Keepers Organization in Scarterra | World Anvil


Khemra's primary followers are nicknamed Keepers of the Way. Short form, Keepers. The Keepers keep all sorts of traditions and lore.    

The Keepers and Geo-Politics

  In nearly every large human nation that uses feudalism, the priesthoods of Khemra, Phidas , and Hallisan are locked in an eternal struggle to curry favor with the king or queen. When the Keepers cannot sway the rulers directly, they will attempt to recruit the rulers’ courtiers and advisors.   Khemra worship is generally more popular with highborn people than commoners but relatively few commoners are openly hostile or distrustful of the Keepers.   Since Khemra is the Keeper of the Compact and the Compact states that the Nine should be worshiped equally, on paper, Khemra’s Keepers are officially tolerant of other worshipers, even followers of the Chaotic deities. In practice, Khemra’s earthly minions are not above oppressing and restraining heathens.   Even though the Cult of the Compact has very little to do with the Divine Compact, the Cult of the Compact usually gets along with Khemra’s priesthood. Khemra’s priesthood is the only priesthood that doesn’t view themselves as competitors with the Cult of the Compact.     Khemra is the state patron of Khemarok (duh). Khemarok is a theocracy vaguely based on Ancient Egypt with a dash of Classical China’s meritocratic bureaucracy. Worship of other deities is not forbidden here (in fact it’s encouraged) but most worship rituals for the other deities are actually presided over by priests of Khemra because priests of other deities generally find Khemarok an unpleasant place to dwell.     In East Colassia, Khemra is the state patron of Magicland (though being the most powerful priesthood in Magicland is like being the thinnest person at Fat Camp). Khemra worship can be found in every nation of the East Colassian Confederacy. Marginalland, Mariverlandia, and Mooringsland do not have official state patrons, but the Keepers are arguably the most politically powerful religious group in these regions. The freedom loving people of Marshlandia and Musseland are mildly distrustful of Khemra priests but even they have a few Keepers among them. Meraland is run by the priests of Mera but its run in a very similar fashion to Khemarok. In this case, familiarity breeds contempt. The Keepers and the Tenders do not get along here. The Mereshnari barbarians favor Korus with Nami and Khemra vying for the number two spot.      

The Clergy

  Not all priests and priestesses are divine-spell casters. Not all divine spell-casters are priests.   In absolute terms, the Keepers of Khemra have more divine spell-casters than most of the rest of the Nine surpassed only by Hallisan and Mera. Proportionally, the Keepers have fewer divine spell-casters than most of their counterparts among the rest of the Nine. This is because temples of Khemra have very vigorous recruitment drives. On average, Khemra temples have much larger staffs than the temples of other deities. The Keepers detractors say their temples are bloated with redundant and unnecessary priests and bureaucrats.   As hidebound as the Keepers are, they are fairly flexible with recruitment practices. They are happy to oblate new trainees as children and they rarely turn away adults who “hear the call” later in life. They like to recruit to children of nobility, but they don’t turn their nose up at commoners who want to join, especially commoners that can read.   Most child recruits are shipped off to boarding schools. The Keepers have a number of monasteries who sole job is to house and train new members, Hogwarts style. Most adult recruits do not go to these training monasteries, instead learning on the job in apprenticeship style training.   The Keepers of Khemra do not actively seek out recruits to become divine bards. If by dumb luck, one of their regular recruits happens to be a musical prodigy, they will train the musical prodigy as a divine bard. Only about 1% of Khemra’s spell-casters are divine bards. Fewer than any other priesthood.   It is not forbidden for the Keepers to induct or train arcane magic users into their ranks but this is generally discouraged. Fewer than a half a percent of the Keepers wield any arcane magic at all. The Keepers command the loyalty of fewer mages than any other priesthood save the Guardians of Hallisan.   Khemra’s doctrines value history and respecting one’s elders. This means that many Keepers are big on filial piety and ancestor worship. The Keepers claim more Spirit Loas among their ranks than any other priesthood save maybe Mera's priesthood which also values filial piety greatly.   Whether they can cast spells or not, every Keeper is a member of one of the Five Orders: Dawn, Zenith, Dusk, Day, or Eclipse.   It’s not encouraged for Keepers to transfer between different Orders, but it is not forbidden either. Keepers are reassigned between Orders as pragmatism whenever their superiors think this will help the priesthood as a whole. Most new members who do not possess special skills in martial prowess or diplomacy start in the Day Order. Many older members choose to transfer into the Dawn Order so they can pass on their wisdom to new recruits. Politically ambitious Keepers frequently seek transfers to the Zenith Order. About half of all Keepers stay in the same Order their entire careers.   favored souls of Khemra are rarer than any other favored souls except for favored souls of Phidas which don't exist at all. There are at least fifty conventional theurgists for every single favored soul.   They are the only Keepers that are allowed to propose major reforms to the priesthood’s ecclesiastical law and traditions. Eclipse Touched are also given a lot of autonomy to make their own decision, go where they wish, do as they wish. This sparks some jealousy among other Keepers,   Officially, the Orders are equal. Unofficially, a lot of Keepers view the Zenith Order as the most prestigious posting one can receive. Non-favored souls believe being assigned to the Eclipse Order is a punishment assignment.     Dawn Order: They handles recruitment and training. They also handle travel arrangements. Their vestments typically involve the color orange.   Zenith Order: They are the arbiters of ecclesiastical law and the ambassadors to princes. They are also charged with monitoring the activities of other priesthoods and organization parleys and joint ventures with the others. Their vestments typically involve the color white.   Dusk Order: The sky turns red with the blood of Khemra’s enemies and the blood the Keeper’s shed in defense of their faithful. The Dusk Order are primarily guards and soldiers. Their vestments typically involve the color red.   Day Order: Every task not explicitly given to another Order falls to the Day Order. This includes presiding over actual worship services and managing the libraries among many other things. This is by far the largest order. Their vestments typically involve the color yellow.   Eclipse Order : favored souls of Khemra and the support staff to favored souls of Khemra. This is by far the smallest order. Their vestments typically involve the color grey.     Officially, all Khemra temples are part of the same planet wide hierarchy. In practice, the difficulties of long distance communication mean regional temples that are far away from Khemarok hold a lot of autonomy.   At the very top of the pyramid are the five Pentarchs. The Pentarch Council is made up of the highest ranking member of each of the five Orders. The five Pentarchs have the final say on all matters pertaining to their Order. If a decision affects all followers of Khemra, the Council conducts a vote.   This practice of the Pentarchy voting is carried down at the lower ranks. Obedience to higher ranks is not optional. If there is a disagreement among equals, a vote is carried out and the vote is always binding until countermanded by a superior.   The five Pentarchs are usually quite old and not very spry. They certainly cannot be everywhere at once. In fact, they rarely leave their temple, so they rely on fifteen Champions to be their eyes, ears, hands, and mouthpieces.        

