"I’d rather give my tenth coin to Ranald than risk losing the remaining nine."
- – Eckhardt Reinschol, Wool Merchant from Grafenrich
The Cult of Ranald is the "official" religious organization that is dedicated to the worship of Ranald, the fickle God of Luck and Fortune. A deity of the common people, Ranald is all these things and more. His is a curious cult, for it lacks the trappings, the pomp and majesty, even the structure of other cults. His priests are thieves, tricksters, and gamblers, rather than the educated effete elite so favored by others. His temples are the gaming halls, the brothels, the taverns, and other dens of iniquity, not the gilt structures of gold and marble. Indeed, Ranald and his priests are unlike any others—a fact that is both distressing and delightful. He is referenced in two video games so far: Total War: WARHAMMER where he gets to decide to decrease the gauge of a spellcaster's magical wind, or in vermintide 2, where he gets to decide to whether fill up the remaining chest upgrade bar.....or not. Both of these game mechanic are purely designed for Ranald to troll the players.
Aspects of RanaldEdit
Part of Ranald’s curious nature stems from the fact that this God has a several different aspects. To most, he is known as the Night Prowler, God of Thieves and patron of thieves and rogues. Venerated by the criminal elements in the Old World, his symbols and sayings serve as the foundation for much of the secret language used by thieves.
Ranald is also the Deceiver, watching over, or rather inspiring, charlatans and tricksters. In this way, Ranald is something of a force of nature, the personification of irony but also illusion—hence Ranald’s appeal to Grey Wizards. As well, Ranald is the patron of gaming, gambling, and more than anything, luck. It is in this form that Ranald is upheld by the Empire folk and to curry favour with the God, Old Worlders employ a dizzying array of superstitious sayings and gestures to ensure they retain or acquire the God’s attention.
Of all the forms Ranald assumes, though, none is more brutally oppressed than his role as the Protector. The symbol of freedom from tyranny, liberation from despots, and the symbol of revolution, this aspect of Ranald is embraced by agitators, demagogues, and even a few politicians. In fact, Ranald in this role is a rallying force for the democratic movement that persists in the Empire’s largest cities.
The Cult of Ranald views the rest of the world as the ebb and flow of fortune, from good to bad and back again. Because there is no “typical” cultist of Ranald, there’s little in the way to describe the workings of the cult itself. Most trust only their own wits and abilities, taking what they can and praying to Ranald to keep them one step away from danger. Cultists laugh at limitations and boundaries placed upon them, and often break laws and enter into forbidden areas just for the sake of doing so, slipping back into the shadows and teeming, anonymous masses before getting caught. The Cult of Ranald is viewed with suspicion by both the other cults and the ruling classes, even though he is still paid lip service by them all. Other cults afford the priests of this cult little respect, though this typically suits the followers of Ranald just fine, as they care little about the air of pomp put on by most other groups. Indeed, one of the tenants of the cult is to shine the light of hypocrisy on those with inflated egos or heightened status. Because of this, priests of Ranald stay out of sight, performing their works in back alleys, secret meeting places, and other dens of low character.
Although the cult has a deserved reputation as being filled with gamblers, thieves, and con artists, just as many priests are simple hedonists who grab life by the reins. Those that partake in illegal endeavours always give a healthy portion of their winnings back to the cult or, in some cases, to those in need. The cult abhors violence, seeing it as a “failure.” Their best “crimes” are those that go undiscovered until months after they have done the deed. Those who rely on violence and cruelty find a better patron in Khaine, or other, darker Gods, than the free spirit that is Ranald. Cultists of Ranald often have personalities that mimic the four main aspects of Ranald. Those who follow the Night Prowler are thieves and larcenists, who perform crimes just as much for the thrill of performing the perfect caper as they do for the loot.
