Rise of the Runelords
Our Lord in Iron
Said to have been born from the first battles between humans and orcs, Gorum appears as a suit of spiked plate armor with blazing red eyes. Though claimed variously by half-orcs, humans, and orcs as one of their own, the god cares nothing for these divisions except insofar as they relate to battle and strife. He believes in strength and power, the verdict of the sword, and the music of clashing iron. He does not favor good or evil, only the joy of conflict, and the only right he confers is the right of mortals to fight for their next breath. As long as people struggle against themselves and each other, Gorum’s teachings live on. The greatest moments in a Gorumite’s life are those spent locked in close quarters, with every moment threatening annihilation—all else is dull and dreary. His alignment is chaotic neutral, his favored weapon is the greatsword, and his domains are Chaos, Destruction, Glory, Strength, and War.
Half-orcs, humans, and orcs are the most common worshipers of Gorum, yet his reach can be felt everywhere that blood and glory are a way of life. Because of the god’s total disregard for the motives behind a battle, he tends to attract more evil worshipers than good, yet he remains a steadfastly neutral god and will not be swayed by the feelings of his worshipers. He attracts soldiers, brigands, and mercenaries to his flag—all those who have sworn to live by the sword and suffer its judgments. If you take up the faith of Gorum, you forsake the niceties of civilized life to carry the glory of battle to your grave. You reject the idea of old age and instead make the most of the present, exercising your strength and will to display your dominance over others. Though many may call your actions evil—and may be correct to do so—you see such quibbling as unworthy of a warrior. At the same time, however, you are not a murderer, and you hunger only for victory through strength of arms; killing prisoners or surrendered foes is beneath you. You think that all of life’s problems can be solved through martial might. Some believe the pen is mightier than the sword, but when you put your steel to their throats, they quickly change their words. You recognize the place of brains in battle, because stupid people die quickly. You appreciate tactics and the thrill of outmaneuvering an enemy—indeed, these are crucial skills—but they pale next to the blood and sweat of melee itself. You are not an idiot charging blindly into battle; Gorum teaches that it is better to retreat strategically so that you can fight another day than to throw away your life in vain. You believe in skill and strength, and call on your inner reserves to carry you through. You believe that only when the stakes are at their highest does life have meaning.
If Gorum calls to you, then you are of a martially oriented class. Almost all of his priests are clerics, yet barbarians, fighters, rangers, cavaliers, war-bards, and battle-druids all give thanks to Gorum and call on him in the heat of battle. If you are one of these, you value nothing so highly as glory and proving your mettle in combat. You might put your skills to the test in service of a higher ideal, as the rare metal-armored druids do, but in the end, you understand that battle is the natural state of all creatures. If you are a monk or paladin, this is not your faith. You may believe in power proving itself on the battlefield, but your measure for honor is different. If you are a sorcerer or a wizard, you may insist that destructive might conquers all, but your insistence on book study and the power of the mind is antithetical to the rough and ready ways of Gorumites. Likewise, few rogues follow the Lord in Iron, for while a deft and dexterous hand with a sword is valued, stealth is all too often synonymous with cowardice.
When you worship Gorum, you recognizing that fame and glory are fleeting, and that all that matters is how you acquit yourself in the moment. The companionship of others can lift you up for a time, but in the end you must prove your powers every day or risk coasting on past glories. You may be savage, or you may be cool and calculating, yet your goal is always to know that you spent your life pushing your limits. You have a strong drive to establish dominance over others, and while other faiths may take a similar view on self-perfection and selfunderstanding, you know that any path but that of the sword is inherently one of avoidance, weakness, and fear.
Gorumites identify themselves through their arms and armor. Many warriors of the faith carry greatswords, and the faithful garb themselves in metal armor whenever possible to emulate their lord. No matter how poor, a worshiper of Gorum will grab metal armor at the earliest opportunity, frequently claiming the armor of fallen enemies. The more devoted among the faith adorn their armor and shields with spikes and jagged bits of metal. Gorumites are frequently heavily scarred. Even the most skilled among them take damage on a regular basis due to the number of battles they fight, and they bear these scars as marks of pride. Few wear holy symbols or specialized clothing—their arms and armor are the only identification they need.
Gorum’s is an all-or-nothing faith. You are either brave or a coward. You either stare the enemy in the eye or you do not. Gorum demands only that his faithful constantly prove themselves in battle. If there’s no convenient war, daily duels and other mock battles can satisfy this need for a time, but Gorumites living in a peaceful region tend to wander off in search of conflict—or start some of their own.
As a worshiper of Gorum, you have no particular enmity or friendship with the followers of other religions. If they’re aggressive toward you, you fight them. If they accept your superiority, there’s no need. Because your god has fought almost all of them at times, and has allied with all of them at others, you see no need to declare yourself for one side or another for any real duration. You respect the tactical skill of Torag’s followers and the passionate charges of Iomedaean or Sarenite crusaders, yet disdain their fundamental restrictions on where and when to fight.
Though your religion is about death and destruction, it is also about facing those things head-on. People who attack others using the tools of weaklings are butchers and vermin. Attacking a foe from behind, murdering the defenseless, insisting that weaklings hold weapons so they can be struck down, and using poison or disease earns both scorn and enmity from true Gorumites. Worse still are the cowards who flee battles they could win if their hearts were strong, or the pacifists who insist that conflict is avoidable. These latter two are fair game for any Gorumite, as someone who will not fight is very different from someone who cannot, and it may be that a challenge is all the coward needs to find his courage. When Gorumites face each other in combat, they often salute each other. They do not show pity, but they do show mercy when they have defeated their foes. Even the human Gorumites of Lastwall and the orc Gorumites of Belkzen carry a grudging respect for each other on the battlefield. This respect doesn’t stop the killing, but rather makes it fiercer as both sides compete for their god’s favor.
Iron Grip: You and your weapon are practically one. When a creature attempts to disarm you, it suffers a –2 penalty on the attack roll.
Strong Heart: You can stand strong against even the most terrifying foes. You gain a +1 trait bonus on saves against fear effects, and the DC of Intimidate checks made against you increases by +2.
Gorum is popular across the Inner Sea region, but especially so in the places where war is a constant fact of life—Belkzen, the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Lastwall, and so forth. One might think his followers would celebrate the scenes of battles and victories, yet most look to the present, seeking their own opportunities for glory. Shrines are rarely more than cairns of stones and weapons at the scenes of great battles, meant to inspire the living. Temples of the faith are fortresses, even within cities, and often contain forges for crafting new armor and weapons while providing markets for the armor of fallen heroes. The hierarchy of the faith depends on prowess in battle, and the senior priest of a temple is the one who can take the position by force of arms. Though Gorum has no officially recognized holy texts, his followers swear by the Gorumskagat, seven poems that describe heroic deeds and actions in the heat of battle.