“This holy ring we reside upon is a test of faith. On the surface, we face the machinations of non-believers. Below, we face the aberrant. Only when we have purified their minds and bodies shall we pave the way for the divine winds of the Purifier to rush through and lift us to perfection.”
Purification is a relatively young religion, having only come into prominence within the past 200 years within the Third World, where the predominant population is human. One day a priest of one of the Old Gods claimed to have instead received a premonition from a living God, called the Purifier, that called for a cleansing of both body and mind. Aberrations have never been well treated on anywhere on the ring short of cities in the Madlands, but this call for cleansing rang particularly strong with those living on the borders of the Madlands or those looking for a population to blame for their troubles. While called a heretic and cast out by her order, the priest traveled around and accumulated a following. Her followers eventually resorted to violence to start cleansing the world of aberrations and non-believers, at which point the Empire of the Eternal Sun captured her, executed her, and dispersed her followers. Some survived though and the religion and resurged with followers in the Amaranthine Kingdoms, following a more non-violent mantra. There are rumors that suggest this non-violent mantra is not all it appears however.
“In the beginning, there was nothing. From nothing, life emerged. The dragon, the human, the elf, the angel, demon and all else. Nothing could survive the maw of the void for long though, and all was destined to die. Among the life that emerged however, there was one: The Ringbearer. They alone saw through the endless maw of the void, creating this ring from the ashes of eternity and placing us here. Life cannot exist without life however, and the Ringbearer sacrificed nearly all to make this ring and become the light above that continues to watch over us.”
The Ringbearer is, according to belief, an entity that saved life from the void and created the ring to nurture them. As it stands, it is not a belief system that advocates its followers do anything in the world, but merely exists as an explanation for the world being the way it is. It’s followers are generous with their care of others, even aberrations, as they see the example of the Ringbearer to be followed in sheltering all. It has less followers than the religion of the Old Gods, but is none the less generally respected and left in peace.
“The Old World was a paradise. Our gods had sculpted the world in their image, and everyone had their place. From the void the Usurpers came, jealous of the worship that was provided to the gods that had watched over us. They devoured our paradise, killed our gods, and placed us on this imperfect world, expecting us to worship them. We remember though, and we stand vigilant for the day when our gods return and claim their creations.”
It is debatable whether the belief in the Ringbearer or the Old Gods is older, but certainly more wars have been fought over the idea of the Old Gods, and more so which old gods to worship. Generally a kingdom or human territory will favor a certain set of gods at any given time, and the behavior of any believer will range from acknowledgement and respect to flat out fanaticism.
Some Gods Include:
- Eothas, God of Redemption
- Sendek, King of Gods, Keeper of Secrets
- Asdidas, God of the War
- Zekal, God of Trickery
- Tarsus, God of Logic
The Twin Dragons
“In the beginning, there was a single dragon, existing alone in the maw of void. Unable to bear an existence of living alone, it split itself into two new dragons. These dragons, Tiamat and Bahamut, saw that even their existence would falter eventually against the void and so locked together. They combined the strength of their fire and the joining their bodies to create the ring we now live on. From their bodies emerged all life we know. We dragons are the pinnacle of their strength while the… lesser races have a certain strength of their own. The dragons are destined to be the legacy of Tiamat and Bahamut though, and reclaim the void. Certainly not those damned dwarves.”
The story of the Twin Dragons is the same for both Chromatic and Metallic Dragons, though which half of the story is superior has been a large point of contention for centuries. It resulted in a split early on that never really healed, although the two resulting states largely are friendly these days. Instead, they focus on their own internal affairs as well as their two neighbors – devils and dwarves – and deciding who is worse.
The dragons see their realm as the meeting place for the heads of Tiamat and Bahamut, and have divided the realms into other sections in their lore.
