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High Canon of the Spirits

Overview

The world is vast, and it is said there are as many beliefs as there are individuals. While some religions certainly boast a great number of adherents and a wide range of influence, there are also many smaller cults among humankind. With the world as it is, people tend to cluster and live in population centers that are more isolated than the united empires and kingdoms of the past. This in turn has led to increased variety and local character in worship, for there are many who do not find their answers and solace within one of the major religions. They do not follow the Benalian god, A’aboran, Vecatra, or the Triumverate. Instead, various spirits, totems, and lesser-known deities have secured their devotions.

These gods and cults require much of their followers, but they also offer a more intimate relationship with the divine. Whereas the larger religions tend to have some form of organizational structure, or middlemen in the relationship between the adherent and their deity, these smaller religions can offer more immediate and personal connection. This relationship can vary wildly depending on the cult, but the faithful often claim they have more immediate results in the form of tangible rewards than might be found otherwise- assuming that the proper offerings are made.

Most of these cults do not have rituals in the same way that the major religions do, for many do not have long-established religious texts or gospels. Instead, worship spreads through word of mouth and surreptitious instruction. Specific offerings, known to be favored by a particular deity, are given at a shrine or space dedicated to their cult. In exchange, these devotees are often rewarded by that deity. However, there is also a generally agreed-upon way of accomplishing certain larger ritual actions – such as establishing a shrine or begging forgiveness for transgressions – that follows a particular pattern, regardless of the spirit or cult in question. These are recorded here in the High Canon of the Spirits.

A Cultist of the Spirits may perform rituals of any of the smaller cults, as long as they possess the proper ritual and any vows they have sworn do not forbid them from doing so.

Rank 1 

Divine the Dedication

Commune with the spirits to glean how they are to be worshipped.
Why do you act so small? Do you not know how many desire your attention, your offerings, your worship? You are the universe to these, and your will gives them life.
Constellation: Sahm
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Act: The Cultist finds themselves a place where they can see the sky, but no manmade structures are visible. They cut a circle into the ground with a blade.
Offering: At the center of the circle, the Cultist places an object that is close to the spirit they wish to divine the dedication of. This may be something touched by the spirit, an item that is precious to it, or one of their offerings. If the item is not close to the spirit, or desired by it, the land will grow silent and shadowed and the Cultist will know that their ritual has failed.
Offering: An uncommon or rare herb with the hallucinogenic effect is chewed by the Cultist while looking at the item and thinking of the spirit they wish to reach.
Liturgy: “You may not yet know me, nor I you, but I wish to spread the word of your name to the world. To do so, I must learn your preferences and desires for your shrine and your altar, so that it may be built upon this land and offerings may be made to you. Please, share with me this knowledge so that I may bring you glory.”
Offering: A writing kit is held by the Cultist while they allow themselves to fall into an uninterrupted light sleep for at least ten minutes.

Mechanical Effect
If the ritual is successful, the Cultist will experience a dream during that sleep that will be mystically inked upon a paper in their writing kit. This will serve as a holy writ of a smaller cult, and can be passed along so that someone may dedicate a shrine to the cult.

If a shrine is not dedicated to the deity that granted a copy of their holy writ within two events, the Cultist must make a Divine Wrath roll on the third event, and continue making an additional divine wrath roll every event until a shrine is dedicated to that deity.

Tribunal

Seek atonement from your deity
You think that power will allow you to seize on to happiness, but what you do not know is that happiness is not taken- it is given.
Constellation: Jabal
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Focus – The members of the cult are called together before their shrine or totem by the transgressor. The Cultist and any additional witnesses will stand in a circle around them, and must number no less than seven.
Act – The transgressor confesses their sins to the cult.
Act – The cult takes turns questioning the transgressor until it is determined what sin they have committed, why they committed it, who was impacted by their transgressions and how they plan to avoid committing these transgressions in the future.
Act – Once all of the questions have been answered, the transgressor kneels and calls upon their deity to present them with a challenge to clear the sin from their soul.
Act – The Cultist gives them a trial they must complete in order to make themselves right with themselves, the cult, and/or the deity that they have insulted. If a member of the circle believes that the trial is too easy, they can turn their backs on the transgressor to demonstrate their displeasure. If the majority of the circle turns their back (at least 4 of 7, for example), the rite automatically fails.

