Religion in the Corpse Kingdom
“Reaper is our lord and bane,
King of living and of slain
Six gods stride within his train
To guide us to our lord’s domain”
– First Verse of the “Covenant of the Scythe”, a Dammerunger initiation prayer
Origin: The people of Gotterdammerung believe that the Seven Wyrdic Gods wrought the World from the dust and the ash of an elder dream. The eldest and wisest among them was the Lord Reaper who oversaw the creation of Midworld and those who would dwell upon it.It was he and the Slayer and the Warder who threw the demons back into the Underworld and the spirits into the Aetherworld. The Reaver and the Keeper bound these creatures to their prisons and fixed the gates that would seal them. The Seer and the Shaper wrought the rest of the world to Lord Reaper’s design, weaving and forging it according to the destiny he and the Seer had forseen.
He then gave his kin leave to grant the many Races of the world gifts of knowledge and cunning, of sense and spirit, of valor and love – but it was he that shaped the mortal soul in its complexity, fragility and beauty.Thus is he considered father to all of the mortal races and the ultimate crafter of their destinies.
Afterlife: When mortals reach their final season, the Reaper comes to take their soul and judge it in his omniscient wisdom. Those that live pious and virtuous lives are allowed to watch over their loved ones until the Great Reaping, the foreshadowed end of all life. Those who have lived their lives in heresy and evil are eaten by the Demons of the Underworld.
Lord Reaper decrees the beginning and the end of a mortal’s life and the Seer that forsees these events. It is the Slayer himself that cuts one’s mortal coil and the Warder ferries a creature’s soul to its ultimate destination: to be judged by Lord Reaper and the Keeper. There are those that say that the Reaver and the Keeper may hold souls that they find useful in their halls, ferretting out their secrets and letting them escape Lord Reaper’s judgment.
Magic: Magic is the province of the other gods of the Dammerung pantheon and of demons. The Reaper’s Church believes that Witchery, Sorcery and magic granted by foreign gods are dangerous to the well-being of one’s soul – they draw from source that do not bear the purity of faith in the Lord Reaper and therefore, may drag a spellcaster’s soul into the Vault of Torment.
That said, the Corpse-Kingdom places heavy restrictions on Witches, Sorcerers and Priests (non-Dammerung, of course). When such magic-users are known, they are carefully watched and some say, even unduly persecuted unless they are under the protection or patronage of a Krieger.
Diabolists are especially reviled among the Corpse-Kingdom and the clergy is quick to apprehend and execute known Diabolists. On the other hand, Necromancers are revered as menders of flesh, speakers to the dead and healers of souls.
The the Church of Lord Reaper dominates the Dammerunger religion. The six other members of the Wyrdic Pantheon (the Keeper, the Reaver, the Slayer, the Watcher, the Warder and the Shaper) are regarded with lip-service. It was Lord Reaper that took the Dammerung from the darkness and forged them into the stalwart folk that they are today. He figures prominently in their mythos as the father of their kind, guardian of the living, provider to the hungry and judge of the deceased.
The Lord Reaper is depicted as a grim figure that lordly like a King yet protective like a father. His images are of a large man, attired in dour, kingly armor, features obscured by great-helm and shadow, and bearing a giant silver scythe. Sometimes he is illustrated as an armored man with either the head of a jackal or a helm that resembles a hound’s snout. He is also called the Lord of Silence, the Silver Scythe and the King of Jackals.
The Lord Reaper commands his Chosen to:
o Prepare for one’s death by living a life of virtue and piety
o Respect the cycle of life and of death
o Send Blasphemers, Heretics and Defilers into the Reaper’s Judgment
Symbol and Colors: An upright Silver Scythe (blade turned to the left) and a side-turned silver Gavel (head on the right side) within a silver ring over a field of black. The colors of the Lord Reaper’s Chosen are Silver or Gold over Black.
