The Elder Deities of Richtcrag

The Beginning
Before beings inhabited the lands of Richtcrag, it is rumored an ancient deity lived in the land and often took the shape of a massive bird with feathers of many different colors. It lived in peace with nature and the elements, protecting the wildlife with its power. However, it was startled one day by the passing of another god and took to the skies. In its flight over the land, it left behind six feathers, and each fell on different parts of the land: one in a hallowed mountain, one in deep in the largest swamp, one in the most secret part of the largest forest, one in the largest spring, one on upon a hidden crag in the steeps, and the final and largest upon the highest peak.

On that peak, the wind bellowed, the snow churned, and the rumbles of below shook it. It stayed there for countless years till a tribe of humans settled around the lands near the feather. It was when they spoke their first prayers that the feather began to take shape: winter, death, wisdom, hidden treasure, and those who seek them. From those first five prayers, Tyrl was shaped and began his reign as the eldest of the gods of the land.

However, when he took shape, his shadow also formed and the trickster god Vardel came into being. He instantly fled from Tyrl and went to cause mischief amongst the humans below, and thrived in their confusion and chaos.

Tyrl decided to help the humans against Vardel by creating his children. He sent dreams to their shamans and wise folk to send prayers towards the deep swamp, the fiery volcano, the wind-swept steeps, the largest spring, and the secretive forest. They did so and five deities rose to answer their prayers in turn: Yasin the Hunter from the swamps, Ulfkell the Warrior from the Volcano, Bjar the Wild One from the Steeps, Sylv the Life-Bringer of the Plains, and Grollen the Peacekeeper of the Forest. With their creation they provided protection from Vardel, allowing the humans of the lands to thrive and grow in both number, knowledge, wisdom, and skill.

Bound to the Land

The elder deities of Richtcrag are not like deities of the Syndar and other human nations. These divine beings are tied to the land they woke from upon their creation, with each one holding domain and power over the type of land that is there. The only partial exception to this rule is Ulfkell the Battle-Father, who was still tied to the volcano Veerokeer but took on the traits of the trades that surrounded his lands. Each deity was linked to certain regions:

  • Cul’Claimete: Sylv and Ulfkell
  • Kupferhugel: Tyrl and Ulfkell
  • Marais-Enceinte: Yasin
  • Olon Zyjl: Bjar
  • Valinate: Vardel
  • Pericht: Tyrl

It is even rumored that the regions formed around these deities and began to shape their cultural identities based on each of them.

Below is a listing of each of the deities other than Vardel and Ulfkell, who have been listed already.

Tyrl, the Mountain Lord, Elder God of Wisdom, Winter, Mountains, Death, and Mines

Worship of the Mountain Lord begins in Richtcrag. Richtcrag is a land filled with a variety of different geographies, and one of them is Kupferhügel, a land of mountains, snow, and mining. As such, a god was bound to step up to help represent this land and all it held: harsh winters, rich mines, mountains, wisdom required to survive in the land, and the death that can come so easily in the land.

His worshipers are mainly peasants and common folk who work, live, or come from the land. However, priests and lairds of other lands often pray to him, looking for wisdom when in need or unsure of what would be the better decision or road to take.

His primary portfolio is that of Wisdom, Mountains, and Winter, but has some hold over Death and the treasures within the mountains themselves. With such a large and unusual array of realms in his control, Tyrl is an ancient and powerful member of Richtcrag’s pantheon.

Tyrl is a passive deity when it comes to his followers, usually rewarding them for patience and learning. When it comes to intervening in mortal affairs, he usually only directly intervenes in times of extreme danger while in the mountains.

The Mountain Lord is usually depicted as an old man with a long snow-white beard, his body muscular and scarred. He is often depicted wearing a rich stone-gray robe with a silver chain wrapped many times around his waist. Upon his head is a crown of gold with five gems, each a different color (ruby, emerald, diamond, jet, and white opal).

In one hand, he carries a tome which holds the wisdom of the lands with a quill of Grey, purple, and blue feathers. In the other, he holds a mace. While many debate what the tome represents, a popular theory is that it represents the truth of the world: what it holds and what it could become. Upon his shoulder sits a peregrine falcon, and falcons are often believed to be his messengers of warning and caution in the near future.

His image is often found in temples, libraries, and places of learning where his power is said to hold more sway. However, wealthier lairds and nobles often have effigies, statues, or stained glass depictions put into their homes to help grant them the wisdom to lead their people.