Mechanical Effect:
Upon completing the trial, the transgressor loses all Depravity gained from the confessed act. A trial that is too easy will not remove any Depravity. If the transgressor performs sins of the same category before completing his trial, the rite automatically fails.

Rite of Passage

Welcomes a new follower into the embrace of a Spirit.
Close your eyes. Can you feel it? There is a reality beyond this one. There are more things than you can even dream of rippling beneath the surface. To glimpse it is a blessing. To grasp it? It is not something anyone can do alone.
Constellation: Tariq
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Focus – The target kneels before a fire. The Cultists places an item associated with the spirit they are choosing to follow between the target and the fire.
Offering – The Cultist throws an herb with the hallucinogenic quality on the fire.
Act – The Cultist cuts themselves deep enough to cause a wound, and spills their blood on the fire. As they bleed they chant the name the Spirit is known by to attract its attention.
Offering – The target throws one rare or wyrd item associated with the spirit into the fire and will join the Cultists chant.
Liturgy – The Cultist and the target will say together: “Hear our call. We are but mortals, confined to this reality. We beseech thee to accept our humble offering. Open our eyes, so we might see you. Open our ears, so we might hear you. Open our mouths, so we might speak with you and dedicate ourselves to your wisdom. We beseech thee to accept this one as your follower, from this day and the next.”

Mechanical Effect

The Rite does not suffer Vulgarity from any target that is Faith in Self.

The target becomes Faith in Higher Power if they were not already, and becomes a follower of the Spirits. When using Prayer, they must perform a dedication that would please the Spirit that they follow as outlined in the applicable minor cult.

The target may choose to replace one or both of their Cultural Sins with those of Weakness and Dishonor.

Communion of the Spirit

Lead the congregation in communion with your god
Let us finally admit to ourselves that what we were burning in sacrifice was our daylight, our tomorrows, for we saw no more use for the dawn.
Constellation: Ghazal
Orthodoxy: 4
Observances:

Act – The Cultist gathers the participants at the time the sun is between its peak and its setting.
OfferingTwo objects that are sacred to the spirit are gathered for the ceremony.
Liturgy“We ask thee, oh {Name of Spirit}, to sit with us, to look at us, to be with us in this moment. We welcome you into our company with these offerings of {first offering} and {second offering}. Come and see that we are yours.”
Act – The Cultist makes a speech drawing upon the teachings of the cult that lasts no less than 15 minutes. It must have some sort of persuasive argument being made that is stated at some point in the speech, such as “In order for the the whole to succeed, the individual must also succeed” or “A candle loses nothing of itself by lighting another candle, so too should we strive to bring the word to others.”
Act – The Cultist officiates, or has another Cultist officiate, at least one other Rite with zero Vulgarity.
Act – The Cultist offers a parting message to the target congregation, such as a reminder of the “Moral” of the prior speech, or some other holy message, before thanking them for coming and allowing them to depart.

Mechanical Effect
Everyone who arrived before the start of the Communion and remains until the end loses any social or mental effects, including attribute downs, that were placed upon them in the last day.

Funeral Rites

Celebrate the life of someone who has passed on, putting their soul to rest. This is usually the first part of a longer ritual, depending on what kind of culture the individual hails from.
Don’t grieve for those that have moved on! Anything lost comes round in another way, another form. Cry, cry to soothe the pain that breaks apart your spirit, but cry also to water the ground and make way for your love in a new form.
Constellation: Jabal
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Act – The Cultist builds a box long enough to house the body of the target and places it in a location appropriate for the funeral to be conducted. The body is placed inside.
Offering – At least a cask of intoxicant is prepared to be poured upon the body.
Act – The Cultist pours the cask of intoxicant across the body while reciting the deeds that they performed in life.
Act – Each member of the cult approaches the box and drops something in that reminds them of the acts that the deceased performed in life. They may choose to speak on these memories to the gathered cult as they do so.
Act – The intoxicant is lit ablaze within the box.

