One of the most frequent requests for Arth lore that I get is for more detail on the deities that govern it. There’s a lot to tell; Arth has a big pantheon, though most of them are only tangentially mentioned in The Dark Profit Saga. Still, if you know who to look for, you can see many of their names appearing throughout the story, as an active, raucous collection of gods and goddesses have shaped life on Arth for ages.
This is the beginning of a series on religion on Arth. Twice a month we’ll be looking at some aspect of Arth’s pantheon, the gods that rule it, and the history of the world. It’s sourced from the notes on the gods I made years back when I started writing Orconomics, updated to match the canon version published. If you’ve been wondering who Oppo is or how Fula’s Pot was named, this is the series for you.
Religion on Arth is surprisingly diverse for a place that almost universally agrees in the Creator and the gods he set out as a sort of celestial middle-management. They exist in the Hall of the Gods, the space beyond the Weave of Reality where the Creator’s loom sits. Each god and goddess has created a plane of existence for himself or herself. These are the heavens, planes populated by spirits, angels, minor gods, and the souls of mortals who have earned a place in a deities’ realm. (How a mortal earns such a fate. and whether or not they like it, varies a lot from god to god.)
Each god is associated with one of the four original races of Man—Elves, Gnomes, Dwarves, or Sten. Each god holds sway within a realm of influence, and each of the four original races had one god for each realm. That’s how it was originally set up, anyway.
Some of the gods joined Mannon’s cause in the War of Betrayal, and were twisted into the Shadowkin gods. And all of the Stennish gods are gone; they fell with Al’Thadan and their people at the end of the Third Age. Like their king, they are banished beyond the Weave, the Hall, and the Loom.
One of the gods or goddesses from each realm is said to be the ruler over it, or dominant, and the other gods in that realm ostensibly work under the direction of its ruler. If a dominant god or goddess fell to Mannon’s sway in one way or another, his or her domain of influence was divided amongst the other gods of his or her realm, or even amongst minor gods of related spheres. In such cases, one of their counterparts within the realm assumes leadership of the realm. This god is referred to as “ascendant.”
The Great Realms
The Twelve Great Realms are as follows:
- Dominion: Law, Wisdom, Justice
- War: Battle, Might, Valor
- Trade: Commerce, Wealth, Treasure
- Hearth: Family, Generations, Home
- Earth: Stone, Harvest, Plants
- Fire: Flame, Warmth, Smithing
- Water: Sea, Lakes, Sailing
- Air: Sky, Wind, Weather
- Love: Affection, Devotion, Passion
- Light: Day, Sun, Virtue
- Dark: Night, Moon, Dreams
- Beasts: Animals, Wilderness, the Hunt
Two greater beings fall outside of the normal structure of Arth’s pantheon. One is Mordo Ogg, the one and only god of Death. The other is Mannon, who was older than the gods, and more powerful in many ways, but in the Age of Fables he somehow came to walk among them.
There are also countless Minor Gods, lesser deities bound into the service of the greater realms.
Worshippers on Arth
People may worship one god in particular as their divine patron, or subsets of the gods. A Dwarven King may worship all of the Dwarven pantheon, while a Dwarven Blacksmith may worship all of the gods he thinks of as relevant to smithing, whether Dwarven or Gnomish or even Elven. Humans worship at almost any temple they wish, as they have heritage drawing from Gnomes, Elves, and Sten. Gods have alliances and factions, and often wind up sharing congregations. For example, followers of Erro are members of Fula’s flock as well, because their gods are husband and wife. However, nobody worships all of the gods, because to stand with any one god is to stand against another. Some priests claim the gods were once unified in heart and purpose, before War of Betrayal, but now they are fragmented in purpose and method.
The Gods that Shadowkin worship are especially scrutinized, as some of their gods fell under Mannon’s sway in ages past. Certain Shadowkin gods are seen as penitent, and therefore acceptable for worship, while following other Shadowkin deities is seen as a sign of alignment with evil forces. These perceptions aren’t totally unfounded–many of the lost gods are evil. Then again, Human or Gnomish assassins often worship Sitha, the goddess of murder and ambush, but they don’t get asked about what temple they attend constantly the way a Naga might.
Regardless, most gods will accept followers from any race, especially if they have donations to give or are willing to volunteer. It’s not unusual to see Gnomes worshipping in Dwarven rites or Dwarven clergy at Elven temples. The highest and most prestigious positions of ministry, however, are usually held by members of that deity’s chosen race. Or Humans. Humans are just everywhere. You can’t shake a stick in Andarun without hitting a Human.*
Articles in this Series
I’ll be posting articles this first and third Monday of every month until this series is complete. Here’s a list of topics that will be covered, at least in part. Let me know if there’s another article you’d like to see.
- Arth’s Creation – November 19, 2018
- Dominion – January 7, 2019
- War – February 18, 2019
- Trade – April 15, 2019
- Hearth – December 17, 2018
- Earth – March 4, 2019
- Fire – June 3, 2019
- Water – May 20, 2019
- Air – April 1st, 2019
- Love – February 4, 2019
- Light – May 6, 2019
- Darkness – March 18, 2019
- Beasts – January 21, 2019
- The Minor Gods – June 17, 2019
- Mordo Ogg – December 03, 2018
* This was an actual argument used by the defense at the trial of the Dwarven murderer Fobler the Clubber. He was condemned as a villain in 7.298 and hunted down by Guild Heroes within a week.
That’s it for this overview of Arth’s Pantheon. There’s more Arth Lore available on the blog as well. And in case you haven’t journeyed to Arth yourself yet, check out my books for some fantasy adventure that’s so funny, it’s epic.