Alsara: Requiem and Revolution
The Orcs brought more than just sickness and war from The Barbarian South when they suffered the Exile March. They also brought their beliefs, which seemed crude and mysterious to the people of the North.
Traditional Orcish Shamanism
Once, the Orcs had no Gods, but spirits of the land. The spirits were nameless and fickle, in need of appeasement and care, but if satisfied they were kind and worthy of respect. These beliefs were carried across The Endless Desert from the Barbarian South, but once they arrived in the North they began to dilute. Perhaps their cruel treatment at the hands of the world has soured them against worshiping things without faces or names, but over the course of The Golden Age Orcish Shamanism has fallen out of practice.
Styles of Worship
Commonly, Orcs would defer religious rites and practices to the Shamans of the tribe, who would, in turn, ensure the religious health of their people and their homes. This also meant, however, that the only people who knew all the secrets were the Shamans, who guarded their knowledge carefully. As a result, religious observances had to be made in the presence of a Shaman, similar to how other religions require a church.
The problem is, churches don’t die or start having memory loss, and if they burn down all you’ve lost is a building. The deaths of the Shamans have done more to dissolve Orcish Shamanism than any other factor. The only place to reliably locate any knowledge of the spirit realm in the modern age is in Okesh Mosir.
There are no gods in Orcish Shamanism. Followers of this belief system are Druids.
The Barbarian Gods
Confronted by the strange religions of the North, Orcish Shamanism underwent a curious transformation. The idea of personifying the various spirits and elemental forces into benevolent creatures with names became very appealing, once discovered. The Orcish Pantheon was developed slowly, by taking major players from the spirit realm and granting them minds and bodies. This also serves to associate the Orcs to the spirit realm; rather than see the spirits as alien and mysterious, they were aspects of Orc-kind, each one living not only in the world outside, but in the heart of every Orc as well. It suggests a connection to the world, and a level of agency not previously present.
Styles of Worship
There are few shrines to the Orc Gods. Because few beyond the Orcs can identify with these tribal deities, it has not spread to civilizations with a penchant for building. The Orcs themselves will build small shrines in places that they consider to be holy, but they are usually not very durable constructions due to a lack of resources. Still, you can find shrines often in The Neck, usually in places of great natural beauty, like mountain peaks, waterfalls, or forest glades.
The most important difference is the writing. All that is needed to worship the Orc gods is knowledge of their rites and rituals, which—in stark opposition to Shamanistic traditions—are recorded in Okesh Mosir, then copied as often as possible. There are still Shamans who have committed these books to memory, and help to forge new rites, but they are simply knowledgeable, not the source of all knowledge.
|Titles||Breath-Bringer, Foe-Slayer, Life-Keeper|
|Portfolio||Fire, Battle, Life, Rage, Lust|
|Typical Worshipers||Warriors, lovers, brawlers, drunkards|
|Worshiper Alignment||Chaotic Good|
|Domains||Fire, Strength, Charm, War|
|Subdomains||Ferocity, Resolve, Blood, Lust|
Breath-Bringer created the Orcs, and all living things. He is the Orcish god of vigor and battle lust. Also regular lust, having been lumped into the same category. His earthly manifestation is fire, where he leaps down to strike out at any within his touch.
Followers of Fire Hand pray for his strength, ferocity, and tireless energy to lead them to victory. If they’re not in battle, they pray for all the same things when doing much of anything. Lifting heavy objects, arguing over a disagreement, having sex, learning a new craft, and just running really far are all things blessed by Life-Keeper.
|Titles||World-Shaper, Pain-Taker, Home-Giver|
|Portfolio||Earth, Protection, Sacrifice, Resolve, Okesh Mosri|
|Typical Worshipers||Builders, guardians, explorers, parents, Shamans|
|Worshiper Alignment||Lawful Good|
|Domains||Earth, Protection, Nobility, Community|
|Subdomains||Metal, Defense, Martyr, Home|
Stone Fist is the Orcish god of resilience. He is their toughness, their resolve in the face of pain and loss. He is also the spirit of Orcish sacrifice, for the good of their families and the good of their people. He is the god and protector of Okesh Mosir, the home of the Orcs. And he is the land itself, having shaped a small piece of it that the Orcs might live.
Followers of Stone Fist are often grim and quiet, but will stand for others in a heartbeat. Pain-Taker is a god of self-sacrifice, and an Orc that identifies strongly with him will die for his kin to keep them safe. They appreciate resolve and resilience, admiring those who survive against impossible odds to strike down their tormentors. Orcish builders will follow the tenants of Home-Giver, in order to ensure that their edifice is worthy of its occupants and blessed by the Gods.
|Titles||Peace-Caller, Sorrow-Drinker, Soul-Scatterer|
|Portfolio||Water, death, mourning, peace, memory|
|Typical Worshipers||The grieving, the old, healers, historians|
|Worshiper Alignment||Neutral Good|
|Domains||Water, Repose, Healing, Memory (Knowledge)|
|Subdomains||Restoration, Ancestors, Souls|
The Orcish goddess of loss, Sorrow-Drinker remembers the destruction of the Orcish people. She weeps for the dead, and shepherds their souls to the afterlife. She despises war, even the spirited violence of Fire Hand and the dire self-sacrifice of Stone Fist; she is not often depicted as right or logical, but opposed to death in any form. That she exists at all is a testament to the persecution that Orc-kind has suffered for the last thousand years.
Followers of Peace-Caller are rare. They remember the deaths of their people, and the loss of what they once had. They dwell in the past, tracing the generations of Orcs all the way back to their homeland in The Barbarian South. It is hard to live a life spent remembering everything your people used to be.
Some who follow Water Eyes focus only on the present day. Remembering generations of death and destruction brings bitterness, but mourning the dead recently passed can bring closure and healing to those who need it. These are as important as history, and so there is a place for those who can bring it to others.