Welcome to the second installment of the article series about my fantasy setting Nydele. Today we are going to look at what I perceive as one of the major strengths of the setting. Even though none can lay claim to the truth, Nydele still sports a number of wonderful religions. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before we come to the religions, we will dwell a bit on Nydele’s fauna and flora first.
Here you can read part 1 of the Nydele serie of articles.
Before the advent of the wilderness the fauna and flora of Nydele was not much different than Earth’s. What minor differences there were became insignificant, once bombarded with the baleful magical influence of that place. Daily, new creatures emerge from the wilderness, some of them intelligent, but most simple animals. It’s only to be expected that amongst the species born that way are more than a few that are able to survive outside the all encompassing magic of the zone.
Accordingly, numerous new species have spread all across Nydele. Creatures which while strange to us still fill known niches. It would be impossible to list all of them, as they vary from region to region and year to year. Instead, there will only be an exemplary listing of possible encounters, in descending order of probability.
Probably the most common are the fey dragons, sometimes simply called dragons. At least in the warmer regions they have replaced many of the known bird species. Freshly hatched fey dragons are barely larger than a sparrow but continue to grow for as long as they live. All the while the fey dragons keep adapting their coloration and their diet to their new size.
Only a few dragons live to see their 10th year. For starting around this time, they are forced to start hunting humans, either alone or in small groups. In isolated cases, though, dragons have been known to grow to enormous sizes. It is interesting to note, that scholars have pointed out more than once, that the increasing size of the dragons is accompanied by a similar increase in intelligence. A 10 year old dragon seems to have a level of intelligence comparable to that of a wolf.
Also well known are the nymphs, which can be found in a large radius around the wilderness. Even though they take the shape of humanoid women – or more rarely androgynous men – and can mimic intelligence for minutes at a time, the creatures are not more than animals, really. Similar to a parrot, nymphs can repeat words or sentences. They react aggressively to their habitat (woodlands in most cases) being damaged. They are infamous for killing woodcutters with their poisonous bites. Their true aim is to copulate with humanoids, though, to infect them.
An infected person will experience massive behavioral changes over a course of several months, until they finally retreat to a wooded area unoccupied by nymphs, where their still living body is transformed into a new nymph.
Also found across wide parts of Nydele are giant spiders, which prey mostly on bears, gulus and hapless human explorers, which they trap in the nets they build in caves.
The gulus and their various subspecies, although somewhat uncommon, can be found spread all over the continent. They compete with the likes of foxes for their ecological niche. They look like housecats with a length (excluding tail) of 0.8 meters. Gulus act quite confiding towards humans and dwarves, but by now are known to kill any would be “owners” during the night.
While the threat posed by grown gulus is now well known due to painful experience, younger gulus are still dangerous. Hybrids between normal housecats and gulus are a regular occurrence. Such halfbloods are indistinguishable from other cats until they grow too large and show their murderous nature.
Apart from these few examples there are more than enough other known and unknown animals, which have spread over Nydele from the magic zone at its center.
Nydele has seen the rise of many religions since its creation. Because the creator himself never founded a church (even though some religions might very well have been inspired by his actions and miracles), though, none of the gods worshipped by these religions are real. Nonetheless the existing churches are important for their believers and some priests are even able to work magics different from the powers of normal wizards through the force of their conviction alone.
Amongst the simpler religions is the Candolian ancestor cult, which is based around the spirits of dead ancestors watching over their families. Regional creation myths and pantheons take a backseat to these Candola-wide rites for worshipping these spirits of the dead.
The church of the Gathalician earth goddess Thalicia is tightly organized. A complex hierarchy coupled with both spiritual and political power lend the faith its ordered structure.
The holy texts of the religion and the roots of its modern day rituals still show traces of the barbaric and bloody customs of the original faith. These are kept alive by secret sects found in all social strata. The old rites are said to keep the goddess from letting the wildernesstake over the world. Even though the church accepts the existence of other gods, these are seen as inferior, weak and generally unworthy of worship.
