- "I’d rather give my tenth coin to Ranald than risk losing the remaining nine."
- —Eckhardt Reinschol, Wool Merchant from Grafenrich[1a]
The Cult of Ranald is the "official" religious organization that is dedicated to the worship of Ranald, the fickle God of Luck and Fortune. A deity of the common people, Ranald is all these things and more. His is a curious cult, for it lacks the trappings, the pomp and majesty, even the structure of other cults. His priests are thieves, tricksters, and gamblers, rather than the educated effete elite so favored by others. His temples are the gaming halls, the brothels, the taverns, and other dens of iniquity, not the gilt structures of gold and marble. Indeed, Ranald and his priests are unlike any others—a fact that is both distressing and delightful.[1a]
Part of Ranald's curious nature stems from the fact that this God has a several different aspects. To most, he is known as the Night Prowler, God of Thieves and patron of thieves and rogues. Venerated by the criminal elements in the Old World, his symbols and sayings serve as the foundation for much of the secret language used by thieves.[1a]
Ranald is also the Deceiver, watching over, or rather inspiring, charlatans and tricksters. In this way, Ranald is something of a force of nature, the personification of irony but also illusion—hence Ranald's appeal to Grey Wizards. As well, Ranald is the patron of gaming, gambling, and more than anything, luck. It is in this form that Ranald is upheld by the Empire folk and to curry favour with the God, Old Worlders employ a dizzying array of superstitious sayings and gestures to ensure they retain or acquire the God's attention.[1a]
Of all the forms Ranald assumes, though, none is more brutally oppressed than his role as the Protector. The symbol of freedom from tyranny, liberation from despots, and the symbol of revolution, this aspect of Ranald is embraced by agitators, demagogues, and even a few politicians. In fact, Ranald in this role is a rallying force for the democratic movement that persists in the Empire's largest cities.[1a]
The origins of the cult are obscure; no one place or tribe seems to have given birth to it, though priests who consider the cult a nuisance or a threat assume it must have come from Estalia or Tilea, the people of which are "known" to be shifty or sly. Even the legends of Ranald's origins are confused. One major cycle tells how he won a reprieve from death by fooling Morr into smiling, while the other has him tricking Shallya into promising to marry him. Her only escape, in this tale, was to grant him immortality. Ranald's followers claim this was a fair bargain, while Shallyans say it was an act of mercy on her part—for herself.[3a]
- "Everyone knows that those high and mighty folk that call Ranald a thief, an agitator, and a liar in person pray to him when the going gets rough."
- —Fat Otto, Stirlander Farmer[1d]
The Cult of Ranald views the rest of the world as the ebb and flow of fortune, from good to bad and back again. Because there is no "typical" cultist of Ranald, there's little in the way to describe the workings of the cult itself. Most trust only their own wits and abilities, taking what they can and praying to Ranald to keep them one step away from danger. Cultists laugh at limitations and boundaries placed upon them, and often break laws and enter into forbidden areas just for the sake of doing so, slipping back into the shadows and teeming, anonymous masses before getting caught. The Cult of Ranald is viewed with suspicion by both the other cults and the ruling classes, even though he is still paid lip service by them all. Other cults afford the priests of this cult little respect, though this typically suits the followers of Ranald just fine, as they care little about the air of pomp put on by most other groups. Indeed, one of the tenants of the cult is to shine the light of hypocrisy on those with inflated egos or heightened status. Because of this, priests of Ranald stay out of sight, performing their works in back alleys, secret meeting places, and other dens of low character.[1a]
