention to trends across hundreds of years. This is best understood as the sun and the stars. The sun rises every single day; its cycle is one of daily repetition. Stars hang in the heavens, unchanging, for thousands of years, their fire never dimming. Their cycle is either so slow as to be immeasurable, or they are not on a cycle at all.

Urian sees the world through these eyes: the day-to-day and the very, very long term. Nowhere is this clearer than in his attitude towards the Urianath faith. He can become intensely involved with the mission of one skylark in a very specific predicament while ignoring everyone else in her eyrie, or he can go for hundreds of years without sending guidance or aid to any of the Urianath – even the most powerful. Most of them accept this as the reason that the Griffins have been gone from the world for so long; they imagine the Sky Father hasn't even noticed yet.

Urian certainly has no reason to distrust or dislike his church, but he also has the very practical details of being the heavens to attend to. And if he is a capricious and uninvolved in his dealings with the Urianath eyries, he is even more so with the various nomads and barbarians who worship him on the fringes of the world.

Preferred Weapon
Urian's preferred weapon is lightning, which cracks forth from his clouds when the gods argue and he thunders. Lightning is best represented with the javelin and the whip – one flies like lightning, and one cracks with the thunder that follows.

Holy Orders

Clerics: Skylarks of Urian
The Order
The skylarks are a contemplative order. Most of them live high up in the mountains, dedicating their entire lives to pondering the two faces of Urian and the mortal races. They are quiet and kind, and revere the sunshine and moonlight.

Sometimes a wing will leave the eyrie to go on a quest. This is not because he is told to, but because his contemplations tell him to.  The skylark simply packs up, tells the songs of the eyrie that he is to depart, and then off he goes. Sometimes this is based on a vision, other times on a hunch; sometimes they are even certain they have heard the command in the wind. Many of these wings never return, killed on their quests. Others come back soon, their minor mission fulfilled. A rare few live lives of spectacular and heroic adventure and return to the eyrie, old and ready to impart the wisdom they gained on their journeys.

The skylarks value contemplation, kindness and gentle guidance far more than harsh action. There are other orders of the Urianath dedicated to fighting brutal wars and saving the downtrodden – they skylarks are the spiritual and mystic order, and they are often difficult to talk to. They speak of mysteries and constantly analyse the lessons learned from events. However, for those with heavy hearts burdened by sins past (and perhaps future), the skylarks are marvellously helpful. They have ready ears, are not judgemental, and are eager to offer guidance.

Titles
The skylarks have only two titles, and they are not based on power or prestige, but on age. A young or middle-aged skylark is a wing. The wings are charged with carrying the faith, learning, growing and performing any physical labours necessary. A wing is addressed as 'skylark's wing'.

Once a wing is old (base don the age at which a person of his race is considered 'old' according to the PH), he becomes a song, addressed as 'skylark's song'. It is his duty to teach others the ways of the eyrie, and to generally live out the remainder of his life in wisdom and grace. The songs contemplate the faith and defer to eyrie lords on secular matters.

Spell Preparation Time
A skylark must prepare his spells under the open sky at the time of a major heavenly event – sunrise, sunset, a shooting star, moonrise, etc.

Alignments
There are three dominant alignments among the skylarks, though the most common are neutral good. The neutral good skylarks hew mostly closely to the doctrine of the faith, spending days in contemplation of the dual nature of heaven and man. They are filled with the certainty that goodness can be found in the dark and in the light, the cold and the warm, the individual light of a star and the radiant glow of the sun that blankets everything. They are a serene and kindly group.

The lawful good skylarks of Urian certainly follow the doctrine of the Urianath, but they focus on the goodness of light and warmth: there must be darkness for the light to be perceived in all its glory. There must be cold for the warmth to be felt in all its splendour. These skylarks focus on what they call 'Urian's Order', meaning that all things and people have a place under the sun, and all bad things happen to us so we may learn our place in that order. The lawful good skylarks can truly be said to revere Urian's sun-face more than any other, and are quite close to sun-worshippers. They feel that when he shines, he is the centre of life and holiness, and they hope to bring that light and warmth to the world.

The chaotic good skylarks of Urian are almost the reverse image of the lawful good. While they too hold that Urian is the centre from which goodness flows, they believe that the sunlight and daytime are Urian's way of aiding the mortal races to overcome their weakness – for nighttime is the pure time. They see the stars as the best guidance to holiness; they are thousands of brilliant lights, standing out individually, making the most beautiful work of the heavens. Urian wishes that the mortal races to be like the stars, standing out as brilliant individuals doing wonderful things, and only in the dark when we have no light to guide us are we truly alone and able to stand as such individuals. Urian gives mortals sunlight because they are too weak to embrace their individual destinies; they are frightened by loneliness, so he brings them back together with the light.

Holy Warriors: Eagle Knights of Urian
The Order
The eagle knights are a noble and beautiful order. They wear tall, golden helms and carry greatswords of silver decked with gems like the stars. They speak with the song-like voices of birds and are magnificent to behold. Sadly, they are rare, and it is uncommon to see more than one of the glorious eagle-riders sweeping down on an evil foe from his winged steed.

The eagles stand for the freedom of all people to achieve their potential. They wish to break the locks and gates of the world that obstruct the winds of freedom. They stand in opposition to any force, mortal or outsider, that would enslave or imprison the mortal spirit. This often takes them into opposition with infernal forces, particularly devils, but it also leads them to oppose rulers who dominate by fear or brutality. Any that seek to outlaw the freedom of thought and certainly any that allow slavery will be opposed by the eagles. With so many enemies, is it any wonder they are rare?

Warhawks of Urian
The Order
The warhawks are a less noble order than the others, essentially guerilla warriors against the forces of evil. While the eagles soar above things, warhawks are not afraid to fly low and tear into their enemies.

The warhawks of Urian are trained killers, just as the bird for which they are named can be trained to hunt and maul. Warhawk are master bowmen, skilled at sneaking near their foes and devastating them from range, but when drawn into melee they have a terrible bite. Their fighting style is fierce; they are unafraid, and they do not hesitate to get their hands dirty. As the faith of Urian says, there is good in the light and in the dark; the warhawks believe that the only way to effective fight those who would do evil to the mortal races is to engage them in the mud, to mete out brutality and destroy them utterly. To this end, the warhawks are wild, passionate warriors, and when they come upon the forces of evil they abandon any sense of honour or mercy and instead seek to ravage their foes completely. This style absolutely horrifies most who are good, but others understand it as a philosophical stance towards the wicked; the only language that evil understands is violence.

Griffin Knights of Urian
The Order
The griffin knights were magnificent warriors who took on the spirit of the griffin. They gained the strength of the lion and the courage and nobility of the eagle. These powers furthered their war with infernal forces. Sadly, there are no longer any griffins in the world.
Game Master
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 Aleatoric
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Sat 14 Jan 2017
at 02:34
The God of Law and Justice
The Courts of Maal
Steely Eyed, the Judge, Firstborn of the Womb, Judge of Souls, King of Souls

Myths

First Vengeance and First Law
Before the Compact, when Maal Firstborn's kingdom was new, before the Three Sisters emerged and Naryne became the Queen of Souls, Maal decreed vengeance to be the first great crime.

Steely Eyed Maal sat then in judgement upon his great throne as he does now. His grey court was particularly bustling one day long ago, and his servants had difficulty holding back the throng. Eventually, a man in blue and white came to stand before the Judge of Souls.

“Speak your name and tell of your life,” Maal's Voice demanded.

“I am Ceruill,” the man replied, “a simple bard who was in love.” Ceruill told Maal's court of his life, often relying on song or poetry to capture the moment. He had been the minstrel in the palace of a great and powerful king of the Isles, wherein he had fallen in love with the king's daughter, Ophiel. Unfortunately for him, a neighbouring prince named Faristel had also fallen in love with the princess, and had petitioned her father for her hand in marriage.

But the princess did not love Faristel. Ceruill's songs and poems had won her heart long before, and when her father told her of Faristel's proposal, she told her father of her abiding love for the court minstrel. The king had always loved Ceruill dearly and decided he would allow his daughter to marry for love rather than riches and politics.

It was arranged, and Ceruill and Ophiel had the most magnificent marriage the kingdom had ever seen. But Faristel was consumed by jealous rage. How could this dotard of a king choose a lowborn minstrel over a prince for his daughter's hand? He became increasingly convinced that the entire affair was a scheme, that Ceruill had cast the court under some sort of dire enchantment – and enchantment that would only be broken upon Ceruill's death.

The night after the wedding, Faristel and five of his men-at-arms broke into the chambers of Ceruill and Ophiel as they slept in each other's arms. Faristel bent down and woke Ceruill, whispering in his ear that he would save Ophiel and her father from the minstrel's foul magic. And with that, he plunged his blade into the bard's heart.

Ceruill's tale told, Maal's Voice bade him kneel for judgement. Maal the Judge pondered the story for some time and at last ordained, “Your heart was been rich with love, and you have brought beauty into this world. You shall abide in the fourth hall and here be blessed.”

