Author Topic: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources  (Read 29611 times)

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« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 11:59:17 AM by DM Treason »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2007, 02:42:02 AM »
Overview of the Church of Ezra

Quote from: Ravenloft Campaign Setting
The Church of Ezra was born almost ninety years ago, when a son of the notorious Dilisnya dynasty claimed that a divine entity, Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mists, had given him a message to spread to all the world. According to most traditions in the church, Ezra was a virtuous mortal woman who, despairing of the evils of the world, forever surrendered her mortality to the Mists to become an eternal guardian of mankind. However, the fractious sects of the Church of Ezra have been debating the true nature and teachings of their ascended patron for decades.

The original, lawful neutral sect, also called the Home Faith, is centered in Borca. It appoints Ezra’s faithful clerics, called anchorites, to the task of protecting and healing her faithful, keeping them safe from the forces of evil. The lawful good sect in Mordent also teaches that anchorites must convert as many souls to Ezra’s flock as possible for their own good. The mystical, neutral Dementlieu sect claims that Ezra was a goddess who abandoned her callous fellow gods to offer mortals succor, and spends its time studying the true nature of their goddess. Lastly, the lawful evil sect centered in Nevuchar Springs prophesies an imminent Time of Unparalleled Darkness, when the unfaithful will be consumed by darkness. All anchorites agree that Ezra cannot protect those who do not accept her into their hearts.

The Mists domain is unique to anchorites; Ezra’s patronage allows them to call on the Mists of Ravenloft for aid.

Symbol: A silver longsword superimposed on an alabaster kite shield and adorned with a sprig of belladonna.

Favored Weapon: Longsword.

Quote from: Domains of Dread
The Church of Ezra

The Church of Ezra is not a true secret society, for it takes no steps to conceal its existence. It is included in this chapter, however, because of the influence it has over its members and the importance it plays to characters of the anchorite class. The practitioners of this faith worship a deity known only as Ezra, whom they depict as a tall, slender woman in flowing, white robes. Her raven hair and eyes contrast sharply with her pale skin. Revered as both protector and healer, she is usually depicted holding an alabaster kite shield and a slender sword of similar construction. The shield is often adorned with a sprig of wolfsbane in recognition of her role as a healer.

Membership
Almost anyone can become a member of the Church of Ezra. The only requirement is a tithe of ten copper pieces per year and an alignment no more than one step removed from lawful neutral. Members of the church are expected to protect others from harm, always coming to the aid of individuals in distress despite any personal risk involved. Similarly, they must always be ready to give aid and comfort to the sick or injured. One of the common sayings in the church is "Today I care for you as tomorrow you will care for me".

Recognition
Although members of the church are not required to identify themselves in any way, many wear holy symbols to show their faith. These are most frequently small tokens in the shape of wolfsbane sprigs or tiny replicas of the sword and shield that Ezra is said to carry. During church services, which are held every five days, members of the church must wear white clothing.

Activities
The Church of Ezra has no fewer than four distinct sects. Each of these has its own objectives and methods, although they all recognize the authority of the central church. These divisions correspond roughly to the alignments of the members: lawful neutral, true neutral, lawful good, and lawful evil.

In addition, the practices of the churches in each domain differ from one another. Thus, a church in Barovia will differ from one in Falkovnia, even though they technically belong to the same sect. Any follower can worship at any church, but outside of their own domain and rite they will find subtle and sometimes disturbing differences in the practices.

Headquarters
All sects of the Church of Ezra recognize the authority of the Great Cathedral (lawful neutral), which is located in Levkarest. Three lesser temples - located in Port-a-Lucine (neutral), Mordentshire (lawful good), and Nevuchar Springs (lawful evil) - exercise authority over the various rites.

(more in next post)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 04:58:36 PM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2007, 02:45:36 AM »
Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer I
The Church of Ezra

The Church of Ezra is one of the most influential and widespread religions in Ravenloft, having a significant presence in both Mordent and Dementlieu (in this gazetteer) as well as in neighboring Borca, which will be covered in Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume IV. Thus, game material is compiled here for ease of reference. This section expands upon the information presented in the Ravenloft Campaign Setting. Additional details on the lawful evil Nevuchar Springs sect are found in Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume II.

Origin Myth

In the time before, in a land cloaked in Mists, there was a woman, and She was Ezra.

Ezra was a healer of the sick and protector of the weak. Such was her lot in life. Such was her role in the grand scheme.

Ezra took pride in the role Fate had given her. Her duty was Her joy.

For many years, Ezra healed the lame and watched over Her people. Yet as time went on, Ezra began to see the Hollow.

From the Mists of Death came horrors of the night. They were the drinker of blood and the stealer of breath and the beast that rends. Many were their legions. Many were the roles played by darkness in the Grand Scheme.

Ezra knew that Death would come for her, as it comes to all in time. When Ezra entered the Gray Land, there would be no guardian to fill Her role. There would be no one to stand between Her people and the Legions of the Night.

Ezra set forth on a quest to find a guardian for Her people. She sought the One Pure Heart who would assume Her role.

Ezra sought for the One Pure Heart in many lands, but ever did She seek in vain.

In time, Her quest brought Ezra to the end of all things. Behind Ezra stretched all the lands of the world. Before Ezra rose only the Mists of Death.

Ezra spoke to the Mists. Asked She, “The world is yours. You set its shape. Why do you allow its people to wander, lost and afraid?”

Yet the Mists did not answer.

Again Ezra spoke. “Why have you filled your world with the Legions of the Night?”

Yet the Mists would not answer.

A third time did Ezra speak. “All things have their role in the Grand Scheme. The Legions of the Night have their place, but Guardians and Guides have their roles in turn.”

Still the Mists offered no reply.

Ezra spoke once more. “I have searched all the vastness of your lands, but I have found no Guardians for My people. I have found no Guides for the lost.”

Again the Mists were silent.

For the last time did Ezra speak. “You have failed the Grand Scheme. You have created a Hollow that must be filled. If you will not watch over your people, then that task falls to me.”

Upon the fifth entreaty did the Mists of Death reply. From the Mists came a Voice, and the Voice spoke, saying, “Turn back, Mortal. You know nothing of the Grand Scheme. You know nothing of the Mists. You have reached the end of Your world. Continue and You shall find only Your destruction, nothing more.”

Yet Ezra held fast against the Mists, saying, “You cannot bid Me enter, yet I cannot turn away. I offer Myself to you so that you may know the suffering of My People. If I must be destroyed for them, then that is what must be.”

The Mists of Death fell silent. Then the Voice spoke once more. “Enter the Mists if You must, Mortal, but not as You are. Your kind has no place here. To enter the Mists, You must become as one with the Mists. Never again shall you leave them. Will You forever sacrifice Yourself to watch over these few mortals?”

Spoke Ezra, “Such is My role in the Grand Scheme. So must it be.”

And with these words did Ezra become Our Guardian in the Mists.

- The Books of Ezra, Book I. i.-xix.


Hierarchy and Terminology

The Church of Ezra follows a basic hierarchy that emphasizes personal and communal responsibility. Young anchorites are encouraged to travel, spreading Ezra’s teachings to distant lands. Improving one’s ecclesiastical rank, however, depends on setting down roots and supporting a dedicated congregation.

Anchorite is a general term for Ezra’s clergy, regardless of their class or position. Wardens are wandering, evangelical clerics who sacrifice ecclesiastical power to spread Ezra’s word. Torets are anchorites who establish or staff small temples, while Sentires are the leaders of significant congregations. A single Bastion leads each major sect. Bastions are generally autonomous, but must ultimately defer to the Church’s single Praesidius (if male) or Praesidia (if female). These titles can overlap: for instance, Praesidius Levin Postoya is also the Bastion of the Home Faith and the Sentire of Levkarest. To qualify for the post of Praesidius, a prospective candidate must be a member of the Home Faith and demonstrate that Ezra will guide her safely through the Mists. In game terms, the anchorite must have a Mistwalking ability such as the 6th-level spell in the Mists cleric domain or the Mists Stride ability gained by a 5th-level anchorite of the Mists (see Van Richten’s Arsenal).

Numerous individuals have come forward over the years, claiming to have been visited by Ezra and demanding that their claims be recognized as church canon. After the First Schism of 698, the Church developed a ceremony called the Rite of Revelation to separate the visionaries from the madmen.

To be recognized as a new bastion, a petitioner must complete several tasks. First, and most simply, the supplicant must personally pen her new Book of Ezra and deliver a copy to the Great Cathedral for review. The Great Cathedral has a full library of these texts, most filled with deranged heresies.

Second, the petitioner must manifest a new variety of the shield of Ezra (available only to clerics with the Mists domain), demonstrating that the goddess has revealed a new aspect of her protection. Lastly, the supplicant must present five anchorites, usually her followers, who manifest the same, new variety of the shield of Ezra, demonstrating that the goddess wishes this new chapter of her teachings to spread. Should the supplicant pass all three tests, she is recognized as the leader of a new sect. All but three such petitions have been discounted in the past, sometimes revealed as purposeful attempts to subvert the faith. Many anchorites, however, believe that a fifth sect will someday appear. This, the Final Sect, will at last reveal the final aspects of Ezra’s Grand Scheme and will herald that it is at last coming to its ultimate fruition.

Worshippers

Ezra (EZ-ra)

Symbol:
A silver longsword superimposed on an alabaster kite shield and adorned with a sprig of belladonna. Religious icons depict Ezra herself as a lovely, dark-haired woman bearing these accoutrements.

Alignment: LN. The Church’s four sects are divided along philosophical lines shaped by their differing interpretations of Ezra’s teachings. Each of these sects roughly corresponds to one of the four alignments available to clerics of Ezra. The Home Faith in Borca is lawful neutral, the Mordentish sect is lawful good, and the Dementlieuse sect is true neutral. Anchorites need not adhere to the prevailing ethos of their sect, however.

Domains: Destruction, Healing, Law, Mists, Protection. The Mists domain is unique to anchorites; see Chapter Two of the Ravenloft Campaign Setting for details. Anchorites typically select the Mists domain, then choose a second cleric domain based on their sect. Borcan anchorites often select Law, Mordentish anchorites favor Healing, while Dementlieuse anchorites prefer Protection. These are merely tendencies, however, not requirements.

Favored Weapon: Ezra’s blade (longsword).

Anchorites pray for their spells at sunrise. Worship services consisting of hymns and sermons are held once every fifth day, always at noon to renew Ezra’s vows of protection over her congregation. Lay folk who do not attend services for longer than five days risk stepping beyond Ezra’s spiritual reach until they return. When attending services, lay worshippers are expected to dress entirely in white, while clergy don ceremonial robes of green with white trim; the wider the visible trim, the higher the anchorite’s position within the church.

Ezra’s clerics act as guardians and healers, serving as personal emissaries of their goddess. Due to their religion’s history of spiritual epiphanies, anchorites place great stock in predestination (the “Grand Scheme”) and divination. Others focus on the unusual preponderance of the number five throughout Ezra’s religious writs and so study numerology. Ezra’s clerics thus occasionally multiclass as diviners, fighters, or rogues. The broader clergy includes commoners, experts, and warriors.

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2007, 03:17:23 AM »
The Lawful Evil Sect of Ezra - Nevuchnar Springs (Darkon)

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer II
The collapse of the Eternal Order has created opportunities for foreign religions with an eye of Darkon's faithful. The most popular of these newcomer religions is the Church of Ezra. The Church worships a mortal woman, Ezra, who reputedly ascended to quasi-divine form. Yet it is divided into four major sects, each adhering to a different interpretation of her teachings. The faith's holy writ, called The Books of Ezra, is divided into four chapters, each written by the founding Bastion of one of these respective sects. The sects comply with the edicts of the Home Faith in Borca, but are otherwise autonomous. Each claims to serve its own role in Ezra's Grand Scheme, though they seldom agree on specific details.

The Church had long sought to make inroads in Darkon, but until recently its proselytizing anchorites converted only a few souls. One such convert was Teodorus Raines, who was studying the faith in Borca when the Great Upheaval struck. Raines interpreted the Great Upheaval as an attempt by the Mists to expel Ezra from their ranks, the first omen of a coming time when the forces of evil would scour the world clean. Raines returned to Darkon, spreading fire-and-brimstone warnings of a coming apocalypse he calls the Time of Unparalled Darkness. The entranched Eternal Order presented him considerable opposition; his lips are still marred by an ugly scar received at their hands.

Raines claims that Ezra guided him through a series of visions, but his preachings found little support until the Requiem, when his dire prophecies suddenly sounded all too real. Raines penned the Fourth Book of Ezra, and the Home Faith sanctionned him as the founder of their newest sect.

Bastion Raines' teachings are rapidly spreading throughout eastern Darkon, but he remains controversial: the Nevuchar Springs sect prophesies an apocalypse due in a mere generation, and endorses torture and experimentation upon evil creatures to learn their weakness before time runs out. Dissenters decry Raines as paranoid, but my dealings with him have always proved anything but agreeable. Whatever else Raines may be, his faith is pure.

The Church adheres to a few basic ceremonies, but individual temples often integrate local traditions. Ezra's primary holiday is the joyous Feast of the First Epiphany, which each temple observes on its first worship day in May. The Darkonian sect also observes all of the Eternal Order's holidays.

Dogma: The mortal Ezra was a healer and guardian who faithfully defended her people from the mosntrous Legions of the Night that taint this world. Unable to find a worthy successor, Ezra merged with the Mists of Death to watch over her faithful. In the first Epiphany, she appeared to Yakov Dilisnya, the first anchorite, and bid him to spread her word. The Mists greatly curtail Ezra's power, however, so she cannot protect those who do not open their hearts to her message. The Great Upheaval was an unsuccesful attempt by the Mists of Death to expel Ezra from their ranks, the first omen of a coming time when the Legions of the NIght will overrun the land. Disgusted by the flood of corruption, the Mists of Death will scour the world clean. This Time of Unparalleled Darkness will come in less than 20 years, yet all is not lost. Ezra will save her truly faithful, but in the end days the jealous Legions of the Night will seek to drag down her chosen people. To protect Ezra's innocent flock, the Legions of the Night - be they monster or mere tempster - must be ruthlessly destroyed.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 12:30:42 PM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2007, 03:46:48 AM »
The True Neutral Sect of Ezra - Port-A-Lucine (Dementlieu)

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer III
Despite the decrepit appearance of Ste. Mere des Larmes, it houses the Dementlieu sect of the Church of Ezra. This sect arrived in Port-a-Lucine in 709 BC, when Warden Joan Secousse discovered a stained glass window in the ruined cathedral that appeared to depict the common representation of Ezra. Investigation of the site began hurriedly, and soon tunnels and cellars were uncovered beneath the foundations that countained the teachings of the cathedral's original faith, from more than 400 years ago. Startling similarities between these teachings and the texts of Yakov Dilisnya prompted Secousse to pen The Third Book of Ezra and return to Lechberg to deliver her news. The Church soon determined that Secousse had indeed discovered a new aspect of the Grand Scheme, and she was named Bastion of the Port-ŕ-Lucine sect of the Church of Ezra.

