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Church of Darokin

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Darokin, Alfheim, Sind, Thyatis, Ierendi, Karameikos

Asterius - Trade, communication, money, cleverness
Koryis - Peace, prosperity, diplomacy
Twelve Watchers - Arts and crafts
Khoronus - Wisdom, history, philosophy, good government, loyalty, patience
Thanatos - Death, oblivion, corruption

The Church of Darokin is the official religion of the Republic, although it has never been proclaimed the national religion by the Darokinian government. This means that the authorities do not compel the Darokinians to exclusively worship the Immortals of the Church of Darokin, and indeed the church itself is tolerant towards all other religions present in the Republic provided that they prove of public benefit. Darokin is in fact full of temples and single churches dedicated to the Immortals (also independent religious orders that worship the Immortals of the Church of Darokin’s pantheon), in which the citizens can freely follow their own religion.
Darokin is a “land of rejects”, as its inhabitants love to define themselves as, and therefore the Church of Darokin could not reflect this incredible mix of faiths and cultures. The Immortals worshipped within the church’s pantheon are all in peaceful relationships between themselves and above all have always shown a particular interest for the population and territory of the Republic, achieving a discreet number of faithful from the inhabitants from before the foundation of the church.
Asterius is the undisputed leader of the pantheon, and has always remained the Immortal most followed by the Darokinians for his abilities as patron of trade, of money, of communication and of diplomacy (which is the basis on which the modern Darokinian culture was formed). The First Patriarch who founded the church in 892 AC, Simon Stone, was a devout follower of Asterius. He understood that if he wanted to unite the various truths of faiths present in Darokin; he would, however, have to use a common or accepted point of reference by all: Asterius the Merchant was obviously the best candidate for the role, and his intuition was revealed founded. However, he understood also that the Church of Darokin should have been a polytheistic cult in order to embody the real spirit of the nation, a country based on the multiracial integration. This way he also added to the pantheon the other Immortals that best expressed the ideals of Darokin: freedom, sacrifice, work, diplomacy, education and equality.
Darokin is the most democratic and liberal state of the Known World. Almost all official churches have at least one “mission” in the Republic’s territory, and they (mostly) peacefully compete and co-exist to spread the faith, advancing the objective of protecting the Darokinian population. The Church of Darokin embodies the epithet of the "typical Darokinian church", and draws many myths and ceremonies from the other faiths affiliated to it, but in its pantheon were sure to gather only those Immortals that embody “the spirit of the nation”, or rather Asterius, Koryis, Khoronus and the Twelve Watchers. The religion is spread mainly within the national borders, just because it is thought in order to satisfy the religious requirements of the Darokinians and cement the nationalist spirit. The pivotal point of the doctrine of the Just is just that it is easier for the faithful achieve salvation inside of the Republic, considered the blessed earth by some and the only one in which everyone can realise their dreams of freedom and prosperity. However, this is not the state religion, since the Darokinian laws impose the absence of one such institution in order to defend the religious rights of everyone, considering this a personal matter and not one for the state. The Church of Darokin, therefore, respects the religious freedom of the other faiths and it’s preaching is aimed to avoid persecution towards those who have various religious inclinations, also unless emphasised as the way dictated by the personal patriarch to be the only one that guarantees in effect the salvation.
The holy symbol of the church is a disc of gold divided into four sectors by two lines that cross in the centre, with a symbol in each one: a white hand with palm raised, a blue hourglass, a pair of black eyes and a silver coin (the fusion of the holy symbols of its protectors); also accepted is the use of the individual symbols of the pantheon’s Immortals. The common dress of the religion’s clergy is a grey tunic with a golden circle in the upper part of the torso that continues the holy symbol of the church.

