The Redwood Throne
The founding of the Redwood Throne occurred 1211 years prior to the start of the campaign. The official formation of this church started the modern calendar within the game world. Since its founding, the Redwood Throne has come to completely dominate the religious landscape within the Principalities of Verdien. Its current Patriarch leads the spiritual lives of Verdiens, though most of the secular details are left to the oversight of the Emperor.
The Redwood Throne has a closely-observed hierarchical structure. Most clergy are of the priesthood, though some do not serve a pastoral role. Those nobles that choose join the Redwood Throne are not required to forfeit their political position to serve the Church. The Redwood Throne practices sexual equality, although some of its titles are modified by the gender of the recipient.
The parish priests and priestesses lead small local congregations. These clergy are the most numerous and the ones most commonly encountered by those outside the Church. Outside of church services, these clergy serve the community. Priests and priestess will tend the sick, though the worst cases are sent the nearest monastery for care. Although the monasteries are also known as centers of higher learning, the priesthood’s dedication to education is one of the strongest reasons for the high level of literacy in the common population.
Monks (men) and nuns (women) are ordained members of the clergy who have chosen a life of isolation within a monastery over leading a parish church. This lifestyle is considered an honorable course within the Church. Service as a monk or nun does not have to be life-long. Some monks and nuns leave the monastery after an extended period of contemplation and discernment; as long as they continue to serve the Church in another role, this change is also regarded as an honorable course.
The provosts are monks or nuns who have been elevated to a position of oversight and authority over a monastery. Provosts are considered higher in rank than parish clergy, though both report to the bishops.
The bishops are priests or priestesses who have been elevated to a position of oversight and authority over the parish churches and monasteries of a geographical area called a diocese. Bishops command considerable wealth and political power. The most powerful of these is the Prince-Bishop of Brezha, who combines the status of a Duke with the status of a bishop.The head of the Church is the Patriarch or Matriarch and is said to lead by the direct authority of the Throne. In current times, the Redwood Throne is led by Patriarch Balduin III. It is rumored that the Patriarch is advised by a secret council known as the Exarchs. If they exist, the identities of the Exarchs are a closely-guarded secret. It is believed that they are an inner circle among the bishops and provosts.
In addition to local parish churches and the mighty cathedrals of Luzerne City and Exendun, the Church maintains monasteries throughout the Principalities and Athral Isle. These monasteries are houses of learning and medicine; the monks and nuns are accustomed to sharing their knowledge of physick with members of the Honorable Guild of Physickers and receiving training in return. Though they are not built within city boundaries, monasteries are not located based on adjacent population centers; a monastery is as likely to be located near a large city as to be situated in an isolated countryside. Within the Margravate of Eisenmark, the common people often seek protection from Gauntish raiders within the walls of the nearest monastery. As yet, the Gauntish raiders turn aside from direct attacks against the Church and allow the monasteries to grant sanctuary.
There are three Monastic orders within the Redwood Throne: The Mendicants of Duren, Maergin's Disciples, and the Bannermen of the Throne.
The Left Hand of the Throne is a subordinate branch of the Redwood Throne that serves as spies and secret police for the Church and indirectly for the Emperor. The officers of the Left Hand are called Accusers and are rumored to command the magical ability to bend others to their will or to break them with magically-inflicted pain. The Left Hand is rightfully feared and the common man will go to lengths to avoid coming to their attentions.
Agios and Agias
Those whom the Throne blesses with grace and miraculous intervention may be canonized as Agios (men) or Agias (women). These titles take the place of surnames, and for all purposes the Agios and Agias are treated as a separate and distinct family name. Canonization can occur during the person’s lifetime, though this is extremely rare. To complete the long process of canonization, the Left Hand of the Throne must investigate every part of that person’s past. Some would-be saints are disqualified for deceits and falsehoods that brought them to their position and more are disqualified when miraculous claims cannot be verified.
The given names of Agios and Agias (such as Milena, Ledogar, Viros, Monica, Jules, Reinmund, Silvan, Victor, Laban, etc.) are common given names for children. In such a naming, their parents intend to honor these noble and holy servants of the Throne.
Forty years before the start of the current calendar, a company of wanderers returned from the east, speaking of a vision they had shared. This core group claimed that all of the people of the world needed to come together under one banner, and they spread this message to all who would listen. As more and more people joined their cause, the growing group came to be organized into the early church. These early practitioners were drawn in by the power of the vision concerning the Throne and ascribed to the moral guidance for daily life, which concerned every person’s obligation to support others for strength, health, and security.
From its earliest beginnings in Luzerne City within the then Great Kingdom of Tarsikka, the Redwood Throne sent missionaries all over the continent. The first missionaries that ventured northward found the land now called Gaunt to be wilderness, full of trolls and worse things. Those missionaries that survived the first exploration of Gaunt withdrew and it was decades before another group of missionaries ventured the trip again. In the intervening years Gaunt had become a lightly-settled land with warriors that had driven back the trolls and other monsters. However, the missionaries found that the rough, wild Gauntishmen of that age had little interest in the Throne’s teachings.
