The Churches of the Gran March, Part I
|Posted on Tue, November 18, 2008 by Dongul
|Anced_Math writes "The deities of Oerth are present, and real. Some assume that this negates or at least minimizes the presence of Churches. Not so! As you shall see in this overview, the churches of the March are active in the politics and activities of the realm. They are engaged in politics and economics, spreading the word, just as they are on other worlds. Some churches are actually in direct conflict with themselves, as differnt sects contend to prove their view of their deity is correct!
This is the first of a two part series examining the churches of the March.
The Churches of the Gran March, Part I
Written by Firepower; Edited by Anced Math
The Gran March has long been famed for its military. What is not widely known is that it is also a particularly religious nation. Atheists are nearly unknown in the March, and this is often ascribed to the military experience. However, unlike other highly religious regions, such as the Pale or Ket, the March has developed a very cosmopolitan view of the gods. There is little debate over there being one god, or one god before all others. Rather, the Marchers tend to choose one god to represent their household, and then provide offerings to any and all other gods as appropriate. Even Nerull and other gods of death are provided offerings, though this is rarely considered worship. Oldimarra is widely tithed in the inns and pubs of the March, but rarely the god of the home.
The adoration of multiple gods by the laity is not always comfortable for some of the Clergy. This is particularly true of the followers of Pholtus. However, the faithful of Heironeous are angered by the Shrine to Kelanen in Hookhill, and the fact that all soldiers pray at both shrines on the eve of battle. However the laws of the March, and particularly the Military, are opposed to any limitation on a soldier’s right to pray to whomever they choose.
The March does not have an official religion, though the followers of Heironeous may dispute this fact. Rather, the Temples of the March all have official status as an Institution under the Laws of the March. Each and every church has, or can seek official sanction. Historically the leadership of the March has been close to the Keoish Nobility, and thus has adopted Keoish values in regards to religion. The typical Marcher, on the other hand, has had a deep faith, if not always to one god. The result is a government cordial to and disinterested in most matters of faith, provided they do not interfere in the operations of the State.
There are a few notable exceptions to this benevolent neglect. Vecna is reviled by every Marcher; even supplicants to gods such as Hextor, Nerull and Incabulous will aid in the destruction of followers of Vecna. Simple rumors of Vecna or his followers will cause a host of priests, Knights and nobles to mobilize.
The gods of the Baklunish, while not as anathema as the Secret Ones followers, are not granted official sanction. However numerous Baklunish shrines exist along the great Northern road. There are actual, if non-descript temples in Hookhill and Shiboleth to various Bakluni deities. Several ancient cults persist in parts of the March. The Old Faith is strong near the eaves of the Dim Forest and in Barony Hethiye. A group of Flan cultist are rumored to exist is Shiboleth who worship the dead, and invite them to meals on holy days.
However, the lack of a state ordained religion, and the open attitude of the Marchers does allow sects within each church to grow. The growth of militancy among several faiths is an example of this, and is endemic in some areas. The Cutherbertines and the Hieronians are all dealing with this problem internally, and it is not common knowledge. However, for the Pholtans it is becoming a pitched battle between the entrenched hierarchy, and a group of outsiders who supposedly derive support from the Pale. Many doubt that the Pale has the resources or the will to sponsor such an effort, however, outside support for Pholtans advocating Pholtus as the One true god is clearly becoming a problem, and even the Commandant has taken note.
Church of Heironeous
Since the Knights of the March stood against the evil and chaos that threatened the Sheldomar Valley, the church of Heironeous has been strong in the ranks of the military of the Gran March. The nobility contributed some of the greatest knights to the cause, and the most valiant knights were almost always titled. Heironeous served the knights well, meaning that reverence of the Invincible became a proud tradition among both the knights and the nobility. The Knights of the Watch continued this tradition, and other clerics typically found the just and determined knights to be impossibly stubborn in their faith. As the Gran March military developed their own structure and traditions, the influence of Heironeous lessened, but only slightly.
While the high priests of Heironeous may not be in charge of the Gran March military, the same cannot be said of the Marshals, many of whom make pains to appear at services to Heironeous whatever the situation. Most of their subordinate officers, seeking to avoid displeasing their commanders, attend services at least on a superficial level. This is seen by the conscripted soldiers as tacit approval and acceptance of Heironeous in the ranks, and many of the conscripts follow Him while they are in the service. Additionally, the clerics of Heironeous are not exempt from the mandatory term of seven years service in the Gran March military, and can be found at all levels of command.
The Fortress Temple of Heironeous at Hookhill is the center of the church in the entire region, not just the Gran March, and is still viewed as the premier training ground of knights and paladins in the entire Sheldomar Valley. Veteran knights from the Fortress Temple can be found training the Church's faithful, as well as the secular Army of the Gran March's heavy and medium cavalry and infantry. All of the clergy here have fulfilled their conscription obligation to the nation. They are also seasoned veterans with more than a few war stories and battle scars. The clergy here are virtually indistinguishable from the military, and vice versa, though any assumption that they are the same would be technically incorrect.
Hochoch and Shiboleth also proudly display their majestic temples, each centuries old, to the Invincible. Harnac, Mareton, and Murille sport smaller temples, though they are only slightly less impressive than those in the cities. Stout chapels can be found in Coverdale, Darras Hall, Dohn Springs, Holiford, Hollowdell, Lortenford, Mellit's Wharf, Rokeby, and of course the Watch Fort. Locks Heath has a small shrine, owing more to the chapels in surrounding communities than the influence of other religions. In every case, one can expect to find veteran clerics willing to protect the people and stomp out evil. And in every case, forces of Gran March train and maintain a garrison (however small) in the area.
With every adult male in the Gran March exposed to the teachings of Heironeous, the church understandably has a huge support base among the population. However, in the smaller and safer communities there is less of a need (and presence) for a War God. Worship of Heironeous typically is supplanted by other less militant faiths, but most veterans hold a special place in their heart for the Invincible. Disrespect is not tolerated for long, and is likely to galvanize the veterans into action; usually a painful course of action.
