Is Imperial polytheism realistic?

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Orin J.
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:06 pm
Alleging that "[p]olitics and religion not mixing well [would be] a fairly standard foundation of human behaviour" show that you adopt a pure Abrahamic monotheistic frame of reference on politics, religion or "human behaviour", which is simply absurd to considerate polytheist politics, religion or "human behaviour"... Again, polytheism doesn't work like that, and the unrealism of Imperial polytheism come from this.
sir i think you're failing to grasp something i'm trying to day. i'm not asserting a behavior in polytheism, i'm asserting a behavior in political matters, especially in empires where corruption, insular power-mongering, and outright abuse of the system are rewarded behaviors. beliefs that are not a positive part of the political system (through direct political power or positive social influence) will be invariably ostracized to motivate the political base against a vulnerable "other" to oppose. khanite worship, being outwardly simple to vilify (and admittedly deserving of a fair amount of scorn, since khaine's cult involves demanding murders in his name) provides the political system with an easy "enemy" to turn people against and make the argument for government power over cults (and various other things, as these matters always go)
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:06 pm
By the way, "I understand you feel you should explore how" elven colonies could not be part of the "old world", but the Old World is a continent and "the lore outright states that" Elven colonies in the Old World (or Dwarven realms in the Old World) are, "full-stop",... in the Old World ;).
i'm referring to the old world as a cultural matter, similar to how "north america" is a extant body but really only exists in terms of the people that live there being recognized. elves simply refuse to fully accept the modern population groupings and treat themselves as remaining bulwark of their once powerful empire, something like if there was a handful of cities that insisted they were the byzantine empire (and also raiding other lands to recover lost cultural relics from time to time).
Capitaneus Fractus
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Orin J. wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:36 pm
i'm not asserting a behavior in polytheism, i'm asserting a behavior in political matters, especially in empires where corruption, insular power-mongering, and outright abuse of the system are rewarded behaviors. beliefs that are not a positive part of the political system (through direct political power or positive social influence) will be invariably ostracized to motivate the political base against a vulnerable "other" to oppose. khanite worship, being outwardly simple to vilify (and admittedly deserving of a fair amount of scorn, since khaine's cult involves demanding murders in his name) provides the political system with an easy "enemy" to turn people against and make the argument for government power over cults (and various other things, as these matters always go)
The point I try to advance is that the case you take as an example cannot exist in a polytheist society.

Polytheist Empires, as corrupt as they are, are polytheists empire, yet, there wasn't the delimitations between politics and religion in polytheist societies that we imagine today in our post-christian regimes.

The religion is an institution which determine, according to cultural models, relations with the supra-human society to whom the society postulate the existence. Abrahamic monotheism was founded on the principle of revealed truth, which come with dogma, good and evil and other similar stuff to explain why their God is the only true god, and their way to worship it is the only true way... Others are false gods, false way to worship.

In a polytheist society, things are simpler. Gods are natural phenomenons that we know and Khaíne wouldn't be considered, alone, as being "a positive part of the political system" more than the rain, the sun, stars, wind, birds, ageing, insects, illness, the moon, birth, air, sea, death, clouds, &c. There are no false gods, there are no false way to worship gods, there is no orthodoxy. The cult of Khaíne is established because Khaíne is perceived to exist, just like roofs are build over houses because rain is perceived to exist. Who is really Khaíne, how is he exactly related natural manifestations, what is the best way to deal with him are questions whose answers are widely open to whoever have an idea on it.

The cult of Khaíne, as an activity, wouldn't be considered in itself through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence" than the building of roofs. If some builders build weird roofs, the building of roofs will not be forbidden, but the way roofs are build might be restricted. The activity to worship Khaíne isn't much different, in a polytheist context, to the activity to farm of grains or livestock, to observe of stars, to practice of medicine and all human activities related to the nature...

The cult of Khaíne, as an organization, might obviously be considered through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence", but it wouldn't lead to what you suggest. Would there be some unsurmountable problems with members of the cult of Khaíne that those members would be replaced by others... just like if there is a problem with the miller's union, you'll attempt to change millers without abolishing mills. If a free cult of Khaíne lead to undesired outcomes, then, the cult of Khaíne will be restricted. It might, perhaps, be only allowed by public and official worship.

Still, in a polytheist society, ostracizing the cult of Khaíne "to motivate the political base against a vulnerable 'other' to oppose" is as absurd as ostracizing the activity to check dental cavities "to motivate the political base against a vulnerable 'other' to oppose", even if, sometime, dentists might appears "being outwardly simple to vilify". And just like you cannot decide "mmh, I like clouds, but I don't like rain... so, we'll ostracise rain", polytheist believers wouldn't thought "we'll ostracise Khaíne". That obviously doesn't mean that all gods are worship the same way. It mean, however, that the God's pantheon isn't a fast food menu where you might cherry pick what dish you wish to have. (That is why the whole "Sigmarite" vs "Ulrician" conflict in TEW isn't realistic neither in a polytheist context: that is a copy-pasting from a purely monotheistic event, the Schmalkaldic War, within a context that couldn't support it).

