Saturday, November 28, 2009

Terrene: Cosmology and Religion

Today, I am going to be presenting the cosmology of the setting. Below is the overall map of the universe. The overall effect is meant to be one of a medieval mindset, though updated a bit. Placement of heavenly bodies are not meant to indicate literal distances, but to indicate relevance to one another. The tales and philosophies of the past always to be taken as having more than merely literal meaning. So shall it be here.

The Map of The Cosmos
This is a map of the universe as far as it is known by the greatest philosophers and theologians of the sixth age. Each place and world presented here is considered a separate "plane" for those using spells or similar means of travel.
THE HIGH EMPYREAN: The highest plane and home of the court of the Almighty. It is a realm of flame, aether and the source of all light in the universe. Dwelling here are all manner of celestials, elementals and similar creatures.
SONNE: This burning orb is the wellspring through which the Empyrean pours its light into the near universe. It is a world of shining mountains, flying "earthbergs" and burning seas of pure aether. Many celestials and golden dragons dwell here.
TERRENE: The central world of this setting. It is a world of mountains, forests, seas and desert,and home to a wide range of life.
DENETH: The world of the Elves. This is a hot, thickly forested world, and abundant animal life. Elves, fey, green dragons and celestials dwell here. Humankind is unwelcome here, though some special individuals are sometimes permitted.
RYDEN: A cold, dry world of desert and rocky wastes. Ancient ruins dot this world that are haunted by evil spirits, demons and undead. No water exists on the surface, though in the labyrinthine underworld it is said that dark seas and glaciers may be found.
EASEN: World of sea and storm, with only a small number of islands along its equater. Storm and Cloud Giant kingdoms dot the clouds and in the depths of the sea. A great many sea and airborne creatures abound here including many sea dragons.
ABYSS: A region of starless night and dwelling place of the cursed dead and the source of all darkness in the universe. It is said that things dwell here that even the mighty demon lords are mindful of.
TARTARUS: Both a prison and a home to countless demons. Here lay bound six of the Seven Lords of Sin, where they must abide until the final war. From this prison, these forces ever seek to spread their influence across the planes, influencing, beguiling and waging war on all beings.
LAKE OF FIRE: This region is possessed of an "all consuming" flame so hot that it is a threat even to spirit-beings normal immune to flame.

Religion is very important in this setting. Though most of the demon lords and their forces remain bound in Tartarus, they constantly seek influence in the worlds of men and to corrupt others to their side (willingly or not). Eventually, everyone needs to choose a side, though many times this is far more difficult than it sounds. Both good and evil can be confused in the chaos of war and life.

The Empyrean (Heaven, The Light)
Clerics of The Empyrean have dedicated their lives in the service of Heaven in the world of men. The primary duties of clerics is the propagating and/or defending the faith, and in opposing the work of Tartarus, wherever it is found. Keeping the nobility alert and ready to oppose evil is a very difficult task, as greed and corruption are ever-present threats to decency and right-thought.
Alignment: Clerics of The Empyrean are always of either Lawful or Neutral alignment, with a preference towards Law. Neutral clerics tend to be the sort that try to remain objective and non-judgmental, though still devoutly following their creed.
Holy Symbol: Sun Wheel (Galgallin)
Races: Only humans may have levels in cleric, though individuals amongst the different races may be devout. Elves, who do not die unless killed, do not have souls and thus see no use for faith. Dwarves and Halflings typically prefer hard works and charity to prayers, though a good many of their number do serve the orders as scribes, lay-priests, monks and scribes. Note: In settings where non-human races can take levels in cleric, these restrictions are removed.
Organization: Clerics in service to The Empyrean belong to one of seven Orders which represents a foundational tenants of the faith (one of the “seven spirits“). Each order has its own hierarchy and Council of Elders, though most clerics are expected to think for themselves. The different orders have differing roles in the land, but ultimately answer to the Elder Council. Player character Clerics must choose from the following orders:
  • Courage: An order that upholds the practice of bravery, will, intrepidity, and fortitude. These clerics will be all about courage to act rightly in the face of opposition, shame, scandal or discouragement. Clerics of Courage are bold and brave, seeking to address wrongdoing despite local sentiment or fear. Founder: Sir William Audentia.
  • Justice: Moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity. Justinian Clerics of this order are potent investigators and arbiters. Many serve as hunters of criminals and infernal witches. Founder: Sir Entho Iustitia.
  • Mercy: Leniency and compassion between persons and compassionate behavior from those in power. The clerics of mercy focus on aiding those in distress. Many also take interest in businesses, to ensure proper compensation for laborers, and thus are favorites of the Guilds. Founder: Dame Maxym Clementia.
  • Generosity: This order teaches on the act of giving without coercion. Clerics of generosity focus on humanitarian pursuits, such as feeding the poor and treating their injuries. They are the most loved by common folk. Founder: Elder Phoreo Caritas.
  • Faith: Trust and Integrity. Clerics of faith are intensely focused on their beliefs and the power of right over wrong, even more than other clerics. Founder: Dame Alilita Castita.
  • Nobility: To be aware of the responsibility of ones station towards those under you. Clerics of nobility are often found advising powerful rulers, as they are taught early on how best to lead. It is to this order that most of the “extra” sons and daughters of the nobility are placed. Founder: Sir Erling.
  • Hope: A combination of the desire for something and expectation of receiving it, the virtue is hoping for Divine union and so eternal happiness. Clerics of hope are expected to uphold the spirits of those around them. Because of this, they are often sent into “hopeless” situations, to bolster those in need. Founder: Queen Wilona Spero.

