Church of Karameikos

The Church of Karameikos
Kingdom of Karameikos

Located on the The Temple District of the city of Specularum, The Church of Karameikos is a modern cult with roots in Thyatian theology and philosophy.
Its is the religion followed by the vast majority of Thyatian-blooded Karameikans, as well as by many Karameikans of mixed blood, and some Traladarans. See: Immortals of Mystara.

It is mainly a Lawful religion, even though its pantheon includes Immortals of all alignments.
It basically teaches that the fate of each soul in the afterlife is based on its balance of sins.
The Church provides rituals through which worshippers may free their souls from sins.
As such, the beliefs of the Church of Karameikos tend to take the form of very detailed precepts of life, with the associated penances for each violation.

In this sense, the Church is much more dogmatic than its Thyatian ancestor — which simply mediates between Immortals and mortals, generally letting every Immortals’ priesthood set its own standard and preach its own doctrine, within a general framework.
This policy was chosen by the founders to ensure a greater cohesion of the new Church, and avoid the periodic crises that affected the Church of Thyatis.

The Church of Karameikos is also bent on proselytising.
Missionary efforts have been mostly directed towards the Traladaran natives, though recently clerics are being sent to the Five Shires as well — though, once more, with no success to report.

The major Immortal patrons recognised by the Church of Karameikos are Asterius, Pax Bellanica (Tarastia), Vanya, Valerias, Ilsundal, and Kagyar.

Ilsundal and Kagyar were chosen by the founders to appeal to the demi-human inhabitants of the Grand Duchy, though with very limited success, as the demi-humans have a very different view of religion, more related to personal or family worship than to public, ritualistic worship.

Vanya, Valerias and Tarastia were chosen as the major Thyatian Immortals — the presence of these Immortals guarantees that the Thyatians who come to Karameikos see the Church as simply a national variant of the Church of Thyatis.
The philosophy of the church actually does not agree much with the teachings of Valerias, but the Girder-On of Weapons is so popular that the new Church could not expect much following, had it not included her.

Asterius is the personal patron of Patriarch Olliver Jowett, the leader and founder of the Church.
This Immortal is worshipped in his aspect as the patron of trade and merchants.

The Church of Karameikos is a recent creation.
Up to thirty years ago, its founders were priests of the Church of Thyatis.
They were called by Duke Stefan Karameikos to cater to the spiritual needs of the Thyatian settlers who were colonizing Traladara.

Under the leadership of Patriarch Olliver Jowett, these priests decided to leave the Church of Thyatis and found a new church.
There were several reason for leaving the Church — political ones, as Duke Stefan wanted the Church to work towards the full independence of Karameikos from Thyatis, but also philosophical and practical ones.
The Church of Thyatis was indeed prone to infighting, due to the many different Immortals and philosophies accepted, and to corruption, since position were awarded by the Emperor, the Senate, or by election rather than by the will of the Immortals.
The constant quarrels between radical followers of Ixion and Vanya might be tolerable in cosmopolitan Thyatis, but would be a fatal weakness in a frontier land like Karameikos.

Thus, Patriarch Jowett and his followers selected a smaller set of Immortals that would be looked up as models for the new church, and used their own philosophies as the one and only doctrine of the church.
Since many of Duke Stefan’s followers were Kerendans or Hattians, Vanya included in the pantheon, but Ixion was left out.

The new church was very successful in converting the Thyatian colonist, most of whom had been fairly poor, if not ruined, in Thyatis, and wanted to build a new life in Karameikos, much less in converting the Traladarans.
Thus, fanatical factions developed within the Church, preaching the forced conversion of unbelievers.
Only the authority of Patriarch Jowett keeps these factions from launching a crusade against the Church of Traladara.
Unfortunately, Jowett is now old, and will not be able to keep the leadership for long.
It is impossible to say whether the moderate wing, led by Patriarch Sherlane Halaran, will be able to rebuff the extremist wing of Patriarch Alfric Oderbry.

The Church of Karameikos has many more Patriarchs and Bishops than the Church of Traladara, even though it has a much smaller number of Priests.
Most priests of the Church of Karameikos live in structures owned by the Church itself, and work exclusively for the Church.
Thus, there are fewer itinerant priests and even fewer village priests than in the Church of Traladara.
On the other hand, each temple of the Church of Karameikos is generally manned by more priests and novices than the typical Traladaran shrine.
The leader of the Church is Patriach Olliver Jowett

Geographically, the structure of the Church mirrors the administrative organisation of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.
Each fief is considered a Diocese, which may be the see of a Bishop or a Patriarch.
The Patriarchal or Episcopal titles, however, are not directly linked to the sees — though there are enough Patriarchs that none of the baronial Dioceses is held by a Bishop.
Indeed, Patriarchs like Alfric Oderbry and Aleena Halaran are not attached to a specific see, having instead other positions in the church — either as high officials (Marshals) in the Order of the Griffon, or as Vicars (overseers of a single city) or Legates (ambassadors to other nations).
The same happens for Bishops not awarded their own Diocese.

Also, some Dioceses are not truly active, especially those in Traladaran fiefs like Marilenev, Sulescu, Vandevicsny, Rugalov and Dmitrov.
The titles are still awarded to Bishops, but these priests actually reside in Specularum, mostly involved in political manoeuvres to obtain funds for missionary activities from the Duke.

In addition to the Dioceses, there are Chaplaincies, which are associated with less civilised territories under military jurisdiction.
Currently, the Order of the Griffon does not have any hall or monastery outside Specularum.
It does, however, provide military chaplains to the five keeps of Karameikos.
Any Priest-Knight of the Order of the Griffon can be assigned as Chaplain, though often this is a position reserved to Bishop-Knights.

Church of Karameikos

D&D 3.0: Tales from Mystara Galero