Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dungeon Frost Hell World Part Seven: Gods

Here are brief write-ups of the major gods in the Hellfrost setting. There are also quite a few lesser gods but I won't go into those at the moment. As with everything in this series of articles, much more information can be found in the Hellfrost Players Guide by Triple Ace Games, which, while written for Savage Worlds, does contain a lot of useful information. Go to www.tripleacegames.com to look at the huge of amount of great stuff available there.

Anyway, on with the info dump:

The Evil Gods

No-one of noble mind or spirit would even countenance worshipping one of these fell deities; they are simply offered here so that the mindful hero might not fall foul of their heresies and be forewarned of their pernicious influence.

Dargar: The Scourge of the Weak
The god of senseless slaughter and violence for its own sake, Dargar's cultists tend to be cannibalistic savages.

Hela: The Black Queen
Hela was once the judge of souls and guardian of the Gates of the Dead but she was corrupted and infamously opened the gates, releasing many undead spirits and demons onto the world. She is now worshipped as the goddess of the undead.

Niht: Mistress of Darkness
Niht is the goddess of darkness and all those who lurk in the dark intent on murder, as well of those who wish to spread ignorance rather than learning in their wake as befits worship of the Keeper of Secrets.

Thrym: The Eternal Winter
 Thrym, it is believed, is responsible for covering the northern world in the Hellfrost and who commands the armies of Hellfrost creatures which plague the lands in greater numbers every year. He seeks to bring about the Fimbulvintr - an eternal winter.

Vali: The Gaunt One
Vali has a two-fold role. His visible cult brings plague and disease in its wake, while his invisible cult corrupts with vice and debauchery. By both means he brings about the downfall of civilization.

The Non-Evil Gods

These are the rest of the gods, some who are seen as essentially good, others who are more neutral but who have some respectable place in society due to their purviews being beneficial to society.

Eira: Mother of Life
Eira is the great healer, whose temples act as hospitals, orphanages, and soup kitchens. Her followers are diplomats, always seeking the peaceful solution.

Eostre: Animalmother, Plantmother
Eostre has a twin role, that of the Barley Queen who tends to plants, ensures good harvests and protects the land, and that of Nurturer who tends sick animals, acting as a midwife and veterinary. Although her cult tends to choose one of these roles over the other, both come together in worship of the goddess and thank her for her bounty.

Ertha: Forgemistress
Ertha's Realm is the Great Underworld, the natural caverns and caves, the stone and metal found there. She is frequently worshipped by Frost Dwarves, miners and smiths and by those who strike at the nuisances which infest her realm.

Freo: Farseeker
The celestial wanderer, Freo can never remain still, and his worshippers likewise travel as often as they can, eschewing permanent bases in favor of exploring unknown lands and revisiting past journeys, relishing the freedom that their god brings them.

Hoenir: Loregiver
It is said that Hoenir gave mankind their first instruction, lifting them above animals and instiling within them a deep yearning for knowledge. His worshippers are a mixture of sages, historians and teachers.

Hothar: The Blind God
The god of both justice and the rule of law, Hothar's cult sometimes come to odds with others within their own temples, but they are prized for being impartial judges whose rulings cannot be bought or swayed.

Kenaz: Hearthwarmer
The elemental god of fire, Kenaz keeps the hearth alive and the cold at bay. Since the Hellfrost appeared, his powers have waned considerably, and it is said that he is a prisoner of the ice god Thrym, dying slowly in his realm. As the winters come earlier every year and grow longer each time, so the power of Kenaz grows dimmer.

Maera: The White Eye
Personified by the moon, Maera's realm is magic in all its forms. Hers are the secrets of magics yet uncovered, of the threads of power which connect all things, of sorcery and enchantment.

Nauthiz: The Hand of Fate
Patron of gamblers, of thieves, and of those who trust themselves to the whims of fate, Nauthiz and his cult are seldom overt in their actions. His temples are frequently hidden (and often reviled by the powers that be) with few formal rituals. While the Norns claim that all destiny is fixed, Nauthiz seeks to steal his own fate from them.

