Empire of Lightrune
Major Religions: Followers of these religions can be found throughout most of the Empire, if not necessarily openly.
The Imperial Cult
The most important religion in the Empire of Lightrune is the Imperial Cult. The Imperial Cult provides the divine backing for the Emperors directly, and the entire Imperial system indirectly. It is important to note that the Imperial Cult does not directly worship the Emperor himself. Rather, the Imperial Cult worships the position itself, venerating it for providing the ultimate basis for all authority throughout the land. It is actually frowned upon for the Emperor to declare himself as a god; although as an emperor they receive a special place in the afterlife, they are not the direct source of the divine.
The Throne (as the collective target of the Imperial Cult’s worship is referred to) is divided into three aspects. Each of these aspects reflect a different style of rule. Any given Imperial cleric worships a specific aspect rather than the Throne as a whole. The three aspects are:
The State-Father (LG; Domains: Law, Rune, Glory, Community, Healing): The State-Father is the Throne at its most nurturing. This is the Empire in its role as provider for the people, bringing them together to solve problems they can’t by themselves.
The Grey Magistrate (LN; Domains: Law, Rune, Nobility, Knowledge, Protection): The Grey Magistrate is the Throne as judge of the people. While protective, the Grey Magistrate is unforgiving of any broken laws and harsh on offenders.
The Implacable One (LE; Domains: Law, Rune, Trickery, War, Destruction) This is Throne’s iron fist and cunning tongue. The Implacable One will do whatever is necessary to maintain the integrity of the state: crush dissidents, subjugate foreign populations, spread propaganda, and allow entire populations to starve.
The clergy of the Imperial Cult is usually divided up between the three aspects at a ratio of 40% for the Grey Magistrate, 35% for the State-Father, and 25% for the Implacable One. However, the ruling echelons of the clergy typically reflect the current Emperor and his ruling style regardless of the actual make up of the clergy. This usually does not affect the make up of the clergy too much: safeguards are in place to keep clergy of any aspect (or any Emperor with a philosophical disagreement) from completely dominating or eliminating the other two anywhere except at court. By the same token, Imperial Cult clergy rarely rock the boat, and any openly being willing to go against the emperor is usually a sign that civil war is happening or is on the horizon, or that a coup is in the works. Every settlement has at least a single cleric of the Imperial Cult, unless it is an incredibly small settlement whose previous cleric has died and has yet to be replaced. Temples in larger cities are usually devoted to one of the aspects, although smaller settlements may make do with a single temple or even a small shrine to the entire Throne. The exception to this rule is the city of Runehold, which has a single massive temple (The Grand Cathedral) which provides most of the religious needs for the entire city.
The Followers of the Tattoo (CN; Chaos, Rune, Liberation, Luck, Travel)
Directly opposed to the Imperial Cult in every way, the Followers of the Tattoo wish to see the end of the Empire of Lightrune at any cost. Loosely organized by their prophet, Elijah Fuchs the Skybrand, followers of this religion mark themselves with tattoos to profess their allegiance to his ideals. Beyond ending the Empire, the Followers of the tattoo disagree amongst themselves as to what will replace it. Some believe that a glorious new government, directly controlled by the people, will follow the destruction of the old guard and will sweep across the Imperial lands. Others see the Empire breaking back down into its component bits, with each going back to its former style of government. Others imagine the destruction of all government, with only chaos reigning across what is now the Empire. The daunting task of taking down the Empire has, however, kept the feuding between factions to a minimum thus far, however, and right now the Followers present a unified front against the Empire. While they still lack the sheer numbers of the Imperial clergy and followers, they are the most populous after any other religion and the only one to have a truly Empire wide reach.
Minor Religions: The Empire of Lightrune encompasses dozens of former kingdoms, most of which had their own pantheons before their incorporation into the Empire. The Imperial rule on other religions is both simple and uncontestable: for a religion to be practiced on Imperial soil, it must allow for the divinity of the Imperial throne. Any religion willing to accept this single guideline is allowed to practice openly, and many do. The largest of these, in fact, often send observers to the Imperial Court and/or ambassadors to the Grand Cathedral, and work hand in hand with Imperial clergy (or at least, Imperial clergy of an aspect that is philosophically compatible to the followers of the deity in question). Those that can’t accept this face stamping out at the hands of Imperial Inquisitors, although the strongest of these have managed to survive, some even for centuries.
Minor religions are usually either regional or racial, and occasionally both. Nearly every region has its own set of minor religions which have survived Imperial rule, excepting the region around the capital which had its original religion completely replaced in ages past once the Imperial Cult rose to power. Interestingly, no religion excepting the Imperial Cult or the Followers of the Tattoo have ever been seen to possess the Rune domain. This fact has made possession of the Rune domain a mark of prestige: adherents of the Imperial Cult believe it to be a sign of the right to rule of their Emperors, while the Followers of the Tattoo believe that its occurrence in their clerics presages the replacement of the Cult.