The Dark World of Rym
Religion and faith are peculiar things in Rym, given that most of the subjects of that faith have been dead for centuries. However, priests and clergy can still draw on the powers of their late deities, giving even dead gods purchase in the world. The followers of each deity are spread far and wide across the world, but wide-ranging religious organizations are few and none spread across the entire planet.
Why do mortals give praise to dead gods – beings proven to be neither as omnipotent nor omniscient as mortals once thought them? Firstly, as said, mortals can use their faith to draw on the residual power of their old deities, providing a practical reason for having a deep, consuming faith. Secondly, the deities each represented a fundamental philosophy and spectrum of concepts that the cosmos is built on. Some simply pay homage to those deities because they represent something important to the payer (for example, rites or prayers to Ixra are more frequent during winter and first loves).
Finally, the faithful believe that their prayers and supplication are keeping the dying embers of the gods’ existence alive. With enough time, dedication, and faith, it is believed that the gods may be reborn to take their place in the cosmos and restore the balance of the universe.
Kij Goddess of Life, Possibility, and Hope Plane: The City of Hestavar, on the Feywild
Kij, the sole survivor amongst the deities of the pantheon, lends her power to the sun, giving life and light to the universe. Rym’s sun is a dull disk against a grey sky, as Kij remains in hiding from the titanic war machine known as Nigh (which had already slain several of the gods by itself). Kij exhorts her followers to bring hope and healing to those who need it and to work for others to improve one’s own life.
Kij’s temples are widespread; most large cities have at least an obelisk or shrine dedicated to her, and few are the cities without practicing clergy. Due to such a wide presence, Kij’s temples are also more interconnected than those of other divinities.
The Solinari, a sovereign, self-supporting volunteer army, is dedicated to Kij, and the organization boasts one of the largest collections of users of divine power anywhere in the universe. The Solinari have been raised for and are dedicated to the destruction of the Spiral. They consider themselves the instruments of the Sun Goddesses’ will, which may be appropriate, as they might be the only real threat to the Spiral so far.
Kij’s clerics are organized into the classes of Beacon, Illuminant (or Luminary), and Solar.
Arka God of Earth, Law, and Commerce Plane: The Mansion Eternal (Earth Plane)
Arka was the grim and humorless god of Earth, who gave stability, strength, and commerce to the world. Arka having power over both the natural world as well as civilization, Arka was a truly powerful deity before being slain, presumably by Nigh. Arka, as the paragon of law and structure, never gave preference over what laws he preferred, so long as they kept order and sustained the systems that they were imposed on – in the view of an Arkan disciple, natural law, tyranny, and democracy are all equally venerated, as long as they are as strong and worthy as stone.
Arka’s faith tends to be monolithic in one place and sparse in others. Cities that have use of his power over earth and stone (such as those built underground or require extensive mining operations), as well as the largest commerce centers, have large temples and interconnected groups of faithful to shepherd the congregants and provide support for the assuredly well-trained and strong military. Arka’s faith is also second only to Kij’s amongst those who live an uncivilized lifestyle or draw on the power of primal spirits.
Arka’s churches tend to form intricate power structures with many titles and apparently superfluous ranks, but all faithful may be appropriately addressed as Beholden.
Circ God of Air, Knowledge, and Magic Plane: The Sky Expanse (Plane of Air)
Circ was the God of Air, specializing in all things that were unseen but had power nonetheless. He was the deity who granted magic and psionic power to the world, and it was he who graced the mortal races with intelligence and desire for knowledge. It is said that the plane known as the Sky Expanse has a well-hidden library within that contains all of the knowledge of the universe.
Circ’s faith has never been expansive, but it supported strong adherents throughout the Ice Age and the the current age, for knowledge is one of the most effective tools for survival in such dark times.
Circ’s faithful build and maintain schools in lieu of temples. The temple heirarchy includes Neophytes, Students, Learned, and Scholars.
Ixra Goddess of Fire, Passion, and Art Plane: Infernus (Plane of Fire)
Ixra was the divinity that gifted emotion, passion, and love to the world, little knowing that during the Twilight War that very action would be her downfall. Near the beginning of time, Ixra created for her golden realm a servitor race, as Merran had crafted the slaad and Circ had created the gith. Her servitors were the devils, creatures of emotion made manifest. Her sole mistake was in thinking that the treachery and greed of the darker emotions could overtake her, but as she was distracted by the Twilight War, the devils bartered with the humans of the Creator kingdom known as Bael Turath. The souls gained in the pact strengthened the diabolic host on one side and power granted the humans strengthened their forces in the Twilight War. Caught between strength and treachery, Ixra fell and the devils manifesting the darkest of mortal feelings rule Infernus.
Ixra’s doctrine demands that people live by their emotions, and thus she is often revered by primal peoples and artists of all stripes. Her command over fire gives her strong support in arctic climes, her individualistic streak makes her popular amongst warriors (a saying goes, “The general loves Arka while the soldier loves Ixra”), and she is often invoked by the lovelorn and those fighting the devils.
Ixra’s clergy do not keep an organized church. Her clerics are commonly known as Embers, though others take other titles to better describe their place in the world.
Merran God of Water, Deceit, and Luck Plane: The Capricious Sea (Water Plane)
Merran has a strong following amongst opportunists, thieves, gamblers, spies, and revelers. Indeed, the long-dead deity’s name is invoked all across Rym, even if active worship is rarely given. Merran called his people, in ancient times, to live capriciously and to take opportunities as they came. He is the chosen god amongst the halflings, and travelers the world over, be they wagon-masters or shiphands, pay homage to him for good luck and fair weather.
Merran’s followers are often studies in contrast; the stealthy assassin and the braggart bard both hold the Waterlord in high esteem, and both exemplify the fallen god’s philosphy in their own ways. Both the pirate lord and the owner of a teamsters’ guildhouse might have a shrine dedicated to Merran in their quarters. Few places on Rym (save for Magdalena and other riverside or seaside cities) hold Merran as a primary deity, and those are often hotbeds of corruption and crime.
Merran’s clergy rarely organizes except in places where a high percentage of a population worships the Ocean King. Most priests of Merran have, in their master’s individualistic style, given themselves their own title, such Squall, Tsunami, Undertow, Torrent, Wash, or other water-themed addresses.
Nyx Goddess of Night, Darkness, and Death Plane: The Final Mausoleum, on the Shadowfell
Nyx was a puzzle in life. The embodiment of things that cause mortals fear, the mistake that so many mortals made in times past was she was only those things. Indeed, like death itself, Nyx was the giver of meaning, and of peace, and of purpose. The hardest thing for mortals to understand about Nyx is that she may represent cruel and violent death, such as on a battlefield, but she also represents an end to suffering and the tranquility of peace. Nyx’s dictates include proper treatment of the dead, helping ease the suffering of survivors, and bringing the gift of death to those who would unbalance the cycle of life. With the rise of the Spiral, most followers of the Night Queen have taken to battling the undead, but some have decreed that this new phenomena of the dead rising from their grave is the last portion of the process caused by the goddess who once had dominion over all souls before they went to the deific planes where they would rest.
A few heretical sects (and, seemingly, a majority of her servitor race, the shadar-kai) believe that Nyx is still alive, and that this most mysterious and intractable of divinities still maintains her own plans and designs on Rym.
Nyx’s clergy are referred to as Celebrants. The most respected and powerful are known by the title of Exuberant.