The Church of Darokin

The Church of Darokin
by Marco Dalmonte 
Pantheon of the Church 

Major: Asterius (Head): Patron of Money, Trade and Communications, Thieves 
Very Minor: Tarastia: Patron of Justice and Honesty 
Minor: The Twelve Watchers: Patrons of Crafts and Work 
personal cults : Valerias: Patroness of Love and Charity 
personal cults Tyche:  Patroness of Luck & Fortune 

General Description of the Church 
Darokin is "a land of leftovers" and the Church of Darokin reflects this mishmash of cultures and faiths. The Immortals worshipped by the church are all in friendly terms among them and above all some of them have been largely followed in Darokin long before the foundation of the Church itself, so they are well liked by the Darokinians. 
Asterius is the unchallenged Head of the Pantheon, since he's always been the most revered deity in Darokin (as patron of Trade and Communications, the basis of the Darokinian society). The First Patriarch who founded the Church back in AC 930 is himself a devout priest of Asterius: he realised that to unite the Darokinians from the religious point of view he would have needed a strong religious figure to take as an example, and Asterius the Trader was the best candidate. 
However, he also understood that the Church of Darokin should have been a polytheistic cult in order to incarnate the real spirit of the nation, a country based on the multiracial integration. This way he also added to the pantheon the other Immortals who best embodied the ideals of Darokin: freedom, honesty, sacrifice and equality. 
Darokin is the most advanced, democratic and liberal state in the Known World (and possibly on Mystara). Almost every church has at least one "mission" in Darokin's territory, (mostly) peacefully competing and coexisting. Usually there are clerics from different orders in towns large enough to support several clerics. They generally engage in petty competition, but they share the same general goals of prosperity and protection for the villages. The Church of Darokin embodies the epithet of the "typical Darokinian church", and draws many traditions from the other faiths affiliated to it. But this doesn't mean that the Church of Darokin worships ALL of these Immortals (it would not last much if it put side to side a cleric of Koryis and one of Thor, for example). The Church of Darokin worships those immortals that most embodies the "spirit of the nation", a spirit of freedom, sacrifice, equality and endurance against the adversities. Asterius,  the Twelve Watchers and Valerias are the ones that fit this role. 
As a final note, it must be said that the Church of Darokin is not the most powerful church of the Old World, nor it is much widespread (aside from Darokin itself), mainly because it is a church founded FOR the Darokinians. It is surely the most important in the Republic, however the Church of Darokin is NOT the official state religion, because Darokin has no state religion whatsoever: this way nobody gets offended or can be punished for what is normally believed a very personal matter. The Church respects the right to worship other faiths, but it constantly tries to "direct people on the right way" as much as the other cults do. However, it will never issue a holy crusade against a nation or a faith just because it goes against the Church's precepts, unless it threatens directly Darokin or the very existence of the Church of Darokin. 
The common vestment of the cleric of the Church is a besant tunic with a golden circle on the upper torso. Each cleric uses the holy symbol of its deity. 
History of the Church 
The Church of Darokin is a young church much like that of Karameikos. It dates back to the X century and was founded in AC 930 by father Simon Stone, a priest of Asterius, who is now its High Patriarch. 
