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"Speak truth. Be truth."
Common farewell between cultists of Verena. The first phrase is said by one person and the last phrase by the other.[1g]


The Cult of Verena is the official organisation dedicated to the Old World Goddess of Justice. Although the Empire and the rest of the Old World face the war, plague, and calamity with disturbing regularity, it is the rule of law and ordered society that enables the Empire and other nations to not only survive, but thrive. Indeed, those who venerate Ulric, and to a lesser extent Sigmar, may be concerned with violence and warfare, but it is the philosophical doctrines of justice espoused by the priests of Verena that prevents the Empire from sliding into a complete tyranny.[1a]

In the pantheon of Gods, some myths place Verena as the bride of Morr. Although this might seem an unlikely pairing at first thought, they are united by the common themes of judgement. They simply oversee different aspects of the concept. Where Morr judges the dead, it falls to Verena to judge the living. Verena is also thought to be the mother of Shallya, and in some parts of the Old World, of Myrmidia as well. A stoic and serious Goddess, she is a benevolent force to whom many appeal for freedom from despotism.[1a]

Verena is not just the patron of just decisions and balance, but she is also regarded as a wise teacher, for it is said that she lifted mankind from its barbarous roots with the giving of writing. It is for this act that she is also held as the mother of learning, reason, and discourse.[1a]

Despite her benevolence and civility, Verena has a definite martial streak as the Goddess of Justice. Some theologians claim this was not always the case, but when Chaos was unleashed upon the world and Ulric tried to rally the Gods against the threat, Verena was the only one who took his warning seriously. She took up Morr’s sword and rode to battle behind Ulric, shaming her fellow Gods into action in the process. Her priests claim she understands more than any other the importance of wisdom and learning, and the need to defend them from ignorance and destruction, with force of arms if necessary.[1a]

Overview

Although it is predisposed to order, law, and justice, there is little formal hierarchy within the cult. Instead, it operates in small cells, scattered throughout the centres of civilisation, being prevalent in districts that are given over to scholarly pursuits, where they run or fund universities to promote learning and education. Verena’s cults have great influence in the Empire, with individual cultists serving as advisors in nobles’ courts, and in some places, such as Nuln, they function as judiciaries, working ceaselessly to ensure the rule of law holds sway.[1b]

Particular cells within Verena’s cult might have differing motivations, but one thing unites them all: the preservation of knowledge. They commit themselves to the acquisition of writings on any subject, gathering such lore in their sprawling libraries, where they can give back a portion of this knowledge to the communities they support. Since the cult is so committed to the preservation of learning, the Chaos incursions are especially dreadful to Verenans. Each war brings destruction, wiping out repositories of knowledge, depriving future generations of Humanity’s accumulated knowledge. Therefore, when such threats loom, the Verenans are quick to aid the Empire in its defence, moving to the front lines to remove the scrolls and tomes to places of safety, even stepping over the screaming injured to do so.[1b]

As a direct result of its obsession with knowledge, the Cult of Verena tends to find itself in the center of controversy more often than not—far more than other rival cults. Among some of the more radical members of the cult’s clergy, there is a belief that all writing, no matter its contents, is worth protecting. Such views put the cult at odds with Witch Hunters, and specifically, the Cult of Sigmar, who would see such heretical texts consigned to purifying pyres. This is a point of serious contention within the cult, but it is also a disagreement the Verenans are willing to set aside to protect the overarching interests of the cult.[1b]

To make matters worse, the Verenan cult often courts controversy amongst other religions, for some of the more radical interpretations of its scriptures are viewed as heretical by other faiths. It often ends up in conflict with other cults as a result, and can end up forming unlikely alliances also as a result. The cult is prepared to put its beliefs above traditions and friendships, regardless of short-term consequences, just as its cultists are expected to be unbiased and not unfairly favour friends and allies above enemies. As a result, outsiders sometimes view Verenans as being unreliable and fickle.[1b]

Relations are most strained between the cults of Verena and Sigmar, each vying for control of the Empire’s legal system, and each taking opposed stances when it comes to the control of dubious literature. The Cult of Verena in Altdorf has taken advantage of the recent turmoil within the Cult of Sigmar to gain more of a foothold, finding the city’s leaders to be better disposed to their less doctrinal ways.[1b]

