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Gods of the Flanaess: Pholtus
Posted on Thu, July 23, 2009 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "“The one true path, the trail of light, is offered by Pholtus and Pholtus alone. From it springs all reason and knowledge, all that is good and right in this world. As followers of the one true path, it is our most sacred responsibility to aspire to shine as brightly as our lord in spreading his light to those in darkness The path is long, winding and difficult, but for those who persevere and show wisdom, our lord Pholtus provides the ultimate enlightenment and reward."

-High Theocrat Ogon Tillit, Suypreme Prelate of the Theocracy of the Pale, reciting the nation’s oath of office upon his investiture, 562 CY.


Pholtus


By Jared Milne


PHOLTUS

 

Domains: Light, Resolution, Law, Order, Inflexibility, Sun, Moons

 

Home Plane: Arcadia

 

Alignment: Lawfully good, tending towards lawfully neutral

 

Alignment of Clergy: Lawfully good, lawfully neutral, neutrally good, truly neutral

 

Alignment of Worshippers: Any ethically lawful or neutral. Pholtus is primarily worshipped by humans, although some dwarves and halflings revere him as a god of law and justice

 

History and Relationships: Born in the early years after the imprisoning of the Dark Lord, Pholtus was known for his efforts to bring order and law to the universe, even as the gods fell to battling one another. Through his efforts at mediation and resolution, Pholtus won the respect of many gods for his wisdom and fairness, although other gods resented what they viewed as his high-handed arrogance and imperiousness, and refusal to listen to other points of view. Alternately admired for providing clear and sensible solutions to disputes, and derided for his self-righteousness, Pholtus became a polarizing figure to his fellow gods.

 

His unpopularity greatly increased when many of the other gods began creating their own mortal races, a boon granted them by the Oerth Mother in exchange for their aid in imprisoning Dread Tharizdun. In an effort to help these fledgling races, Pholtus proved essential in bringing them sunlight to allow life to flourish upon the Oerth, even as he offered advice and guidance to the other creator gods in creating the belief systems and ethical viewpoints of their people. Unfortunately, these other gods tended only to borrow those elements of Pholtus’ dogma that they liked and discarded the rest, something that frustrated him to no end. Arguments over points of doctrine led many of the other gods to dislike him, particularly the Oeridian wind gods, who were particularly offended by his efforts to teach law to the aarakockra they were creating.

 

As time passed, however, Pholtus followed the lead of the other gods in granting divine favors to the mortals who had begun to worship him. His new mission became to spread his wisdom and knowledge across the Oerth to these new mortal beings, something that his followers took to with great zeal.

 

Pholtus' allies include Zilchus, Moradin, Cyndor, Bralm, Yondalla and Allitur, all of whom appreciate the value of law and order in society, something which also endears Pholtus to Grumbar, the lord of the Elemental Plane of Earth. His enemies include Pelor, St. Cuthbert, Corellon Larethian, Joramy, Hieroneous, Hextor, Trithereon, and indeed almost any god that is chaotic, evil or simply espouses a different set of ideals and values from his own. Known as a judgmental god, Pholtus is a lone wolf among the gods for his harsh and unbending view of the world.

 

Teachings: Pholtus' faith teaches that any solution can be solved with clarity and common sense, and that any solution, no matter how convoluted, can be solved with a clear-minded application of established law and wisdom. Mortal beings have thrived for centuries based on sensible application of ideas grounded in reality, which have become an established tradition passed on down through the centuries from parent to child. There is a place for everyone within these inherited ideals, one where all those who display sufficient wisdom and intelligence can thrive, so long as they adhere to the proper laws that Pholtus has passed down time immemorial.

 

These ideals stress a society governed by the rule of law, where all are equal before the law and have the capacity to use their own talents to flourish within it. Hard work and dedication, and the application of common sense, are important traits for citizens to possess, as are honesty, piety and compassion for one’s neighbor. All are equal under the light Pholtus provides, and all are equally deserving of support and compassion, provided they have worked to earn it. There is no shame in requiring charity if one has made an honest and forthright effort to thrive or contribute to the community. Those who have made an effort to adhere to the path of light can and should reap not only the rewards that Pholtus offers, but the support that others walking on the path can provide. Similarly, the light shines on all equally regardless of race, gender or ethnicity-slavery and racial and sexual discrimination are abhorrent blights on society that must be eradicated.

