Author Topic: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources  (Read 1370 times)

MAB77

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« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 08:54:46 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2021, 08:44:20 AM »
Overview

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.

The many gods of this pantheon are all thought to be aspects of Brahman, the World Spirit enfolding all of existence. Two gods in the Rajian pantheon are particularly noteworthy, Kali and Tvashtri. 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.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2024, 09:50:38 AM by MAB77 »
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The Beliefs of the Rajian
« Reply #2 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.

Reincarnation
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.
  • Brahmin Caste: This group mainly consists of priests, but also sometimes great heroes. Most people in Sri Raji have never met someone from such an honorable caste. These people are clearly favored by the gods.
  • Kshatriya Caste: This is the traditional caste of the nobles and heroes of Sri Raji. As a rule, there are only a handful of people in any city that fall into this class.
  • Vaishya Caste: The common folk, merchants, craftsmen, and so forth, fall into this class.
  • Shudra Caste:These poor folk are the absolute bottom of the social ladder in Sri Raji. They include farmers and others upon whom society depends but who are in the eyes of their betters, easily replaced.
Fakirs
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.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2024, 12:43:59 PM by EO »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #3 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.

Pakat
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.

Tvashtri
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.

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

Bahru
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.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 08:00:30 AM by MAB77 »
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The Rajian Gods
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2021, 08:47:18 AM »
The Rajian Gods

Deity [gender]   DomainsAlignment   Favored Weapon   SymbolPortfolio
Agni [m]Fire, Healing, Protection, SunCGBattleaxeFlamesFire, Lightning
Brihaspati [m]Good, Healing, Knowledge, LawLGBattleaxeQuill and ScrollWisdom, Worship
Indra [m]Air, Chaos, Healing, WarCELongswordWhite ElephantAtmosphere, Storm, Rain
Kali [f]Destruction, Evil, Healing, TrickeryCESapSkulls on a Leather NecklaceLife, Death
Karittikeya [m]Chaos, Good, WarCGLongswordPeacockWar
Lakshmi [f]Air, Knowledge, Luck, TravelCGUnarmed StrikeLotusFortune
Mitra [m]Healing, Good, Law, Plant, Protection, SunLGLongswordPlant Inside the SunContracts, Friendship, Warmth, Light, Growth
Puchan [m]Healing, Protection, TravelNGSpearGolden LanceGuide to the Dead, Travelers, Relationships
Ratri [f]Chaos, Darkness, Knowledge, TrickeryCNLongswordSilhouette of a WomanNight, Thieves, Robbers
Rudri* [f]Air, Animal, Destruction, EvilNELongswordBlack BowAnimal, Death, Storm, Disease
Savitri [m]Fire, Good, Healing, SunNGLongswordFull SunLife, Light
Siva [m]Destruction, Fire, SunNEScimitarCobra HeadDestruction
Soma [m]Animal, Good, Healing, Plant, ProtectionCGDaggerMoonMoon, Plants, Prophecy
Surya [m]Good, Healing, Knowledge, Law, Protection, Sun   LGLongswordHalf-SunSun, Morning, Evening
Tvashtri [m]Chaos, Knowledge, Magic, PlantCGDaggerPinwheel FanArtifice, Science
Ushas [f]Good, Healing, Law, Protection, SunLGQuarterstaffRising SunDawn, Wakefulness, Locks
Varuna [m]Healing, Knowledge, Law, Protection, SunLNMaceCloudsCosmic Order, Dharma, Oaths
Vayu [m]Air, Destruction, PlantCNSpearSappling bending in the WindWind, Life, Destruction
Vishnu [m]Good, Healing, Law, Sun, WaterLGMaceSun-disc, Seashell, Lotus & Mace   Mercy, Light
Yama [m]Animal, Death, Law, TravelLNLasso (Whip)Red MaceDeath, Guidance

* Outside of Ravenloft, the deity is known as Rudra and considered a male.


Though the priesthoods of Kali and Tvashtri hold more influence than that of any other gods, major temples to Indra, Puchan, Ratri, Rudra, Savitri, Siva, Varuna and Yama are also found in Rajian cities. These deities are covered below. The Rajian also pray to an incredibly large amount gods governing all aspects of life. Minor shrines and pagodas to these other gods may be encountered all around Rajian cities. Their priests are held in great esteem by virtue of being part of the Brahmin caste.

