Tathatan

Tathatan is a neo-traditional reform movement. It emphasizes personal integrity, courage in the face of death, and strict adherence to traditional Dwarven customs, especially social caste. In fact, Tathatan is more strict about custom than was ever the case under the Dwarf-led Empire.

The Tathatan religion is popular among urban Dwarves, especially in the region from which it takes its name, the Tathatan region of the West.

Followers of Tathatan expressly deny the “New Peace” preached by the Thauma-Virun religion. In contrast, they firmly maintain that 1) the former Regent of Wu-Yu, Thauma, having realized his own mortality, withdrew from the world to contemplate his death, resulting in the conquest of the Dwarven Empire by Orcs; 2) no Regent currently reigns, leaving the world to chaos; and 3) the world has entered the fourth and final age, called the Kali Yuga, which heralds the immanent end of the world. The end cannot be averted. Now the only enlightened thing to do is follow Thauma’s model: contemplate death and meet it with dignity. Followers do this by returning as much as possible to traditional Dwarven ways. Only through strict observance of custom can Dwarves uphold the principle of zhong, or loyalty, which defines their culture.

Tathatan devotees protest the legal requirement that all citizens of the Empire pay annual reverence to the Emperor with a stick of incense at a Thauma-Virun temple. Devotees are encouraged to appear at the temple but not offer incense, as a form of protest. Failure to make the offering is legally punishable by fine, imprisonment, or worse.

Leadership of the Tathatan is informal, consisting of charismatic leaders without a clear heirarchy. Currently, the two most respected leaders are Sri Mahani, who advocates peaceful demonstration against the Empire, and Sri Gunda, who endorses protest by any means necessary.

There are no Tathatan temples and followers do not gather regularly for services. Instead, followers gather irregularly in homes, caves, or on the banks of the holy river Tathata. This protests the appropriation of Thauma’s temples by Thauma-Virun defilers, and prevents Imperial authorities from knowing the locations and times of gatherings. Worship involves group meditation, recitation of the ancient Law-scriptures, and vocal criticism of the Imperial regime. Participation is demanded of each member in attendance, particularly confessions of religious feeling. Incense is not offered and songs are not sung, as these are considered deviations stemming from Goblinoid influence.

All Tathatan followers are encouraged to learn to read, understand, and interpret the ancient Law-scriptures, which are written in Old Dwarven. Traditional metalsmithing is also held in very high regard, and practiced as a form of devotion by many followers.

Since there are no temples, followers may only acquire Divine Magic spells by arranging a gathering of followers of ranking appropriate to the magnitude of the spell.

Followers of Tathatan organize themselves into castes, and obey codes of purity defined by caste. Most have certain foods they cannot eat, and occupations they cannot follow. Certain metals, especially mithril, also have taboos that must be obeyed. If any of these rules are broken, the follower must atone through purification or suffer the effects of impurity (see below).

There are four castes: the Dhtirastra, Vayish, Shathiri, and Parhmi.

Dhtirastra are the sludge of society, and follow low professions, including leatherworking, gravedigging, corpse-handling, peddling, manual labor, and so on. Although Dhtirastra are taboo to other castes, they themselves are relatively free to act as they will, as their innate impurity saves them from falling from grace. They never have to atone, except for critical offenses. They are the only ones who may use mithril in an impure manner, and those of their number have been called on to do so in numerous legends.

The Vayish are the commoners, and follow productive and mercantile professions. They are farmers, fishers, herders, hunters, scouts, sailors, traders, shopkeepers, brewers, miners, petty smiths (as opposed to philosophical priest-smiths), carpenters, jewelers, entertainers, builders, herbalists, healers, and so on. They may not eat beef.

The Shathiri are the aristocrats, and lead noble and refined lives. They may be landowners, politicians, soldiers, guards, rangers, mariners, healers, surgeons, and so on. The leisure of the landed life also allows them to be artists, poets, scholars, architects, and the like. Like the Vayish, they may not eat beef. Unlike the other higher castes, they are sanctioned to touch the corpse of a race of higher intelligence or wondrous beast.

The Parhmi are the spiritualists and intellectuals, and function as priests, exorcists, priest-smiths (philosopher alchemists), philosophers, scribes, judges, lawyers, librarians, poets, scholars, doctors, and the like. They are vegetarians, and have the most severe restrictions. They are recognizable by the yellow and white cords they wear, and their long, never-cut hair.

