Overview of the Templars of St. Uther
The Order of the Templars of St. Uther is the smallest, but most devout, of the four orders of the Nuadan church. As its Temple is the main church of Nuada in Southold’s capital, Dunthrane, the Order has a disproportionate effect on royal policy, as the Nuadan patriot is in far-off Bywater. The Templars have a reputation for eschewing luxury and extreme dedication to Nuada’s Code of Chivalry. In particular, the order celebrates the life and teachings of St. Uther, a great hero who did much alongside Aethelstan to liberate Southold from the Videssian yoke five centuries ago. Given their origin, the Templars are almost exclusively Southron and owe their loyalty to King Edmund. While small, the order is known for the prowess of its militant travelling priests and skill with all manner of defensive glyphs.
The Temple is based in Dunthrane, with some smaller chapels scattered across Southold. The Temple is well-fortified—50-foot-thick battlements rise 60 feet in the air, enclosing an interior courtyard measuring 270 feet by 180 feet, so that the exterior dimensions of the Temple are 370 feet by 280 feet. The hollow battlement wall is inhabited by members of the order. In the courtyard are the campanile, or bell tower, and a free-standing private chapel dedicated to Nuada. Usually only the clerics meet here, for the devout public attends sermons and ceremonies in the public chapel just outside the Temple’s walls, beside the main entrance. The retreat, where weary and devout travelers may lodge, is also just outside the main gates, across from the public chapel. Next to the retreat lies the agora, where gold and favors are changed for services rendered and trappings of the faith.
The holy men and women serving the Templars of St. Uther are many and varied. Postulants (pre-novitiates) are not uncommon in the Temple’s halls, working at odd tasks and manual labors to demonstrate their faith to their patrons and themselves. Tonsured novitiates are more common. While they do manual labor and tasks, they are also required to attend seminary classes. Many who enter the temple are content to remain novitiates, glad to serve their god through a strict life of fasting and labor. Novitiates of this order have the title Brother or Sister. Professed priests still take a hand in menial tasks from time to time, but the hoods (known as cowls) on their dark robes priest has taken a Vow of Humble Profession. Professed priests generally spend their entire time of service inside the Temple, and are sometimes called cloistered clerics. Professed priests have the title Father or Mother.
Priests who make a Vow of Solemn Affirmation are called affirmed priests. Affirmed priests are the men and women most often seen in the outside world, striding the length and breadth of the land, doing good works and spreading the word of Nuada. Simply put, they are adventuring clerics. Affirmed priests usually wear a prominent holy symbol and a long dark blue robe or alb with a cowl. Affirmed priests are seen infrequently in the Temple, because one of their main obediences (duties to the temple) is taking missions, generally tasks that take them outside the Temple for days, months, or even years. They are called Mother or Father, at least inside the temple or among their fellow priests.
Serving Nuada, the Temple is heavily invested in martial trappings and houses a number of elite holy warriors. These paladins and other devout fighters (called Crusaders) adhere to strict martial vows, and spend their days in fierce competitions and exhausting drills. Their nights are spent in prayer. As with affirmed priests, the Temple’s holy warriors and paladins perform missions for the temple; however, they must spend at least a month of every year inside the temple’s grounds, training and praying.
The Temple of St. Uther sponsors a small group of devout men and women whose talents lie in other areas. While fighters can become Crusaders, rogues and mages who profess their faith and take a vow of service become associated with the temple as seekers (devout rogues) and catechists (devout mages).
