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Sons of Kiri-Jolith: The Order of the Divine Hammer

D&D 3e (3.0/3.5) Rules

by John Grubber


What follows is my compilation of the history and ultimate tragedy of the militant priesthood of Kiri-Jolith. Within it, the novice knight will find an Order both virtuous and flawed, a group that we as fellow followers of the Horned One would do well to understand. Dates within are in Istaran reckoning, with Pre-Cataclysmic dates following in parentheses, for ease of reference) Let this misguided group serve as an object lesson as to why we must never ally ourselves with a servant of the Gods, lest we become their puppet.

Henri deRochefort
At Sancrist
Of the Order of the Rose
The Knighthood of Solamnia
Winter, 341AC

* * * * * * *

The last century before the Cataclysm was a time of great strife in Istar. Civil wars raged as pretenders to the mantle of the Kingpriests attacked the seats of each others power. The Istaran government, long since rendered impotent by the power and influence of the Church, was powerless to stop the fighting. Knights of Solamnia and Istaran legionnaires, each loyal to different Kingpriests, fought each other for decades in the outer provinces, with tense peace giving way to skirmishes and outright battles periodically. Finally, in 927IA (35PC), the fighting ceased. The last of the pretenders was imprisoned and his supporters scattered. Peace and spiritual unity had come to Istar at last.

Less than one year later, the Kingpriest, Beldinas formed The Order of the Divine Hammer. Chosen from the ranks of the priests of Kiri-Jolith, this new militant order still worshipped the Bison God, but now served the Church of Paladine. Created as defenders of the faith and as an elite personal guard, these warrior priests answered only to the Kingpriest, and operated outside the laws of Istar.

The Days of Glorious Service:

The Order distinguished itself only months after it was formed, when, under the skilled leadership of Radulpho diSiyan, a force of Solamnic Knights and a small contingent of warrior-priests broke the siege of Lattakay on the eastern coast of Istar. Three months previously a Minotaur fleet had blockaded the city by land and sea in a dispute over land rights. Outnumbered almost ten to one, the warrior-priests and the Knights they led relied successfully on the teachings of Kiri-Jolith to outwit their foes, and subsequently suffered few losses.

The Vaults of the Kingpriest, established by Ardosean I during his reign, were the site of the Order's second great trial. Within its walls, the Daughters of the Light, a secret order dedicated to Paladine's worship lived. Their task was to safeguard artifacts and copies of sacred scriptures of Paladine. Over the centuries, knowledge of the place grew, and its contents became the subject of rumor and legend. Some said the wealth of the Kingpriests was contained within the mountain stronghold, others claimed that artifacts of arcane power were stored there, so they might never be used again in war. Whatever the actual contents, the Vaults of the Kingpriest existed in safety for several hundred years. In 930 IA (30PC) the Order of the Divine Hammer, acting as escort to a caravan of Revered Daughters, journeyed to the stronghold. When they arrived high in the frozen mountains, the doors were barred to them, and the walls were manned by mercenaries. Males, long since barred from entering the sacred place, stood within, and claimed the place as their own. In a daring raid, the Warrior-Priests, with the aid of the Revered Daughters, gained entry to the citadel, and drove its occupants out. When they searched the halls, no living were found within. The Daughters of the Light had been slaughtered by the mercenaries as the warriors fled. Their bodies lay throughout the levels of the Vault, a mute testament to their defensive efforts. In his grief over his failure and hasty action, diSiyan hurled himself from the battlements. His body was never found.

The public, upon hearing of the massacre, were rightly outraged. When the advisors of the Kingpriest released the information, it was not mercenaries that had overtaken the sacred place, but barbarians from the outlands of Gather. The death of diSiyan was covered up, and instead it was told that he led the raid himself, falling to a barbarian arrow in the heat of battle. The public had thirsted for heroes to rally behind, and the Kingpriest had found them: The Order of the Divine Hammer.

The death of diSiyan had been fortuitous for Beldinas and his advisors. Long an opponent of the Kingpriests efforts to loosen the Order's strict entry codes, diSiyan's death gave Beldinas the leverage needed to expand his personal guard.

The beliefs of diSiyan, the first Lord Protector, were rigidly held by the initial entrants to the order, as they coincided directly with the priesthood of Kiri-Jolith, of which they were all members. After a few years however, they fell by the wayside as the Kingpriest grew impatient with the slow growth of his elite guard. Bowing to pressure from Beldinas and his inner circle, the leaders of the Order of the Divine Hammer began to look the other way when an aspirant of less than ideal character presented themselves for entry. As the guidelines for entry relaxed, the nature of the order began to shift. The noble aspirations of the upper echelons were held by fewer and fewer of the members.

The through skillful manipulation of their fear, the Kingpriest was able to turn the people of the Empire against the various barbarian tribes that lived within its borders. Graphic descriptions of barbarian practices, as well as carefully laying the blame for increased raider activity all served to build public support for a military solution to the problem of the barbarian heathens. The slaughter of the Daughters of the Light and the looting of the Vaults of the Kingpriest were the event that finally spurred the angry public to action.

The Heretic Wars:

In 931IA (31PC), the Kingpriest, proclaiming to be acting on the advice of his inner circle, dispatched military forces to quell uprisings among the dangerous heretical barbarian tribes of the outer regions of Istar. This army consisted mainly of Knights of Solamnia, led by members of the Order of the Divine Hammer. The warrior-priest commanders had been high ranking Priests of Kiri-Jolith prior to forming the Order, their decades of study of the Sacra Justae giving them a deep understanding of martial skills and strategy that made them inspiring and cunning leaders. On the initial successes of these missions, the membership of the Order swelled, peasants, who previously were ineligible to serve in anything but a levied army flocked to this new banner that held no prejudices based on birth. Even junior Knights of Solamnia left their Orders, a trend that raised great concern at the upper levels of the Knighthood. Tension quickly rose between the two groups.

