VANGOREAN RELIGION

The gods are a real force in the world they created, though not as active as they once were. In present-day Vangor, the gods act primarily through their mortal priests and champions, and it is not always clear what the gods intend through their omens and visions. Heroes may be champions of the gods, but they may also come into conflict with the champions of other gods, and perhaps even followers of their own deity with different interpretations of divine will and destiny.

Vangoreans place considerable importance on dreams and other omens as indicators of the gods’ will. The intentions of the gods are often obscure from the limited perspective of mortals, so these divine visions or commands may not always make sense. Still, faithful followers do their best to carry out the gods’ will.

Anyone dealing with religion in Vangor must also deal with the various great temples throughout the land. Temples — even those dedicated to the same deity — may be rivals for the hearts and faith of their followers, and for political influence. Many temples involve themselves in social and governmental affairs. Indeed, some temples essentially are the government, or a branch of it. Temples are also often dedicated to learning and teaching, so characters may be asked to seek knowledge for the temple’s stores or help the temple enlist new students.

Vangor sees its share of theological conflict. While most temples agree on important points of theology (the creation of the world, the making of the divine races, and so forth), some do not. There are debates — often heated ones — about which god was the first-born of the cosmos, which one suggested the creation of humanity, and so forth. Particular temples may outlaw certain views as heresy, while other temples tolerate dissenting views so long as they don’t become threatening. At the more extreme end are banned cults and religions, such as Amunism, certain radical or demonworshippers. The cults of particular gods may be out of favor in some areas; the Cult of Reddon has been banned in parts of Vangor over the years, for example.

PRIESTS

The highest of the non-noble castes in Vangor are the priests. The people of this land are very religious, believing fate and the gods play an active role in day-to-day life, and they require priests to intercede with the gods on their behalf. As well as conducting rites and holding services and prayers, priests heal injuries, remove curses and ill fortune, offer advice, and generally serve a vital role in the community.

Priests are also responsible for most of what little education the lower classes receive, particularly as regards knowledge of religion. As the Vangorean people believe a soul traveling to the afterlife must pass a number of tests and answer a great many questions, even the most rustic farmer makes every effort to learn what he can from his temple priest.

Despite this reverence, however, Vangoreans treat the job of priest as no different from any other position. In fact, while some priests spend all their time serving a deity, the majority of lesser priests (who most likely have levels only in the expert class) serve in the temple only one month out of four. The remainder of the time, they farm, manage a shop, or otherwise live as any other citizen, albeit with slightly more respect from their neighbors. These “part-time priests” are called havklod, as a group. Entering the havklod is seen as another way for lower-class citizens to raise their station in life, and many such priests aren’t truly any more devout than those to whom they minister.

More powerful positions are somewhat more restricted. The donab — “holy ones,” who are the first tier of clergy above the havklod — must actually have the cleric class. Priests spend portions of the day in prayer, of course, but not nearly as much as some might expect. Specific times of day are set aside for leading religious ceremonies; specific times vary by deity, though early morning and late evening are the most common, simply because that’s when most people can make it.

Much of the day is spent maintaining the temple, and the gods who “live” there. All temples contain statues to one or more deities, and these statues are considered to embody the real thing. Priests known as don-botfan are responsible for clothing, “feeding” and caring for these statues, which occasionally deliver oracular dreams or visions.

Many of the devout sleep in temple sanitoriums (a process called incubation) in hopes of having religious dreams, and the priests care for these people during their stay. At other times of day, priests make themselves available to petitioners who require healing, advice, divinations, the removal of misfortune or curses, and the like.

Some priests travel from village to village or farmstead to farmstead in those regions where travel to a central temple is not convenient.

PLANAR STRUCTURE

The cosmology of Vangor operates in much the same way as other settings. The critical thing to note is that, with the gradual withdrawal of the gods from the affairs of men, the other planes are all sealed. While ancient legends tell of Vangorean mortals who were able to walk the blessed Fields of the afterlife with their own feet, no one in recorded history has ever been able to travel to outside the Material Plane and return.

THE VANGOREAN PANTHEON

While it seems almost overbearing in its influence on the affairs of Vangoreans, the divine pantheon itself is relatively simple. It is composed of 27 gods, each of whom holds domain over a specific concept or related set of ideas. These things are collectively known as “portfolios,” and while some gods have some portfolio overlap — there are several gods of death, for example — no two portfolios or gods are the same. Within the pantheon are two broad groups of deities: The Bong-don, which includes the most powerful and influential gods, and the remaining 18 “lesser” gods.