Spells: Those Priests that serve the Lord of Silence inflict Silver damage with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of Lord Reaper 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.
Clergy: The King-Priest sits at the head of the Dammerunger faith. Beneath him are his clergy comprised of Arbiters, his Judges, his Magisters and his Executers. The Chosen of the Lord Reaper are tasked with guardianship over the folk of the Corpse-Kingdom and with the stewardship over the dying and the dead.
Reaper-Priests must guide their God’s Chosen toward a life of virtue and piety, to ensure righteous judgment at the end of their days. Other Reaper-Priests help families when dealing with their dead and their ancestral spirits. Militant Reaper-Priests protect the populace against the horrors that tread the dark of night and within dream and nightmare.
Arbiters: direct the faith of entire regions.
Judges: oversee the guidance and protection of cities, towns and villages.
Magisters: answer to their superiors and are sent on missions on the Church’s behalf.
Executers: are special hand-picked agents of the Church that answer to Arbiters and the King-Priest himself.
The Slayer is a God of Battle, of Valor and of Murder. He demands fanatical devotion from his Chosen and blood sacrifice from his followers. He is called the Blood-fire Lord, the Crimson Altar. He is most beloved by the Kriegers, who pray to him for skill and courage.
The mythos of the Lord Reaper’s church depicts him as the Reaper’s first-born son; the Creedof the Slayer emphasizes his status as the heritor of the Lord Reaper’s power and majesty. Images depic
t him as a red-plumed armored warrior, occasionally with a head of a red-scaled dragon or a helm of similar appearance.
The Slayer commands His followers to:
o Send enemies of the Slayer and of the Reaper to final judgment.
o Shirk not from the call of battle
o Be strong and without weakness
Symbol and Colors: The Symbol of the Slayer is of a sword pointed downward with a tongue of fire wrapped around it, the hilt is clutched by an armored fist. Gold and Orange over crimson are the colors of the Slayer’s symbols.
Spells: Those Priests that serve the Blood-fire Lord inflict Fire Damage with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Slayer 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.
Clergy: The Priests of the Slayer belong upon the field of battle and beside the sacrificial altar. Blood-fire Priests are feared in times of war and peace because of their prowess in combat and their penchant for the ritual sacrifice of their captives (one of the few reasons why they keep captives alive).
Blood-fire Priests have three tiers of hierarchy: Blood-fire Acolytes, and Blood-fire Captain and Blood-fire Hierarchs.
Blood-fire Acolytes: are the rank and file soldiers of the Slayer Creed.
Blood-fire Captains: lead the Acolytes into battle.
Blood-fire General: lead entire cells of the Slayer Creed.
The Blood-fire Hierarch is the undisputed leader of the Slayer’s Creed. Hierarch Hektor von Straken is the current Hierarch of this generation and he commands his followers to drink deep of the purges and the wars in the Corpse-Kingdom.
The Reaver is the Dammerunger God of Change, of Misfortune and of Luck. The Reaver is called the Reaver of Souls, Lady of Ravens and the Goddess of Luck. Dammerungers pray to Her when they want to change their lot in life on when they want to maintain the status quo.
Although she is the alleged daughter of Lord Reaper, the Dammerunger mythos usually depicts the Reaver as a villain: a foil for the Lord Reaper’s plans and a stealer of souls from His Judgment for Her own ends. Images portray Her as a six-fingered woman cloaked in shadow, occasionally with a Raven’s head. The Reaver’s Creed occasionally places Her in the role of the Lord Reaper’s mistress, instead of her daughter.
The Reaver commands Her followers to:
o Seek out and take secrets and power in the Reaver’s name
o Accept that the Reaver will take what she will, when she wills.
o Understand how opportunity and misfortune are two sides of the same coin
Symbol and Colors: The Reaver’s symbol is of a black six-fingered hand over light grey. Black over light grey are the colors of Her Creed.
