Religion, eh? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, as the old song goes. Or is that war? Same thing, really. Ever since the cavemen started worshipping their fire-pits and fighting wars over whose fire god was bigger, religion has been responsible for more wars than any other subject in history. (And that’s including the PC vs Mac brigade. I KNOW! Crazy, right?)
So in that sense, the world of Telara is no different to any other. Although I suppose the Gods of the Vigil are somewhat blameless in the whole rift debacle, (except for doing an admirable impression of absentee parents when the Blood Storm first attacked.)
First off, why did the Gods create Telara in the first place? Boredom? A desire to play a real-life Sim game? The need to create, to nurture life? A need for ego-boosting, for someone to worship them? Who knows? But create Telara they did. And they created the world at a unique nexus of the six elemental planes. Would they have done so if they'd foreseen the problems this would bring about? Very possibly. Gods don’t really have the long game in mind. They probably saw all the pretty colors and swirling vortexes of the overlapping elemental planes and thought, “Ooh, shiny. Let’s play here.”
OK, so they created the world. Great. But who are they? What do they stand for? What, when you get right down to it, do they want? Let's find out, shall we?
Right. First off we have Bahralt. Bahralt is known as the builder, the god of craftsmen, ingenuity, and civilization. If Bahralt went rogue, or simply forgot to stop for his tea break and got carried away with his work, he would cover the entire world with one huge city. It would be a world where shops were open twenty-four hours a day, where all that pesky nature stuff was kept for little pot plant decorations on peoples' desks. Bahralt originally created the Dwarves to be his lackeys, (or ‘Assistants’, as he likes to put it), granting them sentience in exchange for their loyal service. (You know how it is. Every craftsman needs someone to help look for that one single screw that seems to have gone AWOL when you're trying to put something back together again.)
Bahralt wants everyone to learn crafting, and then to pass that knowledge on to future generations. He is like an old-fashioned parent urging you to get into a trade and leave all that poetry stuff behind.
Thedeor is Telara's god of war. He is a towering and majestic figure, clad in so much intricate plate armor it would make Peter Jackson weep with pleasure. He is the defender of the weak, and the avenger of wrongs. He is the patron of Mathosia, and his people attempt to emulate his devotion and boldness. That all sounds well and good, except, you know, he’s not human. He’s a God. So is it really courage when he struts his stuff? It's not as if a stray arrow on the battlefield can kill him. And can any human even live up to his legacy? Again, (and I do apologize for constantly bringing this back to families), he’s like the overbearing father who wants his children to follow in his footsteps and makes them feel terrible when they fail.
That’s not to say his example isn't worth aspiring to. Just that it’s pretty impossible for any Mathosian to live up his legacy. But if you keep trying, and bring him honor in the process, he will bestow you with glory. In this world and the next. So there’s that, I suppose.
But if you are faced with a hundred foot monster from a rift and decide that discretion might be the better part of valor, running away is the wrong thing to do if you are a follower of Thedeor. He doesn’t like cowards. At all.
Brooding and mysterious, Thontic is the patron of traders, sailors, and thieves. Few have seen his true face, although whether this is because he is hideously disfigured, or just shy, no one knows. Of all the gods, Thontic is the most inscrutable. He is the god of wisdom, but those who live by guile and deception also pray to him. Spies, thieves, secret agents, all are known to whisper a small prayer to Thontic before embarking on a mission.
Thontic seems a bit schizophrenic, to be honest, covering rather a lot of bases. It's like he looked at what was left over after the other gods had their pick and said, "I'll take everything that's left." The Guardians pray to Thontic when they embark on long journeys, attempt to solve crimes, or study the ways of magic and nature. And in Sanctum, most commerce takes place in Thontic Square, where every exchange is said to please him. (Seems that Thontic likes the bling.) He provides the Vigil with a cunning and ruthlessness that the others cannot provide.
Actually, Thontic doesn’t seem all that bad. As part of the Vigil, Thontic shows us that there is always something more to the world than what we previously believed. He just wants you to go out and, you know, experience life.
Tavril is the huntress. She stalks the wild places, the untouched glades and mountain glens of Telara. She created the forests, and the birds and beasts, and set the Elves as their guardians. She is the land, the earth mother. But that doesn’t mean she’s all hippy and New Age. If you cross Tavril she hunts you down with all the efficiency of a natural predator.
Tavril was actually the prototype for how the Vigil now interacts with the Guardians. Long before the Vigil formed, she appeared before the High Elves and formed a Covenant with them, charging them with watching over the wilds of the land. She protects them, and they protect the forests and wild places of Telara.
And finally there's Mariel-Taun, the goddess of love and beauty. But not just the writing-soppy-poems-and-staring-at-the-moon type love, but any type of selfless devotion to a subject or person. Before the Vigil formed she was the patron of lovers, healers, and the arts, and she encourages the people of Telara to create ever more wondrous things. Mariel-Taun has no favored race. Instead, she sort of spreads her love all over. Which is nice, I suppose. She wants her followers to show compassion, to protect and improve Telara. But only if you want to. She won’t force you. She’s too nice for that. Her wish is that everyone enjoys their community, that they find beauty in what they see around them.
She is the heart of the Vigil, the reminder of what the people of Telara fight for.
And there we have it. It strikes me that the Gods of the Vigil would actually make a funny group of sitcom characters. You have Bahralt as the disapproving, yet old-fashioned father trying to push his artistic son into a trade. You have Thedeor as the jock neighbor, Thontic as the eccentric traveling Uncle who comes to stay with the family and has a number of quirks from his time at sea, then Tavril and Mariel_Taun, two sisters who are vaguely similar but radically different. Tavril is a Greenpeace advocate, a militant environmentalist, while Mariel-Taun is more of a New Age hippy-type, a poet who tries to see the best in everyone.
Throw them all together under one roof and let the hilarity ensue. Comedy gold, I tell you.