Other faiths in Gran March are usually not the concern of the Church of Heironeous; His status is nearly unshakeable so othe's are unimportant. Others are watched, but not closely, for signs of promoting evil or injustice. Those that the Church takes note of are dealt with swiftly and mercifully, most often without violence of any sort. For example if followers of Pholtus and Cuthbert clash in the military ranks, their senior officer (usually a follower of Heironeous) steps in. He ends the quarrel, and assigns both sides extra duty. While this does not resolve the underlying issue, it does serve to end the problem from the officer's point of view. And while the two sides don't agree, they won't openly disagree again for fear of greater punishments.
The Holy General is headquartered in Hookhill, overseeing his flock through the regimented command structure. Holy Captains preside over the temples across the land, often with a Holy Lieutenant or two available to perform special missions for the Church. Sacred Sergeants typically have the most contact with the people of Gran March, though the newly inducted Blessed Soldiers run a close second. Note that clerics currently serving their obligation in Gran March are not addressed by their Church rank, but their proper military rank instead.
Clerics of Heironeous can be found throughout the ranks of the military, in the Specialty Corps, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry. They aid their brothers-in-arms before, during and after battle, making up for their slight disadvantage in combat prowess. However, their duties as soldiers are not diminished by their devotion to Heironeous, so they tend to be exceptionally dedicated and martial individuals. Many continue to serve in the military after their obligation has expired, though many more continue to support the military in a civilian capacity.
The easiest way to distinguish a soldier or knight of the Gran March from a Cleric of Heironeous is by the equipment carried. Even the lowliest acolyte carries "The Law of War" with him at all times, usually in a leather case that hangs off the belt. Not overly large or heavy, the "Law of War" is copied as part of an acolyte's ordination into the priesthood, and is usually the most valued possession besides the cleric's blade and shield. The "Law of War" is filled with bits of wisdom regarding warfare, mercy, and ideals of conduct in battle for the faithful.
Another way to distinguish the faithful is the Battle Prayer. A cleric, or even a lay clergyman, will take a knee and bow his head in respect and reverence to the Invincible. Others of the faith quickly join in genuflecting, forming a circle. As more join in the Battle Prayer, they may form additional circles outside of the original, but never so many as to not be able to hear the cleric. When the circle or circles are formed, the cleric who initiated the prayer recites from memory a verse from the "Law of War". The throng replies "honor", and rises, returning to their duties. The elapsed time spent in a Battle Prayer is usually less than 20 seconds, though bless or other spells cast after the prayer may lengthen this time.
The Invincible is not just about war, though that is His primary domain. He is also a force of Good, and His domains are reflected in the observance of three major holidays. Hosting Day is on the 28th of Fireseek, and the faithful invite a less fortunate family into their home for dinner. Typically, this is done for widows of soldiers who have fallen in the past year, but can include any family that has fallen on hard times. With so many of the nobility involved in the Church, they often host multiple families, often giving small gifts to the children in addition to setting a sumptuous table.
The Day of Remembrance is the 11th of Ready'reat, and held in high regard by veterans across the land. Veterans gather together to remember their service together, and the new veterans are welcomed by the older generations. Memorials are made at tombs, gravesites, and battlefields, though the day is not entirely somber. Those who served in the military are usually given preferential treatment throughout the day by everyone they meet, but especially the clergy of Heironeous, in thanks and respect for their service.
Service Day, the 1st of Patchwall, is when the faithful set their obligations. Contracts that were on hold throughout Brewfest are signed, and this is also known as Induction Day. The harvests have been completed, and the newly conscripted males report to the local barracks to begin their seven-year obligation. It is a quiet day throughout the March, following the last day of Brewfest, as much from the nervous conscripts as the hung-over populace.
Gavin Greyseek, The Holy General
Human Male (Paladin of Heironeous6/Cleric of Heironeous 9, AC:22, HP:107, INIT:-1, SPD:20, ATT:+21/+16/+11 or +12/+7/+2, D:1d8+8 or 1d8+3, F/R/W:+16/+7/+14, AL:LG)(S14, D8, C14, I10, W16, X16)
Heavy Fortification Full Plate +5, Keen Long Sword +4, Holy Lance +1, Mighty [S14] Composite Long Bow +1, 20 Arrows, Cloak of Resistance +3, Belt of Giant Strength +4, Horseshoes of Speed, Gold Holy Symbol, 500gp emerald, 250gp sapphire, 100gp pearl, 10pp, 10gp, 10sp, 10cp
All Armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Mounted Combat, Ride-by Attack, Aura of Good, Detect Evil @ will, Smite Evil (+3 to hit, +6 damage) 2/day, Divine Grace, Lay on Hands, Spirited Charge, Aura of Courage, Divine Health, Turn Undead (+5, 2d6+15, 10/day), Special Mount, Power Attack, Remove Disease 1/week, Combat Casting, Cleave, Extra Turning
Concentration+11, Diplomacy+10, Handle Animal+5, Heal+6, K:Arcana+2, K:History+1, K:Nobility+2, K:Religion+11, Ride+8, Sense Motive+8, Spellcraft+2, Speak Common
Domains: Law, War Law Spells @ 10th Level, Weapon Focus - Longsword
1. DC13>Detect Poison, Guidance, Guidance, Read Magic, Resistance, Resistance
2. DC14>Bless, Command, Divine Favor, Protection from Evil, Shield of Faith [Protection from Chaos]
3. DC15>Bull's Strength, Hold Person, Shield Other, Status, Zone of Truth [Spiritual Weapon]
4. DC16>Daylight, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Searing Light [Magic Vestment]
5. DC17>Divine Power, Restoration [Order's Wrath]
6. DC18>Wall of Stone [Flame Strike]
1. DC14>Bless Weapon, Lesser Restoration
Gavin's green eyes hint at the possibility of Baklunish blood deep in his family history, but his tan skin and short brown hair are pure Oeridian. He stands 6' tall and 190 pounds, but his military bearing make him appear larger. His daily physical regimen, along with his incessant battle against the forces of evil, keeps him in excellent physical condition. He has fine wrinkles around the corners of his eyes, but these could just as easily be laugh lines as anything else. Gavin has a passion about him, and it is evident in his speech and his conduct. He is a curious mix of military professionalism and the warm-hearted love of a cherished father. He is at once proud and humble; stern and soft-hearted; powerful and meek. Gavin's appearance is always fastidious, but never overly rich or (in battle accoutrements) intimidating.
