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    Canonfire :: View topic - Major Flanaess religions
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    Major Flanaess religions
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
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    Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:05 pm  
    Major Flanaess religions

    I am reworking the main concepts of Flanaess religions, since I'd like to give each ethnic group a more precise current/philosophy that can be easily understood by the players. Since I want to give GH a strong medieval feel, religion has to be a major force in thelives of the common people, unlike the canon GH that seems to be quite light-handed on the subject.
    Flans do have their gods, druids and spiritual laws which is clearly defined but where I'd like to work heavier is the Oeridian pantheon/Suel pantheon differences. Oeridians being alike Romans have probably incorporated other religions in their own which is then a collection of local tribal worships, but Suel religion should be way more structured. Since I always thought of Suel as Melniboneans, it might be the Suel gods are cosmic entities from some Elder Realms, maybe spirtis of law fighting against unspeakable evils or "lovecrafian" horrors. But what on the plane of worship? If you were to give a clear, strong distinction between the Suel religion (and not pantheons I am talking about religious currents) and Oeridian religion? Kinda Westeros seven gods religion vs north religion.
    I was thinking about Oeridian religion to be closer to Roman catholic worship, with Hazen being an archbishop, as well as the bishops of medegia or almor that are religious states of Oeridian faith. Withing the oeridian religion are also frairs, saints, monks, priests, schisms, heresies, and so on. I am a bit scarce on ideas for the Suels, though. I'd like to hear your opinions :)
    Let's sum it up by saying I'd like my players to immediately understand the different religious approach between a suel or an oeridian state.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:13 am  

    Quote:
    Oeridians being alike Romans have probably incorporated other religions in their own which is then a collection of local tribal worships, but Suel religion should be way more structured.


    I actually usually equate the Oeridians to the Germans and the Suel to the Romans, though that is obviously personal preference.

    I agree that the Oeridians would have grafted other faiths onto their original pantheon based on their cultural dominance outside of the Sheldomar Valley, and the gods of the Oeridians do seem more "practical" compared to most of the Suel Gods. The latter are often more abstract, less everyday faiths. I am not so sure though that there would be an exclusively Oeridian or Suel faith (outside of the Scarlet Brotherhood). After all, the past 1000 years have seen a lot of cultural mixing in the Flannaess, creating the Suel/Oeridian dominated Sheldomar Valley, and the Oeridian dominated Aerdy who at one point were at the Western edge of Veluna. But underneath the veneer of the Suel/Oeridian domination are the vast majority the peasantry, who, regardless of ethnic background, probably have more use for some Flan gods than the Suel/Oeridian pantheons.

    In my mind, the Flan and some Oeridian Gods would be prominently worshipped by the common people to a large degree (Pelor, Beory). A more truly Oeridian pantheon would be popular with the middle class, and the upper class in former Aerdy dependancies. In the Sheldomar Valley, the Oeridian gods would share their position with the Suel Gods.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:06 am  

    I agree with that and I assume most commoners in Oeridian lands mostly pray the Oerid Agricoltural Gods but in general the Flanaess probably have very sparse worship and every deity is probably worshipped or favored through sacrifices, yet I was thinking abouit the structural chain of command of the Church with capital C. I envisioned the Oeridians having a Catholic-like chain of command, much like the Church State during the Middle Ages, but I would like to give the Suel "Church" a completely different approach. I am talking about organized state religions and not individual worship which is obviously highly different from state to state. I also presume even the Theocracy or Veluna have some link to the great Oeridian Church which contrarily to the historical one has no ficed "capital" like Rome.
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:23 am  

    tarelton wrote:
    But underneath the veneer of the Suel/Oeridian domination are the vast majority the peasantry, who, regardless of ethnic background, probably have more use for some Flan gods than the Suel/Oeridian pantheons.


    In truth, the Roman gods we are most familiar with are the gods of the Emperors, whereas the gods most worshiped by the peasantry are mostly forgotten. But who was the Emperor, even with his Court? In other words, if it "worked" the way they said it did, then the gods being worshiped by the millions of peasants were far more powerful than the gods worshiped by the Emperor and his couple of hundred Court members.

    And before you mention the Legions, remember, the Legions worshiped the gods of the Emperor, true . . . but they also worshiped the gods of the peasants.

    It is this fact that makes Pelor and Beory so "powerful" among the other gods.

    tarelton wrote:
    I actually usually equate the Oeridians to the Germans and the Suel to the Romans . . .


    I've done this too, as have many here that I have spoken with, But the truth is that the Suel were, in some important respects, very much unlike the Romans we compare them too. The Suel are much more racist . . . if the Scarlet Brotherhood is any measure.