Although the cult has a deserved reputation as being filled with gamblers, thieves, and con artists, just as many priests are simple hedonists who grab life by the reins. Those that partake in illegal endeavours always give a healthy portion of their winnings back to the cult or, in some cases, to those in need. The cult abhors violence, seeing it as a "failure." Their best "crimes" are those that go undiscovered until months after they have done the deed. Those who rely on violence and cruelty find a better patron in Khaine, or other, darker Gods, than the free spirit that is Ranald. Cultists of Ranald often have personalities that mimic the four main aspects of Ranald. Those who follow the Night Prowler are thieves and larcenists, who perform crimes just as much for the thrill of performing the perfect caper as they do for the loot.[1a]
Those who follow Ranald the Deceiver are smooth con artists, who move easily through all strata of society, never laying down roots and constantly on the prowl for new targets to fleece through the use of clever thought and silvertongued lies. Cultists of Ranald the Gamester are consummate gamblers and risk takers, spending their days playing games of chance and concocting schemes to gain more money so they can continue their passion. To them, money is not the ends, but the means, to happiness. Lastly, there are the cultists who believe in Ranald the Protector and take up the mantle as the guardian for those who cannot defend themselves. They are infamous for stealing from the well-to-do in order to assist the poor, exposing the hypocrisy and excesses of the powerful, and standing up for the rights of the common citizen from thuggery, senseless persecution, and exploitation. Most other cults consider members of this "sect" the worst of the lot, as they often attempt to disrupt the status quo in the name of freedom and justice, regardless of the cost to the rest of society.[1a]
However, by their very nature, cultists of Ranald are highly individualistic, and it can be difficult to describe what makes a person become one in the first place. Most are experts at disguise and deception, keeping their true nature hidden from the rest of the world. The Cult of Ranald is ruthlessly persecuted in other parts of the Old World. Bretonnia in particular is notorious for its heavy-handed punishments for finding cultists merely travelling through their land.[1a][1b]
- "The hunter calls to Taal to bring game into his sights. The sailor asks Manann to keep the storm away from his ship. Soldiers plead to Sigmar to keep them alive on the battlefield. This is all just luck, which means that Ranald is the one that ultimately answers these prayers."
- —Gustav Adelbrecht, Priest of Ranald[1d]
Cultists of Ranald believe in individuality, freedom from oppression, and the rise and fall of fortune and luck. They adhere to the belief that whilst Ranald grants his blessing on those that call often enough, he's more inclined to help those that help themselves. Cultists attempt to balance practicality with an irreverent attitude, knowing that what's here today could disappear tomorrow—and vice versa. The most altruistic strive to better the lives of other, usually through the wealth and power of other, wealthier individuals.[1b]
Although theft, cheating, lying, and skulduggery are all acceptable in the eyes of Ranald, violence, and especially murder, should be avoided at all costs. A common thug that slits the throat and steals the purse of a wealthy merchant while invoking Ranald's name is more likely to lose his favour than most. Cultists accept the fact that Ranald is known by many names and titles, and that he can appear in any guise.[1b]
- One coin in ten belongs to Ranald.[2a]
- Ranald frowns upon unnecessary violence.
- Live by wits, not by your sword.
- A true devotee of Ranald uses the dagger and stiletto; only amateurs and the slow-witted need armour and long sword.
- It's better to live free and die, rather than suffer under oppression.[2a]
- There is no honour among thieves, yet trust in your brothers and sisters, for there is honour among Ranaldans.[2a]
- Betraying a fellow to authorities is the cardinal sin.[2a]
Penances from Ranald typically consist of either breaking into a secure location or humiliating an authority figure. For instance, a penitent might steal a precious, guarded item and leave a token of their presence in its place, or frame an oppressive Watch captain for an absurd crime.[2a]
The Pilgrimage of Fingers is a gauntlet among Cultists of Ranald, be they in or out of favour of the deity. Thus, in some cases, it may be considered a penance.[2a]
- "The thieves, liars, and cutpurses of our land pay homage to Ranald in hopes that he'll keep them out of chains. Let them believe in his mercy, while I administer a hot brand to their temples for their crimes."
