The Magic of Ados, Part 3
While wizards and sorcerers bicker about insignificant differences and heritage, the final group of spellcasters on Ados find all sorts of reasons not to get along. Faith and religion dominate Ados, with 46 different deities in the pantheon that run the gamut from Jute, the Goddess of Life and Creation to Xay, the God of Plants. Each deity and their followers – especially the followers – are sometimes quite literally at each other’s throats. (You can learn more about the Ados Cosmology in previous blog entries.) So, it’s no surprise that faith-based spellcasters are some of the most dominant on the planet. While arcane magic is generally focused on creation and destruction, faith-based magic focuses on areas of assistance (healing wounds, curing diseases, etc.) as well as providing blessings, or dealing with the dead (and undead). There is some overlap between the arcane and divine spellcasters, but you wouldn’t see a wizard to heal a wound, and you wouldn’t see a priest to make you invisible.
Whether they are called druids, clerics, priests, monks, ovates, paladins, or any of a dozen other titles, faith-based spellcasters are each linked to a single deity. (I will use the generic term "priest" to simplify this discussion.) As implied by the name, their magic comes from their faith, the devotion they show to the god or goddess that they worship. Their magic is granted as a boon by their god and comes from prayer and devotion (typically expressed in offerings, deeds and actions, or sacrifices (material or spiritual)), but this boon is only granted to a few members of the faithful. Not every person that worships Cralde or Ados, or any of the other 44 other gods, is granted access to this magic. Just being a follower of a deity, attending religious services, or making offerings, is not enough. Devotion to the god is important, as well as demonstrating this devotion through prayer, privation, or other tasks. Most common people are unwilling to undergo the rigors of religious training, the multiple daily prayers, the observances of obscure holy days, and the many other requirements necessary to enter the priesthood. The gods want to make sure that only the most worthy are given the magic they grant.
A priest must spend time in prayer or meditation to their god to receive their spells. The time required will vary depending on the god, as well as when the prayers are said. (For example, saying a prayer to Lyzar – the sun god – at night is not as effective as those said at sunrise or at high noon.) Once granted, the magic is only available to the priest for one day, and they must pray again the next day to again gain access to the magic. (The gods can be very finicky that way. They demand attention from their followers constantly as this is one of the ways that they determine their position – whether they are winning or losing – in the Great Game.)
A priest that has sinned or done something that is blasphemous or goes against their god’s tenets, will find that they are unable to cast magic until they have atoned for the sin. This atonement will vary depending on the god the priest worships, and may be as simple as making a significant offering or might involve a quest or pilgrimage to a holy place. Each faith is different, but during this time the priest will be unable to cast any of their magic.
Faith-based magic may seem the simplest to “learn” and cast. You are not tapping into some unseen aether, are not fatigued by the magic, and don’t have to memorize complex spells. But the gods can be very demanding and because of the Great Game, they covet attention. They are quick to anger (even the gods of peace and love) and withholding magic to remind the mortals of who is in charge is not unheard of (especially among gods of betrayal, hatred, war, etc.). For this reason, priests must be religious (pun intended) in their devotions so they will continue to have access to their magic.
And just because faith-based magic makes up the largest group of spellcasters on the planet, the fact that this magic is based on faith makes it quite limited in use. Religion, and all of the rules, privations, and xenophobia that faith typically breeds, often means that access to this magic is limited or non-existent for many people. If you are not a worshiper of the right god, unable to pay the offering, or just due to other religious reasons (bigotry, hatred, etc.) then access to this magic may be prohibitively expensive, not available, or outright refused. Faith-based magic is a blessing bestowed by the gods, but hatred and fear often make it less accessible to the general population. This is why there are still hungry, sick, and injured people in the world.
Faith-based magic has the potential to do a lot of good on Ados – healing the sick, providing for the poor, warding off evil (or good depending on your point of view). But the constant strife, suspicion, hatred, and bickering among the gods and their followers means that many people will never benefit from this magic. It is a harsh reality in a world where the gods use mortals as pawns in their game.