Ceruill was led away to the fourth hall to live out eternity in joy rather than be reborn. The next eight men to come before Steely Eyed Maal were either guards from outside Ophiel's chamber or Faristel's men-at-arms. It became clear that moments after Ceruill died, Ophiel's screams summoned the guards, resulting in a terrible, bloody battle.

Finally, Faristel came before Maal, his heart having been pierced by an arrow as he tried to escape. For his crimes, Maal sentenced Faristel to suffer for eternity in the third pit. And once this was done, Maal thought the sad tale done with.

Over the next days and weeks, more and more men came before Maal from the kingdoms of Ophiel's father and Faristel's. It seemed that Faristel's father had declared war on Ophiel's when word reached him of Faristel's death. More and more souls came before Maal, all killed because Faristel had slain Ceruill.

Eventually, Ophiel's and her father stood before the Judge of Souls. In her grief over Ceruill's murder, Ophiel had hurled herself into a river. Upon learning of his daughter's death, the king took his own life in misery. More of the king's subjects came before Maal then, for without a ruler the nation was soon torn to pieces by its neighbours, leaving blood and fire in their wake.

When all was done, some fifty thousand souls had stood before Maal, all killed in a chain of events that began with one murder. It became clear to the King of Souls that some sort of order must be brought to the mortal world to prevent this sort of catastrophe in the future, and so he summoned before his the representatives of twelve great rulers. These were wise men and women who journeyed to the lands of the dead to stand before the throne of judgement, whereupon Maal decreed:

“Blood for blood shall not be law, but lawlessness. If you should kill my brother, then I will call upon my lord's law for justice and shall not seek to avenge my brother's death with mine own hand. I declare this day that no man shall have a right to vengeance, but all men shall have a right to justice.”

The wise men and women bowed their heads, ready to take this decree to their lords, when Issama, the chamberlain of a great and powerful queen of the East stepped forward. “Grave Lord Maal,” she cried out, “What if my lord is a tyrant and shall not give me justice? Am I to allow this foul murder of my brother to go unavenged?”

The other eleven cringed, ready for Maal to lash out in fury. Instead, he was silent for a great while. At last he spoke: “You are wise, Issama, and you shall stand at my left hand when your time has come. Yes, you will allow this foul murder to go unavenged because on this day, I, Lord Maal, judge and king of your mortal souls, swear this oath to my short-lived cousins: There shall always be justice. Though you may not see it in your time, though you may not understand its workings, you must trust in me – there shall always be justice, and no crime shall go unpunished. I shall take a dark view of anyone who should doubt me in this and let his sword drip with the blood of vengeance.”

With that, Maal was silent, and the mortal races knew his great law: that a terrible and ancient doom lies upon any who should seek to avenge a crime done against him. All must trust in the law and know that justice will prevail.

Over the years following this first edict, Maal summoned the servants of twelve great rulers before him to give them laws several more times, in the end forming a great code from which the most perfect of mortal societies could blossom. But the rulers failed to live by the laws; they were eventually all consumed or destroyed by wars, and the laws of Maal were lost to antiquity. To this day, only the first law passed from Maal's lips to mortal ears is remembered, and it is still powerfully difficult for the mortal races to obey.


Associations
Maal is the god of justice, law, the dead, and the Land of the Dead, retribution, lawyers, magistrates, judges, and all others who make their living through the law or have a special love for the law.

In the animal kingdom he is associated with the owl, a bird said to know no partiality, sitting in judgement of the world from its bough. Among mystical creatures he is associated with the sphinx, the first of which was born from one of his many adventures.

Maal is popular among halflings and dwarves, both of whom have elaborately legalistic societies. Dwarves love him further because he was the first to delve into the earth and build a home. Humans who seek to bring the rule of law to some part of the anarchic Tattered Marches also revere him, more in hope than practise. The King of Souls is also beloved of mixed races, particularly half-orcs who reject the chaotic nature of their orc brethren. This is because Maal's law applies to all equally and knows no prejudice. Regardless of popularity, all mortal races worship Maal, since they all come to stand before him in the end.

Alignment
Maal is Lawful Neutral. Law is everything to Maal, though his laws are perfect and just and would be thought to be 'good' were they the laws of any mortal realm.

Representations
When shown in icons, Maal is represented as among the tallest of the gods, thin, with long hair, adorned in shining black armour. When painted, he has steely grey eyes that pierce deep into men's souls. He is always represented with Justice, his sword, either held before him with the point towards the ground, or held aloft in his right hand, tip skyward. When pointed down it means that Maal has found someone guilty or unworthy, or that he stands in judgement, Upwards means his is pleased by an act of righteousness. Because of this is is common to cheer a great deed by raising swords aloft, tips to heaven, even among those who are not adherents of Maal's church.

The symbolic representation of Maal is the sword Justice. Holy warriors of Maal usually have a small silver sword, generally pointed upwards, as their symbol Clerics will often use this symbol, but sometimes a sword lying sideways with an owl perched on its edge – this is Maal's owl, Wisdom, perched on the razor's edge of Justice. Because Justice was carved from metals created by the Nameless One, more expensive and formal symbols are crafted from the most exotic metals the faithful can find. The sword in these symbols usually has the word 'Justice carved into it in the cleric's native language. When no details or fine craftwork are possible, the symbol of Maal can be made as simple as a line drawing of a sword.

Purpose
Maal stands in judgement of every mortal who dies. This is a profoundly important purpose, as it is through Maal that the final reckoning comes for all. While beyond good and evil himself, Maal determines whether a mortal has lived a righteous or wicked life. He listens to the tales of their lives and then consults the black and white ledges of their deeds recorded in Elysium and Gehenna respectively, deciding on one of the four fates for mortals:

If they are truly evil, they are cast down into Hell, Gehenna or the Abyss.

If they have lead an acceptable life, but not distinguished themselves in thought and deed, they remain in his realm until it is time for them to be reborn.

If they have been truly good (or have wrongly suffered terribly), they remain in eternal bliss in one of the four halls.

If they have lead a life of pure devotion to the gods, it is possible that god may as Maal for the mortal's soul to come to her realm.

As detailed in the myth above, Maal once set out laws for the perfect order of mortals. He is wise like his mother, Morwyn, and saw clearly how mortals societies could function in happiness. However, his laws were lost by mortals and evil was allowed to flourish. This makes Maal terribly weary and fills him with sorrow. He wants the mortal races to rediscover the ancient laws, but due to the Compact he cannot simply present them on tablets. This is vexing to the King of Souls, since he wants nothing better than for the mortal races to live in happy order.

The Compact also stymies Maal's desire because it prevents him from enforcing justice directly, except in the most egregious cases when all gods agree that he must influence the mortal sphere. Because he swore to the mortal races long ago that justice would always prevail, given time, Maal must provide justice or be a liar – and so he steers his church and servants in the mortal sphere to bring justice to the world, in some cases righting ancient wrongs forgotten by mortals. When a group adventurers happen upon the site of an ancient wrong that they might set to rights, it is said that Maal's hand has subtly guided them there.

In addition to the judgement of souls and the enforcing of justice, Maal is also king over the land of the dead. Most of the duties of rulership, however, he has passed on to his wife, Naryne.

Servants
Maal's kingdom is teeming with celestials; they aid souls in their transition from the mortal sphere to eternal life, guide reborn souls back to the mortal sphere, take chosen souls to new homes with their patron gods, and escort the souls of the wicked to the infernal realms. Chief among these many servants are Maal's Four Riders, who sometimes were sent to the mortal sphere, where they appeared on great and terrible steeds enacting the will of their lord. Since the Compact, the Four Riders are rarely seen in the mortal world. The Riders are also the wardens of the four halls, where rest the souls of those who are to live in eternal bliss for their great deeds. The Riders are:

Issama, Counsellor to the King
Issama stands to the left of Maal's throne and advises the King of Souls on matters as varied as elven customs, legal loopholes, and contemporary marriage practices. She keeps herself exhaustively informed of all goings on in the mortal sphere. She rides upon a grey steed. Issama is the Warden of the First Hall, where rest those who are wise and good of heart.

Fratricide, Retribution of Blood
The only one of the Four Riders still regularly seen in the mortal sphere, Fratricide is sent by Maal to punish those who kill one of their own blood. The doom upon fratricide is as old as the gods' fratricide, when Tynel and Tyrak slew one another and Maal's father was born. While many who kill their own blood are left to be punished by mortal justice, on occasion, Maal sends forth Fratricide to punish such criminals – no one knows why those who are chosen receive divine justice when others do not. It is said that Fratricide fetches the criminal and hurls them bodily into the pits of Hell. Fratricide is not a single figure but an office inhabited by a living, loyal servant of Maal for 100 years and a day, after which time the servant finishes out his mortal life, becoming one of the captains of Maal's kingdom upon death. Fratricide rides upon a flaming, blood-red steed. Fratricide is, for the term of office, the Warden of the Second Hall, where reside those who have committed great acts of valour and loyalty. When Fratricide is abroad, the Hall is overseen by the captains, all of them former bearers of the mantle.

