Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Church

Under the hood:  There is more than a passing resemblance between the Church of the All-Father and the Medieval Catholic Church.  This is somewhat intentional, as I wanted a recognizable face of the faith to give the players something concrete to relate to.  Outside of superficial conventions, the resemblance stops there.  My portrayal of the Church of the All-Father has nothing to do with any thoughts I have or comments I might make about religion.

Oh, and just because I have to give credit where credit is due, the genesis of the Church came from some of Raggi's Church of All from the No Dignity in Death module.  I like to think I've taken it in a different direction, but the initial seed was planted by our favorite metalhead from Finland.

The Church of the All-Father is the all-pervasive religion in the Kingdom of Greatholm.  Its hand touches every aspect of life in the kingdom, having ascended to primacy after the Sterling Potentate's polytheistic faith fled them during the great and noble rebellion led by King Simon I, which re-established the Kingdom four generations ago.  Under the watchful guidance of the Archbishop of Westleigh, the Church of the All-Father is the single largest landowner in the kingdom after the Royal Family, with all church land exempt from tax and feudal obligation.  For the most part, this means that various monasteries operate as independent estates and that churches are separate from the land they minister.  In some cases, like the Westleigh Archdiocese and the Starfall Protectorate, there are huge areas of land under church control.

The head of the Church of the All-Father, based at Warwick Abbey, which is near Whitehaven.  The Patriarch also serves as the spiritual adviser to the King.  The Patriarch serves until death, when the Secretary of State ascends to the Patriarchy.  The current Patriarch is His Holiness Industry II, who has served for 18 years.
Title: His Holiness <<Apostolic Name>>.  The Apostolic Name is chosen from the list of the seven Virtues: Charity, Chastity, Humility, Industry, Kindness, Patience, Temperance, followed by a numeric title.  You would refer to the Patriarch as "Your Holiness."

There are six Archbishops of the All-Father--The Secretary of State (the Patriarch's minister of affairs), the Archbishop Penitentiary (responsible for matters of Canonical Law), and the Archbishops of Ballykin, Beckby, Westleigh, and Whitehaven.  Then the Secretary of State ascends to the Patriarchy, the remaining five choose the new Secretary of State and then the new Archbishop to replace the vacancy.
Title: His Eminence <<name>> and either the title (in the case os the Secreatry or Penitentiary) or the location they are in charge of.
Example: His Eminence, Thomas Penitentiary.  You would refer to him as "Your Eminence."
Bishops serve many different roles in the Church, most notably heading up various dioceses across the Kingdom.  When an area is either too populous or distant for the Archbishops to effectively control, they will establish a Diocese, with a Bishop in charge.  There are also numerous Bishops serving the Archbishops and Patriarchs in differing capacities.  Many Apostolic and Archepiscopal Vicars are promoted to Bishop after considerable service.  Most promoted in that way are given a Diocese, but others remain on as elite agents.
Title: His Excellency, the Most Reverend <<Name>> of <<Area of Service>> agents and staff members will refer to either the Apostolic Court or their Diocese as their area of service.
Example: The Bishop of Wickster would be referred to as His Excellency, the Most Reverend Henry of Wickster, and addressed as Your Excellency.
Abbots and Abbesses are the heads of the different Abbeys throughout the kingdom.  There is only one Abbot or Abbess per Abbey.
Title: The Right Reverend <<name>> of <<abbey>>, addressed as Father/Mother
Example: The Right Reverent Simon of Houndswick Abbey.  Addressed as "Father Simon."
Vicars serve as representatives of higher powers within the Church.  An Apostolic Vicar is a personal servant of the Patriarch, Archiepiscopal Vicars serve Archbishops and Episcopal Vicars serve Bishops.  Agents of other Church officials do not merit a vicarage.
Title: The Very Reverend <<name>> of <<who they serve>>
Example: A servant of the Archbishop of Beckby would be known as The Very Reverend Geoffrey Long of the Beckby Archdiocese and you would call him "Father" or "Father Geoffrey."
Canons are the heads of the non-monastic or militant orders of the Church, as well as senior (non-episcopal) functionaries within the Apostolic Court.  The heads of seminaries, senior episcopal staff, etc. serve as Canons. 
Title: The Reverend Canon <<name>>
Example:  The head of Beckby Seminary is The Reverend Canon Roger Cooper.  He is referred to as either "Canon" or "Canon Roger."
Most Priests are Parish Priests, administering the faithful in a village.  Others serve as junior ministers in the larger cathedrals in the towns or cities.  Fewer still make up the Itinerant Order, traveling the land in the All-Father's name.
Title: The Reverend Father <<name>>
Example: The church in Sodbury is led by The Reverend Father Robert Evelyn, referred to as "Father Robert."
Brothers and Sisters are members of the church who are not formally ordained, but live under vows.  All members of the religious classes begin play at this level.  PCs of other classes can also take the religious vows and be in this caste.  If one of the PCs is a Cleric serving as a Vicar, it is likely that the Church would want the rest of his party to be Brothers and Sisters.  They are addressed as "Mister" or "Madam."
Seminarians are the students at the Seminaries around the Kingdom.  They are referred to as either "Mister" or "Madam."