How Ares was worshipped in Ancient Greece might gave a somewhat good example of how Khaíne -which is not only a murderer god but also a bloody war god- should be worshipped in a polytheistic Old World.
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Orin J.
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
(That is why the whole "Sigmarite" vs "Ulrician" conflict in TEW isn't realistic neither in a polytheist context: that is a copy-pasting from a purely monotheistic event, the Schmalkaldic War, within a context that couldn't support it).
i want to just lean over and point out that the sigmarite/ulrikan schism is entirely because the sigmarite church insists that sigmar is The god now and the other gods of the empire are subservient to him (with one source implying some splinter groups think that the other gods no longer exist having become one with sigmar, but it was a bad source anyways) where ulric's faith asserts that if ulric raised sigmar to godhood sigmar remains benieth the other gods here. that's not just copy pasta, it's them writing the setting to fit the way they sell it publicly, with sigmar's faithful being overbearing in the extreme. which makes sense given sigmar's place in the pantheon is unclear and highly political compared to other gods that aren't ALSO the real-life founders of the empire they're the patron deity of.

i'll address the other matters later.
Capitaneus Fractus
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Orin J. wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:49 pm
i want to just lean over and point out that the sigmarite/ulrikan schism is entirely because the sigmarite church insists that sigmar is The god now and the other gods of the empire are subservient to him (with one source implying some splinter groups think that the other gods no longer exist having become one with sigmar, but it was a bad source anyways) where ulric's faith asserts that if ulric raised sigmar to godhood sigmar remains benieth the other gods here. that's not just copy pasta, it's them writing the setting to fit the way they sell it publicly, with sigmar's faithful being overbearing in the extreme. which makes sense given sigmar's place in the pantheon is unclear and highly political compared to other gods that aren't ALSO the real-life founders of the empire they're the patron deity of.
This relation to trueness is very much typical to Abrahamic religions. Other religions weren't religions of revealed truth. They didn't had the overconfidence to state "truth" and to impose it over those who do not agree with it.

Knowing if Sigmar "is The god" or if he "remains benieth the other gods" is, in a polytheist context, a question that would be the subject of poetry, comedy, tragedy, of philosophical hypothesis, of philosophical controversies, of various interpretations... Answering to it would be as much important as knowing who came first between the chicken or the egg: a fascinating question to whom individuals might strongly disagree... Nevertheless a question that wouldn't trigger a war between those who like chickens and those who like eggs.

This conflict is simply unthinkable in a polytheist context. Obviously, if the cult of Sigmar become an Abrahamic-like cult (something it does in many aspects, especially in later editions), the conflict become plausible. The cult of Sigmar or of Ulric might follow a path toward monolatry and the civil war might be a first steps before a monotheist Empire. It fit with what you write on "splinter groups think that the other gods no longer exist having become one with sigmar". Other possibilities would be that the cult of Sigmar might be infiltrated and corrupted by Law cultists since a very long time, which would explain its Solkanian taint. The official publications also suggest the infiltration and corruption by Chaos cultists, which might work also...

In any case (monolatry, law corruption, chaos corruption), it mean a deep, fundamental and very significant corruption of the cult of Sigmar, not just few key cultists here and here, because this conflict start so fast and to so high level of violence, along the whole Empire, with so huge divides between two factions, hitting simple believers and not only political official. It underline a process -not only toward monotheism, but toward "revealed truth" monotheism- quite close to be achieved in the Empire...
If the Imperial religion is, for a so huge share of its inhabitants, so much centred around one major god, Sigmar, and other gods either subservient to him or having been one with him, the Imperial religion could hardly be labelled being polytheist. That polytheist aspect is, hence, quite corrupt.
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Orin J.
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
In a polytheist society, things are simpler. Gods are natural phenomenons that we know and Khaíne wouldn't be considered, alone, as being "a positive part of the political system" more than the rain, the sun, stars, wind, birds, ageing, insects, illness, the moon, birth, air, sea, death, clouds, &c. There are no false gods, there are no false way to worship gods, there is no orthodoxy.
even a casual review of the history of the roman or egyptian empires shows us this isn't true, as the ruling government can and will assert authority over worship for their own benifit. this seems to be the underlying pin in our disagreement and i'm not sure why. in this sense, it's perfectly normal for the government to influence worship as a matter of "public safety" even if it is just an excuse to assert authority over the churches.
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
The cult of Khaíne, as an activity, wouldn't be considered in itself through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence" than the building of roofs. If some builders build weird roofs, the building of roofs will not be forbidden, but the way roofs are build might be restricted. The activity to worship Khaíne isn't much different, in a polytheist context, to the activity to farm of grains or livestock, to observe of stars, to practice of medicine and all human activities related to the nature...
You're really trying to take khaine's worship into the lands of fanciful abstraction there. which is fine, for your own plot development but that's now what we're doing here. khaine is explicitly the god of murder in fantasy and fills less the role of a war god worshiped for bringing victory and more the role of a god of destruction sacrificed to bring ruin to others. this inherently negative nature to his aspects is rather different than some diety of natural matters. really khaine is closer to sigmar in nature, being worshiped as the deity of a wholly human* behavior.

*well, sentient beings. elves and all.....
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
The cult of Khaíne, as an organization, might obviously be considered through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence", but it wouldn't lead to what you suggest. Would there be some unsurmountable problems with members of the cult of Khaíne that those members would be replaced by others... just like if there is a problem with the miller's union, you'll attempt to change millers without abolishing mills. If a free cult of Khaíne lead to undesired outcomes, then, the cult of Khaíne will be restricted. It might, perhaps, be only allowed by public and official worship.
if the miller's union was found to be ritually killing people to praise their mills, the miller's union would be shut down...
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
How Ares was worshipped in Ancient Greece might gave a somewhat good example of how Khaíne -which is not only a murderer god but also a bloody war god- should be worshipped in a polytheistic Old World.
Imperial religious matters already have three war gods, and khaine really isn't among them. four, if we want to include the chaos gods but i really don't feel they should be viewed as "true" gods, so much as demon lords.
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Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
In a polytheist society, things are simpler. Gods are natural phenomenons that we know and Khaíne wouldn't be considered, alone, as being "a positive part of the political system" more than the rain, the sun, stars, wind, birds, ageing, insects, illness, the moon, birth, air, sea, death, clouds, &c. There are no false gods, there are no false way to worship gods, there is no orthodoxy.
even a casual review of the history of the roman or egyptian empires shows us this isn't true, [...]
Your review is alas excessively too casual, then. I can say that I have no doubts you'll fail to find any valid historical example that would goes against what I've stated in that quote.

