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"Don't cross the Shallyans. Sure, she won't hurt you; she's the Bleeding Heart. But you don't want her parents mad at you."
—Addelise Burgenkampf, Outlaw Chief.[2a]
Cult of Shallya
Cult of Shallya
Emblem of Shallya
Vital statistics
Seat of Power Couronne, Bretonnia
Head of the Cult The Most Holy Matriarch Lisegund (High Priestess of Couronne), High Priestess Anja Gustavson (High Priestess of Altdorf, Head of the Cult in the Empire)
Militant Order Order of the Bleeding Heart

Order of the Tears of Piety

Major Festivals None (Shallya acts whenever there is need, and torment does not respect the calendar)
Holy Books The Book of Sufferings, The Testament of Pergunda
Holy Symbols A dove, sometimes with a key in its beak; a heart with a drop of blood

The Cult of Shallya is perhaps one of the most if not the most beloved and mutually respected religious Cult within the Old World. This is due in most part because Shallya, the sacred Goddess of Healing, Mercy, and Childbirth, is possibly the most beloved deity within the entire Pantheon. Many Old Worlders enter it at a temple of Shallya, or at least attended by one of the priestesses, and almost all need the services of the priestesses at some point in their lives. The refusal of the cult to become involved in politics has made it a popular target of charity from wealthy nobles and merchants, and the success of the priestesses in channelling that wealth to the needy is notable. Most temples of Shallya are simply decorated, with the money received going to the relief of pain, and those temples are everywhere, from the smallest village to the largest city.[1a]

Shallya is said to be the daughter of Verena and Morr, tempering both death and justice with mercy. She feels the suffering of every living thing, and as a result is constantly in tears. Some legends say that her tears can even move her father, and that, as a result, he refuses to see her; he knows the danger inherent in yielding to pleas to return the dead. Other legends say that her father forbade Shallya from helping more than one person in a moment, lest no one die.[1a]

Individual temples of Shallya are exceptionally well organised, with clear responsibilities for all residents, and defined chains of authority. This enables them to respond to crises, and to deal with the dozens, if not hundreds, of supplicants who come every day. The cult as a whole, however, does not have policies or plans of action. Shallya is concerned with relieving the individual distresses of the people, not with grand schemes.[1a]

Overview Edit

Shallya’s primary concern is mercy: the relief of pain. Historically, the cult has focused on two main forms of mercy, healing and midwifery, because these are the most common, and the most blameless. Everyone is born, and the mother’s agony at that time is suffering in a noble cause. Similarly, injury and sickness are rarely the victim’s fault. A priestess who concentrates on these problems can easily fill her time with service to the Goddess, without offending anyone’s sensibilities.[1b]

However, Shallya is concerned with relieving all pain, even that for which the victim can be blamed. Aid for the poor, whether food distribution, temporary accommodation, or even work in the temple itself, is a common feature of Shallyan temples. Some priestesses work with the insane, and others make a point of softening the lot of those in prison. Rulers tend to have their suspicions of such priestesses, but they argue that the followers of Shallya must soften the blows of both her parents.[1b]

The good works of the Shallyans are not unlimited, however. The cult is concerned with relieving suffering, not with providing opportunities for growth and development, or for making an average life better. While few Shallyans would be upset if they made someone happy, that is not their goal; they seek rather to eliminate misery. Thus, Shallyans help those who are actively enduring torment, not those who are simply in need of help to improve their lot.[1b]

Shallyans tend not to think about the big picture. There is no way that they could relieve the agony of everyone in the world, and thinking about those they could not help merely makes it hard to go on. Most Shallyans relieve the misery they see, rather than looking for people who may be suffering more. They focus on solving the immediate problem, not on doing the greatest good for the greatest number.[1b]

Beliefs Edit

The core belief of all Shallyans is that they should work to relieve the suffering of others. Casual adherents give more to charity than most, and are more likely to help somebody who has fallen in the street, but for initiates and priests this calling comes to dominate their whole lives.[1b]

