Testers

Maylar's core credo is essentially "that which does not kill you makes you stronger." His followers use this as a justification to afflict pain and hardship on others "for their own good." They call themselves the Testers of Strength, or more commonly the Testers. If someone can survive the hardships the Testers inflict on them, they deserve to live. If not, well they won't.  

Maylar and Geo-Politics

  The Herders of Men are improving the image of the Testers slightly, but only slightly. In most civilized nations, in most places, the Testers are barely tolerated at best or actively persecuted at worse.   Most of Maylar's most active temples are secret temples. If a city has a Nonagon Temple Plaza, there is a good chance the Maylar temple there is a farce, built and crewed by Keepers or Stewards instead of one of his Testers .   Generally speaking, it is accepted that humans, elves, and dragons were crafted jointly by all the Nine working together. Many elves, especially wood elves and grey elves, claim that Maylar was not involved with the creation of the first elves. The nations of Codenya and the Elven Empire generally view Maylar worshipers as little better than vermin that must be expunged. The dark elves of of Kahdisteria have a small but very fanatical Maylar following that among other things, oversees gladiatorial fights among the slave population. Maylar has several public temples in Kahdisteria that are actually run by the Testers. Still the dark elves in general don’t care for Maylar much. He is an ally of convenience to Greymoria and little more.   The half-elves of Apseldia allow for public Maylar worship, but this mainly done symbolically with the goal of flipping the middle finger to the Elven Empire and not out of any true kinship with the Testers.     Maylar is despised by most dwarves. Meckelorn and Stahlheim view Hallisan as their main patron. Mondert views Mera as their main patron. To pretty much all dwarves, Maylar is a god of their enemies. That doesn't mean there are no dwarf Testers. Dwarf society produces more malcontents than they care to admit.   Thanks to the efforts of the Herders of Men, the Testers have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps away from “Menace that must be purged” to “barely tolerated annoyance” in the nation of Kantoc. That’s actually pretty impressive considering how powerful the Guardians are in that nation.   There might be a few petty independent barons with a Maylar-friendly warlord calling himself king, but these petty kingdoms rarely last very long. The most famous such warlord was Mordock the Destroyer who conquered most of West Colassia, but his chosen heir did not wield half of his charisma or raw might and was deposed in less than a year.   Among human lands, the most Maylar friendly area is East Colassia. The Herders of Men are a very large faction in the interior of the continent. The land is arid and unforgiving and the herdsmen have to fight off lions, gnolls, and dark elf slavers. For the Herders, this rugged lifestyle is almost paradise. The men of the Colassian Confederacy have proven themselves to be strong by simply surviving.   Among uncivilized lands, Maylar worship is more popular but even then barbarian tribes that really take Maylar’s philosophies to heart tend to bite off more than they can chew. Tribes that follow a less reckless deity often are more likely to grow and thrive.      