This sect believes that in Ste. Mere des Larmes they have discovered the original words and faith of Ezra and that other texts were merely crude copies of the truth. They spend the majority of their time furthering their study of the texts found in the ruined cathedral, attempting to understand Ezra's true nature. Anchorites also scribe some of the most elaborately illuminated scriptures of Ezra to be found in the Core, for Sentires able to afford the cost. A printing press acquired by the sect is now making more mundane copies of the scriptures available to all who desire them.

Port-a-Lucine appears to have developed a significant interest in the numerological aspects of Ezra's scriptures. The number five regularly occurs in the scriptures of Ezra, and many of the faithful attribute good luck to the number. The studious Port-a-Lucine anchorites, however, claim to have found many patterns and hidden mathematical codes in Ezra's scriptures. In addition, they have been examining the cathedral itself and other holy relics for signs of the numerological code.One student I interviewed spoke excitedly of five-pointed flowers in the stained glass window and complicated calculations based on the angle and number of buttresses. The exact goal of this study appears to be unclear, with few able to communicate any clear result of their findings.

Their focus on esoteric study has meant that the Church of Ezra in Port-a-Lucine spends little time seeking new followers, or even preaching to existing followers. This secluded approach to their faith has drawn criticism from other sects, feeling that they are not spreading Ezra's word. The Port-a-Lucine sect willingly accepts those who seek it out, and worship is conducted with a small group of attendees on every fifth day.

The most common reason for the Dementlieuse to visit the church is to seek succor from the miraculous icon of Ezra in the wall of the western transept. The only surviving piece of stained glass in the cathedral, its elaborate design includes the text, "Cry no more, for I will cry for you." The faithful say that if one prays to the icon, Ezra may take the supplicant's sorrows onto herself. Those who are not pure of heart or motive, however, may have Ezra unleash her stored sorrows upon them, making this a risky proposition for manipulative and deceptive citizens.

Bastion Secousse decided long ago not to restore or repair the majority of the cathedral, leaving it as a symbol of the age of the faith of Ezra. The roof and walls of the nave collapsed centuries ago, along with part of the eastern transept. The anchorites have done the minimum amount of work required to protect the remainder of the church from the elements. A small chapter house adjoining the western transept is the home of Bastion Secousse and some of her attendants. Although I could not gain entrance, there are said to be any number of secret passages and rooms underneath the structure in which the anchorites continue to discover extraordinary secrets of Ezra.

At 83 years of age, Bastion Joan Secousse is now a very elderly woman and is seldomly seen in public. Rumors suggest that she has fallen severely ill on at least three occasions, and each time the prayers of the faithful to the Sainted Mother of Tears resulted in her recovery. Most Anchorites have unsurprisingly called this a miracle of Ezra, but a few are concerned that Ezra is not willing to accept Bastion Secousse into the afterlife. Meanwhile, questions hang over the Bastion's successor. Although the Bastion formally announced that Toret Armand Pineau (a senior scholar among the sect) as her successor, during her delirium Bastion Secousse has apparently repeatedly summoned Toret Leonie Caille to her bedside. Suggestions that she will renounce her appointment of Warden Pineau just before her death are rife.

Dogma: Ezra was a goddess who saw that the gods had abandonned the Hollow, a place hidden by mists and burdened by suffering. She beseeched the gods to tend to these people, but they refused. Ezra left the realm of the gods and gave herself to the Mists in order to watch over the mortals within the Hollow. Other faiths simply worship other aspects of Ezra. The Grand Scheme has not yet been revealed to mortals, and thus study must be devoted to Ezra's other aspects. Ezra waits for us at the end of our life, on the other side of the Mists of Death, to take us to our final reward.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2008, 08:20:09 PM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2007, 04:06:36 AM »
The Lawful Good Sect of Ezra - Mordentshire (Mordent)

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer III
Naturally, given the prevalence with which the Mists creep throughout this land, it is also no surprise that Mordent is home to perhaps the most devoted following of Ezra anywhere in the Dread Realms. Mordentshire itself is the proud home of the sect of Ezrans most openly dedicated to doing good in their entire faith, without the "forced conversions" of their sister faith in Nevuchar Springs. From their regional home at the Church of Pure Hearts in Mordentshire, anchorites of Ezra travel forth on missions of mercy across the land, healing the sick, ministering to the faithful, and at times leading efforts to exorcise or destroy malignant evil spirits plaguing a community. Like most Mordentish affairs, the faith of Ezra is not an overtly joyous observation, but rather more of a quiet celebration of the power of life to resist evil and for the light of the faith to pierce the impenetrable depths of the Mists. Of late, there have been signs of unrest within the church as well, though whether as the result of some itnernal struggle or due to some larger plan being set in motion, I cannot say for certain.

Although this matter falls outside the realm of official church business, I feel that I should also mention that all settlements of any size have an anchorite of Ezra, who ministers to the spiritual needs of the populace and often acts as an advisor to the town's appointed officials. These anchorites frequently wield a great deal more influence than one would first suspect, given their backgrounds as humble ecclesiastics. A well-liked anchorite can even reverse a magistrate's decision or a mayoral edict, though those that do had best be prepared to back their actions with church doctrine or solid popular reasoning if they hope to be succesful. Most importantly to some, the position of anchorite is also where women can wield the most overt power in a Mordentish community. Many towns consider the other posts of magistrate and sheriff too base for the fairer sex, and few women are chosen as mayors given that the office passes down through males of the line. I must confess that I found these opinions somewhat shocking, given the rather egalitarian outlook that the Mordentish take on other matters, but while some of the larger and more well-travelled towns are slowly shedding these old traditions, they remain alive and well elsewhere in the realm.

The current bastion of the Mordentshire Sect is Sarlota Otrava.

---

Concerning the spirit (or the soul)

Quote from: Van Richten's Guide to the Walking Dead
According to the teachings of Bastion Sarlota Otrava of the Church of Pure Hearts, the spirit is a mystical quality that fills every part of the body. The mind is not contained within the heart or brain; instead, every fiber of the being holds a tiny fraction of the person's thoughts and experiences.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 02:34:12 AM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2007, 04:16:32 AM »
The Lawful Neutral Sect of Ezra - Lekvarest (Borca)

The Church of Ezra in Vallaki subscribes to the tenets of the Home Faith. There are presently two Sentires in Barovia: Sentire Postoyev oversees the Church of Ezra's efforts in the region of Western Barovia from the Refuge of Quiet Diligence in Teudeldorf; Sentire Mugur Costinus oversees the Church of Ezra's efforts in the region of Eastern Barovia from his Church in Vallaki's nobles district.

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer IV
At long last, after studying each of the three breakaway sects, I arrived at the wellspring of the Church of Ezra, known as the "Home Faith" by the faithful. As elsewhere, anchorites of the Home Faith steadfastly seek to protect Ezra's faithful from the monstrous Legions of the Night. Unlike the Nevuchar Springs sect, however, the Home Faith is content to clearly separate the blessed from the damned, trusting their ultimate fates to Ezra.

The heart of the Church lies within the Great Cathedral, which towers over the rooftops of Lekvarest. With the last stone set in place just twelve years ago, the Great Cathedral remains a gleaming monument to Ezra's glory - and less overtly, to the wealth and power of her church. The Great Cathedral is a fortress of white marble and stained glass, employing its own phalanx of guards. With such extensive material holdings, the clergy is deeply embroiled in courtly politics. The anchorites under Levin Postoya, Ezra's fifth Praesidius (high priest) and Bastion of the Home Faith, tend toward pragmatism in politics, remaining neutral whenever possible, but holding frequent meetings behind closed doors to appease prickly nobles and appeal to them for donations. The Home Faith also serves as a hub between the Church's splinter sects. Envoys from each sect can always be found at the Great Cathedral, though few choose to stay longer than a year before being transferred back to their homelands.

Ezra is the only true source of refuge for Borca's downtrodden commoners. Worship ceremonies are held every five days, measured from the founding of each temple, but scores of people pass through the Great Cathedral's cavernous worship hall each day to offer thanks or to pray for aid. The Church of Ezra has become the opiate of the masses that Yakov Dilisnya promised.

Celebrations: Borcans celebrate many of the same seasonal festival days found throughout the Core, including the Feast of the First Epiphany, held by each temple of Ezra on its first worship day in May. A commemoration of Ezra's visitation to Yakov Dilisnya, this joyous celebration is the most enlivening holiday for Borca's masses and a popular day for marriages.

---

Concerning magic and the fate of the Legions after death:

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer III
Mages who meet their diabolic match (in the contracts they have with devils for power) are ushered into the so-called "Legions of the Night." Corrupted in life, the Legions cannot join Ezra beyond the Mists in death and thus must wander the world as spirits or worse. Ezra herself is viewed as one of these supernatural patrons (granting powers), though she is considered unique in her benevolence.

In this text, it states that mages bargain with demonic entities for their powers (magic), but always seek to best the demons and trick them. When they fail, however, they meet their match and are lured in the Legions of the Night. So, evil mages would likely be seen as members of the Legions. Additionally, it states that the Legions cannot join Ezra in the Mists of death and are cursed to roam the land forever or worse.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 05:01:07 PM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 05:38:31 AM »
The History of the Church of Ezra (long read)

Quote from: Book of Secrets
Ever since the founding of the Church of Ezra, in the last century, attempts to discover the true identity of Ezra have been made by countless scholars, both among her faithful and among her detractors. Yet to this day the historical existence of the mortal Ezra remains a topic of controversy. Although many claims have been laid by members of many faiths, no one has ever proven which “land cloaked in Mists” the mortal Ezra called her home. Despite all the decades of scholarly research, and several theories to the contrary, Ezra’s mortal life remains the stuff of legend, her life and homeland forever set in the boundless “before time” of creation myths. However, the birth of the Church of Ezra can be established with pinpoint accuracy, beginning with a name as rich in history as it is in infamy: Dilisnya.

The First Epiphany
IN THE TIME BEFORE, IN A LAND CLOAKED IN  MISTS, THERE WAS A WOMAN, AND SHE WAS EZRA.

EZRA WAS A HEALER OF THE SICK AND PROTECTOR OF THE WEAK. SUCH WAS HER LOT IN LIFE. SUCH WAS HER ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME.

EZRA TOOK PRIDE IN THE ROLE FATE HAD GIVEN HER. HER DUTY WAS HER JOY.

FOR MANY YEARS EZRA HEALED THE LAME AND WATCHED OVER HER PEOPLE. BUT AS TIME WENT ON, EZRA BEGAN TO SEE THE HOLLOW.

FROM THE MISTS OF DEATH CAME HORRORS OF THE NIGHT. THEY WERE THE DRINKER OF BLOOD, AND THE STEALER
OF BREATH, AND THE BEAST THAT RENDS. MANY WERE THEIR LEGIONS. MANY WERE THE ROLES PLAYED BY DARKNESS IN THE
GRAND SCHEME.

EZRA KNEW THAT DEATH WOULD COME FOR HER, AS IT COMES TO ALL IN TIME. WHEN EZRA ENTERED THE GRAY LAND, THERE WOULD BE NO GUARDIAN TO FILL HER ROLE. THERE WOULD BE NO ONE TO STAND BETWEEN HER PEOPLE AND THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT.

EZRA SET FORTH ON A QUEST TO FIND A GUARDIAN FOR HER PEOPLE. SHE SOUGHT THE ONE PURE HEART WHO WOULD ASSUME HER ROLE.

The Books of Ezra
Book I. i.–vii.


A century ago, the Dilisnya clan had spread to half a dozen domains, still scattered to the ends of the Core by the their ancestral feud with the lord of Barovia. Financial and political savvy was nearly as telling a Dilisnya trait as the shape of their faces, or the color or their eyes, ensuring their success in almost every land they called their home.

Yakov Dilisnya was born in northern Mordent in the year 641, the first born son of Lev and Elena Dilisnya. Yakov was raised in the luxurious manor first built by his grandfather; gaining several siblings as the years passed. His mother passed away when he was ten. Within a few years, Lev remarried, and his new wife bore him bore him two more children, including Yakov’s young half-sister Camille.

Meanwhile, Yakov did little to impress his father. Although the young man clearly had a keen mind, he exhibited the weak will that plagues all too many sons cursed with “old money.”

This changed, remarkably so, in Yakov’s 25th year. One May afternoon, when Yakov had been out riding, his horse returned to the stables without its rider. A search was launched immediately, and Yakov was soon found sprawled in a nearby stream, unconscious and appearing to have suffered from a seizure. He was carried back to his bed, where he lay raving with fever for five days.

When the fever broke, Dilisnya demanded a quill and parchment, furiously scribbling page after page of what would eventually be known as The First Book of Ezra.

Speaking with new clarity of purpose, borne either from epiphany or fever-wrought madness, Yakov announced that he had been touched by an entity called Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mists. Yakov claimed that Ezra had chosen him to spread her word, and he dedicated himself to her faith, having his scribbled notes transcribed into an illuminated text. He traveled from Mordentish village to village, claiming it was his duty, his “role in the Grand Scheme” to build a flock of faithful.

Yakov struggled for years to establish Ezra’s church, but he met with little success; he was far from being the only madman roaming the Core claiming to be the chosen one of an imaginary god. Eccentricity was far from unknown in the Dilisnya bloodline, and most of his own family simply disregarded Yakov as a harmless lunatic.

Yet as the years passed Yakov began to demonstrate divine powers he claimed to have been granted by Ezra. He visited plague-marked houses, healing with a touch; he visited haunted tombs, and cast out spirits with a word. In time, he could even deflect the weapons of his foes with a prayer, calling this last gift the Shield of Ezra. He had become the first anchorite.

Despite these miracles, Yakov failed to convert the masses. Perhaps this was due to resistance from the Weathermays, who suspected an insidious Dilisnya trick. More likely, Ezra’s message failed because Yakov spoke much of duties and debts to others, but little of true compassion or salvation.

By 684, Yakov had converted less than a dozen followers to his faith. Meanwhile, Camille Dilisnya grew to womanhood and took a husband.

The Home Faith
EZRA SOUGHT FOR THE ONE PURE HEART IN MANY LANDS, BUT EVER DID SHE SEEK IN VAIN.

IN TIME HER QUEST BROUGHT EZRA TO THE END OF ALL THINGS. BEHIND EZRA STRETCHED ALL THE LANDS OF THE WORLD. BEFORE EZRA ROSE ONLY THE MISTS OF DEATH.

EZRA SPOKE TO THE MISTS. ASKED SHE, “THE WORLD IS YOURS. YOU SET ITS SHAPE. WHY DO YOU ALLOW ITS PEOPLE TO WANDER, LOST AND AFRAID?” BUT THE MISTS DID NOT ANSWER.

AGAIN EZRA SPOKE. “WHY HAVE YOU FILLED YOUR WORLD WITH THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT?” BUT THE MISTS WOULD NOT ANSWER.