Abbot Roderick is the temporal and spiritual head of both the Temple in Dunthrane and the entire Order of the Templars of St. Uther. By Temple tradition, Abbot Roderick was chosen from among the ranks of affirmed priests to succeed the previous temple head. Directly below the abbot are three hierodeacons, one affirmed and two professed clerics. The hierodeacons, who hand down Abbot Roderick’s obediences and manage the temple’s day-to-day operation, are Hierodeacon Caernarvon, Hierodeacon Ethelbert, and Hierodeacon Landra. Hierodeacon Ethelbert generally assigns or approves the missions undertaken by affirmed priests, unless the mission is extremely important or a special or secret quest, in which case Abbot Roderick personally meets with the priests or other mission members. The next level of the hierarchy is almost completely comprised of professed priests, currently 32 in number. Each has specific duties within the temple, but the most visible clerics include Mother Rowena, who has charge of the retreat, Father Netherby, who runs the agora, and Mother Annan, who holds services in the public chapel. Seeker Ravenglass has charge of the seekers, while Catechist Cassante oversees the catechists. Crusader Ethelred commands the Crusader company housed in the Temple. Father Egbert has charge of the postulants, and Mother Fela is head of the novitiates. Everyone knows Brother Nod, who never took additional vows after receiving his tonsure, but whose piety is so great that he is rumored to have performed miracles when every other recourse has failed. Finally, anyone who spends time on the temple grounds is familiar with Lelay the Bell ringer who, morning and evening, rings the bells in the campanile.
Adventurers and the Temple
Adventurers not affiliated with the Temple may come to the fortress for any number of reasons. Those looking for holy water (of other religious articles) will be directed to the agora, where holy water is readily available for a reasonable price. Injured adventurers, or adventurers hoping for a resurrection, exorcise, or raise dead spell to be cast on an unfortunate companion will end up at the public chapel, where Mother Annan can address their needs. Adventurers looking for a place to stay will be sent to the retreat, where food, ale and wine, and a safe bed are all available.
A member of a sister church of Nuada--any of the good aligned gods--traveling through the area on a mission or obedience may make herself known to the Temple brethren, introducing herself to Mother Annan, then meeting with Abbot Roderick and the heirodeacons to discuss the state of the faith and the two churches. An adventurer may choose to dedicate his life to the service of the Silver One. If interested in such a step, he will meet with Mother Rowena and Father Egbert to discuss the calling.
History of the Templars of St. Uther
Worship of Nuada in Southold dates back to the nebulous times before the Cataclysm. Along with Tyr, these two were the favored Southron deities during the ensuing Dark Ages. Under the Videssian Occupation , the Nuadan religion was outlawed and his nemesis Tempus put forth as Southold’s patron instead. Many Nuadans were crucified as anti-imperial cultists, and some were corrupted by the dark battle-lust of Tempus. However, a small sect fled the capital and took refuge in the nearby Forest of Arden, receiving sanctuary from the rangers and druids of Silvanus who even then tended its groves. This sect dedicated itself to the ancient Nuadan teachings, believing decadence and luxury had caused the Southron to become weak and susceptible to conquest. His faithful companion Onwald wrote down his teachings in The Book of Penitence.
Sir Uther, a former fighter turned priest, became the leader of the sect in 1049, leading some of the first large-scale attacks against the occupiers. He soon allied with the “rebel” commander in eastern Southold, Aethelstan, thought by many to have been an avatar of Tyr himself. Uther was Aethelstan’s sword arm. He took a particular hatred to the Videssian cabalist mages--the Seventh Cabal of Goap the Demon were known for their atrocities against Southron innocents--a hatred that his Order maintains to this day. However, Uther’s greatest enemy was the demon-spawn champion of Tempus, Kahabros, who had built a citadel in the Wyrmsteeth Mountains to terrorize the Southrons. As recorded by The Book of Penitence, 6:472:
Uther lived long ago, when different stars shone and Southold was under the yoke of the accursed Videssians. He was a knight, pure and true, and in his youth he pledged himself to Nuada. A power came into him, and even in the deepest shadows his face was illuminated as if by sunlight. Uther moved across the land righting wrongs, shining the light of Nuada into every shadow of evil. The occupiers--vassals of Tempus and demons--could not stand against him, and in time Uther became the foremost of Nuada’s champions within Arik, and this was good.
