- Andrew M. Trauger
The 13 Sects of Maker Worship
During the earliest millennia, following that horrific period known as "The Annihilation," the sons of Vaeroloth began perverting the Maker's Creation rather than destroying it. By interbreeding with the natural creation, "dragonbloods" were begotten in agony, corrupted by the fell nature of the Great Dragon's progeny.
Had the Maker not intervened, the entire Creation might have fallen into ruin. The Maker sent avatars to the world of Kreth to serve as emissaries and mentors and to teach the remnant about him. Each avatar represented a different aspect of the Maker and taught from its own copy of the Samantekt. Though the avatars' tutelage was designed to bring various peoples together in one accord, the corrupting influence of the Great Dragon instead caused them to separate according to the emphasis presented. In this way, even the truth of the Maker was corrupted.
To date, there are thirteen primary sects of Maker worship. All these sects have access to copies of the same Samantekt (the holy writ), but each has emphasized a particular aspect of the Maker to the lessening or even omission of other aspects.
The Bastion of Faith -- As the combative sect, the Bastion focuses heavily on the defeat of the Maker’s enemies, including dragonkin, undead, and all dragon worshipping sects. Adherents tend to be brave, stalwart, and aggressive, often claiming that cowardice is the worst form of faithlessness. The sect attracts the “edgy” persona, those ever itching to start a fight, which often has them branded as Zealots. However, the well-trained in the sect are also extreme gentlemen, showing great deference and grace to women and providing a defense for the weak. National military organizations are disproportionately filled with Defenders, who prove their valor and courage with great consistency. Halls of worship are practically fortresses, constructed of heavy stone and thick timbers and usually stockpiled with arms and armaments. When needed, a Citadel can serve as protective shelter and secondary defenses against incursions both monstrous and militaristic.
The Solarium of Light -- Given to good works, the Solarium of Light emphasizes the mercy and unending love of the Maker for his creatures, demonstrating this in practical ways by collecting and distributing food, clothing & shelter to the needy. Most famous among their contributions to society are their healing clinics and hospitals, in which practical medicine is administered. Magical healing is also proffered for a substantial donation. In the larger cities, the term “solarium” is taken literally, with glass paneled domes giving a spacious feel to their places of worship while allowing in the light and warmth of the sun. Patrons celebrate new life, making birthdays prominent occasions for parties, as well as taking great pains to preserve life, often to the point of fearing or dreading death. Unfortunately, many people take advantage of their charity, and so there are continuous appeals for donors and frequent fundraisers.
The Open Path -- Centered upon the realization that Creation is vast and teeming with opportunity, Pathers are listless, adventurous and driven by wanderlust. The dogma of discovery attracts those who have little or nothing holding them down: the homeless, orphans, social outcasts. But it also draws those who see the world as the Maker’s secret, theirs to uncover and reveal. Unlike most sects, the Open Path has few formal places of worship, as Pathers are more likely to roam about the countryside. Rather, cities and towns dotting the major roadways often contain small gazebos or pavilions engraved with the North Rune, which serve as informal meeting places at dawn. Strongboxes in each of these locations contain supplies and some funds for those needing help along the journey, contributed by those who previously met with success.
The Sanctum -- The Sanctum focuses upon the family unit, believing not only that the very structure of society stands or falls with families but also that the Maker himself operates as a family with the Triality he formed. Followers of this sect refer to each other as Father, Mother, Brother, and Sister, regardless of any blood or marriage relation, which tends to break down most notions of hierarchy. This is further complicated by the practice of shared leadership responsibilities among attending men and women. Actual families in the Sanctum tend to be quite large—children often number in the double digits—as weddings and child-bearing are seen as the pinnacles of faithfulness and the greatest causes for rejoicing. Considerable care is also given to widows and orphans, the homeless, and any others who have lost their natural families, a ministry that tangibly practices what is taught. Worship centers are often stylized as large stone lodges with seating arrangements around an open fireplace, and most services conclude with a shared meal.
