The Gods of Arelon
The gods of Arelon are a strange assortment. They did not originate on Morus, but their worship is intermingled with the native deities. Exactly where the foreign gods begin and the native ones end is a matter of some speculation; it is so long ago now that it has fallen into legend. Those legends say that in a time when the western coasts were gripped in the tyrannical hands of the Methlum Kingdom, a man named Numa came from no family or tribe.
This Numa was no ordinary man, but a demigod, according to legends. He was stronger, faster, smarter than any other - and, in accordance with the old ways of western Leng, he quickly became king of his people, the Carath. Under his leadership, it is said, the Methlum were singlehandedly destroyed and the Carath Kingdom was formed. Vintish scholars say it is more likely that the Methlum fell as a result of ill-advised attacks on the Karpathi plainsmen of Qolor, but such histories are blasphemy in Arelon.
They are blasphemy because King Numa would become Emperor Numa, the first god-emperor of Arelon. Whether his rulership was won by divine right or simple opportunism, none can doubt that Emperor Numa had the backing of some god by the time he conquered Dalmar. The most formidable fleet in all of Leng at that time was destroyed by him, with fire called from the sky. Some scholars postulate that only Myrkul could have been behind such a thing, but the god he named was Vulcan, an unknown deity.
The Emperors of Arelon have claimed the blood of Vulcan ever since; it is the claim to their right to rule. For the God-Emperors are not merely rulers; each of them is accounted a demigod in his own right, as Emperor Numa I supposedly was. In a nation where the power and ceremony of religion is so important, this is not merely a detail of tradition; it is vital to the Emperor's rulership of the Empire. Without a strong Emperor, there is no Empire.
As may be surmised, the gods of Arelon are partially of the Olympian pantheon; however, their translation on Morus has been strange and uneven. Jupiter is all but forgotten, and Vulcan - by all accounts a lesser god amongst the gods of Olympus - has supreme power. Those who walk the planes enough to know aught of the gods would immediately see this cannot be so, and some other force must be at work on Morus to inflate Vulcan to such heights.
Vulcan is the principal god of the Arelonian Pantheon. He is the Great Smith who, it is said, forged the adamant spear and shield that Emperor Numa carried into battle, which made him invincible. These arms, the Spear and Shield of Right, can be borne only by one who has the Mark of Right upon his chest; any who do not bear this sacred scar will be incinerated by flames. For Vulcan is also the Venger, who calls fire upon those who displease the gods. He is depicted as a man, but great in stature as a giant, with a bare chest and a great hammer in his hand.
Vulcan's portfolio of fire extends into many parts of Arelonian life. Obviously, smiths and metalworkers are venerated in the Empire, and the divine retribution that he metes out on those who sin against the gods is legendary. However, his fire is also metaphorical; like Myrkul, his fire is said to cleanse away impurities and weakness. It is also seen as a metaphor for life itself; priests of Vulcan refer to the life-blood as the "fire of man", and the Emperors are said to have "fire in their veins".
Of the Olympian Pantheon, Vulcan is quite likely Hephaestus, the Forge-God, yet it is clear that he has taken on new power on Morus. One familiar both with Morus and the Great Wheel of the planes might hypothesize that he is neither Hephaestus nor Myrkul, but a kind of combination between; even as some might posit that Ravi and Myrkul are somehow related. Myrkul, it seems, has a habit of spreading and adapting his fire to the people who worship him.
Unlike most of the gods, Vulcan is said to be physically present on Morus. Vulcan's Anvil, the great mountain that rises against the back of Caragoth, is said to have a great cave which can be found only by the priesthood of Vulcan and entered only by one of the Imperial bloodline. This cave, it is said, is guarded by a red dragon, a legion of cyclopes and some of the demons of Hades itself. Every Emperor ascends that mountain with the priests of Vulcan, and returns with his chest marked by the Flame of Right.
For more information on Vulcan, see the Deities & Demigods entry for Hephaestus.
Tempus is possibly the second-most important of the Arelonian gods - one so widespread and influential that he has even taken a place in the Trinity of Vingaard. To a walker of the planes, he is indisputably Ares, the Olympian god of war - and yet for reasons unknown, he is given the name Tempus, a name which Ares also bears in Faerun. More information about Tempus himself, and his priests, can be found on the Trinity page.