Worship of Tyrl
Tyrl’s worshipers traditionally pray at dusk, praying and mentioning what they learned throughout their day. The prayers generally take around thirty minutes to perform and include offerings of incense, a blank scroll, and prayers of wisdom and knowledge-seeking.

For meditation, a person must find peace within, hold onto a scroll and begin their meditations, praying for the gift of mana to further bring wisdom to the people.

Rituals of Tyrl
Offering of Wisdom: Once a year, a holy person of Tyrl must offer up one scroll or book to a place of learning. This scroll or book must contain the knowledge learned throughout the previous year on one subject of their choice. This is usually given at the winter solstice at night.

Ritual of Sending: Upon the death of an individual, it is the duty of the priest to prepare the body for either burial or cremation. They are to place tokens of loved ones, weapons or items held in importance to the individual, and religious symbols. Before they are to be sent, the holy person is to meditate with the body in front of them, seeking any knowledge the spirit is willing to offer up before departing to the mana stream. Once the ritual is performed, they are to aid in the performance of the preferred ritual of death for that individual’s deity.

Yasin, the Overseer of Hunts, the Elder God of Swamps, Hunters, Fall, Freedom, and Vengeance

Yasin’s worship is mostly found in the region of Richtcrag known as Marais-Enceinte, the vast swamp region. Yasin answered the prayers of those in this harsh land by helping them find game and food to survive in this harsh environment. Eventually their portfolio began to cover freedom, as those who settled there wished to not be under a feudal rule.

However, their powers grew once more upon the death of their youngest brother, Grollen, the young god of the forest. Thus, Yasin took a vow to continuously hunt down Vardel until the trickster god is dead and his head upon a spike. (Story below, under Grollen.)

Yasin’s worshipers are primarily farmers, fishermen, and hunters who are only seeking food to survive or for a worthy quarry to hunt. However, they also receive prayers of those seeking vengeance against those who have wronged them. Due to this, they are often a deity turned to by those who wish justice served to those beyond their grasp.

Yasin is an active deity when it comes to their followers, helping guide their arrows true and guiding them towards fertile lands, rich fishing holes, and food in the wilds. However, when it comes to vengeance, Yasin’s influence is often seen in some form of unfortunate accident, a reversal of fortunes, or some other act that will bring down the target of prayers that reach him.

The Lord of Hunts is usually depicted as a middle-aged human with long brown hair escaping from a dark green hood and black scarf, leaving only bright gray eyes to be seen. They wear a green tunic, black trousers, and leather boots, and are covered in small trophies of hunts, knives, and runes. In one hand they carry a large oaken bow and in the other, a long slender arrow with three feather fletchings of different colors: brown, black, and red. Always next to them is a green heron, and herons are said to be their heralds of areas of abundant fish and game.

Yasin is usually worshiped at shrines found along roadsides or in homes at private altars.

Worship of Yasin

Yasin’s worshipers traditionally pray at dawn, praying for sustenance and luck on the hunts they will take on that day. The prayers of vengeance are often accompanied by a sacrifice of some sort — usually of the feathers of a predatory bird.

For meditation, a person only needs to meditate for thirty minutes with their tool of hunting or a trophy from a past hunt in order to have a proper connection with Yasin.

Rituals of Yasin
Grand Hunt: Once a year, a worshiper of Yasin must partake in one ritualistic hunt. To perform this hunt, the worshiper must fast for two whole days, drinking only water or wine. After this period, the hunter is to eat a stew made from specific moss, mushrooms, fish, and edible root tubers.

Once they have eaten, the hunt begins, and the hunter must now go forth into the wild with whatever gear they have and hunt whatever prey Yasin leads them towards. They are to use any means necessary to slay their quarry, and once slain, the hunter is to eat the heart to gain its strength. They are then to pray one last time to Yasin, and the ritual is finished.

Rite of Vengeance: This is one of the darkest rituals known within Richtcrag and isn’t invoked lightly. This ritual normally only takes place when an extremely dire wrong has been done to oneself, family, or community. The worshiper makes a large fire, making sure it is twice their own height.

Once the fire is the proper height, they are to roast a green heron with specific herbs and spices. During the cooking, the worshiper is to take the entrails and viscera of the heron and grind it into a paste. They then paint ancient runes upon themselves in this paste. Upon doing this they are to ingest a very specific wine spiced with a powerful reagent, and then the eat the heron.

By doing this, the worshiper engages in an act of blasphemy that can only be redeemed by slaying the one or group that they have vowed to kill. They are then spiritually and culturally bound to this oath and must complete it before being able to move on with their life. Some of these oaths last years, while some only last a few months as the hunter tracks the person or group that has wronged them.

