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Sûldin in the world of Siderues is also known as the Landforger, the master smith, and the father of the Gûndre.
His portfolio includes hidden places, stonework, smithing, protections, caverns, and elemental earth.
Typically speaking, Sûldin is your standard craft deity; his focus is on all things having to do specifically with metal and stone. His elemental association is paramount because he was actually the deity responsible for creating the earth, the mountains, and so on, and his portfolio contains various elements attached to them. Worshipers of Sûldin, as such, will hold things such as gems, precious metals, and so on, in high regard- almost as holy items. Precious metals are considered highly valuable to Sûldin, and indirectly to the Dwarves as well.
Common worshipers include the Gûndre, anyone that works with materials that are directly associated with the element of earth (such as miners, blacksmiths, stonemason, and jewelers), as well as warriors, explorers, and earth elementals.
The most common followers of Sûldin are Dwarves. There are a significant number of individuals who are of Dwarven blood who also follow Sûldin's church. However, as they are less common as a whole, it is less common to see them as a mass clergy. The next in line after the Dwarves in terms of common clergy members would be humans, followed by a tie between Arxus and Derew who view Sûldin more in his capacity as a deity of earth, though both of these races are much less likely to worship Sûldin. After them would be pretty much every other race in no particular order. It is very unlikely that you would ever see an Elven cleric of Sûldin, for example- it happens every once in a while, but it is very uncommon.
Priests of Sûldin often adorn their ceremonial clothing in precious metals, gold silver and so on. They commonly wear very ornate robes that are finely crafted. The quality of the craftsmanship is more important then how eye-catching it is. To a Sûldin worshiper, something that is well-made is far more important then something that is just dripping in gems. While it is important to adorn things with the appropriate accessories, priests will often spend a great deal of money on well-made, sturdy and yet practical things- this extends to their ceremonial clothing as well.
Sûldin is associated with the color of deep yellow, mustard yellow, or golden brown, with trims of black often in a bendy motif. While adventuring, priests of Sûldin will commonly wear the same colors, though they will be significantly less likely to have that comprise of all of their clothing.
Sûldin's favored weapon is the Fury of Ages, which is a great maul that he forged early in the First Age and was actually the divine item that was instrumental as a tool in crafting the material world. This of course translates to a slightly different sense once you take it out of the figurative sense of mythology, but nevertheless this weapon is a direct part of his spirit. As such, the maul or two-handed hammer is a weapon that has special reverence for Dwarves of all types and the clergy of Sûldin. When it's not possible for an individual to use a two-handed hammer, they will often use a one-handed hammer as a tribute in any event.
Typical clothing for clergy of Sûldin is rugged, durable clothing. Worshipers will usually decorate their clothing with elegant jewelry of silver, gold, and platinum, though this is generally only in the case of the ceremonial robes of priests. Many clergy of Sûldin, if they are not adventurers, are merchants, or prospectors, or blacksmiths, so the clothing they wear has to be rugged and able to withstand a good deal of use.
The holy symbol of Sûldin is a hammer lying horizontally above an anvil. However, just the symbol of a hammer, usually with its head held upright, or just the symbol of an anvil can also be used as symbols of Sûldin. Similarly, other symbols that are considered directly related to Sûldin are a hammer on a shield background, two hammers crossed- which usually represents a church of Sûldin that has made a specific point to not just be a Dwarven cultural church, but to also include humans and other worshipers. Priests of Sûldin have no qualms about wearing their holy symbols openly. Sûldin is again a deity of Light and is generally pretty well-respected.
The hierarchy of the church Sûldin is very strictly organized:
High priests of Sûldin lead their church.
Under the High Priest there are three Second-in-Command priests that tend to his needs and to the needs of the church as a whole.
Beyond that there are usually a number of Acolytes, or middle-range priests, and beyond that there are Apprentices, lay people that work for the church, and so on.
