Posts Tagged With: Elemental Dragons

The En Khoda Theos Kirk – Part One

Part Two

Also known as the Cult of the Elements or the Dancing Kirk (church), or the Kirk of the Four Great Elemental Dragons, the En Khoda Theos Kirk is the formal name for the religion or mystical philosophy that is focused individually upon the elements as they manifest through the Great Dragons of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. It is the closest to formal worship or veneration or organized contemplation and study of the Great Gods (or at least a portion of them) that exists and is thought to be among the oldest of the organized religions, primarily practiced by the Dragonborn and the Warforged of the Iron Court but with a strong minority following of humans from Ith and Atlan. Human worship is loosely organized into a great congregation that is known as the Quatrefoil, while the Warforged have a highly organized and ruthlessly efficient organization known as the Svastika, that serves them as a state religion even if the analogy is a weak one.

There are five basic roles recognized within the religion of the En Khoda Theos Kirk; there are the Drakein (trans. “those who see clearly”), the common body of sworn and allied faithful who pursue the mysteries of the Great Dragons; the Maikoiran, the prophets; the Kenza, the warriors and champions, the Dorje, the priesthood; and the Vajra, the mystics – all of whom are devoted to the Great Dragons. Unlike other religions there is no formal pursuit of a status beyond that of the Drakein, there is only the Call of the Great Dragons, and the trials and process of moving deeper within the faith can be terrifying. Similarly, there is no real organizing authority within the religion and for the various authorities both secular and religious this is also of the most frustrating parts of dealing with the En Khoda Theos Kirk. Strange as those outside of the religion find it, Dorje-led Kirks, Kenzan Fighting Orders, solitary Vajran mystics, and Maikoiran secret societies all coexist and somehow manage to operate without much conflict – and this is the essence of the Quatrefoil, known also as the Dancing Kirk and the Union Stoicheion. For the Svastika, this is the state religion of the Iron Court, but again, more a philosophy than what most humans and other races think of as “religion”.

The Drakein are the gathering of the faithful in the greater congregation of the Kirk. While all of the Great Dragons are venerated, most faithful have one (or perhaps two) of the Great Dragons that are the most meaningful for them and that are granted the majority of their attention. The Drakein are taken from all walks of life – across social class and profession (Normal Worshippers).

The Maikoiran are the distinctly not a portion of the Dorje, the Kenza, or the Vajra – though many within those other groupings also followed this path for a time, or continue to follow it as a part of their service. They are dancing oracles, seers, and often tantrics who are viewed as touched by the Great Dragons, and are highly respected by the Drakein and others. The Maikoiran are organized into a bewildering series of secret societies and fellowships that provide support for themselves and Dancing Kirk as a whole (Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers, Warlocks).

The Kenza are the champions of the Dancing Kirk – lay brethren who are charged with the protection of the faithful and the guardianship of the various kirks and shrines. The Kenza are fierce and dedicated warriors who are associated with various fighting orders to whom they owe allegiance to. Common fighting orders include: The Thousand-Forged Dragons, The Storm Dancers, The Five-Fold Avalanche, and The Claws of the Dragons (Clerics, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, Rogues, Wizards).

Dorje serve the Great Dragons as a whole as part of the Quatrefoil, the Dancing Kirk. They serve as advisors and healers for their communities but only have formal authority within whatever kirk (temple) or vihara (monestary) they belong to. The two assemblages, kirk and vihara, are seen as distinctly different rules of conduct and behavior, but also as essentially co-equal and serving different purposes – kirks for the Quartrefoil and vihara for the individual Great Dragons. (Clerics).

Vajra are rare individuals who have been chosen and blessed one of the Great Elemental Dragons – they are generally seen as champions of that individual Great Dragon. They are often solitary in nature and wander looking for enlightenment and challenge, though a fair number tend to isolated shrines deep in the wilderness – a rare few even take up residence in an actual kirk and end up taking formal vows as a Dorje (Class Independant).

The Great Elemental Dragons

The Great Dragon of Earth and Metal: Also known as the Body Stoicheion, and often represents both stability and fertility.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Square or Rectangle / Brown / Stone Drake
  • Place of Worship: Underground or Stone-built Kirk or Vihara
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Lawful (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Finding a gem, a stone or gem shattering, earthquakes
  • Common Professions: Warriors, Smiths, Craftsmen, Midwives.

