Previews08/04/2006


Previews for August and Beyond



The Becoming God

Rumors persist of a warforged battalion that deserted its Karrnathi masters and entered the Mournland. Calling themselves the Godforged, they are unified by a belief that warforged have souls -- and that these souls were bestowed upon them by a construct god. How the Godforged conceive of such a deity is unknown to those outside the cult -- whether the philosophical ideal of "construct" can exist without a created body is a matter for the scholars -- but they are not content to worship a distant concept. The Godforged are dedicated to the great task of building a body to let their god walk the world as a comrade. The construction of this vessel -- the Becoming God -- is the project of lifetimes.


Priests of the Becoming God
carry a double burden: the souls
of their followers and the body
of their god

Over time, the Godforged movement has gained more adherents. Warforged seek definite goals in life, and they fear ultimate destruction as much as any living being. For some, belief in a thing greater than themselves addresses both issues, but in typical warforged fashion, they require something tangible. Hearing the stories, these curious individuals gradually make their way to the heart of the Mournland in search of truth. There, they find one another and form small groups, called "assemblages," devoted to learning more of the Becoming God. Within each group, the warforged with the strongest personality naturally assumes a leadership role and begins to direct the activity of the assemblage.

Religious and philosophical arguments have raged over the question of whether warforged have souls. They cannot become undead, but they can be resurrected. Is the ability to be aware and to reason sufficient evidence for a soul? For the Godforged, there is no question.

Consciousness is what separates them from mere machines and their mindless precursors, and if other conscious beings have souls, the warforged do, as well. They have no difficulty conceiving of a soul that is separate from the body: The Becoming God is surely the most powerful construct soul, and the source of their own. However, the Godforged also believe that a soul is built into a body, and that it increases as a life advances. (Hence, placing their god into its own body will let it grow even more powerful.) This belief is reflected in a propensity to add pieces to themselves, whether as magic components (Races of Eberron 175) or simply as ornament.

If the Godforged believe in an afterlife, they do not subscribe to the idea of Dolurrh as the soul's destination. The warforged soul is bound within the body, and without one, it exists as mere potential. Most Godforged hold that unbound souls form part of the Becoming God until they once again find bodies, or become part of his physical entity.

Some religious scholars have noted what they consider an odd parallel between the Becoming God's devoted and the Church of the Silver Flame. Both believe that souls departed from their fleshly confines join their god. Although the Church of the Silver Flame views the journey as a one-way trip and the Godforged see more interaction, it would be interesting to these same scholars to know if any Godforged or Flame scholar has investigated other similarities between the two presumably separate gods.

Servants of the Becoming God

The primary task for a Godforged assemblage is to discern the nature of the Becoming God, and to contribute to its embodiment. In this, each leader has its own conviction, and the others, built to serve, follow without question. The leader chooses its own title, which is usually a variant on or synonym for "Architect" or "Builder," recognizing its role in the progress of construction. A large group might contain one or two subordinate leaders (often called "Planners") who direct the activities of the assemblage according to the Architect's vision.

Religious Duties

Above all, the leaders of Godforged assemblages guide their followers in understanding their god and in actively creating its earthly container. Repetition is natural to warforged life and instruction, so the life of a cult beats to the rhythm of the leader's chant, much like a marching cadence. This liturgy tells of the Becoming God and the origins of warforged souls, of the future that is to come, and of the duty of every follower to its god. The group literally marches in beat, scouring the ruins of the Mournland for materials and relics suited to the great project.

Assemblage Architects are responsible for collecting and recording the knowledge of the group. They note the place from which god-pieces come, and the nature of each. When a member shares an insight with the group, this enters the records as well. Landmarks, encounters with other groups, and significant events all go into the plan (as the record is called). Architects continually update the plan, especially during periods of inactivity, and keep the record within a special container fastened to (or incorporated into) their own body. Older records are never destroyed but are maintained as an archive to check against the current plan. Mundane ink and paper usually suffice, but the more fanatical Architects might go so far as to engrave their plans on sheets of thin metal.

