While I’m aware of the Dray religion as created by Raddu here: Burnt World of Athas - Dray Religion it’s never been the way I portrayed Dregoth and his creations, so I figured I’d post my version of their religion and history. While there is a lot of crossover, I run Dregoth are a more “honest” SM. He isn’t stupid, he won’t tell everyone he’s going to kill all non-dray (just the Dray), but he doesn’t make any provision for them in his world either. He also is far more tolerable of elemental and nature magic, due to 1st Gen Dray having a number of priests. He just likes to control them and make sure they are all doing what he wants.
In the beginning, the world was very different then it is today, it was a bountiful world filled with life. In those days, ancient waterborn halflings ruled as the only intelligent humanoid race. They realized the world was nearly perfect and strove to create paradise, changing the world and it’s creatures in search of perfection. Unfortunately they did not agree on what perfection looked like and in their arrogance they reached to far, unintentionally causing a devastating plague that drastically changed their world. Where once water was so plentiful it covered the world a brown sludge spread across the oceans, devouring the life giving waters.
As their civilization began to crumble and wars broke out over the remaining pure areas of the world a group came together intent on saving the world, only barely containing the plague. The face of the world had changed drastically, from one dominated by blue waters to one dominated by green lands. This group realized the error of their ways. They could not create the perfect world until they recreated themselves as perfect beings. Understanding their own limitations, they knew they could not create the perfect being but only the next stage. Much like the disagreements of old, they could not decide what the next stage looked like and so they took their followers and their prisoners and changed them into dozens of new races in what’s known as the Rebirth. Last the group changed themselves into guardians and watchers known as the Pyreen.
The Pyreen remained hidden, careful to remember their limitations and watched as the different races grew, learning the ways of the world and spreading out upon it’s new surface of land. Like the halfling ancestors who came before, these new races quarreled amongst themselves, each believing they were the embodiment of perfection. Wars broke out, cities and empires rose and fell. Some races chose to work together, temporarily or in great alliances that advanced their knowledge and power but throughout it all, the Pyreen watched, waited, and despaired as their creations made the same mistakes they did.
Finally, one of the Pyreen had a breakthrough. Each of the race relied on the old ways as the paths to perfection. The control over life itself, the power of the ancient halflings was to much, corrupting it’s users no matter how noble the purpose. The elements were to self centered and remote, seeking only the best for themselves. Even psionics, taken to new heights by the new races had existed in the halflings and while powerful, could not affect the widespread changes needed in the people and the world that now existed. This Pyreen studied the world, the planes, and the people, learning everything he could, trying to find something new and untapped. After centuries, he created what would become known as Magic, a new power for a new age.
The Pyreen known as Rajaat emerged from his kind’s hidden places to teach the younger races this new power. As he did so, he watched for the race that could master magic and take the next step toward perfection. Of all the races, one stood out, able to master magic, psionics, and the elements, humans became the single most powerful race, the race destined to make the next great leap. Rajaat trained those with the greatest potential of psionics and magic as his personal students, believing only those with the power from an internal and external source could achieve the next stage. Unfortunately the other races were jealous of humanity. They believed they should be the ones to take the next step and many began to fight with humans. Unable to kill beings he had not created himself by ancient pacts and realizing they would never allow humanity to take the next step while they still lived, Rajaat created his Champions of Humanity, beings infused with ancient powers to usher in a new age.
One of these Champions was Lord Dregoth, a mighty human wizard and psionicist who had combined his powers in a way previously unforeseen by Rajaat. Dregoth had heard tales of neigh immortal magical beings that were so powerful that each could best an entire army. Beings more intelligent and wiser than any other, rival of the gods of their worlds. These beings, while having their own flaws, were known as Dragons and formed a template for the next stage of evolution, perhaps the pinnacle should he overcome their flaws. Lord Dregoth had created a process that allowed the most poweful humans to become Dragons, a process that Rajaat was eager to peruse.
While Rajaat remained in his tower to conduct more research, the Champions raised armies and began a great cleansing of the races that stood to block humanity from taking the next step. Lasting thousands of years, the Champions led their armies and Lord Dregoth continued his transformation, using the life force of his enemies to power the spells needed. But the war was not as it seemed. One of the Champions, Borys, came to Dregoth and told him of a great betrayal but none other than Rajaat himself. Rajaat had taken what he learned from Dregoth about the transformation and infused Borys with the first stage. It was not something he had earned, but something given to him. Further, Rajaat had empowered another Champion with a forced draconic transformation and charged him with the destruction of humanity itself once the other races had been destroyed. Rajaat intended for the remaining halflings, the original inhabitants of the world to take power once again after he changed them into dragons!
