The origin myth of Goertha concerns the epic battle between the Gods of Men and the Cromirlonians.
The gods of Goertha usually maintain a physical presence in the world, though their abodes might be unreachable by mundane means. For example, Drune is king of Drunolon, a dark realm beneath the ground. As one story goes, the Mad Wizard of Mirsach blew a hole in the bottom of the Phirine Sea to gain access to Drunolon and rescue a dear friend from death. Malladun lived in Welgonell, which is a fortress that presumably still floats in the skies above the Sea of Rue, perpetually hidden by clouds. Lidach supposedly lives amongst her priestesses in Glan Druich. As far as anyone knows, Troella and Pella still dwell in the mountain fastnesses of Fearthlond.
Historical Note: The most popular gods of the Goerthans are those collectively known as the Drue Lords, so-called after the secret grove in Somberwood called Glan Druich where the priestesses of Lidach cultivate the drue plant, from whence the Drue Lords gain their immortality. The Goerthans maintain that they have always worshipped Malladun first, and that the Drue Lords were servants of Malladun. (See section on Drue Lords, below).
Other religions exist in Goertha, especially in fringe areas, introduced by Verentian, Ralubian, and Gedringal incursions. Halribia is a kingdom established by Relorians that pays homage to old Relorian and Cazrian deities, and everywhere in Goerthan towns small foreign cults are known to thrive in the foreign quarters. It is also believed that King Drunhar of Galfmor worships sinister southern gods.
The High Gods
He sails the Sea of Rue on a magical ship. Tir-Cadrun was able to reach Malladun's hall by borrowing Abran-Lach's ship.
Lord of Drunolon, the Underworld, a place inhabited by Cromirlonians. Drune is not necessarily a malevolent deity, though the tasks he places upon his servants usually make him appear so. Aside from corraling the souls of the departed, Drune also keeps watch over Temorgor, the prison of Eimragh the Creator. Drune's color is brown.
``Drune take your soul!''
The Hunter, whose symbols include the sun and the great deer. His color is gold. Fendor had been hunting and caught a great deer when he encountered Eimragh. He offered the Cromir king the deer, but Eimragh refused the gift and threatened to rid the world of men, thus starting the Gur-Docherlan.
To the Saers, to ``refuse a gift'' means to start a war.
Queen of the Gods, wife to Malladun. She is the keeper of the drue-berry, a magical red fruit that bestows immortality upon the gods. Unlike other gods in the Goerthan pantheon, Lidach has her own sect of priestesses.
``May Lidach grant you long life.''
King of the Gods, Malladun is also responsible for gathering the clouds and making the rain fall. After his statue was toppled in the Siege of Mirsach, Malladun was declared dead. Malladun's color was azure, and he dwelt in the cloud castle called Welgonell.
The Drue Lords
Following the Great Drought, the land was overrun by beastmen and monsters. Human tribes fought every moment of their existence. They sought the gods for help, but the gods were busy fighting the gods of the beastmen. At last the wizard Morchane decided to do something about the situation. With Malladun's blessings, he, over the course of several generations, assembled a group of heroes, each gifted with wizardry. These were the Drue Lords. Each lord took a tribe under his wing and led them into battle. For this reason the descendants of the tribes even today associate themselves with a particular Drue Lord.
Warlord. Morchane decided he was not up to the task once the group was together, and elected Crohelm because the warrior was charismatic and strong. Indeed, Crohelm is a sight to see in battle. He has an inspiring battle cry, an enchanted helmet that gives him protection and excellent vision, and a penchant for leaping into battle alongside his gardell. The color of Crohelm is blood red. He is always pictured as a warrior dressed in a red cloak and wearing a helm with a cross superimposed over the nasal.
Crohelm was the warlord of the Saers during the conflicts with the beastmen. When he first became leader, he founded the Order of War, so that the warriors of the Saers would always be loyal to their king.
``Crohelm strike fear upon my enemies.''
Famed Metalsmith of the gods, Magundurn took it upon himself to equip the other Drue Lords and their followers with weapons that would ensure their victory over the beastmen. Naturally he is equipped with a full panoply of enchanted arms, but they are unusual in their simplicity. His armor is impenetrable. His weapons are perfectly balanced, unbreakable, and capable of piercing any material, save his armor. Likewise, his fortress is unvanquishable, save for his sword.