    Perhaps many of them have changed over the last thousand years, especially considering the mixing of the races. But many agree that the Scarlet Brotherhood is a "decent" representation of the old Imperium. Rome adopted the gods of the peoples they conquered and granted citizenship to the most prominent members of that society -- all in an effort to "win the people over" and make ruling them all the easier.

    There is no record of the Suel acting in such a manner. And if the Scarlet Brotherhood is any indication of what the old Imperium was like, then anyone not Suel was probably a slave. The Suel did not adopt foreign gods -- over-all -- nor make any foreigners citizens of the Imperium. If the Scarlet Brotherhood is any indication.

    MToscan wrote:
    I assume most commoners in Oeridian lands mostly pray the Oerid Agricoltural Gods . . .


    I would say that most commoners of the Flanaess worship those gods, along with several from the Flan pantheon. They are very much "gods of the people." The Suel pantheon is greatly populated with the "gods of the elite." Not all of them, certainly, but a good many of them.

    MToscan wrote:
    . . . in general the Flanaess probably have very sparse worship and every deity is probably worshipped or favored through sacrifices . . .


    Commoners are very superstitious people and I doubt that very many of them "fail" to worship one god, or another. But I don't know if they "sacrifice," it would depend upon your meaning, your implication.

    The gods are specific in their requirements for proper animal sacrifice . . . and it can get expensive. For instance, in the Bible the sacrifice for a new born son was a ram, but if the parents were poor, then they could offer up two turtledoves, or two pigeons. Note that they could only offer the fowl if they were poor and we may safely assume that Pelor would know whether or not the couple were truly "poor."

    Instead, the comparison I like to make is votive candles. You walk into the church and there, in the back, is a rack of candles. There are unlit candles in a box, you drop in a Quarter (or Copper piece), lite the candle, say your prayer and walla! Thou hast worshiped! And that little piece of worship goes to empowering the god you prayed to. The Bible refers to this as "a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips" and the offering up of "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God."

    I can see the common people of the Flanaess offering votive candles to many gods; it's a legitimate form of worship and . . . it's cheap! In this fashion, commoners can propitiate an entire pantheon. It's also convenient that the Oeridian Agricultural Gods are usually worshiped as a group.

    MToscan wrote:
    I was thinking abouit the structural chain of command of the Church . . .


    I haven't given this much thought, but I will now. I'll have to offer up an opinion on this a little later. Sorry! Embarassed
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    Last edited by Mystic-Scholar on Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:52 am  

    Oeridian churches seem to have an organizational system very similar to the early days of Christianity, where there'd be a patriarch (head bishop) for each particular country/city-state, but said patriarch wouldn't have authority over the other areas. (It just so happened that the Roman Emperor gave the Patriarch of Rome authority over most of the western empire, hence why now the Patriarch of Rome, or the Pope, is considered head of the Roman Catholic Church.)

    Almor was ruled by a Prelate (presumably one would head each major church, with one acting as head of state), Veluna is headed by a Cannon (who's further supported by the Council of Bishops), and the Great Kingdom lists several Patriarchs (sometimes followed by a city name, which would indicate that their authority doesn't extend beyond that particular city). The Pale has a "Supreme Prelate of Pholtus", suggesting a claim of authority over all other Patriarchs and churches of Pholtus. (Most of what I've read indicates this claim isn't widely respected outside the Pale, especially when you go further away from the Pale and particularly in the Grand Theocracy of Dimre, located inside the Bandit Kingdoms.) The (last) Holy Censor of Medegia was also stated to be head of the church of Hextor (for Aerdy) in some sources, though I think that's as close as it gets to having a Middle Ages pope in Greyhawk.

    I don't know if you'd be interested in scaling up this hierarchy, perhaps make it a little more like the Catholic church in the Middle Ages, though I have difficultly envisioning a multinational papacy for some deities. A more laidback church, like that of Rao or Beory, probably wouldn't have too much trouble accepting directions from a church in another land. More uppity in-your-face churches, like that of Heironeus, would feel far too strongly about their differences to allow for that. (The churches of Heironeus in Furyondy and the Shield Lands are split over the former's support of Furyondy's king.) You might be able to get a unified church a couple of countries wide, but without some re-writing of their political situations it would be far from the norm.

    Some Oeridian faiths don't seem to follow this example - there's no patriarchs, prelates, or any other higher echelon of leadership mentioned for the churches of Procan and Erythnul. The chaotic Oeridian deities appear not to have any kind of organization beyond a strictly local level. Given that they're chaotic, one might see this lack of organization as true to form.

    It's your call whether or not you'd want to make them fit the mold, whether that mold be the Dark Ages Catholicism I mention above, the Middle Ages Catholicism most people are familiar with, or any other kind of organization thereof. Even in the Middle Ages, Catholic history is rife with competing popes and "anti-popes", but these were men fighting over universal leadership of the entire church - not so much simply defending the autonomy of their own locations (what we more commonly see in-setting).
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:18 am  

    Azoriel wrote:
    Some Oeridian faiths don't seem to follow this example - there's no patriarchs, prelates, or any other higher echelon of leadership mentioned . . .


