Zeigeist: Division Six
Faiths and Philosophies
Three religions and a handful of secular philosophies dominate in the ZEITGEIST campaign setting. Unlike in typical Pathfinder Role-Playing Game worlds, there is no planar travel, magic to summon extra-planar creatures is exceedingly rare, and only once in recorded history has a god actually physically appeared in the world—and then she was killed. While it is undeniable that powers and forces exist beyond this world, their shapes cannot be proven, and must be taken on faith.
The Clergy—According to the Clergy's Holy Text, one thousand years ago a human fisherman named Triegenes from what today is Danor discovered the secret of divinity while lost in a storm at sea. He returned and preached about the divine spark within all mortals, and how by constantly challenging oneself, a person can become like a god. He inspired followers to fight beside him, and together they toppled tyrants, slew legendary monsters, and eventually established a new nation, based upon a hierarchy of divinity, where rank and reward were based solely on merit.
After his kingdom was established, Triegenes undertook the greatest challenge left in the mortal world: to defeat the demonocracy that oppressed the lands to the east. He confronted the abyssal lords who had taken residence on this world, sacrificed himself to banish them forever, and then left his mortal shell and ascended to godhood.
The Clergy believe in many gods, with no pinnacle godhead, but they preach foremost the teachings of Triegenes, that every man has greatness within him, and he merely needs to be challenged to awaken his potential. And while a thousand years have burdened this original message with a complex celestial bureaucracy, vaguely-interpreted visions of a multiverse of planes, and a strong emphasis on the superior potential of humans above all other races, the simple dogma that anyone can improve their life, and that indeed this is the main purpose of life, holds strong appeal. The Clergy is now the most widespread faith in Lanjyr.
Organized religion based in Crisillyir. Every mortal can empower himself, even reach godhood, if he confronts the challenges of the world. Beyond this world exist many planes, each a more perfect manifestation of some aspect of our reality, and they are presided over by a host powerful gods, angels, and spirits that can be entreated for power.
Clerics of The Clergy can select any two domains, and a one handed non-eastern melee (exotic or martial, including 1H/2H bastard sword) weapon as their favored weapon.
The Old Faith —The Old Faith (often referred to as green faith) is a naturalistic philosophy based on the belief that natural forces are worthy of attention and respect. Practiced throughout Risur, of vital importance is the propitiation of the intelligences reflective of natural phenomena, such as elemental spirits and fey.
Devotees of the Old Faith meditate daily, gazing up at the starry night sky in the hopes of receiving inspiration and insight into future events. Adherents commune with natural forms of power and show respect to nature in all things. Even in the cities, common folk often hang fresh herbs from the lintels of doorways as a sign of respect for nature. It is customary to heed the land spirits and the appease the denizens of the Dreaming before starting any construction or agricultural projects, less they sabotage the work and cause misfortune to all involved. Those who seek favor from the fey often leave them gifts such as bowls of milk and honey, sweets, jewels, alcohol and tobacco, though it easy to insult the capricious beings by leaving the wrong gift or doing so at the wrong time. The fey love children, and mortal infants are especially favored as gifts. A particularly angry or evil-tempered fey may demand babies or else cause all kinds of mayhem.
The Old Faith is, with little argument, the oldest form of worship in Risur, as evidenced by the numerous druidic symbols found in the cave drawings of early man. However, it is a faith in decline. Many modern Risuri are progressive-minded and see the old ways as a thing of the past, and the age of the fey ended long ago.
Divine casters who draw upon nature such as Druids, Rangers, Hunters, Shaman.
The term “primalist” refers to those followers of Risur’s Old Faith who believe that their nation’s path of technological advancement and industrialization is an affront to natural forces and the Unseen Court .While most primalists protest peacefully, some are willing to take extreme actions to circumvent recent technological developments.
Seedism—The faith of the Unseen Court and those descended from them, such as elves and gnomes. Seedists believe that that the Dreaming and the Material Plane are reflections of each other, inexorably intertwined, and that every act, no matter how small, eventually has major repercussions in the other world. Many Seedists feel that the realm of the fey is dying a slow death because technology is lulling minds in the mortal world to a sort of dreamless sleep, a process that will eventually usher in the End Times.
Seedist rites are magical and sexually-charged affairs that usually take place outdoors, under a starry sky, and attract the presence of woodland beings. Practitioners are usually required to orient their perceptions to the other world via the use of natural hallucinogens.
The denizens of the Dreaming and their allies invoke divine power from many beings both fair and foul, but none are as terrible as the Fey Titans.
Gods of the Dreaming
Many gods of the Dreaming are typically nature-oriented, as befitting the powers of a realm considered the primeval archetype of the Material Plane. Like nature itself, these gods represent aspects of nature that are either terrible or beautiful—oftentimes both. Other gods seem to reflect the fey themselves, whimsical yet bound to baffling behaviors and customs. In the past 500 years, since the Great Malice, even the most well-intentioned Seedist gods are slowly succumbing to a corruption rooted in their mistrust of humanity and hatred of technological progress.
