The Religions of Hann

Sometimes design takes a turn you weren’t expecting – well, TBH, that is quite a lot of the time for me.  I was happily writing up the Green Faith, when I got caught up in the cosmology of it all (Actually there are Powers, Gods and Immortals)  but that that led onto a series of questions about how religion works across the Hann Empire – which is another name for my games world.  Then this happened …..  :}


Universal Faiths

Representatives and followers of these faiths are spread all across the Empire.  They might not be the most influential, but they underpin the whole alliance.

The Green Faith –  binds Hann together – there are druids and rangers everywhere an every other faith has come to an accommodation with them.  Indeed it is a Druid, Oliver Green-Barrel who is Raven King of Heralds and master of the Hann Senate – and Chief Adjudicator of the Empire.  His has an even handed way of maintain the balance.  The Green faith is found in the rural and wilderness areas of the Empire, and other religions have had to come to terms with it.  This is a customised version of Green Faith from the PF rule, with some philosophy and cosmology behind it.

The Old Gods –My early campaigns used RL deities –  from the Celtic, Norse and Finnish pantheons – as interpreted by the early versions of legends and lore. For various reasons they have been replaced with this  home-brewed hybrid pantheon that gives the same feel as those early deity.  They came about because I needed some ‘Traditional’ peoples in the area around Berhof – who have now  used (in that same role) across Hann.  They have few major areas of influence – but still have a presence all across the region.  Their strongest area of influence is on the Far Coast, although there are pockets of strong support in other places as well.   Think of this as an amalgam of all the 1st and 2nd ed campaigns that I ran.    They are associated with the  old Clan system, which is currently represented by the Pagini, Treverii and Marisi clans.

Major Faiths

These are the primary religions of different parts of the Empire – based on the published  game systems that were in use when those areas were prominent  (Ie  when I was running games there)  The only real change has been The Strongholds – but that was so long ago that their gods have been superseded and sucked up into The Old Gods).  There are enough overlaps, that they can get on together  (even the trimmed down version of the Zakharan pantheon).  This is how those

Pathfinder Pantheon – The core Pathfinder Gods rule in Telida.  Abadar, Iomedae and Pharasma lead the west Telida pantheon leading to a trade focusses, Pharasma and Kurgess are strongest in the East. In Berhof – Pharasma, Iomedae, Erastil and Desna are all significant.  Erastil is fairly strong strong in the rural areas across the region.

3rd Ed – the gods from the 3.0 PHB.  Simple and straightforward.   Pelor (as always) leads the pantheon but Saint Cuthbert, Heironeous and Elhona all have strong followings, as they were deities worshiped by the adventurers who ‘conquered’ it. (The  Strongholds  was based on the stronghold rules from the 1st ed rules).  That was the start of the end for the Old Gods, and it has spread down the near coast and into the far coast.

Zakharan Pantheon –   Once the Zakharan pantheon were dominant along the far cost, at their followers conquered the lands there on behalf of their Caliph.  When the Conquerors were driven out (That was an interesting game) some of their influence remained.  Strongest in the Razardi Islands they also still  have an influence in the far Coast states..  Jisan and Haku are most prominent among the Zakharan deities active in the Empire, although Kor and Zan are significant as well.

Minor Faiths

This pantheons represent specific groups of people, rather than whole  cultures –  people who are outside of the mainstream …

The Temple of the Shrines – An eclectic collection of demi-gods and philosophies that are associated with Travel and Trading.  Based on a number of minor deities that I have written for different settings over the years – I like them, they all fit together well, and it seems a shame to leave them out :}

The Royal Ancestors – a closed religion for those people who are direct descendants of the Founders of Porters Bar.  Porters Bar has a great beginning story, which involves a Dragon and a half-water-spirit as founders.  The Royal House are their direct descendants – and appear to be able to draw divine power from them and others ancestors of that line.

