|Symbols||Her symbols are numerous, but common ones are: the skull, the oil lamp, the hourglass, and the owl.|
|Dedications||In order to enter the prayer state an adherent of Mama Mort may do one of the following:
“I see her face upon the twinkling stars, cut out along the great night sky,
I cherish the restful sleep she brings- the respite after hard labors.
I yearn to feel your cool touch on my overheated brow, and return home,
I pay no worship to the garish sun.”
~A Paean to Mama Mort
Death has a face and a form. She stands taller than any shadow, and watches patiently from the doorways and corners. She is beautiful and terrifying to look upon, both a comforting and a dreaded form; as dichotomous as a mother who offers both succor and harsh discipline. In the densely crowded cities particularly, death often seems like a familiar friend, as well known as a neighbor or cousin, and there are many who take comfort in treating her as such rather than something to be feared. She is considered inevitable, and it seems wise to accept the inevitable.
It is no wonder then, that there are many who have taken to the worship of Mama Mort.
As a towering, dark-clad, maternal figure, she is all that encompasses Death: its mysteries, its succor, and its remorseless touch.
The followers of this cult do not form a cohesive community or church. While guided by shared beliefs and faith, each individual’s relationship with the Lady of Death is personal. A figure of two sides, she offers succor, protection and prosperity with her right hand, while wielding retribution, obliteration, and curses with her left. What each person petitions her for is theirs alone to know.
It is hard to pinpoint when the worship of Mama Mort became so widespread, but her worship is one of the most commonly practiced cults either in addition to, or instead of, the world’s larger and more organized religions. Among the Gothic people especially, she is revered in both tiny gestures in everyday life as well as more grandiose demonstrations. Many Gothic households and shacks keep a small altar to Mama Mort, though they may not openly call it such.
Scholars have pointed out her resemblance to the Benalian angel Lurian, and even farther back in time to the frozen northern lands’ goddess Sveas. Various folk beliefs of the old Gothic Empire of the Throne alluded to a Lady of the Reaping who also shares aspects with Mama Mort. She may be all of these things, or she may be none. Religion serves the needs, fears, and lacks of the people, and in the modern world where death is both commonplace and yet also sorely needed, it is a shared fear and respect of Mama that binds her followers together. They pray for her to visit their enemies or tormentors and deliver her kiss to them or their endeavors. They pray for her to guide themselves or loved ones away from her doorway, and for healing from disease and injury. And they pray for her to take the hands of the dear and departed and escort them to peace, so that they do not join the swelling ranks of the Night Malefic. Those with particularly dangerous or shadowy professions tend to turn to her the most for her shelter and care, as their work falls most squarely into her domain.
It is considered to be in poor taste to speak openly and casually of Mama Mort, for this could draw her attention to either the speaker or the listener in unwanted ways. However, her followers have developed an array of symbols, gestures, and tokens to indicate their appreciation of her. These symbols are also a method of communication between her followers, and a way to signal belief, even under the narrowed eyes of Triumverati warlords. Any symbol of death can be used to honor Mama Mort, but the most popular ones are those that have spanned generations such as skulls, night birds of prey, and flames in the dark. When not named directly, she has endless pseudonyms involving night, bones, shadows, cold, health, fortune, and sometimes even an inverse title, such as “The Bright Lady”.
While individualistic in its daily practice, followers of Mama Mort do still come together for certain rituals and celebrations. It is typical for them to celebrate things like births and true deaths, and it is common for followers of Mama Mort to hold a post-resurrection wake with the resurrected to discuss their experience of death and to share stories of previous deaths. Such wakes are sometimes called lullabies, in reference to the idea of death as a benevolent mother using hard lessons to teach her children. But in some parts of the world they are anything but peaceful, and are often filled with drunken revelry.
It is common for all followers to devote at least a single day in the year to honoring the cherished dead. These quiet days, or Leisetage, are typically a day of stories and reflection, where those who still remember gather and offer up their memories of the dead and the lessons that they learned from them. Some followers of Mama Mort have made it their life’s work to collect the best of these stories into beautiful collections of songs or stories, in order to pass them on to future generations.
However, when it comes to supplications and requests of Mama Mort, rituals often turn darker. These may involve the flaying of skin, live sacrifices, intoxicating substances, or dismemberment in return for the gifts from Mama. Such gifts can include protection, requests to heal a sick family member, prayers for a loved one to remain dead and pass on, or even for the lady to level curses upon enemies. But no matter what the gift, it is a common belief that to ask of the lady one must first make a sacrifice- often of pain or items of worth- as Mama Mort does not give her gifts to those who are not willing to pay for them.