The different Immortals worshipped by the Church became popular in Darokin in different periods. The most ancient one is obviously Asterius, whose faith dates back to the I century AC, when the first merchants began to prosper and to grow in power under the protection of the elves and of the Eastwind dynasty. Khoronus was known as the main Immortal revered by the Eastwind Kings during their reign, and its cult spread wide in the Streel Valley during the I and II century, even though it later lost importance when the Eastwind dynasty ended and the merchants became more prominent. Valerias is the worldwide Patroness of Love and she was already worshipped in Darokin at the same time Asterius was, probably brought there by some Thyatian priests. The Twelve Watchers were already known and worshipped in Darokin by all the workers (much like Asterius) during the Attleson dynasty, while Koryis' faith was first introduced in Darokin by fleeing Alphatians (Koryis is an Alphatian deity in origin) in the IX century AC (after the Ylari kicked them off the Alayisian Basin) and later by Ochalean priests who came to Darokin at the beginning of the X century. 
Diulanna's faith was the last addition to the pantheon, brought to Darokin in the X century by Thyatian immigrants coming from the Hinterlands who settled in the forested borderlands along the Alfheim border. 
The High Patriarch of the Church is an old wizened man in his eighties named Simon Stone, who happens to be also the founder of the Church. He is a cleric of Asterius who felt the need to unify the faiths of his beloved land to make the citizens feel more akin and closer to each other and to destroy any possible cultural and ethnic barrier still present in Darokin after the Great Merger. He founded the Church at the age of 30 and has subsequently assumed many potions of Longevity in his youth to fight against the passing of time only for one reason: to accomplish his dream. 
After the Church of Darokin has affirmed itself as the most prominent in Darokin, he stopped drinking potions and continued to age normally. He is now 83 (real age 115) and has already chosen his successor, a promising cleric  in his thirties. The current patriarch will surely die before AC 1020. 
Organisation of the Church 
The Church is ruled by its High Patriarch (currently Simon Stone, C36 of Asterius), who is helped by a Council of Cardinals, past Archbishops representing all the regions of Darokin (very similar to Darokin political government). The High Patriarch also has a special adviser called Holy Legate (currently Lino Volterra, C14 ) that helps him in the bureaucratic affairs and examining diplomatic and religious issues presented weekly by the Cardinals. 
The Holy Legate is personally chosen by the High Patriarch among his more experienced clerics (of level 10th or higher) and he is destined to become the new High Patriarch at the death of the current one. There are only three exceptions to this rule: 
1. If the Holy Legate dies before the succession. In this case, if the High Patriarch is still alive, he chooses a substitute. Otherwise if he's dead already, the Council of Cardinals  votes to elect the new High Patriarch (there must be a majority of two thirds of the voting members to elect the Patriarch). 
2. If the High Patriarch decides he is not worthy anymore to succeed him. In this case he simply chooses another successor and has the right to abstain from giving any reasons for his decision. 
3. If at the death of the High Patriarch the Council of Cardinals  decides (with a majority of two thirds as explained above) the Holy Legate is not worthy of the position. In this case however, the Council MUST explain the reasons for this decision and the voting must be based on the reasons and proofs put forward by the detractors of the Holy Legate (that's to say: no proofs of his faults, no motion against him can be passed). 