The hierarchy, while strict, is not particularly vast. Essentially, you have the High Priest that lead the church, then there is a rank of High Priest above that of which there only eight individuals throughout the world- these are the highest of high priests. They meet in a High Tribunal that will come together and make decisions for the church as a whole. These are very powerful individuals, all of them clerics in their own right, and many of them are very old. While Dwarves are not immortal, Dwarves do tend to live to be in the 700-800 year range, and many of these individuals are in the 300-400 years old range. It is important to note that in the High Tribunal of the core of the Church of Sûldin, there is only one human member, and he is half-dwarf.
This is a very strict hierarchy where orders are passed down in a layer-by-layer format, and questions and concerns are passed up step-by-step; nobody goes over anybody's head, and there's a very strict chain of command. In addition, the organization of the church is relatively rigid. This is again the main church, but applies to both the Dwarven cultural church and the churches that Humans and other individuals participate in.
The human churches are more treated as sub-cults, even by the human churches themselves, because it is generally accepted that followers of Sûldin are typically Dwarves, and are much less likely to be humans. There are a number of sub-cults of the church of Sûldin, all of which are the result of usually non-Dwarf worshipers. These sub-cults vary in purpose from simply giving human worshipers of Sûldin a place of worship where they can focus more on what Sûldin does for the other races of the living, all the way out to extremest groups that work directly against the church of Onûs, deliberately attack Naga aggressively, and so on. A number of these groups have actually splintered off of larger orders that are actually sanctioned by the church.
The Order of the Stonebreaker is an order of Dwarven heartseakers who have long since become disenchanted with their rescue priority of recovering Heart Stones from their fallen Dwarven kin, and have now become a hunting group that actively seeks out Naga and seek to destroy them. In the past hundred years or so, this has taken on human members, and there are even a few Arxus and Derew members as well. This organization is very aggressive about its hunts, and has been known to, on some occasions, to participate in questionable acts in order to accomplish its task.
In the community, the purpose of the church of Sûldin varies depending on what community you're in. In a Dwarven community, the church of Sûldin is the primary church. As such they see to all traditional cultural needs, such as coming of age rituals, the naming of new children, and there are what are essentially female nuns in the service of Sûldin that will serve as midwives, aiding families in birthing their children, naming, care-taking and so on. There are very few female priests in the traditional Dwarven church. The Dwarves also put a great deal of care into caring for their elders. Now the problem is that in a world of long-lived races, it's commonly accepted that you will have people in the 800-900 years old bracket that will be walking around. Here's where the problem comes into play: the problem with most fantasy worlds is that we forget that that's not necessarily likely when there is warfare, disease, and so on- not everyone dies in their sleep of natural causes. As a result, there aren't many Dwarven 'elders' around. You're generally considered to be relatively old, or an elder once you've broken 300 years old. There's only a few of those people, about 5% or less of any given population.
The church of Sûldin will care for the elders to the best of its ability. It will also care for orphans who have no families, and will almost always train them as paladins or clerics in the service of Sûldin. While it is not at all unheard of for Dwarves to worship other deities, it is almost completely unheard of for Dwarves to ignore the presence of Sûldin in their life. As Sûldin is a Lawful-Neutral deity, it is very uncommon for even Evil aligned Dwarves to not find some common ground with the Landforger.
In the community outside of Dwarven culture, non-Dwarf churches of Sûldin specialize in providing weapons and armor, serving mercantile needs. They will go to great lengths to ensure that the economy of a given town is balanced. They work with merchants a great deal to ensure fair and lawful trade. The church of Sûldin, both Dwarf and non-Dwarf, makes it a habit to periodically go out and provide their 'seal of approval' for merchants, especially money lenders and so on, who deal with things needing to be evenly balanced; they will go out and give their seal of approval to the measuring devices used and so on. Generally speaking, you can always tell if someone is an honorable merchant if they are bearing a recently verified seal of approval from a local church of Sûldin. As such, priests of Sûldin will typically travel around to perform this service, leaving their seal where possible. Now, this is not to say there are no crooked priests of Sûldin, however, when they are discovered by the church, these crooked priests are punished very harshly.
