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MAB77

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Birthright
« on: October 25, 2021, 12:06:04 AM »

Dark clouds gather over the war-torn lands. Armies march to battle once again, answering the ancient call to arms. The banners of noble houses flutter raggedly before the onslaught; some will fall, but others will weather the storm. Across the ruined empires of Cerilia, the dogs of war are let loose. Somewhere on a muddy battlefield, a common man becomes a hero -and a hero becomes a king.

The Birthright campaign setting allows players to explore the grand scope of national politics as they guide their domains and influence the events of the continent of Cerilia on the world of Aebrynis. In this setting, the player characters are kings and nobles, prelates and guild-masters, great wizards and royal heralds. They're the leaders of their own kingdoms and domains, wielding the power to wage war or seek peace. At their command, armies march and kingdoms fall.

Most characters in the Birthright campaign are descended from heroes of old. Those that survived the great battle at Mount Deismaar where the old gods themselves fought and died. These ancient heritages are called bloodlines. Scions of the bloodlines are gifted with abilities beyond those granted to the common folk of Cerilia, and over hundreds of years they've naturally risen to positions of power.

There is some quality of kingship, an aura or divine right, that calls to the ancient blood; most of Cerilia's rulers are blooded scions.

Bloodlines wax and wane in strength with the quality of a king's rule. Hundreds have been extinguished since the earthshaking wars that shaped modern Cerilia, while others have risen in prominence and power. There are also bloodlines of evil in Cerilia, descended from the forces of darkness that besieged the land in the dawn of history. These powerful adversaries are known as the awnsheghlien (aun-SHEY-lin), an Elven word meaning "Blood of Darkness."

Note that while it is possible to play a character from the Birthright setting, it is not possible to play a blooded scion on the Prisoners of the Mists server.

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« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 07:02:29 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 12:07:12 AM »
The Major Races of Cerilia

Note that this server supports the following races from the Birthright setting: humans (Anuirean, Brecht, Khinasi, Rjurik & Vos), cerilian dwarves, cerilian halflings, elves (sidhelien), and half-elves (half-sidhelien). Each are described in greater details in our Subrace Roleplaying Resources and Lore thread.


Humans
Cerilian humans are the most populous race in Cerilia and inhabit every part of the continent. The humans of Cerilia were divided into several tribes of people in the ancient past. These tribes founded the nations that now claim much of the continent. Five human nationalities or cultures currently exist: the Anuirean, the Brecht, the Khinasi, the Rjurik and the Vos. The domain of Vorostokov in the Frozen Reaches cluster is also populated by Vos.


Cerilian Dwarves
Dwarves lived in the mountains of Cerilia long before humans came to the land. Over the years, the dwarven holds have chosen a defensive strategy, fortifying their approaches and retreating to their cities under the mountains whenever threatened. Dwarves have a fierce hatred of orogs, the result of uncounted wars fought under the earth. They are very secretive about their way of lives.


Cerilian Halflings
Like in other Realms, Cerilian halflings are amicable, comfort-oriented creatures. They hail from a parallel dimension known as the Shadow Realm, although they fled into exile from an unknown evil into “Daylight Cerilia” hundreds of years ago.


Sidhelien (Elves)
The Sidhelien elves (pronounced SHEE-lin) are one of the original native Cerilian races, having long resided in the forests across the continent of Cerilia. In modern times, they are a simultaneously graceful and savage, but reclusive lot.


Half-Sidhelien (Half-Elves)
Given the contentious nature of relations between the Sidhelien (Cerilian elf) and the various Cerilian human cultures, half-elves are extremely rare individuals. They generally integrate into elvish society as they are far more accepted there.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 08:04:04 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 12:08:07 AM »
Geography

Cerilia is a small continent on the world of Aebrynis. It is the main location for the people, events and histories relating to the Birthright Campaign Setting.

Cerilia is home to the five great human nations; the Anuirean, Brecht, Khinasi, Rjurik and the Vos. It is also home to the other civilized races, the dwarves, elves and goblins and a fair number of the wild races, gnolls, and orogs.

The southwest of Cerilia is known as Anuire. It is a green and fair land with broad, fertile river valleys, rolling hills and highlands. The northwest is home to the Rjurik, a cool land of forests and taiga. The northern coast is icy even in summer and precipitation falls all year round.

The great bay called the Krakennauricht ("the Kraken's reach"" in high Brecht) in the center of the northern half of the continent is home to the Brecht. This icy bay is bordered by harsh mountainous land with only the basin states holding large quantities of fertile lands. The mouth of the bay freezes over in winter and even the boldest captain keeps ashore in these months lest the icebergs in the bay scuttle their ship.

The northeast is the harsh land of the Vos, colder even than lands of the Rjurik. The icy lands of Vosgaard hold deep gloomy forests and high mountains in similar measure but few plains.

The south-east of the continent is home to the Khinasi. The mountains to the north and west shield the Khinasi from the rains and cold winds of the north, making the Khinasi lands are dry and warm. Here alone in Cerilia can one find deserts where nothing grows and the rains come once only every few years.

To the south of Cerilia, across the Straits of Aerele, is the continent of Aduria. The continents were once linked by a barren land bridge but this was destroyed after the Battle of Deismaar when the volcanoes that had formed the bridge erupted as one, and the land collapsed beneath the waves.

To the east, across the Sea of Dragons is Djapar, ancient home of the Basarji. To the west is the Miere Rhuann or "sea of storms". To the northwest, across the Thaelasian Sea is the frigid land of Thaele. To the northeast across the Leviathan's Reach is the huge island of Torova Temylatin.

Spoiler: Map of Cerilia • show


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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 12:08:27 AM »
Magic

In Birthright magical energy is known as Mebhaighl. This is formed deep within the earth and also created by all living things, the energy of the earth and plant life. It typically flows in intricate patterns over the world along natural leylines, and can be pooled into great sources by a skilled wizard.

Natural leylines can cause the flow of mebhaighl to be particularly strong in some areas. This magical energy randomly causes unnatural things to occur such as drifting glowing lights, odd sensations, the unusual passage of time and the like. However, normally magical energy only manifests in some way when directed to do so by a spell-caster or magical beast.

Spellcasters can be of wizardly type - true mages who can channel and shape the vast reservoirs of mebhaighl formed within the earth and by plant life into source holdings, and magicians who can tough only the less stressful magics of divination, illusion and the like, and so on. In Birthright wizardly spell-casting is rare, and true wizardry is rarer still. Most Anuirean and Brecht realms have at most 1 or 2 true wizards. Elven and Khinasi realms have even more. They are at their rarest in Rjurik or Vosgaard due to wizard magic being less accepted in their culture.

The most common spellcasters are priests whose service to the gods enables them to wield magic. Their connection to this mebhaighl is not as direct as mages and magicians. Their diety grants them the ability to access this mebhaighl and may remove that access at will.

It should be noted that being a medieval setting, many of the folk of Cerilia would treat magic in a similar fashion to what we would call science (e.g. magnetism, gravity, cloud formation, storms, etc.). Wizards are likely considered to have power over them - regardless of the reality of the situation. With such levels of ignorance, a wizard's power is often more in the superstition directed towards them than in the actual spells they can cast. After all, a wise wizard never reveals the true extent of their power.
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MAB

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
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MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2021, 12:16:43 AM »
Religion (Part 1)

The pantheon known to the humans of Cerilia is not the same pantheon recognized by the ancient tribes who came to Cerilia before the War of Shadow. The old gods gave up their existences in order to destroy their evil brother Azrai at Mount Deismaar. Their essences imbued hundreds of champions and common soldiers with the beginnings of Cerilia's bloodlines, and have shaped history every since. More importantly, the god's mortal champions, closest to the old gods in their ideals, took the brunt of the divine essence released by the gods' death and were elevated to create a new pantheon.

The new gods numbered eight; Haelyn, assuming Anduiras reign over nobility and war; Erik, the druid, ruling nature in Reynir's stead; Sera, taking the place of Brenna as the goddess of commerce and fortune; Avani, taking the mantle of Basaïa as lady of reason; the Vos warriors Kriesha and Belinik, absorbing the energies of Azrai to become the Ice Witch and the Prince of Terror; Nesirie, absorbing the power of Masela and gaining power over the sea; and Ruornil, inheriting from Vorynn domain over magic and arcane secrets.

At first, the new gods worked closely together in the flesh; they fought, loved, had children, and helped the peoples of Cerilia recover from the War of Shadow. Nesirie and Haelyn formed a strong alliance and bore Cuiraécen, a new god of battle and storm. Likewise, Avani and Erik bore Laerme, goddess of fire and passion, and Sera and Ruornil bore Eloéle, goddess of the night. As centuries passed, however, wars and feuds between mortal followers ensued, fragmenting many of the god's alliances and creating argument and rivalry. Fearing a repetition of Deismaar in any future conflicts, the gods agreed to a universal pact: Never to battle each other in physical form.

The powers continue to increase the prestige and well-being of their worshippers, priests, and temples, but, for the most part, now restrict their guidance to dreams, inspiration, and prophesy. A few scholars may argue that gods no longer exist, and perhaps never existed, but most Cerilians believe implicitly in the existence of their gods. The divine abilities of blooded scions and divine spellcasters provide seemingly irrefutable proof of the continued existence of the gods and the history of their ascension at Deismaar.

Some also worship the demon princes Baphomet, Kostchtchie or Yeenoghu. Whereas goblins and orogs respectively pray to their dark gods Kartathok and Torazan. Some also pray to the mysterious force that invaded the Shadow realm, the malevolent Cold Rider.

The elves can call upon the forces inherent in wood and water, field and air, but have never worshiped deities. They are aware that the gods of Deismaar existed and that new gods were created, but they do not pay homage to them. Particularly after their deception and betrayal by Azrai, the elves have been adamant in their refusal to worship human gods. To the elves, spiritual development is the responsibility of the individual. The path that an elf takes is a decision that only he or she can make. So strong is this belief that if an elf chooses to worship one of the human gods, so be it. The only restriction placed upon such rare individuals is that they not discuss their religious ideologies within elven realms.


