Lord of War, Scourge of Battle, The Merciless
|Ethos||Crush your enemies.|
|Typical Worshipers||Warriors, fighters, soldiers, militia, guards|
|Head of the Church||Nine high priests (see below).|
|Demographics||35% Human, 30% Ogre, 20% Orc, 6% Dwarven, 4% Saurian, 5% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Worshiped widely throughout Ithria, but especially in the Coalition, the War Vale, Vorrik and Duthelm.|
|Holy Symbol||A dripping blade.|
Kael is the God of War in Ithria and one of the Elder Gods. He has ruled over battle fields for as long as there has been war. It is said that he watches every battle, no matter how large or small, and if it pleases him, he may join in. It is the hope and dream of many worshipers to stand in the midst of bloody battle, side by side with Kael. Some claim to have seen him, striding through the chaos, mere glimpses through the smoke, but this is enough to feed the stories and stir the hearts of the believers.
Kael is unequalled on the battle field, for he has never met his match. It is said that he is the Lord General of a vast horde of mighty warriors that fight battles across the multiverse in something the faithful call the Unending War.
Kael is concerned only with battle and victory. He has no interest in Barrinor's honor or Sarreth's healing or Vorkayne's magic. He cares only for the swing of the blade, the fountain of blood and the cry of the vanquished enemy.
In sculpture and tapestries, Kael is depicted as a heavily muscled humanoid. There is some debate as to whether he is a man or an ogre or something else entirely. All agree, however, that he is “monstrous”. Unlike Barrinor who fights in shining plate and with a gleaming blade, Kael wears simple mail and iron plate armor which is scratched, dented and blood stained. His sword is a single edged, iron sword. This weapon is straight and angular, little more than a hacking implement of death. It has no name, but the faithful call it "Kael's Cleaver".
According to the faithful of this church, Kael is the strongest of all gods and all other deities tremble at his approach.
Myths and Legends
Many are the tales told about the great war god Kael. Some say he arose from the spilt blood from the first murder. Others say he had been borne from the Chaos before Imarus came and brought Order.
The most popular tale is the one told around campfires to young warriors. There are several variations, but here is a typical version... Kael was a soldier who lived during the First Age, a great warrior of the Barakus Clans. Despite an obscure background, he became known for legendary feats of strength and ruthless combat tactics. He wandered the world using his skills in many battles and earning a name for himself.
He rose through the ranks of a great horde and soon came to command it. For years, he led the horde of warriors, serving as war chieftain for a dark sorceress witch of the Darzek Tribes. His victories were many and his fame grew. His strength and skill could not be matched. There came a time when he had grown so mighty that the sorceress began to fear him. She knew a direct confrontation could lead to her death, so she ordered him and his most loyal warriors to wage a distant battle and planned an ambush against him. The ambush caught Kael's party by surprise and battle was joined. Kael and his men were outnumbered fifty to one. Although they fought bravely, his men soon littered the ground, staining the dirt with their blood.
Kael, alone, and surrounded, fought on like a mad man. He was struck by a dozen arrows and his wounds bled like rivers. Eventually, overwhelmed by sheer numbers, he was wrestled to the ground and beaten to death with hammers. The mercenaries stood over his body and cheered.
With a great roar, Kael, with a crushed skull, rose and fought on. Such was his fury that Kael refused to die. His spirit animated his broken body and continued the battle. All around him, his own troops, loyal to him even in death, rose as walking corpses to fight with him. Kael and his troops butchered every last mercenary. Except one. A young warrior was spared to inform the world of Kael’s rebirth and the terrible battle that had been fought.
That day, the slain mercenaries rose from the dead and swore allegiance to Kael. With his army of unkillable soldiers, he marched to the castle of the sorceress and slew her. After reducing the castle to smoldering rubble, the army marched away and was not seen again. Worshipers claim that Kael and his immortal troops continue to wage war on another plane of existence. A place where the war is eternal.
Overview of the Church
Kael is the patron god of all those who make war. Most soldiers pray to him for victory in battle. Unlike the other Elder Gods, the worship of Kael transcends racial divisions and crosses political borders. In war and on the battle field, Kael is typically worshiped on BOTH sides.