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
[...] as the ruling government can and will assert authority over worship for their own benifit. this seems to be the underlying pin in our disagreement and i'm not sure why. in this sense, it's perfectly normal for the government to influence worship as a matter of "public safety" even if it is just an excuse to assert authority over the churches.
There isn't any disagreement between us on that part.
As far as I understood your messages, the disagreement is rather on the fact that a polytheist society wouldn't realistically forbid the worship of a god of its pantheon, something that you deny while I do not. Am I correct?

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
The cult of Khaíne, as an activity, wouldn't be considered in itself through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence" than the building of roofs. If some builders build weird roofs, the building of roofs will not be forbidden, but the way roofs are build might be restricted. The activity to worship Khaíne isn't much different, in a polytheist context, to the activity to farm of grains or livestock, to observe of stars, to practice of medicine and all human activities related to the nature...
You're really trying to take khaine's worship into the lands of fanciful abstraction there. which is fine, for your own plot development but that's now what we're doing here. [...]
I am describing how Khaíne's cult could be made "realistic" within the frame of "Imperial polytheism", which happen to be the object of our thread, if I understood it correctly.

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
[...] khaine is explicitly the god of murder in fantasy and fills less the role of a war god worshiped for bringing victory and more the role of a god of destruction sacrificed to bring ruin to others. this inherently negative nature to his aspects is rather different than some diety of natural matters. [...]
I agree with the most part of it. I would only put into perspective that
1. violence, death and destruction are also natural phenomenons and that;
2. violence can sometime be useful and even legitimate, life needs death and destruction allows reconstruction;
3. in the frame of a war, bringing victory to friendly armies or bringing ruin to hostile armies is, in a good part, a question of perspective...

So, while I do not fully agree with what you say, I still agree with the most part of it. That's why I suggested in my previous quote to look at Ares to see how a god like Khaíne might be worshipped in a realistic polytheist society. Ares, like Khaíne, was explicitly a destructor of cities, a murderer, a bloodthirsty god, the carrion's bringer, and the curse of men (to quote few of his epithets).

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
[...] really khaine is closer to sigmar in nature, being worshiped as the deity of a wholly human* behavior.

*well, sentient beings. elves and all.....
(I am not sure to understand what you mean here...).

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
The cult of Khaíne, as an organization, might obviously be considered through the frame of "direct political power or positive social influence", but it wouldn't lead to what you suggest. Would there be some unsurmountable problems with members of the cult of Khaíne that those members would be replaced by others... just like if there is a problem with the miller's union, you'll attempt to change millers without abolishing mills. If a free cult of Khaíne lead to undesired outcomes, then, the cult of Khaíne will be restricted. It might, perhaps, be only allowed by public and official worship.
if the miller's union was found to be ritually killing people to praise their mills, the miller's union would be shut down...
So are we both suggesting that one organization would be shut down (= changing millers / changing Khaíne's cultists) without forbidding the activity of millers (=abolishing mills / = abolishing the worship of Khaíne)?

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:26 pm
How Ares was worshipped in Ancient Greece might gave a somewhat good example of how Khaíne -which is not only a murderer god but also a bloody war god- should be worshipped in a polytheistic Old World.
Imperial religious matters already have three war gods, and khaine really isn't among them. [...]
Khaíne is stated as a war god in dozens of official Warhammer Fantasy's publications. That's even a quite major part of its myth.
See, for example:
Jervis Johnson wrote:"Khaine has been worshipped by the Elves since well before the birth of the Dark Elves. He is the Elf god of war, murder, hatred and destruction. He is the destroying god, who represents to the Elves the fact that in order for there to be life there must also be death, in order to have peace there must also be war, in order to have happiness there must be suffering, in order to have love there must also be hatred and murder.
Khaine still has his place in the pantheon of gods worshipped by the High Elves, but his destructiveness is balanced by other Elf gods that represent aspects of the High Elf character opposed to his nature. The High Elves see Khaine as the god of unleashed violence. His murder lust is there to be used when danger threatens but it must be controlled and used wisely." (Jervis Johnson, Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves, WFB4-5, p. 6.)
Robert J. Schwalb wrote:"But Khaine is not exclusive to these bloodthirsty Elves. No, he has a presence even amongst Humanity. Imperials associate Khaine with Morr, citing myths that link the two as brothers, each battling for control over the province of death. The Lord of Murder is upheld by killers, thieves, and even some soldiers." (Robert J. Schwalb, Tome of Corruption: Secrets from the Realm of Chaos, WFRP2, p. 161.)
As a side note and as you were naming "Roman and Egyptian empires", conferamus those two quotes with the History of Herodotus :
Herodotus wrote:The Heliopolitans have the reputation of being the best skilled in history of all the Egyptians. What they told me concerning their religion it is not my intention to repeat, except the names of their deities, which I believe all men know equally. If I relate anything else concerning these matters, it will only be when compelled to do so by the course of my narrative. [...]
The Egyptians, they went on to affirm, first brought into use the names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected altars, images, and temples to the gods; and also first engraved upon stone the figures of animals. In most of these cases they proved to me that what they said was true. [...]
Almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt. My inquiries prove that they were all derived from a foreign source, and my opinion is that Egypt furnished the greater number. For with the exception of Neptune and the Dioscuri, whom I mentioned above, and Juno, Vesta, Themis, the Graces, and the Nereids, the other gods have been known from time immemorial in Egypt. This I assert on the authority of the Egyptians themselves. The gods, with whose names they profess themselves unacquainted, the Greeks received, I believe, from the Pelasgi, except Neptune. Of him they got their knowledge from the Libyans, by whom he has been always honoured, and who were anciently the only people that had a god of the name. The Egyptians differ from the Greeks also in paying no divine honours to heroes. (Herodotus, History, II.)
Herodotus explains here that Greeks took names of gods from Egyptians. Not that they gave the same exact names, as Ζεύς, Zeýs, /zděu̯s/, "Zeus" isn't the same name as ImageImageImage, Jmn, /jaˈmaːnuw/, "Amon" (the hieroglyph here is approximative, it lack a wavy line under the rectangle). That isn't what all men known equally. Egyptians rather gave to them the naming convention, that is to say the transmission to the Greeks of their understanding, distribution, classification and denomination of the superhumans natural phenomenons who are called "gods". This naming convention is what lead Amon to be a name that would be simply translated as Zeus. Not that stories around Amon are exactly the same as Zeus (stories on Zeus aren't the same within various parts of Greece anyway), but that Amon is the Egyptian interpretation of the same phenomenon that Greeks interpret as Zeus. Just like Englishmen interpret and understand as "the wind" what Frenchmen interpret and understand as le vent...
Understanding which god is the expression of which supra-human phenomenon is what, according to Herodotus, all men known equally, or more exactly, misknown equally...