What does this mean for the characters?  Well, what follows are road maps for Clerics in Greatholm.  Mystics and Paladins will get the same treatment in future articles, which will detail the Monastic and Militant Orders.

CLERICS (Itinerant Path)
Level 1-2: Most PC Clerics who begin play at Level 1 will be Brothers or Sisters of the Itinerant Order of the All-Father.    They are charged to travel the Kingdom and do the All-Father's work.  They may ask for meager food and lodging at Church facilities, typically no more than a mat on the floor and a servant's portion of gruel, in return for service (cleaning and the like, although it could serve as a hook for adventures).  This courtesy does not apply to the Cleric's fellows unless the head of the facility is interested in using all of the PC's fellows as agents of the church.
Levels 3-7: At 3rd Level, the PC will be frocked as a Priest of the Itinerant Order.  He would have the option of taking a Domestic Parish, but that would then change the character to the Domestic Path.  As an Itinerant Priest, the Cleric gains better treatment when asking for food and lodging.  Within reasonable limits, the rest of the Priest's associates will be granted the food and lodging as a Brother with minimal questions asked.  Also, this stage is the soonest that a Cleric could be made a Vicar.  If the PC is made a Vicar, they will gain a powerful patron at the cost of the obligations inherent in the role.
Level 8+:  At 8th Level, the PC gains the ability to found a church (Actually, an abbey) and gains all of the benefits noted in the Adventures Dark & Deep Player's Manual.  The Priest is given the title of Abbott and gains an estate and followers.  Any abbeys founded will be in the wilderness, far from the bulk of civilization.  Once founded, the abbey and its estate will be considered Church Land (and not that of the King), which is another reason why you will not be able to establish a stronghold in any of the existing civilized areas.  A possible exception to this outcome is to allow a PC to take over an existing abbey or even a Diocese.

CLERICS (Domestic Path)
Level 1-2:  PC Clerics who are tied to a particular Church begin play as Brothers of the Domestic Order of the All-Father.  They are servants of the Priest of the local church (or possibly a Bishop or Archbishop), which limits their adventuring possibilities considerably.  If this path is taken, then the campaign will likely be focused on the PCs service to the church.
Levels 3-7:  At this stage, PC Clerics will be ordained as Priests, granting them either their own church or an increased role in one of the cathedrals.  This will tie the Priest to his church or cathedral, again limiting the range of adventure.
Levels 8+:  Any PCs that achieve 8th Level as a Domestic Priest will be strong contenders for a Diocese.  If using the stronghold rules, the newly-frocked Bishop can establish a new Diocese in an expanding part of the Kingdom.  As the head of a Diocese, the Bishop will be incredibly busy with his subordinate churches.

Note: The further political advancement of Clerics to Archbishop or higher is outside the scope of this article and should be handled as a case-by-case basis by the GM.