Remorse, Weeper for the Wronged
How Remorse came into Maal's service is unknown, but her role in the Kingdom of the Dead is quite clear. When one comes before Maal who has been grievously wronged, Remorse petitions the King of Souls to right the wrong and give the wounded party succour. Essentially, Remorse is the petitioner for the most pathetic of the dead. Sometimes Maal ignores Remorse's petition, but usually he responds by sending the soul before him to the Third Hall. Sometimes, the King of Souls is so incensed by the tale of sorrow he hears that he sends Fratricide to right the wrong (if it is a blood crime), or names a talesman to do so. Remorse's steed is black, and she is the Warden of the Third Hall, where reside those who have experienced such horrible pain in life that they need never return to the mortal sphere.

Maal's Voice, Herald of the Court
If Maal's Voice ever had a name, it is long forgotten, but it is said that he was once great among the div and was selected by Maal as his first servant. When Maal sits upon the Throne of Judgement, any word he utters is lasting law or judgement, so for lesser matters of the court, Maal's Voice speaks for his master. He rides upon a white steed. Maal's Voice is Warden of the Fourth Hall, where reside those who have brought great beauty into the world. Spells, such as commune that allow a character to speak with Maal, are answered by Maal's Voice.

Maal's other servitor is Wisdom, his owl companion who sits on his left shoulder when he is in court. Wisdom is said to deliver messages from Maal to the prime material plane from time to time.

The Church

Church Description
The church of Maal, called the courts of Maal, is not a popular church, in that it has only a few dedicated worshippers (called Maalites). This is due to the rigorous rules for its members. The court is powerful and prominent nonetheless.

In nearly every major city or centre of government in Carthas there is a court of Maal. It is there that locals go to resolve thorny conflicts. In many cases, local governments rely on the courts of Maal to serve as criminal justice systems. Even in the more common cases when the government has its own trial system, leaders will often consult with leaders from the court to help resolve issues, particularly those involving powerful nobles. This is because the courts of Mall and its representatives are known to be unbiased and wise.

The courts of Maal are a large network of Maal's faithful lead by the central court of Maal. There the heads of the faith, called the Four Justices issue edicts for the rest of the faithful about the legal policies of various nations, the goals of the courts, and the status of the search for the Sacred Laws. Maal gave the mortal races a series of laws at the beginning of the Third Epoch that, if put into action and followed, would make for a perfect, harmonious society. Sadly, all of those laws are lost except for the first: Maal's doom against vendetta. It is therefore the solemn mission of the faithful of Maal to recover these ancient edicts, which they call the Sacred Laws. It is their belief that if the Sacred Laws are ever recovered it will mean a new age of enlightenment and peace for all. In their years of searching, they have not found a single one, and they fear that it is fiendish influence that keeps them from their discovery.

The Maalites do no speak of this mission to those outside the faith, though some from other churches know of it. While the faithful search, the courts maintain good secular relationships and uphold their duties as legal arbiters and counsellors. The courts also have fine relationships with other lawful churches, including the Great Church, which sometimes calls upon the courts of Maal to adjudicate disputes between its members when an absolutely neutral third party is required.

Church Structure
The courts of Maal have two great holy orders and a third order with few members, none of whom are actively involved in court matters. They are the order of justiciars, the officers and Maal, and the talesmen. The courts have a central authority, the Four Justices, who are made up of the two highest justiciars and the two highest officers. The Four control the faith from a central court that is located in the small city of Turan in the Demisan Empire, relatively far from prying eyes.

The order of justiciars is divided into four levels of status: justiciars, high justiciars, prolocutors and two Justices. The officers are also divided into four groups: swords, shields, hands and two Justices. The talesmen are only ever talesmen, and that not for long.

The activities of a court are overseen by its high justiciars. The clergy below him see to the court's judgements, and the officers see to their enforcement. Those justiciars who do not serve at a court mostly concern themselves with finding the Sacred Laws, and those officers not found at court focus on bringing justice to the world through the strength of their blades.

The average court has one to three high justiciars and eight to ten justiciars. There are usually five, ten or fifteen swords (but almost always a multiple of five) and three to five shields. The prolocutors and hands are charged with wandering the world and spreading justice, so the most powerful members of the courts are rarely found within their walls.

Doctrine
quote:
Though the world's injustices may fill the vessel of your heart with rage and hatred, though you may desire with all your soul to destroy those who have wronged you, remember that there is a true and greater law more perfect than any you might ever recite, more beautiful than you might ever hope.

– The Writ of Maal, holiest screed of the Maalites

The doctrine of the courts revolves around four principles:

There Will Be Justice
Even before Maal's first declaration, there were laws against murder and taking justice into your own hands. If all involved in the tale of Ceruill and Ophiel had obeyed those laws, much suffering would have been avoided. While the church of Maal understands that mortal laws are fallible, they know that the law of Maal is infallible. Maal has promised that all crimes will eventually receive justice, so it is therefore a great wrong to commit another crime in an effort to see justice done. For instance, killing someone who has harmed your family because you believe it is the only way to receive justice is wrong – Maal has decreed it so, and you only prove that you lack faith in Maal and his promise. “Trust in Maal”, the justiciars say, “For he is compassionate, and his justice will be done.”

Maal's Wisdom Is Infinite
Gods are able to see further and understand more than even the wisest mortal. Maal understands society and the mortal spirit better than any king or holy leader ever shall, and so his laws, his earliest decrees, are by their very definition perfect. They were lost to the mortal races through ignorance and failure to follow them. Most in the courts believe they are not found now because of outside interference. A few believe they will be found in sequence once the mortal races have mastered them in order. So, the second decree will not be found until all mortals understand and live by the first decree: that vendetta is wrong. These folk argue that Maal could give the mortal races the laws, even with the Compact, but will not because he does not want them ignored and lost again. There is debate as to how many decrees Maal gave the mortals, but most agree on 12 (one for each of the leaders to whom they were given, and the number needed for a tale).

All People Have A Right To Be Judged
This is not just the belief that all people accused of a crime have a right to some sort of trial and should not simply be executed (which the courts do believe, so they are highly opposed to low justice, in which a noble is able to simply kill a peasant for a perceived wrong). While the courts certainly maintain that all in the mortal sphere have the right to a trial, more importantly they hold that all people, no matter how vile, despicable or seemingly outside the mortal order have a right to appear before Maal and receive their final judgement. They therefore abhor any magic that entraps the soul, destroys it, or prevents the soul from ever going before Maal (such as lichdom). They refer to such magic as 'anarchic', and the officers tirelessly pursue those who use it.

Those Who Deny Others These Rights Must Be Judged
Be it a king who gives legal protections to the artisan classes and nobility but allows peasants to suffer, or a sorcerer who binds souls in a magical well to power his spells, the courts oppose those who seek to deny others their right of divine law. The courts will at the very least oppose them in word and argument, seeking to move the hearts and minds of others against them. But in terrible cases the courts are likely to take up arms against them. It is important to note, though, that the courts are not egalitarian. They certainly do not require that a kingdom treat all its subjects equally, or that all laws be fair. It is very possible to have a lawful evil empire that the courts do not oppose, as long as all of its people have a right to some form of legal redress when wronged.

Common Prayers
Justiciars and the officers of the courts of Maal pray to their Lord often, particularly when they are in doubt of some path, or wonder if a decision they have made is wise. Most often common folk pray to Maal in three cases: when they are in need of wisdom to make an important decision, when they have been wronged and crave justice, and then one of their loved ones has died.

The prayer recited most fervently is called the Entreaty, and it is the cry to Maal for justice when wronged. While it is from the perspective of one murdered, its meaning is beyond any one crime and is said to stand for any crime committed against the mortal races. The Entreaty is not said lightly, as it is a solemn plea to Maal:

quote:
Father Maal, Judge of Souls,
King of the Dead,
Hear my in my need.
My blood runs in rivers,
And with it mingle my bitter tears.
I lay dying yet no crime have I done,
No man have I wronged.
My innocent blood I offer to you, Father Maal,
My angry tears are my libations;
I pray to you that those who wrong me will find Justice,
By your hand or another's.
Let not my blood be washed away,
Let not my life be forgotten.”


The Entreaty is usually said by one who knows who has wronged him and is desperately trying to control his rage and avoid taking matters into his own hands.

Holy Days
There are many minor holy days of courts of Maal, generally tied to days of remembrance of the dead. These are not universally celebrated by all courts.

The holiday that all observe is at the beginning of the yea and is called the Day of Offering. On this day all people are expected to come to the courts and pray to Maal to forgive them any transgressions they may have committed in the previous year. They accompany their prayers with an offering of gifts to the wronged party. In cases where it is not possible to do this, it is given to the court to be distributed to those who have been wronged and received no offering. It is essentially a day filled with tears and apologies. Many people go to the courts of Maal only on the Day of Offering, including those who rarely pray to him otherwise, and it is considered one of the highest holy days of the Gods of the Tree. It is, after all, putting oneself into better graces with the King who will ultimately determine the fate of one's soul.

