Since the age of the Three Realms, the dominant belief system has been the religion known as Archidoxy. Although its power has dwindled since the War of Tyranny and collapse of the Three Realms, the Archidoxy still remains the single most powerful religious organization in the world.
Even so, the Archidoxy is not the only religion. Many other traditions exist as well, including the so-called “barbarous religions”, the Kaba’sha, the remnants of the ancient Keshian tradition, and the religions of Eldren, Dworghs, Ogrum, and others.
The Archidoxy is the near-universal religion that has existed since time immemorial. As a result, the Archidoxy is the largest and most widely followed religion in the world today. Although it is almost exclusively followed by humans, the sheer power and dominance of the Archidoxy extends across all of Celaphania and Tarrona.
Although its origins are obscured in the mythic legends of ages past, the Archidoxy claims to have existed as far back as 8,000 years ago, to the time known as the First Age of Darkness when the Last Cosmic War raged across the heavens. The Archidoxy proclaims its cardinal mission is to watch and guard the world against the demons and their allies, sealed away deep within the fiery prison of Atracus.
The core of Archidoxy doctrine describes the Cosmos as a great clockwork machine, infinite in its complexity and ineffable in its workings. Before time and space, nothing existed but the Boundless Depths of the Empyrean Light, and was brought into being by the Prime Mover, the First Cause of the Cosmos that set the Celestial Clockworks into motion.
For the Prime Mover to realize its own existence, time and reality had to first exist through a progressive series of progressive noetic along a liner continuum of time and dimension. Bringing time and dimension into being caused the Prime Mover to emanate into the Aeons–immense cosmic currents representing natural laws and cosmic forces of the newly born universe.
According to the Codex of Metros, the Aeons of Light and the Aeons of Darkness annihilated one another, ending in the First Culmination and the destruction of the First World. The Second World then took shape from the carcass of the First World, and from the remnant shells of the Aeons came the Archons, who took their form as the stars in the sky above. The Second World existed until the Archons of Darkness, also known as the Dv’gn or Demons, made war against the Archons of Light in a series of cataclysmic wars that raged across the heavens. At the end of the Last Cosmic War, the Archons of Light sacrificed own their immortal essence to vanquish the Demons and their Fellspawn armies, ending in the Second Culmination and sealing them for all time on the scorched, volcanic world of Atracus. With that, the Third World finally emerged: the world that exists today.
Today, the Archidoxy still maintains that its holy mission is to watch and guard the world against the Demons and their Fellspawn hordes, sealed away deep within the fiery prison of Atracus. Archidoxy doctrine holds that Atracus is the Realm of Eternal Damnation. Souls judged by the Heavenly Tribunal (Tallos the Judge, Ashanna the Advocate, and Baramus the Virtuous) to be of irredeemable corruption and evil are damned to Atracus for all eternity. All other souls are either reincarnated (if sinful but redeemable) or cleansed of their remaining transgressions (if minor) and ascended into the Empyrean Light.
The Archidoxy is divided into temples, monasteries, and chantries. A chantry, which is a public building used for holding services, is run by a number of priests, while larger basilicas and temples (which may have a chantry attached) are run by a prelate or sacredant. Monasteries are only for members of holy orders, and are overseen by an abbot. The High Council is the ruling body of the Archidoxy, and consists of nine High Sacredants called Theocrats who are headed by the Hierofex. The High Council was originally located in a grand palace in Valaris, but is now resides on the floating island Supernus Vael which is usually positioned above Valaris, but can travel anywhere in the world.
The Archidoxy is further divided into nine distinct Orders. Each of these Orders is identify by the virtue it represents, and the Archon who resides over that virtue. For example, the Order of Justice may also be referred to as the Order of Tallos, and both are correct. Each Order also has between a dozen to two dozen sects, some of which may be operating in secrecy. It is not at all uncommon for priests to belong to more than one sect–even across different Orders. This makes the internal politics of the Archidoxy extremely muddled.
The Archons (also known as the Vanasir in ancient Tamarrian and Eldren) were emanated from the Aeons to embody and govern the forces, laws, elements, and concepts relevant to the physical universe. The Archons are said to be beings of pure energy and “walked among the stars” in a primordial age millions of years before the most ancient civilizations arose. The Archons of Light include Valoth, Ashanna, Tallos, and Metiva, while the Archons of Darkness (the Dv’gn, or Demons) include Aesmad, Kalith, Gorgoleth, Belgoleth, and others. According to the Codex of Metros, the Archons of Light and Darkness battled across the universe for a million years. After the last great battle some 10,000 years ago, known as the Last Cosmic War, the last of the Archons perished, and the last of the Dv’gn were sealed in the fiery tombs of Atracus.
