Mera's priesthood and her core followers are nicknamed the Tenders. This is short for "Tenders of the Sacred Hearth", but many of Mera's detractors (and even some of Mera's followers) say that the term "tender" refers to their tender easily bruised hearts. Mera and Geo-Politics Among the human nations, Mera is usually the most beloved of all the Nine. Mera’s Tenders and spirits commonly provide healing, protection, food, warmth, and sage advice without asking anything in return. The Tenders rarely interfere with princes and potentates as long as those in power give the Tenders freedom of movement to help people as they see fit. Most human rulers are all too happy to give them this freedom of movement and make it a point to praise the priesthood of Mera publicly to show off in front of their subjects. A relatively new semi-heretical offshoot of the Tenders known as the Paladins is extremely political. They have created theocratic police states for the people’s protection in very dangerous areas. Paladin sympathizers are supposedly plotting coups around the world and this has caused more paranoid rulers to give Tenders in general less leeway than before. Gnomes often assimilate the religious values of their non-gnome neighbors, but when left to their own devices, most gnomes are very pro-Mera. Most gnomes believe Mera created gnomes to be her ambassadors on Scarterra. gnomes are disproportionately highly represented in Mera’s priesthood. Mera is respected by the dwarves of Meckelorn and Stahlheim, but Mera’s priesthood is fairly small here. Mondert is much different, they are island nation that depends on fishing and they value family and community highly. Mera is the state patron of Mondert and the Tenders are very influential there with roughly as many dwarf Tenders as human Tenders. Mera’s priesthood in the Elven Empire is small but growing. As the Elven Empire assimilates more values from their human subjects, Mera worship is becoming more fashionable among the elves. Among the wood elves, Mera has fewer temples and clergy than Korus and Zarthus, but more than every other deity there. Very few nations and tribes are overtly hostile to Mera. The largest nation opposed to Mera is Kahdisteria, the home of the dark elves and the only nation who claims Greymoria as their state patron. Mera worship is actively squashed wherever it is found, especially among the slave classes. That has done little to stop underground Mera cults among the slaves though. Tenders are rarely revolutionary sorts, but Tenders are the core of the resistance movement in Kahdisteria. Mera has less influence in uncivilized lands than among civilized lands, but she is far from a bit player sitting firmly in the middle of the pack among the Nine. She has more followers among the monstrous races and barbarian tribes than Hallisan, Khemra, and Phidas. Mera's Clergy Not all priests and priestesses are divine-spell casters. Not all divine spell-casters are priests. On Scarterra, Mera has more priests and theurgists than any other deity, narrowly crowding out Hallisan. A few exceptional individuals exist, but Mera’s priesthood seems to have a quantity over quality approach to theurgists. A great many Tenders only gain a few dots of healing magic and never expand beyond this. Most of Mera’s non-spellcasting priests and priestesses dedicate themselves to the healing arts. Most have at least a few dots of Medicine and Hearth Wisdom. Even if they are not affiliated with Mera directly, most of the best physicians and herbalists were at least trained by a Tender. To become a theurgist, a mortal needs strong piety, a high Willpower, and a strong drive to use their mundane skills in a passionate matter. About 80% of theurgists emerge as the result of priest sponsored training and about 20% are self-taught as it were (and most priesthoods make special accommodations to absorb self-taught theurgists into their ranks). Among Mera’s faithful, roughly 40% of the theurgists are self-taught, far more than any other deity. No one is 100% sure why this is, but the common theory is that Mera is beloved by the people, circumstances create homegrown theurgists. With a few minor exceptions, Mera’s priesthood does not seek to actively recruit divine bards, but they are more than happy to train new recruits as divine bards if they show a natural musical aptitude. A disproportionately high number of Mera’s divine bards are self-taught theurgists. Mera is in the middle of the pack when it comes to favored souls. She has far fewer favored souls than Nami and Zarthus. She has far more favored souls than Phidas, Khemra, and Hallisan. Mera’s favored souls are nicknamed “Blessed Ones.” A commonality in the background of Blessed Ones is they often have near idyllic childhoods in un-idyllic areas. In other words, they usually come from loving families that happen