- "Manann be praised, for he is the breeze to take us out,
- Manann be praised, for he is the wave to bring us home,
- Manann be praised, for he is the food to feed us,
- Manann be praised, or his be the wrath that drowns us.''"
- —Manannite Prayer[2a]
The Cult of Manann is most active along the western border of the Empire, where the waters of the Sea of Claws lap against the rocky shores or mingle with the powerful rivers that drain the realm. Manann's cult focuses on practical matters relating to the sea and its members are sought after as navigators, pilots, and able-bodied sailors, for having a priest of Manann on your vessel is considered very good luck.[1a]
Like the ocean, Manann is a fickle and touchy deity, who can turn on the faithful and non-believers alike with little to no warning. Because the Empire is so dependent on its navy and vital waterways, the cult enjoys enduring respect and tolerance, and many believe without it and the intercession by its priests on the behalf of the common people of the Empire, the waters of the world would swallow up the land to fill Manann’s appetite. No-one loves Manann—they fear his wrath, and his worship is given to placate his volatile nature. However, his priests admire Manann’s strength, ferocity, and independence.[1a]
- "Manann would rather be cursed at with the most horrible of words rather than not be spoken of at all."
- —Gunter Sheidhaal, Stevedore of Marienburg[1b]
Although by no means an affectionate, benevolent or merciful God, Manann nevertheless inspires fervent devotion in his followers. He can best be described as both angry and capricious, appeased by worshipers rather than praised or adored. This is reflected in the behaviour of the faithful, who possess the duel responsibilities of receiving appeasement on behalf of others, and of doing the appeasing themselves.[1a]
Anyone who steps foot upon a boat, even a modest ferry, offers up a prayer to Manann—those who forget bring serious doom upon their heads. The priests of Manann play up this rite, making them indispensable in the minds of the people. They commonly offer words of grim portent as it involves the sea, terrifying non-priests who make generous donations to the cult to stay Manann’s anger. The priests of the other cults sometimes mutter about the rising power and influence of the Cult of Manann, as it slowly intertwines with commerce and political power—a fact the Cult of Handrich mentions whenever and wherever it can.[1a]
The shores of the Empire are lined with shrines, altars, and temples, guaranteeing that a worshipper is not too far from one of Manann’s holy sites. These shrines are always attended to by a priest or initiate, who offer insight into the weather and perform rites to see if a venture on the sea is risky or not. Most priests, however, spend their time on boats and ships. Their services are in great demand, and owners of these vessels pay handsomely to have a priest on board to ensure a safe, speedy voyage. Priests rarely tie themselves to a single vessel—members of other cults decry this as a way for their cult to keep their numbers in short supply, thus increasing demand and the price to “hire” priests. This claim is vehemently denied by the cult, of course, which simply makes the argument that Manann’s blessing cannot be concentrated on just a handful of ships and captains.[1a]
The Cult of Manann plays a vital role in the shipping and trade of the Old World, and many rulers who have held ambitions across the seas have found their ambition curtailed because they did not pay the proper respects to the cult. Enemies of the cult would say the cult abuses its position as custodian of the seas, holding access to the sea to ransom and putting a stranglehold on trade, but everybody pays the tithes asked—to not do so would to invite Manann’s wrath. The cult is an exceptionally powerful force in Marienburg, where the matriarch and the high temple wield a great amount of political power. In the Empire, the cult is altogether less powerful, for the Empire has less access to the sea trade that is the lifeblood of its wayward province. Nonetheless, in places the cult does command a great deal of respect and power—up the Reik, especially between Altdorf and the sea, where the people are heavily dependent on the trade the river brings, and along the storm lashed northern coast where the locals risk their lives on the Sea of Claws for their livelihood.[1a]
For all of Manann’s capricious violence and tempestuous nature, when convinced to intercede on the behalf of mortals, the effects are spectacular. In recent days, during the last Chaos Incursion, the forces of the Ruinous Powers swept through Ostland, razing coastal temples and slaughtering worshippers and priests alike. Yet amidst this disaster, a miracle was said to have happened—the temple of Manann at Salkalten was miraculously spared the wrath of the bloodthirsty hordes, for Manann sent a tremendous storm to cover the city, and force the approaching armies to change course and move inland. The astounding intercession filled the temple of Salkalten with the faithful, newly converted worshippers mixing with refugee clergymen. The cult has no strong allies amongst the other God-cults, but nor does it have any enemies except for cults of Stromfels, to whom the cult extends no mercy. So long as priests of other faiths pay proper respect to the sea—and the appropriate tithes to the temple, of course—Manann has no quarrel with them.[1a][1b]
- "He is greedy. Rapacious, even! Throwing sacrifices to him is like tossing gold and offerings into a bottomless pit. There is a reason that the sea is so vast—it is the belly of Manann, the everhungry."
