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    Voices of the Dead: Part V. The Cult of Perren
    Posted on Tue, August 05, 2003 by Trickster
    kirt writes "The Cult of Perren is politely ignored by most faithful adherents to the Old Kerk. Still, it is an undeniable presence among the rural Flan in Perrenland, and few are the homesteads who do not say a prayer or two to their ancestors.

    Voices of the Dead: Part V. The Cult of Perren
    By: kirt
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The pantheon of Flan powers collectively known as the “Old Kerk” has watched over the Flan of the Quagflow since time immemorial. They continue to exert a dominant influence in the country, particularly in the rural areas where the Oeridian influence is less. In the 4th and 5th Centuries CY, however, the Kerk passed through a period of profound crisis. By the end of the 4th Century, the Furyondian authorities had repressed the church for more than a generation, largely because of its support of the local independence movement. While the Kerk was never actually banned, in many places it was forbidden to conduct public worship services on all but the most sacred days, and many of its more outspoken clergy had been exiled or imprisoned. Needless to say, the Kerk had not been an attractive career choice for decades. By the time Perren’s revolution had achieved the independence of the people of the Quagflow, the core of the Kerk was still intact but it was severely lacking in a new generation of priests and priestesses. Eighty years later, the conquest of Perrenland by the Witch Queen Iggwilve was followed by a decade of bloody pogroms in which any clerics she could find were killed.

    As a result of these two events, many faithful Flan were left for years without access to clergy. In the absence of a formal religious structure, the faith and superstition of the Flan crystallized into a form of ancestor worship centered on parents, clan heroes, and Perren. This form of ancestor worship persists today as a folk cult alongside the official religion of the Kerk. The Kerk tolerates the folk practices somewhat uncomfortably, but has never moved against them. Nearly all people who practice ancestor worship are faithful adherents to the Kerk, although they are certainly a minority within that body. The worship itself consists of an odd collection of prayers and rituals that vary greatly from household to household. Actual clerics of the ancestor religion are rare, but do exist. They are not persecuted, but receive no formal support, recognition, or training from the Kerk. Thus, they are self-trained, or apprenticed at best. These “spirit-keepers”, as they are called, organize worship services for the ancestors and care for local burial grounds. They tend to be of three general kinds.

    The majority of spirit-keepers are rural dwellers, mostly illiterate, of the wise woman or cunning man type. Some of them have arcane magic ability and are able to brew potions. They help their farming and herding neighbors by healing people and beasts, by casting portents, and through other simple spells derived from the power of the ancestors. [Mostly these are NPC’s, since they are reluctant to leave the communities they serve]

    Other spirit-keepers are the scions of important Flan lineages, petty nobility trained as fighters who gain clerical powers through their spiritual contacts. They are chosen by the spirits to care for the honor, prestige, and continuity of their clans and clan lineages. The males tend to be involved in judging and mediating clan disputes and enforcing clan laws. The females tend to supervise the negotiation and arrangement of marriages and ensure the fertility of couples. [This group is an even mix of PC’s and NPC’s]

    The final group of spirit keepers are involved in recording clan history and genealogies. They ensure that all the members of a clan learn the important stories, legends, and traditions of the clan. Usually they have bard levels in addition to their clerical ability. [This group travels and adventures frequently and includes many PC’s].

    All spirit-keepers possess the ability to call upon the ancestors to grant them or others knowledge and abilities, through the use of the spells Borrow Characteristic and Borrow Knowledge. Some foreign scholars of culture claim that these spells in particular have encouraged the modern persistence in Perrenland of the old customs of the blood feud and head-taking, though native Perrenders dismiss this analysis as simplistic at best.

    3E Spells
    Borrow Characteristic (Alteration, Necromantic)
    Level 2 Cleric Spell
    Components: Divine Focus (Ancestral Remnant)
    Casting Time: 1 round
    Range: Touch/Self
    Effect: Changes ability of 1 person
    Duration: 6 turns per level
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: None

    With this spell, the cleric is able to call upon a specific, named spirit to impart one of its characteristics to the cleric or to another person. For the duration of the spell, the recipient gains one characteristic that the spirit had during the prime of its life. This includes any single basic, unconscious aspect such as an ability score, infravision, saving throw, special poison resistance, etc. Any trait that was consciously learned is not obtainable by this spell, for example riding skill, a weapon proficiency feat, etc. (but see Borrow Knowledge, below). The characteristic may not be bestowed on an unwilling target, nor may it usually be borrowed from an unwilling spirit (but see below). The DM decides on the score for the characteristic in question (the fabled strength of an ancestor may have been greatly exaggerated). Provided the duration is not exceeded, a single being may receive multiple uses of this spell. For example, three spells could be used to grant an individual the Strength and Constitution scores as well as the Fortitude save of one or more family spirits.

    The focus of the spell is a remnant of the body of the spirit in question. This remnant is not used up in the process of casting, but it must remain in the possession of the cleric for the duration of the spell; its loss ends the spell. For example, a cleric might use the relic of her church, the hair of a saint, to obtain the Wisdom score of that saint for the duration of the spell. Using remains to which a cleric does not have legitimate access (for example, from fallen foes or stolen corpses) is a Chaotic act. If the spirit in question is an unwilling donor, casting the spell is also an Evil act. In this case, the cleric must make a Will save to successfully complete the spell. This save is made at a DC of 3 times the highest level that the spirit attained while living.