That is how should be, in my humble opinion, the Old World's polytheism: an understanding, distribution, classification and denomination of the manifestation of warp powers in the material world and of their interactions with Old Worlders' souls, through the teachings of Asurs who themselves got this knowledge from Old Slanns. The Old World religion would, then, be the activity of mortals' society to make use of warp powers to avoid bad outcomes and to favour good outcomes. Then, poets created myths: writing and singing epic, comic, tragic stories on those warp powers in order to make them more easily understandable, through anthropocentrism and metaphor.

Destruction, life and death, peace and war, happiness and suffering, love, hatred and murder are phenomenons who are part of this world and who are named Khaíne. Like Egyptians with Montu, Greeks with Ares and Latins with Mars, Old-Worlders have to take advantage of those common phenomenons and to avoid the worst. The best way isn't to deny the reality of Khaíne but to enter into relation with him in order to flatter, to appease, to constrain or to channel him. This relation is called a cult and is done through worship.
Last edited by Capitaneus Fractus on Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Orin J.
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm
There isn't any disagreement between us on that part.
As far as I understood your messages, the disagreement is rather on the fact that a polytheist society wouldn't realistically forbid the worship of a god of its pantheon, something that you deny while I do not. Am I correct?
specifically, i'm saying that the government (which, crucially, is not the entirety of a society in spite of what most authoritarian governments try to assert) would realistically forbid its people the the worship of a god under pain of legal consequence. that seems to me to be out sticking point.

also if we want to get pedatic about matters, the empire of the old world is technically possessed of two pantheons and change- the "Classical empire" with myrmianda, verena, and such, the "old worlder" pantheon (real imaginative, that'n) with tall, ulric, and mannan, and then a handful of gods that don't seem to solidly stick to one pantheon like khaine sigmar who technically has no concrete place in either, morr and shallya who (somewhat understandably) is found in both, and the halfling god esmeralda who....is just like the halflings and seems to be tagging along with no explanation.

Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
[...] really khaine is closer to sigmar in nature, being worshiped as the deity of a wholly human* behavior.

*well, sentient beings. elves and all.....
(I am not sure to understand what you mean here...).
Sigmar represents, more than anything else, the empire- something not found in nature, a construction of man to assert itself through order. Khaine represents, more than anything else, murder- something not found in nature, an act of violence to assert oneself over others. i think the distinction to be made between "murder" and "killing" is a necessary one, although it can be a bit fine for some.
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm

Imperial religious matters already have three war gods, and khaine really isn't among them. [...]
Khaíne is stated as a war god in dozens of official Warhammer Fantasy's publications. That's even a quite major part of its myth.
See, for example:
Jervis Johnson wrote:"Khaine has been worshipped by the Elves since well before the birth of the Dark Elves. He is the Elf god of war, murder, hatred and destruction. He is the destroying god, who represents to the Elves the fact that in order for there to be life there must also be death, in order to have peace there must also be war, in order to have happiness there must be suffering, in order to have love there must also be hatred and murder.
Khaine still has his place in the pantheon of gods worshipped by the High Elves, but his destructiveness is balanced by other Elf gods that represent aspects of the High Elf character opposed to his nature. The High Elves see Khaine as the god of unleashed violence. His murder lust is there to be used when danger threatens but it must be controlled and used wisely." (Jervis Johnson, Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves, WFB4-5, p. 6.)
Robert J. Schwalb wrote:"But Khaine is not exclusive to these bloodthirsty Elves. No, he has a presence even amongst Humanity. Imperials associate Khaine with Morr, citing myths that link the two as brothers, each battling for control over the province of death. The Lord of Murder is upheld by killers, thieves, and even some soldiers." (Robert J. Schwalb, Tome of Corruption: Secrets from the Realm of Chaos, WFRP2, p. 161.)
Khaine's worship among the elves is described as a war god- and the elves have shown themselves to be very tight-lipped about their faith when it comes to humanity. this raises the very serious (and interesting, to me) question of when and how Khaine's worship transferred to human faith, but the two haven't shown any direct connection. much in the same way we know on the outside of the setting that bretonnia worships an elven god in a manufactured aspect for human consumption (which now that i type it out sounds entirely insane) we on the outside are able to make the obvious connection between the human's murder cult and the elven worship of khaine the bloody handed, this doesn't mean that the cults operate similarly for the humans as they do among the elves.
Capitaneus Fractus
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Orin J. wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:57 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm
There isn't any disagreement between us on that part.
As far as I understood your messages, the disagreement is rather on the fact that a polytheist society wouldn't realistically forbid the worship of a god of its pantheon, something that you deny while I do not. Am I correct?
specifically, i'm saying that the government (which, crucially, is not the entirety of a society in spite of what most authoritarian governments try to assert) would realistically forbid its people the the worship of a god under pain of legal consequence. that seems to me to be out sticking point.
Yep, and as we have both already much argued there over our disagreement, I think there isn't much to add on that. I would only repeat myself... ;)