Deity [gender]DomainsAlignment   Favored Weapon
Avani [f]Sun, Knowledge, Law, MagicLNSpear
Baphomet [m]Animal, Chaos, WarCEGlaive (Halberd)
Belinik [m]War, Strength, Evil, ChaosCEGreataxe
Cuiraécen [m]War, Strength, Good, ChaosCGLongsword or Spear
Eloele [f]Chaos, Darkness, TrickeryCNSpear
Erik [m]Animal, Earth, PlantNDagger
Haelyn [m]War, Good, LawLGGreatsword or Bastard Sword
Kartathok [m]War, Destruction, Strength, Evil, LawLESpear
Kostchtchie [m]   Chaos, Cold, Strength, Evil, Destruction   CEMaul
Kriesha [f]Chaos, Cold, EvilLELight or Heavy Mace
Laerme [f]Fire, Good, ChaosCGShortbow
Moradin [m]Earth, Protection, Good, LawLGWarhammer
Nesirie [f]Healing, Protection, Good, WaterNGTrident
Ruomil [m]Magic, KnowledgeNQuarterstaff
Sera [f]Chaos, Luck, TravelCNLight or Heavy Flail
The Cold Rider [m]   Death, Evil, MagicNEUnarmed Strike
Torazan [m]War, Earth, EvilCELongsword
Yeenoghu [m]Chaos, Death, Protection, WarCELight or Heavy Flail


Avani

Greater Goddess
Goddess of the Sun, Lady of Reason, Lightbringer, Lifegiver
Aliases: Avanalae (Anuire), Lana (Brechtür), Avani (Khinasi), Vani (Rjurik)
Symbol: A setting sun
Alignment: LN
Portfolio: Sun, reason, magic
Domains: Law, Knowledge, Magic, Reason, Sun
Favored Weapon: Ray of burning light (shortspear)

Avani (ah-VON-ee) is goddess of the sun, reason, and magic. Prior to her ascension, she was Basaïa's highest priestess and has replaced her as patroness of the Khinasi people. Avani can be a harsh and relentless goddess, as unforgiving as the sun that beats down on the Khinasi lands, or she can be warm and nurturing, enfolding her people in the glow of her divine radiance. The Khinasi believe that Avani appears to them every day with the rising of the sun. The Lightbringer shines forth her divine radiance, chasing away shadow and that which skulks in darkness. The Lifegiver brings the world alive each day. She is a great and beneficent goddess, and so gives this blessing to the entire world. As a result, for part of each day, she disappears from the lands of the Khinasi so she may bring her gift to the rest of the world. The ignorant among the Khinasi know that Avani will return in the morning to chase away the shadows that lie upon them. The educated realize that she comes back each morning because she set the world spinning so that her divine radiance could shine down upon the entire world. Her regular visits also protect her believers from incursions of the Shadow, for she denies the Shadow a place to build on Aebrynis. Instead, the darkness must hide in the dank places below the surface of the world.

The church of Avani is strongest in the lands of the Khinasi. Her priests and paladins are expected to represent themselves as if they were representing her. They must strive to be firm but fair in their dispensation of justice, must aid the poor and defend those unable to defend themselves, and must be merciful to enemies who she would deem deserving. Avani's temples are often libraries and other places of learning. Despite the reverence with which the Khinasi people hold Avani, opinions vary significantly as to what she represents. This comes in part as a result of the natural inclination among the educated to apply their reason to discovering Avani's true message. The inevitable result of these studies is a fragmentation of the church into regional holdings that sometimes fight each other as much as they do their traditional enemies. Many believe that Avani is wroth with her followers as a result and that the wastelands of Khinasi are places where her displeasure has taken form.

Clerics of Avani pray for their spells at dawn as they greet Avani on her return to light the world. The only official holy day of the church is the anniversary of Deismaar. To the Khinasi, the holiday is observed to venerate the ascension of their patroness, not to remember what was essentially a foreign war. Her clergy commonly multiclass as magicians or wizards and her paladins may advance without restriction in these classes.

Dogma: Avani is the sun, and she shines her divine radiance upon the world every day, protecting all people from the encroachments of Shadow and darkness. Her light brings food to the tables of her people, for crops need both rain and sun to prosper. Her warmth enfolds her people; she chases away the storms that destroy well-being. She touches her followers with her blessing every day, for each ray of the sun carries her divine benediction.

All knowledge should be gathered, be it empirical, experimental, conjectural, practical, or theoretical. Knowledge is the light by which darkness is held at bay. Knowledge, like fire, is both useful and dangerous. We must protect against those that would abuse knowledge. Access to dangerous knowledge must be earned through demonstrated determination, discipline, and self-control. Strive to seek wisdom and understanding, for knowledge is the root of all lasting power.

Allies: Nurturing Nesirie cares for all. Her way is not the way of the mind, but the way of the heart. This way is not sufficient to protect mankind, but it is one of the reasons that mankind is worth protecting. Laerme is our loving daughter who must be protected, nurtured, and cherished. As with all young, she may act rashly, but it is always with the best of intentions. Share your wisdom with the young, direct them, and help them mature in safety.

Foes: Eloéle is the herald of our Church's fate if we are not zealous in our work. She is the most dangerous of our enemies, for she seeks not the destruction of civilization, but its corruption. She is cunning, unpredictable, and ruthless, caring for nothing but herself. Kriesha hates the warmth of reason and would destroy all that we value for spite alone. She is a disciplined and cruel foe who listens only to the reason of scimitar and spear. Belinik possesses strength, but is a tiny-minded brute. Although the task appears hopeless, we must strive to bring him enlightenment so that he will one day know lasting peace.

Others: Our husband Erik watches over the bountiful earth in the knowledge that each generation must prepare for the next. Be respectful of Erik, for he values knowledge of the earth. That he takes little active interest in the affairs of civilization is cause for sadness, but not for scorn. Even as the moon brings light to the darkness of night, Ruornil bears the light of reason to guard against the darkest forces of the world. It is sad that he spends as much of his strength in keeping secrets as he expends against the forces of darkness. Haelyn is a puzzle. He works to foster civilization, and this is a worthy goal. He wrongly believes that civilization is created by the sword. Reason has always been sharper than the sword. Sera is selfish and shallow. She and her followers are happy to acquire knowledge that will be of use to them personally, but they care not for others. Short-sighted, they do not consider how their good fortune may be better used to prevent the misfortune of others. The unpredictable Cuiraécen possesses a noble heart, but lacks wisdom. He is overly found of warfare, but with our council can sometimes be lead from disaster.


Belinik

Intermediate God
Prince of Terror, Lord of Strife
Aliases: Belinik (Anuire, Khinasi, Rjurik, Vosgaard), Alenecht (Brechtür)
Symbol: Crossed axes
Alignment: CE
Portfolio: Battle, feuds, fear, domination
Domains: Chaos, Evil, Strength, Terror, War
Favored Weapon: "Fury" (greataxe)

Belinik (bell-in-ICK) is the god of war, strife, competition and hatred. Prior to ascension, he was the most powerful of the Vos war chiefs that followed Azrai's banner. He now claims the title of patron god of the Vos and inspires Vos warriors to be savage in their attacks, merciless in their conquests, and fearless in their defeats. Contention is his companion, for in contention the weak are slain and the strong rewarded. Belinik is believed to destroy the herds of any Vos tribe that grows too soft, leaving them with no choice but to raid their enemies in order to survive. Belinik is a dark god, and fosters unceasing contention through hate, anger, and jealously among his faithful.

Belinik's clerics are predominately male and claim spiritual sovereignty over all Vos. In addition to the Vos, Belinik's worshippers include any willing to use murder, torture, and other horrid deeds as a means to an end: the control of others through strength and fear. Belinik's church has unquestioned power among the Vos. His priests do not work alongside others in their community to help it prosper; they plan attacks on their neighbors to take what they have, raiding for slaves, livestock, and booty. Belinik's clergy foment dissention among warriors of Vos tribes, for such conflict inevitably leads to violence and guarantees that the strongest rules. Priests of Belinik test their battle skills constantly, usually against far inferior opponents, and almost always to the death. In order to advance in the church hierarchy, a priest of Belinik need simply arrange the death of his superior and claim his rank; priests that are not feared by their subordinates are soon pulled down.

The hour of dawn is holy to Belinik, for it is at dawn that most battles take place. On the Eve of the Dead, the temples of Belinik enact dark ceremonies designed to bring them to states of psychological madness. The most important ceremonies are those performed to bring the favor of Belinik in battle. Immediately prior to battle, priests of Belinik will ritually slay a kidnapped enemy warrior by cutting out his heart and devouring it. If such a victim is unavailable, the priest will attempt to cut out the heart of the first foe that they face. This ritual is considered to be one of the most sacred to Belinik, and among some tribes each warrior will attempt to do this, regardless of the personal danger. Belinik's clergy commonly multiclass as fighters.

Dogma: Terror is power. Power is for the strong. The weak hide behind paper agreements, seeking compromise over victory. The strong dictate everything and compromise nothing. Destroy or be destroyed; win or die; conquer or perish. Trust no one. Loyalty cannot be earned; it can only be coerced through fear. Answer every insult with blood; when you lose face, you lose power. Any who oppose you must be utterly destroyed; with each demonstration of your mastery you bind more tightly those beneath you.

Allies: Only Kriesha has the strength to stand behind us. Her followers are strong and thus must be shown often that our strength is far greater. Do not trust her, but use her to your advantage, for she makes a fine servant.

Foes: Belinik is the strongest of the gods, and all will eventual kneel to his axe. Avani wastes time gathering useless facts. In the end, her knowledge will work to whatever ends the strong deem wise. Erik preaches foolishness. The land must be mastered like any foe. The strong may take what they wish and the weak must suffice with the remains. Such is the true law of nature. Haelyn is a fool whose laws exist only to put weaklings over better men. His "Book of Laws" are an attempt to subvert the natural order. Defeat and humiliate his followers at every opportunity and bring the strongest of them to heel beneath our banners. Cuiraécen refuses his rightful place at the Lord of Strife's side. Haelyn has tainted his strength. Glory is for the strong, and only for the strong. We shall show him our truth and bind him to our service. Laerme is less than nothing - a possession to be mastered and conquered. She saps the meager strength of the weak with feeble passions and turns them into her slaves. The ability to hold a human life in one's hands and snuff it out with but a word is beyond any passion of which she can even conceive. The strong can sate their loins where they will. Her minions should be taken to serve our pleasure. Ruornil hides in the darkness. He lacks the courage to do aught but horde secrets and tricks. Tricks cannot stand before the power of the torch and axe. Burn out his servants where you find them, and their tricks will avail them not.

Others: Nesirie is a feeble old woman. As her husband and son seek to protect her, to strike at her is to strike at all three. Her worshippers are the most useless wretches, and fit only to be sacrifices upon my altars. Sera bewitches the minds of the strong with temptations of gold. Do not be fooled by her charms. True strength comes from will and courage to take what you covet, not from coins. Eloéle skulks in the shadows, hoping to accomplish there what she lacks the strength to do openly. Shadows offer concealment only until the bright fires of might burn them away.


Cuiraécen

Lesser God
Stormlord, God of Battle, Haelyn's Champion
Aliases: Cuiraécen (Anuire),Kirche (Brechtür), Khirdai (Khinasi), Kirken (Rjurik)
Symbol: Lightning bolt crossed by a sword
Alignment: CG
Portfolio: Storms, conflict, battle, glory
Domains: Chaos, Good, Strength, Storm, War
Favored Weapon: Longsword or lightning (shortspear)

Cuiraécen (koo-RAY-eh-KEN) is the son of Haelyn and Nesirie. The god of battle is the patron of young warriors, for he is the representation of reckless courage and victory through strength. His father's name is invoked for discipline, bravery, and victory through organization, duty, and proper conduct; Cuiraécen's name is invoked for strength of arms, fearlessness, and personal glory. Cuiraécen has a stormy temper and can be both vain and rash. As the Stormlord, he heralds his presence with storm clouds, lightning, and thunder. Apocrypha suggests that Cuiraécen is romantically linked with both Laerme and Eloéle.

The church of Cuiraécen is loosely organized, each individual temple is arranged differently and no overall church hierarchy exists. Cuiraécen was born in the third century after Deismaar, and by the beginning of the fourth century, he had inspired orders of knighthood within the church of Haelyn. The first church of Cuiraécen was created in the sixth century in the hills overlooking the Spiderfell, in the Anuirean province of Rhumannen, Gheiste (now Ghoere). Since time, his shrines have spread across Cerilia. The worship of Cuiraécen is a warrior's faith. It appeals to soldiers, knights, guardsmen, militant priests, and other such professions. Farmers might invoke the name of Cuiraécen only to beg to be spared the ravages of a brewing storm, but Cuiraécen does not provide them with spiritual guidance in their daily lives. Several orders of knighthood are allied with the church of Cuiraécen.

