Ashes of War
The Sovereign Host
The Sovereign Host
The Sovereign Host represents the truth of the world. Their adherents, called Vassals, hold that the gods of the Host aren’t so much deities to be worshipped and respected, but that they simply are. This omnipresence – called universal sovereignity – means that you don’t seek out the gods, they are already there. You might as well seek out the air you breath as to seek the gods. Their presence in undeniable and in all places. The chief dogma of Vassals can be summed up as:
As is world, so are the gods. As are the gods, so is the world.
The gods don’t simply represent the items within their portfolios, they are manifest within them. For example, the goddess Boldrei isn’t summoned into a community by her worshippers, she is the community. If Boldrei removed her presence from the community, the community would collapse. The sense of community would disappear, and people would move away, or become more reclusive and/or isolated from one another.
Vassals pray to the gods not to get the gods attention – the god is already there after all – but to show respect. It is hoped that by showing respect, the god will bestow his/her favor on the Vassal, making a task easier or easing a burden or what have you. This is a key element to the faith of Vassals, and represents why they pray to an entire pantheon, rather than a single god. A blacksmith may pray to Arawai when making a plow, or to Boldrei when making arrowheads, or to Dol Dorn when making a sword. All these gods are present in the blacksmiths forge, and the smith may recognize any or all of them before setting about on a particular task.
Another key element of the worship of the Sovereign Host is that the gods are representations of elements of civilization. Universal Sovereignity can be easily confused with druidic worship, as the druids also believe that there is power in the natural world. But where a druid worships the life-force found in every blade grass. A vassal worships the deity within a field of grain. A druid may worship the vitality of earth and stone, a vassal worships the Onatar found in the vein or ore, or Arawai in the nurturing soil.
This aspect of civilization also separates the Sovereign Host from the Dark Six. The Dark Six are often considered an exorcised part of the Sovereign Host, and almost every member of the Dark Six are in some way bound to the members of the Sovereign host. But, the Host represents aspects of civilization, and the Six represents aspects of the natural world. Where Arawai is found in growing crops and spring rains, her brother the Devourer is found in the lighting strike or the hurricane. See the entry on the Dark Six for more information on this exiled pantheon of gods.
With the exception of the Dragons, no one argues about the existence of the Sovereign Host. Even followers of the The Silver Flame acknowledge that the Sovereign Host created the world and that they have always been. Throughout its long history, vassals have spread their religion not by conquest or cultural subjection, but by integrating the practices of other religions into the Sovereign Host.
For example, when humans priests first came to Khorvaire, they encounted the goblins of the old Dhakaani Empire. The goblins worshipped a warrior-like goblinoid deity with one eye. To vassals of the Sovereign Host, the goblins clearly worshipped an aspect of Dol Dorn, or perhaps an aspect of The Devourer or even The Fury. These priests of old integrated goblin religious practices with their own ceremonies, explaining that Dol Dorn (for example) was the same as their own goblin deity and that only the name that was different. Over time, the goblins were integrated into the larger religious body of the Sovereign Host.
It is important to note that the vassals aren’t ‘tricking’ these other religions into accepting their gods. The vassals earnestly believe in what they are teaching. Since the gods of the Host are an essential part of everything, it only makes sense that the other gods must be members of the Host – there simply isn’t room for any other deities.
Other than the long term integration of virtually every religion in Khorvaire, perhaps the single most important event in the History of the Host is the Schism that resulted in the creation of the Dark Six. The exact cause of the Schism is unknown, even the oldest religious text – those that are said to predate the Schism, refer to the pantheon as one of nine and six and one. This seems indicative that the pantheon was divided into separate ‘camps’ even before the Schism occured.
The results of the Schism are that the gods of the Dark Six were ‘exiled’ from the pantheon. Their names were stripped from history, and now these gods are known only by such names as “The Traveler” or “The Fury.” While these gods are not recognized as part of the pantheon, every vassals knows that the Dark Six are just as real – and just as powerful – as the Sovereign Host.
Regardless, the current division is between those concepts that represent civilization versus those that represent barbarism or savagery. As long as civilization is acendant, the Host will continue to dominate the world. Should civilization decend into anarcy, the Six will become the greater power in Eberron.
Becoming A Priest
If the gods are inherently part of everything, then why have priests? Since the gods simply are, there really isn’t any reason to have an organized religion. Simply living and going about your daily activities is homage enough. Actually paying respect to the gods through simple offerings or small prayers is more service than the gods need. So why do vassals become priests?
There are several reason that an individual might become a priest of the Sovereign Host. None of those reason should be a surprise to anyone. Perhaps a younger son, who has an inclination towards the gods, joins the priesthood simply as a means of earning a living. Or, perhaps a more zealous person joins the priesthood because she feels her community is adrift and needs a moral compass. Many priests of the Sovereign Host simply fall into their role as community priest. An exceptionally good fisherman may be viewed as favored by Balinor, and thus becomes the local expert on matters of divinity. If this fisherman is well suited to the role of religious leader, he may actually come to see himself as a priest long before he ever attends any formal training.
These individuals who seek to expand beyond the role of community wise-person may eventually seek formal training from the church. Such a person is known as an acolyte of the church. These acolytes must place themselves under the complete care and guidance of full priest of the Host. There are three ways to find such a sponsor:
1) Attend a seminary – This is the preferred method for entering the priesthood. Seminaries can be found in nearly every major city across Khorvaire (with obvious exceptions such as Flamekeep or the moster regions). Would-be priests must pay to enroll in such institutions – the larger the city, the more expensive the training – but such priests are widely respected by their peers and generally receive richer or more civilized assignments after they complete their training.