- —Sigfried Ulmar, Roving Judge[1d]
Although the cult itself is remarkably free of restrictions, becoming a priest of Ranald is much harder than one would think. Often, potential candidates have no real desire to become a cultist at all, but are approached by other priests after being observed from afar for at least several months. Individuals that show great zeal in becoming an initiate are often viewed with suspicion, as the cult has been infiltrated several times in the past by both other cultists and law-enforcement officials attempting to bring the cult down.[1b]
If a priest notices a potential initiate, he is approached under some sort of guise that has nothing to do with the cult. The priest offers his patronage and friendship, occasionally asking for "some help on little matters," which test the skill and mettle of the candidate in matters of lying, theft, charm, and stealth. If the candidate shows the proper attitude, skill, and cool under pressure, he is then informed of the patron's intentions. If he's interested, then formal instruction begins. If he's not, then the priest quietly slips away, never to return, although this "failure" is reported to other local priests so the same attempt isn't made twice.[1b]
The final initiation into the priesthood typically involves a daring theft, con, or other brazen, illegal act. Often, the initiate is trained and prepared for one sort of mission, but finds himself in a completely different set of events—success depends on how well he deals with this change of plans. If the initiate handles the altered mission successfully without getting caught (or dying) in the process, he's made into a full Priest, often culminating in an enormous party.[1b]
- "You'll be hearing the rattle of Ranald's dice."
- —Folk term of Reikland meaning "engaging in a risky endeavour"[1d]
Cultists of Ranald can be found in every stratum of society, from the most powerful of nobles to the lowliest of gutter trash. However, most cultists are noted for rising above their original station in life, through sheer willpower, talent, and of course, luck. Cultists of Ranald almost always wear a necklace with an "X" or a hand with crossed fingers. The "X" symbol is the most common, and in fact, wildly popular, worn by untold numbers of citizens. These necklaces are so prevalent that they rarely cause suspicion, though everyone is sure to keep them hidden if a witch hunter or priest of another faith is about. It is widely believed that the symbols of Ranald lose their potency if displayed openly. The boldest (or most foolish) of cultists even get tattoos of these symbols on their body, though most have them done in such a way that only the initiated and savvy can understand them for what they truly are.[1b][1c]
Signs of Ranald
Every person of the Empire knows the salute of Ranald—crossing the index and middle fingers on the right hand. It is used daily by everyone as a way to garner luck or to avoid a particularly bad fate. Holding crossed fingers behind the back is said to "hide" a lie that is told, while doing so openly for all to see is to express the fact that a person is telling the absolute truth. Cultists secretly show their allegiance to Ranald to each other by performing this salute with their left hand. This act is considered unlucky by the rest of the populace, but true cultists know better. Holding crossed fingers directly in someone's face is a grave insult and a sure way of starting a fight.[1f]
Cultists make oaths to each other while both parties hook their index fingers together. When cultists of Ranald are in dire need of luck, they may cross the fingers on both hands and the toes of both feet. It's felt that the more crossed digits, the more you ward off bad luck. Other cultists may walk their forefinger and index finger on the palm of their left hand as a sign of strange things afoot. Finally, when cultists of Ranald feel they have had a particularly bad spout of luck, they'll run the back of their hand under their chin, to alert the God that they've learned from their errors and would like their luck to change.[1f]
- "The surviving brigands that robbed the wagon train of foodstuffs on the road to Talabheim claimed to be doing so in Ranald's name. A local priest of that cult was made aware of the matter and apologised to the local sheriff who proved sympathetic to his cause. The crime is now entangled in the courts here, my lord, with no definitive outcome."
- —Letter to Elector Count von Raukov of Ostland[1d]
Of all the cults recognised in the Old World, the Cult of Ranald is the loosest and least organised. It's comprised mostly of individuals that give him honour and ask for favours in return, rather than a unified congregation of worshippers. Because of this, it's difficult to find much in the way of a single creed for cultists, other than "do what you want," with the unspoken addendum of "don't get caught in the process." The cult has no real structure and the majority of priests work independently, leading their own calling in life. This, of course, makes true representation at the Grand Conclave both difficult and infuriating for the other cults, who grow exasperated by the ever-changing rotation of high priests and agendas of the cult.[1c]
When cultists of Ranald band together, they usually do so in small cells of ten or less people, and keep their business secret. These groups are typically short-lived and self-serving, in the same way that a traditional group of expert criminals might band together for a single act of crime before dispersing to the winds with their riches and stories (of course, most cultists are expert criminals).[1c]
