House of Shackles
Worship: Worship of The Overlord takes place in underground temples. A worshipper of The Overlord can look forward to a ritual whipping at his regular services. The worshippers don false shackles and shamble to their beating in a sullen line. The faithful are not allowed to look each other in the eye and the clerics taunt and jeer them during the proceedings. A special magical trinket called a “malefactor” brands a temporary holy symbol on their chest, which fades by the service’s end. The entire service, although painless, degrades and humiliates the worshipper.
While legal in most nations, quite a few people still consider slavery uncouth. The practice of slavery and the ownership of slaves is not something most people enjoy discussing. A major effort of the House of Shackles is to promote the greater social acceptance of slavery. Beyond the simple spread of the numbers of slaves and slave owners, the increased stature of the practice will lead to an easier influence in and eventual takeover of the nations of Tellene. As such, those known to be members of the church are encouraged to maintain the best possible public appearance. By using their favorable reputations and secret influences, the Bringers of the New Order plan to slowly extend their control over increasingly more towns and nations.
Unholy Symbol: The unholy symbol of the Bringers of the New Order is a mailed fist. After acceptance into the House of Shackles, clerics receive this brand upon their chests, marking them as servants to The Overlord.
Unholy Days: During the summer solstice, worshippers are encouraged to bring others to the worship service (see above), so that the worshippers can join the cleric’s taunting and jeering instead of walking the slave line. Their guest, willing or not, joins the line instead. During the same event, one of the mock slaves is bound with real chains and beaten with a real scourge (instead of the light ritual whip used in regular services). This person is always a former slave that tried to escape and has been caught. Before the end of the service, the Bringers of the New Order sacrifice this slave on an altar while the worshippers give thanks to The Overlord that another has died for them.
Unholy Colors: Red and brown.
Unholy Animal: The unholy animal of the Bringers of the New Order is a draft horse, a subjugated animal which the owner may do with as he pleases.
Raiment: Feared throughout Tellene, clerics of the lawful evil god of oppression and slavery have a very rigid uniform code, in accordance with their rank in the church. Even when not performing ceremonies or services, Bringers of the New Order tend to wear a small, blackened metal pin with their unholy symbol somewhere on their clothing.
The members of the House of Shackles below the rank of Subjugator wear brown leather headbands, emblazoned with the unholy symbol of The Overlord. Punishment for serious offenses among these low-level clergy is to shackle them to a wall, soak their leather headband in water and then fasten it snugly around their necks. As the headband dries, it constricts and slowly chokes the offender to death.
|Rank:||Title:||Raiment:||Insignia:||Max # Clerics:|
|1||Disciple||plain white robes||none||any|
|2||Warden||brown robes||1 black stripe||3070|
|3||Slave Driver||brown robes||2 black stripes||1534|
|3||Brander||brown robes||3 black stripes||766|
|4||Slave Master||brown robes||4 black stripes||382|
|5||Subjugator||brown robes and brown hood||1 thick black stripe||190|
|6||Slave Trader||brown robes and brown hood||2 thick black stripes||94|
|6||Oppressor||brown robes w/ red trim and brown hood||3 thick black stripes||46|
|7||Grand Oppressor||brown robes w/ red trim and red hood||4 thick black stripes||22|
|8||Master of the Whip||red robes, hood and Master Mask||none||10|
|9||Grand Master of the Whip||red robes, hood and Grand Master Mask||none||4|
|10||High Cleric of the Whip||red robes w/ brown trim, hood and High Cleric Mask||none||1|
Ranks 1, 2, 3 and 6 have two titles; a Bringer must earn both titles before advancing to the next rank.
Advancement: Advancement in the House of Shackles occurs through vacancies in the order, or through challenge of superiors. Advancement through vacancies means simply waiting for those above the cleric to advance or die. When this occurs the next cleric in line will fill the vacancy. Advancement of this type is slow, especially beyond the level of Slave Driver. Therefore, most Bringers opt for the aggressive improvement of their rank through challenging superiors.
Challenge does not have to be in the form of combat; it may be a hunt for an item, a contest of taking slaves, etc. However, the superior chooses the contest and if the challenger loses, he may not challenge again for one year. If the superior loses, she is demoted and the challenger assumes her position in the House of Shackles.
Only a limited number of clerics worldwide may hold levels above that of Disciple. Additionally, clerics within a rank are given a number corresponding to their position within that rank, the lower the number, the higher the position. Thus, every Bringer above the level of Disciple knows his exact station.
A Slave Trader gains a monthly stipend of 100 gp/month.
A Master of the Whip’s second follower is a brigand or a fighter at the player’s choice.
Sacrifices: Bringers sacrifice the heart of a captured escapee, once per month. Should no escapee be available, the heart of any slave is permissible.
The interior of these temples usually has a low ceiling, resulting from the traditional underground dungeon design. In Pel Brolenon, Mendarn and Vrandol, a common theme mimics a galley’s banks of slave rowers, providing seats and ceremonial chains for worshippers. In either case, lighting is dim, and worshipper space is cramped and uncomfortable, while clerical appointments are the height of comfort. The stone altars are relatively large, a necessity of the type of sacrifices they make.
Cathedrals are longer and wider, although rarely taller. In order to allow distant worshippers to participate, junior clerics stand at diverse points within the temple, speaking so that all worshippers can hear them.
The holy seat lies in Vrendolen, the religious and civic capital of the theocracy of Pel Brolenon. The temple itself is 40’ high, with a ceiling vaulting to over 60’ above ground. Rows and rows of sculptures of chained slaves writing in agony fill niches around the walls. Two massive bare-chested sculptures of whip-bearing slave masters stand beside the entrance; these guardians are greater stone golems prepared to defend the temple against attack or stop the flight of escaped slaves.
Two towers rise above the temple, both of them located along the front facing. The left tower hosts a massive bell whose peal announces mandatory worship times throughout the day. The right tower contains housing for some of the temple’s clerics; others live off-site.
High Cleric of the Whip Dowrel Yelmon has led the faith for twenty years. Consequently, he is also the ruler of the Theocracy of Pel Brolenon. Surprisingly humble for someone so casually capable of great evil, Yelmon presents a problem for enemy clerics, since he is a difficult person to malign.
|Friends and Allies:|
|The House of Scorn: “The lesser peoples need to be enslaved. This house understands that and assist in accomplishing it.”|
|The Order of Agony: “Pain can bind better than bars or manacles, sometimes. A good torturer can train a slave in half the time.”|
|The Temple of Sleepless Nights: “Terror eats away at hope – a very effective tool in breaking the will of others.”|
|The Parish of the Prolific Coin: “Buyers and sellers of anything, they understand the value of a good slave.”|
|Foes and Enemies:|
|The Face of the Free: “They seek freedom for all! They cannot see the true value of the relationship between a slaver and his property…”|
|The House of Solace: “Giving hope to all is a foolish endeavor, as some will always be hopeless…”|
|The Parish of Love: “Love is like a flower; easily crushed, mostly useless, and almost always in the way.”|
|The Halls of the Valiant: “They seek to destroy anyone that opposes their moralistic standards of decency…"|