OroseiranismThe Dragonspine Mountains, like all regions of Imythess, contain diverse religions and even variations on the same religion. One of these faiths forms a prominent part of life for many remote communities in the mountains, especially on the eastern side of the range.
Oroseiranism, known by scholars as "Oroseiran polytheism" and by critics as "monster-worship," holds that gods and mortals coexist in the same world but have their own distinctive traits. In this belief system, all gods are monstrous and wild. Gods should be treated with respect when encountered, but should otherwise be avoided.
Adherents, called Oroseirans [oh-ROH-say-rens], believe that the world contains a huge number of gods. These gods are generally based on aspects of nature as well as various other themes. Rather than the impractical task of worshiping all of them, adherents tend to pick a category of god or a select few to worship -- or they might change which god they venerate depending on the need. More lax Oroseirans subscribe to the religion's worldview but don't actively worship any one god.
Your typical Oroseiran would think a religion is odd if it worships a god that has a humanoid shape and is wise, highly intelligent, and capable of making complex plans, because these are the very things that in their belief system distinguish mortals from gods. A few of the more smug adherents would make fun of those who are "foolish enough to worship powerful mortals."
Wise Mortals and Wild Gods
The term "oroseiran" literally means "[a person] who fears the mountains." This term started as an exonym -- a word that outsiders used to refer to believers. "Fearing the mountains" is a reference to one Oroseiran belief that every mountain peak is tended by a monstrous god that should be avoided.
This was later adopted by believers as a term of convenience. Although the belief system was widespread in the region for a long time, there was never any close, formal association between adherents besides the normal kin and community groups. The religion and its mythos spread through oral tradition.
There have been recent attempts to formalize aspects of Oroseiran belief. Many stories have been transcribed into tomes of lore, for example. There have also been attempts to better categorize the different types of gods, which are recorded in print now as well. Despite all of this, you'll never find a church or temple or other physical institution for this religion.
Oroseirans believe that two broad classes of living thing, gods and mortals, coexist in a single world: Chaon. In the Oroseiran belief system, the term "mortal" refers to any sapient non-god. It has nothing to do with how long an entity lives.
There are many different kinds of gods and mortals, but the two categories have some distinct traits.
- Gods pair great power with a feral demeanor. It would be unheard of for a god to look human or have a human form of intelligence, such as culture. Instinct plays a large role in their nature. Every individual god represents or protects something (e.g. "God of every tree," a common Oroseiran interjection, refers to the many gods that each protect individual old-growth trees in the lower elevations of the Dragonspines).
- Mortals are sapient and usually live in communities. They have language and culture. Unlike gods, mortals are capable of developing wisdom. They can range greatly in power, usually through their own efforts rather than something inherent to their existence (although gods can also grow in power). Unlike gods, it is up to the individual mortal to determine their role and purpose in life.
- Animals, plants, and other non-sapient lifeforms are neither mortals nor gods. They exist as part of the world. Mortals and gods both sometimes take on the traits of these other organisms (e.g. a mortal with vines growing along their skin, or a god that looks like an enormous wolf).
The universe is centered around Chaon, where gods and mortals coexist. Traditionally this religion included no other worlds in their cosmology. People who die will physically and spiritually become part of nature; there is no afterlife.
The presence of parallel planes in Oroseiran cosmology depends on how much contact the community in question has with the outside world. Even if certain adherents are aware of the Sea of Planes theory, they tend to see those other worlds as insignificant compared to Chaon. Some might fit the Oroseiran worldview into these new parallel planes, which in their mind also contains a duality of gods and mortals -- just in a different location in the universe.
More on Gods
The appearance of gods varies greatly, but is generally themed after something in nature. (Scholars often categorize these gods as "nature gods" or "godlike nature spirits" when comparing them to other religions). There are no gods that look like humans or other mortal species; at best, they might look like animals. These monstrous gods vary in size and physiology, as well. Some can look extremely alien or just plain frightening.
Gods in this religion can be killed, and often are. Gods might kill other gods in territorial disputes or similar conflicts. Mortals are also capable of killing gods, although doing so can be tricky in some cases where the god's vulnerabilities aren't clear. Gods can also be predators. Predatory gods might hunt and eat animals, mortals, other gods, or a combination. Some gods take in sustenance from unusual sources, such as storms or fire.
Since morality is unique to mortals, gods are seen as completely independent of the concept. Being so far removed from good and evil, individual gods tend to be considered in terms of their set of behaviors such as how aggressive they are or how they respond to certain things. Preparing for an encounter with a god is like preparing for an encounter with an animal. For example, it's common knowledge that some types of animal will run from a threat while others will stand and fight. Similarly, gods vary in how harmful or harmless they are to the average person. Knowledge of which gods to avoid at all costs due to their dangerous behavior is passed through oral tradition and hearsay.