The demeanor of the church of Sûldin, and the clergy of the church, is one of rigid order and lawfulness. They believe that laws are essential to ensure things happen, but they do not go out of their way to penalize or punish others. The church of Sûldin is one that values secrecy and an individuals privacy. As such, as long as people are being honest, particularly merchants and so on, the church of Sûldin chooses to use their lawful bent to stand up for individuals who do not have the means to stand up for their own privacy or safety. This is taken particularly seriously in the case of women. The church of Sûldin is relatively chauvinistic organization. Due to the relationship of Sûldin and Gilana, in her original aspect as the goddess of joy, and his loss of his beloved, the church of Sûldin sees the protection of women, particularly maidens and virgins, as an absolutely sacrosanct cause. In short, women must be protected. They don't necessarily frown on women being adventurers or warriors, but if they do so they insist that certain safeguards be presented. The church of Sûldin is actually the church that is responsible for protective magics that are specifically designed to prevent a woman from being able to be raped. This was a development that came in the very early years of the church, again derived directly from the mythos of Gilana and Sûldin, because it was believed that basically the myth of Onûs essentially raping Gilana was intended to be a lesson to mortals. A rape, or taking advantage of women in the church of Sûldin is considered a grave, grave offense, not just because of the typical chauvinistic pride of typical Dwarven males, but also because again of the history in the mythos. The two aspects together have combined to create an environment in the Dwarven and the non-Dwarven churches where any sort of mistreatment of women is considered the most vile crime one can commit aside from murder, even considered above heresy. It is not unheard of for a Dwarven cleric of Sûldin to avenge a maiden's honor, even if he has no interest in the maiden; the maiden could be an elf, a Satyr-kin, it is irrelevant. In many cases, this can actually cause problems because Sûldinite worshipers tend to be very hard-headed, no pun intended, and as a result, they will go charging off in defense of someone's honor before they understand the situation. (Essentially creating the Sidereus version of date-rape controversy).
The demeanor of the church and clergy. Generally speaking, followers of Sûldin, regardless of race, are stubborn, obstinate, but equally determined and loyal. They value these traits, because in their mind they are a reflection of the deity they revere. Worshipers of Sûldin, of course, value any art that creates a physical product very significantly. They prefer this art to have something to do with a hard surface; woman are expected to do pottery or sculpture, men are expected to do stoneworking, blacksmithing, and so on. Specifically, the crafting of weapons and armor is very highly revered, and many of the holy relics in the church of Sûldin are in fact weapons and armor.
There are a number of holy days in the church of Sûldin. The Sidereus corollary for November 13th is a festival known as the Feast of the Landforger. This is the primary holiday in the church of Sûldin, and is a celebration of Sûldin himself. The Feast of the Landforger is a day where festivals will be held and in many cases disparaging churches of Sûldin will work together. A larger Dwarven church will work with a smaller human church, and so on; they will gather merchants together, there will be large fairs selling weapons, armor, statues, pottery, and so on, and would roughly be the equivalent of a modern-day gun show. These gatherings, particularly near major Dwarven strongholds, are an excellent place to find very finely crafted weapons and armor. There are a number of holy days as well, and a full list will be provided at the end of the book.
