Despite being a Gothic Horror setting, or perhaps because of it, the Demiplane of Dread has many different faiths and religions scattered throughout its misty realms. Most are fairly unimportant, localized and restricted in worship to only those native to certain domains, but a handful have achieved greater power and spread their influence beyond the realms of their birth.
The Church of EzraThe largest and most powerful faith in the entirety of the Demiplane of Dread, the Church of Ezra is devoted to the worship of Ezra, a benevolent female deity who seeks to protect humanity from the forces of darkness. Originating out of Borca, the Church has undergone three major schisms since its founding, resulting in four different established sects of the Church that might almost be different faiths entirely; the Home Faith of Borca, the Pure Hearts of Mordent, the Erudites of Dementlieu, and the Zealots of Darkon. All share the common belief that Ezra is the only benevolent god in the misty realm and that she seeks to protect humanity from the legions of darkness, but how they interpret this common base belief is what defines the different sects.
- Character Alignment: Each of the four sects has a different defining alignment, based on their philosophies and interpretation of Ezra and her teachings.
- The Borcan sect is Lawful Neutral: they believe that everything has a place in a grand, sweeping scheme of destiny, and thusly they seek to support the faithful through the here and now rather than to rock the boat.
- The Mordentish sect is Lawful Good: they believe that redemption is possible for all things, even the monstrous, and that the faithful of Ezra should actively strive to do good works. This makes them the most active sect in terms of ministering to the faithful, healing the sick, and battling evil.
- The Dementlieu sect is True Neutral: they believe that the goddess Ezra has a grand plan for mortals, but their duty should be to untangling and investigating this Grand Scheme, in order to understand what she truly needs humanity to do.
- The Darkon sect is Lawful Evil: they believe that all the world is corrupt, and that very soon (within 20 years), there will be a Time of Ultimate Darkness that will destroy the world. Thusly, it is their sacred duty to not only force people to convert to Ezra, but to destroy the Legions of the Night by any means necessary.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Although various factors, such as Ezra being female, obscure it, the Church of Ezra is the closest thing in the setting to a Christanity equivalent.
- Deity of Human Origin: Most of the sects believe Ezra was a benevolent mortal healer who sacrificed herself to the mists and became a guardian deity. The Erudites are an exception, instead claiming she is a goddess who sacrificed most of her divinity to more closely safeguard humanity.
- Four Is Death: Zigzagged. On the one hand, the Ezran church believes five is a sacred number, and that the Grand Scheme of Ezra will not be made clear until the Fifth Book of Ezra is found/written. On the other hand, the fourth sect of Ezra's church is an apocalyptic creed of doomsdayers, whose fervent belief in the approaching apocalypse makes them prone to truly hideous acts.
- Holier Than Thou: A distinct flaw is that since Ezran doctrine preaches she alone is the only god who actively wants to protect humans, that makes her the only god worth worshipping. This makes them not only somewhat prone to arrogance in their own perceived status as being "saved", it also gives them a theological belief that people need to convert for their own good. It's particularly prominent amongst the Pure Hearts, whose tendency to dismiss other religions and push people to convert is a stain on their otherwise admirable characters, although in their defense they would be horrified at the idea of forcing conversion the way that the Darkonese sect does.
- Mission from God: The Pure Hearts and the Zealots both believe this of themselves. This is why both sects are particularly driven in their evangelism.
- The Missionary: All of the sects of the Ezran church bar the Erudites, who concern themselves more with scholarly studies of prophecy and divination, have a tradition of practicing evangelism.
- Torture Technician: The Zealots of the Darkonese sect secretly capture and torture various monsters, or perceived monsters, in order to find better ways to fight the Legions of the Night. They're also willing to use torture to force people to convert to Ezra.
- Windmill Crusader: Zealots consider their faith to justify harassing and even outright torturing people until they agree to convert to Ezra, and the use of torture and human experiments on everything from actual monsters to political opponents to be warranted in order to safeguard the faithful.
The Church of the MorninglordA benevolent religion that originated from Barovia, the Morninglord is a solar deity who champions hope, perserverance, salvation, compassion and protection. Although the bone-deep cycnicism of the native Barovians keeps the Morninglord's church scattered, it is the closest thing to a "state" religion in Barovia, and is particulaly popular amongst the Gundarakite population.
