Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist

Public (OOC) => Roleplay and Gameplay Resources => Religions and Faiths => Topic started by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:44:01 AM

Title: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:44:01 AM
The Rajian Pantheon

Overview (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60488.msg707086#msg707086)
The Beliefs of the Rajian (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60488.msg707087#msg707087)
Major Centers of worship (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60488.msg707088#msg707088)
The Rajian Gods (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60488.msg707089#msg707089)
Sources (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60488.msg707090#msg707090)
Title: Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:44:20 AM

The denizens of Sri Raji worship an extensive pantheon of gods that are so complexly intertwined that outsiders often have difficulty grasping the basic concepts of their religion. The core of Rajian belief is the concept of reincarnation; Rajians believe that the world is actually a kind of mortal hell. Souls are doomed to live, die, and be reborn as new creatures in an endless cycle of suffering. Only through perfect spiritual understanding and enlightenment can souls escape to an eternal paradise.

Two gods in the Rajian pantheon are particularly noteworthy. The Dark Sisters are cultists of the goddess Kali. Each day, they collect a human sacrifice, hauling the unfortunate to the leader of their cult, Arijani. Also known as the Black Mother, Kali is a goddess of both destruction and creation. She is a bloodthirsty entity who delights in murder, but she also creates new life from death.

The City and University of Tvashtri are both dedicated to their namesake patron. Tvashtri is an enlightened god of industry and invention. Under the teachings of Tvashtri, the university has become one of the greatest if also most remote centers of learning in the Land of Mists.

In the year 740, the Grand Conjunction nearly destroyed the Realm of Dread. Just a few days after the tremors ended, new lands appeared at the borders of Sri Raji, forming the Verdurous Lands. In Sri Raji, the Grand Conjunction is thus known as the Rebirth of Kali; it is commonly believed that Kali utterly destroyed the old world, then created a new one.
Title: Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:44:51 AM
The Beliefs of the Rajian

Most traditions in Sri Raji are rooted in a complex, cyclical view of the cosmos. The Rajian gods are countless and interrelated, with one deity often regarded as a manifestation of another. The gods require continuous prayer and sacrifice, which the Rajians gladly give. Ritual hymns, chants, and dances are also vital, while sects with more philosophical bents have given rise to a strong monastic tradition. A central tenet of Rajian culture is reincarnation, a constant cycle of rebirth that comprises all living creatures. This concept is entwined with the domain's rigid caste system, such that fulfilling one's dharma, or proper role, in this life ensures that one is born into a higher caste in the next.

The caste system is a critical pillar of Rajian culture, serving as a strong organizing principle and a bulwark against unrest. Although there are numerous castes, they are divisible into four primary groups: brahmin (priests), kshatriya (nobles and soldiers), vaishya (merchants and craftsmen), and shudra (farmers). Rajians are born into a caste and remain in it throughout their lives. Those of lower castes are expected to obey and respect their betters, but there is no expectation for highborn individuals to treat the lower castes fairly or even humanely.

Unlike the people of other lands who often fear death, the Sri Rajian populace see it as simply another part of life. They are adamant in their belief that life is constantly being renewed. Someone who lives a good life will be reborn to a better one. Someone who is less true and faithful will be reborn in a lesser position. The only way to escape this endless cycle of reincarnation is to achieve a complete understanding of the universe and a unity with the gods themselves. On so doing, the cycle is broken, and the death of the body releases the spirit to join the enlightenment of Nirvana.

The Caste System
The people of Sri Raji are grouped into social classes known as castes. There is no progression from one caste to another, since the position that a person holds is based on birth and is assumed to be an aspect of his past lives. Individuals who disgrace themselves or earn great honor will be punished or rewarded in their next life. While this might be hard for outsiders to understand, the people of Sri Raji accept it as a given. Many factors about a person's birth affect his placement in this hierarchy, including wealth, religious piety, and locale, there are countless castes, and odds are that no outsider will ever be able to fully decipher the complex process by which a person's place in society is established. Everyone in Sri Raji will judge outsiders as if they had been born into the caste system. Thus it is important to know where a player character falls in their eyes.

In Sri Raji, monks, called fakirs in the Rajian tongue, test their inner strength by dealing sometimes-grotesque physical punishments on themselves, such as piercing their flesh with iron skewers and hooks.

Bed of Meditation
In the Verdurous Lands, swamis (religious teachers), and fakirs (monks) use a bed of nails to hone their mental abilities. Apparently, by attempting to transcend the discomfort of sitting or lying on the bed of nails, users undergo a mystical realignment of their chakras: points through which the body's life energy flows. This realignment brings about an increase in the user's mental prowess and sagacity. Tales in Sri Raji speak of venerable gurus who attained transcendent enlightenment through the use of the bed of meditation and escaped the physical world.
Title: Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:45:56 AM
Major Centers of worship

Rajian cities are riddled with pagodas and shrines to their numerous gods. The following are the most significant ones.

Near the center of the city of Pakat is a temple dedicated to the Sri Rajian goddess Ratri. While this was once a splendid place, the pressures of keeping the city's people alive have caused the city to shunt resources away from the temple upkeep. Thus the building has fallen into disrepair. A small staff of priests, led by a high priestess, still live in the temple and do their best to maintain it, but they seem to have little success.