There are a number of initiations and rites into becoming a priest of the church of Sûldin. We will only review one here, for the sake of brevity; the rest of them will be given in short detail at the end of the book, and we will go into more detail at a later time. The primary way that a cleric of Sûldin is initiated into the church is that they must have a certain amount of craft skill. It doesn't necessarily matter what they make; there have even been cases of very skilled painters being accepted into the church. In game terms, however, the crafts that are not specifically with stone, weapons, armor, or metal are generally viewed as less important and a person must be of rather exceptional skill in that particular ability to be considered for their entrance. So if someone was a painter, they would have to, in game terms, have ten ranks, whereas a standard initiate into the church of Sûldin would only have five ranks of said skill. In order for a skill to be appropriate, it must produce physical product. Crafts must be made. It is not that the church of Sûldin does not value performing arts and so on, but it is that the artistic value is not that point; it is that the idea of physically creating is what makes the church of Sûldin interested in the work. Once an aspiring cleric has proved their ability to create, they are given a quest. This quest is essentially akin to a 'vision quest,' except there is a very specific way in which it is undertaken. There's a lengthy three-day ritual, during which period the aspiring cleric must fast and remain in prayer and meditation wearing only the plain golden-yellow or golden-brown robes of an initiate. After this three-day period has passed, the initiate is allowed to eat one large meal. Usually, because of the Dwarven origins of the faith, this meal is very carefully prepared and is a rather large amount of food. The individual eats until they full, and they are expected to eat until they literally cannot eat any more, at which point they are then expected to travel, again fasting without food, for one day, to their destination that will be selected by the ranking priest in the church. Their goal is to retrieve an item, which they will be directed to, if they are to be a priest, by divine intervention, thus meeting the second criteria of the initiation ritual. If they are, by divine inspiration, lead to this material, whether it be a chunk of stone or what have you, they are expected to then return the material to the church, at which point they will receive the final point of their instruction of their initiation, which is to craft something out of it. The challenge comes into play because some individuals are expected to craft an item from a material they have no experience working with. This brings up another tenant of the faith of Sûldin, in which there is no reason to ever surrender or admit defeat. Clerics of Sûldin believe that, when a task seems insurmountable, you should simply lower your head and persevere. As a result, they expect aspiring clergy to work with what they have, basically. The modern-day analogy for a common phrase amongst Sûldin worshipers would be 'tough shit.' It's not that they are unsympathetic, but the point is to have difficulty: things being difficult is the whole idea.
Associated symbology- The church of Sûldin reveres two animals in particular: a bear being one, specifically grizzly bears, and the second, oddly enough, is the common domesticated dog. The church of Sûldin reveres dogs for their loyalty and honor, and bears for their endurance and ferocity. These are both animals that are said to be celebrated by Sûldin himself. Other than that, there's no specific precious metal associated with Sûldin Generally, it is accepted that gold is Sûldin's preferred metal, only because by the common person it is perceived as the most valuable metal. In reality, that's obviously not the case, but it's a general misconception that's been accepted to the degree where it is accepted as fact.
Associations with other churches are as follows:
The church of Sûldin has relatively confused relations with the church of Aarûn. They agree on a great many things, and the church of Sûldin will never hesitate to rush to the aid of the church of Aarûn if they are in need, particularly when it involves dealing with Naga, undead, or any other such force. However, when it comes to social relations, they are very competitive. The analogy would be two jocks from various different schools, or a guy from the Navy and a guy from the Marines; they may completely hate each other when they are being social or competing, but the second you start talking about a common threat, all of a sudden they are banding together and work together as effectively as anyone else, if not better.
The church of Jolarä and the church of Suleiman have cool relations, there's no reason to like or dislike each other. It's relatively neutral aside from the obvious affinity for hating evil things.
Kal’rën and Sûldin have actually surprisingly close relations. For reasons no one really understands, the two churches associate very well, very closely. Clerics from both churches will often work together.
Tal’rëa and Sûldin have no specific association, nor do Eäminn and Sûldin have no specific association. In fact, Sûldin believes Eäminn to be a traitor, when in fact that was not the case during the Second Age, and as a result, Sûldin tends to be very cold if not cruel towards Eäminn This translates down to the church, the clergy of Sûldin will very frequently disregard the church of Eäminn as cowards and will treat them as such socially.
Zörena, goddess of fate, views Sûldin as a bit reckless in terms of how quick he is to judge others. As such, she has a certain lack of respect for him. This translates over into their clergy, where the church of the Fateweaver tends to disregard the involvement of the church of Sûldin in most situations.
