Call to Arms
To understand religion, worship and clerics in the Sundered Lands one must keep these points in mind.
- The gods are physically present in the world.
You might look out your window after the first snowfall and see Kruss, the god of winter walking through your front yard or painting frost on your window. Come spring you might see Vesta dancing her way across the world while all around her flowers bloom.
So, while there is room for disagreement over what the gods actually want or about their deeper nature, there is no doubt about their existence. Atheism in this world would be a sign of insanity. Likewise the word “faith” is only used in the older, broader sense. One does not have “faith in the Moon”, though one might be faithful to the Moon.
- Gods are not all powerful, all knowing, nor omnipresent.
So while the reach of a god’s power may be very broad, gods are not everywhere at once, they do not have a perfect picture of what is happening everywhere in the world at any given time. In fact, they make mistakes based on misunderstandings all the time, just like you and me. The difference is if Valdame mistakenly believes you deserve it she might flatten your city with a hurricane.
This point is critical in understanding religion and the god’s relationship with his or her clerics. Vincseya does not automatically know what her clerics have been up to. She might be keenly interested, but she needs to gather that information like any head of state would, although she can gather news from rivers and water-dwelling creatures. Likewise if she wants to make her wishes understood she would probably show up in person, gather important followers and simply TELL THEM. (This of course depends on the personality of the god and his relationship with his followers. Ephistea and her children are much harder to pin down, while the God-Emperor of Koth issues imperial decrees from his palace.)
Because this communication is imperfect, there is room for disagreement and misunderstanding a gods wishes. Separate cults can and do pop up worshiping the same god, and religious disagreements have turned violent. Sometimes it takes centuries for a god to notice the problem and set it straight.
- The gods are immortal and wise but have human flaws and emotions.
Perhaps it’s more accurate to say humans have the same emotions and flaws as the gods who created them. One should also understand that the gods disagree and quarrel over the most petty points. The world was created by a dysfunctional committee.
That said, it’s safe to assume all of the gods genuinely care about the world and the creatures they have made and want to preserve and protect it all, though they might have different visions of how that should be done.
- Each god has a separate domain of divine power in which the god is absolute.
When Kyrios perpetrated The Great Lie he did so with absolute power and authority as the god of deception and trickery. None of the other gods can undo what he has done. They can oppose what he has done, each god within his own absolute domain. So Ephistea can allow specific people at specific times to recognize and see through the Great Lie, but she cannot unmake it.
Likewise if Vyx brings a plague down on Estaria, Moon and her clerics might work to heal people case by case, but she cannot make the plague go away altogether. More likely Moon and the other gods would coerce Vyx to end the plague though a combination of promises, threats, flattery and even outright bribery.
- There is only one Pantheon. There are no other competing religious systems.
If the gods were on some inaccessible plane of existence the world might worship many different pantheons of gods, maybe none of them truly reflecting the gods who made the world. But in a world where you can go on a hunting trip with Lanru, that can’t happen.
It’s fair to say there is only one religion in the Sundered Lands, containing many cults which specialize in specific gods. It’s also fair to say that everyone worships ALL of the gods, both collectively and specifically. If a cleric of Caetar wants a child, she needs to sacrifice to Vesta. When a priestess of Vincseya needs courage she would do well to pray to Caetar.
Even the evil gods receive universal worship, usually in the form of placating that god to keep evil at bay. Of course, there are evil cults worshiping evil gods to bring more evil into the world, those generally operate in the shadows, outside polite society.
- There is no afterlife, no Heaven or Hell
The Plan of the World specifies a final end of all mortal creatures. That’s what it means to be mortal. People in the Sundered Lands do not have immortal spirits. Elves are immortal spirits, and Humans and Elves know the difference very well.
It’s also worth noting that this campaign is not directly connected to most of the classic D&D planes of existence. These are the known planes accessible from this campaign world:
The Material World
The Ethereal Plane
The Astral Plane (which may be distantly connected to the classic D&D planes)
The Nine Hells, Seven Heavens, Abyss, and Elemental planes may as well not exist in this campaign. Consider Elementals native to the Material World or Fey. Demons, devils and celestials have their own unique origins in this campaign. When banished they go to the Fey.