The Great Dragon of Air and Sky: Is known as the Breath Stoicheion, and represents the ideals of curiosity and intellect.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Downward Triangle / White / Storm Drake
  • Place of Worship: Open Air Kirk or Vihara
  • Divine/Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Whistling winds, still air, tornados
  • Common Professions: Sages, Sailors, Travelers, Wanderers.

The Great Dragon of Fire and Flames: Known as the Spirit Stoicheion, the Great Dragon of Fire represents both passion and consumption.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Upward Triangle / Red / Fire Drake
  • Place of Worship: Kirk or Vihara with Furnaces or Firepits
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Fires flaring, fires dampening, explosions
  • Common Professions: Performers, Tantrics, Artists.

The Great Dragon of Water and Seas: Consider by the some the most fearsome, the Great Dragon of the Sea is also known as the Blood Stoicheion, and stands for both mystery and adaptability.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal : Circle / Blue / Sea Drake
  • Place of Worship: Kirk or Vihara with Springs, Pools, Fountains, etc.
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Water going still, water running abnormally, whirlpools
  • Common Professions: Mages, Diplomats, Psychics.
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So who does my character worship..?

So, ckutalik over at Hill Cantons has a nice post about religion and gaming. Now, what many folks don’t know about me is that at one time I seriously considered a career as a minister, though my Calling found another expression eventually. With that piece of information in place, you can imagine that religion and spirituality play an important place in my game worlds.

I’ve really run the gamut. In the old days, the very early days, I took a page from Katherine Kurtz and ran with a direct analog of the Catholic Church – which was also rather nice because I used the Deryni in my game world as well. The “Old Faith” was an amalgam of Celtic myth and modern NeoPaganism, and pretty much all real world religion existed in one form or another – there was the “Church of the Divine Couple” for the Egyptian mythology, and the Northmen worshipped the Norse and Finnish Deities. Pretty much if it was in Deities and Demigods I was willing to include it. I also ran with the Greyhawk deities as they came out, the Forgotten Realms deities when they came out, and I have always used the Cthulhu Mythos as well as the Moorcockian Courts of Chaos. For the nonhumans I pretty much ran with whatever the “flavor of the day” was, though it was always somewhat oddly incorporated at times to try to make sense of the multiple different, “hard polytheistic”, pantheons.

But currently, religions and spirituality have gone through a handful of more recent evolutions as I’ve tried to get away from “ripped from reality” and more “inspired by reality” combined with “entirely fabricated”…

To start with big bag guys, the ones that pretty much everyone agrees are worth banding together to fight against are the Five Demon Emperors and the servants of the Dearth as worshipped by what is commonly known as the Cult of Shator under the auspices of the King in Yellow. These are combination of the Great Old Ones or the Outer Gods of the Cthulhu Mythos. Their very existence, even as a thought, brings corruption and destruction to multiverse. More than unbridled Chaos, more than simply Entropy, they are literally Nothingness made manifest. (Evil)

One of the oldest human religions is known as the Heptarchy by sages, a pantheon of seven deities made up of the Lady Night and her children, and the Twin Brothers of the Perihelion (and their dark triplet) and the Three Sisters of the Perilune. Found in both urban and rural settings, the Heptarchy is quite popular, though each deity maintains it’s own religious hierarchy. Relationships between the deities and their cults vary, but are generally neutral or good as none of the deities are in active conflict or direct opposition – save perhaps the relationship between the Midnight Sun and his two brothers.

