The Church of the Shaper
The Church of the Shaper binds and sustains the social fabric of the Five Realms. Five Realms society is highly martial in its outlook and values, and without the Church to guide it, it would have dissolved into endless warfare long ago. The Shaper helped to create the world, and formed all the species; they are an all-knowing, benevolent god. The Shaper does not have a gender and is never depicted in humanoid form; their nature transcends that of mortals. Where they are depicted in iconography it is often as useful tools or as the Moon.
The Shaper wishes for their children to thrive and lead good lives. The reward for a life well lived is a place in the afterlife, where the dead are reunited with their departed family and friends, and live on in oneness with the Shaper. The Shaper does not give commands for what their children should not do, instead they exhort their children to great deeds. Children of the Shaper are encouraged to build communities, to find love and to fight for what matters to them. They are directed to question rather than to blindly accept, to act rather than to brood, and to give rather than to hoard.
The Shaper’s Church holds up 10 virtues that mortals should strive for in their lives, with each Order of the Church focusing on different Aspects. The 10 virtues are: Ambition, Prosperity, Loyalty, Compassion, Duty, Perseverance, Clarity, Wisdom, Vigilance, and Courage. While the Church generally avoids dictating what their children should not do and considers honest atonement possible for most transgressions, there are two big exceptions which are generally unforgivable crimes: wilfully raising Undead Abominations (an act known as Graverobbing) and knowingly conspiring with the Gwyllt.
In the realm of the Shaper, their power is without limit. In the mortal world, their power is opposed by the power of the Gwyllt, evil beings who come from another realm to corrupt and devour the Shaper’s children. The children of the Shaper must protect themselves against the Gwyllt, or else they will be lost.
The Church of the Shaper venerates all aspects of the Shaper, and the cinnirí dedicate their lives to the Shaper’s service and lead the people in this worship. The cinnirí have over time realised they can best aid the Shaper’s children in certain ways, and this is the origin of the five Orders as they stand today. The Orders do not hold themselves apart from Five Realms society, since that is not the Shaper’s way. They have families and they work and fight alongside other people. There are five Orders: the Teachers, the Counsellors, the Hospitaliers, the Necromancers and the Torchbearers. There is no one figure in charge of the Church of the Shaper, though there is the Council of Prelates, the six heads of the five orders. Each is the recognised head of their respective order, generally as the most expert or knowledgeable in their field. While they provide the benefit of their experience to members of their order one of their main duties is to advise the Réig and provide them with the services of their order (for example, the Prelate of the Counsellors is the Réig’s personal confessor). While no Prelate is above the others, the Prelate of the Counsellors is expected to chair any meetings of the Council of Prelates and be the tie-break in any deadlocks.
The Order of Teachers
The Teachers uphold the virtues of ambition and prosperity. The Shaper wants their children to succeed in their aims and to derive great benefit from skills and knowledge. The Teachers ensure that no knowledge is lost, and that skills are maintained from generation to generation. They run schools, and amass great libraries, covering every subject from magic spells to agricultural techniques. Teacher cinnirí travel from town to town gathering the wisdom of the Shaper’s children, offering help to artificers, farmers, and scholars, and encouraging those who would attain new heights of invention and discovery. The Teachers are the most numerous of the Orders, for they have the broadest remit. They are also at once the wealthiest and most generous Order, for they put what they know to good use, and make good use of what the riches they gather as a result.
The current Prelate of the Teachers is Croí Óir, a Creidhe from the Baol Lowlands. Hostaged from a Bruid family after a border dispute, Croí took to learning like a fish to water, and excelled in all fields of lore. To them, teaching is just an incidental part of learning. Despite being generous with their knowledge, they are known to have exactingly high standards for their students.
The Order of Counsellors
The Order of Counsellors uphold the virtues of loyalty and compassion. The Shaper wants their children to create communities, to find love, and to provide for a future generation. The Counsellors can be sought out by those who encounter difficulties in their life. They provide advice equally to all; a Counsellor cinnire could advise an Iarla one day and a shepherd the next. They act as confessors, allowing the Shaper’s children to lighten the burden that mistakes and evil deeds can bring to mind and soul. They advise those who have erred on how they can atone. They are most often the cinnirí performing marriages, and provide advice to couples that struggle to stay together. The Counsellors are welcomed everywhere, as they offer support without judgement.
The current Prelate of the Counsellors is Taran, a Drakeblooded born to House Roaring Thunder who forsook their families expectations to travel and serve the common folk, lending advice and wisdom as well as lending a helping hand with building fences and planting crops, lightening the burdens of the common folk in any way they could. They are fond of saying the fact that they have ended up an advisor to the Réig anyway is proof that the Shaper has either a grand plan or a sense of humour.
