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Council of Alphatian Templesby Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies
Worshipped in: Alphatian Empire
The Alphatians aren't known for their devotion to the gods nor for any particular religious spirit, given that ruling the empire is a caste of spell casters who only acknowledge the power of magic as discriminant and consider that the Immortals are nothing more than mortals who thanks to their own powers are able to attain a higher level of existence. For that reason the arcane aristocrats donít see the Immortals as a model of perfection, but as points of reference that can be followed in order to achieve a higher power. However, with the arrival of the Alphatians on Mystara, their relationship with religion has in some way changed, given also the low number of Alphatians that are born with a natural gift for arcane magic. Therefore it has spread among the common class a sort of religious fervour that has brought many individuals to take the vows and to swear fidelity to the Immortals, considered by the devoted not simply superhuman but truly omnipotent divinities. Thanks to the divine power of these clergymen most of the problems of the first period of the Alphatian colonisation of the continent were resolved, and with the institution of the Grand Council it was decided to honour and recognise the benefit of the ordained clerics that anyone who is capable of casting spells (arcane or divine) would be considered a noble. The result however, was that many were converted to the religion and take the vows in order to be considered nobles, even if this provoked a further fragmentation (even though unofficial) of the aristocratic class: on one side the high nobility (divided into pure spellcasters, that is the sorcerers, gifted with innate powers, and in trained spellcasters, that is the wizards, who have needed to undertake a course of study in order to learn the magical arts) and on the other the low nobility (the divine spellcasters, who need the power derived from the Immortals in order to cast spells).
With the proliferation of divine magic in the course of centuries, the Grand Council had started to recognise that the powers of the divine spellcasters were beginning to expand in a troublesome way, and for this the Emperor personally passed an edict approved by the Council which instituted the Council of Alphatian Temples, an organisation in which all the religious orders authorised by the crown could have its own representatives in order to organise and present their demands to the Grand Council and to the Emperor. However, with the Edict of Bettellyn enacted in 1030 AY (30 AC) by Alphas VI has also sanctioned the principle for which any religious order which isnít tolerated within the Council would be declared illegal, and thus couldnít practice its doctrine nor erect sanctuaries in honour of any Immortal subject to the authorisation of the local authority. In this way the Empire achieved two objectives: firstly effectively limiting the expansion of the clerical power, and secondly gather all the exponents of the various faiths in a single more easily controllable body. It was thus that through the Council of Alphatian Temples every nation of the Alphatian continent gained its own patron Immortal, and that some of the greatest Immortals became universal ďprotectorsĒ of the various periods of the year and of the different schools of magic, resuming an outdated custom in vogue in Old Alphatia.
At the moment temples exist devoted to various Immortals in every Alphatian kingdom, even if none of these orders can be considered international. This means that the Temple of Razud of Vertiloch and that of Arogansa for example, even though they worship the same Immortal donít recognise a single patriarch, but each nation is headed by its own high cleric who represents the interests of that church within the Council. It can therefore assist to a chaotic dialogue among followers of the same Immortal concerning bureaucratic, political and religious questions, which prevents the members of the religious caste from getting a real unity of goals and visions. Indeed it is often more probable to see alliances between exponents of several faiths belonging to the same nation rather than between clerics of the same deity of different kingdoms, based on achieving common objectives or to maintain their privileges. This is another secondary effect of the creation of the Council, a situation that reflects the fundamental chaotic and individualist character typical of the Alphatian Empire.
Every temple of each kingdom among those officially approved thus has the task of electing its own representative to act as its spokesperson in the Council. His task is participating at the Council meetings in order to decide on questions of political, theological and economical nature bound to the religious orders, keeping the brothers up to date and suggesting religious missions that should also be financed by the other churches. The envoy can change year by year, and it hasnít always been the most powerful cleric, but assuredly must be someone extremely charismatic, an individual who can successfully exploit the political and economic support of the church in order to address the orientation of the Council. Then the Council, after having reached an agreement about some important matter by a majority vote, sends its request to the Lord Chancellor for Religious Affairs (one of the ministers who aids the Emperor in the administering Alphatian politics*) He evaluates it and, if he thinks it's worthwhile he takes it to the Emperor who will decide what to do unless it concerns about international matters (in which case the Grand Council is convened). In turn, only the Lord Chancellor has the power of advancing the question of admission to the Council of a new religious order (an application that must be approved by the relative majority of the Council), and is responsible for the collection of the tithes and of the definition of the privileges that each national temple receives from the imperial crown in exchange of the tithe and of the performance of its services. In particular, there havenít been demands of admission to the Council for new orders in over 400 years, and the actual representatives of the recognised church are extremely loath to admit new religions, given that according to a by now ingrained custom in time it would be necessary to associate the divinity to one of the states of the motherland, which however are already all sponsored by an Immortal. The discussions about it have been going on in the Council for several centuries and are pressing the annual demands of the clergymen of Ka, of Garal and of the humanoid and demihuman Immortals, but they still havenít reached an accord about the eventuality of admitting new orders. This is why that at the moment the Council of Alphatian Temples is virtually closed to any new religious faith.