However, the Videssian anti-paladin Kahabros continued to visit terror on the people from his mountain fortress in the Wyrmsteeth. Finally, Uther turned his attention to the north, and vowed to see justice done, and this was good. Uther’s journey into these infested lands was not easy. His path was barred by the Two-headed hound of Sthalash, but when that battle ended, the One-headed hound of Sthalash slunk away, licking its grievous wound. His path was barred by the Endless Wyrm, but after a mighty exchange, the Wyrm fled, leaving severed coils behind to writhe mindlessly in the dust. Uther penetrated at last the sanctuary of Tempus to force the tyrant Kahabros to face justice, and this was good. Kahabros employed many magical powers supplied to him by Tempus. He called forth enchantments, which Uther steeled himself against. He brought down evocations, which Uther batted aside with his shining blade. On and on fought Kahabros, becoming ever more desperate. Finally, his magics were depleted, and Kahabros proffered Temptations. Uther spake, saying “Your promises mean nothing to one who is wholly in the service of Nuada!” So saying, he slew the Lord of Evil. Yet the proffered Temptations haunted the thoughts of Uther ever after. And this was evil.
Founding of the Templar Order
Uther is revered as both a prophet and the saint of the Nuadan church. Uther went on to accomplish many tasks in service to his god. A group of holy men and women gathered around him, hoping to chronicle his achievements and emulate his ways. The core of the new Nuadan sect, called the Templars of St. Uther, was drawn from his followers; its holiest book grew from their writings. That book, which all servants of Nuada study, is The Book of Penitence. Many passages and parables in The Book of Penitence speak of the subtle temptations Uther endured in his climactic battle with Kahabros, servant of Tempus. The lesson from these passages are that despite temptation, a strong will always triumphs over thoughts of evil.
The Book of Penitence also describes Uther’s final days. He pledged himself on a grand crusade across the Southern Sea, and was not seen by mortal man again. Most members of the temple take it on faith that somewhere, in some distant realm, Uther battles evil yet, upholding the cause of Nuada.
Ironically, Uther’s insistence upon unswerving devoutness and no luxury or decadence made his footsteps difficult to follow; most Nuadans today regard his sect as extreme. The Knights of the Silver Hands attract many more adherents, based at its Castle Bracilot, while even the recently disgraced Inquisition has more adherents. However, the Templars do have the greatest reputation of all the Nuadan sects, and the location of their seat in Dunthrane means the sect has more influence on Southron royal politics than even Patriarch Anaximenes in his far-off House of the Silver Hand in Bywater.
Uther’s name is often invoked in the church. Common phrases include, “The strength of Uther be with you,” or “May your actions please Uther,” and, among the less devout as an exclamation or curse, “Tempt Uther!”
Benefits of the Temple
Given the rigorous instruction, all Templars gain Religion skill, and are required to study one of four enemy languages--Draconic, Infernal, Videssian, or Cortalish.
Templars of any class can choose warrior skills without penalty.
Holidays help the common worshiper feel as though she is part of Nuada’s flock, and celebrate the feeling of unity with others of the same faith. The following holidays are unique to the Templars of St. Uther.
Religious Holiday Calendar
Valormight 1st of each month
Newmass 1st of Hammer (January)
Justday 20th of Tarsakh (March)
Day of Just Rebellion 1st of Mirtul (May)
St. Uther’s Day 31st of Marpenoth (October)
Communion 10th of Nightal (December)
Valormight. This holy day is the first of each month, celebrated with a simple hour-long ceremony by all Nuada’s faithful. Tests of strength and tournaments are often held as well on this day. Silverfruit is given to all participants (bestows a bless spell on the recipient for the entire day.)
Newmass. This holiday celebrates the beginning of a new year, and the end of an old. Those who celebrate this holiday reflect on the past year during a day of feasting and gift-giving. Giving a gift symbolizes the ability to do right and be a proper person. Receiving a gift becomes part of a ritual where properly thanking the giver is as important as the giving.
