Just as Sigmar began his existence as a mortal man who elevated his status to that of a God, so too are there other people that are held in extremely high esteem by the citizens of the Empire. Although no other person in “recent” memory has achieved the same status as Sigmar, those individuals that show unparalleled piety, belief, and force of will are treated as demi-Gods by many Old Worlders.[1a]
Although they go by many other titles, the most common moniker attached to these esteemed individuals is “Venerated Soul.” Another popular title is “Pious” and the two can be used interchangeably. While Venerated Souls are obviously held in the highest regard within the cult they belong to, they are almost universally respected among all the people of the Old World, due to their vigilance, deep faith, and sacrifices in the name of their God. However, there are times when one person’s Venerated Soul is another person’s heretic.[1a]
Each cult has its own methods of determining what makes cultists venerated members. Regardless, prospective individuals must show unswerving faith, strength in the face of adversity, and typically some traits of martyrdom. The more martial cults, such as those of Sigmar and Ulric, pull their Venerated Souls from warrior-priests, mighty generals, and dedicated cultists who perished in battle against unspeakable odds. The Cult of Shallya chooses those who put the lives of others far before their own, curing ills despite the odds, or bringing solace to the worst cases. Verenans choose their Venerated Souls from the most respected scholars and orators, while the Cult of Manann picks the hardiest of seadogs who have survived innumerable hardships on the waters.[1a]
Venerated Souls form minor pantheons beneath the banner of their patron deity, representing some historic event or narrow focus. There are Venerated Souls for the protection of children, martyrdom in battle, hearth fires, the prosperity of scriveners, and thousands of other things, some of which that are so obscure as to be almost ludicrous. Needless to say, the vast majority of these Venerated Souls are known or recognised by others of their faith, although there is usually only a handful called on with great frequency.[1a]
List of Known Venerated Souls
Described here is a small sample of some of the Venerated Souls found throughout the Empire. As mentioned before, not all of them are well known or worshipped by all cultists all the time. However, it’s a safe bet that almost every act or situation has a patron Venerated Soul tied to it by one of the cults.
- Brother Shawl (Morr) -- Venerated of the wrongfully slain.
- Berndt of Wurtbad (Sigmar) -- Venerated of the chaste, humble, poor and obedient.
- Eckhardt the Brave (Sigmar) -- Venerated of rural law enforcers.
- Greta Olga (Sigmar) -- Venerated of brewers.
- Gretchen of Woe (Morr) -- Venerated of the uninterred and abandoned.
- Ranalt Waldhauss (Taal and Rhya) -- Venerated of trackers and lone hunters.
- Sigmund Zweiger (Verena) -- Venerated of law clerks.
A Champion of the Gods
Characters may strive to embrace the teachings of their patron deity in the hopes that they, one day, join the ranks of the Venerated Souls. Ironically, however, those that actively try to become one rarely do. This is because gaining the status of a Venerated Soul is exceedingly difficult, and invariably involves the martyrdom of the person involved.[1b]
One of the purposes of the Grand Conclave is debating and choosing new Venerated Souls to be officially recognised by the cults, and thus, the Empire. To be included in this list, a contender must have performed either some single, notable act or lived a life of impeccable devotion to his or her deity. Martyrdom factors heavily into this decision, as it proves that the Cultist died while sticking to his faith and principles. Also, there must be irrefutable proof that the person in question performed some form of miracle—there must be witnesses, written accounts, or physical evidence of some kind. Verifying the proof of these miracles can take years, even decades, and as a result, most Venerated Souls are named long after their death. There are extremely few instances in which a living person is so named and usually this happens while they lie on their deathbed. In addition, the Grand Conclave must be unanimous in their decision to name a new Venerated Soul. Considering the numerous political and religious implications of naming someone without full support, members of the Grand Conclave are very careful in their voting.[1b]
A contender is usually chosen for a vote due to overwhelming public pressure and reverence. If priests are constantly invoking the name of some cultist that exemplify their God’s tenants, then the superiors of the cult are bound to listen eventually and bring the name up at the next Grand Conclave. Again, this petitioning may take years to come to fruition, and given the fickle nature of the citizens of the Empire, someone popular today may not last the test of time for them to be chosen as a Venerated Soul.[1b]
Praying to Venerated Souls
There may be times in which a cultist prays to a Venerated Soul rather than their specific deity, such as praying to Thea Disl when protecting his home from the predations of Greenskins. In most cases, praying to a Venerated Soul has the same results as praying to a deity, as the Venerated Soul gains her power from the deity in the first place.[1b]