Dwarves –   I have discovered a lot of mining settlements (of one sort or another) spread around my world – and I have decided to amalgamate them all as Dwarven Mining towns.  Back in the early days Gnomes, and even some Halfling sub-races,  had a lot of overlap with dwarves – but those races have now  developed and moved on –  so Dwarves it is.  I will probably use Moradin and his 3rd ed pantheon as the primary faith in Dwarven settlements.

Others – there will certainly be other racial pantheons – and probably a couple of others as well.

Where are they significant?

Region Primary Secondary Urban Secondary Rural Other Minor
           
Telida Pathfinder Third Ed Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Strongholds Third Ed Pathfinder Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Near Coast Third Ed Pathfinder Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Far Coast (1) Third Ed Zakharan Old Gods Green Faith   Temple of the Shrines
Razadi Zakharan Third Ed Green Faith     Temple of the Shrines
New World (2) Local Faiths   Green Faith     Temple of the Shrines

Note 1: The Far Coast is unusual – in that the four main faiths have almost equal influence, across the region.  It is still a stronghold for the  Clan Leaders (Pagini, Treverii and Marisi) who follow the old gods, and has a large  Al Quadim presence left over from a previous occupation.

Note 2:  The New World represents a number of newly incorporated, places –

  • Finaroka – A very eclectic mix of Green Faith (Wen),  Razadi, 3e, Temple of the Shrines
  • Porters Bar (Exotic City State) with an Eastern feel.  Green Faith (Wen), Royal Ancestors, Arth&Yarma, Temple of the Shrines
  • Paria (Dwarf mining town)  A very mixed race trade village – surrounding a Dwarf Minehold.    Dwarven + Green faith –  with a bit of everything else thrown in for good measure.  The dwarven pantheon are strong underground, but on the surface –  there is no dominant faith. The Temple of the Shrines can also be found here.
  • Port Elizabeth (Exotic trading town) halfway between Telida and Zakhara on a jungle island.  Some Zakharan, some Path Finder and some  minor local gods.  Religion isn’t particularly important here. The Temple of the Shrines can also be found here.

Relationships between Religions

The Green Faith – is everywhere.  And probably has as more followers than any god in any of the pantheons, except (maybe)  Pelor.  And they have allies in every other faith.  Gozerah and Erastil from the Telida pantheons, Elona and Obad-Hai from the Strongholds Pantheon, while both Pingal and Koke of the Old Gods share many traits with the green faith.

Pathfinder: Church of Telida – The is no specific lead deity in the pathfinder pantheon, but, in Western Telida,  Abadar takes  responsibility for ‘external relations’ and it is in his interests (Trade and civilisation) to build working relationships with the neighbours. This is the main branch of this faith and the one that has spread across the Hann Empire. 

Pathfinder: Eastern Telida – In  eastern Telida, Pharasma and Kurgess  are the most respected deities – although other deities from the pantheon also play a prominent role – however there are three separate, but very similar, groups  It is the lesser branch of this faith and not very well organised and, in general terms, follows the lead of the Telida Branch..

3e:  Church of The Strongholds:- Pelor leads the pantheon, and (as an NG deity) he really doesn’t like conflict.  Therefore his clerics  (and many others in the pantheon)  work to retain cordial relations with their neighbours – encouraging trade and cultural exchanges.  This is the only real branch of this faith, and has worked its way all the way down the coast as far as The Razardi isles.

Zakharan: The Church of Razad – Jisan, goddess of plenty and beloved of Merchants is the primary deity in The Razardi Isles and the Far Coast states, ably supported by Haku (god of freedom) , Zan (god of learning) and Kor the god of wisdom.  The other core deities are respected, but Trade, Freedom, Learning and Wisdom  are the core philosophies of this branch of the religion.   Any aggressive deities were chased out when the occupation was broken –  followers of the deities of left behind  could accept their new situation.

The Old Gods: This is a faith in decline.  They were once the primary religion of the mainland areas, but their their influence has declined slowly over the years and are now not considered a threat.   There are still pockets of followers, particularly on the edges of civilisation.  The Clans (Pagini, Treverii and Marisi)  of the Far Coast, themselves a hangover from days gone by, are probably their biggest supporters, however there are pockets of people following the old ways all across the mainland.  They tend to mind their own business and gave up fighting the other faiths many years ago.

