Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle
Church of Romd
The Church of Romd
One of the oldest religious traditions on Ondoron, the veneration of Romd can trace its roots back to before the creation of True Clerics (see the entry for the Temple of the North). Romd was venerated by all the early cultures, each originally in its own way and with its own hierarchy, but the commonality of purposes drew them together at the Council of Ilthera in Davinguard during the height of its power, where they elected the first Necrophant and began standardizing church doctrine. The center of the faith is in Takur, site of the Third Gate, which leads to Romd’s Eternal Realms.
After the first Romdian Crusade, the Church took direct control of the nation of New Din’Garreth to serve as a beachhead in its unending Crusades against the undead of Old Din’Garreth, and New Din’Garreth remains the largest center of the faith outside Takur. New Din’Garreth is synonymous with the Church to most citizens of Luminairre and the other southern nations.
-Organization: At its highest levels, the church of Romd is divided into two “Offices”:
-the Office of the Disposition of the Flock or “Curia”, to which most “normal” clerics belong, which concerns itself with the care of the dead and healing of the living, the mortuaries, the graveyards, the catacombs etc. Named after the Office’s ruling council, the Curia, made up of the Primates, headed by the Necrophant. Primarily an administrative body, concerned with tithes, bequests and supplies.
-the Office of the Sanctity of the Rule or “Canon”, which concerns itself with the upholding of the Pronouncements of Romd, with functions as diverse as theological lawyers and canon courts, Inquisitors and the various militant orders, enforcing orthodoxy, destroying undeath and opposing Dyradak. Headed up by the Black Chamber, the supreme court of the Church, made up of the High Inquisitor of the Canon Courts, a Legate chosen from the militant orders and a Legate from the theological Collegia, and headed up, like the Curia, by the Necrophant. Decides matters of theology and Holy War
Beneath this the orders are organized into a loose grouping of mostly autonomous regional churches, all of which are nominally answerable to the Necrophant, but are left mostly free to operated with certain, basic doctrinal guidelines.
Romd does not, by and large, care much about what the other Watchers do, so long as they don’t interfere with the serious business of death, and His clerics often reflect his attitude. For instance, they often find themselves working hand-in-hand with clerics of Rozerus or Lunarus against the undead (although there are often personality conflicts with the latter). In most cases, where another religion is considered the state religion of an area ( Empire of Luminairre, Eklarial, Xethis, Magdelnar), the church will find a way to work with that religion in order to best do its job, seeing to the dead.
-Romdians have a strange and strangely warm relationship with the clerics of Narola, due to an ancient connection between the God of Death and the Goddess of Life. In elven lands, there is a long-standing tradition that Romdian clerics answer to, and can expect support from, the clergy of Narola.
-Dyradak is the unquestionable enemy of Romd and Romdians see themselves in an eternal war of annihilation against the followers of the Watcher of Undeath. The highest mandate of any servant of Romd anywhere is to destroy the followers of Dyradak and their works. The practical upshot of this being that Romdian clerics are not often found in the lands dedicated to the Dark Watchers, due to Jagdar’s alliance with Dyradak. They don’t hate Jagdar for being evil, they simply hate anyone or anything allied to Dyradak.
Primacies of the Church of Romd
Sacred Precincts of The Gate: The center of the Romdian faith, a separate administrative
district built around the Third Gate. The Sacred Precincts are given over entirely to the administration of the highest levels of the Church bureaucracy and the support of the Necrophant. The home chapel of the Necrophant. No one is allowed into the Precincts without the express permission of the Necrophant or his representatives, and is generally reserved for sacredoti of the Romdian Church.
Exarchate of New Din’Garreth ruled directly by the Necrophant, often through a
direct lieutenant, usually the chief Metropolitan of the New Din’Garrethian capital or the Patriach of Greater Caetha.
Patriarchy of Davinguard initially a separate organization entirely, but merged with
the New Din’Garrethi in the early days after the Demon Wars. Technically includes the clerics of Romd in Magdelnar, although in reality, the complexities of Gnomish life often elude the hide-bound clerics of the ancient Patriarchy and the Church of Romd the Recycler is allowed to operate on its own (see below).
Primacy of Greater Caetha, covers a large area in the continental center, including the Caethan Republic, Beldaria, Richland, Endaril, Theurlow and Eklarial. Infamously underfunded and overworked, Greater Caetha produces more Peripatetic (wandering) clerics than any Church outside Kordin.
