© 1994 by Scott Gray and Sharon Tripp. These pages may not be reproduced for profit. They may be copied, provided they are not altered and the authors' names remain attached.Previous section | Next section | Contents
In the history of Emeth, several concepts of how the world works -- with explanations of demons, magic, empathic healing, and all the rest -- have been postulated. Some have suggested deities, some have been more abstract philosophies. Some have been solipsistic beliefs (look it up) and some have been more Platonic. Some of them may even have been correct.
It is the responsibility of the GM to find a place for any of these beliefs in the world, and to determine the veracity of their claims. This should be done with caution, and concern, that none of the philosophical or religious beliefs of living peoples are disparaged.
A player who wishes to design a character who has some familiarity or experience with one of the other faiths should speak to the GM to gather necessary knowledge to play the character.
The major faiths of the area of the campaign setting, the Way and Tephar, are described later.
Verlien is a concept which predates the Guiders and Tephar. The name has been applied to many differing views of an afterlife. The beliefs in the existence and nature of Verlien held by the differing Guided sects and the Tepharites are presented in their individual sections.
The Way is the name for the philosophy and beliefs of the Guiders. It is to protect the Way that the Mission was begun. The main precepts of the Way are as follows:
Hierophant. The head of the Guiders, the hierophant holds position from when elected by the high preceptors until death. From the earliest days of the Guiders, the hierophant has taken a new name upon ascension, and has no formal sect affiliation. The hierophant is the final authority on the interpretation of the Way, and holds the power to excommunicate those misGuided who have gone against the Way.
Savants. The title of savant is given by the hierophant to holy men or women who have worked miracles. At any given time, there are usually one or two savants alive, working among the needy. There are rarely more, and sometimes there are none. Need not have formal sect affiliation. No rank higher than mentor. Has no monastic affiliation.
Martyrs. The title of martyr is awarded by the hierophant to those holy men or women who died for their beliefs. Though no Hierophant has ever declared such as necessary to be named martyr, all Hierophants have requested evidence of miracles before naming martyrs. Most hierophants have named 2-3 martyrs in their time. Need not have formal sect affiliation.
High Preceptors. Approximately one for each Guided nation, chosen by the hierophant; usually in consultation with other high preceptors and the head(s) of state in the area which the high preceptor is being nominated to. They have the power to make or revoke any mentor's status. They may open or close monasteries, and deal with or dispose of Guider lands within their geographical region. May not have formal sect affiliation.
Preceptors. 3-4 for each high preceptor, chosen by the hierophant. They have the power to make or revoke a mentor's status. Need not have formal sect affiliation.
Prelectors. Prelectors are not strictly part of the chain of command among the Guiders. Each prelector is the head of one of the Guider sects, and the representative of that sect to the hierophant. They are chosen by the hierophant. Often a prelector has the title of preceptor or instructor as well, though sometimes they are only mentors. They have the power to make or revoke a mentor or director within their own sect. They may close or open monasteries of their own sect. Must have formal sect affiliation.
Instructors. These mentors serve the hierophant directly; abroad, gathering information or keeping distant monasteries closer to the hierophant; or in the hierophant's household, arranging schedules, meetings, and finances. Instructors are the bureaucratic arm of the hierophancy. They have the power to temporarily suspend a mentor's status (or revoke it if they've been given standing authority by the hierophant to do so), and it is usually based upon the judgement of the instructors that a hierophant will decide who to excommunicate, which marriages to annul, etc. Need not have formal sect affiliation.
Directors. The economic head of a monastery, having the power to invest the monastery's resources, sell its goods (but not its real estate), and organize the workforce. (S)he is political head of the monastery, with the right to decide the monastery's regulations (within the limits set by the sect's prelector) and make treaties for the monastery. (S)he is spiritual head of the monastery, having the power to dispatch mentors to areas outside of the monastery where they are needed, or to recall them to the monastery. Must have formal sect and monastic affiliation.
Mentors. See to the Way on a smaller scale, attending directly to the laymembers' spiritual needs. Virtually every village in the Guided nations has at least one mentor. Must have formal sect affiliation except when other Guider titles allow or require them not to.
Aspirants. Most work at the monasteries is done by normal
servants who are laymembers of the sect, or by the Guiders
themselves. ("Servants" not necessarily meaning menial labor;
the business side of running a monastery -- keeping the place
supplied with foodstocks, keeping it defended in times of war or
strife, etc. -- is often attended to by a laymember castellan, the
director of the monastery seeing only to the spiritual well-being
of the inhabitants.) However, aspirants work for the monastery,
not for pay, but for schooling, room, and board. Some aspirants
are there with the goal of joining the hierarchy of the Guiders
themselves; others for scientific study and access to books they
would not have elsewhere. Wards of the Guiders (orphans taken in
by the Guiders) are often expected to receive schooling.
Sometimes a person from outside of the Guider faith who wishes
use of the Guider libraries and laboratories is allowed to study
in exchange for work (however in such cases the director of the
monastery will often assign a mentor to arrange for his/her
Aspirants are expected to do whatever needs doing. This could mean tilling the fields, working in the kitchen, creating things for the monastery to use or sell (musical instruments, clothing, etc.), anything that is necessary to keep the monastery running. Need have no formal sect affiliation. Monastic affiliation.
