Uncle Jimbo's Get Mediaeval
|"Downward and onward!"|
The Five Gods of Dissolution are said to have arisen in opposition to the stultifying influence of the four gods of the civic virtues. They are called the Gods of the Young, celebrated in strength, change and renewal, in the spring and the harvest season, at the new year and the solstices. High summer and deep winter go in fear of dread Raiash, Red King of fever, and Leiish, Blue King of death, the arch-devils, as the seasons of change wane from memory.
The Republic of the Five Gods
In Varia, Republic of the Five Gods, the revolution that ousted the former kings elevated the Five Gods to preeminence, building their temples on the sites of razed palaces, prisons, city quarter walls, and fanes of the Old Four. The rulers of many of the surrounding lands tolerate or espouse one or several of the Five Gods for the benefits that they bring.
Even the Republic hesitates to abandon the gods of order altogether, granting them almost literally a retirement home, the House of the Old that all four must share, in a formerly disused place of worship within the city. Their respect and following has begun to grow once more, particularly through their provision of charity for the various victims of the forces of dissolution, such as serving basic food to the destitute and Pala's sponsorship of a sizable orphanage. Not long ago, the paladins of Giel tore down a workhouse run by priests of the Old Four, on charges of demanding term-contracts and oaths of allegiance from those who accepted their help. Varia's Marshal of the North privately pays respect to Hule's altar, crediting him for the Republic's defeat of a raid from an opportunistic neighbour.
Beliefs among the country-folk of the Republic vary widely, many holding to the druidic worship of local deities or to elementalist cults, even propitiating the Two Kings on some occasions. Others follow Peran and Pala. The priesthood of Sarul evangelises strongly in the countryside, not least to form militias to defend the Republic, offering an attractive means for peasants to gain favour with its leading faiths. Many freeholders have actively taken up the teachings of Giel to improve the terms they can obtain for their land, labour and produce.
The credit of the Five Gods further rests upon the fearful example of Tsaian, called the City of the Terror.
In the tumult sparked by the Varian revolution, Tsaian went further than any of its neighbours by proscribing all worship of the Gods of Dissolution and brutally persecuting any of the lower classes who showed signs of rebellion. The annals of the Republic assert that large numbers in the city fell under the sway of the Red King as the state descended further and further into paranoia. Tsaian burned in a final paroxysm of violence, in which Giel and Sarul enacted great and terrible miracles to preserve the faithful and avenge the city's wrongdoing.
The pitiful beggar-tribe of Tsaianites, clinging on in their skin tents (and, by some accounts, increasing) among the brambles and broken walls of Tsaian, remain the most hateful opponents of the Five Gods, with many actual diabolists now among their leaders.
The Five Gods don't fit comfortably into the assumptions of either the third or fourth editions of Dungeons and Dragons, so I've described them without game rules. Their correspondence to alignment changes considerably in the different nations where they are worshipped, but in general, the Five Gods could be described as either chaotic or neutral while the Old Four are predominantly lawful.
The Five Gods of Dissolution
Sarul of the Torch, master of the fighting-ring, champions the strength and resistance of the common people and the right of everyone to defend themselves. He also supports the maintenance of good health.
Giel of the Hammer is the breaker of chains, humbler of the proud, the one who declares that each thing must have its limit. Those of his priests who are skilled in the law often oppose unjust indentures and contracts. He shares the great festival of the new year with Mithune. In the Republic, his priests often conduct funerals.
Caret of the Ball governs gambling and chance. Those who aspire to predict and take advantage of the patterns of randomness venerate him. His symbol is a lottery-ball inscribed with his sacred number four, or any implements of gambling, such as dice, cards or lots.
Mithune of the Lamp, the hermaphrodite, host of dusk and dawn, governs pleasure but also other activities prolonged through the night, such as the work of students and watchmen. He/she guards the winter and summer solstices against the threats of the Two Kings. Two orders of Mithune: the Silver Guild and Copper Guild of Sfyne
Bayet of the Mask is the god of choices, who gives each person the opportunity to change and to take different roles. Bayet is another god popular among those concerned about the afterlife and the fate of the dead.
The Old Four
Peran, Father of the Gods, god of rulership.
Pala, wife of Peran, goddess of virtue, thrift and the family.
Tor, keeper of the laws. Though older than Peran, tradition says that he lost the kingship of the gods, either through a drawing of lots or because their father favoured Peran (two variations of inheritance known in these lands).
Hule, god of victory, of all the Old Four probably has the friendliest relations with the Gods of Dissolution.
The First-and-All of the philosophers
Grandfather Night, the Boundless
Grandmother Fate, the Indestructible