BRCS:Chapter four/Gods and religion/Faiths of worship
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- See Also: Faiths of worship - An alternate version of this page that includes ammended details about the churchs of Haelyn
Mortal adherents of deities create religious institutions to regulate and foster their version of the truth underlying a deity's teachings. The differing temples of these gods are not unified, and often consider each other's beliefs to be heretical, at best. At least ten different faiths devoted to Haelyn exist in Anuire alone, and the rivalry is sometimes fierce.
Most of the human deities are worshiped in one aspect or another in several of Cerilia's cultures. Although the deity's name may differ in two different tongues, the basic teachings of the faith are unchanged – only the interpretation differs. For example, Sera is the patron of the Brecht, but is also revered in Anuire as Sarimie, and in Khinasi as Sarma. Among the Brecht, Sera epitomizes the belief that a man must make his own luck; individual initiative and drive are the means by which one gains power and respect. Among the Khinasi, Sarma represents the pursuit of wealth and leisure. Among Anuireans, Sarimie is venerated as the representation of acquisition of power through skill and fortune rather than inheritance.
Although the organizations of various faiths vary greatly, most follow a common structure. All churches have a clergy and a laity. Some laity may be extremely pious, but they are generally not privy to the most holy ceremonies and rituals of a church. The clergy are the priest and priestesses, those who organize and administer the temples and devote their lives to serving the deity. Although common folk by birth, clerics enjoy a privileged social status similar to that of the nobility in most cultures.
The lowest ranking clergy are those who have taken temporary holy orders and are in training to prepare them for their vocation. A priest is an ordained representative of a faith. Once ordained, priests are capable of advancing as divine spell casters (although not all priests do so). A priest that is responsible for church-owned lands, property, or the oversight of other clergy generally has a named title and is almost always a divine spell-caster of a least minor power. A priest who oversees the religious affairs of an entire province, or an entire realm is almost universally a divine spellcaster of some power and is often a blooded scion. A priest who oversees the religious affairs of an entire religion is usually one of the most powerful divine spellcasters of the faith and is always blooded. Churches generally appoint members of the clergy to permanent or temporary offices. Those with higher offices control all promotions, except that a council of high-ranking members of the faith usually elects province, realm, and faith-level positions.
Although each faith, sect, or temple may have differing names for their ranks, many faiths use titles roughly equivalent to those dictated to Haelyn's church through the Book of Laws. These ranks are presented in Table 4-9: Clerical ranks.
Table 4-9: clerical ranks
Faiths of Haelyn
Three Anuirean faiths devoted to the worship of Haelyn are presented to provide examples of differences among a god's churches. A complete list of Cerilian churches can be found in the d20 Atlas of Cerilia.
A faith may have an alignment that differs by no more than one place from the alignment of the deity that it worships. Likewise, a priest of a church may have an alignment that differs by no more than one place from the alignment of the church of which he or she is a member. Thus, it is possible for a cleric of some faiths to have an alignment which differs by as much as two steps from their deity's. In addition to alignment, churches often differ in the weapons and domains that they prefer, as well as the skills in which their members focus.
Orthodox Imperial Temple of Haelyn (OIT): The OIT claims to be the true heir to the word of Haelyn. Its priests claim the distinction of being the first church of Haelyn founded after Deismaar. The original Book of Laws, the most sacred text in the church of Haelyn, resides in a vault in the Averlerine cathedral in Aerele. The church draws from centuries of study of the Book of Laws to defend its exacting dogma, which at its heart holds that a society can thrive only by adhering to a strict rule of law. Laws, the church believes, exist to regulate a person's inclination to place his own needs over those of the society as a whole. The only way to preserve the rule of law is to ensure that every member of society has a specific, unchanging function. As it is the responsibility of the ruler to guide the endeavors of his people, so is it the responsibility of the ruled to follow their ruler's dictates.
Where the OIT doctrine has encountered opposition is in its inflexible view that draconian adherence to an unchanging set of laws and institution of rigid social hierarchy are the only ways to preserve order. The OIT argues that its views are supported in the writings of the Book of Laws, a claim that has brought about numerous debates and has caused at least one rift within the church. Of the many ceremonies that are part of the OIT daily rituals, most emphasize the importance of maintaining the strength of the social order.
Holy Order of Haelyn's Aegis (HA): This church developed from a military order of the OIT. Composed of knights, warrior priests, and common soldiers, it was the military arm of the church of Haelyn. When the Imperial Temple called warriors from across Anuire to serve their emperor in bringing the light of Haelyn's worship and the benefits of Anuirean civilization to the rest of Cerilia, the HA was the first to answer. Only after the death of Michael Roele and the disintegration of the Anuirean Empire did the HA develop into a separate church. Due to its history as a military order, the HA continues to use military ranks to denote rank within the church, rather than the standard clerical ranks.
Table 4-10: Ranks of a military order
|Military Order Rank||Oversees|
|Knight-commander||Several units or a major fortification|
|Lord Captain||Realm's armies|
|Lord Commander||Faith's armies|
While the HA acknowledges the primacy of the OIT in the worship of Haelyn, its aims are different from those of its parent church. The Holy Order believes that questions of religious dogma, while important, pale somewhat in comparison to the threat posed by the mighty armies of the Gorgon and others. The church today is not an aggressive military order, although it is organized along military lines. Rather, it is an order that regards the defense of Anuire as its sacred charge. Members of the clergy are more moderate in their beliefs than the priests of some other churches of Haelyn, and are quite willing to work with those whose personal religious beliefs differ from theirs.
Table 4-11: church summaries
|Church||Algn||Common domains||Common skills|
|HA||NG||War, Nobility||Lead, warcraft|
|IHH||LG||Nobility, Justice||Diplomacy, lead|
Impregnable Heart of Haelyn (IHH): The IHH is as much a result of the political rivalry that brought about the independence of the former provinces of western Diemed as it does a doctrinal dispute with the OIT. Despite the political origins of the schism, distinct differences now exist between the two churches. The IHH is in many ways a simpler church than its forbearer. It argues that the OIT is so immersed in rites and ceremonies that it has lost sight of Haelyn's creed.
To the IHH, Haelyn's teachings are simple, and can be summarized in three words: courage, honor, and justice. Everything else stems from them. Courage is demonstrated both in the face of an implacable enemy and in the defense of personal convictions before peers. Honor demands mercy and respect, both on a battlefield and in trade negotiations. Justice is best served by an impartial set of fair laws that allow for individual achievement.