The gods of the Flanaess: St. Cuthbert
Date: Thu, July 19, 2007
Topic: Gods & Followers
"He who wields the club of enlightenment has the greatest burden of all. For it is he who sets the example for others to follow in good behavior, ethics and morals. Should he who wields the club of enlightenment fall from grace or suffer committing sin, he betrays the trust placed in him by his followers. Such too is the responsibility not only of clerics, but of kings, nobles and aristocrats."-Extracted from On the Nature of the Cuthbertine Social Contract and Its Meanings In Modern Society, written by Theodoric Alestian, Grand Cardinal of the Billets, Niole Dra, Keoland, 388 CY.
SAINT CUTHBERT Domains:
Common Sense, Wisdom, Zeal, Honesty, Truth, DisciplineHome Plane:
Lawfully neutral, with inclinations towards being lawful and good
Alignment of Clergy:
Lawful and good, or lawful and neutral
Alignment of Worshippers:
Lawful and good, lawful and neutral, neutral and good. St. Cuthbert is usually worshipped by humans.
History and Relationships:
Saint Cuthbert’s origins are shrouded in mystery, although church doctrine states that he was once a mortal man of humble origins who fought against both the hypocritical and manipulative words of kings and the sadism and cruelty of evil beings that threatened his part of the world. They state that through his own purity and strength of purpose, he acquired divine powers as a paladin, and continued his crusades against evil and deceit until he was offered a crown of his own.
He ruled long and wisely, using simple, plain talk to guide his subjects rather than the two-faced, double-meaning words of most other kings, personally fighting the forces of evil with his cudgel until he claimed victory against one of the mightiest of red dragons. Cuthbert was mortally wounded in the battle, but through his own good deeds and the reverence people held for him, he became a god to further assist his followers in their struggles for truth and justice in the Flanaess. It is likely that St. Cuthbert has his origins among the Suel, although the cultural intermingling among the peoples scattered by the Great Migrations has spread his worship across the Flanaess, to the point where his is one of the most popular and active faiths on the continent.
His major allies include Ulaa, Moradin, Gaeral Ironhand, Clanggedon Silverbeard, Solonor Thelandira and Arvoreen, either because of their similar alignment and beliefs, or because they share a similar concern with protection and battle. St. Cuthbert has few friends among other human gods, as his clergy are constantly preaching and seeking out new converts; while St. Cuthbert has more respect for the followings of non-human deities, his worship has increased among halflings especially, who suffer from raids by everything from orcs to landsharks, and seek a more active resistance to these attacks. The god’s simple, open philosophy appeals to their sensibilities as well.
St. Cuthbert’s foes include just about every evil god in the Flanaess, from Iuz to Gruumsh to Nerull to Incabulos, for their evil and the cruelty and wickedness of many of their followers. Chaotic gods who pose challenges to authority, such as Oildammara and Trithereon, rank among St. Cuthbert’s enemies as well, as do other good gods with rival beliefs, such as Pholtus, Rao and Pelor. Most other gods, in domains such as the sea, agriculture or learning, are either ignored or respected by St. Cuthbert. Teachings:
St. Cuthbert’s faith stresses the values of hard work, faithfulness to one’s spouse and family, respect for one’s elders and community leaders, and speaking plainly and openly about problems. They also preach the values of caring for one’s neighbor and helping the poor, stating that helping someone in need today prevents them from turning into a criminal tomorrow. People should strive to practice what they preach, providing a strong example to others in so doing. In that way the good of the community is strengthened, as goodness and common sense are spread to all.
A central tenet of Cuthbertine faith is that parents, kings and other community leaders have a central role to play as leaders of virtue and honesty. Many Cuthbertine sects preach of a “social compact”: in return for service, allegiance and payment of money, rulers and leaders must always act in good faith on the trust put in them, and never break it. Rulers and leaders who break this trust or prove unworthy of it are, according to many Cuthbertines, worse than the most vile thieves and assassins, and deserve to be punished accordingly.
The virtues of the Cuthbertine faith include many of the values stated above: charity, compassion, honesty, faithfulness, hard work, and keeping promises and oaths. St. Cuthbert is said to look favorably on those who maintain moral conduct in spite of whatever difficulties and problems a person may suffer, and refuse to give in to temptation.
