Religion in the Lastlands isn’t only related to the traditional deities. Of course, worship of various dieties is common (see the Religion entry for more information). But unlike many worlds, deities aren’t the be-all and end-all of religion in the Lastlands.
Because of the unique history of the Lastlands, and because of the apparent lack of direct involvement by any deity whatsoever, an enormous number of organizations of various sizes have developed to help answer the questions many Lastlanders find themselves asking: how did the Common Races arrive in the Lastlands? Why did they come from wherever it was that they lived before? Why will deities not speak to them or answer their questions? Each possible answer to this question has resulted in at least one Philosopher Cult over time, usually more than one. A few espouse military preparedness and even advocate military expansion into the Outremer. Others are peaceable and advocate non-violence and strict codes of repentance to make up for the sins of their ancestors that saw them (as they see it) exiled to the Lastlands.
The Cults are, at their root, just groups of people with like-minded philosophies on the big, existential questions facing Lastlanders. Many of them, however, are much more than that. They run the gamut from a dozen or so members to thousands and their activities are similarly varied. Some are simply glorified debating societies where people gather a few times a year to debate important philosophical questions. Most of them, however, have taken on the overtones of organized religion.
Strangely enough, many devoted Cult members are able to cast clerical magic and even have domains, just like more traditional clerics. This is one of the facts that brings the Cults legitimacy in the eyes of many Lastlanders and raises them up from the level of theoretical philosophers or crackpots. These large Cults have varying levels of hierarchy and organization, though many are strongly hierarchical.
Also, these cults manage to coexist with more traditional religions. Many clerics and even higher church officials also belong to a Philosopher Cult, which can give these Cults significant power.
The most well-known Philosopher Cults are:
The Ashen Path – A Cult that espouses the idea that the Common Races are refugees from the lower planes. They preach strict measure of repentance, such as self-flagellation and tithing, in order that the Common Races could again become worthy of direct contact with the deities once again, who (the Cult believes) will rescue the Common Races from the Lastlands. They do a lot of charity work and are the closest most of the Lastlands has to a social safety net.
The Steel Blade – This cult that believes the Common Races were destined to rule over the entire world they are in. They believe that the gods will not resume contact with the Common Races until they fulfill this task. This is a common view in settlements along the border with the Outremer and in many town militias.
The Seekers of the Door – This is a fairly small Cult in terms of membership, but many of the most powerful sorcerers and wizards in the Lastlands belong to this Cult. It is focused on solving the problem of planar travel from the Lastlands – why no one can travel to any of the Outer Planes from the Lastlands and how to get around this limitation.
The Sciveners Society – This Cult is focused on simply collecting as much information as possible about the Lastlands. They copy down any knowledge they can find and keep it in their library in Firsport. There is a rumor that they have another, secret library full of taboo or dangerous information, though the Cult has officially never even deigned to acknowledge this rumor.
There are other Cults – even fairly large ones – but these are the most well-known.