Most readers of Warhammer lore will be familiar with the gods and their relationships with the Old World. But what about the ones you rarely hear about?
As mentioned in Sigmar Heirs Fantasy Book, there are many minor deities. Local towns/villages will also have their own deity that may be unique to that area. Another fun aspect of minor deities is that a creative GM can create as many of them as he wants and tie them into the story. In the mini-shot Marienburg campaign that I did, I made mention of a minor god called Olaf who was the deity of misconceptions and misunderstandings, a creation of my own. People will usually dream up a deity for any particular reason, and some are rooted in old religion.
Some may even be aspects of another primary god. Manalt, Bounty of the Sea, is clearly an aspect of Manann but popular with Reiklander fishermen. Manas, god of Tides, again is another aspect of Manann who navigators often pray to for guidance. In fact most gods go under many different names, and a GM can obviously be forgiven to disregard a lot of them. After all, while it may help immersion into the world, it also may induce headaches and confusion when players are met with worshipers who refer to well known gods under a different name.
So here are some of the lesser known minor deities of the empire and some may be aspects of another god:
- Handerich, Commerce – “Money, power, and influence – these are my Gods. And Handrich represents all that is money, power and influence.” – Blanka Grutzner, Heiress to the Grutzner Dry Goods Consortium, Altdorf. Handrich is a minor God popular with traders, merchants, burghers and others involved in making a profit through business dealings. Outside of Marienburg, where the cult is based and is the strongest, many people confuse Handrich with an aspect of Ranald known as ‘The Dealer.’ For scholars however, the distinction is clear – Handrich is the God of legitimate business, while thieves, smugglers and conmen worship Ranald, although there are examples on both sides of this not necessarily being true. Handrich’s primary symbol is that of a gold disc, commonly interpreted as a coin. Cultists often carry a blank coin in their pocket or worn about their neck to show devotion. Handrich’s popularity has grown and continues to grow. Bogenhafen for example has taken Handrich as it’s patron local deity, and have devoted a life-sized statue representing Handrich in the middle of the square.
- Gunndred, God of Rustlers & Blackmail – Portrayed as a large brutish man wearing travel clothes with at least a half a dozen large thugs standing behind him. Unlike Ranald, who concentrates on the luck and skill of the thief, Gunndred emphasises brutality and intimidation. A follower of Ranald might sneak into a house and steal all the money without waking a soul. A follower of Gunndred would turn up with allies, wake everyone, beat and torture them all, and then take all their money with a promise to return in six months time to take all their money again. Gunndred is quite popular in the Border Princes. It’s also a fairly young cult, less than 10 years old. It’s founder, Master Gunnslieb (his name means Beloved of Gunndred) is hiding out in the Border Princes. Gunndreds strictures are: 1. Be feared, not loved. 2. Live by what you have taken from others. 3. Leave no victim unmarked. 4. Leave survivors to spread the fear of your name.
- Renbaeth, Lawyers – There’s a saying in Talabecland whenever someone is about to enter a costly bargain or receive the short shrift in a deal. Such people are said to be paying “Renbaeth’s fee,” after the exorbitant prices charged by Talabheim’s esteemed legal force. Renbaeth is ‘quietly’ worshiped in a private manner by lawyers although its not uncommon to see a statue depicting the god in a legal office. Renbaeth is considered an aspect of Verena.
- Solden, Tyranny & Oppression – A rather obscure outlawed god worshiped by politicians, critics and soldiers. Solden used to enjoy a large base of worshipers in Nuln during the time of Empress Agnetha. Since then the cult has slowly been dying, although its not uncommon to find a tyrannical individual who still may worship the god. The Palisades in particular keep a keen eye out for any worshipers of Solden and are quick to act upon it. Solden’s symbol is that of a blood red closed fist.
- Stromfels, Storms, Sharks and Pirates – A popular god among pirates and wreckers, Stromfels is largely outlawed throughout the Old World. His symbol is that of a giant shark or an enraged Manann. Some regard Stromfel as an aspect of Manann, but many see this as heresy.
- Vylmar, Decadence, Drinking & Debauchery – A rather mysterious god whose history is lost in time. What is known however is that centuries ago, Vylmar was openly worshiped and was considered a very fashionable god amongst the imperial elite, and the parties thrown in his honour were wild and raucous affairs that lasted for days. The prudish cult of Sigmar objected to such behaviour, and applied pressure upon the Emperor of that time to ban the cult. Ever since then, Vylmar is a very obscure god whose passage is probably noted in some old dusty religious tome, devoted to a single paragraph. It is worth noting that Vylmar eerily shares aspects normally associated with Slaanesh. Although some scholars believe that Vylmar was created by a wealthy influential noble who wished to start his own pleasure cult.