- Blade on a Stick: The shortspear is the sacred weapon of the Morninglord's church, as it serves as a symbolic representation of a ray of sunlight.
- Character Alignment: With its belief that hope always conquers and that salvation is possible if people are willing to work for it, and the way it calls upon people to liberate the oppressed from their fear and the downtrodden from their misery, all whilst battling evil and warning that justice comes from its follower's will and the torturous workings of fate rather than man's laws, the Morninglord is a solidly Chaotic Good deity.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: A variant, in that it's based on a pre-existing fantasy deity. Originally, Barovia was home to worshippers of Lathander, a benevolent solar deity from Faerun, but Executive Meddling over fears about licensing issues resulted in the church being reworked to a historically muddled "offshoot" of the Lathanderian church.
- Light Is Good: The Morninglord is a solar deity whose portfolio covers hope, perseverance, compassion, protection and salvation. Pretty textbook.
- Path of Inspiration: Zigzagged. The secret history of the Morninglord's church is that it was founded by a vampire... except not only did the vampire do so by accident, but the vampire in question was Jander Sunstar, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire from Faerun who accidentally inspired some Barovians through his own faith in Lathander.
- Vampire Hunter: What the Morninglord's church keeps deeply hidden is that, at its heart, the "Order of the Clarion" is in fact a secret society of vampire hunters known as the Dawnslayers.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Invoked and averted; the Dawnslayers' traditions call for mercy to be shown to afflicted lycanthropes.
The Church of HalaThe most widely spread of faiths in the Demiplane of Dread, but also one of the most obscure, the Church of Hala is a private, secretive faith that devotes itself to using magic in order to do good and subtly guide the people around them towards a brighter tomorrow. This mysterious nature both protects and harms the church, simultaneously keeping their true nature away from those who would seek to crush them if they knew it and generating a sinister aura that fuels the public's distrust.
- Arch-Enemy: Hags, due to religious reasons, are the most hated creatures of darkness known to the Halan faith. Hags return the enmity.
- Character Alignment: As the Church of Hala believes its goals in life are to ease suffering, empower the weak and downtrodden, help those in need, and do whatever it takes to make this possible, it should be of no surprise that the expected alignment of a Halan is Neutral Good. Weirdly, they were changed to a True Neutral faith in 3rd edition despite still retaining this description of their goals.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Halans are essentially a fantasy world version of Wiccans.
- Their use of the term "Weave" and their regard of arcane and divine magic as the same thing is also similar to the Faerunian church of Mystara, Goddess of Magic.
- Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Halans consider it their sacred duty to slay Hags wherever the grotesque fae rear their hideous heads.
- Green Thumb: In 3rd edition, "Plant" is one of the domains available to Halan clerics.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Averted. Hala covens are able to wield a unique blending of traditionally arcane and divine spells. A hypothetical 5th edition update of the church would see it containing a mixture of Favored Soul sorcerers, Theurge wizards, and Arcana clerics.
- Not Helping Your Case: The fact that the Halites actually call their members "witches" and "warlocks" is a huge part of the reason why nobody wants to trust them, given these terms are synonymous with "Black Magic user". It's even lampshaded in Ravenloft Gazetteer V that Wyan of Viktal immediately rejects the idea that he might be misinformed about the Halans with the simple logic that anyone who declares themselves evil must obviously be evil.
The Eternal OrderOriginally the state religion of Darkon, the Eternal Order can best be described as an apocalyptic cult writ large. According to the cult's teachings, the mortal world is a temporary aberration, something stolen from the clutches of the realm of the dead, and eventually the dead will take back what is theirs. However, their attempts to claim the Great Upheaval was one and the same with their mythical Hour of Ascension, blaming it on the weak faith of the Darkonese, shattered the cult's stranglehold on the peoples' minds, and it is now but a shell of its former glory.
- Character Alignment: With a terrifyingly nihilistic philosophy, a belief in commanding obedience through fear and a practice of using blood sacrifice as its rituals, the Eternal Order's being Neutral Evil should be of no surprise to anyone.
- Corrupt Church: The Church was basically a social tool meant to control the population from the beginning, until ultimately it became so corrupt and out of touch with its own congregation that the Darkonese rejected it.
