Four major churches exist within the city of Acryn, each devoted to the worship of a member of a shared pantheon, based on the legend of the founders of the city. Their names have passed into myth, and so each is now known by a title, and worshipped as somewhere between a god, a saint and an ideal. Whether or not these individuals existed any longer (or indeed, ever) as an entity was a matter of some debate within the churches before the Upheaval. Certainly all would ascribe some seemingly miraculous occurrences to their patron, and priests were often considered by their flock to be blessed with talents in the purview of each god (though this was perhaps through practice more than any divine intervention), but their day to day work was largely mundane in nature. All shared a belief that one day, in time of great need, the gods would return to defend Acryn.
Around 70% of the city held to one of the faiths, each roughly even in popularity, and the churches represented easily the largest power bloc outside the council.
As with all other aspects of city life, the Upheaval has brought change to the churches, indeed perhaps the greatest changes of all seen, no mean claim. Simply put, since the Upheaval the gods seem to be listening. Where priests of the Tender once studied their whole lives to perfect the arts of agriculture and healing, now they re-knit bones with healing light that springs forth from their hands, and congregations lead in song outside the city walls find crops springing to life full grown around them. Where this power is coming from is uncertain, and it does not seem to be unlimited or entirely consistent, but it is undeniable that something has started answering prayers, and the churches are clear that, in the wake of the Upheaval, the gods’ prophesied return has come to pass.
Working miracles through faith requires calling down the attention of the gods, through prayer, hymns or other suitable devotion. Once attracted, the attention grants the priest access to a flow of power that can be invoked through suitable chants or gestures, which lasts until the priest lets it ebb or the exhaustion of channeling divine might grows too great. A congregation assisting a priest in attracting the eyes of the gods grants greater power to work with, but exhaustion tends to come much faster. It seems that the gods do not wish priests over reliant upon their blessings – calling upon their aid too frequently leads to them failing to answer. Channeling divine power seems to give an aura to the priest, fitted to the god they are calling.
Since the Upheaval, priests can work great Miracles with reasonable frequency. Before the Upheaval, there was verifiably some power in faith - most faithful in Acryn would witness one or two seemingly miraculous in their lifetimes, usually from the highest or most devout priests of their faith.
Patron of healing and agriculture, who sheltered the inhabitants of Acryn againt the cold winters in the wake of its founding. Priests of the tender have ever studied the skills that would allow them to continue the work of their patron, both in a theoretical fashion at the college, and more practically at the many teaching clinics and farms the church maintains. In the wake of the upheaval, the divine blessings of the tender allows even novice priests to gradually reknit bones and close wounds, or bring clean water up through the ground. More powerful priests can regrow missing limbs, or cause fields full of crops to bloom and ripen in minutes. Calling the power of the tender grants priests an aura of peace and harmony that can calm wild animals and those distressed by injury or illness.
The stories tell that the Leader was the one who lead the other founders and their followers to stake their flag into the ground and declare the founding of Acryn. The priests of the leader those that have trained under them have always been well represented upon the council, and they study diplomacy, rhetoric and management. The divine will of the Leader grants them power to command, inspiring allies to greater feats of heroism and strength, while causing their foes to cower and flee before them, their will to stand against the priest stolen from their bodies. In negotiations too a priest can demand attention – not able to forcibly change a mind, but at the very least to gain the chance to speak their part. In addition, the aura granted by the Leader is one of majesty and authority, drawing attention and respect from friend and foe alike.
The Warrior stood vigil over the newly founded Acryn, defending it against beasts and would-be invaders alike, their strong arm and honed skill keeping the city safe. Priests of the Warrior study martial arts, hunting and warfare, and many hold rank within the city's guard and armies. The divine might of the Warrior makes their priests a terrifying force in battle, strengthening their arms, shielding them from harm and, as the priest gains experience, blasting foes from their feet and shattering their shields with blows that seem to come from nowhere.
While the other founders did their parts, the first stones of Acryn's walls were laid down by the Builder. Now their priests work to maintain and enhance them, and to secure the materials needed for the city's expansion. Priests of the builder study engineering, construction and economics, and many are involved in the city's mercantile guilds. Priests of the builder are notably less likely to become adventurers than those of any other faith, but they still have some representation amongst the ranks. The divine guidance of the builder allows priests to first repair and then construct and transmute, creating and enhancing buildings, fortifications contributing to engineering projects, or repairing broken armour and shattered shields.
Officially, Acryn has four gods, but the tale of those gods' origin contains a fifth figure, whose tale is of of treachery and betrayal. They tried to seize control of the nascent city from their companions, but were outwitted and were either executed, cast out or fled. Rumours have ever persisted of a cult within the city devoted to this figure, stories of which are used to scare children to sleep.
Religion has never been something exclusive to Acryn – most of Acryn's near neighbours (those with whom best contact has been re-established) were relatively secular in their outlook, many having split off from Acryn in past conflicts and defiantly proud of their non-mythical origin (though relations are much more peaceful these days), but further afield a few other cities or groups therof have their own gods, and there are a few faiths claim small patches of followers across larger areas. These have never been so popular within Acryn as the local ones, but most have a few adherents among the diplomatic corps from other cities, or within groups of expatriates living within the city. It is a matter of some interest to many within the city as to whether the priests of these other gods have gained similar divine powers to their own spiritual representatives. Unfortunately, while faithful of many religions live within the city, very few have local priesthoods, and given the difficulty of travel to other cities, they're mostly just as interested as the natives of Acryn are to find out what the current status quo is.