A THIRD TIME DID EZRA SPEAK. “ALL THINGS HAVE THEIR ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME. THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT HAVE THEIR PLACE. BUT GUARDIANS AND GUIDES HAVE THEIR ROLES IN TURN.” STILL THE MISTS OFFERED NO REPLY.

EZRA SPOKE ONCE MORE. “I HAVE SEARCHED ALL THE VASTNESS OF YOUR LANDS, BUT I HAVE FOUND NO GUARDIANS FOR MY PEOPLE. I HAVE FOUND NO GUIDES FOR THE LOST.” AGAIN THE MISTS WERE SILENT.

FOR THE LAST TIME DID EZRA SPEAK. “YOU HAVE FAILED THE GRAND SCHEME. YOU HAVE CREATED A HOLLOW THAT MUST BE FILLED. IF YOU WILL NOT WATCH OVER YOUR PEOPLE, THEN MUST I.”

UPON THE FIFTH ENTREATY DID THE MISTS OF DEATH REPLY. FROM THE MISTS CAME A VOICE, AND THE VOICE SPOKE, SAYING, “TURN BACK, MORTAL. YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE GRAND SCHEME. YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE MISTS. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF YOUR WORLD. CONTINUE AND YOU SHALL FIND ONLY YOUR DESTRUCTION, NOTHING MORE.”

YET EZRA HELD FAST AGAINST THE MISTS, SAYING, “YOU CANNOT BID ME ENTER, YET I CANNOT TURN AWAY. I OFFER MYSELF TO YOU SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW THE SUFFERING OF MY PEOPLE. IF I MUST BE DESTROYED FOR THEM, THEN THAT IS WHAT MUST BE.”

THE MISTS OF DEATH FELL SILENT. THEN THE VOICE SPOKE, ONCE MORE. “ENTER THE MISTS IF YOU MUST, MORTAL, BUT NOT AS YOU ARE. YOUR KIND HAS NO PLACE HERE. TO ENTER THE MISTS, YOU MUST BECOME AS ONE WITH THE MISTS. NEVER AGAIN SHALL YOU LEAVE THEM. WILL YOU FOREVER SACRIFICE YOURSELF TO WATCH OVER THESE FEW MORTALS?”

SPOKE EZRA, “SUCH IS MY ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME. SO MUST IT BE.”

AND WITH THOSE WORDS DID EZRA BECOME OUR GUARDIAN IN THE MISTS.

The Books of Ezra
Book I. viii.–xix.


In 684 the young Camille Grymig nee Dilisnya discovered that her husband of a mere three years had taken a lover. Camille had been taught the skills of the poisoner by her father, and her heart housed all the most ruthless and obsessive traits of her bloodline. When Camille slew her husband and his lover with a vile toxin of her own creation, the Mists opened to grant her the  domain of Borca.

Camille invited her scattered family to join her in her new lands. Many rushed to accept her offer, enjoying their heightened status. Now entering middle age, Yakov Dilisnya joined them, finally relinquishing his quest to establish the Ezra faith in his homeland. Although dismissed as a harmless eccentric by most of his relatives, Yakov still possessed the keen political mind common to those in his family. Yakov saw a vast opportunity in Borca, and few knew Camille’s mind better than her eldest sibling.

Yakov managed to convince Camille to grant him land just outside Levkarest to build a temple to Ezra. He slyly hinted that Ezra could be a useful tool, an opiate of the masses Camille could wield to win and keep the Borcans’ love. Yakov even talked the young darklord into helping fund the construction of his grandiose temple.

Ground was broken the very next year. Construction of the Great Cathedral would take six decades to complete, but the Church of Ezra had at last grown roots.

Laborers and artisans were summoned from all of Borca and beyond to design and raise the mighty temple. As the stones were laid, Yakov and his few followers ministered to the workers. Perhaps the impoverished workers were willing to listen to the anchorites for their coins. Perhaps the Borcans were less contented than the Mordentish, and thus more receptive to Ezra’s austere message. Perhaps the dark powers decided it was time for the church to bloom. Whatever the reason, the laborers stopped to listen the message of Ezra, and this time, it spoke to their hearts.

The faith spread to the workers, then to their families, and then throughout Borca. In the act of building the Great Cathedral, Yakov Dilisnya had at long last built his Church of Ezra. When Camille Dilisnya wed Klaus Boritsi in 687, it was Yakov who officiated the ceremony.

By the time the anchorites started holding services within the stone skeleton of their cathedral in 695, the Church of Ezra was thriving within Borca and a force to be reckoned with. A smaller, secondary temple was established in Sturben, and the faith had even started to spread into neighboring Dorvinia.

Three years later, Lady Camille Boritsi would have atantrum. It would change the faith forever.

The First Schism
SPOKE EZRA, “SUCH IS THE ROLE I HAVE CHOSEN IN THE GRAND SCHEME. SUCH IS WHAT I MUST I DO.”

AND WITH THOSE WORDS DID EZRA BECOME OUR GUARDIAN IN THE MISTS.

FROM HER PLACE IN THE MISTS OF DEATH, EZRA LOOKED DOWN UPON THE MORTALS OF THE WORLD, AND SHE EXTENDED HER HAND TO FILL THE HOLLOW.

BUT THE MISTS WOULD NOT PART. AGAIN A VOICE CAME FROM THE MISTS, SAYING, “FOOLISH ONE, YOU STILL KNOW NOTHING OF THE GRAND SCHEME. THE HOLLOW BELONGS TO THE MISTS ALONE. IT IS THEIR CREATION. YOU SHALL NOT SPOIL WHAT THEY HAVE WROUGHT.”

EZRA SPOKE, SAYING, “THE MISTS HAVE WROUGHT NOTHING BUT SORROW. IT IS MY ROLE TO SUCCOR THE SUFFERING OF MY PEOPLE. WHAT IS TO BECOME OF MY PLACE IN THE GRAND SCHEME IF THE MISTS CANNOT BID ME ACT? WHAT SHALL BECOME OF THE PURE OF HEART, IF THEY HAVE NO GUARDIAN IN THE MISTS?”

ANSWERED THE VOICE, “YOU MAY HAVE THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO HAVE YOU, AND THOSE ONLY. IF THEY BE PURE OF HEART, THEN SO SHALL IT BE.”

EZRA SPOKE AGAIN, ASKING, “AND WHAT OF THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT? WHAT OF THE DRINKER OF BLOOD, AND THE STEALER OF BREATH, AND THE BEAST THAT RENDS? WHAT OF THE HORRORS WHO WOULD STEAL THE PURE OF HEART AND ADD THEM TO THEIR LEGIONS?”

THE VOICE REPLIED, “THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT BELONG TO THE MISTS, NOT TO YOU. SHOULD MORTALS JOIN THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT, THEN THAT IS THE ROLE THEY HAVE CHOSEN IN THE GRAND SCHEME. THEY WERE NEVER AMONG YOUR PURE OF HEART.”

EZRA ACCEPTED THIS, SAYING, “SO SHALL IT BE. BUT IF THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT CAN BE BROUGHT OUT OF THE DARKNESS, THEN THAT IS THE ROLE THEY HAVE CHOSEN IN THE GRAND SCHEME, AND THEY SHALL STAND IN YOUR LEGIONS NO MORE.”

THE MISTS OF DEATH WERE SILENT.

EZRA THEN GATHERED UP THE PURE OF HEART, NAMING THEM HER ANCHORITES. IT WOULD BE THEIR ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME TO GUIDE THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT BACK INTO THE LIGHT.

AS EZRA SHALL GIVE SUCCOR TO HER ANCHORITES, HER ANCHORITES SHALL GIVE SUCCOR TO THE FAITHFUL. THE FAITHFUL SHALL SPREAD EZRA’S LOVE TO ALL THE WORLD, PUSHING BACK THE DARKNESS. WHEN THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT STAND EMPTY, THE HOLLOW SHALL BE FILLED. SUCH IS THE GRAND SCHEME.

The Books of Ezra
Book II. xx.–xxxi.


Some historians blame Camille’s rampage in the year 698 on her realization that the Church of Ezra, which she had sponsored as a tool to pacify the masses, now threatened to overshadow her power. However, surviving records indicate that Camille’s rash tantrum was more likely fueled by her discovery of extensive infidelity within her immediate family.

Outraged, Camille Boritsi poisoned nearly every member of her branch of the family. Yakov Dilisnya did not escape her wrath. Although Camille left no hard evidence of her role in the murders, rumors of her guilt spread through the general public like wildfire. The Dilisnya name became almost unbearably despised by the throng of Ezra’s faithful, and the threat of revolution was palpable. Camille realized her act had spontaneously transformed the politically neutral Church of Ezra into the open threat that she feared.

Camille attempted to restore her reputation by disassociating herself from the death of the church’s founder. She offered to erect a memorial statue of Yakov on the steps of the still-unfinished Great Cathedral. There are some who say Camille’s offer might have even betrayed a pang of regret.

The offer blunted the outrage of the Borcan populace just enough to avoid open rioting in the streets. Ironically, this same, simple statue would also tear a open a rift within the Church.

Publicly, Camille simply offered the memorial to the Church as a gesture of her mourning. Privately, she also promised sizable donations towards the cathedral’s construction, but added a requirement: the anchorites were not to “stir the pot” of insurrection. She hinted that refusing her offer would be costly indeed.

The offer exposed a schism brewing among the clergy for years, dividing them into two camps. In secret debates, one faction argued that the survival of the Church—not to mention its clergy—depended on keeping the far-reaching Dilisnya clan happy. They insisted that accepting Camille’s gift would ensure the survival of the faith. They supported this argument by accentuating that all things had their role in the Grand Scheme. Ezra had even assigned Camille Boritsi a role: that of a generous but demanding patron. If the anchorites defied Camille’s attempt to fulfill this role, there were many other roles Camille could surely take. “Nemesis” came to mind. The church had to accept the boundaries they lived under, not just to survive, but to obey Ezra’s Grand Scheme.

The opposing faction resolutely rejected Camille’s bribe. They renounced the opposition, pointing out that they worshipped Ezra, not Yakov Dilisnya. The suggestion that they should raise a monument to Praesidius Dilisnya before Ezra’s own cathedral was even complete fell little short of blasphemy. This faction argued that it was the anchorites’ duty to defend the faithful, not the powerful. The anchorites of this faction accused Ezra’s clergy of becoming far too entangled in materialistic concerns. They were narrowly  obeying the rules of Ezra’s Grand Scheme, but neglecting her roles of healer and protector.

In the end, the faction opposed to the statue were badly outnumbered. The Church of Ezra accepted Camille’s gift with a show of gratitude. Behind closed doors, the clerical schism grew uglier with each passing day. The minority faction found itself opposed from all sides. The faction’s accusations of worldly corruption still hung in the air, and rumors hinted that Camille had learned of the opposition to her gift. It was in her nature to lash out at her foes, so now every goblet of wine was seen as a potential murder weapon.

The minority faction was led by Felix Wachter, the Sentire of Sturben, himself distantly related to the Dilisnyas. Fuming at his peers and fearing for the lives of his allies, Wachter made the monumental decision to break away from the Home Faith and lead his supporters out of danger. By the winter of 698, Wachter and his four loyal anchorites had left Borca to establish a new temple in Mordent, which they claimed to be the first, true home of Ezra.

Preaching a revised, more openly compassionate version of Ezra’s teachings, Wachter’s sect discovered the acceptance that had eluded Yakov. In 699, Sentire Wachter claimed to have a series of visions in which Ezra  presented him with her new teachings. Wachter scribed Ezra’s revised tenets into scripture he called The Second Book of Ezra.

The rival sects remained antagonistic for years. Mordentish anchorites accused the Home Faith of corruption; Borcans labeled Wachter’s sect as heretics, noting that even the miracles granted to the Mordentish anchorites had changed. Even their Shield of Ezra now manifested in a new way.

But as time went on, both sects gradually arrived at an admission. Ezra had seen fit to continue granting her blessings to both factions. Though the sects continued to disagree on many points, the realization lead to reconciliation, which lead to an new tenet of Ezra’s faith: Only Ezra could say who did or do did not exemplify her teachings. In granting the Mordentish sect a new manifestation of her Shield, Ezra had revealed a mysterious new facet of her Grand Scheme.

Within a decade, the schism would be healed. Then the Mists would withdraw to reveal a new domain, and the Church would be changed again.

(more next post)

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2007, 05:38:45 AM »
Quote
The Gift from the Mists
IN THE TIME BEFORE, THERE WAS A GODDESS, AND SHE WAS EZRA. EZRA LOOKED DOWN UPON THE WORLD OF MORTALS, AND SHE SAW THAT THE WORLD WAS WELL-TENDED BY THE GODS.

BUT THEN EZRA’S EYES FELL UPON THE HOLLOW. SHE LOOKED DEEP INTO THE HOLLOW, AND SAW A PLACE ABANDONED BY THE GODS, ITS PEOPLE LEFT TO SUFFER ALONE.

EZRA ASKED HER DIVINE BRETHREN, “WHY HAS THIS PLACE BEEN FORGOTTEN? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ITS PEOPLE?” BUT THE GODS DID NOT ANSWER.

AGAIN EZRA SPOKE, SAYING, “WE ARE THE GUIDES AND GUARDIANS OF MORTALS. SUCH IS OUR ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME. IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT THESE MORTALS BE ABANDONED SO.” AGAIN THE GODS GAVE NO REPLY.

EZRA SPOKE FOR A THIRD TIME. “IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT THESE MORTALS BE LEFT TO SUFFER. IF YOU WILL NOT WATCH OVER YOUR PEOPLE, THEN MUST I.”

THUS EZRA LEFT THE REALM OF THE GODS. HER DIVINE BRETHREN WATCHED HER LEAVE IN SILENCE.

EZRA DESCENDED TO THE HOLLOW, BUT BEFORE SHE COULD ENTER, THE MISTS OF DEATH ROSE UP TO BLOCK HER PATH.

FROM THE MISTS CAME A VOICE, AND THE VOICE SPOKE, SAYING, “TURN BACK, GODDESS. THIS PLACE IS NOT FOR YOU. THIS PLACE IS FOR THE MISTS ALONE.”

YET EZRA HELD FAST, SAYING, “I CANNOT ALLOW YOUR PEOPLE TO SUFFER ALONE. IT IS MY PLACE TO PROTECT THEM.”

AGAIN THE VOICE SPOKE, WARNING, “TAKE HEED, GODDESS. YOUR KIND HAVE NO PLACE IN THE HOLLOW. ENTER AND YOU SHALL FIND ONLY YOUR DESTRUCTION, NOTHING MORE.”

YET EZRA STOOD FIRM AGAINST THE MISTS, SAYING, “YOU CANNOT BID ME ENTER, YET I CANNOT TURN AWAY. I CANNOT ALLOW YOUR PEOPLE TO SUFFER ALONE. IF I MUST BE DESTROYED, THEN THAT IS WHAT MUST BE.”