to live in areas plagued by war or disease which usually gives them a drive to help the less fortunate. Mera’s theurgists outnumber the Blessed Ones approximately three-to-one. Blessed Ones souls are not normally given any special status compared to theurgists. theurgists and favored souls are supposed to treat each other as equals. theurgists and favored souls do not interact very much though. Mera tends to empower favored souls in areas where she has few theurgists. She wants to spread her benevolence as far and wide as possible. A majority of Mera’s Blessed Ones are found among monstrous races and barbarian tribes. A lot of them show up among Kahdisteria’s slave population. Factions, Schisms, and Heresies The Tenders do not like to use the term “schism” but the priesthood of Mera has a major schism between the Terrawans and Walchese. If you want to split hairs it’s more of a denominational split than a schismatic split. The vast majority of human and gnome dominated Mera temples either follow the philosophy of Terrawa or Walcha, not both. There are so many conflicting legends about these two great religious icons that no one knows for sure if Terrawa and Walcha were humans, gnomes, elves, dragons, spirits or something else. Both Terrawans and Walchese claim their legendary founder predates the other one. Relations between priests of these two group are polite but somewhat distant. Not every Tender follows the teachings of Terrawa or Walcha. The Tenders of Mondert maintain their own tradition. The secret Mera cults in East Colassia maintain their own traditions and this is bleeding over into the Mera temples of the Colassian Confederacy. Mera worshipers who are not humans or demihumans usually maintain their own traditions. Most Blessed Ones choose not to declare themselves for an existing Tender tradition. Terrawans Terrawans believe that Tenders should integrate with their communities as much as possible. They are usually encouraged, sometimes virtually required, to marry and have children. Terrawan clerics often work multiple jobs often serving as the village cobbler, blacksmith, or any number of mundane jobs in addition to their priestly duties and traditional healing duties. Most Terrawan temples maintain extensive gardens and a few are able to feed their staffs entirely on their own produce. Terrawan temples tend to be very modest in size and artistry. Slightly more than half of the Terrawans are inducted into the order as young adults as opposed to inducted as children. Many services are held in or near the homes of the congregation instead of in their temples especially when the nature of the service is very personal like a wedding, baptism, or funeral. Non-spell casting clerics are fairly common. Rank is based largely on seniority, not raw power. In some ways, Terrawans prefer their temples are run by non-spellcasters. Terrawans tend to travel often both so as to be able to administer to as many people as possible and because their temples tend to be located in rural areas with widely dispersed congregations. Walchese Walchese believe that Tenders serves their community best by making themselves examples of piety to inspire their congregations. Most Walchese take a variety of vows that set them apart from their congregation, such as vows of silence, celibacy, chastity, or poverty. Most Walchese Tenders do not pursue mundane occupations and most temples rely on donations to feed their staff. Most Walchese temples are large and ornate. Most Walchese priests and priestesses began their training as children. Many temples have nearby or attached inns or hospitals. Services are nearly always performed at the temples and most services are presided over by a spell-casting cleric. Paradoxically the non-spellcasting clergy are often held up as greater exemplars of Mera’s faith but despite being heaped with praise, they mainly serve in supporting roles and almost never lead. Walchese tend to wait for others to come to them in the temple than mingle with the populace. Walchese temples are more likely to be found in larger towns or cities or along major trade routes. Walchese are slightly more likely to play politics than Terrawans. It’s not common to see Walchese Tenders having audiences with the king or queen, but they actively try to maintain good relations with the local knights, barons and counts. Firebringers The Firebringers are a loose association of Mera affiliated roving adventurers. Pure Ones All Tenders love priest but very few of them are absolute pacifists, but the Pure Ones are total pacifists. The Wayfarers The Wayfarers are a group of Tenders that specialize in protecting water ways. The Paladins The Paladins are an unusually militant Mera order with a very proactive and far reaching view of protection. Some Paladins are also Wayfarers or Firebringers, but not many. Unificationists