As the strength of Tarsikka waned in the third century of the Regnal Era, a spirit of independence arose among the Great Kingdom’s border marches. The Patriarch of the Redwood Throne at that time joined Reinmund von Trayal in fighting the Tarsikkans and establishing the Principalities of Verdien. In return, the Church received the devotion of the new country’s people and crowned its first king, establishing a precedent that has continued unbroken through the last ten centuries. The Redwood Throne traditions relating to social class trace their beginnings to the founding of Verdiens and its establishment as the state church.
The Church readily expanded into Athral Isle. The Athrals proved to be the most receptive nation to the Church missionaries, and the Redwood Throne has been the state religion there for centuries. The Church in Athral Isle predates even the country’s unification under the Couraine Kings. The Throne’s political and material support for the Couraine Kings was a key factor in their eventual dominance, as many Athrals had come to accept the Throne’s doctrine of divine right to rule. However, the Church’s efforts in Gaunt caused disillusionment with the Church among the Athrals.
Politics and Allies
The Throne is a powerful political force within the Principalities of Verdien, and seeks to expand its role elsewhere. While they abhor mystery cults of all descriptions as heretics, they are on good terms with the order of the Ivory Sun. They do not consider the Ivory Sun a cult, as such, but more of a philosophy, whose aims are compatible with those of the Throne. Many of the Ivory Sun, in fact, practice the faith of the Redwood Throne, adhere to its tenets, and attend its services. Members of the Unending Sky have recently begun to enjoy this consideration as well, as the Throne does not consider its philosophical ideals as inherently religious, or in conflict with the Throne.
Silvan Agio's Abbey was a monastery built in 309 RE within Ehrensgard, the ducal seat of Eisenmark. By 1026 RE, Silvan Agio’s Abby was regarded as one of the holiest monasteries of the Throne. This religious standing was due in large part to an aged and respected nun that lived there. Named Benedicta of Ehrensgard, she had declined to become the provost of Silvan Agio's Abbey for nearly forty years. She always said that she believed that position would draw her out of her spiritual contemplations and into worldly matters and her dedication to spiritual enlightenment was much honored. In a moment of indiscretion, however, she confided to her provost that she was suffering doubts of the Redwood Throne's course in the world. Provost Maximilian Guth rebuked her loudly and publically, which drew the attention of the other monks to her opinion. Things rapidly escalated, as the provost was new and inexperienced. Benedicta's whispered doubts became a matter of Church gossip, and many at the abbey supported her. With this support, she declared her beliefs that the Redwood Throne was going too far in proselytizing and that the Church needed to concern itself more with leadership and guidance than authority and dominion. She even supposed aloud that some mystery cults might join the fold and ally with the Throne, if given freedom to do so without fear of persecution.
Provost Guth was unable to suppress the unrest in Silvan Agio's Abbey after these rumors gained momentum. To restore discipline in the abbey, he called in an Accuser of the Left Hand of the Throne. The Left Hand’s trial and imprisonment of Benedicta drew the attention of Margrave Eisenmark. He and the people of Ehrensgard looked on Benedicta as a jewel in the city's crown, and the Margrave protested the Church’s actions. Benedicta fell ill before the trial could conclude, and leechcraft only weakened her further. On the second day of January of 1027, she died under accusation of heresy. The monks and nuns of the abbey instantly regarded her as a martyr, and the conflict's escalation continued. Word of the schism was already widely discussed in Brezha and rumors had even spread to Trayal and beyond.
By September of 1027, the Matriarch stepped in decisively. The monks of Silvan Agio's Abbey would be returned to Luzerne City for re-dedication and the Abbey itself would be abandoned. If necessary, force would be used to carry out this mandate. On the secular side, the Emperor made it painfully clear to the Margrave that no hint of dissent would be tolerated. Despite these heavy-handed responses, Benedicta's whispered rebellion created an underground schism in the Church that has lasted for the last 174 years. The Ehrensgard heresy has spread from the Principalities into everywhere the Redwood Throne is followed, including Athral Isle and Gaunt.
The strength of the schism is unknown, but it is believed that as much as a quarter of the priesthood willfully overlooks the Patriarch's directives and ignores the presence of ritualists, homunculi, or mystery cultists. It is all but certain that one or more bishops adhere to this schismatic doctrine by practicing collusion with enemies of the Church. Some clergy theorize that one might keep his heretical views a secret long enough to become an Exarch, one of the Patriarch's most trusted servants. The writs of bondage for homunculi that Patriarch Harman IV issued in 1080 RE were a clear conciliatory gesture to the schismatics, but his successor did not share such views and directed the Left Hand in several brutal actions against ritualists.
- A person is born into his station. If he lives in accordance with the obligations of his birth, he will be reincarnated into a higher station in the next life.
- Kings rule by right of birth, and by the consent of the Church. Only the Church has the spiritual authority necessary to speak against or disobey a king.
- In addition to the obligations of station, every person has an obligation to every other person, to support their strength, health, and security.
- Commoners have an obligation to serve, even when it is costly to do so.
- Nobles have an obligation to protect and lead those under their charge, and to serve the Church with a glad heart, even at the cost of one’s life or livelihood.