    Bare in mind that we are using a Monotheistic church as a basis for comparison. Greyhawk's religions are polytheistic, not monotheistic. No one god decides how it works for all the churches. Wink

    Remember that Greyhawk's gods are "active" deities, not "distant" deities. (See Deities and Demigods, pages 17 & 18 for descriptions of the two types of Deity). It is the god that determines how his/her church is operated -- not the priests -- and not all gods are going to do it the same.

    Evil deities are not going to do it the way Good deities do, even though they are of the same pantheon. Remember, too, that Greyhawk's pantheons are "Loose" pantheons, not "Tight" pantheons. (See Deities and Demigods, pages 5,6 & 7 for descriptions of the two types of Pantheons).

    Trying to create a single, uniform church hierarchy "concept" for an entire pantheon of gods just isn't going to work. Each church is going to have to be treated differently, because each god is going to do it differently. Cool
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    Last edited by Mystic-Scholar on Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:26 am; edited 1 time in total
    Paladin

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:25 am  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    Bare in mind that we are using a Monotheistic church as a basis for comparison. Greyhawk's religions are polytheistic, not monotheistic. No one god decides how it works for all the churches. Wink

    Quote:

    Remember that Greyhawk's gods are "active" deities, not "distant" deities.
    Trying to create a single, uniform church hierarchy "concept" for an entire pantheon of gods just isn't going to work. Each church is going to have to be treated differently, because each god is going to do it differently. Cool

    I agree with oh wise sage MS... but a bit less so with the only probable mono-theistic group ... those pesky Pholtans.. Shocked Shocked Laughing Wink
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:02 pm  

    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    I agree with oh wise sage MS . . . but a bit less so with . . . those pesky Pholtans.


    Actually . . . the Pholtans accept the polytheistic nature of the Pantheon, but they officially have a "Tight Pantheon" view. See Deities and Demigods, pages 5 thru 7 for a full description, but . . .

    The Norse and Greek Pantheons are examples of a "Tight Pantheon" -- Odin and Zeus Rule . . . end of the discussion. In their respective Pantheons, they are "King of the Gods!" When the other gods do disobey them, they do it behind their backs -- "sneaking." No god openly defies Odin or Zeus.

    The Flanaess does not really have such a Pantheon, but that's how the Pholtans actually view Pholtus. They are "in denial" of how it really works. Monotheistic? Not really, but rather a misguided view of their Pantheon over-all. Oerth has "Loose Pantheons," no one god of the Pantheon rules over, or dominates, the other gods in the Pantheon . . . just don't tell that to the Pholtans! Wink

    Deities and Demigods specifically discusses the Greyhawk Pantheons on page 5. Evil Grin
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    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:25 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    Remember that Greyhawk's gods are "active" deities, not "distant" deities. (See Deities and Demigods, pages 17 & 18 for descriptions of the two types of Deity). It is the god that determines how his/her church is operated -- not the priests -- and not all gods are going to do it the same.


    If this were true, there'd be no conflict between the True Faith and Exalted Faith of Al'Akbar, since Al'Akbar would simply tell each each branch what the correct doctrine was and they'd be forced to reconcile.

    The same with the various schisms, conflicts, and heresies in the faith of Hextor, Pelor, and others.

    I'm not saying that gods have no influence over their priests - if that were true, then evil priests of Pelor would be as common as good ones. They have the power to withhold spells from the unfaithful, and it's rare (but not unknown) for gods and fiends to masquerade as other powers in order to deceive their clerics as to who they're actually worshiping. But clearly there is quite a lot of doctrinal leeway on the part of the priests. The gods of Oerth are relatively distant, and their commandments are not always simple for mortals to comprehend.

    3rd edition Deities & Demigods is rather a stupid book in many ways, but the best argument against quoting from it is that a world in which a deity exerted complete control over a church would be boring. At least, more boring than the alternative, which I think canon clearly points to. 3rd edition "core" books are rarely perfect examples of Greyhawk canon, particularly when their authors are not otherwise associated with Greyhawk, though I can't argue they aren't official.
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:42 pm  

    And thus are they only Guidelines . . . since we even choose which Core Books we will accept and will not accept, much less which individual "rules" we will, or will, not use. As was just pointed out, even the Core Books & Canon Sources do not agree with one another.