Although the Tempus of Arelon is the same Tempus as that in Vingaard, he is far more important in the Arelonian panethon. Amongst the Vintish, he is merely a god of soldiers and honorable warfare, known mostly for the beserking priests known as Battleguards. But in Arelon, he is second only to Vulcan himself. If Vulcan is the Venger and the Great Smith, it is Tempus who is the Eternal General. He takes up the arms made by his blood-brother Vulcan and carries them into battle against the enemies of Arelon.
Mirqurios is Hermes of the Olympian Pantheon. On Morus, he is a major god of sorcerors and magic amongst the Arelonians, as well as the patron of messengers and tacticians - all those who must be swift, in mind or body. Despite their relatively detached relationship with most of the priestly caste, his temples are immensely important for the power they wield. They are also rare, found only in the greatest of cities, for the cost and difficulty of raising a temple of Mirqurios is very large.
The power held by the Temples of Mirqurios is that of the Icon of Mirqurios Trismegistus. This is a great caduceus; a winged staff 10 feet tall and twined around with twin serpents. It is made of precious quicksilver, which flows and shifts without ever resting still, holding its form and shape even though the metal is naturally liquid. The effect of the Mirqurios Trismegistus is to cast a powerful field of nullification over the entire city; any magical effect that passes into the city is immediately ended, and no arcane spellcasting is possible within the confines of the city. This is contravened only for those carrying a Mage's Seal, a small disc of glass with a drop of quicksilver trapped within it.
Mirqurios has priests, and grants them powers; his priests are often multi-classed with rogues and mages. His portfolio is best summarized by an excerpt from a well-known poem about the god:
I forgive every sin
you think you ever did.
The only real sin is staying home
and never braving the Road.
Only cowards and sheep
follow all the rules.
Desire, my friend,
and follow where it leads.
(credit to Jim Wise for the poem)
Bacchus is Dionysis of the Olympian pantheon. He is god of wine, and the happiness and madness that it can bring. He is joy, pleasure and camraderie; he is mindless, savage violence. He is the god of all madnesses, great and small; of the little lunacies of day to day life, of the joyous madness of wine, and gibbering madness of void. He feels a great protectiveness for his temples and high-level priests, and may visit madness on those who defile his holy places if angered sufficiently. Those struck mad by Bacchus become bacchae, as below.
Priests of Bacchus have the power to use wine and festivities to create bacchae, wine-maddened carousers whose mob fury is a terrifying sight to behold. This transformation can affect one creature per level of the priest; it automatically affects any who are drunk or who willingly accept it, and any who resist are entitled to a saving throw vs. polymorph. The duration lasts until the drink runs out or until those affected drop from exhaustion. If at any point the mob is scattered or separated into groups of three or less, the effect ends immediately. Once created, the priest of Bacchus has no control over the mob, although they will not attack him.
Bacchus is best known, of course, for the Bacchanalia. It is simultaneously a popular festival and a deeply dangerous time to be in the great cities of Arelon. It lasts three days, and takes place only once every 3 years. On the first day, the Temple of Bacchus brings great tables out into public squares and parks and piles them high with food and wine, inviting any who can find a place to drink and eat freely. On the second day, this feast grows into a great party - every tavern has their goods paid for by the Temple, and musicians and dancers play in the streets. Almost everywhere one turns, there is merry-making to be found.
On the evening of the second day, the pitch of the party grows higher, not lower. Even as you would expect many to become exhausted, there comes a great urge over the whole city to dance, and carouse, and whirl around. People's inhibitions vanish, and any who drink so much as a drop of wine seem to lose their heads completely. At this point, those with any wisdom resist the allure of the festival and retreat to their homes. For on midnight of the second day, everyone still partaking becomes a bacchae, turning the city into a whirlwind of frenzied merrymaking that almost tears the city apart. When it is ended, those who survive say that the satyrs and nymphs danced in the streets with them, and remember it as the most incredible night of their life.