UPON HER FIFTH ENTREATY THE VOICE SPOKE ONCE MORE. “ENTER THE MISTS IF YOU MUST, GODDESS, BUT NOT AS YOU ARE. TO ENTER THE MISTS, YOU MUST BECOME AS ONE WITH THE MISTS. YOU MUST CEASE TO BE, YOUR NAME FORGOTTEN IN ALL OTHER PLACES. YOU SHALL NEVER RETURN TO YOUR BRETHREN. WILL YOU SACRIFICE ALL THIS FOR THESE FEW MORTALS?’

SPOKE EZRA, “SUCH IS MY ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME. SO MUST IT BE.”

AND WITH THOSE WORDS EZRA JOINED THE MISTS. HER NAME BECAME KNOWN TO THOSE IN THE HOLLOW, AND LOST TO ALL OTHERS.

The Books of Ezra
Book III. i.–xiv.


The schism between the Home Faith and the Mordentish sect was resolved within a decade. The unfinished walls of the Great Cathedral rose above Levkarest. The Mordentshire sect established a chapel, and satellite temples were spreading to neighboring domains. The Core too had grown in the decades since the First Epiphany, and in 707 the Mists revealed the new domain of Dementlieu.

This event held no special import for the Church of Ezra, so it was nearly a year before a wandering anchorite, Joan Secousse, visited the new land—and rushed back to Mordent to report her startling news. At the very heart of the city of Port-a-Lucine an ancient cathedral was crumbling into ruin. When asked, the people of the city said the cathedral had been dedicated to a goddess they knew only as Ste. Mere des Larmes, the “Sainted Mother of Tears.” But they were quick to add that the religion had died out nearly 400 years ago, and the cathedral had lain vacant in all the years since.

Secousse explored the cathedral, pondering if it could be used by the Church. Above the cracked altar, she discovered a stained glass window, still miraculously intact after centuries of neglect. Ste. Mere des Larmes was still visible in the glass. The image was unmistakably that of Ezra.

A number of anchorites were immediately dispatched from both sects to study the startling image in more detail. Led by Warden Secousse, the priests examined every inch of the crumbling ruins. They soon discovered the entrances to a maze of secret passages and chambers hidden within the cathedral’s foundations. At the heart of this secret sub-level, they found a sealed scriptorium where the secrets of Ste. Mere des Larmes had been preserved for half a millennium. Each scroll the anchorites read redoubled their awe.

The expedition returned to Levkarest in 709, declaring that they had uncovered the lost teachings of Ezra. Furthermore, they claimed Yakov Dilisnya had merely discovered a copy of these lost texts, distorting them to suit his own purposes. When the church elders protested, Joan presented them with her interpretation of the holy writ of the Mother of Tears, offering her new scriptures as The Third Book of Ezra.

The Church had established a Rite of Revelation in the wake of the First Schism to determine when a new aspect of the Grand  Scheme had truly been revealed. In accordance with those rituals, Joan and her followers demonstrated that they had been blessed with a new manifestation of the Shield of Ezra.

The elders of the Church were amazed; Ezra had indeed again spoken. Joan was granted the title of Bastion, and returned with her followers to Port-a-Lucine to continue their esoteric studies of the “lost history” of Ezra.

The Fall of Night
SUCH IS MY ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME,” SPOKE EZRA. “SO MUST IT BE.”

WITH THOSE WORDS DID EZRA SACRIFICE HER MORTAL LIFE TO BECOME OUR GUARDIAN IN THE MISTS.

FROM HER PLACE IN THE MISTS OF DEATH, EZRA LOOKED DOWN UPON THE MORTALS SHE HAD FORSAKEN ALL ELSE TO PROTECT.

ONLY THEN DID SHE SEE THE WICKEDNESS IN THE MORTALS’ HEARTS. ONLY THEN DID SHE SEE THAT THE MORTALS SHE SOUGHT TO PROTECT AND THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT WERE ONE AND THE SAME. ONLY THEN COULD SHE SEE THE FOULNESS OF THEIR HIDDEN SINS.

EZRA SAW THAT THOSE WHO HAD BEEN TRUE TO HER WERE BUT FEW. A SCATTERING OF DIM STARS IN A SKY OF DEEPEST BLACK. IN HER NEW ROLE, EZRA SAW THAT THE SINFULNESS OF THE MORTALS WAS SO LOATHSOME THAT THE MISTS OF DEATH WOULD SOON WIPE THE HOLLOW CLEAN OF THEIR BLACKENED SOULS.

EZRA’S HEART SANK, BUT SHE WOULD NOT ABANDON HOPE. SHE KNEW THAT SHE COULD NOT SAVE THE SOULS OF THE WICKED, BUT SHE COULD OFFER SALVATION TO THOSE WHO REPENTED THEIR EVIL WAYS AND ALLOWED HER GUIDANCE INTO THEIR HEARTS.

EZRA DID GATHER HER FAITHFUL FEW, NAMING THEM HER ANCHORITES. IT WOULD BE THEIR ROLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME TO GUIDE THE CORRUPTED BACK INTO THE LIGHT. AS EZRA WOULD GUIDE AND PROTECT HER ANCHORITES, HER ANCHORITES WOULD STAND VIGIL OVER THOSE OF GOOD FAITH.

EZRA’S SERVANTS MUST SHOW THE CORRUPTED THEIR PATHS OF DOOM, AND MUST GUARD THE FAITH FROM THOSE LOST SOULS WHO WOULD NOT BE SAVED. HER ANCHORITES MUST REDEEM THE FALLEN AND DESTROY THE LEGIONS OF THE NIGHT WHO WOULD CORRUPT THE PURE.

WHEN THE MISTS OF DEATH SWEEP DOWN, WHEN THE DARKNESS DEVOURS THE LAND AND CONSUMES THE WICKED, EZRA SHALL STAND VIGIL OVER THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRUE TO HER.

THE TIME OF ULTIMATE DARKNESS IS FAST FALLING UPON THE LAND. WE LIVE IN THE DAYS OF DYING LIGHT. SIGNS AND PORTENTS SURROUND US, AND ONLY THOSE WHO ADMIT EZRA’S LIGHT SHALL BE SPARED.

The Books of Ezra
Book IV. xix–xxix.


For the next thirty years, the three sects of the Church of Ezra continued to strengthen and grow, suffering no major setbacks. Wandering anchorites continued to spread the word of Ezra. For every anchorite that vanished in the night, another would convert new faithful in new villages.

When the Grand Conjunction struck the Demiplane of Dread in 740, the Great Cathedral in Levkarest was nearing completion. Many of the faithful considered it little short of miraculous that the massive structure survived the tremors with only minor damage.

Some of Ezra’s clergy were even more shaken than their temple, however. Some believed that the Grand Conjunction—commonly known as the Great Upheaval— was a sign that the Legions of the Night were dangerously gaining in strength.

For one such anchorite, Teodorus Raines, the effects of the Great Upheaval were profound. Raines was a native of Darkon, but had come to Borca to study Ezra’s teachings under the Home Faith. Even while a young acolytes, Raines’ peers noticed his tense and suspicious demeanor. Some of his teachers had even gone so far as to advise Warden Raines not to present Ezra’s teachings in such bleak terms; perhaps affected by the legends of his homeland, Raines spoke of the Legions of the Night as if they were eternally clawing at the very doors of the Great Cathedral. However, Raines maintained strict adherence to the letter of Ezra’s scriptures, and in time was even granted her Shield. All signs indicated that he did indeed have Ezra’s blessing.

Warden Raines believed that the Great Upheaval had been nothing less than an attempt by the Mists of Death to expel Ezra from their ranks, the first omen of a coming age when the Legions of the Night would scour the world clean. Although the Church elders did not see the world in Raines’ apocalyptic terms, Praesidius Raskolka summoned a Bastion’s Council to determine the Church’s future. With Bastions Denisovich of Mordentshire and Secousse of Port-a-Lucine acting as his advisors, Praesidius Raskolka declared that Ezra’s anchorites had a urgent duty to spread the word of Ezra to the four corners of the Core, even to those lands where existing religions stood in opposition to Ezra’s word. Even more than had been the case before, young anchorites were encouraged to travel the Land of Mists, doing worthy works in Ezra’s name and establishing new temples.

Warden Raines became part of this new wave of evangelical anchorites. He returned to his native land of Darkon, and began to preach Ezra’s teachings to any who would listen. He faced massive opposition. Darkon’s spiritual heart was in the grip of two state-sponsored religions: the Cult of the Overseer, openly embraced in Martira Bay, and the Eternal Order, somewhat begrudgingly worshipped  throughout the rest of the domain. On more than one occasion Raines was physically threatened by the priests of the Eternal Order, but he persevered.

In fact, Raines may have survived simply because his influence was negligible. By the time the Great Cathedral was completed in 745, Raines had already traveled through half of Darkon, never finding a receptive audience to his fire-and-brimstone sermons. Meanwhile, visiting anchorites sent back word to the Home Faith that Raines had altered his proselytizing style since leaving Borca; he now claimed that Ezra herself was granting him prophetic visions.

Raines now spoke of a coming apocalypse he called the Time of Unparalleled Darkness. He claimed the ranks of the Legions of the Night would swell until they overran the land. The Mists of Death, sickened by their creations, would then destroy the world, wiping the slate clean. Ezra would spare all she could from this final doom, but her pact with the Mists of Death would only allow her to save those who had accepted her message into their hearts.

Two additional factors made Raines’ end-times sermons all the more disturbing: First, he was quite clear that if you were not one of Ezra’s pious followers, you stood among the Legions of the Night. Second, he claimed the Time of Unparalleled Darkness would arrive within a single generation.

The Home Faith was distressed by Raines’ extreme interpretation of the scriptures. However, he continued to receive the Shield of Ezra, the only sure sign that an anchorite was indeed serving Ezra in the Grand Scheme. Thus the Home Faith allowed him to continue his proselytizing, though they lent him very little support.

By 750, Raines was literally at the end of his map. All of Darkon stretched behind him, and he had not established a single new temple in an entire decade. His failures merely made him all the more determined to spread Ezra’s word before it was too late. By the end of the year, Raines had settled in Nevuchar Springs, and could count his converts on one hand. When most Darkonians listened to Raines prophesy a time when the unholy forces of evil would rise up to destroy the world, they heard only the paranoid ranting of a madman.

Then the city of Il Aluk was destroyed in the Requiem, and a pall fell over the whole of the newlydubbed Necropolis. Suddenly Raines’ horrific prophecies seemed all too real, and he found his receptive audience at last.

Raines established a new temple of Ezra in Nevuchar Springs, expelling the Eternal Order from his city. Early in 751, Raines returned briefly to Levkarest, accompanied by half a dozen of his followers. He presented his nightmarish visions as the Fourth Book of Ezra, and revealed that he and the anchorites he had trained had been granted a new Shield of Ezra, protecting them from the insidious corruption of the Legions of the Night. The Rite of Revelation was fulfilled, and Raines returned to Nevuchar Springs, Bastion of the fourth sect of Ezra.

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 06:09:00 AM »
The Tenets of the Church of Ezra

Just a quick note on the Book of Secrets information: It was written for a Ravenloft fan site by John Mangrum before he became the head writer of 3rd edition Ravenloft for Arthaus. Most of it was later used in the the 3rd edition books like the Gazetteers, but in case there's any conflict with the info in the 3rd edition books, the info from the 3rd edition books take precedence.

Quote from: Book of Secrets
What is Ezra? Was she a mortal heroine who ascended into the Mists? Was she a goddess who forsook the rest of the multiverse to protect the denizens of the Dread Domains? Or is she merely another false face of the ever-scheming dark powers? Ask four anchorites and one is likely to receive four different answers—especially if those anchorites belong to the four distinct sects of her faith.

However, move past this apparent confusion and one will discover that all anchorites, regardless of their credos, agree on what Ezra is now: Our Guardian in the Mists. The Church of Ezra is henotheistic overall; although her followers do not deny the existence of other gods such as Hala, Nerull, Bane, or Zhakata, they believe that of all these entities, Ezra is the only being truly guarding over the denizens of the Lands of Mist, and thus the only being truly worthy of worship.

The four sects interpret this basic belief in different ways; while the esoteric Port-a-Lucine sect claims that these other gods are merely different aspects of Ezra herself, the anchorites of Nevuchar Springs often depict the gods of other faiths as demonic beings spitefully luring mortal souls away from Ezra’s salvation. Both the Home Faith in Levkarest and the Mordentish sect generally acknowledge that other religions worship separate, less worthy gods, although many Mordentish anchorites believe a special connection exists between the Church of Ezra and the Church of Hala.

This pattern of agreement on basic tenets, but disagreement—occasionally leading to true opposition — over the exact interpretation of those tenets is endemic to Ezra’s faith. Nowhere is this more true than in the Church’s scriptures, The Books of Ezra.

The Books of Ezra
The holy writ of the Church of Ezra consists of four separate sections, each written by the founder of one of the four existing sects. Although these chapters carry simple numerical titles (The First Book of Ezra, Book III, etc.), some Church scholars have rarely referred to them by their authors; thus, The Books of Dilisnya, Wachter, Secousse, and Raines, respectively.

Each of the four Books begins with the author’s version of Ezra’s “creation myth,” and then proceeds to relate Her message for the world. The four chapters frequently disagree with each other both in terms of philosophy and simple facts; for example, Book I claims Ezra was originally a mortal, while Book III claims she was a goddess. Book II explains that Ezra seeks to redeem the so-called “Legions of the Night,” while Book IV insists She is actively trying to destroy the Legions of the Night before the existence of those accursed creatures drags the world to its final destruction.

Some critics of the faith have observed these blatant internal contradictions and ridicule the Books of Ezra as nonsense. However, these critics fail to understand that none of the scriptures are intended to be a literal description of historical events. Rather, each book represents the author’s attempt to relate their own, personal epiphany, distilling their rapturous experiences into a form that can be expressed with ink and parchment. Apparent contradictions, claim the anchorites, merely demonstrate that Ezra’s Grand Scheme for the world is too complex for any one mortal to comprehend. Thus, She has chosen to reveal one aspect of her divine plan at a time; She leaves the task to her faithful to study The Books of Ezra as a whole and reach their own interpretations. Naturally, when contradictions do arise, the faithful tend to favor the teachings introduced by their own sect.

The Grand Scheme
The Church of Ezra holds a strong belief in fate and predestination. They believe that all of existence follows what they call the Grand Scheme, and hold that all things have their place in that design. Although Ezra guides the Grand Scheme, even she has a specific role within it, and is bound by her position.

Predictably, the different sects vary in their interpretations of the Grand Scheme. The philosophy of the Home Faith (favoring the lawful neutral alignment) insists that all beings are assigned a specific part to play in the Grand Scheme, a role which cannot be altered. Those who choose to become Ezra’s anchorites were fated to do so before their birth; the Legions of the Night are to be fought, but never hated, for they too are merely playing from a divine script. In fact, the Home Faith comes very close to depicting Ezra herself as a healer and protector out of duty, not devotion.