It is believed that it is from this cult that the fairly widespread practice of Gothic parents giving their children their first death comes from. In the Outlands there have always been a few smaller warbands and clusters of devotees who have worshipped her, but over recent years they have increased in number. She has her adherents among many of the other cultures, including even the Salgothic, but very vocal or obvious worship is usually targeted and stamped out. Despite this discouragement, her cult endures and continues to grow in strength.
Mama Mort loves death in all its forms, and many who make offerings to her will leave killed animals or even people upon her altar, as well as bones, blood, and skulls. Other offerings include things of historic value such as gems, gold and precious metals, alcohol, tobacco and fragrant herbs.
Those who follow Mama Mort pledge to never bandage someone who is in the throes of their last rites, for all should benefit from the lessons that Mama Mort grants in death. To block someone from receiving her touch is disrespectful at best, and may incur her wrath.
Should the follower break their vow, they suffer from terrible waking and nighttime dreams, and are unable to be stabilized unless they properly atone and make an appropriately impressive sacrifice by the end of the next three event days. Should they die while incurring the displeasure of Mama Mort, it is believed their soul may face additional consequences.
Should the follower accept their punishment and end of the next three event days without rectifying their broken vow, they are no longer considered a follower of Mama Mort, and will be unable gain a benefit from offerings until they have made amends through atonement and a precious offering.
Make an Offering
Mama Mort promises the following gifts to those who leave an offering at her dedicated shrines. Anyone can trigger the shrine by presenting the proper offering and using the prayer ability, by swearing the following Oath:
“Mother, oh Mother. I feel unready, but I know you know what is best for me. One day I will walk into your cold, terrifying embrace, and I will feel peace. These trinkets I bring to you, a child showing their Mother their pitiful collection of useless things. And yet you smile, and tell me you will always be there in the end. One day, I will run to meet you with open arms. That day is not today, but I ask this favor of you.”
Swearing this Oath places them under the Vow of the Mama Mort.
The following must be written into the dedications book as if it was a prayer. The use of an Altar or Shrine spends the user’s daily prayer ability:
Common Offering – By offering a corpse of animal, rusted gears, alcohol, or tobacco, the follower may remove any one fear, terror, or intimidation effect upon them.
Advanced Offering: Shadow Walker – By offering a human body part, two human essences or incense, the follower may form two touchstone memories rather than one at the event, without going above their cap, provided they experience two character building events during the event.
Precious Offering: Death is a Friend of Mine – By offering a broken hourglass, a skull covered in tallow, or something of an owl, the follower may create a blackened clothespin with a tag that if placed on a character, given them Weaken Fortitude until it is rectified or the end of the next three event days, whichever comes first.
Requirements of an Altar
In addition to offerings at a Shrine, one may make a common offering to Mama Mort at an Altar dedicated to her. The Altar must contain a skull carved with one of her symbols, a tallow candle, a representation of her, and a tagged item belonging to someone of personal importance who has died a final death.
Dedicate Shrine to Mama Mort
Dedicate a shrine to Lady Death
Mama Mort, hear this song, when you come for me, may my fear be gone;
May my regrets be few, my soul be light; be gentle as we pass into the night.
Like falling wheat under your scythe, I thank you for my well-lived life.
Offering – The follower gathers a weight of salt and charcoal, as well as enough candles to fulfill the acts.
Focus – Three symbols of Mama Mort and a masterwork artistic representation of Mama Mort are placed upon a suitable surface for a Shrine to death.
Focus – A clay pot is placed before the representation of Mama Mort for future burnt offerings.
Act – During Sunset or Sunrise, the foci are organized upon the Shrine as the worshipper sees fit. The salt and charcoal are combined together to make black salt, which is then poured out upon the entirety of the shrine while repeating the following Liturgy:
Liturgy – “Mama Mort, Lady of Death, I offer this place close to me as a location of honor for you. I thank you for the days I have been given, and the nights I have survived. Though I know that ultimately we all must come home to you, I surrender to your judgment of when that shall be. When I pass through the door, I beg that you find me should I be lost. Hold my hand, that of your devoted child, and show me the way to peace and safety in this world and the next.”
Act – One candle is lit for each touchstone memory that the worshipper possesses, and for each one that is lit, the worshipper speaks the memory, thanks Mama Mort for it, and for the emotions that accompany it.
Creates a Shrine of Mama Mort that may be used to give offerings for effects. Anyone can trigger the shrine, as long as they swear the Oath and use their daily prayer ability.