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Church of Karameikos

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Karameikos

Tarastia - Law, order, truth, justice and just vengeance
Chardastes - Healing, purification, health, medicine, life cycle, eternal life
Asterius - Trade, money, communication, travel, messengers
Vanya - War, conquest, victory, glory, honour
Kagyar - Crafts, metallurgy, miners
Patura - Women, families, babies, maternity and fertility
Ilsundal - Nature, wisdom, learning, tradition, serenity and peace
The Grim Reaper (Thanatos) - Death, entropy, destruction, decadence, oblivion, corruption

The Church of Karameikos# is a Lawful religion founded by Oliver Jowett, a former member of the Church of Thyatis, as a result of the formation of Grand Duchy of Karameikos in 970 AC. Abandoning Thyatis to follow Duke Stefan Karameikos III, instead continuing to remain part of the Church of Thyatis, Jowett and his followers decided to form a new church based on their own doctrine (i.e. those in force in the Church of Thyatis) and on the needs of the people of Karameikos. In short Jowett tried to unite under one flag and one philosophy all the Thyatian immigrants with the Traladaran natives, creating one religion appropriate to the new nation (Karameikos, not Traladara or Thyatis) and giving a new cultural identity to its faithful: that of the modern Karameikans (Thyatian and Traladaran fusion). Therefore the Church of Karameikos came into being, similar to that one of Thyatis, but with some characteristic aspects. Trying to make a break also in the local people without however losing the support of the Thyatian immigrants, Patriarch Jowett therefore took some traditions of the Church of Thyatis and began to elaborate till forming a new religion based on the philosophy of the “unblemished spirit”, a religion not directly connected to the Thyatian Empire (still seen as oppressors by the Traladarans) but characteristic of the newly formed Grand Duchy of Karameikos. This philosophy holds that no sin is too great to be forgiven with an act of sacrifice and penance (even if many converts misinterpret the doctrine and think they can do anything, as much will be forgiven). The dogmas of the faith of the Church of Karameikos are as follows:

1. The acts of violence, murder, theft, adultery, lying, treason and the cohabitation without being married in front of Immortals are all sins that stain the sinner’s spirit.
2. The use of magic that does not have its basis in the rituals of the church is only ignorant superstition that leads the faithful astray, and it must therefore be avoided and condemned
3. The sins demand action and a ceremony of purification of varying severity depending on the sin, for purifying the spirit.
4. The lack of will to clean oneself is a sin itself, punishable by removal from the church with the final result to permanently condemn to eternal damnation the sinner’s spirit, which cannot be more purified.
5. The role of each in the afterlife is determined by the amount of sins reached at the moment of the death.
6. It is the responsibility of the members of the church to spread the philosophy of the church among the non-believers and to carry the benefits to other people and in other nations

The common believer has the fear of being separated from the church and the rest of the faithful because of his errors, accumulating the sins until the point from not being able itself more to purify, and for this it always tries to confess the own ones sins to the clergymen and to respect the punishments and the actions of contrition that come attributed to it. Therefore the influence that the clerics they exercise on the faithful is enormous, coming to know of all their errors and secrets, and it can therefore appear that some clergymen of the Church of Karameikos they ask large donations in order to purify the spirit of wealthy or of more the weak people, or that they take advantage of the information revealed in confession to their own advantage or simply in order to maintain the control on politics of the country (what that in effects happens regularly).
That of the Church of Karameikos is therefore a religion set up on a rigid philosophical and moral doctrine (the unblemished spirit) intent on the improvement and purification of the spirit, and it does not astonish therefore that the clergymen philosophers are most diffuse (90%). Exists however a minority of monotheistic clergymen (8%) and polytheistic (2%) within the Church, since it also proposes to its faithful a pantheon of Right to act as an example for proper veneration, or Thyatian Immortals who embody the perfection of the theological virtues of the Church, used by Jowett also in antithesis to the proposed triad of the Church of Traladara (Vanya as an alternative to Halav, Patura as an alternative to Petra and Ilsundal as an alternative to Zirchev) and for attracting the sympathy of the demihuman population of Karameikos (hence the introduction of Kagyar and Ilsundal as generic patrons of crafts and nature). In this sense therefore, Asterius embodies the ideals of Tolerance and Peace that prosperity provides, Kagyar those of Honesty, Talent and Work, Ilsundal symbolises Wisdom and Purity, Vanya Courage and Defence of the Valorous, and Patura embodies Maternity, Fertility and Charity. The church doesn’t therefore worship one Immortal over the others, and doesn’t impose to its own faithful any worship, but to only follow the virtuous model of the Right. The Church of Karameikos in addition not condemnation the other faiths vehemently (also in order not to unleash internecine struggles in Karameikos), preferring to address the contempt of its faithful towards the demons and sin in general, and in particular against the figure of the Grim Reaper (Thanatos), father of all the vices that constantly tempt the spirits of the faithful and to which it is necessary to resist in order to not be damned and lose their own spirit.
The clerics of the Church of Karameikos can be recognised by the formal dress they wear, which consists of a long-sleeved grey habit that reaches down to cover the ankles, a pair of leather boots, a metal sceptre on the belt (often used like a mace) and the symbol of the church (an oblique wand with a sun up on the left and a moon segment low to the right) embroidered or painted on the chest.
Actually about 25% of the population of Karameikos follows the doctrine of the church, and for the major part these faithful are Thyatians and nobles in positions of power, even if various Traladarans have been converted in the last thirty years and are spreading the religion among their fellow countrymen.