Other cells have a distinctly anarchic outlook and spend their time plotting ways to overthrow various organisations. They send out agitators among the general populace, sabotage infrastructure, and dig up incriminating evidence to blackmail and smear tyrannical rulers. These cells establish relations with other cells through carefully guarded connections. Typically a cell member is aware of a single member of another cell, but no-one else, in order to keep potential leaks and turncoats from disrupting the entire group.[1c]
For the most part, however, the priests of Ranald are loners by nature, whose deeds and tales are spread by word of mouth in the form of tall-tales, folk songs, and bawdy jokes. Priests of Ranald are typically content to stay within a given area, but roam their territory with remarkable fluidity, from wretched slums to the gilthomes of the wealthy. Although the cult has few temples and fewer recognised clergy, the cultists of Ranald still present themselves during the Conclave, often reminding the other, disapproving cults that they both exist and have an equal voice. The representatives that show up to these events are passionate, eloquent, and do their best to soothe the worries of the other cults, and explaining away the worst rumours and accusations as nothing more than intolerance and misunderstanding.[1c]
Most cultists of Ranald follow their own unique collection of beliefs, and as such, there are no main sects or orders that give him homage. If two or more cultists band together, it's usually for a very specific reason, parting ways when the task is complete. More so than the other Gods, cultists of Ranald find camaraderie in those who follow the primary aspects of Ranald.[1d]
The first, and easily the largest, is composed of merchants, hagglers, and those that make their living dealing with money. Known simply as "The Brotherhood," this sect forms something akin to a guild of businessmen, who meet together to sort out their differences, seek mutual opportunities, and plot to increase their wealth. Most are honest merchants who call upon Ranald for bounty and improved commerce, although there is a seedier lesser order that exists (see later in this section). The Brotherhood teaches the tenets of cooperation and competition—help your brother when he needs it—but through competition, the best elements rise to the top.[1d]
The second sect is informally known as the Givers of Coin. It is composed of altruistic, freedom-loving individuals with a strong sense of righting wrongs. They spend their time depriving the wealthy of their money to give to those that are lacking. Whilst the wealthy burghers and noble classes consider these cultists little more than brigands, they are beloved by the common folk. These cultists tend to live short lives, as the needs and plights of the downtrodden weigh heavier and heavier on their hearts, resorting in bolder actions that often lead to imprisonment or death. Most cultists of this sect desire to see the noble classes overthrown, replaced by collectives of people that treat each other with equality. The bulk of the Givers of Coin know this goal is mostly a dream, although it does create a few overly zealous individuals bent on the destruction of the very institutions that make up the Empire.[1d]
The last, and surprisingly least common, are the true thieves, cutpurses, and conmen that view Ranald almost exclusively as the God of Thieves and Liars. Calling themselves the Crooked Fingers, they focus on taking what they want, when they want. Their code of honour is similar to those of other thieves—everyone gets a portion from jobs, you don't rat out your partners, and, in the end, it's every man for himself.[1d]
Because the cult lacks any real structure, it doesn't have any lesser orders of note. Groups that band together for a short period of time rarely stick together to form a cohesive order, although history is replete with the names of "crews" who pulled of particularly impressive, almost suicidal acts of bravery and thievery.[1d]
Unlike the other sanctioned cults of the Empire, Ranald has no temples dedicated to him—at least, to the untrained eye. Cultists almost never erect buildings in his name, but instead hide his symbols, altars, and shrines out in the open. In a sense, every place of gambling is considered a shrine to Ranald, and his symbols can be found carved in walls, doors, and elsewhere, though always in a subtle, secret manner. Ironically, the larger the gambling house, racetrack, or gladiatorial pit, the harder it is to find these signs—Ranald does not like to advertise. It's common for a gambler who wins big to leave a small portion of his windfall on one of these semi-hidden altars.[1d][1e] Many important organizations, such as criminal gangs and merchant houses, also have small shrines in their headquarters to Ranald.[2a] Otherwise, small shrines erected in the slums and shanties of large cities, or the occasional crossroad in the wilderness, are the only "permanent" places of worship for Ranald.[1d][1e] These street-corner shrines are seldom elaborate, consisting of, say, a small statue with its fingers crossed behind his back. They're often tended to by localized "shrine clubs," often headed by one of the Crooked Fingers.[2a]
These shrines are designed to be small and easily dismantled, so as to keep them hidden when the authorities come too close for comfort. Often, when a shrine is "discovered," it is taken down by the locals with mock disgust, only to be rebuilt once the coast is clear.[1e]
The Cult of Ranald also directly controls gambling houses– at least one in every major town and city. Each of these dens is apparently independent.[2a]
List of Known Miracles
Note: the following spells have been limited to fluff material only, and the translation thereof.