The Temple of the Shrines: A very minor pantheon serving a very niche congregation of travellers and traders, spread mainly by the FFTC.  They do not have any ambition to expand beyond that following and  are not seen as a risk to any of the other religious groups.

The Royal Ancestors:  Has a very  limited following. Have no interest in recruiting outside of the family and are never going to be a threat to any other religion.  Nor do they mind who anyone else worships, so long as it doesn’t bring hardship to their city.

The Dwarven Faith:  Similarly, has a limited following. Have no interest in recruiting no-dwarves –  and are a threat to human religions.  Nor do they mind who anyone else worships, so long as it doesn’t bring affect their underground towns/cities.


All of which goes to show that I really like to understand how my world works 🙂 And probably also means that I am a bit sad and OTT.

Pantheon I

I should be posting something about Crafting.  It is something I need to think about, because it will become important in the next ‘Kingdom Turn’ phase of my game on RPoL.  However, I have no enthusiasm for it, and it will be a while before I really need it.  So I am going to write about Gods instead.  Not the main gods in any of the games systems, but my pantheon of Demi-Gods :}


Way – CG, Goddess of Travellers (and likeable rogues)

Way is a deity whose origins go right back to a 1st ed character I played, back in the day.  He was a half-orc called Yuthric Greenteeth, who as a Cleric/Assassin follower of Ptah!  I originally wanted him to be a Cleric/Thief, but that was an illegal multi-class under 1e rules – However that is a different story.  To cut a long story very short, Yuthric founded a religious order called The Brothers of the Way that was dedicated to helping travellers.  This was based on the premise that Ptah (in the 1st ed Egyptian pantheon) was The Opener of the Ways and a wanderer.  Priests were all multi-class Clerics, who retired from travelling.

With 2nd Ed, 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder –  The Order stayed with me, but changed deity to fit in with whichever system I was using at the time.  Eventually they became the Order of Way, which meant that I no longer had to explain that ‘Sisters are allowed’ whenever a new group of players discovered them.  However, the philosophy hasn’t changed, and The Order still runs hostels in places where travellers in need of support – be it in a town, village or right out in the wilderness.  The provision is always the same – bed-space, a simple meal and water to drink.  Funds come from donations or selling ale, richer food and essentials to their guests.

The latest version of The Order are followers of the demi-goddess Way – an endearing and charismatic Bard/Rogue, who travels across the planes visiting gods, demons and mortals alike.  She is NG, and her backstory describes her an Inter-planar Robin Hood figure on a never ending road trip – lovable, likeable, irritating but good-hearted.  Here on the prime material her hostels are generally run by low-level multi-class bards, rather than priests.  Like the original order, the priests often started out as travelling professions and then gain a level or two of bard when they settle down, and probably only have access to first level spells.


Arth – NG, Patron of hermits and heroes &
Yarma – LG, Patron of caravan guards

Arth and Yarma go back to the first ed rules as well.  However, this time they were inspired by gods that appeared in the 1e Legends and Lore, who were rewritten for a co-operative effort called Porters Bar, a game that was hosted on PlayByWeb.

Originally independent deities, they had interlinked backstories. Yarma caused great destruction when he was possessed by an evil spirit, but redeemed himself in the end.  Arth was the seer/mage who foresaw the events, realized he couldn’t stop the destruction but then spent his life working out how to minimise it. Both were touched by supernatural forces and ascended to the rank of demi-god.

Initially Yarma was intended to be a death god, but as their story grew he developed into a god of redemption and protection as well.  Arth became a symbol of hope and heroic deeds, as well as patron of hermits and seers.  In Porters Bar the two are still important independent deities, with their own temples and roles – Arth is patron of the City while Yarma acts as the local death god and oversees funeral and memorial services.

As traders and seamen from the city travelled the word, they took the pair with them, and now they have small followings in the wider world, who see them in a slightly different light..

