There are 5 gods governing the world of Virana. These 5 gods each represent and guard a few of the important aspects of the world. These gods do not themselves have an alignment, they are simply guardians of their domains, neither good nor evil. The gods only concern themselves with the major aspects of the world, so there isn't a god for every thing. The gods do not concern themselves with simple human behavior, so there are no gods concerning elements like pride, lies, murder, etc. The closest aspect to these has to be war, which is in the domain of Marcus.
No being prays to only one god. Every human being has to deal with all the aspects guarded by the different gods, so it is common to pray to whatever gods guard the aspect you are now going to face. This even holds true for the priesthood of the various gods. However, most people have one god that they think of as their own guardian. It is to this god that they usually pray each time they encounter something that is not directly covered by another god (praying for good luck for example).
All the five gods are considered equals. Nobody rules the other gods, nor is anyone beneath the others.
Avina has two domains: winter and peace. She is the goddess who brings the snow to the lands, who freezes the harbors so no ship can enter and who mercilessly kills people braving her cold. But she can also be merciful, holding the cold back, making life easier for the people in the winter, etc. Her second domain is peace. Here, she is at odds with Marcus, but there is no bad blood between them. They both know that times of war and times of peace follow each other like pearls on a string, and their main focus is not to create peace nor war, but leave that to the mortals, and simply support their aspect when required.
Marcus is the god of the sun and summer, but he is also the god of war. As the summer god, it is he who brings the warmth to the land, sometimes enough to cause large forest fires. People pray to Marcus for good summers, but also for the sun to provide enough heat at other times in the year. Marcus' second domain is war, and he is the god prayed to by all soldiers, asking him to support their side and help them win the day. Note that Marcus is not a warmonger, and does not actively try to start any wars.
Khalim is the god of death, the dead and the afterlife, but he is also the god of birth and life itself. As such, he guards all aspects of life. People pray to him to ask for a long life, but also to ask him to end the life of their annoying neighbor or rich relative. Even though he isn't a god of murders, he is revered by assassins since he is the god of death in general.
Kira is the goddess of the skies and the seas. However, she also guards the aspects of weather and autumn. As such, she is an important goddess for many people on the isles. As goddess of the sea, she is revered by the fishermen, but as goddess of weather and autumn, she is extremely important to the farmers as well. Since food production is of vital importance, this has also served to make her one of the more important gods for the common people.
Varinda is the goddess of the spring, of plantlife, and of growth. She is also important for the farmers, but her main followers are the nature-people, such as rangers and druids. Also elves, whom are closely related to nature, often have Varinda as their primary god.
The church in Virana is divided into 5 distinct branches, one for each god. The branches are generally on very good terms with each other, but they do not provide any service to a competing branch beyond what they would offer to any other member of the public. There are generally no "fellow priest" deals, either you are part of their branch or you are not.
Since there are no alignment restrictions, priests of all alignments belong to the same priesthood. This does sometimes lead to conflicts within a branch, often due to disagreements on how to handle things. In general, the church itself is neutral, but borders on the Lawful and Good axes of the alignment chart. In most places, they are seen as an organization that is dependable, willing to help the common man (within reason) and law-abiding. The church also has a very strict hierarchy. This attitude does not always sit too well with all the members of the church, which often leads to separate orders being formed within the branches. One example of this is the Holy Crusaders of the Sun, the paladin order within Marcus' branch. As paladins, they have a much stricter focus on Law and Good than the rest of the church. In general, most such orders are supported and welcomed by the church. It is easier for the church when it can place extremist members in a clearly defined order because it more easily keeps them under control, and should an order turn out to be really bad for the church, it can simply excommunicate the entire branch. In practice, this is almost never done, mostly because there is no need to.
The church hierarchy supports three types of priests:
- Priests: These are the clerics assigned to one of the temples. A priest lives and works at the temple, holds sermons, and provides temple services. There is a very strict hierarchy among the priests.
- Monks: Monks are clerics that are living in a monastery, withdrawn from the main society, to devote their life to their god. Monasteries generally do not provide services the same way a temple does. The monasteries also have a hierarchy, but generally much flatter than the priest one.
- Missionaries: A missionary is a free cleric. He is not directly associated with any particular temple (although he has had his training in one). Missionaries take many forms. Some travel to foreign lands to preach the words of the gods, other settle down in a small village without a temple to serve as a local priest, while yet others join a band of adventurers and go out in the world getting themselves killed by goblins. No matter what they do however, they are not part of the church hierarchy, and will never raise through it. If they, at a later stage, wish to settle down and enter the hierarchy, they must begin at the very bottom (above the acolytes, since they finished this part during their training, but as the lowest ranking priest in the temple). The only exception is that if they manage to actually secure the land and the funds and manage to construct a temple of their own, they will be allowed to lead it, unless they are somehow in disgrace. Obviously, if they show poor leadership abilities, the church will send someone to take over, so starting your own temple is no guarantee that one will be able to keep it.
Druids are found all over the world. While the druids venerate the gods of Virana, they are not part of the church in any way. Additionally, while the druids do cast divine spells just as priests do, they do not receive these spells from the gods, but rather from nature itself. The church has a neutral attitude toward the druids, allowing them to do things their way, but they do not recognize them as fellow priests nor as allies for a common cause (for example in the case of the church of Varinda, where both the druids and the church are closely related to nature).
Druids usually venerate Varinda for her close relationship with nature, but Khalim is also a very important god, representing the cycle of life.
The following map shows the druid organization on the Windclaw Isles:
The Old Gods
During their travels, the characters have learned about the old gods of the world. Very little is know about these gods, but worship of these gods is considered heresy in the eyes of the church, and punishable by death. Very little is know about these gods, since the church also outlawed texts related to them
The gods are as follows:
- Alderin (First moon) - Symbol: Full moon
- Melinion (Second Moon) - Symbol: Crescent
- Karalon (The Seas) - Symbol: Wave
- Vanoros (War) - Symbol: 3 interlocking circles
- Ladewe (Harvest, plants) - Symbol: Leaf
- Mera (Death) - Symbol: Owl
- Taninki (The Hunt) - Symbol: Deer, Stag
- Nionena (The Sun): Symbol: 3 Concentric Circles
During their travels, yet another set of gods seem to crop up in various texts. They seem to be of more recent appearance than the old gods, but while the worship of the old gods seems to have continued up to this day (albeit in secret in recent times), these gods appears to have disappeared from the history again.
From the texts recovered, it seems like while these gods where peaceful in the beginning, as they recruited more followers they started to oppose the old gods, and war broke out between the believers of the different pantheons.
These gods are:
- Leilatha Olaroris, Elven god of Nature. Governed everything related to nature, including plants, animals and weather.
- Marikoth Ianren, Elven god of the people. He governed everything that was Elf; Birth, Life and Death.
- Khendilynn Mountainmantle, dwarven god of the mountain. She governed most activities related to mountains, such as mining and dwellings, and also the working of materials garnered from the mountains.
- Hamet Axeguard, dwarven god of war and combat. Even though the dwarves were not a warmongering race, wars had to be fought, in particular with evil races (goblins, trolls, giants and the like), so he got an eager following.