Gavin Greyseek was granted early retirement from the Cavalry of the Gran March two years ago as Field Marshal of the Northern Cavalry Regiment. Born and bred for knighthood, he heard the call of Heironeous early, and actively espoused the scriptures of the Invincible while still in his obligatory service. Shortly after his retirement, Gavin was visited by the Commander of the Western Army of the Invincible, Holy General Rolph Lumen. The Holy General told Gavin that he had been visited by Hieroneous himself, and that Gavin was to take the command of the Western Army. Gavin could not refuse the directive of his god, so accepted Lumen's retirement and became the new Holy General of the Western Army. Holy General Lumen's headquarters in Mitrik was relocated to Hookhill, and knights and clerics from as far away as Greyhawk came to swear fealty to the new Holy General and rededicate themselves to Heironeous.
The Holy General is inundated with requests and demands for his time and attention from all levels of the Church of Heironeous. Additionally, he is still respected by the military (especially the Cavalry officers) of the Gran March, and they continue their camaraderie and friendships. Furthermore, he is of noble blood, and despite forsaking his familial claims within House Collinae, Gavin is still close to his family. Despite all of these demands however, the Holy General still makes time to serve and aid the less fortunate in Hookhill on a daily basis, usually in the guise of a simple cleric.
Human Female (Fighter 4/Cleric 3, AC:24, HP:46, INIT:+1, SPD:20, ATT:+10/+5 or +8, D:1d8+5 or 1d8+1, F/R/W:+8/+3/+6, AL:LG)(S14, D13, C12, I12, W14, X12)
Full Plate, Tower Shield +1, Flaming Long Sword +1, Light Crossbow +1, 10 Bolts, Brooch of Shielding (100), Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, Potion of Barkskin +4, Potion of Bull's Strength, Potion of Neutralize Poison, Scroll (CLC5 Dispel Magic), Scroll (CLC7 Death Ward), Silver Holy Symbol, 3pp, 14gp, 7sp
All Armor, Shields, Tower Shield, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Improved Shield Bash, Mounted Combat, Point Blank Shot, Turn Undead (+1, 2d6+4, 4/day), Extend Spell, Power Attack, Leadership (Score 8), Weapon Specialization - Long Sword
Climb+6, Concentration+4, Diplomacy+2, Handle Animal+6, Heal+3, Intimidate+6, Jump+6, K:Arcane+2, K:Religion+4, Ride+10, Swim+6, Spellcraft+4, Speak Common & Orc
Domains: Good, War Good Spells @4th Level, Weapon Focus - Longsword
1. DC13>Detect Magic, Light, Mending, Read Magic
2. DC14>Bless, Command, Divine Favor [Protection from Evil]
3. DC15>Hold Person, Status [Spiritual Weapon]
Heather is of Oeridian blood and dark complexion, with olive skin, cropped curly brown hair, and sharp brown eyes. She is fit and strong, standing 5'7" and 140 pounds, and has an unshakeable military bearing. Every action she takes seems to be related to military service, as it has been for the last six years. She has no obligation to serve, but feels duty-bound to stand alongside the men of her homeland and keep evil and lawlessness at bay. Heather's voice stands out from the men around her, but commands the same respect and attention as any other on the battlefield.
She is rarely out of uniform, either battle or dress, and seems somewhat uncomfortable when she is in a simple dress or without her sword.
Major Heather Andress is Commander of the 3rd Infantry Battalion, headquartered in Hollowdell for the time being. She is also a priestess of Heironeous, seeking a balance between fighting prowess and divine wisdom. Heather constantly seeks to emulate the Holy General, and feels blessed to be so close to the Commander of the Western Army of the Invincible. While she would like to join the Western Army, she feels the Gran March needs her and her loyal staff more. So she continues to serve and train and fight, hoping that her efforts and the efforts of the men under her command can make the world (or at least her little corner of it) safe from evil.
Church of Obad-Hai
One of the more noticeable churches in Gran March is defined by it's lack of a building and blending of natural elements; the church of Obad-Hai. Found mainly near the Dim Forest and the Rushmoors, there are few worshippers of The Shalm who choose to dwell in any but the smallest of towns. Since many of the worshippers blessed by Obad-Hai's grace are druids, it is only fitting that their places of worship be in the most natural of settings. However, a remote glade unseen by man for a century is not the best location to minister to a congregation. So a compromise of sorts has been reached; only a few villages in the more remote areas of the land have a grove in their proximity.
Even a rough estimate of the number of worshippers of Obad-Hai in Gran March tends to be inaccurate. Many do not set down roots like the rest of the population, and live off of what the land and their god provide them. It is certain that there are at least five groves to The Shalm, though more secretive places of worship are thought to exist deeper in the Dim Forest. There is a grove near Audley, seeming to watch over the main artery to Hochoch. Another is north of Rymar along the wooded banks of the river. A third grove is a few miles north of Wolsingham, while the last two are near Nighley and Prouse.
Clerics and druids of The Shalm tend to stay out of political discussion and the day-to-day lives of most of the population of Gran March. However, they are staunch defenders of their charges, and take the intrusions of civilization seriously. Rarely directly violent, the power of nature is subtly brought to bear by the priests against those that would harm the wilderness. But the wisdom and beliefs of Obad-Hai have helped the population in the past, and continues to do so today. A russet-robed traveler instructing a farmer about the damage that clear-cutting a small wooded area could cause is not taken lightly. Either the priest is correct, or the priest will arrange for a demonstration of nature's power. And while the priests are not allowed to run roughshod over the people, they are treated with respect and their advice is usually welcomed.