The Order of Hospitaliers
The Order of Hospitaliers uphold the virtues of duty and perseverance. The Shaper knows that life in this imperfect world is a struggle, and that their children will encounter danger and strife, so they ensured that their children would have the power to survive and earn their place in the afterlife. The Hospitaliers use that power to heal and to protect. They maintain infirmaries, where the Shaper’s children can be brought back from death’s door, and hospices, where the Shaper’s children can rest after a life well lived. A Hospitalier cinnire might provide healing to both sides of a conflict between the Shaper’s children, or they may refuse to provide healing if they deem that a war has gone too far, forcing the two sides to come to terms or face losing hundreds of lives. The Order of Hospitaliers is the most politically influential of the Orders for this reason, for the warrior class could not survive without them.
The current Prelate of the Hospitaliers is Carraig, a Fathach originally from Draíod but hostaged to a family in Bruid as part of the resolution of a border dispute. Seeing their purpose as “making people better”, Carraig learned to treat all manner of illness and injury, and instructed others in how to deliver better care. They take a firm, rocky hand with their patients and have little patience for those who do not take their treatment seriously. They have been Prelate for some time, and the sound of their heavy stone footsteps still inspire fear and perfection in hospitaliers throughout Tirneach.
The Order of Necromancers
The Order of Necromancers uphold the virtues of clarity and wisdom. The Shaper knows that the knowledge of the dead can be of great benefit to the living. The Shaper has also judged that the dead should remain dead, to enjoy their reward in the afterlife and not be drawn back into the mortal world. The Necromancers keep the rituals for communion with the dead, and ensure that those who use the rituals do not do so for any fatuous purpose, lest it anger the spirits of the dead. Angry spirits can be drawn back into the mortal world and become abominations. Proper funeral rites are the province of the Necromancers also, for few things are as dangerous as a soul not properly put to rest, or called up just to salve someone’s broken heart. Necromancer cinnirí roam the Five Realms, visiting the recently bereaved and ensuring they are ready to let go of their dearly departed. It is important for people to see the truth: their loved one has gone to a better place, where they will receive their reward.
The current Prelate of the Necromancers is Sorrowswane, a Wildling from the Baol Highlands. Though she is a skilled ritualist, her primary skills remain identifying the mental and emotional splinters people have and helping them remove them before they turn septic. She is known to host the recently bereaved for tea, sharing stories, and helping people identify the obstacles in their own stories. She is always happy to listen, but never hesitates to bring clarity, no matter how uncomfortable the truth is.
The Order of Torchbearers
The Order of Torchbearers uphold the virtues of vigilance and courage. The power of the Shaper is opposed in the mortal world by the power of the Gwyllt, beings of malice and insidious influence who constantly seek to corrupt and lure the children of the Shaper into their grasp. The Shaper empowers their children to fight against the Gwyllt with all their strength. The first Réig liberated Tirneach from their grasp, but there are still pockets all throughout the Five Realms where the Gwyllt’s influence is keenly felt. For the people in those places, the Torchbearer cinnirí are their protectors and saviours. The Torchbearers have the knowledge to free a mind from Gwyllt spells, and they know how to kill the terrible Gwyllt creatures that emerge from the forests and cursed places. They always travel in pairs, for safety and security. They are the most removed of the Orders from the rest of society, for they must constantly watch the wild places, and the secrets they know make them strange.
The current Prelates of the Torchbearers are Ash Longwick and Russet Kúhn. Ash is a Leasiar, said to be the child of a Ruby Family of Siabhal who cast off their name and inheritance to find their fortune, developing a hatred of the Gwyllt in service of the Gallóglaigh, but most folks just know them for their century and a half of active service to the Torchbearers. Russet is their most recent partner, a Bruideach Human with a reputation for bravery and innovative techniques.
Although individual cinnirí might be warriors, the Orders are not military organisations. The gallóglaigh are often called upon to perform missions for the Orders, in cases where one person cannot achieve the Order’s aim alone. There are many cinnirí among the gallóglaigh too, though some of their fellow cinnirí might wonder how they can be wholly dedicated to their holy purpose while living that life.
Treatment of the dead
Given the prevalence of undead in Tirneach, funerary rites and proper treatment of the dead and the bereaved is important. Though the specifics vary from region to region, there is a general common form.
First, as soon as possible after the death it is established if the Quicken the Inevitable Solace ritual will be necessary. This is more common in small rural communities than in larger cities, where the threat of the undead seems much more pressing than the benefits of preserving knowledge through the ages (and as some in the cities snidely say, much less knowledge worth preserving.) But it is not unheard of in cities, particularly where the deceased might have secrets the living would prefer lost to time. If it is going to be performed, it happens as soon as possible, with just the closest friends and family present (and any necessary help to perform the ritual.)
