This group of deities is very human in nature, with their own feuds and follies. Every deity has a patron animal, and all their priests must take that animal as one of their selections when they acquire the Life sphere.
Each deity also usually has a more obscure cult dedicated to them, and a dark cult which gives them a different name but is recognized to be a darker aspect of the same god by most theologians.
|Open Cults||Obscure Cults||Dark Cults|
|Kor||Mother||Fertility||Grains, fruits||Mother Nature||Nature||Oak||Imlis||Neglect||Decay||Termite|
|Ryohnn||Hunter||Hunting||Dog||Ranger||Nature||Wolf||Chaggad||Wild Hunt||Hunting men||Stoat|
The obscure cults of female gods tend to be not mentioned around most menfolk in cultures following the Children of the Dragon. Men are brought up with the tale that women and men agreed to share risk by having women bear children and men hunt; women are brought up with the tale that men were tricked into doing the really dangerous work and there's no reason women can't do dangerous things, too— but most simply wouldn't want to.
The normal interpretation is that you go on to the afterlife rather than get reincarnated. If you do nothing of distinction in life, you wind up in a classical netherworld like Hades or Sheol, with special torments if you’ve managed to piss off a god without earning a bigger favor from another deity who will protect you. (Equivalents of Ixion, Sisyphus, Tantalus...) If you served the gods well, then you get to go work for them. It’s easy to serve Guldush and Kor well by just doing good work, so their cults are quite popular with the common folk, and there are no crop failures, earthquakes, locust swarms, or dry rot to mar your work in the afterlife. The heroic-feast-Elysian-Fields afterlife is the one that requires greater distinction.
The Pantheon of the Children of the Dragon stem from a hunter-gatherer society that acquired some new aspects when it went Neolithic and started settling down. (Most of the dark cults turned up when it became possible for people to live off the work of others while doing disproportionately little.) The “oldest” deities are Niera/Kor/Shakli and Ryohnn.
The traditional move from a matriarchal to patriarchal organization occurs when the men start herding, watching their animals, keeping track of time, figure out the connection between sex and children, and stop ascribing quite as much power to women. In this particular pantheon, most of the male gods arrived or changed roles somewhat at this juncture in history, but in a context that the male cults consider a relinquishing of power, and that the female ones consider a combination of lending and trickery (played on the males) to get them to do the dirty work.
The resultant society is then somewhat more liberated than the standard medieval or Greco-Roman world: women are more free to take on masculine roles. Thus, female adventurers may be unusual, but not horribly shocking to most folk.
Fill in with whose priests get what spheres, proper methods of honoring deities. (Sacrifices and libations are popular.) Summoning usually brings spirits with attributes of the patron animals.
Temples are usually Greek-style creations with lots of fluted columns, with nearby amphitheaters for passion plays and other rituals. The gods are regularly represented in statues and murals.
Realm: Beauty, love, art, artistic craftsmanship (nature red in tooth and claw) [domination and manipulation]
Worshippers: People in love, artists, poets, bards (rangers and druids) [egotists]
Holy places: Fountains (forest groves)
Encounters: Young lovers offering a dedication together, a priest working on an artwork in public and stopping to talk to interested passersby
Realm: Fertility, nurturing (the life cycle of nature) [decay, imbalance, drought]
Worshippers: Farmers, family folk, healers (rangers and druids) [nihilists]
Holy places: Temple/hospital complexes (Riverbanks in forest)
Customs: Offering up the first scytheful reaped, bunch collected, etc. at harvest time, or the first-born herdbeast of spring grown to maturity. (The thighbone wrapped in fat goes to the gods, and everything else becomes a barbecue for the worshippers.)
Realm: Wisdom, knowledge (secrets and magic) [insanity, senility, delusion]
Worshippers: Wizards, scholars [the dangerously insane]
Holy places: Temple/library complexes
Realm: Luck, fortune (fate and foreknowledge) [doom]
Worshippers: Gamblers, drifters (oracles, seers, visionaries) [doomsayers and fatalists]
Holy places: Crossroads
The Gambler is a female deity who serves as a strong precedent for female adventurers— competent, independent, and in some tales, deadly. Scholars contemplating the Triple Goddess (Niera/Kor/Shakli) debate whether Cassa is actually a fourth aspect corresponding to the dark of the moon.
Realm: Hunting (exploration of nature) [hunting humans]
Worshippers: Hunters, trappers (rangers) [assassins]
Holy places: Deep forest groves
The older tales of Ryohnn have him dying and returning with the year, but since the rise of cities (and men who really don’t want to give anyone ideas about turning them into fertilizer) he just comes home for the winter.
Realm: Battle (purity and fighting for holy causes) [berserk rage]
Worshippers: Warriors, blacksmiths (paladins) [berserkers]
Holy places: Battlefields, stadiums, temples with attached training grounds
Realm: Success through steady labor, solid craftsmanship (philosophy, engineering, and science) [bureaucracy and totalitarianism]
Worshippers: Craftsmen, merchants, bureaucrats (philosophers)
Holy places: Temples built in the center of a network of crafthalls
Realm: Wit, diplomacy (theft and deception) [betrayal and assassination]
Worshippers: Diplomats, bards, comedians (thieves, spies) [assassins, traitors, double agents]
Holy places: Crossroads
Realm: The passage into the next world
(reincarnation) [unnatural life, undeath]
Worshippers: Doctors, the dying (philosophers) [necromancers]
Holy places: Dead-end roads, cemetaries
Zhor is androgynous, usually pictured as a prepubescent child or a wizened old person of no apparent gender, or a skeleton. The obscure cult believes that the afterlife actually involves reincarnation in another level of reality, rather than a static place of punishment or reward.
The open cult of Zhor is about getting to the afterlife in a timely and safe fashion. “Timely” means not dying before your time and not hanging on in some horrible way afterward. “Safe” means keeping your soul from getting sucked out of you and used for nefarious purposes. Priests of the open cult tend to be calm, staid, dignified, and ascetic. Priests of the obscure cult are more meditative and fascinated with the new and unusual as clues toward what may await a person beyond transcendence.
The Underworld is a vast series of damp limestone caverns, dimly lit by veins of grey-glowing rock, and ever expanding as the Black River and its tributaries expand more tunnels. Wasted shades roam here, listless, tired, and hungry, clustering thickly around the spectacular punishments created for noteworthy sinners (e.g. Tantalus, Ixion, Sisyphus). Save for the shades, the place is largely empty, though Zhor maintains a vast underground citadel with eerily beautiful rock formations and exotic fungus gardens for its psychopomp servants.
Most spirits wander aimlessly, sit and stare, or watch the punishments of greater sinners. A very few will try to do something constructive, even if it’s only getting together in circles to tell stories or otherwise relieve the tedium of the bloodless, pallid underworld. These ones are usually noted by passing psychopomps, and are often given opportunities to become menial servants in the abodes of the gods for a duration equal to their previous lifespan, then reincarnate for another chance.