Setting Information.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
 GM, 50 posts
Fri 27 May 2016
at 22:18
Most of the "known world" in the Vollandar setting follows a religious principle similar to ancient Zorastorism in that there are essentially two "recognized" deities: The Maker and the Unmaker or Destroyer.  The religious life of the Empire of Asendar (of which Vollandar is a part) is dominated by a single monolithic church known simply as the “Church of the Maker,” however because the Church has been officially sanctioned by the Emperor and is under the protection of the state it is also referred to as the “Imperial Church.” similar to the Catholic Church of medieval Europe with a hierarchy and dogma equally as strict.

Players are free to establish particular Orders within the Church to represent a domain or aspect of the Maker that they wish to emphasize in their character; the same applies to the creation of Saints or renowned followers of the faith that your character respects or tries to emulate.

Certain races/monsters are considered to be the product of the Destroyer including Orcs, goblin-kind, kobolds, etc and as a result most members of these races are looked on with suspicion and seen as inherently violent and evil.

The situation regarding the faith in Asendar is ripe for possible schism in the near future though, given that there are essentially two opposing beliefs at work.  One set of beliefs, generally held by religious and clergy, maintains that the High Priest is the head of the church and represents the will of the Maker, thus making him outside the direct authority of the Emperor; and, because all authority is derived from the Maker, the High Priest ultimately has authority over the Emperor.  It is the High Priest, after all, who crowns the Emperor at the beginning of his reign, and this crowning represents the authority of the Maker being granted to the Emperor.  It is assumed then that if the High Priest grants this authority on behalf of the Maker, then the High Priest may also rescind this authority on behalf of the Maker as well.

The opposing belief developed within the past decade or so, is generally held by those within the secular government as it advocates the idea that while the High Priest maintains authority in all things spiritual, he has no authority over the Emperor or the civilian government.  The Emperor is the ruler chosen by the Maker, and as such, any political or temporal affairs conducted by the Church are done under the authority of the Emperor rather than the High Priest.  This essentially means that, though the High Priest has authority over Church doctrine, dogma, and practice, all physical holdings, temporal assets, and wealth of the Church ultimately fall under the purview of the Emperor and the High Priest acts as the Emperor’s representative in this regard.

The common citizen is caught in the middle; though they tend to support the religious sect in most areas of the Empire due primarily to the fact that the beliefs regarding authority have been held by the religious sect for nearly a thousand years while the idea that the Emperor is dominant is a relatively new idea.  So far the Emperor has not pushed this idea too hard, but there are those that see a conflict brewing on the horizon.

Neither the Maker, nor the Destroyer are viewed as being of one particular gender and have been reported to appear to their followers under the guise of many different races and genders including as asexual beings.  In a similar manner, their clergy are not generally limited to any particular sex/gender.

Child of the Church
A Child of the Church generally comes from one of three sources.  They are orphans adopted by the Church, products of Church sanctioned prostitution, or they are the children born to the ordained.

Orphans adopted by the Church are often raised to be servants and laborers for the Church.  They work farms, mines, or craftworks and other businesses that are owned/operated by the Church or they work as servants to the ordained ministers of the church.

When a child is born to a prostitute that has been sanctioned by the Church, the child is taken by the Church and raised at one of the Church’s several secluded monasteries dedicated to raising such children to become spies, concubines and/or assassins in the employ and service to the church.   Those that demonstrate an arcane talent may also be sent to the Akashic Order for training as mages, often with a focus on spells and magic that aid subterfuge/covert activities.  Children born to prostitutes whom are not sanctioned by the Church may be taken in as orphans and raised as though they are orphans adopted by the church as described earlier or they may be disregarded as illegitimate bastards, which is more often the case.

Finally, while the clergy are not bound by vows of celibacy, they cannot marry nor are they permitted to raise children and have families.  Any child believed to be born from intimate relationships of an ordained person is considered to be a “Son/Daughter of the Maker” and they are taken by the Church immediately upon being born and raised to be ordained themselves or taken to the Akashic Order for training in the arcane arts and often become battle mages or diviners if they show any potential of magical talent.  Many are also trained to be diplomats and advisors to noble houses.  They are also one of the Church’s sources of ordained holy warriors known as Paladins or Crusaders.  The identity of the child’s biological parent will never be revealed to them, nor will the biological parent be told anything regarding the child; the Maker and its Church are considered to be the parent of the child.

Acolytes are essentially priests/priestesses in training.  Acolytes are responsible for studying the faith in the hopes of one day being ordained and assisting the ordained clergy during services.  They are also responsible for the physical maintenance and cleanliness of church buildings/assets.  An acolyte is referred to as a Brother or Sister.

Paladins are the holy warriors of the Church, at times referred to as Crusaders.  A paladin is an ordained member of the clergy; however their faculties are more limited than a priest/priestess.  Paladins do not facilitate worship services, but are able to bestow blessings on behalf of the Maker as well as provide redemption to those who confess their sins to the paladin though they may require a particular penance be completed prior to giving the blessing of redemption.  A paladin is generally referred to as Brother or Sister.

 Both men and women are found among the ordained clergy of the Church.  Male priests are generally referred to as Father while female priests are referred to as Mother.  Priests/priestesses oversee and facilitate worship services and administer the faith to their congregations.   They preside over marriages, birth rites/naming ceremonies, funerals, and any other religious ceremony.  Priests/Priestesses may administer blessings, and grant redemption to those that confess their sins though they may require a particular penance be completed prior to giving the blessing of redemption.

Lord Priest/Lady Priestess
Referred to as Lord Father or Lady Mother, these individuals are given responsibility/authority over particular territories and the priests/priestesses within those territories.  Territories may range in size from a single, but well populated city, to several parishes or shires.

Grand Priest/Priestess
A Grand Priest or Priestess is assigned authority over, and responsibility of, an entire Imperial Province or Kingdom including all the clergy that reside within those territories.  They are referred to as Excellency regardless of sex/gender.  The Grand Priest/Priestess generally enjoys a great deal of autonomy and influence within their own territories.

Most High Priest
There is only one Most High Priest or Priestess (currently Priest), generally referred to as the High Priest or Most Holy Father/Mother.  The Most High Priest is believed to the be representative of the Maker in all things spiritual , though this authority is somewhat limited by the Makers Council which consists of all the realms’ Grand Priests/Priestesses.  The Council has the ability to challenge the High Priests decrees under certain conditions/circumstances.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:20, Fri 27 May 2016.

 GM, 51 posts
Fri 27 May 2016
at 22:21
The use of magic is strictly regulated within the Kingdom by a subset of the Church known as the "Akashic Order" which employs "Inquisitors" that hunt down those that utilize magic in a manner outside of accepted practice. Punishment is severe if it is discovered that mages are accessing their power through unapproved methods (i.e. through the use of channeling spirits/demons) since it is often assumed that gaining power through these methods is indicative of being in league with the Destroyer.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:22, Fri 27 May 2016.