- "We grieve for those who are inspired
Their genius stolen, or acquired
Who watch with hope, and risk their dreams
To see them born as dark regimes"
- —Songs of the Raven, 'A Threnody for Hope'[1k]
The Cult of Morr is one of the most widespread cults in the Old World. In a land filled with war, disease, and the horrors of Chaos, death is a constant companion, an inescapable end. Most Old Worlders reconcile their natural fears and come to accept death as a necessary part of life. In fact, some might say that Old Worlders, specifically people of the Empire, have an unhealthy fascination with it, incorporating symbols of death in all things. From the skulls that decorate their banners to the martial culture that infuses the Empire’s society, death is everywhere, and its master is Morr.[1a]
However, Morr is the God of the Dead, not the God of death. One legend says that, at the beginning of time, Morr, Taal, and Ulric divided the world up between them. Taal and Ulric both demanded the living world, and fought for it, but Morr said he would settle for the empty realm of the dead. The other two Gods ignored him, until he passed through their realms, killing to populate his own. Then Taal and Ulric confronted the God of the Dead, and demanded that he confine his attentions to his own realm, and not trespass on theirs. Morr agreed, on the condition that Taal and Ulric ultimately send all the inhabitants of their realms to him. Another legend relates that Morr appeared after the first Human died, and defended his soul from the servants of the Dark Gods that sought to consume it. As more Humans died, Morr took them under his protection. Still others tell of the murder of Morr by Khaine, and of Morr's foundation of his realm among the dead.[1a]
Those who sleep approach death, and death is the future that awaits all. In this way, Morr is also the God of Dreams and Prophecy. Outside funerals, most people pray to Morr only in this capacity,[1a] although he is unlikely to divulge anything not related to death.[2a] Only the dead can seek his protection, and the dead do not pray.[1a]
- "Saved by Morr."
- —Euphemism meaning "Dead"[1a]
The Cult of Morr does not worry about what the world thinks. Everyone comes to the cult eventually, and it has enough to do guarding those who are already in its care. This independence almost always extends to individual priests, as well; those who would start a career in the cult are generally not people who need the support of others for their decisions. Cultists do worry about the world. Some know more of the future than most Humans, while all are surrounded by death, and thus by the newly dead who need to be cared for. Followers of Morr are far from uncaring, but they do not typically see the living as their responsibility.[1a]
Soldiers tell stories of priests of Morr moving from corpse to corpse on a battlefield, performing the last rites, and ignoring those who are still breathing, until the moment they stop. Morrians take their responsibilities to the dead very seriously, and martyrs within the cult are often those who stayed in a plagueridden town to bury the corpses. This sense of responsibility sometimes extends to carrying out the last wishes of a dead person, or providing some comfort to the bereaved, but on the whole the Priests of Morr have little to do with the affairs of the living.[1a]
The outstanding exception is the cult’s attitude toward necromancy. Necromancers are the ultimate enemies of Morr: they steal from his realm, violate his protection for their own profit, and circumvent his authority. Morrians also believe that Undead are outside Morr’s protection, and thus vulnerable to the Dark Gods. Thus, even intelligent Undead who claim to be happy with their condition must be put to rest, with the proper rites. Most Morrians believe Morr accepts and protects even the souls of necromancers, once they have been sent to his realm with the proper rites.[1a]
- "What do you grow in a garden? Food! Why do you think the priests of Morr are always so well-fed, even during famines? What’s in their Gardens?"
