The Gods of the Flanaess: Ulaa
Date: Wed, October 08, 2008
Topic: Gods & Followers
"The bold adventurer who strikes it rich on his daring claim, the caring druid who lovingly tends the hills and mountains, the knight who wages war on orc and goblin, the merchant who uses the wealth of the Oerth to build the community around him, and the ruler who mediates between the people of hill and mountain...all these are equally welcome in the embrace of the Lady Ulaa." - Duvernia MacMaddenstone, gnome priestess of Ulaa and Mother Abbess of the Abbey of the Silver Hammer in the Hestmark Highlands, preaching to the newly founded mining community of Norman's Peak, 524 CY.
Domains: Hills, Mountains, Gemstones
Home Plane: The Seven Heavens
Alignment: Lawfully good
Alignment of Clergy: Lawfully good, lawfully neutral, neutrally good.
Alignment of Worshipers: Lawfully good, lawfully neutral, neutrally good, truly neutral. Ulaa is most commonly worshiped by humans, dwarves, gnomes and pech.
History and Relationships
Born in the Age of Legends after the imprisonment of the Dark Lord, Ulaa is commonly accepted in church writings as being the daughter of the Oerth Mother, Beory. The identity of her father is debated, with different sects of the church proposing Grumbar, Dumathoin, or Segojan as the most likely candidates.
Although born of the neutrally aligned Oerth Mother, who cared little for the developing rifts among the gods and the races they created, Ulaa did not take long to form friendships with many of the gods of oerth and smithing who were revered by humans, elves and dwarves. Akin to them both in temperament and nature, Ulaa quickly developed a mutual hatred with the gods of the orcs, goblins and giants, who fought against her allies for riches and territory, even as their races continue to battle to this very day.
Scorning the dainty and effeminate goddesses of the elves or halflings, or many of the goddesses of wind, magic, or home and hearth, Ulaa came to love combat and action, preferring the company of the masculine and active male gods. She had little patience for those who would encourage artistic pursuits, viewing them as a waste of time that could be spent doing productive things, such as mining and crusading against humanoids.
She came to love and wed Bleredd, a human god of blacksmithing and forgework, and he presented her with an enchanted warhammer named Skull Ringer as a wedding gift, in return for which she interceded on his behalf with the Oerth Mother to permit the carving of tunnels and mines by mortals. As comfortable in the company of the gods of dwarves and gnomes as those of humans, she came to be revered by members of all three races, establishing a church of her own among the mortal races.
Ulaa’s allies include Beory, Moradin, Grumbar, Garl Glittergold, Segojan Oerthcaller, Clangeddin Silverbeard, Dumathoin, Jascar, Fortubo, and especially her husband Bleredd, for their being worshipped by the same races and possessing the same nature. Her enemies include Beltar, Luthic, Maglubiyet, and Gruumsh, for their evil natures and their rivaling her own worshippers and herself in mining and the quest for wealth, Corellon Larethian, Sehanine Moonbow and the rest of the elven pantheon, Joramy for being a rival to her in temperament and dominion over the oerth and mountains, and Lirr and Lydia for their peaceful, artistic natures.
Ulaa’s clergy teaches that to advance in life, one must be brave and proactive, ready to seize on any opportunities that may present themselves. It is believed that the hills and mountains will not yield their treasures to those who simply sit back and dream-action is necessary to gain their wealth, lest they be seized by humanoids.
This action, however, must be tempered by a devotion to the common good and a proper respect for the oerth, the hills and the mountains. Legitimate competition and initiative are things to be respected and admired, but these must be balanced with a consideration for due respect to the Oerth and the surrounding landscape when mining. Similarly, mineral wealth is not to be hoarded by an individual-mineral wealth is not meant simply for those who are strong enough to seize it, but also for the greater good of the community. When considering a course of action, one should balance the considerations of both individual gain and the greater good of the community as a whole. It is not sinful to prosper while helping others, but this must be done in an honest manner, for the greater good.
It is thus, claim many Ulaan scholars, that decisiveness does not equate to winning at any cost-action is an admirable trait, but to be reduced to deceit, innuendo, and other base maneuverings and trickery is a sign that one is not strong enough to act of their own initiative, and thus deserves scorn and shame. Fighting orcs and goblins for mining territory, and winning it by force of arms, for example, shows courage, determination and decisiveness; gaining it through political trickery, robbery, or other dishonest maneuverings shows cowardice.
Finally, respect for the Oerth is emphasized. It is taught that Ulaa places her treasures in hill and mountain to test and strengthen her followers through the labor they must undertake to reach them, and also to benefit the communities who revere her through using the wealth to prosper. However, Ulaa’s ancestry stresses that respect for the Oerth must be paramount; if Beory permits humans, dwarves and gnomes to dig through the Oerth and take its wealth, they must show proper respect and gratitude for her thereby, lest they suffer her wrath.
The virtues of the Ulaan faith include initiative, courage, strength, dedication, respect for the oerth, and the seeking out of new goals and possibilities. Ulaa is said to also look very favorably on those who use the mineral wealth they can gain from mining to advance not only their personal fortunes, but also benefit their people, city, or country, depending on the circumstances. On such occasions, attaining power and respect for one’s good deeds is perfectly acceptable.