Saints
Saints are named by Maal himself when he judges souls. When those who have been tireless crusaders for justice come before Maal, the king of Souls will sometimes greet them by calling them saints. For instance, when Jerik, a hand of Maal who almost single-handedly toppled a pirate kingdom that had enslaved thousands came before Maal to be judged he knelt. The Voice of Maal greeting him by saying “Arise, Saint Jerik, and be judged.” In that simple pronouncement, sainthood was conferred.

On occasion one of the servants of Maal in the mortal sphere will learn in prayer that one of the fallen is now referred to as a saint. From that point onwards he will be referred to as a saint by all Maalites. For example, Jerik's sister sought to commune with Maal to ask him for guidance some years after her brother's death. The Voice of Maal told her when she completed the ritual that her brother, Saint Jerik, would thereafter be her guardian and aid in Maal's kingdom. After that, all her efforts to commune were answered by her brother – and from this incident the courts of Maal learned that Jerik had been named a saint.

Maal's View of the Church
Maal relies on his courts constantly. He has sworn that there will be justice in the world, and it is only through his courts that this justice may be enacted. As such, he regularly communicates through signs and sometimes direct messages to the Four Justices, his prolocutors and hands.

Maal believes that his servants are just. He is saddened when some of them fail or do not understand the true meaning of justice. Those who are eager to mete out terrible judgements rarely climb in the hierarchy if his faith, for he makes sure the leaders of his courts know of his disapproval.

Preferred Weapon
The preferred weapon of Maal is his greatsword, Justice, which he has wielded since the war with Kador.

Holy Orders

Clerics: Justiciars of Maal
The Order
The justiciars are the clerical order of the courts of Maal. As an order, the justiciars keep the court systems operating, with the high justiciars overseeing the individual courts. They are looked to for their wisdom, good judgement and counsel. The deepest purpose of the order is the recovery of the sacred laws, and this is what concerns most prolocutors who are generally wandering clerics seeking these ancient artifacts of their god.

A character may only become a justiciar after years of legal training. A character already very familiar with the law could become a justiciar without additional training, but would otherwise have to stop other pursuits for two to four years while they study the laws of the nations of Carthas.

Titles
While the forms of address for the justiciars are varied, they are all introduced by their name and position among the justiciars (e,g., Wilhelm, prolocutor of the courts of Maal). However, when referred to without his name, a member of the order is called a justiciar of Maal, regardless of his personal title. This is because the most important detail about them is that they serve the courts and can mediate disputes, not their relative importance; they are representatives of the faith and their order first, individuals second.

A low-level justiciar is usually kept very busy. There are several at even the smallest court, as running one involves a fantastic amount of work. Given that most courts hear daily petitions from local people asking for resolution of disputes, intercession in cases of injustice and other serious requests, the justiciars have a lot to do. In all things, they operate as assistants to the high justiciars, and are expected to be completely obedient to their superiors. It is considered acceptable for a justiciar not suited for minding the matters of the courts to go forth and work for law abroad. A justiciar is addressed as 'honoured justiciar'.

After further years of work, legal study and demonstrating their wisdom and piety a justiciar may be made a high justiciar and be given authority over a court. In major population centres, there are several high justiciars in a single court. They form a council, working together towards decisions, but one justiciar is granted authority over the court by the Four Justices, and is understood by all to be in charge. High justiciars are addressed as 'lord justiciar or 'lady justiciar'.

When highly experienced and of proven divine favour a justiciar is hailed as a prolocutor and is considered above working on day-today matters such as operating a court. Prolocutors wander the world, questing for the Sacred Laws, visiting distant lands, and seeking to bring law to the world by speaking the will of Maal to any who will listen. Prolocutors are believed to speak for Maal: when they declare something unjust, anyone with a shred of sense listens. Some prefer not to wander, but the Four Justices intercede and instruct the prolocutor to put aside his mundane labours and go forth to do Maal's work in the world. It is rare that this admonishment is required. A prolocutor is addressed as 'most honoured justiciar'.

When one of the two Justices from the order of justiciars steps down or dies, one of the prolocutors is called to sit upon the council of the Four Justices.

Spell Preparation Time
Justiciars must prepare their spells either just as they arise in the morning or just before they go to sleep in the evening. The mediation must be either the first or last part of their day, for in this way they spend their day thinking on Maal and his laws, or contemplate his ways in their dreams.

Alignments
There are only two major alignments among clerics of Maal – lawful neutral and lawful good. Lawful neutral justiciars are the largest contingent of the courts. Their foremost concern is with finding the Sacred Laws of Maal. While their complete dedication to legality makes them excellent judges, they often allow unfortunate outcomes, as they feel the preservation of the law is of paramount importance. Because of this, in cases where someone has broken the law but has done so for a good or very understandable reason, the lawful neutral justiciars will still condemn the criminal, uninterested in vague concept such as 'right' or 'context'. It is very common that these justiciars will be told that they do evil by adhering to law so completely; they respond that the person who does not follow the law to the letter for some short-term good is likely doing a profound evil in the long run.

The lawful good justiciars are much beloved, for it is their belief that law exists to better the lives of people. They are the 'live and let live' sort, associating themselves with goodhearted people who, perhaps, bend the letter of the law to achieve great good. While they themselves do not stray from the law, and while they certainly will try to explain to such people the importance of maintaining law, it is not at all uncommon to find a lawful good justiciar adventuring with chaotic good heroes. Such justiciars are paragons of virtue, seeking to aid others through their wisdom, strength and example: They do not lie, do not swear, do not strike others in anger, and do not raise their voices – all in all, they seek to be exceptional figures of morality, temperance and wisdom – as Maal is. Lawful good justiciars typically do not rise very far in the court system, and it is rare for one of their number to sit as one of the Four Justices.

There are lawful evil clerics who call Maal their lord. Likely receiving power from an infernal patron rather than the god they proclaim, these deluded few believe that it is better a thousand innocent men go to Maal's halls than one guilty man escapes justice. They form secret courts of their own and operate as vigilantes, meting out brutal punishments for the smallest of crimes as they see fit.

Holy Warriors: Officers of Maal
The Order
It is one thing to pass judgement or to demand that the law be followed - it is quite another to enforce that judgement and those demands. The officers of the court of Maal are the embodiments of Maal's sword, Justice. When criminals must be pursued, when judgement must be backed with force, the officers are there performing their duty. They do so because of an abiding belief that laws make the world better for everyone. It is not possible to become an officer if one secretly harbours a perverse pleasure in punishing people or has too much love for her authority. The officers are selected by Maal himself, it is said, for their goodness of heart and their courage to do what must be done.

Swords, shields and hands are all introduced with title preceding name, followed by 'an officer of the court of Maal'. So a shield named Gwaithin would be introduced as 'Shield Gwaithin, an officer of the courts of Maal'.

A novice officer of the courts of Maal is called a sword and addressed as such. Having gone through exhaustive training, swords are assigned to serve courts. There are generally five swords at every court, each given a separate duty for the maintenance of law in the area, as as serving as a bailiff or protecting the young justiciars when they travel.

More mystical members of the court system refer to each sword as a finger, with each of their duties codified to the duties of the fingers of the hand (the sword who serves as bailiff is like the thumb, the anchor of the hand; the sword who helps the victims of crime in finding and prosecuting their attacker is like the index finger, which indicates evil, etc.) This is regarded as an old fashioned way of thinking. What remains of this mystical thought is that when all five swords of a court are sent out to capture a particularly dangerous criminal, they are called a 'fist'. The courts found in large cities will have several fists and even a few unassigned swords; particularly promising swords are actually allowed to go on adventures not lofty enough for shields but serving the courts of Maal. These 'unsheathed swords', as they are called, are the envy of other young officers of the court and are usually the very best of the order, allowed to wander because it would be wasteful to shackle them with bureaucratic work at a court.

After serving many years as a sword, the officer is expected to go forth and protect people. The experienced sword is administered a Test by the high justiciar of her court. (The nature of this test is kept secret within the order.) If the sword fails, she may never become a shield, though she retains her status and powers as a sword of Maal. It is seen as no great shame to fail the Test; it is said that Maal simply desires to see the tested remain a sword. Once a shield, the officer is expected to fight against lawlessness and anarchic magic, guided by Maal himself. While shields still obey commands from high justiciars and, certainly, any edicts set down by the Four Justices, their lives are no longer subservient to a single court and they are not expected to be involved in day-to-day legal affairs. Often several shields band together and form knightly orders dedicated to justice.

Experienced and hardened shield has no doubt survived many incredible adventures and helped countless downtrodden folk. At a certain point, she must make the journey to the Court of the Four Justices in Turan. She is Tested by the Justices to determine if she is ready to be a hand of Maal. While no officer of Maal who has been through this Test speaks of it to lower-ranked officers, it is clear that the experience affects them greatly, physically, mentally and spiritually – and some do not return from it at all. Those that do return are made into a hand of Maal, for it is said she is now the sword, shield and hand of the King of Souls on earth, and are presented with rich gifts from the Four Justices. She is now a living agent of Maal's will and is expected to lead armies, topple dark kingdoms, slay terrorising dragons and do other epic works of heroism in the name of law and justice. A hand is addressed as 'grim lord' or 'grim lady'.