The priests and followers of Cuiraécen spend much of their time engaged in martial pursuits, for such is considered worship to Cuiraécen. They perfect their own combat and tactical abilities and teach others such skills. The clergy of Cuiraécen celebrate two of the same major holidays as do the priests of Haelyn: Haelyn's Festival and Godsday (the 22nd of Deismir). In addition, followers celebrate the first day of spring (the Day of Rebirth) as the beginning of the storm season. They conduct a minor celebration six weeks later, on the 16th of Talienir, which they observe as the beginning of the campaign season. The principal ceremonies of worship are held in the early afternoon, at which time Cuiraécen's priests receive their spells. Cuiraécen's clergy commonly multiclass as fighters. His paladins must be Chaotic Good, and can multiclass as fighters without restriction to their ability to advance further as paladins.

Dogma: Cuiraécen fights without fear. Through strength of arm and unflagging courage inspire lesser men to conquer their fears and thus lead them to victory. Success in battle is the truest test of worth. Enter the fray when ere you can, but most assuredly in the defense of those who no one else can or will defend. Never refuse just battle. Act quickly and decisively; indecision is a sure path to ruin.

Allies: We serve our father, Haelyn, as champion and herald. We obey our father in most things, yet he values duty over honor. We must act, even against his wishes, when his inflexibility would deny us rightful victory. Our mother, Nesirie, requires our defense. Her compassion makes her an easy target for her enemies. We will protect her from harm - even if she does not thank us for the deed.

Foes: Belinik is a great warrior and a fine foeman, but he has lost sight of his honor. Battle and bloodshed are noble endeavors; killing without purpose is cowardly. We must be ever vigilant for opportunities to make war against his purposes. Kriesha has little honor and is as treacherous as a snake. Oppose her plots when you can.

Others: Avani and her followers should be treated with respect. Though unskilled at arms, her intelligence and knowledge makes her a worthy ally or foe. Erik is wise, but slow. He is loath to confront problems head on, preferring, instead, to mull issues interminably. He must be shown that a quick, decisive strike resolves a conflict far more surely than debate. Sera has respect only for that which she can own. The value of courage cannot be valued in coin. Ruornil is a keeper of secrets. There is little to respect in one who does not face his foes openly. We aid him if our needs coincide, but do not hesitate to overcome him should he oppose us. Eloéle is a temptress and without honor. She is often a coward, striking out from the dark. Yet she can also be brave - she strikes decisively, alone, acting against innumerable foes without support or aid. She has our respect, but we must be wary lest her cowardly ways poison our heart. Laerme is courageous as she pursues her passions no matter what the cost. Love is a fine thing, but it must not be allowed to seduce one in weakness. Love in moderation and at a distance.


Eloéle

Lesser Goddess
Goddess of the Night, Sister of Thieves
Aliases: Eloéle (Anuire),Éla (Brechtür), Elyal (Vosgaard)
Symbol: Black dagger
Alignment: CN
Portfolio: Night, darkness, thieves, deception, independence
Domains: Chaos, Illusion, Night, Trickery
Favored Weapon: "Final recourse" (dagger)

Eloéle (eh-LOW-eh-lay) is the lady of the night and the mistress of thieves, spies, and others who hide their activities from view. She deceives as naturally as others breathe; those who lie by design or habit also take her as their patron. Eloéle is a subtle goddess. Although she does not avoid violence, she prefers to avoid it except as a last resort. She is more likely to favor a clever scam than a brutal mugging. She is fickle, however, and has favored assassins as well as burglars. Eloéle is not bound by rules; she ignores the unspoken rule among the gods that they not involve themselves in the affairs of the world. Yet she has her own sense of honor (or sport), and will not use her divine abilities to directly manipulate political or economic events to her own ends; instead limiting herself to means available to mortals. Apocrypha suggests that Eloéle is romantically linked with Cuiraécen.

Eloéle is the daughter of Sera and Ruornil. She was born in the early centuries after the destruction of Deismaar and her following seems to have grown only slowly since then. As a religious organization, her church is almost non-existent and does not have any extensive set of rules. Followers of Eloéle are found across Cerilia, but rarely gather in large numbers for any length of time. In most of Cerilia, the church has little more than small shrines hidden from all but a few knowledgeable followers. These followers exercise virtually no control over the religious attitudes of the local population. People who make their livelihoods during the day know little of her; but some do whisper her name in supplication of her protection from outlaws. Rogues and others who hide under their activities under cover of darkness look to her as their patron.

Clerics who follow Eloéle perform a simple ceremony every day just after sunset to request the assistance of the goddess during the night to come. The only holy day celebrated by Eloéle?s faithful is the anniversary of the goddess? birth on the 11th of Sehnir; although this date, in keeping with the goddess? deceitful nature, has changed several times in the past and may do again. Priests of Eloéle are so immersed in their deceptions and intrigues that it is entirely possible that they willfully misinform each other in an attempt to be among the few to perform the rituals that best gain her favor. Eloéle's clergy commonly multi-class as rogues.

Dogma: Eloéle is the dagger in the dark. Through finesse, this least of weapons can overcome the greatest of foe. Choose the subtle solution to any dilemma. The strongest of enemies can be defeated with a single word, spoken at the right time. Neither vengeance nor victory has any savor if the enemy cannot appreciate their defeat. Violence lacks subtlety and is the resort of the desperate or foolish. Deceit, blackmail, misinformation, innuendo, and silence are the tools of the clever. Wield power through others, for then theirs is the risk, but yours the mastery. Do not be bound by any rules save those of your own choosing and pleasure.

Allies: Our mother, Sera , is aware of the value of subtlety, and has taught us well. We need not oppose her, for her aims coincide with ours. Cuiraécen thinks that strength, bravery, and honor will always triumph. Little does he know that physical might is the least aspect of true power. It is only necessary to manipulate his honor and feed his rashness to feel the joy of bending such strength to our ends.

Foes: Avani is ever our foe. Be on guard against her, for she is subtle and shrewd. Deflect the light of her searching gaze from our most secret places and confound her with lies. Laerme lacks the intelligence to see the hidden currents of truth. She is simple minded and easily moved by manipulating her lusts. Yet she interferes with our work and thus must be punished. Haelyn prides himself on his rules and laws and flies into a fury when others rebel against his dominance. He has bound himself with so many rules that it is remarkable that he can breathe and unsurprising that his only solution to every problem is to reach for his sword. Bind him in his own rules and he will be powerless to act against you.

Others: Belinik is a brute and a boor. He attempts to master others, but only appreciates the crudest techniques. He scorns sophistication in mastery, mistaking subtlety for cowardice. We are easily his match, for a single whisper can easily turn fear into rebellion. Erik concerns himself with the subtleties of nature alone. He is easy to manipulate, but there is little reward for doing so. Let him have the wild places; our energies are better spent in more challenging enterprise. Nesirie nourishes the naïve hope of bringing happiness to the weak. What little strength she has, she squanders reducing the suffering of others. Let her pursue her hopeless task; it will profit her naught in the end, and it provides a useful handle for manipulation. Our father, Ruornil, keeps his secrets close to him, and has taught us to do likewise. He is an enigma, unconcerned with our successes or failures. Watch him carefully and pry out what secrets you can. Kriesha is a shrewd manipulator, yet she acts from cold hatred rather than from the joy of mastery. It is better to ruin your opponent rather than to destroy her. Her hatred is the key to her undoing, manipulate it and her plans are easily countered.


Erik

Greater God
Old Father of the Forests
Aliases: Aeric (Anuire), Erik (Brechtür, Rjurik), Iraikhan (Vosgaard)
Symbol: An oak tree
Alignment: N
Portfolio: Forests, hunting
Domains: Animal, Earth, Plant, Wilderness
Favored Weapon: Greataxe or shortspear

Erik (AIR-ick) is the forest lord, the god of nature, protector of the wilderness, and patron of the Rjurik. Erik was high druid of the Rjuven people prior to the battle of Deismaar in which he inherited Reynir's power. To honor Erik's ascension as their patron, the Rjuven people adopted the name Rjurik. Erik has few laws; equally, he levies few requirements. His principal concern is the safeguarding of the wilderness so that it can provide for future generations. He demands of his followers that they take only what they need from the bounty of nature. Those who despoil nature for purely personal gain are subject to his vengeance.

The majority of Erik's clergy are druids. Erik's druids in the wilds do their best to preserve the wilderness, while his city-dwelling clergy council the people to manage nature's resources wisely. In Rjurik lands, druids act primarily as "village priests" for the rural and wilderness Rjurik. As such, their principle duties revolve around protecting their charges from the more dangerous aspects of their harsh environment. They see to the health of the people, defend them when they must, and help them eke out a living from the wilds. Most druids are trained by their predecessor to eventually replace them and are only dimly aware that the church has a small council of higher-ranking members. Rjurik druids do not distance themselves from those that they tend; they hunt, work, drink, live and love as any other member of their community. Most Rjurik jarls have a priest of Erik as an advisor, and their input is valued on all matters.

Erik's priests pray for their spells at dawn or dusk. Holy ceremonies to Erik take place in the wild, generally in stone circles that function as Erik's temples. The principle holy day is Midsummer's Day. During this time, the druids gather mistletoe, holly, and other sacred materials used in their ceremonies and rites. These materials are blessed by the moon at midnight, and then by the dawn sun of Midsummer's Day. A brief morning ceremony invokes Erik's protection over the people in the year to come, and is followed by a day of hunting, feasting, marriages, contests, and other merriment. Aside from this ceremony Erik demands no formal worship, he asks only that his people live in harmony with the world around them. His church is a matter of heart and soul, not of doctrine.

Dogma: Protect the wilderness so that it can provide for Erik's people always. Take only that which you need, and use all that you take. For every tree felled, plant two seedlings for the future. Greed for the wealth of others brings no honor. Live in reverent affinity with the elements of nature.

Allies: Our wife, Avani , is wise enough to value the continuing bounty of nature. Although she values nature only for the benefit it brings mankind rather than also for itself alone, she can be counted on to act wisely. Ruornil seeks to protect the mysteries of nature from the misuse of the unwise. Avani is the sun, and Ruornil the moon, together they bring light and life to the world. When darkness threatens, they are the first to join battle. When they require our aid, give freely.

Foes: Belinik teaches his followers to take what they want without concern for others or the future. He is a raging forest fire that consumes all. His rage must be extinguished, his hunger quenched, lest all be forever consumed. Likewise, the gods of the goblins, gnolls, orogs, and other humanoids have ever been the enemies of the Rjurik people; their waste knows no limit and they are a blight that must be driven from our lands.