There are two main groups within the priesthood: those who provide care directly, and those who organise other people to make sure that care is provided. The first group has an almost completely positive image. It is not uncommon for patients to fall in love with their nurses, a condition known as “dove fancying,” and normally Shallyans cite the sacred priest-patient relationship as a reason to do nothing. Many Shallyans do, however, find their husbands this way. Old Shallyans are often generous with their advice, as well as their help, while those of middle years are typically very motherly. The younger ones have a popular mythology all of their own. These young, pretty Shallyans are popular characters in ribald jokes and scurrilous chapbooks. The cult generally tolerates this, because the priestess is always portrayed positively, but all Shallyans are aware of, and quick to spot, a certain type of patient. Such men are never turned away, but find themselves treated by the oldest Shallyan available. A few very canny adventurers have noticed this also gets you the most experienced Shallyan available, and fake it.[1b]

The Shallyans who organise care have a more ambiguous reputation. Everyone respects them, but a lot of people prefer to stay out of their way, lest they be roped in to looking after the sick. Some are happy bustling types, who just sweep people (including their children, neighbours, and random passers-by) up into the process of helping the sick and helpless. Others are sterner, with a firm idea of discipline and a general disapproval of people wasting their time enjoying themselves when they should be getting on with work. The young, pretty, stern disciplinarian Shallyan seems to be particularly popular with the Empire’s nobility; at any rate, they are often summoned for personal attendance and receive large gifts. A few have even married into the lower ranks.[1b]

Strictures Edit

  • Avoid killing. (All followers of Shallya take this stricture extremely seriously.)
  • Never refuse healing to a supplicant genuinely in need.
  • Never halt a soul when it is time for it to depart.
  • Go about your life unarmed. A stout walking staff is all you’ll ever need.
  • Abhor the Fly Lord in all his forms.
  • Do not waste energy on your own pleasure.

Initiation Edit

Most priestesses of Shallya are orphans, raised in a temple and destined for the priesthood almost from birth. Those who wish to become initiates of Shallya must first demonstrate their continuing devotion to the Goddess. A single spectacular act of selfless mercy is almost never enough; rather, the character must pour much of her energy into helping others over a substantial period of time, typically at least a year, although temple wards spend their childhood at this stage. Different temples favour different kinds of service.[1b]

Initiates of Shallya are expected to spend all their time working with those in need, and to show, at least, a lack of concern for their own comfort. Those who do so may become priests, and continuing selfless work results in promotion within the temple.[1b]

Most Shallyans spend some time travelling the Old World early in their careers, relieving distress as they find it. Almost all temples encourage this, both because it grants a wider understanding of the world, and because travelling is generally a hardship and a sacrifice, and thus appropriate to followers of the Goddess. Some Shallyans also spend time at a temple in a particularly dangerous location; this is as respected as travel. A few priests spend their whole careers travelling, never becoming part of a temple, and while these individuals are revered, this is not considered normal.[1b][1c]

Cultists Edit

Initiates of Shallya normally wear simple long white robes, a style copied by the more devout lay members. The materials are normally hard-wearing and safe to wash by boiling, as the robes of Shallyan devotees often become spattered with deeply unpleasant substances. This means that they are often quite expensive, but do not look it, a combination that suits the cult well.[1c]

Priests wear white robes, often with a hood, with a heart embroidered over the left breast. On daily robes, this is embroidered in yellow, but most priests also have ceremonial robes, made of expensive fabric and with the heart embroidered in gold (Best quality). Otherwise, Shallyans wear little in the way of ornamentation.[1c]

There are some regional variations. The most notable are in Bretonnia, where sumptuary laws mean that lay members and initiates cannot wear white, and so they wear yellow instead. Even noble lay members wear yellow, as a sign of humility. As foreign pilgrims are not, strictly speaking, peasants, they are not bound by the laws, but due to erratic awareness of this fact on the part of the nobility most pilgrims wear yellow until they get to the temple, where they change into white. All priests of Shallya in that country have an exemption allowing them to wear their vestments, but no other white cloth.[1c]