When one of the two Justices from the officer order dies or steps down, a hand is called to sit upon the council of the Four Justices. Apparently, they simply know that it is their time to serve, and it is assumed that Maal picks the justices. A justice from the order of officers is called 'supreme lord' or 'supreme lady'.

Code of Conduct
Officers of Maal must not lie, cheat, or in any way knowingly allow an injustice – great or small – to be done. The exception is tragedy, where an injustice will be occur no matter what the officer does. In such cases, the officer must endeavour to minimise the damage to the innocent. Officers of Maal must obey the laws of the land (when legitimate) and must work to bring legitimate law to the lawless. Officers of Maal must oppose anarchic magic or anything else that seeks to take away the rights of the living to stand before Maal.

Talesmen of Maal
The Order
A talesman is a mortal who has agreed to serve the gods in a single epic quest for justice. She is given a mission by one of Maal's servants, usually something enormously difficult and deadly, and remains a talesman until her death or the quest's end through success or failure. One becomes a talesman by receiving a a writ of tales, a divine document that details the injustice and what must be done to set it to rights. It is brought to the chosen agent by a servant of Maal (usually his owl, Wisdom). The benefits of serving as a talesman are great, but the consequences of failure is the disappointment – and even wrath – of the gods. One way or another, though, serving as a talesman is accepting a mission of battle, peril, mystery and death in the name of righting a wrong so terrible as to move the gods themselves.
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The God of the Water
The Basins of Shalimyr
The Raging, Magnificent, Endless, the Wave, Grandfather Ocean, Sea Father, the Great Sea, the Waters of the World

Shalimyr (SHALL-uh-meer) is the chaotic neutral god of the waters of the world: ocean, rivers, lakes, streams, and rain. He is the god of sailing, fishing, and all other mortal endeavors that rely on the water. To those living on coastlands, Shalimyr is the lord of sea storms (to landlocked peoples, Urian is usually considered father of storms). He is the patron of fathers, for he was the father of Eliwyn, the tree from which the gods and mortal races arose, but he is also the patron of grandfathers, for from Eliwyn came the races of the world.

Shalimyr is shown as a great blue-skinned figure, with his hair and beard made of white sea foam. He wields a mighty falchion name Seacrest, and wears armor made from seashells. In his eyes dance the wild waves of the sea.

Common symbols rely on a single cresting blue wave capped with foam. Those wearing a holy symbol of Shalimyr often display it as a wave made of painted shell, though elaborate versions may be crafted out of lapis lazuli and alabaster. In a hurry, when such symbols cannot be made, or when the area on which the symbol will appear is so small that such detail is not possible, a more basic form is acceptable: a simple triangle inside a circle, meant to show that at the center of all things is “the Wave,” as Shalimyr is called from time to time.

In nature, Shalimyr is often associated with the frightening beasts of the sea, such as the great kraken, but he is more commonly identified with simple fish. His favorite creatures are said to be whales, sharks, and dolphins, and certainly Shalimyr’s several faces can be seen in them, from the indifferent whales, to violent and dangerous sharks, and even friendly, helpful dolphins. Shalimyr is worshiped most ardently by the aquatic mortal races: the sea-elves and merfolk. These two revere Shalimyr over all other gods. On land, he is worshiped by those who live by and with the water primarily elves and humans.

Myths

The Origins of the Merfolk
When Zhenkeef hurled the elves around the world, some landed in the sea, and became the sea-elves. While most of the mortal races over which the gods have dominion reside on land, the sea-elves rarely touch earth. But the sea-elves are not the only mortal race to reside under the waves; the merfolk also have souls, and go before Maal upon their deaths to be judged. They are humans who were changed to live under the sea—but how is this possible?

Long ago there arose a seaside kingdom of proud men who sailed tall ships across Grandfather Ocean’s back. When he marked them, Shalimyr the Wave loved these humans well, for they respected the waters and wrote joyful songs praising its foam and waves. The sounds of these works were soothing to Raging Shalimyr’s ear. But the attention of Shalimyr, the Waters of the World, is fickle, and he forgot about these people whom he so loved.

So it was that the seaside kingdom, unprotected and unfavored, came to war with a powerful empire that wielded fell magic against its foes. The men of the water cried out to Shalimyr to crush their foes, but he did not—his attention was on other matters, and his affections belonged others, now. Battles raged for many years. Wave-lords conquered the ports of the mages for a time, but the mages drove them off with fire and lightning.

At last the mages who waged this war against the proud men of the ships devised a tactic to destroy their foes. Calling upon terrible magic, they sank the entire kingdom of the seafaring men to the bottom of the great, wide sea! It is said that Mormekar, the Grim Wanderer (as he is called by all folk doomed to meet him), may claim any few souls without even sparing them his attention; but in that hour so many thousands died at once that Mormekar was required to walk among them himself. For many long moments, not one of them died though they clawed at their throats, unable to breathe.

Their terrible suffering reached Endless Shalimyr’s ears, and he too went to the site of this cataclysm. He asked Mormekar to spare them, but the Grim Wanderer does his duty and stays his hand for few—or perhaps none. “They cannot breathe, Shalimyr, and they must die. The choice is not mine.” And indeed, Shalimyr understood: The choice was not Mormekar’s but his own, to let these people who loved him and revered him die and be erased from the world, or to save them. And Shalimyr so loved these folk, every one of them doomed to death, that he transformed them. He gave them the tails and gills of fishes so that they might live on! In wonder at this transformation, the merfolk called out their thanks. And thus do they revere Endless Shalimyr to this day, for he saved them from death and made them what they are.


The Lost Conqueror
Once upon a time, there was a pirate king called Erikul who claimed dominion over the many seas. When Erikul was a child he had gone to the water’s edge and cut his hand, letting his blood spill into the sea. “Sea Father,” he said, “I dedicate my blood to you. Let me ride your back to glory!”

His prayer was heeded, and by the time he was full in manhood, he was the greatest sailor in all the lands. He served on a pirate ship and, in the winking of an eye, became captain of a dread fleet. By the time the first traces of silver were in his beard he was known as the Terror of the Seas.

One day, while sailing on the back of Shalimyr, the Great Sea, his vessel was hailed by the kindly sea-elves who swam at its side. The pirates welcomed the sea-folk aboard. At their head was their queen, Shawaliasha, the most beautiful woman on land or water. At once, Erikul was smitten in love and demanded the queen’s hand.

“I have forsworn marriage,” the queen responded, “until I find a man who is the lord of all he surveys.”

Erikul thought this awfully strange, for surely the queen of the sea-elves had heard of Erikul, the Terror of the Seas. “But that is I, lady. I am Erikul, the pirate king, and I am master of all the seas. There are none who would dare oppose me or my fleet. No one sails on the wide back of Grandfather Ocean that I do not know of, and none stand against me should I seek to board or take their ships. While other kings rule the weak land, I rule the seas!”

“That is well, King Erikul, but you are not lord of all you survey.”

This was terribly vexing to the pirate king, and he looked out over the bow of his mighty ship. And then he turned back. “You are wrong, lady! I am Lord of all I Survey! I see nothing before me that I cannot take for my own, including you and your folk. I have been kind thus far, but should Erikul seek to conquer your folk, he shall! I am the King of all the Seas! I am Master
of all the Oceans!”

At this, the queen smiled, for she knew that Raging Shalimyr had heard this claim. Within moments, Shalimyr, the Waters of the World, opened wide his horrible maw and swallowed up Erikul and all his ships. Thus did the queen of the Sea-Elves rid the world of the Terror of the Seas. For no man is King of the Ocean; only Endless Shalimyr may claim domain over the waters. Any man who forgets this is doomed to die as surely as Erikul, who is now bones at the bottom of the sea.


Constant Change
Not as wild as Zhenkeef, Shalimyr does have a great love for dramatic shifts and changes in the world. He believes the world should be in constant flux, or risk stagnation, as his tidal pools grow stagnant with stillness. This is not to say that Shalimyr has no appreciation for the calm and the quiet. Indeed, he is as fond sometimes of silence and gentleness as he is of raging storms and tossing waves. There is a joy in both, but unlike his brother Urian, Shalimyr does not believe there is good in both. Nor does he care. Shalimyr loves to watch things break as much as he loves to watch them grow. He has as much appreciation for cruelty as he does for love, and believes they are equally valid instruments of change. This has been noted by his worshipers; they call the loving side of Shalimyr Grandfather Ocean, whereas the cruel and stormy Shalimyr is named Sea Father. All children of the world love the Grandfather and fear the Father, and Shalimyr seems to enjoy being both loved and feared. What he does not care for is what he sees as the arrogant illusion of permanence.

Shalimyr hates those who are proud and believe that they have built something that will never fall or fail, for they forget that eventually, everything collapses—even the world will crumble someday, when the Nameless One’s name is spoken again. Nothing lasts, no matter how strong or virtuous, and to believe something will endure forever is pure hubris. Because of this, Shalimyr, more than any other god, levels the proud. Like the myth of the Pirate King above, tales abound of men, women, or nations that believed they had achieved perfection, only to have everything they were so proud of destroyed by the waters of Shalimyr.