Others: Our daughter, Laerme, is the bright-winged songbird who brings peace and beauty. Enjoy the songbird, but do not become complacent in its song. Winter always comes. Cuiraécen is a brash young hunter, over-eager to impress others with his skills. With patience, he must be brought to understand that the hunter must protect and provide for his people, not battle for individual glory. Eloéle can only delude those who wish to be deluded. Ignore her and avoid her games. Nature is deaf to her plotting. Haelyn believes that the works of man are fundamentally more valuable than the works of nature. In ignorance, he causes untold harm. He acts not out of hatred, however, and must be gently reminded that the order of nature is as essential as the order of man. Nesirie mourns the loss of her people. She must be reminded that death is a necessary part of the cycle of life. Be wary of her, for those that have known great loss may lose sight for the need of a continuing future. Kriesha, like nature, is utterly without mercy. The weak fall to her touch, and the next generation is strengthened. Nature, however, balances harshness with times of plenty. In her unrelenting harshness, she has become twisted in spirit, hating all that do not suffer as she does. Avoid her when possible. In the bounty of nature, Sera sees only profit. Shortsighted, she may fail to consider the future. If constantly reminded that her future profit depends upon wisdom in the present, she can be taught wisdom of a sort.


Haelyn

Greater God
Lawmaker, Lord of Noble War
Aliases: Haelyn (Anuire, Brechtür, Vosgaard), Halaïa (Khinasi), Holn (Rjurik)
Symbol: Silver sword over a golden sunburst
Alignment: LG
Portfolio: Courage, justice, chivalry, rulership, war
Domains: Good, Justice, Law, Nobility, War
Favored Weapon: Greatsword or bastard sword

Haelyn (HAY-lynn) is the lord of justice, chivalry and righteous war - and the patron of the Anuirean people. He is the paragon of kings and paladins, and is worshiped throughout Cerilia by those seeking order through law. In his role as lord of justice, Haelyn is stern, but tempers his judgments with mercy. He represents the rule of law as the means by which a society is run. Prior to his ascension, Haelyn was the high paladin of Anduiras and the chosen commander of the forces gathered against Azrai.

The church of Haelyn is considered the most powerful church in Cerilia and its teachings have spread to every human-dominated region. In the fifteen centuries since Deismaar, the church has split in several different schisms. Each of the sects differs slightly in their beliefs and activities, but all provide spiritual guidance for the people who look to them for inspiration. At every temple, priests conduct morning ceremonies that praise the glory of Haelyn and call for his divine wisdom in the day to come. Superstition holds that if a morning ever comes that the bells of Haelyn's churches are silent, then the day will be without dawn and the world's descent into shadow will begin. All clergy, regardless of rank, spend an hour of each day in labor for the good of the community.

Priests of Haelyn pray for their spells at dawn. The most important ceremony of the year is Haelyn's Festival, which occurs on the day of the summer solstice. The night of the summer solstice, called the Night of Fire because of the shower of falling stars that occurs each year, is the culmination of the festival. Worshippers of Haelyn refer to the 22nd of Deismir as Godsday (also the Day of Ascent) and commemorate the battle of Deismaar and Haelyn's ascension. Haelyn's gospel, the Book of Laws, appeared in the first temple of Haelyn on the 6th of Pasiphiel the following year, where it remains to this day. The church of Haelyn now celebrates that day as the Day of Holy Justice. Other holidays vary from temple to temple. Haeyln's clerics commonly multiclass as paladins; they are not subject to normal advancement restriction on their ability to advance as cleric/paladins.

Dogma: See justice done, with both compassion and zeal. It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak and uphold the sacred feudal social order. Make war when justice demands it, but never for an unjust reason. Study warfare and serve in the armies that oppose evil and injustice. To rule or judge is not a privilege, it is a most holy responsibility and the heaviest of burdens, for your acts touch the lives of your subjects. Should lordship fall to you, work diligently to see that you rule fairly and justly. Stand by your oaths to your liege, your subjects, and your neighbors; the word of a ruler is the coin by which nation's earn peace.

Allies: Our wife, Nesirie, is our surest ally. We are her shields and we shall allow no harm to befall her. Our son, Cuiraécen, is poised on the edge of a sword, between glory and duty. We must strive to guide him towards just and well-considered action that faithfully discharges his duty rather than rash forays in the pursuit of personal glory.

Foes: The brute, Belinik enjoys strife, suffering, and wanton destruction, as do all vermin who pledge themselves to him. We are reluctant to make war; Belinik takes delight in blood and savagery. Kriesha's cold heart offers naught but despair and death. She plots continuously to raise the wicked over the righteous and her efforts must be opposed at every turn. Eloéle is a spoiled child that defies our edicts and seeks to bend righteous ideals to ill ends. Given opportunity, she would gladly attempt to unravel the feudal order for puerile thrill. She poses as great a threat as Kriesha, for she schemes without purposes and her plots often wreak their ill effects long before they are discovered.

Others: Avani guards the knowledge that empowers progress. She strives in the cause of justice, but must be gently reminded that knowledge alone does not shield the defenseless from evil. Erik values the natural order, yet this sometimes leads him into conflict with the flowering of civilization. Try to respect him, even when he is difficult to understand. Laerme brings great joy to all, but we must be on guard lest pleasure distract us from our sacred duties. Ruornil guards against the evils of shadow and the misuse of arcane forces, in which cause we are allied. Nevertheless, his obsession with dangerous knowledge often blinds him to the need for timely action and to be counted on to aid significantly in most conflicts. Sera seeks profit without consequence. She is happy to acquire position, power, and wealth, but ignores the obligations that such power carries. Short-sighted, she does not think of her place in the sacred order, only the personal profit in her actions.


Kriesha

Lesser Goddess
The Ice Lady, the Winter Witch
Aliases: Kriestal (Brechtür), Karesha (Rjurik), Kriesha (Vosgaard)
Symbol: White hand
Alignment: LE
Portfolio: Winter, hardship, beasts and other horrors of the cold wastes
Domains: Evil, Law, Suffering, Winter
Favored Weapon: "Winter's Touch" [Ice mace] (light or heavy mace)

Kriesha (KREE-sha) is the goddess of winter, long, bitter, harsh winter, the sort of season in which the cold seeps into the warmest homes and in which the wolf packs sate their terrible hunger on those foolish enough to brave the storms. Prior to her ascension, Kriesha was a high priestess of Azrai. Kriesha is without mercy; the harsh winters she sends against the Vos work to strengthen them as a people, for none but the strongest survive. Belinik teaches the Vos males to attack their enemies with fire and fury. Kriesha teaches the Vos women to plot. The Winter Witch shares the patronage of the Vos people with Belinik. Although the worship of Belinik seems to dominate the church of Vosgaard, the Vos women believe that Kriesha holds the true power. Kriesha's worship extends from Vosgaard across the breadth of northern Cerilia; she is known in any land where winters are long and brutal.

Kriesha's clergy are almost exclusively women, often the "wise-women" of their clans. It is difficult to wield power without the support of a clan's circle of wise-women and few dare to cross them, for their revenge is slow, thorough, and nearly always fatal. Priestesses are trained in matters of money and trade from early on in their service, and they manage a clan's wealth and supplies. The wise-women know that wealth has power, and they use their financial power to encourage others to become more pliable to the whims of the church. The church buys information, causes underlings to betray their superiors, and handles matters of external trade. Priestesses also protect their clans from internal enemies by constantly testing the loyalties of members of their tribe. They enforce loyalty, where necessary, through fear tactics. Punishments are especially harsh against women who betray the church. The punishment may not occur for several years, but when it does arrive, it is final.

Midwinter month (Faniele) is the principle holy time of Kriesha's church. In Vos lands, it is a time of fasting (for game is scarce) followed by a feast at month's end filled with tests of strength, endurance, and loyalty. Priestesses of Kriesha pray for their spells in the pre-dawn hours, when the night is at its peak of cold.

Dogma: Kriesha demands complete loyalty. The ties of family and clan are secondary priorities. Be willing to betray anything and anyone you hold dear if necessary. Friendship and love are dangerous luxuries and must be forsaken. Destruction awaits those who lack the discipline to obey. Ensure that the clan remains strong. Be patient and ruthless when dealing with foes. Nurse your hatreds and launch your attack only when you can destroy everything your foe values, for only then can you truly exult in your victory.

Allies: Belinik's rages draws attention to him and thus allows us a free hand. He is, like all men, a valuable tool. Permit him his vanity, for he serves well, but do not allow him to meddle in women's affairs.

Foes: Avani is our most hated foe, and thus her suffering shall be the greatest on the day of our triumph. Plot carefully against her, for she is observant, and be patient; not even the light of the Sun will stand against winter's breath. Cuiraécen's pride is his folly. His love of battle makes him dangerous in open conflict, but his touchy honor and concern with glory make him a predictable foe, easily avoided. Haelyn teaches that the strong should risk themselves to protect the weak. Fool! Such order is against nature. Unculled, his people degenerate into fools and weaklings. In time his people will be our chattel. Laerme inspires nothing but sloth. She is a parasite that feeds on the labor of others and provides nothing of true value. Such weakness must be culled.

Others: Erik understands the might of nature and the need for the weak to die so that the strong may continue. Avoid open conflict with him, and plant the seeds of future alliance, for he nearly understands the truth. Eloéle is young, but can be taught. Her plans are subtle, but without purpose; she has no true steel. In time she will put away her children's dolls and take up the tasks of a woman; then she will be a worthy ally. Sera is selfish, fat, and weak. She seeks only wealth and decadence. When winter comes, she will be among the first to starve. Nesirie is weak-willed, hiding behind her son and husband and letting them do as they please. She serves us by weakening our foes with her timid babbling. Ruornil is a traitor to our people, clinging to the tricks of Vorynn rather than the truths that Azrai taught us. His punishment will come.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 07:17:30 AM by MAB77 »
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Re: Birthright
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2021, 12:18:32 AM »
Religion (Part 2)

Laerme

Lesser Goddess
Goddess of Fire, Beauty, and Art
Aliases: Laerme (Anuire, Brechtür), Leira (Khinasi), Lara (Rjurik), Ayairda (Vosgaard)
Symbol: Silver harp against a red flame
Alignment: CG
Portfolio: Fire, love, art
Domains: Chaos, Charm, Flame, Good
Favored Weapon: Shortbow

Laerme (Lair-ME) is the goddess of warmth and passion. The goddess of art freely rewards or inspires any who seek to create art and beauty. She provides artists, composers, and artisans with the inspiration to transform a work of art into a masterpiece, and provides guiding dreams that help young lovers find bliss. She is neither jealous of other deities, nor vain. Instead, she is content with the fact that nearly every intelligent creature on the continent honors her at some time or another, whether they are aware of it or not. Even those that worship her foes are blessed with her favor. However, she has been known to punish as well as reward. Those who destroy beauty or deny love will suffer from her wrath. Barbarians that destroy art and literature or fathers who prevent their daughters from eloping might be struck down with a strange illness or be cursed with haunting dreams of Laerme's displeasure. Apocrypha suggests that Laerme is romantically linked with Cuiraécen.

Laerme was born by Avani and Erik toward the end of the second century after Deismaar. Her faith does not have a a widespread and organized church, and she does not encourage her priests to actively convert followers. Temples to Laerme are rare; churches of Avani and Cuiraécen often have small shrines devoted to Laerme and her priests tend to them itinerantly. Her priests are more likely to be found in artisan shops, music houses, bardic colleges, or as wandering courtiers. Each priest's worship is unique; every work of art, every love in bloom, and every fire lit honors Laerme. All priests of Laerme must practice some form of art, although they need not be skilled; all Laerme requires is that her worshippers give something of themselves to their art.

The most important ceremony in the church is the one that brings two people together in a marriage of love. Not all wedding ceremonies are presided over by a priest of Laerme, but most that are fueled by true love, rather than convenience or convention, ask for Laerme's blessing. Priests of Laerme may pick any regular time of the day to pray for their spells; the time of day varies based upon the priest's chosen art, for the priest normally engages in their chosen art as part of their worship.

