The Dreadful Winter
THE AKIRI PANTHEON
The distant Amber Wastes are still beholden to the glories of a pantheon of ancient gods. In Pharazia, the angelic despot Diamabel seeks to forge a religion in his own name and punishes worshipers of the old gods with death. But Diamabel can no more erase the memory of the gods than the biting desert sands can erase their ancient shrines. Worship secretly continues in Pharazia, and the desert nomads and denizens of Har’Akir still openly revere the old gods—and fear their wrath.
Though there are many gods of the Akiri, three have become particularly significant.
Ra, the Sun Disc: Held to be father and king of the gods. Clerics of Ra often serve as community leaders and viziers. Sacred Weapon: Falchion
Osiris: Slain by his brother but restored from death, Osiris is now lord of the afterworld just as Ra rules the living realm. Osiris also masters the rejuvenating desert springs and guards the sanctity of death. Sacred Weapon: Light flail.
Set: God of deceit and the destructive power of nature, who slew Osiris but survived the vengeance of the gods. Many of Set’s minions pose as clerics to other gods of the pantheon. Sacred Weapon: Shortsword.
In many other worlds, Belenus is just one member of a wide pantheon of deities worshiped by Celtic tribes. In the Land of Mists, Belenus has become a central god in the religions of two otherwise unrelated cultures, one in Tepest, the other in the Shadowlands. Unfortunately, both branches of the faith have developed a troubling common element: Intolerance.
Belenus is a sun god, like Ra, and the master of fire. His followers claim that Belenus bestows the life-giving light and heat of the sun on those who please him and withholds it from those who earn his wrath, cursing them with icy cold and despair. Solar eclipses are taken as dire omens.
In Tepest, Belenus worship exists as a rustic folk religion, and his clerics also venerate other patron deities from his pantheon. However, believing that the Grand Conjunction was caused by the fey, a village priest of Viktal organized an inquisition to fight back against the fey. Fifteen years later, the inquisition continues and has gained a reputation for being overzealous. Calibans, elves, half-elves and sorcerers have been caught by the murderous clerics in Tepest.
In the domain Nidala, Belenus worship takes the form of a powerful organized religion, and he is honored as their “one true god” in a huge and glorious cathedral.
Sacred Weapon: Sickle
THE ETERNAL ORDER
Azalin, the ruler of Darkon, constructed this religion around the fearful folklore of his subjects as a tool for societal control. Darkonian tradition holds that their land originally belonged to the dead. The living stole this world, banishing the unliving to the Gray Realm, but someday, in a prophesied event called the Hour of the Ascension, the vengeful dead will return to reclaim what is rightfully there. The clerics of the Eternal Order worship a patchwork pantheon of death gods borrowed from other religions. Worship focuses on performing countless rituals intended to appease the dead and continually postpone the Hour.
After the recent Requiem destroyed the portion of Darkon formerly known as Il Aluk, many Darkonians believed that the Ascension had come at last. Angry at the priests for blaming their lack of faith for this event , many Darkonians fled the faith in droves. As an organized religion, the Eternal Order is rapidly crumbling.
Sacred Weapon: Scythe
A virtuous mortal woman who, despairing of the evils of the world, forever surrendered her mortality to the Mists to become an eternal guardian of mankind. However, the fractious sects of the Church of Ezra have been debating the true nature and teachings of their ascended patron for decades.
The original, Lawful Neutral sect, also called the Home Faith, is centered in Borca. It appoints Ezra’s faithful clerics, called anchorites, to the task of protecting the faithful.
The Lawful Good sect in Mordent also teaches that anchorites must convert as many souls to Ezra’s flock as possible for their own good.
The mystical, Neutral sect in Dementlieu claims that Ezra was a goddess who abandoned her callous fellow gods to offer mortals succor, and spends its time studying her true nature.
The Lawful Evil sect in Nevuchar Springs prophesies an imminent Time of Unparalleled Darkness, when the unfaithful will be consumed by darkness.
All anchorites agree that Ezra cannot protect those who do not accept her into their hearts.