Priests of Shallya sell most valuable gifts to raise money for those in need, but do not sell gifts of vestments. Thus, some priests have extremely expensive vestments, gifts from the grateful or generous. Even such expensive gifts must be simple in appearance, or else they do not count as vestments; the standards for this vary from one temple to another.[1c]

Signs of Shallya Edit

The cultists of Shallya use a salute that involves making a crossing symbol over one’s heart, typically with their head bowed. Another common sign is the touching of lips with the first and second fingers, then presenting those fingers towards a person—this is used to show great respect and admiration. Cultists tending to a person in their last moments of life hold one hand to the dying victim’s heart while pressing the other hand onto their own as a way of showing sympathy and hope that Shallya shows mercy on their body and spirit. A rare few Shallyans actually slap each other in greeting to reflect their Goddess’s suffering. Known as slappers, to many, they simply seem ridiculous.[1g]

Structure Edit

The Cult of Shallya has a nominally feudal structure, with each shrine or temple owing tribute to a larger, local temple, and these large temples owing tribute to the chief temple of the nation. All the national temples owe fealty to the temple in Couronne, and all the chief priests and priestesses meet once every six years as the governing body of the cult.[1c]

The Matriarch in Couronne has authority over all Shallyans, in particular the authority to cast them out of the faith. This power is only used when a follower turns to the Dark Gods, as mercy is appropriate for anyone else.[1c]

Below the Matriarch, the chains of tribute are largely nominal, and do not carry much sense of power. Nevertheless, a number of temples do have particularly good reputations, and since the most promising priests spend time there, this is self-perpetuating. The Temple in Altdorf is a good example of this; the high priestess there is traditionally chosen by the high priests of all Shallyan temples in the Empire, and she has a great deal of moral authority. Altdorf is also regarded as a very testing position for initiates or priests with potential; there are many who need their help, but so many temptations to do otherwise.[1c][1d]

Shallyans, on the whole, are uncomfortable with wealth or valuable treasures, but their unstinting help to all means they receive many gifts. Most of these are used to help others, or sold to that end, but not all. The priests feel they cannot sell holy images of Shallya, or similar sacred goods. By tradition, then, such wealth is passed up the organisational hierarchy, to the temple to which the receiving temple owes tribute. If that temple is in an urban area, it keeps most of the goods, passing the finest on to the chief temple of the nation. The wealth on display in these places often shocks visitors, who assume that they are corrupt, at least compared to the austere rural shrines. As a result, the clergy of those temples have a strong tendency to asceticism.[1d]

Individual temples are very strictly organised, with the high priestess in absolute, but merciful, control. All temples and shrines, no matter how small, try to serve all needs, but most specialise to some extent. In larger temples, the different functions are administratively separate, with their own heads, reporting to the high priest, and their own staff.[1d]

The hospital is probably the most characteristic function, treating both injuries and disease. Areas for childbirth are always kept separate from, but close to, the hospital, as complications in childbirth often require medical attention. Madhouses are only found in temples large enough to have a separate area, or in shrines that specialise in confining and caring for the insane.[1d]

Many Shallyan temples have an orphanage, raising children, mainly girls, to be servants of the cult. Even among the temple wards, not all show the necessary aptitude for serving the Weeping Maiden, and some of these are married off to wealthy merchants, in return for substantial donations. Shallyan orphans have a reputation for making very obedient, solicitous wives, and devoted mothers.[1d]

Temples may also provide doles of food, and occasionally clothing, to the poor. Very few do this at the temple itself; the poor with the energy to come to the temple are not the ones most in need of food. Instead, initiates and low-ranking priests are sent out to deliver bread. The priests look favourably on large, intimidating warriors who go along “to help carry the food.”[1d]

Sects Edit

There are no formal sects within the Order of the Bleeding Heart, and no outright disagreements on doctrine. Different followers do place differing emphases on the various aspects of the Shallyan faith, and this does give rise to vigorous disputes within the temples. However, these disputes are generally private; the cult presents a remarkably united front.[1d]

Asceticism Edit

The approach to asceticism is perhaps the locus of most variation in the cult. This revolves around the question of how far you should go in serving the Goddess.[1d]