History of the Church
The Church of Darokin places its own basis on a series of cults that have shaped the Darokinian culture since the time of the monarchy. It was founded thanks to the work of Simon Stone, cleric of Asterius who began to preach a faith based on the industry as a way of salvation, about the necessity of diplomacy as the only instrument to bring peace and prosperity, about central Darokin and about the importance of honest work as a way for realising themselves, make the paradise in this world and to inherit it after death. Its instructions (based on mutual respect and tolerance, and about to cement national unity) became immediately well received by all the Darokinian classes, especially by the middle class, who gave numerous donations and favours for the construction of the first cathedral in the capital. The joining to the creed promoted by Stone were numerous, therefore as various they were the clergymen of other Immortals that joined the church sharing the message, first between all Annios Cletus, priest of Khoronus (patron of diplomacy, of justice and of wisdom among the Darokinians from the temples of the first Eastwind king), Clemente Seferis, cleric of Koryis (an Immortal who became known and respected by the Darokinians as a result of first contacts with Ochalean merchants in the VII century AC), and Lino Volterra, cleric of the Twelve Watchers (worshipped by the copper and silver classes already by IV century AC). The four clergymen together wrote the codices that is the base of the philosophy of the Church, and in 892 AC published their thesis in a small volume called the Acts of the Just. This moment definitively sanctioned the foundation of the actual Church of Darokin.
Later on, the patriarchs tried to influence the merchant founders of the Republic so that the Church of Darokin to declare it the state religion, but the merchants remained outside of the religious debate, and with the Grand Unification of 927 AC stipulated one constitution it clearly forecast the freedom of religion in Darokin, wisely dividing the political sphere from the religious. The exponents of the Church took the defeat and tried to widen their sphere of influence sending more and more clergymen on missions into other regions, until in the course of barely one generation they managed to establish a presence in each of the Inner Lands and in many parts of the frontier.
By the end of 960 AC they also began missions to foreign countries, instigated by written theologies of the arbitrators of the Church called Letters (to the Thyatians, Ylari, Elves, Hin, Dwarves, Traladarans and the Northmen), in which they hope for peace and collaboration with the Republic, immigration within the borders of Darokin, considered the only land in which it was possible to realise the dream of prosperity and unity, and the foundation of new missions in those lands in order to spread the message of the Just. In short time, the Church succeeded to also found temples in many of these states, and where was not possible, its clerics remained as missionaries.
It was just as a result of the failure of various attempts to expand to the foreign country the doctrine of the Church of Darokin that a group of clergymen proposed a reform of the ecclesial ordering and of the theological laws. The hoped for change did not go as planned, but contributed to create in 976 AC a new reformed church, called the Church of Universal Harmony, that although tolerated by that one of Darokin clearly became disowned.
Currently the High Patriarch (third to rise in office) is Alexian Vasilios, an old priest devotee of Khoronus who was between the first missionaries to the time of the Letters and who has already named his own successor (the so-called Holy Legate) the youthful Syleos (pantheist clergyman), the first Darokinian elf converted to the faith of the church by the start of the X century.

Organisation of the Church
The Church of Darokin is lead by the High Patriarch; or rather the cleric considered amongst all the spokesman of the Immortal, spiritual descendant of the founder of temple. He is assisted by the Council of Archbishops, a group formed from the clergymen that supervise the operations of the Church in all the regions of the Republic, in a structure similar to that of the Darokinian government. The High Patriarch has a special adviser called Holy Legate, who helps him in the bureaucratic affairs and examining diplomatic and religious issues that arrive daily to be presented before the patriarch. The High Patriarch personally chooses the Holy Legate from among his more experienced clerics (at least of 9th level) 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 (up to now never raised):

1. If the Holy Legate dies before the succession, The High Patriarch is obliged (if still alive) to choose a substitute. If instead it happens that the High Patriarch dies without leaving a Holy Legate, the task of naming the new High Patriarch passes to the members of the Council of Archbishops, who choose with a majority of two-thirds of the assembly among a limited list of candidates (maximum 10), each of which it must have the support at least four Archbishops.
2. If the High Patriarch is dead and had decided that the Holy Legate of not being worthy to succeed him, he has the power to choose his own successor without giving any reason of his motivation. In this case, the former nominee is named Abbot of a monastery or administration of his choice (without however being able to aspire to the rank of Bishop or Archbishop).
3. If at the death of the Head Patriarch an assembly of at least a third of the Archbishops asserts that the Holy Legate not be to the level of the task for serious reasons (is spoken of forsaking the values of the order, apostasy and heresy), he must take the tests in support of this accusation up against the collected assembly of all the Bishops and the Archbishops, who will decide with voting in a secret poll and with a majority of two-thirds of the assembly the relevance of the tests. In the case in which the tests are accepted, the Holy Legate is banished from the Church and the Council of Archbishops chooses a new High Patriarch as explained above.