Individual Verenans exhibit the characteristics of their Goddess more completely than other priests—excepting those of Ranald, of course. Verenans are almost universally wise, and every one has studied extensively, so they can be called upon to discuss a variety of subjects. They never hesitate to dispense advice or engage in debate, a fact that leads many to opine that Verenans are all arrogant. Still, Verenans are diplomatic and despite popular belief are rarely judgmental, preferring to consider all sides of an argument before forming their own opinions. They are often poked fun at because of their highly considered nature, jokingly said to be a slow and indecisive folk. This can get Verenans into difficulty, as they endlessly consider opposing arguments, unable to act until they have assessed all sides of a situation.[1b]

Verenans hold justice above all other values. No Verenan would allow a crime to go unpunished, to allow a criminal to go without payment for their misdeeds. A rare few Verenans take this beyond simply dispensing justice; these fanatics act as judge, jury and executioner, meting punishment to any who cross their paths. For the most part though, Verenans would sooner turn the accused over to the local authorities so the proper criminal process can take place. In places where the local authorities are corrupt or biased, Verenans have been known to organise their own underground courts and oversee the proceedings themselves.[1b]

Verenan Missionaries

"Beware of doubt, but beware more those who have no doubt."
Verenean saying.[2a]

As part of the cult’s mandate to spread the ideas of learning and justice, there are some Verenan priests who take to wandering the Old World as missionaries. These missionaries travel to lands where tyrants rule—Kislev, Bretonnia and the Border Princes, for example—where the ideas of justice and learning are either ignored or set aside in favour of despotism. This does not make the missionaries popular with the rulers of such lands, and many actively persecute priests of Verena as a result, whether missionaries or not. Three missionaries were recently executed in Brionne, where they were accused of working as anarchists and dangerous dissidents. Their executors were not the local nobility but the peasants themselves, who did not want the rabble-rousing priests to bring any unwanted attention from the nobility. This accusation is not without precedence, however; more than one tyrant has been brought down by trouble inspired by Verenan rhetoric, and many would sooner act preemptively and risk the wrath of the Cult of Verena than that of their people.[1b][1c]

Beliefs

The Cult of Verena considers two things to be the founding principles of civilisation: learning and justice. It believes Mankind can only be bettered by embracing wisdom, truth and justice, but that Man must also learn to better itself, rather than have such concepts forced upon it.[1c]

Verenans preach the importance of knowledge and learning, and consider all knowledge to be equal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, or how dangerous others consider it to be. They believe in the truth as a concept and an ideal, but acknowledge that the truth itself is subjective and ultimately unknowable.[1c]

Verenans also uphold the sanctity of justice. They do not believe in the letter of the law, as that suggests that the words and ideals of one Man are greater than another, but do believe in the spirit of the law. Justice is blind, and so too all Verenans must be above prejudice and friendship, judging a case on the facts and evidence alone. In the eyes of the Cult of Verena, justice must be seen to be done, and to many the process is more important than the outcome. Verenans oppose tyranny and oppression, as well as injustice.[1c]

The greatest crimes to a Verenan are to wilfully allow injustice to be done, or to allow knowledge to be lost.[1c]

Some Verenans believe in the concept of enlightenment through the pursuit of knowledge and truth, although this is not a mainstream belief.[1c]

Strictures

  • Safeguard knowledge at all costs,[3a] for it is the foundation stone for civilisation.
  • All knowledge is equally important.
  • Preserve your judgement from fear or favour.
  • Speak the truth impartially.[3a]
  • Arbitrate disputes whenever you can, do not refuse when asked to do so.[3a]
  • Do not allow yourself to become a tool of injustice or heresy.[3a]
  • Combat is a last resort,[3a] but do not fear to wield the sword of justice.

