The World of Tel-Avi
Paladin – “I pray to Vorn for guidance.”
DM – “You don’t get any.”
Vorn, called Vorn the Grim, Vorn the Gaunt, or Vorn the Gray, is the god of iron, rain, and rust and the patron deity of the great city of Vornheim.
Vorn’s faith is powerful and monolithic in the North, run from the Eminent Cathedral in Vornheim, with temples and churches in all but the smallest towns and villages. Despite it’s strict hierarchy, with all local high-priests reporting to Vorn’s Primarch in the Eminent Cathedral, the Vornite faith is extremely diverse, accepting judges and criminals alike, and even finding worship among the goblins of Gazen Kane.
Vornites are nominally monoloatrists, admitting that their are other gods, but preporting that only Vorn has true power in the North, and that other deities are mere powerless interlopers.
Divine Patronage: Vorn was once the name of a powerful demon lord who battled with his brethren for rulership of the universe before Tel-Avi was made manifest. According to legend, Eshrigel, one of the twelve sisters, turned the demon Vorn to stone, creating what would become the Northern Continent of Ishullnë Veri. According to Vorn’s priests, Vorn is therefore not only the patron of the North, he is the North.
While the legend suggests that Vorn is not so much a being as a land-mass, the truth is perhaps even stranger. That being that Vorn, the being, lies scattered in pieces around the North. According to his priests, Vorn lay insensate beneath the Misty Blue Mountains for over nine thousand years, and, despite mighty blades being made from his teeth to be wielded by chosen protectors, his body was cut up and dispersed by demons desiring his power. Today it is not uncommon for adventurers (particularly Vorn’s faithful) to stumble upon a 20-foot-diameter eyeball or similar missing piece of the great god while exploring the world.
Whether lying dormant as a petrified land-mass, or lying dismembered beneath a mountain range, Vorn is a quiet god. The high priests claim that Vorn once proclaimed his will directly, but (assuming he ever really did) he has not done so for many millenia. Like Dgn, Vorn does not answer any direct attempts to contact him (such as commune or contact other plane spells).
- “If thou wouldst bring harm, bring it.”
Symbol: A number of symbols are used by the various churches of Vorn: rusted bastard swords, depictions of clouds or rain, depictions of eyes or other dismembered body parts, icicles, vials of rusty water, or even simply a rusted piece of metal. The last of these (rusty water or chunks of rusted metal) are most commonly carried by Vorn’s priests due to their convenience. The most devout priests allow their armor and weapons to rust as a sign of devotion. Rusted armor suffers a -1 penalty to AC, and rusted weapons suffer a -1 penalty on attack and damage rolls.
- Prayer: Worshipers of Vorn are expected to pray, at least a brief word of praise for Vorn, any time it rains, any time a cloud passes in front of the sun, or any time they find a rusty body of water. Priests of Vorn may pray to regain their spells at any time, but must either be in contact with a rusty body of water (at least the size of a puddle) or else being rained on.
- Trial by Combat: Infractions, both major and minor, by members of the church, as well as disputes between members, are settled in one way: Trial by Combat. Participants face each other armed in a pool of rusty water waist-deep on a man. In cases of extreme infractions, the accused will be forced to face one or more bound demons.
- Vestments: The color brown is reserved by Vorn, to use on rust. Vorn’s worshipers are forbidden from wearing any garment that contains brown. Priests and devout followers with brown hair often bleach or die their hair unnatural colors. Southerners whose skin is brown are considered blessed and are looked upon with awe.
- Altar Boys: Priests of Vorn are required to be celibate, though they need not be chaste under certain circumstance. Vorn’s faithful consider it a grievous sin for a priest (or priestess) to engage in sexual relations with a consenting adult. Likewise any sexual interaction with a person of the opposite gender is considered taboo. However, no such stigma exists in regards to being sexually pleasured by children of the same gender. As such, most priests keep an “altar boy” (or girl for priestesses) with them to serve as their personal servant. The name “altar boy” stems from the idea that when the child comes of age, they are to be “left at the altar”, that is dedicated to Vorn’s service as priests’ themselves. In Vornheim, it is considered a great privilege for boys and girls to be taken into such service, and many parents will pay the priesthood for their children (particularly second or third sons) to serve as altar boys.
The Afterlife & Planes: Given Vorn’s former life as a demon lord, it is unsurprising that his faithful have much to say about demons. The dead, both those devoted to Vorn and the unfaithful, are said to be prime incubators for demonic spirits. Thus, Vorn’s clergy actively mutilate corpses (traditionally by cleaving the skull in two), to prevent them from rising as demons. Vornites do not believe in an afterlife. Rather, they see life as a neverending series of painful struggles from which the quiet sleep of death is the only release. Raising a person from the dead is said to be akin to torture (though they will still do so if they believe the person to be of use).
Funerary services in Vorn’s church are typically celebrations. With wine and song the faithful thank Vorn for granting peace to the deceased, and each attendee is invited to hack off some portion of the deceased’s body to prevent it from being taken over by demons. The deceased’s family are often given fingers, toes, or other easily portable pieces suspended in brine as keepsakes.
Alignments: Vorn is quietly accepting of any worshipers. Priest of all ilks pray to Vorn and receive spells, and thus can only assume that their interpretation of his will is correct. Vorn accepts worshipers and priests of all alignments. Any specific requirements or inclinations towards one alignment or another are purely at the discretion of the local religious hierarchy.
Domains: Clerics, Druids, and Inquisitors of the faith have access to the following domains and subdomains:
Races: Just as Vorn accepts worshipers of all alignments, he similarly does not discriminate based on race or gender. Creatures of all races (humans, goblins, elves, dwarves, and others) can be found worshiping in Vorn’s temples. Halflings are especially prized as altar boys due to their perpetual youth.
Classes: As with alignments and races, Vorn seems willing to bestow power on any who ask it of him. The church, depending on local preference, may have Clerics, Druids, Oracles, Rangers, or Inquisitors. A few Paladins claim Vorn as their patron, as do a smaller number of Anti-Paladins (though never in the same temple).
Inquisitors of the faith have access to the Fate, Heresy, Justice, and Torture inquisitions.
Oracles of Vorn may select the Battle, Bones, Metal, or Time mysteries.
- Any priest (Cleric, Druid, Oracle, Inquisitor, Ranger, or Paladin) of Vorn will automatically attract an altar boy to their service by the time they reach 2nd level. These are always 0th-level youths (under 13 years old) of the same race and gender as the priest. Upon reaching 13 years of age, the youth becomes a 1st level Cleric and is released from the priest’s service.
Favored Weapons: All priests of Vorn are forbidden from using blunt weapons (including unarmed attacks). Clerics and Inquisitors of Vorn take the bastard sword as their weapon of choice.
Unique Magic: Regardless of class, all spellcasting followers of Vorn can cast chill metal as a 2nd level spell and rusting grasp as a 4th level spell. These spells is added to their class spell list and to their spells known or spellbook (if appropriate). In addition, any spells cast by a Vornite that specifically damage metal creatures or objects, deal an additional 1 point of damage per die.
Recommended Prestige Classes: Hellknight