There is the Old Faith – a pantheistic worship of nature, it’s cycles and its elements, the manifest spirits of which are often referred to as “the Old Powers” by both humans and the gnomes. The Old Faith is highly organized, with twin orders of male and female druids, along with the a variety of warrior societies (most famously the Rangers) organized into lodges. (Generally Neutral)

Then there is the Society of the Light – a religion originally inspired by Augustine’s notion of the “City of God” and then mixed in with healthy doses of early Jewish, Christian, and Islamic custom and belief along with a good dash of Sikhism. It is marked by a hierarchical relationship of mortals and the Sarim (the ruling angels), overseen in the Mortal Realms by the Council of Devas in Kistath. It has a multiple Rules, and one significant heresy (the Trinitarians) based on the actual spiritual and physical union of mortal and angels. (Mostly Lawful Good and some other Goods and Neutrals)

In opposition to the Society of Light there is what is often termed “the Horned Society” – the cults and organizations devoted to the Fallen (Angels) in what is in many ways a mirror image of the SOL. The War in Heaven and the Fall was fundamentally one of philosophical difference in how to pursue the War Without End against the Dearth. (Mostly LE, some other Evils and Neutrals)

In Thule, the worship of the Freyja the All-Mother is most popular. The pantheon, the Æsir, is greater than just the All-Mother, but after the Ragnarök there were few survivors and Freyja was the greatest among them and took the high seat of Hliðskjálf. Her servants, the Valkyrja, continue to choose the worthy among the slain to serve her as einherjar in Valhalla. (Generally Good and Neutral)

The Khemeti are also known as the Church of the Divine Couple, the Khemeti are among the eldest of the organized religions – perhaps not even originally of humankind. It is said that the Khemeti arose out of the Great Chaos at the beginning of Creation when Ptah and Ma’at created a sense of Order and Logic in the random Chaos. Currently they are worshipped primarily in Kistath, they have a very small Cult in the Heartlands and are essentially nonexistent in Thule. (Lawful)

The elves have, at their heart, a spirituality that is governed by “Li’vicor” or the idea of “Ruling Passion” or “True Will” – while at the same time having an appreciation for the universe that is similar to the pantheistic view of the Old Faith combined with a respect for the “E’lin” (the “Elect”) who seem to have a special relationship with what the Old Faith would call the Old Powers. (Good)

The dwarves don’t speak of their spirituality or religion, but seem concerned with “forging their souls” and “anvil of the world” by those outsiders that they trust enough to speak about such things with. They also have a great venerance for the living stone and their ancestors, how this all fits together is unknown. (Lawful)

There is also the En Khoda Theos Kirk – the Dragonborn’s Kirk (Church) with its worship of the four “Great Dragons” that are generally thought to encompass various aspects of the natural world and the elements. A complex religion, there is no higher authority than each kirk’s Dorje (priest), and it is a deeply contemplative religion that focuses on meditative practice, often in a monastic or other secluded setting. Primarily followed by the Dragonborn it is also followed a surprising number of members of other races and small Kirks can be found in most major cities. (All Alignments)

The Teotl is the pantheon of the Old Gods of Ith. A bloody state religion marked by human sacrifice and the veneration of the Ithian Serpent Folk. Of all the major human religions, it is the one that is closest in some ways to the philosophies of the non-human races and has it’s roots in the mysticism of the Serpathians.  (Neutral and Evil)

The goblins, ogres, and trolls worship the Formorians, a collection of beings known as “the Goblin Court”. Generally hateful and destructive, the Goblin Court is still opposed to Dearth and Arras-Kol, the Great Goblin, is ever vigilant for the seeds of corruption in his children. (Evil)

The Lords of Chaos – The greatest of the powers of Chaos, sometimes known as the Wyld, often accept worship and service in exchange for favor. With some of their members being corrupted by the Dearth (known as the Forsaken, Tiamat and Typhon), they are quick (perhaps overly quick) to act against the Five Demon Emperors. (Chaotic)

Then there are the Godlings, sometimes known as the Disparate Names, a mixture of demigods, quasi-deities, and lesser deities that work alone, in conjunction with, and in opposition to themselves and the other pantheons. They are commonly described and organized in what is called the Lords Tarot, though this may be a purely human invention rather than a true reflection of the Godlings actual relationships (All Alignments).

Finally, opposing and at the same time including the Dearth are the Bel En Khoda – the Thirteen Great Gods. These are almost like reified Platonic Forms. Though, truthfully, this isn’t worship (save in the Shadowlands where the Unborn are revered above all), but their presence is always acknowledged, by everyone with any level of mystical or magical knowledge, and many mystical or spiritual organizations are essentially organized around a philosophical allegiance to one of them even if it doesn’t exactly qualify as “worship”. (All Alignments)

I’ll probably detail those out more in future posts.

TTFN!

D.

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