    Given this fact, all any of us can do is . . . offer an opinion. In my game, it works as I've said. In other games . . . it doesn't. Wink

    I merely present the information . . . use it, or not. It's your game. Cool
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    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:55 pm  

    I work under the following assumptions:


    1. Religion springs from the people, not the gods

    The gods are never completely clear in their commandments, prophesies, signs, and auguries. There are many different interpretations, and seldom will any church agree with any other without political pressure. That's not to say that there is no relationship between what a god wants and what kind of faith springs up around them - few people are going to interpret Pelor's commandments as a commandment for human sacrifice or ritualistic torture, not if they want to remain in their god's good graces - but gods do allow a lot of leeway and even violent disagreement among their followers. At least, it makes for a more interesting world if they do. Basically, the will of the gods is beyond human comprehension, so humans muddle on as best they can.

    2. Religion is politics

    In cases where a unified dogma exists, it's for Oerthly political reasons. If a state honors the same religion, it's a state religion endorsed by mortal rulers for the purpose of reinforcing their Oerthly power. The state of Perrenland or the high prelate of Almor declares how a soul is saved, what the afterlife is like, and how people should best live their lives. If they don't, every religious leader in every community is going to have their own subtly different ideas.

    3. Religion is polytheistic, not a mess of competing monolatrist faiths

    Obviously I differ here somewhat from canon. There is no Church of Pelor, Church of Wee Jas, or Church of Beory. There's the Church of Aerdy and the schisms that erupted after the Great Kingdom's schisms. There's the Old Faith and the Church of Veluna that includes places for Rao, Heironeous, St. Cuthbert and many others. A church has a theology that acknowledges and honors many gods, though individual gods may be more exalted than others. Even the Church of the Blinding Light acknowledges saints and angels subordinate to Pholtus as well as the Light itself, something beyond Pholtus that Pholtus is only the messenger of.

    4. Religion is more than gods

    A religion isn't just a list of deities. A religion addresses the big questions in life: what is the good life? Where does evil come from? What happens after we die? There will be a variety of traditions, independent of what gods are honored in a particular church.

    5. The Suel and Oeridians are long dead

    For the most part, the culture of the Flanaess is a blend of Suel and Oeridian cultures (and sometimes other cultures mixed in). Nobody save a few backwoods racists (mostly the Scarlet Brotherhood) thinks of themselves as Suel or Oeridian anymore, and outside this there are no pure Suel or Oeridian religions anymore. Even the Scarlet Brotherhood's faith has evolved considerably since the Great Migrations. Religions in the present day reflect the political divisions, religious revelations, and scholarly disputes that have sprung up in the last thousand years. People in the Duchy of Urnst, for example, are much more interested in what a prophet of St. Cuthbert said 500 years ago than what the Suel might have believed before the Rain of Colorless Fire. For all that their skin might be pale, no one in Urnst remembers the Suel Imperium anymore. For centuries they've been exposed to Aerdi religious doctrines, monks of Xan Yae and Zuoken, the mysticism of the Rhennee, the gutter faiths and beggar cults of Greyhawk and Selintan, monstrous religions, demihuman religions, and the utterings of druids of the Old Faith. Some of them might still honor some of the Suel gods, but in a very different context. The Suel don't exist anymore.

    MToscan wrote:
    Since I always thought of Suel as Melniboneans, it might be the Suel gods are cosmic entities from some Elder Realms, maybe spirtis of law fighting against unspeakable evils or "lovecrafian" horrors.


    Melnibone isn't a bad comparison to the Suel in their later, decadent imperial era, but remember that the Melniboneans didn't always worship the Lords of Chaos. At the beginning of their civilization, before they became corrupted by Chaos, they worshiped the elemental lords and animal and plant lords - personifications of various aspects of nature. That's why they still had pacts with those beings that Elric could sometimes call upon without making the extreme sacrifices that calling on Arioch would have brought.

    The Suel pantheon, as Len Lakofka designed it, is basically a standard fantasy pantheon (vaguely) similar to the Greek or Roman pantheon with gods representing various aspects of nature and civilization (a god of hills and mountains, a god of birds and air, a god of nature and agriculture, a goddess of light and knowledge, a god of fire and poison, etc.). That's not to say the Greek or Roman pantheons had exactly those things, or that the Suel were necessarily Greek or Roman in culture. The pantheon is roughly balanced between good, evil, chaos, and law, with the chaotic and lawful deities frequently at odds with each other (so there's considerable conflict within the pantheon, plus Norebo and Wee Jas having this jealous, quarrelsome, often destructive romance across party lines). The Suel pantheon is very human, in its way; the Suel gods are a family descended from a common ancestor (Lendor) and it has feuds, arguments, and fallings-out just like any other family. It's the product of a world-view in which everything in the universe is personified as a human family.

    Of course, it probably didn't start out that way. Before the foundation of the Imperium, I imagine each city-state had its own patron god, and there was no fixed relationship between them. A consistent theology is only something that appears after the cities are united and the Emperor declares a state religion to reconcile and unite the empire.