Neorthe: The Turbulent One
God of the rivers and seas, Neorthe is often as placid as at other times he is raging, his temper coming and going with little notice. Propotiated as much as worshipped, even farmers will pray for rain for their crops, but fear lest Neorthe drown them in floods.

The Norns: The Inescapable Ones
The three sisters, responsible for past, present and future, see all. They constantly weave the Great Tapestry of Life which depicts everything, whether it has yet come to pass or not. They offer brief glimpses of this tapestry, but as often as not, their message is veiled in incomprehensible riddles.

Rigr: The Vigilant
Rigr is said to sleep with one eye alwayd open, guarding the heavens as the watchman of the gods. His temples usually possess tall watchtowers, and his priests and paladins often train and suprvise the town watch. In some villages, the local priest or paladin is all that protects the place.

Scaetha: Holder of the Two Keys
When Hela betrayed her position and opened the Gates of the Dead, allowing untold undead spirits access to the mortal realms, it was Scaetha, shieldmaiden to the gods, who took her place after the gates were once more closed. She now judges souls as Hela once did, while her cult hunts down and eradicates undead threats in our world.

Sigel: The Burning Eye
The sun god, Sigel, like his son Kenaz, is believed to be a prisoner of Thrym, and the sun's rays seem weaker with every passing year. The Bringer of Light's cult seeks to preserve all that is good in the world, and shine brightness into the shadows where evils dwell. With their patron growing dimmer with time, their task becomes so much harder.

Thunor: Storm Lord
The sky god, Thunor controls the winds, his cooling breezes bringing succor in summer, his sourtherly winds bringing warm air to combat the icy fingers of the Hellfrost. He embodies freedom and cannot be captured, and his cult rails against those who would shackle others under slavery or despotism.

Tiw: Lord of Battle
The patron of warfare, Tiw is worshipped by soldiers and mercenaries everywhere. Wherever a hand raises a sword, an axe, a spear, Tiw guides that hand, whether it be in defense of an innocent or launching a fierce attack on a rival.

Ullr: The Horned God
 Ullr is the Lord of the Wild Hunt, both patron of hunters and protector of animals from needless harm. The son of Eostre, Ullr demands that the animals of the woods and plains be hunted fairly, their deaths necessary only to feed or clothe others to ensure the cycle of life continues. His priests and paladins, often hunters themselves, ensure that nothing goes to waste after a kill, and that the animals's spirit is shown proper respect.

The Unknowable One
 Knowing that names hold great power, the Unknowable One refuses to give up his (or her?) own. A trickster god, he (or she?) teaches through tricks and taunts, by offering the prize of humility to the overly proud. Where a scholar might relate information gained from years of study, a worshipper of the Unknowable One is apt to make something up in order to impart a particular point.

Var: Sealer of Contracts
Var trades in whatever he gets his hands on, and expects his followers to do the same. Brother to Nauthiz, both seek to profit, and some would argue that their methods are scarcely different, Var being unconcerned with how that profit is earned. Var favors the rich or those who strive to be rich, irrespective of how they accomplish that goal, just as long as the cult of Var gets its cut. Where guilds associated with the worship of Nauthiz are reviled as thieves, those associated with Var are revered as merchants. 

On Race and Religion

While worshippers of all the gode can be found in just about every culture, some gods find more adherents amongst certain cultures. Most people do not choose a patron god unless they are thinking of joining the religious life as a priest or paladin, instead praying to a certain god when they feel that he or she can best help them in their predicaments. For example, a humble farmer might spend most of his prayer time pleading with Eostre to grant a good harvest, but also pray to Neorthe for rain (but not too much), to Eira to soothe his aching muscles, to Rigr to watch over his flocks, and to Var to see that he gets a good price for his crops at the fair, amongst others. The following list shows the more prevalent tendencies in each of the cultures mentioned.