Primacy of the Palathian Plateau, covers Palathia, Seran, Acardin (with the cooperation of the Diasporan Matriarchy of Stoneguard), Rhystal, Eridas, and Tyraloch, although some of these support merely token presences. Currently engaged in a debate concerning the Metropole of Seran (see below).
Kordin Primacy, among the more newly formed (for Romdians, anyway) Churches, the Primacy of Kordin serves the dead of all the lands touched by Kordin’s vast trading empire. Tends to be assigned any region touched by the sea where the other Primacies cannot reach. The Brotherhood of the Watery Grave is the largest single concentration of Peripatetic (wandering) clerics in the Churches.
Temple of Dusk, the Duskgreeters are the Church of Romd-in-Xethis, the Temple of Sebek-ari Guardian of the Otherworld, second in age only to the Temple of the North itself. They are a small temple, mostly used as caretakers of the catacombs and tombs, led by a High Priest of the Setting Sun, equal in rank to the Primates, its hierarchy is much in the style of the Davinguardian Church. They work hand-in-hand with the Lunarians of Xethis, united in hatred of the undead, and preaching an altered doctrine of death as a Time Limit that makes each moment worth living in its fullest, death as the reward to Life’s achievements. Very few martial assets are given to the Duskgreeters as the Lunarian followers in Xethis are more than enthusiastic in their prosecution of the undead. Often ridiculed as the ‘Cheerful’ Romdians.
Temple of the North, a separate organization, led by the Psychopomp, oldest continuous
worship of Romd, dating before the creation of Clerics, it was originally part of the loose system of holy men that made up the Grigori Successor Movement venerating the Watchers, in the early days of human migration, combined with the two largest of the Mystery Faiths that addressed death, the Mystery of Death-as-a-Servant (The Thanatoi), a cult that venerated Thanatos, and the Mystery of the Cycle, a Narolan/Romdian cult that worshipped the cycle of life and death. Covers the Federation of Human Nations and (theoretically) Kareltha, although this last is in something of dispute.
*Diasporan Matriarchy of Stoneguard, formed of one of the early autocephalus
churches from the clerics of the humans who were driven beneath the mountains. Is now the secretive Dwarven Church of Death. Is not sworn to the Necrophant, but has a close understanding with the Human church and the two organizations have cooperated profitably several times in the past. Generally follows the same old-fashioned hierarchy as Davinguard.
-Church of Romd-the-Recycler, while technically a semi-autonomous Metropole of the Patriarchy of Davinguard, Romd-the-Recycler is, for all intents and purposes, a specialized branch of the state Church of Klintendekkerdor. They also, for obvious reasons, have close ties to the Solid Waste Management Union. In overpopulated Magdelnar, they are kept quite busy and couldn’t care less about the politics of Romd outside their domain. Gnomish death clerics tend to act more as specialist technicians than spiritual guides, having the time only to deal with the actual dead bodies and leaving the tending of the mourners to the Klintendekkerdorians.
-Metropole of Takur: Attached to the Kordin Primacy, the Metropole of Takur sees to
the mortuary needs of Takur. The actual diocese is not that large, but is prestigious due to its proximity to the Sacred Precincts.
-Metropole of Seran, with the recent increase in the size and importance of Seran, and all the dead from their wars of conquest, the Primacy of Palathea has recently started to debate whether it would be necessary to found a separate Primacy of Seran or if perhaps the Primacy of the Palathean Plateau should move its center to the busier hub of Seran.
While the regional churches are largely responsible for their own affairs, they do all adhere to the same basic hierarchy, except, of course, the ancient Temple of the North, which is organized along different lines.
-Necrophant, the head of the Church, formally holds the titles of “Necrophant of the
Mysteries of Romd, President of the Curia of the Office of the Disposition of the Flock, Keeper of the First Chair of the Black Chamber of the Office of the Sanctity of the Rule, Primate and Exarch of New Din’Garreth”. Selected by the Primates (along with the Patriarch of Davinguard), often from their own number at the death ‘Promotion’ of the previous Necrophant.
-Primate/Patriarch: Head of one of the regional churches. Holds complete responsibility
for the administration, defense and spiritual health of the region in all matters relating to Death or the battle against Undeath. Works with the heads of the Collegia and Orders, contemplative and militant, in their region. Answers only to the Necrophant and even then has considerable latitude of interpretation. Elected by a region’s Metropolitan and approved by the Necrophant. In the older churches of Davingard and Stoneguard, the Primate is called a Patriarch or Matriarch (exclusively Matriarch in Stoneguard, where life’s ending, like life’s beginning, is considered the providence of women).
