Even at the height of their power, the Ahlfari were naught more than a blip upon the land. One tribe amongst many on a continent devoid of a true civilization. A single chieftain made a name for himself by forming primitive treaties with a few neighboring tribes, the only thing he could do to keep from being swallowed up by a more aggressive tribe from east of the great river. He must have been a great man, this chieftain, for upon his death his people made monuments to his power, his kindness, and his fairness in all things. Those monuments are long gone now, but even if they were to be found, no one would connect such simplistic trappings with what has come since.
The Ahlfari formed the habit of leaving offerings at the monument to this chieftain, a practice which spanned many generations. What started out as a dedication to a man became a tribute to a beloved ancestor and then a plea to a god who it was believed could grant favors. His original name has been lost to time but his likeness came to be called Ahkti, a combination of the tribe's name for the river stones used to create the monument, Ahka, and the suffix -ti, referring to the world of spirits.
Lost to History
Through centuries of marriage and trade, the name Ahkti spread to a few neighboring tribes. It was said that Ahkti would inspire wisdom in the worthy, protect true supplicants, and give strength to those who seek the greater good of all.
The way of life for the Ahlfari and the rest of the tribes came to an end with the advent of civilization. Individual warriors could not long stand against the disciplined ranks of soldiers. Life changed, oral histories shrank into dim memory, and new gods arrived. Still, Ahkti never completely left the minds and hearts of the people. His origin and monuments were long gone; even the name Ahlfari faded as hunting and gathering gave way to farming and husbandry. Prayers for Ahkti now included the health of the livestock and the plenty of the harvest.
Where the Ahlfari once eked out an existence stood now as but a single province in the larger Eerlu Empire. With the Eerlu came their gods, a pantheon which brooked not the existence of any local deities. An attempt was made to stamp out Ahkti and his followers. Many gods were forgotten in that time but not Ahkti; his became a secret name spoken in whispers amongst any who chafed under the iron rule of the Eerlu.
So it happened that Ahkti became the patron god of the growing rebellion against the rule of Eerlu. One figure in particular stood out amongst the general rabble which defied the Emperor: Hagartha, the Wanderer. Hagartha was no local peasant hiding in the wilds and raiding the cities and towns. To Hagartha, pretending that such things would ever be felt in the far Imperial city was foolish. Even more, Hagartha saw such things as a filmsy excuse for simple brigandry.
Rather, Hagartha was a prince from another kingdom brought to its knees by the Emperor. He was educated and had an understanding of the world, its size, and how it worked. He recruited an army, set up a network of spies, and made himself a ghost that was unable to be tracked. In Ahkti he found the perfect glue to hold together his cause. Ahkti, he said, would not wish to see his people brought so low. Ahkti would wish only for their freedom and independence.
Hagartha waged his war and made ties with others in neighboring provinces who could do the same where they lived. Slowly he began to wedge apart the great cohesiveness that bound together the vast conquered lands, until the Empire exploded in a mass of civil wars. He did not live to see his vision completed, but he did set the world on a new course.
And for Ahkti, Hagartha gave a kind of rebirth and immortality that would eventually put the god on the lips of men for ages to come. Hagartha claimed to have been visited by Ahkti and given a set of instructions for the world. He wrote down what he called Ahkti's vision for mankind, for the perfect civilization. Man could live peacefully with other men, said Hagartha, as long as man would brook no tyrants. His writings persisted for a time but have mostly been lost, outside of myth and references in other ancient documents.
In later centuries, the division between Ahkti and Hagartha became somewhat murky and the god was often referred to as Aktagarti. Scholars would argue endlessly as to the etymology of this word but none could come to an agreement.
Into the Modern Era
Aktagarti was not originally worshiped as a monotheistic deity. He was always seen as just one among many. He did not make the rain or control the crops, but he was accessible and would often be sought out by supplicants wishing to turn away the wrath of those other gods.
Eventually, the Turathians adopted him as their own and created an elaborate cosmology with him at the head and all gods subordinate to him. In time, however, these other gods became less and less prominent. When the Turathian gave way to the Kurinians, Aktagarti was the sole recognized deity.
In the modern day, worship of Aktagarti is third among the world's top four religions. His followers exist in most countries; every major city has a fair share of his followers and places for them to worship.
When men went to the stars, so did Ahkti. Aktagarti's holy symbol, the bisected spiral, was prominently displayed on the flag put down by the first humans who landed on the moon. It was seen painted on the side of the first FTL ships as they sped off to the nearby stars. It is clearly seen on the floors of the Great Chambers of Law in the capital city of many extrasolar planets.
Ahkti may or may not be a real deity depending upon the needs of the campaign. Some possibilities include:
- The spirit of the original chieftain decided to stay and watch over his people. As time went on, his worship added to his power and he changed with the times.
- Ahkti, like all other gods, is a force created from the faith of his followers. The merging to create Aktagarti was a mirror of the combination of belief and trust in Ahkti and Hagartha.
- There is no real power to the gods. Ahkti is merely used as background and as a motivating force for NPCs and/or PCs.
Fitting Ahkti Into a Campaign
- The game takes place during the life of Hagartha and his crusade against the Eerlu Empire.
- A religious war has erupted between followers of Ahkti and one of the other major religions.
- A copy of Hagartha's works has surfaced, causing a rift in the worship of Aktagarti. Some wish to destroy the document, calling it heresy. Others want to go back to pure worship of Ahkti but with no real idea of what that entails. Violence is breaking out among the faithful as they seek to deal with this new revelation.
This time of year often brings the summer doldrums to the Citadel. A time of slow updates and intermittent submissions. We may have passed the worst but until the summer ends, the weather changes and school starts again we may not have the action we sometimes have.
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? Responses (8)
I like how it evolved throughout the ages to fit with the needs of whichever era is the current one, much akin to real world religions. Not a bad come back.
Enjoyable read on the way to Church this morning.
Interesting that PCs can be placed inside any era of this Religion and it still can be a dominant force.
As with the other two, I love how you made it relevant for multiple timeframes.
This sub wasn't full of all the nitty-gritty little details, and I actually kind of enjoyed it because of that - Ahkti is simple, straight forward and to the point.
Now all that is left to progress to is inter-planetary missionaries spreading the word (or holy laser-fire in the case of extremists) to alien life!
I love the history of this religion, though its actual tenants and worship are very light in detail. I expect this was intentional, but it loses a bit of flavour thereby.
Great writing and detail. Plot hooks are good, and I like how you tied it into the future.
Good point about the light details. I wrote this up as part of my 8-in-8 challenge, meaning I had less than a day to work on it. So it wasn't intentional so much as the consequence of a lack of time to fully flesh it out.
With the changing cultures and beliefs in Ahkti/Aktagarti over time, it would be difficult to present a singular set of official dogma. It is something to ponder, however, and I may add at least an overview of some of these variations in the future.
The evolution of Ahkti is great, showing the changes over the eras. I agree with Val re: religious practice. The basic theology of Ahkti is here, but I wonder what rites and rituals were carried through the ages, or how they were changed over time as well. Still, it's a very fine base.
I'm with SE on this one, I actually like its light touch on actual practices and dogmas though that was more a constraint of time rather than author intention. And like Val, I love the evolution described here.