When Ravens Sing
Commoners and Religion
Citizens of the Old World venerate a number of deities, their religion being pantheistic in a similar way to that of the Ancient Greeks and Romans of our own world.
To most Old Worlders, everything that happens and everything that exists is seen as divine activity or subject to divine intervention. Nothing happens just by coincidence. To improve their chances of worldly success, they believe it is essential to give the gods proper respect. This extends to all the gods, including those of other cities, cultures and even those gods that are proscribed within the Old World, such as Khaíne, the Dread Lord of Murder. All gods, no matter how foul and evil, are powerful forces and to show disrespect to them is courting disaster, not only for yourself but for everyone around you. People who are openly disrespectful to the gods are often lynched.
YOUR CHARACTER AND THE GODS
As stated above, all characters are expected to show respect for all the gods of the Old World. Typically, however, one god is chosen as a patron to which devotion is given to some extent or another, while praying and offering sacrifices when the favour of one of the other gods is desired. Sometimes, a character may have two or more patron gods.
THE CHIEF GODS OF THE OLD WORLD
Manann controls the tides and the currents and is as unpredictable and changeable as the sea itself. Manann is worshipped throughout the northern coastal areas of the Old World, chiefly by those who depend on the sea – sailors, fishermen and the like. The Priesthood of Manann wears robes of a dark greenish-blue or a bluish-grey, sometimes trimmed with a wave pattern in blue on white.
Mórr is the god of death and ruler of the Underworld. All dead souls belong to Mórr and he makes sure that they are guided safely to his dark realm. He is not an everyday god but is worshipped mainly by the bereaved, who offer up prayers and sacrifices in the hope that their departed will reach his kingdom safely and prosper there. Mórr is also the god of dreams since the land of dreams is close to the realm of death. Mórr is worshipped throughout the Old World and is most popular in the south. The Priesthood of Mórr wears plain, hooded robes without symbol or adornment and usually in black.
Myrmidia is the patron goddess of soldiers and strategists. Where Ulric (cf.) stands for strength of combat and the fury of battle, Myrmidia stands for the art and science of war. Although Myrmidia is worshipped throughout the Old World by those Warriors who do not follow Ulric, she most popular in the southern reaches of the Old World, especially Tilea and Estalia. The Priesthood of Myrmidia wears a blue cowl over white robes with red edging and with the symbol of the goddess either sewn over the left breast or worn as a cloak-clasp.
The Old Faith is followed by druids. The origins of the Old Faith are shrouded in the mists of prehistory and it is considerably older than the present-day gods of the Old World. In the Old World today, worship of the Old Faith is, on the whole, in decline. Where it does exist, principally in the northern and western reaches of the Old World, it seems strongest in rural areas of rogues and gamblers.
Ranald has four aspects: the Night Prowler, a patron of thieves and other rogues; the Deceiver, a patron of tricksters, charlatans and, by implication, illusionists; the Gamester, a patron of gambling and luck; and the Protector, who protects his followers from official interference, oppression and tyranny. Ranald is worshipped throughout the Old World, generally in larger towns and cities, where his followers are normally Rogues, gamblers and the lower classes. For obvious reasons, the Priesthood of Ranald does not wear any distinctive forms of clothing or symbols.
Shallya is the goddess of healing, mercy and compassion. Her Priests, most of whom are female, are known to be pacifists. It is customary for citizens of the Old World to make a sacrifice to Shallya each year on the anniversary of their birth. Shallya is worshipped throughout the Old World by folk from all walks of life. The Priesthood of Shallya wears white robes, often hooded, with the symbol of a heart embroidered in gold thread over the left breast.
Sigmar Heldenhammer is the legendary founder and patron of The Empire who, according to legend, unified The Empire against the Goblin Hordes some twenty-five centuries ago and was later welcomed into the Halls of the Gods. The Priesthood of Sigmar wears white robes edged in red and decorated with one of the god’s symbols.
Taal, the god of nature and wild places, governs the natural forces beyond mortal control. He is the power behind the wind and the rain and the force which drives waterfalls and rapids, avalanches and landslides. He is also the lord of the beasts and master of the forests and mountains. All wild areas of the Old World come under his control. Taal is worshipped mainly in the northern and eastern parts of the Old World, and especially in The Empire, by Rangers and others who depend on the natural world, such as farmers, hunters and trappers. The Priesthood of Taal wears robes of grey, dark brown or drab green – the colours of nature – decorated with one or more of the god’s symbols.
Ulric is the god of battle and destruction, the patron of wolves and the spirit of winter. His Priests are well-known for their dour and self-contained nature and by-and-large they leave alone and are left alone. They are also known for their self-reliance and martial prowess. Although Ulric is worshipped throughout the Old World, especially by Warriors, he is mainly venerated in the north of The Empire. The Priesthood of Ulric wears black robes trimmed with wolfskin and with a white wolf’shead emblem across the breast.
Verena is the goddess of wisdom, reason and justice, and seems especially popular amongst the learned and studious. In her aspect as the goddess of justice, she is known to be concerned with fairness rather than the letter of the law, opposing tyranny and oppression as much as crime. Her Priesthood are valued as arbitrators and go-betweens because of their reputation for trustworthiness and neutrality. Verena is worshipped throughout the Old World, especially in university towns and cities. The Priesthood of Verena wears robes of white, the absence of colour indicating the neutrality and the lack of bias for which the Cult is renowned.