Major Groups of Annwn
Major Groups of Annwn
Annwn holds many diverse groups and associations. More than a mere profession, these groups are exclusive and distinctive, instantly recognizable by outsiders. Some are mundane and commonly encountered by the everyday traveler, such as craft and thieves guilds, others, however, are far more unusual. Of the latter category, some of the largest of these groups include priests, druids, monks, assassins, wizards, the Southern Cross, and the priests of Chronos.
Though each religion has its own term to describe its followers, most peasants refer to them by the catch-all term of priests or clerics. All priests worship a particular entity, a greater being who lives far beyond the bounds of our world, in the outer planes. While anyone can choose to pray to a god, priests are those devout individuals who have been initiated into the mysteries of the clergy, and entrusted with the responsibility of spreading their deity’s philosophy to others. Priests of the various religions are easily recognized, as each clergy has distinctive dress, rituals, and a unique holy symbol, representative of their faith. Some religions also have militant offshoots of clerics known as paladins, individuals who fight to destroy enemies of their faith.
Although druids are also considered a religious association, they differ from priests in that they do not venerate any greater outer planar being. Instead, druids believe the earth itself to be a living being, and the moon her child. Druids claim to receive their powers through a profound understanding and connection with the natural world, drawing on the earth’s natural power rather than supplicating any greater being for assistance. Druids are generally solitary and reclusive, shying away from civilization, but will occasionally be encountered by travelers making their way through the wilderness. Closely associated with druids are rangers, individuals that, while not actively worshiping the living earth, often share the druid’s connection with it, and sometimes harness its powers in a similar fashion.
Stories tell of a traveler from a land far across the Grey Sea, who brought the foundations of modern monasticism to Eastmarch millennia ago. Since that time, the tradition has formed its own basis of followers throughout Moravia, and monasteries have popped up throughout the continent. Typically secluded from the outside world, monks concern themselves with achieving physical and spiritual self perfection, through meditation and intense discipline. Although monks care little for outside events, and outsiders are rarely allowed into the monasteries, monks may occasionally leave their walls behind to test their skills abroad. Many orders are instantly recognizable by their hair alone, which is often shaven but for a long top-knot, or else completely bald. Even when this is not the case, the monk’s strange manners often make them instantly recognizable to outsiders.
While anyone can kill for money, true assassins are part of a clandestine society. With a variety of titles from “hands” to “blades” based on the skill of the assassin, this guild formally trains its members in the arts of death. Veiled in secrecy, little is known of this society, but it is believed to be based somewhere in the island republic of Tandeme. Unfortunately, its members carry no visible indication of their membership. Though all assassins possess a sash of color varying with their rank, few are foolish enough to carry it on their person, for obvious reasons.
Masters of the magic arts, many consider wizards to be an even more dangerous group than assassins. Of those magi who harness magic through study and intellect, only a select group of human males may claim the title of wizard. In order to become a wizard, a mage must journey to one of several colleges of magic, and undergo arduous tests proving his magical prowess. All those who have been deemed worthy by the college are proclaimed as wizards, true masters of magic. Only wizards have the right to wear the wide brimmed, conical caps symbolic of their status, and are known to punish mercilessly those who wear a cap they have not earned. Legend has it that it was Woden, god of magic, who first taught humans the magic arts during the Solaran War, and wizards wear the caps in honor of that adorning Woden himself.
The title of wizard carries great respect throughout Moravia, and can virtually guarantee the bearer a position of trusted councilor to a powerful ruler, at least. It is important to note, however, that a wizard holds great respect another who has earned the cap, there is no guarantee of either camaraderie or friendship. In fact, as the colleges have no qualms to the alignment of its members, many wizards become deadly and implacable foes.
Unfortunately for many would be wizards, entry into the college of magic is strictly restricted to human males, thus preventing many powerful mages from ever attaining the cap. Most other magical races, such as the elves and gnomes, consider this slight unimportant, but many powerful female mages have been known to consider their exclusion the gravest of insults.
The Southern Cross
The Southern Cross is a unique military institution of Eastmarch. Its members hold loyalty to no kingdom, but solely to the goals of the organization. Originally created to collaborate the various kingdoms for the task of repulsing the Southland barbarians and constructing the Great Wall, the Southern Cross has become an independent institution that sets the task of maintaining order throughout Eastmarch. Most members of the Southern Cross are greatly respected by the commoners, although some nobles hold them to be a meddlesome nuisance.
Priests of Chronos
One particular group of priests is so well known that most peasants think of it as a completely separate entity. The clergy of Chronos, god of knowledge and time, are dedicated to the gathering and dissemination of knowledge amongst all the peoples of Annwn. Its members are well known to the commoners, as they frequently trek throughout Moravia selling calendars and maps. The Great Library of Chronos is renown throughout the world as the single greatest source of knowledge in all of Annwn, and all great scholars dream of someday making the trek to its location in the remote mountains in Eastmarch.