Fir’bolg Religion

The Fir’bolg are survivors first and foremost. While they do not meander or dawdle in philosophy or theology, they are a spiritual folk – there are few things that can inspire a religious attitude more than constant danger. And so, they pay worship and give sacrifice to the gods of Morread, to Cruach and his ilk.The Priests of the Fir’bolg are small in number despite the wide-spread acceptance of their faith. And most Priests tend to temples and sanctums so that the local village as a place to offer sacrifice and perform ceremonies. Most Fir’bolg worship the entirety of the pantheon, but prefer one deity over others, considering that god a patron of their community. To this god is given the most sacrifices and to him or her are most of a community’s prayers bent.

There are those that say that the Fir’bolg sacrifice men, elves and the like to their fell god – but in no temple will any find such practice continued. Perhaps sometime in the mists of history, this might have been true. But the Priests of modern Fir’bolg bathe their altars only with the blood and entrails of livestock, not people.

Origin:

It is said that Cruach and his kin, the other gods of Morread’s marches, warred against the giants of the realm for eternity before they claimed victory. It was in the final throes of this war that the Morrigan was split into thraine and Lugh lost his right arm. When at last moved to the fullness of his wrath, Cruach descended from his stronghold and drove his enemies beyond the reaches of his domain, shrinking the heads of their leaders and hanging them upon his belt. Giant, Shadow and Demon were flung to the farthest reaches of the world, by his might.

After the fires of the war had ceased and the Overworld was wrought to its current state, long did he sit upon his mountain throne and lay thought to his mind. What brought him to the craft of creation, none truly know, but he had made previous attempts and then discarded them. Five times did he create and five times was he angered by what he had wrought. He discarded each attempt, almost utterly destroying his creations completely before they could flee from his sight.

To his surprise, the last batch of his creations returned from their flight and gave him homage and sacrifice. One by one were they ruined until less than a score of them remained. They kept their gaze upon Cruach, worshipful even in the throes of their destruction.

Only then did Cruach still his hand and looked closely upon what he had wrought.

“You do not flee” said he who was without mercy to his prey.

“Nay, Lord. We are yours to make out of mud and blood and to rend into ruin at your whim” said the foremost among them.

And Cruach was pleased. Sharp, yellowed teeth flashed behind his beard. The severed heads that hung from his belt shook from his laughter.

“If I am truly your god, if you truly deserve the image I have wrought upon you, then you will live in the hardest part of the world, you will withstand the worst of my dooms… and you will prosper.”

Thus was born the Fir’bolg, who have dwelt in Morread ever since and thrived amid mud and mist to become the strongest of mortals to grace Midworld. They dwell among swamp and swale and those who walk their lands tread the mists in fear to see them – for upon the face of each Fir’bolg is the image of Cruach himself.

Afterlife:
The Fir’bolg have a strange belief of the afterlife – that there is little to be had from one. When a Fir’bolg is slain, he is brought to a misty, endless wasteland bereft of emotion and thought. This belief creates a sense of immediacy among the Fir’bolg, who live their lives with little hope for a reward at the end. Indeed, to even draw the attention of Cruach is to invite doom upon one’s self, for his cruelty is beyond the bounds of the mortals he had shaped of mud and blood.

There are those among the Fir’bolg, however, who believe that Cruach looks favorably to those who can withstand the dooms that he weaves. Those who rise to the heights of heroism and power in their lives please the Unsmiling. Likewise, those who please the other Gods may get chances to escape the grey eternity that awaits most mortals.

View of Magic:
It was the Goddess once known as the Morrigan that wrought the weave of magic upon Midworld. Thus are those who practice it among the Fir’bolg associated with her (excepting the Priests of Lugh and the Priests of Cruach).

The Mark of Cruelty

Cruach is the chief of the Fir’bolg Pantheon, watching over god, beast and mortal from his misty realm in the Overworld. He is also called the Cruel God, Unsmiling, the King upon the Mountain and the Caster of Dooms. Most Fir’bolg acknowledge Cruach’s rulership but fear to gain his attention – for his very gaze brings forth doom to most mortal souls. However, there are those that also believe that Cruach grants strength as well as fear to those who summon his attention, if they can withstand the doom wrought by his gaze.

Cruach is often depicted as a stern man, powerfully built and with a long beard sprung from his chin. His visage is ever grim, rarely set in wrath and never set in joy. His flesh is covered in runic tattoos and his eyes burn with vigilance.

Commandments
 Let all know and fear Cruach and offer blood sacrifice to him
 Make strong the Fir’bolg, His chosen people by weeding out weakness from them
 Cruach is ever hungry for the blood of his enemies, bring this blood to him

Symbol/Colors:
A black or bronze outline of a monolithic henge, a gate-like arch made of tumbled stone over light grey. Some Priests of Cruach wear fearsome, monstrous masks wrought of bronze over their face or smaller versions of these badges upon their breast.