    And throughout the millennia of the Suel culture, religion grows and changes, becoming more abstract, more sophisticated in its cosmology. The gods are no longer imagined as overgrown humans who physically made the world out of mud and clay or from the bloody corpse of a primordial monster, but as spiritual entities who conjure the planes from nothingness with words of power. The primitive concept of the heavens and the underworlds becomes elaborated into at least seventeen outer planes and innumerable sublayers, elemental planes, astral and ethereal planes - a more complete portrait of the multiverse and the journey of the soul.

    In the last few centuries (or more?) of the Suel Imperium it did grow much more decadent as the nobles of the empire grew more full of hubris. One of the emperors of the Zol dynasty, if you believe the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, deified himself while he was still alive, declaring himself (falsely) to be a living god. I can easily imagine cults devoted to fiends and other planar beings - even Lovecraftian entitites (Tharizdun seems a bit overused, though, don't you think?) - growing increasingly popular as the Mages of Power began to see the old gods as mere planar entities themselves, no more than unusually potent angels and demons and not any more worthy of worship than any other powerful inhabitants of the planes, or even powerful inhabitants of the Material Plane such as themselves. Worthy to make bargains with, perhaps, if their offers were sufficiently enticing, but not inherently worthy of veneration. For the elite, anyway - the common people, the peasantry, and the slaves are another matter. They may well have retained their ancient devotion.

    And then the Great Rain of Fire strikes, and everything changes.

    Everything changes for the Baklunish, too, with the ancient elemental gods and idols struck down in favor of Al'Akbar's reformed faith. This is not a church dedicated solely to Al'Akbar, but Al'Akbar as prophet and messenger of the great gods to whom he is only a humble servant. And this, eventually, becomes a schism - the True Faith and the Exalted Faith.

    But back to the Suloise. This is, obviously, a humbled people. Even the Mages of Power (what little remains of them, mostly Slerotin, a few of his apprentices who retain a smattering of his knowledge, and perhaps the wizard Lendore in the Spindrift Isles) can no longer think of themselves as equal to the gods in the face of the destruction of everything they ever knew. There are obvious theological shifts (the goddess of magic becomes the goddess of death as well as magic and death are inextricably linked in the Suel psyche) but in general there's a genuine revival of traditional faith as the scattered Suel people look to their forsaken deities for answers. Some never forsook their gods, of course, and there are some wicked Suel - like the sorcerers of House Malhel - who continue worshiping wicked planar beings like the Elder Elemental God and Bwimb instead of their traditional pantheon. Some may have decided at that point that their traditional gods failed to protect them and sought out new gods introduced to them by the Flan and Oeridians. But I think the Rain of Colorless Fire represents a real shift.

    The Oeridians

    Then there are the Oeridians. The Oeridians didn't originate from a fallen empire; they were a race of nomadic horsemen who worshiped, for the most part, gods of travel, the winds, battle, and the heavens. The Aerdi probably had more of a focus on sky gods than other Oeridian tribes, but there's still still a strong emphasis on the sky, the seasons, weather and the sea - in general, the needs of a people with no permanent settlements and no centralized hierarchy. The Suel faith was something refined and reinforced by millennia of imperial doctrine, while the Oeridian faith, to start with, was more about personal revelation and orally translated lore useful for those moving between seasonal hunting grounds.

    Whether you see the Suel as Romans, Germans, Melniboneans, or something else, or you think the Oeridians are Celts, Slavs, Goths, Huns, or Phoenicians, there's that fundamental difference between them, as they were 1,000 years ago. The Oeridian gods are practical gods for nomads, while the Suel gods were a philosophical attempt to systemize the cosmos.

    Things changed.

    The major galvanizing force for the Oeridians was the prophecies of Johydee, which I imagine to have been initially written on the inside of her legendary Mask. Suddenly they didn't only have gods of nature who aided them on their travels; they had a purpose, a goal to strive for, a sacred scripture handed down from the gods themselves through their prophetess Johydee. Because the Mask has been missing for centuries, though, no one knows exactly what it said anymore. They have copies of it, many of them very close to one another, but no way to prove which one was the original. Johydee, the Hidden Empress, had vanished with her Mask and she was providing no new revelations. So the settlers in the Vale of Luna had one interpretation that allowed them to see their discovery of the Crook of Rao as the fulfillment of the prophecy, while the founders of Rel Astra believed that they were the chosen ones. Meanwhile the founders of Nehron believed their own realm was the promised land... even the Keogh tribe could convince themselves that what the ancient prophecies really meant them to do was unite with the Sheldomarish Suel. Even if they were found, the prophecies of Johydee are ambiguous enough, like most signs and wonders from the gods, that more than one interpretation is possible.