Magundurn never led the Drue Lords, but he did perform some notable deeds. He fashioned a magical loom to make gold cloth. The loom was intended as a gift for Pella, but Crohelm, during a fit of mischievousness, tried to steal it (duping Tralloth into helping him carry it) so that he could get the credit instead. Magundurn had the foresight to protect the loom with clever traps, which snared Crohelm and Tralloth and flung them from his fortress. Magundurn later convinced Romach that the workers needed representation to protect them from the warriors, and thus founded the Order of Aid.
Magundurn's color is iron grey and his symbols are the hammer, anvil, and tongs.
Founder and Keeper. His magical power exceeds that of any other Drue Lord by far, with the exception of Troella. Jealous of Romach's experience, Morchane became obsessed with accumulating knowledge. Eventually he became famous for his library that contains every secret, save one, that has ever been or ever will be. The secret not known is that which will save the world from destruction in the Last War. Morchane keeps the library in his magical palace of unknown and unfindable location.
Morchane appears strong but elderly, and wields an enchanted cane that can shatter rigid targets with a touch (and a loud clap). When Morchane was assembling the Drue Lords, he would travel from tribe to tribe, selecting promising youths and putting them through trials. He earned a reputation for settling conflicts and speaking riddles to the chieftains. He often extracted prices for his services -- in particular secrets -- which he was fond of keeping. Thus, it is believed that Morchane knows the lineage and histories of every person in Worlorn. Morchane founded the Order of Rule as a way to keep the chieftains in line.
Chief Drue Lord and Prince of the Saers. Wielding the blade Fallanfer, Romach deposed the bestial king of the Saers in the Battle Dinbath. Romach is the most widely-educated and most charming of the Drue Lords, but he was for some time more interested in the arts than in responsibilities.
Eventually Romach wizened up and assumed the role of leader, the third in that position after Morchane and Crohelm. He was leader during the conflicts with the Warlock, and still maintains the highest rank among the Drue Lords. Romach has a magical harp which entrances its listeners. He also wields a full complement of enchanted armour and weapons, including the sword Fallanfer, a spear, and a bow.
Romach founded the Order of Law, and inventor of the Romang system of writing.
``Guide my hand, O Prince.''
Champion of the Saers. A hero of noble birth, Tralloth is the mightiest of the Drue Lords, but not so smart. Crohelm easily convinced him to help steal the magic loom from Magundurn. Nevertheless, Tralloth has the respect of many warriors. The seven sons of Tralloth were themselves mighty heroes, whose exploits and leadership eventually led to the founding of special suborders within the Order of War.
Besides strength, Tralloth also has great agility and athletic ability. His skill is so great that he disdains the use of weapons and armour, always fighting barehanded and stripped to the waist.
Tralloth's color is orange.
``Tralloth give me strength.''
Dark Hag of the Crags. A powerful sorceress, she is also quite crafty in battle, blending magic arts and might in subtle and cunning ways. Her baroque armor is enchanted to deceive viewers into believing she is elsewhere. Likewise, her sword can attack in many places at once, at any range within line of sight (which she enhances through scrying).
Troella dwells in Fearthlond, a place she chose after alienating herself from the other Drue Lords. When the Warlock came to power, she took a neutral stance, a move viewed dimly by Crohelm; which did not help his chances with Troella's daughter Pella. Perceptive historians believe that it was Crohelm who originated the nasty rumors of Troella's wickedness, a trait often exaggerated yet encouraged by Troella herself (no doubt to frustrate Crohelm's efforts).
Troella is tall and beautiful, except when she chooses to appear as a shrivelled hag instead. Her symbol is the moon and her color is midnight blue. Troella has promised her daughter Pella to many famous heroes, on condition that an impossible task be performed, but they all failed.
``If your aren't good, Troella will snare you in her wicked web, and make you spin iron.''
Beauty of the world. The daughter of Troella, Pella's magic lies almost entirely in her unearthly attractiveness. Only Magundurn has ever won her affection, for he forged the magical loom that made gold cloth.
``Pella has blessed you with great beauty.''
The Warlock. Thought to be one of Morchane's generation, he did not join with the Drue Lords but rather formed his own independent center of power, located in Gedringale.