The Mordentish sect (favoring the lawful good alignment) agrees that all creatures have a specific role in the Grand Scheme, but claim that Ezra has granted all beings the right to choose the role they play. Mordentish anchorites preach that even the Legions of the  night have the innate capability to enter the light of Ezra’s grace through personal redemption. Of course, if the Legions refuse this chance at salvation, they must still be repelled to protect the faithful.

Of all the sects, the Nevuchar Springs sect (favoring the lawful evil alignment) may place the most emphasis on the Grand Scheme. Their doctrines are filled with the chilling prophecy of the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, their fast-approaching Fall of Night. They hold that this apocalypse is inevitable, and that the blessed and the damned have already been chosen by Fate. The trick, of course, is discerning which is which. If the blessed are never awakened to Ezra’s blessing, they will be destroyed with the rest of the world. If the damned are mistakenly brought into Ezra’s fold, their very nature will compel them to drag the faithful down with them.

The Port-a-Lucine sect is the most unusual of all. The mysterious, contrary, esoteric texts they discovered hidden within the Ste. Mere des Larmes cathedral have led them to all but reject the Grand Scheme. (Accordingly, they have lost the lawful aspect of their alignment, and are now true neutral.) While the Port-a-Lucine anchorites still believe that the Grand Scheme exists, they do not believe that the exact nature of that cosmic plan has even been reliably revealed. Some of their number even hold that the Grand Scheme is so complex that it cannot be understood by mere mortals, their doctrines almost bordering on agnosticism. Thus, the priests of Port-a-Lucine have dedicated themselves to the study of Ezra in all her aspects. Through means both scholarly and mystical, they seek to rebuild their understanding of Our Guardian in the Mists from the ground up.

Ezra the Guardian
Despite their arguments over the exact nature of the Grand Scheme, all anchorites agree on Ezra’s role in that plan: She is a healer and a guardian, humanity’s lone compassionate protector. Unfortunately, the Mists of Death sharply limit her influence. Unlike the gods of other AD&D settings, Ezra has never manifested an avatar, nor does she ever grant miracles to any poor soul in need; the gift of Ezra’s magic flows into her anchorites exclusively. It is then her anchorites’ most solemn duty to extend these blessings to the rest of the world, watching over the faithful as Ezra watches over them. Anchorites are sworn to use their gifts to heal the sick, protect the weak, and in general improve the lives of the faithful.

Part of the anchorite’s role as Ezra’s proxy requires that he or she actively oppose the Legions of the Night, the Church’s name for forces of evil, regardless of their form. At the same time the Church must add souls to the ranks of Ezra’s congregation; it is commonly accepted that Ezra can only “save” the faithful. Exactly what this “salvation” entails differs slightly from sect to sect, although all anchorites agree that it refers to both physical protection in this life and spiritual protection after death.

Ever since its founding, the Home Faith has been forced to walk a treacherous political tightrope, avoiding the machinations of Borca’s elite. The Levkarest sect focuses on keeping the faithful and the fallen clearly separated; the Church feels no particular need to aid those who reject Ezra’s word, whether they have refused Ezra’s teachings or been lax in their faith. Meanwhile the Legions of the Night are merely to be kept at bay, manipulated into turning against their own kind.

Mordentish anchorites embrace a more inclusive doctrine, never ceasing in their attempts to lead new souls into Ezra’s light. Those who have not yet found Ezra are to be actively sought and brought into the faith; the Legions of the Night are to at least be given the chance to shed their evil ways and find salvation. If the Legions will not redeem themselves, only then must they be eliminated as a threat to the minds and bodies of the faithful. Accordingly the Mordentish sect is the most active in its proselytizing campaign to win new souls. However, the success of this campaign has been offset by an unfortunate trend: Many wandering Mordentish anchorites and rural temples have simply disappeared, wiped out by the Legions they sought to oppose.

The Port-a-Lucine sect, still searching for the true message of Ezra, has been uncomfortable with the role of spreading Her word to the faithful. Although they will admit any member of Ezra’s flock who seeks them out, they have done little to win new souls, feeling it irresponsible to preach what they cannot entirely sanction. Furthermore, the Port-a-Lucine anchorites lean towards the belief that Ezra’s salvation is a largely spiritual affair; they hold that Ezra holds little interest in the material world, but stands at the end of every creature’s life, waiting to lead the souls of the faithful through the Mists of Death and to their final reward.

The Nevuchar Springs sect, of course, is the most fervent in the separation of the faithful and the Legions of the Night. Their Doomsday credo only allows them to see the world in black and white; one is faithful to Ezra, or one is an enemy of the faith. The Legions of the Night must be eliminated by any means possible.

Divination
Ezra’s believers tend to place great credence in omens, prophetic dreams, and visions; after all, the history of their faith rests on the shoulders of a series of spiritual visionaries. Many anchorites extend this awe and respect for divinatory magic to Vistani foretunetelling and the art of astrology. Although never specifically referenced in any of The Books of Ezra, some anchorites have also claimed to find mathematical codes hidden within the text. Of course, any faithful follower of Ezra knows of the significant frequency of the number five within the scripture; this has lead Ezra’s faithful to consider five a lucky number, and led the early Church to declare that every fifth day would be a day of worship.

However, some anchorites have taken this fascination with divination and mathematics much deeper, using The Books of Ezra as their basis to delve into the arcane study of numerology. While the Port-a-Lucine sect approves of these studies, most established anchorites in the other sects warn against delving too deeply into the realm of superstition.

The Rite of Revelation
The contrary nature of Ezra’s and the tradition of Church leaders discovering the message of Ezra through personal epiphanies has lead to the rise of many wildly varying versions of Ezra’s scripture. A fine line exists between a goddess speaking through her prophet and a madman spouting delusions; the Church’s leaders are even more cognizant of this fact than the Church’s critics.

After the First Schism, the Church devised a ceremony to separate the visionaries from the madmen. If an individual anchorite seeks to establish a new sect, they must successfully perform three steps:

First, the supplicant must codify their personal relationship to Ezra, and the new aspect of the Grand Scheme She has revealed, in a holy writ penned by their own hand.

Second, the supplicant must demonstrate that Ezra has granted him or her a new manifestation of the Shield of Ezra, the surest sign of her blessing. If the supplicant cannot manifest the Shield, their petition is rejected as lacking the endorsement of Ezra. If the supplicant manifests the same Shield as one of the existing faiths, the Church will rule that the supplicant’s visions have not revealed a sufficiently distinct aspect of the Grand Scheme to warrant establishing a new sect. If the supplicant does manifest a new Shield, the Church will warily recognize that the anchorite does indeed serve Ezra’s plans.

Lastly, the supplicant must present five acolytes, new anchorites who have been trained under the supplicant’s teachings and now manifest the same new Shield. This final step offers irrefutable proof that Ezra wishes the Church to spread this new aspect of her teachings.

If all three steps are successfully completed, the supplicant is granted the title of Bastion (see below), and holy writ presented by the supplicant are incorporated into the scriptures as a new Book of Ezra. A new sect will have been born.

Note, however, that since its founding the Church of Ezra has officially recognized a total of only four sects, including the Home Faith itself. Not a year goes by that the Great Cathedral does not receive a “new Book of Ezra,” but most supplicants never pass beyond this stage. Intriguingly, a handful of individuals have successfully completed the second step, but have proven unable to complete the third, possibly manifesting their new Shield of Ezra through trickery or the meddling of the dark powers. This is a topic of great controversy within the Church as a whole, which has yet to agree on how these “heresies” should be treated.

The Heresies
Other than the four recognized sects, there currently exist nearly a dozen unrecognized variations of Ezra’s teachings. Most of these heretical cults comprise a single would-be anchorite trying to convert others to their cause, with differing levels of desperation or success, and most heresies die out with their founder.

These heresies have ranged from the flawed but harmless (a Mordentish offshoot which claimed that, since one can choose one’s role in the Grand Scheme, there is no Grand Scheme; a vaguely neutral good philosophy which Ezra apparently does not condone) to the ridiculous (such as the heresy which claimed Ezra was a man).

At least three heresies have been exposed as frauds created by priests of the Church of Bane to discount Ezra; one of these attempts even managed to pass the second test of the Rite of Revelation.

Currently, however, two heresies have garnered a fair amount of attention within the Church, at least at the level of gossip. The first of these, the Heresy of the Avatar, arose in the wake of the Great Upheaval and insists that Ezra now wanders the Lands of Mist in mortal form. Even more widely debated is the near-legendary Final Sect. Many anchorites, particularly those drawn into numerological study of The Books of Ezra, believe that Ezra will establish a total of five sects before She reveals every aspect of Her Grand Scheme. Thus, many believe that a fifth sect will someday be founded. However, some anchorites, especially those of Nevuchar Springs, also whisper that the fifth sect will be the Final Sect, and that its emergence will herald that the Grand Scheme is nearing its final fruition, in one form or another.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2015, 03:41:24 AM by DM Treason »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2007, 06:24:19 AM »
The Organization of the Church of Ezra

Just a quick note on the Book of Secrets information: It was written for a Ravenloft fan site by John Mangrum before he became the head writer of 3rd edition Ravenloft for Arthaus. Most of it was later used in the the 3rd edition books like the Gazetteers, but in case there's any conflict with the info in the 3rd edition books, the info from the 3rd edition books take precedence.

Quote from: Book of Secrets
The Church of Ezra remains young and relatively small. It has not yet grown into the need for an extensive bureaucracy, but it does claim certain structures that all anchorites should know. Although the sects often disagree on matters of Ezra’s word, they have to date succeeded in maintaining a coherent organization across the sects.

Titles
Anchorite is merely a general term for one of Ezra’s clergy, regardless of their position within the Church. It is also the most commonly used term; most anchorites only use their ecclesiastical titles when dealing with internal matters of rank.

A Warden stands at the bottom rung of the organizational ladder. They may be lesser priests serving in a temple, or they may be wandering anchorites working to spread the word of Ezra to new lands. As wandering priests, most player character anchorites will hold the title of Warden, regardless of experience level; this rank allows them to enjoy great deal of personal freedom, and they can still receive the sanctuary of the Church when they wish, but Wardens hold little actual power within the Church.

An anchorite qualifies for the title of Toret simply by establishing a temple that boasts a congregation of at least five followers or by joining a temple permanently. A Toret may serve as the guardian of his congregation or staff a temple. Torets founding temple or running them thus earn a boost in prestige within the Church. They may request financial assistance from their founding sect (though such requests may not always be fulfilled to the anchorite’s satisfaction), and the Toret may occasionally be called upon to act as council for their local Sentire. Any anchorite, including player characters, can earn the rank of Toret merely by founding a small temple or by joining one permanently; like Warden, the title is independent of experience level. However, their new responsibilities do not lend themselves well to the lives of a traveling adventurer.

Sentires are the leaders of significant temples, or are the overseers of a significant number of smaller temples spread out over a rural area. Sentires often act as the advisors of their respective Bastions. To qualify for the title, Sentires must have at least five anchorites serving under them, and their temples must have a “healthy” congregation, capable of supporting the temple financially without assistance from higher in the Church. Sentires are often associated with the regions in which they hold influence; thus it is common to hear terms such as the “Sentire of Sturben.” Even more so than the Torets, a Sentire’s days are filled tending to his congregation and managing the daily affairs of his temple. Thus, this rank is generally not appropriate for player characters.

Bastions are the leaders of the recognized sects; the title is granted to the founder of a new official sect, who then hands the title to their chosen successor. Since an anchorite must be able to manifest the Shield of Ezra to successfully establish a sect or step in as a successor, all Bastions must be at least 6th level. Bastions hold considerable influence in their roles, and are occasionally called upon to speak at Bastions’ Councils in Levkarest, to determine vital issues affecting the Church.

The Praesidius (if male, Praesidia if female) is the leader of the Church of Ezra as a whole; the Praesidius is often referred to as Ezra’s Champion. There can only be one Praesidius at a time, and the title has been handed down from the Church’s founder, Yakov Dilisnya. Although the ruling has ruffled feathers among the other sects, a new Praesidius must always be drawn from the ranks of the Home Faith, the lawful neutral sect. To qualify for the title, a prospective Praesidius must be able to demonstrate that Ezra will personally watch over and guide him safely through the Mists of Death; thus all holders of this title must have reached 9th level.

The titles of Sentire, Bastion, and Praesidius are cumulative. Thus, the current leader of the Church, Praesidius Postoya, also holds the titles of Bastion of the Home Faith and Sentire of Levkarest. However, it is considered a breach of etiquette to use any but the most powerful rank. A cynic referring to Praesidius Postoya as the Sentire of Levkarest is implying that he is unworthy of holding any greater title.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning the title of Bailey. This is not an ecclesiastic title, and carries no particular rights or responsibilities. Instead, it is a title of respect often given to the eldest (and therefore, presumably wisest) anchorite in a given temple.

Day-to-Day Activities
Regardless of their sect affiliation, it is the duty of all anchorites to make themselves available to their followers, acting as spiritual advisors and offering what aid they can to their congregations. However, the followers of the different sects generally approach this in their own ways.

Borcan anchorites often fill their days in meetings with the wealthy elite, cannily attempting to convince them that it is in their best interest to support Ezra’s charities. Of course, these anchorites often find themselves just as busy soothing the fickle egos of Borca’s rulers. Mordentish anchorites are likewise active in charitable functions, and typically try to keep their presence as visible as possible.

The anchorites of the Dementlieuse sect would never close their doors to the faithful, but neither do they go out of their way to  attract followers. If a member of Ezra’s congregation is in need, he can always know where to find the clergy—but if he does not seek them out, he may never find them otherwise. The other sects disapprove of the Dementlieuse sect’s withdrawn ways, but Bastion Secousse’s scribes appease their peers by producing wondrously illuminated copies of The Books of Ezra. These exquisite tomes are highly valued by other anchorites as works of art. In recent years, the Dementlieuse sect has obtained a printing press, and now performs an even more valuable service: They can now produce Ezra’s scriptures for a fraction of the cost and time it previously took. Now even the most humble Toret can afford a copy of the scriptures for his temple.

Lastly, the Necropolitan anchorites are known for their active schedules. Each and every day they can be seen wandering the streets, preaching the Word of Ezra to passers-by. The proximity of their prophesied Fall of Night has driven them into a desperate zeal to win new converts.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies
Ezra’s clergy perform weddings, funerals, and any other ceremonies or functions their congregations might require. Anchorites are encouraged to adapt their ceremonies to conform to local customs whenever appropriate.

All temples reserve each fifth day as a day of worship. However, these days of worship count off from the founding of that specific temple, so the exact times when the anchorites hold services will vary from temple to temple. To maintain good standing in the congregation of Ezra, a follower must (in addition to living by her teachings, of course) attend services regularly to renew their vows to follow Ezra, and Ezra’s vow to guard over them. Worshippers must also tithe 10 copper pieces each year to support their temple and show their thanks.

