Organized Religious Practice  
The Most Holy Church of Breminor directs organized religious practice in the world.  The Church is a decentralized institution established at the end of the First Cycle in order to
bring uniformity to religious practice
establish a code of conduct for religious leaders
keep the populace's worship from being infiltrated by Amulon and its minions, and
help Mortals shorten the number of lifetimes they need to live before joining the Gods at their table.  
Over the centuries, the Church has grown many arms, most of which operate independently.  Several of these have either been or risked excommunication due to their divergence from the norm.  However, all arms, regardless of divergence, conform to a single belief that The Codex of Breminor is the Words of the Gods.  

Governance of the Holy Church  
The Church of Breminor is governed by the Synod of Bishops, which meets once every decade to fill open bishoprics, decide on policy matters, and approve excommunications of major secular figures.  In centuries past, these meetings took place in Nythoria, the capital of the world.  However, due to political instability there, the venue for these convocations was moved to the Great Cathedral of the Thoradeed in the north of Valithra.  Though many have to travel months, this venue guaranteed the safety and security of the bishops once they arrived, a personal assurance from the King/Queen of Valithra.  It is also one of the holiest sites in all Breminor.  
The most important figures in the Synod are the Archbishops of the major cities, principalities, and kingdoms.  
Meeting once a decade means that, for the most part, the bishoprics operate on their own, in conjunction with nearby, friendly bishoprics, and under the occasionally prodding eye of the closest Archbishop.  

Church's Hierarchy  
The Church's hierarchy can, at times, be complex.  For the most part, however, it follows the structure shown below.

VISIO 5 Drawing

To land a job as a prelate (a high ranking clergy, such as an archbishop, bishop, abbot, or grand marshal) one must be of noble blood.  Except in rare cases, non-humans are excluded from these jobs as well.  Typically, firstborn children are destined to rule their parent's holdings, and are groomed for that.  Other children are encouraged to find their way in religious life.  
Most priests and other lesser clergy are drawn from lower nobility, merchants, artisans, and other freemen.  

Priests and Lesser Clergy  
The priests and lesser clergy conduct the Church's business on a day-to-day basis in all regions of the world.  The further out from the larger cities one gets, the less orthodox the Church's practice tends to be.  
At the end of the Second Cycle there was a Reformation of the Church.  Orthodoxy achieved its height for the Age of the Binding.  Many heretics were burned and magic items destroyed.  In addition, priests were taught to read and write in the language of the Church (Nythorian), so that they could follow and profess the teachings of the Church.  However, that was a long time ago.  
By the Fourth Cycle, priests outside the major cities were not trained to read and write; instead they recited mass from memory.  Their successors learned the mass from them.  Over time, the mass has been altered; the further out one goes, the less orthodox its practice.  
In the most remote regions where there are no priests or they visit infrequently, the laity assumed religious leadership.  In these regions, the Church holds little sway.  Typically in these areas, worship tends to focus on a single god(dess), or a local religious figure.  
The Order of Konlar has been sent into a few places to put down heresies (see Religious-Military Orders).  They are very thorough.  
Note:  There are no restrictions on priests and lesser clergy marrying, though more orthodox clergy may avoid it on the grounds that it detracts from their love of the Gods.

Monastic Orders  
The abbots (prelates) of the various abbeys and monasteries report up to their local bishop.  Monks are trained by and are members of particular religious orders, which are usually founded by a reformer at some point or other.  
Monks of all orders are committed to an ascetic life.  As such, they cannot:  own property, though as abbots and priors they may hold property in the name of the Church; or, marry or have children.  
There are four monastic orders that account for the majority of monks who have taken their vows.  These are described below.

