The Primary Gods of Men –
Morrow & Thamar
Humans in the Iron Kingdoms have two main patron deities. The prophet Morrow is the lord of goodness and light, and is worshipped by most humans. His fraternal twin sister Thamar is the patron of the selfish and wicked. The two started out as ordinary humans, thousands of years ago, but they came to believe that any person could improve their lot in life almost without end. After a long, hard path, they ascended into divinity and enlightenment, sacrificing their physical bodies so that they could walk the earth in spirit, providing guidance to those who needed it. The twins' journey is recorded in the weighty Enkheiridion of Ascension, the primary religious text of the Iron Kingdoms.
Sadly, the siblings fought near the end of their journey, and their paths diverged. Morrow chose the path of selflessness, deciding to guide and protect Men in their journey through life, nudging them to the path of virtue and self-improvement that he discovered. Thamar chose to guide Men in a different way. She is the whisperer in shadows, always urging people to take the quick and easy path, to maximize their short-term earthly gains and pleasures regardless of the consequences.
It is said that every human at some point has to make a choice between the two paths – that Morrow and Thamar eventually visit everyone and secretly test them. "The Volition," as the trial is called, takes the form of a moral dilemma, usually early in life. Few people can pinpoint when their Volition was, for the gods are subtle and clever, never showing themselves directly. The rare individuals that can clearly see the test and the gods before them are blessed, and almost always become clerics or paladins.
Clerics of Morrow and Thamar can be of any good or evil alignment, respectively. They attempt to emulate their patron's lives, often traveling in their footsteps and attempting the same trials the twins undertook so long ago. Those that succeed become saintly beings who Ascend to take their place at Morrow or Thamar's side. These Ascendants (good) and Scions (evil) are very rare; only a score of people have ever Ascended to either god's side. Each Ascended are powerful entities in their own right, with their own philosophy and sphere of influence.
While the Church of Morrow has a very formal structure and rich history, the worship of Thamar is a solitary thing. Rarely will one see so much as a shrine in her name, and her clerics are secretive. However, almost all of the humans in the Iron Kingdoms are strong believers in the central teaching of both siblings – you create your own destiny, and your lot in life is not fixed at birth.
Ascendants of Morrow
The following lists all the current Ascendants which serve as Morrow's most powerful divine servants and serve as patrons for those who worship the god. Having a patron Ascendant is common both for clerics as well as pious laymen.
|Asc. Angellia||History, Lore and Knowledge|
|Asc. Corben||Alchemy, Astronomy, and Wizardry|
|Asc. Doleth||Sailors and Fishermen|
|Asc. Ellena||Travelers and Adventurers|
|Asc. Gordenn||Farmers and Family|
|Asc. Katrena||Valor, Knighthood & Paladins|
|Asc. Markus||Soldiers & Town Guards|
|Asc. Rowan||Downtrodden & Champion of the Poor|
|Asc. Sambert||Smiths, Stonemasons and Carpenters|
|Asc. Shevann||Merchants & Bankers|
|Asc. Solovin||Healers, Battle-Chaplains & Midwives|
Scions of Thamar
The following lists all the current Scions which serve as Thamar's most powerful divine servants and serve as patrons for those who worship the goddess. Having a patron Scion is common both for evil clerics as well as superstitious criminals.
|Sc. Aidan||Grave-Robbers, Treasure Seekers and Adventurers|
|Sc. Bolis||Gamblers, Smugglers & Evil Merchants|
|Sc. Delesle||Necromancy and Death|
|Sc. Drayce||Thieves & Corrupt Leaders|
|Sc. Ekris||Infernalists, Diviners and Tyrants|
|Sc. Khorva||Patron of Assassins, Murderers, Thugs and Enforcer|
|Sc. Lukas||Madmen, Rapists & the Depraved|
|Sc. Nivara||Wizards & Sorcerers|
|Sc. Roth||Soldiers, Mercenaries and Bandits|
|Sc. Stacia||Evokers, Arson, Champion of Female Wizardry|
Man's Ancient Patron, Menoth
The worship of Menoth is ancient, predating the Church of Morrow by millennia. Menoth is a strict, vengeful deity, credited by most humans (even those who follow the Twins) with the creation of the world and mankind. It's unquestionable that Menoth exists, for his priests were once the powerful ruling class of the land. Alas for Menoth, the more uplifting and tolerant message of Morrow began to take hold with the people, and today the worship of Menoth is a minority faith everywhere except the Protectorate. Outside of the Protectorate, the largest minority serving Menoth is among the "Old Faith" of Khador, where many citizens cling tenaciously to the worship of their ancient creator.
