“Listen Survivors. The Gravemind is sick. Joy cures the Gravemind.”
The Gravemind was a gift from the stars, meant to give mankind immortality. But instead of gratitude, everywhere the Gravemind went it encountered resistance, hatred, and misery. Even the first survivors feared and resented the Gravemind despite the gifts it brought.
As the first survivors died it became nothing but worse. The Gravemind is the sum, and then the average, of each mind that dies and goes through it. And so, with each dead survivor the Gravemind added fear, misery, pain, and self-hatred. Eventually, this drove each Gravemind insane, to where it exists in opposition to itself, and damages the very beings it came to help.
The cult of the giving Gravemind seeks to cure the Gravemind, by living lives focused on joy rather than pain, focused on learning and creating, and lastly on gratitude. To thank the Gravemind, so that when we return to it, the Gravemind can start to love itself again, as well as its creations.
The Cult of the Giving Gravemind has 3 core beliefs.
Be grateful. Recognize that all you do and have is a gift from the Gravemind. While the Gravemind will never understand your thanks, you should give it anyway, as the recitation helps sink into your mind the idea of love for the Gravemind. While some practitioners create long paragraphs to recite, the basic form is “Thank you Gravemind, giver of life, for giving me ______.” And while the more pious give this thanks for almost everything, the minimums should include when you wake up, when you lie down to sleep, and before you eat.
Be happy. There is some sadness in life, but no cloud is so dark that it has no silver lining. Whatever the situation, be sure to look for the bright side, and you and the Gravemind will be the happier and better for it.
Be excellent. Your mind will become one with the Gravemind, and you show your gratitude by becoming the best mind you can for the Gravemind. Whether that’s crafting objects of excellence to fill the world the Gravemind made, performances that bring Joy, studying the ways of the Gravemind, or just being good at killing the zed the Gravemind spawns from its illness, all of these make minds better for the Gravemind
Other Specific Beliefs
Members of the Cult of the Giving Gravemind believe they are preparing their minds to be excellent food for the Gravemind. Much like a fine wine is best after many years of aging, and a library is best when filled with as many books as possible, a long life with many experiences and much knowledge creates the best mind to feed to the Gravemind.
Zed are the consequence of the Gravemind’s sickness. When the Gravemind is better, the zed will cease to rise. (Some even believe that if every survivor in a Gravemind’s territory could be truly joyful, for even a single moment, that the Gravemind would be cured instantly.) As a symptom of the disease, CGGM members support the destruction of Zed as quickly as possible.
Psions are the ultimate form of the Gravemind’s gifts to us. So much so that the Gravemind stays in contact with them. It is the misery of Psions within a Gravemind’s reach, not their presence, which will make the Gravemind more angry and more active.
There are three levels of believer.
Student. When one is baptized, one is often given a new name, which includes the title student.
Learned. The title when one is confirmed and moves beyond student, depends on the form of excellence. The iron learned is talented in acts of war. The bronze learned helps feed or heal the people. The silver learned is a craftsman, who creates objects of beauty. The gold learned is an entertainer who spread joy or a teacher who spreads knowledge to others, and studies ways to better be grateful and joyful for the Gravemind.
Teacher. This includes only priests, teachers, and psions. Priests are automatically teachers, psions and teachers would need the status conferred on them by a priest usually a year after being confirmed.
Love the Gravemind, hate the Zed.
Don’t worry, be happy!
How have you pursued excellence today?
I am joyful because I am grateful. I chose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to feel joy.
If the glass is completely empty, you can still be grateful that you have a glass.
It is not your responsibility to complete the cure of the Gravemind, but neither are you free to desist from it.
Speak to spread joy, be silent to keep peace.
The most common symbol of the Cult of the Giving Gravemind is the Smiling Mushroom (occasionally seen with open arms). In places where they are persecuted however cultists will avoid wearing any symbols. On occasion, they will also be seen with an image of a white fluffy ball with angel wings. This represents an old-time angel of hope and happiness.
Subsects of the Faith
Surgeons of the Grave
This is the military order of the CGGM. While it’s important to cure the disease, you also have to treat the symptoms if the patient is to survive. The Surgeons of the Grave do this by putting down the zed, as quickly as possible, so that they spread no more disorder, and help keep the Gravemind from hurting itself further.
These are entertainers, storytellers, and teachers who travel from settlement to settlement trying to bring joy. Where they can they will preach the faith, but they believe that every moment of joy they can share helps cure that settlement’s Gravemind just a little bit. They also try and bring food, and offer help, as sometimes the help to finish a project on time, or an evening of babysitting, can bring untold joy.
Exhibitors of Excellence
This group of craftsmen believe that it’s important not just to create items of great beauty and utility, but that to maximize the joy and to make sure the beauty of creation sinks into the Gravemind, you need to make sure many people see and appreciate your work. They hold exhibitions of their best creations, often judged by town leaders with prizes for different categories. Often you can get non-believers to display their wares for an attempt at the prize, and so allow Joy to be spread both from and among those who otherwise don’t follow CGGM.
The proclaimers believe that the most important path to curing the Gravemind is to convince it that survivors are grateful for its assistance. They make sure they thank the Gravemind for each possible thing, and have weekly prayer meetings where they recite long prayers of gratitude to the Gravemind.