Religion

Religion is an integral part of Aatos, and the words Legendary Pokemon and God are oftentimes interchangeable. Temples to the gods abound throughout Aatos, and citizens of the world stop to pay their respects daily. Oftentimes, people will have a small idol of their patron deity in their house. Those with more wealth oftentimes have small altars in their houses with incense and offering trays. Reverence to the gods is expected, and the temple is a gathering point for villagers in small towns. Churches and cathedrals are abound in the cities, with stained glass windows, towering spires, loud bell towers, and large congregations. Priests to the various gods, whose statues line the worship area, perform rites throughout the day and week. Libations are made on major holidays, and towns are often put on hold for major celebrations.

The Creation Mythos: In the beginning, there was nothing but an egg. It was plain, completely white. The egg hatched, birthing Arceus, The Alpha. He gazed into the emptiness of the world and was saddened. He had not thing to admire, nothing to look upon with pleasure. To rectify this, he created three eggs: one blue, one pink, and one red. The blue egg hatched into Dialga, master of time. The Pink egg hatched into Palkia, ruler of space. The red egg formed into Giratina, the bridge between the two. With a roar, Dialga created timeflow, and Palkia created space with a slash of his claws. Giratina stabalized the two, and allowed them to live in harmony with each other. The material realm had been created. Arceus summoned his strength, and created his next son, Groudon. "Groudon, you the materials of Earth and Sun. Create a planet and a sun to warm it." Groudon stirred, rousing his great power. He drew in the debris, forming a sphere. He landed on the sphere. He drew in a breathe and exhaled outwards. Th gases he released coalesced and ignited, creating the Sun. "Good work my son. Your creation is beautiful, but incomplete." With a bow of his head, Arceus created another, a daughter Kyogre. "My daughter, you control water and rain. Fill your brother's planet with water." Kyogre bellowed and drew many asteroids, and their ice, to the forming planet. Arceus created one more brother, Rayquaza. He tasked Rayquaza to oversee his brother and sister, and to keep the planet's atmosphere in check. But Arceus found the world bleak, filled with raw elements but little form, so Arceus took some primordial clay and created Regigigas. He taxed the titan with shaping the world. Gigas tried, but even for his size and strength, it was too much for him. He asked Arceus to make him a brother to assist him. But Arceus refused. "I crafted you from primordial clay. You are my son. Look around you. You have materials all around you to create children of your own." Inspired by his father's words, Gigas reached down and scooped up a clump of ground beneath him. In the handful was 3 large chunks: one of ice, one of iron and one of bedrock. From these chunks he formed 3 sons: Regirock, Regice and Registeel. He instructed his sons to assist him in his task. They all began work. Registeel began working the core of the planet. Regirock began smoothing the bed rock. Regice began moving icebergs to the poles. But there was only 3 of them, and the planet was large. Gigas decided he need more sons. So, the orginal 3 brought their father more material, and made them more brothers. Soon, the Regi brothers, thousands in number, began to shape the world. The Registeel's gathered the metals, and drew them down below the surface, forming the planets core and magma. The Regirocks gathered all the bed rock and packed them into large sheets, which rested on the magma. The Regice gathered the icebergs, placing some on either poles, bringing others to the equator where they melted, further filling the seas. The process was hard, and many Regi's incorporated themselves into their work. In the end, only a few remained. They returned to their father, their work completed. Together, they went to rest, their work complete.

Arcues explored the planet, and found it beautiful, but lonely. His creation lacked a family of its own. So Arceus created one more egg, a rosy pink. The egg hatched, but something went wrong in the process. Instead of one perfect being, two were formed - both imperfect. Mew and Mewtwo, siblings under Arceus. Mew had compassion and empathy, but mewtwo had raw power. Arceus charged the two with populating the world with living beings. Mew split itself into hundreds of copies, and each copy transformed into a species of pokemon. These pokemon were intelligent, but due to Mew's weakness, they were intrinsically connected to the earth. Without this link, the pokemon could not survive. Mewtwo created a race called humans. Though they existed independently of the earth and were able to wield more energy than pokemon, they were soulless beings without any form of sentience or emotion. Arceus saw this and was saddened him. He commanded mew to bestow upon humans emotion, knowledge, and willpower. Mew split three more times, creating Azlef, Mespirit, and Uxie. These being spread over the world, showering humanity with these qualities and making them sentient beings. Mewtwo saw this, and saw that Mew had power that he would never have, and for this, he eternally resented his brother. This is how the world was formed.