- —Ingrid Schumer, Priestess of Shallya[1b]
The Cult of Manann believes that to set foot in his domain is to place oneself at his mercy. His priests know Manann to be capricious and unpredictable, and so they must constantly placate him lest his mood turn to violence, with potentially fatal consequences.[1b]
Manann’s followers believe any one of a thousand things and more could anger their God, and as a result are highly superstitious, their worship reduced to a near-constant stream of seemingly irrelevant rituals, observations, and acts of attrition. This is doubly so when at sea, when worshippers are directly at the mercy of Manann—otherwise rational followers willingly submit to painful acts of penance or bay for the blood of those who have committed the slightest of sins. Common acts of attrition include flagellation with a cat o’ nine tails, suspension from the mast or the bow of the ship, a ducking into the sea or, for the worst offences, keelhauling.[1b]
As well as taking great care not to anger the Sea God, followers also offer prayers and sacrifices to him to gain his favour. The most common way this is done is in the telling of the many mythic exploits of Manann, for such flattering tales are said to please him and appeal to his ego. There are countless such tales in existence, many of which are compiled in the eleven holy volumes known as the Tales of the Albatross.[1b]
Signs of Manann
- "Swimming with Manann"
- —Proverb meaning "Drowned"[1d]
The signs of Manann are intricately tied with the same gestures used by sailors. The sailor’s salute of a flat hand held to the temple, then quickly moved away is used as a sign of respect by sailors towards their officers—this works as well when offering veneration to Manann. When a cultist faces bad luck, he does this with both hands, sweeping them down in a curl, and ending with his palms face up by his waist and his face cast down at the ground. Cultists in deep prayer sometimes hold an arm above their head with the index finger extended, feeling the wind in hopes of divining Manann’s will—it is also considered a test of strength and will to see how long the cultist can keep his arm elevated. Cultists of Manann often clap to show disapproval of something, slapping their hands together to reflect the tumultuous seas.[1f]
- "I’ve said all my prayers, offered sacrifices and paid my tithes. My ship is in Manann’s hands now."
- —Walter van Hoik, Marienburger Captain[1b]
Manann is a notoriously fickle God, and an action which may have placated him yesterday might anger him today. Below are some commonly held strictures, although every priest is likely to follow a subtly different selection of them at any given time.[1b]
- Obey your captain.[1b]
- It is forbidden to harm or kill an albatross.[1b][3a]
- Do not whistle aboard a ship or within a temple.[1b][3a]
- Whistle gently when sailing on a ship, for it ensures a good headwind.[1b]
- Do not embark on a voyage on the thirteenth day.[1b]
- Nails and hair must not be cut at sea—they are an offering unworthy of Manann.[1b]
- Do not look back to port once you have departed.[1b]
- Do not throw stones at a ship or into the sea.[1b]
- Do not say the word “drowned” whilst at sea.[1b]
- Should you fall overboard, give Manann gold and he will spare you.[1b]
- Wine poured over the deck of a ship will bring good luck, wine poured overboard will bring ill fortune.[1b]
- The first fish caught each day must be thrown back as an offering to Manann.[1b][3a]
- A cat onboard a ship brings good luck.[1b]
- A cat onboard a ship brings bad luck.[1b]
- A woman onboard brings bad luck.[1b]
- A naked woman aboard a ship calms the sea (hence why so many ships have figureheads in the form of naked women).[1b]
- A silver coin placed under the mast ensures good luck.[1b]
- A silver coin thrown into the sea brings death.[1b]
- A silver coin and a fish should be offered to every Manannite holy place you approach.[3a]
- A gold coin thrown into the sea pleases Manann.[1b]
- A goat hung from the mast of a ship ensures a safe voyage.[1b]
- A beastman hung from the mast of a ship ensures a safe voyage.[1b]
- Do not tolerate the worship of the Shark God (this is the exception to the above rules–this stricture is followed by all worshippers of Manann).[1b][3a]
- "In me experience, the Lord o’ tha Tydes is as fickle as an Averheim matron. Ya haff ta court him, give him gifts, and speak sweetly. But one misstep and yer in fer a world of hurt. Yar!"