    Later, as the Oeridians grew more settled and civilized and their clerics and Commune spells produced further revelations, they added new holy books to the initial prophecies, each faith growing more complex as time went on. As the Oeridians intermingled with neighboring peoples, they too added different spins to the various revelations. As nations grew and absorbed smaller countries, more churches were forced to follow a single creed. As nations shrank and split, schisms formed. Nyrond found it useful to exalt Heironeous as the king of all the gods, while under the House of Naelax the Great Kingdom found it useful to exalt Hextor as the Divine Overking. And so it went. As Suel countries were conquered by Oeridian kings, their churches took on Oeridian styles of faith, adopted Oeridian theology and manners of worship. As they grew independent, there might have been revivals of older forms of faith. Keoland, per its founding charter, never adopted a national religion, so its temples are dedicated to many obscure sects and petty gods. The largest religious body known in Keoland is probably the distant church of Veluna, which surely has founded temples in Keoland, many by missionaries of St. Cuthbert. But there are many other sources of faith there, since there is no state-sanctioned way to enforce a common creed (the same is true in the free cities of Dyvers and Greyhawk).

    Some generalizations

    I would say, in general, Oeridian-style faith does more closely resemble a polytheistic Catholic or Orthodox Christian Church, with gods and saints arranged in a manner mimicking an Oerthly royal court. One god is divine king, one (usually Boccob) is court magus, one of them bishop or hierophant of the gods, one of them the gods' general, one the queen, one the prince, a court jester, and so on, and those chaotic gods who resist authority or oppose civilization cast as exiles or as a dark parallel court opposed to the gods of good. This is the sort of metaphor medieval Christianity excelled at, God as divine king, adopted to a structured polytheism of gods particularly favored by the individual state who looks to Heaven to justify the social structure on Oerth.

    Suel-derived faiths may sometimes mimic this, but the older style of Suel religion I see as more Grecian-style temples, each temple independent of the others (though not necessarily devoted to a single god). Rather than a single Prelate or Canon or Archcleric running a state religion, each temple has a local high priest since the death of the last Suloise emperor. If the Oeridians are, roughly, the Christians of the setting then the Suloise are the pagans whose glory is remembered but no longer dominant. This style of religion is going to be more common in the Sheldomar and the free cities of the western and central Flanaess, and also the Duchy of Urnst since the brief ban on religion there during the reign of Duke Karll's predecessor.
    GreySage

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    Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:43 pm  

    Rasgon:

    That is a very interesting philosophy on the structure and changes in attitude of the various 'churches' of the Flanaess. Thank you for writing it all out for us to absorb. Smile

    The question that stands out most in my mind is in regard to the origin of the Oeridian faith. You describe it as originating as a tribal religion of a wandering people. That assumes that the Oeridians began as nomads. It is my understanding that they did, indeed, wander from lands further west before settling for a time in what is now Ull, but from what type of civilization did they come? Didn't their civilization suffer some catastrophe that caused them to have to leave their homeland with different groups travelling east, west, south, and north? If their origins were a very metropolitan empire, it may very well be that their religion evolved quite similarly to that of the Suel, as you describe it.

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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:25 am  

    The Oeridians began as nomads who were hired by both the Suel and Baklunish as mercenaries. I do not have my timeline here, but the first formed a mutual defense coalition among their tribes to repel humanoid and human raiders (I imagine slaver from the two empires) and about a century later they started their migration to the Flanaess on their own (or their God's) imperative before the Twin Cataclysms. In fact, their migration was well underway before the Twin Cataclysms, which probably in part accounts for their relative success vs. the Suel.
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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:21 am  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    I agree with oh wise sage MS . . . but a bit less so with . . . those pesky Pholtans.


    that's how the Pholtans actually view Pholtus. They are "in denial" of how it really works. Monotheistic? Not really, but rather a misguided view of their Pantheon over-all. Oerth has "Loose Pantheons," no one god of the Pantheon rules over, or dominates, the other gods in the Pantheon . . . just don't tell that to the Pholtans! Wink


    I think you and I are in agreement, allow me to clearify, my statment was in relation to the worshipers, not in those being worshiped. Are the Pholtan worshipers in denial, yes. Are they misguided, certainly, but as Rasgon so wonderfully prosed, that is the difference between the Gods perspective and those that worship them. Items 1 thru 4 on his list.
    GreySage

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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:19 am  

    DLG - Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Wink
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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:33 am  

    tarelton wrote:
    The Oeridians began as nomads who were hired by both the Suel and Baklunish as mercenaries. I do not have my timeline here, but the first formed a mutual defense coalition among their tribes to repel humanoid and human raiders (I imagine slaver from the two empires) and about a century later they started their migration to the Flanaess on their own (or their God's) imperative before the Twin Cataclysms. In fact, their migration was well underway before the Twin Cataclysms, which probably in part accounts for their relative success vs. the Suel.


