Prophecy: Universal Church

Universal Church

Associations

Because the Universal Church worships the gods equally as a
family, it is hard to say what the God of this church is associated
with. The individual gods in the family have associations described
in their own sections.

As a group, the gods are called the Lords of Good for a reason;
they are associated with all that is holy and sacred. Together they
represent life, its many wonders, and its prolific disappointments.
The Universal Church therefore worships everything that is living
and thriving in the world as personified by the gods, from the
smallest monetary transaction to the unfathomable workings of the
heavens.

The gods as a group do not associate themselves with any
particular creatures or animals, and the Universal Church does not
hold any such beings sacred.

Alignment

The gods can be described as dominantly neutral good. Although
the pantheon is divided quite strongly between the chaotic-tending
gods and the lawful ones, they are united in their opposition to
the works of evil – slaughtering infants, slavery, eating your
sister’s baby, etc. Unlike other churches, the Universal Church is
not the same alignment as the pantheon. The dominant alignment of
the Universal Church is Lawful Good.

Representations

When the Universal Church represents the gods with icons, it
shows them seated in a semi-circle on thrones of gold. The symbolic
representation of the gods is a ring woven of a strands of
differing colors for each god. A cleric of the Universal Church’s
holy symbol is usually a ring woven of six strands: Brilliant Gold,
Antique Silver, Spring Green, Sky Blue, Misty Lavender, and Cold
Iron.

Purpose

As a family, the gods’ motive are complex. Each god seeks to
further its own ends, bringing mortals to its way of thinking. Now,
while the gods have much to argue about, they are unified in the
principles of good. They oppose senseless destruction, murder, and
the many other trappings of evil. This is for several reasons: the
destruction that evil brings leads to fewer followers (or at the
very least corrupt the mortal races away from the ways of the gods)
and, the gods are quite fond of the mortal races and would see them
thrive. The purpose the gods serve as a unified group, therefore,
is to aid the mortals in their struggles against evil.

Church Description

The Universal Church, whose members simply call themselves, “the
faithful,” is a growing organization that spans nations and
cultures. It is largest in Nyrond, where it originated, but is
spreading steadily. Its primary goal is to make sure that every
population center in the world has a church dedicated to all of the
gods and performing their work. Its secondary goal is to make the
worship of the gods pedestrian and accessible to everyone. Because
of these goals, there is likely to be a church dedicated to the
entire pantheon in most of the major cities you might care to visit
in the central Flannaes. In the cities with particularly large
Universal Church structures, other churches are sometimes starting
to set up small shrines within the Universal Church’s halls (so
that a traveler, asking for the church of Kord, may be told, “It’s
yonder, in the Universal Church”).

The Universal Church currently enjoys good relations with most
of the other churches, particularly the lawful churches, which is
why clerics of indiviual gods are willing to offer services under
the Universal Church roof. But these pleasant relations are, in
many cases, only surface deep. Because it is easy to avoid
alienating any religious group by supporting the Universal Church,
many secular leaders have begun to give generously to its missions,
supporting its efforts to expand, and otherwise interact with it as
the accepted legitimate religious center of power in the world.
Further, the leaders of the Universal Church are generally free to
involve themselves in politics and other earthly matters, since
they do not have direct rapport with any one god and are not being
used regularly by the gods as instruments for their plans in the
mortal sphere. This freedom means that many secular leaders have
started to have a cleric or paladin from the Universal Church as an
advisor, and members of the local Universal Church hierarchy are
more and more frequently on town and city councils.

To be clear: The Universal Church is less connected to
the gods than any other church, and the other churches are in no
way loyal to or subservient toward the Supreme Patriarch of the
Universal Church. While its clerics receive spells, and its
paladins are a force for righteousness throughout the world, the
gods rarely reveal themselves to members of the Universal Church or
call upon its faithful to perform great deeds in their name. Each
of the gods relies on its own church for such purpose.

The Church’s congregations are generally madeup of those who do
not have the time or inclination to dedicate themselves to one god
in particular. Religion is an important part of nearly everyone’s
life, but the average commoner has no real reason to specify her
worship.

The Universal Church is terribly unpopular with religious
zealots of all varieties. They accuse the Church of making the gods
commonplace, decreasing their worship to a few perfunctory gestures
made out of duty or habit instead of devotion. There are many
people deeply concerned with what seems to be the unstoppable
growth of the Universal Church; many of the concerned are elders in
other churches.