- Dwarf lands are the jaws of Bahamut
- Mad Lands are the claws of Bahamut
- Humans are the talons of Bahamut
- The Demon lands are the jaws of Tiamat
- The Celestial lands the claws of Tiamat
- The Elven lands are the talons of Tiamat
- Some dragons call the elves and humans the asses of Tiamat and Bahamut respectively
“Aye, there was an Old World. It wasn’t a damn paradise though. Any fool with eyes could see that, and the Forgemaster wasn’t a fool. He saw that world’s death eons ahead, and made this world for his chosen, both in being the smartest and the best looking, to give to. So naturally he chose us dwarves, smart fella he was, and when the Old World died, he up and moved us over here. Bah, bodies of two dragons my rump. This ring is a marvel of the finest craftsmanship. It’s just a damn shame all the other races, especially the dragons, decided to learn about the party and come ruin it! Regardless, we’ll still be the ones to unlock the secrets that the Forgemaster left behind for us to find, even if we have to cut through a couple hitchhikers and ugly bastards to go to them.”
If you call the idea of the Forgemaster a religion to a particularly devout dwarf, there is a good chance that a fight is about to start. For the large part of it, the dwarves consider themselves to be ‘enlightened’, not believing in petty superstitions or so-called gods. They believe that the ring was forged by an individual of incredible skill, and through picking apart that individual’s craftsmanship and honoring his memory that they can one day attain that level of skill. For that part, the dwarves don’t have any really religious practices beyond ancestor veneration and a fanatical desire to preserve and learn from the artifacts of the ring.
The One True God
“We stand below a god, and in the same room as one. The Hierarch is the living avatar of the God above, whom provides us light and warmth. There are no other ‘gods’ or beings that can create us as we exist. All owe their existence, and continued existence, to the generosity of the One True God. Now, the other races may not have accepted the rule of the One- Wait, what are you doing? Did I say something wr-”
The official religion of the One Empire is that of the One True God, the belief that the leader is the physical avatar of the creator of all things. Consequently, anyone who questions that ‘fact’ within the empire has a habit of disappearing. The notion of the Hierarch being a god is strongly ingrained into the psyche of the citizens of the One Empire as, as far as they’re concerned, the Hierarch has been ruling them for as long as living memory. That does not mean there is not dissent, but that typically only survives in the Jungles of Tet, where the One Empire has tried to quash it. Beyond the belief of the Hierarch being a god, there is no real mythology to the religion other than the elves being his chosen people.
Pantheon of Good and Evil
“We are not of this ring. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. We come from a different place, a place that was not a ring. We existed in our own place, separate from the others. We had our gods that we served, directly, as we were their agents. The devils and demons had their lords and princes, but we all served higher powers, to an extent. Those who made this ring, they destroyed it all and forced us to be here. They destroyed the higher powers, they toppled lords and princes, and left us on this strange ring with their creations and the other lower races. That they put us near our mortal enemies must be some cosmic joke or ignorance. Regardless, we do what we must and live as best we can, remembering the wisdom and strength of those that came before, and gathering our own for when we take control of our destiny.”
The pantheon of the good and evil outsiders, from an outside view, is a mirror to the other. For each good god, there is an evil god that reflects the same aspect. While both sides would deny any correlation, they both believe that their gods have been struck down, and that it will take time and sufficiently powerful outsiders to take their place. The worship that occurs for these gods is not in the same fashion as the belief in Old Gods, instead taking a manner like the dwarven ancestor worship.
Some Gods Include:
- Nostramus, the Daemon God of Risk and Knowledge
Church of Blades
“After the Old Gods failed us, the First Lady took us and gave us shelter upon this sacred ring, that we might grow and prosper under her nurturing. Her husband, jealous of us, conspired with the Beast that sought to consume us before and betrayed our Lady, becoming the Broken One. In her death, she bound him to a prison from which he was not able to escape and our peoples were allowed to flourish. When agents of the Beast released the Broken One, the First Lady’s Chosen found and awoke the Second Lady. The Second Lady took the power of the Old Gods to become the Lady of Blades. Together, the Lady of Blades and her Chosen struck down the Broken One and struck a crippling blow to the Beast, allow her to take her rightful place over us, continuing the First Lady’s legacy. As servants of the Lady of Blades, we preserve the wonders of this ring that the First Lady left us, and strive to serve the new Lady as she claims the mantle abandoned by the Old Gods.”