The Clergy

    To be a priest or priestess, all a character in my setting needs to do is buy two dots of Theology and meet whatever requirements their priesthood makes them do. In Maylar’s priesthood, there is only one requirement: be strong. Testers do not generally discriminate in favor of spell-casters or against them. Priests and priestesses are expected to be strong. It matters little if the strength comes from a magic spell or the tip of a spear.   The vast majority of new Testers are inducted as young adults as opposed to being inducted as children, unless the new child recruit is a son or daughter of an established Maylar priest or priestess. There are few if any formal training protocols. New recruits travel with their mentor and learn on the job. Any Tester can recruit whomever they choose as an initiate. Given the high number of Testers lost to violence, mass recruitment is viewed as a good thing. It is not uncommon for a Tester to have three or four apprentices at any given time.   Contrary to what they boast about, it is not true that “Two apprentices die for every apprentice who passes,” but training for new recruits is rough. I am sure it is not surprising that the Testers of Strength make their new initiates engage in brutal tests to prove themselves. Tests of endurance and tests of combat are common. Divine magic is sort of a test. Usually a Maylar aligned theurgist does not get his or her first dot of divine magic until after he or she does something impressive.   If one Tester kills another Tester, is it not required, but it is strongly encouraged that the victor of the fight adopt the defeated Tester’s apprentices and complete their training. The Testers fight each other a lot, but not every fight is to the death. Haka dance offs, staring contests, arm wrestling matches, full wrestling matches, and duels fought to first blood are all fairly common.   A single dot of divine magic in the Wrath domain lets a spell-caster converting bashing damage to lethal damage or visa versa. Since Wrath is a very popular magic domain among the Testers, two warriors can wail on each other with large battle axes and the loser is knocked unconscious rather than sliced into ribbons.   Even if only a small fraction of Testers die at the hands of another Tester, the Testers are expected to do difficult and dangerous things a lot. This is why despite having very aggressive recruitment practices, the Testers of Strength are not especially numerous compared to most other priesthoods.     Maylar empowers more favored souls than any of the rest of the Nine. He has roughly as many theurgists as he has favored souls. A little bit more than half of Maylar's favored souls are born to his devout worshipers while the rest are seeded about the general population. Maylar sews his wild oats so much that his favored souls don’t get much direct guidance from Maylar spirits, at least not as much as other favored souls commonly receive.   While only a small minority of his favored souls rebel against the expectations of their heritage, Maylar produces more renegade favored souls than the rest of the Nine combined. Periodically, Maylar will send Questing spirits to test his wayward children. If his favored souls prove they are strong, Maylar is usually not that peeved if they are preaching values not in line with his official teachings.   I have not come up with a widely accepted nickname for Maylar's favored souls and that's probably okay because despite their numbers, they are hard to spot. Outside the few rebels, the Testers generally don’t make a big deal of favored souls. Favored souls and theurgists are generally treated the same. In most cases, the Testers do know or care if a particular Maylar spell-caster is a favored soul or a theurgist. Most of their enemies don’t care either.   Maylar’s Testers do not actively try to look for divine bards, but they are not very picky when they pick up new recruits. Maylar has more divine bards than most of the Nine behind only Zarthus and Nami. Look up New Zealand haka for an idea what a Maylar aligned divine bard would sound like. Now picture orcs doing that.    

Meeting Their Material Needs

  Donations? Pah! The Herders of Men might get some small donations once in a while, but most of the time if a Tester wants something, he has to find, earn, or steal it. They might say they are taking “donations” but “tribute” or “extortion” is more accurate.     Many Testers like stealing things, but if they cannot carry everything worth stealing they will throw it away or destroy their excess wealth. In many cases, the thrill of the theft is more important than the acquisition of the items. The Testers do not normally need a lot of money. Maylar does not have many temples. Most of his temples are not very lavishly decorated and they have very small staffs. Most of the Testers have high ratings in the Survival skill and can live off the land for long periods of time.   Maylar is a bieng of contradictiion, so there is an exception to every rule. If look hard enough you can find a Tester who is sitting on a throne of gold and demanding every possible extravagance, but this represents a personal greed and not an institutional greed.  

Factions, Schisms and Heresies

    There are not many official heresies or schism within the Testers. When one of your core values is essentially "do what makes you feel good and who cares about what other people think," it is difficult to do something that is outright forbidden. Maylar’s Necromancers?   With few exceptions, Most of Testers factions are informal groupings based on their shared tactics with names given to them by their enemies. For more details see the article on Factions and Divisions within the Testers.   Necromancy, Yay or Nay?   There is a major theological debate amongst the Testers that crisscrosses across many of the other factions. Is necromancy the best invention since sliced tendons or is it an affront to great Maylar?   Some Testers believe wielding necromantic magic as the ultimate expression of Maylar’s values. You make your defeated foes serve you in death. That’s great for the whole strong dominating the weak thing. Some Testers believe wielding necromantic magic is the ultimate perversion of Maylar’s values. A necromancer is hiding behind dead losers because he doesn’t want to get his own hands dirty. This is the weak hiding behind others.   There are necromancers and anti-necromancers in every Maylar faction (even the Shepherds). Necromancers and anti-necromancers fight a lot to test the strength of the other. You get the idea. If Maylar's Testers have a disagreement they usually resolve it with fists or blades.   Infernalists?   It might attract challengers, but being nice to people doesn’t make a Tester a heretic. Again it might attract challengers, but fighting in a cowardly way doesn’t a make Tester a heretic either.   There are some evils so great that even evil fears them. That would be Turoch. Testers of Maylar who have the slightest whiff of Infernalism face the wrath of their former fellows as well as their old enemies.   Unfortunately, a lot of Testers seek a short cuts to gaining power and the more clever minions of the Void offer them such a short cut. The Testers easily lose more recruits to the Infernalists than any other priestly faction.

Articles under Testers



Cover image: Tester Icon by me