While he loathes pride in others (including the other gods), Shalimyr is himself quite proud. He works his way into every crevice, slips into every available space, all to make sure he can see everything, destroying or nourishing as he chooses. He is unlikely to try to destroy the world, but he loves the power of knowing that drop by drop, he can undermine the foundation of any building, or topple any kingdom. After all, water is everywhere—it is in the air, in the dirt, in the blood of people. Thereby, Shalimyr is in all things, and all the people of the world live by his permission and through his grace. Or so he believes.

All this said, Shalimyr can perform acts of incredible generosity. Since the earliest days, Shalimyr allowed the mortal races to sail on his back. Sometimes he rages at ships with his terrible rains, and sometimes he destroys a ship or two, but usually he is quite kind to sailors. The merfolk would have all died but for his grace. Whenever a town is thirsty and finds a new well, it is Shalimyr’s grace made manifest. While it is true he is capricious and quite often a force for destruction, he is no more purely destructive than he is purely nurturing. He can give gifts to the mortal races that are every bit as magnificent as his punishments.

Among the gods, Shalimyr is usually aloof, except where Zhenkeef is concerned. His protectiveness eventually became an obsession, for Shalimyr the Wave is hopelessly besotted with the Mother of Madness. It is said he and she couple often and feverishly, all without the knowledge of her husband Tynel, the god of knowledge.

Abundant Servants
Shalimyr has many children from his copious couplings with mortals over the years, and they serve as his attendants. Chief among them are his four daughters, Ocean, River, Lake, and Stream, each overseeing some part of his vast waters for him. It is said Shalimyr lives in a mighty palace made of pearl and alabaster drawn through the waters by twelve colossal whales, each large enough to swallow a small fleet of ships. These whales are named after the sounds waves make when they hit the various types of land.

The Basins of Shalimyr

The churches of Shalimyr, found in most seaside towns and cities, are called basins of Shalimyr, for they collect the outpourings of his worship. His worshipers, the Shalimyn (SHALL-uh-min), congregate before any great sea journey to bless the sailors and their vessel, and pray to Grandfather Ocean for their safe passage. For particularly important journeys they make elaborate sacrifices in the water, cutting open chickens, lambs, and even bulls, letting the blood and water commingle. This is to symbolize that all things owe their life to the water.

For common sailing expeditions, such as the daily voyage of fishing vessels, most sailors meet at the beach before dawn, where a mariner of Shalimyr joins them and prays for their journey. Sacrifices are uncommon in such settings. The basins collect worship, and their clergy and other holy orders help others honor the god. But just as Shalimyr hates pride outside his faithful, he hates it within their ranks. The holy orders must not, and do not, represent themselves as necessary for a connection between the individual and Shalimyr. They are wise and the basins are there for guidance, but a faithful Shalimyn does not require a basin, a member of the clergy, or anyone or anything else to connect with Shalimyr—his is a highly individual faith.

While the basins are usually places of religious devotion and pious prayer, they are also home to wild and raging festivals accompanied by hard drinking and sometimes more carnal activities. The Shalimyn are both peaceful and wild, just like the waters.

Shalimyr is more involved with the daily lives of his worshipers than any other god. He is so involved that it is likely he oversteps the boundaries of the Compact. None of the gods complain because just as often as Shalimyr sends one of his saints to aid one of his worshipers, he sinks a ship filled with them or wipes out a town of Shalimyn who have grown fat and arrogant.

Worshiping Shalimyr is hard. It involves constant wrestling with one’s faith and, often, with one’s god. It means tests of one’s humility, the constant threat of death, messages from the sea, and aid or doom from a god’s hand. It is a dramatic religion, as Shalimyr is a dramatic god, and its practitioners are rarely weak-hearted.

Shalimyr feels as though his worshipers are the only mortals who truly understand him. While all people who worship the gods of the tree and travel on the sea or river pay homage to Shalimyr, they do not live a life of constant servitude to Him as he believes is warranted. Among the gods, Shalimyr constantly murmurs he will destroy them all someday, but none of the other gods take him seriously. However, some scholars believe the day will come that Shalimyr floods the world, destroying everyone but his worshipers. Most view these scholars as only slightly less batty than the Shalimyn themselves.

Regardless, because they have developed a system of showing Him such elaborate respect, Shalimyr is quite involved with the Shalimyn, is fond of them, and is saddened a bit when he must wipe out entire ships of them because they have made him angry.

Doctrine of Humility
quote:
“Somewhere stands the greatest wall ever built, and the men that built the wall do stare at it with pride. But o’er that wall, there hangs a bough, its leaves laden with the water. And every day the bough does drip down on the wall its precious drops. A thousand men may live a thousand lives, and look upon that wall, but one day the water will prevail. Drop by drop, the mortar will be undone. Bit by bit, the wall will crumble and fall, and those proud men will be proud no longer of their mighty wall, broken into dust. I obey the water.”

~ Shalimyn Shipwright Kellyne Seafarer’s “A Daughter of the Sea Father”

The Shalimyn faith preaches profound humility. We live and die from the water; without it we are nothing. It is to the water we must always show our gratitude. On the surface, this makes the Shalimyn seem like a downtrodden, dour lot, but it is not so. The Shalimyn are humble before the waters, but they are fierce to their enemies and unafraid to die, ready to enjoy hard drink and the joys the body offers. They believe they live only by Shalimyr’s grace, that every day they might be swallowed by the waters—even when they stand in a scorching desert—and this belief and recognition of impending death makes them fearless, at least in theory.

However, when not in wild festivals or raging against enemies, a Shalimyn’s faith is based on personal sacrifice. The Shalimyn shed things that are important to them and constantly mourn the losses, but temper mourning with gratitude for the sea’s gifts. The more a person sacrifices, the holier she is thought to be. The Shalimyn faith is based on three primary principles, referred to by the Shalimyn as the “Three Blessings.”

Humility
If every drop of water believed itself more important than the drop ahead and behind, the river would not flow. If the river thought itself greater than the ocean, the seas would grow thirsty and dry. Every individual must accept that his fate is not in his own hands, and must flow where the river takes him. The practical effect of the doctrine of humility, though, is not a sea of Shalimyn faithful waiting for orders from elders (as one might imagine from a lawful church with a similar doctrine). This is because all mortals must be humble. No mortal can determine another’s path, so every man and woman must listen for the call of Grandfather Ocean, the inevitable pull of fate, the flow of the river tugging them this way or that. This “pull” would be described by a modern person as the unconscious: the raw emotional voice buried away by most, but heeded carefully by the Shalimyn. This makes for a church of people who, through their humility, are prepared to obey their every animal instinct; and perhaps among the truly righteous Shalimyn, these instincts are the call of Shalimyr. Regardless, it makes for a chaotic faith.

Sacrifice
We come from the water empty-handed. We must return to the water empty-handed. All things are granted by Shalimyr, and the belief that anything we have in hand is our property is absurd; it all belongs to Shalimyr. Because of this, Shalimyn obsessively tithe anywhere from ten to eighty percent of everything they own. There are wealthy Shalimyn sea-traders who give away all their wealth when they are old (often to their own children or grandchildren), so this custom does not mean the Shalimyn are all paupers. However, it is ingrained into the Shalimyn in their earliest lessons that they must be prepared to sacrifice everything for the Sea Father, even their lives, for everything they own belongs to him. Nearly all Shalimyn rites involve a sacrifice of some kind, usually mingling the blood of an animal with the water.

Gratitude
Every day we awaken with our homes still intact, our vessels still held together, our sails still whole, it is because the Sea Father has let us. Every man, woman, and child must thank Shalimyr for his gifts at least three times daily: in morning prayer, in mid-day meal prayer, and in evening prayer. Prayers must not be missed. The prayers involve pouring water on the palms, touching water to the lips and eyelids, and reciting the Beatitudes of the Sea Father. If prayers are missed, the penitent Shalimyn must make painful sacrifices to Raging Shalimyr. He kills one of his finest livestock, gives his best sword to a pauper, and so on. Gratitude is also shown with regular periods of fasting, during which the Shalimyn eat nothing, and drink  only water for a week at a time.

The Three Blessings are so important to the Shalimyn because they know Shalimyr is a vengeful and angry god. He nurtures those who show him the proper respect, and destroys the arrogant utterly. The Shalimyn themselves are happy to cheer on this destruction. The bar brawls begun by Shalimyn are legendary, and easily set off, for they take it as a religious duty to deflate the egos of pompous men. Should a man brag in a seadog bar about his brave and mighty exploits, he can expect a mug against his head soon after. The Shalimyn faith is likely the only (nominally) “good” faith where one does his religious duty by cold-cocking someone in a bar. But the Shalimyn truly believe they are helping such people, for if they find such men arrogant, imagine what Raging Shalimyr will do to them! In fact, the truly devout Shalimyn can be heard to mutter “this is for your own good, in Shalimyr’s name” as they hit an unsuspecting, pompous fool in the head with a chair.

