The Gods of Exploration Age
If you can’t see something how do you know it is real? I think this is a question often asked of scientists and clergy alike. This question is also a central point of today’s post. In Exploration Age no creatures interact directly with the gods. They do not walk amongst the mortals and there is more than one religion. Each religion conflicts with the others, for each has its own myths about the creation of the world, life, and the afterlife. They cannot all be correct. The world has atheists and agnostics who question the existence of gods all together.
Now I know some of you are already saying, “How could there be atheists in a world where clerics and paladins are granted divine magic from gods?” Well first I might say you can read the Dungeon Master’s Guide to get some pretty good answers to that question. If those answers don’t please you, take a look at the excerpt from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide below to get an overview of divine magic and religions in the world.
On Canus the gods do not walk the earth. They have not been found in any of the accessible planes of existence. They do not communicate directly with their clerics or worshippers. Different religions have myths about their gods and the world contrary to the stories of others. This leads some to question if there are actually any gods at all.
Many religious folk in the land point to the magic of clerics and paladins as proof of their gods’ existence. Naysayers point to non-religious magic users like rangers, druids, and bards. These doubters claim the magic of the clergy comes from the same place as the magic of other classes and that no gods are involved at all. There is no concrete proof this magic comes from the gods, but those with faith cast out the word of atheists.
Religions of Canus
Below is an overview of the most common religions in Canus. Other religions exist. Many evil cults worship mighty fiends, monsters may revere an original creator God or mighty bloodline, and others may dedicate themselves to the spirits of family ancestors or the essence of an ideal like good or law. GMs should feel free to create their own religions or borrow from other settings as they choose and bring them into the world by adding them to the cannon of religions or replacing one or more of the ones below.
Destianity is the monotheistic religion practiced by many of Marrial’s dragonborn, though the democratic nation has no official religion. Destianity preaches one God, The Sky Dragon, has preordained the path of every living thing in the multiverse after He created the worlds. Destians are taugh not to fear loss or death for none can escape preordained fate. They are more likely to take risks because they believe the outcome is already determined and meant to be. You can read more about Destianity in the Findalay chapter of this book in the Marrial section.
The tribes of Verda revere the four gods of Elementalism. Each god has a corresponding element and is more a spirit and force of nature than a divine being with wills and decrees. The Elementalist gods always have been and always will be. They favor neither good nor evil, law nor chaos. The tribes believe these gods simply live in the moment and must remain pleased or the tribes will suffer their wrath. You can read more about Elementalism in the Verda chapter of this book in the Tribes section.
The Bragonay dwarves and loyal warforged slaves observe their official polytheistic religion, Hierotheism. Goddesses in this religion are organized in a matriarchal caste which reflects Bragonian society. Each caste is assigned a goddess and must worship this goddess as patron. Bragonian citizens may not pray to a goddess above their station and those who do risk death. You can read more about Hierotheism in the Findalay chapter of this book in the Bragonay section.
Immortalism is the polytheistic religion practiced mostly by Aeranore’s humans and elves. It is the country’s official religion, but other practices are allowed. Immortalists believe humans and gnomes descended from an original race of undying Immortals who were created by gods who represent the Sun, the Moon, the sea, land masses, and death. You can read more about Immortalism in the Findalay chapter of this book in the Aeranore section.
The citizens of Parian must believe that their emperor, Quan Denang, is the only one true God in the multiverse or they are put to death. Quan’s divinity is part of the millennia-old Denang bloodline passed on from parent to child. It is believed that only reason the Quan and His ancestors age is because it takes all their godly might to keep the multiverse alive. As the burden becomes too much for God, the multiverse claims His life and the emperor passes his station and his divinity to another of his bloodline. You can read more about Imperatism in the Parian chapter of this book.
Elves and halflings of Taliana and drow, duergar, and svirfneblin of Quatus observe the rites and rituals of the dualistic religion of Solarism. While this is the official religion of both countries, citizens may take up other religious practices. The religion centers around sister goddesses. Meliko represents the sun and the light while Fana represents the moon and the dark. While the surface dwellers observe the same goddesses they interpret their holy texts differently than their Underdark dwelling kin. The differences in these religious interpretations is responsible for thousands of years of bloodshed between the two camps of Solarism. You can read more about Solarism in the Findalay chapter of this book in the Taliana section.