At the center of the city, surrounded by fountains and flower gardens, is a great Temple, rising high into the sky, dedicated to the god Tvashtri, the Sri Rajian god of science and technology. The buildings around the temple comprise a great university for nothing is more valued in Tvashtri than knowledge and intelligence. Here, under the stewardship of priests dedicated to the worship of the god Tvashtri, an endless quest for knowledge and understanding continues around the clock. Students wander back and forth, engaged in debates of mechanical, philosophical, and magical natures. Because of the mandate that this university operates under, many researches are conducted here that would ordinarily be rejected at schools in the core. The fountains dance and splash with an almost musical rhythm.

The cultural center of the city is on the waterfront where a large temple has been built to the goddess Rudra. The people feel that they owe the goddess a great debt of thanks. They are constantly assured by the priests of Rudra that the jungles around the city and the depths of the lake are filled with monsters. If not for the mercy of Rudra, they profess, the city would be overwhelmed by nameless horrors.

The accursed city of Bahru is shun by the Rajian in general. It is however of significant importance as the maharaja Arijani, high priest of Kali and ruler of Sri Raji, lives in a magnificent temple-palace known as Mahakala with a staff of priestesses. It it known to all that this temple is primarily devoted to the worship of Kali, the Black Mother, and that it is a place of evil.
Title: Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:47:18 AM
The Rajian Gods

Deity [gender]  DomainsAlignment  Favored WeaponSymbol
Kali [f]Destruction, Evil, Healing, Trickery  CESapSkulls strung together on a leather necklace
Tvashtri [m]Chaos, Knowledge, Magic, PlantCGKatarA pinwheel fan

Note that all other gods of the Indian pantheon (https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=18979.msg221162#msg221162) are also considered part of the Rajian pantheon, though these gods play a lesser role in Rajian life. A native Ravenloft character selecting Kali or Tvashtri as its patron deity is required to use the Rajian variant of the deity in regards to possible alignment and clerical domains.

Kali, the Black Mother, is goddess of both destruction and creation. She revels in the destruction she causes, yet creates life from death. She is the central deity in the domain of Sri-Raji. The Maharaja of the land, Arijani, being himself the high priest of Kali rules from his palace, Mahakala, in the Accursed City of Bahru. His clerics and spies are said to be everywhere. The Rajian have accepted the power of that deity over their daily lives and hold her in great awe.

The most notable practice being that each day a single Rajian is chosen as a sacrifice to Kali; the person chosen leaves his or her home at dawn, riding in a grand howdah on the back of a mighty albino elephant. The pachyderm and its passenger reach the temple roughly at noon, no matter which city it departs from. Throughout the afternoon the visitor is pampered and cared for by the priestesses of the temple, who do everything they can to make the chosen happy. As the evening clouds roll in, the chosen one is brought to the pagoda of Kali. On those rare days when an evening downpour does not occur, the chosen is deemed to have some importance to Kali and is released. The chosen return to the streets of their home city and have no memory of what happened to them in the temple. They are believed by the general populace to have received special instruction from Kali and are treated with the utmost reverence thereafter. Rajian people believe those who go to the temple and do not return have been taken by Kali and passed on to the next life.

Clerics of Kali are invariably women and are often referred to as the dark sisters. They often dress in flowing black robes with silver skull clasps running down the front. Their faces are painted black and white, giving the distinct impression that one is facing some manner of grinning undead. They may also carry a long chain that ends in a cast-iron skull that they occasionally whirl above their heads. With each revolution, the oddly manufactured objects give off a mournful wailing sound that chills the marrow in one's bones.

Tvashtri, the god of industry and invention, has both a city and a university named after him. His namesake university may be the greatest centre of learning in the Land of Mists, and also the most remote. Its importance granted the worship of this deity a prominent place among the Rajian.

The other gods
Though the priesthoods of Kali and Tvashtri hold more influence than that of any other gods, the Rajian still pray to an incredibly large amount gods governing all aspects of life. Shrines and pagodas to these gods may be encountered all around the Rajian cities. Their priests are held in great esteem by virtue of being part of the brahmin caste.

The following deities have a significant following within the domain: Brahman, the world spirit that enfolds all of existence and the divine essence that is hidden in all beings. He does not usually have priests, being usually worshipped through one of his manifestations as another god; Indra, a god of the atmosphere, storms, rain and battles; Puchan, a god of guidance in all things; Ratri, a goddess of the night & of thieves; Rudra, a god of storm and of the dead; Savitri, a god of life, light, and healing; Siva (also known as Shiva), a god of destruction and anarchy; Varuna, guardian of the cosmic order and protector of oaths; Vayu, god of the winds; Yama, the lord and judge of the dead.
Title: Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
Post by: MAB77 on October 01, 2021, 08:53:38 AM
Sources: AD&D 2e. Web of Illusions, AD&D 2e Realm of Terror, 3e Ravenloft Player's Handbook, Van Richten's Arsenal