Spells: Those Priests that serve the Reaver inflict Shadow damage with their spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Reaver 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.
Clergy: The Creed of the Reaver occupies a fringe position in the society of the Corpse-Kingdom, dealing with dangerous and proscribed materiel. Unsavory Dammerungers turn to Raven-Priests when they require dark items, knowledge and deeds. The Reaper’s Church does not endorse them, but does not act openly against them because of the favors the Raven-Priests have performed.
The Creed of the Reaver holds three kinds of Raven-Priests: the Raven-Guards, the Raven-Watchers and the Raven-Heralds:
Raven-Guards: keep safe the secret temples of the Reaver’s Creed and slay those who oppose their Goddess.
Raven-Watchers: lurk among the local populace, listening for secrets and watching for recruits.
Raven-Herald: bear the lies and the truths of the Reaver, leading cells, making converts from other Creeds and spreading Her influence across Gotterdammerung.
The Raven-Hierarch is the leader of the Reaver’s Creed and her identity is kept secret from everyone beyond the upper echelons of the Creed.
Also called the Keeper of Knowledge and the Sower of Secrets, the Keeper occupies a strange place in the Dammerunger Pantheon: she is the wife of the Lord Reaper, but is equal parts supporter and antagonist. She supports the order that the Lord Reaper has imposed upon the world, however, she also holds in her domain the keys to anarchy and chaos. Dammerungers pray for Her to visit them with Her secrets so that they may gain greater understanding of the world or horrible power to use upon their enemies.
Certain myth cycles have her abetting the Reaver and the Seer, though stories exist of Her countering their efforts as well. It is said it is She who let loose magic and released Demons into Midworld. In common Dammerunger society, the Keeper is known to uphold social order and to bless marriages with many children – although those of her Creed carry an awareness of Her darker nature.
The Keeper is often depicted either as a withered old crone or as a haughty crowned queen with a crown as a dominant feature. Some images portray Her with a head of a panther.
The Keeper commands Her followers to:
o Drink deep of the cup of knowledge and lore
o Keep safe the secrets of the Creed
o Respect and keep holy the dictates of the Keeper and the Lord Reaper (in that order)
o Understand that secrets (and therefore power) are most potent when few have it.
Symbol and Colors: The Keepers symbol is that of an eclipsed moon, almost completely dark but for a slight line of silver. Light Grey or Light Violet over Black are their colors.
Spells: Priests of the Sower of Secrets inflict Cold damage with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Keeper 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.
Clergy: The Priests of the Keeper are custodians of knowledge, warding libraries and other places of learning and lore. They are stingy with the information that they possess, gifting it only to those who “earn” them through labor or exchange. Such is the jealousy of the Keeper-Priests that they go to great lengths to retrieve secrets that have been stolen from their Creed and to bury those who would dare to oppose the Sower of Secrets.
The Creed of the Keeper is divided into three tiers of hierarchy,
Vow-Keepers: are scholars and sages that people turn to for wisdom and healing.
Oath-Keepers: are guardians of the sacred texts and the secret words of the Creed.
Pact-Keepers: are magicians of the first order and chief within a particular cell of the Keeper’s Creed.
The Eclipsian-Keeper is the hierarch of the Creed, directing followers and dispensing secrets according to the Keeper’s holy will. The current Eclipsian-Keeper is Albrecht Alonsus. They say that he has acquired the secret of eternal youth for he looks as a m
an of 30 winters despite his 80 years of age.
The Warder is mother, protector and avenger – the other Goddess that the Kriegers favor. Her place is as Lord Reaper’s champion – the defender of His Chosen and of the Corpse-Kingdom. The Creed of the Warder is officially endorsed by the Reaper’s Church, warranting its approval and support in most matters while maintaining its own independence. As the Reaper’s eldest daughter, She enforces the Reaper’s edicts, heals the sick and ferries the dead to her Father for judgment.