THE BONG-DON

Of the 27 deities in the Vangorean pantheon, nine stand above the others. These nine gods, which include the oldest and most powerful entities, are collectively known as the Bong-don. The original Bong-don included eleven gods: Non-dwon, Ruk-don, Bonkev-dwon, Twif-dwon, Kevtred-dwon, Wok-don, Jufwanv-don, Drax, Deng-don, Vag-don, and Drun-dwon. After Deng-don accused his sister-wife Twif-dwon of betrayal, however, she was banished from the Bong-don and relegated to the status of a “lesser” deity. And when Wok-don was himself banished to the Underworld (again, at the hands of Deng-don), his brother Non-dwon voluntarily banishing himself from the Bong-don, as well.

The current lineup of the Bong-don, known as the Nine, have been the greatest gods of the Vangorean pantheon since the First Years; they have not only the most numerous and powerful of worshippers, but the most temples, monuments and even entire cities built in their names. They are truly the greatest among the divine.

RUK-DON

Portfolio: Earth, endurance, farmers/farming, nature, plants, power. Domains: Animal, Earth, Protection, Strength, Survival. Sacred Animal: Goose. Favored Weapon: Sickle.

Ruk-don is the god of the earth, of growth and of growing things. He is the son of Vag-don and Drun-dwon, the brother-husband to Kevtred-dwon, and the father of Non-dwon, Bonkev-dwon, Twif-dwon, Wok-don, and Deng-don. Ruk-don is viewed as the manifestation of the earth itself in a literal sense, and Vangoreans treat his “body” with appropriate reverence.

Some even go so far as to ascribe specific features to the landscape on the god’s behalf — the rolling hills are his belly, for example, or the jagged mountains his crown. His wife, Kevtred-dwon, is the firmament of the heavens; she descends each night, by the grace of Vag-don (who separates the two of them during the day), to embrace her husband until Drax once again forces Vag-don to resume his duties come sunrise.

Ruk-don is the patron of all who would see life flourish, even during so lean a time as that which faces Vangoreans today. He is credited with creating all manner of life, most notably many of Vangorean’s ordinary beasts (and their dire counterparts), as well all the creatures of elemental earth.

Ruk-don’s priesthood is strongest in Zhelkara, the City of Zykos, but remains consistently strong all along the Zugrax river.

Ruk-don is portrayed as a large, tanned, well-muscled male human wearing a white crown and carrying a staff and a sickle.

BONKEV-DWON

Portfolio: Bounty, mothers, fertility, knowledge, life, magic (-users). Domains: Healing, Knowledge, Life, Magic, Secrets. Sacred Animal: Cow. Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff.

Bonkev-dwon is the mother of fertility and the creator of arcane magic in Vangor. She is the wife of Wok-don, the sister of Non-dwon, Twif-dwon, and Deng-don, and daughter of Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon.

Bonkev-dwon is the patron goddess of mothers, spellcasters and all types of seekers of lost lore. Among her less-divine creations are the more magical of magical beasts, including blink dogs, couatl and pegasi.

The priesthood of Bonkev-dwon is strong wherever there is magic (especially in the city devoted to Bonkev-dwon), and even a few monstrous races pay homage to Bonkev-dwon for her power and fertility. It is said Bonkev-dwon pays attention to every magical ritual conducted in her name, and thus many of her cults attempt to draw her attention with grand displays of magical acumen.

The Mother of Magic is often depicted as an impossibly beautiful female (usually a bare-breasted) human or as a glowing cow.

KEVTRED-DWON

Portfolio: Astronomy, divination, fate, knowledge, night, stars. Domains: Air, Divination, Fate, Knowledge, Protection. Sacred Animal: Sow. Favored Weapon: Bow (long or short).

Goddess of the heavens, Kevtred-dwon is the embodiment of the Vangorean fascination with the stars and with fate. She is the sister-wife of Ruk-don, and the mother of Non-dwon, Bonkev-dwon, Twif-dwon, Wok-don, and Deng-don. As a result, the priesthoods of those deities give Kevtred-dwon her well-deserved due.

But these five divine children would never have come into being were it not for the wise aid of Tvan-don, who contrived a plan to steal a portion of Wan-don’s light and give it to Kevtred-dwon, thus giving her five extra “days upon the year” during which she could give birth.

As a result, Kevtred-dwon’s priesthood keeps a traditional fondness for the devoted of Tvan-don, some of whom are even included in a number of temple rituals to this day. The Divine Races believe Kevtred-dwon, along with the goddess Wid-dwon, is the primary architect of their fate.