The Arcane College is currently running an experiment to see if they can make a god spring into being by first giving Him worshippers. Thus they have created Berrator, God of All Magic and Creation and have encouraged some students and staff to preach that Berrator will grant magic gifts to all once he springs into being. As a result the monotheistic religion has caught on in a few places. You can read more about Veratism in the International Organizations and Power Players chapter of this book in The Arcane College section.
Deva follow the monotheistic religion of Zaxism. They believe that when one benevolent God, Zaxa, created the multiverse the effort tore his soul into pieces. Those pieces became the deva and the rakshasa. It is believed that Zaxa can only be made whole once all rakshasa have been converted through rebirth into deva or vice versa from the rakshasa point of view. You can read more about Zaxism in the Races chapter of this book in the Deva section.
Chart of the Religions of Exploration Age
|The Sky Dragon||N||All||Side profile of a faceless rainbow-colored dragon|
|Elementalism||Gem made of four colors|
|Aval (Fire)||N||Light, War||Stern face in a inferno or a ruby|
|Halcut (Air)||N||Tempest, Trickery||Laughing face in a wind storm or a diamond|
|Nerot (Earth)||N||Death, Nature||Contemplative face in a rock or an emerald|
|Weva (Water)||N||Knowledge, Life||Smiling face in a lake or a sapphire|
|Hierotheism||A seven-runged multicolor ladder|
|Caramey (Empress)||LN||All||A greatsword|
|Meralla (Warlords)||LN||Death, War||A scythe|
|Zelti (Nobles)||LN||Knowledge, Trickery||A dirk and a bag of coins|
|Swarvune (Soldiers)||LN||War, Tempest||A battleaxe and a shield|
|Shalleal (Artisans)||LN||Knowledge, Life||A maul|
|Berga (Peasants)||LN||Life, Nature||A war pick|
|Almahad (Slave)||LN||Light, Nature||A club|
|Immortalism||Three progressively smaller orbs in a line|
|Alphon||NG||Knowledge, Life||Globe of water|
|Baydon||CN||Tempest, War||Erupting volcano|
|Cardon||CN||Nature, Trickery||Sheaf of wheat|
|Delistar||N||Death||Black skull in a blue bubble|
|The Moon||CG||Light||Purple full moon|
|The Sun||LG||Light||Red sun|
|Quan Denang||LE||All||One man holding many others above his head|
|Solarism||A crescent moon hugging the sun (Quatus) or crescent moon contained with a sun (Taliana)|
|Fana||LN||Death, Knowledge, Tempest, War||Underdark city skyline (Quatus) or longsword with a black blade (Taliana)|
|Meliko||CG||Life, Light, Nature, Trickery||Torch enrobed in moss (Quatus) or arrow with a flaming head (Taliana)|
|Berrator||LG||All||Open hand shooting a beam of blue energy|
|Zaxa||NG (deva) or NE (rakshasa)||All||A humanoid head with no eyes or nose and a frowning mouth|
So what do you think? Do you want to read more about these religions? Do you think having some atheists and doubters in the world is interesting? Sound off in the comments below!
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January 6, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
Something that might be interesting is to provide players/DMs with general guidelines for how the religious of the various religions interact with the world. Do they proselytize or are they isolationist? Are the different religions fundamental literalists or do they treat their “scriptures” as informative metaphors? Do they have a broad impact on the lives of their followers or are they “gods of the gaps”? I think that these questions could be answered by a DM as well, but information like that can make the religions more grounded from a player’s perspective.
January 6, 2015 @ 3:13 pm
That is true. I get into that a bit in the campaign guide, but I should take it deeper. Really good idea!
January 6, 2015 @ 3:46 pm
I watched an episode of Cosmos recently which had an animated scene on a beach at night detailing a discussion between William Herschel and his son, John, regarding the detection of dark stars whose light you could not see. “But how do you know it exists if you cannot see it?” “Did you see the man who made those footprints?” “Well, no.” “But do you know that he exists?”
I’m not going to pretend that this is all that relevant, but you made me think of this just now as I read your post, so you can blame yourself. 😉
January 6, 2015 @ 3:49 pm
True. So the question becomes is the multiverse a footprint created by the gods or created by something else?
January 6, 2015 @ 3:50 pm
Also, I love me some Cosmos!