- —Black Amos, Pirate[1b]
A penance from Manann is often related to sailing or the ocean: it may be a maritime pilgrimage, test of sailing, or an expedition against the servants of Stromfels.[3a] However, probably the most severe penance of Manann is keelhauling.[1c]
Keelhauling is a severe punishment or attrition reserved for the worst sins committed unto Manann. The sinner or penitent is tied to a rope that loops under the ship, and dropped into the sea. He is then pulled across the keel of the ship and up the other side, in the case of lesser offences, or pulled the length of the ship from the bow to the stern for the severest of sins or crimes. At the very least the barnacles covering the hull of the ship will rip his clothes and skin to shreds. At worst, the victim drowns, bleeds to death, or is ripped apart by ravenous sharks.[1c]
- "You know the old superstition about not looking back at port? Well the same goes for Marienburg—so long as we stare out to sea and don’t look back, Manann will protect us."
- —Gunther van der Luip, Marienburger Fisherman[1b]
Those interested in becoming a priest of Manann almost always begin as a sailor, fisherman, or other vocation closely tied to water in some way. In rare cases, a “landlubber” may feel the distant, but overpowering, call of Manann and travel far to serve him. Those interested in becoming a Priest must seek out one willing to act as a mentor, and typically strict taskmaster. In addition to learning the wisdom, edicts, and will of Manann, the initiate must also prove his skills as a sailor, stevedore, pilot, or other vocation tied closely with the sea or river. In most cases, the acolyte “studies” for many years under the watchful eye of their mentor, performing various odd-jobs and tasks that seem to have nothing to do with the lore of Manann, and come to believe they are little more than an indentured servant. However, it’s the usual case that when confronted with this situation, the mentor demands the initiate use these skills in the face of adversity, thus proving the value of what they have learned.[1b]
As the final act to prove one is ready to become a priest, the mentor ties the acolyte to the mast of a ship or to the edge of a pier prior to the coming of a massive storm. The would-be priest, lashed so he can do little more than move his head, must endure the full wrath of the storm, followed by another full day in the sun (or chill wind) of its aftermath. During the storm itself, initiates often wear copper crowns in imitation of Manann’s own. Should the God deem these individuals unworthy of wearing the crown, and therefore unfit for his service, he will strike them down in a bright flash of anger.[1b][1c]
Those who survive know this rite as going before the mast, coming to understand the full wrath, capriciousness, cruelty, and majesty that is Manann. The absence of such a storm does not put off the priests. Instead, they strap the candidate to the front of the ship to serve as a figurehead. Even though hardened by the harsh training regimen, many acolytes perish in this final test, and many more, though they survive, abandon their course, turning their backs on the sea and its fickle God forever.[1c]
- "It’s not that Manann is evil. He is not of course, despite what the yokels might claim. No, Manann is fickle, capricious, and temperamental—much like the weather, in fact."
