By the Gods

Divinity in Saleh'Alire


Believing that the beginning of time was far too long ago for anyone to truly know the reality of what happened, Alirans care very little about debating the hows, whys, and whens of Divine existence. They instead choose to look to the reality of the present... And the undeniable reality of the present is that several Deities do in fact exist across a multitude of cultures, times, and places. More, they are powerful and tangible beings who walk freely among the various Planes of existence. This is, in large part, due to their supreme interconnectedness with The Weave itself.  
Few Tolarans care what it is or how it came to be- let alone why. But all planar denizens agree The Weave is an invisible energetic force that surrounds and permeates everything. Anyone with an inclination to do so can, with enough time, study, and and effort, learn to manipulate it for spellcasting.   Some who study it may even master it, becoming experts in one school of magic or another. But those who truly master every element of it may learn how to become a part of The Weave itself. Deities are therefore, in common thought, individuals who have mastered, and become one with, The Weave- unlocking a level of power which normal people will only ever dream of possessing.
My dearest and most beloved friend, we are about to do something both incredibly foolish, and immensely dangerous... But by the dusk and dawn, Corellon himself has put us on the same path- and I am convinced it was for a purpose. I only hope there is enough time in our lives to complete this God given task.
Egmes Aceyr, in a letter to Ytlena e'Ovohric
  The nature of the Divine is not one which is static and unchanging, however. It instead exists in a constant state of flux, with new beings ascending to Divinity and old ones falling or dying off entirely. This is because nothing is divorced from the natural cycle of Life and Death- and in the Aliran worldview, this includes the beings they call Deities; even those who have ascended to divine status are still viewed as mortal creatures- albeit incredibly long lived mortals whose power, and mere state of existence, is far beyond the comprehension of those who haven't achieved a similar level of power in their own right.    

Divinity Across the Universe


Saleh'Alire

With the tangibility of the Divine so ever present in the world, one would be hard pressed to find an Aliran who didn't at least marginally believe in their existence. As a result, the Divine (and even religion itself) plays an integral role in the every day life of the world's inhabitants regardless of culture or race.   That being said, most cultures in the world hold to their own pantheons- worhiping old Deities and new alike, all of who are unique to their culture. Various ethnicities may bave further variations on the parent pantheon of their race, choosing to emphasize some figures over others- or reject particular Deities outright. But regardless of how they modify their own pantheons, outside of Tolara few individuals venture into worshiping Deitied from patheons who did not originate with their own race.

Tolara

Unlike the rest of the world, little strict segregation between the cultures of Tolara- and this extends to what Deities they worship. Here, distinct and separate Pantheons have long since been a relic of the past; the interconnected nature of early life on the continent means that many Deities traditionally worshiped only by a handful of culture, now cross many cultural boundaries here.... As a result, in Tolara all Deities are considered a part of the greater Tolaran pantheon.   While prayer and other activities of worship aren't seen as wholly necessary in Tolara, such acts are still considered important on the continent. Because of this, religion is a central part of the daily lives of most Tolarans, placing worship and veneration at the forefront of thought and activity as they go about their daily tasks.

Extraplanar

Interestingly, while similar beings of incredible power are found elsewhere on other Planes of existence, Divinity itself is a phenomenon that appears to be unique only to the Material Plane. There are a number of beings from other planes, however, who are considered to be comparable to the Material Divine. These beings are frequently called "Wardens" on other planes, and occupy significant places in their cosmological order and heirarchy.

This includes the Archfey of the feywild, the Titans of the Elemental Plane, the Old Ones of the Shadowfell, and even more as of yet undiscovered. But while the powers of such beings are considered similar, however, they still fail to match those of the Material Divine- and they have, thusfar, been unable to achieve the same interconnection to The Weave.

Divine Domains

  As beings of near incomprehensible power who have the ability to effect great change within the world, many Deities choose to turn their attention towards some aspect of mortal affairs. And just as people have unique specialties, cares, and interests in life... So to do Deities after their ascension. After their ascension to divinity, these special interests are translated into what are known as Divine Domains- of which there are seventeen considered to be standard.  
Click on the boxes below to read more about each of the divine domains.
 
Allure
Alluring Gods revel in all that is sensual, romantic, and beautiful in the world; they seek out the pleasures of life- whether they're material or emotional, large or small.
 
Arcane
Gods of Arcana know the potential of magic intimately; for some this knowledge is a great responsibility. Others, however, see it as pure power to be used as its wielder sees fit.
 