2) Apprenticeship to a temple priest – This method is more common for those who cannot reach (or afford) to attend a seminary. A priest of a local temple may take on several acolytes (depending on the size of the temple) to perform regular maintenance and religious duties within the temple, all the while teaching these acolytes the doctrine of the faith. Some priests teach their students well, giving them a solid grounding in liturgy and doctrine. Other, less scrupulous priests, simply keep their acolytes as bonded servants with no intention of releasing them from their apprenticeship.
3) Apprenticeshiyp to a wandering priest – This method is generally the least accepted by the more traditional members of the faith. While a wandering priest is perfectly capbable of teaching the faith to her acolytes, the acolyte of such a teacher does not learn how to manage a temple, nor how to advise and guide vassals over the long term. Finally, other priest may hold wandering priests in a certain disdain. After all, if the itinerant priest were a true servant of the Host, why don’t they have their own temple?
Regardless, once the teaching priest believes the acolyte is ready, the priest subjects the acolyte to a series of tests. These tests are typically intense oral or written exams on the tenants of the faith, observations of the acolyte’s skill in dealing with moral or social crises. Seminary testing is often formal and there may be rituals involved. A wandering priest may simply get to know his acolyte well in the course of their travels and simply declare the acolyte a priest at any given time.
The priesthood of the Sovereign Host does not have a rigid hierarchy like other religions in Khorvaire. Instead, the priesthood is guided by a number of liturgical councils
There is no pattern or established requirement for these councils. Some councils are dedicated solely to the Sovereign Host, others have members who are priests of the Dark Six. One council may require that an individual petition the council for membership. Perhaps the eldest priests of the region are the council members. Some councils hold sway over large areas of Khorvaire, while other manage only part of a single city.
Regardless , association with the council has substantial benefits. A council maintains control over its priests with a variety of tools including ostracism, removal of their congregation, demotion etc. The councils can also reward their priests with choice assignments, hand-picked acolytes, access to the rich and/or powerful, additional training and much more.
Deities of the Sovereign Host
The Sovereign of Life and Love
- Neutral Good
- Porfolio: Fertility, crops, abunance, plants, the wilderness, birth
- Priests: Arawai’s priests are knowledgeable about farming or natural lore, as well as religious issues. Most were farmers, herbalists or woodcutters before becoming priests.
- Favored Weapon: Morningstar
- Holy Symbol: A stalk of wheat or the Octogram in bronze & green.
The Sovereign of Law and Lore
- Lawful Neutral
- Porfolio: Law, knowledge, learning, logic, magic
- Priests: Aureon’s priests must be educated or at least knowledgeable, capable of rational thought and able to place the law above their own needs. Many serve as magistrates or officals before joining the priesthood, and a significant number have some skill with arcane magic.
- Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
- Holy Symbol: An open tome, or the Octogram in black and white.
The Soveregn of Horn & Hunt
- Porfolio: Animals, the hunt
- Priests: Balinor’s priests typically come from a hunting or wilderness background. Many were hunters or trappers before becoming priests.
- Favored Weapon: Battleaxe
- Holy Symbol: A silhouetted pair of antlers or an Octogram in brown & red.
The Sovereign of Hall and Hearth
- Lawful Good
- Porfolio: Hearth, community, marriage, government
- Priests: Boldrei’s priests come from all walks of life. They are typically people interested in creating or improving communities of like-minded people.
- Favored Weapon: Spear
- Holy Symbol: A fire in a stone hearth or an Octogram in orange and grey.
The Sovereign of Sun and Sacrifice
- Lawful Good
- Portfolio: Honor, sacrifice, light, the sun, diplomacy
- Priests: Dol Arrah’s priests are known for their integrity. Many were warriors, diplomats or officers of the law before becoming priests.
- Favored Weapon: Halberd
- Holy Symbol: A rising sun or an Octogram in gold and white
The Sovereign of Strength and Steel
- Chaotic Good
- Portfolio: War, athleticism, competition
- Priests: Most of Dol Dorn’s priests are either soldiers or athletes of some kind. All are very competitive in everything they do.
- Favored Weapon: Longsword
- Holy Symbol: A longsword crossed over a shield (or just a longsword) or an Octogram in red and silver.
The Sovereign of World and Wealth
- Porfolio: Wealth, money, trade, commerce, theft
- Priests: Kol Korran’s priests have skill with numbers and accounting, and many were shopkeepers or merchants before taking on priests robes. All priests of Kol Korran are expected to learn about commerce in order to advice the faithful.
- Favored Weapon: Heavy mace
- Holy Symbol: A nine-sided gold coin or an Octogram in gold and silver.
The Sovereign of Feast and Fortune
- Neutral Good
- Porfolio: Good fortune, feast, plenty
- Priests: Priests of Olladra are a mixed lot. They seem to be chosen at random by the god.
- Favored Weapon: Sickle
- Holy Symbol: A domino or an Octogram in white and dark gray (reversed from Aureon’s colors to avoid confusion).
The Sovereign of Fire and Forge
- Neutral Good
- Porfolio: Crafts, weapons, tools, smithing, fire, innovation
- Priests: Most of Onatar’s priests are also crafters of some sort. All are expected to learn a trade if they don’t already have one, as Onatar preaches that everyone should contribute to their society.
- Favored Weapon: Warhammer
- Holy Symbol: A crossed hammer and tongs or an Octogram in red and orange