The Ennead – Valoth and the Ogdoad
The Archidoxy teaches that only nine of the Archons should be honored and revered. These are Valoth and the Ogdoad (the eight rulers), also known collectively as the Eight and One, or the Ennead (the nine rulers), who govern the virtues that all adherents must strive to achieve. Each of the nine major orders within the Archidoxy are respectively dedicated to one of these Archons.
|Valoth||Supreme Archon of Light||Order of Devotion|
|Ashanna||Archon of Heaven||Order of Compassion|
|Mardael||Archon of Valor||Order of Valor|
|Mendrus||Archon of Mercy||Order of Mercy|
|Tallos||Archon of Justice||Order of Justice|
|Arani||Archon of Courage||Order of Courage|
|Baramus||Archon of Virtue||Order of Virtue|
|Dodecon||Archon of Diligence||Order of Diligence|
|Metiva||Archon of Wisdom||Order of Wisdom|
There are also a number of Apocryphal Archons, which are not officially sanctioned by the Archidoxy or represented in the High Council. These include Adorna (Archon of the Hearth), Antokh (Archon of Mystery), Isharis (Archon of War), Karona (Archon of Love), Lotaren (Archon of the Sea), Taimon (Archon of Luck), Vayelda (Archon of Inspiration).
Demons – The Dv’gn Lords
The Archons of Darkness, better known as Dv’gn, or simply “Demons”, are the horrific incarnations of all that is dark and evil, and the very antithesis of the Archons of Light. They are primordial abominations of pure malice and hate, twisted and malevolent, yet with intellects and powers beyond anything remotely conceivable by feeble mortal minds. According to legend, at the end of the Last Cosmic War 10,000 years ago, the Archons of Light sacrificed own their immortal essence to vanquish the Demons and their Fellspawn armies, sealing them for all time on the scorched, volcanic world of Atracus.
The Barbarous Religions
The so-called “barbarous religions” or “barbarous cults,” as they are called by the Archidoxy, include those diverse animistic, shamanistic, and heretical religions of far Northern Tarrona, far northern and far western Celaphania, the Azanian jungle region, and other remote regions. These religions include those of “uncivilized” tribes and clans, as well as those of the Ogrum and Scaithi, although the Scaithi religion is actually a distant branch of the Eldren tradition. By-and-large, the Eldren and Dworghen religions are not included as barbarous religions, and Archidoxy scholars have taken great pains to reconcile the Archons revered by the Eldren and Dworghs with those of the Ennead.
The barbarous religions tend to be led and organized by powerful shamans, spiritors, and sorcerer-priests, often at a tribal level. Because of this, there is no overarching or unifying body of faith similar to the Archidoxy, resulting in a highly fractured set of beliefs. Even so, the barbarous religions generally hold to a similar set of beliefs, and most actively engage in the worship of nature spirits, ancestor spirits, and shamanism.
The great spirits of the barbarous religions tend to be more earthly and concrete than the abstract Archons revered by the Archidoxy. Chief among these are Ghrimdar, Mortaga, and Oghmar, along with a host of beast lords, spirit lords, lords of the dead, warrior spirits, and great ancestor spirits. Many spirits who are classified as demons by the Archidoxy are also often revere, including Kromal, Kalith, Belgoleth, Gorgoleth, Abothog, and Felmorna. Some also venerate many of the Eldren spirits, such as Dalacus, Curragwn, Ludennor, and Brenndur. Bahgmod is the Thunder-Chief of the Ogrum religion, and the Ogrum venerate Kromal, Ghrimdar, Oghmar, Kalith, and various lesser spirits as well. The Scaithi believe much the same as the Eldren, but have adopted Mortaga as their chief divinity, instead of Lureatha, but also continue to recognize Curragwn, Ludennor, Vayelda, and Brenndur, along with Ghrimdar, Oghmar, Kalith, Kromal, and others.
The Kaba’sha is the largest and most influential of the so-called “barbarous religions” of Northern Tarrona. The Kaba’sha, which simply means “Holy Circle” in an ancient dialect of Kendes, was formed over five hundred years ago by a high priestess of Mortaga. Over time, the Kaba’sha grew and organized itself into temples, it was within these temples that the priests and priestess taught their syncretic theology, introducing a stronger and more cohesive religious philosophy reaching beyond the shamanistic practices and ancestor worship.
At this core, the Kaba’sha recognizes three triads of the Great Spirits called the Triturnion, or the Three of Three: Kalith, Mortaga, and Felmorna as the Triturnion of Fate; Dalacon, Lotaren, and Kromal as the Triturnion of Power; and Ghrimdar, Oghmar, and Isharis as the Triturnion of Judgement. The iconography of death and darkness plays a heavy role the Kaba’sha’s teachings, likely due to the extraordinary long winter nights and seasons of darkness present in the far northern realms, as well as traditional facets of shamanism, ancestor worship. The Kaba’sha also teaches that Atracus is the Great Purgatory, where the souls of all who die go to burn off their worldly sins before passing on into the Great Beyond. Those with few sins or many good deeds pass quickly through, but those tainted with many sins and wrongdoings can remain for decades or even centuries.
At some point within the last hundred years, the Kaba’sha underwent a radical change in its theological underpinnings. The Triturnions were secretly altered by the Kaba’sha’s new High Priestess and her devoted inner-circle. The new Triturnions consist of Kalith, Mortaga, and Felmorna as the Triturnion of Fate (the same as before); Gorgoleth, Belgoleth, and Kromel as the Triturnion of Power; and Azgoleth, Abothog, and Voshthok as the Triturnion of Judgement. This is possibly the result of the Kaba’sha’s secret unification with the Dungh’gar Cult of Abothog, bringing several of their priests into the fold.