Laymembers. Followers of the Way who are not a part of the Guider hierarchy. Need have no formal sect or monastic affiliation, though often will have strong ties to one or the other.
The Guider faith had existed prior to Emperor Scaevola's revelation, but only in scattered groups. Because of their few numbers, the differences between Guiders before the revelation were slight. Almost as soon as the faith was accepted and common, differences began to arise and show themselves.
When the Guiders were formed as the state faith of the Republic, Scaevola appointed the first hierophant, Sestia I. As Scaevola's first cousin, she is considered the most important influence in Scaevola's revelation. Sestia's reign as Hierophant was cut tragically short by a wasting illness, which some scholars believe to have been the poison known as consumption; though no reasonable suspect has been proposed.
The first sect was created by Hierophant Collanus II, in the year 52. With much of the initial work of spreading revelation done, many of the Guiders central to the Republic sought to turn inward, to scientific research. These Guiders, situated in what was then the province of Diega, became known as Diegans.
Some time during the latter half of the first century, the Tuck sect made its first appearance in Kelby. The first references to it are in old poems and epics authored by Kelby heathens in the first and second centuries of revelation. The exact origins of Tuck are still in dispute. Few believe the sect to have been formally created by any Hierophant, but believe the sect to have been self-appointed by the Kelby Guiders cut off from the Hierophant and other sects of the Guiders.
In the year of Revelation 97, a group of Guiders led by Aaron Soren petitioned Hierophant Sestia II for the right to form and govern their own sect. Their mission was to consider and examine the relation between miracles and the Way. Up to this point, few Guiders had formed many direct opinions or theories about the occurrence of miracles. The ideas of Soren and his followers were popular enough that Sestia II deemed the request reasonable, and the Sorensons were formed.
In the 150s, when the Republic began to fall to the invaders from the north, Hierophant Felicius left Brescia, taking a large amount of his riches with him. He left his young wife Phaedra, charging her with the defense of the Guider lands and holdings (monasteries, libraries, hospices, and so forth), claiming that he was on a mission of great importance in the war effort. The most wartime experience the poor girl had was the fact that she had four siblings growing up. Still, Phaedra rose to the task, and was successful in several battles against the invaders. Her strategies showed great ingenuity. She quickly earned the enmity of the wealthy and the respect of the soldiers under her command with what she referred to as the "practical tax": rather than money, the army taxed whatever was deemed directly useful in the war effort -- racehorses becoming part of makeshift chariot teams, country villas being used to set traps for the invaders, etc. When it became clear that Felicius was no longer going to serve as Hierophant, Emperor Claufex appointed Apolonius the new hierophant. No complaint was heard from Felicius -- though no other hierophant has ever ended his/her term before death.
After several years of stalling the invasion's progress, Phaedra died in the battle of Fallon's Field, protecting Brescia itself from invasion. Over the centuries, the idea of making Phaedra a martyr has been raised several times, but as no evidence has ever been found to confirm her purported miracles, the idea has been rejected each time.
The invaders had reached Brescia; the city was under siege and surrounded. The siege lasted eight weeks. On the eve of the eighth week, Emperor Claufex suffered a heart attack. During the turmoil that followed, and the dispute over successorship, Hierophant Apolonius reached a compromise with the Joddians. The Joddians didn't want the siege to go on too long (they were suffering from attrition, food costs, and lowering morale), so agreed to terms of evacuation by the Hierophant and Guiders -- leaving the peasants to serve as slaves to the new invaders.
Apolonius and his disciples fled to Aragon. After several years, the city of Jarecena in Aragon was officially made the seat of the Guider hierophancy.
In the following centuries, many nations grew angry that the Hierophancy remained seated in Aragon. Many felt that the interests of the Guider hierophants were skewed in favor of Aragon. Several nations refused to acknowledge the Hierophant, and in the Guided Imperial Republic the Emperor chose to follow a rival hierophant seated in the capital city of Langren.
By the time Ferdinand III was elevated to the office of Hierophant, the position was very tenuous. A large segment of the Guided nations refused to recognize him as Hierophant; not all of those who were opposed to him recognized Hierophant Gustaue, either. The unity of the Guided nations was beginning to come apart, and the risk of war between the nations loomed. In the Paskerian Conference, an agreement was reached. Ferdinand would be recognized as the sole hierophant, but the seat of the hierophancy would henceforth be moved. Thus was Scarcella created, located in the former province of Diega. The Conference also established the method of selection of hierophants used to this day, election by high preceptors.
In the late 500s interest in spreading the Way to unGuided territories was reawakened. The Hierophant Kater II declared that "though we shall never stop learning and growing, to be absorbed totally in our own progress is selfish -- we must reach out to the lands which know nothing of the Way, and teach them; it is arrogance to assume that only our own behavior is important."
Though no formal mission was introduced during this age, the desire to spread the Way and to travel the world became very prominent. Nobility everywhere were funding expeditions to far-off lands. Several sects, which have since vanished into history, were formed to bring the Way to other people -- including the Lucitaneans (since declared unjust, and their charter repealed by Laelia IX), a militaristic sect which was formed by Kater II to help Guided rulers conquer heathen lands.