Dogma: The rational creation of beauty for its own sake is the most spiritual task that a being can undertake; the creation of spiritual beauty is the greatest task of all. Help spark the flames of love, and fan them so that they will burn brightly. Patronize the arts. Create art to enliven and beautify life. Appreciate natural beauty where you find it, and leave it unspoiled for the future. Embrace the fire of life and live each moment to its fullest.

Allies: Our mother, Avani, is our acknowledged superior and we honor her, for passion and the appreciation of beauty are the products of reason. But passion also surpasses reason; embrace too the passion which defies logic. Cuiraécen , our love, embraces passion in his every act. We would not change him, even if we could, yet must help him keep in mind that violent death is always ugly - a permanent quenching of expression, the discordant end to the song of life.

Foes: Kriesha despises us, though we wish only to bring warmth to her heart. Where she could create beauty, she instead sows discord and destruction. She leads an entire people astray, and thus the Vos need our aid more than any other. Belinik is accursed, evil, and vile! He strips wholesome passions from the hearts of men and returns to them darkness, rage, fear, and spite. Flee from him, for he cannot taste beauty, only crush it.

Others: Our father, Erik, appreciates the harmony of natural beauty, but he has so much more to offer! We shall be relentless in our efforts to encourage him to be more than a simple caretaker and to take a more active hand in cultivating beauty. Haelyn teaches duty and service before all else ? even the enjoyment of life such service protect. Men cannot act from duty alone, but must also act from love of country and family. We must keep Haelyn mindful that duty without love is a stern and unrewarding thing. Poor Nesirie! Her heart is torn by her grief and she is blind to joy. She mends, but no longer creates. We must help her find hope; in the act of creation she can transcend her sorrows. Ruornil hides places of natural beauty from the eyes of the world. Beauty must be protected, but it is wrong and selfish to cloister it away unappreciated. Sera has passion only for coin, and no creativity, only the urge to possess. Be wary of her, for she rarely has the potential to see beyond her own self-importance. Eloéle is mysterious, never to be understood, and certainly not to be trusted. She creates nothing but lies and shares nothing of her secret joys. Worse yet, her machinations interfere with the happiness of others to no good end. Avoid her, else you may become a pawn in her ceaseless plotting.


Nesirie

Intermediate Goddess
Goddess of the Sea, Lady of Mourning
Aliases: Nesirie (Anuire), Nasri (Khinasi), Narikja (Rjurik), Neira (Brechtür)
Symbol: Wave and trident
Alignment: NG
Portfolio: Ocean, mariners, grief, remembrance of the dead, diplomacy
Domains: Good, Healing, Protection, Sea
Favored Weapon: Trident

Nesirie (neh-SEA-ree-ay) is the goddess of the sea and provider and guardian of those who make their living upon it. She is also the goddess of mourning and remembrance of people and things past. Nesirie has inherited Masela's role as patroness of the lost Masetian culture and those few remaining who claim Masetian blood. Not everyone whose livelihood depends on the sea worships Nesirie, but nearly all pay her respect. Seafarers of all cultures murmur a brief prayer to her before setting sail on any voyage. Legend among sailors say that when Nesirie's grief overwhelms her, the seas become restless, so they offer to her their wishes that she find peace. Nesirie is also the diplomat of the gods.

The church of Nesirie can be found nearly anywhere where land meets sea. Mariners call to her for protection from storms, creatures of the deep, and other hazards. They beg of her full sails and calm waters. Most of Nesirie's clergy are women that have endured some terrible tragedy that has left them bereft. Aided by Nesirie through their grief, they repay the gift by aiding others in any way they can. Although they are skilled in comforting those who have suffered tragedy, some are equally skilled in preventing tragedy in the first place and take up arms as paladins. Priests maintain lighthouses on the shores of many domains; some feel closest to their goddess when helping to protect those who depend on her good will. Nearly every new ship launched to sea is blessed by Nesirie's clergy; the seas are dangerous enough even with Nesirie's favor and most mariners will refuse to set sail on an unblessed vessel. Priests normally officiate at funeral rites for her followers only, but they are often present, at the request of relatives, at funerals for worshippers of other faiths.

Temples of Nesirie conduct daily services before dawn and after dusk. In the morning, they give their blessings to those who will put to sea that day. In the evening they request protection for those who are on extended voyages at sea. The Eve of the Dead at the end of Emmanir is the principle holy day for the priesthood of Nesirie. On this day they honor the memories of those who have died and comfort those that grieve for them. This ceremony is critical to the Nesirians, for they believe that only through the memories of the living can a spirit find peace and that those who are forgotten after death are easy prey for the power of Shadow.

Dogma: The sea is the lifeblood of the earth; its tidal flow is reflected in the birth, life, and death of every human being. Within this great cycle are lesser ones: the cycle of night and day, work and rest, sorrow and joy. Seek to understand this cycle, and aid others in accepting it as well. Show compassion and aid those suffering through the ebbs of the cycles of their life. Remember the past; only through the memories of those that remain can the actions of the dead have meaning. Care particularly for the remembrance of your dead, for their spirits require the remembrance of those who love them to keep the Shadow at bay. Heal the injured, comfort the lost, and negotiate peace among all men.
Allies: Our devoted husband, Haelyn, champions the weak and upholds the social order. Our mercurial son, Cuiraécen, aids his father in this noble and worthy task. We can count on them to protect us from the physical dangers of the world, but we, in turn, must protect them from moral danger. Their strength and pride can be easily swayed to violence and bloodshed. There is more to life than oaths and glory. We must never fear to provide moral leadership or to mediate the many disputes between them. Avani shares our grief in the loss of our people, and aids in their remembrance. She has our respect and gratitude, as we have hers. Ruornil wages his silent and secret battle against the encroachment of darkness, asking no thanks or acclaims, and ignoring all provocation to lesser battle. His is perhaps the heaviest task of all, yet never is a word of complaint spoken. What aid we have to give, we shall always give to him freely.

Foes: None.

Others: Erik lives in peace with the land. But, like nature itself, he can also be capricious and cruel. We, each of us, must strive to exceed our own natures. Belinik is filled with bitter, terrible rage. Like a wounded animal, he is dangerous and must be treated with respect, but not fear. In time, perhaps we can teach him to face his self-torment and begin to heal. Sera beguiles herself with physical excess. We are all tempted by such lures. She is confused, not wicked. We must strive to remind her of the true costs of her reckless pursuit of profit. Eloéle practices her malice in unpredictable ways. The will and reason behind her actions is unknowable. Little can be done, save to help those harmed by her actions. Kriesha is hurt and untempered by love. She requires solace more so than any soul existent. We must strive to thaw the ice lodged in her heart and help her find a path to contentment. Laerme teaches love of the physical, but gives no thought to consequence. She loves freely, but leaves those that she touches bereft and forlorn.


Ruornil

Lesser God
The Moon God, the Silver Prince
Aliases: Ruornil (Anuire, Brechtür), Rilni (Khinasi), Lirorn (Rjurik), Lirovka (Vosgaard)
Symbol: Silver crescent moon on a deep blue field
Alignment: N
Portfolio: Night, moon, magic
Domains: Knowledge, Magic, Moon, Spell
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

Ruornil (roo-OR-nil) is the lord of the moon, of magic, and the guardian of mystical places. Before Deismaar, the young Ruornil was the Weaver, the title given to the greatest of Vorynn's magicians. Ruornil's few earthly goals revolve around magic, the shadow world, and the Vos. He is the heir of Vorynn as rightful patron of the Vos people, but they have entirely abandoned his worship to pursue the worship of Azrai's successors Belinik and Kriesha. The most important seem to be the protection of the sources of mystical power that suffuse the continent of Cerilia, and the expansion of the understanding of the fabric of magic. He also works to free the Vos from the tyranny of Azrai's successors and win back their hearts. His followers are devoted to aiding him in these goals, at least as far as they understand them.

Even to his worshippers, Ruornil seems a distant, mysterious god. He has set down no written word, does not communicate regularly with his followers, and seems aloof from the daily affairs of Cerilia. The church of Ruornil is very small. It is comprised primarily of small shrines attended by priests and mages; these shrines are rarely in public places. His temple holdings tend to be in remote areas of Cerilia, the most prominent exception being the small theocracy of Medoere in southern Anuire. Priests work tirelessly to defend the sources of mebhaighl and expand their understanding of the nature of magic. Many are hermits, preferring the solitude of the wilderness to the press of urban life. They chart ley lines, seek out caerbhaighlien, and ally with rangers and other wilderness peoples to prevent intruders from despoiling magical sources.

Monthly rituals of worship are held on the night of the fullest moon in the middle of each month. The Veneration of the Sleeping (fall equinox) is the principle annual holy day for ley members of the church. On this day, the worshippers make symbolic offerings of items of magic to their god, seeking to return to the earth the magic that they derived from it. Secret rituals are also held by the high clergy on the Eve of the Dead, for the Shadow World draws near on that day, and the rites of Ruornil help keep its influence at bay. Priests of Ruornil pray for their spells several hours after dusk, ideally when the moon is ascendant. Priests of Ruornil commonly multiclass as magicians or wizards

Dogma: Ruornil guards the natural flows of magic from that which would cause them harm. Be ever diligent in your efforts to expand understanding of the fabric of magic - for only through such efforts can one earn the mastery required to act wisely. The Shadow is the greatest threat to mankind; fight its influence always. We are the light that keeps darkness at bay.

Allies: As the Sun and Moon are paired forces against darkness, so too are Avani and we. She is the guardian of magical lore, we of magic itself. Yet she seeks to bring all knowledge to the light of day, without reflecting upon its consequence - a secret, once released, cannot be easily recalled. The wise leave secrets buried, where only the worthy may uncover them when needed. Erik guards the land, the source of life and earthpower. In the protection of mebhaighl, we have no stronger ally. Nesirie can always be trusted to act for the good of all. She keeps our secrets, and can be counted on to aid us in times of need.

Foes: Belinik is tainted by the madness of Azrai the deceiver, and brings ruin to all he touches. He fears and destroys anything that he cannot control or understand. That his deception continues to lead the Vos people towards their destruction is cause for the greatest sorrow. Kriesha is deep in shadow. She takes cruel delight in the use of great and terrible lore to work her will. We fight a silent war against their darkness, for the good of all humanity.

Others: Our wife, Sera, is concerned with the physical, we the spiritual. Together we make a balanced whole, but we must work carefully to maintain that balance. Eloéle, our daughter, has learned to guard her secrets well, but misunderstands the need. We protect the mysteries from those who lack the mastery to use them wisely. She hordes secret information only for the power it gains her. We must teach her restraint and give her purpose lest she, like our people, fall to the Shadow. Cuiraécen is rash. There is great danger in unreasoned action, no matter how well meaning. Haelyn is valuable in our battle, but lacks subtlety. He seems to overcome darkness by simple mandate. The simple acceptance of a set of rigid constraints does not instill wisdom to do what is right because it is right, only obedience. The wise know when law and custom must be ignored for a greater purpose. Laerme has the best of intentions, but lacks the wisdom to be trusted with matters of consequence. True wisdom requires equal parts joy and sorrow; equal parts beauty and pain. Without bearing the scars of learning knowledge, she is incapable of truly understanding the consequences of its application.