Just because a legendary was not mentioned in the creation mythos does not mean that they are not viewed as deities, simply that they are not part of the creation of the world or humanity.

The Common Pantheon Most citizens of Aatos worship what is known as the Common Pantheon. This pantheon includes most of the legendary pokemon in Aatos. Temples and churches to the Common Pantheon include small altars to most of the deities and a larger one to Arceus. Individuals often choose a patron deity, or a deity that they devote special time and attention to worshiping for their own individual reasons. To worshipers of the Common Pantheon, the gods are pokemon - pokemon that can be captured, but they are so powerful that any attempt would be met with failure and the destruction of the foolish humans. They point to the Vardamir incident as evidence that the gods should not be interfered with, and to the Serrin incident that the gods will solve their own problems (see History and Serrin's regional history respectively). They do recognize that some of the weaker gods ally with humans and sometimes allow themselves to be captured when it serves their purposes. The members of the common pantheon, and the aspects of each deity, are as follows:

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  • Mew: The creator of pokemon and the ultimate source of emotion and empathy in the world, Mew is revered as the mother.
  • Mewtwo: Mewtwo is seen as the cold and distant maker of humankind. Though few revere him due to his violent tendencies, he is well respected. Mewtwo is also well known for getting involved in human affairs.
  • Heatran/Volcanion: Groudon created several children called heatran and volcanion to watch over his volcanoes while he attended the plates of the earth. Volcanion are known for causing underwater volcanoes to erupt and form small islands, while Heatran inhabits land based Volcanos. They are considered a relatively minor god everywhere but Silvastre, where Hetran is revered as the major god.
  • Articuno/Zapdos/Moltres: To most, these birds are known as guardians of the sky. To the few who know the truth, they are the guardians of wild magic and keepers of the balance.
  • Raiku/Entei/Suicune: The messengers of the gods, the legendary beasts are well known for their fast speeds. They are one of the most common gods to interact with humans, as they bring tidings from the greater gods.
  • Regirock/Regiice/Registeel/Regigigas: The shapers of the world, these primordial golems lurk throughout the world in ancient chambers older than time. Regigigas controls them all remotely, though they have not been activated in years.
  • Cobalian/Terrakion/Virizeo/Keldeo: Created after the Vardamir incident by Arceus to protect humans against the wrath of Giratina, these are known as the four horses, and they are committed to the defense of humanity.
  • Uxie/Mespirit/Azelf: The givers of emotion, knowledge, and willpower, these pokemon are recognized as the saviors of humanity.
  • Tornadous/Thundrous/Landrous: Harbringers of great storms, these pokemon are sent by the higher gods to punish humans whose hubris reaches higher than it should.
  • Lugia/Ho-Oh: Greatly revered pokemon, Lugia and Ho-Oh spend their time ensuring that the other gods do not go into excess when punishing or rewarding humanity.
  • Latios/Latias: Sent by the high gods to watch over humanity, Latios and latias roam the world in human forms.
  • Phione/Manaphy: Patrons of sailors and fishermen, these benevolent rulers of the sea are famed for their kindness. They are the children of Kyogre.
  • Celebi: Protector of the forests and maintainer of the time continuum.
  • Jirachi: The wish granter, Jirachi is renowned for letting itself be captured by humans.
  • Victini: The god of victory, Vicinti is revered by generals who hope for success in war.
  • Shaymin: Shaymin was created by Arceus to combat the corrupted pokemon. It possesses the ability to purify pokemon, and it can detoxify any living creature. Shaymin also serves as the patron of most farmers and botanists, as plants and growing things fall under its domains.
  • Meloetta: Helper of travelling bards, Meloetta assists humanity in keeping its history and tradition by bestowing bards with the talent to tell wonderful epics. She is also known as the muse.
  • Hoopa: Hoopa was created by Arceus in order to allow its followers to enter the Distortion World. While it will always allow gods to pass through, it also seeks out mortals seeking to visit the Distortion World and grants them passage if it deems them worthy.
  • Deoxys: A creation of Giratina, Deoxys's home is in the void realm, but it spends much of its time in the material world looking for ways to further its masters goals.
  • Darkrai/Cresselia: Ferrymen of lost souls, these two legendaries take the departed to the next life. They are always racing to find the souls of the deceased before Giratina finds them. They also actively work to prevent disaster in the world by sending mortals dreams.
  • Kyogre/Groudon/Raquaza: Creators of the earth, sea, and sky, these three are revered as some of the creators of the world.
  • Reshiram/Zekrom/Kyurem: Children of Arceus, these beings are relatively new creations, though very powerful. They are looked on as the gods of war, who ensure that the conflicts are fought fairly and honorably. They directly answer to Vicinti.
  • Dialga/Palkia: Creators of space and time, these two beings were part of the original clutch of Arceus.
  • Giratina: Giritina is the sibling of Dialga and Palkia, though he could not be more different. He created the connection between space and time, stabilizing the world. After the Vardamir incident, he lost all his beauty and grace, and became a twisted being. He now seeks the death of all humanity, except for those of Kush - his chosen people. He takes as many lost souls as he can into the void to strengthen his power. During Arceus's confinement, he has been rapidly moving to improve his position, and is forcing many other gods to act against him.
  • Xerneas: Responsible for maintaining the life in the world, every living thing is in some way connected to Xerneas.
  • Yveltal: However, living things must eventually die, and Yveltal's role is to sever the connection to Xerneas when it is an individual's time. There are many of these, acting all over the world as sorts of grim reapers while only one Xerneas exists.
  • Zygarde: Zygarde is perhaps the chief subordinate of Famin, created for the soul purpose of eating the other gods. It travels until it would evolve past its 50% form and splits once more, constantly multiplying and growing, always staying close enough to its comrades to become a 100% Zygarde if it ever finds a God to challenge.
  • Arceus: The most powerful god, Arceus is the creator of all. He is currently trapped with the death spirit Famin in the Beacon of Serrin. Still, he is able to send messages to the other gods, and is seeking a way to escape without freeing the monster that he constantly battles.