- —Gunther Jagerson, Nordland Labourer[1d]
The fundamental belief of the cult is that the dead face grave perils if they are not sent to Morr’s protection with the proper rites. Most believe such souls would be seized and tortured by Khaine, Morr’s jealous brother, or even devoured by the Ruinous Powers, and souls know this at an instinctive level. Thus, the spirits of the unburied dead cling to this world, remaining present as Ghosts. Burying the body, or performing the rituals over possessions, or even just a name, places the soul under Morr’s protection and allows it to leave safely.[1b]
Of course, active Undead often have to be driven out, but the burial rites are still important. No soul, not even that of the foulest follower of the Ruinous Powers, should be left without the protection of Morr, and Morr’s care extends to all. Dreams and portents are typically seen as Morr’s way of warning the living of grave threats. Death itself, of course, is not such a threat; prophecies of one’s own death merely provide the chance to get your affairs in order first. Portents are rarely absolutely clear, and Morr relies on the intelligence of Humans to unravel their mysteries.[1b]
Signs of Morr
Cultists of Morr greet each other with a strange salute that involves moving the hand from the top of his face down with an open palm. This salute is known as “Morr’s Shroud,” representing darkness and the symbolic gesture when a corpse’s eyes are shut for the last time. Common citizens use this gesture when referring to beloved departed family and friends, in the hope that Morr has taken them safely to his realm. It is considered extremely bad luck to use this salute at any other time, as it is believed to draw Morr’s attention to that person. A cultist that walks with his hands clasped behind his back indicates that he wishes to be left alone, in order to contemplate the nature of life and death. Morrian cultists also place both hands face down, as if pushing downward. This is done to urge his fellows to leave a matter alone as it is moot, dead, or best left alone.[1f]
- Protect the dead.[2a]
- Observe all the rites of funeral and wake.
- Oppose necromancers and the Undead wherever and whenever they are encountered.[2a]
- Be respectful and considerate of the dead and their families.
- Pay heed to your dreams.[2a]
- Never refuse to conduct a funeral.[2a]
- Never allow the dead to be raised, unless given special permission by Morr.[2a]
Most often, a penance from Morr involves destroying his enemies: necromancers, the undead, or the disciples of Khaine. In other cases, restoring an abandoned or desecrated holy place.[2a]
- "Merchants fight merchants, nobles fight nobles, thieves fight thieves, and the priests of Morr fight necromancers. I say no more than that."
- —Magritta, Tilean Mercenary[1d]
Although Morr’s cultists abide by the fundamental beliefs that underpin their organisation, each group is independent, and over the generations each branch has developed its own set of initiation rites and procedures. Lay followers, though far less common than with other cults, tend to be servants of the priests, digging graves, helping to prepare corpses, or even just acting as guards for their temples—the sombre Gardens of Morr.[1b]
Acquiring new initiates is not something the cult actively pursues, since all come to Morr in their own ways—either in life or in death. For the most part, the signal event occurs in the realm of dreams, with a candidate experiencing a vivid, or even shocking nightmare involving the Lord of the Dead. Shaken, the candidate flees in all haste to a local temple, prostrating himself before the priests and begging for acceptance into the cult. Rarely, these dreams may be experienced by someone already ensconced within the cult, whereby the priest receives explicit instructions to recruit a particular candidate.[1b]
Initiates generally find themselves doing prolonged, boring tasks that require constant concentration. They are also subjected to lectures on the inviolability of the dead, and the duty of a Morrian priest. Initiates are allowed to quit; this is how the cult weeds out the unsuitable who make it this far. Most initiates do persist, however. There are very few reasons to join the Cult of Morr other than sincere devotion, after all. As a result, the priesthood is perennially short of applicants, let alone recruits, and standards sometimes slip.[1b]
- "Reactionary fools who interfere with scientific progress and condemn any attempt to improve our ability to help the living."
- —Master Augustus Limmerskind, Altdorf Doctor[1d]
Priests of Morr dress in unornamented black robes, which have no indication of rank. A few even train ravens to sit on their shoulders and peer at passers-by. They tend to wear their hair very short, and most are clean-shaven. Augurs are likely exceptions, and can be slightly wild.[1b]
Most people think that priests of Morr are all dour, solemn, quiet individuals. This is because they only meet them at funerals. Humour, hobbies, and even a select circle of friends are not uncommon among the priests. Interests that promote steady hands, good sewing skills, or produce plenty of sawdust are all encouraged by the cult. It is true that social butterflies, the frivolous, and hedonists tend not to join the cult of the God of the Dead, but priests of Morr are more likely than most to surprise those who get to know them well.[1b]
- Anna Gregori - A famous Doomsayer of the Empire.