In the past several centuries, there has been another push to spread the Way. In addition to the missionary efforts of the Society of Elspeth, there have been several crusades. Hierophant Giaccomo II began the first crusade to Uruk -- primarily a peaceful mission to convert and teach the Urukians the Way, or at least to discourage them from allowing magic to be practiced. The first crusade found few converts. The second crusade was a worldwide crusade which failed in Uruk, but succeeded in several other parts of Emeth, including Jodd. The current, third mission, has been ongoing since Gregory IV took over the Hierophancy.
There are a number of different orders or sects amongst the Guiders. Although they all believe in the basic doctrines of the Way, their interpretations of it and how strongly they feel about particular tenets varies. The following are some of the major points of difference between sects:
These are merely examples of some vows. If a player has a particular vow in mind for his/her character that is not listed, (s)he should discuss it with the GM, who will decide whether it would be categorized as a light or a strong vow. Vows should be ranked according to the level of inconvenience to the player, not merely to the character.
Light. Celibacy; no alcohol; eat no meat and use no leather; never strike first (for those trained in combat).
Strong. Silence; poverty; use no weapons (never attack or kill); twenty minutes set aside to meditate each day at a particular time.
Most Guiders study the acknowledged truths of the Way. The Guiders of Diega sought instead to uncover why these truths were so, and to pursue what other truths existed. Indeed, their quest for knowledge leads them in directions that many Guiders consider irrelevant to the Way (botany, astronomy, physics, etc.), but the Diegans defend their sect by pointing out that "everything is part of the Way."
Their libraries are not as extensive as those of the Hamergöndt, but they often have arrangements to use Hamergöndt libraries. They have far more extensive research tools and facilities -- small zoos, gardens, and laboratories. In the Year of Revelation 962 the Diegan mentor Jean Mendou ground the first lens for use in telescopes, and has since been elevated to Prelector of the Diegans. Telescopes have been in use by the Diegans since 962, and in 974 the use of lenses was applied to the first microscope -- though only three Diegan monasteries boast microscopes in year 995.
For the Diegans, wariness of revelation is one of the most emphasized tenets. They consider proof an important accompaniment to faith. Curiously, this same tenet has been used by detractors to criticize the Diegans -- considering their very science to be a false revelation.
Vows. No vows necessary.
Relations with the State. They have good relations.
Relations with the Hierophant. Relations with the usually-conservative hierophants tend to be minimal. Occasionally the sect will receive strong backing by a particular hierophant.
Clergy. Varies with the particular monastery; some have many commoners or merchant class, others are almost exclusively nobles.
Purpose of the Guiders. Discover new truths, both of the Way and of less philosophical/spiritual matters. Often more emphasis is placed on scientific pursuits than on the Way itself, which sometimes strains relations with other sects.
Enlightenment. Everyone is capable of some enlightenment, though no one can ever truly be fully enlightened.
Superstition. Ranges from trying to dissuade to a large extent, to interest in discovering what truths particular superstitions have their roots in.
Ceremonies. Few, and simple, sermons.
Confessional. They do not require members to go to confession, nor do they have any set frequency with which they are expected to go. They will simply hear those who feel they must atone. When they do, they tend to prescribe civic service. Confessional is done privately; the Mentor is not restricted from revealing confessions, though it is discouraged.
Verlien. Large debate raging on that point.
The formation of the sect was never recorded, as many of its early members were unable to write. Some detractors think the name of the group, founded in Kelby when Kelby was still mostly heathen, comes from a nature god once worshipped there.
The members of Tuck believe that everyone can be enlightened. Tuck Guiders see their role not in discovering new truths or even so much in libraries and protecting old truths. Instead, they see their role in setting up hospitals, orphanages, and assisting the weak.
Vows. Strong vows.
Relations with the State. Little dealing with major governmental bodies or high-ranking political figures, but much on a small scale (individual town lords and/or mayors).
Relations with the Hierophant. Some of their beliefs, particularly in regards to superstition, make them tend to be unpopular in the Guider hierarchy, but the sheer number of followers of this sect grant them security from the Hierophant's anger.
Clergy. Chiefly commoners, some merchants, the occasional rare noble.
Purpose of the Guiders. Preserving truths, and serving the people, helping to make their lives easier so that following the Way will also be easier.
Superstition. Viewed as a common sense sort of thing that the superstitions are correct ("Oh, everyone knows you have to knock on wood to avoid bad luck in such a situation.").
Ceremonies. Mostly simple sermons, but for any major holidays (which holidays are considered major is a bit more liberal with the Tucks) there are always many festivities, though these are organized more by the enthusiastic laymembers than by the clergy.
Confessional. Confession is done with great frequency, but the penance is usually very light (repeat the major tenets of the Guiders x number of times, make a donation to the Guiders or some other charitable organization, etc.), unless the offense is quite extreme, or oft-repeated. Confession is given privately, and is not to be discussed afterwards.
Verlien. They aren't sure, but feel that if there is an afterlife enjoyment of the good things in life certainly couldn't adversely affect it. Most tend to accept the existence of Verlien, the image of which is generally described as being quite similar to life, minus the need for work and the presence of evil.
Named for the rather militant Guider from Dankirk, the Sorensons deny that miracles originate in humans, but maintain that the Way itself causes great miracles. The Way works miracles through those human vessels who most closely follow the Way. For their numbers (about 1/10 of all Guiders), the group is over-represented (about 1/3) among preceptors and high preceptors.