Penances

A penances from Verena typically sets her cultist on a mission involving knowledge or justice. A penitent may be tasked with recovering a forgotten lorebook, or mediating a boundary dispute.[3a]

Initiation

As with other cults in the Old World, the path of becoming a servant of Verena is not an easy one. In fact, it requires a great deal of patience and study, for the cult does not suffer fools. From the moment a candidate comes to a temple to partake of the accumulated lore, he becomes ensconced in a rigorous regimen of lectures, research, and learning. His existence, henceforth, is committed to gaining wisdom.[1c]

Clever candidates take the time to study at a university prior to seeking admittance to the Cult of Verena, since doing so expedites the process of acceptance. Many study at the University of Nuln, but some seek other, more avant garde, institutions such as those found in Altdorf. Those who train to become scholars and lawyers find the most success once they join the Cult of Verena.[1c]

Once the high priest decides initiates have received sufficient training, they must face a panel drawn from the wisest of the priests. The panel ask them questions on a variety of topics, from common knowledge to more specialised subjects, to judge their wisdom, and engage them in debate and discourse to judge their oratory and reasoning skills. Candidates that satisfy the panel are ordained as new priests.[1c]

Cultists

Verena’s cultists are an eclectic bunch, comprising a huge variety of academics, scholars, lawyers, magisters, and priests, all devoted to the worship of learning and justice.[1c] The Cult is also popular among the Grey and Light colleges.[3a]

Verenan cultists dress in a wealth of different manners, from hole-ridden sackcloth robes to scholarly gowns, and expensively tailored jackets and breeches. The most common garb for Verenan priests are flowing scholarly robes and gowns of white fabric, to represent the light of knowledge and reason. All cultists show their devotion by wearing amulets depicting owls, sets of scales, or swords. Verenan judges and high priests often wear rather heavier and more ornate robes than their contemporaries, to show their status, often accompanied by powdered wigs. Most cultists carry swords, especially on formal occasions, to symbolise the sword of justice. Priests rarely use these swords, except to make a point during a debate, but for more militant members of the cult they are far from decorative.[1c]

The more devout members of the cult take to decorating their costumes with fragments of lore, copying extracts from scrolls and books onto strips of parchment that they pin to their robes, painting their armour with quotations or even tattooing scripture onto their flesh.[1c]

Signs of Verena

Cultists of Verena greet each other with both hands held and cupped by their waist, then extended out to the sides, representing the Scales of Justice. Cultists use many signs and salutes during their debates and when they stand in for someone in a court of law. In order to show disapproval, cultists hold their left hand straight out, palm turned in and down. The right hand, held out straight, palm in and up, shows approval. Tapping one’s throat is a silent, polite way of expressing a desire to speak, while stroking an ear is a sign that another person should remain silent.[1h]

When Verenans believe someone is lying, they’ll stroke their chin. Many Verenans also close their eyes before making a decision, to suggest the blindness of justice.[1h]

Structure

The official view of the cult is that Verena is its only head, it thus has no high priest. No theocratic intermediary is needed, for the truth should be evident to any of her followers.[3a] Instead, the Cult of Verena is, unusually for an Old World cult, organised along local lines, with the cult in each city—or even in each temple—managing its own affairs as a miniature cult. It is only when you consider Verena espouses wisdom over bureaucracy and justice over tyranny that the logic behind this organisation (or lack of it) becomes clear.[1d]

The view of the cult—although there are always arrogant and autocratic figures who disagree—is that it would be unjust and unwise for one temple or High Priest to arbitrarily impose their opinions on every other temple. In practise, it is more a case that an entire cult full of opinionated, often arrogant, intellectuals is unlikely to ever agree on a single point, reducing the activities of the cult to continuous bickering and arguments.[1d]

Each temple comprises initiates and priests, all controlled by a single high priest. The high priest oversees the day-to-day running of the temple, supervising holy rites and controlling the temple library. The high priest is chosen from amongst the ranks of the temple’s priests, who come to a consensus as to who is the wisest and most learned of them all. A high priest remains in position so long as the consensus of the priests remain in his favour—a high priest outdebated too frequently or who repeatedly makes foolish decisions quickly loses respect and authority and can be stripped of their rank.[1d]

Verena’s cult is divided into several vague philosophical and ideological schools—no closer to established organisations than the cult itself—sharing similar ideologies. These schools are by no means mutually exclusive, with some priests belonging to several, and many belonging to none. The two foremost schools are the Order of Scalebearers and the Order of Lorekeepers.[1d]

The Scalebearers focus on the aspect of Verena as the judge and arbiter. They believe justice is more important than learning, and they act as mediators. Scalebearers are sometimes assisted in their duties by templars from the Order of the Sword and Scale.[1d]

