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Old Faith

The Old Faith.

Some Imperial scholars believe they can trace the origins of many gods and religious practices of the Old World back to ancient tribal times. Little is known about this so-called "Old Faith" other than a few scratched runes and strange inscriptions. Believed to be a primitive form of human nature worship, traces of this elder religion can still be seen, if one knows where to look.

Some scholars point to common threads of myth and lore that span much of the Old World as proof that this old way was once a widespread religion. Certainly, the odd stone circles in which its adherents were said to perform their blood-soaked sacrifices can be found throughout the Empire of Man. Most of the present-day religious cults of the Old World dismiss this dead faith, and actively seek to subvert any "elder meaning" held by the remaining monoliths and circles. Only the priests of Taal and Rhya, together with the Jade and Amber Order of Imperial wizards, see any value in these eldritch and ancient standing stones. To some extent, the Cult of Taal and Rhya have since replaced and absorbed the remnants of the Old Faith with their own new doctrines[2a]

The Old Faith is the religion followed by Druids and Druidic Priests. Its origins are shrouded in the mists of prehistory and it is considerably older than the present-day Old World pantheon. The Old Faith could be described as pantheistic and revolves around the worship of nature and natural forces. It has strong associations with many ancient sites, such as barrows and stone circles, whose significance has long been forgotten by others.[1b]

Overview

There is no major deity or pantheon that governs the Old Faith. Although its devotees do sometimes talk of a goddess whom they call "The Mother," who symbolises the earth and the fertility of nature, they generally concern themselves with the forces of nature on a smaller scale, dealing with the energies which flow within the natural world; the concept of The Mother seems not to be a deity in a conventional sense, but an abstraction of the natural world and the primal energies used by the Druids.[1b]

Symbol

The Old Faith does not normally use symbols in the same way as the other cults of the Old World, although carvings of circles, spirals, and discs are sometimes associated with stone circles and barrows.[1b]

Worship

The Old Faith still exists in many parts of the Old World, principally in the north and west. As might be expected, it is strongest in rural areas, where there are large expanses of unspoilt natural landscape. Many Rangers follow the Old Faith, as well as Druids and Druidic Priests.[1b]

Temples

The Old Faith is based in the natural world and does not have formal shrines or temples. Instead, there are sacred groves -- small clearings in the depths of the forest which serve as places of meeting and worship. To the casual observer, there is nothing special to mark a grove as sacred, but they are instantly recognisable to a Druid or Druidic Priest.[1b]

It is possible for a follower of the Old Faith to gain blessings from "sacred groves" in the same way as the followers of other deities receive them from temples and shrines. Further, sacred groves may protect themselves from those who seek to desecrate them by using their magical abilities. If a Druid is present, the grove will not attempt to defend itself, as this is the Druid's duty. Druids who fail in this duty will not be able to use any spells until atonement has been made and the grove has been re-dedicated.[1b]

Stone circles are also sacred sites of the Old Faith; they are relics of the age in which the Old Faith had its origins and are valuable sources of magical energy to those who know how to tap their power. It is the duty of every Druidic Priest to protect stone circles and to repair ruined or damaged circles where necessary. A Druid who stands idly by while a stone circle is destroyed invites retribution of the type described above for sacred groves.[1b]

Friends and Enemies

Most of the other cults tolerate the Old Faith, as secretly they are slightly in awe of the powers of the Druids and the forces of nature for which they stand. Relations are perhaps best with the cult of Taal, since he is the husband of Rhya, who is considered a form of The Mother.[1b]

Holy Days

The main holy days of the Old Faith are the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, which mark the turning of the seasons. Lesser holy days are associated with the full and new moons.[1b]

Cult Requirements

Druids must be Human.[1b]

Familiars

New Druidic Priests are granted a vision in which a spirit-animal comes to them. This animal becomes the Druidic Priest's familiar and totem and follows the Druid everywhere. The familiar confers certain advantages to seal the pact between them and, in return, the Druid is required to keep certain strictures, in addition to the more general strictures of a Druidic Priest.[1b]

The familiar is visible only to the Druid to whom it is attached, although those with magical awareness will be able to detect it as a vague outline. The familiar appears as a white or light-grey individual of the animal species it represents, with eyes that glow a deep amber colour. Being a spirit, it occupies no space in the material world and can affect nothing in it. By the same token, it can pass through walls and other physical obstructions and can only be harmed by magic.[1b]

In addition to the skills granted by the Familiar type, the Druid is assured of a friendly, or at least neutral, reaction from all encountered animals of the familiar's species.[1c]

Strictures

All Druids adhere to the following strictures:[1c]

  • Never harm an animal, except in self-defence or for food.[1c]
  • Never tamper with a stone circle, standing stone, or barrow and prevent others from doing so whenever possible.[1c]

All Druids must commune with nature at least four times a year, at the spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices, spending 24 hours alone in natural surroundings corresponding to the environment favoured by their familiar's type. Druidic Priests must commune in this manner for 24 hours every full moon.[1c]

Druids must adhere to the following stricture in return for the advantages conferred by their familiars:[1c]

  • Never kill or injure, nor allow to be killed or injured, an animal of the familiar's species, even in self-defence.[1c]

Also, there are things that the Druid may or may not eat, according to the familiar's species. If the familiar is a herbivore (i.e., bison, elk, horse, rabbit, squirrel), the Druid must follow a strict vegetarian diet, with no meat or animal products. If the familiar is a predator (i.e., bat, cat, eagle, frog, owl, stoat, viper), the Druid may only eat meat and only the meat of animals which the Druid has killed personally. If the familiar is a fish-eater (i.e., otter, seal), the Druid may only eat fish, but need not always catch it personally. If the familiar is a scavenger or omnivore (i.e., bear, boar, fox, rat, raven, wolf), the Druid has no special dietary restrictions.[1c]

Finally, there are more specific strictures, which depend on the familiar type. These dictate the armour type a Druid is allowed to wear, whether or not the Druid can carry a shield, which weapons the Druid is not allowed to use and the times and places special to the Druid, where they can regenerate their magic through a ten-minute ritual.[1c]

Trials

It may be necessary for a Druid to undertake a trial before advancing to the career of Druidic Priest. If so, the familiar type will already have been decided, although the Druid will not be aware of it. The Druid does not actually receive the familiar, nor any of the associated benefits, until the trial is completed.[1c]

General Druidic trials might include finding and restoring (or arranging for the re-dedication of) a sacred grove or stone circle which has fallen into disuse, been ruined, or overrun by monsters.

A Druid with a bat familiar might be required to clear a rockfall or a monster from a cave that used to be a breeding roost, while a Druid with a frog or otter familiar might have to find and unblock a dried-up spring in a wild and inaccessible place or free a water-course which has been dammed up by a mudslide or rockfall.[1c]

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st ED -- Core Rulebook
    • 1a: pg. 151
    • 1b: pg. 206
    • 1c: pg. 207
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Sigmar's Heirs
    • 2a: pg. 40

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