Church Structure

The Universal Church has three powerful holy orders: clergy,
paladins, and deacons. The clergy has five levels of status:
clerics, deans, bishops, archbiships, and the Supreme Patriarch or
Matriarch. The paladins have three: paladins, captains, and lord or
lady protectors. Deasons have only two: deacons and archdeacons.
There are also two lesser holy orders: the churchguard and the
friars.

Of these orders the clergy are dominant, deciding the direction
of the faith. The paladins are enormously important and
influential, but operate almost entirely autonomously from the
Church. The deacons are perhaps the Church’s greatest strength:
While they are officially referred to as “teachers,” the are
actually an order dedicated to influencing the secular leaders and
events of the world. The deaconry is made up of either Church
members skilled in political matters or secular leaders given
status in the Church to seal their loyalty.

The Supreme Patriarch or Matriarch, the highest-ranking member
of the clergy, heads the Church. The Supreme Patriarch is seated in
the Great Cathedral, which is located in Rel Mord, where Saint
Hefasten founded the Church.

The usual Universal Church in a population center has a dean,
three or four clerics, one or two paladins, and six to ten
chruchguard and a deacon. The dean makes all the decisions
pertaining to the Church, usually after consulting with those below
her. While the paladins are technically free to follow their own
paths, they will obey the dean if told to do something and will
certainly consult with the dean about their adventures and any
matters requiring spiritual guidance.

Doctrine

The doctrine of the Universal Church can most easily be
described as pure good. One should strive to give, not to take; to
love, not to hate; to befriend, not to shun. It is the moral
imperitive of every mortal to try to do as the gods have done –
offering shelter to the weak, raging against terrible wrongs, and
protecting their families. Of course, the Church is well aware that
the world is filled with fallible people and believes that, if we
ask for our wrongs to be forgiven, the gods will forvive them as
they once forgave each other for great wrongs. The Church believes,
however, that there are sins that cannot be forgiven: trying to
topple the gods, making bargains with devils or demons, and giving
up your soul for any reason. These behaviors take one outside the
realm of forgiveness, and offenders become like demons in the eyes
of the faithful. All else, including the most heinous crimes
against another person, can be forgiven by the gods (though likely
not by the law). It is in this that the Church’s lawful side is
seen, for while its faith in the gods is one of pure good, the
Church professes a very legalistic worship of the gods. The clergy
discusses the laws and commandments of the gods that all people
should obey. The church sees itself as bringing the rule fo the
gods to the uninformed.

The Church has two great school of thought in approaching this
doctrine, and while they usually operate in harmony among the
church elders, they are occasionally drawn into conflict.

The first philosophy, that adhered to by clergy and deasons, is
the ministry of the gods’ work. The Universal Church, according to
this school of thought exists to spread the legends and worship of
the gods — particulary to foreign or barbaric lands with different
faiths. Part and parcel with this is the Church’s goal to
consolidate its power base and make sure that the lands where the
gods are worshipped nevel lose sight of the faith. This involves
making sure that the Church has many chapels and cathedrals
throughout the land. One of the many reasons the Church puts such a
focus on secular matters is that it serves the Church’s goals to
have close relations with the nobles who own the land and run the
nations.

The second major branch of Church philosophy states that the
Church’s mission is to tirelessly oppose evil in all its many
forms. One can see that this requires a very different mindset than
actively spreading the religion, and over the years the two
doctrines have led to a friendly split in the Clergy. While most
focus on the strengthening of the Church and the spread of the
faith, there is a cored group of adventuring clerics who seek
simply to do good inthe world in the name of the Gods. Supporting
this group of “good works” clergy is an entire holy order dedicated
to fighting the good fight: the paladins.

Holy Days

TBD

God’s View of the Church

The gods actually view the Universal Church with some
ambivalence. They are made very powerful by its world prominence,
but it is not as useful to them as their own churches. That being
said, the gods all know that the forces of Evil are very powerful
and the paladins and other works of the Church against evil are
very valuable to their struggle against the demons and devils.

Preferred Weapon

The preferred weapon of the Church is a quarterstaff. A walking
stick is available to all and supports one on their journey and is
represented by the Church as a quarterstaff.

Holy Orders

Clerics of the Universal Church

The Order

Titles

Domains

Spell Preparation Time

Alignments

Holy Warriors: Paladins of the Universal Church

The Order

Titles

Additional Class Skills

Domains & Gift of the Gods

Spells, Mount, Conduct, and Associates

Alignment

Prestige Classes and Other Orders

Prestige Class: Deacon of the Universal Church