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Gradius is the Dwarven god of creation. Dwarven lore has it that he forged
Derlith with the great Forge of Eternity, and from his drops of sweat and blood
arose the race of dwarves. Of all the greater gods, only Ares is a better
warrior than Gradius, and of them all, Gradius is for sure the heaviest drinker
and carouser. Dwarves believe that in a drunken stupor, Gradius tried to forge
a new race, and as a result of his drunken state, the Duergar, or grey dwarves,
resulted, forever to be the bane of all dwarves. It is also believed that from
Gradius' excrement after a drinking binge, goblins and orcs were created. The
Elven god Linothan is always in a constant good-natured (but insulting) banter
with Gradius, and the elven goddess Mara simply finds him disgusting and
uncivilized, an opinion often reflected on dwarves by worshippers of her. For
the most part, unless one of the other gods  does anything to harm the dwarves
of the world, Gradius remains on the sidelines. He is neutral in the raging war
between Enoch and Aramon. However, he has an intense dislike for Arachnus, due
to atrocities commited by dark-elves on dwarves. Gradius always loses at cards
against Kamira, and he insists she cheats all the time.

Worship of Gradius

The worship of Gradius is performed primarily through setting up new mines,
smithing, creation of beautiful works of stone (not aesthetic.. but efficient
works..), and drinking alot of dwarven ale. Young dwarves are put through a
ritual "baptism" to Gradius at an early age. This involves priests of Gradius
setting them on fire after applying protective magics to them, then throwing
them into boiling water. If the magic does not work, the dwarf is thus
"rejected" by Gradius. This has only rarely happened. Every year, there is a
great contest amongst all dwarves. Dwarves from all clans gather in a central
location to see who can forge the best weapons and armor, and who can do the
best stonework and engineering. This contest is called the Great Games of
Gradius, and all dwarves who win the prized mithril medals are famous for all
time. There are armor making, weaponsmithing, stonemasonry, wrestling, crossbow
marksmanship, sling marksmanship, and single combat arena events. "Kobold
tossing" is also a favorite. So is, of course, the drinking contest. A winner
from each of these events receives a mithril medal. Second and third receive
platinum and gold medals. Also, a drunken brawl always results at these
meetings; the clan with the most standing dwarves at the end is given the
mithril brawling medal. This brawl kept happening every year anyway, so it was
decided to just make it into an event. This is many dwarves' favorite contest of
the games. Nobody ever knows when the brawl is to start.. it can be at the
beginning or end of the games, or even in the middle of events. All that's
important is that it is supposed to happen sometime during the games.

History

Long ago, a young and obnoxious dwarf named Sama Redhammer was put out of
Ironguard Keep and sent away. He was simply too irritating. He always kept
spouting about his visions of this or that, about the great god Gradius, and how
he was to unite all the dwarven clans one day. None of the dwarves would hear
any of it. They were all non-believers in those days. Pious notions such as gods
were for foolish humans and elves. All dwarves cared about was their stone and
metal work, killing goblins and orcs, and getting as much gold as possible. Sama
was bound and determined to change their ways, so he set out on a great
adventure. Along the way, he was touched by the direct power of Gradius. In
every town he entered, he would go to any fountain he could find and use magic
to make the water boil. Then he would preach on the great power of the god
Gradius. Every dwarf around, as if mesmerized, would gather before him to
listen. Before long, he would light them on fire and baptize them in the name of
Gradius. Seeing the dwarves survive such an ordeal every time only made every
dwarf spread the word about the great god's power, as well as his gospel. The
dwarven brawls, done in sheer happiness at their new revelation wherever Sama
had passed, were legendary. Several taverns in those days took severe damage as
a result. Humans and other races, long used to gods and notions of piety, paid
it no heed. It was normal to them. Sama, eventually having an army of dwarves
following him, founded a keep and set up the dwarven Priesthood of Gradius.
Rising religions such as Enoch and Aramon viewed the worship of Gradius as so
much insignificant blather, so they paid it no heed. The Priesthood of Gradius
is ancient, and is therefore much older than both that of Enoch or Aramon. Enoch
and Aramon were minor cultic gods at the time of Sama's legendary journey.

Nobody knows what happened to Sama's keep. Some say that Gradius pulled it down
into the deep earth to remain in eternity with him. Others say that one of the
darker gods, perhaps Arachnus, treacherously caused the keep to be sucked into
the lower circles of Hell, along with Sama himself. It is said by those that the
keep remains there to this day, defiantly fighting off armies of Devils and
fiends in the name of Gradius,  proving the might of dwarves again and again.

The Priesthood

The Priesthood of Gradius, in typical dwarven efficient fashion, is very
hierarchical. Acolytes begin by learning all aspects of the theology of Gradius,
constantly carrying the Book of Stone with them wherever they go. They are
required to repeat the gospel to all who can hear. In mimic of the great Sama,
all acolytes are required to go on a journey in which they preach about the god
Gradius to all who can here..of any race. Once they return, they are elevated
to learning every aspect of metallurgy. Armor and weaponsmithing skills become
paramount. Eventually, they are required to forge their own holy symbol of
Gradius, upon which time they are allowed to move to the next level of learning,
which is everything to do with mining and goldsmithing. Elemental conjuration
follows, along with warfare training next. Priests of Gradius are tough
customers. They know how to use every weapon they can find.

One priest is the head priest, only ceremonially holding the post of Gradius'
Chosen, as Sama is still not thought to be truly dead. It is believed he will
one day return and lead dwarves to greatness at a time of great need. Under the
Chosen, there are ten Anvils, and below them ten Hammers. The Anvils handle all
aspects of justice and advising duties to each dwarven clan. The Hammers' sole
purpose is to lead in Gradius' name on the field of battle during any engagement.

Roleplaying Notes

Priests of Gradius are very tough. They can hold their drink second to none, and
often drink before every battle. They despise goblins and orcs, and giants, and
seek them out at all costs. As a Priest of Gradius, you are completely neutral
as far as harsh words between Enoch and Aramon go. You believe them to be
nothing more than the whims of foolish humans, as just as once before, one day
they will fall into  obscurity behind the greatness that is and always will be
Gradius. You will not hesitate to help those in need, but there must be payment
or tribute of some  kind to made to Gradius, whether by donation of money or by
actions, it does not matter. However, if orcs, trolls, goblins, ogres, or
kobolds are involved, you must help at all costs to yourself and your fellow
priests. A very good way to play a Priest of Gradius would be the same way one
played a drunken German friar, always getting in bar fights and preaching about
god to everybody whether they want to hear it or not.

See "help vile" for more information.

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