Favored Weapon: Longsword
According to Hala’s holy text, Tales of the Ages, nine gods created the world from the roiling mists of Chaos. The gods then withdrew, intending to allow mortals to fill their world with acts both good and evil. But the mortals lacked wisdom, and the world was soon filled with pain and anguish. Just one of the Nine Gods returned to the world to ease its suffering: The goddess Hala. She gathered together thirteen women and thirteen men and taught them the secrets of the Weave, an ancient form of magic. This brand of magic is also known as witchcract, and its reputation has suffered sorely from its main practitioners being hags.
The Church of Hala is a secretive and highly mystical faith. Her clerics—who call themselves witches—operate a number of hospices scattered throughout Ravenloft where they offer rest and healing to anyone who comes to their door.
The Church of Hala is not a major religion, as it does not seek new followers, and her witches often face hostility when they venture beyond their hospices. Any witch unwise enough to encounter the inquisitors of Tepest, for example, should count herself lucky to escape with her life.
Favored Weapon: Dagger
This god is referred to by many titles, including the Iron Tyrant and the Black Lord. His religion rewards blind obedience and asserts the divine providence of kings. Those born into wealth and power deserve to rule; those born into poverty deserve only what they earn through dutiful service.
Favored Weapon: Whip
The Cult of the Morninglord was born over two hundred years ago, when the faith’s founder claimed that when he was a young boy, the Morninglord appeared in physical form and protected him from the roaming menaces of the Barovian night. Based on this singular encounter, the Morninglord is usually depicted as a luminous, sylvan humanoid. Although he is formed of soft, golden light, his faith is smeared with blood. The cult teaches that this strange detail may be a sign that even the greatest good may hold some evil stain, and even the most depraved evil may yet contain a spark of good.
The Morninglord is the god of the rosy dawn that marks the end of every night, and he asks little of his followers, save that they treat each other with kindness and retain hope in their hearts. This humble faith holds great appeal for those who have little more than hope and kindness to offer, and the cult is spreading rapidly. No matter how bleak the future may seem, no matter how dark the night, the dawn will come. Many of the Morninglord’s followers believe that, someday, the Morninglord will return once again to lead the world into daylight.
The cult may hide more than its optimistic message. One of the cult’s founders was a cleric who secretly hunted the undead by night. It is possible that even to this day, the cult’s clerics are trained in the methods of battling the unliving.
Favored Weapon: Glaive
THE WOLF GOD
The Wolf God is worshiped in the primordial forests of the southwestern core. Outsiders know only scattered tales concerning this savage and predatory entity. These stories claim that the Wolf God is worshiped by demonic wolves who walk like men, and that these man-wolves honor their patron through frenzies and carnal rites, drenched in sacrficial blood, performed under the light of the full moon.
There is also a Neutral Good sect that has taken to worshiping the Wolf God as a god of the hunt. Worshipers of the Wolf God’s original form find this utterly infuriating.
Followers of the Wolf God hold that wolves are divine creatures. All other predators—and humans in particular—are abominations, pathetic rivals that must be slain or a herd that must be thinned.
Favored Weapon: Natural attacks, or the longbow.
The stony wastes of G’Henna are littered with towering statues of the beast-god Zhakata, who is always depicted as a monstrous creature squatting atop a pile of bones. Zhakata is not worshiped; it is appeased. The people of G’Henna believe that Zhakata exists in two aspects: The Devourer and the Provider. Sadly, G’Henna has experienced only the Devourer.
Zhakata demands endless sacrifice, usually of foodstuffs but occasionally of living creatures. All crops are donated to the priests of the great Temple of Zhakata, who deduct Zhakata’s share, then dole the rest out back to the starving populace.
Buying or selling food is a religious offense. Obesity is an act of sacrilege. The people of G’Henna continue to make their painful sacrifices to Zhakata in the desperate hope that one day they will indeed appease it. On that legendary day, Zhakata will walk to G’Henna in physical form and transform itself into Zhakata the Provider.
Favored Weapon: Heavy flail.
If you’re interested in the Mist domain, let me know so we can work out some proper Pathfinder granted powers.
For more information on individual deities, ask.