 

Regrettably, however, the world is not perfect, and many factions will attempt to attack, conquer or even destroy society to take what they have not earned and destroy what they cannot have. Pholtus’ church thus emphasizes the need to take up arms and defend oneself when necessary, placing a high emphasis on the need for citizens to protect one another against attack, and to punish those malcontents in their midst. Whether human or inhuman, threats may come in many forms, and valiant defenders must be ready at all times.

 

The virtues of the Pholtan faith include hard work, compassion for one's neighbor, careful reflection of available options before taking a course of action, obeying those in authority if they have proven themselves worthy of obedience, dethroning those in authority who have violated the laws and abused their power, vigilance and alertness against attack, and respecting the dignity of all those who display clarity and common sense. The sins of the Pholtan faith include laziness, acting without forethought, violating the laws of the community, disobeying those in authority who have proven themselves worthy of obedience, obeying those in authority who have violated the laws of the community, slackness in guarding against attack, and insulting those who display clarity and common sense.

 

Interaction with Outsiders: In many lands, Pholtans are known for their social activism and attempts to influence the local laws to try and bring them more in line with what they view as the “path of light”. This can lead to considerable social strife and competition with other religious and secular interests, particularly other churches noted for their activism and attempts to influence the shaping of society, such as St. Cuthbert. Despite this, however, most Pholtans would view taking up arms against the lawful authorities of the land as an extremely grave sin, and so they content themselves with attempting to influence their neighbors and win new converts among the populace.

 

Pholtus' clergy also performs all the healings, blessings, schooling, exorcisms, marriages, midwifery, and counseling that religious organizations provide to their followers, although they are notorious sticklers for only providing their help to those they deem “worthy”, in practice being those who actually adhere to the Pholtan faith. They can and do provide food, clothing and other amenities for the sick and poor, but rival the faith of St. Cuthbert in actively trying to convert their followers to the path of light of the Pholtan faith. No Pholtan will ever treat hale and hearty adventurers without a conversion, unless said adventurers are themselves Pholtans. Fortunately, the faith counts many adventurers among its adherents, and so the faith is also active in the adventuring sphere.

 

Laypeople who interact with the followers of Pholtus typically see them preaching on street corners, asking for alms, or otherwise performing other priestly duties. Except in the Theocracy of the Pale, where they are themselves the dominant faith, Pholtans will typically not harass those they interact with who are not themselves of their faith, and may conduct their business as they normally would, although many lay worshippers may still attempt to nudge their friends towards Pholtan ideals or otherwise attempt to influence the society around them towards these same ideals.

 

Pholtus is the dominant national faith of the Theocracy of the Pale and the Grand Theocracy of Dimre in the Bandit Kingdoms, where its rigidity and discipline have contributed to those nations’ formidable fighting forces. The faith is also well-established in the Gran March, Greyhawk, Dyvers, Nyrond, and the Shield Lands, although it is typically viewed with some suspicion by the authorities due to the activist nature of its clergy and its opposition to the religions these states favor. The faith is outright banned in Iuz, the Horned Society, the See of Medegia, Ahlissa, Northern Aerdy, Rel Astra and the lands of the Sea Barons, and everywhere else is either unknown or too small to be worth mentioning.

 

Pholtus’ most prominent temples in the Flanaess are in Wintershiven, Dimre, Hatherleigh, Greyhawk, Dyvers, Rel Mord, Critwall and Hookhill.

