- Heresy; opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted.
Heresy is prevalent in all the cults, some more than others. When found, it is swiftly dealt with, as heresy is the one thing a religious organization fears the most. If enough people sprout the heresy, it can soon catch fire; before they know it, everyone is preaching this falsehood. That is dangerous. So dangerous that sprouting heresy in public is a sure way to a quick yet painful death. Don’t count on a trial, and if your lucky to get a trial… don’t hold out hope for anything but ‘guilty’. That’s assuming your not stoned to death by the public first.
Heresy can come in many forms, even atheism may be considered heretical to the point that if you’re asked whether or not you hold faith to one particular god and your answer is no, well… don’t blame the GM if you suddenly find yourself being forced into theology lessons by the local dominant religion. I promise you, those lessons can bore your character to death. Literally. And that’s just the ‘tame’ response.
So lets have a look at two of the dominate religions in the Empire; Ulric and Sigmar, with others to follow soon.
– Ulric, God of Winter, Wolves & Battle
Ulric is a relatively simple straight forward religion and is believed, with exception to Morr, to be the oldest of the imperial pantheon of gods. There are very few heresies in fact relating to Ulric. And the ones that do exist, are prominently within other cults, such as the sigmarian heresy belief that Sigmar is the King of All Gods. Yeah… that doesn’t go down well with the Ulricans. But perhaps the greatest heresy that is self-contained within the cult is that of Lupos. What makes this heresy particularly interesting is the historical evidence that actually supports it, although such evidence is long buried (or preferably burned) but scholars of ancient history and theology know the Lupos heresy quite well.
- Lupos; Lupos is an ancient (possibly even older God than Ulric) that belonged to the Cherusens of Hochland, the founding tribe of Hochland. Depicted as a very large white/grey wolf with a fearsome look, Lupos is the God of Predators. Worship of Lupos is very rare, and remote. Yet there is a tale concerning worship of him located in a valley in the Middle Mountains called Wolfheim. There is a legend concerning the valley that no wolf can be killed, as long as the wolf remains in that valley. Offerings that consist of large chunks of raw meat is often laid at the foot of the valley, to please Lupos. Shepherds and farmers living in remote regions near the Middle Mountains will often journey to Wolfheim and make an offering, so that their cattle, be it goat or other, remain unharmed. Such worship is outlawed, but largely ignored as Lupos is often a distant foggy memory. The Sons of Ulric for example, a outlawed fanatical sect belonging to Ulric who do not agree with the current religious establishment, and seek to undermine it, are often (although wrongly) associated with Lupos. This association stems from them being regarded as ‘wild, animalistic fanatics who crave for the flesh’ which is the typical common view. But the true heresy of Lupos begins here…
- Lupos & Ulric: The heresy states that at the time when the Teutogens were a relatively young tribe, – having just settled within the borders of Middenland – were at war with the Cherusens, a tribe from Hochland. The Cherusens worshipped Lupos, as carvings of the great white wolf were shown on the walls of ancient Cherusen burial mounds. It is believed that Lupos, at the time, was the God of Winter and Wolves. Some of the carvings show that a great battle was fought between the two tribes, in which the Teutogen tribe was victorious. Ulric at the time was simply a representation of battle, and nothing more. After their victory, the Teutogen tribe adopted Lupos into their own worship. Not the deity, but the aspects of Lupos into Ulric. Ulric became the God of Battle, Winter and Wolves, despite never having the association tied to him. Lupos simply became the God of Predators. Another theory that loosely coincides with this is that Lupos was part of a triumvirate with Taal & Rhya. If true, this would explain Hochland’s current association and worship of Taal and Rhya, despite its northern location. This heresy in particular is old, and few will have heard of it, so its not expected to gain popularity anytime soon.
– Sigmar Heldenhammer
Part of the Unberogen tribe, Sigmar is the dominant religion within the Empire. As a result, many, many heresies exist concerning sigmarian doctrine. Unlike Ulric, in which you could badmouth the wolf god in front of devout Ulricans and end up in a very one-sided fight, be it a punch-up, a severe beating or a show of martial prowess, doing the same concerning Sigmar in front of devout Sigmarites will likely result in a full blown religious trial, being stoned to death or worse… Bad mouthing Sigmar is akin to suicide. Bad mouthing Ulric is akin to getting your teeth knocked out. There’s a very fine difference. Which is why so many heresies exist for Sigmar. Too many to list. Insulting the patron god of the Empire is heresy itself, as such, one has to be careful as to what they say and do, and where you are plays a big role. Insulting Sigmar within the heart of Sigmar’s worship that is the Reikland is a very bad idea, while doing the same in say Talabecland is more forgiving, but overall naysayers of Sigmar (or any religion for that matter) don’t tend to live very long.
But there are three heresies worth noting concerning sigmarian doctrine.
- Sigmar Did Not Ascend: This is the heresy that will get you on a torture rack in no time. Current doctrine teaches that Sigmar Heldenhammer ascended to godhood when he abdicated his throne to leave for far-away lands. Yet there are some who believe that this isn’t the case. Some believe that Sigmar was born a man, and died a man. Simple as that. This is in fact the heresy that drove Dietrich, a devout priest of Sigmar (who would later become Archeon) to turn to the dark gods. The heresy itself is not a secret… There have been many a heretic preaching this on a corner somewhere, who would quickly vanish after said preaching. What drove Dietrich to do what he did was the discovery of some religious texts that proclaimed it had evidence. Be’lakor had a ‘hand’ in crafting those documents, so what they may contain is going to be heavily biased. The one problem with this heresy however is that Warrior Priests of Sigmar have had miracles attributed to them, as well as the Grand Theogonist. If Sigmar didn’t ascend, then where are they getting their divine powers from?
- There Is Only One God, Sigmar: This heresy is quite common, and while it is not official doctrine nor is it preached in theology lessons, the Sigmarian faith do very little in disowning this heresy, and in some cases, the most devout will even encourage it. The heresy is quite simple; it states that when Sigmar ascended, there was a great war that was fought in the heavens. The dark gods were pitted against the current imperial pantheon. Taal, Rhya, Myrmidia and all the other gods along with Sigmar stood alongside him in a titanic battle for control over the realm. One by one, the gods fell to the nameless dark gods and their endless dominions. Only Sigmar stood. Only Sigmar prevailed and pushed them back into their cage, where they wait now to invade once more. As such, the belief is that Sigmar is the King of Gods, yet the flaw in the belief is that if all the Gods are dead… then Sigmar is no king. But such logic does not convince the believers of this heresy. Suffice to say, the other cults do not like this heresy. Not one bit.
- Sigmar Is Imprisoned: No one knows how this heresy started. Some say that a naysayer in Grunberg started preaching this, but the origins of it are unknown. Regardless, there are those who believe that Sigmar was captured by the dark gods, and imprisoned by them. For they knew they could not kill Sigmar, and instead opted to cast him away. The heresy believes that when the empire is in its greatest need, Sigmar, overwhelmed with fury, will break free and return to claim his empire. This is somewhat different from the established doctrine that Sigmar will be ‘reborn’ when the need is greatest, as this implies that Sigmar is a puppet/prisoner of the dark gods, and that’s not a pleasant notion for anyone.