The Shalm's worshippers do not seem to care about any of the factions in Gran March, religious or otherwise, unless their domain is threatened. The Oeridian pantheon holds sway over much of the population, but concerns itself little with the wilderness, so they are ignored. The logging operations in the eastern Dim Forest are nudged in the proper direction, and prodded when they become complacent or greedy. Military patrols are cautioned about straying off the road to Hochoch, without being threatened or lectured. The priests of Obad-Hai are the guardians of the wild, and they stay out of the affairs of "civilized" society as much as possible, but their presence is felt.
Sometimes seen as spies of sorts, the druids of Obad-Hai do tend to spend a great deal of time keeping an eye on everyone else. That figure near the woods, silently observing the farmer planting his crop. The unshakeable feeling of being watched is senses all along the road to Hochoch. The inexplicable escape of a bounty of trapped animals is . All these and more are attributed, usually without justification, to the nature priests. This preconception is reinforced by the Hierophant of Hookhill, who will offer advice or warnings to the government, frequently knowing of "secret" plans or projects.
The faithful of Obad-Hai have learned through hard lessons to open their faith to scrutiny in the Gran March. Secret rites and mysteries of worship do not sit well in lands once ruled by the Whispered One, so only the most sacred of rituals are conducted in secret. The rest are conducted openly and unabashedly, though few observers are ever near a grove at the proper time. If asked about their religion, the lowliest acolyte or the highest priest will give direct answers and can be expected to gently steer the conversation to one of conversion.
Nights when Luna is full are considered holy days by the druids of the Shalm, and prayers begin at sunset. When Celene is full is considered a secondary holy event, and both together (in Goodmonth) is a time of sacrifice, dedication, and powerful influence from Obad-Hai's heralds. Sacrifices of lumbering and construction equipment by fire are standard, though rumors persist of more nefarious sacrifices being conducted in secret. Clerics and druids pray and meditate after sunset to receive Obad-Hai's blessings (and their spells).
Oakstand Oldroot, the Hierophant
Half-Elf Male (Druid 9, AC:18, HP:44, INIT:+0, SPD:30, ATT:+6/+1 or +6/+1, D:1d6 or 1d4, F/R/W:+6/+3/+10, AL:N)(S11, D11, C11, I13, W19, X11)
Leather Armor +1, Large Wooden Shield +1, Staff of Swarming Insects, Sling, 10 Bullets, Ring of Protection +2, Potion of Barkskin +2, Scroll (DRD3 Animal Messenger), Scroll (DRD3 Animal Messenger), Scroll (DRD3 Animal Messenger), Wood Holy Symbol, 250gp sapphire, 50 garnet, 4gp, 22sp
Low-Light Vision, Immune to Sleep, +2 save vs. Enchantments, Elf Blood, Light Natural Armor, Medium Natural Armor, Wood Shields, Druid Weapons, Animal Companion, Nature Sense, Wild Empathy +9,
Spell Focus-Conjuration, Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, Augment Summoning, Resist Nature's Lure, Wild Shape 3/day (S/M/L), Natural Spell, Venom Immunity, Run
Concentration+12, Diplomacy+2, Gather Information+2, Handle Animal+5, Heal+6, K:Nature+13, Listen+10, Search+2, Spellcraft+3, Spot+10, Survival+16, Swim+5,
Speak Common & Elvish & Sylvan & Druidic
1. DC14>Create Water, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Guidance, Read Magic, Resistance
2. DC15>Charm Animal, Entangle, Obscuring Mist, Pass without Trace, Speak with Animals
3. DC16>Chill Metal, Resist Fire, Soften Earth and Stone, Tree Shape, Wood Shape
4. DC17>Call Lightning, Plant Growth, Quench, Speak with Plants
5. DC18>Dispel Magic, Ice Storm, Scrying
6. DC19>Commune with Nature
Oakstand Oldroot is the Hierophant of Hookhill and Ambassador of Obad-Hai to the Gran March. He has the olive skin of an Oeridian, and straight black hair that hangs past his shoulders. But his emerald green eyes and other features mark his bloodline as mixed with that of the elves. He stands 5'3" tall and weighs around 140 pounds, with a lean build that further makes his appearance other than human. His voice is quiet and soft, though he seems to have no apprehensions about speaking to one person or many, regardless of their station. His demeanor is a bit unnerving to most people however, as he observes and listens far more than anyone around him, drawing information in constantly.
Oakstand gives almost no information out in conversation, and very little is known about his life before he arrived in Hookhill three years ago. He claims to be 69 autumns old, though that cannot be confirmed. He is intelligent and wise, and has not been seen acting rashly or without a plan of some sort. Every action he takes seems planned and carefully considered, without being ponderous or slow-witted. He has an extensive intelligence gather network of some sort, for he often knows much of a person's history before being formally introduced. Oakstand is also very aware of all but the most secret of secrets in the capital, though he does not use this knowledge to demean anyone or for his personal benefit. He simply lets a person know that he knows, and leaves it at that.
Church of Phyton
Scattered infrequently across the land can be found small temporary shrines devoted to The Woodshaper, Phyton. These structures are rustic and usually tended by a single cleric, and the congregations attending the holy ceremonies are decidedly small. The farmers of the Gran March do not look to the Church of Phyton to aid them in planting or harvesting their crops, as the ranchers do not seek assistance with managing their herds. However, when a fence needs mending, a stream needs to be diverted, or a path needs to be cut, the Church of Phyton is the first place the people turn to for aid.
Clerics of Phyton take pride in making their projects as aesthetically pleasing as possible, whether it be a fence, a dam, a trail, or whatever. Most have studied engineering in addition to their religious and natural knowledge, and often advise the government on civil works projects away from the cities and towns. The lumber operations in the eastern Dim Forest are supported extensively by clerics of the Woodshaper, who ensure that the forest is cut carefully and artfully. That the south-eastern Rushmoors produces any significant exportable resources at all is a testament to the dedication and usefulness of Phyton's faithful.
While Phyton's dogma aids the farmers and ranchers, making their lives easier and more profitable, there are those who oppose His views. Obad-Hai's druids especially oppose the "advancements" sponsored and supported by those under the Woodshaper's sway. Though they are usually more powerful than the farmers and Phyton clerics, the druids are almost always greatly outnumbered, and rarely directly oppose the projects.
