The Journal of the World of Weirth Swords & Sorcery Setting
Compiled and Curated by Stephen Smith, Winter 2020
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Memorium, the in-house zine of the World of WeirthTM FRP Setting. You can also subscribe to the digital edition of this zine at https://stephensmith.substack.com/welcome
The World of Weirth is a Swords & Sorcery setting I have been working on for several months now. We have been running a playtest campaign for some of the ideas and rules concepts since August with some outstanding results. The magic system in particular is very “crunchy” and dark, so while a Magic-User may become very powerful, they have to work for it and the penalty for failure is very high.
This zine will be a journal of new ideas for this setting, including character classes, spells, and magical artifacts, as well as playable notes on towns and factions.
“Unofficial” content, speculative mechanics and lore are usually published first on the blarg http://journal.stephenpsmith.com/blog/
The “Official” versions of all Lore and Player-facing material can be found on the World Anvil Campaign Resource. https://www.worldanvil.com/w/world-of-weirth-hdbbstephen
Questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome.
Cover Illustration by Alex Damaceno
Places of Worship
This month Memorium looks inside the temples and worship places of the cults and religions of Weirth. The patron deities of the settlements of Weirth are worshipped from mighty structures called ziggurats, stepped pyramids with a temple on top. Within the levels of the pyramid are various rooms and chambers used by the priests and congregation of the particular cult. It is here that the members and worshippers of the cult live, study, work and commune with their god.
Artwork Public domain from Wikipedia: wikiwikiyarou
Some of these ziggurats may be dedicated to different duties or responsibilities, such as a large library, a place of healing, or even a military training center and barracks. Ziggurats for the different gods may be taller or shorter, more or less elaborate in decoration and styling, but the follow the same basic function and have similar layouts. This represents a typical floorplan of a basic, all-purpose temple, located in a small- to medium-sized settlement. It contains room for a library, living quarters and mediation/prayer facilities for the congregation and priesthood, and a large storage area.
This ziggurat map contains a rather special feature: a vertical shaft that runs the height of the structure, from the temple to the “lower levels”. The underground levels of the temple complex are left to your imagination.
Download a digital version of this map at – http://journal.stephenpsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/ziggurat-map-isometric-numbered.png
The main entrance to the temple is on Level Two, under the stairs, one door on each side. These can be locked. There is a secret entrance on Level One, under the stairs, with access to Room 13, the Armory. This entrance is only known to the inner circle of the Temple cult, and perhaps some of the high-level Exalted Warriors. Depending on the Cult or Church utilizing the ziggurat, there may be exterior decorations, ranging from murals to sculptures. Some have rows of decorative columns along the edges of the steps, still another may have rows of torches lit at any part of the day.
1 – Entrance – during normal Temple hours this room is staffed by a Level One Initiate and about three Zero-Level Aspirants to greet and direct/guide any visitors. When the Temple is “closed” the room is guarded by a Level Two Acolyte with some defensive spells and a brazier for spellcraft power. Depending on what else is going on, there may be from 4-7 Spearmen/Aspirants to guard the doors as well.
2 – Stairs Down – this door is kept locked, and only fully-ordained members of the cult have a key to the Living Quarters below.
3 – Ritual Cleansing Room – before entering any of the Temple spaces, the cult members will wash and perform cleansing rituals.
4 – Cafeteria – there is room for 60 people to sit down and have a meal together. This is typically quite simple fare of Created Food, the blessing and bounty of their god. This room is occupied by a Level Three Adept overnight, to aid or counsel any of the zero-level neophytes or those who are visiting.
5 – Trash Midden – a shaft down to the refuse disposal area below (refuse-eating monster or black pudding)
6 – Lavatory – see 5
7 – Eighteen cells for zero-level Aspirants – those who come to the temple to join in its practices, or for healing, or for study, are housed here. There are two occupants per room, and each has a pallet, washbowl & ewer, small table for books, meditation supplies, and perhaps a small chest for writing material or the like. Personal property is generally not allowed, being stored below.
8 – Ritual Cleansing Room – before entering any of the Temple spaces, the cult members will wash and perform cleansing rituals.
9, 10, 11 – Cells for Ordained Clerics – Each is set up for two-to-a-room, with sleeping pallets or cots, washbasin, small table, 2-3 chairs, a chest for religious accessories, perhaps a small wardrobe and/or a bookshelf/scroll rack.
12 – Library – the temple’s collection of books, codices, scrolls, etc. of religious and magical import. There are a handful of small tables with chairs for reading and study. The Librarian’s desk has writing materials.
13 – Armory – Weapons and armor for the guards, soldiers and Exalted Warriors are stored here. There is also a secret entrance to the ziggurat here, known only to the Innermost circle.
14 – Storage (Smuggler’s Hall) – the temple will often have need to store large amounts of bulk supplies, especially in times of siege, Skarn attack, and so on. This large chamber may also be used as part of a revenue-generating scheme involving “merchants” and “traders” that is perhaps not fully approved by the secular government. There is a secret door leading outside that is large enough for a wagon-and-two to pass through.
15, 16 – Chambers – for the most senior of the Ordained priests and priestesses of the Temple. These rooms are usually set aside for one occupant, with sleeping pallets or cots, washbasin, small table, 2-3 chairs, a chest for religious accessories, perhaps a small wardrobe and/or a bookshelf/scroll rack. Higher level priests tend to have more research materials and “personal property”, depending on how ascetic the cult is.
17 – Mystic Study Chamber – A room with no windows or doors, the only entrance being the central shaft that runs from the top of the ziggurat to the base (and perhaps beyond!). Furnishings may include prayer rugs, meditation pillows or incense cabinets.