Order of the Griffon
The Order of the Griffon is the military branch of the Church of Karameikos and clerics, fighters and paladins are able to be part of it. Belonging to this order is an act of great prestige for a Karameikan fighter; inasmuch as its members are always engage in adventures in favour of the Church, the nation and the common people, and for this, each year many combatants seek to enter. The aspiring members are presented to Patriarch Jowett of Specularum and he entrusts to each a supervisor of the Order, who tests their combat ability, their knowledge of Karameikan doctrine and their character. To all effect, in order to become a member of the Order of the Griffon an individual must possess the following requirements:

1. Have a good combat ability (be at least 5th level).
2. Must be a follower of the Church of Karameikos.
3. Make a solemn oath to fulfil the tasks of the Order and to respect his superiors.
4. The sex of the aspirant is not influential, but they do not admit humanoids or monstrous creatures, nor thieves or arcane spellcasters.

In case he is admitted, these are the responsibilities of a member:

1. Donate 25% of his own income to the Church of Karameikos as part of the Order of the Griffon.
2. Obey the dictates of the Church of Karameikos with regard to sins and purifications.
3. Accept missions and the duties assigned to you by the Patriarch of the church or by his superiors of the Order (these missions are often adventures or military missions in the interests of the Order, of the Church or of the nation).

The benefits for a member of the Order of the Griffon are as follows:
*Asylum: the possibility to ask asylum in any consecrated temple of the Church of Karameikos or building of the Order of the Griffon.
*Respect: a Knight of the Griffon should be treated by all Karameikans as if he were a noble knight (faithful to the crown of Karameikos), despite his real social rank, given the respect and admiration that the Order enjoys within the nation and he could therefore be accommodated by nobles and take part in their adventures.
*Brotherhood: a member of the Order enjoys the company and the friendship of his confederates, that they will become his friends and do their utmost in order to help him in moments of need with spiritual, military or economic assistance.
All the members of the Order of the Griffon are called Knights of the Griffon and always bear a symbol that declares their membership (a white rampant griffon on a black field), which can be anything from a simple cloak pin, to an elaborate medallion, to a worn tabard or to a picture on a shield or on the armour. A member can resign at any time, or be banished if he does not honour his own responsibilities.
#In GAZ1 and in the Poor Wizard’s Almanac 2 the Church of Karameikos is described as a lawful religion based upon the philosophy of the “unblemished spirit”, without naming particular Immortals worshipped by its clergymen. Later on in Dragon Magazine, Bruce Heard (editor of the Mystara line) specified that the Immortals worshipped the clerics of this religion are: Asterius, Valerias, Vanya, Chardastes, Ilsundal and Kagyar. Seen the absence of ulterior explanations about the presence of a decidedly chaotic Immortal like Valerias in a lawful church like Karameikos and of its precise role, in this handbook it is chosen to replace Valerias with Patura (more oriented to good will and chaste and maternal love) and to add Tarastia, Thyatian Immortal patroness of justice and order.