Any clerics who perform this ritual have their divine gifts stripped from them until they have killed those they have sworn to kill.

Sylv, the Lady of Fields, the Elder Goddess of Plains, Spring, Life, Hearth, and Farmers

Sylv’s worshipers tend to be found mostly in the region of Richtcrag known as Cul’Claimete, an area with rolling hills and grasslands. Due to the type of land surrounding where she woke, it wasn’t too surprising that she picked up certain traits. With the rich soil and fair weather, she easily became a goddess of the common folk, and slowly turned into a goddess of the hearth and life. Because she provides her worshipers with good soil and weather for the crops, healthy livestock, and safety of the home, she is often prayed to by the common folk and farmers. She is viewed as a motherly and embracing deity who teaches patience and to wait to see the fruition of one’s hard work.

Sylv is an active deity when it comes to her followers, helping moderate the weather and the condition of the soil, and ensuring that her worshipers’ livestock is strong and fertile. Many pray to her for strength during childbirth, and during planting season for a good year for the crops to come.

The Lady of Fields is usually depicted as a young woman with long red hair with green eyes as bright as a clear sky. She is often wearing a bright green dress and a simple corset. Upon her head is a circlet of polished copper with three feathers: yellow, green, and blue. Usually fluttering around her in the depictions are cardinals, ovenbirds, and golden finches.

Sylv is often worshiped in small village temples or at small family shrines near the house or farm.

Worship of Sylv

Sylv’s worshipers traditionally pray at noon, praying for the strength of their crops and livestock and protection of their family and home. The prayers often have small and meager offerings, usually of flowers and other small gifts.

For meditation, there are generally no rules regarding asking for mana from Sylv to perform spells for her.

Rituals of Sylv
Blessing of Hearth: This ritual is often done when a new home is built or being moved into. A cleric will go through the house and place protective wards, cleansing the area with sage and often consecrating a shrine within the household to Sylv. This often takes around thirty minutes, but allows the family some modicum of protection from negative influences and often helps with safe childbirth.

Blessing of Fields: Before the planting of the fields in the spring, a cleric of Sylv is often called to bless the fields with a long chant, prayer, and an offering of holy water from a freshwater spring. These prayers often bring the blessing and careful eye and touch of the goddess to the field in question, and usually show great results during harvest.

Bjar, the Lord of the Wilds, Elder God of Beasts, Survival, the Steppes, and Fertility

Worshipers of Bjar are usually found on the steppes of Olon Zyjl, a land of almost pure wilderness. When Bjar was created, he took up the prayers of those around him: a proud, strong, wild people.

He is often viewed as a chaotic deity due to his wild nature and his control over the beasts of the land of Richtcrag, often caring for them more than those who follow him. However, none can deny his power over them, for those who pray properly will find themselves able to survive a difficult ordeal in the wilderness due to an easier kill or finding more food than usual. Due to his wild nature and animalistic tendencies, he is often prayed to for fertility by both men and women looking for a strong child.

Bjar is a passive deity when it comes to his followers, usually turning his attention to the creatures of the land rather than worshipers. However, he will reward his followers with favor if they do the same and help tend to the animals. He will also help those who are just trying to survive the harshness of the wilderness, or those trying to conceive a child.

The Wild God is often depicted as an extremely muscular man wearing furs covering his feet, torso, and waist. His body covered in scars and tattoos of the many animals of the land. His face is always covered by a highly decorated animal mask, usually depicting a boar or a hawk. However, his eyes are always jet-black. He has three feathers attached the mask: yellow, red, and black.

His image is often found on the nomadic people’s saddles, tents, or in scrimshaw necklaces, due to their mobile nature. There are the rare occasions of a shrine being found on a high point of a rocky outcropping. There is rumor that there is a larger one atop a massive granite outcropping somewhere on the steppes.

Worship of Bjar
Bjar’s worshipers traditionally pray at night, praying for help to survive, help keeping predators away in the darkness, or the ability to produce strong seed or receive it to conceive. An offering of blood is often required to make sure the prayers are heard.

For meditation, a worshiper must slice their palm and let it soak into scrimshaw or another carved holy symbol from animal remains.

Rituals of Bjar
Strength of Beast: When a warrior is about to head into an important battle, a cleric may perform a ritual where they sacrifice an animal to Bjar in return for imparting the essence of the beast to the warrior. They may seek great agility from a large cat, amazing strength from a bear, superb endurance from a boar, and so on. While these may not actually have magical effects, the spiritual implications often influence the warrior’s resolve.