Orin J. wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:57 pm
also if we want to get pedatic about matters, the empire of the old world is technically possessed of two pantheons and change- the "Classical empire" with myrmianda, verena, and such, the "old worlder" pantheon (real imaginative, that'n) with tall, ulric, and mannan, and then a handful of gods that don't seem to solidly stick to one pantheon like khaine sigmar who technically has no concrete place in either, morr and shallya who (somewhat understandably) is found in both, and the halfling god esmeralda who....is just like the halflings and seems to be tagging along with no explanation.
You are right to precise that there are two families of gods who might, arguably, had constituted two pantheons who however are now part of one unique pantheon. Imperial believers commonly worship both Taal and Mórr, Ulric and Myrmidia, Rhya and Shallya...
Eric Cagle, David Chart, Andrew Kenrick and Andrew Law wrote:"The Lord of Murder is a curious case in the Empire. Whilst regarded as a legitimate deity, a member of the pantheon of Gods that make up the various faiths practised in the Old World, worship of Khaine is nonetheless outlawed, and with good reason. (Eric Cagle, David Chart, Andrew Kenrick and Andrew Law, Tome of Salvation, WFRP2, p. 129.)"
The place of Khaíne is concrete: as a rival brother of Mórr, Khaíne is obviously part of the "classical" gods, with Mórr (knows as Sarriel), Myrmidia, Verena (interpreted as Hoeth) and Shallya. This is confirmed by the fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which surprisingly (and incoherently, albeit I understand why) set Mórr as an Old God:
Dominic McDowall and Andy Law wrote:"The most widespread cults of Classical Gods in the Empire are dedicated to Verena, Myrmidia, Shallya, and Ranald, patrons of wisdom, strategy, mercy and trickery. Hiding behind these, there is also Khaine, the God of Murder, though his cult is outlawed in most places." (Dominic McDowall and Andy Law, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: A Grim World of Perilous Adventures, WFRP4, p. 202.)
Nota bene that his cult is, there, described being only outlawed in most places [of the Old World]!

Orin J. wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:57 pm
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:24 pm
[...] really khaine is closer to sigmar in nature, being worshiped as the deity of a wholly human* behavior.

*well, sentient beings. elves and all.....
(I am not sure to understand what you mean here...).
Sigmar represents, more than anything else, the empire- something not found in nature, a construction of man to assert itself through order. Khaine represents, more than anything else, murder- something not found in nature, an act of violence to assert oneself over others. i think the distinction to be made between "murder" and "killing" is a necessary one, although it can be a bit fine for some.
I might agree with your description, but I would put into perspective your conclusions:
1. the Empire isn't an human behaviour. It is an human juridical fiction, an human institution, a territory believed to be under the power of a realm. As men are not only animalia socialia, but also ζῷᾰ πολῑτῐκᾰ́, belonging to a human political society might look quite consistent with their nature even if this state isn't natural in itself...
2. a murder isn't a sentient being's behaviour. It is a sentient being's act. Etymologically, murder and killing are synonymous. In the current use, however, the distinction is mainly that a murder is an intended killing while a killing might not be intended. Murders are nowadays understood as being the act of men against men. It wasn't the case in mediaeval era, where trial of beasts wasn't that uncommon. As soon as you considerate that non-human animals' intended killing is a murder, you'll might as well considerate that murder is present in nature as it commonly happen that beasts kill on purpose.

So, while it is right that strictly speaking, an Empire or murders (under our contemporary legal definition) aren't natural, they can still be perceived being natural, or, to say it otherwise, not something that would be under full control by mortals...


I'll comment the last part of your message, and your question which interest us both, later. I however feel that the quote of Herodotus, from my previous messages, might feed inspiration.
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Iltherion
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Orin J. wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:49 pm


i want to just lean over and point out that the sigmarite/ulrikan schism is entirely because the sigmarite church insists that sigmar is The god now and the other gods of the empire are subservient to him
Which is pretty much the same thing that the pharaoh Akhenaton said about Aton.


https://www.britannica.com/topic/Aton
Capitaneus Fractus
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1. Akhenaton did forbid all other cults and established a true monotheist cult, with one unique god. Clearly, we were no longer in a frame of a polytheist regime. All other gods were declared false and their cult was forbidden. In the case of the Sigmarite-Ulrician war, only those two gods and their followers are concerned. It show that this conflict isn't really about establishing a monotheistic cult (would it be that Ulrician and Sigmarite cultists would also threaten Taalians, Verenians, Morrites, & alii)

2. heads of Ulric and Sigmar cults aren't despots, nor even emperors. Akhenaton was a pharaoh and he couldn't had done what he did if he wasn't a pharaoh. The cult of Athon didn't long survived to Akhenaton as a monotheistic cult... which show the quasi absolute lack of support to this religious revolution among the society. It was a despot's fantasy.
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Capitaneus Fractus
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Iltherion wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:25 pm
Which is pretty much the same thing that the pharaoh Akhenaton said about Aton.
On that subject this short documentary (27 min) might interest some of us:

Quand l'histoire fait dates : - 1350 la révolution religieuse d'Akhenaton
Zahlen schreiben Geschichte: 1350 v. Chr., Mythos Echnaton
Fechas que hicieron historia : 1350 a.C, la revolución religiosa de Akenatón
Le date che hanno fatto la Storia : La rivoluzione di Akhenaton: 1350 a.C


https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/086127-01 ... ait-dates/

[available in French original version (with Spanish or Italian subtitles) or in German version...]
Veniam, Duelli Malleum, phantasticum ludum personae uidebo, in fera terra periculosorum aduenturorum ludebam.
Dustman
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The original post assumes that polytheism takes certain forms. For example, Bifi finds the lack of a maternal deity a serious omission. I'm not sure that's strictly necessary. Islam and Protestantism both lack any sort of mother figure. They're monotheism, sure, but people believe them. Why would polytheists need a maternal deity or a moon god or any of the things OP sees as lacking? It seems like he has assumed a theory of the formation of polytheism which necessarily leads to these deities but, in real life terms, that would be far from proven. History has, as far as I know, zero examples of new polytheisms forming. All have their roots far back in the mists of pre-history which makes any theories of their formation guesswork.