Ballance
Gods of ballance are concerned with the natural order of life and death, and maintaining that ballance in the universe- encouraging the use of whatever means necessary.
 
Civilization
Gods of civilization focus on things related to urban areas- incluing community and commerce; to them the city is the center of modern life, and a bastion against primality.
 
Craft
Gods of Craft are patrons of artisans. They teach that, with patience and hard work, even the most intractable material can be transformed into something beautiful.
 
Fate
Gods of Fate revel in randomness and risk; encouraging followers to take on incredible odds and challenges, they intervene rarely and prefer to leave it up to chance.
Grace
Gods of Grace reward only the most faithful: Those zealous, devout, and pious who burn with quiet fervor; who would go to the ends of the earth, and never balk at their duties.
 
Grave
Gods of the Grave watch over both Death and Undeath in all their forms; to them it's part of a fundamental balance which must be upheld at all costs- including murder.
 
Knowledge
Gods of knowledge value learning above all else; some teach their followers to share knowledge, or promote the practical... But others simply hoard it for themselves.
 
Law
These Gods believe first and foremost in the rigidity of order, discipline, fairness, truth, obedience, and justice- and lead their followers by the strictest of examples.
 
Life
These Gods focus on the vibrant, fundamental forces that sustain life- promoting vitality and health, healing the sick and wounded, and caring for those in need.
 
Nature
Nature Gods are as varied as the natural world- from Gods of deep forests, to Deities of particular springs or groves, or those who govern storms, sea, and sky.
Primal
Primal Gods are those who promote a ferocious strength and determination which can't be taught; to them what matters is the primal, unrestrained fury carried within.
 
Protection
Protection is the purview of Deities who charge their followers to be strong; to shield the weak, bolster all manner of defenses, and defeat evil- all to make the world safe.
 
Shadow
Gods of shadow are patrons of thieves, scoundrels, gamblers, rebels, and liberators; mischief-makers and instigators who stand as a constant challenge to justice, law, and order.
 
Suffering
Gods of Suffering are empowered by their Domain; some seek to reduce it, others to bring about more. But all recognize it as inherent, and embrace its constancy.
 
Travel
Gods Travel Domain are often prayed to by caravan leaders, ship captains, pilgrims, messengers, soldiers, and others who travel frequently over long distances.
 
War
War has many manifestations. Regardless of what form it takes,Gods of war are those who watch over warriors and soldiers and reward them for their deeds in battle.
  Primary Domains themselves tend to be broad umbrella categories like Life, Nature, and Knowledge. These are then divided up into smaller, much more specific Subdomains. For instance, the Nature Domain would be further divided based on Element: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Occasionally, though, these Subdomains may be divided even further into Microdomains- such as in the case of the Water Subdomain of Nature, whose Microdomains may include things such as Storms, Lakes, Tsunamis, and so on and so forth.   One distinction that isn't made in the classification system, is the alignment of the Divinity in question. After all, an element which can readily provide and sustain life, can just as easily take it away; the Divine reflect this multifaceted nature of the universe itself, and, as a result, few if any Domains are truly the purview of Divinity with any particular common alignment. Instead, the alignment of a Divine is an extrapolation of their personality as a whole, and the way in which they tend to approach their Divine duties.  

Veneration & Worship

 
Do you know one who would do such a thing? One who would pray at this Chapel's altars; who would visit for health, restoration, and inspiration- and meditate upon the Mysteries of our beloved Gods in quiet, thoughtful contemplation?   Indeed... I believe wholly that the earnest believer may improve both spirit and mind within the Temple of a Thousand Faces- for truly, to walk within the Hall of Faces is to glimpse the very nature of the divine itself, wrought forth in such incredible architectural marvel.
— Sister Akassa Ramouric in a letter
to her brother Taeme Ramouric
While the Gods may occasionally take an active interest in mortal affairs, they're ultimately capricious and unreliable beings... They may bless you one day but curse you the next- or simply take no interest in your affairs at all. Activities of worship, then, are viewed by most Alirans (but especially Tolarans) as positive, productive ways to curry Divine favor.   The intended hope of worship and veneration, of course, is that a Deity will be more inclined to bestow blessings or favors, or intervene on one's behalf, if one is an active worshiper of theirs. As a result, it's difficult to find an Aliran (but especially a Tolaran) who doesn't attend to their worship at least once daily- something which the landscape of the world certainly supports with high levels of enthusiasm.   Shrines, Temples, and other places of worship generously dot the landscape, and are bustling centers of daily activity which take on many forms. Meanwhile, traveler's Shrines are common at many street corners and intersections, even in the midst of urbanized areas, and can be found far and wide. Most private residences, too, maintain at least a small Shrine of some sort at which a household may perform its daily prayers- and businesses follow this trend as well, providing clients a small Shrine at which to make passing prayers as they patronize their place of business.
  Even in the most remote areas of the continent, Temples can be found dedicated in their honor. Frequently the largest building in the surrounding area, they are often opulent displays of architectural skill, creativity, and ingenuity, crafted to please the Divine and draw their attention both to the building itself, and to the area it serves; originally, the largest such temple was the Temple of the Three, located in Ea'ronn, Olienn. It has since been beat, however, by the Temple of a Thousand Faces- a collaborative project of Deamod e'Lufaren and Aaina Viswan located in Saethar'Kori, Tolara. The third largest, the Sailor's Cathedral, is also located in Tolara- though in Port Chara'Huyan on the Southern Peninsula.    