- Sinister Scythe: It goes without saying that the most stereotypical death religion in the Demiplane of Dread considers the scythe to be its sacred weapon.
The Church of the LawgiverThe state religion of Nova Vasa and Hazlan, the Lawgiver is worshipped as a stern patriarch, who has set forth an inflexible and divinely mandated hierarchy of rules and demands the strictest obedience from his mortal followers.
- Character Alignment: Perhaps the most shining example of how religion and alignment are divergent from each other in the Ravenloft setting, a true anomaly in D&D at the time. According to the teachings of his own faith, the Lawgiver is Lawful Good, advocating strict laws that must be obeyed to the letter for the sake of establishing and maintaining cosmic harmony. The reality is that, not only is a strict adherence to the letter of the law with no concern for morality beyond "follow the rules" Lawful Neutral at best, but the sheer power disparity between "high rank" and "low rank" members of the hierarchy, the brutal punishments used to maintain law in the faith, and the sheer cruelty of the faith puts it firmly in Lawful Evil territory.
- Charm Person: In 3rd edition, one of the Domains available to a Lawgiver Cleric was the Bindings domain, which gave increased aptitude in Charm-type spells and added a number of such spells to their list.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: A very unusual variant, in that it's a Crystal Dragon Jesus of a fantasy god! The Lawgiver is essentially a "serial numbers filed off" version of the worship of Bane, Faerun's God of Tyranny. The disconnection between his worshippers and the god himself has allowed the version in the Demiplane of Dread to develop in very different directions.
- As with the Morninglord, this was prompted by Executive Meddling, as in the 2nd edition version of the setting, the Lawgiver was explicitly worship of Bane.
- Epic Flail: Warrior-priests of the Lawgiver wield flails as holy weapons, as a more combat-effective equivalent to the traditional whip.
- Fantastic Racism: The Lawgiver's church may be one of the most outright racist in all of the Demiplane of Dread, and that's saying something.
- Demihumans are considered to be inherently stained by sin, as the church's creation myth claims they are the descendants of humans cursed during the First Judgement for their sins.
- Because of this belief, people whose shapes have been altered are also seen as unclean sinners — this covers not only those who fall victim to transformations like lycanthropy or vampirism, but even to people who suffer disfiguring illnesses as well!
- Finally, this makes tattooing, piercing and other forms of body modification deeply taboo in the Lawgiver's church, as it's seen as willful degeneracy. This has led to issues, given tattooing and piercing is the cornerstone of beauty amongst the Mulani people of Hazlan.
- Fantastic Rank System: Per the writeup given in Ravenloft Gazetteer V, the Church of the Lawgiver falls into the following ranks:
- Himmelsk Nave ("Divine Fist"): the ultimate leader of the church, the highest of all priests.
- Pave: The leader of the Church within a given domain. There are thusly two Paves so far; one for Nova Vaasa, and one for Hazlan.
- Aerkebiskop: The four direct servitors of the Pave in a given domain.
- Biskop: The direct servitors of the Aerkebiskops, who pass on the decisions made by their superiors.
- Dommer: The administrators of the Iron Faith, those who are responsible for making the word of the Biskops into law.
- Kontor: The lay priests of the Lawgiver's Church, who preside over individual fanes and perform most of the actual worship ceremonies.
- Four Is Death: The church's doctrine claims that the Lawgiver will make four great Judgements. On the fourth, he will destroy the world and all within it, casting them into the Hell of Slaves, as punishment for their irredeemable wickedness.
- God of Evil: Although the Lawgiver's faithful like to claim that he is the god of law and order, the reality is that he's the brutal god of tyranny.
- The Heretic: Perhaps the most prominent example is Father Lukas Duremke, a devoutly religious youth from an isolated village who grew up under a self-taught Lawgiver priest who filled his head with the notion that the Lawgiver stood for a just and fair set of laws, one in which leaders are expected to care for the wellbeing of their followers. When he found out that this dogma wasn't the core of church canon, it led to a split. It's noted that he's fortunate to have survived this long. Father Duremke is also a case of Ascended Fanon, having first appeared in the Kargatane's Book of Secrets before being mentioned in the "Important Persons" section of the Arbora sidebar in the 5th Ravenloft Gazetteer.
