Campaign Background – Cult of Grithstane
Cult of Grithstane
Overview: In a land filled with war, disease, and the horrors
of Chaos, death is a constant companion, an inescapable end.
Most people of Klarn reconcile their natural
fears and come to accept deeth as a necessary
part of life. In fact, some might say that
Klarnites, specifically people of the
Empire, have an unhealthy fascination with
it, incorporating symbols of death in all
things. From the skulls that decorate their
banners to the martial cultute that infurses
the Empire’s society, death is everywhere, and
its master is Grithstane. Grithstane is the patron of death and the dead. All come to him eventually and those who cross him and his favored ones come to him sooner than expected. Grithstane is also the patron, the Divinity Within, or undeath. As those who sleep approach death he is also associated with dreams, though he shares this sphere with Ishtar as the god of prophecy.
Spheres: Death, undeath, corruption, decay, change, dreams
- Observe all the rites of funeràl and wake.
- Be respectful and considerate of the dead and their
- Pay heed to your dreams.
- Believe in yourself. A common recitation when faced with a challenge or event: “As the blood is the power, and the blood flows through me, the power is mine.”
- Work to improve yourself and your capacities. A complete understanding of the divinity within opens the door to immortality.
- Death comes to all, but death is only a change of state so do not fear it.
- Death must be conquered by undeath—the path that leads to eternal existence, and for some, to divinity.
- The only champions that resist death on behalf of mortals are the undead. They seek to open the path of godhood to all mortals.
Grithstane is recognized primarily as a Lord of Mendelland, and thus has followers who do not consider him a diety, however he does have some followers who do consider him to be the personification of death itself and worship him as a diety. His cults reflect both aspects to different degrees.
The Blood of Vol: A significant cult that promotes the creation and veneration of the undead. This cult espouses the central tenant of the Divinity Within, that true divinity exists only within the blood of living things. The Land of the Dead is for those who fail to master and comprehend the Divinity Within. The sect’s highest echelons are made up of undead. It is said that this cult is lead by a half-elven vampiric lich Vol who was once a protoge and former lover of Grithstane himself.
Cult of Life: This is a sister cult to the Blood of Vol that does not overtly traffic with undead but that teaches the same core tenants regarding the Divinity Within and the truth of the blood of life leading to true divinity. It is often considered a gateway cult to membership within the Blood of Vol.
Cult of Exquisite Agony: This cult is a series of loosely connected cults. They claim to be promoters of self-denial and aesceticism and in some few cases that is the case, but all to often the cult devolves into a cult of masochism and in some cases the cultists take it upon themselves to "free" those who have repressed their feelings of self-denial and the cult becomes one of sadism and torture. There are also rumors that some branches of this cult engage in bizarre forms of experimentation on cult members and other "volunteers" for their own twisted reasons.
Order of the Shroud: This cult is charged with protecting the resting dead. They are opposed to vile necromancy (but not necromancy in general) and work to make sure that proper rites are taken with the dead and prevent grave robbing and selling of body parts and other such unscrupulous acts. Oddly, they often find themselves at odds with other cults dedicated to Grithstane. They find no conflict in this and feel that this is in his will as all go to is embrace eventually.
Cults of Change: This cult is the most fragmented of all the cults and might not even truely be considered a single cult. These followers are dedicated to change in all its forms. They see death as the representation of change and Grithstane as its embodiment. They are the most mystical of all his cults, seeking out forbidden knowledge regardless of the cost it exacts on the mind, body and spirit. No two groups are exactly alike, some composed exclusively of spellcasters, while others are comprised of lowly commoners who seek to overcome their lots in life.
Augurs: This small cult wanders across the face of Klarn following their dreams. No temple to Grithstane has authority over these cultists. They often do perform last rites similar to member of the Order of the Shroud. They are notable as being the only followers of Grithstane who would enter a tomb rumored to be full ot treasure; they would do so to perform funerals for the treasure hunters killed by the traps, and would leave the tomb’s treasures inviolate. They also travel to battlefields and other such dangerous places.
Doomsayers: A subsidiary order within the Augurs, responsible for travelling to remote areas to perform Doomings and funerals when there is no local temple to Grithstane. Some Doomsayers are closely linked to a particular temple, which is as likely to be of the Order of the Shroud as of the Augurs, and travel a fixed route. Others wander apparently at random, visiting tempels as they pass them. These Doomsayers always claim to be following their dreams. Two kinds of Doomsayers really do seem to be guided by Grithstane. The first kind arrives in a settlement the day before a child’s tenth birthday or just as someone has died, precisely in time to perform the necessary rites. In some cases, this is due to a good network of contacts and a fast horse, but in other there seems to be no natural cause. The second group is guided to places where many people are about to die, whether from battle, plague, or natural disaster. Members of this group claim to have dreams they cannot ignore, and argue about their meaning. Some, the majority, believe it is impious to try to prevent the deaths, as Grithstane as decided it is time for those people to enter his realm. They believe thy are sent to perform funeral rites. Others believe that Grithstane sometimes directs them to places where there is a danger of many people entering his realm before their time, so it is their duty to try to prevent, or at least mitigte, the disaster. A handful suggest he does both, choosing agents who act approproately in each situation.
The Black Guard: These are the templars of the Order of the Shroud and the Augurs. Their primary role is to guard the Gardens of Grithstane and watch over the priests. People normally join the Black Guard because of some significant event in their lives. Most often, this involved a loved one who was released from a great suffering by death. The experience teaches the potential Guard the importance of Grithstane’s role andmakes him sympathetic to the cult. Other members join after an encounter with the Undead. They are a minority however as a potential Black Guardsman is unlikely to get assigned to the Blood of Vol or other cult friendly to undead, it is not unheard of. Such Black Guardsmen usually find their service quickly ended.
The Order of the Emerald Claw: These are the templars of Blood of Vol. Not so much a sect as a paramilitary branch of the sect of the Blood of Vol. Some of the rank and file of the Order are unaware of their connection to the Blood of Vol, but the higher ups are all faithful seekers.
"I’ve said all my prayers, offered sacrifices and paid my tithes. My daughter’s life is in Grithstane’s hands now. " – Waltaar van Hoik, worried father
"It’s not that Grithstane is evil. He is not of course, despite what the yokels might claim. No, Grithstane, is just and patient and, true, sometimes, capricious." – Father Roubert Amos, Priest of the Order of the Shroud
"What do you grow in a garden? Food! What do the bloody Volites grow in their hidden houses? Things that feed on us! That’s Grithstane’s Garden for you. He’s evil and so are his bloody priests!" – Gunther Jagerson, Laborer
"Heretics! Chaos cultists! Every temple to Grithstane should be burnt to the ground for harboring forbidden and dangerous writings!" – Jerid Maximillion, Cult Escapee, Fanatic, and Rabble Rouser
Followers of Grithstane are sometimes gifted with the Mark of Death. This symbol takes varying forms, but other followers of Grithstane can immediately identify it as the Mark of Death and others can clearly see that it is something more than a tattoo or a birthmark. Typically within the cult of Grithstane, a person bearning a Mark is considered slightly more important than a similarly ranked individual without a Mark. How others react to the Mark varies from respect to downright contempt varying person by person. [Followers who have the Mark have taken one of the following feats: Born of Shadow, Tainted Wounds, or an Aberrant Dragonmark.]