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.  

Another Path to Godhood

  The study of the Weave is not the only way to achieve Godhood. Another method is through the use of Divine Artifacts. Many of these exist scattered about the world- remnants of a past when Deities would bless their Champions with powerful relics which had the ability to change the world in the blink of an eye. Of course, these Artifacts have been lost to history- becoming the stuff of legends over the ages. But in the past, individuals who've discovered and mastered even one of them have likewise ascended to the status of Gods (although no one knows for sure how connected to the Weave they truly are, nor whether or not they're truly Divine in the same sense as the others).   Another way is through great personal sacrifice; no one is sure of the specifics of this method, but throughout history there are several examples of mortals from across the Sophontic races sacrificing themselves in times of extreme need, becoming one with the Weave for a temporary moment of protection. While it takes much longer for Divinities created in these ways to return to their people, they are often far more beloved and their impacts are much further reaching.
 

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, who are often unique to their own cultures. Various ethnicities may have further variations on the parent pantheon of their species, choosing to emphasize some figures over others- or reject particular Deities outright. Regardless of how they modify their own pantheons, outside of Tolara few individuals venture into worshiping Deities from patheons who did not originate with them.

Tolara

Unlike the rest of the world, little strict segregation exists between the cultures of Tolara- and this extends to their religions; here, distinct Pantheons have long since been a relic of the past, and the interconnected nature of early life on the continent means that many Deities traditionally worshiped only by a handful of cultures, now cross many a cultural boundary. 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 on the continent, such acts are still considered important overall. Because of this, religion remains 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 and lives.

Extraplanar

Divinity itself is a phenomenon that appears unique specifically to the Material Plane itself. Interestingly, however, there are a number of beings of incredible power found elsewhere, on other Planes of existence, who are considered comparable to the Material Divine. These beings are frequently called "Wardens" on other planes, and they often occupy significant places within the cosmological order and heirarchy of their home Plane.   This includes the Archfey of the Feywild, the Titans of the Elemental Plane, the Old Ones of the Shadowfell, and even more which as of yet remain undiscovered by Extraplanar Travelers. 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.

Another Master

  While the majority of the Divine Professions require the favor of a Divinity in order to possess their powers, because Planar Wardens are frequently similar in power and ability to the Material Divine, they're likewise capable of bestowng similar blessings on those who devote themselves to them. As a result, it is possible for an individual to become a Cleric or Paladin in service to a Planar Warden; this process requires similar vows to those taken by the Priests of Divine figures, but often have far more disasterous consequences if broken.
 

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 for themselves.   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, in 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, in Tolara's Gwyn Tira'Kie region. The third largest, the Sailor's Cathedral, is also located in Tolara- though in Port Chara'Huyan on the continent's Southern Peninsula.  

Religion & Cults

  With the rare exception, religious tolerance runs quite high in Saleh'Alire in most ages. While cultures tend to stick to their own pantheons in the majority of the world- and many ethnicities squabble amongst one another over divine superiority- very few species will often disagree on the validity of the Divine figures themselves; regardless of their differences, one belief largely stands strong among Alirans: Various cultures and religions may emphasize some Gods over others... But no Gods are truly ever false ones except those that did not ascend to The Weave themselves.   As noted, however, all Gods being recognized doesn't necessarily mean that all Deities are worshiped equally; various species 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 entire lives to; who gets the attention is quite variable.
  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 one Divine as more 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, (although 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. Somethimes, however, it starts the odd argument or two- or even a Crusade.   The most brutal of these events includes the Cleansing of Olienn between 6027 and 6033. Culminating in the Battle of Glimmering Hill, while not entirely focused on religion it was nonetheless the initial driving force; arguably a tame even by comparison, however, the most memorable was the Ilerian Migration in Tolara between 5873 and 5880. Here, disagreement between a subgroup of the Ferenian Humans 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 leading to their expulsion, and migration into the upper Talaina'Vao region. Lacking for survival in Rasha-Ui and the Chisisi Desert would give rise to the first wholly Tolaran Divine, causing a cultural split resulting in the Ilerians. Another massive religious schism would occur again decades later after their settlement of the Chisisi Desert, during an event known as The Red Schism, resulting in the Enethians. Together they would come to collectively form the Na Diwa pantheon between them; this was not the end, however. Religious unrest would occur yet again among the Ilerian and Enethian cultures, leading to another cultural split and migration, giving rise to the Tamerian ethnicity that now occupies the southern peninsula of Tolara.   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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Comments

Author's Notes

▼ Please Read Before You Comment ▼
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people poke and prod at it, and ask questions about the things I've built within it. I want both. I actively 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'. They are especially diferent, often-times, from how things "should be organized" for reader enjoyment.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've specifically found a typo, or you know for a provable fact I've blatantly misued a word, or something is legitimately unclear explicitly because I've worded it too strangely? 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. This is especially true if English is not you first language to begin with. My native dialect is criticized enough as it is for being "wrong", even by fellow native English speakers ... I really don't want to deal with the additional linguistic elitism of "formal english" from Second-Language speakers (no offense intended).   That being said: If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! I love talking about my setting and I'm always happy to answer any questions you have, or entertain any thoughts about it. Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great", it still means a lot to authors)- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it and sharing it around. 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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24 Jan, 2021 01:09

This is such a fantastic article. Love the layout and the domain spoilers.


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24 Jan, 2021 08:00

Thanks, hun, glad you liked it!

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20 Aug, 2022 09:20

I love that reading what you write gives me so many realisations on things I could be doing for my world. Laying out the domains like that is so brilliantly smart. Interesting that your divine beings are largely kept to the Material Plane with some few linked to other planes!

20 Aug, 2022 19:33

I always hates that DnD had so MANY planes of existence that when I went to create my own setting I really wanted to pare that down. But since a lot of the planes were linked specifically to the Gods I had to find a way to twist that. Making them a magical phenomenon of the Material plane and giving the other planes I chose to keep each a sort of equivalent of their own seemed like the smartest choice! I'm really loving how it worked out, and I'm glad you did too!

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