Church of Traladara

The Church of Traladara
Kingdom of Karameikos

Located on the The Temple District of the city of Specularum, The Church of Traladara is an ancient religion stretching back thousands of years to ancient Traladara, long before the crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis. The Church centres around the teachings of three primary Immortals – Halav the Patron of Warfare and Weaponsmiths, Petra the Patron of Defence and Cities, and Zirchev the Patron of Forests and Hunters.

In addition to these three Immortal patrons, the Church also acknowledges the existence of a fourth Immortal. This Immortal is known by a number of names, including the Adversary and the Beast-King, but in the Concordance he is given the name Flaghr. Flaghr was the Beast-Man king that King Halav fought in his final battle. According to the epic Song of Halav, Flaghr and Halav struck killing blows against each other simultaneously. The Church teaches that Halav and Flaghr continue their epic struggle, Flaghr trying to destroy Traladara, Halav trying to save it. The Feast of Halav commemorates this struggle every year.

Circa 70% of the human population of Karameikos belongs to the Church of Traladara, the major native religion. While its belief date back to the Traldar Age of Heroes, the church itself has been around for circa six centuries. It has suffered several major setbacks with the Silver Purge, the holy wars, and finally the Marilenev rebellion, which all but destroyed a generation of church leaders. The leader of the Church is Patriach Aleksyev Nikelnevich.

Pantheon
The Church of Traladara worships primarily the three Great Heroes, Halav, Petra and Zirchev. None of the three is given precedence over the other, as the church stresses the importance of cooperation and strength found in unity. See: Immortals of Mystara.

Several other Immortals are acknowledged as powerful, but remote, forces.
These are mostly the Immortals worshipped by the ancient Traldar — Ixion, Khoronus, Djaea, Tyche, Asterius, and so on. However, these Immortals are not generally worshipped and only theology specialists are aware of their existence, names, and rituals.
Most clerics just know that the Tarsian Twelve are powerful Immortals that were once the patron of the Traldar people, but left that role to Halav, Petra and Zirchev.
Modern Traladaran cleric associate the Tarsian Twelve with natural phenomena that are beyond the control of humans — such as the sun, earth, and weather.

Finally, several lesser heroes are also acknowledged, and local cultural activities are held to honour them. These may be Immortals, such as Chardastes, or simply long-gone mortal heroes or kings, such as Tarhek the Radiant or Prince Ithron.

The church activities and rituals focus on the historical events of the Song of Halav, with festivals where the battles against the Beastmen are re-enacted, and, on a smaller scale, on the spiritual needs of the worshippers. Traladaran priests are generally down to earth, and so are their teachings — generally, they are oriented toward tolerance, goodwill, respect of fellow humans and similar virtues. The concept of sin is not clearly distinguished from that of crime — in general, the Traladaran priests did act as judges in the pre-Thyatian clan system, and the modern theology closely reflects that approach, even though modern priests do not have judiciary powers.

History
The Church of Traladara was formed around 400 AC in the town of Marilenev, as a result of the closer interactions between the local Traladaran population and clerics from Thyatis, Harbortown and New Alphatia.

The original Traladaran cult had been much more informal, with clerics generally trained in a master-apprentice system within each major clan.
Since the Traladaran culture was orally transmitted, the priests served primarily as bards, advisers and healers to the Traladaran nobles, in many ways like the modern godi in the Northern Reaches.
Halav was the most popular patron, though Petra was also well liked by the townsfolk, and Zirchev had some following in the more remote communities.

When the Thyatian missionaries started collecting the Song of Halav, and taught the Traladaran how to write, they set the basis for the unification of the religious thought across all of Traladara.
Three main ways of thought emerged, based in the towns of Svoga (near Halag), Marilenev and Selenica.

The Selenican church was heavily influenced by its ties with the Darokin monarchy, and, while named Church of Halav, did actually retain much of the older Traldar pantheon, including Ixion, Khoronus and especially Asterius.
It quickly spread across the mountains to the northern Traladaran clans in Lugsid (modern Threshold) and Vaion (near the site of modern Penhaligon, but on the northern bank of the Shutturga).
Its coat of arms displayed per pale: azure, the moon; or, Halav proper.

The Marilenev church was more similar to the modern Church of Traladara, and was the first to bear that name.
It was more influenced by Thyatian missionaries, and it was the first to adopt the brown robe as a formal clerical vestment.
Its coat of arms displayed natural, a priest argent.