The Keeper's Material Needs

  The priesthood of Khemra is frequently in the good graces of kings, dukes, and other potentates. They get most of their operating funds from donations from rich and powerful people. They will graciously accept any donation no matter how small, but they generally do not actively shake down peasants for copper pieces.   Khemra is a patroness of literacy and learning. Temples of Khemra often have extensive libraries. High ranking Keepers can bring in serious coin selling their services as sages and professors. Back before the printing press, all books had to be copied by hand. Low ranking Keepers are often put to work as book binders and copyists which also brings the priesthood additional funds selling books.   The Keepers are well organized, and have a very solid transportation network between their temples and holdings meaning they can facilitate a profitable trade in potions, scrolls and other magical items. That said, this is less common than among other priesthoods. Zarthus , Hallisan , Greymoria , and Phidas all bestow their theurgists with a special aptitude for the magical sphere of Crafts. Khemra spell casters have no special aptitude in making magical items, but they make up for their lack of innate talents by being organized and thorough.   Because the Keepers maintain a global organization, cash rich temples can share the wealth with poorer temples relatively easily. Khemra temples are rarely hurting for funds. That said, Khemra temples generally house very large staffs, so they have a lot of mouths to feed. Since most of the Keepers money goes towards buying food and supplies, Khemra temples seem to be fairly austere and spartan. Even high ranking clergy rarely enjoy a lot of creature comforts.   Khemra temples are rarely modest or grandiose. They tend to be far less ornate than Hallisan , Zarthus and Phidas temples. They tend to be far more ornate than Maylar and Greymoria temples. Given that most temples are swarming with low ranking acolytes it's easy to assure that the temples are always spotlessly clean.    

Priestly Ranks

  Candidate: Person is in consideration to join the priesthood   Acolyte: Member is accepted into priesthood.   Cleric: Member is able to take on normal activities unsupervised. Many priests live to a ripe old age and are never be promoted above this.   Aurum: Member who is able to boss around other members. There are roughly a thousand Aurums.   Apogee: Member who is of great status. Most temple heads are Apogees though Aurum’s are eligible to run smaller temples. There are between one hundred and two hundred Apogees.   Champions : The three personal assistants of the Pentarchs. There are fifteen Champions.   Pentarch: The head of one of the five Orders. There are five Pentarchs.   Pharaoh: The ruler of Khemarok. Always Eclipse Caste. By law, the Pharaoh cannot be a Pentarch. By tradition, the Pharaoh has no influence outside of Khemarok and in practice, the Pharaoh is mostly a figurehead head of state. The bureaucrats actually run the nation. In theory, if I decide to create a tiny Khemra theocracy in Pentarchy or the Border Baronies, that nation would also have a Pharaoh.    