Thus, while Kevtred-dwon’s priesthood is not the largest or most powerful, all Vangoreans — even those who devote their lives to the worship of another — are wise to keep the Lady of Fate in their prayers, at the very least.

Kevtred-dwon is most often depicted as a beautiful naked woman, with skin like a tapestry of stars, bending over her brother, the earth, her hands and feet touching the four cardinal points.

WOK-DON

Portfolio: Afterlife, death, fertility, life, rebirth. Domains: Death, Healing, Judgment, Life, Survival. Sacred Animal: Heron. Favored Weapon: Sling or bolas.

Perhaps the most influential and widely worshipped god of the Vangorean pantheon is Wok-don, the Lord of Life.

In addition to being the brother-husband of Bonkev-dwon, Wok-don is brother to Non-dwon, Twif-dwon, and Deng-don, and son to Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon. He is recognized as the luminary deity of the First Years, when he ruled over all of Vangorean as Pharaoh.

With his betrayal at the hands of his brother Deng-don, however, Wok-don was banished to the Underworld. Wok-don has been the lord of the Underworld ever since, and given the importance of death and undeath in Vangorean culture, is the subject of many daily prayers.

Wok-don has been the god of favor in Upper Vangor for the length of the current and most recent dynasty, and evidence of his cult’s influence can be seen at every turn.

Given the numbers of statues, temples, and hieroglyphic stelae erected in the god’s name, Wok-don claims a great many iconic faces in Vangor.

The most common depiction of Wok-don is of an aqua-skinned man on a black throne, wearing the crown of Pharaoh.

JUFWANV-DON

Portfolio: Artisans, creation and creators, learning, science, time. Domains: Community, Creation, Earth, Knowledge, Time. Sacred Animal: Bull. Favored Weapon: Axe (battle, hand or throwing).

Also known as the Great Creator, Jufwanv-don is the Vangorean god of creation and science.

Jufwanv-don is also one of the oldest gods, and some Vangoreans believe him to have been the very first god, having effectively “created” himself from the void of nothingness. Among the gods of the Bong-don, Jufwanv-don is respected for his ancient wisdom and broad, objective perspective.

Among the Vangoreans, Jufwanv-don is revered for the many gifts he has bestowed upon the world, not the least of which are the arts of architecture, engineering and mathematics. The most magnificent tombs, temples, and homes in Vangor would not exist but for the Great Creator’s boon, and most well-built structures in Vangor bear inscriptions of thanks to him.

Jufwanv-don is also known as the “Father of Constructs,” having blessed his creations with the knowledge of how to prepare the inanimate for magical animation as golems.

Jufwanv-don is usually depicted as a bald male with a beard and deep, starlit eyes, gripping a staff in one hand and an axe in the other.

DRAX

Portfolio: Ambition, fire, dominion, pharaonic might, sun, war. Domains: Destruction, Fire, Strength, Sun, War. Sacred Animal: Dragon. Favored Weapon: Khopesh.

The divine embodiment of the sun, Drax is the great Pharaoh of the gods. In addition to providing Vangor with light and warmth, Drax provides a focus to those who aim to rule. He is the god of pharaonic might and a symbol of both strength and war throughout Vangor.

Many Vangoreans believe Drax to be the oldest deity, and he created most of the other gods, or the gods from whom they descended. While some acknowledge the possibility that Drax emerged simultaneously with Jufwanv-don, Vag-don and Drun-dwon, there is little dispute that he created both Tvan-don and Wan-don. Drax is also credited with creating all the creatures of elemental fire, and few such creatures do not pay homage, if not offer outright devotion, to the mighty Father of Fire.

The priesthood of Drax sees more divisive sectarian conflict than that of any other god. If left unchecked, this conflict may threaten to tear the priesthood apart from within. Nonetheless, Drax remains one of the most influential priesthoods in Vangor.

Drax is usually depicted either as the icon of the blazing sun, or as a powerful-looking humanoid with the head of a dragon, dressed in robes, wearing the crown of Pharaoh.

DENG-DON

Portfolio: Darkness, deceit, storms, vengeance, vermin, warriors. Domains: Darkness, Destruction, Secrets, Trickery, Vengeance. Sacred Animal: Turtle. Favored Weapon: Sutekhra dagger.

Few gods claim as many faces or as many names as can Deng-don. Among some, he is known as the Lord of Storms, among others the Father of Lies, but by whatever name he is known, Deng-don remains one of the most feared deities of the Vangorean pantheon.