The Liberty House -- Foundational to the basic tenets of the Latitudinarians is that the Maker reveals truth individually, and not always the same truth to each person. As a natural consequence, little attention is paid to the Samantekt in a Liberty House, and in many locations, there exists only a single copy of the sacred text, and that only for décor. Because emphasis is placed upon the individual and the expression of one’s free will, worship tends to contain a tremendous amount of variety and spontaneity. Derisively known as “Drifters,” those who focus on free will tend to come and go, their attendance lapsing as their individual truth morphs into new ideas. These ideas often find expression in a book of poetry or a peer-reviewed journal at some institution of higher learning, where Latitudinarians often serve as instructors. Nevertheless, attendance at a Liberty House temple is usually strong, due to the many amenities provided, like kaffe shops, live troubadour groups, and sideshows for the kids.
The Hall of Champions -- Dying in battle is a high honor, and those who do go straight to the Divine Table where the Maker himself feasts with the fallen heroes. While this is not a part of the Samantekt, it is one of the pinnacles of belief at the Hall of Champions. Death is not a prerequisite, of course, and most Champions live out full and normal lives. Being prepared to die in battle…well, that is where it’s at, and so, much effort is made in building physical strength, hoarding wealth, stockpiling foodstuffs and other survival needs, and collecting weaponry. Energy is always on display in an Arena, often in high doses, and worship is often a loud and boisterous affair. Champions tend to do things at full tilt, spurred by the belief that if the Maker had deemed it worth doing, then it should be done with all of one’s might. For this reason, Champions have accomplished some of the most amazing feats in Arelatha, for which they are quick to give the Maker substantial and energetic praise.
The House of Order -- Recognizing the infinite order and complexity in Creation, Adherents desire to demonstrate such attention to detail in every aspect of their lives. Their fundamental belief is that chaos springs from the Great Dragon, and is to be avoided at all costs. Thus, rules abound and written codes dictate every minutia, from the timing of meals to the words spoken at social engagements. Even private activities between married couples are structured with prescribed order. At heart, the strict adherence to such a multitude of laws creates a comfortably predictable community, with each Adherent fully able to rely on the other. Honesty is naturally one of the most cherished of virtues, as is cleanliness, punctuality and precision. To the outsider, temple worship is extremely elaborate, but to an Adherent, it is profoundly beautiful in its complexity. As is to be expected, many Adherents can be found working as judges, constables and lawyers.In many nations, the Judgment rune can be found decorating the courts, and when verdicts are pronounced, a black eagle is released with a bell attached to its feet.
The Nexus -- Death is a natural part of life, but few celebrate the fact. Ardents of the Nexus, however, view death as the beginning of true life, the start of a journey into the Maker’s Realms. With that view in mind, death is given a high degree of reverence and ceremony. Funerals conducted by the Nexus are elaborate, decorated, and truly honoring. But this focus on the afterlife causes many Ardents to lose a proper focus on the current life, causing them to seem (or be) disconnected, dour, and overly somber. With that comes a natural pessimism or even a harsh view of the world and a longing for things to come. This leads some to anticipate and welcome death, and more than a few have brought it about prematurely. In spite of these qualities, the Nexus has created and maintains truly spectacular graveyards that are more garden than burial site, with tombs, mausoleums and graves seamlessly interwoven into the picturesque landscape behind their equally austere Basilicas. A burial by the Nexus is guaranty of the departed soul’s safe passage into the Realms with little to no chance of the body being corrupted by unlife.
The Celebration House -- With an emphasis on finding joy in the Maker’s Creation, patrons of a Celebration House easily find (or create) any excuse for a party. As their doctrine states, everything is cause for celebration, and so worship is the supreme cause and often quite the raucous occasion. Friends of the Maker come together with loud, fast-paced music, wild dancing, rich foods and drink, and a general air of jollity. In everyday life, tricks and pranks are frequently foisted upon each other, as hilarity ensues—the more elaborate, the better. In some circles, particularly in the more affluent districts, House parties are more subdued affairs, akin to masquerade balls or formal engagements. In many of the larger cities, this “calmer” approach is gaining in popularity, as the sect tries to combat the perception that Friends are simply children who never grew up.
