Luaere, the Goddess of the Silver Moon, has always had some faithful followers within the kingdoms of Vallhyn. Historically those worshipers were found among human peasants and the elves of the deepest forests. In both cases there was little structured religion. Most of Luaere’s faithful offered simple prayers to Her at small shrines and exercised Her powers through shamans. This loyal but small base brought little power to Luaere and, as such, allowed Her to offer little back in return.
Luaere sat quietly in her citadel watching as the other demi-gods acted upon the world. She was most impressed with Vekest, Lord of the Sun. He had created a very organized priesthood to spread the word of his deeds to the peoples of Vallhyn. Vekest methods were simple enough: empower all of His priests, give them the same message, and let them convert the willing through good works. Luaere sought to repeat that success and began to plan Her own priesthood.
To spread her new message Luaere knew She would need to change the perceptions mortals had of her. She also knew She would need messengers to carry Her word to the world. Luaere expended a great deal of her energy reserve and created a new race: the Vargans. She charged the first Vargan, Mikhail Telbain, with the task of building a seminary to train a new order of priests. Without question, Her will was carried out. In the isolated fields of the Eastern Kingdom of Grammen, the seminary was built by the first Vargans. The task was monumental and took many years. During that time, the Vargans first settlement grew around the construction site and they began to multiply. By the time the seminary was complete their numbers were so great that it was clear it was time for them to journey out into the world. As the Vargans spread so did the word of Luaere’s greatness. Her followers began to come to see the seminary and a select few were accepted into it for training.
The Sodality is born
Under the watchful eye of Mikhail Telbain the followers of Luaere began to mature. Telbain’s attention to detail and desire for structure saw the formation of a very organized religion. The worshipers of Luaere called their church the Sodality and laid out the sacred rules that would guide it. These rules were collected into a book known as the Tome of Orders. Within the pages a laymen or a priest could discover what their role was, how they would help to achieve the Sodality’s goals, and learn to glorify Luaere. The book continued to grow and it quickly became difficult for any one person to truly know all of its rites. This was counter to Luaere’s goal and she sought to change it. The Vargans had done well in spreading her name and building her church but Luaere knew she would need someone that was slightly less rigid to help the Sodality reach the goal she had set for it.
Luaere came to Vallhyn in the form of an elf shaman under the guise that she had come to learn the new ways at the seminary. Her avatar demonstrated an extreme understanding of the divine arts and quickly eclipsed any other student or teacher there. As a student the avatar seemed to others that she had an intimate knowledge of what was Luaere will. It was also clear that Luaere’s will , according to this elf, was not exactly what Mikhail Telbain was trying to achieve. This quickly caught the Vargan’s attention and brought him to the elf to put a stop to the heresy. Telbain was not known for his temper, however, and was always cautious before acting. He also managed to do something that no one else seemed capable of. To Luaere’s surprise, Her first Vargan recognized Her immediately. Despite her guise She could not hide herself from him. Telbain said nothing, however, and kept Her secret. He proclaimed the elf the voice of Luaere and made adjustments based on her word.
Luaere sought less rigidity in the Sodality and wanted each member to only concern themselves with spreading the word of Her deeds and doing good works. She decided it was best to bind them only within their direct responsibilities. It was imperative that everyone understood the key tenants of Luaere but it was unnecessary for each member of the faith to understand every rite of every function. To define everyone’s place within the Sodality and follow the wishes of his patron, Telbain created the holy orders. Each one would have a place within the Tome of Orders and follow a much smaller subset of rules.
The Holy Orders
The Order of the New Moon is the largest of all of the orders and includes the laypeople who serve the Sodality. Their numbers are comprised of smiths, machinists, deacons, servants, temple guardians, and any other member of the faith that fills a necessary but mundane position. Members of the Order of the New Moon take great pride in their work and understand that without their contribution the other Orders would be unable to function. Even though the Order lacks members with the ability to use Luaere’s divine powers they are still greatly respected throughout the entirety of the faith.
The Order of the Crescent Moon serves as the judicial arm of the Sodality. The specialized priests and knights within the Order are experts on the Tome of Orders and handle all disputes within the Sodality. The Order also solves disputes between members of the faith that are not covered by the laws of their local kingdom (or if the faithful request it prior to the local authorities finding out). The Order also provides advocates to anyone that worships Luaere, be they a peasant or a noble, when they run afoul of local laws. Beyond the function of advocacy and dispute settlement The Order of the Crescent Moon works with the temple guards to investigate potential violations of the Tome of Order by members of the holy orders.