*Exarch: a religious military governor of a region. Has much the same powers as a
Primate but is fractionally lower in rank, and answerable to, the Primates. There are currently only two Exarchs in the church, the Exarch of Tisania and the Exarch of New Din’Garreth (one of the titles of the Necrophant). The Exarch of Tizania is directly appointed (and removed as needs be) by the Necrophant and has less latitude of action then the Primates.
-Metropolitan: Supreme bishopric rank in the Church of Romd. The Metropolitan
controls the Catacomb cathedral of one of the great central urban centers of the faith. Controls and is responsible for all the activities of the Church of Romd in the lesser communities and rural areas (called the Peripheral regions) attached to their Metropol. Succeeded by their Coadjuter upon their death.
-Coadjuter, aide and heir apparent to the Metropolitan. Chosen by the Metropolitan,
often from one of his Suffergans or Syncelli. Speaks with the authority of the Metropolitan. Takes care of much of the day-to-day business of the Metropol and is usually the one to take care of matters in the Peripheral parishes on the Metropol’s behalf.
-Sufferagan, a lesser bishop, controls a Peripheral diocese. Has much the same powers
and responsibilities as a Metropolitan just on a smaller scale. Has their own Catacomb. Chosen by the Metropolitan.
-Syncelli, a scribe, biographer and personal secretary, usually from one of the
contemplative orders, to a Metropolitan, Coadjuter or Sufferagan. Has the duty to record the acts and pronouncements of their bishop for posterity. Has no actual clerical rank but it is a very prestigious post and allows unrivaled access to the ear of power. The only power accorded the syncelli is that their writings are entered into the official record and considered the most trustworthy records in the Church (as much as the suspicious Romdians trust anything).
-Episcopus, a senior priest, usually either in charge of a subdiocese under a Suffergan or
Metropolitan or directly in charge of a major catacomb complex. Is appointed by the Metropolitan, often on the suggestion of the local Sufferagan.
-Chorepiskopos/Curate, cleric in charge of a full mortuary-temple or, in larger catacombs,
an aide to an Episcopus, appointed by the Episcopus or Sufferagan in charge and approved by the Metropolitan’s office. Chorepiskopos is the older title and is used in Davinguard and Stoneguard, while Curate is the more common term used.
Sacerdos (Father/Mother) the title of a full, spell-casting cleric of Romd. Eminently
pragmatic, Romdians consider a cleric fully ordained upon their gaining and demonstration of divine powers. The Romdian Revealing (the ceremony demonstrating the new cleric’s receipt of divine powers) is one of the shortest and least elaborate and centers on the demonstration of turning abilities. The title Sacredos is applied after the job-title of the cleric (ie. A village Vicar is a Vicar Sacredos in formal Church documents). They are bound to abide by the judgments and commands of their superiors in all matters that do not violate basic church doctrine.
-Vicar, a sacerdos who heads up their own little shrine.
-Forane, functionary in a Cathedral/Catacomb.
-Peripatetic, wandering cleric, generally serving areas too remote or sparsely
populated to warrant a full shrine or those serving routes along the big caravan routes. The most common title for adventuring clerics of Romd.
Votary (Brother/Sister). An apprentice, in the full training, usually at one of the big
Metropolitan Collegia, to become a full, spell-casting cleric of Romd. Only those Novices who have shown both the will and the ability are admitted to the ranks of the Votaries. They have no official rank within the church. Although rare, it is known for rural clerics to occasionally take up the training of the Votary themselves if it is impractical to get the novice to a true Collegia.
Novice, those children, between the ages of 7-14 generally, who serve the Temples of
Romd. It is generally from the ranks of these that Votaries are chosen, although many leave the Church upon reaching majority. Commonly the role of orphans left to Romd’s care (which takes those infants left to die as Romd’s own).
The Church of Romd is responsible for the maintenance and administration of pretty much every mortuary, catacomb, graveyard and funerary facility in civilized Ondoron. As such, there’s a lot more work to be done then can be done by full Sacredoti, what with being responsible for everyone that dies in the known world. Therefore, a considerable bureaucracy of layfolk who do the practical, non-magical jobs that need doing in the Church. Among their number are everything from simple grave-diggers to administrators of estates larger then most nobles to some of the finest architects in the world.
-Rector, the highest rank of civilian administrator, responsible for the upkeep of an entire
diocese, or subdiocese. Responsible for all matters of supply, tithing, and labor. Generally answerable to a Sufferagan or Metropolitan.