The Church of Blades, formerly known as the Caretakers, is one of the unique cases of a cult turning to a rapidly growing religion overnight. Before, they were a largely harmless organizational offshoot of the Ringbearers that had an almost dwarven-like zeal for preserving the artifacts and structures of the ring, with a very specific narrative for why things were the way they were. The main difference from the dwarves resides in that the Caretakers saw exploitation of the ring’s more exotic features as effective blasphemy, the most prominent being the exploitation of the Engineers. In this regard they have made themselves a nuisance to, well, pretty much anyone that likes having magic items. This alone made membership in the cult largely small, though all of that changed with the appearance of the Lady of Blades during the Devourer Crisis in mid-spring of 3430 AM.
During the darkest hour of the Crisis, the servants of the Lady of Blades coalesced from orange light and did battle with the flood of abominations that threatened to overwhelm all. Though there is still fighting, the promise of salvation and the visible demonstration drawing of power from a new divine has spurred a wealth of coverts to a god they can know exists. This, in turn, has drastically changed the position of the Church and its makeup in places that have becomes aware of the Lady of Blades (also called a few other names in places, as a true title has not been established within the Church).
The strangest thing about this entire situation is that worshipers of the Lady of Blades don’t really know what she wants from them (which would then in turn inform what the tenets and practices of the Church would end up looking like). They know from the old tales that clerics would pray to their gods and actually receive an answer (or at least a hint). Silence has been the answer for clerics, though there are some who receive spells nonetheless. There are also clearly those who are divinely favored among the faith (in the short time it’s properly existed), particularly the Blade-Touched: those who were spontaneously marked with the symbol of an ornamental blade said to resemble that which the Lady uses.
For the moment these individuals serve as the closest thing to a speaker for the Lady of Blades to exist, and are more likely to rise to leadership positions in the church as time goes on and, until the god speaks to her clerics, are going to define what the Church ultimately pursues as its tenants. For the moment, the church largely relies on some old tenants – preservation of artifacts and not exploiting them – and being useful to the Guardians, who they see as the divine servants of the Lady of Blades. Certain members of the church are allowed to use things like magic items so long as they are determined to have a divine blessing on them.
In an interesting twist, these same members are the only ones that can get newly discovered Engineers from ring facilities to cooperate. New engineers simply can’t seem to be socialized to interact with others that don’t have the touch of the divine. This has served as a massive bargaining chip for the newly growing church and its political power.
Favored Weapons The heavy blades weapon group
Gather two or more blades belonging to the Lady of Blade’s group of favored weapons. Begin dancing, alternating between a free style of dance emphasizing a relaxed looseness of body and a rigid style with precise control of all movement. Continue dancing until the blades begin to sing. Gain a +2 sacred bonus on saving throws against spells, spell-like abilities, powers, psi-like abilities, and effects generated by creatures with the lawful, chaotic, or evil alignments. The alignment is chosen at the time the obedience is performed.
Boons – Deific Obedience
1. Ebb and Flow (Sp) Rite of Centered Mind (3/day), Grace (2/day), or Stunning Barrier, Greater (1/day)
2. Guardian (Ex) As your dedication to the Lady of Blades grows, so too does your connection to her. Your skin gains a silvery-tone, decorated by geometric flowing lines of golden light, as you take on the properties of her servants. You gain the guardian subtype, and a +10 bonus to Diplomacy checks when dealing with Guardians. You may suppress this ability as a free action.
In addition, you become a Blade Messenger. If you are already a Blade Messenger, then you become a Blade Adept.