The Order of the Crescent Moon is predominately made up of special priests who can wield Luaere’s divine powers. Known as arbiters, these priests typically specialize in divine powers that detect lies and malice. The arbiters are complimented by knights with similar powers known as inquisitors. It is not uncommon for inquisitors to accompany the militant orders into harms way to perform their role when necessary.
The Order of the Waxing Moon is the Sodality’s main militant order. Members of the order are predominantly knights who serve in one of a few roles. Knights that lack divine powers often serve as officers for the Sodality’s soldiers. These knights ensure that their soldiers are well trained, disciplined, and ready to march in defense of the Sodality and its faithful. Knights that can command some divine powers are grouped into small, elite units to support the Sodality’s soldiers on the battlefield and destroy their enemies. Finally, the knights that wield Luaere’s divine powers most effectively are sent out in pairs to bring Her word to the world through good deeds. These knights, known as paladins, are usually universally loved by the good and loathed by the wicked.
The majority of the members of the Order of the Waxing Moon focus their divine arts on offensive chants. These spells strengthen the resolve of the Sodality’s faithful and make them more effective combat. It is also not uncommon for Waxing Moon members to be familiar with basic protective chants and divine healing.
The Order of the Full Moon is comprised of the most powerful wielders of Luaere’s divine arts. Members of the order are highly skilled at a variety of chants but focus heavily on blessings, protections, and healing. Priests of Luaere are known for their acts of compassion and an awesome ability to cure the sick, mend the wounded, and restore what has been lost. Most importantly, these services are not exclusive to Luaere’s faithful. Anyone that finds their way into a Sodality temple will be tended to by a priest without question. This is also why all of the Sodality’s temples are headed by a member of the Order of the Full Moon. Beyond tending to the wounded and sick, the Order also carries out the day to day tasks within the temples such as sermons, weddings, and other rites.
The Order of the Full Moon does not exclusively serve the laypeople of the faith and visitors. It is also responsible to care for the other orders and, in particular, the militant orders. Not all priests of Luaere take up the robes and Tome. Some don armor, pick up a weapon, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Her knights. War-priests are a special breed and are unlike any other. They wield Luaere’s powers with great ease and have enough martial experience to keep themselves safe during combat. Focusing on blessings and healing, a war-priest is always a welcome sight to members of the other orders.
The Order of the Eclipse is one of the Sodality’s lesser known militant orders. Unlike the other orders, the Order of the Eclipse does not have a specific area of responsibility. Members of the order range from knights to priests and swordsmen to musketeers; all of whom tend to work independently. When a special task needs doing, particularly when it is something that might appear dubious, a member of the Order of the Eclipse will be engaged. Fiercely independent and extremely well trained, members of the order are always focused on results. Whether they’re assigned the duty of protecting a special member of the Sodality or hunting down the wicked, a member of the Order of the Eclipse is sure to succeed. They follow a simple motto: Even when the Silver Moon is not visible to us She still sees the wicked.
The Sodality takes much of its structure from the experiences that Mikhail Telbain had throughout his martial past. The organization is primarily designed to serve the faithful and grow Luaere’s influence. With that mission in mind the Sodality is extremely ordered and follows a decidedly militant hierarchy. Each of its members know exactly where they stand within the organization at any time. From neophyte to Prime Exarch there is a clear progression for all members of the Sodality. The organization itself is separated into a number of orders and sub-orders, each with their own hierarchy and purpose. All of this division and specialization begins at the same point and culminates in the same ending.
Anyone seeking to join the Sodality begins their career by going to the seminary. To ensure that everyone receives the same training and foundation only one seminary exists. Once an individual passes their apprenticeship at the seminary they are usually assigned to an order but some particularly successful individuals are able to choose for themselves. After being assigned to an order few members leave it until they reach the height of their career.
Each order is headed by an Archon and within that order there is no one more powerful. In many ways the Archon rules like a monarch and controls every aspect of their order. As long as their decrees do not run afoul of the Tome of Orders or the Exarch Council the Archon is left largely autonomous. Situated above the Archons is the Exarch Council. Comprised of greatly respected members of each order, the Exarch council makes all Sodality law and interprets the Tome of Orders. The council has eleven members. Two members are elected from each of the major orders with the exception of the Order of the New Moon which receives three seats. From the council, one member is voted to be the Prime Exarch who leads the Sodality. While most Exarchs are former Archons, it is not expressly required. An Exarch can be promoted from anywhere within the Sodality.