Author Topic: The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay Resources  (Read 4093 times)

Vokan

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The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay Resources
« on: April 24, 2009, 12:14:50 AM »
The Cult of Zarus

Greater God
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Domains: Destiny, Evil, Law, Strength, War
Portfolio: Humanity, domination, perfection
Favored Weapon: Greatsword

History and General Information
Quote from: Races of Destiny

Zarus (ZAR-oos)

Long ago, according to legend, Zarus was the first man, created by the world itself. No deity had a hand in his creation, because no deity could have conceived such a perfect creature. Members of the other races trembled to see him, for they knew that he was their superior in every way. His grace surpassed that of the elves, his sturdiness astounded the dwarves, his crafts were the awe of gnomes and halflings everywhere.

As long as Zarus was alone, the other races allowed him to live, secure in the knowledge that he could not reproduce. But Zarus was not content. He spoke with the world and begged for a mate -- and it created his wife, Astra. She was as perfect a woman as Zarus was a man, and the other races trembled yet again, fearing that this perfect couple would spawn a new race that would overshadow them all. To prevent this, the leaders of each race gathered in secret and plotted Zarus's demise. They brewed a poison and mixed it in fine wine, which they gave to him as a wedding present.

Zarus knew that the others plotted his death, but he could not honorably refuse the gift. He toasted their health, and drank. The poison worked swiftly, but as Zarus felt his life departing the world took pity upon him and elevated him to godhood. Now Zarus looked down upon the world, and he wiped away the tears of his wife Astra. "Do not weep for me, beloved," he consoled her, "for I am now a god, and set to watch over our people. You will bear me children -- they already lie in your womb -- and these will be the start of our race. All the other races will quake in fear, knowing that they cannot match us."

This is the story told in the Book of Zarus, the holy scripture of his church. Zarus is called "the true human god" and is considered the only god who places humans before all others. He cares nothing for the other races, only for humanity, and encourages his followers to prove themselves better than any nonhuman. Unfortunately, he also fosters the belief that humans deserve to rule the world, treating other races as servants. His priests teach that other races are inferior, in need of human guidance -- and human masters.

The clerics of Zarus encourage conquest and slavery. The worst sin a human can commit, according to the Church of Zarus, is to mate with a nonhuman and produce a child. This child is a taint on the race and must be removed.

Zarus appears as an incredibly handsome human male in his prime, suffused with a golden glow. Zarus encourages his followers and priests to become as perfect as possible, and to dominate other races.

Organization, Prayer, and Divine Appearance
Quote from: Races of destiny excerpt

Cleric Training:
Zarus's priests look for attractive, healthy youths who show pride in their abilities and arrogance toward anyone weaker. They recruit these people by offering to make them the best they can be. These acolytes are subjected to strict training, honing their physiques, and at the same time they are taught that humanity is the superior race and deserves to rule the world. These young clerics learn both how to give rousing speeches and how to wage war. They begin preaching in villages and towns, spreading their message.

Quests:
Zarus sends his followers to destroy enclaves of other races, kill their heroes and leaders, and steal their artifacts. He encourages human armies to conquer nonhuman lands and subjugate their people.

Prayers:
Zarus prefers action to words, and his followers pray to him by exercising and by taking part in athletic competitions where they can demonstrate their superiority. Every morning they perform their exercises, vowing to be the best they can be and to demonstrate to other races that humans are superior in every way.

Temples:
Zarus's temples are handsome structures, not elaborate but extremely well made and with tasteful decorations. The walls are covered with tapestries depicting mankind's talents: scenes of hunting, farming, weaving, and other occupations. The altar is always a gold statue of a perfect human male, a representation of Zarus himself.

Rites:
Zarus's worshipers pray to him before a physical competition, before a war, and before entering the territory of another race. Ceremonies are short and direct, and require physical exertion.

Herald and Allies:
Zarus has no herald -- he claims he needs none. He sends Medium, Large, and Huge elementals in response to planar ally spells.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 12:42:11 AM by Vokan »

Vokan

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Re: The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay resources
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 12:16:37 AM »
Notes on the cult

Quote from: Canonfire!
The Greater God of Humanity, Zarus, is introduced in the Races of Destiny sourcebook from Wizards of the Coast. Zarus is the first deity in the history of D&D to be accorded this status, akin to Corellon Larethian’s relationship to elves, Moradin’s relationship to dwarves, Gruumsh’s relationship to orcs, Garl Glittergold’s relationship to gnomes and Yondalla’s relationship to halflings. Zarus is the racial deity of humans.