Of course, not all Shalimyn indulge in this sort of behavior, as the faith runs a wide gamut, from chaotic good to chaotic evil worshipers. Yet nearly all Shalimyn find the imposition of elaborate codes of law ridiculous and laughable. Authority must come from personal respect and devotion. This is how the captain of a ship might lead an incredibly loyal crew, all of whom would gladly die on his word, and not be thought arrogant—each member of the crew knows the Captain and respects him. However, try telling one of the Shalimyn, “You must obey me because those are the rules,” and it won’t get you far. Add to this the fact that the Shalimyn are prepared to lose their lives should Shalimyr call, and you have a potential riot brewing at every port in the world.

It warrants saying, though, that like every other religion of the gods of the tree, not every Shalimyn is devout to the point of an impassioned willingness to die on a moment’s notice. There are many more “rational” followers of Shalimyr the Endless. But the Three Blessings make for a volatile religion.

Prayers of Shalimyr
The Beatitudes are the Shalimyn prayers, to be repeated three times daily. The Beatitudes’ words are said as Shalimyn perform the actions of prayer, pouring water on their palms and touching their lips and eyelids. They are often followed with less formalized prayers.

quote:
Morning
“Blessed art thou, Grandfather Ocean,
From whom all blessings flow.”


Mid-Day
“I praise thee, Grandfather Ocean,
For all thou givest daily.”


Evening
“I thank thee, Sea Father,
For sparing me this day.”


Holy Days
The main holy days of Shalimyr revolve around the fishing seasons, and depend on climatic conditions. The night before fishermen sail out again after winter is called Return Night, and is a festival of absolute abandon. The Shalimyn drink and eat to excess, dance and sing, all to show their gratitude to the Sea Father. Often a great bull is sacrificed in thanks, and all Shalimyn feast upon its uncooked meat after its blood has mingled with the waters.

The first week of winter, when the fishermen must dry-dock their ships, is a somber time, and none of the Shalimyn eat for the week, surviving on only water. All Shalimyn must fast during this week, praying in all three daily prayers for a short winter, even if they aren’t anywhere near a fishing community at the time. It is considered an unforgivable sin for one of the Shalimyn to eat anything during the first week of winter; there are tales of men who grew sick during the week and, after being were force-fed by friends, cut out their own tongues in abject shame. While most aren’t that zealous, it is not a matter to be taken lightly.

Saints
Martyrdom is important to the Shalimyn, for it is their belief that if they die heeding Shalimyr’s call, they are taken into his bosom forever after. They do not believe their spirits are carried to Shalimyr’s side to live as his assistants—that would be a haughty, self-aggrandizing belief. Instead they are made into water, a small part of Shalimyr the Endless, and it is the greatest boon any mortal might receive, for they are transformed into part of a god. Whether true or not, it does help to explain the fervor with which many Shalimyn fight, prepared to lay down their lives without hesitation. Should they die performing the will of Shalimyr, the reward is magnificent.

Saints are a very different matter. Saints are folk so holy they would certainly become part of the water when they die, but are so profoundly good of spirit, humble, and sacrificing, they reject the opportunity to exist eternally, as part of Shalimyr. Instead, they live on as his servants, aiding mortals lost at sea, heeding their prayers to Shalimyr, and performing great acts of compassion for the Shalimyn. This amazing sacrifice earns the name “saint.” Quite often saints come from the holy order of the ascetics, and rather than continuing to go by their waternames (see below), they are addressed once more by their birth names.

The Saints of Shalimyr actually appear in the Material Plane regularly. After their death, extremely devout Shalimyn are called upon by their Lord and become celestials— ghaeles (an old spelling of the word “gale,” because they fly to the aid of the Shalimyn as swiftly as gales blow across the sea) in celestial nomenclature. Ghaele servants of Shalimyr introduce themselves as “Saint” with their birth name from their mortal life, even though they have more beautiful names in the heavens.

Holy Orders

While the worship of Shalimyr is likely quite different among races that live under the waves, the focus here is on the basins of land-bound mortals. There are three holy orders of the basins, all of which are tied to the waters. The central order, as with most churches of the pantheon, is the clergy, called mariners and divided into shorehands and shipwrights. There are also the ascetics (holy warriors), who respect three ranks: neonates, ascetics, and waternamed. The sail masters recognize two levels: sail masters and sail lords.

The only order that regularly resides at the basins is that of the mariners, with the Shalimyn shipwrights of each basin determining its policies and interactions with secular affairs. There is no central authority of the Shalimyn faith; that position is taken by Shalimyr himself. Indeed, the mariners are considered guides and teachers more than authority figures. Every member of the faith is said to have a personal tie to Shalimyr, and do not require clergy to act as intermediaries.

A typical basin has six or seven shorehands in residence at any one time, and at least one shipwright. Ascetics and sail masters are almost never in residence at a basin, but in major port cities there might be one or two members of each order convalescing or temporarily living at the local basin.

Clerics: Mariners of Shalimyr
The mariners are spiritual leaders to the often wayward, chaotic Shalimyn. In a faith where one’s gut instincts can be either benign or malignant, and most of the faithful heed them regardless, guidance is necessary to avoid all out pandemonium.

These clergy are the undisputed (and only) authority figures in the basins. They perform religious ceremonies, help the faithful interpret Shalimyr’s will, call on Shalimyr’s blessings for outgoing and incoming vessels, and even occasionally ride important vessels to keep them safe from Shalimyr’s rage. All that said, they are not necessary to the faith, and are not seen as conduits between the faithful and Shalimyr; they are only guides and resources for the faithful (if well-respected ones).

The mariners collect the tithes of the faithful, see to the upkeep of the basins, build new basins when called for, and act as the spokespersons of the faith in all secular matters. This leads to an order with a great deal of wealth, making it more powerful secularly than it is spiritually. Sometimes the mariners from a given basin are completely corrupted by their power and wealth, but should they grow too bold and arrogant, Shalimyr will destroy them spectacularly, so corruption rarely goes beyond petty evils such as undermining or killing political rivals, using the church’s money to promote political programs outside the scope of the Shalimyn faith, or minor abuses of personal authority. Shalimyr has no trouble with this sort of behavior—but mariners who take church money to build themselves enormous mansions might be found soon, in chunks floating in a series of small puddles.

Nearly all the mariners of Shalimyr are chaotic, but their worldviews (apart from chaos) vary radically. The most common alignment for Shalimyn mariners is chaotic neutral. These mariners believe that the world is in constant flux—anything built today might be torn down by the waters tomorrow. They put no stock in plans for the distant future, and believe instead that one must strive to live only by the edicts of Shalimyr. One must be humble and obey his will—wherever it might lead you. While they usually counsel against casually throwing away one’s life, these mariners are not known for their cautious outlook, and they certainly have no concerns for a community outside the Shalimyn. Instead, they live only to serve Shalimyr and the Shalimyn faithful, and do whatever their hearts tell them is the right way to act accordingly.

Chaotic good mariners extend their concern to those outside of the faith. They believe the virtues of humility and sacrifice are exemplars for all people, so they try to live by them. They preach against the arrogance of those who claim to have the answers to all the great questions, or those who say they know “the way.” They’re rabble-rousers and troublemakers to be sure, but they aim to improve the lot of all people through the abiding beauty of Shalimyr. Often these mariners are adventurers, as the basin shipwrights find them too interested in affairs outside of the Shalimyn. Such interest is often condemned as pride; accused mariners must leave the community. There are, however, a few basins dominated by chaotic good mariners, and these places are havens to all Shalimyn of a like mind.

Unlike nearly all other churches of the gods of the tree, where evil worshipers have separate cults reviled by the main church, chaotic evil Mariners have a place in the basins so long as they don’t act against their fellow Shalimyn. A sort of “activist” offshoot of the basins, chaotic evil mariners believe Shalimyn wills that the arrogant and proud be rooted out. It saddens Shalimyr, their reasoning goes, whenever he must destroy mortals with his waters, because it shows his followers are too weak and cowardly to eliminate the prideful themselves. Chaotic evil mariners take the duty to heart by wreaking havoc. They might break into the homes of pompous nobles, kill them and their families, and burn their houses down. While the basins routinely deny any knowledge of such activities, many support these works as necessary evils.

Shorehands
Initiate Shalimyn called shorehands almost belong in a caste lower than the rest—below even the meanest drunken sailors. This is because they must forswear sailing or riding on the open sea, which is beloved of all Shalimyn. This sacrifice is thought to be the highest one can make, short of losing one’s life, and is done as a sign of love for Shalimyr and devotion to the Shalimyn. Shorehands are addressed as “brother” or “sister” and introduced by full title. Shorehands serve the rest of the Shalimyn. They are present at births, weddings, and funerals. They stand on the shores and bless their ships at launching, and greet them at their return. Shorehands make regular and elaborate shows of their lack of pride, and constantly give away their possessions, keeping just enough to eat and live. Becoming a shorehand takes a very short time, usually six months. One must be devoted to Shalimyr, have a great love of the sea, swear not to ride on the waters while a shorehand, and learn the various prayers and rites of the Shalimyn. Shorehands can leave their community if they feel Shalimyr calls them to do so, and many wander the world, away from the sea, on great adventures they believe Shalimyr has called them to perform.