There is an Archbishop (clerics of at least 8th level) for every city of the Republic with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, for an actual total of seven Archbishops in the council (The Archbishop of the capital is the High Patriarch who resides in the Cathedral of Darokin). The Archbishops administer the commercial and religious affairs of the archdioceses that they represent, each of which is made up from the dioceses (areas that include various villages and at least one small town) straight from the Bishops. They have moreover the power to prevent the election of a new High Patriarch (as explained above), even if it is a faculty that has up to now not been exercised. The office of Archbishop lasts for life (like any others within the church) and in case of renunciation or death, the new Archbishop is elected from amongst the bishops of the archdiocese left without a guide, on the basis of an absolute majority in a poll of the council of the Archbishops in office. Every Archbishop can also be expelled from his own office or the order by a unanimous decision of the Council and of the High Patriarch.
Each of the central lands of the Republic forms a diocese, governed therefore by a Bishop, for a total of 33 bishops. Moreover, every mission founded in a foreign country (Alfheim, Karameikos, Five Shires, Thyatis, Ierendi and Sind) is administered by (even if it is necessary to note that each of the missions to foreign countries don’t count more than a hundred faithful). Therefore the actual sum total of the bishops of the Church of Darokin reaches 39 individuals. Each of them administers the political and religious matters of the diocese and reports to his direct superior, the Archbishop. The Bishops have the power to ordain Clerics and Abbots, and boycott or publicly condemn those people or those trade societies that violate the laws of the Church or that threaten Darokin. For any other type of more direct action they must ask the approval of the Archbishop, who can allow them to arraign the guilty in front of a Magistrate only in the case of overwhelming evidence. The Bishops are chosen and named (when it is necessary) by the Archbishop of every region from amongst the clergymen of at least 7th level, and they remain in office until their death, promotion or expulsion from the clergy. Every diocese then is divided into various administrations; each collected around a village and looked after by an Abbot, who in his administration can count as usual on other clergymen and on the acolytes in order to help him with the daily matters. The Abbot runs the local abbey (the temple in which the faithful gather) and organises the tasks for each of the Clerics, who form the backbone of the Church of Darokin, given that it is them who deal daily with the faithful of all classes, and that they are to the dependence of an Abbot, a Bishop or an Archbishop. They lead the daily prayers in the abbey; visit the sick and the craftsmen for giving aid or small requests, and offer comfort and council to those who wish it. The common clergyman is moreover the link between the faithful and the ecclesial hierarchies, since it is he they must approach to ask favours or present petitions in face of competent organs. Usually the clergymen are asked to respect the hierarchy (addressing therefore only to their own direct superior), but it is not rare to come across cases in which the petition was presented by a cleric directly to the Archbishop or to the Bishop, in the case it needs immediate and thorough attention.
Moreover, the clerics have the task of recruiting new acolytes to the order (who accept only and exclusively male clergymen, even if it does not impose celibacy on its ministers) and teach them the principles on which the faith and the Church of Darokin stands, in order for them to become good clerics in the future. Finally, the clerics they are the first defenders of any settlement and they must always be an example to the faithful with their actions. The clerics who reach 3rd level automatically get their orders from the Bishop in person, and usually are entrusted with the duty of constructing an abbey and founding a new administration. If not there are enough large villages in order to accommodate an administration, the cleric can become a missionary (leave on an evangelical mission for at least 5 years), or remain in his administration as a simple cleric, aid the Abbot like the others, or to transfer to a new diocese and to try to obtain the permission here to found a new administration. In fact, the Church prohibits any administration to gather more than four clerics under the guide of an Abbot (although no limit on the number of acolytes), in order to seek to extend as much as possible the network of faithful in the territory.
On the bottom step of the ecclesial hierarchical scale are the Acolytes, the novices whom want to take the votes and become members of the order. They must study with a cleric and serve the order at least a year before obtaining official permission (usually from an Abbot), and they must always obey to their superiors, helping them in more common matters. The Acolyte can ask any cleric the right to enter in to the order, and he can refuse or to receive the demand to his taste. The Acolytes are clerics of 1st level, and they must always remain with a superior clergyman until they reach at least 2nd level, unless they choose to move out or buy votes in the Church. If they go away they will never again be able to become members of the order, but it doesn’t mean that they lose the clerical powers they have learnt, provided that they continue worship the Immortal to which they have chosen to devote themselves.

Cleric Missionaries
The Church of Darokin encourages its own clerics to become missionaries (only once they reach 3rd level), since the administration is by now spread all over the Republic’s territory allowing a fairly controlled penetration of the Inner Lands. The task of the missionaries is to wander from one place to another, especially to foreign countries, trying to carry the word and the philosophy of the Church of Darokin to as many as want to listen to it, improving the political relationships and commercial between other settlements and the Republic, and in general give a good impression about the nation and its inhabitants.
Various clergy of many levels of the order are not in agreement of these policies, and they believe that the clerics must instead remain anchored to the territory in order to better serve the Darokinian people. This diatribe is to the base of the reform with the Church of Universal Harmony as an example, that instead it encourages proselytism through the missionary work, and now still makes the missionaries unpopular in certain archdioceses. The missionaries however believe that their duty is to spread everywhere the seed of the word of the Immortals, and take this obligation very seriously. They answer for their own operations directly to the referential Archbishop, and they are obligated to return to report their own actions approximately every five years. On the occasion of these gatherings, the Archbishop indicates to a cleric whether his mission is considered completed or if he can continue to travel the world, and in particular any ones in which he would have to focus his attention. If a missionary refuses to obey an order of the Archbishop, he is immediately accused of insubordination and recalled for an internal trial, which could end in a warning, a change of role or even with excommunication.