Some fearful mortals even come to the worship of Deng-don because they fear what might happen if they do not.

The son of Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon, Deng-don is brother to Non-dwon, Bonkev-dwon, and Wok-don. He is usually credited with creating all manner of beasts both fiendish and foul. Perhaps most notable among these is the collection of anthropophagic humanoids known as goblinoids.

Deng-don is perhaps most famous in Vangorean mythology for introducing murder into the world of the gods. His eternal struggle with his brother Wok-don (and by extension, his nephew, Kren-don) led to Wok-don’ death and dismemberment. And, after Bonkev-dwon returned her brother-husband to life, Deng-don killed him a second time, whereupon the mighty Wok-don was sent to the Underworld, there to replace his brother Non-dwon as its overlord. The tension between the two priesthoods has only grown since, and continues to this day.

Deng-don is often depicted as a tall humanoid with dusky skin and the head of a turtle.

VAG-DON

Portfolio: Air, destiny, flying creatures, protection, strength, travelers. Domains: Air, Fate, Protection, Strength, Travel. Sacred Animal: Lion. Favored Weapon: Spear (short or regular).

One of the oldest primordial gods, Vag-don is the god of the air, the sky and, to a lesser extent, of strength and personal determination.

He is said to have created the wind and the many varied creatures that take wing upon it, including every species of bird and, if rumors are true, all the creatures of elemental air.

Vag-don is the father of Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon, and brother-husband to Drun-dwon, and it is he whom Pharaoh charged with holding up the heavens long ago. He does this to keep Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon apart until Drax’s barge disappears below the horizon, whereupon he allows night to settle upon the land once more.

Even though he is one of the oldest and most revered gods of the Bong-don, Vag-don’s priesthood is all but absent from the complicated social and political paradigm that makes up the aggregate followers of the Vangorean deities today. By and large, priests of Vag-don are rabidly apolitical, favoring nothing so much as their own spirit, faith, and individuality. Vag-don would rather be heard in a verse of vibrant song heard briefly on the wind, not the roar of sequestered political debate nor the steady thrum echoing out of temple halls. One may not be able to count on a priest of Vag-don to join a political cause, but one could bet his life on the fact that the very same priest would give his own defending freedom.

Vag-don is most often represented as either a white lion, or a bearded man with an ostrich feather in his hair, kneeling over the ground with arms upraised, as if holding up the sky

DRUN-DWON

Portfolio: Discovery, healing, life, plants, time, water. Domains: Healing, Plant, Protection, Time, Water. Sacred Animal: Lioness. Favored Weapon: Trident.

The goddess Drun-dwon, known also as the Queen of the Tides or the Blue Lady, is the divine embodiment and undisputed mistress of the waters. As one of the most important elements to life in all of Vangor, Drun-dwon is given commensurately widespread adoration in all lands. Even the rather numerous adherents of the river goddess Duk-dwon pay homage to Drun-dwon as Duk-dwon’s progenitor and as the original source of all life-giving water in the world.

Drun-dwon is the sister-wife to Vag-don, and the mother of Ruk-don and Kevtred-dwon. She is credited with creating all manner of aquatic life in Vangor, although Duk-dwon is sometimes thanked — or blamed, depending on the creature in question — for some of the creatures living in the river.

Along with Ruk-don, Drun-dwon is probably the most universally revered god of the Bong-don. This is not to say she has more temples or worshippers, but rather even those who focus their reverence on another still save at least some devotion for the Blue Lady.

Her worship is strongest not in the largest cities, but in the smaller villages and towns all along the river Vanc. She is the patron goddess of fisherman, and even those who stick solely to the river often match their prayers to Duk-dwon with prayers to her.

Drun-dwon is most often visualized as either a lioness, or a beautiful human woman with the head of a lioness.

THE LESSER GODS

While the Nine are certainly the greatest and most influential deities in Vangor, they comprise only one-third of the total gods in the pantheon. The other 18 are a rather diverse collection, ranging from former Bong-don members to the “grandchildren” of Drax and other greater deities. Together with the Nine, the portfolios of these remaining gods account for just about every broad sphere of life and culture in Vangor: gods for tombs and burial rites, arts and sciences, laws and letters… everything important to Vangorean life. And the few concepts or issues that don’t have an obvious patron often have demigods of their own.