Shipwrights
In time and with experience, elder shorehands may be released from their vows and go on great journeys by sea to the “heart of the ocean.” What is referred to as the heart of the ocean changes from culture to culture, but it’s usually out in the middle of the nearest sea. Once there, they leap into the water and either emerge moments later, or never surface. Those who emerge are ceremonially cleansed and are hailed as shipwrights, the wisest of the Shalimyn. To avoid confusion with actual shipwrights, these holy men and women are always referred to as Shalimyn shipwrights. They are addressed as “father” or “mother” and introduced by full title.

A Shalimyn shipwright maintains the humility they showed as shorehands, or at least they are supposed to, but are treated with reverence by the Shalimyn. If any have a right to be treated nobly, it would be these high representatives of Shalimyr in the world. Common Shalimyn do not speak directly to the shipwrights and must address them through shorehands; this is done to show the humility of the speaker, though it certainly elevates the self-importance of the listener. Shalimyn shipwrights run the basins and there is always at least one shipwright present. Unlike the shorehands, they can sail on the water whenever the need or desire arises.

The great Shalimyn shipwright Faroan T’urketh was once asked why the shipwrights are treated with such reverence in a faith that so abhors pride. He explained, “After a lifetime, I have become so used to the ways of humility in the face of Grandfather Ocean, blessed be his name, that they have become second nature. I do not think of the meaning and purpose of humility any longer; I have become so easily humble that there is almost a pride in it. The shipwrights are treated so well, like kings, so they can be reminded of the meaning of pride and the need for its purgation. Humility should never be easy.”

Joining the Mariners
The clergy of Shalimyr, all of whom are clerics with the Tempest or Water domain are divided into two groups: the young and hot-blooded Shalimyn clerics, and the old and wise ones. If a cleric lives long enough to become an elder in the clergy, it is because Shalimyr loves him.

Holy Warriors: Ascetics of Shalimyr
The ascetics of Shalimyr are a peculiar bunch. Uninvolved with the basins, they are understood by the Shalimyn to be holy people whose terrible sacrifices must take them away from the faithful. Just as the shorehands of Shalimyr cannot ride the waters as a sacrifice to show their humility and faith, ascetics give up the comfort of home and community and wander the wide world, doing what they can for everyone but themselves. By living a life of perpetual goodness and aiding others whenever and wherever they can, they show humility as servants to the mortal races, and offer perpetual self-denial to Shalimyr.

They are therefore one of the common “adventuring” holy orders of all the churches. Since their faith requires them to be away from the basins, traveling by land and sea to aid others, they are often found in towns where trouble is near, or in the depths of dungeons.

Ascetics must never hoard wealth or property. They must never seek a home or status in a home. They can never own a ship or other means of transport. Ascetics must be prepared to die empty-handed and alone. They have no fear of death, and generally do not wish to be raised from the dead. Any ascetic who comes to wish for a family or a home or any kind of comfort or possession must leave the order, and loses all her special abilities unless she atones and sheds all her attachments once more.

Ascetics are selective about the company they keep. They cannot abide the proud and never associate with people who seek glory, fame, or status, particularly if their desire for these things is reflected in the actions of the group and how people perceive them. Ascetics have no problem with those who seek wealth and keep personal property; they do not expect all people to live under the same onus of sacrifice as they do. They speak to their friends about the perils of desire for property, but do not condemn them for it. An ascetic can even abide greed, if it is tempered with sacrifice. Ascetics often travel with wizards, monks, druids, rangers, and rogues—and those who keep low profiles for one reason or another. They are rarely found with paladins or clerics from other churches. Ascetics almost never travel together.

As an ascetic grows older and more experienced, she sheds all the trappings of glory. Later, she sheds the markings of holiness, because in them is a kind of braggadocio. Eventually, she abandons even the trappings of “self,” as there is a kind of arrogance in asserting a personal identity, when one is really nothing but a servant of Shalimyr.

In time and after neonates have learned proper humility, and are ready to be full ascetics, they cease to have any titles whatsoever, and give their tabards away. This is usually done by training someone else to become a neonate, and presenting the initiate with the tabard at the completion of her training. Neonates who have been carrying a refined or well-crafted holy symbol give the item away, and replace it with the symbol a peasant might wear. Anything that might make it clear to a casual observer that an ascetic is a members of a holy order is given away as well. The only things neonates keep are arms, armor, and other tools they gained in their journeys to help them serve people. Once they’ve let go of their old trappings, neonates become proper ascetics. They have no titles, only their names, and they continue wandering. They have no honorifics in address, but if they introduced as religious figures, are called “ascetics of the basins of Shalimyr.”

Once ascetics show their full devotion to Shalimyr and cleave to a path of service and humility, they sacrifice all that is left of them: their names. They cease to be called by the name by which they have been known their entire lives and take the names of parts of water or water sounds. Lake, Stream, Rush, Falls—all are appropriate water names. Such ascetics are called “waternames,” and continue to walk the world and sail, fighting for the good of all people and awaiting death, when they might become part of the waters.

Joining the Ascetics
Anyone of the proper alignment and devotion to Shalimyr can join the ascetics. After a year of training by an elder member of the order, the ascetics abandon all the trappings of their previous lives. They cut their hair and give away anything not fit to be burned. They take up the blue tabard of the order (marked with the wave) and receive the title of “neonate,” having been reborn into the new order as a paladin. Neonates are addressed as “child” and not introduced by order or title but as “a child of the basins of Shalimyr.” While most paladins in the order are considered knights-errant, or heroes, neonate lives a life of servitude. They wander the world, offering their swords freely and begging for meals. And when it’s time to swear their oaths, they take the Oath of the Ascetic. Most ascetics are chaotic good.

Sail Masters
“The wind is my brother, the ship is my sister,” the sail masters say, “and the water is my father. I respect my siblings but I obey my father.” The sail masters have brine in their blood, it is said, and no finer sailors live. Having a sail master on deck is a good omen, a promise of success, and a harbinger of a speedy journey, all in one. To attack a vessel with a sail master on board, or worse, a sail lord, is considered sheer folly. The sail masters see themselves as the bearers of Shalimyr’s good word; they are missionaries who reside on ships. Incredibly, exhaustingly pious, they lead the crew in the three daily prayers, talking constantly of the gifts of Grandfather Ocean and the wrath of the Sea Father. Their order was founded to aid and serve those who are closest to Shalimyr, sailors, and to remind them of the tenets of the Shalimyn faith.

The sail masters are the third and most evangelical of the Shalimyn holy orders. They are known everywhere for their great skill as sailors and their uncanny abilities with ship-to-ship combat. The order was founded by an ascetic, known as Saint Isyl, who was visited in dream by a series of visions from Shalimyr. Isyl prophesied, through those dreams, of an ultimate day of reckoning for all Shalimyn, when the Sea Father will visit every ship on his waters in a single day. If he finds the hearts of the sailors around the world to be pious and humble, as he demands, he will give a great boon to all Shalimyn. But if he finds that those he has graced with permission to ride upon his back are selfish and wanting, he will destroy them all and never again allow ships upon his waters. While the mariners believe Saint Isyl’s vision was metaphorical, the sail masters believe it quite literal, and seek to avert disaster by constantly reminding sailors of their duty to Shalimyr. Thus they are driven in their evangelism, and almost always out at sea.

Sail masters are most often found on the water, serving vessels great and small. They rarely bother with those who are not Shalimyn or sailors, so a person booking passage on a ship might never even realize a sail master is aboard. If one travels aboard the flagship of a major fleet, it is almost certain to have a sail lord aboard. Members of the order make odd first impressions. Quiet, contemplative, a bit spooky at first, they eventually reveal their religious ardor. Most sail masters shave their heads and wear simple robes adorned with the wave of Shalimyr. It is uncommon to find two members of the order together, unless one is being trained.

New sail masters seek out captains to take them onto their vessels in return for service. Sail masters work with their crews until satisfied that they’re properly pious, and move on to other ships soon after. This continues for most of their careers. Sail masters are addressed as “sail master” and are introduced without their order name.

Eventually, sail masters might seek out someone in control of a fleet—a lord, a powerful merchant, or a pirate king—and offer their services as sail lord. They usually hold these positions until death, riding on fleet flagships, but ministering to all of their sailors. They are addressed as “sail lord,” and introduced with full title.

Joining the Sail Masters
Any deeply faithful Shalimyn can join the sail masters, though fighters and rogues are the most common professions. Wizards, sorcerers, members of the Shalimyn clergy, even holy warriors of Shalimyr have all been known to join the order. It requires only a deep understanding of the sea and an abiding love for Grandfather Ocean. Initiates must complete one year of training under a sail lord to earn the title of sail master. (Sail Master is a feat in BotR).