Sera

Intermediate Goddess
Lady of Fortune, Goddess of Wealth
Aliases: Sarimie (Anuire), Sera (Brechtür, Rjurik), Sarma (Khinasi), Sirova (Vosgaard)
Symbol: Silver scales on a green background
Alignment: CN
Portfolio: Wealth, luck
Domains: Chaos, Luck, Trade, Travel
Favored Weapon: "Scales of Fortune" (light flail or heavy flail)

Sera (SAIR-ah) is the deity of fortune and luck. Prior to her ascension, she was the highest priestess of Brenna and the spiritual leader of the Brecht people. The goddess of fortune is the patron to the Brecht people, who believe that she guides her favored towards profitable economic pursuits and provides omens that help the faithful avoid unwise endeavors. She is said to hear every bargain struck, every prayer murmured over a game of chance, and every scheme to realize a profit, although she responds only rarely. The Brecht do not believe that Sera brings fortune or misfortune, but they do believe that she sees that her faithful are rewarded for diligent effort and that good things come to those who overcome difficult odds not of their own making.

Due to the wide-ranging interests of the Brecht guilders, Sera's church has become international, with temples throughout Cerilia. Temples to Sera can be found wherever trade exists. To Sera's clergy, the achievements of temporal goals are every bit as important as the achievement of spiritual goals. They are as practical a group of people as the goddess that they serve. As a result, they are involved in mercantile and craft matters as well as ones dealing with the church itself. They advise tradesmen, influence political and economic events to their favor, and seek out profitable opportunities for trade. Sera's temples are also sources of training and education; many teach crafts and trades to local citizens in return for a tithe of earnings in the new trade once they reach master status. Trade agreements are often witnessed and recorded by members of Sera's clergy. Copies of these agreements are kept in secure vaults to guarantee a verbatim copy of the contract. Sera's clergy also help arrange marriages between the scions of great houses. These are treated exactly as business agreements, with set financial arrangements based upon the prestige of the houses, the strength of each house's bloodline (a valuable asset), and penalties (such as dissolution) for fraud.

The Brecht celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Mount Deismaar as Ascension Day, focusing on the ascension of their goddess rather than the disaster that brought it about. They also celebrate the Day of Rebirth as both the first day of spring and the opening of a new trading season. Sera's clergy pray for their spells at whatever time of day is most convenient for their schedules (usually early evening); thus, the specific time of prayer varies from priest to priest but, once selected, is fixed.

Dogma: Sera is mistress of the true bargain. She knows that diligent effort and careful planning make the best luck, not divine intervention. Those who wait for fortune to fall into their lap earn their misfortune. Wealth comes from industry, not from chance. Wealth is the key to all doors; without wealth, one is not free to engage in leisure activities, to pursue artistic endeavors, or to wield true political power. Use what wealth you have earned to buy happiness for yourself and to guarantee your future happiness. Do not squander your profits in an attempt to bring happiness to others; true happiness must be purchased with diligent labor - freely given it has no value and is soon squandered.

Allies: Our daughter, Eloéle, pursues her goals relentlessly and regardless of consequence. No lasting harm can come to those who diligently strive for their betterment. We must be aware of this aspect of the true bargain, but always keep in mind that it is but one aspect; wealth and happiness come most surely to those who strive by both night and day. Nesirie comforts those on whom misfortune has fallen and helps them find value in themselves. This is necessary, for recovery from misfortune requires positive action. It is also true that forgiveness alone merely encourages others to take advantage of you in the future. Thus Nesirie has not mastered the full truth, and she stumbles along in poverty.

Foes: Haelyn claims that loyalty to one's superior is the highest virtue. His "chivalry" denies the true bargain - true wealth and power should not be gifted by inheritance, but won by one's achievements. Loyalty is a fine virtue if it ensures your own happiness, but do not fall into the trap of believing that your master's or family's prosperity is your own. Cuiraécen earns nothing and squanders what he was given. Glory and honor cannot buy bread. Honor is a fine thing if your opponent obeys the same rules, but why should they do so? Honor is a poor contract, and glory a hollow prize. Belinik kills for pleasure and glories in dominance through fear. This is strange enough, but made worse in that he prizes only this form of pleasure. Let him remind us always that a friendly coin purchases more bread than a bloody knife.

Others: Our husband, Ruornil, is not concerned with affairs of wealth and power. He is clever and often useful. Surely, there is no profit in the dominance of Shadow. Leave his secrets be, for their price is too high. Avani lays claim to wisdom, but does not wield it. Reason is a tool that can be helpful, but it can also be the instrument of deception and betrayal. She wastes her efforts puzzling over issues with no relevance to life, talking in jargon that conceals her lack of useful knowledge. The waste in which her people dwell is purchased with such folly. Erik lives in squalor and ignores the beauties of civilization. Worse yet, he jealously attempts to deny us our fair share of nature's bounty. There is no profit in such behavior. Laerme can blind even the wise with passion. Such passion is not without cost. We must reward ourselves for work well done, but in moderation. Excesses lead to misfortune. Kriesha offers nothing in return except hardship. Who would accept such terms? She is utterly misguided and not to be trusted.


The Cold Rider

Demigod
The Shadow Lord, The Usurper
Aliases: The Cold Rider (Anuire) The Night Walker (Rjurik), The Darkling (Khinasi)
Symbol: A cloaked figure on a black steed
Alignment: NE
Portfolio: Undead, the Shadow World, deceit
Domains: Charm, Death, Evil, Magic
Favored Weapon: Skeletal touch (unarmed)

The Cold Rider is figure of mystery - a malignant will given body and form in the spirit world. The Cold Rider is seen only as a dark horseman who watches travelers from a windswept hilltop before turning away. He doesn't directly attack intruders, but those who encounter him end up meeting the most dramatic and iconic manifestations of the Shadow World's evil. The Cold Rider is malevolent, but may not yet be consciously so; no traveler has ever reported a conversation with the Cold Rider, but it might be that he only speaks to those that are doomed to never return to the sunlit world again. The Cold Rider appears in the Shadow World as he wills, drawn to extremes of evil or good, and leaves doom in his wake. Over the centuries, he has grown stronger and personalities, powers, and memories are to be appearing that support his worshipers claims that the Cold Rider is Azrai reborn. Worshipers claim that the Cold Rider is the direct heir of Azrai's evil and many worship the Cold Rider as the new face of Azrai. There is no widespread organization devoted to the worship of The Cold Rider. Each church maintains its own doctrines and rituals, but those that follow the old ways of Azrai's church have found the greatest success.

Clerics of The Cold Rider pray for their spells at varying times, but most often in the deepest dark of the night. Holy days and celebrations also vary from temple to temple, but often involve the sacrifice of a human soul. If a devout worshiper, the subject is often raised as a free-willed undead; the souls of enemies of the faith are instead allowed to make their way to oblivion but their bodies are raised to forever serve the temple. Most established temples have their most holy ceremonies on the Eve of the Dead, for it is on this day that the veil between life and unearth is at its nadir.

Dogma: The Cold Rider is Azrai reborn. He is the voice of darkness, the harbinger of doom, and the living incarnation of the perverse ironies and corruption of the Shadow World. Sacrifice for him, so that he may gain strength, and reclaim the world that is rightfully his.

Relationships: The Cold Rider's will is unknown. If he is truly heir to Azrai's evil, then surely he will seek out the goblins, beast-men and Vos to once again support him.


Kartathok

Greater God
The Great Slayer, Lord of the Goblins
Symbol: A bloody spear
Alignment: LE
Portfolio: Goblins
Domains: Destruction, Evil, Law, Strength
Favored Weapon: "The Blood Spear" (shortspear or long spear)
Kartathok (car-tah-thock) is the lord and patron of all goblin-kind. He is a bloody god, and demands frequent sacrifices of foes, preferably those taken during raids or captured in battle. Kartathok is the epitome of goblin strength and cunning. He is a jealous god, and casts his spite against any goblin that does not bow to him.

Kartathok's priests are always war-priests and are usually present at any major goblin conflict. The church is greatly feared and has much influence. By custom and holy law, priests may drag any worshipper to serve as a sacrifice if no suitable foe is available. Even the chief is not immune to such a call, for the priests may use his failure to provide appropriate sacrifices as proof of Kartathok's disfavor. As the church determines how often sacrifices are demanded, it has considerable power toward unseating any goblin ruler and forces goblin leaders to make war regularly. Sacrifices of elves or of any goblin that has forsaken the worship of Kartathok bring particular favor.

Kartathok's priests pray for their spells at dusk. The frequency of sacrifices vary from tribe to tribe, but normally take place at least once each month during the night of the new moon. The Eve of the Dead is also holy to Kartathok, as the longest night of the year.

Dogma: Breed often. In numbers lies strength and protection. There is no foe or obstacle so strong that it can persevere against our numbers. One day all of Cerilia will belong to us once more. Appease Kartathok, and he will give you strength to crush your foes and many sons to carry your name into the future. Fail him, and The Great Slayer will destroy you utterly.

Relationships: Kartathok considers all other powers to be foes or potential foes. He distrusts all, and his temporary alliances always end in blood.


Moradin

Greater God
The Soul Forger, Dwarffather
Symbol: Hammer and Anvil
Alignment: LG
Portfolio: The arts and sciences of the dwarves
Domains: Earth, Good, Law, Protection
Favored Weapon: "Soul Hammer" (warhammer)
Moradin (moar-uh-din ) is the father and creator of the dwarven race. He is a stern paternal deity, gruff and uncompromising, and hard as stone. A harsh but fair judge, he is strength and force of will embodied. He inspires dwarven invention, and encourages good nature, intelligence, and harmonious existence with other worthy races while battling pride and isolationist tendencies.

The church of Moradin has an active role in guiding the morals of dwarven communities. They emphasize the Soul Forger's hand in everyday dwarven activities such as mining, smithing, and engineering, and invoke his blessing when these tasks are begun. They lead the push to found new dwarven kingdoms and increase the status of dwarves in surface communities. They take an active role in teaching the young of the communities and oversee most formal ceremonies. Although anyone may worship the Soul Forger, only dwarves are allowed to advance in his church; members of other races are not acceptable priests of Moradin.

Clerics of Moradin pray in the morning. Offerings are made to the Soul Forger on a monthly basis. The ranking cleric of a community can declare any day a holy day to celebrate a local event. His clerics commonly multiclass as experts or fighters.

Dogma: Answer first and foremost to Moradin; dedicate your life to his laws and teachings. The bonds of family are sacred; no right-minded dwarf shall undertake any action that might tear a family asunder. Every dwarf is of equal worth. No right-minded dwarf shall place himself or herself above another. The safety of dwarven lands and people must never be compromised. The dwarven lands are a gift from Moradin. Their resources and wealth must be treated with great respect and used to their fullest potential. The land's treasures must not be squandered. Evil must never be allowed to triumph over good. Enslavement of a dwarf must never be tolerated. No worthy dwarf shall want for food, shelter, or companionship. Dwarves must care for their own kind, especially the aged and infirm.

Relationships: Moradin is opposed to Kartathok, Torazan, and other powers that serve evil causes. He is generally coldly neutral to the gods of the Cerilian humans; neither aiding nor opposing their interests save where they intersect with his. He steers clear of any temptation to involve himself or his people in the conflicts between the human deities.