Borys called the closest Champions together to confront Rajaat. A terrible battle took place and it was only the surprise of the attack that allowed them to defeat Rajaat. Unable to actually kill him, they imprisoned Rajaat, and appointed a guard, Borys. Dregoth shared the process to become a dragon with the others, helping them on their way to perfection in exchange for their promise to guide their followers on the path. Knowing Rajaat’s other Champions may try to free him, the Champions worked together to imbue each other with powers Rajaat had kept for his Chosen, the ability to share elemental magic with their followers, and promised to work together against external threats. Each took control or built a city and transported their chosen people to it in order to have a permanent military presence near the Pristine Tower. Borys was able to convince the other Champions to use their power to make him a full dragon, over Dregoth’s objections that the process he created could only be used when one was ready to take the next step.
In the rush toward perfection, Borys went insane, attacking the other Champions and wantonly defiling the land, uncontrollably using powers meant to be used when absolutely necessary. With the Champions already weak from all the magic they had used, they were forced to retreat to their cities, barricade them against Borys and forsake the charge of the Cleansing Wars to protecting as many as they could.
As Borys, now known as The Dragon rampaged across the region, the people became more and more afraid of dragons. The protodragons, now calling themselves Sorcerer Monarchs hid the path to perfection, fearful that others would go on a rampage if they ascended. When they learned that Dregoth was still spreading the ideas of perfection and would soon complete his transformation into a full dragon, they banded together in a surprise attack against him. As powerful as he was, with the support of his Templars and his city, he was still unable to win against the power of the remaining Sorcerer Monarchs. They killed Lord Dregoth, destroyed great Giustenal, devastated the lands, and slaughtered every person they could find.
Returning to their cities, they did not realize High Templar Mon Adderath had survived along with a small group of followers. It took many months, and even some of the survivors lost faith and fled, but eventually Dregoth rose from the dead, a feat only a god could accomplish. He had been battered and broken in form, but he was still strong in spirit. Dregoth lead his people into caverns deep below Giustenal, hidden from those who could betray them and founded a new city.
Dregoth promised his faithful he would help them along the path to perfection, their continued faith having earned them the next stage and one day, a return to the light. It took nearly 300 years, but he fulfilled that promise when he transformed his people into Dray. While the first attempts failed due to a weakness of body and faith, his second attempt produced a people befitting his image. With his people on the path to perfection, he set out to accomplish his second promise, a return to the light. For over a thousand years he searched the planes for the power he would need to defeat all the the Sorcerer Kings and spread the perfection of the draconic form to all the chosen people.
Dogma of Perfection:
One must follow the path with a divine will to be perfect in form with a focused mind to control the power that will fulfill the dream of paradise.
Long ago, our plane was created in a dream for a perfect place for a perfect people. The world existed in balance then, all the elements needed for perfection were in abundance and all shared the dream of a perfect world. Beings now known as halflings lived in the world then, and in pursuit of perfection they began to change the world. Some mastered the elements, a few the mind, others life itself, but the halflings did not share a single will. The halflings fought amongst themselves, each believing in a different version of perfection. As each group strove to create the perfect world, they worked at cross purposes and where once the world was a shining blue gem it began to brown, a disease spreading across the world, upsetting the balance. In desperation the halflings reached out and changed the sun itself, taking the world further from perfection in an effort to save themselves. They were successful, but finally realized they could not make a perfect world until they were perfect. While they individually had focus, they lacked the divine will to follow a path, the form, and the power to fulfill the dream.
With the realization if their limits fresh in their minds they changed themselves to become perfect in form, but the divisions between them created dozens of new races in a great rebirth. From the rebirth one of the great guardians, Rajaat, came forth with a power born of magic and a will to use it to create the perfect world. With the power of magic and a focused mind, our lord Dregoth created the path to a perfect form and followed Rajaat’s divine to undo the errors of the halflings and create paradise.