Individual temples also adopt the holy days of their local congregations. Thus, while the Mordentish sect shows their respect to Nocturne in October, the Nevuchar Spring sect would ignore that holiday while holding Darkest Night in deepest reverence.

In fact, all temples hold only one holiday in common: The Feast of the First Epiphany, held on the first day of worship in May (and thus the Feast is held on different dates from year to year and from village to village). The Feast is a joyous remembrance of Ezra’s first appearance to Yakov Dilisnya. Celebrations are marked by a feasts, dances, and the reciting of blessings received in the past year. In fact, the Feast of the First Epiphany is often folded into the traditions of local spring festivals.

Priestly Vestments
Members of the congregation are expected to dress in white when attending ceremonies, but need not dress in any special manner otherwise. Likewise, anchorites are not required to don priestly vestments unless performing ceremonies, though many often do. The traditional anchorite garb consists of emerald green robes with white trim. The width and pattern of this trim denotes the priest’s ecclesiastic rank; in general, the more white visible, the higher the rank.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 03:29:01 PM by DM Treason »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2007, 06:34:21 AM »
Anchorites

Quote from: Domains of Dread
Basic Information
Symbol: A silver longsword superimposed on an alabaster kite shield and adorned with a sprig of belladonna. Religious icons depict Ezra herself as a lovely, dark-haired woman bearing these accoutrements.

Alignment: LN. The Church’s four sects are divided along philosophical lines shaped by their differing interpretations of Ezra’s teachings. Each of these sects roughly corresponds to one of the four alignments available to clerics of Ezra. The Home Faith in Borca is lawful neutral, the Mordentish sect is lawful good, and the Dementlieuse sect is true neutral. Anchorites need not adhere to the prevailing ethos of their sect, however.

Domains: Destruction, Healing, Law, Mists, Protection. The Mists domain is unique to anchorites; see Chapter Two of the Ravenloft Campaign Setting for details. Anchorites typically select the Mists domain, then choose a second cleric domain based on their sect. Borcan anchorites often select Law, Mordentish anchorites favor Healing, Nevuchnar Springs anchorite favor Destruction, while Dementlieuse anchorites prefer Protection. These are merely tendencies, however, not requirements.

Favored Weapon: Ezra’s blade (longsword).

Anchorites pray for their spells at sunrise. Worship services consisting of hymns and sermons are held once every fifth day, always at noon to renew Ezra’s vows of protection over her congregation. When attending services, members of the clergy don ceremonial robes of green with white trim; the wider the visible trim, the higher the anchorite’s position within the church.

Duties of the Anchorite
As a follower of Ezra, the anchorite is charged with the protection of the weak, the care of the sick, and the general betterment of the human condition. The exact manner in which each of the four alignments enacts these tenets varies, but the basic teachings of the church remain the same. Anchorites of any alignment frown upon mistreatment or needless suffering of the innocent. They help the injured and show some degree of mercy to their enemies. Their healing powers are used without call for compensation or the need for obligation. Lastly, an anchorite avoids combat when possible, although they are certainly not pacifists, recognizing the need for battle from time to time.

Sanctuary of the Church
Any anchorite has the ability to seek shelter and safe haven in any temple dedicated to the worship of Ezra. The exact interpretation of "safe haven" varies depending upon the similarities in the alignment of the anchorite and that of the temple clergy he is sheltering with. At the very least, however, the anchorite is fed and clothed, his wounds tended to, and his presence within the temple kept secret. Greater levels of cooperation might even allow the anchorite to receive special equipment or information that will help him in his work.

Priestly Vestments
Members of the congregation are expected to dress in white when attending ceremonies, but need not dress in any special manner otherwise. Likewise, anchorites are not required to don priestly vestments unless performing ceremonies, though many often do. The traditional anchorite garb consists of emerald green robes with white trim. The width and pattern of this trim denotes the priest’s ecclesiastic rank; in general, the more white visible, the higher the rank.

Arms and Armor
Although priests in general can wear virtually any type of armor, anchorites can wear only metal armor, or none at all. Lighter forms of armor do not support the accepted image of Ezra and anchorites as protectors and defenders of the people. Those who opt to travel without armor are showing their faith in Ezra's protection, while those who garb themselves in steel are setting an example for others. When it comes to weapons, however, somewhat less unity exists within the church. Anchorites of lawful good or lawful neutral alignment, for example, must wield Ezra's favored weapon if possible. Those of a true neutral alignment believe that it is acceptable for a priest of Ezra to use other edged weapons, but require the use of a shield, so that only one-handed weapons are acceptable. The anchorites of the lawful evil sect can use any one-handed weapon, and are required to carry a shield. Furthermore, they are required to carry at least one weapon on their person at all times, remaining ever vigilant to the threat of the Legions of the Night.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2008, 07:14:31 PM by EO »

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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2008, 05:48:07 AM »
Here's some fan material collected from the Fraternity Of The Shadows Forums. The concept of the thread was: "The Five Things" it  pertains to folklore and knowledge people may posses. It is in the first person. Not everything is true, as it is fan material, I found it interesting nonetheless, this is the relevant bits to Ezrans:

Five things every Ezran might know:

1. The core tenets of their faith: Their mission is to prevent suffering and exploitation in the land of Mists by following in Ezra's foot-steps. Every faction has a different philosophy, but this part is central to all of them.

2. That they are the true followers of the faith: Whether they be in Nevuchar Springs, Dementlieu, Mordent, or Borca, every Ezran believes that their sect is the one true way of Ezra, and the others are on the right path, but took a different cross-road. Ezrans range in pity to contempt for the other sects, depending on their views and beliefs.

3. We are guardians of the faithful: Ezrans know that the land around them has a thick veil, a veil that is hidden from the public, but only the priests and priestesses of the Lady of the Mists, plus some talented and gifted individuals, can see. Ezrans view themselves as a second pair of eyes and ears, alert on a more metaphysical and spiritual level than most. Ezrans see this as both a burden that they must shoulder and a necessary risk to act as guardians of the people.

4. The Mists: Ezrans from many different regions have varied explanations for this supernatural anomaly, but the most common name is the Mists, an element that is as natural to the world as the plants and animals. Every Ezran has been taught to notice when the Mists are at work, from supernaturally impenetrable fog to an invisible barrier invincible to all and possessed of a strangely sentient intellect.

5. [Left blank by author, lacking creative juice.]


Five things every Anchorite (Home Faith) might know:

1. Ezra demands justice—Ezra demands that her followers deal justly with each other, with those not of the church, and with themselves. Uphold authority and deal honestly with every man; hold fast to the word of Ezra and take care to live by every element, down to the smallest, of its precepts, and by so doing you will perform your appointed role in the Grand Scheme.

2. Accommodate the princes of the earth in their sphere—Respect the power of temporal authority, even when its standards of justice are not those of the church. Working within the system can generate the changes necessary, without violent upheaval or disruption of the social order. To be seen as exemplary citizens of the state gets us official recognition and the opportunity to do more good works for our followers.

3. Banites—Their beliefs are unpleasant, but they can be dealt with on the basis of their temporal authority without any implication of acceptance of their morals. Our teaching are true, and therefore will prevail in the end; in the meantime there is no need to struggle for mastery.

4. Halans—Uncanny and possibly suspect. Contact with them is not encouraged; in dire emergency their support may be sought, but the church owes them no more in the way of kindness than they do every man. Admixture of their doctrines with those of the True Faith must be strongly opposed; otherwise they can largely be ignored.
 
5. The Legions of the Night—Every means necessary must be used against the Legion; it is laudable but by no means necessary to attempt to reclaim them. The purity of church doctrine and the security of church members must always be the first consideration; in situations where these are not imperiled the anchorite may attempt a merciful reconciliation between the cursed one and Ezra, but if even the smallest doubt exists the anchorite must not spare him. The price of mercy offered to the undeserving is too high for any other course of action.


Five things every Erudite (Dementlieuse sect) might know:

1. Knowledge is power--the eye of Ezra is the eye that pierces the Mists and brings hidden things to light. Nothing is more important than the search for understanding, and to be instructed in the secret ways of Ezra the best good.

2. The world stands in balance--No matter how much we strive, our actions bring to pass the Great Scheme. "Good" and "evil", and even "law" and "chaos", are two sides of the same coin. Consideration and contemplation are therefore better than rash action.

3. Banites--They are chained to an inflexible and punitive dogmatism which blinds them to understanding. The struggle against them must be carried forward on an intellectual plane, exposing the weaknesses and hypocrisies of their beliefs; physical struggle plays into their hands, as it gives implicit sanction to their belief in the physical and hierarchal rather than the spiritual and personal.

4. Halans--It is virtually certain that Hala is a manifestation of Ezra; therefore, there should be every effort made to educate these people as to Ezra's true nature and bring them into a fuller communion with the body of the Ezra church.

5. Creatures of the Night--No-one can doubt that such creatures exist, or that they intend to destroy the Grand Scheme. No-one should doubt that these efforts are futile; the scheme cannot be frustrated by the actions of mere mortals. The subtlest action reverberates the farthest; it is most efficient, and most effective, to work behind the scenes to bring the Legions of Night into conflict with each other and let them destroy themselves.



Five things every Zealots (Darkonese branch) might know:

1. The earth must be purified!—Ezra demands a heart and soul dedicated to Her cause above all other things. Those who oppose the Grand Scheme will be swept down and destroyed, and it is Her dedicated servants to whom she will entrust this vital task.

2. The end is nigh—The day of wrath will not be long in coming. Everyone must prepare, spiritually and physically, for the End Times. Make stores of provisions; learn how to handle a sword; and hearken to the words of Ezra’s servants. The time will soon come when only those who have had the foresight to prepare and the means to defend themselves will be able to resist the Legions of Night.

3. Banites—Slaves to a dark and tyrannous god. Those who convert make ideal believers—dedicated to the cause and accustomed to sacrifice; therefore, at present every effort should be made to reveal to them the error of their ways. When the time comes to march, however, their destruction, root and branch, must become a chief priority; the Legions of Night will otherwise use them against the faithful.

4. Halans—Heterodox, secretive, and therefore almost certainly treacherous. Their magic is deeply suspect and their motives even more so. At present they must be kept at arm’s length, but the time will come when they, too, must join with Ezra or burn.

5. The Legions of the Night—They are everywhere, and their influence will only grow greater. Only the greatest devotion to Ezra and Her teachings will allow Her elect to remain undeceived. If any of the Legion are discovered, they must be destroyed immediately.


The Five Things every Rectors (Mordentish branch) might know:

1. We struggle on behalf of the meek of the earth—Ezra demands, first and foremost, that her followers do good to their fellow-man. To care for the poor, to support orphans and widows, and to deal honest with one’s fellow-man are the basis of the true religion. Seek for and support good leaders, and stand firm against the Legion when conflict can no longer be forestalled.

2. Civil disobedience—Legal authority must generally be respected, as outright repudiation of it can lead only to anarchy and the dissolution of the social order. When the law of a ruler conflicts with the law of Ezra, however, the law of Ezra must always take precedence. Disobedience to the law is generally only justified in a matter of life and death, but when moral considerations demand it the follower of Ezra must disobey man’s laws and take the risk of punishment, no matter how high it might be.
 
3. Banites—Their “religion” is principally an instrument of repression; its ideology is bad and its practice intolerable. Every effort should be made to keep it from spreading, and to convince the poor of Nova Vaasa and Hazlan that no god so bent on cruel domination is worthy of worship.

4. Halans—Decent and benevolent folk, whose similarities to us outweigh their differences. Every opportunity to co-operate with them should be taken full advantage of; hopefully a good example and continual exposure to the truths of the Ezran religion will win them over by gentle persuasion.

5. The Legions of the Night—The Legions must be opposed on every hand—but not by the sword, unless no other course avails. There are many oppressed by the evil within themselves who will gladly embrace the light if given the opportunity; therefore every opportunity must be given them. To strike down a member of the Legion may weaken the Legion, but does not strengthen the church; to convert a member of the Legion does both. Surely the latter is a more effectual tactic!




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Re: Church of Ezra - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2008, 01:03:11 PM »
Heresies of the Church of Ezra

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer III
The House of the Sages

East of the Musarde River in Richemulot lies a densely forested region set on a limestone plateau, slightly higher in elevation than the Silent Fields. The locals call this region la Maison des Savants (House of the Sages). Though it could hardly be called hill country, this area is much more rugged than the western lands. Isolated farms and cottages break the ancient forests only occasionally; instead, there are clearings strewn with lichen-encrusted cobbles, hermits' caves set into low hillsides, and the crumbling ruins of castles, abbeys, and towers.

The House of the Sages has been steeped in esoteric strangeness since Richemulot first appeared in 694 BC. While common criminals may find sanctuary in the Silent Fields, the House of the Sages instead harbors those whose creeds and deeds are distateful to the world beyond. Unorthodox religious groups, including cloistered orders, mystery cults, and outright heresies surface in the House of the Sages with curious frequency.

Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer III  and Book of Secrets
Heresies

The House of Sages has acquired a reputation as a haven for heretical religious movements in the past few decades. Many of these fugitives are splinters from the Church of Ezra, subtly excluded by the orthodox sects or outright declared anathema by the Praesidius.

The Danseurs Divins (Divine Dancers), a mystery cult offshoot of the Dementlieu sect, believe that mystical communion with the Goddess is possible for the faithful who ritually emulate her words and deeds.

L'Abbeye du Fléau Luisant (the Abbey of the Bright Scourge) near Mortigny houses a cloistered order of anchorites who have taken a strict vow of poverty, as they believe material wealth to be a tool of the Legions of the Night.

La Balise (the so-called "Avatar Heresy") is rumored to coordinate its search for the lost mortal Goddess from an ancient shrine somewhere deep in the forests. It arose in the wake of the Great Upheaval and insists that Ezra now wanders the Lands of Mist in mortal form.

The Heresy of the Final Sect has attracted many anchorites, particularly those drawn into numerological study of The Books of Ezra, who believe that Ezra will establish a total of five sects before She reveals every aspect of Her Grand Scheme. Thus, many believe that a fifth sect will someday be founded. However, some anchorites, especially those of Nevuchar Springs, also whisper that the fifth sect will be the Final Sect, and that its emergence will herald that the Grand Scheme is nearing its final fruition, in one form or another.