Quests

The Godforged's existence is to quest. They search for the Firstforge, the damaged Cyran creation forge, which some claim is operated by the Lord of Blades. They also quest for materials that will some day help realize the body of the Becoming God.

The Godforged see the Lord of Blades not as a divine being in himself but as a true prophet of the Becoming God. If he indeed controls the Firstforge, he is the only one of their kind to build bodies that hold living souls. Moreover, a soul attached by this prophet cannot help but have a firmer bond to its body. Many argue that to find the Lord of Blades is to find the way to the Becoming God. Still, none know how to locate the warforged Lord, nor he they, although he would welcome such followers.

The Godforged movement is not evangelical: Each member hears the call within itself and seeks the truth.

Rites and Rituals of the Becoming God

Warforged are practical folk; being reverent does not require acts of empty ritual. The Godforged know that their god awaits its body, and they are confident in their role in bringing about the ultimate merger. Thus, their rituals have a purpose and an outcome.

Prayers

The Godforged do not ask for their deity's intercession. After all, it has already granted them souls. Rather, they believe they owe the same to their god. Their prayers take the form of promises: "I vow to open your eyes that you may look on your creation." Sometimes a prayer is an offer of thanks, especially at times when the warforged believes he has added to the soul: "What you bestowed on me I have now augmented, thanks be to your vision."

Minor Rites

The first ritual any Godforged undertakes is that of recognizing that it has a soul, which leads it to the Becoming God. The triggering event could be almost anything: an emotional response to an artistic creation or a beautiful landscape, the death of a comrade and thoughts of afterlife, an intellectual challenge posed to it directly, and so forth. Whatever the form, this event leads the warforged to consider for the first time something bigger and more enduring than its own body. Different warforged respond in varying ways. Some enter an extended period of "shutdown," in which they appear inactive but are in fact engaged in intense thought with no physical activity. Others add a ritual activity to each other action they take, such as a repeated phrase ("in the name of the Becoming") or a flourish after a combat move or more mundane activity.

One uniquely Godforged rite that is followed by all members of an assembly is to engrave, stamp, attach, or otherwise permanently affix the Mark of the Becoming to their bodies. The warforged are aware of the dragonmarks that set apart certain members of the humanoid races, and some have heard of the draconic Prophecy that they embody. The Godforged know that they fulfill a destiny, so marking themselves in the same way seems completely logical. An assemblage's Architect chooses the precise form of the mark, but all such marks share the central feature of an opening construct eye.

Major Rites

The cult of the Becoming God does not hold festivals in the usual sense, but the heart of the religion is its ongoing ritual. It is the duty of each Godforged to bring a piece of the god's body to add to its construction. A typical group travels for several hours a day, then its members search the rubble, taking shifts to avoid mental fatigue. A warforged who has excavated a suitable component presents it to the assemblage's leader for examination and approval. If the Architect finds it good, that follower carries the piece of its god, attached firmly to its own body, for the remainder of its existence or until it finds the Firstforge, whichever comes first. Should a Godforged fall while on the quest, its piece of the sacred body is taken up by the Architect (along with those of all the others lost along the way). Some of the older leaders carry so much material that they have a bizarre, overmechanized appearance.

Those not actively searching engage in contemplation of their god, often absent-mindedly fashioning doll-like objects as they do so. Adventurers returning from the Mournland have brought back specimens of this warforged art, which has a ready market among collectors in Breland. The elders of certain churches have also acquired some of these figurines and are studying their meaning with some concern; the Scions of the Forge (see Hierocrats, page 27) are especially interested in them, for obvious reasons.