Strength of Seed: If one was wanting to conceive a child and has had ill luck, this ritual requires the two participating to prepare a meal. This meal usually consists of rabbit, horse, root tubers, and medicinal herbs. During the consumption, the two are to let an herbal mixture smoke and smolder in a brazier. These often have a psychedelic effect.

After the meal, the two are shall attempt to conceive. The mixture of herbs, food, and incense often create a heightened state of mind, sensitivity, and endurance.

Grollen, the Child Lord of Peace, Former Elder God of Health, Summer, Forests, and Youth (deceased)

There are no longer any worshipers of Grollen. However, when there were worshipers, they came from all over Richtcrag. While he existed, he was widely revered and viewed as an extremely benevolent and caring deity, which was an odd shift from the wild and brutal ways of his siblings in the pantheon. However, the Child Lord was the best-loved in the pantheon by all except Vardel, who was extremely jealous of him.

Grollen was the last to rise into power, receiving prayers from the forests where many medicinal herbs and plants grew in the heat of summer. Through those prayers, he slowly began to take up the mantle of a deity of healing and summer.

Grollen was an extremely active deity when he was alive, usually granting prayers of healing and protection, most often to help save children and young adults from illness and wounds. He would often reward his followers for good deeds done for the children of the land.

The Child Lord often appeared as a lean adolescent boy with short, curly light brown hair. His face was always depicted with a kind and innocent smile, showing the naiveté and hopefulness of youth. His eyes were always the color of white opals, as if the taint and darkness of the world was yet to touch them. In murals he is often wearing a brass circlet with three feathers of white, red, and blue, with a scarlet tanager on his shoulder.

His image was often found in places of healing throughout Richtcrag before his death. Even now, it is said, a few forgotten shrines lie in hidden forest glades where the fine medicinal herbs still grow.

The Tale of Grollen: The Death of Peace, the Birth of the Warring Nations
Long ago, before Richtcrag was ravaged by warring lairds and clans, there was peace in the land. For while Grollen lived, he alone could cool the fiery temper of Ulfkell, his eldest sibling.

For many years the people of the land lived with this life, as did the deities in their daily routines. However, Vardel grew jealous of the love and calm that Grollen spread throughout the lands. So the Skybound Trickster devised a scheme to gain power.

One day, Yasin allowed their younger brother, Grollen, to join in on a hunt for a powerful white stag in a nearby woodland. The two loved these hunts, enjoying the journey, the explorations, and the company of one another. Neither of them realized that this day would turn out differently from every other.

They traced the stag to a nearby glade and spotted it. While Yasin strung their bow, Vardel, lurking in the shadows, created an illusion that made the stag flee from the glade. Grollen ran into the glade and looked about for the stag, only to see it appear behind him, emerging from a bush.

When Yasin witnessed their quarry return, they let loose their barbed arrow and let it fly true towards the stag. However, Vardel had played a trick on them both, for the stag was but an illusion. The arrow went through the phantom and straight into the body of the Child Lord. Yasin cried out and wept as they watched their brother and most beloved fall to the ground with an arrow shaft sticking from his heart.

Vardel couldn’t help but rejoice at the misfortune and cackled in glee. It was then that Yasin’s rage erupted, and the calm that covered the lands died. Every being in Richtcrag felt it, and felt the death of something so innocent and pure.

The rest of the Pantheon appeared then, The Battle-Father, the Lord of Wilds, the Lord of Mountains, and the Lady of the Fields. They joined Yasin in their mourning of their beloved sibling and son.

It was then that the rest of them took up a piece of Grollen, as memory of their beloved brother and son. Yasin took a ring and placed it around their neck as a remembrance of the deception of Vardel, now his sworn enemy. Sylv took some strands of the Child Lord’s hair and planted them in secret groves, so that the medicinal herbs may always grow. Tyrl took from his youngest son his memories and placed them within the opal gem upon his crown. Bjar burned the body and took the bones, making them into totems to place in the wildlands where the beasts may know peace and calm. Tyrl took the ashes and used them to forge a mighty blade which now rests at his side as a reminder of what peace can be, forever to be a rein upon his rage.

Vardel fled the into the wilds, and with Grollen now gone, he began to slowly rise in power. However, he is always reminded of his deeds, for he must forever be on the move lest Yasin catch him and slay him in cold and righteous fury.

But through this selfish act for power and gain, the once-peaceful lands of Richtcrag became the land of conflict and chaos that we now know today.

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