The Jevonian faith is practiced in different variations in Elouse, Tyrino and Sorn up to the northern parts of Nirbruck. While in the north, the fate of the world is decided by the Escaves and the other gods can only deviate from the song of fate in minor matters, things are different in the south, where the position of the Escaves is not particularly emphasized and they function more as gods of good fortune rather than singers of fate. The individual gods of the pantheon are:
- Balenor: God of the sky and sun. His other aspects include external magic and in the north he is worshipped as the teacher and judge of humanoids.
- Ilba: Goddess of fire and the hearth. She is the guardian of home and family and the giver of all happiness and fertility.
- Tosso: God of storms and mountains. He watches over the brave and curious and punishes the egotistic and complacent.
- Ineux: Goddess of life and death. She also rules over plants and animals. In the vicinity of the wilderness she is feared rather than worshipped.
- Ilkero: God of the sea, rivers and lakes. Inventor of pottery, fishing and bear brewing.
- The Escaves: The six gods of fate, each of whom sings the song of being in a different pitch, thus contributing to the course of fate.
- The Adeto: The sun, moon, stars and planets are legendary characters of myths. They are associated with the first humans and especially in the south are seen as the creators of Nydele. The Adeto are not directly worshipped anywhere though.
The Furasty is a religion originating in Dähren, from where it has spread out up to Nirbruck, picking up changes which then travelled back. The Furasty postulates a good creator by the name of Emeram, who is assisted by his seven helpers. He fights against the evil destroyer Everard. By doing good deeds in this world, Emeram is strengthened in his eternal battle, so that he may finally achieve victory. Because he is locked in this struggle, Emeram cannot directly influence the world and thus prayers are directed to his seven helpers instead. These are:
- Adalgis: Righteousness / Gallantry
- Deochar: Obedience / Humility
- Friedger: Concord / Harmony
- Goswin: Devotion / Zeal
- Lovis: Life / Perseverance
- Rumold: Maturity / Wholeness
- Vaast: Truth / Knowledge
The Nirbruckian Furasty sees Everard and Emeram as a single god, who struggles against himself. He sports double the number of helpers (fourteen), with the additional seven being evil mirror images of the originals.
The Mindalian godkings do not play a large role in the everyday life of the populace and are seen more as enigmatic ghosts, who do not influence the world to a large degree. In this mythology, the first king thought himself a proud wife, who gave him two sons. The firstborn became the first of his successors, the line of whom is unbroken until today. The second son became the progenitor of all peoples and loyally accepted his brother’s rule.
Of greater importance is the current king, who personifies the current age and the principles to strive for. Some parts of the population combine the cult of the Furastian creator and his helpers with the first king and his successors, leading to sometimes radical reinterpretations of individual helpers and kings.
The giant’s Gejrcy revolves around the mighty skygod Sklajeg and the beautiful goddess Gejr. In the beginning was Sklajeg, who was all powerful and an egoistic, fickle and cruel god. Gejr on the other hand was powerless but beautiful, kind and strong willed.
As Sklajeg saw Gejr he fell in love with her. He created the world and all in and on it as a gift for her, and until now he continues to create new creatures to impress her. The giants sacrifice to Gejr to maintain her beauty and make her amenable, so that she may protect them from Sklajeg. A similar belief seems to be quite common within the southern reaches of the wilderness.
The religion of the Imania, a mother goddess, tells how she let a goose land and settle down on her lap, while she was adrift on the eternal sea. The goose lay four brown eggs and a single black rotten egg. When Imania couldn’t sit still any longer, the goose flew away and the five eggs fell into the eternal sea and burst. The four yolks became mountain ranges and the four whites became plains. The rotten egg was defiled and fell right into the middle. Excited about the creation but disgusted with the rotten core, Imania took the rottenness and threw it far away.
But along the edges the rotten and the pure had mingled and the water in the middle, too, was polluted. Thus the wilderness came into being. Until today Imania tries to cleanse creation. There is no church dedicated to Imania and no priests who worship her, but the faith in Imania pervades life where it shows in everydaiy rituals and situations.