Justday. Justday is a day when all those who hold justice close to their heart prove it. In most cases, this means that a devout worshiper who has done an injustice in his life makes restitution for it. Usually this includes small acts such as apologizing for slights, giving food to a poor family, or some other easily accomplished act. On the other hand, those who wear their faith on their sleeve are likely to proclaim some great work, act, or crusade on this day, trying to rally the like-minded to their banner.
The Day of Just Rebellion commemorates the battles fought to win the independence of Southold from the Videssian Empire. This holy day is observed as a reminder that justice is not served by tyranny, and that honor is sometimes best served through rebellion. While most Southrons celebrate their independence with carousing and public parades, Templars engage in prayer, meditation, and open discussion of under what very limited circumstances rebellion against the ruling elite is the appropriate course of action. Given that more than one tyrant has moved to stamp out the threat of organized sedition by attacking Nuadan houses of worship on this day, the Day of Just Rebellion commemorates the deaths of many martyrs and engenders unusual vigilance by most members of the faith.
St. Uther’s Day. St. Uther is known best for his defeat over Kahabros. He is also known for his steely self-control in the face of temptation, remaining pure and unsullied throughout his life. On this day, only celebrated in Southold, generally where the Templars are active, his likeness is carved on wood and stone, and paraded through the streets. This seems to be an excuse to eat a lot of food and throw candy to children during the parades.
Communion. This day is not about loud parades through the streets or vocal proclamations. It is a quiet day of introspection. Those who celebrate the day take time alone and open themselves to a mood of contemplation. This meditative time promotes inner peace and increases each individual’s ability to be just in day-to-day life. Some are said to receive direct insight from the Silver One, moving them to right some wrong in a faraway land at their god’s behest.
Temple Daily Personal Schedule
Arise 4:30 am
Matins 5:00 am
Morning prayers 7:00 am
Breakfast 8:00 am
Morning work period begins 8:30 am
Lunch 12:00 pm
Afternoon work period begins 1:30 pm
Vespers 4:30 pm
Supper 5:30 pm
Arise. The bells of the campanile chime out a few short notes in preparation for matins (the First Hour).
Matins. Unlike the earlier reminder, the bells signaling the First Hour play rich, rousing liturgical music. In most cases, Temple members may do as they please during the period before morning prayers, though this time is usually spent in private prayer or personal liturgical reading.
Morning prayers. Most of the Temple membership meets in the private chapel to take part in a brief service dedicated to Nuada. Abbot Roderick usually officiates at morning prayers, although it is not uncommon for a priest of any station to be honored in this capacity.
Breakfast. Simple broth, hard bread, cheese, and fruit are the normal morning fare.
Morning work period. See the work period tables.
Lunch. Vegetables, grains, and game are standard fare for the midday meal.
Afternoon work period. See the work period tables.
Vespers. Like matins, vespers is signaled with rich music from the campanile. Again, this is a time for personal introspection, prayer, and reflection on the ways of Nuada.
Supper. Standard fare includes hearty vegetable stews with bread, although those with a culinary flair are invited to try their hand at this meal, so it’s not unusual for the priests to enjoy unique meals at supper.
Compline. A somber soliloquy from the bells indicates the official end of the temple schedules. Priests generally sleep at this time, but strictly speaking, the time between compline and matins is free time, and can be spent as a priest sees fit.
The men and women who have decided to dedicate the rest of their lives to serving Nuada for the Temple of St. Uther are ready to take their solemn vows. Though the road was perhaps less difficult for affiliates, they and priests both view this occasion with equal solemnity. For affiliates, taking solemn vows means that they swear to devote themselves to the pursuit of Nuada and the advancement of the Temple. Both PCs and NPCs can become affiliates. On taking the solemn vow, an affiliate gains the title Crusader, Catechist, or Seeker, as appropriate. Affiliates may take solemn vows after spending a period of six months as an affiliate novitiate.
Priests have the option of not taking solemn vows and retaining their novitiate status. For priests who decide to take on greater responsibilities, taking solemn vows also means making a choice in how they wish to serve Nuada and the Temple. Priests who take solemn vows gain the title Mother or Father.
