RELIGION AND THE NATURE OF THE GODS

 

        The Zaidanese pantheon is different from the more usual D&D pantheons in that its gods (known generically as “kami”) are personifications of philosophies, phenomena, and concepts and thus are more amorphous non-corporeal spirits than individual divine beings.  And they are worshipped in pairs, one female and one male; each representing an opposing yet complimentary aspect of the general concept that they embody in a relationship along Yin/Yang lines (the female is always considered the senior of the pair).  Priest characters are devotees of both deities rather than of one or the other.

        The religion also differs from the usual in the way the relationship between the worshippers and worshipped is seen. While the common people worship the kami in the traditional sense of placating them or begging their aid, this does not extend to the clergy. The rituals involved are more in the line of commands, which force the kami to do the priest’s bidding, which is why the head priest is called a Spirit Master, as they are the ones with the power to command the enshrined spirit.

        Another major difference is that while each sect is dedicated to a specific divine couple, they are not like the usual D&D cults inasmuch as they promote the religion as a whole as opposed to just their particular couple, and their rivalries are more political/economic or philosophical than theological.

        And finally, the kami do not actually have names, but rather have descriptive titles and nicknames.

 

SHEINARU MIKO

        The Sheinaru Miko (Sacred Priestess) is the titular head of the entire Zaidanese religion. In the aftermath of the final defeat of the Oppressors, Zaidan was ruled, either directly or indirectly by the Sheinaru Miko for nearly 550 years, but they eventually lost power to the Kashikoi no Gikai (Council of the Wise). The office now holds great honour and prestige, but little real power. While the Sheinaru Miko is selected by the High Priestesses of the various sects, the office has gone to the Atosaki sect almost exclusively for the last 120 years.

 

DAIKOMON

        The Daikomon (Chief Advisor) is the advisor to the Sheinaru Miko on matters of ritual and such, and is almost invariably held by the High Priest of the Sheinaru Miko’s sect.

 

NETWORKS (BUNSHA)

        Each Temple domain represents a network of shrines (Bunsha) named after the head shrine, all of which are dedicated to the sect (Shuha) of a pair of deities made up of one goddess and one god who hold complimentary opposing portfolios – a sort of Yin/Yang thing. The Goddess is always considered the senior of the two.
        Each holding represents an individual shrine (you can name them if you’re really bored) each of which is headed by a Shrine Maiden (Yuta) who is responsible for the running of the shrine, its upkeep, etc. and a Spirit Master (Kunnushi) who is responsible for all religious duties. These are appointed by the sect’s High Priestess or High Priest, each appointing the officials of the opposite gender (i.e. the High Priestess appoints the Spirit Masters and the High priest appoints the Shrine maidens).

Game Mechanic Note:  The High Priestess usually controls all of the sect’s manor holdings and shares the Temple holdings with the High Priest, however, the RP & GB are pooled after paying maintenance & tribute.

         The Shrine Maiden and Spirit Master of the head shrine (i.e. your regents) are the High Priestess (Jokyoko) and High Priest (Koso) of the entire sect. The High Priestess is technically considered the senior of the two; however given how much more power the High Priests generally have, this is usually purely a matter of precedence and protocol.

Game Mechanic Note: Each of the regents of a Temple domain gets 3 Regent Actions, giving a total of 6. However, if either of the regents is also the head of another domain (such as the High Priestess of the Kamijima Bunsha who is always the head of the Isshii clan and thus the Lady of Masaki) they do not get an additional 3 actions – each individual regent is limited to 3 actions, no matter how many positions they may occupy.
        The officers of the main shrine are elected by the officers of the Bunsha’s constituent shrines. The High Priestess is chosen by the Shrine Maidens, and the High Priest by the Spirit Masters, and can be any blooded person (the exception to this is the Sea & Land sect whose Shrine Maiden is always chosen from among the Isshii clan and is automatically the head of that clan and the ruler of Masaki). So, for example, when the current High Priestess dies, the Shrine Maidens of all the shrines in the network (i.e. each holding - not each holding level) will select the new High Priestess.

Game Mechanic Note: Theoretically this is a free election, but your regents are assumed to have enough influence to be able to somewhat control this process (i.e. appoint an Heir of their choice), although low Stability or Prosperity, some events, or even rival regents can sometimes interfere with the actual transfer of power to the desired person.

 

Shrines

The defining features of a shrine are the kami it enshrines and the shintai that houses it. While the name literally means "body of a kami", shintai are physical objects worshiped at or near shrines because a kami is believed to reside in them. In spite of what their name may suggest, shintai are not themselves part of kami, but rather just symbolic repositories which make them accessible to human beings. It is said therefore that the kami “inhabits” them.

The most common shintai are man-made objects like mirrors, swords, jewels, gohei (wands used during religious rites), and sculptures of kami called shinzo, but they can also be natural objects such as rocks, mountains, trees and waterfalls. The founding of a new shrine requires the presence of either a pre-existing, naturally occurring shintai (for example a rock or waterfall housing a local kami), or of an artificial one, which must therefore be procured or made to the purpose.