Mechanical Effect
This creates one item that may be considered to be tied to the soul of the deceased, called a Soul Tie, which may be used in other rituals.

Lead in Chorus

Lead a group in prayer, assuring them that their god is at their back as they pursue a specific goal.
Do not satisfy yourself with the tales, the stories, or the myths. Learn those stories, for they speak of the way that others have made the world in their own image, and grow from them. Carry that into your own life and then make your own myths for others to learn from.

Constellation: Sahm
Orthodoxy: 2
Observances:

Focus – The Cultist joins hands with one or more targets and lifts their heads up to the heavens.
Act – The Cultist announces the name of their deity and praises them loudly, having each participant do the same. Each praise must be different, and there must be no fewer than five different praises for the deity.
Act – The Cultist speaks of the coming trials that the congregation is planning on enduring together.
Act – The Cultist says “[Name of Deity] we call you before us to bless the path we walk; hear our prayer!” three times.

Mechanical Effect
The Cultist and the targets may choose to expend their daily Prayer if they have Faith in Higher Power. If they choose to do so, they have the option to perform two Dedications their god finds appealing. Upon accomplishing both of them, their first expenditure of the Hopeful state granted by Prayer refreshes the Hopeful state, allowing them to use it twice rather than once.

Oathbinding

Join individuals into an oathbound partnership
Ignore those who degrade you, who drag you back into the darkness, who bring sadness and anger. Bind yourselves to those who lift you, who fill that void in your soul that yearns for another.
Constellation: Aldhiyib
Orthodoxy: 5
Observances:

Focus – Two (or more in certain traditions) individuals who wish to be joined in oath are gathered together before the Cultist.
Liturgy“I, [Name & Titles], stand as witness to your oath. Who are you, and what oath do you come here to swear today?”
Act – Each target states their name and titles and the oath they wish to swear.
Act – The Cultist holds up a symbol of their deity and turns to face any gathered witnesses. They restate the oath and ask if there is anyone present who believes that this oath should not be sworn. Answers are waited for, and addressed.
Offering – The Cultist gathers the hands of those who would swear the oath and cuts the hand of each individual with a melee weapon
Liturgy“I call upon to bless this oath and to bind those who swear it. Never shall they prove false to you or each other. I stand witness, as do all before me. So it is done!”
Act – The wounds of each target are pressed together, mingling their blood.

Mechanical Effect
Those who are oathbound are considered to be in an oathbound partnership. If they break the oath they have sworn they are under the Damned state until it can be removed or until they seek atonement for breaking their oath.

If anyone challenges the oathbound partnership during the rite, their challenge must be answered until they back down or are defeated. Otherwise, the rite fails.

Rank 2

Anointment

Promote a follower into the priesthood.
There is a branch in your heart, bare and dry, ready and willing and waiting to be kindled into a roaring flame.
Constellation: Sahalia
Orthodoxy: 6
Observances:

Focus A consenting adult who bears no depravity upon their soul and is faith in Higher Power kneels together with the Cultist in front of fire.
Liturgy“[Name of deity]. Please hear our call. We open our eyes to see you. We open our ears to hear you. We open our minds to speak with you. To honor you. We beseech thee to accept this offering. ”
Act – Both participants cut their hands or forearm. They then coat one of their hands in blood and create a blood print on their body. It is most commonly placed on the face or heart.
OfferingTwo herbs are thrown into the fire.
Liturgy“Spirit of (Insert Spirit Type or Name Here). Hear our call. We open our eyes to see you. We open our ears to hear you. We open our minds to speak with you. We beseech thee to accept this new intermediary between our worlds.”
OfferingOne of the deity’s preferred offerings is sacrificed by casting it into the fire. The exact nature of the sacrifice varies from spirit to spirit.
Liturgy – “We beseech thee to accept our offering. Accept our new intermediary. Speak if our offering displeases you. We implore you. Speak.”
Focus – The Cultist provides the initiate with a copy of the holy writ of Spirits. It takes a downtime and a Blank Book for the Cultist leading the rite to copy their own writ.