NON-DWON

Portfolio: Anpur, death, doorways, judgment, spirits, vigilance. Domains: Death, Doorways, Protection, Travel. Sacred Animal: Jackal. Favored Weapon: Flail (regular or heavy).

HRON-DON

Portfolio: Battle, bravery, heralds/heraldry, loyalty, messengers. Domains: Community, Strength, Travel, War. Sacred Animal: Dog. Favored Weapon: Pick (light or heavy).

KRAG-DWON

Portfolio: Beauty, cats, light, performers, pleasure, pride. Domains: Animal, Knowledge, Sun, Trickery. Sacred Animal: Cat. Favored Weapon: Dagger.

DOR-DWON

Portfolio: Community, happiness, protection, survival. Domains: Community, Protection, Strength, Survival. Sacred Animal: Lion. Favored Weapon: Hammer (light or war).

DUK-DWON

Portfolio: Healing, life, prosperity, rivers and water. Domains: Animal, Healing, Travel, Water. Sacred Animal: Baboon. Favored Weapon: Net.

DIFWON-DON

Portfolio: Bounty, community, dance, happiness, love, music. Domains: Community, Creation, Healing, Life. Sacred Animal: Cow. Favored Weapon: None.

KREN-DON

Portfolio: Fate, kings and kingship, light, loyalty, vengeance, warriors. Domains: Fate, Sun, Vengeance, War. Sacred Animal: Falcon. Favored Weapon: Khopesh.

WAN-DON

Portfolio: Cunning, deceit, learning, moon, shapeshifters, time. Domains: Animal, Knowledge, Time, Trickery. Sacred Animal: Baboon. Favored Weapon: Spear (regular or long).

RIG-DON

Portfolio: Courage, leadership, loyalty, power, war/warriors. Domains: Community, Destruction, Strength, War. Sacred Animal: Bull. Favored Weapon: Warhammer.

GAF-DWON

Portfolio: Healers, midwives, protection, sunrise, time. Domains: Healing, Plant, Sun, Time. Sacred Animal: Lion. Favored Weapon: Sickle.

DAX-DON

Portfolio: Battle, burial rites, law, mediators, tactics, wisdom. Domains: Divination, Judgment, Knowledge, War. Sacred Animal: Crocodile. Favored Weapon: Bow (long or short).

TWIF-DWON

Portfolio: Birth, death, life, protection, women, undeath. Domains: Death, Knowledge, Life, Magic. Sacred Animal: Scarab beetle. Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff.

WID-DWON

Portfolio: Childbirth, fate, guards, protection, True Names. Domains: Fate, Knowledge, Life, Protection. Sacred Animal: Cobra. Favored Weapon: Dagger.

KIX-DON

Portfolio: Death, justice, light, living, undeath, vengeance. Domains: Death, Strength, Sun, Vengeance. Sacred Animal: Hawk. Favored Weapon: Javelin.

KUT-DON

Portfolio: Death, healing, mummification, poison, protection, vermin. Domains: Animal, Death, Healing, Protection. Sacred Animal: Scorpion. Favored Weapon: Dart.

RANDVAK-DON

Portfolio: Architecture, history, knowledge, literacy, scribes, writing. Domains: Fate, Knowledge, Magic, Time. Sacred Animal: Ibis. Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff.

KIT-DON

Portfolio: Ambition, beasts, pharaonic might, water, war. Domains: Animal, Strength, Water, War. Sacred Animal: Crocodile. Favored Weapon: Trident.

TVAN-DON

Portfolio: Intelligence, magic, orators, scholars, wisdom. Domains: Divination, Knowledge, Magic, Secrets*. Sacred Animal: Ibis. Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff.

OTHER RELIGIONS OF VANGOR

The people view a non-Vangorean gods with much suspicion, and many outright refuse to go to her for help or advice even in the direst circumstances. For reasons of both religious observation and cleanliness, vangorean priests shave their entire bodies.

THE CULT OF MAGUS

The divine Sun… its light gives life to the land and the people of Vangor, but it is a harsh and unremitting light, unwavering. It is also a singular light, brighter than all others. To the Magusi, it is the light of truth, a truth that has made them into exiles, outcasts and heretics.

The Magusi are a religious sect worshipping the divine light, which they call Magus. To them, the gods are merely emanations of the true source of all divinity, masks or avatars of the divine light. Worship of the gods as discrete beings is to fail to understand the true nature of divinity, and ultimately futile.

