The Church of the Highfather is a loosely-
The Church does not have an offical "ranking" system, although individual churches will almost always recognize those with the most age and wisdom as the leader of the other priests there. Those that become ordained priests can only be remove from thier status by a vote of three other ordained priests during a trail held by the Church. The church is required to do everything possible to reach the priest in question so that he can defend is position, but there have been many cases where a priest is stripped of his official priesthood by the church without the accused being present. Such cases are very rare.
The exception to the no-
Currently, there are churches in every city of Arember, except for Swampmire and Gorgon Hill (whose church burned in a mysterious fire). In the heart of The Dark Queen's territory, few priests wish to try to build a new one.
Size of Orginization
Although a person can find a priest just about anywhere he goes, very few have The Gifts, the power to cast spells granted from The Highfather himself. Usually the major cities have at least one or two priests with The Gifts, but there is only a small chance to find one elsewhere.
The church's power base is located, as mentioned, in the city of Portraven. Although the church there is powerful and has many resources, other churches vary in thier riches. The churches ask only for that which others are willing to give, and can only give what is avalible to them. The church pays no taxes and owns the land where a church is built.
Healing others is done by those with The Gifts on a case-
Holy water and other such items (such as scrolls) can be prepared by the church, usually for a 50 gold piece fee. The fee can be waived, however, in special cases.
An ordained priest can perform weddings, and is in charge of burning the dead (a common practice since the appearance of The Dark Queen and undead creatures).
Finally, the Church can provide Sanctuary for those who ask for it. For the Church to provide Sanctuary, the individual must be on holy ground. Normally, a priest present must agree to the Sanctuary, but hose with a high sense of faith to the Church might still recognize the request even with a priest not present. Most humans in Arember will not kill on holy ground unless the opponent is defiling the holy area (note here that a minion of the Dark Queen is defiling the area simply by being on the holy ground!).
Priests study for years, usually through childhood, to become ordained priests. The very basic training required to pass the tests of the Church (given once per year at the Church of Portraven) is about 5 years. priests are instructed in Spellcraft, Religion, Healing, and Reading/Writing.
The Church of Portraven is the central church of the land. All other churches report back to the Church of Portraven from time to time, usually by a visit from one of the Bishops. Churches are required to give 10% of thier offerings to the Church of Portraven, who usually give those donations to those who need it (usually other churches or the army).
The church has a very powerful ally in the Army of Arember, and can also count on the support of most people in the kingdom.
The church battles the forces of the Dark Queen whenever possible, especially Dark Priests and Necromancers. The church would love to see the Dark Queen destroyed, but does not have the power or resources to complete such a task.
Outside the church, there are many wandering priests who have not been officialy sanctioned by the church. Most people of the land have mixed feelings about such wandering priests.
Priests of the Highfather do more than battle evil and heal people. They take an active role in teaching others about The Highfather and what he wants them to do and to be like, they perform wedding, burn the dead, and take the confessions of those who want to repent and ask the forgiveness of The Highfather.
Thye priests are very visible in the cities, although usually only during the day.
COMMON CODES OF THE PRIESTS OF THE HIGHFAHTER
Follow your concience, then your wisdom, then your intelligence, then your instinct. -
Strength of the heart is greater than strength of the body.
Nothing is impossible through the will of The Highfather.
A hundered deeds for one's self can not equal one deed for another.
Mercy is not to be confused with weakness. It is strength.
Commit evil and you make evil stronger. Do good and make yourself stronger.
Killing is not evil. Killing from hate, for greed, or for revenge is evil. To kill a hundred evil foes to save the life of one innocent heart is justified.
Only men are allowed to be priests of The Highfather. The person trying to become an ordained priest must pass the test given to all those who are trying by the Bishops of Portraven once per year.
Ordained priests are allowed to live in any church for free as long as they do thier share of the work when there. Meals are also free.
Priests of the Highfather can be found dressed in almost any manner, although most wear plain brown robes. Ordained priests carry holy symbols that clearly bear thier name, making it obvious that they are ordained by the church. Making a false amulet ofthis type is punishable by branding throughout the kingdom.
Priests carry a wide variety of equipment, depending on where they are and thier needs.
The Church has been around even before Arember itself, although before the construction of The Church of Portraven it was only a very loose orginization at best. Most priests wnadered the land and there were few temples. At that time, almost anyone could simply claim to be an ordained priest, and there were many con artists who did.
After the construction of Portraven, and the masive church center there, the church has had much more influence and stability.
In 4 AG, when Highfather began granting special persons The Gifts, the Church went through a major change. Priests that were unfaithful could no longer hide thier lies, and corruption in the church grinded to a halt. Dopplegangers, shapeshifting creatures of The Dark Queen, were found in the church by use of the Gift of Truesight, and were almost completely destroyed.
Now the Church has proof of the existance of the god they have beleived in for so long, and the reputation of the clergy is almost never questioned. The Church of the Highfather is seen as a powerful force of good, and some say the only hope against the powers of The Dark Queen.
The priests of Highfather beleive him to be the being that created the entire universe. However, he allows evil to exist to test the faith and courage of those who follow him. To guide them, they follow the teachings of the Book of the Highfather.
The Book of the Highfather teaches that the Highfather created the entire world at the beginning of time with a great forge.
Beings of evil, such as the Dark Queen, are allowed by the Highfather to exist to test the faith and courage of his followers. If men are faithful and brave, they will be able to rid themselves of such evils, although many may die in the process. Dying in the name of the Highfather while fighting evil is seen as a great deed, and one of the highest honors one can acheive. However, one should never willingly go to his death if other options are possible.
Although the Highfather took a direct hand in the ancient days to guide and protect his people, he decided, once most men had heard of the religion, to test his faithful further by leaving their faith and future to themselves. To help them, he grants certain individuals wisdom and the Gifts to guide others. It is still beleived, however, that the Highfather can take a direct hand in any matter if he wishes.
Animals have souls as well as humans, but are not "under the test" of the Highfather. Their souls go to Paradise to aid those who are accepted by the Highfather.
Death is part of the way the Highfather works, and is part of nature. The people who live in the world are being tested by the Highfather to see who is worthy to live with him in Paradise.
Killing others is acceptable in the religion of the Highfather, when no other options are avalible. Killing creatures who are evil, such as the followers of the Dark Queen, is not seen as evil, but as a good thing, as it puts such creature's souls at rest. Killing of innocent people is evil, and killing should be a last resort of those who fight, although in mass battle killing is acceptable.
Paradise is the plane where Highfather takes those who die and are worthy. There they live much like they do in Arember, but there is no evil, death, or disease. There the Highfather lives in his great Golden Palace, where only the greatest saints are allowed to enter.
Saints are chosen by the Highfather for their great faith and works. The saints are the chosen fighters of the Highfather, and it is commonly beleived that he lets these saints come back to Arember to look over the faithful there. Although there have been reports of saints being seen, the church has never confirmed such reports, leaving them to the faithful to beleive or not. The religion of the Highfather does not include a belief in "otherworldly agents" such as angels or minions. The saints are the Highfather's armies. Although there are few saints (the church lists an official list of 53), they are considered very powerful, their souls being an extension of the Highfather himself in many ways.