There are a few exceptions to this. Travelling priests of Aetheyta the Wanderer have found that the waystones the faith traditionally set upon the roads around the world have begun to manifest minor powers of healing and plenty when traditional offerings are made at them, something that has won Aetheyta a lot of respect within the mercantile community in a very short amount of time, since anything that can ease road travel is welcome in these times. In addition, anywhere a waystone had been erected prior to the Upheaval seems to have ended up with a small patch of Consensus around it, no matter how remote, making them excellent sites for a camp. Sadly, while the healing powers manifest in newly enshrined waystones, the power to drive back the flux does not.
There are no consistent beliefs regarding death, and what follows. No matter how bizarre the belief, it is likely that someone somewhere believes it.
However, within the City of Acryn and the surrounding region people will usually believe one of two competing sets of beliefs. Belief in familial reincarnation and belief in an afterlife.
The dominant belief regarding death until about a hundred years ago (and the one that most nobles will still believe in), is that of Familial Reincarnation. The belief follows that the soul is eternal and will be reborn again and again, so long as there is an appropriate body to be reborn into. Nobles will usually believe that a soul can only be born into a direct descendant while most other believers in familial reincarnation believe that any descendant of your family's bloodline is enough. What all believers agree on, is that the destruction of a bloodline (especially their own) is a truely horrific act, as the souls of all those who have gone before no-longer have anywhere to go.
Of course no-one truely knows what happens to the soul upon death. Those who claim to remember their past lives are rare, and those who claim to remember the time between death and birth are almost non-existant. Traditionally the journey of the soul involves 3 stages: the first is where you slowly accept your death, the second is where you release the weight you carried in life, the third is where you begin the search for where you will be reborn.
What happens to a soul with nowhere to go? Of course different people believe different things, but almost everyone agrees that it isn't good. Many believe that they become stuck in the void, regaining awareness as the time of their rebirth comes but unable to move on, they become caught in an eternal agony. Others believe the soul simply dissipates, becoming nothing. Finally, many believe that the souls of those with no destination become shades who walk the world, sowing bad-luck and hardship. One particular variant of this belief is that if no direct descendant exists then the ancestor becomes a shade who will haunt the rest of their extended bloodline.
Other types of Reincarnation Belief have been documented, but are extremely rare amongst the people around Acryn. A common belief held by a number of villages south of Acryn is that your actions in life will influence the nature of your reincarnation, and that an evil person will be reincarnated as an insect or plant, while those who were good in life will be human. The traditions of the village of Saint (a days journey south of Acryn), claim that the 4 Gods are the reincarnations of the only four humans to ever live a perfect life.
Like many things following the Upheaval, peoples beliefs in reincarnation have received more scrutiny than they might have had before. People's belief in reincarnation has been less shaken than that in an afterlife as it does not rely on a place, and belief in reincarnation has had a bit of an upsurge since the Upheaval.
Unfortunately following the Upheaval a number of extremist cults have also popped up. Drawing upon parallels between the journey of the soul and the behaviour of flux-creatures they argue that everyone we currently believe to be alive is in fact dead. That the consensus is actually the first step on the journey of the soul, and that in order to be reborn one must journey deep into the flux to have the weight of the world stripped from you. Furthermore, they argue that to die in the consensus is to break the journey of the soul and must be avoided at all cost. These cults will often be found preaching to the scared and vulnerable or, in a few extreme cases, capturing travellers and forcing them from the consensus and into the flux.
While there have always been those who have believed in an afterlife, it has only been a hundred years or so since it became a dominant belief around Acryn. The belief tends to be more prevalent among those of common blood as it tends to be associated with a reward for living a good life rather than the implication that your place in life is pre-determined by your blood and status.
A belief common to most versions of the afterlife is that those who have lived a “good” life will be rewarded in some way, although the definition of what a good life is varies massively. Usually the reward is status in the afterlife (many parables have the good and faithful servant being attended in death by the noble they served in life). While some beliefs feature a separate afterlife where the wicked are punished these are exceptionally rare, and are usually held by those who have travelled from the west.
Usually believers in an afterlife will believe that the gods have some of part to play in it, but how much of a part tends to vary drastically. Believers in an afterlife per a god are relatively rare, but can often be a vocal core of most of the churches. Much more common is the belief that the afterlife is an idealised world as produced by the gods, and that each will play a part in leading, building, tending, or protecting the dead. Some believe that the gods will be fully manifest in the afterlife while others believe their influence will be much as it is seen in life.
There are even those who claim that the Gods of Acryn are gods of life, and that the afterlife will have no gods or new gods yet unknown to us.
There are some who claim that there are some things too great for the Upheaval to have effected, and that the afterlife is one of them. This does tend to result in some awkward sidestepping of the effects that the upheaval had on the priests and religion however.
For most, there is comfort in the knowledge that the afterlife is filled with the dead, and that there would certainly have been enough to keep it as consensus. There are some who point out that if the dead counted, there are many places in our world which should be concordance which were lost to the flux. And that if only the living count, then the afterlife has almost certainly been lost to the flux.