Torazan

Demigod
Oroglord
Symbol: Sword and Horn
Alignment: LE
Portfolio: Orogs
Domains: War, Earth, Law, Evil
Favored Weapon: Longsword
Torazan (tor-ah-zan) is the infernal lord of the Orogs. Like his chosen people, Torazan's brutish appearance conceals an active mind. Torazan prizes ingenuity and slyness, for such traits bring victory in battle.

Orog priests are extremely powerful and influential; entire tribes march at the words of the high battle priests. Torazan's priests teach warcraft to young orog warriors and advise wise orog generals. Orog priests learn to cast battle magic immediately, and hone their skills regularly.

Torazan shows no preference for a time of prayer. Most of Torazan's clergy pray for their spells immediately after waking each day. Torazan's battle-priests often multiclass as fighters.

Relationships: Torazan hates Moradin passionately; he has little time for other foes, and is only interested in alliances that further his battle against the Dwarffather.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 07:00:30 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2021, 12:19:15 AM »
History of Cerilia

Cerilia of Old
Contrary to popular human belief, Cerilia wasn't always dominated by the humans. The true natives of Cerilia were the elves and dwarves, the keepers of the forest and the guardians of the mountain. They lived peacefully together, neither side intruding on the other's terrain. Besides, both had enemies to contain, and had precious little time to spare for the other. Those enemies were the humanoids, earth-spawned creatures that quickly multiplied. Gnolls, goblins, orogs, and kobolds swarmed through Cerilia.

Creatures of night and darkness, the humanoids lived where the elves and dwarves chose not to dwell. Yet they constantly raided, traveling through the dwarven mountains and the elven forests to take treasure and lay siege to the demihuman encampments. Matters continued in this vein for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Little in the way of lasting civilization arose during this time, at least none that are known to human scholars. The elves built slender towers and the dwarves constructed their stonewrought wonders, but these marvels eventually fell to one marauding tribe or another. In return, the elves slaughtered villages of gnolls and goblins, while the dwarves drove the orogs deeper and deeper into the recesses of the mountains. It seemed that this stalemate would continue forever, and all sides longed for a way to break it. Had they known what was in store for them, they might have realized that their existence was not so bad after all.

For then came the humans. Five tribes, fleeing from the domination of decadent empires and the wrath of an evil god, crossed the land bridge into Cerilia from the southern lands of Aduria, and began making new homes here. A sixth joined them in Cerilia, from the lands of Djapar beyond the Dragon Sea. The wilderness was touched by man, and nothing was ever again the same.


The Tribes

The ancestors of the humans now living in Cerilia were six tribes of man, five living on the continent to the south of the island, and one living far to the east. The six peoples, while their cultures varied widely, venerated a common pantheon. Each tribe worshipped a particular god above the rest. These gods each favored a particular tribe over the others, lending their attributes to those who followed them.

The tribes each considered their patron to be the head of the patron, but generally agreed that the portfolios of the gods were: the god of nobility and war, Anduiras; the god of the forests, mountains and rivers, Reynir; the goddess of commerce and fortune, Brenna; the lord of moon and magic, Vorynn; Masela, the lady of the seas; the queen of the sun and light of reason, Basaïa; and finally, the face of evil, Azrai the Shadow.

Those who followed Anduiras called themselves Andu. They sought the path of conflict and honor, the Andu are now known as the Anuireans. Those who followed Reynir were called Rjuven, now known as the Rjurik. They communed with nature as best they knew how and lived as hunters and nomads. The Brecht, who later colonized Brechtür venerated Brenna, and cultivated sharp wits and nimble fingers. The Vos were diviners and illusionists, seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and of magic near-independent of their distant god Vorynn. The Masetian people were sailors, braving the seas under the aegis of Masela.

Though the tribes occasionally squabbled among each other, their true enemy lay to the south, in the decadent empires of the continent. Mythology among the tribes held that the Shadow led the emperors along paths of corruption and destruction. Thus, when the empires turned their attentions to the people in the northern lands, the leaders of the Five Tribes knew it was time to flee that land -- into the realms dominated by the faerie folk and monsters -- into Cerilia.

In Cerilia the Masetians encountered the Basarji, horse-nomads from far off Djapar who had braved the seas in search of a better life. The Basarji revered Basaïa above all others, but respected the goddess Masela and so were accepted by the Masetians for the most part, though the Masetians were said to consider the Basarji backward and many ancient Basarji writings indicate that the Masetians scorned the Basarji in many ways - a scorn that reaped a bitter harvest after Deismaar when the crushed Masetians were absorbed by the Basarji.


The Flight from the Shadow

Five tribes fled the growing power of Azrai, the shadow in Aduria to the perceived safety of Cerilia. The Andu (ancestors of the Anuireans), the Brecht (who now live in Brechtür), The Masetians (now subsumed by the Basarji and known as the Khinasi), the Rjuven (who became the Rjuvik) and the Vos. The Brecht and Masetians, great sailors, set out on the long voyage to the north of Cerilia and the Sun Coast respectively, the Rjuven fled in long-ships along the coast of Cerilia not settling until they reached the safety of the wilds of the north, the Anuireans and the Vos however traveled on foot across the land bridge to Cerilia for they had little understanding of the sea.

The trip, whether across the land bridge, or the seas, was arduous -- many of the people attempting the journey did not arrive at their destination, falling to disease and sickness, natural hazards, hostile natives, infighting and, sometimes, pure human stupidity. Still, despite the perils of the journey, the nomads at last arrived in Cerilia, and found a lightly populated land open to conquest. They also found the Basarji.

The Basarji were a dark-skinned people from beyond the Sea of Dragons. They are thought to be descended from the same stock as the five tribes, for their gods were the same (or at least remarkably similar) as those worshiped by the fleeing nomads. The humans were now six tribes, and they set to dominating Cerilia with a desire never before seen on the continent. The Basarji worshiped the god Basaïa, and established themselves in the sunny southeastern corner of Cerilia where they swiftly gave up their nomadic ways and some even their beloved horses. Basarji still live in far-off Djapar, however many of them spurn contact with Cerilia for they cling to the worship of Basaïa and refuse to accept the new gods.


The Conflict

Independently, the six tribes of newcomers to Cerilia began to dominate the new land with a fervor never before seen on the old continent.

The goblins dwelt along the coasts and in the plains of Cerilia. The early human settlers therefore immediately came into contact with the goblins. These contacts were almost inevitably hostile and without the aid of the dwarves and elves it is likely that the early settlers would have been destroyed. In time however the disorganised bands of goblins were defeated by the humans, with the surviving goblins either coalescing into true nations, or emigrating en masse for distant lands away from the invading humans. This emigration led in turn directly to the fall of several elven and dwarven states which were over-run by goblins driven out of their native lands by the human settlers.

The elves found themselves suddenly competing with the humans for the most beautiful land. First impressions that all could live in mutual enjoyment of the forest proved short lived. Elves imagined that the humans would respect the elven lands and leave them in quiet isolation. However, the humans defeated the humanoids they encountered and continued to encroach on elven lands as conquerors.

It was a different story with the dwarves. While the humans battled first humanoids then elves, they did not bother the tall peaks and high mountains where the dwarves were engaged in an ancient struggle with the orogs and kobolds. The two races were thereby able to establish a modus vivendi with each other.

The elves fiercely resisted conquest and defended their forests with brutality and cunning. For centuries they had battled the humanoids, and now they simply faced a new threat. Elven leaders formed the Gheallie Sidhe, or Hunt of the Elves. Elven knights were commissioned to patrol the forests and slay any humans they encountered. Human raiding parties disappeared. Lone farmers and woodcutters seeking subsistence were slain. All out war between the two peoples erupted.

Human records, preserved in the early temples of Anduiras and Basaïa state that the elves were able warriors and possessed powerful secrets of arcane magic, but the humans had a resource the elves had never encountered - priestly magic. The elves controlled the elements and spun them into powerful magics, but they had never worshiped deities and could not make sense of the divine magic they encountered. The human priests tipped the scales against elven expertise in magic and combat.
The fair folk eventually conceded the plains, the hills, and the coasts to the interloping humans. It was the ancient and mystical forests, where the essence of magic was strongest that the elves took sanctuary, hunting any human trespassers with vicious efficiency.

Members of the Khinasi discourse have long pondered why the early racial relations with the elves and with the dwarves were so different, while the initial conflict with the goblins was inevitable by the preference of both races for coastal regions and clear land on which to grow crops, the scholars of the discourse long struggled to explain the loathing for the beautiful elves compared to the liking, or at least tolerance for the dwarves.

Detailed research of older Masetian records show that initially the elves were seen as glorious beings that aided the Masetians against the goblins and taught the Masetians how to use magic. Within two centuries however this regard turned in many places to hatred with ancient (and even some modern) priestly writings describing the elven sorcery and refusal to worship the gods as proof of demon worship by the sidhe. Some Discourse scholars have argued that the Masetian and Basarji need for land caused the friction between the races, although others point to the famed elven arrogance and refusal to accept the concept of land ownership. The dwarves by contrast not only lived in remote inaccessible places but traded vital metal-work with the Masetians thereby gaining allies who would argue their cause.


The Shadow's Arrival

For a time, the humans were free to do as they would in this new land. Though there was still the ever-present threat of elven retaliation and humanoid incursion, the humans found themselves mostly unopposed in their efforts. Kingdoms rose and fell as everyone sought to earn the right to rule. It was a vital, dangerous time, when the land was still relatively untouched and it was said anyone with the courage to wield a sword could forge themselves a legend and a kingdom.

And then the Shadow came to Cerilia. Following the trail of the fleeing humans, the god of evil made his way to the new land. When he found that they had prospered in the new land, he realized that it would take more than simple battle to destroy them -- it would also take subversion and deceit. Of course, these things came naturally to the Shadow.

First, Azrai took his teachings to the goblins and gnolls of northern Cerilia, in the land called Vosgaard. By inclination, they had always believed in the power of the Shadow; now he granted them priestly abilities to prove it. Naturally, those of greatest evil inclined toward Azrai's priesthood, and they rose to power quickly among the tribes of humanoids.

Next, the God of Evil went to the Vos, the humans of the area. Not realizing that Azrai was the Shadow from whom they had fled hundreds of years ago, they took his words of strength and power and made them their own. In the land of darkness in which they lived, the Vos had little reason to appreciate the niceties of divination and illusion; the creatures around them understood the way of the mace and the sword far, far better, and so the Vos fell to the wiles of the Shadow and took to the bloody path of might.

When the Vos had been thoroughly corrupted by the very teachings they had escaped to Cerilia to avoid, Azrai traveled to Rjuven seeing them as similar tools as the Vos, however the druids and huntsmen of Reynir held tightly to their kinfolk and Zrai found few amongst the Rjurik who would turn against their clansmen, spurned Azrai went to the elves and dwarves, whispering to them of revenge against their enemies, the destruction of all things unclean, and the restoration of Cerilia as it had once been. He sought out the demihumans in dreams and omens, signs and portents, and spoke to them of the excellence of the past, when no humans defiled the surface of Cerilia.

The dwarves, having lost little to the human tribes found nothing in Azrai's words to provoke them, and so they steered clear of his temptations. The elves, on the other hand, had been burning with the desire for revenge ever since their exile to the deep woods. They took to the teachings of Azrai and prepared for war.
In the meantime, the southern emperors of Aduria had been busy. Their armies, after conquering the lands vacated by the five original tribes, began the arduous march toward Cerilia. The kings of the new nations saw their danger and marshalled their forces to combat the evil growing on all sides of them.