Because there are so many small assemblages, each following its own interpretation of the divine quest, it would be impossible for the cult to maintain uniform worship without the exchange of information. When the Godforged first began to wander in the wastes, they formed assemblages from random meetings, and they encountered other such groups by happenstance. Whenever groups met, they would discuss the great task and their own activities in its furtherance. They then separated, each incorporating portions of the other's ritual into its own. As more assemblages formed and came into contact, the awareness of a larger movement spread, and one of the more perceptive Architects recognized the value of regular updates on the search. Each time its assemblage encountered another, that leader proposed a Great Assemblage to be held at a landmark within the Mournland. Eventually the idea of an annual gathering spread through the assemblages, and it is now a tradition. At a Great Assemblage, the Architect of each group presents its assemblage's plan so that all members can synchronize the record. Items of note might become central missions for the assemblages in the coming year, such as gathering more material from a particular ruin or observing a magical phenomenon in more detail.

The Calendar

The Great Assemblage meets on the first day of the month of Eyre (associated, appropriately, with the Mark of Making) and remains in convocation until all matters of importance have been discussed, usually about a week. The location changes from year to year; the gathering place for the next Assemblage is decided at the close of the current one.

The Godforged do not mark the passage of years with the Galifar calendar. Instead, they record the years spent in search of the Firstforge and the full awakening of the god. Sentient warforged have existed since 965 YK, and they gained recognition as free folk thirty-one years later. The concept of a construct god predates the emancipation of the warforged, but the great task itself began only then. Thus, the 998 YK corresponds to the second year Before the Becoming, or 2 BB. If and when the god is embodied, the reckoning will shift to After the Becoming.

The Becoming God in Everyday Life

Unlike many of Eberron's religions, the cult of the Becoming God consumes a worshiper entirely. Discovering the soul is a life-changing event, and it is not undertaken casually.

Most who learn of the Becoming God can no longer continue in their former existence. They depart to join the assemblages working to bring their god into physical existence. A very small number of awakened warforged, however, are still exploring the ramifications of this event. They have not yet broken with mundane life but contemplate the decision in the long hours while the fleshmade sleep. Such individuals are prone to slow and careful examination of issues, and they make the most convincing Architects when they finally join or create their own assemblage. Those who remain undecided serve as conduits of the faith to others, as they discuss the idea and solicit opinions. Thus, word of the cult spreads in a population, despite the isolation of its committed members. One well-known venue for discussion of the Becoming God is The Red Hammer Inn, in the undercity of Sharn (Sharn: City of Towers 100).

The Becoming God and Government

The leaders of House Cannith have heard about the Becoming God from their contacts in The Red Hammer, among other places, but do not take them seriously. This is generally the attitude of most in power. Baron Merrix d'Cannith, who maintains secret experiments (and a surviving creation forge) in the undercity of Sharn, is very interested in the future of "his children," however. He believes the faith can lead them to a new, brighter future -- and he is working on the idea of building and improving souls in his latest warforged designs. Still, Merrix's influence does not extend to the rest of the family's holdings, and he keeps his interests secret.

The Becoming God and Other Faiths

The cult's existence is little more than a rumor to most. Those who hear the stories generally scoff at the idea of a construct god -- the phrase is an oxymoron to them. However, the clergy of Onatar (especially the Scions of the Forge) have taken a special interest in the Becoming God, seeking out whatever information they can find. They examine the worshipers' doll sculptures, trying to infer the form of the divine body, and wonder if their god could have made another on his holy forge. Some see the possibility as exciting, proof that Onatar is more powerful than the rest. Others fear that if one god can forge another, there is no limit to potential deities -- and challengers to the authority of the established pantheon.

Specific Attitudes

Warforged attitudes toward other faiths are generally nonexistent. At best, they might hold some bemused curiosity about such things. However, the Godforged have strong opinions about other warforged cults and mysteries.

The Lord of Blades: To worship this being as a deity is terribly misguided, bordering on dangerous. The Lord of Blades is the conduit to the god but is not a god himself. Blind devotion to him only detracts from the great task of building the Becoming God's body. Such delusions must be corrected.

The Reforged: Why should we seek to change our bodies to weak flesh? We were created in the image of our god, and it is our duty to create for him the most perfect body. It is blasphemous to think that the body he gave us is not sufficient.