As with all material published for the 3rd Edition of D&D that is not specifically called out as belonging exclusively to a particular setting, Zarus is subject to and part of the “core” or “default” setting - the World of Greyhawk. Races of Destiny reinforces this connection by making extended use of the Greyhawk setting throughout the book. Of course, individual Greyhawk campaigns may reject Zarus as any other element of the game.

From a Greyhawk “canon” standpoint, Zarus is as much “canon” as any number of other 3rd Edition innovations that use the “core” or “default” setting. Saying this, however, raises more questions than it answers with respect to the Greyhawk “canon” status of these other 3rd Edition innovations. That there is some “canon” relationship seems certain but the quality and precise nature of that relationship is open to much question that is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to repeat, individual Greyhawk campaigns may reject Zarus as any other element of the game, 3rd Edition innovation or otherwise.

The foregoing is perhaps more significant than would otherwise be the case because Zarus aligns Lawful Evil. His faith is one that advocates human superiority over non-humans. While quick resort might be had to the term “racist,” because that term is used loosely in D&D, it is more accurate to say that Zarus is “species-ist.” The Scarlet Brotherhood is racist. Unlike the Brotherhood, Zarus’ faith makes no distinction between one human race and another. Still, this type of human chauvinism is unprecedented in other “racial” deities - elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings and even orcs.

While Zarus might be dismissed as a lost cause on account of his human chauvinism and alignment, such dismissal would both ignore “canon” in its 3rd Edition sense and would ignore Zarus’ potential as a highly unusual sort of deity, not heretofore seen among the ranks of Greyhawk’s divine powers.

What follows is The Book of Zarus, verbatim in a game context. It draws on the material presented in Races of Destiny and expands upon that material in a consistent way. Zarus is Lawful Evil, but his evil is a relative thing - relative to his human chauvinism. As will be seen, there is a solid foundation for such chauvinism that is well established. Zarus is not as aberrational as might first be imagined. This does not, however, excuse or temporize his evil nature. Prejudice of any variety is ugly. When that prejudiced is acted upon it is not merely ugly but evil. Zarus is evil. He is, however, very purposeful in his evil. The nature of his evil is extremism in the pursuit of what otherwise might be a laudable goal - the protection and advancement of humanity. Certainly, extremism is not an unknown human characteristic. Zarus would then not be aberrational in this respect either.

Note on the Interpretation of Zarist Texts
The Scrolls of Genesis, Apotheosis, Transcendence and Commandments are orthodoxy to all Zarists. The Scroll of Corollaries is open to potentially conflicting interpretation. A fundamentalist reading of Corollaries gives them the worst possible meaning for non-humans. A more direct reading allows non-humans to be treated somewhat better, although they will always be treated as inferiors. This aspect of Corollaries is intentional to allow for doctrinal debate, schism, sectarianism and variety among Zarists. The key to understanding that even the most enlightened reading of Corollaries is chimeric is the use of the phrase “the laws of Zarus.” Liberal interpretations of Corollaries are possible but are ultimately circular. Non-humans are never going to be treated as anything approaching equals. At best, they will always be second class citizens, without any substantial rights of any true meaning.

Vokan

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Re: The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay resources
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2009, 12:17:28 AM »
The Book of Zarus

Quote from: Gvdammerumg, author of Races of Destiny
Book I: Genesis


Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, there was the World and from the World came all things. The last and most perfect creation of the World was Man. His name was Zarus and he was the first of the races of Mankind. Zarus came into the World without the hand of any being, mortal or immortal, being raised. He was created from and by the World alone.

Genesis 1:2 When the older races saw Zarus, they trembled. His grace surpassed that of the elves of Corellon Larethian. His endurance surpassed that of the dwarves of Moradin. His skills and craft surpassed that of Garl Glittergold’s gnomes and Yondalla’s halflings. His strength surpassed that of the orcs of Gruumsh. Zarus was perfect in every way. All trembled lest Zarus breed a race of his like, superior to all others, but Zarus was alone.