The Échansons (Cupbearers) deserve special mention because of their notoriety in Richemulot and beyond. According to some records, they originated as a secret society among the Borcan laity of the Home Faith well before Richemulot's appearance. Supposedly, their beliefs were so alarming to the Praesidius that he offered them a choice: prove their validity by submitting to the Rite of Revelation or be forcibly disbanded. The Cupbearers apparently had no interest in becoming a formal sect and instead retreated into the shadows, finding sanctuary in the House of the Sages when Richemulot emerged from the Mists. Today, the Cupbearers have no single, secret stronghold, but the local nobility are thought to harbor them in the castles, churches, and hamlets of the region. The actual tenets of the Cupbearers remain ambiguous to outsiders; most rumors paint them as blasphemous heathens who practice evil rites. This may only be the slander of jealous hearts, however. Through the years, rumours have leaked out that the sect possesses a fabulous treasure of some kind.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2008, 01:36:32 AM by EO »

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Holy Relics of the Church of Ezra
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2008, 01:35:53 AM »
Holy Relics of the Church of Ezra

Quote
Danzig’s Icons of Ezra

Seigfreid Danzig, a Levkarest artist and worshipper of Ezra, is known to have created at least twenty "icons," and each was different from the one before. One such icon was bought by Klaus Boritsi in 695, who found the image of Ezra to be strikingly similar to his daughter, Ivana Boritsi, and is now rumored to be in her possession, but no one has been able to prove this fact. Supposedly, this beautifully painted ivory curio consists of three panels, two smaller ones attached with hinges on the left and right sides of the larger (15-inch-tall) central panel. The left panel shows Ezra as a young girl, bringing joy to her parents in their simple cottage home. The central panel shows scenes of Ezra caring for the sick and wounded, protecting peasants from a viciously fanged vampire while preaching to an adoring crowd. The right panel shows Ezra ascending into the Mists, with vampires, werewolves and demons retreating from the righteous glow of her silver sword. The smaller panels fold over the larger one and can be fastened into this closed position by a silver clasp that resembles Ezra’s sword and shield.

It is unknown whether all of Danzig’s icons have mystical powers, or just the one purchased by Klaus Boritsi. Most of Danzig’s creations have been destroyed over the years - some in shipwrecks, some in paka raids along the Musarde River and others in fires or other disasters. Eleven are known to have been destroyed or irrevocably lost, and the whereabouts of the rest are unknown. Any sect of Ezra would pay handsomely for the return of even one of the icons because of their great beauty and sanctity. Ezran clerics have approached Ivana Boritsi to inquire about the icon her father purchased from Danzig, but she has denied still having it in her possession. Not even the Bastion of Ezra dares to openly doubt Lady Ivana’s word.

Shards of the Shield of Ezra

This shard of brilliant white ivory is said to be a portion of Ezra's shield in the most literal sense. Some members of the Church of Ezra believe that Ezra broke her shield into five pieces and scattered it throughout the Land of Mists. Housed in Lechberg, this alleged portion of Ezra's shield is said to grant those who hold it some of the abilities of an anchorite. It is unknown where the other "four" shards may be, but rumors abound about their possible location.

Stained Glass Icon of Ezra

The most common reason for the Dementlieuse to visit Sainte-Mčre-des-Larmes is to seek succor from the miraculous icon of Ezra in the wall of the western transept. This immaculate likeness of Ezra in stained glass is considered a relic of Ezra. The only surviving piece of stained glass in the cathedral, its elaborate design includes the text, “Cry no more, for I will cry for you.” The faithful say that if one prays to the icon, Ezra may take the supplicant’s sorrows onto herself. Those who are not pure of heart or motive, however, may have Ezra unleash her stored sorrows upon them, making this a risky proposition for many manipulative and deceptive citizens.

The anchorites warn of the Sainted Mother’s fickle kindness with a tale about two sisters. One of the sisters had a twisted leg, which lamed her and made her rely upon her healthy sister to survive. The lamed sister prayed for the Sainted Mother to heal her twisted leg, so that she might no longer be a burden to her beleaguered sister. The Sainted Mother answered the prayer, and the girl walked out on two healthy legs. Then the girl’s sister came, and she too prayed for the Sainted Mother to heal her sister’s leg, for the girl was a burden she was tired of carrying. Immediately, both her legs twisted and bent, and she spent the rest of her days begging her healed sister for succor.

Sources: Legacy of the Blood, Van Richten's Arsenal, Ravenloft Gazetteer III, Book of Secrets
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 02:23:25 PM by EO »

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The Ezrite Templar
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2009, 05:53:39 PM »
The Ezrite Templar

Quote from: Ciaran999
A templar is a guardian of the faith. They are protectors of the flock as well as the clergy. Whether assisting during an investigation, taking part in a sortie against the Legions of the Night or defending the Church and its members from an attack, a templar is on the front lines. Templars are holy warriors and as such must carry the blessing of Ezra. While normal templars can be of any class if their alignment and faith fit, the role of a templar-commander, going forward, will only be open to paladins and those who have become Champions of Ezra (Divine Champions).

Every Templar is expected to live by high standards of the Ezrite faith.

The process for becoming a templar is as follows:

 :arrow: Introduce your character to members of the faction. They are most easily recognized by their colors; emerald green and pure white and typically can be seen to be clad in the distinctive Ezrite armor (Torets, Wardens or Templars). Unless your character is already a layperson or believer of the faith, a conversion must take place first before any consideration and serious discussion of becoming a templar can happen. This is handled by a baptism performed by anchorites.

:arrow: After being baptized and learning about the faith, if one wishes to become a templar, they should approach a clergy member (a Toret or Warden since templars are not clergy) and express their intent to begin the training. It would behoove one to make such a request after demonstrating one's abilities and one's understanding of the faith.

:arrow: The petitioner’s request to become a templar will then be discussed amongst the clergy. Considering the request is approved, a sentire will designate the person responsible for the petitioner’s training to become a templar. 

:arrow: Upon acceptance, the templar's training begins. This is a multi-faceted process in which an initiate is taught the ways of the church, taught the role and responsibilities of the templar, trained in appropriate conduct and given the opportunity to display their martial abilities. After the training has been underway and enough time has passed to accurately judge the petitioner’s worthiness of becoming a templar, the sentire will ask for feedback on the initiate’s progress. After receiving the feedback, the sentire will then decide if the petitioner is worthy to become a templar or if they should remain a layperson. Should one be found to be not quite ready, they may continue in their efforts to be recognized as being worthy to become a templar. However, if the character is judged to be too severely lacking to become a templar and proves to be a poor choice, they will remain as a layperson.

:arrow: Characters judged to be worthy of becoming a templar will undergo an induction ceremony in which they take their oaths and granted the arms and armor of the faith.

Application for the Divine Champion Prestige Class:
http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=4659.0

Divine Champion Roleplay Resources:
http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=5501.msg53168#msg53168
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 10:09:19 PM by EO »

currently I run:
-: Curse of the Wolf :-
-: The Curse of von Zeklos :-

EO

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Miscellaneous
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2009, 02:22:51 PM »
Miscellaneous

Sayings
Quote
"I fear no night, for her Light is as a sword that cleaves the darkness." (Heroes of Light)
"Today I care for you as tomorrow you will care for me" (Domains of Dread)
"May Our Guardian in the Mists watch over you." (Van Richten's Arsenal)

Depiction of Ezra
Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer II
In Church Iconography, Ezra is depicted as a statuesque figure, with smooth porcelain skin contrasted against inky black eyes and hair.

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Ezrite Prayers
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2009, 11:05:30 PM »
Ezrite Prayers:

The Supplication:
"Blessed be Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mists. She who sacrificed Herself to fill the Hollow. Healer of the sick, protector of the weak, guide to the lost. To You we pray. Watch over us, Your people, take us under Your protection. Show us the light when we are lost in darkness. Defend us when the Legions draw near. Lead us to our place in the Grand Scheme and deliver us through the night to the shelter of peace."

In Darkonese:
"Beata Ezra, Nostra Aegis Caliginarum, Illa qua ipsam immolavit ut Lacunam expleat,
Panacea morbidorum, patrona inoptorum, navis interitorum,
Tibi supplicamus. Nos custodi, gentem Tuam. Nos praeside,
Nobis lucem expone quando in nocte interemus, Nos defende quando Legionis Noctis adventant,
Nos duce a locam nostram in Rationi Magna, nosque geri trans noctem ab asylum pacis."


——————

The Prayer of Arming:
"My Lady Ezra, my guardian in the Mists, Hear My Prayer
Let Not My Weapon Fail Me, But Strengthen It Against the Foe
Give My Blade Your Wisdom, to Cleave the Guilty From The Innocent
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|- Let Your Holy Fire Infuse the Powder to Burn in the Eyes of the Heretic -|
|- Let Your Holy Fire Infuse my Blade to Burn in the Eyes of the Heretic     -|
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Keep Your Hand on Mine, Ezra, So That My Grip And My Faith Will Not Slip
My Arm Shall Strike in Thy Name, Against the Heretic, the Witch, the Unclean,
Amen."


((This one is Meant to be From Rare Inquisitive Branches that know powder (Dementlieu, Mordent), can be used for Barovia if the line is switched.))

——————

Prayer of Exorcism:
"Repel, O Ezra, this Servant of The Legions!
Dispel such fallacies from this unholy form.
I invoke Your Name to repel this abomination.
Not by my strength, but by Yours,
Guardian Of The Mists, let this Heresy be ended!"


——————

A Scripture of Redemption:
"For he who dwells in dark shall be damned
Forever beyond the reach of Her guidance
And those with light shall never be harmed
And the Mists shall facilitate their work, with sword and burning shield,
purging the unworthy from this good Plain."


——————

Inquisitive Purging Verses:
"For those who turn to the Legions,
And shun rejecting the light,
Take heed! listen! hark!
You shall be damned in endless Night!

At once a man, yet not a man,
Beast hidden away within
The shape-shifter is forever damned,
Carrying their eternal sin."


——————

Oath of the Templar

For Ezra guides us in wisdom. And guides us in life and guides us in death. That shall be the oath of her Templars. And that is what they have to swear and confirm by their heart, their soul, their life and their deeds:

Be without fear in the face of your enemies
Be brave and upright, that Ezra may love thee
Follow the truth, always, even if it leads to your death
Safeguard the faithful
That is your oath
Ezra your sword
And shield
And truth
Eternally
Amin


~ Sentire Mugur Costinus

Quote

Those, who are blessed to lead the other templars and be an example to them shall make this oath in her holy church.

Oath of the Templar Comander:
I, *,
Do hereby pledge to honor the strictures of this sacred heritage
And promise by my faith
To be loyal to our Guardian in the Mists and her holy church,
Maintaining my devotion against all persons
Without deception or forethought.
I vow to promote and uphold the principles of Ezra's holy church
And to solemnly and faithfully follow the edicts,
Which were given to us in her holy scriptures,
And the word of her anchorites.
I take this pledge freely,
Without coercion or expectation of reward,
Sworn by my hand on this sword on her holy ground,
And in blessed memory of those who have given their lives to this noble cause.
I make this sacred oath:
To break the Legion of the Night and uphold the Church against her enemies,
To protect the flock of her church and be an example to others all the time,
To lead her hallowed templars with wisdom, conscience, honor, strength and faith,
To follow our anchorites, the wardens, torets, sentires, ambassadors and the holy praesidius,
To uphold her values, redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To honour my own word as if it was Ezra's,
To lead sweet lives in purest faith and service,
To truly love Ezra only, and cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds.
In Ezra's name I swear this holy oath!

Amin.

~ Sentire Mugur Costinus


——————

The Mists

The Mists of Death gave shape to this world,
But our souls are fortified by Our Guardian in the Mists, (response)
The Mists of Death will tempt us with lust and riches,
But our souls are fortified by Our Guardian in the Mists, (response..)
The mist will dangle the fruits of knowledge and power before us,
But our souls are fortified by Our Guardian in the Mists,
The Mists of Death will send its Legions upon the faithful,
But our souls are fortified by Our Guardian in the Mists,
And while our flesh may be rend by the Beast,
Our breath stolen by the fiend,
Our blood drained by the Drinker,
Our souls are fortified by Our Guardian in the Mists,
For Ezra did sacrifice herself on our behalf,
And Ezra’s faithful will endure,
For we shall fear no death of body,
For our soul’s faith in Ezra is eternal,
In Her name,
And Grace,
We give,
Amen.



——————

Erudite Prayer

Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mist. Be our Light, when in times of Dark all other lights are spent.
Be our Sheild, as we protect those in your Name
Be our Guide, as we guide those who have found You
Through your most holy Revelations, continue to show us your divine Wisdom
May we be Your Will in every Thought and Word and Deed
Until we meet your Final Embrace
Amen



——————

Mist Walking Prayer

Blessed be Ezra, Our Guardian in the Mists
To you we pray
Show us the path to your Light
Open the door of mists
So that we may walk them
Lead us to our place in the Grand Scheme
Deliver us to the place of Our bidding
With you Our Guardian as Guide
Amen.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 04:23:26 PM by DM Heretic »

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Heretical Prayers - Fifth Heresy
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2009, 11:12:55 PM »
Prayer of Healing

Ezra!  
Look upon me with eyes of mercy, and hark my call.  
May your healing hand rest upon this reverent servant;
May your life-giving powers flow into every limb of their body,
and into the depths of their soul—
cleansing, purifying, restoring them to wholeness and strength,
for their service in the Grand Scheme.
Amen!


------------------


"Precor intus umbra" (Praying within the shadow) [for use in "Tenebrae" or night time services]

THE WINGED herald of the day
proclaims the worlds darkest dismay,
and Ezra Our Guardian our soul excites,
and so to endless life invites.

"Take up thy bed," to each She cries,
"who sick, or wrapped in slumber lies:
and chaste, and just, and sober stand
and watch; my coming is at hand."

With earnest cry, with tearful care,
call we the Eternal Guardian to hear our prayer:
while supplication, pure and deep,
forbids each chastened heart to sleep.

Do Thou, O Ezra, our slumbers wake:
do Thou the chains of darkness break:
purge Thou our former sins away,
and in our souls new light display.

All laud to Ezra the Sainted Mother;
all praise to Thee;
all glory as is ever meet,
to Ezra the Holy Paraclete. Amen.


---------------------


Some Darkonese Prayers

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."

Translation: It is sweet and seemly to die for ones country.

Quote

"Fas est et ab hoste doceri"

Translation: It is right to learn even from an enemy.

Quote

"Exitus acta probat."

Translation: The means are justified by the end.


----------------------


Farmer's Prayer - Taught to farmers and serfs in the Times of Von Zeklos Keep boyardom in Barovia.

Ezra, my guardian
Do not leave me here alone
In the mists of legion
Guard from creature of night
Neuri and blight

---------------------

Animate Dead - 5th Revelation Prayer

Bones of holy templar, of boyar guarda,
Rise up!  Fulfill your vows!

Your suffering shall set the living free!


---------------------

The following prayer adorned the perfectly wax-polished statue of Ezra in the interior of Zeklos Chapel, called "The Revelation of the Endless Night."

Tempus tenebrae eternae adventat,
celebrate dies, celebrate ellam.
Mea voluntas tenebrae est,
Meam gratium tenebrae est,
Nostra fides in unum est,
Ora et pugna! (chant)
Neca Infideles!



----------------------


This chant is reminiscent of those invoked by the Eternal Order of Darkon - whose local traditions were adopted by the Fourth Sect of Nevuchar Springs.  It is called, "Protect us Eternally."

