CHURCH OF PHOS, god of Light, Destroyer of the Darkness
Copyright Ranko Trifkovic, 1999
Religion and organization
NOTE TO GM's
This is a black & white monotheistic religion, suitable for any setting, completely compatible with Spell Law's definitions. Being a very well organized body this church is ideal for running in campaign settings where there is no structured or strong government.
Darkness and Light played with each other in the Void. Intermixing, teasing, creating Movement and Confusion which lead to Chaos. Chaos swelled and increased, while Light and Darkness cavorted.
Chaos, exposed to varying strengths of Light and Darkness, became pregnant with the World.
So everything in this world is made of Light and Darkness. Good things are made of more Light and Evil things are made of more Darkness. Without Light and Darkness things cannot exist.
When Chaos gave birth to living things, Light and Darkness began to take the shapes of Phos and Skoteinos. Each desired to participate with greater influence in the creation of each new being. Soon the conflict between these two forces became bitter. Though Darkness was the stronger of the two, Light was craftier and more creative. It was primarily the craft of Phos that created humans. Phos, however could not protect his newborn creature, from the Darkness that entered the souls of men, tainting them forever.
Phos and Skoteinos continue to play the Great Game but it has evolved into a cosmic struggle of bitter enmity. Darkness is strong and omnipresent, its manifestations - daemons, undead, fear, weakness - are all around us trying to destroy the World to spite Phos, the prime creative force of the World. Meanwhile Phos, destroyer of the Darkness, struggles to preserve his creations. He deserves our thanks for shining his Light upon us. We must however repay him, by clearing our tainted minds and souls of Darkness.
The holy scriptures state that the outcome of this conflict is uncertain. We must join with Phos and destroy darkness whenever we find it in whatever way we are able.
ORGANISATION OF THE CHURCH
Church of Phos consists of:
It is made of all those who don't have any particular influence on the Hierarchy, but in the same time comprise the main body of the church.
Errants are retired priests and paladins who are living among the people. Their task is to preach by leading exemplary lives and to show to the people that Church is always present among them, just as the Light of Phos is always among them. They sometimes perform some tasks for the Church, such as helping the poor, spreading rumors, gaining information etc.
Homesteaders are all those followers who have a family and run some business or a farm. They are responsible for proper upbringing and spiritual welfare of their families. They are allowed to perform minor tasks during some ceremonies. They are the political and economical mainstays of the Church.
Often among the ranks of oikistes are wealthy merchants, Lords and Ladies.
Believers are those who more or less regularly attend to the temple.
Sympathizers are those who like the ideas of the church and clergy, but do not actively support the church.
All Holy men, hermits, priests, druids and rangers represent external Clergy. They may roam the world preaching the holy word, run small schools and seminaries, or even live alone in the wilderness. They are of great importance to the religion itself, but rarely impact the inner workings of the Hierarchy.
Inner clergy is divided in to two factions; they coexist, but sometimes not peacefully.
a) Order of Phos the Gambler
b) Order of Phos the Conqueror
Order of Phos the Conqueror is a faction that advocates the destruction of dark forces and daemons, by all means available. They consider all unbelievers to be mislead by Skoteinos. They must either repent or die.
Order of Phos the Gambler stresses the duality of the world through the constant struggle of Phos and Skoteinos. They claim that the battle between the two powers is very uncertain, like some big cosmic gamble. They see themselves as trump cards to be played by Phos. They bet their souls that Phos will win the game in the end.
Both factions maintain a similar Hierarchy. The main difference lies in the iconography (white/gold with red for Conquerors and white/gold with orange for Gamblers), and prayer (Gamblers add "...to this we stake our souls!" before AMEN!)
Both orders support their own seminaries in which youth, KIDS OF LIGHT and LIGHTBEARERS are educated. First rank among the clergy is ENLIGHTED (ONE), followed by ENLIGHTENED. GUARDIAN OF LIGHT and those above this rank are commissioned clerics, who can run a temple, or have some greater assignment within the Church.
Next in order are ENLIGHTER, GREAT ENLIGHTER and SUPREME LIGHT OF PHOS which is the head of the Church. He presides over a governing body whose exact size and members are set according to a Cannon, which is either written anew by each succeeding Supreme Light. Elections for Supreme Light are held secretly each time when old headmaster dies in a special ceremony (GM- the ranks listed above are not tied to a specific Rolemaster level)
Duties of clergy are fulfilled through Activities. Every Activity has its own staff along with limited autonomy inside each temple or monastery. The following is a general list of Activities:
1. Seminary - deals with secular and spiritual education of acolytes, priesthood and the congregation.
2. Maintenance - economic managers of the temple, as well as cleaning and maintaining property of the temple. They are also in charge of temple kitchens and other provisioning.
3. Science - deals with meditation, spells, book copying, deeper reading of holy scriptures, etc.
4. Protection - helps the local population with their farming and other tasks, they perform healing (congregation free of charge), and other jobs (weather prediction)
5. Control - supervising body, which makes sure that everyone, does his/her part, and that everything is done according to the scriptures.
Priests not assigned to any temple, perform their duties in Services, essential to the maintenance of the Hierarchy.
1. Postal Service - managing and delivery of messages, parcels and other courier tasks for the Church
2. Diplomatic Service - this includes church diplomacy as well as a network of priests and agents who are present in every secular court as counselors.
3.Guardian Service - responsible for guarding the holy places.
4. Military Service - command and coordination of Church's military resources
The Church employs clergy, congregation and auxiliary orders to ensure all Activities are adequately staffed.
Auxiliary orders are groups outside of the Church that perform certain tasks vital for the goals of the Church.
The Trade Cartels are exceptionally well organized. Each shrine or temple has a specified storage space available to the Cartels. Trade Cartels are identified by the symbol of a sun on a green field. This order is made of those able managers and traders who are believers in Phos, but unwilling to become full-fledged priests. Instead they ply their trade in the name of Phos.
Battle Orders are plentiful: Sword and Shield Order, Bloody Sundisc Order, and others. Some of these orders are nothing more than a band of mercenaries while others are groups of noble knights. Orders are constantly formed, disbanded and reformed. They have little influence in matters of doctrine or Hierarchy.
Paladinhoods are the result of many negotiations and bargains inside the Church. The main Paladinhoods are listed below.
a) Order of Inquisitors and Exquisitors - members are fighters, clerics, holy detectives and sleuths. They are usually involved in matters of Control and Diplomacy. They are the primary magehunters.
b) Order of Great Game - members are fighters and priests that serve as the military body of the Order of Phos the Gambler. These are the berserkers, fanatics that consider themselves to be chips in a Phos' gamble.
c) Order of St. Andrew - relatively young order, consisting entirely of paladins and noble warriors. This order won independence within the Hierarchy of Phos. They are considered to be the most pure and saintly of the Paladinhoods, Phos' finest. They also claim to have the clearest vision regarding his will. They perform guarding duties, as well as 'internal control.' They constantly seek out the rotten apples within the Church, eliminating corrupted priests. Though their actual power and size is moderate, they are greatly feared.
d) Order of Battle Angels - order of female warriors and paladins, trained in many convents scattered across the realm. This order provides noble women an alternative to marriage. Discipline is rigid, despite the fact that this order is rarely deployed in combat. This order is responsible for jousting and archery tournaments, parades and festivities, and their marching parade is especially popular.
GM NOTE - As you can see you can easily fit this interesting bureaucratic Church in every context.
This religion was inspired by the Videssos cycle of books written by Harry Turtledove, but many of the details given here differ from those given in the Videssos books.
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