Kael is one of the more popular gods. Every day, thousands of warriors all over the world sing battle chants to him and drink to his name. His name is often uttered as a curse and included in oaths. Many pray to him before and after a battle.
Although he is often grouped with the other Elder Gods as a member of the pantheon, Kael exists somewhat separate and apart of the others, a bit like Vorkayne. Where as the other Elder Gods tend to cooperate and ally themselves, few consider Kael a true ally. A common saying among the faithful of Kael is “we stand apart”. This implies that the faithful of Kael do not need the other gods. Some faithful take this to heart. They dismiss the civility of Imarus, the healing of Sarreth and the knowledge of Glavyris.
In the Rukemian Empire and other civilized lands of the east, the church of Kael is considered something of a lower class brutish faith, suitable for the common soldier and the peasant rabble. Many aristocrats consider it beneath them to worship the likes of such a brute. However, many nobles have found that the Kaelian faith placates the common soldiers and maintains order in the ranks. And so it is encouraged.
The religion of Kael is vast, with worshipers in every land. It is estimated the church of Kael has somewhere between 10 and 20 million followers throughout Ithria. Kael is extremely popular with the ogres and orcs of the world. As a result of this, Kael is the only Elder God to be worshiped widely in Duthelm and the Coalition. Kael is even worshiped in orcish clans of the northern mountains and the tribes of the Goblin Kingdom.
Kael is particularly popular in regions that have historically had a great deal of military struggles. In the north, Normidia and Vorrik both deal with orc clans, borrellian raiders and worse. In the East, Duthelm struggles against the Rukemian Empire and the War Vale has seen centuries of battle. In the south, the Coalition has border conflicts with all of its neighbors.
History and Origins
Religious scholars believe that the worship of Kael predates the Thullian Empire. There is a theory that it is actually an old Barakus deity that merged with a Darzek legend in the early centuries of the first Age. Kael was worshiped by savages during the centuries when the Myratz Empire held sway. The faith has remained strong, surviving in war camps and battle fields, through the centuries. The stories and legends have changed, but the faith has remained strong.
To promote war and conflict between kingdoms and fight the battles of those war.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
The church of Kael has nine "greater temples" and dozens of "lesser shrines". The largest of the greater temples to Kael is known as the Hall of War and is located in the city of Tyrrenkor in the heart of the Coalition. The second largest temple is in the Citadel and is called the Temple of the Cleft Skull. The temple of the Shattered Spine is in Aerith and the temple of the Severed Hand is a smaller Kaelian temple that lies on the border between the War Vale and the Coalition. The other great temples can be found in Normidia, Aridorn, Ithell, Stovikar and Drakkel. Smaller shrines to Kael can be found in almost every city and town. Small unattended wilderness shrines are sometimes erected at the site of great battles.
The greater temples of Kael are large square buildings with pillars supporting a roof which wraps around the outside of the building. The architecture is built around a large interior room with a sunken floor. This pit is used for gladiatorial style battles, executions and so forth. A large statue of Kael stands at one corner overlooking the pit. Opposite the Kael statue is a throne where the temple high priest sits and watches the entertainment.
Kael is one of the most popular gods. His worshipers are many and they pray to him for victory in battle. War is a fact of life on Khoras and there is no shortage of fighters. All types of warriors pray to Kael: professional soldiers, part time militia men, gladiators, wilderness scouts, city guards, commanders on the field. Anyone who has ever picked up a weapon and had to fight has uttered a prayer to Kael.
There are many who will pray to Imarus during times of peace. Knights and commanders and kings feel the weight of honor and pray to Barrinor. Mariners pray to Semorjon. But when steel is unsheathed, it is Kael to whom everyone prays.
Anyone who fights is welcome to come, to pray and to join the Church of Kael. This faith welcomes all. Only pacifists are turned away. Peace has no place here.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
The church of Kael is loosely affiliated with the other Elder Gods, though as has been said, the church and its followers are somewhat independent. “We stand apart” sums up their position.