Monotheistic Church of Arceus:
Based in Serrin, this church was founded shortly after Famin invaded Serrin with his army of corrupted pokemon and Arceus saved them. Practitioners believe that Arceus is the one true god who created the world and everything in it. This was a distinct step from the traditional values and stories of the Common Pantheon, in which Arceus was simply the head of a whole host of heavenly beings. In this religious ideology, the other 'legendary pokemon' exist, but they are not gods. Instead, they are servants of Arceus. They are very powerful servants, but in the end they are simply pokemon. Specifically, they worship the Beacon in which Arceus is currently confined, and search for a way to release him without letting out Famin.

The religion has not spread far from Serrin, but it holds complete domination in that country. The church is organized into three main branches. The Light of the Beacon is chosen by Arceus, with whom he communes directly with daily. The Light is responsible for passing down theological and religious laws, as well as ruling the country in place of the monarch. She has no official power of the military, but her influence with the men is great, as they view her as a savior to humanity. The Council of Bishops holds control over the military of Serrin. Their power is checked however, by the Light. They tread carefully when they go against her wishes, as their men may refuse to serve them and instead honor the Light's wishes. They also have veto power of governmental laws the Light passes down if they come to a unanimous agreement. The final branch is the friars. The friars live among the common people, work with them to improve conditions, and run charities. Every four years, they come together as a giant group in Rivenkeep to discuss issues. Any decisions they reach are considered the voice of the people, and are almost always listened to. However, such a large group rarely agrees on anything of importance, so this power is not often used. They are sworn truthtellers, and friars are universally trusted. A letter of recommendation from an established friar goes a long way towards getting your foot into the door of the Serrin Church. Power politics are common inside the church's hierarchy.

While most members of the Monotheistic Church of Arceus are tolerant of other religions, a small minority are not. These people persecute and discriminate against those who chose to ignore the teachings of the Light, and they are often violent. This has created a schism in the church, and it has slowly been growing.

Ohtan Cult to Celebi:
The people of Ohtar almost strictly worship Celebi. They view her as the creator and keeper of the forest that they call home, and she chose to create an altar there that she uses to travel the timestream. While they do not deny the existence of gods other than Celebi like the Church of Arceus, they do not worship or revere them, but instead choose to focus their energy on their savior. Their religion also prompted their hate of symbol magic, as a prophecy was made that the death of Celebi would occur at some point in the timestream due to the use of symbol magic. Nobody knows if this event has occurred, but Celebi is still active in the timestream.