The Lorekeepers focus on the aspect of Verena as the guardian of knowledge. They believe learning is more important than justice, and are usually found in the role of librarians and scholars. The Lorekeepers are closely allied with the Order of Mysteries and the rarer Knights of the Scroll.[1d]

The cult does have several formal orders in addition to its schools of thought, foremost of which are the Order of Mysteries and the Order of Everlasting Light. These orders have usually begun as a Verenan cult that has outgrown its founding temple or assimilated several similarly thinking temples. To all intents and purposes, these orders are treated as any other temple of Verena, with a single High Priest overseeing lesser priests and initiates.[1d]

Sects

It could be said that every temple of Verena represents a separate sect within the Cult of Verena. Due to the fact that every temple is under its own jurisdiction, the manner in which Verena is worshipped and her are strictures interpreted varies greatly throughout the Empire, even varying between temples within a single city. In any other religion this would rip the cult apart in countless schisms, but Verenans embrace, nay even revel in these differences.[1e]

The cult does have its rather more fanatical members and orders that the more mainstream followers would rather ignore. Such hardliners are less tolerant of differing views and actively try to enforce their own viewpoint on others, be they Verenan or not. Verenan fanatics are tolerated by the cult, in the spirit of understanding, if not actively endorsed.[1e]

Verenan zealots cause trouble for local authorities, as they travel the roads of the Empire in the guise of travelling judges. These cultists stir up the local populace, rousing them to drag those they feel have wronged them in front of the zealots where they preside over ad-hoc courts and dispensing their own particular brand of justice. More moderate Verenans do their best to rein in such priests, for they see it as a perversion of the judicial system.[1e]

One such group of fanatics is the Scrollbearers. The Scrollbearers fervently believe knowledge is power, and actively crave this power. They do this by collecting and hoarding as many scrolls, tomes and books as they can get their hands on, by whatever means they can, even going as far as stealing books they cannot buy. Scrollbearers are far from altruistic, and jealously guard their collections from others. For this reason they are viewed with disdain by most Verenans, who believe in making knowledge available to all. There are some Verenans, however, who look upon the secretive wealth of knowledge in the hands of the Scrollbearers with more than a little envy.[1e]

Several minor sects of Verena worship her in various other aspects. The sect of Clio is popular with historians and explorers, worshipping her as Delver Into the Past. Verena has a male aspect, Renbaeth, who embodies the Perfect Lawyer, ceaselessly pursuing the truth. Scripsisti is Goddess of Calligraphers and Writing, and has taken on a more antagonistic role of late, railing against the spread of the printing press.[1e]

Lesser Orders

In addition to its schools and sects, the Cult of Verena does have a few distinct orders, though all but the Order of Mysteries are considered lesser orders.[1e]

Foremost of the lesser orders are the templars of Verena. The Goddess espouses the use of arms only as a last resort when rhetoric and wisdom have failed, but her strictures do include the provision that the sword of justice must be used when needed. There are two other templar orders in addition to the infamous Order of Everlasting Light, the Order of the Sword and Scale and the Knights of the Scroll.[1e]

Holy Sites

Verena Shrine

Bust of Verena, set amidst the tools of learning

Temples of Verena are generally large, stone buildings with colonnaded facades decorated with allegorical figures[3a] and light, airy interiors. They typically comprise a main hall lit from many high windows. Leading off from the hall are many smaller rooms used for meetings and trials, or serving as libraries and archives.[1f][3a]

Statues of Verena, of which most temples have at least one,[1f][3a] typically depict her seated on a throne[1f] with a book in her lap, holding a sword and a set of scales.[3a]

All are free to use the facilities of the temple. Anyone can make use of a temple’s libraries, although only cultists may borrow the books, and Verenan priests are always willing to help visitors with their research or answer any questions.[1f]

Meetings and negotiations may take place within a temple’s meeting rooms, under the gaze of Verena, and priests are often in attendance to help arbitrate disputes, or negotiate on behalf of one of the parties. Everything that takes place within a temple of Verena is treated with the utmost confidence. In smaller towns and villages that do not have their own law courts, a temple of Verena may act as the local court, with priests sitting in judgement over a trial.[1f]

Most places of knowledge or justice, such as libraries and courthouses, contain a shrine to Verena. Scholars and lawyers are also known to keep small personal shrines.[3a] Her shrines are usually smaller versions of the temples in design, with a roof supported by columns sheltering a small statue of Verena.[1f]

List of Known Miracles

Note: the following spells have been limited to fluff material only, and the translation thereof.