- —Father Roubet Heinstern, Priest of Verena[1b]
Manann is not an affectionate, benevolent or even merciful God. He demands sacrifices, and in exchange, he stays his hand and reigns in the tempestuous seas. His violent nature is reflected in his cultists, who must constantly abase themselves to appease their angry God and keep his legendary temper at bay. Manann’s priests act as intermediaries, appealing for calm waters, strong trade winds, and bountiful seas on behalf of worshippers.[1c]
Cultists of Manann are typically grizzled ex-sailors, marines, and the occasional reformed pirate—those that have not had some close tie to the sea or waters of the Empire are extremely rare, as this is not a religion that holds much appeal to others. They are practical people who give praise, honour, and worship to Manann as they go about their daily business, fixing rigging, catching fish, or plying the waters that surround the Empire. Cultists of Manann know their God is as unpredictable as the sea itself, often lending them a fatalistic attitude towards life.[1c]
Manann’s devout usually do their worship while wearing common clothing. However, during holidays or times of prayer, they don blue-green, greenish-blue, or bluish-grey robes, sometimes trimmed with a wave pattern in blue and white. Talismans of waves, albatrosses, or Manann’s five-tined crown are regular adornments. As befitting those used to living life on the sea, cultists are often covered in tattoos and piercings. High priests in particular are practically covered from head to toe in ink and jewellery.[1c]
When not at sea, cultists spend their days preparing for when they can go back out again—few venture far from large bodies of water, and most become irritable and twitchy if they can’t smell the salt of the ocean or hear the cries of gulls in the wind. Most look down on those that have never ventured on water before, but know that their services are often required to provide safe passage for others. The ideal priest is well-suited to a life at sea, equipped with stout sea legs, an iron gut primed for rum. He is brave, practical, and fully aware of his place in the larger scheme of things, fully aware that the wrath of Manann could strike in a thunderous explosion at any time.[1c]
- Elsa Udermar - A pirate-turned Priestess of Manann
- Captain Aber Walblatt - Famous member of the Knights Mariner
- "There’ll be a feast for Manann this night"
- —Proverb meaning "A nasty storm is coming"[1d]
The Cult of Manann has little in the way of a formal hierarchy, all of its temples acting in semi-autonomous groups largely left to their own devices. The leader of the cult is known as the matriarch or patriarch—the current matriarch is Camille Dauphina. The matriarch is the sole high priestess of Manann, and all other priests in the cult owe her direct fealty. The seat of the cult is in Marienburg, and all other temples are subservient to the high temple there, paying it an annual portion of their tithes, and sending a small percentage of initiates there to receive greater training.[1c]
The matriarch leads the high temple directly, along with the Order of the Albatross and several of the lesser orders, but leaves the administration of all other temples to the consensus of the local priests. In times of internal or external crisis, the matriarch may take a firmer hand in the leadership of her cult, but this is very rare and most of the time the rest of the cult is left to run its own affairs, collecting tithes, training initiates, and interpreting stricture themselves. Only when a disagreement cannot be resolved locally is the matriarch called upon to adjudicate matters.[1c]
The cult is very wealthy as a result of tithes and dues offered to them by sailors and merchants, but this wealth is very unevenly distributed. A percentage of all tithes offered to the cult is given to the high temple, but little of the wealth accrued by the cult in Marienburg trickles down to the rest of the cult, creating a great disparity.[1c]
There are many orders within the cult, most of which are controlled directly by the matriarch. Foremost of these is the Order of the Albatross, an order that has played a significant role in making both the matriarch and the high temple very influential indeed.[1c]
The main divide within the Cult of Manann is between the high temple in Marienburg and the rest of the cult—although this is not a schism, it is not far from turning into one. Under the guidance of the matriarch, the cult in Marienburg has become heavily embroiled in the mercantile affairs of that great port, to the point where many in the cult see it as becoming little more than a trade guild. This view is fuelled by the unequal division of wealth within the cult, fostering feelings of resentment and distrust. Whispers of a schism are rife, especially in the north of the Empire and along the Reik, where distrust towards Marienburg has long been endemic, no doubt fuelled by mercantile and political factions eager to break the high temple’s monopoly on trade.[1c]
Several small sects of Manann worship him in other guises which, unlike Manann, are usually benevolent deities. The sect of Manalt, Lord of the Bounty of the Sea, is popular with fishermen along the coasts of the Empire and up the Reik as far as Carroburg. The God of Tides, Manas, is commonly venerated by navigators who pray to him to help guide their journeys. One aspect of Manann local to the Wasteland is Olovald, Spirit of the Delta, whose cult claims that Manann is actually an aspect of Olovald—in response the Cult of Manann is rather heavy-handed in its dealings with the sect. Of all, Manhavok is perhaps the strangest, for he is worshipped in central Stirland, far from any large bodies of water.[1d]
Among the various orders important to the Cult of Manann, the following four are the most significant.[1d]
Temples of Manann vary widely in their appearance, though all have some common elements. Each temple contains at least one large statue of Manann, and most feature wide, spacious halls for worshippers to gather. Beyond that, however, temples can take many forms, from a shack built on a pier to a majestic building, covered in gold, pearls, and coral. When possible, these temples sit as close to water as possible, preferably even on a small island or peninsula. The lavishly decorated temple of Manann in Marienburg is even designed in such a way as to allow the rising tide to flood the wide-open courtyard—many rites are performed in this sacred space, full of sea water.[1e]
More than a few temples of Manann are built within the decks of aging boats, some of which are permanently moored, while others serve as floating shrines for the faithful. The docking of one of these mobile temples is a source of great celebration for the cultists, who consider such times a holy day in and of itself.[1e]
Known Holy Sites
- High Temple of Manann - The cult's most important temple, located in Marienburg.