The calling of a priest of Bacchus is to amuse their god, and to bring a very specific kind of hedonistic joy to all they come across. In particular, it is Bacchus' will that those who would otherwise lead boring, tiresome lives of routine are encouraged towards releasing their inhibitions and taking what life may bring. Likewise, it is the duty of a priest of Bacchus to make every situation more interesting; if at all possible, this should be done in a positive way that leads to merrymaking. A priest of Bacchus is unlikely to kill just to increase the sum total of chaos, though there are evil exceptions.
The only good deity of the Arelonian pantheon, Concordia represents peace - a role that is sorely necessary, given the warlike ways of the Arelonian people and their gods. Her priesthood is venerated and highly respected in Arelon, allowing them to walk in places that would make any other man shudder in fear. The Concord, the peace negotiated by Concordian priests, is one of the most powerfully binding geas that can be laid. Those who break it suffer a curse beyond human imagination.
The Concordian priests do not simply adjudicate peace amongst legitimate organisations; so great is their power that even feuding families or organisations of thieves in the midst of guild wars will heed their call. It is common practice to come to the Concordians to broker temporary truces in such disputes, where even captains of criminal organisations can show their faces without fear of reprisal. Those who are wanted and cannot show their face or enter city walls peacefully will even be aided by the Concordians, so that they may attend the Concord without fear for their own safety. Even if they are discovered, few would dare harm anyone who carries the white banner of Concordia. The Concordian temple profits greatly in donations from these arrangements, of course.
The priests of Concordia may cast Sanctuary at-will from level 1; this power cannot be used if they have any violent intent in the near future. They also have various powers related to the laying of geas and the enforcement of deals and agreements; for this reason, Concordia is also the goddess of contracts, commerce and all good, rational and honourable deals. At higher levels, the Sanctuary that priests of Concordia may rely on becomes even more powerful, denying even a saving throw to attack them as long as they show no violence.
The most powerful ability of the priesthood of Concordia is that of the Concord. This power, which is invoked from the Temple of Concordia, can compel any to stay their hands from violence, from the meanest beggar to the Emperor himself. No saving throw or protection is effective, save possibly the intervention of a more powerful god. All those named in the Concord will find themselves unable to raise their arms in continuation of violence until they have come to the sacred Temple of Concordia and participated, in good faith, in the negotiations that take place there.
The Concord does not demand that an agreement is made, only that negotiation occurs in good faith, without deceit or treachery. Any agreement made during the Concord is magically binding, however, as if it were a particularly powerful geas. The effects of breaking a Concord are far worse than any mortal geas, however - they are so terrible, in fact, that there are few accounts of what they actually look like. Most who see it happen would rather forget that they have ever beheld such a thing.
Appearing as a beautiful woman in shimmering dress, and attended at all times by a pack of nine hell-hounds, Trivium is Hecate of the Olympian pantheon. She is the Queen of Witches and Ghosts, and master of ritual magics. By her authority only can the spirits of the Underworld be called up, but this always comes at a price.
Some scholars believe she may be related to Seidar, the Old God of ghosts and evil spirits.
Dis the god of death. He is believed by the Arelonians to be the sole and absolute ruler of the realm of Hades, also known as the Grey Waste - the Neutral Evil realm of the Outer Planes. In truth, he is master only of the part of the Grey Waste known as the Underworld, guarded by the three-headed hellhound, Kerber. This is where the blessed dead of the Arelonians go, as long as they are properly consecrated. If they are not, they are thought to wander as tortured shades, and become the domain of Trivium.
As he dwells beneath the earth in a realm of bottomless blackness, he is the lord of all things made of earth; by his power, it is said, metal can rust and crumble and stone pillars can shatter like glass. By this same power, he can turn base lead into gold; he is the master of all alchemists, and is said to bestow incredible riches upon those who do his bidding. He is master, also, of the depth of the fiery pits of the Underworld and the terrible demons he breeds there; best known of these are the hellhounds.
There are a number of lesser gods worshiped by the people of Arelon; these include the Furies - gods of punishment and curses - and Prometheus. The latter has specific significance amongst those of Arelon because he is said to have first stolen fire from an unnamed group of older gods. It is said that Prometheus brought the fire to Vulcan when he was still a lowly smith for the titans, and they fled to Morus before before the Titanomachia could begin.