The Sorensons stood strongest against the Heresy of West Garithia. The Way is not an intellect, in their opinion, with the will to do good. Rather it is the natural law of what is good. Like iron attracted to a lodestone, the Way and those who follow it are attracted to and respond to need. The Way is no more "conscious" than is magnetic force.
Vows. Strong vows.
Relations with the State. They are concerned that the State, and the heads of state, be committed to the Way. As the Guiders reveal the way, so the State administers it. Sorensons try to work with the State. Some Sorensons even seek judicial office, or continue to administer lands if of aristocratic birth.
Relations with the Hierophant. Very good relations with the Hierophant.
Clergy. Draw their aspirants from all walks of life; those who prove themselves worthy become Guiders.
Purpose of the Guiders. Preserving the Way. The Sorensons are extremely wary of any changes to the interpretation of Way; the tenets of the Guiders are what they are for a reason, and any swift changes to them are likely to lead to problems people had not anticipated would result.
Enlightenment. Almost anyone has the potential, but few will ever achieve it.
Superstition. Superstition is a great crime to be punished. It blinds people to the true Way.
Ceremonies. Spartan, but extremely serious and many in number.
Confessional. Not at all lenient. Only through extreme atonement can one continue along the Way. The Mentor does not see the face of the confessor, and the knowledge imparted is held in strictest confidence. Examples of penance include fasting (health may not be regained overnight); public censure (no one may talk to the person -- usually denoted by a particular marking on the forehead); any of the light penances shown under the Tuck section, etc.
Verlien. Do not believe in an afterlife. There is no historic reference to it in Guider documents; it is merely a human wish influencing some scripture.
Named for Elspeth, a Mentor who was slain by an angry colleague for cowardice for attempting to leave the city of Natle in the Republic during the heaviest siege by barbarians. Soon after, a small force of Benzoate warriors, who had been converted by Elspeth, appeared to help free Natle from its captivity; Elspeth was granted the title of Martyr.
Created by Hierophant Giaccomo II, the society is only nominally a sect; its members tend to be too busy in other parts of the world, or on their own agendas, for the sect to have much in the way of organization. Enlightenment comes through seeing and understanding all. Be everywhere both teacher of ways, and learn them from others. All, even those who have never heard of the Way, have some understanding of it and share in enlightenment. Light vows in Guided nations, but to "keep to the Way in foreign lands," the Elspethains take strong vows.
Vows. Light vows when in Guided areas, strong vows are required when in foreign lands, to make sure that the Way is ever is the forefront of their thoughts.
Relations with the State. They try to have good relations with the government of whatever country they're in; but since they are often outside of the Guided nations, this is sometimes quite difficult.
Relations with the Hierophant. Relations with the Hierophant are generally on a case-by-case basis, as a given Hierophant will not always agree with the Elspethain's newfound discoveries of the Way. ("What do you mean, there might be some useful application of fleshshaping?!?!?")
Clergy. Usually merchant or non-inheriting noble types, almost always young.
Purpose of the Guiders. Discover new truths and spread the word of both old and new ones.
Enlightenment. Everyone can be enlightened, and in fact already is to some extent, whether or not they know of it by the name of the Way. Everyone can become more enlightened by the sharing of knowledge of different aspects of the Way.
Superstition. Very tolerant, even believe that many superstitions are merely a part of the Way.
Ceremonies. Ceremonies vary depending upon the audience. Preaching is the art of showmanship; do whatever it takes to make people listen.
Confessional. No confessional, but rather a sort of reverse -- one tells the Mentor what new truths (s)he believes to have discovered and the Mentor will consider them, and comment on how it relates to the Way, or explain the flaw in their reasoning that makes it a falsehood not to be followed.
Verlien. Who can tell? But there probably is some great journey or adventure awaiting us on the other side of death.
The order was formed by a number of Sorensons, led by Deitravitch Hamergöndt, who disagreed with the principles and methods of their former sect. They found that the strictness of the Sorensons was alienating the common man, and the Way looked to be forgotten in favor of less intense newer faiths. The formation of Hamergöndt firmly re-established the Way as the common philosophy.
The Hamergöndt consider the Way to be intimately tied to the process of life. As such, they practice certain rites and ceremonies for each of their members (and other persons who wish the ceremonies performed) marking their birth, 12th birthday, weddings, 50th birthday, and death.
Vows. Usually light, though occasionally a Guider will choose instead to take upon him/herself a strong vow. These are not necessarily known, often merely self-imposed.
Relations with the State. Good.
Relations with the Hierophant. Good. Over the last few centuries, the majority of hierophants have been chosen from the ranks of the Hamergöndt.
Clergy. Most aspirants and laymembers from the commoners, as well as some clergy. Higher clergy is primarily nobles/merchants.
Purpose of the Guiders. Preserving old truths, and all knowledge (for knowing of false truths and of evil things is important if one is to be wary of them). See role as preserving libraries and ancient texts.
Enlightenment. Everyone is capable of enlightenment, but it requires much work.
Superstition. The higher-ups tend to be intolerant of superstition, and the lower levels frown on it, but are forgiving of the commoners' fears.
Ceremonies. There are a few important holidays and rites which they do very ceremoniously. They do regular sermons as well, though these are much more informal.
Confessional. One of the stricter sects insofar as penance is concerned. However, the time between confession can be quite a while. The identity of the confessor is kept secret from the Mentor, who may make no mention of the content of a confession. Penance is similar to that given by the Sorensons.