The sins of the Cuthbertine faith include breaking an oath or a promise, refusing to help a friend or a neighbor in need, refusing to obey a king, lord or other leader who has acted in good faith, living in a slothful or lazy manner, showing defiance or disobedience towards other members of a community, committing theft, adultery or murder, or otherwise grossly violating the rules of whatever community a person lives in. The Cuthbertine faith is well known for its strict punishments of those who break its rules-beatings with wooden clubs being the most common.
Interaction with Outsiders:
St. Cuthbert’s is one of the most popular faiths among peasants and other members of the lower class for its rhetoric and teachings, which are both inspirational and easy to understand. Cuthbertines are frequently called upon to perform blessings and marriages, deliver and educate children, feed and clothe the poor and homeless, and provide counsel and service to those in need, freely dispensing services to people at all levels of society.
Cuthbertines are also frequently found preaching on street-corners and haranguing passersby about the virtues of their faith. They do not abide catcalls or mockery of their faith, as more than one smart-mouthed troublemaker has found out to his sorrow. They are openly and constantly seeking new followers, welcoming new arrivals to a town or city, or working among the poor and downtrodden, offering these people some meaning in their lives. Many beggars and other poor folk living in the most dangerous parts of a city frequently turn to the church of St. Cuthbert for protection and succor, as these fearless, club-wielding priests are more than ready to confront any criminal, thug or assassin that would dare to harm their charges.
As such, the followers of St. Cuthbert take steps not only to discipline those among their flocks that sin, but also to try and battle the influences of those who would lead them to sin. To that end, they determinedly battle pimps, drug dealers, street gangs, extortionists, and others who would harm their charges, and also try to make life difficult for brothels, drug saloons, torture dens, and other disgusting establishments, which can sometimes get them into trouble with the authorities.
The followers of St. Cuthbert are always seeking new converts, and constantly minister to the poor and sick, attempting to impress upon them the values and gifts of their god. Adventurers and other able-bodied folk will not usually receive service unless they are followers of the god, acting as agents for the church, or are in a truly life-or-death situation; even then, they will probably insist on a conversion or a substantial donation for doing so. Fortunately, many adventurers are devout Cuthbertines, and so often the clerics have no problem healing and restoring adventurers.
St. Cuthbert’s worship is strongest in Keoland, Geoff, some parts of Perrenland, the Duchy of Urnst, the Principality of Ulek, Verbobonc, Gran March, and Veluna, usually because its teachings and moral beliefs match those of the populace, and in the case of the Principality and Duchy, as well as Keoland and Gran March, it is the faith that most prominently ministers to the army.
The faith is respected in the Shield Lands and Furyondy, Highfolk, the County of Urnst, Greyhawk, and Dyvers, either because of its following among the citizens, or because some of its inhabitants seek protection from criminals and other oppressors, although it does not have the favor of the government or military of these realms. The churches of St. Cuthbert and Hieroneous are fierce rivals especially in the military sphere; while the armies of the Duchy of Urnst, the Principality of Ulek, Keoland, Verbobonc and Gran March are generally ministered to by Cuthbertines, the Hieroneans enjoy the favor of Furyondy, the Shield Lands, and Nyrond, which are generally accorded to be the superior military forces. One of the endless disputes in Furyondian politics has to do with the favoring of St. Cuthbert by some provinces and of Hieroneous by others.
In lands ranging from Nyrond to Idee, Onnwal, Irongate and Sunndi, to the Sea Barons, Sea Princes, Lordship of the Isles, Sterich, the Yeomanry, Tenh, Blackmoor, the Nomads and the Ice, Frost and Snow Barbarians, St. Cuthbert is either unknown or has insignificant followings who must compete for influence with many other faiths. St. Cuthbert’s worship is banned in the old Great Kingdom of Aerdy, Northern Aerdy, Ahlissa, the See of Medegia, the Pale, Iuz, the Bandits, and the Horned Society.
St. Cuthbert’s most prominent temples in the Flanaess are found in Niole Dra, Dyvers, Greyhawk, Chendl, Verbobonc, Willip, Gorna, Hookhill, Gryrax, Leukish and Amundfort.
There exists considerable debate within the church about how it should carry out its activities in morally dubious lands, most notably the free cities of Greyhawk and Dyvers. Some churchmen (most notably the Stars, a branch of the church which seek to ensure doctrinal purity among the faith) claim that such establishments as brothels and whorehouses, and activities such as political graft and corruption, are sinful and should be resisted and stamped out at every opportunity.
