The Shade Isle Campaign
The Imperial Church refers to the worship of former Connaian deities which it has declared to be false (Phoebe Luna, Nereus Oceanus, Mercurius Trismagistus, and Dis Plutus) as paganism. It refers to worship of foreign gods as heathenry. For lack of a better blanket-term, this article deals with those religions still practiced in Lethandria which the imperial Church calls heathen: the faiths of the Northern Gods, the Elvish Trinity, Ogreish Totemism, and Epona.
The Northern Gods
The seven gods of the north are honored by men and dwarves in Laomark and Rûne. The northern pantheon consists of Alfader, the king of the gods, and three each of lesser gods and goddesses. The lesser gods are Thünor, the god of thunder and the sky; Baldur, the god of the underworld and death; and Ægir, the god of the seas. The goddesses are Freya, queen of the gods and patroness of love; Hildrun, the goddess of valor and war; and Jordha (pronounced “YOR-tha”), the goddess of kindness, healing, and the earth.
The Nhordic faith doesn’t exactly have formal dogmas, but there are some teachings which are held to be common sense by just about everybody: the gods oppose the jotuns, powerfully magical giants who are said to dwell deep in the underworld. The gods also despise goblins and trolls, which is why the common breeds of those races are either sickened for petrified by sunlight. The undead are an affront to the gods, abominations which must be destroyed at all costs. Those who die an honorable death (especially, but not necessarily, in battle) are fated to go to the Halls of Hildrun in the hereafter, while those who die with dishonor must haunt the underworld forever, to be eternally tormented by the jotuns for their sport—at least until Ragnarok comes.
The Elvish Trinity
The Elves hold that there are three deities which govern the universe, but their deities are more like impersonal forces of nature than traditional gods. The deities are to be honored and placated, but not necessarily worshiped in the ordinary sense. The Elvish trinity is comprised of: the Dagda, the Good God; the Morrigan, the Goddess of Magic; and the Samhain (pronounced “SAH-wen”), the Shadow of Night.
Elves believe that regularly observed rituals, especially on holy days (like solstices and equinoxes), should be observed to please the gods and keep the machinery of nature running smoothly; but they don’t presume to believe, for example, that the gods answer prayers or care about the lives of mortals (including elves).
Elvish belief in the afterlife is vague, at best, and like their gods, impersonal. Elves believe that souls come into existence at the moment of birth, drawn from the life-force of the planet; and after death, that life-force returns to the planet, ceasing to be an individual person and instead becoming one with nature.
Nearly every ogre clan belongs to one of five great tribes, each named for one of the five great totem-spirits revered by the ogres: Father Bear, Brother Wolf, Sister Eagle, Mother Serpent, and Brother Cat. These five spirits also form the cornerstone of the ogres’ religion, which is animistic and guided by shamans. All things, they teach, have a spirit—forces of nature, inanimate objects, animals, people. All of the spirits must be honored in whatever way each spirit wants, but the five great animal spirits (as well as the ancestors of one’s clan) deserve the most attention, because they take the closest interest in the affairs of mortals. After death, one joins the ancestors in watching over the affairs of their descendants.
The goddess Epona is worshiped by southern demi-humans, also called nymph-kind: centaurs, merfolk, satyrs, dryads, and so forth. Epona is referred to as a goddess of nature and a patron of beasts. Once upon a time, she was considered by some as an eighth deity in the Connaian pantheon; now the same phenomenon occurs with respect to the Nhordic pantheon (especially in southern Rûne, around Thaneskeep).
The actual practice of Epona-worship is somewhere between a mystery-cult and ancestor-worship: centaurs and merfolk especially regard her as an ancestor to their races (and she is also believed by some to be the daughter of Nereus Oceanus). In devotional imagery, Epona may appear as a golden-haired woman, a centauress, or an ichthyocentauress.