- Magic Is Evil: The Lawgiver preaches that arcane magic is the ultimate act of chaos and rebellion, making it an inherently evil, corruptive force. Arcanists are, per church doctrine, damned to the Hell of Slaves upon death, no matter how loyal to the church they may be. Of course, priestly magic, which stems from the Lawgiver, is sacred and a divine gift.
- Might Makes Right: It's even one of the doctrines of the church. Hierarchy is all-important to the Iron Faith, and leaders have absolutely no restraints, restrictions or responsibilities. Those in power rule utterly, because that is what they deserve.
- Secret Police: Two-fold, in fact! The Jernsporgsmalers ("Iron Inquisitors") order are a classic example, being the concealed enforcers charged with rooting out heretics and traitors, a role in which they serve as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. However, there's also the Didakti ("Teachers") order, who are a Secret Police who work to weed out the weak and uncertain by tempting members of the Iron Faith into commiting acts of apostasy and "unrighteousness" so the inquisitors can then claim them.
- Small Name, Big Ego: The Lawgiver's doctrine is quite egotistic, portraying the Lawgiver as being either clearly in charge over all other gods (Ezra and Hala are commonly depicted as his lowly concubines, for example) or the only real god, and his worshippers consider themselves the greatest people in the world due to their acceptance of his teachings. The reality is that the Lawgiver is one of the least important faiths to have any real presence. The one domain where it is the state religion, Nova Vaasa, is a land of crushing poverty and squalid cities so lowly that even Barovians look down upon it. In the only other domain to make that claim, Hazlan, everybody knows it's a purely political move to help reinforce the slave culture there, and that the church will be swept away in an instant if Hazlik grows irritated with it, and the local culture embraces many things that are outright sins in the Lawgiver's doctrine, further emphasizing their superficial attachment to it. Meanwhile, they've made absolutely no progress in converting anyone anywhere else, because no other domain is willing to worship so clearly a tyrannical god.
- The Theocracy: Zigzagged. The Church of the Lawgiver would like to rule over one of these, but their laws forbid them from overthrowing a ruler, as this would subvert the Divine Right of Kings that is fundamental to their faith. Instead, they simply try to convince rulers to convert to their worship.
- Too Dumb to Live: Averted. Although his peers would like him to become a more hardline enforcer of religious norms, the Hazlani Pave Vatsisk realizes that persecuting tattooed people would drive away his congregation and preaching the damnation of wizardry would not only achieve that, but would also attract the ire of Hazlik, who only tolerates the presence of the Lawgiver's church in his domain on a whim. Faced with being exterminated by a high level wizard, he's chosen to settle on a more moderate approach, and is in fact trying to convince the Himmelsk Naeve to remove the prohibition against arcane magic.
- Unequal Rites: Arcane magic is evil and corrupt, whilst divine magic is pure and holy. Building on that, the other gods are at best powerless and merely providing power on the Lawgiver's behest, at worst they are demons serving Mytteri.
- Whip It Good: The whip is the Lawgiver's sacred weapon.
- Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Inverted. Despite being only one of two domains where the Lawgiver is the state religion, Hazlan is ruled by a wizard, actively seeks to train wizards, and makes heavy cultural use of tattooing, all of which are forbidden by Lawgiver custom.
MytteriThe Satanic figure in the Lawgiver's theology, Mytteri is the god of anarchy, rebellion, chaos and hedonism. By extension, this also makes him the god of arcane magic, which is seen as the ultimate corruption of reality's god-granted laws.
- Blank Slate: We actually don't know much about this god at all; mentioned only in passing in the expanded covering of the Lawgiver's church in Ravenloft Gazetteer V, all that is given canonically is that Mytteri is the archenemy of the Lawgiver, that his name means "rebellion", and that the Lawgiver's faithful define him as a false divinity of nihilism and solipsistic malignancy, driven by self-interest and self-gratification, and at war with the natural order.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Going hand and hand with the Lawgiver being a twisted version of Bane, Mytteri is strongly implied to be a distorted version of Mystra, goddess of magic in the world of Forgotten Realms and one of the greatest enemies of Bane in that setting.