    -I've never read the D&D 3X neo-Chainmail game, but based on what I've seen on Canonfire, I thought that the Oeridians originally came from western Oerik. This explains the westerner's worship of Heironeous & Hextor, as well as the (now) largely forgotten (and deceased?) Stratis.

    rasgon wrote:
    ...The major galvanizing force for the Oeridians was the prophecies of Johydee... Suddenly... they had a purpose, a goal to strive for, a sacred scripture handed down from the gods themselves through their prophetess Johydee. Because the Mask has been missing for centuries, though, no one knows exactly what it said anymore... Johydee, the Hidden Empress, had vanished with her Mask and she was providing no new revelations...


    -Perhaps by design...

    rasgon wrote:
    ...So the settlers in the Vale of Luna had one interpretation that allowed them to see their discovery of the Crook of Rao as the fulfillment of the prophecy, while the founders of Rel Astra believed that they were the chosen ones. Meanwhile the founders of Nehron believed their own realm was the promised land... even the Keogh tribe could convince themselves that what the ancient prophecies really meant them to do was unite with the Sheldomarish Suel. Even if they were found, the prophecies of Johydee are ambiguous enough, like most signs and wonders from the gods, that more than one interpretation is possible...


    -The prophcies were meant as an inspiration, which each tribe would fulfill it in its own way. In the words of the old Oeridian hymn:

    "...Climb every mountain,
    Ford every stream,
    Follow every rainbow,
    'Till you find your dream."

    (Just don't get caught be the Scarlet Brotherhood... Evil Grin )

    rasgon wrote:
    ...If this were true, there'd be no conflict between the True Faith and Exalted Faith of Al'Akbar, since Al'Akbar would simply tell each each branch what the correct doctrine was and they'd be forced to reconcile.

    The same with the various schisms, conflicts, and heresies in the faith of Hextor, Pelor, and others...


    ...The differences allow their followers to strive in a way that (in the long run) brings out their best potential, but still in line with the deity's aims.
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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:00 pm  

    rasgon, many times I come to think you should write new Greyhawk setting book if it will be done - great stuff on religions, man!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:26 pm  

    wyrdhamster wrote:
    rasgon, many times I come to think you should write new Greyhawk setting book if it will be done - great stuff on religions, man!


    -Nah, the apparent ideal is to get someone who can't find Furyondy on the Darlene map and let them rework the setting... Razz Wink

    Would be nice, though. And Anna can do the maps!

    So, Rasgon, can you take a few months off from your day job? They'll probably pay you. Wink


    Last edited by jamesdglick on Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:04 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    The question that stands out most in my mind is in regard to the origin of the Oeridian faith. You describe it as originating as a tribal religion of a wandering people. That assumes that the Oeridians began as nomads. It is my understanding that they did, indeed, wander from lands further west before settling for a time in what is now Ull, but from what type of civilization did they come?


    The Adventure Begins, page 55, said "For ages, tribes of Oeridian horse barbarians inhabited the steppes and foothills of what is now Ull. Over two centuries before the fall of the Baklunish and Suloise empires, these barbarians united in a single confederation to resist incursions by imperial Baklunish across the Ulsprue Mountains and by nomadic Baklunish to the north... Around the year 180 OR, the council of hetmen of this Oeridian tribal confederation, heeding the advice of their shamans, chose to lead the Oeridians out of their ancestral homeland and make them a migrant folk."

    The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, page 13, said "The Oeridians, a confederation of barbaric tribes in close proximity to the warring empires, took the wars (and attendant raids from orc and goblin mercenaries in the employ of both sides) as a sign to migrate eastward in search of their ultimate destiny."

    Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, page 22: "Oeridian tribes wandering the vast central plains beyond the Flanaess in the West were driven to the east by a series of raging conflicts that culminated in the infamous Twin Cataclysms of prehistory. These nomadic people were not very different, culturally speaking, from their neighbors the Flan, being superstitious, rustic, proud, and relatively primitive compared to the great empires of the Suel and Baklunish."

    That last quote seems to place their origin far west of the Baklunish lands (and thus far west of Ull) and I think does hint at some catastrophe other than the Baklunish-Suloise War driving them eastward. This is perhaps backed up by Ivid the Undying's quote: "Driven from their homelands by a great cataclysm, they [the Oeridians] founded the great capital of Rauxes nearly 4,000 miles from their ancient homeland."

    However, I think the bulk of evidence has it that the Oeridians were primitive horse barbarians even in their distant point of origin. In the year 1 of the Oeridian calendar they migrated into Ull (and formed a confederation there, as per The Adventure Begins), then the orc and goblin mercenaries used by the Suel and Baklunish drove them into the Flanaess during the Baklunish-Suloise War.