The Svogan church had more influences from the neighbouring Five Shires, as well as from Harbortown — the real power behind the throne in western Traladara at that time.
This church focused its worship on Halav alone, leaving only a lesser role to Petra and Zirchev.
It was also more militant, and in the decades between 400 and 450 AC, it raised a military order, the Knights of Halav.
Its coat of arms displayed natural, a sword or armed argent.

The three churches had slightly different beliefs and philosophies, and controlled territories allied with different powers.
Thus, they did not last long — a cruel civil war erupted, and the Svogan Church of Halav was all but destroyed, while the Selenican church survived beyond the mountains under the Alasiyan emirs.
The modern Church of Halav in the Gulf of Hule and the Church of Olgar in Hule are direct descendants of the original Svogan Church of Halav, brought to the Savage Coast by exiled priests from the Halag region.

The Church of Traladara managed to survive through a number of other crises, including the Vampire Wars and the Marilenev Rebellion.
The rebellion brought the death of many church officials who had sided with the Marilenev against young Duke Stefan, leaving the church with few experienced leaders.
Only now is the church recovering, under the leadership of Patriarch Aleksyev Nikelnevich.

Organization
The church is led by the Patriarch of Marilenev, Aleksyev Nikelnevitch (C11), a capable, middle-aged warrior priest.
Unfortunately, there are few other experienced clerics, as the old generation priests are getting too old, and the best members of the generation of the 940 died in the conquest and rebellion.
Moreover, Sergyev’s schism of 995 brought away more priests — Sergyev himself was the second highest ranking church official, the Patriarch of Krakatos.

A crop of younger priests is being named to important positions, such as the freshly-named Bishop of Kelvin, Balahov, and the Patriarchs of Vaion (Penhaligon) and Vidrin (Vorloi).
However, the Patriarch of Luln (actually, of Halag in exile), Arkadi, has recently died of old age, and the Patriarch is looking for a suitable replacement.

Historically, the Church was organised into twelve Patriarchates (Marilenev, Vidrin, Dmitrov, Krakatos, Halavos, Vaion, Lugsid, Lumm, Halag, Ourosco, Koriszegy, and Svoga), four from each of the three original branches of the church.
In time, the see of the Patriarchs of Krakatos moved to Lazkow, the Patriarchates of Halag and Svoga were merged into a single see, and the Patriarchate of Halavos moved first to Volaga and in modern times to Kelvin.
During the Vampire Wars, the Patriarchates of Vaion, Lumm, Koriszegy, and Lugsid were all but destroyed, and have since remained vacant, or assigned as honorary titles to high-ranking priests in Specularum.
Only the Patriarchate of Vaion was re-established about twenty years ago, in Penhaligon.
There have been talks of re-establishing the Patriarchate of Lugsid in Threshold, but the loss of the Shield of Halav, the famed relic traditionally protected by the Patriarch of Lugsid, as well as the strong presence of the Church of Karameikos in Threshold still render this project infeasible.
The current status of each Patriarchate is reported in Table 1.

Table: Patriarchates of the Church of Traladara

Patriarchate Holder Vampire Wars age see Current see
Marilenev Aleksyev Nikelnevich Marilenev Specularum
Krakatos Vacant since 995 AC Lazkow Specularum
Vidrin Tamara Iliescu Vidrin Vorloi
Dmitrov Zoltan Shtolin Dmitrov Dmitrov
Halavos Vassily Balahov (regent) Halavos, Volaga Kelvin
Vaion Vladimir Marushka Vaion Penhaligon
Lugsid (not assigned since 900 AC) Lugsid Threshold
Lumm (not assigned since 721 AC) Lumm N/A
Halag Vacant since 1000 AC Halag Luln
Ourosco Jozsef Kazmarek Ourosco Vandevicsny
Koriszegy (not assigned since 743 AC) N/A N/A
Svoga (merged with Halag) Halag Luln

Below the Patriarchs, the traditional organisation only had Priests and Novices.
In modern times, Bishops have been introduced, modelled on the Church of Thyatis, to take responsibility for populated regions that are not part of one of the historical Patriarchates, such as Rugalov.
Bishops also replace Patriarchs in some recently re-established sees, such as Kelvin and, until a few years ago, Penhaligon, or help the Patriarchs of sees that have grown beyond the managing of a single person, such as in Specularum.

Church of Traladara

D&D 3.0: Tales from Mystara Galero