It is important to note that while the term “enshrine” is used, the ritual involved is a binding ritual which traps the kami in the shintai.

 

Shrine Names

            Every shrine has its own unique name which consists of two parts; the shrines name proper (Meisho), and its title (Shogo) which defines the shrines status. The Shogo are, in descending order of precedence, as follows:

 - Jingu (Sacred Shrine): This title is reserved to the Enkaichi shrine on the island of Kamijima in the province of Masaki.

 - Taisha (Grand Shrine): This title designates the head shrine of a sect.

 - Miya/Jinja (Shrine): This title designates a shrine that houses the sect’s Kami, with Miya indicating that the enshrinement was performed by the sect’s High Priest and Jinja indicating that it was done by a lesser priest.

 - Gu/Sha (Shrine): This title designates a shrine that houses a lesser Kami related to the sect’s sphere, with Gu indicating that the enshrinement was performed by the sect’s High Priest and Sha indicating that it was done by a lesser priest.

 

The Kiishi (Wood & Stone) sect is an exception to the above, and it uses different Shogo:

 - Dokutsu (Cavern): This title is used exclusively for the sect’s head shrine.

 - Mori (Grove): This title is used for shrines located in wooded areas.

 - Iwaya (Grotto): This title is used for shrines in mountain areas.

 - Seiiki (Sanctuary): This title is used for all other shrines.

 

Sects and Spirits

 The various gods (or rather major spirits) and their associated sects are as follows, in generally recognized order of precedence.

Atosaki (Beginning and End) Shuha

Network: Genkai Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Genkai Taisha (Tsukubo/Hokuto-do)

                High Priestess: Ichikawa Mayumi

                High Priest: Takahashi Kakeru

Allowed Alignments LG/LN/N/CN/CE

Domains: Chaos, Creation, Darkness, Destruction, Divinations, Evil, Good, Law, & Repose.

Zenno Kigen Taimikami (Greatest of Goddesses Who Is the Origin of All Things)

Short form: Ano Taimikami (The Greatest of Goddesses)

Nicknames:  Konosekai Kogo (Empress of this World), Sozo-sha (The Creator), Tansho (The Beginning), Oko (The Weaver)

Portfolio: Creation, order.

Zenno Owari Taikami (Greatest of Gods Who Is the End of All Things)

Short form: Ano Taikami (The Greatest of Gods)

Nicknames: Torinosakai Teio (Emperor of the Next World), Daimuko (The Great Beyond), Hakaimono (The Destroyer), Kotan (The End).

Portfolio: Destruction, entropy.

 

Jotsugi (Above and Below) Shuha

Network: Soka Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Soka Taisha (Tagawa/Nanto-do)

                High Priestess: Shingaki Reika

                High Priest: Oshiro Jun

Allowed Alignments N

Domains: Air, Celestial, Divinations, Liberation, Luck, Reason, River, & Travel.

Zenki Jusuru Omegami (Great Goddess Who Resides Above All Things)

Short form: Ano Omegami (The Great Goddess)

Nicknames: Ueni Ofukuro (Mother Above), Tenkuoka (Heavenly Mother), Ozora (The Firmament), Hoshioka (Star Mother)

                Portfolio:  Sky, heavens, stars

Ika Jusuru Ogami (Great God Who Resides Beneath All Things)

Short form: Ano Ogami (The Great God)

Nicknames: Shitani Daifu (Father Below), Chikyuoto (Earthly Father), Yomi (The Underworld), Kaichuo (Worm King)

                Portfolio: Terrestrial world

 

Enkaichi (Sea and Land) Shuha

Network: Kamijima Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Kamijima Taisha (Masaki/Hokuto-do)

                High Priestess: Ishii Mokoto

                High Priest: Ogawa Daito

Allowed Alignments LG/LN/LE/CG/CN/CE

Domains: Earth, Madness, Nature, Rune, Sea, Trade, & Water.

Kanseinai Tochi Mikami (Goddess Who Rules All That Is Not Dry)

                Short form: Ano Mikami (The Goddess)

Nicknames: Umi Ohi (Queen of the Sea), Sobo (The Grandmother), Sakanatsuma (Fishwife)

                Portfolio: Oceans, seas, rivers, water.

Nuretanai Tochi Kami (God Who Rules All That Is Not Wet)

                Short form: Ano Kami (The God)

Nicknames: Riku Oja (King of the Land), Sofo (The Grandfather), Jishin (Earth Shaker)

                Portfolio: Earth, soil, dry land

 

Kiishi (Wood and Stone) Shuha

Network: Unnan Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Unna Taisha (Shitara/Hokuto-do)

                High Priestess: Ogawa Sachiko

                High Priest: Ishikawa Nobuo

Allowed Alignments LN/NG/N/NE/CN

Domains: Animal, Artifice, Magic, Metal, Reptilian, Stone, Trade, Wilderness, & Wood.

