Thursday, May 30, 2019

Monvesian Culture: Dwarf-Kin Religion

The dwarf-kin--dwarves, gnomes, and neanderthals--venerate a pantheon of ascended beings called the Paragons.  Though they ascend through the same process as the human saints, they are far older.  Free from the oppression of the HMDJVNW, ancient proto-dwarves were able to learn of the paths to immortality much earlier than humankind.

Though they interact with the Paragons differently, all three dwarf-kin races recognize them as the eldest of their kind.  Eight paragons are universally recognized by all three races--these are the paragons presented in "Priests of Monvesia." They are known by their dwarven names, which is the eldest of the dwarf-kin languages.  The variation in epithets demonstrate how the culture of each race compares to those of its kin:  caste dwarves, traveler gnomes, and nomadic neanderthals.
  • Materialist Paragons
    • Mosamartle
      • the Magistrate [dwarf high caste]
      • the Lawgiver [gnomes & neanderthals]
    • Meomari
      • the Warrior [dwarf High Caste]
      • the Defender [gnomes & neanderthals]
    • Khelosani
      • the Artisan [dwarf Middle Caste & gnomes]
      • the Smith [neanderthals]
    • Meshakhte
      • the Miner [dwarf Low Caste & gnomes]
      • the Mason [neanderthals]
  • Idealist Paragons
    • Mekare
      • the Archivist [dwarf Middle Caste]
      • the Storyteller [gnomes and neanderthals]
    • Vachari
      • the Merchant [dwarf Middle Caste & gnomes]
      • the Trader [neanderthals]
  • Vitalist Paragons
    • Msakhuri
      • the Servant [dwarf Low Caste]
      • the Homemaker [gnomes]
      • the Fire-Tender [neanderthals]
    • Vaeltava
      • the Casteless [Casteless dwarves]
      • the Wanderer [gnomes]
      • the Scout [neanderthals]

The establishment of city-states led to the rise of caste culture in dwarven society--which does not exist among the still-nomadic gnomes and neanderthals.  The wandering nature of the proto-dwarves could still be found among early dwarves, leading to the development of the duergar and korobokuru communities outside of Prace.

Dwarven Guild of Keepers

The Guild of Keepers, or Keeperate, of the dwarves began as an attempt to record the deeds and histories of the Paragons and the development of the dwarf-kin races long after the three became distinct.  In accordance with their developing caste structure, this quasi-religious association was established as a middle-caste guild.

In addition to the eight great paragons above, the Keeperate counts the 24 founders of the dwarven clans (13 Pracian, 5 duergar, and 6 korobokuru) and the 36 inaugural masters of the guilds as paragons as well.  These do not receive the same veneration as the great paragons--but they are still spoken of in reverence, and the laws of their clans or guilds continue t be referenced as these paragons' will.  None of these lesser paragon have ascended to sainthood.

The Guild of Keepers counts among is ranks persons of several heroic classes:
Keepers are responsible for keeping records of births, deaths, marriages, lineages, contracts, war, etc.; as well as the lore of the Paragons.  In addition, they main a shrine for each Paragon in each city:  the Magistrate at the Courthall, the Warrior at the Arena, the Artisan and Merchant at either side of the public market, the Miner at the gate leading to the local mines, the Servant in the lower-quarter square, the Wanderer outside the front gate of the city, and the Archivist in the Keeperage (the local record hall and home of the keepers).

Gnomish Keepers of Tradition

For gnomes, who maintained a close relationship with the dwarves, a mimicry of the Keeperate developed.  Instead of an organized guild, the gnomish keepers are a class of elder among their wandering bands.  While their dwarven counterparts are keepers of history, the gnomes see these elders as keepers of tradition.  The distinction if subtle, but the result in practice appears to have more in common with he religious practices of humans among which they travel.

Keepers are counselors to the people and councilors to the governing elders.  They are soothsayers and ministers of the peace (rites of passage, marriages, funerals, etc.).  Not all draw their power from the paragons as clerics.  Gnomish keepers include:

In addition to the great paragons, gnomes speak of only three others. It is not known if any of these have ascended to sainthood.
  • Hwun, mariarch of forest gnomes.
  • Khoargie, matriarch of the deep gnomes.
  • Thulg, matriarch of rock gnomes.

Neanderthaler Traditions

Little is known about the race of neanderthals that roam the icy plateau of the Crown in the north.  Tough their tainted counterparts, bugbears, have been seen in great numbers throughout Prace, a neanderthal has not been seen farther south than the Dvergheim Mountains in centuries.  A community of neanderthals must have existed at the time humans arrives, or else bugbears would be unknown.  There is no record of such an encounter, however.

Therefore, no humans have witnessed the religious traditions of the neanderthals; all knowledge thereof comes second hand through dwarven and gnomish sources.  According to these, neanderthals are their kin--so they venerate the same great paragons described above, in many cases with their own epithets.  Whether or not additional paragons are venerated is not known.

Dwarf and gnome sources both agree that neanderthals have "keepers" similar o their own; they also both reference a priest called the "keeper of the land."  Therefore, the nanderthaler religious tradition likely includes:
  • Clerics (of various domains, see above)
  • Druids (Circle of the Land [Arctic])

Edited Dec 17/18, 2019.

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