But I agree with the general sentiment that Old World polytheism feels 'off.' Maybe because, when I started playing tabletop in 6th edition, the Empire army book only mentioned Sigmar and Ulric. Myrmidia too, but as a foreign god. The idea of an inquisition suffers from a certain tension with the idea of multiple non-standardized cults which presumably have their own doctrines and secrets. When he can't tell the default theology of these other cults, a whole lot of their teachings would look like heresy to a devout Sigmarite inquisitor. While this is foggy, the lore makes it quite clear that Sigmar inspires real devotion. Look at the warrior priests or, better, the flagellants. True believers there. That level of enthusiasm suggests Sigmar worship would slowly erode and replace the other faiths. The god who comes, hammer in hand, to deliver victory unto mankind under the sign of the twin-twailed comet in the sky is just more exciting than Taal, god of squirrels and bark.

I wrote a bit of background depicting the Church of Sigmar as a political force actively attempting to suppress the worship of all other gods:
the Church of Sigmar
By its own account, the Sigmarite Church originated in the years following Sigmar’s reign. Were I composing this text in the northerly Empire, fear would compel me to agree with such history on pain of burning. Even here, in the August Republic of Remas, the long arm of the witch hunters induces me to write under a false name—but truthfully! For the Sigmarites spread falsifications and lies in their greedy and venal attempts to stamp out all other faiths of the Old World.

Does this astonish you, esteemed reader? Consider the worship of primeval deities now proscribed in the Empire. Verena, revered among the gods of civilized Tilea and Estalia, is forbidden. Shallya, the lady of mercy whose high priests once resided in Solland and Averland, is now forgotten. Her temples have been reconsecrated to the man-god. Manann, the sea god, has been expunged from the temple harbors of the Sea of Claws by steely eyed fanatics. By order of Grand Theogonist Leo III, Taal and Rhya have been deemed chaotic powers and their holy works burnt. The cult of Myrmidia is tolerated only amongst the Knights of the Blazing Sun and mayhap not much longer. The priests of Sigmar preach oft times against Ulric but dare not take action, for the emperors would not provoke war with Middenland.

It was not always so. You will be astonished to learn, wise and perceptive reader, that the entire first millennium of Imperial history contains no reference to the divinity of Sigmar. Not one! Nor do the annals of the dwarves speak of such worship. The early Empire respected its founder merely as a great hero of a man and not a god. It was Emperor Mandred Rat-Catcher who first commanded his people bow down to Sigmar that he might deliver them from the great plague. Doubtless, the old gods seemed feeble in face of such disaster and Mandred wished to grant new hope to the people. Likely, it was Mandred who established the office of the Grand Theogonist and possibly the order of witch hunters, long a secret.

Still, the new cult had, at first, little ambition of displacing all others. The Empire, for example, had long employed heavy cavalry but it was Bretonnian chivalric ideas which first led to what we consider knighthood. For a thousand years, Imperial Knights paid particular homage to the Lady of the Lake, then considered the patroness of all knights, as do Tileans and Estalians to this day. Today, venerating the Lady is forbidden in the Empire.

Glassy-eyed Magnus the Pious, more than any other figure, stands responsible for the ascension of Sigmar’s Church. Sensing an opportunity to reforge the broken Empire, he made an alliance with the Sigmarites. Such times suffered from famine, strife and an unusual stirring of beastmen. Rather than attacking his rivals for the throne, Magnus whipped up the populace with the fanciful threat of northern barbarians conquering the world. He marched his horde to Kislev and intervened in a border dispute. Depicting himself as the savior of mankind, he returned to seize the Imperial throne, not as a mere political claimant, but as a righteous crusader.

The Church, of course, took advantage of the emperor’s favor. A brief initial attempt to expel all other gods met with outcry. The Grand Theogonist publicly renounced it as the enthusiasm of a few zealots but privately initiated a gradual attempt to suppress other faiths. He began by requiring his seal, or that of the Arch-Lectors, before any new temple might be constructed, ostensibly to prevent chaos cults masquerading as more benign entities. Sigmarite demagogues denounced Verena and the other southern deities as foreign gods. Special taxes were levied. The Lady of the Lake was decried as backwards and unmanly. The Church had, for many centuries, staffed male monasteries but it then founded nunneries to compete with Shallya in Wissenland and Averland. Those Shallyite nunneries which survived the new pressures received unwelcome visits from the witch hunters, with their particular talent for sniffing out corruption and mutation in political enemies.

Even the regard of Morr has declined with the innovation of Sigmarite funerals and burials.

The Church’s influence extends throughout the Old World. Some swathes of Tilean and Estalian city-folk have taken to worship of this new god whose missionary activity is so generously funded by northern coffers. The faith has made inroads among the Bretonnians as well, although their current king has made efforts to reduce its reach. Fiery Sigmarite preachers have, naturally, denounced this as Bretonnia falling to chaos. The order of the witch hunters has also insinuated itself outside of the Empire. Many Tilean princes and Estalian kings gnash their teeth at Sigmarite chapter-houses, for a witch-taker may skillfully stir up the mob against purported mutants or chaos cultists. In some regions, the native Estalian inquisition has clashed with the followers of the man-god.

The Church has established a following in Kislev but not amongst the ruling Gospodars, for they worship but one god, and reward apostasy from this All-Father with death. However, the Gospodars have no desire to spread their peculiar faith to other people and so do not care what the other classes of Kislev believe.

The Sigmarite Church of Marienburg is schismatic and not so preoccupied with supplanting other faiths. Their Arch-Lector concerns himself primarily with acquiring gold and concubines.