- Character Alignment: Indeterminate, and rendered particularly complex because the Lawgiver's faithful perceive themselves as Lawful Good and thusly portray Mytteri as Chaotic Evil, due to being the Lawgiver's antithesis. The reality is that, due to the Lawgiver's tyrannical Lawful Evil nature, a truly antithetical Mytteri would in fact be Chaotic Good. Most fans of the game agree on portraying him as Chaotic Neutral, as not only is this closest to the "spirit of rebellion, chaos and anarchy" portrayal, it also by the rules of 3rd edition allows for clerics all over the Chaotic spectrum.
- God of Evil: Is held up as this by the Lawgiver... who is himself a God of Evil. Whether he's a legitimate case of Evil vs. Evil (specifically Evil Versus Oblivion) or is a goodly god being slandered by the divine equivalent of a Villain with Good Publicity is left up to individual DMs to decide.
- The Hedonist: Self-gratification is literally the core of what he's all about, and that's what makes him both evil in the eyes of the Lawgiver and appealing to the rebellious.
- Magic Is Evil: The fact that Mytteri is the creator of magic and the patron of wizards is one of the things that marks him as a God of Evil.
- Satan is Good: Zigzagged. On the meta level, people are certainly inclined to view him as a good guy, seeing as how he's opposed to the blatant tyranny of the Lawgiver. In-Universe, however, his reception isn't quite so warm, mostly because of his connections to arcane magic, which is feared by almost everybody across the Realm of Mists.
BelenusThe only deity with a worse identity crisis than Ezra, Belenus is worshipped in three different domains, each of which worships him in its own way with nothing in common with its fellows. In Forlorn, he is worshipped as the benevolent sun god of his pantheon, the purest form of his worship. In Tepest, he is worshipped as the ruler of the gods, with a religion sliding deeper into henotheism. Finally, in Nidala, the mad fallen-paladin Elena Faithhold has established Belenus as a brutal and opressive monotheistic religion.
- Burn the Witch!: Zigzagged. As the Tepest entry in Ravenloft Gazetteer V makes clear, not all victims of the inquisition end up being burned. Those who are convicted of being a fealltoir ("fey consort") are hanged, stoned or drowned, then buried at the crossroads. Only those actively convicted of being fey or witches (which are practically interchangeable in Tepestani beliefs) are burned, and that's because they believe only fire will kill a fey and keep it from returning — which is another area of their ignorance, as Shadow Fey immortality can only be extinguished by sunlight and necromantic spells.
- Church Militant: All three of the different faiths count as this, but all put different spins on the trope.
- In Forlorn, the church fights only to defend itself against the depredations of the local goblyns, an Always Chaotic Evil race of twisted, savage, cannibalistic monsters.
- In Tepest, the Belenusian Inquisition seeks to protect its people from the scourge of fey and witches, but its own ignorance makes it more of a danger to the innocent than to those it seeks to fight.
- In Nidala, the church brutally seeks to fight both perceived heretics and those who don't worship Belenus, actively seeking conversions through conquest.
- Fantastic Racism: The Tepest church is quite infamous for its hatred of fey and witches... as well as its inability to really define what either is beyond "a being with an innate ability to perform magic". Elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings are all likely to be mistaken for faerie monsters in this domain.
- In Name Only: An In-Universe example; the faith of Belenus as practiced in Nidala is a twisted mockery of itself that has nothing save some surface aspects in common with the original worship of Belenus.
- Knight Templar: Although the Rowan Druids of Forlorn are quite militaristic, they pale in comparison to the moral crusading inquisitors of Belenus to be found in Tepest and Nidala.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Tepestani Inquisition thinks of itself as a wise guild of the only people clever enough to stand a chance of defeating the evil fey folk. The reality is that they're a bunch of ignorant fools whose vaunted "knowledge" is nothing more than an amalgamation of ancient, useless superstitions and total nonsense.
- They're even seen as this In-Universe. During the Tepest chapter in Ravenloft Gazetteer V, the mysterious "S" routinely mocks the inquisition's ineptitude and misplaced confidence in their own thoroughly inaccurate misconceptions. The preface to Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey continues a thorough dismissal of Wyan of Viktal's beloved Malleus Umbricum as a valid tool for fighting the Shadow Fey, assuring readers that it is a bunch of falsehoods and bad research that will simply lead to them murdering innocent people.