- Manannsheim - A monastery of the Order of the Triton located on an island just off Nordland's coast.
- Reikgott Temple - An island temple in the River Reik, half a mile downstream from Altdorf.
- Shrine of Manann (Kislev) - Located in Kislev City, a wooden structure that spans the River Urskoy.
- Temple of the Red Coral - A Temple located near the city of Salzemmund.
List of Known Miracles
Note: the following spells have been limited to fluff material only, and the translation thereof.
Manannan Petty Spells
- Blessing of Manann: Your prayers allow a person to hold his breath when under water for longer than normal. It is not possible to cast this spell while your mouth is underwater.[1g]
- Blessing of the Mariner: Your blessing grants additional skill in rowing, sailing, and swimming.[1h]
Divine Lore of Manann
Manann is the fickle God of the Seas, and his moods range from violent outbursts to strange acts of benevolence. When a priest requests the aid of his God, he never knows exactly how his patron will react. When angry, Manann punishes his Priests with jolts of painful albeit harmless electricity, but when benevolent, he fills them with the soothing calm of a gentle spring rain. The spell lists of Manann reflect the two sides of the God: the benefactor and the violent God of storms. As the Lord of Journeys list combines the two aspects, it is the most popular.
- Becalm: You steal the wind out of the sails of one ship within range. The ship is completely becalmed and unless it has oars, it remains dead in the water. Should this spell be cast in the midst of a storm, it creates an area of calm around the ship and to 100 yards beyond. The waters are smooth and the air is still, whilst the gales, lashing rains, and towering crests rage around the ship. Becalm is centred on the ship, so if propelled by means other than wind, the area of calm moves with it.[1i]
- Blessed Voyage: You pray for Manann’s blessings at the beginning of a sea voyage, increasing navigational skill until the ship next makes port.[1i]
- Blessing of the Albatross: You pray to Manann whilst standing on the deck of a ship that is afloat, although it may be in harbour. Upon completing the invocation, an albatross descends from the heavens and follows the ship no matter where it goes. The albatross waits up to 1 hour for the ship to sail, and after that, it stays with the ship until killed, or the ship makes port. As long as the albatross is present, the ship cannot sink, no matter how much damage it takes. The crew are not, however, protected from falling overboard, or through holes in the hull.[1i]
- Breathe Water: Your touch and the power of Manann confer the ability to breathe water as if it were air.[1i]
- Curse of the Albatross: The wrath of the God of the Seas is nothing to trifle with. You call down doom on enemies of Manann within range.[1i]
- Drowned Man's Face: You chant your prayer at someone within range. His lungs immediately fill with salt water, making it impossible for him to speak, and other actions far more difficult.[1i]
- Fair Wind: Manann blesses the ship you are on with fair winds. The wind blows from the ideal quarter for the ship to make its destination, and strong enough to move the ship at its maximum safe speed. This spell works even if you do not know the way to your destination, as long as the destination is somewhere you have been before. If you have not been there, you must specify the direction in which you want to go. The ship must be guided around hazards normally.[1j]
- Fisherman's Eye: You are filled with an uncanny sense of where you might find a desired creature in the sea. Upon casting the spell, name an ordinary creature. You know the best place within your current field of vision to work on the water. If fishing, this is where you should drop the net or line; if diving for shellfish, it is where you should dive.[1j]
- Rip Tides: You can chant this prayer at one boat or ship that you can see, making their navigation much more difficult with the seas working against them.[1j]
- Sea Legs: Your prayer curses a character to feel as if he is standing upon the deck of a storm-tossed ship.[1j]
- Water Blast: You unleash a powerful torrent of seawater from your outstretched hands. Since this is water borrowed from the seas, many castings also produce a fair bit of sand, fish, and crustaceans, which are quite surprised by their unfortunate turn of fate.[1j]
- Waterwalk: You can walk on water. You can also walk over marsh and swampland as if it were firm ground.[1j]
- 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED -- Signs of Faith
- 2a: pg. 38
- 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th ED -- Core Rulebook
- 3a: pg. 205