- The Church has an obligation to protect and lead the nobility and the commoners, both materially and spiritually.
- The Throne is the name given to a divine being, whose Name is too holy to be uttered and who is without form. The Throne is neither male nor female, but is a divine inspiration and blessing. It is blasphemous to worship an image of the divine one who sits the Throne, or to worship any other image, such as the totems of the cults.
- Only the Redwood Throne is truly righteous, and it is obligated to share its message of unity throughout the world. When that dominion has spread to all corners of the world, the blessings of the Throne will be upon humanity without limit.
- The power of ritualism is dangerous to the soul, and leads to unfettered hubris. Under the auspices of the Church, it is possible to practice ritualism with wisdom and restraint.
- The creation of homunculi is an abomination, as they create life without the presence of a soul. This imitation of a soul cannot be reborn, and thus are without obligation.
Ehrensgard Schismatic Principles
Ehrenites place one teaching above all others: “Every person has an obligation to every other person, to support their strength, health, and security.”
They largely disregard the teachings against ritualism, creation of homunculi, and the idea that the mystery cults are blasphemous.
Redwood Throne Beliefs FAQ
Does the Church teach/believe that the Throne (the divine entity) created the world?
Is there a creation myth?
This world is one in a series in the cycle of the cosmos-- that, once, there was another world. It was a terrible and evil place filled with pain and suffering for its inhabitants. The Throne sent a holy vision to those who would listen, revealing the Divine will. While there is no permissible escape from the cycle of reincarnation, it does not have to be filled with suffering; nobility of spirit and right actions can tip the balance so that the next world in the great cycle will be a better one, as well as making this world a better place to live. The Redwood Throne speaks through the clergy to communicate the right actions that will, as a reward to the faithful, make the next world a better one. When this world was created, the Throne saw to it that the world was created better than the last, thanks almost entirely to the efforts of goodly clergy and laity who lived by the precepts of the Throne. Now, the Throne wishes for the souls in this world to be righteous and obedient to the Church. This obedience and veneration of the Throne can only serve to make it so that, when the next world in the Cycle is created, it is even more goodly and wonderful-- with the pious and most obedient of the Throne receiving the reward of a higher reincarnation in the next world.
For what purpose was the world created?
All of the worlds in this cycle of creation are intended to lead toward a perfected world, where free will is in harmony with right action. The Throne wants to give this perfected world to humanity, but the Throne is ultimately just, and humanity has not been worthy.
Does the Church teach/believe that the Throne created humanity?
Does it care about humans or is it an indifferent deity?
It cares about humans and what they do. It sits in judgment over them when they die, to determine how they will be born in the next life.
If yes to the above, does it also teach/believe that the Throne created all the creatures of the world?
The Church’s teachings on this point are much less clear, and a matter of debate.
Does it want people to worship/obey it, or again, is it indifferent?
It expects obedience, as this is the way toward a better world.
Given the endless cycles of reincarnation and the lack of any 'final reward' (e.g. spending eternity with the creator), why does the Throne want people to 'be good'? That is, why does it care?
The Church teaches that this world can be made better through hard work and obedience, and the next world in turn will also be closer to perfection.
How does the church explain the existence of ghuls, trolls, and other 'evil' creatures?
Ghuls, Trolls, and other "evil" or harmful creatures are a result of what comes of not following the edicts of the throne. Though it is a matter of some dispute among religious scholars, the general belief is that these are "lost souls" who, in the previous world, didn't follow the edicts of the Throne. Dissenting opinions hold that those creatures, much like homunculi, may be flesh without a soul.
Does the Throne judge each person at death and assign them their new station or does the whole system run automatically?
The Throne judges each person.
According to Redwood Throne beliefs, does the cycle of reincarnation happen once per "world," or do souls reincarnate multiple times within each cycle? Are the dead in a holding pattern somewhere, waiting for the next world, or do they return immediately after death?
The Church has not named either statement a matter of dogma. The overwhelming majority believe in reincarnation multiple times within each world. The Church takes a dim view of attempting to trace one's own past lives, but does not actively persecute the practice; the reasoning here is that this distracts people from living their current life as fully and dutifully as possible. Attempting to reestablish connections with things from one's previous life is more strongly discouraged, for the same reason.
Does the Throne believe that there been only one other world, or multiple worlds before this one? Is there any teaching about how the previous world ended?
The Church teaches that there have been multiple other worlds, though it does not have a dogmatic position on how many there may have been. The previous world ended with the victory of the Throne's faithful over the forces of darkness; this is why the current world is better than the last world.
What does the Throne teach about Celestials? The current ones are not yet arrived at the start of play, but there are legends of Celestials being present in the Great War of Shadow.
The Church teaches that the Throne has immortal, unseen beings in its service, and has sent them to aid humanity in the past; legends of celestials in the First Age are clearly talking about such servants. Many believe that references to angelic aid are entirely figurative. Sightings of angelic beings in the present day are regarded as dangerous and heretical, as the angelic servants are supposed to be perpetually unseen. Claims to the contrary are attempts to mislead the faithful; surely such servants would make themselves known to the Patriarch, if they somehow became visible.