    Among Perrenders who worship their ancestors, clerics have “legitimate access” to any spirit who belongs to their clan. If the cleric casts the spell to impart the characteristic to another person, they must both be of the clan of the spirit. In addition, the spell may be cast by a cleric if both the cleric and the recipient can trace their actual descent from the spirit in question, even if all of them are members of different clans. The remnants of clan heroes are treated as important relics, and are jealously guarded by clan members. It is certainly an affront for a cleric to be found in possession of a remnant of one of the dead of another clan.

    An interesting exception to these customs occurs in the case of a blood feud or head-taking. If a warrior is slain in a fair fight between two people, such as a duel, challenge, or sworn blood feud, his or her spirit grants to the victor the right to collect a remnant from the body. Typically, the head is taken. The person who slew the warrior is considered a legitimate recipient of characteristics borrowed from the spirit of that warrior, and the warrior’s spirit is treated as a willing donor. If the victor was not himself or herself a cleric, a cleric of the clan of either the victor or the slain warrior may cast the spell. Only the person who actually slew the warrior may claim this privilege, not other members of his or her clan. However, the victor may pass the head and the right to call upon the spirit down to a chosen heir upon his or her death.

    Borrow Knowledge (Alteration, Necromantic)
    Level 3 Cleric Spell
    Components: Divine Focus (Ancestral Remnant)
    Casting Time: 2 rounds
    Range: Touch/Self
    Effect: Grants knowledge to one person
    Duration: 1 turn per level
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: None

    Similar to the Borrow Characteristic spell (above), this spell allows the caster or other recipient to assume one area of knowledge from a specific, named spirit. The knowledge may be broadly considered one consciously learned and practiced subject area (such as a Skill, Feat, or attack roll), or may be particular knowledge of a specific legend or song, etc. The subject may perform in this area as did the spirit in the prime of his or her former life (DM’s discretion for ability). Only physical or mental knowledge is conferred, not magic or inherent abilities (the spell does not allow the acquisition of new spells). The knowledge may not be bestowed on an unwilling target, nor may it normally be borrowed from an unwilling spirit (but see below). Provided the duration is not exceeded, a single being may have multiple castings of this spell placed upon him or her. For example, two spells could be used to grant the cleric both the weapon proficiency (Feat) and the attack rank (to-hit score) of a particular spirit. This spell cannot be used to get around restrictions due to class or alignment (e.g., characters forbidden from using edged weapons would still have that injunction in effect, even if they used the spell to learn the use of such weapon).

    For details on who has legitimate access to ancestral remnants, see Borrow Characteristic, above.

    2nd Level Notes:
    Borrow Ability (Invocation/Evocation, Alteration)
    Sphere: Necromantic, Ancestor
    Range: Touch
    Components: V, S, M (Symbol and Remains)
    Duration: 6 turns per level
    Casting Time: 1 round
    Area of Effect: 1 person
    Saving Throw: None

    For the duration of the spell, the target is treated as if he or she had one ability of the spirit. This includes any single basic, unconscious aspect such as an ability score, saving throw, speed, poison resistance, etc. Some NWP’s might fit this description; for example, Endurance. An ability that was consciously learned (riding NWP, weapon skill, thief ability, etc.) is not obtainable by this spell (but see Borrow Skill, below).

    Borrow Skill (Invocation/Evocation, Alteration)
    Sphere: Necromantic, Ancestor
    Range: Touch
    Components: V, S, M (Symbol and Remains)
    Duration: 1 turn per level
    Casting Time: 2 rounds
    Area of Effect: 1 person
    Saving Throw: None
    Spirit: Family Spirit, Known

    Similar to the Borrow Ability spell (above), this spell allows the caster or other target to assume one skill of a known family spirit. A “skill” is considered one consciously learned and practiced area of knowledge, such as a WP, NWP, fighting style, thief ability, etc. Only physical or mental skills are conferred, not magic or psionic spells or inherent abilities.

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    Links (Score: 1)
    by Kirt on Wed, August 06, 2003
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    This article is written with ancestor-worship as an interesting, but marginal, part of Perrenland culture. Thus it is designed to fit into an "official" or "canon" campaign under the LGG or LG. In my own campaign, the Old Faith was completely eliminated and ancestor worship is now the dominant religion in Perrenland. You can read about this is detail in my article "The Religious History of Perrenland", available here on Canonfire! It also merets a short mention in my article "A Brief History of the Knights of the Hart, Part III - Witch Queen, Demon Lord."

    Re: Voices of the Dead: Part V. The Cult of Perren (Score: 1)
    by Mario_Greymist on Fri, August 08, 2003
    (User Info | Send a Message)

    Looks good. I enjoyed the background and description of the various types of spirit-keepers. The spells really give new meaning to the term "altar-relic". :)

    In my campaign I haven't developed the Flan sub-cultures half so well as you have done here. I may end up co-opting your ideas (and I'll be sure to tip the hat to you) for my home campaign.

    Good work.


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