Skoraeus Stonebones is the primary deity worshiped by the stone giant race. He is one of the first gods of giants is the deity of earth and all that is under the surface. Some say he also shares influence on crafts and artistic endeavors, usually related to stone.
Skoraeus is said to dwell at the heart of the world, where he senses all that occurs while touching stone by feeling the vibrations that reach him. He knows much of the secret banes, magics, and ancient secrets buried in the core of the world. Skoraeus will never venture above ground, and cannot even be gated there.
An introvert and a loner, the King of the Rock has chosen to withdraw himself from the concerns of the other members of the Jotunbrud to focus exclusively on his favored breed, the stone giants. He is dour and expressionless, little taken to the good humor and lusty nature of Annam or Stronmaus, preferring to take a serious view on things and work tirelessly until a task is complete.
The reclusive Skoreaus is worshipped almost exclusively by stone giants, who may be found in mountains and caves in a variety of places in the Flanaess, including the Crystalmist Mountains and the Lortmils.
As with most of members of the Ordning, Skoraeus is venerated to a degree by most of the Jotunbrud, although few besides stone giants actively worship him. While he is seen as overseeing craftsmen and artistic endeavors, he is not expected to directly assist in those endeavors through guidance or direct inspiration. He is viewed as aloof even for a giantish god, paying little attention to the goings on of any giants save the stone giants.
Skoraeus's priests dominate stone giant society, creating an environment of stifling orthodoxy. They are grave, serious, folk, seeing it as their duty to advance their race and guarantee that stone giants continue to make ever-greating works of art and intellectual discoveries. They avoid, and teach their followers to avoid, even other races of giants, let alone other species. Their favored weapon is the warhammer. They are capable of seeing omens in the shapes and hues of rock and subterranean features, and spend much of their time meditating and creating elaborate sculptures and friezes.
Skoraeus's priests work to keep their communities isolated from most outside influences, as they believe it is only with isolation and limited contact with outsiders that their people can achieve new heights of artistic and intellectual pursuits. This isolation is not total, however, as limited trade with other giants, as well as some gnomes, dwarves, and humans, is allowed and it is deemed important to keep aware of the major goings-on of the outside world, if only to not be surprised by such changes. Outside of these, tradition is deemed very important to the priesthood, and they see it as their job to ensure that all members follow the Rockking's teachings to the letter. Any giant, even visitors of other races, who are perceived as violating Skoraeus's teachings are required to meditate in isolation for a period of time commensurate to the offence (although it rarely exceeds five hours). Failing to do so is met with frequent and loud rebukes until the meditation is undertaken, so even most visitors humor the clergy by performing the atonement.
VestmentsWhile performing their official duties or acting in a capacity of moral authority, priests of the Rockking wear stone-grey sleeveless chitons that reach to the knee, belted at the waist with a simple cord. Around their shoulders they wear a stole of cave bear fur; such fur is only taken from the pelts of animals that died naturally. Their heads are kept bare at all times, and they wear copper armbands with geometric patterns that indicate their rank. The holy symbol of the priesthood is a small, hand-carved stone object worn on a chain about the neck or wrist. The priest is required to carve a new object each year, and must always work on the item alone.
Priests of Skoraeus prefer to wear their ceremonial garb over other clothing, even when adventuring. However, when the situation calls for labor, such as the creation of pieces of art, they wear much the same as other members of their tribe. They never wear armor, trusting in their own rock-hard skin to protect them.
HierarchyNovices in the service of Skoraeus are called the Unworked, while full priests are known as Brothers (or Sisters if female) of Stone. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Skoraean priests are Stonecarver, Stonewalker, Stoneseer, Stonereader, and Stonespeaker. This last title is always used by the chief priest in a tribe, even if he is the only one. Specialty priests are known as Shapers.
TemplesSkoraeus's temples are always underground; typically at the deepest point in a tribe's living areas, but it varies based on the local underground topology. Temples take one of two forms: they are either large, natural caverns of exquisite beauty, filled with stunningly beautiful rock formations or a large hall with expertly crafted friezes covering nearly every inch of the walls, as well as statuary and other artistic creations of stone filling the open chamber itself. In the latter case, the friezes are usually more than just decorative art; they function much as a library, recording tremendous amounts of information that few besides stone giants can truly understand. Temple sizes vary tremendously; natural cavern temples are essentially as large as the natural caverns themselves, so long as they hold formations of beauty, while the created temples are continually enlarged throughout the history of the tribe, making the oldest of such temples truly vast indeed. Shrines dedicated to the Rockking are difficult for non-stone giants to notice, as they always appear to be natural rock formations. However, they are immediately recognizable to stone giants, and messages can often be cleaned from them, such as the locations of safeholds, fresh water, food, and the like. Stone giants living near the surface often build large cairns that function as shrines and signposts; the giants can read a wealth of information in them, such as which tribe controls the land, where potential dangers are found, and where entrances to stone giant caves are located. Disturbing these cairns is the easiest way to rouse the ire of a tribe of stone giants.
RitualsSkoreaus's clerics force any stone giant, even those who have pledged allegiance to other deities, who violates their god's teachings to atone through meditation.
The church of the Living Rock holds no public ceremonies. However, once every three or four months, individual priests feel a calling to venture into the deep Underdark alone, with no food. They return four days later, none the worse for it, and do not speak of the events except to say that the Rockking provides. In fact, these trips are vision quests, where Skoraeus conveys information to his priests directly via dreams, omens, and rock formations they find. Few other Underdark creatures ever detect the passing of the priests, for they are under the protection of their deity himself (if they are truly faithful). The information conveyed is personal to each priest, although warnings of dangers to the tribe, locations of buried secrets, or general artistic guidance are common. While on these trips, food and fresh water are always easy to find, and communities with multiple priests never find them called away at the same time.
OrdersThe clergy of Skoraeus maintains no military of monastic orders, although they do support a great many artistic guilds in large stone giant communities. These guilds are nominally independent from the priesthood, however.
Beauty is truth and knowledge is power. Secrets are the ultimate power and the Underdark is full of secrets. The affairs of outsiders serve only to distract the faithful from matters of true import. The creation of art is the route to true understanding. Rocks are alive with knowledge for those with the intuition to read them.
Skoraeus Stonebones appears as a well-muscled, nude stone giant of exceptional size. His skin has the same texture and appearance as granite and is completely hairless. He nearly always wears a stern, dour expression on his face, and even on occasions where he smiles, it doesn't touch his obsidian-black eyes.
Skoraeus Stonebones prefers subtle manifestations and indirect intervention in the lives of his followers. He most commonly manifests in the shape and colors of subterranean rock formations; stone giants who gaze upon such formations can read messages in these formations with perfect clarity. Such messages may lead them to or away from caches of ancient magic, rich veins of precious materials, or dangerous locales.
Skoreaus is part of the second generation of giantish gods, born at about the same time as Surtr and Thrym. It is said that his brothers' evil drove him to hide himself below the world and ignore everything apart from himself and his people. When he absolutely has to, he'll deal with the gods of the dwarves and svirfneblin. He is allied with Dumathoin.
Skoreaus is the son of Annam. His siblings and half-siblings include Diancastra, Grolantor, Hiatea, Iallanis, Karontor, Stronmaus, Surtr, and Thrym. Memnor and Vaprak are also sometimes named as his relatives.