The sins of the Ulaan faith include cowardice, underhandedness, disrespect for the Oerth, a lack of vigilance in guarding that what one has gained, and inaction. Ulaa’s clergy teaches that, in a savage world, one must always be vigilant and ready, and that enemies may come at any time to seize that which one has attained through their abilities, and it is thus necessary to maintain vigilance against those who might seize such gains. Finally, base greed is among the most grievous of Ulaan sins; although gaining a personal fortune through benefiting the community is a virtue, simply seizing upon the Oerth’s riches and using them for personal gain, without consideration for the needs of others, is seen as abhorrent to Ulaa and a perversion of her gifts.
Interaction with Outsiders
Ulaa’s faith commonly performs marriages, baptisms, healings, exorcisms, and other priestly duties in hill and mountain communities, especially mining colonies. They bless new mines, heal injured miners, and otherwise use their magic to aid miners in their work and their personal lives. The faith can also act in a supporting role to military action against humanoids, although more militaristic priesthoods more commonly fill this role.
The faith is not given to political activity, and so is rarely seen as a threat or an ally to the ruling authorities. Its presence can, however, help to maintain racial harmony in lands where humans, dwarves and gnomes share territory and mining profits, as the goddess is equally welcome and revered by all three races. Dwarves, gnomes and humans are all equally apt to serve in the priesthood, and humans and demihumans are just as apt to help worshippers of another race; a dwarven priestess will cheerfully serve as a midwife to a human woman, while a human priest may serve as a confessor to a dwarven sinner.
The patriarchal nature of dwarven society, as well as the fact that dwarves may only become clerics of deities who are the same gender as they, makes the church of Ulaa a prime choice for restless dwarven women who seek something more than a life settled around home and hearth. Indeed, women from more patriarchal human and gnome communities also tend to follow this path, as they find Ulaa’s teachings of initiative, action and decisiveness very empowering. Many of these women also form the core of the faith’s adventuring branch.
Ulaa’s faith is strongest in the Iron Hills, Irongate, Geoff, the Yeomanry, the Principality of Ulek, Sunndi, the Glorioles, the Yatils, the Hestmark Highlands, the Rakers, the Lortmil Mountains, the Crystalmist Mountains, Sterich and Perrenland. In other lands, her faith is either unknown or either too small as to be insignificant.
Ulaa’s most prominent temples exist in Irongate, Gryrax, Thunderstrike, Newkeep, Istivin, Pest’s Crossing, and Westburn. It should be stated that Ulaa’s temples built in human lands are generally of secondary value and beauty, compared to the much more elaborate and stunning temples to her often crafted by dwarves and gnomes in their hill and mountain homes.
While there is general agreement on Ulaa’s teaching among her faith, considerable debate exists around its relations with outside groups, especially humanoids, who may also lay claim to a gem-rich territory. While no Ulaan would begrudge a community’s right to defend a territory it is mining from outside invaders, questions arise as to when the Ulaan community is the outsider. Some clerics state that war against those who might not mine the hills and mountains, such as wandering Flan or elves, is acceptable, while others insist that this is destructive aggression, and advocate either acquiring access to the land by treaty or agreement, only making war against humanoids. Still others believe that aggression against humanoids is a violation of Ulaa’s teachings, saying that it only encourages violence and will unnecessarily stain the hills and mountains with bloodshed.
Constant debates also exist about the proper relation of community to individual. Many Ulaans adhere strictly to the notion that an individual, however driven and active he or she may be, still has a duty to the community, and must be able to share their wealth for the good of all. Others, however, believe that individuals, if they be bold enough and daring enough to strike out on their own, should be able to leave a community if they so choose, and prosper by their own efforts. They point to the notion that if a particularly rich mining claim is struck by a lone wolf, a new community may spring up around it and prosper from the region’s wealth. For them, such intrepid adventurers embody the spirit of Ulaa’s determination and gumption. Most importantly, they claim, new mining colonies and cities often spring up in this way, started by some bold souls who explored on their own, prospering with the wealth they found and then helping to establish a strong community from the gifts Ulaa left for the brave and adventurous.
Ulaa’s clergy are known to serve in adventuring bands who travel the hills and mountains, probing old tombs, ruined fortresses, and other highland ruins for mineral wealth that they can then use to establish communities, or give to those already established. Ulaa’s followers also adventure to protect mining communities, battling those monsters, rivals, and tyrants that would threaten them. These latter activities are among those that Ulaa’s clergy most strongly encourages. At the same time, clerics should preach to those they protect and enrich about the values of Ulaa’s protection and succor, and freely convert those who express interest.
Ulaa’s clerics may associate with humans, dwarves and gnomes freely, although excessive consorting with elves and halflings who do not dwell in hills and mountains is viewed by some sects as a minor sin. So too is spending too much time at sea, in forests, marshes, or other areas that are not hill and mountain.
Ulaa’s clerics may wear whatever type of armor they wish, although the use of blunt weapons is greatly favored, especially the warhammer. Clerics must tithe thirty-five percent of their wealth to the church, or to the coffers of whatever mining community if there is no established temple of Ulaa, although spreading Ulaa’s worship and building new temples and shrines in her honor in newly established communities is viewed favorably.
Ulaa is said to most strongly favor those who show boldness and decisiveness in pursuing their own path in life, especially those who balance it with the needs of the community at hand. Slaying those who threaten Ulaa’s charges is also seen as a highly commendable action, as is vigilance and initiative in ensuring this defense. Spreading Ulaa’s worship through the gathering of converts and preaching of her virtues is also said to encourage Ulaa’s good will.