- Fury, Righteous Anger (Myrmedia) – Myrmedia is the goddess of strategy and war, and is the sister of Shallya. Her followers are noted for their patience and strategic tactical thinking, so it is surprising to learn that she has a cult dedicated to a lesser known aspect associated with Myrmedia called Fury. Fury is depicted as a shield maiden, lowering her spear and her face expressed with rage and battle lust. Fury started as an offshoot cult by some followers in the Reikland; rumor mill is that the founders of Fury are former Ulrican’s who have taken up the faith of Myrmedia. Although mostly confined to the Reikland province, Fury is gaining popularity within Middenland and roaming mercenary bands. The distinction between a follower of Ulric and one of Fury is quite clear; a follower of Ulric will lose himself into battle without a thought for strategy, as is the common held perspective. While a follower of Fury will retain Mymedia’s blessing of strategy but adopt a fearsome battle rage that they can control and direct towards their enemy.
- Sarriel, Lord of Dreams – An aspect of Morr that is known to the elves, although the elves do not worship or pay heed to him except perhaps a quick remark or thought given to Sarriel should their sleep be disturbed.
- Gazul, Protector of the Dead – Morr again, but known as Gazul to the dwarfs. Most popular with expat dwarfs, dwarfs that perform any burial for their kin often usher a common prayer, “May his spirit be guided by our ancestors, and may Gazul watch over the stubborn git, less his drunken soul run rampant within these halls.” Gazul is not depicted by any visual representation, although he does have a symbol which is a long slender tomb slab bearing a large ornate hammer upon its surface.
- Forsagh, Divination – Averland shepherds smitten by love sometimes make invocations to Forsagh in the hope of learning if their affection will be reciprocated. After saying a quick prayer, they examine the consistency of the next pile of droppings they find. Soft and squishy leavings suggest that the paramour will return his love, while dry, hard droppings warn the shepherd to seek elsewhere for passion. Of course, this is just a crude joke by foreigners who love a good dig at a Averlander. Forsagh is worshiped, albeit quietly, by spiritual folk and palm readers.
- Clio, History – A scholarly god and another aspect of Verena as her ‘Delver into the Past.’ There’s a quietly hushed heresy amongst some students of religion who state that Clio is one of many lost forgotten sons of Verena who now wander the halls of history looking for his true parentage.
- Scripsisti, Calligraphy – Another aspect of Verena primarily worshiped by Calligraphers. Scripsisti is another aspect that is regarded as a lost son by a minority within the cult of Verena.
- Salyak, Charity – A tiny minor sect devoted to an aspect of Shallya. The sect is localized within the slums of Talabheim who run soup kitchens and help the poor. Why they don’t just openly worship Shallya, who is also associated with charity, is anyone’s guess.
- Shallya the Purifier – A controversial sect within the cult of Shallya that is often hushed about and never spoken of. Cultists of this sect believe that Shallya’s mercy is for all, and not exclusive to one race or one individual regardless of circumstances. They believe that mutants, nurglites (Nurgle is Shallya’s natural enemy) and others of severe disfigurement normally shunned by society should be cared for. As such, worshipers of Shallya the Purifier will often house mutants in secret and look after them, away from the prying eye of witch hunters. Witch Hunters are well aware of this cult and keep a vigilant eye out for them, as they have their own means of ‘purifying.’
- Torothal, Rain and Rivers – An aspect of Taal but known as Torothal by the elves. Very rarely acknowledged by the elves.
- Karog, Forests – Karog is an interesting deity in that scholars have been hunting for the origins of Karok for many decades now, trying to deduce how the cult started. Karog is a god with a fairly isolated area of worship. Primarily worshipped in and around the rivers of lower eastern Reikland and western Talabecland. Controversially, some Reiklanders believe that Karog is an aspect of Taal, whose domain is normally associated with wildlands and forests. Scholars however disagree, and state that Karog may be an old ancient Kislevian deity long forgotten, whose worshipers likely have immigrated down to the southern parts of what is now the Reikland and Talabecland. No visual representation exists except a simple symbol depicting a large oak tree, although in other depictions it is a large fir tree topped with snow.
- Karnos, Lord of the Beasts – Rarely mentioned and fairly obscure, Karnos is a often forgotten about aspect of Taal. Middenland and Talabecland hunters, when making a sacrifice in the woods, would often beseech upon Taal. But some more isolated hunters, particularly in the age range of 40-60 would make a sacrifice to Karnos. Scholars have been trying to hunt down the origin of Karnos and believe it is a language issue. Karnos, in the old Reikspiel classical tongue means ‘Tuul’, which history scholars point out is a butchering of Taal.
- Lupos the Wolf, Lord of Predators – An extremely old deity with its origins dating as far back as before the time of Sigmar. Bringing up Lupos the Wolf at a dinner table surrounded by history scholars is a sure way of starting an argument. Some believe that Lupos is an ancient aspect of Taal, but many more believe that Lupos may have been the earliest known form of Ulric, possibly incorporated as part of a triune involving the archaic deity Ishernos, which scholars have very little information about. Others think Lupos has nothing to do with Ulric, but rather is an old ancient enemy of Ulric, a rival god. Regardless of the origins, worship of Lupos is primarily forgotten about. But there have been rumors that wild men worship Lupos, and are said to be extremely dangerous if met.