Verlien. The Hamergöndt take the question of an afterlife very seriously. If an afterlife exists, it would be an intimate part of the order of life -- and would be evidence, perhaps, that life is cyclic rather than linear. Because this issue is so much at the heart of their sect, the sect is never in agreement about the question -- each member convinced of one particular answer or still seeking.
The sect was founded by a high preceptor of Aragon, Marina Guerrero, herself a healer. She had gone off for an extensive period of reflection and meditation, returning with the revelation which led to the creation of the sect.
The Chosen are not very well connected to the rest of the Guiders, and have little involvement in state affairs. They believe enlightenment is only possible for a select few. There are great barriers between ranks within the sect, higher rank usually being reserved only for those who are extremely gifted.
There is a story of how Sebastian, a servant of the Chosen -- but not gifted himself -- set fire to a village of plague-ridden people, that his Chosen master not catch the disease himself through his intention of giving the people their last rites. The servant was later slain for this act, but is considered by the order to be a Martyr. The Hierophant rebuked the Chosen for this, however, and few ever refer to Sebastian in their writings.
Vows. All members must take very strong vows. These vows bear little resemblance to the normal Guider vows, however, though the specifics are not widely known outside of their sect.
Relations with the State. Very little dealing with the State, or anyone outside of their sect, except when seeking out new aspirants.
Relations with the Hierophant. On edge.
Clergy. Healers (those with healing ability or the capability to learn it -- i.e., possessing the empathy benefit -- not those trained in first aid/chirurgery) and others with extraordinary talents (extremely skilled swordsman, etc.).
Purpose of the Guiders. Finding those who are themselves enlightened (i.e., those with gifts) and schooling them in the responsibilities which come with their gift. The Chosen believe that those who are gifted are miracle-workers, like savants and martyrs are viewed by the general populace.
Enlightenment. Limited to those with special talents of empathic healing, the very charismatic, etc. Something which one could call a gift.
Superstition. Some believe that superstitions are the foolish beliefs of the unenlightened; others that they are true, but only necessary for the lesser, ungifted humans, to make up for their failings, and that to follow the superstitions themselves would be a show of weakness.
Ceremonies. Their ceremonies are shrouded in mystery, closed to the public and even to most other Guiders. Often, the ceremonies of the higher ranking members of the order will be kept secret from the lower ranking members.
Confessional. They do not hear confession.
Verlien. The Chosen will meld with an Ultimate Being which is the definition of perfection and the source of all gifts and miracles. By merging with this Being, the Chosen subtly change the definition of perfection. Thus, purity of self is extremely important to the Chosen, as they bear a huge responsibility.
The Plegians are not a recognized branch of the Guiders. In fact, the Plegians are viewed by some as outright heretics. The Hierophant does not recognize any of the Plegian "mentors" as having clerical status. No Plegian has ever held status higher than mentor, including its founder, Simon Drucker.
Simon Drucker (b. 914) was a Diegan mentor and mathematician, who proposed a somewhat radical theology in his book The Question of Healing, printed in 966. Drucker speculated that, perhaps, empathic healing should be viewed as no different than magic; that healing was not "natural" and that by practicing it healers may be unwittingly doing evil. He cited the fact that, as with mages, some innate "capacity" must exist before the ability is learned. He also pointed out the physical toll that either of these acts cause their practitioners.
Unexpectedly, Drucker's book attracted a good number of followers, who declared Drucker's challenges to be the "truth."
Hierophant Gregory III, put in an embarrassing position, declared Drucker's hypotheses invalid, and barred Drucker from practicing as a mentor any longer. Although he was never excommunicated, he was viewed by most of his former colleagues with suspicion, and denied access to most of the Guider libraries and research facilities.
Angered, the quiet ex-mentor began to write political treatise -- as opposed to his earlier, scholarly tract which merely raised questions. Combining his earlier hypothesis that empathic healing is like any other magic with the popular belief in Verlien, Drucker argued that magic was directly responsible for corruption in Verlien in his book Consequences (published in 971). In 974 Drucker wrote his most popular work (perhaps so because some nations -- notably Aragon and Luria -- forbid its publication), Plegian, from which the followers of Drucker have taken their name.
Plegian outlined a simple village life for people wherein the family unit is all-important. Drucker's interpretation of the Way involved very tightly knit communities which were wholly self-sufficient. On the one hand, Drucker considered it wrong for a person to live as a hermit -- unable to influence others if (s)he lived a good life; unable to be influenced by others if (s)he lived a poor life. On the other hand, Drucker opposed communities or political arrangements larger than villages; once political, economic, or social life is brought to the scale of a city or kingdom, sin can be easily hidden through a person's anonymity.
The Plegians cherish and often quote Drucker, to the exclusion of the Guider hierophants, savants, and martyrs. Drucker died in 987, by all accounts an unhappy man. He was not pleased at all the "trouble" he'd caused, but less pleased at his "unfair treatment" by Hierophant Gregory III.
A handful of Plegians maintain that Drucker's death was brought about by assassins hired by high ranking Chosen, but it is widely accepted that his death was due to a stroke.
Vows. Vows are not a consideration for the Plegian mentors, as they live as do their laymembers -- simply and self-sufficiently.
Relations with the State. They pay their taxes, and that's about it for their dealings with the government. They are self-sufficient, and would much prefer not to deal with the government at all.