There is one Archbishop for each major city of the Republic (with a population of 10,000 or more) for a total of seven Cardinals in the Council (the Archbishop of Darokin City is the High Patriarch himself who also lives there). The Archbishops administrate the religious and commercial business of the Archdiocese they represent, which is made up of smaller Bishoprics each one administered by a Bishop. The cardinals  have  the power to impeach the election of a new High Patriarch and to issue new proclamations or religious laws (majority of two thirds of the voting members needed), which must then be approved also by the Patriarch (he has the power to veto anything). The Archbishops are elected from among the Bishops of a specific Archdiocese by all the other Bishops. The one that obtains the most votes wins the title. The Archbishop remains in charge until his death or until he is expelled by the Council or by the High Patriarch for some strong reason (in this case even the Patriarch needs a reason to exhautorate an Archbishop). The Archbishop must be at least 9th level in power to be elected. 
There is one Bishop for each Heartland inhabited by Darokinians, for a total of 33 Bishops. Each one administrates the religious and commercial business of the Bishopric he's in charge of and must always answer to his direct superior, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese his Bishopric belongs to. The Bishops have the power to ordain Priests and to publicly boycott those firms or individuals that go against the preachings of the Church and that threaten it or Darokin. For stronger and legal actions they must first ask permission to the Archbishop and then sue the offender legally (using Diplomats or Judges). The Bishops are chosen by the Archbishop that rules the bishopric they belong to among available the Priests of level 7th or higher. The Bishops remain in charge until they die or they are promoted to Archbishop or they are expelled from the clergy (see above). To become a Bishop a cleric must have reached at least 7th level and there must be a vacant charge, of course. 
There is usually one (or more) Priest(s) for each village (with a population of 300 or higher) in Darokin, and each Priest has one or more Acolytes that help him. The Priest attends the ordinary and daily duties of the common cleric: he visits the followers to help them, he preaches every day during the holy mass to strengthen the faith of his parishioners, he attends the sick ones and offers solace to those who ask for it. He is also the spokesman of the common people when dealing with the hierarchy of the Church and can present petitions of any kind or any other request to his superiors (the Bishop or Archbishop -even though some Bishops don't particularly like to be stepped over). The Priest can enlist new Acolytes inside the order and teach them the basis of the faith in order to let them become priests in the future. Finally, he is the first defender of the village and of the Republic and must always show this to other people with his actions. The Priests are automatically ordained by their Bishop when they reach 3rd level and they are usually given the duty to found a new parish. If no villages are big enough to become a parish inside the Bishopric, then the Priest is allowed to move to another Bishopric or Archdiocese (thus changing the superiors he must answer to) or to become a missionary in another country or to stay within an already existing parish to help its Priest(s). No more than four priests are allowed to live in a single parish, though. A cleric must reach the 3rd level to be a Priest. 
Finally, on the lowest step of the ladder of the clergy there are the Acolytes, the novices who want to become priests of the Church and study with a priest to obtain the required experience. They have no powers basically and must always obey the priests, helping him in his businesses and in turn he teaches them the precepts of the faith and the way to become a good cleric. The Acolytes must petition a Priest to enter the church and the priest has the right to choose or reject the applicants. A priest cannot have more than five acolytes with him. The Acolytes are always cleric of 1st or 2nd level and must not leave the priest until they reach 3rd level and are ordained Priest of the Church of Darokin. If they do go away they cannot enter the Church anymore, but this doesn't mean they will loose the clerical powers they've gained, provided they continue to worship and work for the Immortal they've chosen. 