Genesis 1:3 In his loneliness, Zarus called out to the World from which he had sprung for a companion. The World answered. Astra was created by the World, just as Zarus had been created. She was perfect and Zarus’ mate. Now, the other races grew fearful and prayed that Mankind be destroyed. Corellon heard the prayers of the elves that Mankind be destroyed. Moradin heard the prayers of the dwarves that Mankind be destroyed. Garl Glittergold and Yondalla heard the prayers of gnome and halfling that Mankind be destroyed. Gruumsh heard the prayers of orcs that Mankind be destroyed.

Genesis 1:4 In secret, the older races plotted to poison Zarus. In a gift of wine at his wedding to Astra, the older races offered a toast to Zarus’ health with poisoned wine. Zarus knew of the jealousy of the older races but honor prevented him from refusing the treacherously offered cup. Zarus drank, and died, but the World would not allow such injustice and raised Zarus as a god as great as the chief most gods of the older races and greater still as would be revealed in time.

Genesis 1:5 Now a god, Zarus wiped Astra’s tears and together they sired the races of Mankind.

Book II: Apotheosis


Apotheosis 2:1 Astra bore Zarus many children. In their perfection, they spread over the face of Oerth, adapting to the different lands in which they settled. Some of Zarus’ children had dark skin. Others had tan or olive skin. Still others were pale. All were the children of Zarus and formed the races of Mankind. In their seemingly infinite diversity, all honored Zarus and proved the most perfect of the creatures of Oerth, superior to all the other non-human races.

Apotheosis 2:2 In the First Epoch (Ordus Dominus Dominum or OD&D), no race could fully equal the achievements of Mankind. While an elf might grow great in the fighting arts and as well in wizardry, a human could surpass an elf in either or both. And so it was in every way; other races would prove themselves able but Man was always superior.

Apotheosis 2:3 In the First Age of the Second Epoch (Annus Dominus Dominum or AD&D), Man grew mightier still. No matter how a creature of another race might show a diversity of talents, Man would prove greater in any one or more. The best any of the lesser races could do is perhaps equal man in a single area, but Man would always prove the superior overall.

Apotheosis 2:4 In the Second Age of the Second Epoch (Annus Dominus Dominum Secundus or AD&D2E), much the same was true. While there was much ferment among the older races and attempts to better their state compared to the exalted state of Mankind, these efforts ultimately failed. Humanity remained dominant and no non-human race could equal the achievements of Man. At the end of the Second Age, a great cry went up from the non-human races and their gods again heard their pleas.

Apotheosis 2:5 In the Third Epoch ( Tertium Dominus Dominum or 3D&D), the older races were raised up to challenge Man. Now dwarves were gifted with the potential for sorcerous might. Elves might be great warriors. Even lowly gnomes, halflings and half-orcs could think to challenge Mankind’s claim to domination. Yet, the blood of Zarus flowed strongly in Man. His feats were greater. His skills were unsurpassed. Humanity was favored in all ways, while the favors newly bestowed upon the older races were more limited. The world still belonged most fully to the human race as it always had belonged to that most perfect of races - the Children of Zarus.

Book III: Transcendence

Transcendence 3:1 Zarus guided each of the races of Man as best he could, but even Zarus, greatest of the gods, grew tired. The other non-human races and their gods never stopped trying to destroy Zarus and his children. In comely guises, they sought to seduce human men and women. Abominable admixtures of humans and the more fecund of the non-human races began to be commonly seen. Humanity had turned from Zarus and he turned his back upon them. Mankind knew not of Zarus.

Transcendence 3:2 Zarus’ wife, however, took pity on humanity. Earlier elevated to godhood by the World, much as her husband, Astra determined to raise up among Mankind other gods, that Mankind might have succor until Zarus would again turn his face toward humanity. So it was that Astra gave something of her power to other beings that they might become divine. Astra was diminished but new gods arose among humanity.

Transcendence 3:3 In the Third Epoch, Zarus revealed himself anew to his people. Many did not recognize him. Many denied him. It was in the manner of things, however, that Zarus was unquestionably of Oerth. That his connection with the World was of a different sort than any seen before was attributable to the transcendent nature of Zarus’ divinity. Zarus was revealed as a god of Oerth, but also the Father of Man throughout the multiverse. His status as the only greater god of Humanity is without question and settles all arguments. It is proof of Zarus’ love for his children that he grants them free will to question, even Himself.

