The Old Ones
The Church of Vorn
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 its 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 dwarven exiles and goblin tribes of Gaxenkane.
Vornites are nominally monoloatrists, admitting that there are other gods, but preporting that only Vorn has true power in the North, and that other deities are mere powerless interlopers. Vornheim’s Eminent Cathedral is built only with the stones of dismantled temples of conquered religions, each a testament to Vorn’s ultimate power. The Cathedral will never truly be finished until all gods are subsumed under the Vornish umbrella and the tower itself reaches the heavens. In recorded history the tower has collapsed and been built again thrice, each disaster a symbol of Vorn’s discontent and a harbinger of great change in the Empire.
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. He does not answer any direct attempts to contact him and his will is believed to be known only by the Sleeping Priests.
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.
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.
Trial by Combat: Infractions, both major and minor, by cloistered 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.
Vornish clerics and paladins find it blasphemous to heal wounds to the eyes and will recoil at even the suggestion.
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, and the only “afterlife” as the Vornish know it is eternal peaceful slumber in Vorn’s embrace. Sinners are likely to be damned to eternal torment, reborn as slaves, demons, insects, or even inanimate objects.
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.
Vornish funereal march
Sleeping priests are priests that sleep. When they are acolytes, they will use drugs to sleep for over 20 hours a day. When they are full priests, they will sleep 24 hours a day. If you want to contact them, you must do so in a dream. They are tended to by the youngest monks, who only sleep 6 hours a night because they are so busy spitting pre-chewed food into the mouths of sleeping old men. (So little sleep now will make it easier to sleep more later, it is said.) In the most remote and isolated places, you will sometimes find tiny monasteries hidden in the earth. These places are filled with sleepy-eyed boys, holy books, and lots of opiates. There will also be one or three old men sleeping in some hidden room, where they have been sleeping continuously for the last few decades. Although their bodies are on a stone slab, their minds dwell in paradise.
At least, sometimes. They also have a very important job to do, and that is to keep horrible monsters sleeping so that they don’t wake up and spoil the rule of LAW. They do this by crafting dreams and inserting them into the mind of the sleeping god. Dream labyrinths—mindscapes that draw you in and never let you out.The only way to get a message across the continent is to put a man on a horse and give them a really good map. That is, unless you have a sleeping priest. Distance is immaterial to them. They can contact each other in dreams and pass messages instantly. The only difficulty is getting access to them, since the Church controls (nearly) all of them. Sleeping priests don’t wake up to dictate—you just shove a pen in their hand and they’ll write out the message in frantic scratchings of gospelspeak while they slumber.
DoctrineThe Church of Vorn, also known as The Church of Iron and Rain, is the North’s largest human church. It is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation. The Church hierarchy is led by the Pope and includes cardinals, primarchs, bishops and sisters superior, inferior and imperator. The Church teaches that it is the 8th Church founded by Denizen the Abhorred, who has apostolic primacy.
The Church maintains that the doctrine on faith and morals that it presents as definitive is infallible under the current dimensional dispensation, however it believes that the nature of the dispensation may change or may have already changed due to the nature of
time, which consumes reason and all things. There are a variety of doctrinal and theological emphases within the Church, including the Eastern OscLithic Churches and religious communities such as the Monks of the Thousand Inimical Pyres, the Maximites and the Hog Children.
The Church of Vorn defines its mission as spreading the 120 Accuracies of the Tired God, administering the adjudications and exorcising deviants. The Church teaches that the rusty water used during the Mass saturates the body with the capacity to despiritualize enemy gods. The Church practices closed communion and only tattooed members of the Church in a state of failure, decay or desperation are ordinarily permitted to receive the Obscure Unction.
The Church holds the Bleak Sister, as sibling of Vorn, in special regard and has defined four specific Bleak dogmatic teachings, namely the transcendence of her vengeance, her status as the claw of Vorn,the invulnerability of her flesh, and her role as first Amazon. The Church’s hierarchy is headed by the Archbishop of Vornheim, the Pope, who is the leader of the Northern Church. The current Pope, Margrave the Oval was captured by the dragon, Ferox the Incinerator, shortly after his election and previous to the disappearance of the Exile Prince from the throne of Vornheim.
The pope’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the “Touched Places”, or the “Denizolic Empire” (meaning the lands of Denizen the Abhorred). Directly serving the Pope is the Eminent Sisterhood, the central governing body that administers the day-to-day business of the Church.