One Rajian deity that is never openly worshipped is Ravanna. Held in fear and contempt, he is the deity of the Rakshasas, epitomizing their virtues of manipulative tyranny and indulgent malice. Those that openly worship this malignant force always quickly disappear never to be seen again.

Kali
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
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. It is believed that in the early days of the Vedic Age, Tvashtri was a priest of such power that he dared to create a son whom he hoped would deprive Indra of his position as king of the gods. When Indra jealously destroyed this son, Tvashtri created a monster so powerful that Indra had to resort to trickery to defeat it. As this story illustrates, Tvashtri is a gifted inventor, and it is no wonder that he eventually earned the gift of immortality. Now known as Tvashtri the Artificer, he is the patron of artisans, architects, and inventors.

Indra
Indra, also known in earlier Vedic times as Parjanya, is the god of the atmosphere, storms, and battle. He is the embodiment of aggressive action, a great lover of war, and was once the leader of the Vedic gods. Indra is said to always watches any battle with great interest, to have the power to raise those slain in battle, as well as complete control over anything occurring in the air, such as storms, rain, wind, and especially thunder and lightning.

Puchan
Puchan is the god who guides, watching over travelers, ushering the dead to Yama's realm, leading men to wealth or away from trouble, and showing herdsmen where to find good pastures for their cattle. He also brings all things into proper relationship with one another, blessing marriages, protecting men from those would exploit them, and determining what shall be food and who shall be the one to eat it.

Ratri
Ratri is the magnificent queen of the night. Although she is the sovereign of darkness and all things that abide in it, she is not a personification of night. Rather, she rules the darkness as a shepherd rules his herd, by watching over it without being a part of it. She is believed to have the power to see anything that occurs under cover of night, and to create or dispel darkness at will.

Rudri
Rudri is the goddess of storms and disease, the bringer of death, and the malevolent deity who feeds on the corpses of those slain in battle. Because she has the power to cause disease, however, she also has the power to cure it. Rudri is also a master of the animals, with the ability to spread disease or vitality among them as well. She also has the power to create a storm at will. Outside of Ravenloft, the deity is known as Rudra and considered a male.

Savitri
Savitri is the god of the day long sun. He causes all things to move and work, the tides to ebb and flow. He sees all that occurs under the sun's light. He is not always a gentle god. What he sees sometimes angers him and causes him to shine down with unmerciful intensity, or to hide his glorious face from the world. He is believed to have the power to bestow life upon any inanimate object, including a dead body, to drive away rot and decay, and to move any object at will.

Siva
Siva is considered an aspect of Rudra, but of such importance that he can be regarded as a separate deity. Siva is power incarnate, a fierce ascetic who repeatedly brings the world to the brink of annihilation by dancing in fire. He is the negative force of the cosmos, destroying whatever he touches in order that it may be reincorporated into unity with the spirit of the cosmos.

Varuna
Varuna is the guardian of rita (cosmic order) and the lord of the sky. As the upholder of the physical and moral order, he is the protector of oaths and the divine judge. A constant observer of human actions, Varuna is so vigilant and stern in executing his duties that beings violating their dharmas are sure to suffer for their indiscretions, making Varuna the most feared of all gods in the Vedic pantheon. He has the power to see what any being is doing at any time. By looking into a being's heart, Varuna always knows whether the individual is being completely honest and whether or not he is violating his dharma.

Yama
As the first man to die, Yama became the lord and judge of the dead. His palace (Yamasadena) and his city (Yamapura) are said to be located in the far south. Between the land of the living and his kingdom flows the bloody river Vaitarani, which all spirits must cross on their way to Yama's judgment seat. After Yama has considered the spirit's deeds in life, he decides what form the spirit's new body should take. When Yama's judgment is complete, the spirit goes to its new body in the world of the living. Sometimes, in the cases of the very wicked, this journey takes the spirit through 21 hells of fire, filth, icy winds, thorns, etc. Only those who have achieved unity with Brahman escape Yama's judgment.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 01:22:35 PM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: The Rajian Pantheon - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #5 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, Legends and Lore
« Last Edit: February 14, 2024, 10:33:50 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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