Spells:
Priests of Cruach inflict Shadow damage with their divine spells.

Sphere Access: Priests of Cruach may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.

  • Fate
  • Battle
  • Knowledge
Clergy:
The Priests of Cruach, also called the Cruacha, are a secretive folk, keeping to their stone temples except when they accept sacrifices from others in exchange for prosperity, security or prophecy. Their places of worship are caves whose entrances warded by obsidian monoliths and walls are lined with depictions of Cruach’s wrath. Those who wish to be Chosen of Cruach undergo a variety of tests -only those who can survive the dooms of the Cruel god can truly call themselves his Chosen ones.The Priests of Cruach are not meant to be feared – true fear and reverence belongs only to the Unsmiling. Innately, they seek to aid the people of the Bog Kingdom, but their demeanor and their methods earn more terror than love.

The Cruacha are mostly unordered, but for the leaders of the temples (usually called “Father) and a leader of the Mark of Cruelty (usually called Great-Father) that speaks for the King upon the Mountain. The current Great-father of the Cruacha is an ancient Wild Elf who calls himself Eriu the Ageless. It said that Eriu himself and several other high priests of the Fir’bolg pantheon was visited by the Witch-Eye before he took the throne of the Bog Kingdom for his own.


The Mark of Silver

Lugh is a god of bounteous harvests, of dawns and rebirth and of songs
and feasts. Called Silver-arm, Lord of the Dawn and the Herald of Harvests, he is kin to Cruach and well-regarded among the gods of the Fir’bolg, though his power is less than that of his first-born brother. It is believed that he moved his brother to the art of creation – and although Lugh himself is incapable of sculpting from mud and blood, he is an expert at the mending of wounds and the rebirth of life itself.

Lugh is often depicted as a young man with a harp and a blade. His countenance is not stern as Cruach’s, but there is more melancholy in his eyes than grim promise.

Commandments
 Keep well the heroes, the songs and the lores of the Fir’bolg
 Let no darkness, feud, sorrow or tragedy keep fast the Fir’bolg from greatness
 Create new lores and songs, gain allies and allegiences for the Bog Kingdom

Symbol/Colors: A silver harp over dark green and ash brown. The colors of the earth are popular among Lugh’s Chosen, with touches of silver adorning their attire in the form of jewelry.

Spells: Priests of the Silver-armed God inflict Silver damage with their divine spells.

Sphere Access: Priests of Lugh may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.

  • Tranquility
  • Creation
  • Knowledge
Clergy:
The Chosen of Lugh are often called Aeolian, named after his legendary harp that put an entire army of demons into a slumber so deep that mountains formed over them and bound them even after they awoke. The Aeolian are keepers of stories and songs among the Fir’bolg, to each is allotted a library’s worth of oral literature and music so that the Fir’bolg remembers their origins.Aeolians find themselves in favored positions beside the clan leaders who employ them for their memory and for their songs. Indeed, Aeolians will find easy lodging and easy hospitality among many a Fir’bolg hearth for their order’s reputation and their god’s open-handedness. In exchange, the Chosen of Lugh is often expected to lend some aid to the community in the form of healing, wisdom or entertainment.

Nuada is the leader of the Aeolian and the voice of Lugh upon Midworld. Many Aeolians claim to be taught by him although few remember what he looks like, even after they meet him. It is said that Nuada is blessed by Lugh himself with eternal youth but tasked him with raising the Fir’bolg to greatness.


The Mark of Fate

When the Morrigan was split in thraine by her enemies, she dissolved into a flock of blackbirds. Morganna the Fate-Keeper was the largest of the Morrigan’s scions and thus received most of her power. Thus does she possess the fullness of her “mother’s” memories and the power over death itself.

Morganna goes to the fallen of the Bog Kingdom and takes them to their proper place within the misty realm of Cruach’s mountain. Morganna is less tempestuous than her sisters, Maerra and Marda, more regal patience than passion. She is cold judgment, wintry wrath and patient vengeance. Fir’bolg pray for her blessing for their weddings, their birth feasts and their funerals.

Morganna is often depicted as a stately woman (sometimes a female Wildling) in black attire bearing a silver chalice with both hands. The silver chalice is sometimes called the Graala and it is said to hold the doom and the destiny of all mortals.

Commandments
 Hold safe the oaths of fealty, marriage and family
 Protect the past and the future of the Fir’bolg, the children and the elders.
 Respect and remember the fallen, but do not regret their passing.

Symbol/Colors: A silver chalice over a dark blue field with silver stars in the background.

Spells: Priests of the Fate-Keeper inflict Ice damage with their divine spells.

Sphere Access:
Priests of Morganna may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Sphere.

