Player's Guide--Gods and Worship
There are several sources of power for those that believe. Gods, fiends, elemental princes, kami, and ascended heroes are the most common.
The Congregation (the 16 true gods)
Gods (members of the Congregation) are beings directly tied in to the Great Mechanism. Each one started as a lesser being (many were mortals, others were elemental beings) chosen and empowered as a consequence of the 3rd Wish, these beings have near-limitless power in their domains and cannot be destroyed as long as they are fulfilling their role. Unlike ascendants, their power is independent of the number or quality of their worshipers; as a result they are generally less concerned with the details of the worship of their faithful. Their duty is to answer (or at least hear) prayers and to represent their domains and keep them in order. They are also tightly regulated in their exercise of this power and cannot act directly without risk. They act through demigods and clerics--the first are former mortals chosen and called up and empowered by the god to act in their name; the second are still-living mortals granted access to a tiny sliver of the power delegated to their god based on their faith and connection to their deity and his or her domains.
A short description of each of the 16 Congregants follows; more detail can be found on their individual pages. Domains in italics are the mechanical Cleric domains (for the 5th edition of the world's most popular role-playing game) associated most commonly with clerics of each deity. These do not constitute an exhaustive list. The gods are worshipped world-wide, but the listed areas have especial focus on some of them.
- Aerielara, The Jeweled Lady
- Hollow King, The Executioner
- Domain: Untimely death, murder, maintenance of order at any cost. Patron of assassins. Death, Trickery
- Personality: Dour and cruel, but fair. A firm believer in law and order for the masses. Also believes that some need to stand in the shadows to enforce that law. Despises the demonic cults.
- Worshiped in: Wyrmhold (somewhat), Holy Kaelthian Republic (somewhat). Mostly called upon to avenge against powerful malefactors.
- Kela Loran, Lady Luck.
- Korokonolkom, The King Below
- Domain: Mountains. The earth. Patron of the Dwarves. Knowledge, War
- Personality: Mostly quiet with volcanic temper if angered. Does not forget or forgive easily. Strong sense of honor.
- Worshiped in: Uulan Confederacy
- Lae Loara, The Huntress
- Domain: Wilderness. Travelers. The Hunt, Nature, Trickery
- Personality: Impatient with civilization. Kill or be killed. Unconcerned with social niceties.
- Worshiped in: Rarely worshiped directly, mostly venerated by travelers. The Duarchy of Kotimaa and the northern (orcish) regions of Wyrmhold are most likely to have dedicated shrines to her.
- Lon-Ka, The Hammer
- Loran Hae, Shadowed Sun
- Melara, Lady of Mercy
- Domain: Timely death. Endings. Winter. Grave, Life
- Personality: Kind but strict. Believes in order and justice. Tends toward stasis. Dislikes (and is disliked by) the Hollow King. Both despise undead. Melara specifically hates necromancy.
- Worshiped in: Holy Kaelthian Republic (as one of the Seasonal Four representing Winter), Wyrmhold, Crisial Kingdom
- Peor-fala, Hearth-keeper
- Pinwheel, The Fox
- Domain: Deception, trickery. Trickery, War
- Personality: The trickster of the Congregation. Not given to evil acts, but also not to good acts. Hates tyranny and compulsion.
- Worshiped in: Not generally worshiped openly. His only known shrine is near Rauviz.
- Roel Kor, The Red Knight
- Tor Elan, Sun-Lord
- Sakara, Lady of the Dawn
- Selesurala, Mistress of Storms.
- Domain: Oceans. Cold. Storms. Nature, Tempest
- Personality: Changeable, with a temper. No pity for the weak. Not particularly subtle.
- Worshiped in: Not worshiped particularly anywhere. Revered (and feared) everywhere. However, her demigods Perkunos and Tatsuryuu are worshiped heavily in Tuura Adam and Zhapai Karmap.
- Yogg-Maggus, Lord of Magic
- Domain: Arcane Magic. Arcana, Knowledge
- Personality: Neutral and dry. Rarely raises his voice. Works to preserve the ebb and flow of magical power throughout the planes. Hates the over-use of magic and punishes those who threaten the fabric of the planes. Not fond of warlocks.
- Worshiped in: Crisial Kingdom, Holy Kaelthian Republic
- Ytra, The Evenhanded
Mortals who gathered enough ongoing fame and veneration while alive, the ascended heroes are much weaker than the Congregation and much more dependent on their worshipers. To a degree, they are shaped by this worship--as their worshipers believe, so they become. This means that they are much more diligent about shaping the religious practices of their followers. What they lack in power (being not much more powerful on average than the strongest mortal) they make up for in ability to intervene. Unlike the gods, they cannot ordain clerics; they pass on secrets to their followers and bind them to pacts instead.
Below are listed a few of the prominent ones in western Noefra. There are many others.
- The Queen Ascendant
- History: A mortal elf used as a conduit for a demonic ritual siphoning souls for a thousand years. Ascended after being freed from the ritual chains by the Catalysts.
- Worshiped in: the Jungle of Fangs.
- Ethos: Maintain the order of the nations. Each person should know their place and strive to magnify it. Self-sacrifice in a noble cause is the noblest choice.
- History: Once a god herself before the Cataclysm, she was protected from the absorption of the Old Gods by a ritual performed by some of her followers. The ritual was completed by adventurers in 211 AC and she was reborn and ascended as a hero.
- Worshiped in: Byssia (very heavily)
- Ethos: Preserve secrets, especially magical ones. Hallow the night. Women should rule. Keep to the old traditions.
Worship and service to other extra-planar (astral or abyssal) entities is a quick, but risky, source of power.
One can pledge himself to the Dons of the Infernal Hierarchy, signing binding contracts. Contrary to popular belief, this does not involve signing away ones' soul or promising to do horrific acts of evil. Devils don't want your soul--that's the province of demons. Instead, they want an ongoing portion of the excess energy created by your soul. For most, this isn't much. Enough to gain you a spell or so or a single act of help from a devil. For those with powerful souls, they can learn to call on the more powerful beings, gaining knowledge and excercising power. All at a cost--the power warps the wielder's soul, often causing a loss of empathy and understanding for ones fellows, as well as diminished creativity and stunted growth (physical and spiritual). For that "excess" energy is what allows one to learn and grow.
See Diabolical Families for more specifics about the families and their goals.
Demons, the residents of the Abyss, are those that survive on stolen and caged souls. This gives them great power, but taints their essence and makes them anathema to creation itself. Their very presence on the mortal plane corrupts it and degrades its fabric. Those that sacrifice to demons (often involving blood magic) find that they too become warped and tainted; after death their souls become fuel for the demons unless they're very lucky or powerful. Demon worship arises from desperation, madness, or an overwhelming lust for power or dark secrets. Worship of demons is considered a capital crime in all of the Federated Nations and surrounding territories. Those credibly accused are to be slain without trial or chance of forgiveness--their souls are already forfeit.
See Demon Princes for more information about specific demon lords. Others exist, but they are of significantly lesser might and influence.
One can gain power by devoting oneself to one of the lords of an elemental plane. Powerful genies, dragons, and other beings can grant power. Their demands are varied, and the power they give is that of a warlock--empowered by secrets taught and rituals learned through contracts--rather than that of a cleric.