Following this is a vigil period that varies in length depending on the perceived safety of the environment and the status of the person, this is the window in which displays of grief are considered appropriate and acceptable. Vigils tend to be longer in Siabhal and shorter in Bruid; a gallóglach in the field generally has a very brief vigil. Once the vigil has ended the body is disposed of and there is a celebration that varies in length depending on practicality and the status of the person.
Methods of disposal are highly regional; cremation is most common in Siabhal, cairns are common in Baol though the more Siabhal aspirational lowlanders have moved to cremation, Uasa typically uses their rivers and sea to dispose of their dead in ships of size and quality depending on their status, massive and impenetrable tombs are common in Draíod particularly for the most learned of scholars, and in Bruid the more northerly areas favour cremation or burial at sea if it is a coastal settlement, while in the forest proper people speak of the dead being left in clearings for the animals, with varying degrees of ceremony and ritual. But while these are the common trends, every village and settlement will have its own specific customs.
Citadel of the Shaper
Located in Corroch, Uasa, the Citadel of the Shaper is primarily where the Council of Prelates are based, so that they are on hand to advise the Réig in their respective fields. Though cinnirí do not hold themselves apart from society, many do consider the Citadel a home away from home and visit regularly to consult with their prelates. As well as meeting chambers, lecture halls, gardens, and training fields the citadel is also home to the Carrot and Stick Tavern, run by the Order of Teachers.
The Great Library
Based in Uaircinn, Baol, the Great Library is a repository of knowledge, primarily dedicated to the many aspects of the Shaper, which rivals the greatest libraries of Draíod in terms of non-arcane content. It was founded and is maintained as a joint effort between the Iarlas of Baol and the Order of Teachers.
The Shrine of the Shaper
Located deep under the ground in Crag Oscionn, Draíód. The Shrine of the Shaper is a huge diamond-shaped chamber carved into the rock itself, and pilgrims traverse it by means of steps, platforms and walkways. It is said that the Shaper’s presence can be felt by those who go there on special feast days. When the Réig makes their pilgrimage there no-one except for members of the Council of Prelates is allowed to attend.
The Shaper’s Steps
An archipelago off the northeastern coast of Siabhal, located in the Shaper’s Sea, which was known as the Howling Sea before the coming of the first Réig. Stories tell that the First Réig caused gigantic rocks to rain down from the sky, creating a land bridge from the Eastern Reaches all the way to Tirneach. Over the years almost every trace has disappeared except for the largest rocks near the end of the crossing, which now form the islands known as the Shaper’s Steps. Despite their name, the island is not a part of the Five Realms and is not under the jurisdiction of the Réig.
The Shaper’s Table
“All may eat at the table of the Shaper in their hour of need”
The Shapers Table is a tradition which is practised throughout Tírneach in almost every place of worship. Offerings are placed on the altar, most often food, but also other needful things like bandages. Anyone who needs something may take it, but when they are able, they must put something on an altar in its place.
This tradition takes many different forms; a rough-hewn slab at a wayside shrine might have a bottle of water, some dried fruit stored in a jar to keep insects away, and perhaps some kindling similarly protected from the elements. By contrast the church altar in a prosperous town might have a number of Hospitaliers working to ensure that large donations left by wealthy townsfolk eager to help their community (and demonstrate their wealth and piety) are properly stored and distributed. A band of Gallóglaigh will often have a small shrine that they take with them from one mission to another, taking pride of place in a communal tent. An altar made by the Gallóglaigh will always have bandages.
From time to time, there are stories of miracles, where an altar seems to keep giving even when no one around has more than a prayer to give. Lost children in the wilderness who find everything they need on a wayside shrine when it only held the blackberries they placed there when they went to bed. Communities hit by crop failure, sickness or shipwrecks who don’t have enough to survive the winter, but somehow there is always enough for one more day on the altar until times are better. There are also stories of the terrible fates that befall anyone so low and mean that they would take from an altar and not return anything.
OOC: You can find the Shaper’s Table in the command tent. It will contain fruit and other assorted things that are IC useful. There will be a box that will contain things that are OOC useful such as safety pins, cable ties, bug spray, sunblock, sanitary products etc. The principle of the thing is pretty much as explained IC, take a thing now, give a thing later. Pay it forward, the Shaper is watching you. Double Check to make sure nothing you place on the table contains nuts. Even if we haven’t declared a nut free site, we can’t risk contaminating the set dressing.