Ueki Kakusu Furumikami (Old Goddess Who Hides Among the Trees)

Short form: Ano Furumikami (The Old Goddess)

 Nicknames: Mori Roba (Old Woman of the Forest), Reidomidori (The Green Mother), Inja (The Hermit)

                Portfolio: Forests, wild animals, nature.

Sanchi Moguru Furukami (Old God Who Hides Beneath the Mountains)

                Short form: Ano Furukami (The Old God)

Nicknames: Take Rojin (Old Man of the Mountain), Saisokajiya (The First Smith), Eien (The Everlasting)

                Portfolio: Mountains & mineral wealth

 

Azuma No Hiyoru (Eastern Day and Night) Shuha

Also known as Asahi no Ie (House of the Rising Sun)

Network: Yame Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Yame Taisha (Yurihama/Nanto-do)

                High Priestess: Ikeda Kasumi

                High Priest: Ando Saburo

Allowed Alignments LG/LE/NG/NE/CG/CE

Domains: Fire, Glory, Knowledge, Moon, Night, Spell, Sun, Terror, Time & Trickery.

Mosakaru Kogaiso Megami (Goddess Who Burns Brightly and Reveals All Things)

                Short form: Ano Megami (The Goddess)

Nicknames: Kao Kin (Golden Face), Tendode Onna (The Woman in the Sun), Onjo (The Warm Hearted)

                Portfolio: Sun, fire, warmth, forgiveness

Teruyari Shiruso Gami (The God Who Shines Softly and Knows All Things)

Short form: Ano Gami (The God)

Nicknames: Kao Gin (Silver Face), Tsukide Otoko (The Man in the Moon), Hiyajo (The Cold Hearted)

                Portfolio: Moon, cold, knowledge, vengeance.

 

Seibu No Hiyoru (Western Day And Night) Shuha

Also known as Yuhi no Ie (House of the Setting Sun)

Network: Tendo Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Tendo Taisha (Kitamoto/Hokusei-do)

                High Priestess: Watanabe Naoko

                High Priest: Arakaki Hiroto

Allowed Alignments LG/LE/NG/NE/CG/CE

Domains: Fire, Glory, Knowledge, Moon, Night, Spell, Sun, Terror, Time & Trickery.

Mosakaru Kogaiso Megami (The Goddess Who Burns Brightly and Reveals All Things)

                Short form: Ano Megami (The Goddess)

Nicknames: Kao Kin (Golden Face), Tendode Onna (The Woman in the Sun), Onjo (The Warm Hearted)

                Portfolio: Sun, fire, warmth, forgiveness

Teruyari Shiruso Gami (The God Who Shines Softly and Knows All Things)

Short form: Ano Gami (The God)

Nicknames: Kao Gin (Silver Face), Tsukide Otoko (The Man in the Moon), Hiyajo (The Cold Hearted)

                Portfolio: Moon, cold, knowledge, vengeance.

 

Shitanjo (Death and Birth) Shuha

Network: Nishio Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Nishio Taisha (Shimoda/Hokuto-do)

                High Priestess: Takagi Emi

                High Priest: Ogawa Kazuya

Allowed Alignments Any

Domains: Ancestor, Death, Guardian, Healing, Nobility, Protection, Strength, & War.

Sei Karu Omekami (The Great Goddess Who Harvests Souls)

                Short form: Ano Omekami (The Great Goddess)

Nicknames: Sogi-Ya (The Grave Digger), Shojoken (The Sword Maid), Umeru Haka (Filler of Graves)

                Portfolio: Death, disease, poverty, war

Rei Ueru Okami (The Great God Who Sows the World with Souls)

Short form: Ano Okami (The Great God), Sasu Rigo (Filler of Cradles)

Nicknames: Sosen (The Ancestor), Makuko (The Sower)

                Portfolio: Life, birth, health, wealth, peace

 

Uryotsubu (Rain and Rice) Shuha

Network: Ogori Bunsha (List of Shrines)

Head Shrine: Ogori Taisha (Matsusaka/Chuo-do)

                High Priestess: Kinjo Kasumi

                High Priest: Maeda Yuudai

Allowed Alignments LG/LN/NG/N/CG/CN

Domains: Charm, Community, Fury, Heroism, Justice, Plant, Storm, Suffering, Weather, & Winter.

Ishitsu Naku Komegami (The Young Goddess Who Weeps for What Has Been Lost)

Short form: Ano Komegami (The Young Goddess)

Nicknames: Shojo Are (Storm Maiden), Adokenai (The Virgin), Kimagure (The Fickle)

                Portfolio: Rain, weather, storms, love, grief, loss, & sorrow

Iku Saitensei Kogami (The Young God Who Dies and Is Reborn)

                Short form: Ano Kogami (The Young God)

Nicknames: Toru Danshi (Harvest Youth), Maketa (The Lost Boy), Gisei (The Sacrifice)

                Portfolio: Rice (crops), fertility, spring, sacrifice, vows, & promises.

 

Lesser Kami

In addition to the above deities, there are uncounted numbers of lesser kami attached to such things as individual trees, copses, streams, waterfalls, large rocks, animals, etc.