Some priests choose to focus inward, and thus take the professed priest’s Vow of Humble Profession (regardless of whether they are cleric or specialty priest). Professed priests are cloistered and do Nuada’s work within the temple walls. Usually only NPCs become cloistered clerics.
Other priests choose to work outside the Temple, spreading the work and word of Nuada wherever they go. These men and women take the affirmed priest’s Vow of Solemn Affirmation. Affirmed priests are “adventurers,” and are not often seen within the walls of the temple. Priests may take solemn vows after reaching fourth level, either through adventuring while novitiates or after a novitiate period of one year passes—whichever is longer.
Professed or Affirmed?
At the end of her novitiate period, a new priest must decide whether to become a professed (cloistered) or an affirmed (adventuring) priest. Some priests feel called to one or the other role, from their first day in the Temple. Others choose a vocation during the postulant or novitiate periods. If a priest has not felt a strong calling toward profession or affirmation before taking solemn vows, she traditionally holds vigil in the private chapel, on the battlements, or in a nearby sacred grove, for at least one night. The time is spent burning the holy incense of divination and meditating. Most priests report having transcendental experiences that clarified their callings, though the experiences were varied (a statue speaking, a vision of an astral deva appearing, and The Book of Penitence opening to a specific passage are three examples). While a priest’s calling is usually common knowledge before this, she formally announces it at the taking of solemn vows.
After reaching fourth level and passing the novitiate period, aspirants can become affirmed priests if they take the Vow of Solemn Affirmation. Priests given quarters during their novitiate status lose them when they take vows: space is too tight to reserve cells for every priest adventuring abroad. Of course, whenever an affirmed priest returns to the Temple, he can expect to be put up, fed, and accorded the comforts of a professed priest while his stay lasts. Though affirmed priests often defer to the wishes of the hierodeacons, they are responsible to Abbot Roderick and the will of Nuada.
Currently, there are over fifty affirmed priests associated with the Temple of St. Uther. Of those, only d4 reside in the Temple at any given time. In some cases, years have passed since certain affirmed priests have returned home to Mother Church.
When a priest takes a Vow of Solemn Affirmation, her commitment is for life. The priest’s final vows include justice, obedience, and conversion of life. At this point, the affirmed priest receives a suit of plate mail armor as well as a minor Nuadan magic item. The affirmed priest also receives the title Mother or Father, but only fellow members of the Temple address the priest in such a manner (though particularly unyielding priests might require adventuring companions to use this form of address).
Affirmed priests possess freedom to come and go from the temple. They are required to spend three days of every year at the Temple. On the other hand, they can’t spend too much time away from their calling—except for occasional sabbaticals, an affirmed priest should spend no more than five days of every thirty within the temple grounds. The rest of the time they are expected to dispense justice in an unfair world.
In many cases, affirmed priests are alone when they leave the temple, and must find their own way in the world. These priests often join small adventuring companies for the protection they offer, as well as for enhanced mobility. While a priest of Nuada would never associate with completely evil adventurers, groups containing rascals, reprobates, and those whose eyes are not open to the glory of Nuada make perfect targets for conversion. Adventuring companies travel an extraordinary amount, affording the priest the opportunity to promote Nuada in the far-flung corners of the land.
Sometimes an affirmed priest leaves the temple with fellow Temple members, forming a company made up of an affirmed priest, a crusader or two, a catechist, and an seeker. Though such teams of devout individuals usually form for a specific mission, some teams remain together indefinitely after the first mission.
An affirmed priest on a mission doesn’t adhere to the daily personal schedule, since the mission (adventure) is the work of an affirmed priest. When on temple grounds to pay a tithe, rest, answer a summons from the abbot, or do research, the affirmed priest might very well follow a schedule similar to a professed priest. The affirmed priest gives a yearly tithe of 25% of the wealth he has accumulated while performing missions in the wide world.