Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Religion on the Frontier

One of the areas in which KoK really shines is in its presentation of its gods. Granted, there are almost too many of them to keep track of, but by carefully selecting an area's locally-worshiped gods, you very quickly get a good idea of what the culture in that area is like, including holy days and rituals. For example, here's the write-up I just completed on the frontier area of Tokis that will be the starting place of my campaign:

Throughout this region, the most common faiths followed are those of Taladari, the Holy Mother; Regorike, the Raiser; and Dirasip, the Eternal Lantern, with due reverence given to the Bear (Belanar) and the Great Huntress (Kalenadil). The Old Man, Natirel, once had a powerful church in the area led by St. Gaxyg the Grey, and though they have died out, the stories of the King of the Battlefield live on, it being said that he battles the Storm Lord (Bilapi) during the winter storms. More disturbing are the cults of the Locust Lord (Alu), the Flaymaster (Pirabi, called Slen by his followers due to being a transplanted cult from the Wild Lands), the Prince of Terror (Goli) and the Confuser of Ways that are said to be growing in the countryside.

The following feast-days are commonly observed:
  • The 25th of Declarations, the wedding-anniversary of King Adoku, in honor of the Mother. The people build bond-fires from scrap wood and dance around them; afterwards, the priests mix the ashes with holy water and use the ashes to bless new buildings and building materials.
  • The first day of Spring (the 1st of Renewal), in honor of the Raiser, a day of feasting and joy in which seeds are brought out and blessed for planting.
  • The first night of Harvest, the holiest night to the Raiser. Farmers bring bushels of grain to sacrifice, which are then distributed to the needy.
  • The summer solstice, holy to the Eternal Lantern and the Bear. The people bring offerings of small white, yellow, or gold gems (or stones, for those too poor to offer gems), which are arranged in a perfect circle in preparation for full noon. Prayers are said, followed by songs of praise and feasting, and a tree seedling is planted in the center of the circle.
  • On the night of the winter solstice, some plant tree seedlings at the borders of their property to placate the Bear.
  • On nights of the full moon Veshemo, woodsmen, hunters, and rangers sacrifice an animal freshly hunted that day with a gold or silver arrow.
  • Every year, on the 9th of Siege-Hold, a mandrake is ritually hewed with an axe and then burned in a fire. Nobody remembers why, but this is in celebration of St. Gaxyg’s victory over the shade of the mad elf-lord Sincarai, after which the forces of Chaos were driven into Urheim, and the Abby built over it.

The evil cults also observe the following days:
  • Just before the month of Frosting, the Order of Agony kidnaps a strong, healthy individual to ritually torture for the whole month before finally staking their victim out on the snow.
  • The House of Hunger gathers during the waning of the moon Diadolai, especially during the winter months. It is typical to find livestock slaughtered in such a way as to spoil the meat during these seasons—this is usually disguised as wolf attacks.
  • The Prince of Terror’s holy days are secret, but always announced by pinning a shrunken head up in a public place to inspire fear.
  • The Gathering of the Confuser of Ways is never known outside of the cult.
A little flavor and several conflicts, all set to go. I've got a calendar generating program that'll make it easy to track the phases of the moon and give me room to do day-to-day write-ups as well.

This continues to shape up very well.

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