As the power of the Shadow grew so did the closeness between the world of Aebrynis and the Spirit World, strange beasts were sited throughout Cerilia and bizarre omens grew in number as the War of the Shadow grew near until the learned throughout the land urged their leaders to raise armies and seek out the terrible threat that they realised must be drawing near.


The War of the Shadow

Nations united and kings set aside their petty differences to face the threat of the Shadow. Priests in their temple ceased their squabbles, and raised their voices not in heated argument, but in supplication to their gods. Rogues and merchants brought their resources to the war, setting aside personal rivalries to combat the evil of Azrai. Even the dwarves came into the war, for though many of the dwarves did not care about the human presence on the continent, they most certainly cared about the power the humanoids stood to gain.

The armies of the Shadow raged throughout Cerilia as the Vos, goblins, gnolls, elves, and renegades forged of the bitter, greedy of the tribes (of whom Raesene Andu and the Serpent are the most famous) swept across the land dominating and destroying everything they came across. The armies of the Cerilians were hard-pressed by the forces marching under the serpent banner, at first some amongst the human tribes thought they would in time beat back the forces against them, but then word came of the vast armies raised by Azrai in Aduria.

The gods of the tribes understood that this army could not be allowed to cross the land bridge into Cerilia,as if it did so it would crush the tribes one by one until all the Cerilians were crushed beneath the heel of the Shadow. In a desperate attempt to prevent him from realizing goal of annihilating the Cerilians, they gathered their people's armies at the land bridge to Cerilia. Each god chose a champion or two from among their tribes, a champion that exemplified what the god loved best in humanity. All of them withdrew to wait on the slopes of Mount Deismaar. The armies of the Shadow followed, with Azrai himself at their head.
The clash on the slopes of Deismaar was an epic battle, man and monster struggling against each other in the vain attempt to triumph. Nonetheless, despite the bravery and skill of the Cerilian warriors, it seemed certain that the humans would end the day by lying dead on the slopes of Deismaar.

It was then that the elves came across to the human side of the battlefield, slaughtering the Vos and southern warriors as they came. The elven generals had seen Azrai for what he was, and realized they had been deceived the Shadow had no interest in returning the world to the way it had been, in a sudden clear flash of insight Tuar, queen of the elves saw that Azrai intended quite the opposite, rejoining Aebrynis to the Spirit World that he might shape it to his will. A few elves didn't care about Azrai's evil and sought only to rid their land of the humans, and these elves remained with the Shadow, of which Rhuobhe Manslayer is the most well known. The majority of the elves however cast aside the blindness of hatred, and their abrupt switch of sides helped even the odds considerably.

It was then that Haelyn, champion of Anduiras and the Anuireans, stepped forward to do battle with the most powerful of Azrai's champions -- Haelyn's half-brother, Raesene the Black Prince, a man who had sold himself to the god of evil. All across the Mount, the gods' champions squared off against Azrai's henchmen. On the slopes of Deismaar above, the gods took physical form to try to defeat Azrai once and for all. They poured everything they had into the effort to destroy the shadow that had fallen across Cerilia.

All around was chaos as the ensuing explosion destroyed the landscape, leveling Deismaar and the lands around the mighty mountain. Yet despite the force of the explosion, there were still a few who had survived. Most, however, had been scattered to the four winds, including nearly all the Masetians and good-aligned Vos. In a final bid for freedom from Azrai, the deities had given their very existences. Their essences dissipated and the old gods died in the smoking crater of the mountain.


The New Gods and the Abominations

The survivors of the battle on Mount Deismaar were, with few exceptions, those who best exemplified the qualities the gods strove to uphold. Yet the champions for the gods were conspicuously absent. Standing so close to the gods, they had taken the brunt of the divine essence washing across the land--and the champions, closest to the ideals of the gods, took the place of the vanished deities.

The new gods were: Haelyn, the noble warrior; Erik, the druid; Sera took the place of Brenna as the goddess of fortune; Avani took the mantle of Basaïa, and became the matron of the Basarji; Kriesha and Belinik absorbed the energies of Azrai and became the Ice Lady and the God of Terror; Nesirie absorbed the power of Masela and controlled the power of the sea; and Ruornil felt the magic of Vorynn flow into his bones.

Others who did not so perfectly mirror the old gods still absorbed some of their energy. Power flowed through them and about them, reflecting the natures of the gods who had given it to them. Abilities they had never possessed before were suddenly at their fingertips, aching to be used.

Of course, certain members of this group were anxious to try out their new abilities, and they did this promptly on the other dazed survivors. A brief but bloody battle ensued as Azrai's chosen fought their way free from the children of the other gods. In doing so, they discovered that they could rip the godly power from the dead ones and make themselves that much stronger. They called this bloodtheft.

Some of the minions fought, but most of them fled the battle field and either returned to dominate their homelands or escaped to remote hiding places. They emerged occasionally throughout the following hundreds of years to kill those who bore the bloodline of the gods' chosen, using the power this provided to keep themselves alive and twist themselves ever further from their former humanity. Among the early Awnsheghlien were the Spider, Rhuobhe Manslayer and the Kraken.

The elves were the first to notice the change, and to realize the cause of it. They called the abominations the awnsheghlien (aun-SHEY-lin), or "blood of darkness." over time, only the uneducated came to refer to these creatures as abominations.

The mightiest of the awnsheghlien was the Gorgon, the remnant of humanity that once was Raesene Andu, the half-brother of the god Haelyn and Roele, the man who was destined to unite Cerilia. The Gorgon's hatred of his brothers drove him to acts of destruction far greater than his fellows, and thus his power increased more rapidly than theirs. Even so, the other awnsheghlien were not to scoffed at--their power still came from Azrai himself, and they knew how to use it.

However, they were not the only ones who learned of the power of their gifts. The children of those who'd been infused with divine essence also grew in stature. They, too, gained vitality from their fallen foes--provided their enemies were also of the blood of the gods. The children who used this power could make themselves into powerful giants, but even as they grew in power, their appearances changed to reflect this. The power came with a price. Those bearing the blood of gods other than Azrai who chose to shape their bodies to properly channel the power of the gods became known as the Ehrsheghlien, elven for blood of light.

Most of the blooded did not however change their forms, preferring to remain human. Those of the blood who established themselves as lords learned that they could also gain even more might from their populace and the earth itself, as well as increase the power of their kingdoms by pouring the blood power back into it. Those with native intelligence, brute strength, or a combination of the two learned how to increase their power through wise rule and the knowledge of when to pound their neighbors into submission.

So it was that the next struggle for domination of Cerilia began. Would-be conquerors now sought the takeover of a kingdom and the death of the previous king, both to ensure the legitimacy of their claim to the throne and to consume the bloodline. The land was torn asunder yet again, this time by power-hungry people of the blood seeking the ultimate power--rule of Cerilia by absorbing the blood of the gods. This time was called the Years of Chaos, and ended when Roele Andu formed the Anuirean Empire to either bring peace to the land (Anuirean folklore) or subjugate it (The Brecht view amongst others).

It was also around this time that the Shadow World was first found by human explorers. Its landscape was eerily similar to Cerilia's, and what happened in Cerilia was mirrored in the Shadow World. The main difference was that the landscape was fluid, mountains grew overnight in places, in other places rivers flowed uphill, time flowed slowly or raced ahead and other peculiarities abounded, the more stable areas were populated by fiends or undead creatures, with ghosts, skeletons or zombies taking the places of peasants laboring, while ghouls ran towns and liches controlled whole kingdoms. It was discovered that there were "weak spots," places of death and destruction that allowed the Shadow World to press in on Cerilia. At these weak spots, undead could travel through to wreak terror on the living--or the living could stumble through to a land of terror. Still, the Shadow World posed little threat to those who knew to avoid its dangers, and no one could find a way to bar access to the strange realm or to destroy it, and so the rulers continued on their quests for domination.


Formations of Empire

The new gods made a pact that they would never meet in the world in physical form to avoid another cataclysm of Deismaar's magnitude. However they had full freedom within that single constraint and every instinct to give advice to their people, for they felt their former humanity strongly and fondly remembered their families and former neighbours and lands. Haelyn walked with Roele in dreams and promised his brother support if only Roele would bring peace to Cerilia just as the other gods went to their chosen people and advised them on how to deal with the troubles of their land - for all the lands were plagued by beast-men, raiders, bandits, and the collapse of social order that followed the great battle at Mount Deismaar that saw so many young nobles die.

Thus the Anuirean records say, unlike most of his contemporaries in Anuire, Roele chose to use his powers not simply to glorify his own station, but to forge an empire of justice that would stand the test of time. Anuire was fortunate that Roele was gifted with the intelligence and nobility of his brother Haelyn, as well as his family's legendary tactical brilliance and his own gift of being able to set aside personal ambition when his vision of the empire demanded it.

Roele began to form the empire by allying with those who had fought beside him at Deismaar and were willing to work with him for their mutual benefit. The allies quickly drove the beast-men and brigands from their lands and continued on to forge the entirety of modern Anuire into a single cohesive nation.
Some Anuirean records suggest that one of the key motives for Roele in spreading the empire past the borders of Anuire itself was to ensure that Cerilia could withstand another invasion from Aduria, many feared that the Adurian forces of Azrai would assault Cerilia again, and Roele was far from sure that the other races would support him, particularly given the terrible losses suffered by the Masetian people in what had been, from some perspectives, an Anuirean war.

The wise of the other peoples knew Azrai would not have been satisfied with Anuire, but even they knew that war could have been delayed by years before reaching their lands, and the death of the gods had badly shaken all the nations. Other Anuirean records indicate however that Roele's sense of justice and fairness meant that he could not stand the sight of the city-states ruled by tyrants, huddled villages cowering from raiders, and other problems of weaker less organized realms than Anuire.


Ruins of Empire

This prosperity lasted until Michael Roele, the last of the line, became so sure of his power that he had the audacity to challenge the Gorgon. Slipping into the Gorgon's citadel, Michael braved untold dangers to face his kinsman, the most powerful of the awnsheghlien. Naturally, he was slain by the Gorgon. With his death the Empire fell, and the lands within were suddenly up for grabs. Instead of trying to make the Empire cleave together, the power-hungry dukes and lords sought to take it for themselves.

Naturally, with so many seeking the Throne, the Empire fell apart into so many warring kingdoms. The subjugated people threw off the Anuirean shackles and reclaimed their own destiny. Every ruler sought only his or her greater glory, ignoring the needs of the Empire as a whole. The regents and kings sought each other's heads and kingdoms. After a few hundred years of this chaos, all eventually settled enough that roughly stable borders could be drawn. Bloodlines emerged from this new chaos, as did new kings.

Still, the land is unsettled and divided, and even peaceful kingdoms must watch their borders against aggressive neighbors. The people yearn for peace, but every ruler believes that he, and only he, is the one to bring it to Cerilia. Because of this, the land continues its needless strife, and will until a true leader emerges from the many bloodlines.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 06:59:47 AM by MAB77 »
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MAB

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

MAB77

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Re: Birthright
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2021, 06:57:03 AM »
Sources

Birthright Campaign Setting, Birthright.net
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 07:00:11 AM by MAB77 »
Best Regards!
MAB

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