Relations with the Hierophant. The relations with the Hierophant and the rest of the Guiders is extremely tenuous at the moment. They are not an officially sanctioned sect, and do not feel that this is a matter of great concern.
Clergy. The clergy comes from the individual community that it will be serving. Generally, the mentors will find and train their successors.
Purpose of the Guiders. The purpose of the Guiders is, quite simply, to remind the people of the Way, and to protect it in this life and the next. A Plegian mentor is expected to work in the community doing productive labor in addition to his/her function as spiritual leader.
Enlightenment. Enlightenment is possible for anyone who is willing to accept it, and to do good, honest labor, not relying on shortcuts now that will bring about troubles later.
Superstition. They are scornful of traditional superstitions. However, Plegians tend to have their own peculiar world views; for example, they are suspicious of anyone recovering from serious illness, often suspecting some sort of unnatural intervention. They, of all the Guiders, are the most prone towards 'witch hunts.'
Ceremonies. The town's mentor gives weekly sermons. Each household head is expected to act as mentor for his or her own household, and to preach the Way in his or her own house.
Confessional. Confession is given to the head of the extended family; whether this is done publicly or privately varies between households. Penance will usually involve an increase in workload, going to bed without supper, or the like.
Verlien. The Plegians believe that Verlien was once, before magic polluted this world, a paradise where the spirits of the dead lived happily and at peace. However, the practice of magic has involved stealing energy from Verlien. In practicing magic on this plane, the sanctity of Verlien has been disrupted. Now, Verlien is threatened by islands of evil and corruption within the paradise; demons and forces which grow stronger each time magic is used. The extent of corruption of Verlien is a matter of dispute between Plegians; but most believe the corruption to be strong enough that the souls of the good are no longer at peace, but must wage war on the islands of corruption.
For most of recorded history, until the end of the sixth century, the people from the Urukian peninsula to the Anaian Steppes practiced a complex and involved form of nature-spirit worship. The early faith, known as Ikhtar, involved prayers, sacrifice, and invocations of the Spirits by name -- and requests to be protected from Iblis, the Undying, and Djinn.
The Ikhtar held that the nature spirits were the warrior-children of the great Dragon Emeth, who subdued her to make the world habitable. Emeth had other children, demonic and evil, against whom the nature spirits fight to preserve their kingdom. The Ikhtar did not believe that the spirits cared for humans, but did not wish to anger the warriors.
The Ikhtar had no priesthood. Most of its rituals were performed by mages and astrologers.
By the early 600s Ikhtar had become a mostly formal set of rituals. The surviving rites included elaborate costumed dances at the new year and on winter solstice, and pictorial seals and charms against evil. In this environment the faith of Tephar was born -- which has since grown beyond the confines of the Anaian Steppes.
Only very few, scattered people still follow Ikhtar, but the traditions of the faith form the basis of most superstitions in the middle east. The faith is not considered incompatible with the Tepharat, but has nonetheless lost the hearts of most of the people who embraced Tephar.
The Tepharan faith sprouted from the teachings of a prophet-magus by the name of Tephar ibn Khalmar al K'Givnar who lived in the 600s. He travelled through a number of small kingdoms during his life, doing divination for those courts without appointed mages and expounding upon his views to the high ranking. His teachings and legacy were carried on by his two sons, Esani and Elan, and particularly by his daughter Khana.
Tephar was born during the new moon in the town of K'Givnar. He grew up apprenticing in his father's trade as an attar, until he showed signs of magery. His father signed the appropriate documents to apprentice Tephar to Jalaan the astrologer for a period of seven years. The fees Jalaan paid for his apprentice were extraordinary, and it is rumored that the sum was offered outright and not bargained over. Tephar learned well, and was offered a role as astrologer to his home kingdom of Suwain, but refused it -- preferring to live the life of wandering sage. His advice was not always magical, but often simple platitudes and wisdom applicable to many situations. His theory of Verlien is the main point defining his views as separate and apart from the previous theologies of the area.
Tephar is reported as having used the "metaphor of the flame" to describe the relation of Emeth to Verlien and the Underworld. A flame will light an empty room completely, but any items in the room cast shadow; though if the flame is great enough (a bonfire instead of a candle) then there will be few things large enough to block the light completely. Verlien is a flame, and its light is good; it is from Verlien that all magic and miracles stem.
But in all things is the seed of their own destruction. From the flame came an ember, which cooled to ash. The ash is Emeth (the Tepharites sometimes refer to Emeth as "Ember"). The ash cast a shadow, which is the Underworld.
No longer was the cosmos filled with the light of Verlien. Where the darkness and light border, wars are fought between the annunaki and the demons. By doing evil, humans assist the demons and strengthen them. By being too attached to worldly things the ash is strengthened, which also extends the shadow. Ultimately, the Tepharites aim to purify the world so that it glows as brightly as Verlien and, again, there is no shadow in the Universe.
The Tepharites believe that everyone goes to Verlien upon death; the brighter souls helping to shrink the Underworld. Some believe that the Underworld is literally the shadow of Emeth which is cast by the light from Verlien.
Tephar believed that every individual holds within him or her the potential for great good, but also for evil. A man might learn to use the sword; but that knowledge itself means nothing. It is whether the man uses that sword to protect his family, or to cut down another in cold blood, that determines if such knowledge is good or bad.