The church of Kael generally opposes the Dark Lords. The faithful of Kael find themselves crossing swords with the worshipers of Belhelizar and the followers of Barulda from time to time. They are worthy enemies.
The highest law... there shall be no war made on the Battlefast.
Those who die in battle honorably go on to the next life to fight beside Kael in the Unending War, a realm of constant adventure, battle, victory and glory.
Always carry a weapon. Never allow yourself to be disarmed.
A true warrior wields a rock only until he finds a blade. A rock is better than a fist, but a blade is better than both.
Battle breeds strength and purges weakness. This is true for both the individual and the world.
Stealth, deception, lies – these are the tools of cowards and weaklings. Leave such foolishness to thieves.
The only holy text in this faith is a horrific thing called the Book of Death. It is written in blood on pages made from the skin of fallen enemies. It contains within it all of the stories of Kael, the rules of the church and the traditions of the faith. It also is a manual of combat and war with many quotations attributed to Kael himself. Every temple maintains its own copy of the Book of Death. It is the temples most prized possession.
The holy symbol of Kael is a dripping blade. There is no single blade here, only an abstract idea. The truth is that the dripping blade represents any weapon in the hand of the faithful. Kaelian priests carry no holy symbols about their neck. Whatever weapon is in their hand... that is their holy symbol.
When a worshiper of Kael dies, he is traditionally buried with his armor on and his weapons in hand, so that he may go on to fight for Kael in the Unending War. It is sometimes permissible to take a weapon from a fallen comrade, but only if the need is dire and only if he has other weapons to take with him.
When great heroes of Kael fall, they are not merely buried with their weapons. They are often buried in elaborate underground tombs with great treasures and many traps to deter would be thieves.
The priests of Kael decide promotion and rank through challenges and non-lethal duels. If you can defeat your superior in combat, you assume his position and rank. All promotions are done this way.
According to the Kaelian war priests, the eleventh day of Magesway is the anniversary of Kael's rebirth. It is their most holy day and they call it the Battlefast. On this day, the faithful of Kael will set aside all weapons and all conflict. No fighting is to take place on this day… Instead, it is a day of fellowship. All warriors, regardless of their race, nationality or circumstance, come together to drink and feast and recount tales of battle and glory and high adventure. There are many tales of battles and wars that have come to a halt on this day. Soldiers will meet on the battlefield to share food, drink and stories, only to resume fighting at the next dawn. This single day of peace is to honor Kael and it is the highest law in the church. If attacked on this day, a follower of Kael may only defend himself, but may not retaliate.
Overview of the Clergy
Kaelian priests are, without exception, good fighters. They live their lives with a weapon in hand and train constantly. Some practice a mix of different weapons, fighting styles and unarmed combat. Others specialize in a single weapon. Regardless of their differences, Kaelian priests have one thing in common… they can fight.
It is tradition that worshipers of Kael must always carry a weapon with them. At the very least, a dagger. Always. Any place that bans weapons is not a place for a follower of Kael. Better to die with a weapon in your hand than surrender it.
Anyone who can wield a blade can serve Kael, but only the strong can be a priest. Those who choose to follow Kael are tested in the fighting pit of the temple. Those who fail the test, die. Those who survive join the church as the lowest ranking clergy... the blade priests.
Priests of Kael wear black robes over their armor. These robes are adorned with runes that declare their battles, slain opponents, weapons mastered and more. Kaelian priests usually have very decorative armor and weapons.
Divisions and Rank Structure
Priests of Kael have four ranks: Blade Priest, Battle Priest, War Priest, High Priest. Each greater temple is led by a high priest. There is no single church ruler.
Priests wield an array of spells useful for battle. The names of their spells give a sense of their purpose: Sense Enemy, Call to Arms, Harden Armor, Call Sword, Kael's Leap, Thundershout, Hammer Touch, Blade Shield, Shatter Gaze, Stone Armor, Dirtstorm, Bone Shatter, Firefist, Melt Flesh and Sunder.
Priests of Kael have only limited healing magic and such is used only after the battle is over and the dead are buried. It is a common expression among the faithful of Kael that “the weak deserve to die. The strong deserve the glory”.
This website was last updated July 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.