The Unificationists are a group of Tenders that hope to establish a Scarterra-wide hierarchy to organize all Tenders under a single banner. Mera Heretics Some Tenders furtively whisper that the Paladins should be branded heretics. As of yet, there is no major conflict between the Paladins and the rest of the Tenders. Most Tenders will not admit that the Walchese and Terrawan split constitutes a major schism. It’s almost impossible for a Tender to branded a heretic. The only real way to get branded a heretic is for a Tender to endorse killing other Tenders. This is rare but it’s not unheard of as both the Terrawans and Walchese have a hardcore fringe that thinks the other group is wrong. A few furtively whisper that the Paladins should be considered heretics as their methods gradually become more extreme. A Firebringer who takes his mandate to battle evil literally and regularly sheds the blood of evil doers, proactively hunting down creatures such as orcs and goblins is probably not going to be warmly welcomed in Mera Tenders but the other Tenders are not going to brand the violent Firebringer a heretic. There are many Tenders who are not associated with any temple or any faction, choosing to operate as lone agents, but these are not heretics either. Usually Terrawans and Walchese bend over backwards to accommodate visitors from the other faction. There are a few hardliners that refuse to associate with the other group. The few Tenders who are actually earn the heretic label are radical Terrawans and Walchese that are so convinced that their faction is correct that they endorse converting the other faction to the “True Way of Mera” by force. The Tenders' Material Needs Tenders very rarely charge for their priestly, magical or medicinal services. They provide their services freely, but it is common knowledge that the Tenders rely almost exclusively on donations. Most of these donations come from relatively poor people, a constant stream of copper pieces, foodstuffs, firewood, clothing and whatever else the little people can spare funnels its way towards Mera temples. If the local ruler wants to shore up his reputation with the lower classes, he or she will publicly donate sums of money to the Tenders, but even if the local rulers are generous, most of the Tenders’ resources come from the masses. In general the Walchese are better at weaseling donations out of rich people than the Terrawans. Most Mera temples are fairly small and modest, but they are very numerous. The Terrawans tend to favor lots of little temples and the Walchese tend to favor a smaller number of somewhat larger temples. Most Mera temples maintain a small garden or orchard. A few larger temples have substantial land bequeathed to them by the ruling elites and most of this land is put towards growing food and medicinal herbs. Mera based bishoprics are fairly numerous, at least compared to bishoprics for the rest of the Nine, but Mera bishoprics are fairly small as a rule, rarely exceeding the size and status of a barony or knightly estate. Networks between disparate Mera temples tend to be fairly informal. Walchese tend to be slightly more formal with smaller temples nominally subordinate to larger temples, usually along national lines. Swynfaredia, the Elven Empire, and Kantoc all are heavily Walchese dominated lands and they all have a large central temple managing smaller satellite temples which manage smaller satellite temples. This is the closest thing the Tenders have to an expansive hierarchy but these networks have very little power outside the borders of their respective nations. Priestly Ranks Terrawan Acolyte: Member still undergoing training. Brother/Sister: Full priest or priestess. Father/Mother: Priest or priestess worthy of respect Grandfather/Grandmother: Priest or priestess worthy of great respect. Cousin: Lay person among the community who regularly volunteers at the temples and assists the priesthood. Uncle/Aunt: Non priest among the community who regularly volunteers at the temples and assists the priesthood and also possesses special skills (including magic) and/or renowned wisdom. Errant: This attached to other titles, Errant Brother, Errant Aunt, etc. Errant Tenders are those who regularly travel. Walchese (including Paladins and Pure Ones) Spark: Member still undergoing training. Ember: Full priest or priestess. Flame: High ranking priest or priestess Blaze: Extremely renowned priest or priestess Incandescent: This rank only exists in theory. In theory an Incandescent would hold jurisdiction over all Walchese temples worldwide. Acolyte: Lay person among the community who regularly volunteers at the temples and assists the priesthood. When different factions of Tender’s interact, they will usually take great pains to address the foreign factions by the other faction’s titles.
Religious, Organised Religion