Pantheon of the School of Magic and of the Months
The pantheon of the school of magic has been created based on an assumed link between each type of discipline and the recognised peculiarity of the Immortal. Furthermore, inasmuch as the Alphatian mages believe that the flow of magic which permeates Mystara is variable and that each month is associated with a certain type of effect (that is in that month that type of school is strongest), which also results in each month being linked to the same Immortal who presides over that genre of magic.
Itís not surprising that besides the eight known canonical schools of magic, the Alphatians also acknowledge another four elemental schools, a legacy of the arcane philosophy of Old Alphatia, according to which the universe could be exactly divided in the four fundamental elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Therefore like in Old Alphatia there exists four arcane orders devoted to each form of magic, this tradition has also been maintained in the Alphatian Empire, even if these schools are nevertheless much smaller than in the past (memories of the at first philosophical and later real battles that caused the destruction of the Alphatians original planet). Furthermore, whereas once each school only recognised its own Elemental Lord as a superior entity, from the moment of the constitution of the Council the four Immortal patrons of the elemental schools changed, and in agreement with the arcane aristocrats they have chosen to think highly of Immortals (well known both among the commoners and the nobles), who likewise have a strong bond with the chosen element.
Finally, there is an Immortal who is considered the enemy of the pantheon of the magic, or Talitha, the Thief of Magic, whose cult is disliked both by the Council of Alphatian Temples and by the Council of 1000, seeing that she is an Immortal who has frequently acted against Alphatian interests and she has always shown dislike to the aristocracy of the spellcasters. Given her nefarious influence, she is also considered the patroness of the Day Without Magic (an event that has happened occasionally because of the influence by the Nucleus of the Spheres that sucks in the Mystaran magic, and that after the events of the Fury of the Immortals happens with regular precision on the 28th of Burymir, renamed the Day of Dread).
Abjuration: Alphatia (Alphamir)
Enchantment: Valerias (Vertmir)
Divination: Ssu-Ma (Sulamir)
Evocation: Pharamond (Hastmir)
Illusion: Eiryndul (Eimir)
Invocation: Razud (Cyprimir)
Necromancy: Nyx (Nyxmir)
Transmutation: Zirchev (Burymir)
Water: Protius (Amphimir)
Air: Palartarkan (Islamir)
Fire: Ixion (Andrumir)
Earth: Terra (Sudmir)
Enemy: Talitha the Thief of Magic (Day Without Magic)
The following Immortals are those officially recognised by the Council of Alphatian Temples, and each has its own religious order thatís part of the Council. The association between nation and Immortal has subsequently been established based on the importance of each temple in the kingdoms of continental Alphatia, thus consider every Immortal as protector of one kingdom in particular. Naturally also in this case one divinity exists that is considered an enemy of all the Empire, or the protector of the Volcano of Alphaks, whose only interest is the complete destruction of the Alphatian population. Also for this reason, the island known as the Volcano of Alphaks is considered cursed and avoided by anyone with an ounce of good sense, given that the rumours that surround it consider it to be full of cultists of the ancient emperor and of innumerable monsters.
However there are no Immortal patrons of the so-called ďprovincesĒ (that are all the kingdoms and protectorates outside of the Alphatian continent), given that the Council of Alphatian Temples is limited to carrying out its own activities to the continent and its sphere of influence doesnít extend beyond its own borders. The provinces have therefore full autonomy in the management of religious questions, such as having to define the type of legislation and judicial administration they prefer (as any of the kingdoms of the continent, of the rest).
Floating Ar: Palartarkan
Randel: Eternal General
Theranderol: Pangloss (Ssu-Ma)
Enemy: Alphaks the Destroyer (Volcano of Alphaks)
*In the Alphatian government, all the power is in the hands of the Emperor/Empress, who obviously must be an Alphatian arcane spellcaster of great strength. He can be opposed only by the Council of Thousand, a permanent council of a thousand arcane spellcasters that have attained a certain level of power and who for the majority are the descendents of the first council formed following the union of the Alphatian continent and at the proclamation of the first Emperor.
The powers of the emperor are vast but not limitless, because by a Council's decree he must give large autonomy to every king or queen. There are therefore some of the imperial laws and a national and international policy advanced by the emperor, but for the rest every state makes its own laws, provided that the aforementioned regulations donít threaten the existence of the empire.
The Emperor doesnít personally manage all the imperial bureaucracy. He makes use of a cabinet of ministers which he personally nominates at the start of his office and can change at will. These are the offices accorded by the crown:
Lord Councillor for Internal Affairs
Lord Councillor for External Affairs
Lord Councillor for Planar Affairs
Lord Councillor for Arcane Affairs
Lord Councillor for Religious Affairs
Lord Councillor for Fiscal Affairs
Lord Councillor for Economic and Mercantile Affairs
Lord Councillor for Military Affairs
Lord Councillor for Judicial Affairs
Lord Councillor for Legislative Affairs