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Vyolstagrad and Stamtral

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Perun (Odin) - Authority, knowledge, wisdom, sky, storms, winds
Dazbog (Ixion) - Light, strength, sun, heroism, fire, war, banish darkness
Mokosz (Terra - Creation, birth, life cycle, prosperity, fertility, earth
Svarog (Wayland) - Metallurgy, crafts, smiths, armourers, engineering, fire
Svetovid (Halav - War, strength, determination
Porewit (Forsetta) - Justice, law, obedience and loyalty, sincerity
Jarilo (Frey) - Virility, friendship, fertility, life cycle, battle
Lada (Freyja) - Fertility, abundance, beauty, love, harmony, joy, art
Zir (Great One) - Dragons, knowledge, magic
Zorya (Norn) - Time, fate, divination, visions
Veles (Loki) - Deceit, lies, betrayal, intrigue, guile
Chernobog (Thanatos) - Death, destruction, oblivion
Marzanna (Hel) - Darkness and cold energy, evil, witchcraft, corruption
1. The Duchies of Vyolstagrad and Stamtral are described in the adventure module CM4: Earthshaker, which are described as two small fiefdoms in perennial discord situated in the Norwold hinterland and populated by the same ethnic group of Slavo–Russian traits. I have therefore taken as a model the Slav mythology of the real world for creating a similar representation of the Vatski cult, or the cult of the ethnic group that populate the region of Norwold found between the Wyrmsteeth and Denagoth (which extends well beyond the borders of the two duchies, here to take as a model of the region).
2. According to the Vatski cult, which takes many of its legends from the Asatru belief of the nearby Northmen, at the start of the world there was only the chaos whirling around the Great Oak, the sacred tree pivot of the world. From the chaos escaped the three Zorya, also called Aurore: Utrennaya, the morning star, Vechernaya, the evening star, and Pulonochnaya, the night star. They started to gather the strands of chaos behind them and placed order in the universe, separating life from death. From life Perun (the sky), Dazbog (the sun) and Mokosz (the earth) took form, from the death instead sprang their twins Veles (deceit), Chernobog (destruction) and Marzanna (cold and shadow). The three Zorya decreed that they would have had to coexist in order to balance the world and avoid returning everything to Chaos, and therefore gave to Perun (the first to have taken life) the task of populating the Great Oak. Perun then breathed on the higher branches, forming plains and forests, and the leaves that fell on this wet land from his breath becoming the first mortals, humans and animals. He was later joined to the sister Mokosz, who began to give birth to a line of divinities. But in answer the unfaithful Veles spat from its own throat the serpent Zmey, which killed all the first nine children of Perun and began to make raids among the mortals, killing and stealing their livestock in order to take them to his master. Seeing what was happening, Dazbog went to the aid of his brother and gained his permission, to join with Mokosz in order to sire Svarog, the child of fire. Svarog used the ability he inherited from his father for creating a plough and magical nails, and with the help of Jarilo, the tenth surviving son of Perun, and of their fathers, he nailed the language of Zmey to the plough and then made a furrow in the Great Tree, thus dividing the land of the dead from that of the living. Perun took possession of the land of the living, on the highest branches of the Oak, and relegated Veles, his brothers and his unfaithful serpent in that of the dead, to the roots of the Great Oak, dominating them from above. Later on Perun chose the most wise and loyal among the dragons, Zir, and revealed to him the most potent arcane secrets, with the task of guarding the source of life and magic and watching the moves of the triad of death.
3. Dazbog instead chose to remain in the highest point of the Great Oak, and to him was entrusted the task of bringing the sun in the world, for separating the light from the darkness and allows that both the Immortal of the day and that of the night could visit the world of the living. In order to have other allies, Perun is still joined to the sister and had like children the Immortals Lada (beauty), Porewit (justice) and Svetovid (the warrior). Svarog by his song taught to the mortals the use of fire and iron and they learnt to forge iron arms and armour, to dominate nature and fight the hordes of evil in the name of Perun.
4. Perun (Odin) is the supreme Immortal of the Vatski pantheon, followed by Dazbog (Ixion), Immortal of the sun, and by Mokosz (Terra), the Immortal of fertility, earth and of the holiest femininity, even if in the Vatski culture the woman by definition is submissive to the man and has always had a lesser rank to them, based on the natural order of the cosmos. The Vatski cult lives on the basis of the Manichaean dualism between good and evil, chaos and order, while the triad of life (Perun – Dazbog – Mokosz) found its exact opposites in the exponents of the triad of death (Veles – Chernobog – Marzanna), like them two males and one female, patrons of all the monstrous creatures that threaten the Vatski. According to the cult however, as having decreed the supreme arbiter of the fate, the Zorya, it is opportune that they all have their position in the universe, and also therefore the priests of the triad of death are tolerated in the Vatski society, provided that they always submit to the authority of the clerics of the triad of life. This also shows the Importance that has the number 3 as the basis for the structure of the universe and that often reoccurs both as a sacred number in the religion, and as real number in the customs and mores or in the structure of the Vatski society.
5. Dazbog (Ixion), was also called Triglav, or Holy Triad (around the sacred number 3), given that he unites three different aspects: the rising sun, epitaph of life and light; the midday sun, the most brilliant and hottest, symbol of strength and war; and the setting sun, or death and peace in expectation of rebirth. He is therefore the symbol of the eternal life cycle, and as White Immortal (this is the meaning of his name) is the opposite of Chernabog, the Black Immortal of death.
6. Svarog (Wayland) is extremely popular among the Vatski since he possesses the secrets of metallurgy, the supreme art for this culture as is only thanks to it that they are able to fight (making arms and armour), to survive (creating defences and warming themselves with fire) and to prosper (constructing tools for trade).
7. Svetovid (Halav) is an extremely popular Immortal among the warlike Vatski. This cult is probably the common link that allowed the Vandar (arbitrary name) invaders originating from the north, to enter several times into the lands of the Traldar after 950 BC, of amalgamating with Traldar (then followers of Halav and Petra) into forming the nation of Traladara after 4 centuries of power sharing, causing the Greek-like culture of the Traldar to change into the Slav–Romanian culture of the Traladarans.
8. Also Zir (Great One) was worshipped and respected by the Vatski, as loyal allies of Perun and great keeper of the mysteries of magic. For this the dragons that populate the nearby mountains are feared and respected as descendents of the great Zir, even if like the Vatski they have learnt at their own expense, not all the dragons are worthy of the honour and respect that the Vatski demonstrate, given that some (the most evil and chaotic) often took advantage of their superiority in order to destroy or raid the Vatski settlements. The folk explained this hostility with the hypothesis that some of them are in realty the children of Zmey, the serpent created by Veles, and can be disguised by dragons in order to deceive the mortals and bring harm to the protégées of Perun. For this the Vatski have learnt to be cautious in the deals with the dragons: didn’t attack them on sight and the honour, but tend to never completely trust until the good faith of the creature has been proven.