A peasant hero. He quested to find Welgonell, Hall of Malladun, so that the world might be saved from the Great Drought. To gain entrance to Welgonell, he had to die. When he convinced Malladun to cause rain, he was returned to the world. Unfortunately the clouds were unlocked so suddenly that the torrents of rain flooded all of Goertha, thus destroying the ancient kingdom of Angorn.
``Bless these crops, Tir-Cadrun, and make the year bountiful.''
Goerthan religion is based more on the strictures imposed by the Order of Law, which claims authority derived from Malladun (or did when the god still existed), than on any precepts demanded by the gods. The priesthood represents the entire pantheon, usually in the name of the King of the Gods. Since this was Malladun and he is gone, there will be confusion for some time until another god takes the position. The Resurrectionist Movement has risen to bring order to the confusion. Their ultimate goal should be obvious from their name.
The existence of the gods is unquestioned on Madoria. However, philosophers often ask question such as ``Why were humans brought to Madoria? What purpose do we serve?'' The prevalent outlook in Goertha was that formulated by eastern tribes (the Relorians) that encroached upon the lands once called Cazria (now Ralubia), and hence the term ``Relorianism'' is often used to describe it. When the Saers repopulated Goertha after the Big Flood, they brought the eastern philosophy they had adopted during their sojourn in Cazria with them. Relorianism basically says ``it does not matter where we came from; we simply are and we do what we must to please the gods.''
When in prayer, Goerthans kneel and bow their heads in the direction of the Sea of Rue. However, in their temples, it is most appropriate to kneel before the representation of the god. Common prayers seek insight or favor in an endeavor.
Organization -- The Orders
The Drue Lord Morchane, a devout follower of Malladun, saw the need for organizations that would be responsible for knowing what pleases the gods. Hence his original Order of Rule was made up of priests, who extended the range of authority for the gods, and could keep the early Saerish kings in line. Other Drue Lords founded the remaining Orders as the needs for checks and balances were seen. The leaders of the Orders were always answerable to Malladun. After the death of Malladun, only Worlorn still maintains with certainty some semblance of the traditional Orders; the practice has been dropped in Galfmor.
See a table of titles and modes of addresses for each of the Orders.
|The Order of Rule -- during the age of Pallon, ranking priests held positions in this order. In Worlorn they have been replaced by the lords -- i.e, wealthy landowners. Malladun is associated with the Order of Rule.|
|The Order of War -- these are the various ranks of knights, or military officers. Knights who serve together often adopt a warlike deity as a patron: Crohelm, Tralloth, Tir-Cadrun, or, less commonly, Fendor or Magundurn.|
|The Order of Law -- the hierophants. This order is responsible for educating the populace in the traditions. They are the keepers of Romang, the sacred script, and articles written in it. The hierophants have their own monasteries where their scribes and scholars pursue their erudite interests. They usually have at least one school in state castles and towns, as well. Space for shrines to Romach and Morchane are typically reserved at these places.|
|The Order of Aid -- minor government officials; members are responsible for the busy work of managing the government. This is the only Order in which members of the peasantry may belong, through sponsorship of a friendly lord. Malladun, Lidach, Fendor, Drune, and Abran-Lach are associated with the Order of Aid.|
I intentionally made the descriptions of the High Gods vague, so as not to label any particular deity as a `god of' some such. There are no `gods of' anything, except where such titles are deserved eponyms. You will also note that the gods also don't come across as particularly powerful. In Goertha the only thing differentiating the gods from men is their supposed immortality and exceptional heroism (resulting from their supposed immortality). If you're into mythology, you will also notice a great lack of originality, true to the genre :-)
The Drue Lords are relatively recent additions to this world design. I ran two or three campaigns in the Goertha region before they were introduced. All of the High Gods were present in those old games (though sometimes with different names), with the exception of Drune. Malladun is one of the original deities of the world who was original rather than ``borrowed'' from an Earth pantheon (as is typical in AD&D worlds). Another is Rolkinform.
* - No, the sword's name is not Sacnoth.
** - Tir-Cadrun is actually based on an AD&D character played by a friend long, long ago in my Gladsheim campaign. In the course of his illustrious career as an agent of the King, Turin Cardur died and was resurrected something like 12 times before his player retired him. Ahh, those were the days...