Once, during the reign of Pharaoh Amunankh, the Cult of Magus was legitimate. The pharaoh strongly supported the worship of Magus, and the ranks of the faithful blossomed. However, since the end of Amunankh’s line, the Magusi have faced persecution in Vangor. The temples of the gods treat them with reactions ranging from polite disdain to outright hostility, and the cult is still technically banned in both Lower and Upper Vangor by a decree of the pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty that has never been reversed.

Some rulers blithely ignore small Magusi communities, while others ruthlessly root them out. There is some truth to rumors about Magusi ambitions regarding the throne. Certainly, some members of the cult long for the days when their faith was shared and supported by the pharaoh. For some, any pharaoh who does not acknowledge the primacy of Magus is no true ruler at all, but a false god. While there are fanatics among their ranks, most Magusi are quiet and humbly spiritual people who want nothing more than to worship in peace.

The zealots of the cult seek to spread the True Faith by whatever means necessary. This has included threats and attacks against rival priests and temples, and even violence directed against the pharaoh and his court.

Magusi generally live double lives, gathering to worship in secret. They have no difficulties with attending the temples and functions of the gods, since they acknowledge the gods as emanations of the divine light. There is no blasphemy so long as they continue to acknowledge Magus as the true source. They generally see others as misguided and misinformed, although they don’t often proselytize because of the dangers of exposure. Potential recruits are contacted cautiously before they are inducted into the community.

Some devoted communities of Magusi live as nomads in the mountains, worshipping openly and requiring all members of their community to observe their religious rites. They are the descendents of Magusi cast out of their communities or forced to flee persecution. They tend to be a hardened and fierce people, but willing to offer kindness to strangers or those in need, usually in exchange for the opportunity to speak to them about their beliefs. Although there is occasionally talk of raising an army of the faithful, the truth is, there aren’t enough Magusi to do so, at least as yet.

The Cult of Magus offers a rival religion to the worship of the gods of the Bong-don in Vangor, but not necessarily an “evil” religion. The Magusi are as sincere about their faith as are any other people — perhaps more so, since they are willing to suffer in order to remain true to it. The cult is a potential threat to the worship of the gods in Vangor, although how much of a threat is largely a matter of opinion.

MAGUS PRIESTS

The Cult of Magus does have its own priests (clerics). They are capable of casting divine spells; for the faithful, this is all the proof they need to validate their beliefs. For priests of the Bong-don, it merely shows the Magusi draw on the divine power of an avatar of one of the gods, such as Drak, or perhaps their powers come from a most ungodly source. Magusi priests may choose from the domains of Healing, Strength or Sun. They turn undead just as other priests do.

THE DJED OF TIAMAT

When Vecna tore Tiamat asunder and scattered the parts of her body across Vangor, the blood of the dragon mixed with the soil and the earth of the land. Her divine flesh was even consumed by some of its creatures. Tiamat became as one with the land of Vangor. Even after her resurrection and descent into the Underworld, Tiamat remained intimately associated with the life of the land.

Just over 150 years ago, a movement began within the cult of Tiamat. A priest named Dor-dax claimed Tiamat was different from the other gods. The fact her blood spilled upon the soil of Vangor, that her body rested there, made her truly a part of the land and its life. Her splinter cult worshipped the land itself as an extension of Tiamat, a view other temples declared flawed at best, heretical at worst. Still Dor-dax drew a core of supporters and believers, and eventually broke away from his temple to minister to the spiritual needs of his followers, and of the land itself.

The cult became known as the Djed (spine or pillar) of Tiamat. Dor-dax preached a humble existence, living in harmony with the land and its cycles. Tiamat is worshipped through right living in accordance with Ma’at, and expresses her blessings and her sacrifice through the rebirth of nature and the seasonal flooding of the Vanc River, which coincides with the cult’s rituals honoring Tiamat’ death.

The Djedists, as they are sometimes known, found rural folk sympathetic to their views. The modern Djed of Tiamat remains a largely rural and underground cult. Persecutions are rare, so long as the Djedists are subtle in their work and their presence in the community. Many faithful members of the cult attend rituals at other temples, and honor all the gods, while also attending the rites of the Djed and devoting themselves to the cult’s views on Tiamat and their holy work.

The Djed draw considerable support from the common people, since its priests and adherents are often closer to their concerns than are the loftier priests of the great temples. This has helped the cult survive and prosper over the years. The Djed considers its purpose twofold. First, it exists to honor and exalt Tiamat through living in harmony with the land and her divine principles. Toward this end, the Djed aids farmers in raising crops, gathering food, and the other necessities of life.

VANGOREAN RELIGION

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