The Tepharat holds the temples responsible for the preservation and upkeep of tools and knowledge; though very few temples take this literally and keep ploughshares, hammers, or swords. The modern Tepharan faith places especial emphasis on the role of the temple teaching (and holding back from the unready) magical knowledge.
The Tepharan faith asserts that morality involves a careful balance between logic and emotion. Emotion is what allows a person to determine what is important; logic does not dictate that life, love, or innocence are values -- though we certainly feel that they are. Reason is the means of judging how best to attain the moral ends; relying on reason is the only way to judge between conflicting emotions.
The first evidence that Tephar was a mage came when he showed weakness handling silver. Jalaan, a renowned astrologer and practitioner of the rites of Ikhtar, requested to purchase Tephar as an apprentice. There is some debate as to whether Jalaan recognized Tephar's potential as a prophet, but the price paid apparently made Tephar's father wealthy. Jalaan taught Tephar astrology, the Ikhtari faith, and the magical arts of divination and conjuring.
In his younger days, Tephar traveled from place to place giving advice as a traveling advisor and astrologer. He visited many nations in the Anaian Steppes, staying briefly in the courts of various kings, granting them advice through his divinations as well as practical, earthy advice.
In his mid-forties he convinced King Nabakeel of Ankharad to champion his theology, and Tephar became General. They conquered the lands of Djhune, Cissel, and Leutian, uniting those lands into the Great and Holy Kingdom of Ankharad. In his own lifetime other kingdoms came to accept his theology, and more were converted by his children.
Tephar took two women as wives during his lifetime. At age 26 he took his first wife, Shallah. He married his second wife, R'vkah, the daughter of Nabakeel, in his forties. Both his wives survived him, when at age 62 he walked into the woods to pray -- but never returned. R'vkah bore him his two eldest children -- his son Esani and his daughter Khana. Shallah bore him his third child, Elan, late in life.
Tephar is reported to have performed a number of miracles during the course of his life:
During his time as a General, an important battle took place at night. The other army, which knew the territory, had the advantage, until Venus suddenly took on a bright glow enabling his troops to see as though it were day; the Miracle of the Morning Star.
He became lover to a Nereid. The otherwise dangerous nature spirit proclaimed him the one hope for the land. She apparently did conceive a child, but disappeared before it was born. This is the Miracle of the Land.
A young soldier, Josi, wandered close to a precipice overlooking the army's encampment, high on the drug Saaleni, and leaped (some say he imagined himself a bird or winged creature). Tephar placed his hand over the dead soldier's heart, said the words "I still have need of your service," and the soldier awoke alive and sober, as from a dream. The soldier was no longer addicted to Saaleni, and dedicated his life thereafter to Tephar and his son Esani, and the Tepharat. This is known as the Miracle of Life.
His first wife Shallah, the same age as he, got pregnant with child (and lived and delivered the son, Elan, successfully) at age 58. This is referred to as the Miracle of Spring.
At age 62 he walked into the woods and never returned. It is believed that his corporeal body was taken into Verlien; the Miracle of Ascension.
After Tephar's death, his teachings were carried on by his children Esani, Khana, and Elan.
Tephar's son Esani, the eldest child, became heir to Ankharad and ruled from there. He is considered the most conservative of the three, not offering any interpretations or teachings of his own -- but quoting his father extensively and reverently. He passed the nation to Emir Kisatti, his wife's brother.
Khana, Tephar's only daughter, is considered the most successful proselytizer of the faith. Her travels brought her as far as Kempou and Shan Waj to the east, and through to Kharobi to the west. There are many accounts of her travels and her methods of converting the people -- though many of these stories are contradictory or, at least, unlikely. She wrote down many of her father's sayings and parables. Though she had many suitors, she never married.
Tephar's third child, Elan, became a wanderer. He traveled north to Donskoi, and met with little success in converting the people, but as he traveled further east he had some success in Northern Kempou -- though Khana's ministry is still better remembered by the people of Kempou. During his one year stay in Kempou, Elan developed an opium addiction which lasted for the remainder of his life. He spent a half-year in Kodekai, but failed to bring any over to the Tepharat. He managed to convert Khair, Naiir and Runistan during a two year stay in the northeast part of the Anaian Kingdoms -- the only nations of the Anaian Kingdoms which did not convert during Tephar's life. He is criticized, though, for preaching a less humane version of his father's faith -- tolerating the practice of hereditary slavery, and of gender inequality, known in Naiir and Runistan. Elan settled in Leres.
The teachings and proscriptions of the faith are referred to as the Tepharat, though often this term is used to refer only to the proscriptions. As Tephar himself did very little writing, there are several slightly different versions of what he said which were penned by different people. However, the main and widely agreed upon tenets are listed below.
1) Accept the claim that Emeth is a testing ground for good, where the small daily battles between good and evil determine the war between Verlien and the Underworld.
2) Once in his/her life each of the faithful must make pilgrimage to another land away from the nation of his/her birth, if capable of doing so. This is meant to allow people the means of seeing other cultures and viewpoints, and to afford one of the faithful bound to an unfair ruler an opportunity of escape.
3) No alcohol (though some take this to mean merely no drunkenness).
4) During the month of August, Tepharites are to fast during the daylight (this includes among the stricter not taking medicines unless it is life threatening), and feast once the sun has set. No eating roots (no beets, potatoes, turnips, ginger, ginseng) at all during that month. Priests do not do any work during the daylight, unless it is a matter of life or death (chirurgery for a dying person, etc.).