- Light Is Good: Belenus is both a sun god and a benevolent, caring patron deity who just wants people to be happy.
- Light Is Not Good: Unfortunately, despite worshipping the Neutral Good sun god Belenus, the churches of Belenus in Tepest and Nidala are full of self-righteous, Holier Than Thou, murderous inquisitors.
- Moral Guardians: The Nidalan inquisitors focus predominantly on attacking moral impurity. The Tepestani inquisitors have some inclinations in this direction, but are officially focused only on fighting the fey and those willing to ally with the fey.
- Torture Technician: It goes without saying that where you have an inquisition, they will use torture to achieve what they want.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Tepestani Inquisition really does want only to keep its people safe from the fey, especially since the Shadow Fey are roughly divided between "actively enjoy hurting mortals for fun" and "regard humans as funny animals to play with as they will". The Inquisition's leader, Wyan of Viktal, is actually Chaotic Good in alignment and doing everything he can to try and keep the Inquisition from going off the rails and winding up a Corrupt Church, a struggle he may not win.
- Witch Hunt: The Tepestani Inquisition are constantly seeking out the fey and those who are aligned with the fey, mostly on the basis of gossip and rumor.
The Celtic PantheonBelenus' divine kindred; only the domains of Forlorn and Tepest acknowledge their existence, and in Tepest, their faith is becoming increasingly marginalized, mostly due to the growing prominence of the Inquisition.
The pantheon consists of Arawn, Belenus, Brigantia, Daghda, Diancecht, Math Mathonwy and Morrigan in both domains, with Lugh and Manannan mac Lir being worshipped exclusively in Tepest.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: They're literally the gods of the Celtic pantheon of Earth being worshipped in a fantasy setting.
- Dark Is Not Evil:
- In the Tepestani faith, Lugh, Daghda and Diancecht are all perceived as being creators of the fey. Despite this, they are not regarded as evil gods, instead being perceived as merely dark, somewhat simple-minded deities whose patronage is borne not out of malice but out of a misguided love for their dangerously flawed creations, even in the face of the fey's wrongdoings against humanity.
- Diancecht in particular is held up as the god of both sickness and healing; having created disease by accident, he is horrified at what he created and now seeks to make amends by curing that which he unleashed.
- Everybody Hates Hades: Arawn, the god of death and the dead, is the only deity besides Morrigan, goddess of strife & war, who is worshipped to placate them rather than to sincerely honor them.
- Gender Flip: Daghda and Arawn are perceived as being female in the Tepestani faith, whereas in Forlorn (as elsewhere in the multiverse), they are worshipped as males.
- God of Evil: Arawn, Morrigan and Math Mathonwy all hold this role in different ways in both domains where they are worshipped. Arawn is the lord of death and the dead, Morrigan is the bringer of strife and war, and Math Mathonwy is the master of Black Magic and secrets.
- God of Good: Brigantian and Manannan mac Lir are seen as the most benevolent and goodly of gods after Belenus in Tepest, which makes their faith the most prominent after the sun god's. The former is worshipped as Belenus' consort, goddess of nature, farming and artwork, whilst the latter is honored as lord of fish and thusly the patron of Tepest's fishermen.
The Ancestral Choir of KartakassA small cultic sect unique to the domain of Kartakass, the Ancestral Choir is a semi-animistic ancestor-worship religion, preaching that the souls of dead humanoids and animals alike go to their respective heavens; humans to the titular choir, where they sing the world into shape forever more, and animals to den Mork Skov, "the Dark Forest", to do as they please forever more.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Like the Morninglord and the Lawgiver, the Ancestral Choir is another Forgotten Realms deity with the serial numbers filed off; prior to Executive Meddling over possible licensing issues, it was the church of Milil.
- The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: The crime of "being ignored for eternity" mightn't sound like much, but, in a lampshade hanging, the author of Ravenloft Gazetteer I points out that the sheer pride of the Kartakans means that this is virtually the same as being condemned to The Nothing After Death.
- Savage Wolves: Not surprisingly, given it grew up in a domain filled with wolves (and, although they don't realize it, wolfweres), wolves have a very prominent place in the Ancestral Choir as an evil force. Most notably, the Choir's theology claims that the spirits of wolves seek to use the Dark Forest as an opportunity to hunt humans forever, so human souls must evade the attentions of the engelulve ("angel wolves") to join the Choir or else they will spend their afterlives being chased through the Dark Forest.