- Ishernos, Earth Spirit – If you mention Ishernos to anyone, even a scholar of history, they might just say “Huh?”. Ishernos is often forgotten about, and only the truly learned and educated will have even heard of Ishernos. Some regard Ishernos as the first depiction of Rhya, Taal’s wife. Others say that Ishernos may in fact be Rhya’s mother. Most Taal priests, at least’s those who have availed of a higher education in history will be aware of Ishernos. Others note the peculiar name and suggest that there may be an elven origin.
- Dark Helgis/Helga, Matron of Widows – Normally associated with rural women and isolated hamlets/farmsteads, this deity has been completely dismissed by scholars as nothing but superstitious nonsense dreamt up by fearful women. It is said that to avert the attention of Dark Helgis (or Helga, depending who you ask) one must slay an animal and dress it in the clothes of your husband. Then drag the corpse into the woods as an offering to the hated witch who associated with stealing their lovers. Surprisingly, women will do just that when their husbands go off to war or some other dangerous activity. As a result of historians not taking Dark Helgis seriously, the only knowledge of her potential origins comes from the many folklore tales told of her. The most widely accepted and popular one tells the story of a very powerful witch during the time of Sigmar. According to the tale, Dark Helgis was a beutiful fair woman of incredible beauty who would stalk the nearby towns looking for men to seduce. But not any man… the man would have to be married, otherwise he would not do. She would snatch him away, beguiling him with her beauty. The poor soul would be nothing more than chicken feed the next day, as the witch no doubt killed the man as part of some fiendish ritual. If such a tale were true, she’d have to be a fearsome witch indeed to survive a reputation to this day. As such, women often sacrifice to her so that their husbands may be left alone.
- Artho the Unmoving – Popular with Middenlanders who love celebrating tradition and the old ways, a few crusty old men and women keep stone idols of Artho on their person. This way, whenever they confront some developments or change that they perceive threatens the moral fibre of Middenland, they yank out the idol to remind others of the values and customs Middenlanders ought to abide by – and if their protests fall on deaf ears, the idol serves as a useful club. One rather humorous story (although tragedy if true) often told by a Reiklander or a Sigmarite is that an old stubborn goat of a man who was a worshiper of Artho the Unmoving made the rather foolish and bold decision to walk up to a witch hunter, produce his idol, and loudly proclaim that the witch hunter was not doing the gods work, that he was about to burn innocents. This was all said while shoving the idol in the witch hunters face and preaching at him. The witch hunter, thinking perhaps that this idol clearly represents a chaos god in some fashion, took it from the old man and proceeded to beat him to death with his own idol. He then burned the body of the man along with his idol.
- Gargali, God of the Hidden Ore – Wissenland miners, before entering a new mine, tie a small piece of paper bearing the symbol of Gargali onto a sparrow’s leg. They then keep the sparrow in a cage. If the bird dies, the miners believe they are close to a new vein of ore. Sadly, there are few folks who can confirm if this trick actually works. Dwarfs do love to crack a joke whenever they hear about this fairly obscure god.
- Narlog the Inevitable – When something is said to be in ‘Narlog’s gift,’ Ostlanders usually are referring to death, taxes, the scorn of a woman, and what happens when you leave an Averland alone with a sheep.
- Shaback, God of the Fens and Swamps – A rather mysterious deity. Venerated by the natives of the Cursed Swamp, though beyond its borders the name Shaback is more of a curse than it is a God. People in neighboring lands often mutter the word, “Shaback!” when they stand in something unpleasant.
- Sheirrich, The Lost Wind – Not so much a deity, but a joke that only an Averlander will get. In Averland, whenever someone scents a foul odour in the air, they are quick to exclaim “Sheirrich’s Broken Wind!” The last person in the group to say it is believed to have created the stink whether they have or not, resulting in gales of laughter from their fellows. A rather sketch tale is told by Averlanders concerning the Verenian religious scholar who traveled to Averland to learna bout Sheirrich. It is said that he spent 8 years studying, only to find out at last that Sheirrich is associated with ‘ill-wind’. He was very much disappointed.
- Tahrveg, The Keen Arrow – In olden days, Tahrveg was a popular god with rangers and archers who gave a finger (quite literally, cutting off their finger) to the God to help their aim at crucial moments. However, so great was the fear that archers cut off so many fingers they couldn’t hold their bows, that dogma was changed to prevent this and regard the gift as symbolic. So nowadays, each follower of Tahrveg would dip his finger in his own urine and let it soak to ensure that his aim is true. Some maidens giggle and claim it helps their aim when firing their other bow.
- Wendred, God of Duty and Service – Worshiped in places throughout Wissenland, whenever a person is given an important task, he is said to “carry the weight of Wendred.”
Next lore post I’ll be detailing the Norscan gods and the southern tribes; particularly the ones that are anti-chaos.