 

Variant Sects: The notions of clarity and common sense, which are bedrocks of the Pholtan faith, have paradoxically divided the church into several distinct sects, whose relations range from strained to hostile. The Blinding Light is the most commonly found branch of the faith outside of the homelands of the Pale, stressing protection against attackers and positive social change towards Pholtan ideals, including ministering to the poor and sick. They are generally less militant than the One True Path, being more willing to conform to variations in the lands they operate in and more willing to work with other faiths and secular groups to achieve their goals, although they will in all ways attempt to influence these allies towards the ideas of Pholtus. They are also more flexible in their interpretation of Pholtus’ teachings, and put more emphasis on those traits they feel will win converts and expand their influence, such as the positive gains of the Pholtan faith, including enlightenment, forgiveness and a renewed enthusiasm for life, over the harsher, stricter punishments for sin and backsliding emphasized by the One True Path.

 

The One True Path is much stricter and more rigid than the Blinding Light, and is much less tolerant of difference. Its main seat of power is in the Theocracy of the Pale, where this branch of the faith rules almost absolutely. It makes no secret of its desire to convert the rest of the Flanaess to its belief system, although it grudgingly cooperates with its neighbors when necessary, typically accepting an uneasy peace with them in view of the greater threats from the Bandits, Stonehold, and the monsters of the surrounding hills, marshes and forests. It is no less rigid in adhering to the standards of social equality or compassion, however, to the point where the nation has many more women in positions of authority and power than do many of its supposedly more enlightened neighbors. Far fewer people live in poverty as well, with the citizenry of the Pale coming together time and again to overcome adversity, traits which clerics of the One True Path claim would benefit surrounding lands if they joined the Pale in its pursuit of Pholtus’ ideals.

 

Relationships between the two branches of the faith are often very strained, with each often accusing the other of misinterpreting Pholtus’ teachings, not adhering to them properly, or disagreeing how these teachings should be interpreted in any given situation. They unanimously agree, however, on the Dark Light cult of the Grand Theocracy of Dimre in the Bandit Kingdoms. This heretical branch of the faith believes that hard work and vigilance are necessary to survive in a harsh world, and that Pholtus has made the world that way to strengthen his followers and see if they are worthy of following the path of light. To that end, they believe that one must learn to understand darkness in order to better aspire to following the light, and they combine this with the necessity to survive in a harsh world by actively raiding and murdering unbelievers and heretics, functioning essentially as religious bandits. They are actively hated by all other Pholtans, who vehemently deny that their god would grant spells to these heathens and instead claim that the followers of the Dark Light are supported by some demonic patron.

 

Adventuring Clergy: Pholtus actively encourages his clergy to adventure, so as to spread the word of the path of light and inspire others through their deeds, even as they acquire power to guide those that are blind to the light so that they may see. Even the One True Path recognizes the value of perception and the benefit of gathering more flies with honey than vinegar, and so note that heroic deeds can be more effective in winning popular support than endlessly haranguing nonbelievers. Clerics may associate with any demi-humans as they see fit, although associating with overtly religious people who openly belong to other faiths is typically considered a minor sin if done for too long, although there is typically no stricture against associating with heathens or casual believers of other faiths. Nor are clerics are not expected to badger their friends about their faith, but attempt to inspire them in word and deed, to show how the glory of Pholtus can shine on all those who make the effort.

 

The use of edged weapons is considered a sin by the faith, and Pholtus prefers that his clerics use the quarterstaff, a weapon that can be carried almost anywhere and that serves a wide variety of practical purposes besides combat, something the practical-minded deity greatly appreciates. Clerics may also wear whatever type of armor suits them, whether the lightest leather jerkin or the heaviest full plate armor.

 

Clerics are expected to tithe forty percent of the treasure they gain to the faith, or to secular groups that either care for the community or contribute to its defense, such as military groups, poorhouses and orphanages, and the like. Donating to institutions run by other faiths is a major sin, and if there is no opportunity to tithe without donating to another faith, clerics may defer their tithing until they get the chance to donate to a secular institution, if they cannot find one run by Pholtus.

 

Pholtus is said to smile on those who show diligence and hard work in pursuing their goals, who defend those who cannot defend themselves, who preach his name in word and deed, who display clarity and common sense in making their decisions, inspire others to convert to his worship, or influence the society and people around them to better follow the path of light, particularly if they are confused and lacking guidance in their lives."
 
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