A core belive of Seedism is that our actions are seeds, and will shape the face of the world, though it may take ages. Elves and gnomes have long memories. Before the rise of humanity, the gods spoke to us, and we still remember their names and teachings. Srasama, the three-faced mother-warrior-queen, was slain by human treachery, but it is our duty to endure and outgrow this injury. The archfey of the Dreaming were once vassals of the gods, and so we revere and respect them.
Clerics of this faith can select any two domains and either a one handed eastern weapon (exotic or martial, including 1H/2H Katana) or the long/short bow as favored weapon.
Heid Eschatrol—The Heid Eschatol Movement began among the dwarves of Drakr, after the scholar Vlendam Heid published a treatise on the myths of his nation and how they continued to influence modern perceptions. The book captured the culture’s consciousness, particularly a section that used the legend of the Lost Riders to explain the Drakran tradition of defining civilizations and eras by how they end. In the three decades since its publication, Heid’s “On the Proper Endings of Things” has given birth to a whole field of academic study devoted to finding the perfect way to end friendships and romances, business relationships, wars, serialized literature, and even one’s own life.
Heid’s disciples refer to themselves as eschatologists, from the term for the study of the end of the world. Their popularity has only strengthened Drakr’s existing obsession with apocalyptic prophecies and doomsaying, and has raised awareness of their beliefs in other nations. The Clergy, however, denies that the dwarven endtimes are near, and its agents take a dim view of Heid’s followers.
Panoply—A philosophy born in the minds of monsters, this young movement consists of a few educated Berans who have proclaimed themselves philosophers. Inspired by the new—and comparably peaceful—cooperation among the many races of Ber, they have begun to found schools throughout their nation. There they educate students in matters of art and culture from around the world, pursuits normally mocked by those who follow the old tribal ways.
Though there is great debate among them, in general, Panopleists criticize the current, exploitative, wealth-motivated society. They aim for an establishment of a fully racially integrated, classless, stateless, and communalist society structured upon common ownership of land, resources, and the means of production. They seek an end to entrepreneurialism and the aristocracy, and believe in free access to essentials like food and housing for all citizens. In the end, they hope to do away with money entirely.
A few traveling professors from the Panoply schools have made a splash among the dockers in Flint, and every year more foreign artists and poets attend the parties of wealthy Beran nobles who are eager to appear cultured. Certain “lost” writings and quotations attributed to the historic philosopher William Miller have recently been disseminated amongst Panopleists and dockers in Flint. Though he was executed long before the Panoply came into being, many dockers and Panopleists regard Miller as an icon and martyr to their movement.
Pragati—Official atheist position of the Jierre ruling party in Danor. Gods are the creation of men who were unable to comprehend the real structure of the world. This philosophy has been promoted by the Jierre ruling party for centuries. Every person who has passed through the nation’s academically exhaustive public educational system is indoctrinated in its tenets—that the so-called gods are the creation of primitive minds unable to comprehend the real structure of the world. Progress, innovation, scientific inquiry—these are the values paramount to Pragati and the ingredients of a healthy society. Those who hold false beliefs, be they in gods, in disproven economic theories, or anything else, are a threat to progress.
While most followers of Pragati reject the idea of magic and extraterrestrial puppetmasters, some adherents to this philosophy outside Danor can and do access arcane and even divine magic. These rare few believe in an individual’s potential to unlock her own divinity—which they call gnosis —through reason, innovation, self-confidence, and sheer force of will. Pragati believe that it is simply gnosis that is accessed by religious believers, who must use the trappings of ritual and exercise self-abasement to use divine magic. Pragati hold themselves above that sort of ceremonial groveling.
Vekesh—Guiding principle that helped the elves survive after the fall of Elfaivar. After a tragedy, the best revenge is to heal and grow stronger than you were before. The cornerstone of Elven Ideology is that living well is the best revenge. After the goddess Srasama died and nearly all elf women perished with her, there was a great drive in Elfaivar to fight until the last man in a short-sighted bid for vengeance. As the rest of the nation whipped itself into a frenzy, however, a composer named Vekesh wrote a song of mourning that contained a simple sentiment: defeat is only tragedy if we choose to let the story end.
While many elves could not be stopped from their self-destruction, Vekesh convinced some of his people that a tale that goes from defeat to revenge to death is a shameful tragedy. Revenge serves only to distract from one’s grief, but is ultimately valueless. Instead, he said, a tale of defeat, resilience, and renewal is the best way to thwart their enemies’ goals. The proper form of retribution, then, is to endure, rebuild from weakness, and prosper into strength.
His guidance ensured that in at least a few isolated enclaves, the elven race pulled back from the brink of annihilation. In the following decades a loosely codified collection of vekeshi teachings spread throughout Lanjyr. The mantras of Vekesh have helped many—elven and otherwise—cope with loss and find a new path for themselves.
To the general public, though, “vekeshi” is synonymous with murderer and terrorist. While the majority of vekeshi avoid violence when possible, Vekesh believed that taking up arms is sometimes necessary to protect those at their most vulnerable. The deepest secrets of vekeshi mysticism are taught only to a rare few adherents who demonstrate a skill for battle, and the wisdom to know when to use their power.