Against the Wilderness
Halfling Ancestor Worship
Having no lands of their own to call home, family is of paramount importance to the Erhavas. This devotion crosses the divide of death. Halfling families venerate their ancestors, and in return, the ancestors grant powers to halfling priests.
Usually, each caravan will have one or more patron ancestors, perhaps the founder of the caravan, or a great leader, or storyteller, or whatever. The caravan will have a designated priest, who will travel with the funerary cart, where the ashes of the ancestors are all carried. The ancestors’ names are invoked upon the beginning of each journey, as well as the arrival at each destination (to bring a welcome from the inhabitants), and at the start of any major undertaking.
In addition to the caravan ancestors, individual halfling families may have their own ancestors which they call upon in times of need.
It is a core tenet of halfling belief that the ancestors must be properly respected and remembered, or else they will not grant the living the benefit of their powers. While it is best if each family performs the correct rites for it’s own ancestors, that is not always feasible, and so each caravan elects a member to take on the role of priest, to remember for everyone else. The priest must burn a piece of incense on the death day of each ancestor, or risk losing that ancestor’s favor. Chronic forgetfulness or disrespect can even lead to the ancestor working against their descendants.
Clerical Domains available are Ancestor (a subdomain of Repose), Community, Liberation, Luck, Protection,Travel, and Trickery. Other domains may be negotiated, depending on the nature of the ancestor.
In addition, priests may be called upon to consult the ancestors, if guidance is needed by the caravan leaders.
Funerary Wagons and Holy Symbols
Since halflings live and die with the caravan, they have no temples or burial grounds. Upon death, a halfling is cremated upon a pyre, and the ashes are collected and mixed into unfired clay bricks. The name of the deceased is then inscribed on the brick, and it is placed into the funerary wagon. After a period of mourning (the length is determined by each family), the brick is broken up and scattered along the trail as the caravan travels. Next, a small tablet is made bearing the name of the halfling, and the tablet is carried in the wagon, with the tablets of all the ancestors of the caravan. Tablets can be made of anything from wood to gold, depending on the wealth of the family. It is possible to trace the fortunes of a halfling family just by observing the changes in their tablets over time.
The holy symbol for a halfling priest is a miniature version of a remembrance tablet, inscribed with the name of at least one ancestor of the caravan, and worn around the neck. Alternatively, some halflings have carried staves with all the names of the caravan ancestors carved into them.
Individual halflings that are not priests often wear similar necklaces, or have names of familial ancestors inscribed on weapons or other tools that are important to their lively hood, in the hopes that they spirit will act as a guardian in the halflings endeavor.
It is possible, although rare, for a halfling to adventure as a cleric, calling upon familial ancestors for aid. This is only possible when there is an ancestor of extraordinary proportions.
Sin and Virtue
The best virtue in the eyes of halflings is helping other halflings, both in times of great need as well as during day to day life. The second great virtue is staying true to one’s caravan, especially when one is separated from it.
Sin is defined as anything that brings harm to halflings. Stealing from a halfling is a sin (depending on whether the halfling was part of your caravan, it could also be a crime), stealing from a human is no sin. Getting caught stealing from a human is a sin, because it draws negative attention to the caravan.
After death, a halfling’s soul goes to Fiddler’s Green, a warm and lush country or rolling hills and meadows, crossed by myriad streams, and dotten with permanent halfling villages. It is here that the homeland they lack in life is granted to them. Here they are reunited with lost loved ones. To reach Fiddler’s Green, a halfling must have paid proper veneration to his or her ancestors, and followed the Halfling Law. Halflings that do not do so are forced to wander in the wilderness beyond Fiddler’s Green, alone, without friends, without a caravan, until such time as one of their descendants performs a forgiveness for that halfling.