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General Organisation of the Order -- 1. The Priesthood

by Bruce Heard

The Heldannic Order breaks down into four main branches: one military branch which is the tool of Heldannic territorial expansion, and three clerical branches. They are the Voice of Vanya handling general administration, the Hammer of Vanya responsible for enforcing the Order's laws and ensuring orthodoxy among the military, and the Heart of Vanya whose role is to create and interpret the Order's laws.

Voice of Vanya: The Grand Master also heads this branch. It handles the administration of the Order, which includes especially finances, acquisitions and management of property, diplomacy with foreign powers, and overall decision-making for the Order. The Voice of Vanya runs substantial banking operations under assumed names in Thyatis, Darokin and in the Isle of Dawn which funds the Order's activities. It also manages these funds and any taxes collected from occupied lands. The Voice of Vanya resides mostly in Freiburg. Several members of this branch are also present at the main garrison (Oceansend, Landfall, the Holy Citadel, etc.) All important garrison commanders and a great many of the high-ranking commanders in the military branch come from the Voice of Vanya. These garrisons remain under a Grand Knight's direct authority, including any ships based there. Overall, the influence of this branch among the entire Order is considerable.

Heart of Vanya: This branch is responsible for the communion with Vanya, which includes religious services at the temples, studying holy scriptures and other sources of knowledge, interpreting the will of Vanya through omens and meditation, defining what constitutes heretical behaviour, creating and maintaining the Order's internal laws and the laws of the land, and providing magistrates to settle internal and external issues. Priests of this branch are the scholars of the Order and also provide battlefield healers. The Heart of Vanya is based at the Holy Citadel, but the branch maintains an important presence at Freiburg. Priest of the Heart are also assigned to major garrisons. The Voice of Vanya does not control activities at the Heart of Vanya but may veto new laws it may come up with. If so, a council is called upon to resolve deadlocks, which requires the participation of all available Grand Knights and Abbots in the Order. Everyone has one vote, with a simple majority deciding the council's outcome.

Hammer of Vanya: It is this branch that gets the work done. An autonomous branch of the Order, it works with the Heart of Vanya from which it receives said laws and whose decisions it applies. The Hammer primarily enforces Heldannic Laws. Religious indoctrination among common soldiers in the military branch comes from the Hammer which also watches for unorthodox thinking in the Order. It is directly involved with rooting out heretical behaviour and directs the conversion of non- believers to the ways of the Order's Immortal Patron.

The Hammer controls the screening and recruitment of new soldiers among native population, either volunteers desiring to join the Order, or natives called upon to serve under the Heldannic banner. In the latter case, all households settled in Heldannic Territories and with more than one child, must provide one adult person, male or female, capable of bearing arms. Indentured service is mandatory and lasts ten years. The Hammer also reserves the right to elevate lay brethren to the rank of knight and accept acolytes among the clerical branches. Indentured soldiers cannot rise among the Order until they make an Oath of Service. Joining the Order is a life-long affair ending either with the knight's death in the service of Vanya or a banishment from the Order following a disgrace.

The Hammer maintains an important presence among the military, as each fighting unit has at least one Chaplain. In addition to the above duties, the Chaplain provides clerical magic during battles. A priest of the Hammer is present in each Company or Lance, in addition to secular troops. In general, priests of the Hammer of Vanya are experienced with combat and well equipped. They normally fight with a war hammer, a symbol that they use generously to expound the concepts and benefits of their faith. They are physically fit for warfare and often display a natural fire and brimstone leadership style. When serving a high-ranking priest, Sergeant-at-Arms may be chosen among Chaplains of the Hammer. Together with the Heart of Vanya, priests of the Hammer can balance out the power of the Voice during times of crisis. The sect of the Southern Star that guards Vanya's mortal remains at the Holy Citadel and her artifact, the Star of Vanya, is composed solely of priests of the Hammer.

It is possible for priests to transfer from one branch to another, depending on their experience and abilities. Priests of the Hammer who are too old to bear arms generally join the Heart of Vanya. Secular knights may become priests later in their career and join any of the three clerical branches, depending on their abilities.