It is said that those who swear oaths recklessly will incur the Warder’s wrath. Mariners and travelers pray for Her protection, physics and healers pray for Her skill. The Kriegers place Her mark upon their castles and keeps for Her blessing and commoners will place her sign over the doors of their homes. Those Kriegers that do not follow the Reaper or the Slayer will often tread the path of the Warder, for in her mercy and in her vigilance She has won favor from their ranks.
She is often depicted as a hardened, blood-splattered healer or an armored warrior with a hammer and a large shield. Occasionally, She is represented as either having the head of a Kingfisher or have a helm with a similar appearance.
The Warder commands Her followers to:
o Send enemies of the Warder and of the Reaper to final judgment.
o Shirk not from the defense of the innocent and the healing of the stricken
o Bring ruin to those who would assault the pious, the innocent and the weak.
Symbol and Colors: The Warder’s symbol is a Runed-silver Hammer over a Dark Grey and Light Blue Shield. Her colors are Silver, Dark Grey and Light Blue.
Spells: Priests that belong to the Warder’s Creed inflict Silver damage with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Warder 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.
Clergy: The Creed of the Warder is one that prizes the protection of the innocent, the healing of the injured and the warding of the dead – Her priests perform all three tasks according to Her will. All priests have the respect of the populace, but the reverence given to the Warder-Priests is second only to that of the Reaper’s clergy. It is said that wherever goes a Warder, goodness follows.
The Warder’s path is far from an easy one for all the reverence it may bring. Warders are tasked to the most difficult tasks of healing and battle. The commoners and the Kriegers always have a problem that the Warder-priests are called to resolve. And so, this Creed is usually on the move and each cell dwindles due to attrition despite its popularity.
There are three ranks in the Creed’s structure:
Warder-Disciples: are Warder-Priests that remain within the cell to protect it and to aid those who come pleading for sanctuary and solace.
Warder-Acolytes: are Warder-Priests that are often tasked with missions that take them outside the confines of the cell. They are trained well in matters of healing and of battle.
Warder-Apostles: are the leader of each cell, veterans of the cloister and road. It is through their wisdom that the cell dispenses its resources, its protection and its healing to those who would have it.
The Grey Protector is the hierarch of this Creed. This generation’s current Grey Protector is an aged Cambion woman named Aliza von Hammerung. Aliza is credited with some the King-Priest’s education and has his ear in matters of faith and politics.
The Shaper is another Creed officially endorsed by the Reaper’s church. The Shaper is also called the Soul-Shaper, the Forger of Flesh and the Sculptor of Cities. He is credited with the building of the Reaper’s armor and weapon. In mythic cycles, the Shaper forged the world and its dwellers to the Reaper’s design.
The Shaper is said to be Lord Reaper’s youngest son, but the Reaper’s Church looks upon the Shaper’s Creed with a kinder eye that they do the Slayer’s. The Shaper’s Creed is indispensable to the building of temples, cities and villages. The marks of the Shaper can be seen in the monuments, edifices and statues around the Corpse-Kingdom; His Priests are entrusted with the knowledge and the power to build and fortify structures that they see fit to bless.
The Shaper is often depicted as a man clad in heavy steel, wearing an ornate seven-holed helm and bearing a two-handed hammer. Some images portray him as having the head of a scarab beetle.
The Shaper commands His followers to:
o Understand that creation, fortification and defense are holy acts in the Shaper’s eyes
o Establish order and excellence in all that you do
o Pursue perfection in one’s chosen craft at all costs
Symbol and Colors: The symbol of the Shaper’s Creed is an ornate bronze and russet brown scarab over a grey field. The Shaper’s colors are bronze, grey and russet brown.
Spells: Priests of the Shaper’s Creed inflict Silver damage with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Shaper 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.