Those who follow Ranald the Deceiver are smooth con artists, who move easily through all strata of society, never laying down roots and constantly on the prowl for new targets to fleece through the use of clever thought and silvertongued lies. Cultists of Ranald the Gamester are consummate gamblers and risk takers, spending their days playing games of chance and concocting schemes to gain more money so they can continue their passion. To them, money is not the ends, but the means, to happiness. Lastly, there are the cultists who believe in Ranald the Protector and take up the mantle as the guardian for those who cannot defend themselves. They are infamous for stealing from the well-to-do in order to assist the poor, exposing the hypocrisy and excesses of the powerful, and standing up for the rights of the common citizen from thuggery, senseless persecution, and exploitation. Most other cults consider members of this “sect” the worst of the lot, as they often attempt to disrupt the status quo in the name of freedom and justice, regardless of the cost to the rest of society.
However, by their very nature, cultists of Ranald are highly individualistic, and it can be difficult to describe what makes a person become one in the first place. Most are experts at disguise and deception, keeping their true nature hidden from the rest of the world. The Cult of Ranald is ruthlessly persecuted in other parts of the Old World. Bretonnia in particular is notorious for its heavy-handed punishments for finding cultists merely travelling through their land
Cultists of Ranald believe in individuality, freedom from oppression, and the rise and fall of fortune and luck. They adhere to the belief that whilst Ranald grants his blessing on those that call often enough, he’s more inclined to help those that help themselves. Cultists attempt to balance practicality with an irreverent attitude, knowing that what’s here today could disappear tomorrow—and vice versa. The most altruistic strive to better the lives of other, usually through the wealth and power of other, wealthier individuals. Although theft, cheating, lying, and skulduggery are all acceptable in the eyes of Ranald, violence, and especially murder, should be avoided at all costs. A common thug that slits the throat and steals the purse of a wealthy merchant while invoking Ranald’s name is more likely to lose his favour than most. Cultists accept the fact that Ranald is known by many names and titles, and that he can appear in any disguise
- One coin in ten belongs to Ranald.
- Ranald frowns upon unnecessary violence.
- Live by wits, not by your sword.
- A true devotee of Ranald uses the dagger and stiletto; only amateurs and the slow-witted need armour and long sword.
- It’s better to live free and die, rather than suffer under oppression.
- There is no honour among thieves, yet trust in your brothers and sisters.
Cultists of Ranald can be found in every strata of society, from the most powerful of nobles to the lowliest of gutter trash. However, most cultists are noted for rising above their original station in life, through sheer willpower, talent, and of course, luck. Cultists of Ranald almost always wear a necklace with an “X” or a hand with crossed fingers. The “X” symbol is the most common, and in fact, wildly popular, worn by untold numbers of citizens. These necklaces are so prevalent that they rarely cause suspicion, though everyone is sure to keep them hidden if a witch hunter or priest of another faith is about. It is widely believed that the symbols of Ranald lose their potency if displayed openly. The boldest (or most foolish) of cultists even get tattoos of these symbols on their body, though most have them done in such a way that only the initiated and savvy can understand them for what they truly are.
Signs of RanaldEdit
Every person of the Empire knows the salute of Ranald—crossing the index and middle fingers on the right hand. It is used daily by everyone as a way to garner luck or to avoid a particularly bad fate. Holding crossed fingers behind the back is said to “hide” a lie that is told, while doing so openly for all to see is to express the fact that a person is telling the absolute truth. Cultists secretly show their allegiance to Ranald to each other by performing this salute with their left hand. This act is considered unlucky by the rest of the populace, but true cultists know better. Holding crossed fingers directly in someone’s face is a grave insult and a sure way of starting a fight.[1f]
Cultists make oaths to each other while both parties hook their index fingers together. When cultists of Ranald are in dire need of luck, they may cross the fingers on both hands and the toes of both feet. It’s felt that the more crossed digits, the more you ward off bad luck. Other cultists may walk their forefinger and index finger on the palm of their left hand as a sign of strange things afoot. Finally, when cultists of Ranald feel they have had a particularly bad spout of luck, they’ll run the back of their hand under their chin, to alert the God that they’ve learned from their errors and would like their luck to change.