Wandering Priests of the Church 

The Church of Darokin does not allows the existence of wandering priests, clerics that do not stay within a specific parish or Archdiocese but roam around the world trying to spread their gods beliefs become beholden to their god rather than church structure. It does not really "encourages" them to take this road, because they feel that the priests should better stay and work for the welfare of Darokin. However the clergy know that it is its duty to spread the word of their Immortals, and for this only reason it permits the clerics who ask for it to go around the world in what is commonly referred as "cathechistic mission". The Wandering Priests (Missionaries) must have reached at least 3rd level to leave their parish.  They may return to the church but their previous postion may be taken and a new position may have to be found.

Ethics of the Church 

The Head of the Church Pantheon is Asterius, and the Ring of Darokin is open to every Immortal who has a particular love for that country (the Twelve Watchers are only Initiate but they/he is a distinguished member as his other Hierarch colleagues). 
The Church exists to help Darokinians (or anyone else) live together in spite of the differences existing between them. The Church teaches to tolerate others, to work for the community and the welfare of the state and to behave honestly, because only the honest and trustworthy people will be rewarded both in this life and in the afterlife. 
The Church also operates many hostels for the beggars and the poor people unable to find a work (few in Darokin, so it's an easy job). 

The Afterlife 

The Church of Darokin teaches his followers to worship all the Immortal Patrons, and each one has a heaven for the souls to go in the afterlife.  each believer will go to the heaven he mostly deserved basing on his actions in this life (for example: if he helped maintain or restore peace, he could go to Koryis', Valerias' or Asterius' heaven -Asterius is patron of communication and this is the basis for every peace talk). This is the list of the heavens: 
Asterius (Patron of Trade and Communication): Crystal Halls Koryis (Patron of Peace and Prosperity): Fields of Dreams Tarastia (Patron of Justice and Honesty): Bright Kingdom The Twelve Watchers (Patrons of Crafts and Work): City of Perfection Valerias (Patroness of Love and Charity): Palace of Roses Khoronus (Patron of Time, Wisdom): Vale of Eternity Diulanna (Patron of Will and Courage): Hall of the Radiant Heart 
But what happens to those who don't live up to the beliefs of the faith? The Church of Darokin condemns more the false believers than the non-believers: in fact, the first ones have sworn to follow and to worship the Immortals but they haven't done it at all, whereas the second ones may not follow the immortals' ways, but at least they never pretended to. So there will be punishment for those who trespass against immortal laws, be they believers or non-believers. 
Among non-believers, those who acted following the Church principles even without worshipping Immortals will be given a second chance to recognises their error and to bow to the greater powers: they will be reborn on this land until they swear fealty to one immortal. 
Believers will be given another chance to prove themselves worthy of the heavens and will be reborn on the world (Outer Plane) where the heavens exist: there they will have to overcome adversities and find their way to the Immortal Heaven before the end of their life, or they will be condemned to wander forever outside of the heaven, being allowed to see what they lost but not to enter. They will then live in a state of non-life, which will be somewhat between life and undeath, free to act as they will until the time will come when the Immortal will forgive them all and open the doors of his heaven to these lost souls. 
Non-believers will instead be sent to Limbo, where they will linger forever trying to escape the fiends and demoniac beings that prowl that desolated world, without hope for a better tomorrow. 
NOTE 1: According to Bruce Heard's articles on Dragon, Limbo is where people not faithful to their beliefs go. The Church of Darokin identifies this place with the Hell of non-believers because it's populated by those who didn't follow their moral and ethic beliefs and who are now condemned to live as independent people, detached from the deities and from each other. There could be no worse place for a church that preaches communion, peace and friendliness among people. To the Church of Darokin Limbo is basically a big representation of the real world clouded in a perpetual dusk by a cap of dust. The inhabitants cannot see each other clearly, thus they cannot distinguish clearly between other souls and demoniac spirits that haunts that wasteland, and so they live in constant fear. 
NOTE 2: of course, what happens to non-believers is highly debatable, since this category comprises all the atheists (and there are many). This is just what the clerics think, not necessarily what really happens. As for other religions, the Church of Darokin tolerates them as long as they don't preach beliefs or an ethic code that go against the church principles. 
Resurrection and Undead 
According to the Church of Darokin beliefs, real followers have only one chance in life to prove they're worthy of the Immortals' reward (heaven). Thus the priests of the Church are forbidden to Raise or Resurrect any dead believer: after all, they have already been judged by the Immortals once they died, and the priests cannot oppose the immortals' will in any way. Any priest discovered to perform such a ritual will be expelled immediately from the Church. However, the priests are not forbidden to Raise non-believers, especially because they will then have the chance to convert the non-believer and to make him see the true faith. They will usually try to know the way the non-believer acted in his life and the way he died, and only after evaluating the pros and cons he will judge if there can still be hope for his soul or not. This way, about a week will usually pass before a priest of the Church of Darokin decides whether to raise a person or not. 
For the same reason, the enemy of the Church is the Undead race. The priests of Asterius and Khoronus in particular fight a personal crusade to eradicate this plague from the face of the world, considering undead no more than souls that have been negated their final judgment and who defy the natural laws of the universe. It is their duty to put these restless dead to sleep once and for all, both for their sake and for the livings'. The priests of the Church refuse to Animate or Speak with the Dead because it is considered immoral and unclean to meddle with the afterlife. The followers respect and pay tribute to their beloved dead ones, but they must never try to communicate with them nor to bring them to life again, because this way they will negate them what the Immortals have arranged for them. 
For these reasons, the priests that belong to the Church of Darokin have not access to the spells Speak with the Dead and Animate Dead, getting instead the use of Protection from Poison (3rd level Druids' spell) and Control Temperature 10' radius (4th level Druids' spell). 

The Church of Darokin

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