Offenses and Purifications in the Caste System
Offense Level Dhtirastra Vayish Shathiri Parhmi Purification
Touch natural body of a Dhtirastra Minor - X X X Bathe
Touch corpse of intelligent species or wondrous beast1 Minor - X - X Bathe
Eat beef Minor - X X X Fast from speech 1 day
Eat meat of any kind Minor - - - X Fast from speech 1 day
Eat mushrooms, garlic, onions, leeks, or rice boiled with sesamum Minor - - - X Fast from speech 1 day
Touch a mithril item for the first time without reciting the name of an ancestor Minor - X X X Wear bark-cloth clothing for 1 week
Pass the New Year while a vow goes uncompleted, unless absolved of the vow by the person to whom it was made or the highest ranking witness Minor - X X X Wear bark-cloth clothing for one year or until the vow is completed
Use mithril in an impure manner, such as allowing it to contact urine, feces, or a corpse Minor - X X X Carefully scrub the mithril item with clarified butter while reciting mantras
Use a forge while in a state of Impurity Minor - X X X Abstain from touching any metal items for 1 week
Touch lead and gold at the same time Minor - - - X Touch copper and a live eel at the same time
Take up a profession inappropriate to caste Major - X X X Discontinue the profession and wear black for one year
Break a vow or oath made on the name of an ancestor Major - X X X Go on a quest determined by a blood relative to whom the offense is confessed, or bathe three times in the river Tathata
Use a mithril item for a heinous deed such as murder, attacking an unaware or defenseless victim, or attacking a blood relative Major - X X X Melt down the mithril and bury it or cast it into a pit or body of water, then bathe 7 times in the river Tathata. If the mithril is not properly disposed of, anyone who touches it regardless of race and religion will be cursed and suffer the same effects as a Major Offense
Cut one’s hair Major - - - X Bathe in the river Tathata or kill the person who cut it
Marry outside one’s caste Critical X X X X Bodhi-yama (enlightened suicide)
Publicly recite backwards your name, the names of your parents, and the names of your grandparents Critical X X X X Bodhi-yama (enlightened suicide)
Use mithril to kill a blood relative Critical X X X X Bodhi-yama (enlightened suicide)

1 “Wondrous beast” includes elephants, camels, rhinoceri, dragons, wyverns, and magical creatures.

Consequences of Impurity: Lose 1 point of POW for a Minor Offense, 3 points for a Major Offense, and 5 for a Critical Offense. Lost POW returns after purification. The only other way to recover POW is to publicly disavow the Tathatan religion, henceforth becoming a Dhtarastra in the eyes of Tathatan followers.

Myths and High Days

Tathatan followers relate the Dwarven myths of Thauma, especially the Fishing Up of Atmah and the Forging of the Three Treasures.

The Fishing Up of Atmah tells of a time after the great Elven masters had departed and the world was without a Regent to keep order. Thauma the Dwarf went fishing with an Elf fisher named Viru, and winds swept the boat far out to sea. There Thauma’s line caught Atmah, the world-serpent and first Regent of Wu-Yu. Atmah then granted his blessing, making Thauma the new Regent of Wu-Yu and ushering in the Third Age or Zhong Yuga. Followers of Tathatan maintain that the blessing was given to Thauma and Thauma alone. This directly contrasts with the Thauma-Virun interpretation, which claims Viru also received the blessing, and that the elf Viru is in some ludicrous way the ancestor of Orc-kind.

The Forging of the Three Treasures recalls how Thauma blessed the Dwarven Empire with three items of mithril. For three days Thauma labored in his heavenly forge. During this time he neglected the bed of his wifely consort, Wu-Yu, and rained sparks of lightning and thunder down upon her children. This angered Wu-Yu, so she sent a fly to his forge. The bellows blower was warned by Thauma to keep the fire hot, but the fly bit him on the forehead and he forgot himself long enough to swat the fly. The fire cooled slightly, and this is why the axe has a flaw—it’s handle is too short for war. This myth reminds followers to be vigilant in their devotion to Thauma, and never forget themselves, even for a moment.

The Three Treasures were formerly kept at the holy city of Bara-xi, and were used in the coronation ceremony of a new Emperor. When the city fell to the Orcs, the treasures were thrown into the holy river Tathata. A popular Dwarven story tells that the Orcs tried for three days to dredge them up by every possible means, all to no avail. Miraculously, they remain in their final resting place.

The high day of Tathatan is a winter solstice festival called the Mithrala. It celebrates the Forging of the Three Treasures and focuses on the holy river Tathata as the final resting place of the treasures. The timing of the festival directly opposes the simultaneously-held winter solstice celebration of Thauma-Virun, called the Victory, in which the annual offering of incense to the Emperor is mandated.

Primary Deity Titles and Epithets Archetypes Followers
Thauma Master Fashioner, Lord of Sky, Rain, Thunder, Smithing, and Sovereignty, Sun God, Ancestor of Dwarf-kind Ruling Deity, Sun God, Storm God, War God, Sea God Conservative Dwarves
Other Revered Deities Enemy Deities/Religions High Days Typical worship acts
Wu-Yu as consort of Thauma Thauma-Virun religion Winter Solstice Meditation, studying the Law-scriptures, metalsmithing
Ethos Virtues Cult Skills Holy Symbol
Keep the old customs, refuse the spiritual authority of the current Imperial regime, honor the ancestors, know that all things come to an end, never forget who you are Loyalty, integrity, filial piety, courage Craft(Smithing), Language(Old Dwarven), Literacy, Lore(Arcane), Lore(Dwarves), Persistence, Oratory The Three Treasures (axe, fish hook, and sickle); braided beards

Tathatan

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