Religion in Loraedor is a bit off-book.
Although the Major Powers have been presented as absolutes, the truth is that no one alive knows for certain that they even exist. Yes, churches and cults venerating their names exist, and devotees are granted holy powers by praying to them, but the gods themselves do not walk incarnate. Indeed, the Major Powers’ voices are better characterized as urges and nudges than words of direction or guidance.
From a cosmological point of view, there is once particular legend commonly repeated through time and cultures that explains this distance: the Wounding of the Bole.
The Celestials once walked among the races, it is said, warring incarnate, until a great hero in the Mythic Age lost a loved one to their collateral damage. This hero vowed to seal them away by destroying Verlyg, the road between Above and Below. Although Verlyg survived the wounding, the Celestials were trapped in heaven, unable to return. Although strong enough to empower their adherents across the impassable divide, their direct influence is tremendously diminished, filtered by the scarring caused by the Wound.
In their separation from the mortal plane, the Celestials have been relegated to a distance influence very much similar to that of their precursors, the Elemental deities, causing the entire pantheon to exist at far enough remove from mortals to let doubt creep in. This level of uncertainty has created through the ages a great deal of uncertainty and division among many churches devoted to both Celestials and Elementals, with splintered sects and denominations living together in resigned acceptance or desperate war despite their shared deity, age by age.
Minor Powers, on the other hand may or may not be as distant. Although incarnation remains generally out of grasp, many of the lesser deities have more direct access to the mortal world. Many offer more specific direction, although they possess a more restricted and narrow reach.
Terrestrial Deities: The Minor Powers
In addition to the 14 Major Powers of Loraedor, there are countless Minor Powers. These are beings empowered by worship, able to grant divine favor as do the Major Powers. Honored Ancestors, Powerful Outsiders, Ascended Heroes, Racial Deities, even some Holy Places, fit into this broad category.
These Minor Powers—Terrestrial Deities—fill in the cosmology. Although Rema is the goddess of Craft, the Dwarves commonly worship Lokor as the Dwarven god of craft. The terrible Kluggerot, god of death by bludgeoning, is revered by bands of gnolls, trolls, and other evil humanoids who ritualistically spread his Fear throughout the borderlands of civilized lands. Sorheen, a half-elven deity, uses his influence over travel, trade, and wind to bless the lives of those who live between. The Mountain Ghruhael, holy peak of the Creltha tribe, empowers and emboldens its people no matter how far from its sacred slopes they wander.
Although the lines are often blurred, Terrestrial Deities generally fit into two categories, the Created and the Orphans of the Wound. The Created are deities born of worship—racial deities, ascended heroes, holy places most often fit into this category. Orphans of the Wound are powerful beings who were imprisoned on the mortal plane when the Wound was inflicted upon Verlyg. Demon, Angel, or Other, these beings had power before being trapped when the Way was shut, and continue to exist through the power garnered from the worship of their adherents.
The point here is to provide an easy mechanism for both DM and player to create the deity they want for a given circumstance. The Major Powers sit above and apart from the world after having shaped it with their wills, whereas the Minor Powers plot, protect, and play from within it. Players, with DM participation/approval, can create a patron that suits their ideal character concept. If a Major Power fits the bill, that is easily done, but there are many circumstances in which a character might be sworn to a deity more specific, and this model enables that deity to exist. DMs may need a cult with a very specific goal, or simply an interesting and specific belief as a hook for the existence of a remote mountaintop monastery.
The Elemental/Celestial/Terrestrial framework provides out of the box deities with the flexibility to easily plug in whatever custom solution best fits Fun at your table. That’s the feel of religion in canonical Loraedor, at any rate. In your game you should do what’s the most fun for your group, and you should feel free to use any of the material presented here however you’d care to. That’s one of the best parts of the hobby that we love.
There are implications to the Wounding of the Bole and its restrictions to planar travel that we’ll address in an upcoming post.