The church of Rowena has a specific relationship with the church of Sûldin, because the two churches tend to be the most war-hungry churches on the side of Light. The church of Rowena also has a close affiliation with the church of Sûldin because they both tend to pursue, to find value in areas like volcanoes and so on, though it is for different reasons.
The church of Gilana and the church of Sûldin have very close relations. However, this is strained and very confused. Both churches accept the reality of what happened between Sûldin and Gilana, however the church of Gilana believes that there was no point in the first place, that ultimately despair cannot be defeated, and that the efforts of Sûldin to reclaim his love or mourn for her is in one way beautiful in his mourning, but in another way in his attempt to reclaim her an utter waste and foolish. As such, they agree on some points, which is confusing to many people, since the church of Gilana is notably and notoriously evil. However, the sects of Gilana that lean towards revering her in her older aspect as a goddess of Joy do have very close and positive relations with the church of Sûldin, and many of these sub-cults have grown in size and the church of Sûldin does support them.
Obviously the church of Sûldin is very close to the church of Tallis and the church of Selora because they are his children.
Finally, the church of Sûldin has an open and ongoing declaration of war against the church of Onûs. It has been this way for thousands of years and it will never cease to be this way.
The dogma of Sûldin is as follows:
Revel in the earth's bounty. Delve deep within her caverns and bring forth gems and metals so that they may glitter in the light of day. Mining and metal and stonecraft are absolutely essential to the worship of Sûldin The whole point from the Sûldinite perspective is to dig into the earth and pull forth riches- that is why Sûldin put them there is the belief. As such, it is very important for worshipers of Sûldin to engage in some activity that does these things. However, the next part of the dogma is -
Be wary lest you delve too deep and disturb the things that you were not meant to know. Many of Onûs' worshipers, particularly former angels that were craft into demons, fled into the depths of the earth because it was one of the only places where they could be protected from the agents of the Light. While these are the more cowardly servants of Onûs and the other dark gods, they are nevertheless dangerous servants. Sûldin does not want these creatures in his realm, but it does not change the fact that they are there. As a result, he makes it a point to warn his followers not to be greedy in their delving, simply because greed is a cancerous, negative worldview, but additionally because if they delve too deep, you have essentially the 'Lord of the Rings balrog problem'
Do not give your word lightly, and keep it once it is given. This is an important part of Sûldin's dogma. Priests and worshipers of Sûldin do not make promises, generally. The reason they don't do it is because of how seriously they take it. If a truly devout follower of Sûldin gives you his or her word, they consider that a blood oath. They would rather die than break their promise at that point. They would rather die then to be forced to give their promise, because of how serious it is to them. As a result, again, they don't give the promise without damned good reason, and they also rarely, if ever, break them. Sûldin abhors those that cannot keep a promise. This is very true, and there have been a number of cases where a number of actual clergy have been actually struck down for violating an oath. Sûldin will take hostile action himself against those under his thrall that violate their word. There is nothing more abhorrent to him than a lair.
A secret kept is a greater treasure then any gem or stone. To betray a friend's trust is to sign one's soul over to damnation. To Sûldin, secrecy is important to preserve the ability of good, lawful people to maintain their righteousness. What this means is liars have the ability to lie; lairs have the ability to go forth, spread mistruths and manipulate situations. A lawful, honest person is restricted by their inability to do so. In Sûldin's dogma, what balances these things out is the lawful person's ability to keep their mouth shut. You have the right to remain silent. Agreeing to keep a secret for someone is a promise, even if you don't state that it is a promise, it is a promise. As such, the dogma applies in this area two-fold: secrets are precious thing to Sûldin He is a secretive and private deity, and those things that are secretive and private to him are very special, very sacred, and true followers of Sûldin follow that belief. If something is meant to be secret, they keep it that way. There are a number of orders dedicated to Sûldin that serve as archivists, and all they do is keep information recorded and lock it away for no one to ever see ever. This doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what they do. Betraying a friend will literally get you excommunicated from the church of Sûldin Not just betraying an oath, but friendship itself and any relationship more significant, up to and including of course marriage, and of course family, friendship, family, and marriage are considered absolutely sacrosanct bonds that the church of Sûldin treats not only as promises but as divinely supported promises. Offering someone your hand as a friend is a bond that should never intentionally be broken. Followers of Sûldin will often die for their friends, because that is how seriously they take that belief.
