As the aim is to have the religion of Earthwound as compatible as possible with the generic D&D setting, this is an almost universally theistic, and universally polytheistic culture. However, the gods remain a mysterious lot, and direct intervention from them is almost unheard of (apart from in myth). Their presence is still felt through their priests and proxies, and it’s felt strongly enough that an atheistic stance would be considered irrational (it’d be like not believing in a foreign country – where even if someone had never been there themselves, they could still be expected to allow that it actually does exist). There are still various understandings of what the gods actually are, but that’s a more complicated story.
Religions vary from animist shamanism and ancestor worship through to large hierarchical organisations recognisable as actual churches (often packaged complete with orthodox dogma). In practical terms people might have particular gods they venerate over others, but they recognise that there are other powers (many of which are purely foreign though, only for outsiders). There are several pantheons and in each the gods aren’t just piecemeal but, good and bad together, form a single unit that touches on every aspect of life – basically together they will embody a kind of cosmology, an understanding of the influences that govern life in the Earthwound. While a whole pantheon will be recognised, usually only one god will be called on at any one time, based on the pressing needs of the moment. In some circumstances, people will dedicate their lives to the service of a particular god above all others – but even then they won’t automatically be beyond the reach of other gods, or disrespectful to their cults (quite the opposite: within a single pantheon, cults will usually share ceremonial duties with each other if the particular moment arises – even if they do wrangle over precedence).
The removal of the D&D alignment system is the biggest change away from the generic 4th Edition D&D setting, and it has meant that many ‘evil’ gods have become useable within societies which aspire to ‘goodness’ (not to mention for the players) – and also that many ‘evil’ things done in the name of ‘good’ deities.
- Bahamut – The Platinum Dragon, embodiment of nobility, righteousness and purging fury.
- Tiamat- The Mother of Primal Chaos, invoked during curses, funereal rites and rituals of childbirth. She is fated to drown the universe in black waters at the end of time.
- Bane – Proud and powerful, the embodiment of discipline and military prowess and patron of Tarn.
- Gruumsh – The raging hungry one, the Deep Mouth. He is a mighty demon of berserk bloodlust, but whose cult is dedicated to peace-making.
- Lolth – The Smoky Darkness, who embodies illusion, deception as part of a Greater Truth.
- Torog – The Crawling King who teaches mortification and self-abnegation as paths to freedom. The caterpillar god is invoked at rights of passage.
- Erathis – Goddess of Civilization, Inventions, Law, and submission to the needs of the many. Erathis has been recognised as the patron of Akrea, and her quietly pragmatic cult is active everywhere.
- Asmodeus – The Balancer, the Redresser of Ills, Asmodeus is the two-faced god of both Justice and Revenge. Popular amongst merchants as a god of fair dealing, and quietly invoked by law enforcers as a god of judgement.
- Pelor – The Lord of Bloom – God of Veil, Agriculture and Time
- Sehanine – The Lady of Ebb – Goddess of Illusion and Love
- Raven Queen – The Lady of Wither – Goddess of Death, Fate and Doom
- Corellon – The Lord of Flux – God of Beauty, Art and Magic
- Moradin – God of the Hearth, of Family, Community and Craft. Teaches loyalty, generosity and kindness.
- Kord – God of Battle, of Storms, Glory and Strength. Teaches bravery, pride and honour.
- Ioun – Goddess of Prophecy and Tutelage, Ioun is the patron of Enderly. She represents a philosophy of personal growth through revelation, a difficult and risky path to power and self knowledge.
- Vecna – Wounded god of secrets, forbidden and taboo knowledge.
- Melora – Goddess of Wilderness, Nature and the Sea. Melora is a fickle god, prone to terrible rages.
- Avandra – Goddess of Change, Luck and Travel. Melora’s sister, Avandra can be lavishly generous to those she favours.
- Zehir – The Snake, God of Many Skins, is said to have a million shadowy forms, and is all of them at once. The chief god of Savan, the shifter homelands of the lower strata, Zehir rules over a pantheon of clan totems, each a different animal.
Though the stories of the gods themselves are important, it is the people telling the stories that change the world. The cults and churches are what define the character of a god – their understanding of the god’s message is the one that is felt. The gods rarely seem to mind conflicting interpretations: clearly it is only mortals that worry about having a single, defined identity.Ioun, first born of the Kala Tass. The Oras Ioun is strongly centred in Enderly, and allows little opposition within its sphere of influence.
A mighty church that began with the ancient Karaash and has now spread throughout the Earthwound. The Ossa has been split and revised many times, and there are no less than three distinct forms of it active today, and conflict between them is not uncommon.
Four cults come together here in a single church of the Firmament. The Divided Lights are the gods of the seasons, and their Church is particularly popular with commoners of the middle strata. Each cult takes a particular ritual specialty, leaving room for the other three.