The spread of this petty minded, pissant and intolerant worship of Sigmar fills all men of intellect with unease. The southern nations have chosen to pursue enlightenment rather than superstition. No small number of us now see that there are in truth no gods, excepting the Great Architect who built the world but he does not interfere, just as the master mason feels no desire to tamper with what he has built. Sigmar and all the others were merely remarkable men and heroes, defied only by ignorance but still worthy of honor. In the south, such enlightened views are accepted and respected. In the north, such views have, since Magnus the Pious, resulted in a fiery death at the stake. And so I must ask you, esteemed reader, which is the wiser: the enlightened pursuit of reason and progress, or the fanatical, bigoted, small minded struggle against the exaggerated threat of chaos?
Unreliable narrator but it gets the idea across. To me, more interesting to show a righteous crusading faith than a religious mess that the citizens of the empire don't take too seriously, which isn't to say that everyone would take Sigmar worship seriously but it does set the right tone. I also like the idea that the Warhammer version of the enlightenment is a tzeentchian masonic cult.

I wrote another post envisioning the religion of the Kislevite Gospodars as quietly fanatic monotheism because that sort of devotion would be useful living so close to the chaos wastes:

https://dustmanshall.home.blog/2021/02/ ... islevites/

The Arabyans, in contrast, are utterly godless. With their connection to ancient Nehekhara, they think Nagash slew all the deities:

https://dustmanshall.home.blog/2020/01/ ... -of-araby/
Visitor Q
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I have to say that having read through the entire thread I am scratching my head somewhat as to exactly what the debate is.

For starters The Imperial pantheon being "unrealistic" begs the question: by what standard?

Something that has only been given a cursory examination is that compared to the real world the gods have a pretty direct and verifiable existence in the warhammer world which would profoundly change the development of religion.

When this point was raised earlier I think there was a bit of a handwave that miracles are only a hint and difficult to distinguish from "regular" magic.

I don't buy that at all frankly. For several reasons, especially when compared to the real world.

Mechanically in the game itself and in the Lore public miracles are much more common even by the expectations of real world religions

Miracles are directly linked to the behaviour and faith of an adherent.

They are implicitly distinguished from magic for example just by the attentions of witchunters and Mechnically their relationship with Chaos.

There is also an obvious issue of self selection. The Fire Cult set up by the Bright Wizard given in Orin Js example would die after a generation and certainly wouldn't be able to produce new miracles. The Temple of Shallya on the other hand would be far more consistent.

In terms of direct intervention prophetic dreams and messages would have a far more consistent impact to also provide verification than in the real world.

So I don't buy the idea that someone in the warhammer world could live amongst Ulricans and wizards and then credibly deny the fundamental existence of Ulric as "just" being magic. For me that is unrealistic.

So with that in mind the question of the pantheon being unrealistic sort ot becomes moot. It is neither realistic or unrealistic. It just is.

At the risk of gilding the lilly. When considering the panethon and how "realistic" it is I don't think much consideration has been given to how utterly different the warhammer world is.

For example the impact on culture and religion of non human races with immense longevity teaching us things would be profound in terms of the development of myths, religion and culture. The impact on tjese things is likely to be very different to our world.

So in conclusion and to bookend this post I don't really know what is being driven at when it is noted the pantheon is unrealistic.

Is it meant that there are entities that are not worshipped but should be?

Do you mean the way existing entities within the Lore are worshipped should be different?

Do you mean that certain entities should have emerged from the warp or wherever to claim human worship?

Or something else?
Dustman
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The tension point between 'magic' and 'divine acts' would rest mostly on consistency. Mutation is probably the most common magical effect in the empire. When you add in the fact that wizards often unintentionally summon daemons or transform themselves into spawn, it becomes pretty clear why witches are burnt on sight. Now, if 'divine acts' consistently produced positive effects, wouldn't most everyone in the Empire be a pious fanatic? Simple matter of practicality, but they're not which leaves the whole concept of 'divine acts' feeling rather unrealistic.

In the setting, a religion which produces no miracles would still be eminently practical because it defines non-chaotic beliefs. It gives people something to worship that won't end up with summoning daemons. But multiple complex overlapping belief systems (i.e. imperial polytheism) leaves room for chaotic belief systems to disguise themselves an official cult.

So, unrealistic both ways. Either the gods consistently and openly provide help, in which case everyone should be much more pious, or the gods don't, in which case belief should be carefully regulated and simple enough that the witch-hunters can easily detect heresy, which it isn't.
Visitor Q
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Those are interesting points Dustman and I think from a GMing POV definitely gives me some food for thought about how divine magic should be viewed and perhaps how the general population understands magic.

That said I'm not sure the polytheistic pantheon described in WFRP would inspire an intense fanaticism amongst the general population even if the miracles were consistent in their application.

For example how would one be equally pious to Ulric, Shallya and Ranald? I would imagine your average Imperial citizen would have a favoured deity and then provide a level of respectful worship to the rest at appropriate times. The religion would be far more transactional in nature rather than devotional.

My impression is that Sigmarite fanaticism is as much a purely secular nationalistic drive as a religious one (albiet given the nature of the cult it is hard to separate the two feelings)
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The best example is... 40k. Emperor and his idea of power of mind. When he "died?" the culture assimilate gifts and miracles as religion, so i think Visitor has a good point on that.
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Capitaneus Fractus
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Visitor Q wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:55 am
So in conclusion and to bookend this post I don't really know what is being driven at when it is noted the pantheon is unrealistic.

Is it meant that there are entities that are not worshipped but should be?

Do you mean the way existing entities within the Lore are worshipped should be different?

Do you mean that certain entities should have emerged from the warp or wherever to claim human worship?

Or something else?
Something else, for my part: that the way divinities are worshiped, according to Warhammer Fantasy publication, is, in my opinion, not a way that might be described being polytheist. As far as I know, a polytheist cult wouldn't work the way it is described for Warhammer Fantasy, for the reasons I previously described.
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Dustman
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Visitor Q wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:12 pm
That said I'm not sure the polytheistic pantheon described in WFRP would inspire an intense fanaticism amongst the general population even if the miracles were consistent in their application.