Outside of Porters Bar, they are recognised as separate deities, but they are generally worshipped together – a prayer to Yarma nearly always includes a few words to Arth and vice-versa.  Yarma has a lot of competition and, as a tainted deity, he has found the competition for followers stiff.  He has, however, found a niche for himself as the patron of caravan guards, merchant marine guards and road wardens – especially those who also need some level of redemption.  Arth is an important deity in Porters Bar, but outside that very specific role he doesn’t have much appeal to the public, who have other (more important) things on their minds. Instead, Arth gets occasional prayers and donation from people when they could do with a helping hand.

Of the two, Yarma probably has the largest following, although his Priests are military men who spend their time guarding gates, caravans, ships etc. They often have levels of Warrior, Fighter or Ranger as their main class supported by a level of Adept or Cleric.   Very occasionally you might come across a Paladin who has dedicated his life to Yarma, but they are few and far between. You rarely find priests of Yarma in temples.   

Priests of Arth, on the other hand, live a quiet, almost monastic, life as befits a patron of hermits. In towns or cities, you will find them living in small monastic houses working among the neediest members of the community. In the countryside they live isolated, hermit-like, lives – but support their community from afar. However, on the edges of civilization you will find them as a part of the Ecumenical Temple of Shrines, where they maintain shrines to both Arth and Yarma. They always know who needs a bit of help that they can’t pay for, and will encourage ‘heroes’ to help out for the benefit of their soul, rather than the benefit of their purse.


Takri, the Navigator – TN, Psycopomp.

Takri came from a game at RPoL, that I joined as one of a ‘family’ of characters.   A couple of friends and I had written three complimentary characters, with a long intertwining  backstory to provide a basis for relationships, decision-making, general chatter and banter.  However, the DM of the game we joined had his own small pantheon of gods, but he didn’t have a deity that would work for my Cleric/Bard – so I got permission to build one that did.  Later, I had another character in the same game (this time an adept trader) who had different religious needs. So I wrote him another demi-god, with a trade and navigation background that suited his needs. However, I soon realised that there were many similarities between the two deities, and we decided to conflate them into one Goddess, with different cults emphasizing her different aspects.

This current version of Takri uses the backstory from the ‘southern’ cult to support the role of the original deity. The original backstory was very world specific, and just wouldn’t work anywhere else – and this IMO, works better anyway.  So, Takri was a sailor, captain of a vessel that swept out to sea, and was lost for years. She promised to serve the gods for ever, if they just saved her and her crew.  The gods took her up on it.

Now  Takri serves as Chief Psycopomp, responsible for guiding dead spirits to their final resting place and her priests are experts at holding funerals and memorial services.  Oh, and she is also seen as a patron of navigators :}


You will have noticed that these deities have things in common – which probably says something about the types of characters that I play and the games that I like to run.

All three of these demi-gods are associated with travellers, trade caravans, ships, merchant ships and the like,  which makes them ideal deities for the edges of civilization and the characters who make a living there. Currently, that is the NWN world I have been working on – and the ‘new’ game setting  that I have been playing around with for years.

TBH, these are some of the ‘better’ gods that I have designed over the years – the ones that I am happiest with and that are the most developed. There are a couple of others that I like almost as much,  but there are many more that haven’t really grabbed my attention and may never see the light of day again.

However, look out for another post at some point with details of:
1) The Royal Family Ancestors, a restrictive faith that came about because I wanted a Royal Family for Porters Bar that really did have divine ancestors.
2) My version of the Green Faith  – which started with some mythological tales about the Sun, Earth and Moon and grew into a mini-pantheon that includes the Sky and the Sea.

And then there may well be a further post that looks at the deities who will round out the pantheon in my NWN world.

  • Gasgano, the Eternal Sage (LN) (M)
  • Azan, Goddess of the Market (LN) (F)
  • Bagmet, the Mysterious (TN) (?)
  • Jack, the Butterfly of Galinia (TN) (M)

They haven’t been fully written up yet, but I suspect will make it into my overall pantheon of demi-gods.