- Leopold Hanslich - Former Vampire Hunter and Priest of the Black Guard.
- Otto Schilker - High Priest of the Order of the Shroud.
- "Date the daughter, meet the father"
- —Anyone who risks repeated injury (and thus visits temples of Shallya a lot) will die (and thus meet Morr)[1e]
Temples of Morr are completely independent of one another in day-to-day matters. Once every ten years, the priesthood gather in conclave in Luccini to agree on burial rites and matters of doctrine. In theory all priests should attend, but leaving the temples unstaffed and unguarded is not to be countenanced. Every temple sends at least one representative, officially chosen by Morr in a dream. Generally, only the representative has the relevant dream, although sometimes the high priest dreams that a particularly irritating underling should go. Within a temple, the high priest organises the ordinary activities. These depend on the order, and Morr’s orders differ so much that they must be considered separately.[1b]
Temples of the Order of the Shroud are places of burial, so daily activities consist of taking in the dead, performing the necessary rites, interring the remains in the Garden of Morr, and guarding the dead from grave robbers and necromancers. Junior priests deal with most of this, although a larger donation presented with a corpse ensures the service of a higher-ranked cleric. Naturally, the corpses of local nobles are accepted by the high priest himself. Urban temples tend to be constantly busy, while rural temples may only have one burial per day, depending on how many villages they serve.[1b]
Temples of the Augurs are places where people come for guidance. Activities centre on the priest (or priests) with prophetic abilities, who may not, in fact, be the highest-ranked cleric. Other priests greet visitors, receive their donations, and conduct them to the prophet. The fame of the prophet determines the number of visitors to such places. Very few temples are so busy that the priests have no free time at all. The cult permits simple relaxation, and priests of Morr often have a few friends outside the temple. However, the cult also believes Morr sends dreams with instructions for his priests, and these often require actions out of the ordinary.[1b][1c]
The cult teaches that Morr often sends messages telling his priests to comfort or help the bereaved, and priests, and even initiates, act on such dreams without question. Dreams enjoining other kinds of intervention are supposed to be discussed with the other priests at a temple, who study their own dreams for confirmation. Songs of the Raven does state that sometimes Morr sends a message to a single priest, to test the discernment of the other priests, so a dream might be from Morr even if none of the other priests have similar ones. If the dream only requires action by the dreamer, then he is almost always permitted to act on it. Actions that threaten the temple, or require cooperation from other priests, are assessed much more rigorously. If the interests of the temple, or its resident priests, are threatened, almost all the priests have dreams requiring action to defend themselves. At least, they all say that they have had such dreams.[1c]
Political struggles within a temple of Morr are often phrased in terms of dreams condemning the opposing priests. Temples whose priests are related to the nobility are also significantly more likely to be told to intervene in the affairs of the living, while those with friends among the merchants are more likely to be told to intervene in mercantile affairs. Officially, the cult holds that Morr sends messages to those best equipped to deal with them. Unofficially, other temples sometimes hire agents to make sure that the “dreams” have not been fabricated to cover up political corruption. Of course, sometimes other temples hire agents who are instructed to discover that the dreams are fake, generally on the excuse that a dream from Morr has told the hiring priest that the other temple is corrupt.[1c]
The primary division within the Cult of Morr is between the Order of the Shroud, who revere him as God of the Dead, and the Augurs, who revere him as God of Dreams and Prophecy. The much larger[1c] Order of the Shroud dominates some of the other orders in the Cult, such as the Black Guard, while the Order of Doomsayers is aligned with the Augurs.[2a] However, there is almost no tension between these groups, as all followers acknowledge Morr’s differing aspects.[1c]
There is another division within the cult, which does cause some tensions. Almost all priests of Morr remain at one temple, travelling very little. Others, however, travel across the Old World, often following their dreams. This group is small, but no temple has authority over these wandering priests, and, as travellers, they all attend the conclave in Luccini, meaning they have never been declared heretical.[1c]