Transcendence 3:4 Zarus’ relationship with the other gods of humanity is complicated. Zarus holds a pride of place superior to any other human god or goddess. He is the archetype. He is the realized embodiment of all that is human made divine. Zarus does not, however, ask that Mankind renounce their other deities. He cannot, for these divinities have proven themselves worthy of His Children’s worship. Yet, Zarus cannot be denied. He is Humanity. In His wisdom, Zarus reveals himself to His Children slowly, without force and without demand. All shall come again to revere Zarus, for only Zarus well cares for Humanity for itself and nothing more. Zarus is the Father of Man.

Book IV: Commandments

Commandments 4:1 That Mankind shall know its place in the World and shall know how best to fulfill its destiny, Zarus has made known Commandments to be followed by all humanity alike. Those of the races of Man who reject the Commandments, thereby reject their humanity and become as any non-human race - inferior and subject to the will of Man. It the command of Zarus that all who reject their humanity be shown no mercy, even below that of the non-human, who may earn grace by serving Mankind as their natural superiors in all things.

Commandments 4:2 Thou Shalt Live. Man must survive, endure and prosper.

Commandments 4:3 Thou Shalt Conquer. Man must expand his dominion over all things.

Commandments 4:4 Thou Shalt Rule. Man must rule over all creatures and may take his ease and service from those ruled.

Commandments 4:5 Thou Shalt Be Fruitful and Multiply. Man must increase in numbers to fulfill his destiny.

Commandments 4:6 Thou Shalt Have No Others Gods Before Me. Man may worship as he pleases but must not forsake the fundamental laws of Zarus.

Commandments 4:7 Thou Shalt Honor Thy Fellows. Man must respect man, even as he strives against him in competition to prove his superior humanity.

Commandments 4:8 Thou Shalt Honor Thy Self. Man must rule and improve himself to be prepared and fit to rule others.

Commandments 4:9 Thou Shalt Make No Pacts That Bind Thee to Other Than the Human. Man shall not serve but may only be served.

Commandments 4:10 Thou Shalt Cull The Weak. Man must strengthen the race and must not suffer weakness or infirmity.

Commandments 4:11 Thou Shalt Suffer Not the Fool. Man must strengthen his mind that none may gainsay his just judgments and rule.

Book V: Corollaries

Corollaries 5:1 From the teachings of Zarus flow certain, inevitable consequences of natural law. These Corollaries reveal the further word of the Father of Humanity. Hold true to these principles for they are second only to the Commandments of Zarus.

Corollaries 5:2 There shall be comity among the races of Man. All humanity is equal before Zarus. No man may hold himself superior over his fellow man if both obey the laws of Zarus. Racism is a sin against Zarus. The human race must stand united to rule the non-human species.

Corollaries 5:3 There shall be comity between men and woman. Men and women are equal before Zarus. No man may hold himself superior over any woman, nor woman hold herself superior over any man, if both obey the laws of Zarus. Sexism is a sin against Zarus. The human race, men and women, must stand united to rule the non-human species.

Corollaries 5:4 No man or woman shall mate with a non-human and produce offspring. The mixing of the human and the non-human in a being is an abomination in the eyes of Zarus. The offspring of man must be human, and human alone, to fulfill Mankind’s destiny. The half-human is not human and must be culled.

Corollaries 5:5 Mankind bears the heaviest burden for only Man is fit to rule creation. It is Man’s destiny to rule and guide the non-human races. Those of the non-human races who accept the law of Zarus should be treated within the law of Zarus. Those of the non-human races who resist the law of Zarus must be culled unto the last generation.

Corollaries 5:6 No human or non-human, either of whom accepts the laws of Zarus, may be enslaved. Slavery of the followers of the laws of Zarus is a sin against Zarus. Service may be taken of the followers of the laws of Zarus but they must not be enslaved. Only the weak among Men and those who reject the laws of Zarus, human and non-human, may be rightfully enslaved to benefit and serve the will of the Children of Zarus.

Corollaries 5:7 No one shall use poison. Zarus was poisoned by the followers of the non-humans and their gods. Zarus and his Children are superior and need not resort to the use of poison. The use of poison is a sin against Zarus. Poisoners must be culled.