18 – Worship Center and Altar – details per patron deity or cult. This is where one will find the assorted religious paraphernalia, holy items used in worship, etc. Ceremonial guards will often be found standing at the top of the staircase, to keep the uninitiated out of the holy, consecrated areas. These guards are armed and armored, are always members of the cult, and are fanatical about their protective duty. They cannot be bribed or seduced.
Inspiration and Secret Purpose of the Cult
Your temple and ziggurat complex needs a reason to exist, does it not? If you need a drop-and-play temple for your adventurers to discover, it may be helpful to know why the temple is there in the first place. What are these cultists up to?
The following d30 table is designed to give you as GM a bit of inspiration for the methods and motivations of the cultists occupying the ziggurat.
1. A low-level cleric is tossed out of her seminarium for being stubborn and impetuous. She wants to take the knowledge she has and run, to get away from the cloying attentions and dishonesty of the Priests and Laymen, to share her knowledge with the unwashed masses that have not heard of her patron deity and their greatest power.
2. A frightened/wounded/desperate person cries out to an unlikely god, when more traditional or familiar prayers seem to fail. The alternate deity sends an emissary to the unfortunate, seeing a chance to enhance their own power and prestige. “Go forth and do this miracle in the name of the One who saved thee!”
3. A cleric faces madness and fails, becomes corrupted, and takes that new message to the people.
4. An untrained person with the Gift or the Talent delves into/stumbles upon something better left alone. Mind control/corruption/vengeance ensues.
5. A “Chosen One” has been born into an existing cult and, on her maturity, is sent out into the world to grow the faith. Probably with a handful of fanatic protectors/enforcers.
6. A Changeling, feeling angry and betrayed by his inheritance, reaches for power and revenge.
7. A noble or ruler is near death, so they invite a Prophet/Wise Woman/Seer into their inner circle in a search to prolong life.
8. Someone finds/steals/liberates/recovers an artifact that corrupts their soul, granting strange new powers.
9. Someone wants to find/steal/liberate or recover an artifact that will grant them new powers over their enemies.
10. A cleric becomes drunk on piety and power after building their temple and attracting the fanatics. Megalomania 101.
11. A search for lost knowledge leads to the Yellow King. Insanity is not far behind, but in the meantime, she needs bodies and blood and souls.
12. Not a human at all, but a visitor/exile/refugee from another time or dimension. Power must be accumulated to return to their home time/dimension in glory.
13. A Gifted/Talented servant chafes under the tyrannical rule of their master. They plot and act to succeed the master and take the reins of power.
14. The one to become the self-styled Prophet has seen a portent in the sky, others can see, but it holds a special significance for the Prophet.
15. A calf/goat/sheep has been born with unusual markings, fulfilling a very vague prophecy. The shepherd becomes the Prophet of the ancient wisdom/curse/event.
16. A white (animal) has been spotted in the forest. The Prophet-to-be gave chase for days, finally catching the creature and getting it to reveal a secret…
17. The Zealot-to-be has fallen ill, is in the depths of a fever-dream, and calls upon a Power to heal her. A Power responds, requesting only that she provide a new, willing soul on each new moon.
18. A child feels that they have experienced only bad luck and hardship since their parents turned away from the Old Gods to venerate a new goddess. The child finds some engraved clay tablets her mother had hidden away, deciphers the writing and calls upon a Patron of the Elder Gods to “show her the true Way”.
19. The Prophet-to-be dreamed of a white ship, sailing through the clouds under the moon. He was invited to board, upon a bridge of moonbeams and stardust, to be taken to a glorious realm of Heaven. The Prophet must now coerce a group of people to help him build the white ship, so they can all sail to the Moonlight Heaven together.
20. Discovered a local enemy has a magic item, steals it from them in jealous rage. The Item was locked away for good reason, as it corrupts the soul of the holder. The new Zealot builds a following to bring about the predictions the item whispers into their mind.
21. A Patron-type Spirit or Being is trapped nearby, but not fully helpless. The soon-to-be-Zealot is Charmed into providing sustenance in the form of a blood-letting ceremony, in return for gifts of magical powers.
22. A Prophet or Zealot has died, and a follower with delusions of grandeur is attempting to bring their Liege back to life. They have some gold, but not enough. They need gold and a way to contact the Patron spirit.
23. The new Zealot has found a small/young/larval monster, raising it to become a God.
24. The Zealot has a Knack for getting people to do things, and think the idea was their own (a limited, natural type of Charm Person).
25. Has a gift for Magic-use, and some magical/spell research has gone wrong! Zealot/Prophet is Possessed by the spirit of a Demon/Devil. The infernal being creates a cult to foment incivility and insurrection.
26. A magic-user has suffered a massive Spell Failure and has asked their Patron deity to heal them. The Zealot is healed, but at a terrible price: collecting souls for their Patron.
27. A Prophet-to-be has found an old scroll with a partial prophecy that seems to describe the PC and indicates they will receive greatness and glory.
28. The soon-to-be-Zealot accidentally consumes a Larval Great One, which takes partial control of their mind. The Zealot searches out more of the larvae and feeds them to other, unsuspecting members of their community.
29. An alchemist discovers a recipe for a Potion of Wisdom in an old library. The Potion actually causes euphoria and delusions of grandeur. In a spirit of magnanimity, she shares it with other that seem to need a lift to their spirits. The potion is highly addictive.
30. A child is born who truly is a Chosen One of (a deity), starts a spiritual community at a young age. But their older brother/sister is wildly jealous and concocts a plan to kill and replace their holy sibling at the head of the cult. The jealous rival convinces the PC party to help in the replacement scheme.
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…maps and hexcrawls and dungeon adventures.
It will have new monsters, spells and character classes.
It will have Glossography information on Towns, Cities, Religions and Cultures.
All of it will be OSR-based, using inspiration from OD&D, AD&D and Appendix N.