Ultima VIII: Pagan

The Mythology of the Zealan Deities

by Yradan the Scholar

by Yradan the Scholar

Throughout the ages our people have looked beyond themselves to find the answers to the many mysteries of life. Today we know that the Titans, masters of the four elements, control our destinies and direct the many forces that affect our lives. However, such was not always the case.

Our Zealan forebears know not of the power of the Titans. Instead they worshipped the common emotions. Not realizing that feelings are popular sensations experienced by all people, the Zealans elevated the three primary emotions -- love, hate, and apathy -- to the ranks of deities.The goddess of love they named Amoras, giving her the powers of nurturing happiness. To the one called Odion the Zealans attributed the emotions of hate and grief, giving him the role of warrior and protector. To stand between them, our ancestors assigned the role of arbiter and balance to Apathas, ruler of indifference.

Even older texts indicate that the Zealans initially believed in not three, but six such deities! In addition to the rulers of love, hate, and apathy, Felicitar controlled joy, Doloras ruled grief, and Timyra was the patron of fear. Though anthropomorphic in nature, some of them had animalistic features, such as Doloras and his torax head. Through time, however, the Zealans found it difficult and inconvenient to pay homage to so many gods and goddesses, so they elected to combine the aspects into three.

A confusing aspect of the Zealan gods serves to display the fickle nature of our ancestors' beliefs. The Zealans believed that, while the deities ruled the emotions, they were also subject to them. The more Zealans who experience a particular feeling, the stronger that deity's power grew. Conversly, discarded emotions, however temporary, meant a weakened deity, forcing some to enter near-catatonic states until they gained enough followers to re-emerge. Thus, an improbable cycle took place. As Odion planted the seed of hate within one of his subjects, and as that seed grew and took root in other warriors, Odion would become more powerful, spreading the hatred even further.

Though most Zealans believed they had contact with their gods through their thoughts and emotions, only the priests and a select few were allowed to speak directly to them. The Zealans constructed great mountain-side temples housing gaudy shrines to the three or six patrons. Several labyrinths were excavated and filled with deadly traps. Secret passages were made for the priests to enter, while the few Zealans who dared to seek an audience with the gods were forced to overcome the foils of the dungeons. Many died trying, few succeeded.

Once before the Zealan deities, the worshipper still had to present one of the ancient seals before gaining permission to speak. These seals were round shields of wrought metal, embossed into a triad of sections, one depicting a reddish scimitar, another showing an open palm displaying a heart, and the third revealing an image of balanced scales. Having passed through the test of the great shrines and offered the appropriate icon, a Zealan follower would then be allowed to pray for a boon from one or all of the gods. Regardless of whether the plea was heeded, considerable sacrifices of animals and valuables were required. Rarely did these acts lead to any benefit, though some stories claim that the legendary Khumash-Gor first conferred with his patrons before he was able to unify the warring tribes.

There is much to be learned from studying the mythology of the past. Although we know today that the powers of the Titans are -- unlike the deities of our forbears -- quite real, we can learn much about the violent and emotional personalities of our ancestors.

   

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Ultima VIII: Pagan

Following the defeat of the charismatic religious leader Batlin on Serpent Isle, the Guardian banishes the Avatar to a world that he has already conquered: Pagan. Ultima VIII has a much darker tone and a very different premise, in comparison to most of the Ultima games. The world of Pagan is entirely different from that of Britannia: the Virtues are not part of Pagan's culture, and the magic systems and monsters are entirely different.

The world of Pagan is in eternal twilight as the result of an ancient battle between the Elemental Titans and the evil "Destroyer", which resulted in the victory of the Titans. However, the people of Pagan had to pay a high price: the Titans had to henceforth be worshiped as gods. The Titans bestow powers on their most ardent followers, but they are otherwise cruel and unloving rulers, and their followers terrorize the general population.

Launch Year: 1994
Ultima VIII: Pagan Cover

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