Verenan Petty Magic

The following prayers are only spoken by the Cult of Verena.[1i]

  • Blessing of Verana: Your prayer leaves a person within range keenly aware of injustice and tyranny.[1i]
  • Blessing of Wisdom: Your solemn prayer grants measured wisdom to a single person.[1i]

Lore of Verena

Verenans have no fixed prayers or rituals that the cult as a whole formally practises. Instead, each temple seems to support its own unique mixture of rites, as dictated by the local traditions and great minds that have created them.[1j]

However, in general, there are three broad camps into which each of the temples fall. Firstly, and controversially, some temples teach that justice should be the cult’s primary pursuit, not the vagaries of due process and law; all that matters is what is right, not what is necessarily legal (Verena the Just). Most temples agree that justice needs to be sought, but prefer to follow Empire law, and teach prayers and rites that also support their priest’s investigations into injustice (Verena the Judge). However, the majority of the cult’s priests follow a more balanced approach, and teach rituals that not only allow the priesthood to uncover injustice, but also show that Verena is a Goddess of wisdom and intelligence (Verena the Wise).[1j]

  • As Verana is my Witness: Simply by starting a sentence with “As Verena is my witness,” the truth of your words becomes evident to all listeners.[1j]
  • Eavesdrop: You can listen to what is happening in any area that you can see, no matter the distance. You hear things as if you were standing right there.[1j]
  • Owl's Wisdom: Your prayers flood your mind with the wisdom of your Goddess.[1k]
  • Preserve the Balance: Your prayers beg Verena to mete out justice to those that wrong her servant. Any crime committed against you during the duration, or within 1 minute previous to the casting, is immediately returned upon the criminal. If a thief stole your purse, the thief's purse would fall to the ground. Of course, any crime you commit will be returned upon you in turn.[1k]
  • Reprobate's Sentence: You ritualistically accuse a character of a crime and, if the accused is guilty, he suffers dire consequences until he confesses. The target of the spell must hear the entire 1-minute prayer. If he does so, and he is guilty of the crime you specify, the spell takes effect. So long as the guilty restrains him or herself from confessing to the appropriate authorities, they are sick to their stomach to the point of vomiting up all contents until confession is made.[1k]
  • Retribution: You chant the “Prayer of Retribution,” and the guilty are justly punished by the wrath of Verena.[1k][1l]
  • Shackles of Verana: You immobilise a character with invisible shackles of magical power.[1l]
  • Sword of Justice: When all other options have failed, your prayers empower your weapon, which must be a sword, as an instrument for Verena’s justice.[1l]
  • The Blind Maiden: Your prayers allow you to see the truth, even when it is blinded from you. This includes lies, illusions, hidden individuals or objects, and even seeing through a blindfold as if it were not there.[1l]
  • The Past Revealed: You can touch one item and learn the three most important things about its past.[1l]
  • Trial by Fire: You subject one person to the ultimate test of guilt or innocence. You accuse one character within range of a grave injustice, and that character is immediately engulfed in divine flames. This miracle is not lightly used. Verenans using this spell in a foolish or profligate manner are severely “corrected” by cult superiors.[1l]
  • Words of Truth: You may ask a person one question (which he must be able to hear and understand). Note that a person so compelled will answer with what he believes to be true, whether or not it actually is true. A person can only be asked the same question with this spell once (and rewordings and mild variants count; questions must be substantially different).[1l]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG (2nd ED) -- Tome of Salvation
    • 1a: pg. 71
    • 1b: pg. 72
    • 1c: pg. 73
    • 1d: pg. 74
    • 1e: pg. 75
    • 1f: pg. 76
    • 1g: pg. 87
    • 1h: pg. 89
    • 1i: pg. 218
    • 1j: pg. 237
    • 1k: pg. 238
    • 1l: pg. 239
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG (3rd ED) -- Signs of Faith
    • 2a: pg. 19
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG (4th ED) -- Core Rulebook
    • 3a: pg. 214

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