Menoth is usually depicted as a masked giant, towering over his frightened worshippers. He demands adherence to a strict code of conduct – part of which is providing constant tribute to Menoth and his priests. The notion that a man may "ascend," so central to the worship of Morrow and Thamar, is blasphemy in the church of Menoth. To Menoth, man's place is to serve his creator, and his reward is to pass quietly into oblivion.
Cyriss, Maiden of Gears
Cyriss, Maiden of Gears, Mistress of Numbers, also known as the Clockwork Goddess, is a fairly recent addition to the land's pantheon. Her worship became known only a few centuries ago, at about the time Men and dwarves began to build sophisticated machines and delve into new kinds of math and philosophy. Cyriss is largely unconcerned with the fate of individuals. Most of her effort is spent writing and overseeing the natural laws that govern the realm of science and engineering, though she will take action directly or through her followers when something threatens the natural order of things. She appears as a humanoid, but she is not a human goddess; her worshippers are largely human but also include a number of dwarves and even some gobbers and members of other races inclined toward engineering.
Understanding the mind of Cyriss and revealing the true nature of the multiverse is a process of divine revelation to her worshippers. For this reason engineers and scholars often pay Cyriss their respects, but true fanatics and clerics are hard to find with the culture of Men and dwarves so dominated by their traditional religions. However, with the spread of science and mechanika across the land, Cyriss may soon begin to increase the size of her flock.
Many of the most devout followers of Cyriss believe that machines are holy, and those who build and tend them are society's superior caste. Some even believe that in mathematics there may be found some superior method for managing the world's affairs – a place for everyone, and everyone in their place, with some kind of divine calculating machine overseeing everything with cold precision. Cyriss' evil worshippers are taking steps to build such a machine, but luckily they are few in number and thought to be far from their goal.
The Devourer Wurm
Although often referred to as a legendary monster rather than a god, the Devourer is the ancient foe of Menoth, bane of humanity's creator. Also known as the Beast of Many Shapes, Lord of Predators, and the Unsleeping One, the Devourer is an ancient force of natural chaos which hates everything civilized. When Menoth was the dominant religion, the Devourer was considered the great foe, although its role as enemy of mankind has been reduced since the rise of the twins.
Despite its reputation the Devourer has always drawn worshipers among many races, particularly those living in the wilds or of chaotic alignment. Many human barbarians, gobbers, trollkin, and ogrun worship the Devourer, and claim this god is the most ancient power from the dawn of the world. Since the near extinction of the human barbarian tribes, there are no longer any large territories in the hands of Devourer worshipers. The largest pockets are found in the mountains of Khador, the Bloodstone Marches, and the Scharde Islands. Small cults to the Devourer can be found across the Iron Kingdoms, usually in remote locations or in secret tunnels beneath cities and towns. Human druids in the Iron Kingdoms believe their power derives from the Devourer, but do not actually worship this entity.
Great Fathers of the Dwarves
The dwarves do not have a single patron deity. Instead, they worship a group of divine forefathers, the thirteen paragons that spawned their race. These divine Great Fathers founded the original Thirteen Families millennia ago, and their blood is said to provide all dwarves with their legendary fortitude. The Great Fathers' most direct descendants are called the Stone Lords, and these powerful and respected individuals sit at the head of the dwarven Moot today as they have since the first days. Being strong with the Great Fathers' blood, the Stone Lords are unusually hardy and live a very long time, often surpassing two hundred winters.
Each Great Father is, practically speaking, a demigod, though dwarven folk only worship them as a lawful good unity. An individual Great Father is never singled out as a cleric's sole patron, for this is considered disrespectful and ignorant. The Fathers as a group gave life to dwarvenkind, and as a group they will always be worshipped. Nonetheless, each Father has his own personality, holidays, parables and sphere of influence, and it is common to say a prayer or a curse in a particular Father's name as the situation warrants it.
The following are the names and influences of the Great Fathers:
|Dhurg||First Father of Battle (Master of Axes)|
|Dohl||Father of Mining|
|Dovur||First Father of Smithing (Weapons)|
|Ghrd||Father of Wealth and Jewelcraft|
|Godor||Father of Law and Oration|
|Hrord||Second Father of Battle (Master of Blades)|
|Jhord||Father of Spying and Information|
|Lodhul||Father of Feasting and Virility|
|Odom||Father of Magic and Secrets|
|Orm||Father of Building and Stonework|
|Sigmur||Father of History and Records|
|Udo||Third Father of Battle (Master of Hammers)|
|Uldar||Second Father of Smithing (Armor)|
The Doomed Gods of the Elves
The elves, once the world's dominant race, builders of the first civilization, are now concealing a terrible secret. Deep within the elven homeland of Ios, six great jeweled cities lie in ruins and decay. Only two of their great original cities remain: Iryss and the ancient capital, Shyrr. Cloistered away under the capital, below their most holy Fane, rests the weary form of the goddess of Spring... and she is dying. Scyrah, who helped give birth to elvenkind, beloved and last of the elven patrons, has no more than a century to live. Elven holy men know this with certainty, and believe nothing can prevent this fate. All of their other gods, around whom they built their magnificent cities, have vanished and never returned.