Sassnid Church of the Void:
The Sassnid people that live in Chandra and Carthak place specific emphasis on worshiping Giratina. They believe it is their responsibility to make up for the mistake of the Vardamir empire a millenia ago, and to win the forgiveness of the vengeful god. They build extravagant temples to Giratina and perform live sacrifices. They also built massive tombs for their pharaohs in the style of what they believe Giratina's void realm looks like. Though Giratina has not yet forgiven humanity, he has made the Sassnids his chosen people, especially those who inhabit Kush. While these people recognize the existence of the other gods, they refuse to worship them: those gods refused to give humanity the punishment it deserved to avenge the deformation of Giratina.

The Sassnid Church has created an ideology in its culture that seems veritably alien to anybody who isn't familiar with the practices of the church. Humans scarred Giritina and twisted his form in order for their own perverted sense of greed, so churchgoers have sworn not to physically deform any living thing. Though this does not affect pokemon battling, it does have a serious impact on the lifestyle choices of the Sassnid people. Almost half of the population practice vegetarianism, and some even refuse to use the byproducts of pokemon such as milk or cheese. The other half eat meat, although they adhere to very stringent rituals on the care of pokemon before slaughter and the way the dead bodies of pokemon are handled and prepared for consumption. Pokemon are usually killed by use of instantaneous methods that do not physically harm the pokemon's body. Food preparation is done carefully so that the body and soul of the pokemon are not disrespected. It is effectively the height of sin to eat meat that is not prepared in such a way, and this causes Sassnids visiting other parts of the world to temporarily adopt a vegetarian diet so as to avoid inadvertently eating sacrilegious meat. This devotion to the care of pokemon is a core tenet of Sassnid society, and has become codified in Kushite law.

Carthaki Church of Groudon
One of the major reasons for the Sassnid/Carthak conflict that has raged on for centuries is their differing religious beliefs. The Carthakis worship Groudon as their ultimate master instead of Giratina. Much of this has to do with their people living in the desert, where the sun is both a bringer of life and a herald of death. They pray for summers that aren't too hot and for Groudon to allow water paths to their wells. Now that the Carthaks are in power, the Church of Groudon has risen in power exponentially.

Religion in Your Campaign
Religion and, by extension, legendary pokemon, can play as large or as small of a role as you want in any campaign. However, even small attention to religion can create a host of interesting characters and motivations. Encourage your players to chose a patron diety (or dieties), which adds a layer of depth to their designs. Cathedrals, temples, and religious wayhouses can serve as pseudo-pokecenters, providing free healing to those who pass through their walls (this may not be appropriate in all campaigns). Even a mention of a religious symbol on an NPCs clothing can provide your players with useful information about the values of that NPC and can provide a quick anchor for their character if you need to improvise something.

If you want religion to play a larger role in a campaign, consider including the church as either a benefactor or enemy of the PCs. Many churches are large enough to sponsor an adventuring party to work for them, performing duties that they are unable to. On a larger scale, PCs could be part of the Serrin Theocracy, working to free Arceus from its prison, destroying corrupted pokemon, and trying to unify the large schism present in the church. If you're looking for a religiously themed antagonist, extremist portions of Serrin are extremely bigoted (although religious fanatics of any faith can form a cult anywhere in the world and really threaten to destroy a region). Followers of Giritina are actively pursuing the forgiveness of humanity by bringing Giritina to the human realm, an action that could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths. The Ring of Shadows (See Organizations) is a religious organization actively seeking the end of the world and populating it with bloodthirsty monstrosities.

Another option to include religion in a campaign is if one of the PCs (or the party in its entirety) are chosen by one of the gods as a vessel for Divine power, drawing on any one of the legendary classes or features the increase their power. Alternatively, some legendary pokemon may allow themselves to be temporarily captured by a party and fight with it when their goals are aligned. In these cases, the PCs could even start a church themselves if they chose, relying on the religious power that they wield to solidify congregations and build a political powerhouse that could seriously change the religious landscape of the region.

Finally, a character or NPC could be seeing the reinstatement of the Vardamir Empire (again, see History for more information) and all of the lost symbol magic which it wielded. The gods would actively oppose this, especially if one of the individuals was seeking to recreate the incident in which a man tried to become a deity through Giratina's death. In this scenario, the PCs would either be asked by the pantheon to stop this from occurring, or, if the PCs were the ones trying to recreate the empire, would have to fight against the might of the gods themselves as they strive to achieve divinity.

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