Thalassa technically has freedom of conscience. A very rare thing in these lands, but paradoxically, only Aarith is worshiped. At least in the City and in much of the lands influenced by Thalassa and its allies in the Thalassan League. There are a scattering of nature worshipers based on the ancient Elven belief systems, but that isn’t so much a religion as a philosophy. Below are a few points of view of one Aarith. The actual truth is more complex than any one of them…
POV of Non-Thalassans
“Thalassa is home of the god Aarith. It is not a he, nor a she. It is both, and neither. It is the fountainhead of knowledge, life, and light. It is the greatest of the deities, and his worshipers are blessed by its grace. The priests of Aarith first came to our village with the Thalassan merchants, who brought many amazing devices and built our walls against the Goblin Tribe of Uggor. It is said that Aarith has as least three known aspects, one female, one male, and one unknown. Aria is the demi-goddess of life and the ascended spirit of the daughter of Sidonius who was also called Aria. I named my daughter after her. She brings inspiration, healing, blesses children and teaches compassion and passion for success. Aether is the demi-god of light and the sky. He brings wisdom, freedom, and truth. It is said Aether was the first manifestation of Aarith who appeared to Sidonius, revealing the truth of the gods to him. Aion is the last manifestation, always in a cloak. Aion is judgment, discipline, morality and honor. It is always silent, only communicating in symbols which the priest interpret. Judges many times worship that aspect. Aria is my favorite, if it is okay to have such favorites. Did I mention my daughter is named after her?”
– Ert Nisson the Potter of Helgo’s Bend.
POV of many Thalassans
“We are all part of Aarith. We are all manifestations of it. I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but let’s be honest, Aarith teaches us that. We are a chosen people. The Temple was founded here by the living Aria as a foundation for our values. Aarith is something to aspire to. It is not like the other baleful gods, goddesses or powers out there. It exists to help us move forward as a people to reclaim our destiny. Yes, the Great Library, the Wizards, the Merchants, our government, our guilds and institutions are all inspiring, but it is the unity that Aarith gives us that binds us together and allows us to reach into the hearts of all those poor souls abandoned by the crumbling Empire so long ago.”
– Cara Delacroix, Master Apothecary
POV of some Thalassans
“Aarith exists, kind of. I heard that Aerith by the brainchild of Aria Sidonius and Mihalas Aetherius, one of the first merchant princes. They made the whole thing up and some small god moved in and took the job opening or maybe they found a god that fit the bill. In any event, have you ever read in any of the records any reference over 250 years ago to a priest casting any miracle, cure or spell that wasn’t dreamed up by some physician or apothicary? You won’t because the records are clear on it, they didn’t. Only a couple hundred years ago did they even cast a prayer for curing even a light wound. Oh, do I worship Aerith? Not really any more. I believe, but don’t worship. I did as a child of course. Aarith worship is the opiate of the masses and the outlanders. Still It is much better than the crazy beliefs outside the League.”
– Timmon Davide, Journeyman Artificer
POV of few Thalassans
“Aarith is a fiction. I don’t know the whole truth, but it is proof of Sidonius’ Theory on the Divine, one of the many works that got him exiled. Religion is power. When the naive natives we first traded with were wonder-struck by plumbing or a simple water-clock they could only think of it in terms of miracles and magic. Since the early Wizards were focused on the Vault, the Library, and protecting Thalassa, it was a priesthood of technology (with morality and some principles thrown in for good measure) that led the way to our early conversion of many of the natives to our cause. Weird thing, the more people worshiped this idea, the more powerful the priests became, eventually manifesting spells and scarily enough many if not most of Thalassa bought into it as well. As I said, I don’t know the truth, but if Aarith is fiction, it is a useful one.”
– Jain Lecler, Master Deckhand of the merchant ship Narwhal.
The Temple priests have grown into a major force in the City, though less so than they were a hundred years ago. They are kept in check by the Guilds, the Merchants, and the Government, but rarely is this necessary. Some priests get into a holier-than-thou attitude, but most are knowledge seekers like Wizards or adventurers. They include monastic members who study the works of the Great Library and add new knowledge to it as Academics. They also include healers, missionaries and mendicants who travel the outlands, usually at their own risk, to convert the unknowing. From the Temple come judges and the Pleaders Guild itself was an offshoot of one of the early Priestly sects. Priests generally are entered into Temple at an early age. Traditionally, the youngest children of the more well-off patrician (direct descendants of the Hundred) families become priests. Men tend to lean toward Aether and women Aria, but there are a few exceptions. Aion priests are few and far between, but can be of any sex.