Still, most sedentary priests of Morr dislike them, and encourage them to move on quickly. The wanderers are generally happy to oblige. The majority of wandering Augurs are members of the Doomsayers, a formal minor order within the cult. Wandering members of the Order of the Shroud are not organised into a formal order, but have a lot in common nevertheless. They wander to perform the last rites for those who would otherwise have no priest. This normally involves travelling to dangerous locations, looking for corpses. Once they find the bodies, they perform funeral rites for the deceased, no matter how old the remains appear.[1d]
These priests are notable as being the only followers of Morr who would enter a tomb rumoured to be full of treasure; they would do so to perform funerals for the treasure hunters killed by the traps, and would leave the tomb’s treasures inviolate. They also travel to battlefields, villages destroyed by Beastmen, and other such dangerous places. As most cannot attract the services of the Black Guard, they often travel with adventurers. Swift Wilhelm is the most renowned of these priests, famed for being able to perform a full funeral service in under a minute, while running away from a band of Orcs. Of course, one of Wilhelm’s companions is a minstrel, so his prowess may be somewhat exaggerated. Wanderers pay as much heed to their dreams as any other priest of Morr, but they also listen to rumours, and keep an eye open for unclaimed corpses. On the whole, they find themselves getting far more involved with the living than is normal for their cult, but their God clearly approves, as they have no problem with their spells.[1d]
Temples of Morr are almost always built of stone, and always feature a broad stone doorway, with no door[1e] and a heavy lintel-stone,[2a] always open just as the Portal is.[1e][2a] Forming the door are a pair of pillars. One is always black and the other is white to reflect the dual nature of the God. Morrian temples are often underground, and are always quiet places, notable for their cool temperatures and excellent ventilation.[1e] The interiors of Morr's temples are usually kept bare. Any necessary furniture is kept in storage and only taken out when needed– at a funeral, for instance.[2a]
Other details depend on the order. Temples of the Order of the Shroud are normally rectangular in plan, with several side chambers in which bodies can be prepared for burial. The main altar is at the end of the hall opposite the door, and there is a bier in front of it where the deceased is placed during a funeral. Beyond the altar is a door leading into the Garden of Morr. Large temples have several altars, so more than one funeral can be conducted at a time, and each altar has its own door into the Garden. The doors to the Garden of Morr can be closed and locked.[1e]
The Garden itself is a black rose garden, tended by the priests, with stone monuments to the dead dotted about. In theory, these monuments are all small, but rich individuals can convince the high priest that “small” is entirely relative; relative to the temple of Sigmar in Altdorf, for example. The bereaved may visit the Garden in the company of a priest of Morr, but layfolk are not allowed into the Garden by themselves. To help enforce this, most Gardens are surrounded by high stone walls, and the only entrance is through the temple itself. Accommodation for the priests is normally built along one wall of the Garden.[1e]
Temples of the Augurs are typically round and domed, with an oculus at the peak of the dome. The prophetic Augurs sit at the centre of the dome, surrounded by clouds of incense smoke. Subsidiary rooms and accommodation are part of the main building, accessed directly from the main hall of the temple. Temples of the Augurs do not have a Garden of Morr attached, but it is not at all unusual for temples of both main orders to be found close together. In some places, there are marked differences, such as in Talabheim. Most people opt to be buried in Taal’s sacred wood—the Taalwelt. Their bodies are carried along a route sacred to Morr, and at the end of which, they rest for a time in the Garden of Morr. Eventually, when the corpse is properly prepared, it is transported through a gate dedicated to Rhya, called the Endstone.[1e]
Smaller Shrines to Morr bears some resemblance to his temples. One may take the form of a gateway, with one pillar of white marble and another of black basalt, topped with a lintel.[2a]
List of Known Miracles
Note: the following spells have been limited to fluff material only, and the translation thereof.