Religion & Cults

  Religious tolerance runs quite high in Saleh'Alire; while most cultures stick to their own pantheons- and many ethnicities squabble amongst one another over divine superiority- few disagree on the validity of the Divine itself; regardless of their differences, one belief stands strong among Alirans: Various cultures and religions may emphasize some Gods more than others... But no Gods are truly ever false ones except those that did not ascend to The Weave.   As noted, however, all Gods being recognized doesn't necessarily mean that all Deities are worshiped equally; various races, ethnicities, and even cultures maintain their own pantheons and their own opinions. And especially in Tolara, many individuals pray to whomever they think is the most relevant in any given situation, or at different times of the year. Others worship only a handful of select Gods out of the greater whole. And even more have a favorite or two to whom they pray most often, or even devote their lives to.  
  As a result, various religions and cults can (and do) exist heavily throughout the world... These range from simple, benign groups who promote the teachings of a one Divine as more important or important than those of others- to small Cults of dissenters who believe that some Divinity or another is really a different one in disguise. Some Cults, too, (though they're incredibly rare) occasionally even believe that certain Divine beings never even achieved Godhood at all.   The occasionally blasphemous nature of some of these groups, though, is usually taken in easy stride- and often with grace, even when the disagreements are severe.   Despite the high level of tolerance and inclusivity in many areas, though, the existence of these groups has occasionally led to strife. The most brutal of these includes the Cleansing of Olienn between 6027. Culminating in the Battle of Glimmering Hill, while not entirely focused on religion it was nonetheless the driving initial force; arguably a tame even by comparison, however, the most memorable was that of the Ilerian Migration in Tolara between 5873 and 5880. Here, disagreement between a subgroup of the Ferenian Ethnicity and the Solar Elves over the nature of one of their Gods led to catastrophic results within Eris'ka.
Being a useful description of the lands and the customs of its recent inhabitants- and furthermore, a useful history of those places of spiritual interest by nature of their locations, and the influence of their peoples... I must convey to you the sincerity with which the Tolarans regard their Gods, despite the blasphemous abomination which has become their pantheon in this era; a veritable melting pot of every Divinity beneath the two moons, it is an ultimate affront to the pious. But nevertheless they believe- and they believe with a fervor unlike anything I have ever seen.
— Oliennesian High Priest Feyrith Dirha,
A Pocket Guide to Tolara and its Peoples
  The persecution of this small Ferenian faction resulted in violence, bloodshed, riots, and many lives lost- eventually resulting in a cultural split, leading to a mass migration of Fereni into the Talaina'Vao region. Similar events would occur again decades later during an event known as The Red Schism; similar religious unrest among newly formed Ilerian culture would lead to yet another cultural split and migration- giving rise to the Enethi and Tameri ethnicities.   Though events such as these are rare, when they do occur their results are often felt for centuries; even today these four peoples (the Solar Elves, and the Ilerian, Enethian, and Tamerian ethnicities of the Human race) still retain a deep seated dislike of one another based on the religious grounds which caused the violence- and few, if any races, trust those Solar Elves who call Olienn their home.


Cover image: Encyclopedias by James L.W
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Author's Notes

Read Before You Comment
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people ask questions about the things in it. I want both. I encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either.   However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've found a typo, i've blatantly misued a word, or something is unclear because of how I've worded it? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary.   If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great")- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?


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