Today, the Kaba’sha remains deeply rooted in the religious undercurrents of Kendes, and their priesthood runs many of the temples and shrines in and around Kalkhemed and other large cities, although there are still many other independent shrines as well.
The Keshian Tradition
Unlike the Archidoxy, which only reveres the Nine Great Archons, the Keshian Tradition worships and revered dozens of Archons–an act that is condemned by the Archidoxy as idolatry. The Keshian Tradition also places strong importance on ancestor worship and the worship of various nature spirits.
According to the tenets of the Keshian Tradition, as taught by Kesh, the universe existed in a state of emptiness called Oblivion (later named Omaketh). From Oblivion arose Paradox, as the emptiness was not emptiness since even emptiness is something. The Paradox wondered at itself, bringing thought into existence, and named the Oblivion “Omaketh,” meaning “that which is nothing exists”. No longer being nothing, a great light came forth and Paradox named the light “Valoth.” Bathed in the glorious light of Valoth, Paradox turned and saw beyond the Light was Darkness, and Paradox named the Darkness “Kalith.” Valoth and Kalith procreated, and from them came all the other Archons (called Kh’astrah, or Star Rulers, in Keshian), soon followed by a succession of procreative emanations bringing reality itself into existence.
Keshian priests practice an ancient form of magery that has been passed down for centuries in hand-written tomes and sacred scrolls. They invoke the powers of the Archons, ancestors, and nature spirits through prayers and incantations. This form of theurgy is outlawed by the Archidox as blasphemous sorcery. Ironically, many of the mages and theurgists in the Archidoxy secretly follow the Keshian Tradition, rather than Archidox dogma, invoking the power of such Archons as Antokh, Lotaren, Isharis, Karona, Vayelda, and many more.
The Eldren Traditions
The Eldren Traditions are deeply rooted in ancient Eldren beliefs that extend far back to a time before the rise of the empires of Keshim and Elinica. To the Eldren, the Aeons were known as the Ainasir, which means “Divine Eternal”, and they were said to have perished in a great “war in the stars” billions of years ago. From the Ainasir came the Vanasir, which means “Divine Rulers”, often translated simply as Archons. The Vanasir, or Archons of Light, battled the Dvangir, or Dv’gns, who were the Archons of the Darkness. The Vanasir include such begins as Lureatha, Dalacon, and Curragwn. Below the Vanasir are the Talasir, who are the Honored Immortals–the great heroes of myth and legend whose names came to be worshiped and who are (or are thought to be) powerful ancestral spirits.
Chief among the Eldren pantheon are Dalacon, the Great Father, and Lureatha, the Great Mother. Although Dalacon is generally associated with Valoth, scholars have had very little success justifying any connection between Lureatha and Ashanna, and most Eldren resent any attempt to make such a connection. Cernunnion was the son of Lureatha and Dalacon, and embodied the ideas of both the warrior and the hunter, and was known as Curragwn to the Ultic Eldren. There are many other Vanasir as well, including Ardannu, Brenndur, Selynef, Vayelda, Ludennor, and Cweyanna.
The Eldren traditions are typically divided into the Talic Tradition and the Ultic Tradition. Although descended from the Talic Tradition, the Ultic Tradition evolved on Tarrona separately from the Talic Tradition. Some 3000 years before the Common Age, Ultic Eldren and Scaithi voyaged across the Sea of Isles to Tarrona, bringing their beliefs with them. As centuries went by, the Eldren traditions mingled with those of the human tribes and spread farther across Tarrona to the eastern coast and the far north. New ideas came to be known, and countless stories were told and retold of the great spirits and immortal heroes who lived, loved, and danced in harmony with nature.
The Dworghen Tradition
Although Dworghs are not known for their deep religious convictions or spiritual devotion, they do have a rich and storied tradition all their own. Many Dworghs now follow the basic Archidoxy beliefs, chiefly due to the fact that Dworghs (unlike Eldren) are more and more becoming a part of human society–coming to human cities, trading with human merchants, and joining other human endevors. Many Dworghs have also joined the Archidoxy, although generally only in the Order of Diligence, as they view Dodecon as being the same divinity as Dalven.
Even so, the traditional Dworghen priesthood remains, and many Dworghs today hold dual beliefs–those of the Archidoxy plus their traditional beliefs. Within the Dwroghen religion, Davlen, the Master-Smith, stands as their chief divinity. In additional to Davlen, Dworghs revere Bolgnar, the Lord of Commerce, Hroggar, the Lord of Mines, and Kromal, the Lord of Stone. Many also revere Taimon, the apocryphal Archon of Luck, Lotaren, the apocryphal Archon of the Sea and Storms, and Oghmar, Lord of Oaths. They also seem to recognize Kalith and Aesmad as well, not in terms of veneration, but rather, in frequently using their names in curses and explicative.