How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
The Sovereign Host is the most practiced religion in Khorvaire, though it has its origins in Sarlona (specifically Pyrine). The practitioners believe that all elements of existence are personified in the forms of gods. These related gods numbered 13 at first, but four of them turned to evil and formed their own group (with the addition of two other gods, they became the Dark Six). The whole of the Host is now often refered to as “The Nine, The Six, and the One” (the “One” refering to the entire Host as one entity).
The Host is grouped into three general headings: nature, civilization, and war.
- Balinor, Arawai, and the Devourer (and his son, the Fury) come from the primal world.
- The Traveler, the Shadow, Aureon, Boldrei, Onatar, Olladra (and the last two’s children, Kol Korran and the Keeper) are aspects of the world of man.
- The triplets of war (Dol Dorn, Dol Arrah, and the Mockery) embody conflict.
- “As is the world, so are the gods. As are the gods, so is the world.” This central tenet (refered to as “Universal Sovereignty”) helps encompass all of the ideas of the world under the banner of the Host. In short, the gods are present in everything, imbuing their power into reality, but also drawing strength from the world. It also explains the gods’ refusal to manifest as individuals or intervene personally, because they are already intervening by their omnipresence.
- “The Sovereign Host is one name, and speaks with one voice. The gods are letters of that name, and the sounds of that voice.” The Doctrine of the Divine Host instructs Vassals to worship all the gods as a single entity, calling and praying to each as the situation warrants. People usually chose a patron according to their life, but reverence to all (even the Dark Six in some circumstances) are advised.
- Good and evil are hard to define in the Host, as evil and good aspects can be found in any of the gods’ arenas. Farming in Boldrei’s name can abuse the land, while a praying to the Devourer for a storm during a forest fire could save lives. Most people pray mainly to the Nine, as they are more likely to effect their everyday lives, but the disasters and misfortunes associated with the Six also prompt prayer.
- Death and the Afterlife. Vassals believe that the soul is a spark of divine power which fades as a person nears death, and when they die, they will go to Dolurrh for a gray and eternal afterlife. They believe faith will make their lives before death better, and someday the Host may enter Dolurrh and make it a paradise.
- Host followers are called Vassals, and though they attend festivals, masses, and other religious functions under the authority of the Host, their most common attribute is regular prayer, calling the gods into their daily activities, like a smith praying to Onatar, or a gambler praying to Olladra.
- Each god has their own symbol, but the main symbol of the religion is the Octagram. A straight line crossed perpendicularly by three lines, the center longer than the outside two. It can bear many colors, some associated with a particular god, but most commonly it is gold and blue.
- Hierarchy and the Priesthood
- The church’s hierarchy and requirements are not as strict as other faiths’. Priests for local communities are usually someone who shown a bit more faith, wisdom, and leadership than other Vassals, with no rigorous check for knowledge, dogma, or divine power. These local communities pool money with their region, funneling it into local needs and to the liturgical councils.
- Liturgical councils administer the church’s functions on a larger scale. This includes organizing the donations, building churches, teaching and assigning priests, mediating disputes, punishing and excommunicating those who defile the Host, and doing good works. They are made up of elected representatives (one for every 20 priests in the region), and vary in size and respective geography. These councils also pool money to build larger cathedrals and seminaries, the most famous of which is the Heirs of the Host seminary in Wroat. Most of the councils meet as a Grand Conclave once a decade to discuss policy and doctrine.
- As a rule of thumb the priesthood’s power is organized by seniority and education, making the graduates of the seminary and long-time priests more likely to be leaders. Outside priests, wandering evangelists and clerics who have no church, rarely gain power.
- Expulsion and lesser punishments usually stem from abusing power, heresy, and worship of evil gods outside the Host (such as the Cults of the Dragon Below). Accusations must be brought to the local liturgical council with proof to begin proceedings to defrock the priest or excommunicate the Vassal.
- Rituals and Dates
- Verbal prayers are the most common practice of the faithful, but rites and rituals are fairly regular as well. A minor rite involves a prayer and a small sacrifice associated with the desired outcome (a small flesh cut for Dol Dorn or a silver coin to an altar of Olladra), while major rites involve life events like weddings or funerals. If the Vassal cannot perform the rite at the time, they are expected to perform it later.
- The year has many holidays for the Host, but before the reign of Galifar, the Host ordered the year differently. Three seasons split the year: Yearbirth (end of winter into middle of spring), Yeargrowth (end of spring into end of summer), and Yeardeath (beginning of fall into middle of winter). Each season had seven weeks, each made up of 16 days, one for every god.
- The followers of the Host bear little ill will to other religions; in their mind, the Silver Flame is just a reflection of Dol Arrah, and rural worshippers of a hunting goddess are worshipping Balinor. To that end, when they go into new communities, they try to explain this commonality and encourage people to join their faith. Some followers of other faiths even integrate the Host into their worship. This easy-going attitude sometimes offends the most faithful of other religions.