Tartarus (Clerics of The Dark)
“Such place eternal justice has prepared For those rebellious; here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set As far removed from God and light of heaven As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole. Oh, how unlike the place from whence they fell!”
-John Milton, Paradise Lost
Clerics of Tartarus are those who have made a terrible pact with the forces of Hell, gaining clerical powers in return for their immortal souls. Such beings cavort with demons and seek to spread the unrestrained influence of dark spirits and seek always to tear down all that it good and merciful. Most clerics of Tartarus move in disguise as normal folk, alchemists or Neutral clerics so that they might spread evil unnoticed.
Alignment: Clerics of Tartarus are always of Chaotic (Evil) Alignment.
Holy Symbol: Black Disk or Broken Sun Wheel.
Races: Only humans may have levels in cleric, though individuals amongst the different races may be devout. Monstrous races such as Ogres and Goblins do sometimes produce devout members, but all such creatures are never clerics, though some do serve as alchemists and lay-preachers. Note: In settings where non-human races can take levels in cleric, these restrictions are removed.
Organization: Because clerics of Tartarus must often operate in secret, organization of their efforts is a must. All such clerics belong to one of the seven Dark Orders, answering to a chain of command of other Dark clerics and demons, leading ultimately to one of the demon lords of Tartarus. The seven Dark Orders are detailed below:
  • Lust: Not merely the natural attraction towards sex, but its abuse. Clerics of lust tend to encourage the worst sorts of debauchery and seek to undermine more stable relationships for their own pleasure. Patron Demon Lord: Dumiel
  • Gluttony: The over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. Clerics of gluttony tend to be grossly fat (though not always) and all are excellent cooks. Some extremes of gluttony even involve cannibalism, seeing even the flesh of intelligent beings as sources of pleasure. Patron Demon Lord: Isamiel.
  • Greed:Also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, an evil of excess. However, greed is applied to the acquisition of wealth in particular.Clerics of greed are always wealthy, though not always obviously so. Patron Demon Lord: Hiron.
  • Sloth: Lazyness and neglect of ones duty. This is an insidious evil, and can lead to many others. Clerics of sloth are great influences of idleness, encouraging gambling, gossip and seeking idle entertainments rather than doing an honest days work. Patron Demon Lord: Mesak.
  • Wrath: Also known as anger or "rage", may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Clerics of this sort are typically great warriors and popular amongst monstrous races. Patron Demon Lord: Epiel.
  • Envy: Despising the success and achievements of others. Curses and other evil magics are common amongst such clerics. Patron Demon Lord: Honsiel.
  • Pride: Also known as hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self. Clerics of pride are always well adorned and clean people, often the last sort of person one would accuse of worshipping darkness. Patron Demon Lord: Azobib (high lord of demons).
Pagan Clerics (Cunning Folk)
In this campaign setting, virtuous priests and priestesses of nature gods and natural philosophy do not gain levels in the Cleric class. Rather they are usually Magic Users (Wizard, Sorcerers, etc), NPC Alchemists, Seers and Healers.
The Seven Orders of The Empyrean Church have a great many mixed feelings about the Cunning Folk. Some (particularly the Inquisitors of Iustitia) fear them as demon-worshippers. Thankfully, most prefer a case-by-case appraisal. In reality, these folk are just as varied as anyone and possess heroes and villains within their ranks.
Pagan religions are originally based on the beliefs of the Elves. This lore was largely imparted when mankind learned arcane mysteries from the elves, whose understanding of of the planes is incomparable amongst mortal kind. Many of the "old gods" of Terrene are in-fact ancient elven kings and teachers, some of whom are still alive today.
Cunning Folk can be found in the role of midwife, diviner, forest druid, village healer, temple priest or any number of roles. They can be found in small communities, as hermits or in large cities, practicing and teaching their beliefs to those who will listen.

Note: More details concerning these folk will be presented in the future.
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