Although human religious practices vary from nation to nation, they all share the same origins and revolve around the same 5 god pantheon. Human gods are more likely to intervene in the mortal realm than any other gods.
Creation myths among humans vary a bit from sect to sect. In most case, the creation of the world begins with some form of a series of challenge or wagers between The King and some darker being, usually depicted as the king of demons, or sometimes simply called the Adversary. The challenges start out as acts of creation, forming and then shaping the world in various ways. With each challenge, the King’s creation were all finer than the Demon’s, but the Demon’s creation somehow corrupts or weakens the King’s. Though the King’s creations are clearly superior, the Demon claims his powers are greater, for nothing the King can make his beyond the Demon’s power to influence. The Demon makes one final challenge, that the King create one thing that the Demon can not corrupt. The wager on this final challenge is control of all they have created to that point. By now the King is cautious of the Demon’s methods, and asks his wife for advice. The Queen gladly assists him, and when the time comes he reveals his greatest creation, man. The Demon is unimpressed, as man proves very easy to corrupt. But with the Queen’s aid the King had not tried to make making incorruptible. Instead, he gave them the gift of repentance and salvation, that no matter how far any man shall fall, he may always redeem himself. The Demon was so impressed by this stroke of brilliance that he conceded the wager, but he vowed to never cease testing mankind, and should enough men fall to sin he will come back to claim the world as his prize.
Beyond the central creation myths, very little human mythology is universal. Even the origin of the Knight, the Princess, and the Fool vary greatly, though in all accounts the former two are children of the King and Queen, while the later is a child of the Queen and a demon. Instead, human myth tends to be based more on local manifestations of one god or another. Many of these miracles have been confirmed as authentic, though the details often get blown out of proportion. Several Dwarven Scholars point out that while the Human gods do tend to be more active in their interaction with the mortal world, few of those directly involved ever give direct accounts, leading to second and third hand tellings being skewed.
The 5 Gods
The five human gads are fairly universal, but they are represented under a variety of names and titles. The two most common systems are the classic King, Queen, Knight, Princess, and Fool, representing 5 of the major aspects in classic human mysticism. However more modern societies often refer to them as The Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, and Bastard. Not that Bastard in this case is not meant as an insult, but is literal.
The nations of Dyn and Farlend use the modern system, while in Numala and various island nations the classic system is still favored. Some nations even go so far as to give the gods names rather than titles, but these vary from place to place. Many arcanists prefer the classic system, as it ties into a number of ancient texts on human magic.
The King/ The Father (The Lord, The Grey Man): Often considered chief among the gods for he had the largest part in most creation stories. He is associated with fatherhood and leadership, good judgement (and thus justice and teaching), the sky, winter, closure, and all things that end in their proper time. All fathers and leaders are said to be under the eye of the King, and his priesthood is made mostly of married men who have born children, and their vestments are in shades of grey and black. The King is usually depicted as a thoughtful and gentle ruler, but stern and unyielding when needed.
The Queen/ The Mother (The Lady, often called The Merciful Lady in supplication): The wife of the King, She is associated with motherhood, wisdom (as in common sense vs knowledge), mercy, health and healing, growth and nurturing, the earth, and summer. All who take on a role as caretakers, from mothers and gardeners to wise advisers, fall under the Queen’s care. Her priesthood is less active than most, but most healers and midwives wear her colors of greens and yellows and are often considered unofficial members of her order. The Queen is often depicted as a compliment to her husband rather than a counterpoint, tempering his knowledge with her wisdom, and his justice with her mercy.
The Knight/ The Son (The Warrior, The Wild Man): The eldest child of the King and Queen. He is associated with animals, companionship, hunting and other sport, adventure, the sun, the passion of youth, and autumn. Young men and those seeking their fortune or adventure fall under the care of the Knight. In the classic form, the Knight is depicted as the patron of quests and causes, but this is less true of the more modern system where a cause may fall under a different god. Many of his followers are warriors or adventurers, and in many places druids are as likely as clerics to wear the brown and orange of his vestments. He is depicted classically as a mounted knight in armor, but in more modern times he is depicted more like a ranger, in hunting leathers with a hound (sometimes a wolf) at his heals. Many Halflings living among humans take to the worship of the Knight.
The Princess/ The Daughter (The Maiden, The Muse): The younger child of the King and Queen. She is associated with birth and life, young love, beauty, art, creation, the moon, and spring. She looks out for young women and artists of all sorts. Her priestesses are mostly young virgin women and practice singing, dancing and poetry. Many bards wear white and blue in her honor. The Princess is often depicted as a beautiful and innocent young woman, untouched by the evils of the world.
The Fool/ The Bastard (Half-breed, Devil Spawn): The offspring of the Queen and a demon, some say the demon that helped craft the world. He is associated with balance, bastards (literal), half-breeds, mischief, disasters, homosexuals, and all things and people out of place. He has no season, but festivals for him are held on the extra day during leap years, and sometimes during eclipses. In many cases, he is considered an ill omen, as his presence implies something is out of place. But many see the Fool as a force for change, something that shakes up the norm. As a half demon, he is said to command demon followers that do his bidding. These are often thought to be minor demons, such as gremlins. Many pray to the Fool as a last resort, and he is known to answer frequently for a price. Those who feel the other gods have failed them somehow may ask for the Fool’s justice, but they must also pay the Fool’s price. Priests of the Fool are few and far between, even where he is respected. His colors are any form of off-white, such as cream or eggshell.
