Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven
The monastic traditions amongst the civilized people of Rodorsceaft date back thousands of years; while, in general, all monastic orders use the same character class, the philosophies that drive each of them differ to a greater or lesser degree. This page is devoted to discussing the major monastic traditions that exist in the world; there are a number of minor traditions that are not discussed here.
Monks of the Solarian Empire
The monastic tradition of the Solarian Empire has remained largely unchanged throughout its history, save for a minor schisming that took place approximately fifty years after the founding of the Empire. The roots of the Solarian tradition extend back into antiquity; like so many other things to do with Solaria, they stem from the monastic orders of the Caladans.
The focus of Solarian monasticism is contemplation of the perfection of the Holy Light. Monks are urged to spend their time in solemn reflection and introspection, attempting to spend the bulk of their time revealing their souls to the Light that the shadows that lay within may be illuminated and purged. By meditating on the Light and its virtues, they believe they more closely align themselves with the Light and the world. This cleansing and perfection of the soul is reflected in greater clarity and perfection of mind and body. It should come as no surprise that the Solarites have the highest incidence of paladinhood of any order in the world.
Solarites live in abbeys; class monks are considered clergy, while those who are simply spending time at the abbey for self-improvement or other reasons are designated as laity. Solarites live an ascetic existence, frequently taking sacred vows, vows of poverty and other vows of self-denial. They are, almost without exception, Lawful Good. They dress in simple, undyed linen robes and practice tonsuring. Only men are allowed to be Solarites.
Special: All Solarian monks are literate, regardless of tradition. They do not get Knowledge (nature) as a class skill.
A minor schism in the Solarian monastic orders took place in aS 53. A monk named Juno Delira Junarius, who had been a dedicated servant of the Light and an exemplary Solarite since the order had been founded, and a paladin to boot, was revealed to be a woman. This caused a crisis of doctrine within the order, as women were not allowed to be Solarites; yet, despite her deception, she had retained her paladin powers, suggesting that her presence and deception were not strictly wrong. After almost a year’s debate, the order agreed to a peaceful schism: those who wished to remain true to the old ways would remain Solarites, and those who wished to permit women into the order would be Junovites.
The hourispex are a very small off-shoot of the Junovites. While their practices are similar, they incorporate ecstatic drug use and sacred sexuality into their contemplations, and are emphatically not encouraged to live lives of self-denial. (Solarian Drunken Masters are always hourispex).
The Cymru have a tradition of monasticism dating back before the dawn of recorded history. The specific origin of the tradition is unknown and undocumented. However, given the tradition’s philosophical similarities to the Druidic tradition, it is not unreasonable to speculate that the first Cymru monks were Druids who chose contemplation to gain a closer connection to Mam Coeden. This is, however, speculation; there is certainly a great deal of distinction between modern Cymru monks and the Draiocht.
Cymru monks have no particular distinctive mode of dress; as a rule, they do not cut their hair, instead plaiting it or weaving it into dreadlocks. Males are permitted to shave if they so desire. Like most Cymru, the monks tend to live frugal lives, wasting as little as possible. Monks are highly respected amongst the Cymru; it is traditional for old adventurers to retire to monasteries to live out the balance of their lives, allowing their wisdom and experience to enrich the community.
Cymru monks have no name for their tradition. Their philosophy emphasizes balance, moderation and self-control; one should be aware of one’s momentary needs and seek to balance those needs, indulging just enough to satiate and no more. This, coupled with the emphasis on living in harmony with the surrounding world, bending like a reed against the troubles of life and springing back when the time is right, respecting nature and the Mother and always seeking to improve one’s Balance, leads to a body of strong, humble, wise men who always seem to know the right thing to do at the right time. Cymru monasteries tend to be seats of learning and storytelling amongst the clans; indeed, they are the largest settlements that the Cymru build.
Special: Cymru monks do not get Knowledge (Religion) as a class skill. Instead, they get Perform (vocal) and Knowledge (History). Cymru monks tend to be Lawful Neutral.
The Mysidian tradition is a blend of the Solarian and Cymru ways. The emphasis on balance in oneself remains, but contemplation of the Light and the world is also stressed. Mysidian monasticism, called the Way of the Open Hand, is a syncretic, occasionally schizophrenic, blending of two very different ideas; as a result, there are few monasteries that espouse this philosophy.