Common Honorifics

  Teacher (someone who teaches, replaces Cleric) Revered teacher (someone who teaches, replaces Aurum) Auger (skilled in Divination magic, addendum) Oracle (mastery of Divination magic, addendum) Scholar (expert in some form of academic discipline, prefix) Elder (the head of a temple).   Officially, spell casting and non-spell casting priests and priestesses are equal in Khemra’s eyes. In practice, spell-casters are much more likely to be promoted than non-spell casters. Those skilled in Divination magic are extremely likely to find themselves on the fast track to promotions. Outside the Day Order, it is very rare for non-spell casters to ever be promoted to the rank of Aurum or higher. Non-spell casters wield a lot of informal power. A theurgist that is consistently rude to his non spell casting brethren is likely to regret their behavior finding his letters lost and requested supplies not forthcoming.   There is a small bias towards promoting Keepers of noble birth. This is usually done to curry favor with the noble Keeper’s relatives but there is a limit to this nepotism. The leaders might promote a high born Keeper over a slightly more qualified low born Keeper, but they won’t promote royal morons to high ranks if they cannot handle the job.   Keepers who joined the priesthood as children usually obtain promotions easier than Keepers who joined the priesthood as adults. There is not an overt bias, but priests and priestesses who grew up in the system generally know how to play the office politics better.   There is no overall gender bias among the Keepers as a whole. The Day Order is predominantly female and the Dusk Order is predominantly male. The other three Orders are fairly evenly represented along gender lines. Most titles and forms of address are gender neutral.     I have not figured out if the Keepers should encourage their priests and priestesses to marry and have children or if they discourage their priests and priestesses to marry and have children. I do know that most Keepers would frown on sex outside of marriage.   The fact that they recruit aggressively means they would likely encourage their Keepers to make little Keepers. The fact that they support rigid personal discipline suggests that they would encourage their Keepers to not let sensual pleasures and family obligations distract them from their duties.   The debate on whether Keepers should get married or not is probably the number one theological debate among the Keepers. That and the question of whether slavery and serfdom are morally justified or not.    

Factions, Schisms, and Heresies

  Khemra is the only deity on Scarterra that can truly claim to have a planet wide organization. Phidas and Hallisan are trying to unite all their priests under a single umbrella but this has yet to occur. Both Phidas and Hallisan have roughly 2/3 of their followers under a single organization. Khemra has over 90% of her followers following the guidance of the Pentarchs.   That’s still not 100%. First off, the Pentarchs have no feasible way to offer regular guidance and instructions to priests and priestesses of Khemra among barbarian tribes and monstrous races. Tiamalan kobolds may hold Khemra in great reverence (as they do all the Nine), but they have very little interest in bending the knee to a human or elven dominated priestly council because of some stuffy protocols.   Second off, sometimes individual Keepers decide the Pentarchs’ red tape gets in the way of Khemra’s true goals. Many of these Keepers are self-taught theurgists, others are priests who leave the Order. There are not many of these mavericks but those of Khemra's faithful bold enough to stand outside the tent usually have strong piety and high Willpower scores meaning they are usually magically powerful. I haven’t figured out a colorful nickname for these guys, but I probably should.   These mavericks may anger the Pentarchs and their agents, these mavericks have not been forsaken by Khemra herself. Their magic still works just fine. Khemra is actually more flexible to dogmatic variation than most of her followers. Because of this, the Pentarchs may try to sideline and constrain the mavericks but they rarely try to have them imprisoned or killed.   Most of the time, these mavericks are lone adventurers and they rarely train proteges. If they do take on apprentices, it’s rare for one of these heretical factions to boast more members than can be counted on one hand. They are usually not a threat to the Pentarchs because they mostly go on quests to slay monsters, gain glory and do other stereotypical adventurer stuff that usually indirectly help Khemra’s goals or at least helps Khemra’s reputation among the masses.   There is one heretical faction that has grown in numbers and power. They call themselves the Night Order. The Night Order pursues Khemra's ideals with extreme ruthlessness.   Like every other priesthood, the priesthood of Khemra has both reform and orthodox members. Among other disagreements, reform members generally want the Keepers to meddle with the other priesthoods less often and the orthodox members want the Keepers to meddle with other priesthoods more often.

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Cover image: by Me using Nightcafe


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