The Arthouse (a.k.a The Love Temple) -- It is easy to see the beauty in Creation, from twinkling stars and blazing sunsets, to a kaleidoscope of floral vegetation and scenic waterfalls. No one denies that Maker loves his Creation and through his Triality has granted his creatures the capacity for love.The Samantekt is clear on this matter. Members of the Arthouse accentuate this fact with such focus that they frequently overlook transgressions with a blanket of love that covers all. This emotionally charged approach gives way to a heightened appreciation for art, music, drama, and various other expressions. It is unsurprising, then, that most artistes gravitate toward the Arthouse and its doctrinal emphasis. Unfortunately, Lovers are well-deserving of their various nicknames, as a “Love Temple” also attracts those who are practiced in the art of physical loving. Worship tends to digress into highly emotionally charged events, with scantily clad priestesses leading interactions with strong sexual overtones. An Arthouse often finds itself going through cyclical “cleansings” as these carnal practices are purged and restored to the proper focus—appreciation of beauty in all Creation.
The Grove -- Creation is the evidence of a Creator, and thus the strongest connection one can have to the Maker himself. Mystics worship through the natural creation, leading some to suggest they worship Creation itself. But true worship in the Grove is directed toward the Maker for the abundance of variety, goodness, and perfection in his Creation. All services are conducted outdoors in any type of weather, usually within the bounds of a ring of menhirs, forming what is known as a Sacred Circle. Mystics spend much of their time protecting nature, and stand in stark opposition to those who view nature as simply a collection of resources. Rather than cut trees to fashion lumber and build houses, mystics are more likely to build within the treetops with materials found lying about. Forests, waterfalls, shorelines, caves, and other areas of heightened beauty or magnificence are hallowed and preserved, being viewed as natural focal points of the Maker’s power.
The Church of Stewards -- Like the Mystics, Stewards have a deep and abiding love for the Maker’s Creation; however, the Church of Stewards sees Creation as a gift to be used, a wealth of resources designed to make life better. Chief among Steward doctrine is that people are intended to emulate the Maker by re-creating; that is, engineering, shaping, molding, building, and restructuring the world. Cities grow taller and broader where Stewards congregate. While the utilization of natural resources has produced many magnificent creations, some are concerned that the finite supply of materials will one day be used up and the natural world forever displaced by artificial renderings. Stewards work hard to convince the public that paved roads are better than “natural” dirt, for one example, and that, as their name implies, they are equally focused on preservation as they are consumption. Among the various people groups, the doctrine of Stewardship has found a particular home among the Dareni, who as a result have turned out some of the more fascinating technology the world has seen.
The Zenith of Orthodoxy -- Disciples of Orthodoxy are concerned primarily with knowing the Maker in the fullest measure, intimately, completely, and—most of all—properly. Based on the belief that the Samantekt contains all that needs to be known of the Maker, his Creation, and the life to come, Disciples engage in frequent discussions, arguments, and debates about the various shades of meaning that might be gleaned from each passage of the text. Leaving no word free of this scrutiny in their obsession with Truth, many followers become consumed with exposition solely and give no time to practical matters of the faith they claim to know so well. Orthodoxy teaches boldly that all aspects of the Maker can and should be known, and that the fragmentation promulgated by each of the various sects only promotes division. Unity is to be found in embracing all the sects into one comprehensive worship, which, naturally, only the Zenith of Orthodoxy does. In this Disciples can often be more divisive than inclusive, as evidenced in the pretentious names they have adapted for their sect and their centers of worship.
Those who do not worship the Maker in some aspect are known broadly as Agnostics. Agnostics come in two main varieties: those who believe that the Maker cannot possibly be known, and those who question whether there really is a Maker to know. Either way, those who fall into this category are generally viewed by all sects as Lost Souls. The life of an Agnostic, then, is one of fatalism, viewing everything as either pointless or predetermined. Some will attempt to wring every possible joy out of their lives while they have breath; others will plod through life displaying little hope. Ironically, with the claim that they cannot believe in an unknowable Maker, some Agnostics frequently display an alarming faith in the Bones as the determiners of their lives. This practice is severely condemned by the Church of Orthodoxy and most other sects. Most Agnostics are generally “good” people, content to live and let live and desiring only to be left freed of the interposing nature of organized religion.