  • Fate
  • Knowledge
Clergy:
The clergy of Morganna, also called the Graala, after Morganna’s chalice, are pillars of society, presiding over feasts, weddings, funerals and other functions. In many villages, it is they that are called upon most often when wisdom or prophecy is needed. Thus do the Graala have a firm hold of the Bog Kingdom, who asks them to keep and hold the rites of their communities and grant their councils the benefit of Morganna’s wisdom.The Graala are associated with the Witches of Fir’bolg, particularly the Grey Witches. Alongside the Crusaders of Morganna, Grey Witches are tasked to ward the holdings of the Graala and keep safe their people.

The leader of the Graala is a woman by the name of Aine Bittercloak – she is considered to be a person of great wisdom and mystery. It is said that those who seek her counsel can only expect truth from her lips and tragedy to follow in their steps.

The Mark of Fury

The Goddess Morrigan was split asunder by giant and demon, but from her heartsblood and her rage arose Maerra, fell and furious. Sister to Marda and Morganna, the Maerra of the Furies is the fire in the hearth, in the hero’s song and in the field of battle. The Fir’bolg pray to her for skill in battle, bloodlust in war and victory above all odds.

Maerra is depicted as a woman with fiery red hair and burning green eyes, a rarity among the Fir’bolg. She usually bears a spear in one hand and a sigilled shield in the other with her own personal mark.

Commandments
 The rites of war and duel are sacred, keep them unsullied and punish those who would break them.
 Let fury and wrath fill your heart in glorious violence, let not cowardice or mercy stay your hand.
 Do not suffer the weak to ascend above their station, bring them down in the Fury’s name.

Symbol/Colors: Golden sharp raptor talons in mid-dive against a cloudy blue sky. Many of Maerra’s Chosen put tattoos of talons or spears upon their bodies.

Spells: The Priests of Maerra inflict Fire damage with their divine spells.

Sphere Access:Priests of Maerra may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Sphere.

  • Battle
  • Chaos

Clergy:

The Priests of Maerra are called Setanta, after their Goddess’ spear. The Setanta are battle-priests prone to falling to fits of wrathful rage while fighting, becoming heedless of their own safety and destroying great numbers of enemies with their strength. These Priests evoke fear even with the Fir’bolg, who view their wild visages with a degree of caution and wariness – some Setanta are quick to avenge a slight with a bloody spear to the throat while others draw blood only when drawn to battle.Dark Witches and Sorcerers associate themselves with Maerra’s priesthood, despite their warriorish bent. The destructive power that such folk can bring to bear is something that even the most hardened of soldiers can respect.

The leader of the Setanta calls herself Cathach and her spear, Dogtooth, is a weapon of legend, having bathed in the blood of many a Jotunbrud and Beast. Cathach leads raids deep into Jotunbrud territory and leaves villages blacked by fire when she returns to Morread.

The Mark of Storms
Marda Stormcrow is the sister of Maerra and Morganna, wrought a
lso of the Morrigan’s demise. Her domains are the rivers, lakes and seas in the Bog Kingdom. She is also the storm, the earthquake and the maelstrom. Her wrath is the sailor’s bane while her appeasement is the merchant’s blessing.

Marda is depicted as a woman with seaweeds in her hair and burning jade in her eyes. She is tempestuous and vengeful as the sea and the storm.

Commandments
 Keep sacred the rivers, lakes and seas of the Bog Kingdom .
 Let no wrong against you and yours go unavenged
 Suffer not the shadow, the demon or the soulless to defile the Bog Kingdom.

Symbol/Colors:
A black-feathered wing outstretched in flight against a cloud grey sky.

Spells:
The Priests of Marda inflict lightning damage when they use their divine spells.

Sphere Access:
Priests of Marda may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Sphere.

  • Battle
  • Inquisition
Clergy:
Marda’s clergy call themselves the Mardalla and build their shrines on the coast or beside rivers and lakes. Like the Setanta, the Mardalla are battle-priests but instead of the wrath and the rage that their sisters display, they are more guarded and more cunning in their battlecraft. The Mardalla are known for raining lightning and arrows upon their enemies rather than leaping into the fray of combat.One of the Mardalla can be found on every important and wealthy vessel of the Fir’bolg and in every coastal community. Like many other Priests, they serve as oracles, as healers and as the officiators of certain rites. The Mardalla also act as the defenders of the communities that they preside over, unlike their sisters in Morrigan’s blood.

Bright Witches are associated with Marda’s clergy, their affinities with water and wind being well-aligned with the Mardalla. The Mardalla see these Witches as folk touched by the primal forces of Marda’s domain, but unlearned in the truths of the true mysteries of such magics – useful in their own way and somewhat reliable, but not truly blessed by the Goddess of Sea and Storm.

The leader of the Mardalla is the captain of her own ship which prowls the western sea of Kaos. She is called Belit by those familiar with her and “the Bolt” (also the name of her ship) by those who fear her. The Bolt is said to appear suddenly from the mists to raid any ship that dares offend the goddess Marda. Whether she is a mere pirate or a true vindicator of the faith depends on who is asked, but she commands the respect of her sisters and her brothers in the Mardalla all the same.