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People’s Templeby Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies
Worshipped in: Ierendi
The People’s Temple is a benevolent religion created by a Minrothaddan immigrant by the name Tomia (in practice a charismatic fraudster) at the start of the VIII century AC. It is the most followed religion in the islands, because several of the Makai beliefs were included in this religion with the goal of converting as many as possible faithful to the cause of Tomia, who certainly wasn’t a disinterested benefactor, seeing that the cult was born with the only aim of successfully prospering by exploiting the good faith and the peaceful nature of the natives. The first temple was constructed in the principal island of Ierendi and quickly became a success, so much that Tomia began to be called “The Hope” by his faithful. In order to give a series of rules for his cult, Tomia incised the general commandments of the People’s Temple on ten pieces of stone later on renamed the Stones of Hope, which were later conserved within the principal temple in the capital of Ierendi. With the passing of the years, the priests of the cult have modified the original dogma in the name of progress, often forgetting or disregarding some of the more strict rules, in order to make it so that the islanders gradually became ever more civilised without however imposing too rigid a faith, until it was decided to incise the few principal rules (reviewed and corrected) directly on the walls of the temple, in a way that all could understand and follow. In the course of the following centuries, some officials of the Temple began to worry that the faithful would discover that the initial rules of the cult had been modified, and thus thought to as such eliminate the Stones of Hope, without however managing to destroy them. The priests then, without getting any particular scruples, decided to steal the stones from the vaults of the temple and to hide the original artefacts in a secret place, attributing the theft of the holy relics to some enemy sect. At the moment only the officers of the temple of Ierendi are at the centre of the truth on the theft and on the location of the Stones of Hope (probably hidden in the basement of the building), but keeping their well protected secret for fear of being unmasked by other cults and for fear that the faithful might notice that the religion that they practise in reality has been changed compared to the original model. Despite all the changes brought by the priests to the scriptures left by Tomia, one of the messages has never been changed. The Hope indeed wrote of the existence of a great treasure left by the Immortals when they were forced to go from the world. This Treasure of the Immortals is so great that it makes the Temple the richest church of the world, and all those that belong to it could share this money. According to the visions of Tomia, the treasure has been hidden by the Immortals and will be recovered only by a valorous person when the People’s Temple is through it’s the most difficult moment. Given that not even the officers of the Temple know exactly when this will happen, the priests continue their ceaseless research and urge the faithful to do likewise.
The People’s Temple is the most followed religion in the Ierendi islands. You can find temples scattered throughout the islands, but given that the ceremonies are held in the open, many communities don’t have at their disposal specific buildings to be used as sanctuaries but only sacred ceremonial areas, and the priests often live in common houses like the rest of the population. The Temple is a very informal religion, whose rituals varies from community to community and often depends on the priests, who are treated by the faithful more like friends or kin than like referential figures or great devotion. The rites last an hour: in the first half hour the good and the bad news regarding the village and the island is reported, and is an important time for socialising and creating or cementing the relationships between families; in the second half hour instead the priest expresses a moral or philosophic message (that usually would be linked to the messages contained in the Stones of Hope) with parables and tales of life lived, using certain devices in order to make the communication more effective (like magic tricks, songs and dances). Generally the most important priest of the Temple passes on a message of love and generosity and recommends to the faithful to gather when other brothers and sisters find themselves in trouble. They don’t pray to any one Immortal in particular, but worship a species of “benign power” derived from the principle of loving the neighbour and cooperate in order to avoid harming others. The clergymen of the People’s Temple are all of good alignment (Neutral or Chaotic for the major part, and some Lawful) and are divided into two classes: the priests and the officials. The priests are the clerics tasked with spreading the message of the church in all the villages and the near-by general population, are therefore the basis and the skeleton of the Temple and live scattered across the various islands, within the Makai community and of the other ethnic groups. The officers are instead the oldest and most important priests, delegated to the spiritual direction of the religion and to the organisation of the Temple’s resources. The officers all live in the temple built in the Ierendi capital together with the priests who operate in the capital, and are also those that seek to avoid that the true Stones of Hope are recovered in order to not debunk the differences between the original rules of Tomia and those later modified by successive officers. The clergymen of the People’s Temple don’t have a formal dress and can rarely be distinguished from a common islander, even if the officers always wear a yellow belt to distinguish themselves from the rest of the clerics and usually wear simple tunics of white cotton of varying lengths (according to the climate). The clergymen of the Temple don’t have the power of turning the undead and each must be taught the spells by the officers once that their own experience allows them (and it is therefore the officers who determine which spells the priests may know and use), but doesn’t need a holy symbol through which to address prayers and cast the spells like the clerics of the normal Immortals (with D&D 3rd Edition, these clergymen are the Mystics).