5) Five minutes of meditation should be undergone each evening before bed, to keep in mind each day the struggle between great forces and the necessity of tending to the needs of the soul over the needs of the body.
Magery and empathic healing. In nations which follow the Tepharat, magery and empathic healing are learned solely through the mosques. Anyone who learns outside of the mosques is breaking the law of Tephar (as is anyone assisting that person) and is assumed to be using his/her powers for dark purposes; the mosques are there to teach proper use of such powers, and to assure that any who learn them are ready.
The Tepharat directs that all books on magic should be kept in a mosque library; some Tepharan nations consider keeping such a book from a mosque to be a capital offense. Many of the books currently in the Isseter Guider monastery were seized from the mosque before it was razed.
In the occupied areas of Uruk, some Tepharites consider it reasonable to study magic on one's own, so long as at least a few others of the faithful are aware of the studies. This is in response to the reality of the occupation, and the Guiders' intolerance of magic.
Mosques. Tepharan mosques serve several functions. They are used as a common meeting area. Mosques, or more often the priests themselves, serve as repositories of certain types of knowledge (usually dealing with magic, empathy, and science, as well as religious rites). The priests grant training in their proper use (this knowledge is primarily kept orally, passed down from priest to priest, that the knowledge be taught in proper fashion, and only to those whom the priest can judge to be trusted to use such powers). Some mosques keep religious artifacts. Mosques are recognized as sanctuaries (from evil powers by the sanctification ritual, as well as from worldly powers).
The priest's function, in addition to maintaining the building and grounds, is to give moral guidance, to provide training both of religious nature and of the use of innate powers, and to perform the rites of Tephar.
Hierarchies. The structure of the religion in the various Tepharan nations differs greatly.
In Uruk there is very little religious structure. There are the priests of the mosques, who are closer to caretakers and librarians, and the high priest of the nation. The high priest helps to make sure that each temple has someone properly trained in the teachings of Tephar, and is the only real religious authority figure.
In Marukh, the Tepharites are far more structured, and the religious positions basically take the same forms as previous religions of that area. In that nation, the church has more direct power (though perhaps less actual influence) and can make such decisions as whether a war is just. (In some Tepharan nations, war can only be declared with the consent/under the direction of the church. It is wrong to murder, so the holy people must make the moral decision of whether or not it is allowable in that instance.)
The Tepharan faith is, to a large extent, a collection of simple parables and morals. Although most are believed to have come from Tephar himself, it is generally recognized that a number of them were added by others when writing his teachings, and some are simply common folk wisdom put to paper. This section has been organized by category of what the parable deals with.
Good works. The prophet's daughter, Khana, tells this story:
There once was a man who had no caring for anything of value or consequence. He spat on the blind beggar, condemned his own family, flouted each law of the Tepharat, and beat his wife.
His neighbor was a woman of modest and even temperament, who kept the Tepharat holy and devoted herself to the care of her parents. She gave well to beggars and all those in need -- both of her purse and her time.
The man lived a long, healthy life, and died prosperous with many friends -- he was wealthy enough that men were gracious in their judgements and he was well liked. The woman contracted a lingering illness and died in pain and poverty, ignored by those who had once called her friend.
Do not count on reward for doing the right thing. Doing good is its own reward, and there is no need for other.
Marriage. Many nations which follow Tephar do not legally recognize marriage. This stems primarily from a story which is told of the prophet. Two young people who wished to marry, but could not because they were from separate castes, approached the prophet seeking his help. When he heard their tale, rather than the sympathy they had hoped for, he grew angry with them. "Why do you come to me for aid?" he said, "You are not marrying me. You are not marrying the state. If you make this promise between yourselves, the state cannot prevent you from being faithful to one another. Promise to each other now, and you are married."
Punishment of criminals. Esani reports these words by his father:
A man who steals once does not necessarily think of himself as a criminal; he may be doing so to regain what he feels is his, or to feed a family. A man who thinks of himself as a criminal despises all aspects of the Law.
The first type of man is likely to become the second type of man if the State fails to show understanding and kindness. The first offense should be given a light punishment or no punishment; a frequent offender should be made a slave.
Slavery. Tephar supported the notion of enforced labor by criminals, to pay off their debt to society or those who had been wronged. However, he opposed hereditary slavery, and believed that beatings or cruel mistreatment of slaves should be considered criminal.
Khana recorded an exchange between her father and Nephlite, a wealthy landowner from Naiir who owned many slaves:
"Look there," Tephar noted, pointing to the field where several slaves toiled. "Impressive, isn't it? How year after year, this field manages to produce wheat."
Nephlite had grown tired of Tephar's air of superiority and arguments against hereditary slavery. Seeing his chance to show up Tephar he replied, "Does the great prophet know nothing of agriculture? This field grew barley last year, and was fallow the year before. One does not grow the same crops in the same field on successive years."
"Really?" Tephar replied, "that is quite surprising."
Nephlite, with a look of smugness on his face, denounced the prophet as a half-wit.
"Quite surprising indeed," Tephar continued, "that the soil should vary so greatly from generation to generation, and yet the people of this land do not. I note that your policy with people is to treat a child the same way that you treated the parents. A daughter is more like her mother than one patch of dirt is like another."