Other Champions of Rajaat came forth to battle those who would prevent humanity from creating paradise but after thousands of years of war they were betrayed by Rajaat himself. He had become corrupted by the halflings and lost his way on the path. A great battle took place between Rajaat and several of his champions, ending in the defeat of Rajaat. He could not be killed, but was imprisoned for eternity. The surviving champions dedicating themselves to keeping the First Betrayer locked away. Lord Dregoth guided the other champions who had fought the Rajaat on the path, sharing the knowledge he had gained so each could pursue it and guide their followers to do the same.
One of the champions, Borys, played on the fears of Rajaat’s escape to convince the others to accelerate his transformation into the perfect form over the objections of Lord Dregoth. In deviating from the path he was unprepared for the changes. Borys the Fool rampaged across the land, destroying everything in his path, even the might of our Lord Dregoth and the other champions could not stand against him. The champions built mighty cities to protect the people from The Fool, becoming so afraid they failed to teach their people the path. Worse, they grew jealous of great Giustenal, who’s people followed the path and were led by Lord Dregoth himself. In a cowardly surprise attack led by the Second Betrayer, the Trickster Abalach-Re of Raam, Lord Dregoth was attacked in his own palace. Their magic killed Lord Dregoth and thousands of the faithful. Giustenal was destroyed and it’s lands turned to ash.
High Templar Mon Adderath, Lord Dregoth’s oldest friend struggled to survive with the remaining faithful. A few lost faith, fled and became slaves to those tricked into attacking Dregoth, but most remained until the day our Lord Dregoth rose from the dead in a halo of light and returned to us. We followed our Lord down into the bowels of the earth, hidden from the prying eyes of the faithless. Here New Giustenal was founded, Lord Dregoth rewarded the faithful with forms closer to perfection to help us along the path. Here we await the Day of Light, when we return to the surface and share the path with the worthy.
Souls, Life, and the Afterlife:
Souls are the afterlife are tightly bound. Souls are a finite resource.
For the faithless, when one dies the soul goes to the Grey where it is slowly cleansed of it’s essence, all memories and experiences, until it can be reborn pure into a new random body. While it’s possible for a Dray to be born with one of these souls, the souls are rarely strong enough to survive birth to the more perfect form that is Dray. This is why the overall Dray population has not grown much since New Giustenal was founded.
For the faithful, Dregoth claims the souls before it can be purged via the Keepers, draws out their essence to save them and returns the cleansed soul to a faithful mother via a Broodmother. The essence of the faithful are retained until they are called to be reborn in service to Dregoth.
The dray body holds the soul even after death. The Keeper of Graves is charged by Dregoth with removing the Souls and extracting the Essence. The Essence is delivered to Dregoth while the Soul is taken to the Priestess of the Brood for implantation into a deserving Dray. Dray bodies are always recovered.
The Priestesses of the Brood, also known as Broodmothers, implant worthy mothers with a soul. Souls being pure, have a greater understanding of the Dregoth’s will, the parents, and possible destiny for a child born to a specific mother and may choose not to be born for various reasons. Problems of birth typically result in rituals to appease Dregoth with repeated issues often resulting in the parents splitting for a more favorable match.
- Psionics: Psionics are an ancient gift to focus the mind. Psionic powers should be honed whenever possible as a focused mind if necessary to follow the path.
- Arcane Magic: Magic is powerful, but should only be used to follow the path. The use of arcane magic moves the world further from paradise so it should only be used when the gains are more than the cost.
- Divine Magic: Granted by dragons far along the path, should be used for the protection and guidance of others on the path as it is an expression of divine will.
- Elemental Magic: The elemental planes are perfection for elementals. This plane is for the faithful. The elements must be in balance to create paradise, but as the halflings proved already, the perfect world can’t be created by imperfect beings. Elemental magic is even more strictly regulated than Arcane Magic in Giustenal.
- Nature Magic: Nature magic is a combination of elemental magic viewed through the lens of our plane. It helps to maintain the balance but similar to elemental magic, the correct balance can’t be known without a greater understanding. Even the Spirits of the Land understand this, which is why they are resistant to any changes in the land, even when they appear helpful.
The major prophecies of Dregoth are those of the Day of Light and the Coruscation. The Day of Light heralds the return of the Dray to the surface world. On this day they will return to their rightful place and guide humanity to it’s salvation. The Coruscation is the day the Dray will begin their final mission to cleanse the world of all non-dray. These two days are often spoken of simultaneously.