First, is it wrong for a Shallyan to enjoy things that come to her with no effort? If a noble offers her a glass of fine wine, is it wrong to accept? Should she sit in a comfortable chair if one is offered? Most Shallyans think this is obviously acceptable; it does not interfere with their work, and they cannot use the offered luxuries to help the poor. A radical minority of Shallyans believe it is wrong for a Shallyan to enjoy her work. She should serve the suffering out of duty, not because she gets satisfaction from helping people. A slightly smaller minority believe it is wrong for anyone to enjoy themselves; there should be no happiness in a world so full of misery. While a minority, this group is not tiny, and its members seem to be attracted to running the temple orphanages.[1d][1e]

The more general debate sees more disagreements, and these disagreements do not fall into easily defined camps; priests pick and mix from among the possible answers. The fundamental question is how much of a priest’s time and resources should go on serving the Goddess. Radicals insist that a priest should spend every waking moment in a hospital or tending to the sick elsewhere, and should minimise the amount of time she spends asleep. Most Shallyans accept that it is bad policy to try to work all the time, as it leads to mistakes. Most accept that quiet prayer is an acceptable break, and a substantial minority believe that any refined pleasure (those not involving violence or large quantities of alcohol, primarily) is permissible. A few think that anything that does not harm others or impede a Shallyan’s work is fine for relaxation. Of course, a lot of Shallyans do over-indulge in alcohol, at least in part to blot out the horrors they have seen, but hardly anyone in the cult thinks that such behaviour is right.[1e]

Shallyans with families face a deeper dilemma. Shallyan orthodoxy is that Shallyan parents should not privilege their children in any way; those who hold to this place their children in the temple orphanages, to be raised as any other foundling. Most Shallyans with children bend orthodoxy, but they have a reputation for being far less indulgent to their children than to just about anyone else.[1e]

Targeted Aid Edit

Another debate is over the extent to which Shallyans should choose whom to help. A significant minority argue they should not choose at all, simply helping anyone who comes before them in pain. They believe the Goddess herself guides them to the right people. Most Shallyans, although not much more than half, believe it is acceptable to spend a short period of time assessing the needs of the people before you before deciding whom to help first. A fairly small minority believe that they should spend some time finding the people to help, help them, and then move on to another group.[1e]

No Shallyan, even in the last group, would ignore an injured person if he was the only person in sight, however.[1e]

A tiny minority of Shallyans believe they should try to change the structure of society. This group is close to being heretical, since most Shallyans think they waste too much time that could be spent helping people.[1e]

The Fly Lord Edit

All Shallyans agree the Fly Lord is the foulest blot of all, and they would rejoice were it to be destroyed. Opinions over what to do about servants of the Dark God vary, however. A small minority believe even they deserve mercy, arguing they suffer at least as much as their victims. An equally small minority believe in seeking out and destroying such cults; these followers drift into more martial cults, particularly that of Myrmidia.[1e]

The mainstream debates the balance between simply treating the victims of the plagues, and trying to stop them at their source. Most Shallyans believe in just treating victims, until the Plague God visits their area. Then, they believe the plague should be stopped at the source, but are too busy treating victims to act to that end.[1e]

Orders Edit

The Cult of Shallya has no formal lesser orders, just as it has no formal sects. However, the natural tendency to specialise means there are a number of recognised groups within the cult. The most notable are the healers and the midwives, but these groups are too large to have much of a sense of collective identity; they just feel like “typical Shallyans,” even to themselves.[1e]

The priestesses who treat the insane do feel a sense of kinship, and eagerly take advantage of chances to meet and talk with someone who, while sane, understands life with lunatics. However, such chances are few and far between.[1e]

The wandering priests, however, have the opportunity to meet, and a common lifestyle that sets them apart from the main body of the cult. In recent years, some of these priests have even started talking about asking the Matriarch to recognise them as a formal order of the cult. The main reason that this has not got beyond talking is that few wandering priests see that it would make any difference.[1e]