The Wolf God of VerbrekA malevolent deity worshipped by werewolves, this dark cult is most powerful in the domain of Verbrek, where its high priest is the Darklord, but werewolves throughout the southwestern Core have been known to worship it.
- Character Alignment: Glorifying in the act of killing for the sake of killing, and demanding its followers both deny pity or remorse and be ruthless enough to slay their own kindred for being weak, the Wolf God is a thoroughly Chaotic Evil monster.
- Fantastic Racism: Only wolves and werewolves matter in the Wolf God's eyes; all others are prey to be devoured or rivals to be slain.
- God of Evil: He's the patron of evil werewolves and exhorts them to be the most monstrous and savage beasts they can.
- Savage Wolves: Considers this the epitome of what wolves should be, and exhorts his followers to act like it.
Yutow the PeacebringerThe patron god of Valachan, the lunar deity Yutow is the center of a henotheistic religion, worshipped for his willingness to sacrifice himself to save humanity and who is believed to now watch over them all from the moon.
- Character Alignment: With a dogma that proclaims Yutow mandates all things that happen and that the way of things should never be questioned, even if this means suffering trials, Yutow is a thoroughly Lawful Neutral deity.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being a lunar deity and appearing in the form of a man tortured to near-death, Yutow is a protector god who seeks to guard all who will prove worthy of his devotion.
- Unequal Rites: The Valachani "pantheon" consists of Yutow — the sole god, for he alone has power over life and death — and a great chorus of nature spirits, whom the worthy will join upon death. Other gods, according to official doctrine, are falsehoods; spirits getting up to mischief, or fools who have misunderstood and misinterpretated the truth of Yutrow. Needless to say, this wins the Valachani few favors in domains beyond their own, only cementing their reputation as ignorant fools who take pride in their own ignorance. Furthermore, arcane magic is seen as the height of the most unnatural forces, a blasphemy that cannot be redeemed.
The Akiri PantheonRevered in the Amber Wastes cluster, the Akiri Pantheon is the ancient faith of that land. Although decried by the god-king Diamabel, who seeks to stamp it out as paganistic heresy, its worship still continues in secret even in his kingdom of Pharazia, whilst the nomads of the desert openly practice the faith of their forefathers, rejecting Diamabel's creed in all ways that matter.
- Character Alignment: As per the rules for gods in the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, all have an official alignment. Ra is a Lawful Good god, Osiris is a Neutral Good god, and Set is a Lawful Evil god.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Essentially the Ancient Egyptian pantheon converted to use in a fantasy setting. The three dominant gods are Ra, Osiris and Set.
- Dark Is Evil: The malevolent Set, god of deceit, destruction and the savage side of nature, is a dark and sinister power.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being the God of the Underworld, Osiris is a benevolent and caring power, responsible for protecting the souls of the dead from being defiled, as well as creating the lifegiving oases that sustain the mortal population of the Amber Wastes.
- God of Evil: As the lord of deceivers, bringer of violent weather and master of predatory, poisonous or monstrous beasts, Set serves this role in his pantheon.
- Light Is Good: God of the Sun and ruler of all things, Ra is seen as a benevolent and wise power.
The Rajian PantheonThe vast and complicated pntheon of the denizens of Sri Raji is all but impossible for outsiders to grasp, although two deities in particular stand out; Tvashtri, God of Invention and Industry, and Kali, Goddess of Death and Creation.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Basically the Hindu pantheon converted to use in a fantasy setting, with focus on Tvashtri and Kali.
- Dark Is Evil/Dark Is Not Evil: Kali, also known as the Black Mother, swings between the tropes, being at once a malevolent death-goddess but also a caring healer and bringer of life.
- God of Evil: Kali's status as this zigzags. Although an officially Chaotic Evil goddess who demands a daily Human Sacrifice, she's also a life-bringing goddess whose portfolio includes healing.