-Sacristan, the chief layperson of a chapel, responsible for its upkeep and care, no matter
the size, from the smallest shrine to the largest Catacomb Cathedral, is referred to as a Sacristan. Answerable to the cleric in charge of their shrine or the rector in residence. They are in charge of the collection, counting and much of the distribution of grave-offerings and donations to the temple (funds handed down by the Church are handled by the Sacredosi although they may turf such matters out to a particularly trustworthy Sacristan)
-Custos, any layperson who works at a Romdian shrine is a Custos, whether a full-time
employee or one of the volunteers from the local altar society. These include clerks, stoneworkers, body-decorators at the larger catacombs, gravediggers, sweepers, etc.
Temple of the North
Separate in structure from the younger churches of Romd but still sworn to the Necrophant, the Temple of the North is organized from the structure of the old mystery religions that arose in the primeval human civilizations that were born in the old river valleys of the Federation. The core of the religion (as with most religions in the Federation) is the cults of the Successor Movement, which venerated the Watchers before the Insurrection. Most religious organizations in the Federation use the same hierarchy. Known as the ‘Temple of the North’ after the actual Temple of the North, the Temple of Romd-the-Liberator, a massive temple complex in one of the Federation’s oldest cities from which the entirety of the faith in the North is based and in which all major decisions and rituals occur. It is one of the largest storehouses of Romdian knowledge outside of Takur.
Psychopomp, a ceremonial, oracular head of the Temple, originally inherited from the old
Thanatoi cult. Is reputed to inherit strange and ancient arts, and magically is the most powerful Romdian cleric in the North. However, is often so consumed by the mystical side of their discipline that the actual administration of the Temple’s affairs is left in the hands of the Flamines Majores.
Flamines (sing. Flamen) Majores, the most senior priests, officially only an advisory
council to the Psychopomp, the Flamines actually run the day to day affairs of the Temple and the order in the North. The Flamines are of variable number and select their own new members, generally from the ranks of the Flamines Minores. To them and the Psychopomp alone are left several ancient and inner-most rituals of the faith, many of the meanings of which have long been forgotten. They also have the power to initiate a priest into the Flamen Mysteries and thus have control over who may or may not become a Flamen Minore.
Flamines Minores, the regional high priests of the cult. There is one Flamen Minore for
each member nation in the Federation and each Flamen Minore rules from a Temple Minore (always subordinate to the Great Temple). It should be noted that these northern temples, unlike the sanctuaries of other Romdian churches, are not combined with graveyards or catacombs (especially since most northern nations still follow the old ways of cremation) and are seen as places of purification. Initiated into the Flamen Mysteries, the Flamen Minore is, without much doubt, the most powerful cleric in the region and controls the lesser priests through their greater store of knowledge and the promise of initiation. A Flamen Minore is referred to as “Flamen” or “Flamen [Nation]” (ie. Flamen Northwood)
-Fetiales, head of a local temple or shrine. This is a purely administrative post that dates
to the times before proper Clerics and thus, while the Fetiale may be a layperson or Mansionaris, they have authority over the full Clerics who operate out of that temple or shrine. They are usually chosen by the local authorities and approved by the Flamen. Often a retirement job for wealthy donors to the temple.
Haruspex (Haruspices), the actual spell-casting Clerics of the order, the heart of its
operations. Originally the seers and readers of omens for the Mysteries, Haruspices were either the heads of small sects or served a greater priest, one of the Flamines of the state-sponsored cults. The title Haruspex covers both the clerics and Romdian-aligned druids that serve the Temple. Haruspices are trained by the apprentice system, taking the place of their predecessors when they move on. Haruspices are always chosen from the ranks of the Mystae.
Mystae, the “initiated”, those members of a congregation who have been initiated into some of the mysteries of Romd, without actual spell-casting ability, but who take part in rituals and secret rites. Generally also act as part-time scribes and accountants within the order and are considered competent to conduct funerals and other ceremonies outside the temple.
Ostiary, ceremonial title, originally “doorkeepers”, covers both the physical security and certain ceremonial duties, usually the keeping and maintaining of certain ritual (usually not magical) objects. Is usually either professional fighting men or local deacons.
Mansionarii, temple-system civilian keepers, basically the equivalent of the Custos and Sacristans of the other Romdian churches, work directly for the Fetiale.
(Other races approach death in other ways, generally, Elves view life and death as a cycle and invoke Narola in death, Gnomes view Klintendekkerdor as their psychopomp or guide through death, Hisskarssi have strange, old reptilian beliefs that predate their belief in the Watchers etc.)