Morrian Petty Spells
The following prayers are known only by the cult of Morr.[1g]
- Blessing of Morr: Your stirring words inspire someone to understand truly pitiable state of the Undead, rendering them immune to fear or terror regarding the undead.[1g]
- Blessing of Passage: You invoke the blessing of Morr to extend the God’s outrage at the presence of Undead. Any weapon the target wields counts as magic for the purposes of harming Undead opponents until the effect expires.[1g]
Divine Lore of Morr
As the God of the Dead and of Dreams, Morr grants his priests guidance and aid in dealing with the restless dead. By tradition, the wisdom he grants as God of Dreams is associated with Darkness, and his aid against the Undead with Daylight, while those who choose to balance the two are associated with Twilight. The Morr in Darkness list is generally taken only by augurs, while those priestly members of the Black Guard blessed with the ability to work miracles have the Morr in Daylight list.[1h]
Almost all Priests of Morr learn the prayers and rituals to put a corpse to rest (Eternal Rest), and many also study the rituals to bring about prophetic dreams (Guiding Dream).[1h]
- Destroy Undead: Using a wooden stake as a conduit, cause damage to an undead target.[1i]
- Dooming: Morr grants you a vision of one important fact about a character’s future. This is most often his manner of death, but not always. The fact is always isolated: you might that learn someone will be killed by Orcs, but not where or when.[1i]
- Dream Message: You appear in the dreams of one character and deliver a message no longer than 30 seconds long. The receiver must be someone you have met personally, must speak a common language, and must be asleep when the spell is cast.[1i]
- Eternal Rest: You chant a solemn prayer over a corpse, ensuring that the soul is sent to Morr’s Realm. This makes the corpse permanently immune to Necromancy spells.[1i]
- Glimpse Ahead: Upon casting glimpse ahead, you gain a sudden powerful insight about some future event, though the circumstances of this event are not immediately known to you.[1i]
- Guiding Dream: You receive a dream concerning a particular course of action Morr wishes you to undertake. The dream is always clear, but never complete. It never explains why Morr wants you to do something. The vision generally shows you performing a particular action, in a particular place, at a particular time, and you somehow know the name of the place, and where it is, and exactly what date is meant, even if those would not be obvious from the things seen in the dream. You have no control over the contents of the dream, and there is no guarantee that you will survive to carry out the actions you see. Repeated castings almost always yield the same dream, at least until the priest has done what was required, or the time during which he was supposed to perform the deed has passed. Failing to follow such a dream counts as violating the strictures of the cult; if you have prayed for an illuminating dream, you should follow it.[1i]
- Preserve Corpse: You temporarily stop the decomposition of one corpse, keeping it perfectly preserved.[1i]
- Sign of the Raven: You summon a ghostly raven (the symbol of Morr) that casts the shadow of death over the field.[1i]
- Sleep of Death: Your prayers cause a group of enemies within range to slumber like the dead. This prayer is often chanted to calm the bereaved, particularly the noisy ones.[1j]
- Speech of Morr: The spirit of a dead Human appears before you, and answers a number of questions. You must have the body or a portion of the body the spirit once possessed. The spirit cannot lie and must answer, but it can choose how much information to give. The spirit is limited to information it knew in life. If asked something it does not know the answer to, it says nothing, and the question counts against those you may ask. Since the spirit is released from the realm of the dead with Morr’s permission, any corpse may only be targeted by this spell, regardless of the caster, once.[1j]
- Threshold Line: You draw up to an 8-yard long line on the ground while chanting to Morr. Any Undead creature has difficulty crossing it. The line retains its power until sunrise, and each Undead creature only gets one attempt to cross it. If the line is not a closed loop, Undead may go around the ends, so the line is normally drawn as a ring or across a doorway.[1j]
- Vision of Morr: You pray to Morr and ask for a vision relating to a problem you are currently experiencing.[1j]
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th ED -- Core Rulebook
- 2a: pg. 206