ZhakataThe state religion of G'Henna, Zhakata is a fearful demon-god who exists in two forms; the rapacious, eternally hungry Devourer, who is appeased with sacrifices of food and suicidal acts of fasting, and the mythical Provider, a benevolent aspect of the god who will one day come to G'Henna and reward his faithful by making their land bountiful and fruitful. Alas, Zhakata's high priest, Yagno Petrovna, has declared that the Provider does not exist and that worshipping this aspect of Zhakata is heresy.
- Character Alignment: With his brutal demands for constant sacrifices, authoritarian ways, strict theocratic rule, harsh commandments, and willingness to see his worshippers suffer for no good reason, Zhakata is well and truly deserving of his Lawful Evil alignment.
- God of Evil: Is a god of destruction, starvation, famine and slow, wasting death. But, at the same time, he's also a ferocious protector of that which is his, which gives his clerics access to the Protection domain in 3rd edition.
- Human Sacrifice: Occasionally demands this as the whim inspires him. Additionally, some of his more fanatical followers will occasionally commit suicide through starvation in order to win his favor.
- Lean and Mean: Any Cleric of Zhakata will be this, given he requires a Lawful Evil, Lawful Neutral or Neutral Evil alignment to worship and he views obesity as an act of sacrilige, meaning that even his Clerics will be slightly built.
- Path of Inspiration: The sad, horrific truth of the matter is that Zhakata does not exist. He's a delusion cooked up in the fevered brain of the insane Yagno Petrovna, whose willingness to make people suffer and die horribly in homage of a god that he knows isn't real caused his ascendance to the position of Darklord.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Those who fast to death in Zhakata's name may think they are committing a Heroic Sacrifice, but the fact that the god is nothing but a fiction, even by the standards of the Demiplane of Dread, means that their efforts are in vain.
- The Theocracy: Zhakata's priesthood rules over G'Henna with an iron fist, and there is no secular authority.
The LoaAn animistic religion native to the swampy domain of Souragne, the Loa are the spirits of nature, each specific Loa governing a specific aspect of the world.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: They're essentially a Gothic Fantasy version of the real-world religion of Voodoun.
The Divinity of MankindNot a religion but a secular philosophy, the Divinity of Mankind is an intellectual faith dedicated to advancing the spiritual, mental and physical development of its practitioners. It claims that a soul reincarnates endlessly, and by mastering the three aspects of body, mind and heart through sufficient moderation, one can ultimately ascend to a divine state. This faith is detailed in the Survey of the Zherisian Expedition, a fan netbook from the Fraternity of Shadows website.
- Character Alignment: The faith's practice of seeking moderation and balance in three aspects, and advocating rationality over emotion, pushes it towards a Neutral alignment — technically, it more accurately fits a True Neutral alignment, but the focus on discipline bumps it up to Lawful Neutral.
- The Beacon of Goodness, a splinter sect gaining in popularity, instead has a Lawful Good alignment, because it advocates that a good soul is by its nature an evolved soul. After all, logically, there can be no pretense of moderation in theft, murder or similar crimes, so moderation therefore is based on an underlying foundation of virtue.
- Fantastic Racism: Having sprung up in a domain populated almost entirely by humans, the Divinity has... issues placing non-human sapients into their beliefs. Most assert that non-humans are aberrations, or at least inferior to humans on the pyramid of spiritual progress.
ErlinWorship of this malevolent trickster and god of death was the state religion of Gundarak until Duke Gundar perished and his lands were absorbed into Barovia. Although it was almost extinguished, the faith has seen a surprising revival due to young, rebellious Gundarakites flocking to use it as a symbol of national pride.
- An Axe to Grind: His sacred weapon is the battleaxe.
- Character Alignment: As a malicious trickster who enjoys causing suffering, having created death as the ultimate trick he could play, but also a scatterbrain who often can't be bothered to do his divine duty of looking after the dead (which is where the undead come from), Erlin thoroughly deserves his Chaotic Evil alignment.
- Everybody Hates Hades: And he thoroughly deserves it, being both a death god and a huge Jerkass.
- Religion Is Magic: A rare aversion; prior to Gundarak's conquest, Erlin's priests actually couldn't cast magic. However, a "Dread Possibility" (dungeon master's option) is presented in that a cabal of genuinely empowered Erlin clerics is starting to form amongst the Gundarakite rebels.
- The Trickster: A particularly malicious and cruel one, who takes the most delight in jests and japes that make people suffer or die.