Other clergy see this as contradicting the ideas that the laws of any given land, even one as decadent as Greyhawk, must be respected. Elements within the Chapeaux (a branch of the church which seeks out new converts) and the Billets (a branch of the church which ministers to the faithful) claim that this stirs up unnecessary enmity among various elements in society, that would otherwise seek to hinder the church’s activities. They claim that the church has enough obstacles as it is, without stirring up still more opposition that would otherwise have left them alone.
While there is broad agreement on the basic doctrine of the church, how it is put into practice is a matter of endless debate and discussion among Cuthbertines. Some (most notably within the Stars) claim that any who steal or disobey rules and laws claim that they should be punished, as to show leniency is a sign of weakness and moral lassitude. Others claim that people might be pushed into doing certain acts because of desperate circumstances-a man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family may not need to be punished so much as the repressive social elements, such as kings or nobles, that drive a man to such lengths, by imposing excessive taxes or forcing the family breadwinner to serve in the army, leaving his family to starve.
Similarly, some elements believe that many Chapeaux, in tailoring their interpretations and explanations of religious writings and teachings to respond to the different cultural mores and attitudes of different lands where they preach, corrupt the very meaning of St. Cuthbert’s teachings and beliefs. They claim that anyone with common sense should be able to understand and interpret the Cuthbertine teachings.
Many in the Chapeaux, for their part, respond that unless people can have the tenets of the church explained to them on their own terms, the message is lost and they will not respond. There exists as a result considerable tension between the Stars and the Chapeaux and Billets over such matters, all stemming essentially from how to put their god’s teachings into practice.
Even within the Stars, there are unorthodox factions who claim that too rigid an interpretation of Cuthbertine doctrine is oppressive and insensitive to the needs of its followers. They claim that it is the spirit of St. Cuthbert’s teachings, less than the actual hard and fast written word, that truly matters. They constantly monitor their fellow Cuthbertines as well as potential sources of evil and sin outside the faith, ready to respond to any instances of what they see as oppressiveness on the part of more orthodox clergymen.
Finally, there are elements within the church, influenced by contact with followers of Rao, who stress the need for forgiveness and redemption when dealing with sin, along with punishment. Too many people feel hurt and rejected by the church for having sinned, these clerics claim, and state that once penance has been served, people should be made to feel welcome within the flock once again, so that they may truly learn and overcome their transgressions.
St. Cuthbert’s clerics can adventure freely, and many of its youngest and most enthusiastic followers are encouraged to do so. This leaves the more restrained clergy to tend to the marriages, sermons, and counseling that is the business of most clerics in the Flanaess. As with Hieroneous, many adventurers also flock to St. Cuthbert’s faith, eager to spread the worship of their deity through word and deed. Clerics may associate with demihumans as they will, although they should have no truck with humanoids of any sort. Travel to lands where St. Cuthbert is banned or unknown is frowned upon, except as necessary for missionary work, fighting evil, serving one’s liege, or carrying out other activities as necessary. Even then, staying in such a place for a long time except as dictated by the needs of the task or to establish a temple and missionary work is viewed as a minor sin.
Using edged weapons, except the spikes on certain maces, morning stars and clubs, is a sin-Cuthbertines must wield bludgeoning weapons in imitation of their deity, seeking to keep bloodshed to a minimum. However, Cuthbertines may wear whatever armor they wish, and heavy metal armor is seen as a sign of prestige in the faith.
When adventuring, clerics should whenever possible preach and advertise the benefits of St. Cuthbert, although they are not expected to badger their constant traveling companions with their faith every five minutes. Rather, they should always set a sterling example of behavior for others to follow, showing that St. Cuthbert’s followers are mighty in both word and deed. Clerics must tithe half their treasure to the local Cuthbertine church, or to orphanages, poorhouses and other establishments meant to help the downtrodden if no church is established. Donations to establishments run by other faiths are grudgingly permitted if they are the only ones serving the needy in a given area, although if there is an orphanage or poorhouse with no religious backer, it should take priority over that run by another faith.
St. Cuthbert is said to smile on those who extol his virtues in both word and deed, inspire others to convert to his worship, work to eradicate evil and the sources of sin in society, give food, shelter and medical care to the poor, sick and downtrodden, help unfortunate souls regain meaning in their lives, enforce just laws and overcome those who would seek to destroy them, and defend the oppressed from those who are unjust and powerful and have violated the social contract, according to the different beliefs of the sect that the cleric belongs to.