As human religion tends to follow the same basic structure, it is the differences that tend to stand out from one culture to the next.
Beyond the division between the classic and modern versions of the pantheon, the biggest split concerns the Fool. While most sects hold that the Queen’s divine nature makes him a god, some hold that his father’s demonic nature makes him a demon. Farlend is one such nation, and worship of the Bastard is outlawed there. however, the large number of Half-elves in Farlend leads to many cults of the bastard springing up.
The question of the Fool’s birth is another point of division. Most that allow open worship of the fool say that he was created from a demon that had repented its evil ways and was hunted by its own kind. In some versions, the Queen lent this demon strength to defend itself, while in others the demon was slain and the Queen resurrected it. Either way, the resulting half-demon, half-god became the Bastard. In other versions, the Fool is the product of rape or an affair between the Queen and the great demon of creation, who was so impressed by her gift of salvation to mankind that he sought to seduce her.
Another major division is on the nature of Demons in general. Most consider them completely evil and violent by nature. Numalans and a few other sects teach that demons are not truly evil, but that while they tempt and corrupt men they secretly do so to make them stronger.
In Dyn worship of Moradin is recognized. For many years, Moradin was considered by humans to be an aspect of the Father. Dwarves find this offensive, and after many centuries of argument Dyn has in the past 50 years acknowledged Moradin as a separate god. This has led many Humans to jokingly refer to him as The Uncle, or simply Uncle Moradin. Few Humans worship Moradin, as the church there has made it clear that they do not feel it is appropriate, but the government has made his worship legal for those few who wish it.
Though the human gods are more active than others on the physical plain, their actions are rarely direct. Usually a god will choose a vessel of their will to carry out some task for them. These vessels are called saints. Saints often display remarkable powers that assist them in their appointed task. However, these powers are often subtle enough that most people do not recognize them as divine intervention. Saints can always sense each other, and many spells that detect auras or magic may reveal their nature. This requires a Knowledge: Religion check, DC 10 for those raised in the religion, DC 20 otherwise. There may be bonuses or penalties depending on the nature of the spell used.
How one becomes a Saint is unclear, but some who dedicate their lives to a particular god may become a petty saint, receiving a minor blessing from the god that aids them in doing the god’s will. Examples may include a judge who can detect lies in the King’s name, a healer who can treat wounds others can not, or a hunter who predators do not approach. This is often represented by a unique feat with the GM’s permission. Such petty saints are never divine casters, but rather those who serve the gods in other ways. There is no set system for other saints, as they are rare and their abilities are purely at the GM’s discretion.
Numala worships the 5 gods in their classic form, but for centuries has also recognized several lesser forces. Many other humans consider this practice sacrilege, and Numalans traveling abroad do well not to carry symbols of any but the 5 main gods.
These lesser powers number in the hundreds, and most have no names. This leads some to speculate that they are in fact powerful Fey, or even demons, for both are notoriously superstitious about giving out names. Instead, most are given descriptors of some form, such as The Runner, who is popular among Halflings, or the Deep One, an entity associated with deep lakes and the sea. Regardless of their true nature, most Numalans worship these forces in some way along side the 5 main gods, and this does not seem to have angered the gods in any way.
The laws of Numala are very lenient on worship and magic use of any type, and even allow Human sacrifice if the victim can be proven to be absolutely willing. This has led to Numal being a haven for those who have suffered religious persecution in their homelands, and has also led to a number of darker cults making their homes there.
Beliefs and practices
Human beliefs concerning the 5 gods and their methods of worship vary widely from place to place. For the most part, one temple is dedicated to all of the gods, but with different wings for each. Ceremonies and feast days also vary, but most churches have a celebration of some sort for the changing of the seasons, often involving a changing of colors, or an exchange of authority in the church from one god’s priests to another’s.
in most Human lands worship of other gods is considered sacrilege, and summoning or dealing with demons is one of the highest crimes. Many broaden this to include any beings not of our realm, and so may include Fey or other outsiders.
Because he commands demons who can readily travel to our world, the Fool is the most active of the 5 gods. Many pray to him in desperation, and even those with no divine power may get results if their desire is genuine. There is always a price for such service, but many are prepared to pay it. Enacting such a ritual is called The Fool’s justice, even in lands where he is known by another name. The most infamous of these is the Death Curse, a forbidden ritual that is almost guaranteed to kill its target, but slays the supplicant as well. It is often a last resort of those who seek vengeance and no longer value their life. How it is performed is unknown, but if successful, the target suffers an immediate death effect (DC 40 Fortitude or die) that bypasses magic resistance. If unsuccessful, the effect is repeated every round for as long as the caster concentrates on the ritual. If successful, the caster suffers the same effect, but is allowed no save or defense of any kind.