The Becoming God in the Last War

During the Last War, warforged were the property of the nations for which they fought. Whatever their personal beliefs, they were made to serve in battle. No doubt some began to conceive of their own god during this time, and their own servitude likely intensified the need to ensure the god had a free body of its own. But the cult itself did not exist until after the Treaty of Thronehold gave warforged the freedom to pursue such goals.

Temples and Shrines of the Becoming God

The Godforged do not erect temples. Rather, the central tenet of the cult is that the created body is itself a shrine. The most sacred edifice possible is the god's body-to-be. In the meantime, each wandering assemblage, excavating and toting its contributions to the task, is in effect a mobile shrine.

The Reforged

The Reforged movement is more of a philosophy than a religion. It does not posit a warforged god, but it does share with the Becoming God a belief in the living soul. Rather than building or improving on that soul, though, they prefer to embrace the living part of their nature.

The Reforged eschew mechanical enhancement. Instead, they seek to become as much like natural beings as possible, experiencing all of life more intensely than many born to flesh. Pious humanoids -- or those simply given to prejudice -- resent the Reforged, seeing them as foolish poseurs who have no business pretending to be "real people."

The Four Maxims

The Reforged honor Hatchet as the first of their kind. This philosopher formulated simple rules for living that the Reforged continue to follow and preach. He taught others in his philosophy, and they in turn spread the word. Hatchet himself no longer lives; a tragic misunderstanding resulted in his killing a human in self-defense, and a human mob then tore him apart. Thus, the truth of his life has become obscured by hagiography after the fact. Hatchet has taken on semidivine status among the more fervent Reforged, as an inspired prophet or even an agent of a god.

Hatchet set forth a few simple precepts by which the Reforged live.

1. I choose, therefore I live.
2. The purpose of life is living.
3. All living beings have the right to choose.
4. Some choices demand punishment.

All Reforged take the Second Maxim deeply to heart, honoring Hatchet by living as intensely as possible.

Major Rites

The big occasion in the life of a Reforged is the "birthday," the moment of entering the movement, and the annual commemorations of it that follow. A new Reforged adopts a male or female personality if it did not already have one, and obtains colorful clothing appropriate to the chosen gender and surrounding society. Some go so far as to celebrate at a tavern or restaurant, ordering a meal and at least going through the motions of consumption. This celebration is attended by other Reforged and sometimes fleshly friends and companions, if they are welcoming and open-minded about the warforged's new existence. Annual celebrations then become much like human birthday parties, although as the Reforged discards more and more of its construct nature, additional commemorations might form part of the festivities.

Havens of the Reforged

A typical Reforged enclave is a haven of sensation, made for warforged exploring their living nature but filled with the best of the fleshly world. It is decorated in bright colors and filled with life of all kinds: lush flowers visited by myriad butterflies, singing birds in cages, jewel-like lizards basking on the walls, as well as domesticated household animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, even snakes and turtles. Comfortable furniture with surfaces of various textures -- rough, sharp, luxurious -- abounds, all to provide a greater range of sensation. An enclave is also filled with works of art and literature, accompanied by music (provided by hired bards or even more advanced Reforged).

Although warforged have no need of food and drink, and indeed lack the sensory organs to enjoy them, the Reforged indulge in such pleasures nonetheless. Enclaves are stocked with a wide variety of foodstuffs, wines, teas, and the like. Some Reforged go so far as to purchase or craft magic items to gain an artificial sense of smell or taste, but most simply practice the unfamiliar motions of eating and drinking so as to fit in more comfortably at human gatherings, which so often involve such activities.

An enclave also includes a quiet space, often a garden or library, to allow uninterrupted meditation on the nature of life. The best location for an enclave is a former inn; if no such building is available for purchase, Reforged instead gather in rented facilities once a week or month. (Although some humans refuse to deal with warforged, most innkeepers are persuaded easily enough by coin.)

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