Author Topic: The Ancestral Choir - Roleplay Resources  (Read 140 times)

MAB77

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The Ancestral Choir - Roleplay Resources
« on: September 23, 2021, 07:38:15 PM »
The Ancestral Choir

Overview

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume I, p.98
Symbol: A flute; clerics “present” their symbols by playing them.
Alignment: TN
Portfolio: Wisdom, foresight, protection, truth, beauty
Domains: Knowledge, Luck, the Mora
Favored Weapon: Battleaxe

Clerics of the Ancestral Choir, called choirmasters, pray for their spells at sunrise and wear vestments of red and gold. They are expected to have clear, pleasant singing voices, necessary to teach the mora to the children’s choir.

A tiny congregation meets each morning in Harmonia’s Temple of Divine Song for brief services, lifting their voices in praise, singing different mora every day to demonstrate their admiration for the wisdom of their forefathers. The faithful are expected to attend services at least once a week.

Description

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume I, p.98 & 99
The tiny cult of the Ancestral Choir is a local phenomenon currently enjoying a minor revival in Harmonia. Unlike most Kartakans, cult members believe in the Ancestral Choir as a tangible entity: the Kartakans’ revered ancestors not only watch over their living descendants, but can intervene on their behalf as well. The faithful believe that offering proper veneration to these ancestors can earn them divine favor in life and guarantees they will reach the eternal haven of the Ancestral Choir after death. Beyond this tenet, the cult’s beliefs closely mirror that of mainstream Kartakans, who generally view the cult with a smirk. The cult seems to appeal most strongly to Harmonia’s most desperate and disaffected citizens. In fact, many current cult members are orphans who were taken in by the temple as children after their orphanage nearly burned down.

Kartakan afterlife beliefs do not feature any concept of a hell. Instead, they speak of two rival “heavens” — one for humankind and one for animals of nature:

For humans, “heaven” means that one’s spirit joins the Ancestral Choir and adds one’s voice to its eternal music. There is no true judgment involved here, no realm of punishment for the wicked, and all human souls are free to join the Choir. Those who have led morally unacceptable lives are simply fated to have their music forever ignored, drowned out by more worthy songs. Of course, to the prideful Kartakans, to be eternally ignored is considered a form of oblivion and might as well be hell in their minds. In Kartakass, to say that someone has “joined the choir” is a pleasant euphemism for death analogous to the common “passed away.”

The second Kartakan afterlife is usually called den Merk Skov, “the Dark Forest.” This is heaven for the beasts of the wilds, where the only music is the chirping of crickets, croaking of toads, and the howling of wolves. All animal spirits come here after death to spend the rest of eternity doing whatever beasts enjoy. Unfortunately, so Kartakans assert, what wolves enjoy most is preying upon humans. Human souls are supposedly safe once they reach the Ancestral Choir, but the wolves of heaven are said to hunt the souls of the recently departed. If these engelulve — or “angel wolves” — catch a human soul, they drag it back to the Dark Forest, where the hapless spirit is stalked forever.

People who die alone are thought to be at dire risk of being found by the angel wolves. The same is true of those who do not believe in the Ancestral Choir and those who are driven to suicide by despair, for neither is likely to seek out the Choir before the wolves find them. The surest sign that a soul has been lost, however, is if wild animals feed on the corpse — wolves in particular. Kartakans have developed a handful of funereal traditions to prevent this dreadful occurrence. Kartakans bury their dead in deep graves, and instead of using headstones, they confound scavengers by covering the grave with a stone slab or occasionally a latticework of cold iron bars.

Kartakan families who cannot afford such costly measures often resort to a lengthy, esoteric ritual. Mourners gather in the deceased’s home, where the body lies on display. The mourners take turns singing odes to the dead man, lauding his life and the quality of his soul. After an hour or so of these dirges, the funereal party splits into two groups. Half fall silent, standing watch over the corpse as its physical guardians. The rest of the mourners venture out into the woods, tugging a young goat along with them. Walking a fair distance into the wilds, they tie the helpless creature to a tree and abandon it, all the time continuing to sing odes to the deceased. Although the songs have not changed, the mourners’ gestures make it clear that their high praise is now directed at the sacrificial animal, singing for the benefit of unseen wolves assumed to be listening to their every word.

After spending the night in silent vigil over the deceased, if the corpse is intact and a quick check reveals that nothing remains of the goat save a frayed rope and the coppery smell of blood, the relieved mourners bury the dead man with no further ado. As it was explained to me, the angel wolves were fooled into taking the goat’s spirit, thus buying the soul of the deceased enough time to reach the Ancestral Choir. Had the corpse been ravaged before the goat was taken, the soul would surely be doomed.

Lastly, the undead hold a particular role in Kartakan folklore as rather pitiful spirits who have either refused to join the Ancestral Choir or been expelled for unfathomable reasons. Forever hunted by the engelulve, these wretched creatures steal mortal lives to throw the angel wolves off their scent. Because the undead have no place in the Ancestral Choir, most Kartakans have developed the belief (without merit, unfortunately) that the undead cannot sing.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2021, 07:03:19 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
1 Castle Road, Castle Ravenloft, Village of Barovia.