Kalder: Deities & Faiths Part 2

William T. Thrasher

The lore surrounding the gods of Kalder continues to grow. In our second look into the deities and faiths of this new campaign setting we learn about the Fortunate Lady and the threefold gods of the elves.

The Fortunate Lady - Equal parts god and folk hero, the Fortunate Lady goes by many names and titles. The divine patron of personal freedoms, star crossed lovers, travel, coincidence, and dumb luck, the Dealer of Fates is worshipped by those who prefer to live by their wits, seek to escape the roles they were born into, and merchants of high and low character. Were they part of the same pantheon, the chaos embodied by the Fortunate Lady could be seen as the balancing force in opposition to the order imposed by Edarh of The Wheel. However, the Book of Days and Years makes no mention of the Queen of Chance, who priests of Edarh refer to as a mischievous spirit worshipped by ignorant sybarites and crooked merchants if they refer to the Fortunate Lady at all. For their part, priests of the Duchess Unbound have little to say about The Hand that Turns other than to wryly comment that a wheel can turn in two directions.
    The Fortunate Lady has no formal church or dogma, and her priests forgo the hierarchies and formal initiations common to the other faiths of Kalder. Priests of the Mother of Flukes tend to be fiercely independent, with just as many traveling the world where the Mistress of Boons wills as attending local shrines and temples. Indeed, it is common for wandering priests to set up a shrine on a busy crossroads or city street and preach the word of the Baroness of Coincidence until a subtle whim or the eye of local authorities inspire them to pack up their shrine and move on.
    Some priests of Grandmother Bounty, through raw charisma and the liberal dispensation of blessings, attract large congregations and find themselves lording over richly appointed temples. Such temples rarely last longer than their founders, and abandoned temples to Little Sister Luck dot West Kalder. Several temples of Edarh were once dedicated to the Fortunate Lady before being appropriated by the Axial Tabernacle. Others stand empty for generations until another priest of Destiny’s Nursemaid attracts the clout to fill it with congregants once again.
    One notable exception to the transitory nature of the Fortunate Lady’s houses of worship is the House of Good Fortune in Undariv, the former capital of Undal. The House of Good Fortune has been in continual operation for almost three centuries. Either by fate or design, a new priest of the Dealer of Fates rises to assume stewardship of the temple around the time of the previous priest’s passing. The current attending priest of the House of Good Fortune is affectionately known as Kiv the Little Blessing, a street waif who strode through the front door of the House at the moment of the former stewards death and proudly boasted, “I live here now!”
    Worshipers of the Fortunate Lady observe no sacred texts. The body of lore and tradition surrounding the Marquesa of Comings and Goings exists as a purely oral tradition consisting of stories, songs, and prayers passed from one worshiper to another and often changed in the process. These stories have more in common with folk tales than religious allegories, and often deviate into humorous and ribald tangents in the telling. When priests of Aunty Inspiration meet they often swap a quick anecdote about their divine patron. To outsiders this greeting appears flippant in a “did you hear the one about the one-legged carpenter?” sort of way. However, these exchanges often hold a subtler meaning, giving each priest insight into where the other has been, what miracles they have performed, and who first mentored them in the worship of the Fortunate Lady.
    The Fortunate Lady oversees a pantheon all her own, as many priests, folk heroes, and possibly entirely fictional characters are remember in lore as Fortunate Saints, legendary messengers, avatars, and prophets. Each Fortunate Saint is surrounded by their own lore and is invoked when the faithful desires good fortune in a particular endeavor. Examples include Blue-eyed Lizette, Fortunate Saint of lovers; Oltho the Blade, the Fortunate Saint of duelists, and Jol, the Fortunate Saint who transcended the circumstances of her birth to become a man.

The First, The Second, and The Last - By tradition, the elves recognize three deities. Though the formal worship of these gods has changed significantly since the sinking of East Kalder and many elves place their faith in other divine powers, the worship of the Threefold may well represent the oldest formal religion in the world.
    Also known as The Grandmother, The First is a god of childbirth, destiny, motherhood, and beginnings. It is said The First shepherds the souls of all unborn elves into the world, breaths the first life-giving breath into every elven child, and tethers each elf to their destiny.
    The Second, also known as The Grandfather, is a god with many domains. The Second taught the first elves the skills of agriculture, hunting, mathematics, and engineering, and everything else they would need to live and thrive in the mortal realms. He also gave the gift of law to the first elven kings.
    Ironically known as The Child, elven lore recounts that The Last is the one true offspring of a union between Grandmother and Grandfather. Born from their union as a withered, aged husk, The Last’s birth brought death into the world. The Last collects the souls of dead elves and steals alway their final breath, by some accounts returning them to Grandmother and by other accounts secreting them away for some future time when they may be needed again. The Last also tethers each elf to their doom. It was the tension between doom and destiny, and the lengths mortal elves would go to to achieve one and avoid the other, that lead Grandfather to being laws to the elves. The Last is also credited with giving elves the secret of magic, the one skill Grandfather refused to teach the progenitors of the elven race.
    The Threefold are not oppositional. Rather, they compliment each other, occasionally pairing off to keep the third in check.
    By tradition, elf priests are required to dedicate themselves to one of the Threefold, worship of one precluding worship of the other two. The traditions and rites associated with each of the Threefold are practices exclusively by their dedicated priests. Indeed, the only rites requiring representatives of all three of the elven gods are conducted on the first and last day of the elven calendar, where it is said The Last takes the life of The First, who dies giving birth to herself.
    There are two notable exceptions to the traditional segregation of Threefold priests. The first is the relatively new phenomenon of Transitory Clerics born out of the elven quarters of Undal. These priests begin their careers as clerics of The First, transitioning to the worship of The Second in middle age, and finally becoming adherents of The Last as they enter their autumn years. The second exception was born out of necessity following the enslavement of elven refugees in Dufay. Unable to maintain their traditions under the heel of the Empire of Sails, and forbidden from congregating in large numbers by local law, the suppression of traditional elven religion lead to the creation of the Tattercloaks, plainclothes elf priests who maintain traditional rites and sacraments in secret and who dedicate themselves to the lore and worship of all the Threefold in an attempt to keep these traditions alive and undiluted by the strictures imposed by their human rulers. Indeed, the traditional Threefold priests who worship openly and see to the spiritual needs of the elves of Dufay are almost universally agents of the royal family.
    A point of elven theology that often often leads to embarrassing misunderstandings at best and outright conflict at worst is the belief that elves, as the only true children of The First, are the only creatures with souls. All other living beings are believed to possess animating spirits, but as they lack souls cannot experience the afterlife, possess a true connection to the gods, or understand good and evil.

Once again, this developer blog turned out much longer than expected, so it’s going to be a three parter! Check back soon to uncover the secrets of the Cynosure and a look at the minor gods, cults, and heresies of Kalder.