    I think the nature of the Oeridian pantheon points to them originally being a nomadic people, traveling to different grazing and hunting grounds during the various seasons and making war on one another and with their rivals among other peoples. Only Merikka indicates a settled population, and I think of her as a deity only born after the Great Migrations, evidenced by her low ranking.

    Granted, there are other possible interpretations. Perhaps they originally had an empire as mighty as that of the Suloise, only to be reduced to barbarism later on. Ivid the Undying does indicate that they had great magical knowledge and lore at the time of their migrations, and forgot less of it than the Suel or Baklunish. Certainly they gained many artifacts by the time of the Aerdi conquest. I tend to think that these were skills they gained while living near the Suel and Baklunish, though, magic they hoarded and eagerly collected in their ambition rather than remnants of a lost Oeridian culture. Their native magic seems to have been shamanic rather than arcane.
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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:20 am  

    My own take on the origins of the Oeridian gods is that, in keeping with the loose concept they have a Germanic feel to their early culture, their gods were drawn from giant and dwarven beliefs as a result of early contact with those races in the lands of their origins.

    Also some of the Oeridian gods are particular to certain tribes and later adopted by the wider 'Oeridian culture' which in fact I see as a number of seperate but similar cultures rather than a big homogenous mass.

    So for example some tribes had their first experience of trade with the dwarves and adopted gods such as Zilchus & Kurell (wealth & the perils of greed and jealousy being quite central within dwarven culture). I see Delleb as having a possible dwarven origin.

    Erythnul is so similar to a number of giant & monstrous gods like Grolantor and Karontor I've merged them into facets of one god of giantish origin.

    It's worth noting that I like to prune the monstrous pantheons down quite a bit equating them with Greyhawk specific deities so I've done some culling. I won't list all my ideas to save you the waffle but for example I've drawn comparisons between Annam and Boccob (seen as a perhaps a kind of Wotan/Woden figure to some Oerid tribes), Hiatea & Stern Alia (in their capacity as a patroness of childbirth).

    In the back of my mind I've for some time placed a connection between Johydee and Cyndor. Johydee's prophesies and sense of destiny ties in well with certain concepts of Cyndor's and I've often considered Johydee as being the first priestess of Cyndor.

    Despite all these origins I agree with Rasgon's take that by the time of the campaign setting cultural identity and religious practice are often more to do with country than ethnic origin although I still think that such origins have a strong role to play in some regions just as they do in many regions today. We have a great opportunity to look at the history of each country and apply some sensitivity to that past in determining a religious present unique to that place.

    I see the religion of the Aerdy Empire being very close to the Early Christian Church perhaps schisming into something akin to Catholicism and Orthdoxy as the Empire fragmented later on. The worship of the Agricultural Gods would have remained popular with the rural populations but I don't htink they would have been considered 'pagans' in the way it was encountered in relation to Christianity as those rural gods were still seen as just as valid as more major players like Hextor, Pholtus, Zilchus and Hieroneous.
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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:03 am  

    Wolfling wrote:
    ...I see the religion of the Aerdy Empire being very close to the Early Christian Church perhaps schisming into something akin to Catholicism and Orthdoxy as the Empire fragmented later on. The worship of the Agricultural Gods would have remained popular with the rural populations but I don't htink they would have been considered 'pagans' in the way it was encountered in relation to Christianity as those rural gods were still seen as just as valid as more major players like Hextor, Pholtus, Zilchus and Hieroneous.


    -That goes with the Great Kingdom = Roman Empire or the Holy Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire analogy. I think they're all valid.
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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:10 am  

    To me Ardy= Byznatium, Keoland = Holy Roman Empire ( German one Cool ), but for everyone his idea. Wink
    GreySage

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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:35 am  

    And Furyondy? Confused
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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:02 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    And Furyondy? Confused


    Furyondy is France during the Avignon Papacy.

    Or, Britain under King Arthur in Camelot.

    Or, better yet, a combination of King Arthur's politics with the Avignon Papacy's religious influence.

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    Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:35 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    . . . a combination of King Arthur's politics with the Avignon Papacy's religious influence.


    I always knew you were . . .weird! Laughing Laughing Laughing
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    Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:14 am  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    SirXaris wrote:
    . . . a combination of King Arthur's politics with the Avignon Papacy's religious influence.


    I always knew you were . . .weird! Laughing Laughing Laughing

    LOl I think I like that amalgamation! Laughing
    GreySage

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    Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:52 am  

    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    I think I like that amalgamation! Laughing


    Well of course you do! What's not to like? Cool

    I just wasn't going to "let him off easy." Something about him thinking of it first. Wink Laughing Laughing Laughing
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