The Aldric Universal Church
In the days of the old human Empire, the Aldric Universal Church was the religious arm of the state. After the Empire was destroyed in the War of the Rift, the Church survived more or less intact in the inner seas region. It has political support among many kings of the region, and has significant political power of it’s own.
The Church recognizes all the deities listed in the core books, and the multitude of lesser gods & spirits as well. Pelor may be considered the patron of the Church as a whole, and is the most popular deity in most of its temples, but he is regarded more as the first among equals of the pantheon.
The Church’s foremost functions are making sure the gods are appeased, and maintaining the social order. It is also a guardian against evil forces, and a source of protection and comfort for the weak. The Church is not dogmatic and does not seek to convert people to a particular belief, but it does seek to extend its influence, and will oppose other cults that are seen as disruptive or destructive.
Temples are where people go to honor the gods with sacrifices or devotions. They are run by a priest or priestess (or several), who performs the rituals and instructs petitioners on right living and ways to gain favor from the gods or avoid their ire. A temple may be dedicated to one particular god or several. The Church maintains many temples throughout the inner seas region especially, but there are many independent temples, as well.
Nobles, guilds, or other prominent persons & organizations sponsor the construction and running of a temple both as an act of piety, and to garner prestige. The lord of a city is responsible for the temple of its patron deity. Revenue from offerings offset the cost of a temple, and may even make it a profitable business. Smaller villages or lesser gods may have only a shrine instead of a full-fledged temple. Usually, caretaking of shrines is performed by volunteers from the community.
High priests oversee the junior clerics at larger temples, and sometimes oversee rural parishes from a market town. Bishops oversee Church matters in each city, county or similar district under Church influence. They have authority over parishes and orders within their diocose. The temple serving as their seat of power is a cathedral.
Ranking above the bishops are 12 archbishops, who collectively form the Holy Council. They elect their own members from the ranks of bishops, and appoint new bishops when there is a vacancy. Each archbishop is responsible for a certain aspect of church operations (theology, doctrines/regulations, finances, protection/war, records, internal affairs/justice, artifacts, etc.). The Holy Council meets in Arcadia.
The last Prelate (the highest office of authority in the Church) was killed in the War of the Rift when the Grand Cathedral was destroyed. Out of respect, a new Prelate has not been appointed since. Bishops and Archbishops are accorded the same status as the nobility, while ordained clerics are ranked alongside the aristocracy.
Within the Church are many sub-organizations, usually dedicated to a specific purpose. To be legitimate, an order must be sponsored by an archbishop and approved by the Holy Council. Many orders dedicate themselves to venerating a particular deity, though that does not make them opposed to other deities. Some of the more influential orders are listed below:
- Order Hospitalar: provides healing and healthcare
- The Paladins: defenders of the faith, and purveyors of justice
- The Inquisition: detectives & spies for the Church, as well as investigating internal affairs
- Order of Seekers: maintain records & libraries, discuss theology & astronomy, maintain communication network
- The Friars: wandering beggar priests
- Order of Bacchians: patrons of the arts, support hedonistic festivals and temple prostitutes
- Order of the Golden Flame:
Created: 2009.06.14 – Modified: 2009.07.11
The church is obviously modeled in part after the medieval Catholic Church, and has much of the same feel, despite being polytheistic. You shouldn’t read too much into it though, as the Arekhanian Church has it’s own unique history and beliefs, and shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on real-world Catholicism or anything else.