Lovers of virgin wilderness decry Phyton's dogma as evil, but many more see the good brought about by His cleric's works, and support them publicly or privately. Clerics and worshippers of the Oeridian Church generally view the Church of Phyton favorably, as His works also aid their worshippers. The Church of Zilchus benefits from the increased trade and profits that the faithful of Phyton generate through their works, so it quietly supports their efforts.
The shrines of Phyton are usually nothing more than a temporary dwelling for the cleric and a small garden. The dwelling is frequently a large tent, but on rare occasions an industrious cleric may build a simple log or sod cabin. The gardens are the true shrines, with carefully placed stones, trellises, benches, and so forth placed throughout to allow one to appreciate nature's beauty. Wealthy patrons frequently attempt to hire the services of a Phyton cleric in an effort to beautify their own homesteads, but the clerics usually rebuff such offers, disliking work in areas that are already quite civilized.
There is no central structure to the church of Phyton, and no defined hierarchy within its ranks. No matter their experience, clerics of the Woodshaper seek out the edges of civilization and set to work taming the wilderness for the benefit of the people. They may settle in an area for a few seasons or even a year, but when their work there is done, the call of the frontier urges them to move on.
Clerics of the Woodshaper are exceptionally difficult to identify, appearing as farmers or gardeners almost without exception. Even working on a road through a forest, a cleric of Phyton will have his hands dirty, planting beautiful new growth when not observing the construction process. Only Phyton's symbol of the green oak tree overlain with a sickle makes identification of the clerics possible. More than a few rangers have espoused Phyton's beliefs, and some have even taken up the faith in earnest and become clerics.
With no central authority or hierarchy, the church of Phyton does not have any strict rules for observation of holy days. Additionally, there are few holy days directed by the Woodshaper himself, as he prefers the seasonal festivals and the phases of the moons as markers for worship. The most common observance occurs daily at dawn, which is also when his clerics receive their spells.
Zachariah Argon, Child of the Woodshaper
Human Male (Ranger 2/Cleric of Phyton 5, AC:15, HP:49, INIT:+1, SPD:40, ATT:+6/+6 or +7, D:1d6+3/1d6+2 or 1d8+2, F/R/W:+9/+5/+6, AL:CG)(S14, D13, C14, I12, W14, X10)
Mithral Chain Shirt, Hand Axe +1, Hand Axe +1, MW Mighty [S14] Composite Long Bow, 40 Arrows, Boots of Striding & Springing, Cloak of Elvenkind, Ring of Sustenance, Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, Potion of Cure Light Wounds, Scroll (CLC5 Dispel Magic), Scroll (CLC7 Summon Monster IV), Silver Holy Symbol, 11 pp, 9gp, 8sp, 11cp
All Armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Favored Enemy - Goblinoid (+2), Track, Wild Empathy (+2), Animal Affinity, Quick Draw, Two-Weapon Fighting Combat Style, Turn Undead (+2, 2d6+5, 3/day), Enlarge Spell, Widen Spell
Climb+3, Concentration+7, Diplomacy+5, Handle Animal+7, Heal+3, Hide+11, Jump+8, K:Geography+2, K:Nature+6, K:Religion+6, Listen+7, Move Silently+6, Profession:Farmer+4, Profession:Rancher+4, Ride+5, Spellcraft+2, Spot+7, Survival+7, Swim+3,
Speak Common & Goblin
Domains: Plant, Water Rebuke Plants 3/day, Turn Fire or Rebuke Water 3/day
1. DC12>Create Water, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Mending, Read Magic
2. DC13>Bless, Bless Water, Endure Elements, Summon Monster I [Entangle]
3. DC14>Aid, Augury, Summon Monster II [Barkskin]
4. DC15>Summon Monster III [Water Breathing]
Zachariah has the weathered skin of a man who has spent long years exposed to the elements, though he clearly has Suel blood coursing through his veins. He keeps his blonde hair and goatee cut very short in a military style, and his dull blue eyes peer out through lids locked in a perpetual squint against the sun. He stands 5'10" tall, and weighs an athletic 185 pounds. He wears a broad-brimmed hat against the elements, but otherwise appears as one of the lumberjacks in the eastern Dim Forest. Zachariah does not speak very well, seeming a little out of sorts around people, and he seems a little shy or possibly distracted by the task at hand.
Zachariah Argon is fairly typical of the clergy of Phyton, though he probably does more on a daily basis than most other clerics of the Woodshaper. Most of the lumberjacks and woodcutters taking part in the logging operations know of him, and he has earned their respect. He can be found in the woods helping to fell a tree, or removing stumps, or planting saplings for future logging operations to harvest. It is this last task that keeps the druids in the area at bay, as the loggers have planted two saplings for every tree they have taken for the last four years under Zachariah's direction. The druids are none too happy about the cutting down of the old trees, or the well-defined road to carry the lumber out of the forest. But Argon has been able to quiet their fears, or convince the logging operation to turn to an "approved" area, thus avoiding any real conflict for the last three years.
The Oeridian Church"
Atroa, Sotillion, Telchur,
Wenta and Merikka
The most commonly worshipped deity in Gran March is not actually a single entity. Rather, a loose pantheon of Oeridian gods and goddesses holding domains that relate to the agricultural bent of the people is more consistently worshipped than any other god. Atroa the Lesser Goddess of Spring, Sotillon the Lesser Goddess of Summer, Telchur the Lesser God of Winter, Wenta the Lesser Goddess of Autumn, and Merikka the Demigoddess of Farming.
Merikka seems to be the most consistently worshipped deity of this pantheon, though only by the slimmest of margins. In their seasons, each of the gods becomes the most popular, usually for favors but occasionally for appeasement. The deities are worshipped according to the needs of the people, and one does not compete or hold dominion over another. For example, Wenta sees few prayers in the spring when her sister Atroa is favored, but as harvest draws near she hears more and more from the people of Gran March.
