Templore Campaign Setting
Dwarven religion, called Avoddah, is monotheistic, while bearing elements of polytheism. Montrizem, the one true god of the dwarves, who they believe is their creator, crafted the first dwarves from the raw materials of the earth. When a dwarf dies, it is believed that his body and soul return to the earth. His skin becomes metal, his bones become stone, and his spirit becomes a precious gem. Because of this belief, burial in the earth is the only true way for a dwarf’s soul to find rest. Cremation, mummification, or in any way preventing a dwarf’s body from being given back to the earth is sacrilegious. The exception to this are the Kaddash, paragons of dwarven society who achieved some great work or accomplishment in their lifetime. Only these dwarves are allowed to continue after death into the halls of Montrizem’s holy domain. When a dwarf has lead an exceptional life and pleased his god, immediately upon death a masterwork statue of his own self, immortalized in precious metals, stones, and jewels, is crafted. This statue acts as an honorary “body” for the Kaddash, which he may use to commune with his followers. The bodies of Kaddash are thus treated as holy relics, and entombed in great mausoleums. Worshipers sometimes make pilgrimages to these shrines to pay homage.
While all dwarves pray to Montrizem, Kaddash are prayed to when needed for guidance in their particular domain. The Kaddash of brewing, for instance, would be prayed to when seeking inspiration for a new beer recipe. Technically speaking, all dwarven clerics are followers of Montrizem, but they typically choose to emulate a particular Kaddash, which will determine which domains they have access to.
Tenants of Faith
Avoddah comes from an old dwarven dialect, and has multiple meanings. It can mean to work, to provide service, and to worship. This stems from the philosophy that life, faith, and the work that comes with both are indistinguishable. A follower of Avoddah is called an Avoddhim.
The prime tenants of the faith are recorded in the Toth, a series of laws based on those set down in the old kingdom of Zakhar, the ancient ancestral land of the dwarven race which was destroyed by calamity. The Toth is an amalgamation of judicial law, religious doctrine, and moral principles carved into large stone tablets and displayed in the temple for all to see. In addition to the Toth, which the temple ensures remains unchanged from city to city, there is an oral component which is primarily how the lessons of the Toth are taught to students. All dwarven schools are taught by mofets, men or women learned in the ways of the Toth, who use it to teach language, law, and religion simultaneously.
Avoddhim strive to live a life of good moral and ethical standing. This means:
- Treating others fairly (such as not charging more for a service or goods than necessary)
- Acting kindly towards one’s kin (note that dwarven kindness is what most outsiders would consider “tough love,” and is oftentimes misconstrued as rudeness)
- Giving no mercy to one’s enemies (an enemy would strictly be defined as one who commits wicked deeds and defies the teachings of the Toth)
- Working to one’s utmost abilities in their chosen trade
- Above all else remaining loyal to the clan. To betray one’s work is to bring shame upon thyself; to betray one’s clan is to bring shame upon thy every kin. Betrayal of clan includes divorce from marriage, adultery, murder, theft, sacrilege, or any other grievous injury or insult of kin. When one betrays their clan, they are outcast and become casteless, left to fend for themselves. They are no longer considered kin.
On rare occasions, an outsider (member of another race) can be made an honorary member of dwarf kin, and are to be treated with the same respect.
There exists in Avoddah a concept of evil, known as Abaddon. Abaddon is defined in the Toth as a supernatural force, more specifically chaos and destruction, the polar opposite of what the religion strives for. Most mofets believe that originally Abaddon was not a single entity, but rather was comprised of any being or event which brought chaos and destruction. This changed quite decidedly when the kingdom of Zakhar was destroyed by a now unknown entity. Today the name Abaddon is synonymous with the event that took place, the entity which caused it, and the cursed land around Mount Zakhar where fiends and monsters have since dwelled.
The organization of an Avoddah temple is elegantly simple. There is no concept of spiritual hierarchy. Everyone who attends worship services at the temple is an equal in the eyes of Montrizem. There is a mofet, who is not a priest, but a teacher of the Toth. Mofets are individuals who have graduated from the college of religious scholars, possessing knowledge of the faith enough to ably teach others. There is a chazzan, a cantor, who leads the temple in prayer and reading from the Toth. There are laypeople who volunteer their time for various temple services. Ancestry is an integral part of dwarven society, and religion as well, so it is accepted that dwarves who may trace their lineage to a Kaddash may be chosen to perform special rites or ceremonies. And rarely, there are the Khartome, those blessed with mystical powers who use them for religious purposes.
When a dwarf passes away, there are three potential outcomes for his soul.
A dwarf who lives a goodly life and is buried in the earth upon death is said to earn rest, called tardemah. When in tardemah, the dwarf’s spirit still exists, but endures in a sleep-like state deep below the earth. It is believed that a dwarf’s soul in tardemah can somehow be awakened and communicated with, though this is a highly sacrilegious act. In instances where a dwarf cannot be properly buried but has lived an honorable life, the priests may pray for his soul to be pardoned and allowed to attain tardemah. According to Avoddhim beliefs, one day Montrizem will awaken all of his resting children to partake in the ultimate work, which will lead all of dwarfkind into an unending golden age.
A dwarf who excels beyond his peers, who strictly adheres to the values of Avoddah and achieves some great work or accomplishment, becomes a Kaddash. The Kaddash’s soul does not enter tardemah, for it earns the honor of travelling to the spiritual realm of Montrizem, to assist him in planning the ultimate work. The Kaddashim are worshiped alongside Montrizem, but never above him. It is believed Kaddash can exude influence in the physical world, and regularly communicate with their mortal subjects and guide them towards greatness.
A dwarf who fails to uphold the laws of the Toth during life or knowingly commits wicked deeds will find unrest in death. His spirit is said to reside in Sheol, a dark, bleak afterlife. Dwarves residing in Sheol are fully aware of their own deaths, and the sensation of existing outside of the physical world is said to be highly uncomfortable and wearisome for them. They become shades, or ghosts, entities with unresolved issues from life who are drained of their strength and personality. The realm of Sheol however serves a purpose, and that purpose is to allow a dwarf a seemingly endless period of time to reflect on his life choices, his guilt and failures. If a dwarf learns from his mistakes and seeks to atone for his misdeeds, accepting the laws of Avoddah in full, he may be allowed to rejoin his kin during the reawakening.
Montrizem and the Kaddash
Montrizem [Lawful Good]
Montrizem’s spheres of influence are craft, production, industry, architecture and battle, which his dwarven children all strive to perfect in their lifetimes.
Holy symbols and colors: mountains, hammers; all metallic colors, brown, gray
Favored weapon: warhammer
DOMAINS: Artifice, Strength, Protection, Rune, Earth