The cause of the gods' disappearance millennia ago is mysterious, but the effects have been profound. The formerly proud and powerful race has withdrawn into itself. The lands of Ios, once legendary for their beauty, now are shadowed and dying. The elves have become a race of orphans, adrift in fear and self-doubt. Their numbers are dwindling, and when the last goddess Scyrah finally passes on, no more Elf-children will be born at all. It is twilight for the elves, and there is no relief in sight.
Scyrah's clerics have a gut-churning dilemma before them. Each time they channel their patron's power, they take a bit of her strength and hasten her demise – and the demise of their entire race. At the same time, it is their duty as holy men to help those in need, and they know that elven society must be strong and faithful if Scyrah is to have any chance of survival. They agonize over each spell cast, trying to evaluate where the greater good lies. The priesthood has become fragmented in the last two centuries into three distinct sects, a reflection of the desperation of the elven people. The traditional Fane of Scyrah attends to the goddess in her last days, and encourages the elves to stay isolated and secretive. The radical and militant Retribution of Scyrah believes the vanishing of the gods and Scyrah's illness are a result of an attack upon them and wish to strike back against perceived enemies. Most hopeful is the somewhat naive Seekers sect, who think all is not yet lost and a solution to their doom awaits them if they look hard enough for it, perhaps with help from the other races.
Following are the names of all eight elven gods. Only Scyrah knows what happened to the others, and she has refused to answer all questions on the topic. All are presumed dead or incapacitated, although the Nyss (winter elves) have kept the secret of the fate of the god of winter, Nyssor.
|Lacyr||Narcissar of Ages, former ruler of the gods|
|Ossyris||Incissar of Hours|
|Ayisla||Nis-Arsyr of Night|
|Nyrro||Arsyr of Day|
|Scyrah||Formerly Nis-Issyr of Spring, now Regent Narcissar|
|Lurynsar||Issyr of Summer|
|Lyliss||Nis-Scyir of Autumn|
|Nyssor||Scyir of Winter|
Most of our folk are content to cower in Shyrr, waiting for the end...the fools will stay there praying in vain until Scyrah is dead, and our race with her. Those of you who are not content to pass quietly into oblivion, come with me now and take action.
– Deyral of Iryss, Retribution of Scyrah
Dhunia, Great Mother of Caen
Considered a primitive religion by the "civilized" races of the Iron Kingdoms, Dhunia's worship is widespread among the more peaceful gobbers, trollkin and ogrun. According to these races, the world and all life are aspects of Dhunia, the great mother of the world. Their creation myth depicts Dhunia as their divine mother, and the Devourer as their divine father, and insist that Menoth did not make the world even if he was the creator of humanity. Further, worshipers of Dhunia do not expect to experience an afterlife when they die, but instead believe in reincarnation where their souls are recycled by Dhunia to be born again. Dhunia's faith is relatively passive and has no large agenda or plans, nor is there any form of central organization or structure. Each race has its own representation of the goddess, but the most common is a very abstract sculpture or figurine of a pregnant woman.
This religion has been tolerated by the Church of Morrow since it appears to have no designs on human worshipers, although those who believe in her are treated with condescension. The followers of Menoth are not so tolerant, and consider Dhunia simply another face of the Devourer Wurm.
The last of the so-called deities of the land is the most controversial, the great dragon king of Cryx, Lord Toruk. Most religions and citizens of the Iron Kingdoms do not consider Lord Toruk a god, and indeed would consider it blasphemy to refer to him as such. Nonetheless Lord Toruk has forced all of the citizens of his realm to acknowledge him as their ruling deity, and to bow down before his chosen priesthood. Further, there are rumors Lord Toruk has encouraged small cults to his worship on the mainland, serving as informants on the goings-on of the other kingdoms. Lord Toruk has ruthlessly suppressed all other religions on the Scharde Islands, which were formerly dominated by the worship of the Devourer Wurm. Worship of a god other than Lord Toruk is punishable by immediate torture and death. Nonetheless some few worshipers of the Devourer and also Thamar have survived within his territory.
Making it difficult to entirely discount these claims are reports that Lord Toruk's clerics do have granted domains, spells, and other clerical powers. His priesthood is nontraditional in several ways, most significant being they must periodically visit Lord Toruk personally and maybe even drink his blood. They are also very few in number and hand picked by the dragon himself.