Frost Dwarf
Ertha remains one of the most widely worshipped gods amongst Frost Dwarves, which makes good sense since she rules over the Great Underground where they tend to make their homes, and provides them with the materials that they mine and craft. Her husband Tiw is also favored, the Dwarven race being a martial one and their subterranean enemies many. The Dwarves of Karad Marn swear to Hothar that they shall reclaim their ancestral city. Of the evil deities, Niht has more than a few followers, worshipped as the Master (the Dwarves see Niht as male rather than female) of the Great Dark Below. Most of the prayers directed toward him are propitiatory, however.

Hearth Elf
Eostre is the patron of the Hearth Elves, and temples to her can be found in every elfhome, in both her forms. In Angarion, the largest realm of the Hearth Elves, Sigel is also revered as the husband of Eostre, and Ullr is often revered as the elves are masters of the hunt. Eira is often revered as a herbalist and the elemental gods Kenaz, Thunor, Neorthe and Ertha are all revered. Freo, as the son of Ullr, is reputed to have taught the elves the secret to their swift and silent passage through the woods. Hearthe Elves generally treat Hoenir as a storyteller, and this make him popular. While Maera supposedly gifted the elves with their magical abilities, Rigr is perhaps worshipped more because of the skills he grants relating to their watchfulness over the forests.

Taiga Elf
Ullr is the father of the Taiga Elf pantheon, the great provider who is married to Eostre. Worship of her as the great mother is also strong. Ertha, Kenaz, Thunor and Neorthe are worshipped as the children of Ullr and Eostre, and on the borders with the Liche Lands, worship of Scaetha is popular. The cult of Kenaz is growing stronger as the Hellfrost slowly creeps southward, and with increasing numbers of Hellfrost creatures being spied near the Taiga Elf forests, worship of Tiw is also increasing. The cults of Maera and Sigel are not strong, but worshippers of those gods can be found in most Taiga Elf forests.

Halfings tend to have patron deities of particular caravans, or at least of partcular clan and families that make up those caravans. Freo, unsurprisingly, is very popular, with worship of the Norns and the Unknowable One quite popular, followed a ways behind by Nauthiz, who is revered for making his own luck rather than as a thief.

Worship of Eostre is common, especially since the Saxa tend to live in smaller settlements rather than cities. The worship of Kenaz is remarkably high too, the hearth being important to the Saxa. Coastal Saxa revere Neorthe frequently, while Thunor is still revered for aiding the Saxa in their rebellion against their Anari masters. Hothar, the Norns, Tiw and Ullr are all commonly worshipped too as major gods of the Saxa pantheon. Each of the Saxa Marklands have their own ways, Sigel being prominent in Royalmark, Freo and the minor goddess of horses, Epona, being popular in Veermark, even Var being popular in Ostmark and Angmark, usually accompanied by discreet worship of Nauthiz. Of the darker cults, Vali is probably most frequently found, though never openly.

The Anari tend to have a more widely spread devotion to a large number of gods, though the Magocracy is an exception, with worship of Maera there being a state religion, and with the headquarters of the Convocation being on Alantaris Isle, worship of Maera is strong there too. The urban cult of Var is found in most Anari cities, usually not too far from the Library Temples of Hoenir. Tiw is popular amongst the huge Anari legions, Neorthe amongst sailors, and Eostre amongst farmers. Worship of Ertha is surprsingly strong in the more remote parts of the Anari lands, where mining is carried out on almost industrial scales, often linked to the cult of Kenaz, while of the darker cults, that of Vali as corrupter remains insidious in the larger cities where the more decadent hold sway. Sigel's cult, while small, does what it can to prevent this. Firm believers in the rule of law, there are few Anari towns without a temple to Hothar.

Rather warlike, the Tuomi revere Tiw above all, but worship (and sometimes propitiation) of the elemental gods Eostre, Neorthe, Kenaz and Thunor can be found amongst these people. Some Tuomi reject Tiw in favor of his darker rival, Dargar.

As nomadic hunters, worship of Ullr is a daily activity, with rituals associated with Freo and Eostre almost as frequent. As some of the closest people to the Hellfrost, Rigr, Kenaz and Sigel are worshipped as the best defense against the ice of that realm, though Thrym finds some propitiatory cults amongst the nomads too.

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