In Thalassa there are some people, especially in the countryside and in colonies, that worship a fourth aspect of Aarith (or possibly another god entirely) called Alador. This worship is tolerated by the Temple, but not encouraged. The priests are strictly mendicants and follow a fairly pacifistic philosophy. This manifestation is an old, old man, tending crops and being kind to animals. Priests of Alador focus on Nature, Life and Knowledge. These priests (of which there are very few on Thalassa itself, but more in the Periphery) sometimes have been known to go to the Elves or associate with other nature worshipers to learn unique abilities. They do; however, participate in the greater Temple and from time-to-time are seen in the city arguing for more help for the poor and protecting wildlife.
Outside of Thalassa there are many, many different religions, cults, and beliefs. A sampling of gods and powers are listed below:
Beast Cults (N)
These include various animistic belief systems of remote tribes. They worship various animals as manifestations of one god or another.
The ancient high god of the Empire. A sun god, Eos stood over all.
Wayward goddess of the moon. Spouse of Eos.
A war god of the Empire, holding aspects of protection and the triumph of magic. Very popular with ancient sorcerers.
Raven goddess of pain, suffering, and death. A pre-imperial death god, her cult worshiped the raven as a portent of doom and entropy. The destruction of the Empire may have been accelerated by this cult which sees order and civilization as against the will of the universe.
A set a three chaotic gods that exist merely to cause intensional chaos that were worshiped in the old Empire. Their true names and forms if they had them are lost to history (or a mystery only for their tiny cult). The are routinely blamed for missteps, gaffs or misunderstandings. To gain their gaze is to gain disadvantage until something horribly goes wrong.
A dark mist with a thousand eyes, the god Hate is the manifestation of all the hatred in the world. Once worshiped as a conduit to remove one’s inner dark emotions, the god has evolved into a god of sujegation, power, and malice. Hate gives power and inner peace in spades, but it desires sacrifice of the objects of hatred in the bargan, something its worshipers are usually willing to give. Worship of Hate is one of the few gods that is simply illegal in Thalassa or anywhere its influence reaches. A cult once existed in the City, but the trail of bodies eventually exposed the cult, which included most of the few remaining members of the Vexian School of Necromancy. They have never truly recovered.
Johanna of the Nail (LG)
It is said the emergence of the cult – then church – of Johanna of the Nail over a thousand years ago during the height of the Empire informed Sidonius’ early theories on the divine and the Pattern. Johanna was a former Imperial Tribune who, horrified by what she saw during the legendary First Sorcerers’ War (including the brutal death of her husband), threw down her weapons and office, and began preaching peace. It is said she tamed dragons and found many converts, including soldiers who refused to fight, save for defense only. For her efforts, she has tortured, broken, and killed; however, she became a folk hero, especially in the Southern Provinces near Sarantium, the ancient southern capital, where she became associated with their sun god Eos, eventually supplementing him as a central point of worship. By the time of Sidonius, Johanna was very popular in the west and old south, but in Eterium less so. She is focused on peace, love, and healing. There remain few of her worshipers in Thalassa, but it is not unheard of as it was the religion of many of the Hundred.
A very popular god of the Northern Wastes, Gond is the god of winter and is fickle and seemingly cruel, but without malice. “Gond does what Gond does” is an old curse on winter storms. He appears as a 20ft tall giant and it is said he is worshiped as much to keep him at bay as to gain his favor. His worshipers are very fatalistic, knowing their god doesn’t really care, gives them the freedom to act accordingly. He is considered more fun than his elder brother Krag
A barbarian god of doom, summer, iron, battle and warriors, the elder brother of Gond, he sits in judgement on valor. He is the high god of the Northern Wastes since he legendarily killed his father Nord for cowardice. Krag never grants favor, save if it is for a doom worthy of song. It is not necessarily good to have him on your side.
The evil spider-like god of deception, he is worshipped in the far south as a god to be feared, appeased, and called upon in deeds of malice and avarice. Worshipers encountered from time to time by Thalassan traders.
Another far southern god of the underworld. Kesh creates and controls the gateways to the underworld such as volcanos, and fights wars with other denizens of that blackened land which are understood as earthquakes. Worship is about appeasement. It is said that Kesh desires all the world to return to its molten state.
A personification of randomness in the world.
A personification of symmetry in the world.
Death in one form or another exists in most societies. Even Thalassan’s will speak of Death as a person, even if they do not worship it. There are death cults (see Tyaa above), but Death does not grant them power, it is other beings that take advantage of the belief in Death, masquerading in one guise or another. Death eventually notices them and that is never a good thing. Necromancers and evil Warlocks are thought to commune with Death, but that again is only rumor and is likely again some other godling taking up an opportunity for power. The true Death is always in shadows, in the corner of your eye, and if you see it, you are already dead.
Sister of Death, personification of pain, sadness and hope.