The Earthly Life and the Afterlife
The Church of Darokin indicates to the faithful, which completed deeds in this life form the basis, on which are created the existence of the spirit in the Afterlife. For this it is important to act according to the law, invest in their work and to honestly cooperate for the progress of their own community, in order to collect the fruits of their own sweat once dead. Naturally it is also essential to adore the Immortal who watches and daily advises the faithful, since this forms part of the true believers duties. Only in this way, respecting himself, the works and the Immortals, can he be sure that his spirit will be able rejoice of the benefits attained in the earthly life.
The Church teaches that who has much in this life has deserved of having many thanks at work. However the Immortals see everything and they know who has worked honestly and who, instead, has speculated on others in dishonest manner, and this will be evaluated once dead. Who has acted honestly will be found to living in a world in which his neighbours lavish in order to satisfy any requirement of the deceased, in which he is remembered and justly rewarded for all the wonderful work that he has created, and in which work is no longer a daily task, but pleasure that can be sought whenever he wants. Those who instead have earned a living taking advantage of others, cheating or worse killing people, will be condemned to serve the righteous spirits, he will be under the whip of the angels and after an eternity of redemption, he will have to start again from the beginning in the mundane world, trying again for salvation. The Church of Darokin promises to the faithful that each will arrive in paradise that is due to him, based on the life choices that he has consistently followed, and to the Immortal to which he has been committed. In fact every Immortal rules on another world, and everyone is destined to reach his idea of perfection there:

Asterius: Silver Palace (Merchants and traders)
Khoronus: Island of Utopia (Thinkers and artists)
Koryis: Valley of Peace (Negotiators and pacifists)
The Twelve Watchers: City of Perfection (Craftsmen)

However, for those who do not successfully follow the way of the Just are to expect a terrible punishment in the home of the betrayed Immortal: they will be condemned to serve the most deserving, to endure the tortures of the angels inflicted as punishment for whatever sins they have committed, until the Immortal considers that their sins are washed clean and they will be returned to Mystara in order to start again from the beginning and demonstrate they deserve eternal peace.
The fate of the non-believers instead is in the hands of the other Immortals, according to the Church. Those who were faithful to other Immortals will be judged by those Immortals, while those who have not given sufficient weight to their spiritual life nor has honoured the Immortals as they deserve, will see their own spirit get lost in the eternal void of Limbo, between changing fogs and infinite roads that do not lead anywhere, meditating on their own misdeeds and trying to survive the onslaught of the burning spirits and of the other ravenous spirits.
According to the doctrine of the Church of Darokin, only the faithful have the possibility to achieve their own salvation, and if they waste it, they will not succeed in returning back. For this reason the Church forbids the clergy to revive the faithful, since in such a way it is denied to the just the possibility to reach eternal happiness, and to the ungodly the deserved divine punishment. On the contrary instead, the clerics can resurrect non-believers, with the single aim to convert them to their own faith. This can be only attempted after having assessed that the deceased was not an evil individual and he can be in effect a good follower in case he is returned to life. This assessment can usually demand that the cleric speaks with the friends of the deceased (who will be also be those that have consulted in first person in order to complete the ritual) and who asks their patron Immortals in order to know their opinion about, so the decision comes taken after a pair of days from the demand.
The believers of the Church respect and remember their own deceased, but it is forbidden to try to speak with them, and considered highly immoral and deviant to deal with the spirits of the Afterlife, with the undead and necromancy in general*. In fact the necromancy is considered an attempt to steal the power of life and death that only the Immortals can claim, and the undead in particular are an abomination, damned spirits that have made a pact with the entity of Death: in order to escape to their eternal pain they have accepted to return in the mundane world in a state of false life in order to cause suffering to the mortals who’s torments they would have had to endure, subverting the natural order. For this the Church of Darokin ferociously fights the undead and does not hesitate to call expeditions in order to destroy anyone who tries to attempt using the power of the Immortals on the spirits of individuals. The Church identifies its only common enemy as Thanatos, Patron of Death and Destruction (also called Old Nick or Grim Reaper), and any other demon he thinks more than responsible for the corruption of the spirit and the proliferation of undead.
*This belief of faith implies that clerics of the Church of Darokin have no access to the spells speak with dead and animate dead.