Stand by your family and your house, for they are your strength in times of tribulation. The idea of community is absolutely vital to the way the church of Sûldin works, Dwarven or non-Dwarven. The idea of community and family, the idea that a friend is just an extended family member. The idea that marriage joins two families together. The idea of a community becoming stronger represents the church of Sûldin, again Dwarven or non-Dwarven; the idea of stone being joined with stone- together the two disparate parts become stronger than the individuals, and as such they can achieve more and do greater things.
Finally, create to give praise to the one that created you, for all sharing in the work of the Creator gives glory to the Mother of All. Sûldin is a little bit of a mama's boy, and he is one of the only deities that makes a direct reference to the Overgod, Amin’Zerû in his dogma. Worshipers of Sûldin always differ a small portion of their veneration of Sûldin to the excepting of the awareness of the Overgod. While the Overgod does not directly grant spells to mortals, nor give divine influence of any kind, it is the sort of disseminative perspective of Sûldin that the Overgod is essentially a loving deity. And that is represented here. Creation is the ultimate praise, in Sûldin's mind, not to Sûldin, but to the deity that created everything.
Sûldin worshipers are motivated by a sense of community, by a sense of law, and by a desire to create, obtain wealth, create items of purpose and beauty, and so on. Because of the state of the world in the Fourth Age, priests of Sûldin find themselves very typically in the situation where their unique talents get put towards building castles, restoring ruins, and so on. As such, priests of Sûldin, Dwarven and non-Dwarven, find themselves driven towards this relatively unique goal of restoring the many great ruins and places of the world to their once former glory, and reclaiming places that have been lost to forces such as goblins and Naga. Naga in particular are absolutely loathed by followers of Sûldin, as agents of Xi'rian, or the children of Xi'rian, they are diametric enemies of the Dwarves, and as such are enemies of the church of Sûldin It is not uncommon for a cleric of Sûldin to, in game terms, to take Foe Hunter: Naga. It is very, very common, as a matter of fact.
The church of Sûldin has a very well-established military force. Clerics of Sûldin are very commonly soldiers in some way, shape or form, and they will often specialize to a certain degree in warfare as well as their chosen craft, and their magical abilities. Even the most focused cleric of Sûldin has at least a few levels, in game terms, of Combat Training and maybe a Slay or a Parry. The church of Sûldin hosts a number of military academies, though these are mostly through the Dwarven church, that are located in various Dwarven halls. These military academies will take anyone, but there are very few that will keep up with the Dwarven stamina in terms of training and the arduous tasks required of recruits. Often, Paladins in the service of Sûldin go through these avenues to acquire, to eventually hone their talents and serve the church. These academies will often also educate clergy and followers of Sûldin by offering more conventional classes. They will be in blacksmithing, jewelry making, and so on. Though education in craft is their focus, education in warfare is also usually provided.
The followers of Sûldin have an outlook of pragmatism, sort of lined with a pursuit of the pleasurable things that come from being a skilled craftsperson. Their belief is that the world in its perfect state is one where resources are plentiful, the blessed living can create things to give praise and glory to Sûldin and the Overgod, and that overall proclaiming the world of Light and restoring the places of great majesty of the past is their idea of a perfect earth. To that end, anything that interferes with that process or prevents it is generally considered evil and they will work against it.
In closing, the church of Sûldin is very common in any place where Dwarves are present, and while their focus places them at a unique parallel to Aarûn, they are nevertheless different. And that should do it.