Friday, September 21, 2012

DCC Donnerstag: The Metal Gods, Part 2; Clerics and the Metal Gods

Unlike most deities, the broad pantheon of the Metal Gods may be worshiped by clerics of all alignments; so diverse are their teachings and deeds that, over the eons, nearly all ethical systems have been ascribed to or explained by the myriad theologies. A cleric of the Metal Gods follows the normal weapon restrictions for a cleric of his alignment and actively pursues the tenants of that ethos. However, the different alignments reflect different specific takes on the pantheon.

Lawful Clerics

Clerics of Lawful alignment look to tales of Metal Gods who protected the weak, who sacrificed of themselves in the face of certain destruction, who strove to preserve Man's civilization from the tides of chaos, and find inspiration. More focused on helping the less fortunate than other clerics of the Metal Gods, Lawful clerics often become adventurers to place themselves on the front lines against those who would bring Man's dominion to an end. While most Lawful clerics join this crusade, many do so as much for the joy of the battle and to slaughter Man's foes. Even though bloodthirsty, these darker Lawful priests maintain a tyrannical discipline among the armies they chaplain, valuing duty and honor above personal gain. Whether out of a righteous desire to protect the weak or smite the wicked, Lawful clerics of the Metal Gods gird themselves for battle against the forces arrayed against Man and whatever wickedness threatens it.

Neutral Clerics

Some Neutral clerics worship forces of nature or lost and forgotten deities; Neutral clerics of the Metal Gods do both. For the Neutral worshiper of the Metal Gods, the vast legion of Metal Gods who have passed into obscurity forms the basis for the gods' power along with their connection to the elements of nature. Though the names of Metal Gods from the past may have faded from Man's memory, the divinity of those gods lives on the the world and in Man himself like the ancestor spirits that Man once worshiped; this divinity manifests itself in the roll of thunder, the crash of waves and the furnace of the volcano. Similar to druids or shamans, Neutral clerics of the Metal Gods often form the nexus of their communities as they encourage the union of those communities with the forces of nature and, thereby, the lost Metal Gods. It is for this reason that, of all the servants of the Metal Gods, Neutral clerics feel the greatest compulsion to preserve the tales and lineages, holy chants and ancient rites of the Metal Gods, be they extant or past. Whether written on scrolls in cyclopean stone libraries or in the oral traditions of their tribes, Neutral clerics keep the past alive and kicking ass.

Chaotic Clerics

Just as with Lawful clerics there are two distinct traditions of clerical devotion to the Metal Gods, so too are there among Chaotic clerics. Both traditions value freedom and self-determination above all things, and both traditions have very different focuses. The first tradtion harkens back to the Metal Gods' first incarnation as the saviors of Mankind who rescued him from bondage at the hands of the elves, the lizardfolk, the serpentmen and other races; the primary act of devotion to the Metal Gods, reason the clerics of this tradition, is to free as many Men as possible from unjust (or in some cases any) bondage in order to spread freedom and to allow those from whom freedom has been taken the ability to become captains of their own fate. These Chaotic clerics of the Metal Gods flaunt laws and disregard authority with the ultimate aim of bringing as much freedom and good to the greatest number of Men that they can. Completely to the contrary of the altruistic tradition, the other tradition of Chaotic clerics follow a philosophy often referred to as the "Will to Power;" this tradition justifies taking any action that one may desire, insofar as the actor's personal power or pleasure is increased, by application of that actor's freedom to act in such a way. By this logic, each person has the ability to choose power, and the responsibility to himself to do so, but that if he finds himself without power then either his Will is insufficient or another holds power superior to that of his own. Either way, the answer is the same: seek more power, be it martial, political, societal, fiscal, mercantile or arcane. The cults of these Chaotic clerics spring up among members of all social classes, and often lead down dark paths as followers forgo their own humanity (usually viewed as a weakness in these circles) in favor of greater and greater personal power. It is through the darkest acts of sacrifice, demon-summoning and even worse of these cults that have led some nations to mistrust all clerics of the Metal Gods and have led some rulers to outlaw the faith entirely.

I thought that one of the best ways to conceive of the different logics of the different alignments as regards the Metal Gods would be to think of bands or songs that I thought best exemplified what I would think of when I thought "Lawful" or "Chaotic." Some of these changed over time (I basically spent all night on YouTube watching metal videos, so that's bound to happen), but much of the imagery and ideas that the writing kicked up simply became better defined around what one might consider to be "metal traditions." Punk, for example, fits squarely in the Chaotic category but so does Norwegian Black Metal. This whole article was a sort of thought experiment on how I could tie in common themes in metal and metal-influenced music into the basis for not merely a religion, but the entirety of mankind's culture. 

Next time, I'll be focusing on the Metal Gods as supernatural patrons for your wizard or elf!