Clergy: The Scarab-Priests of the Shaper’s Creed are often called upon to bless or fortify buildings, monuments and crafted goods. On occasion, their presence is requested in overseeing an item or a structure’s creation – to bestow their blessings and their wisdom, as well as their mark if they see fit. Buildings and items with the scarab upon it are renowned for their quality, even in the lands outside the Corpse-Kingdom. The services that the Creed provides are not given lightly and are usually not without some kind of compensation.
The scarab’s mark represents great quality, the Shaper’s blessing and in some cases, something so significant to the Shapers that its theft or destruction would warrant their wrath. There those that say that there are specific Shaper marks that denote such importance and to identify them would present an enterprising individual with a stranglehold on the Shapers. For its own part, the Creed keeps its secrets to itself.
Scarab-Disciples: are those Scarab-Priests that have begun upon their mastery of the Shaper’s mysteries. They are tasked to feats of creation and supervision over the mundane.
Scarab-Sworn: are guardians, crusaders and avengers of the Shaper’s Creed. They have some access to the secrets of the Creed but are prized for their abilities and talents in combat rather than their crafting skills.
Scarab-Apostles: have greater access to the secrets of the Creed and they lead cells under the direction of the Grand Scarab.
The Golden Scarab is the hierarch of the Shaper’s Creed, directing it according to the Shaper’s holy will. The current Golden Scarab is Valus Konrad, an ancient Twilight Elf whose true face has not been seen for a hundred years.
The Creed of the Seer runs counter to the Keeper. They are obsessed with knowledge and the seeking of in the stars, the seas and the wind. The Dammerunger mythos believes that the Seer is the youngest daughter of Lord Reaper, plagued with foresight and wanderlust. Unlike the Reaver and the Slayer, the Seer’s activities are focused on the discovery of the world, the study of magic and of the foretelling of prophecy- although the latter act displeases the Keeper’s Creed
Dammerungers pray to the Seer for insight into mysteries and puzzles. Her Creed is more open than the Keeper’s with regards to information and discovery. The Priests of the Seer bring the gift of knowledge and insight to those who ask for it, those who earn it and, on occasion, to those who need it.
Images depict the Seer as a hooded, travel-worn woman with a feathery cape as a dominating feature, occasionally as having the head of an owl. More prominent than Her image is the background that She is placed upon, whether it is the crashing surf, the mountainscape full of stars or beneath the shadowed boughs of a Dammerung forest.
The Seer commands Her followers to:
o Gather and spread lore, songs and stories
o Shirk not from unveiling the truth in all things
o Spend every day learning something new about the world or yourself
Symbol and Colors: The symbol of the Creed of the Seer is a silver key and a silver arrow, key ascendant affixed upon sky and sea. Silver over sea green and sky blue are their colors.
Spells: Priests of the Seer’s Creed inflict Lightning with their divine spells.
Sphere Access: Priests of the Seer 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.
Clergy: The Creed of the Seer is a small one, due in part to their eclectic activities and the dominance of the Keeper’s Creed. Nevertheless, the Owl-Priests maintain well their archives and keep the records of those who have returned from their travels.
The Seer’s Creed is less structured and organized than its fellows because of the transient activities of its followers. Majority of Owl-Priests are always on the move, experiencing, learning and retrieving the secrets of the world around them. Owl-Priests that have tired of travel spend years recuperating in their main temple before another takes their yoke for them and they are free to wander once more. The lack of a hierarch has stumbled the growth and the organization of the Creed, but less so than it would have a more rigid hierarchy.
Feather-Cloaks: are Owl-Priests that have taken upon the call to travel and wandering that their Goddess is known for. Their knowledge and their findings are brought back to their main temple for archiving.
Tome-Watchers: are Owl-Priests who almost never leave the temple and act as its guardians and as sources of magic and information for those who seek it.
The Grand Seer is an empty position whose duties have been assumed for the most part by an ancient Twilight Elf Tome-Watcher named Nathaniel Wadersen, who has refused to become Grand Seer until a certain ancient and vague prophecy has been fulfilled.