Order of…
Status with Synod
Keep true the Words of the Gods
Mage, Cleric
Keep the body and spirit healthy and pure
Tolerance for somewhat questionable methods
Mahatmas, Sages
Perfect one's spirit to attain enlightenment.
Know the past, witness the present, see all possible futures.
The Synod cannot control the Seers, but will not interfere either.
Mage, Cleric

Religious Military Orders  
The Church, in its infinite wisdom, has authorized the creation of several military orders to further its cause and protect its interests.  For the men and women serving in most of these orders, life is a mix of worship and battle, of prayer and fighting.  
These orders have their own internal command and control structure, reporting up to a Grand Marshal.  The Grand Marshal answers to the Synod of Bishops.  Because the Synod only meets only once a decade the military orders are free to do as they see fit, for the most part.  
Although marriage is discouraged for members of religious military order, it is not specifically prohibited by their vows.  However, it is difficult to rise through the ranks if married.  As with marriage, there are no specific restrictions for having children, but again, it is discouraged.  
There are four military orders that account for the majority of religious warriors who have taken their vows.  These are described below.

Order of…
Status with Synod
Defenders of the Faith
Keep the faith pure; purify against pestilence
On the edge of excommunication due to their methods
Warrior, Cleric
Mylassa Warriors
Guard the prelates of the Church (women; established on relocation of Synod to the Thoradeed)
Their trusted servants
Warrior, Thief
Defenders of the World
Keep the physical world and its natural beauty from being maligned or destroyed
Given individual behaviors of Thoria, uncertain
Warrior, Cleric
Defenders of the Binding
Keep the Binding from being destroyed; defend all borders, physical and æthereal
Excommunicated centuries ago
Warrior, Mage
Knights of the Living Earth
Keep the living earth, including both flora and fauna, including the earth and stone, from being misused.
Uncertain.  No Knights of the Living Earth have been seen in centuries.  
Warrior, Cleric
Knights of the Water
Keep the seas, lakes, and rivers from being misused.
Tenuous at best.  
Warrior, Thief
Knights of Fire
Use fire to cleanse the world of impurities, and to prevent fire from being misused by impious.
Warrior, Mage
Knights of the Air
Keep the air, including its creatures, safe from harm.  
Good, though few Knights remain.  
Warrior, Cleric

Non-Human Religious Practices  
For the most part, the non-human races have patron deities in the Pantheon that they worship, and that are recognized by the Holy Church.  With the exception of the Reformation at the end of the Second Cycle, the Holy Church has pursued a policy of inclusion for all who accept the Gods into their hearts and the Holy Church as their guide on the fastest path to be seated at the table of the Gods.  
Though their numbers are small and proportional, many non-human races are represented in the Church's hierarchy and in the Synod of Bishops.  

Holy Sites  
Many of the major holy sites in Breminor are identified below.

Holy Site
Great Cathedral of the Thoradeed
One of the oldest and largest cathedrals in Breminor, it stands on the site where the first Bringer was taken back to the Gods, and where many have subsequently seen the Bringer appear.
Forge of Roe
Within the bowels of Mount Matulen, an active volcano in the kingdom of Sherna, is what the Mortek believe to be the forge in which the God Roe made the sword Halgoth, the blade wielded by He who goes Unnamed.  
Inkitar's Teeth
Thirteen white stone slabs, each measuring 0.5 meters thick, 2 meters wide, and 4.5 meters high, stand vertically in a semi-circle deep in the forests of Kakehun, near a Khaj place called Kojehun.  The Khaj regard the stones as the Teeth of Inkitar, God of War.  As it is told, Inkitar battled the great beast, Shilu that consumed Mortal and Immortal alike.  The beast knocked out thirteen of his teeth before Inkitar was able to destroy it.  
Nine Gates
According to Grateki legend, the Nine Gates contain the knowledge necessary for one to achieve enlightenment.  Some have said that finding the Gates are the reason the Grateki travel; others believe the Gates are only symbolic.  
Cave of the Goddess
Located along a ridge east of the city of Thrune in Valithra, the Cave of the Goddess is said to be the place where Mylassa last appeared physically in the world.  Regardless of the time of year, flowers bloom around the Cave.  It is a holy site important to both the Vimadi and Valithrans.  
Mylassa's Grove
In a sacred place known only to Vimadi in the mountains between Nyslavadd and Toroth is a grove of ancient oaks.  When an elder of the Vimadi dies, s/he is buried and an oak tree is planted in the soil above.  The trees in this grove are centuries old.  The Vimadi believe they are the spirits of their ancestors.  

Copyright 2000 by     All rights reserved.
Version Date: 15 August 2000   Primary Author:  Stephen Castillet