Temples Edit

Shallyan temples are built around a courtyard, with the main temple hall on one side, chapels on the other, and the infirmary at one end. In some cases, the other end of the courtyard is closed by accommodation for the priests. Large temples may have multiple courtyards, in which case the main temple hall is as close to the centre as possible.[1e]

Shallyans prefer white stone, and the interiors are normally decorated in white and gold, or yellow. Stone is an expensive building material, but most Shallyans avoid wood, enabling the structure to survive a fire and be able to provide succour in its aftermath. A fountain in the courtyard, representing the tears of Shallya, is the only common decoration. In some temples, the fountain actually takes the form of a white marble maiden, with the water springing from her eyes.[1e][1f]

List of Known Miracles Edit

Note: the following spells have been limited to fluff material only, and the translation thereof.

Shallyan Petty Spells Edit

These prayers are only intoned by the cult of Shallya.

  • Blessing of Calm: Your soothing prayers help a character overcome a terrible event.[1h]
  • Blessing of Shallya: When this prayer is intoned, Shallya intervenes to ameliorate the effects of a disease.[1h]

Divine Lore of Shallya Edit

The spells granted by Shallya fall into two main groups: those that allow her servants to heal the troubles of the world, and those that allow them to endure those troubles to bring relief to the suffering. As both of these aspects are equally important to Shallyans, all the holy prayers are widely known, and use of the Extra Spell talent is common for those priestesses blessed by the Goddess. Wandering Shallyans normally take the Contemplative or Enduring spell list, while those who remain at a single temple typically choose Contemplative or Restoring.

C Edit

  • Compassionate Mind: Your reassuring prayers resolve a person’s mind to facing the horrors of the world.[1i]
  • Cure Disease: Your prayers heal a person suffering from the effects of a disease. The disease is removed from the subject’s system, and all effects are nullified. Cure disease can do nothing for those already dead by disease; for them, it is too late. You may only cast this spell once per instance of a disease afflicting a target.[1i]
  • Cure Insanity: Your prayers heal an insane person. One insanity is cured and all effects are nullified. Cure insanity may only be attempted once per instance of an insanity afflicting a target.[1i]
  • Cure Poison: Your prayers heal a character suffering from the effects of a poison. The poison is removed from the subject’s system, and all effects are nullified. Cure poison can do nothing for those already dead by poison; for them, it is too late, and it can only be attempted once per poison.[1i][1j]
  • Cure Wounds: Your prayers heal an injured character of a number of wounds.[1j]

D Edit

  • Delay Affliction: You plead to Shallya for mercy, to stave off the inevitable suffering for a time. You may touch a creature and temporarily neutralise the effects of disease, insanity, poison, or similar effects for the duration. Once this spell wears off, the target suffers the normal effects of the affliction. A target may be a recipient of delay affliction just once per affliction.[1j]

G Edit

  • Golden Tears: Your tears can heal critical damage, though not insanity.[1j]

M Edit

  • Martyr: You create a sympathetic connection between you and one person of your choice within range. Any damage done to the chosen person is inflicted on you instead.[1j]

P Edit

  • Purify: Nurgle, the Chaos God of Disease and Decay, is abhorrent to Shallya. This spell allows you to target any one Daemon or follower of Nurgle within range and overwhelm him with the purifying power of Shallya. This is an anathema to the servants of the Plague Lord.[1j]

S Edit

  • Shallya's Endurance: You invoke the power of Shallya to temporarily boost a target’s vitality.[1k]

V Edit

  • Vestment of Purity: Your prayers make you immune to all poisons and diseases, mundane or magical, for the duration of the spell or until you take violent action against anyone.[1k]

W Edit

  • Withstand Disease: Your prayers lend strength to the target’s natural resistances.[1k]

Source Edit

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation
    • 1a: pg. 50
    • 1b: pg. 51
    • 1c: pg. 52
    • 1d: pg. 53
    • 1e: pg. 54
    • 1f: pg. 55
    • 1g: pg. 88
    • 1h: pg. 217
    • 1i: pg. 230
    • 1j: pg. 231
    • 1k: pg. 232
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Sigmar's Heirs
    • 2a: pg. 38

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