Corollaries 5:6 Zarus was created by the World and by the World alone. Astra, the Mother of Humanity, was created by the World and the World alone. The Children of Zarus must honor and respect the World. Those among Mankind called druids must be respected and honored. They may not be enslaved nor culled. Those among Mankind called witches, who obey the Eighth Commandment of Zarus and make no pacts that bind them to inhuman masters but who honor the World, must be respected and honored. They may not be enslaved or culled.

Corollaries 5:7 Man shall not be ruled by clerics or priests. The priests and clerics of Zarus and all other human gods are advisors to Man and must not seek to rule Man under a mask of assumed divinity. No Man shall suffer to be ruled by clerics or priests. Such is a sin against Zarus and all shall be culled. Man is free to choose to accept his destiny and the laws of Zarus or to reject Zarus and be culled. No priest or cleric may interpose themselves between Man and this choice. Man owes his highest allegiance to himself and himself alone. It is the will of Zarus.

Corollaries 5:8 To rule, Man must be wise in all things. Man is the glory of Zarus and a temple to Zarus, superior to all other beings. Man shall raise up to himself and to Zarus every art, every craft, every science and knowledge. It is Mankind’s duty to promote civilization, to banish ignorance, to acquire knowledge and to advance the human race to be worthy of Zarus and the humanity that is Man’s birthright. Man shall glean knowledge even from the non-humans that he may know their ways and have knowledge of all. To be called ignorant shall be the greatest of shames in the eyes of Zarus, second only to being called weak.

Corollaries 5:9 As Zarus is the Father of Humanity, God the Creator of Humanity, Astra is the Mother of Humanity, Goddess and Giver of Life to Mankind. All shall honor and respect Astra as Zarus. In Astra’s name may the wayward atone for sins against Zarus and seek new life in his divine favor.

Vokan

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Re: The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay resources
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2009, 12:20:13 AM »
Further notes and campaign concepts

Quote from: Gvdammerung, on Zarus worship
In campaigns, Zarus is the chief deity of the Tharquish Empire of extreme Western Oerik. This placement is in line with my take on 3rd Edition “core” or “default” Greyhawk “canon.” I place most of the features not immediately identifiable as belonging to or in the Flanaess in the extreme western portions of Oerik. This acknowledges the “canon” but avoids trying to fit what is too often otherwise a square peg in a round hole.

The Tarquis Dominions also revere Zarus but not with the single mindedness of the Tharquish Empire. The Empire is not a theocracy, but it is nearly monotheistic. The Dominions are more pluralistic but all of the basic tenants Zarus are observed. In other areas of Western Oerth - Barbarian Seameast and the Empire of Lynnortis - Zarus is just one deity among many, which can raise of host of interesting possibilities.

In the Flanaess proper, the worship of Zarus is practically unknown. Zarist travelers, let alone priests and clerics, are extremely rare. In the southern most regions of Hepmonaland and the Pearl Sea, however, Zarists are simply rarely encountered. Wherever Zarists go, they generally make a good first impression on human populations, even those living in close proximity with non-humans. Zarists are not stupid. Issues develop later.

The most extreme conflict with Zarists takes place in Hepmonaland. The Scarlet Brotherhood’s racism is intolerable to the faith of Zarus and the two groups clash almost immediately upon first contact. The Zarists also oppose the Yuan-ti dominated states with equal fervor. Back in the Tharquish Empire, reports of Hepmonaland portray that land as one in extreme need of enlightenment and liberation. Humans sin by oppressing humans, particularly in the face of the clear Yuan-ti threat, a sin of its own. Talk of aiding the Touv has not yet gone beyond that. The future, however, is uncertain.

Antonus Taran

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Re: The Cult of Zarus - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2010, 08:36:37 PM »
Can a mod delete the previous post? The litanies are out of date, the full Roleplay Resources is on our website,

http://orderofzarus.hyperboards.com/index.php?action=view_board&board_id=7&start=1   <---there.

Can a mod delete the previous post? The litanies are out of date, the full Roleplay Resources is on our website,

DONE
« Last Edit: March 13, 2010, 09:25:30 PM by Emomina »
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Antonus Taran - Zarusian War Chaplain

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