It is important to note that this is not an actual pantheon; i.e. it was not established by the divine members. Rather, it is the choice of the people conducting the worship who to venerate to best serve their needs. Since there is little need to worship Procan within the Gran March, though he is an Oeridian god, he is not included in this grouping. There is no intended disrespect or sleight to the gods by this grouping, and the nature of this pantheon has demonstrated the wisdom and foresight of their worshippers.
In the homes of most farmers and ranchers can be found the physical symbol of the Oeridian Church; a simple shrine about two cubic feet in size, depicting the five members of the pantheon in paints or carvings, usually symbolically rather than literally. This shrine is typically hand-made from local wood, and usually is not considered of any saleable value. However, offerings and prayers are made at these home shrines on a daily basis by tens of thousands of people throughout the nation. The offerings are usually something that the family can spare, and are more symbolic than anything. Prayers are likewise short and direct, so that the rigorous duties of a farmer or rancher are not delayed.
In most of the communities within Gran March larger shrines of the Oeridian Church can be found. These shrines tend to resemble amphitheaters, and are located in natural settings such as stands of trees or gardens. These public shrines are not overly large, and are normally tended to by a cleric of one of the gods of the pantheon. There may be a couple of lay clergy to assist the cleric in larger communities, but usually the cleric operates alone. This cleric, though holding one god of the pantheon as his or her personal deity, is knowledgeable about all the gods in the pantheon out of necessity. A cleric of Merikka would do well to know Wenta's teachings near harvest time and Atroa's in Planting.
Just south of Hookhill in an area known as Hengest Fair, is a larger amphitheater, capable of seating over a hundred. This sacred spot is located on a lightly forested hill a short walk from the city walls. On holy days, and gods day, there are a handful of clerics here, though rarely are two dedicated to the same god, and about two dozen lay clergy. Each cleric of this "chapel" tends to either a small garden or a few animals, both to support themselves and to serve as an example to their congregation. Despite holding different gods above others, these clerics cooperate with and learn from each other, all to better serve their congregation, the pantheon, and their own god.
There are no true clerics of the Oeridian Church, so there is no organized hierarchy within the church. Each cleric takes care of the needs of the congregation first, and then promotes the teachings of his or her patron god or goddess. More experienced clerics are respected, but are not deferred to or given undue influence or control. Every deity that is part of the Oeridian Church has their own domain, even though they are closely related to each other and they give prominence to each other in a never-ending cycle. The clerics within the Oeridian Church are no different.
Clerics of the Oeridian Church tend to be difficult to distinguish from their flock, and usually only a colored scarf sets them apart from a common farmer. The scarf is of common manufacture, possibly even hand-made, and is green in spring, yellow in summer, red in autumn, and blue in winter. On holy days, wool or cotton ceremonial robes are worn, trimmed in the seasonal color. Depending on the specific deity worshipped, clerics of the Oeridian Church replenish their spells at different times during the day, but this is invariably between dawn and dusk.
The most noticeable rituals of the Oeridian Church are also the most commonly seen rituals in the Gran March. Farmers sniffing a pinch of dirt, the basket of food given to the new mother, and the shearing songs of the sheep in the fall are all typical of the rituals that become part of the backdrop of everyday life in Gran March. But the Church's ties to nature mean that the high rituals occur during the seasonal festivals, and tend to stand out significantly from the daily routines.
The Feast of Telchur traditionally occurs when Luna is new in Needfest. The head of the household will forego eating that day, symbolically showing Telchur that the needs of the family outweigh any others, and that he should bring a swift end to the winter. Believers hold that if the head of the house eats, members of his or her family will go hungry at some point that year.
Atroa's Vigil occurs when Celene is full in Growfest, and farmers throughout the land spend the entire night awake watching over their newly-planted seeds. While non-believers contend that the vigil keeps rabbits, mice, birds and the like away from the seeds, the believers will not be swayed. The results tend to be proportional to the vigilance of the farmer, making for easy "proof" of the god's favor.
The Sotillion Markers is a series of simple ceremonies in Richfest, when both moons are full. Markers are placed at sunrise of Midsummer's Day, and sunset, high Luna, and high Celene of Midsummer's Night. The markers are read, and are supposed to portend the weather for the remainder of the summer as well as any events that could alter the harvest. Clerics of the Church make predictions based on the markings, only showing slight favor to their chosen deity.
When Celene is full in Brewfest, High Brewfest is celebrated, where farmers can be seen casting a handful of seeds into their fields both as thanks to Wenta and to beseech her for a mild autumn. Heavy seeding may seem like a waste, but it attracts game animals, helping ensure meat through the coming winter.
Lastday is the 28th of Sunsebb, and Merikka is honored over the midday meal. Friends and family gather together, and reflections and anecdotes about the past year are made, as are wishes and dreams for the coming year. Lastday is also the typical day to announce marriage engagements.
Priestess Misha Devi
Human Female (Cleric of Merikka 3, AC:16, HP:20, INIT:-1, SPD:30, ATT:+2 or +1, D:1d6 or 1d8, F/R/W:+4/+0/+6, AL:LG)(S10, D8, C12, I10, W16, X16)
Chain Shirt, Small Wood Shield, Light Mace, Light Crossbow, 10 Bolts, Ring of Protection +1, Silver Holy Symbol, 5gp, 10sp
All Armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Turn Undead (+5, 2d6+3, 10/day), Extra Turning, Combat Casting, Brew Potion
Concentration+7, Diplomacy+5, Heal+4, K:Nature+1, K:Religion+6, Profession:Farmer+4, Spellcraft+1,
Domains: Plant, Protection Rebuke Plants 3/day, Protective Ward +3
1. DC13>Create Water, Cure Minor Wounds, Guidance, Mending
2. DC14>Bless, Cause Fear, Endure Elements [Entangle]
3. DC15>Augury, Make Whole [Barkskin]
DM NOTE: If you are using the module N1 Cult of the Reptile God, Misha Devi should be played as that module directs. Otherwise, use her description here.