For example how would one be equally pious to Ulric, Shallya and Ranald? I would imagine your average Imperial citizen would have a favoured deity and then provide a level of respectful worship to the rest at appropriate times. The religion would be far more transactional in nature rather than devotional.
Very transactional, in terms of faith per benefit. If it were possible to generate the necessary faith in Shallya by praying two hours a day, then everyone would pray two hours a day because miraculous healing is worth two a twelfth of a day. Disease is everywhere in the Old World and bodily harm not uncommon. Imagine speedy recovery, lost hands regrowing, etc. I'm guessing that the blessings of Shallya would be more useful than the other gods across an entire lifespan, so if a person didn't have enough time to devote to multiple gods, she would be the most popular. But mass miracles do not take place across the Old World, which leads to the earlier problem.
Dustman wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 11:05 am
Either the gods consistently and openly provide help, in which case everyone should be much more pious, or the gods don't, in which case belief should be carefully regulated and simple enough that the witch-hunters can easily detect heresy, which it isn't.
But, in a broader sense, the idea of gods being coherent at all doesn't make sense. If they were able to make sane plans and attempt to carry them out, they'd have a substantial advantage over the chaotic powers. In the established warhammer lore, the gods notably don't have any plans.
a theory of magic and gods
1) The deities of the world are manifestations of chaos. In it's incomprehensible and insane nature, Chaos sometimes provides beneficial effects or miracle. However, the gods are, in reality, not coherent beings. They cannot be reasoned with or act consistently. Emotions and beliefs provide energy and direction to chaos, shaping it to some degree.

(So far, this is official GW background, as evidenced earlier in this thread. However, GW background periodically changes. In some editions, the gods were treated like coherent entities with knowable plans. I don't much like that interpretation, as it doesn't fit with the nature of Chaos or with the Old One backstory.)

2) As such, divine magic and miracles cannot exist in a consistent fashion. Sometimes, the gods will seem to answer. Other times they will remain mysteriously silent. Still other times, they will strike down the supplicant. Mortals will try to make sense of these happenings but they're ultimately irrational.

(This is not consistent with GW lore, since divine magic is real and reliable, but I don't think that makes any sense in relation to point #1.)

3) Sotek is a psychic construct left behind by the Old Ones. Once charged by the energies and faith of the Lizardmen, Sotek activated and carried out its mission, which was to devour the Horned Rat and permanently cripple the psychic presence of the ratmen. The Skaven don't realize this, since the transfer of psychic energy from a mortal creature to the warp is unconscious. The ratmen are still 'feeding' the Horned Rat but Sotek is eternally digesting it so the threat is neutralized.

4) The twin tailed comet that heralded the coming of Sotek was also the sign of Sigmar's birth. Somehow, Sigmar tapped into Sotek's energy or took over the psychic construct, allowing him to manifest miracles through his priests. Unlike the other gods, Sigmar retains coherency. He can reward, bless and punish in a sane fashion. However, he has limited power, which he only expends on the most devout. He might not be able to 'see' anything, collecting all his information from prayers. Still, the fact that his priests can consistently produce miracles gives the Sigmarite faith a great boost in credibility which has allowed it to become the backbone of the Empire.

5) The Lady of the Lake is a very powerful Wood Elf sorceress but a mortal. In the End Times, GW revealed her as an elvish goddess in disguise. This was supposed to be a horrifying revelation for the Bretonnians but I have a hard time seeing why they'd be bothered. The ancient pagans readily identified their gods with the gods of other nations, as discussed earlier in this thread. Why would the Bretonnians be different? On the other hand, if she were an actual elf, spying on them and magically enhancing their best, they'd be pretty furious at finding out. Bretonnia has only been around 1,500 years, and elves can live more than 2k years, so she doesn't even need any unnatural longevity. Best of all (from my perspective), this would explain how the Lady plans and carries out coherent schemes.

6) Being farther from the northern polar gate, Tilea and Estalia suffer less from the taint of magic. Multiple cults survived in these countries without constantly accusing each other of chaotic influence.

7) Sigmar worship and Lady worship have adaptive advantages over the other cults. Thus, they have pushed competitors out of their respective regions and grown into the dominant force.
Dustman
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 2:22 pm
Something else, for my part: that the way divinities are worshiped, according to Warhammer Fantasy publication, is, in my opinion, not a way that might be described being polytheist. As far as I know, a polytheist cult wouldn't work the way it is described for Warhammer Fantasy, for the reasons I previously described.
You mean this?
Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:39 pm
The Old World religion look way more like a cohabitation of many monotheisms rather than to a polytheistic religion. And the whole divide between orthodoxy and heterodoxies, which is more or less present among every gods and became fundamental for the cult of Sigmar is quasi incompatible with the essence of polytheism.
The problem is that polytheism, with it's vagueness and uncertainty, is ripe for chaotic infiltration. You need official orthodoxy to keep out Long Night. The people of the Old World would be under tremendous pressure to move towards something that looked like monotheism. Anywhere that fails to control Chaos will end up looking like Mordheim.

The earliest men worshiped the Old Ones and were thus polytheistic. Even after the collapse of the warp gates, the winds of change mostly diffuse by the time they reach Nehekhara, so the Nehekharans wouldn't be under the same pressures towards monotheism. The early barbarian tribes would have retained the ancient polytheism but it wouldn't be such a problem as in later civilizations. With low populations, they'd personally know each other and notice when their fellow tribesmen started summoning daemons and mutating. Even so, the barrow wights testify that a lot of these tribesmen were corrupted by their dabbling in dark magic.

Elven resistance to Chaos means they wouldn't be under the same pressure towards monotheism. Dwarves even more so.
Capitaneus Fractus
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If I indeed agree with you it looks like "monotheism", I feel it is, then, unrealistic as a polytheism, which was, for me, the subject of that thread.
(I am not arguing that monotheism couldn't be a realistic religious culture for the Warhammer World, but that, by choosing to present the Old World as a polytheist society instead of a monotheist or an henotheist one, they presented it as something that is not realist for a polytheist society).
Last edited by Capitaneus Fractus on Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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