Beata Ezra, Nos sanctum in eternam adsumus nos.
Exorcitamus te, omnis immundus spiritus
omnis diabloicus potestas
omnis incursio infernalis adversarii
omnis congregatio et secta diabolica
in nomine et virtute, nostram custodem Ezram
Amen


« Last Edit: September 15, 2009, 11:16:36 PM by DM Heretic »

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Church of Ezra Primer
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2012, 01:20:40 PM »
Church of Ezra Primer


Quote
Dogma of the Church of Ezra:

Prevent suffering and exploitation in the land of Mists by following in Ezra's footsteps. Every sect has a different philosophy, but this part is central to all. We are guardians of the faithful. Ezrites know that the land around has a thick veil, a veil that is hidden from the public, but only the priests and priestesses of the Guardian in the Mists, and those gifted, can see. Be her second pair of eyes and ears, alert on a more metaphysical and spiritual level, this is both a burden that must be shouldered and a necessary risk to act as guardians of the people. The Mists, an element that is as natural to the world as the plants and animals. Learn to notice when the Mists of Death are at work, from supernaturally impenetrable fog to an invisible barrier invincible to all and possessed of a strangely sentient intellect.

Home Faith (First Sect) (Lekvarest - Borca)
   Dogma: Ezra was once a mortal healer of the sick, protector of the weak, guide to the lost, who entreatied the Mists of Death to allow her to watch over the mortals in the Hollow eternally. She did this because it was her duty to fulfill this role, and calls others to this same duty in Her name. The Praesidius is the voice of Ezra in this mortal world, as Yakov Dilisnya was the first voice for Her story and teachings. An anchorite's duty is to protect Ezra's faithful worshippers and to glorify and build up Her church.
   History: Yakov Dilisyna, of the famous Mordent Dilisyna line was a young wastrel. But that all changed on the eve of his 25th birthday, when he was thrown from a horse and spent five days and nights in fever. When he awoke, he spoke of visions and penned the First Book of Ezra. For years he wandered his homeland, spreading Ezra's teachings and performing miracles, but the word of Ezra was slow to take. Then, with the help of his half-sister Camille Boritsi he took his preaching to Borca, and construction began of the Grand Cathedral at Lekvarest, which would take over sixty years to finish.

Guidelines every Home Faith Anchorite might know to provide better achievement in her faithful's goals
         1. Ezra demands that her followers deal justly with each other, with those not of the church, and with themselves. Uphold authority and deal  honestly with every man; hold fast to the word of Ezra and take care to live by every element, down to the smallest, of its precepts, and by so  doing you will perform your appointed role in the Grand Scheme.
         2. Respect the power of temporal authority, even when its standards of  justice are not those of the church. Working within the system can generate the changes necessary, without violent upheaval or disruption  of the social order. To be seen as exemplary citizens of the state gets  us official recognition and the opportunity to do more good works for  our followers.
         3. The Legions of the Night - Every means necessary must be used against  the Legion; it is laudable but by no means necessary to attempt to reclaim them. The purity of church doctrine and the security of church members must always be the first consideration; in situations where these are not imperiled the anchorite may attempt a merciful  reconciliation between the cursed one and Ezra, but if even the smallest threat exists the anchorite must not spare him. The price of mercy offered to the undeserving is too high for any other course of action.
         4. Ezra's blessings are to be reserved for Her people exclusively, except in cases where life would be lost or harm done to the church's reputation. We should focus our efforts both spiritual and mundane on service to Her people, because we know She guides them while the others are led astray by the Mists.

Weapons for anchorites: Longsword and shield.

Pure Hearts (Second Sect) (Mordentshire - Mordent)
   Dogma: Ezra was a guide and a healer in Her mortal life, and She saw the pain and suffering of the people once she enteres the Mists. She sought to find a way to fill the Hollow which is around and within all of us. The best way to spread Ezra's message is through example, and so Her protection and blessings can be offered to all. Every being in this world has the power to choose their place in the Grand Scheme, and this includes the Legions of the Night, who may choose to come into Ezra's light, and be redeemed.
   History: Early in the history of the church the Pure Hearts were the first to dissent from the Home Faith. Following the murder of Praesidius Yakov Dilisyna, and the proposed sonstruction of a statue in his memory even before the cathedral was completed, concerns arose among some of the faithful that the church had become too focused on placating the powerful and not on protecting the weak. Felix Wachter split from the church, leading this group of anchorites, preaching a revised, more openly compassionate version of Ezra’s teachings. It would be ten years until the Pure Hearts were accepted as an equal Revelation of Ezra.

Guidelines every Pure Heart Anchorite might know to provide better achievement in her faithful's goals.

         1. We struggle on behalf of the meek of the earth, Ezra demands, first  and foremost, that her followers do good to their fellow-man. To care for the poor, to support orphans and widows, and to deal honestly with one’s fellow-man are the basis of the true religion. Seek for and support good leaders, and stand firm against the Legion when conflict  can no longer be forestalled.
         2. Dealing with the law - Legal authority must generally be respected, as outright repudiation of it can lead only to anarchy and the dissolution  of the social order. When the law of a ruler conflicts with the law of  Ezra, however, the law of Ezra must always take precedence. Disobedience  to the law is generally only justified in a matter of life and death,  but when moral considerations demand it the follower of Ezra must  disobey man’s laws and take the risk of punishment, no matter how high  it might be.
         3: The Legions of the Night - The Legions must be opposed on every hand, but not by the sword, unless no other course avails. There are many oppressed by the evil within themselves who will gladly embrace the  light if given the opportunity; therefore every opportunity must be given them. To strike down a member of the Legion may weaken the Legion, but does not strengthen the church; to convert a member of the Legion  does both. Surely the latter is a more effectual tactic.
         4. The blessings Ezra grants us are a form of Her love, which can be used to aid those in need, regardless of their faith. By sharing Her love, we undo the work of the Legions and we show Her love and compassion, easing pain of both body and soul. Hopefully such displays of Her love will lead the lost into the light.
        
Weapons for anchorites: Longsword and shield.
        
Erudites (Third Sect) (Port-A-Lucine - Dementlieu)
   Dogma: Ezra was a goddess who saw that the gods had abandoned the Hollow, a place hidden by mists and burdened by suffering. She beseeched the gods to tend to these people, but they refused. Ezra left the realm of the gods and gave herself to the Mists in order to watch over the mortals within the Hollow. Other faiths simply worship other aspects of Ezra.  The Grand Scheme has not yet been revealed to mortals, and thus study must be devoted to Ezra's other aspects. Ezra waits for us at the end of  our life, on the other side of the Mists of Death, to take us to our final reward.
   History: When the land of Dementlieu was revealed from the Mists, Warden Joan Secousse traveled there to spread Ezra's word. Instead what she found was a great ruined cathedral at the heart of the city of Port-a-Lucine, dedicated to a goddess nobody living could remember. But Secousse knew, for amidst the destruction was an immaculate stained-glass representation of Ezra. The Third Revelation was compiled from the documents she found in the five-hundred year old scriptorium beneath the ruins.

Guidelines every Erudite Anchorite might know to provide better achievement in her faithfuls goals.

        1.  Knowledge is power - The eye of Ezra is the eye that pierces the  Mists and brings hidden things to light. Nothing is more important than  the search for understanding, and to be instructed in the secret ways of  Ezra the best good.
        2. The world stands in balance - No matter how much we strive, our actions bring to pass the Great Scheme. "Good" and "evil", and even  "law" and "chaos", are two sides of the same coin. Consideration and  contemplation are therefore better than rash action.
        3. Creatures of the Night - No one can doubt that such creatures exist,  or that they intend to destroy the Grand Scheme. No-one should doubt  that these efforts are futile; the scheme cannot be frustrated by the  actions of mere mortals. The subtlest action reverberates the farthest;  it is most efficient, and most effective, to work behind the scenes to  bring the Legions of Night into conflict with each other and let them  destroy themselves.
      
Weapons for anchorites: Any single-handed bladed weapon and shield.
      
Zealots (Fourth Sect) (Nevuchnar Springs - Darkon)
   Dogma: The mortal Ezra was a healer and guardian who faithfully defended her  people from the mosntrous Legions of the Night that taint this world. Unable to find a worthy successor, Ezra merged with the Mists of Death to watch over her faithful. In the first Epiphany, she appeared to Yakov  Dilisnya, the first anchorite, and bid him to spread her word. The  Mists greatly curtail Ezra's power, however, so she cannot protect those who do not open their hearts to her message. The Great Upheaval was an  unsuccesful attempt by the Mists of Death to expel Ezra from their  ranks, the first omen of a coming time when the Legions of the NIght  will overrun the land. Disgusted by the flood of corruption, the Mists  of Death will scour the world clean. This Time of Unparalleled Darkness will come in less than 20 years, yet all is not lost. Ezra will save her  truly faithful, but in the end days the jealous Legions of the Night  will seek to drag down her chosen people. To protect Ezra's innocent flock, the Legions of the Night - be they monster or mere tempster - must be ruthlessly destroyed.
   History: Following the events of the Great Upheavel in 740 BC, a young Darkonian Anchorite in Borca called Teodorus Raines was one of many new evangelical Anchorites spurred on by this terrible event. He traveled the length of Darkon, slowly formulating what would become the Fourth Revelation. Eleven years after setting out Raines returned to Lekvarest from Nevuchar Springs, with his new Revelation and Anchorites and was declared Bastion of the Fourth Sect.
  
Guidelines every Zealot anchorite might know to provide better achievement in her faithfuls goals.

         1. Ezra demands a heart and soul dedicated to Her cause above all other  things. Those who oppose the Grand Scheme will be swept down and destroyed, and it is Her dedicated servants to whom she will entrust  this vital task.
         2. The day of wrath will not be long in coming. Everyone must prepare,spiritually and physically, for the End Times. Make stores of provisions; learn how to handle a sword; and hearken to the words of Ezra’s servants. The time will soon come when only those who have had the foresight to prepare and the means to defend themselves will be able  to resist the Legions of Night.
         3. The Legions of the Night - They are everywhere, and their influence  will only grow greater. Only the greatest devotion to Ezra and Her  teachings will allow Her elect to remain undeceived. If any of the  Legion are discovered, they must be destroyed immediately.
         4.  We must reserve our efforts for those true to Her. To grant her healing and blessings to the corrupt is to aid the Legions. She grants us Her blessings to aid Her faithful and strengthen us agains the dark days to come. We must not misuse them on those who defy Her by their disbelief.

Weapons for anchorites: Any single-handed weapon and shield; must always carry some weapon.


Anchorites
An anchorite is a cleric of Ezra. Their duties are to serve the faithful and Ezra, and to spread the message of the faith in the way proscribed by their sect. They recieve divine blessings from Ezra, and have the power to manifest a Sheild, unique to each sect, a symbol of Ezra's faith in the anchorite. The most powerful anchorites are said to have powers over the Mists.

Templars
Templars, or Temple Guards are members of the laity given special responsibility within their Church. Though they take everyday orders from and regularly work with all anchorites of their church, they answer ultimately to the head of their congregation, the Sentire, and are tasked with protecting the physical building of the church, and frequently the clergy and laity therein.

The Laity
Are lay worshippers of Ezra. They have no special rites or responsibilities other than to profess their faith through baptism, to live their lives in a way acceptable to their sect, confess their sins to an anchorite, and to attend Fifth Day services.

Hierarchy
Praesidius
The Praesidius is the head of the Church of Ezra, and is always drawn from the Home Faith. They hold overall responsibility for all four Sects, and is the highest mortal authority in  the Faith. The Praesidius resides at the Grand Cathedral of Lekvarest, and is Bastion of the Home Faith, and Sentire of Lekvarest.

Bastion
A Bastion is the head of one of the four Sects. They are responsible for all sentires of their sect, and for the spiritual welfare for all those under their denomination. The Bastion is always Sentire of their sect's home temple.

Sentire
A Sentire is the leader of a particular temple, of at least five anchorites.

Toret
A Toret is an anchorite which has taken up permanent residence in a temple.

Warden
A Warden is a new, or wandering anchorite with no formal ties to any one temple.

Acolyte
An Acolyte is an anchorite-in-training.

Bailey
This title holds no hirearchical significance, but is a title of respect bestowed upon the eldest Anchorite in a particular temple clergy.

Significance of Five
The number five holds special significance in the Church of Ezra. Congregations meet every five days to hold services, known as Fifth Day services. Five is the number of times Ezra entreatied the Mists of Death to enter.

The Grand Scheme
The Grand Scheme is the pattern for all reality. Every being is bound by it, be they mortal, Legion, or Ezra Herself. The four sects have different takes on what the Grand Scheme is, and means to Ezra's faithful.

The Rite of Revelation
The Rite of Revelation is the process by which a new sect is created. In the church's history hundreds have attempted the Rite, believing they have discovered a new revelation, but only three - the three non Home Faith sects - have passed it. The first test requires the applicant to produce a written form of their new revelation in a book, penned in their own hand. The second test requires that they manifest a Sheild of Ezra. Thirdly, they must produce five anchorites, trained under the new prospective revelation, who also manifest the same Sheild.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 01:04:54 PM by DM Treason »

Heretic

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Sects & Anchorites Common Appellations
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2012, 06:46:29 AM »
Sects & Anchorites Common Appellations:

Quote
Borca = Anchorites of the Home Faith
Mordent = Anchorites of the Chapel of Pure Hearts, Pure Hearts
Dementlieu = Anchorites of St. Mere des Larmes, Erudites
Darkon = Anchorites of the Last Redoubt, Zealots
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 11:58:36 AM by DM Treason »

herkles

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Offices of the Church
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2012, 02:05:43 AM »
Office of the Praesidius
Yakov Dilisnya (666 - 698 BC)
Donella Borovsky (698 - 716 BC)
Kristyn Stoyista (716 - 735 BC)
Alexei Raskolka (735 - 746 BC)
Levin Postoya (746 BC - )

Office of Bastion

Bastion of the First Revelation
Yakov Dilisnya (666 - 698 BC)
Donella Borovsky (698 - 716 BC)
Kristyn Stoyista (716 - 735 BC)
Alexei Raskolka (735 - 746 BC)
Levin Postoya (746 BC - )

Bastion of the Second Revelation
Felix Wachter (698 - 716 BC)
Vladimir Denisovich (716 - 744 BC)
Sarlota Otrava (744 BC - )

Bastion of the Third Revelation
Joan Secousse (709 BC - )

Bastion of the Fourth Revelation
Teodorus Raines (751 BC - )

Autonomous Office under Bastion of the First Revelation

Sentire of Richemulot
Sentire Carelia Douzains (750 BC - )

Semi-Autonomous Office under the Bastion of the First Revelation

Sentire of Eastern Barovia
Sentire Mugur Costinus (763 BC - )

Sentire of Western Barovia
Sentire Mihail Postoyev (755 BC - )

Sentire of Invidia
Sentire Sofia Gudrescu (752 BC - )
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 01:01:31 PM by DM Treason »