Mechanical Effect:
The Cultist elevates the target to become a rank 1 Priest of their particular faith.

Consult the Dead

Consult the wisdom of the dead.
We are drawn to those who know our stories, our fates, our words. Those who are bound to us in such a way cannot be lost, no matter what has passed between us.
Constellation: Jabal
Orthodoxy: 3* (variable, depending on number of questions asked)
Observances:

FocusThe Cultist gathers together all who wish to ask a question of the dead and sits them in a circle.
Offering – A fire is built in the center out of wood, charcoal, or coal.
Focus – A Soul Tie belonging to the dead individual the participants wish to question is held by the Cultist. This honored dead may not have been previously disturbed with questions for at least a fortnight, and must be peacefully at their final rest.
Offering – The spirit of the Soul Tie is summoned by calling out their name, their deeds and titles if applicable, and calling them to appear before those gathered. Meat is thrown onto the fire to bring the dead back.
Act – The Cultist places the Soul Tie before the flames, on a raised surface. A participant who wishes to ask a question of the dead must wound themselves on the hand and place their bleeding hand upon the Soul Tie while asking their question aloud.
Act – The participants repeat the previous act for each member who wishes to ask a question, adding an Orthodoxy for each.  This Act is optional, and if there are no additional participants that wish to ask a question, may be left out.

Mechanical Effect:
This power calls up the spirit of the final dead contained within the Soul Tie to answer the questions to the best of their ability. Answers must be less than ten words in length per question, but all who have gathered can hear the answer. All who wounded themselves on their hand take an Injury to that limb.

Destroy the Defilement

Force an aberration out of the cult
The bone that is broken grows stronger; the tree that is trimmed grows better fruit.
Constellation: Aldhiyib
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Focus – The accused, who is to be judged, and a minimum of three witnesses to their behavior are gathered together before the Cultist.
Act – The Cultist speaks the individual’s name and any titles, and explains to them and those assembled what they stand accused of and the case for their removal from the cult.
Act – The Cultist asks each witness to speak their account of the accused’s behavior.
Act – The Cultist asks if anyone will speak for the individual in their defense. If one volunteer or more speaks up, the Cultist listens to their words and decides with the group (the minimum of three witnesses) whether to move forward with the ritual. If the group cannot come to a unanimous conclusion, the ritual fails.
Act – The Cultist takes a lock of hair from the target and thrusts it into the fire while proclaiming that they have been cut from the cult, that the deity has turned their face from them, and that they are no longer tied by blood, oath, or will.

Mechanical Effect:
All oaths that involve the cult and the target are severed and the target can no longer receive benefits from cult rituals or dedication unless they are brought back into the cult.

Rank 3

Mark of the Blessed

Promote a cultist to a higher rank
Pain and failure are the best teachers. Look to those who have weathered far more storms than you for wisdom.
Constellation: Nahr
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Focus – The members of the cult and the target whose rank is being increased is gathered before a shrine of the deity.
OfferingSix offerings that please the deity are brought to the shrine.
FocusTwo witnesses stand before the shrine, and each speaks of the target’s dedication to the cult. They further describe any noteworthy acts of the faith the target has performed, and any major sacrifices or dedications to the deity.
Act – The target of the ritual swears that they are without depravity. If this is not true, the rite immediately fails.
Act – The Cultist asks the assembled cult if any oppose this promotion. If any of the existing cult do so, the ritual instantly fails.
Act – The Cultist and the target prostrate themselves before the shrine and request that the deity bestows upon the target their blessing and elevate them within the faith.

Mechanical Effect:
This rite promotes the target to the next rank in their cult. The Cultist must be at or higher than the level the target promotes into.