Misha Devi is a young seeming Oeridian woman with tan skin, wavy auburn hair that falls to her waist, and soft brown eyes like those of a deer. She is 5'6" tall and her curvaceous frame weighs about 145 pounds. She is friendly, welcoming, and exceptionally pleasant to converse with on any of the typical topics important to a small farming community. Locals and strangers alike can talk with her at length about farming, nature, child-rearing, husbandry, or a multitude of other topics. However, Misha's mood turns a little darker and she dismisses conversations about war or evil cults.
Folk in and around Orlane can fill in any details that Misha herself does not provide, as she has lived there since she was born 42 years ago. Her family still lives just west of town, though her superior Abramo had an easy time bringing her into the priesthood of Merikka. Misha was an apt pupil, and has served the community of Orlane well for the last twenty seven years, placing Merikka's scripture above others, but still teaching the tenets of the other Oeridian deities. But Orlane is her home, and Misha has no desire to adventure or leave; serving her community is its own reward
Cult of Inessa
For hundreds of years, women in Gran March have tended to the homes and businesses of their husbands, brothers, and fathers while the men were away at war. True, not a small number of women joined the ranks of men throughout the years. But the vast majority of women learned from an early age that they were just as powerful as any army, for they ran the rich economy that flourished on the Northern Keoish trade route. Traditionally, Zilchus was held in high regard by the merchant middle-class for his tenets of disciplined business practices and far-reaching contacts. But his church in Gran March has taken a unique twist.
While the Second Expeditionary Army was battering Veluna in the mid-300's, a woman named Inessa Novak was given the temporary title of Mayor of Hookhill. She was a retired adventurer of some status, and a very devout follower of Zilchus. History traditionally makes no mention of those who enable the heroes to fight and win, and so it was true with Inessa. By her second year in office, she had guaranteed the pensions of the soldiers in the Army through her exceptional negotiation skills and deft political and business maneuverings. Ensuring that the military was properly funded was her greatest goal, and she succeeded for over thirty years. She instilled a sense of duty in the merchants who called Hookhill their home, and under her guidance the women of the city brought prosperity to themselves, their neighbors, and the city itself. Just weeks after her death in 377, a statue of Inessa Novak was dedicated by the businesswomen of Hookhill in the center of the Merchant's District, and today it is known as St. Inessa’s Ward.
Zilchus took notice of the adoration his worshippers had for Inessa, and as she was a devout priestess of his, made her his herald in the Northern Sheldomar Valley. Inessa brought greater glory to Zilchus in the fledgling Gran March, though she was almost unknown of elsewhere. Seeing her true potential, Zilchus quickly invested her with a piece of his divine essence, making Inessa his proxy in Gran March, and letting his will and his worshippers be served through her. Inessa is seen as something of a patron saint by most women in Gran March, though she is only an instrument of Zilchus. However, she has been made divine, and receives devotions in conjunction with Zilchus.
Today Inessa does not have any churches of her own, though her likeness is usually found in the rich shrines and chapels of Zilchus throughout the land. Her statue in Hookhill is now encircled by a chapel of Zilchus, and Inessa's influence is nearly equal to his in that holy site. Though her worshippers do not have temples of their own, they have successfully created something of a juggernaut in the political and business areas. Most businesses in Gran March are owned or operated by women, and most businesswomen in Gran March at least pay homage to Inessa. As a result, her church is powerful in every aspect of the word. Trade flows because her worshippers will it. Efforts in war or negotiation are redoubled if there is greater profit in one or the other. Guilds thrive or crumble depending on their value to the church and the integrity with which they operate. If there is profit to be made without damaging the structure of the nation, the Cult of Inessa has a hand in the conduct of such business.
As might be expected, Inessa's influence is greatest in the largest trading areas. Lortenford, Shiboleth, and of course Hookhill are all heavily influenced by the cult. Beadnell, Darras Hall, Harnac and Sereneall also have notable temples of Inessa and Zilchus. The influence of Inessa does not extend far beyond the lands of the March however, as Mellit's Wharf has a church of Zilchus, with no real mention of his female proxy.
She does not claim clerics as her own, though more than a few women have altered Zilchus' symbol to reflect their devotion to Inessa. Instead of the distinctly male hands of Zilchus clutching the bag of gold, Inessa's devotees have changed the hands to those of a female. Being of the same divine essence, there is no difference between worshippers of Zilchus and Inessa, though Inessa's worshippers are almost exclusively females of Gran March. Like clerics of Zilchus, clerics of Inessa pray for and receive their spells at noon.
In addition to her duties to the Church of Zilchus in Gran March, the Chairwoman is also chief financial advisor to the Commandant. She has no real authority over the finances of the March, which are the realms of the Ministers of Trade and Treasury. However, both ministers are currently members of the Church, so answer to the Chairwoman in matters of spirit. This enables the Chairwoman to gain audience with the Ministers, and occasionally the Commandant, to discuss trade or finances or even guild influence.
The strict hierarchy of Zilchus' faith is evidenced in the accoutrements of the clergy in Gran March. A short cloak, hanging to just below the hips, is worn as part of the daily habit. The cloak is red velvet, with a wide copper-colored band along the edge for acolytes or Measurers, or two bands for adepts or Counters. Brokers Priests) replace the copper band with a silver band, or two should the cleric be honored as Treasurer (or head) of a temple. A single gold band on the edge of the cloak marks the wearer as attaining the rank of High Priest, called the Chairman or Chairwoman. Formal occasions demand heavier and fancier attire, though the color scheme remains the same.
Clerics of Zilchus are usually seen as rich targets among the less scrupulous dregs of society, though they also have a reputation for being heavily protected. Those devoted to Inessa are no different, though they lean towards protection and confinement as opposed to physical retribution. They make little attempt to hide any belongings, as that can lead to suspicion of dishonesty, but getting something away from a Priestess of the Great Guildmaster can be an exercise in futility.
Additionally, the Thieves' Guild in both Hookhill and Shiboleth are exceptionally territorial because of Inessa's followers. The Guild in Lortenford was bankrupted by the Church when they became too greedy, then nearly destroyed when a priestess was assaulted by a non-guild thief. Men and women suspected of belonging to the Thieves' Guild there had to steal everything they needed, as no businesswoman would deal with them. In short order the offending thief was captured by anonymous vigilantes, massive donations were made to the Temple of Zilchus from secret sources, and the Guilds elsewhere in Gran March took notice. Robberies have not lessened, but the temples and priestesses of Zilchus are strictly off limits and freelancers usually operate under danger of execution from the Guild.