Ranaldan Petty Magic
The following prayers are spoken only by the cult of Ranald.[1g]
- Blessing of Fortune: Your blessing grants someone good luck.[1g]
- Blessing of Ronald: Your prayers bless someone with Ranald's light-fingered touch, making pickpocketing and lock picking easier.[1h]
Divine Lore of Ranald
Ranald represents a variety of interests, both positive and negative. Whilst reviled as the God of Thieves, he is also prayed to as the God of Good Fortune. But Ranald can be a fickle patron. His priests know enough not to entreat their God too much, lest Ranald's blessings dry up. A sudden downturn in the priest's fortunes can be the price of over-reliance on Ranald’s attentions. Aside from the typical thieves that venerate him, Ranald is also the patron of merchants and the God who shelters and supports those who fight for freedom.[1i]
- Bamboozle: You fool one man-shaped creature (Human, Elf, Orc, Beastman, etc.) within range into doing your bidding. The affected creature does whatever you say short of actively harming itself. You could, however, instruct the creature to do something foolish that might result in its harm. Bamboozle does not work on Daemons or the Undead.[1i]
- Bargain Hunter: Ranald guides you to the cheapest source for a particular kind of good. When intoning this prayer, you decide the geographical area, type and quantity of good, and its quality. If such goods are unavailable, you learn that.[1i]
- Bountiful Fortune: You gift yourself and all your allies within range at the time of casting with the luck of Ranald.[1i]
- Eye of Ranald: Ranald blesses you with a fine eye for the value of things.[1j]
- Good Fortune: You gift one character with the luck of Ranald.[1j]
- Perfect Empathy: You perfectly understand the person to whom you are speaking. This overcomes any language barriers, but also means you know what he really thinks, as well as what he actually says. This gives a merchant an overwhelming advantage in negotiations. It is also very useful for interrogation, but priests of Ranald tend to be less interested in that sort of thing; in fact, they are less likely to use the spell for such a purpose lest someone get the idea to use a similar spell on them![1j]
- Poor Man's Face: Any valuables you or your allies carry become impossible to find by any search that is against your will or without your knowledge; even if a bag full of gold coins is turned inside-out, the inspectors find only a few crumbs and half a biscuit, or similar worthless items. Priests believe Ranald keeps the valuables for you for the duration, and teach that the Trickster God may not give back items that he likes overmuch.[1j]
- Rumour of Bounty, Rumour of Dearth: You beseech Ranald to manipulate the prices of a particular object or commodity in a settlement. Rumour of bounty, rumour of dearth instils a vague sense in the locals that something is about to become more common, reducing the prices, or that something is about to become more scarce, increasing the prices. As an unexpected consequence of this spell, the rumours tend to remain in the minds of those affected and excessive use of this spell has been known to cause riots—especially when word spreads of food shortages.[1j]
- Open: You cause any one lock, bolt, or latch to unlock, unbolt, or lift. The object cannot be forced shut in that time (though you, as the caster, may shut it if you wish).[1j]
- Stealth of Ranald: Ranald blesses you with incredible stealth.[1k]
- Trapsense: Your prayers allow you to magically sense all traps within range. Trapsense does not disarm these traps, it only alerts you to their presence and location.[1k]
- Unremembered Face: Upon intoning your prayers, you make it harder for people to recall details about you, only able to recall two (accurate) facts about your appearance. Most users of this spell wear a flamboyant and distinctive hat and cloak, or something similar, which can easily be removed and hidden. This allows a priest of Ranald to gain a reputation without risking his identity.[1k]
Ranald has several sub-cults that concentrate on one or another facet of his faith. Ranald the Dealer is popular in Marienburg with more ruthless traders, where sharp trading is considered an art form. Among the cities and larger towns of the Empire, Ranald the Night Prowler is the patron of cat burglars and other daring thieves. Another small sect is the favourite of gamblers who like to push their bets: Ranald, the Lord of Luck.[3a]