Though many prayers of thanks or appeasement are offered when employees receive their coin for services at the end of the week or month, those are not considered holy days of Zilchus. The first Godsday of each month see donations to the temples, and the Treasurer announces the major income and expenses of the previous month. Groundbreakings, contract signings, and other major financial undertakings are usually begun on this day, blessed by a cleric of Inessa, and given the appropriate level of business-oriented fanfare (toasts, parties, ribbon-cuttings, etc.).
Brokers of Inessa are sought out in Gran March for their novak, or official seal, on contracts. The novak, named after the Herald of Zilchus, creates a raised seal of gold foil on a document, certifying that the contract was mediated by a Broker. The Church of Zilchus in Gran March will render assistance to the aggrieved party if a brokered contract is not honored. The fee for a novak is usually 1% of the contract's value, but the Brokers do not disclose these figures to any but the Treasurers. A novak is difficult to forge, and finding a dishonest businesswomen who would do so can be nearly impossible.
Human Female(EXPERT2/CLERIC of Inessa9, AC:16, HP:38, INIT:-1, SPD:20, ATT:+7/+2 or +6, D:1d6 or 1d8+2, F/R/W:+5/+2/+13, AL:LN)(S9, D9, C9, I15, W19, X15)
Glamered Breastplate +2, Light Mace +1, Seeking Light Crossbow +2, 10 Bolts, Medallion of Thoughts, Ring of Minor Fire Resistance, Type II Bag of Holding, Dust of Appearance, Potion of Fly, Potion of Haste, Potion of Cure Serious Wounds, Potion of Cure Serious Wounds, Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, Potion of Misdirection, Potion of Lesser Restoration, Scroll (CLC11 Animate Objects), Scroll (CLC11 Blade Barrier), 100gp pearl, 50gp amber, Gold Holy Symbol, 6pp, 6gp, 6sp, 6cp
All Armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Negotiator, Persuasive, Turn Undead (+4, 2d6+11, 5/day), Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, Craft Wondrous Item
Appraise+7, Bluff+7, Concentration+8, Craft:Weaving+6, Diplomacy+20, Gather Information+8, Heal+13, K:Geography+4, K:Local+7, K:Nobility+7, K:Religion+11, Profession:Merchant+9, Sense Motive+9, Spellcraft+11,
Speak Common & Dwarf & Gnome
Domains: Knowledge, Law Divination Spells @ 10th Level, Law Spells @ 10th Level
1. DC14>Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Guidance, Guidance, Mending, Read Magic
2. DC15>Command, Comprehend Languages, Detect Chaos, Obscuring Mist, Sanctuary [Protection from Chaos]
3. DC16>Augury, Enthrall, Hold Person, Silence, Zone of Truth [Detect Thoughts]
4. DC17>Dispel Magic, Glyph of Warding, Locate Object, Obscure Object [Clairaudience/Clairvoyance]
5. DC18>Air Walk, Sending, Tongues [Divination]
6. DC19>Mark of Justice [True Seeing]
Of Oeridian descent, Greta Halloran is frequently seen in the capital, attending to her duties. She has wavy honey-blonde hair that she keeps cropped short, and amber eyes that seem weary of the world. Her slender frame measures 5'3" tall and 125 pounds, but it can be difficult to spot her behind her attendants and bodyguards. Greta is an accomplished and intuitive speaker, though a weariness creeps into her voice when dealing with less-than-honest people. She is typically seen in fine clothing and jewelry, usually of reds, whites, and yellows. She proudly wears her red velvet cloak with its single gold band, and her incredibly finely crafted holy symbol of Inessa.
As the Chairwoman of Inessa and head of the Church of Inessa/Zilchus in Gran March, Greta Halloran is a powerful and very busy woman. She began as a successful merchant before converting to the Cult of Inessa, and gave her entire being over to worship of Zilchus' proxy. When Laurana Gletina died two years ago, Greta was made the new High Preistess and has served very well since then. She is a tenacious and skillful negotiator, a shrewd businesswoman, and totally committed to the Church. However, she can be a bit put off by dishonesty or evasiveness, and this appears to put in a mood that hints at fatigue and sadness.
Human Female (EXPERT4, AC:13, HP:20, INIT:+1, SPD:30, ATT:+4 or +5, D:1d4+1 or 1d10, F/R/W:+2/+2/+6, AL:LN)(S12, D12, C12, I14, W15, X12)
Leather Armor, Dagger, MW Heavy Crossbow, 10 Bolts, Eyes of the Eagle, 16gp, 22sp
Light Armor, Simple Weapons, Mounted Combat, Point-Blank Shot, Mounted Archery
Appraise+7, Balance+3, Diplomacy+10, Handle Animal+8, K:Nature+9, Profession:Merchant+9, Profession:Rancher+9, Ride+10, Sense Motive+9, Spot+7, Survival+11,
Speak Common & Baklunish & Velondi
Of Oeridian and Flan ancestry, Marin's tan skin and wavy brown hair contrast with her gray-blue eyes much like her ranch contrasts with the spring storm-clouds. She is an earthy woman, larger than many men at 5'9" and 170 pounds, though she is not mannish. She has a friendly disposition and a breathy voice, and her smile and laugh are contagious. But she can just as suddenly turn as stormy as her eyes if her family or horses are at stake.
Marin Goldspur has been running the Goldspur Stables and Breeders of Darras Hall for the last five years. She received the family business from her mother, and has continued to produce some of the finest quality horses in the land. Marin is devoted to her family and her family's business, though she does occasionally wish she were more of a "pretty girl" and could find a man to share her life. But she refuses to compromise her standards or her beliefs, something the Broker of Inessa in Darras Hall has come to respect and admire. Marin is a devout follower of Inessa, and spends time at the shrine several times a week in conjunction with business in town.
||Average Score: 4