As the love of the people raised the warrior-priests to higher glories, the Istarans began to cast harsh words upon the Knights who had long protected them. The Solamnics were criticized, both publicly and in the Istaran Senate, for failing to act sooner to put down the revolts in the outer provinces. Across Ansalon, the failures of the Knights in ages past were remembered, while their successes were diminished.

The sentiments of the fickle citizens continued to turn against the Knights with each success of the new Order. For a time, the Knights of Solamnia even withdrew from the city of Istar, moving to Ideos, a city in the Istaran Province of Taol, and forsaking the Citadel of Bohemund, their garrison in the empire's capital.

One might ask why, someone might choose to join the holy armies of Istar in their missions. The answers are numerous. At the end of the Age of Might, Ansalon was a realm at peace, and many a noble and peasant had a thirst for excitement in a world lacking it. Thus, when the restrictions upon the order were loosened, they flocked to its banners, seeking adventure. This hunger for glory and excitement went hand in hand with a desire for monetary gain. The lands of the barbarians were largely unsettled, but were rich in natural resources. In exchange for their aid, the Kingpriest had promised land in the liberated territories to the upper classes. Those who refused to offer martial or military aid were threatened with excommunication, and whispered stories of the fate of the cast out were usually enough to make them lend their swords. The peasants were a different story. For them, all that was required was three meals a day and a small amount of pay. The thought of doing the work of the gods was an important incentive to them, but by no means was it the only one. It is important to note that there was many among the armies that believed the rightness of their task, the enlightenment of heathen barbarians towards both the Gods and civilization. They listened to what the corrupt priesthood told them, and believed they were doing the right thing. When word spread of the chance to gain wealth and title, mercenaries flocked to Edessa, the site of the Istaran musters. A few of the outlying cities of the empire even emptied their prisons, offering the condemned a chance to redeem themselves in service to the Kingpriest and the Gods. While the influx of less than ideal members disturbed the leaders of the Order, they bowed to the pressure of the Kingpriest and his reassurances that the wayward among them would find faith soon enough, and be lifelong followers of the war god.

In 935IA(27 PC), the machinations of the Kingpriest turned towards the clergy of the Gods of Darkness, and the Order of the Divine Hammer was the sword he used. Under his direction, temples to the Gods of Darkness throughout the empire were looted and burned, the priests within rounded up or expelled beyond the borders of Istar. Some priests, particularly those dedicated to Sargonnas, fought back, inflicting heavy losses in the name of the God of Vengeance before finally succumbing to the combined might of the Knights and the warrior-priests. As the people saw the warrior-priests leading the Knights of Solamnia in expelling darkness from the land the heaped greater and greater praise on their protectors. Soon, the banners of the Horned God fluttered throughout the empire as people gave worship to the God whose servants worked so tirelessly to protect them.

As they traveled, the members of the order, as well as the entourages they gathered, sang the praises of the Kingpriest and the glory of Istar. As a result of their preaching, there was an acceleration in the public shift from worship of the Gods to the adulation of their voice on Krynn, the Kingpriest. Within the Order, the beliefs of many of the lower ranks began to turn against the priesthoods of other gods, even to the point of violence. So it was that in 954IA (8PC), the Order of the Divine Hammer was responsible for one of the greatest affronts to the Gods yet witnessed- the destruction of the Pantheon of Karthay.

In the late Age of Might, there were those among the citizenry and clergy that still believed in the ideal of the balance, that both good and evil are necessary in the world. Their numbers were few, but they maintained temples in many of the larger cities of Ansalon. These temples were dedicated to all the gods, regardless of their nature. These Pantheons, as they were called, were shrines where each god might be venerated in safety, to give thanks, beg forgiveness or make requests to. They were popular with travelers, and they became popular meeting places for discussions of theology, dogma and ethics of the various religions. This open dialogue terrified the Kingpriest, for he feared that the common people might begin to accept the Gods of Darkness and their followers into their lives. In his fear he proclaimed that to discuss the teachings of one God in relation to another was an affront to both Gods and was a heresy of the worst sort. The Kingpriest further proclaimed that not only was it a sin to discuss the ideals of one God in the presence of another God's worshippers, it was sinful that the depictions of these should be housed together, a stain that tainted all the images. Spurred by their own piety and their faith in their liege, the Order of the Divine Hammer entered the Pantheon of Karthay, and destroyed the likenesses of the Gods within. After the statues were smashed, the building itself, which had stood for over a thousand years, was burned.

This act of zealous destruction, an expression of their misguided loyalty to the Kingpriest, began a great furor of iconoclasm throughout the empire. Across Istar, sculptures of the gods were vandalized and replaced with images of the Kingpriest. The Kingpriest, the people claimed, had shown them the error of their ways, and was their true shepherd in faith.

In the last decades before the Cataclysm, Istar dominated art, religion and culture across Ansalon. But, try as they might, the Kingpriest and his minions had never been able to completely control commerce and manufacturing. These were completely under the sway of the clergy of Reorx and Shinare, the Gods of industry, building and commerce. The followers of the two neutral gods, through their control of the guilds in many cities, were able to stop the Istarans from determining prices and taxes on all goods. This refusal to submit to Istars dominance and the enormous monetary losses infuriated the Kingpriest, as it had several of his predecessors. Beldinas however, now had a means to alter the situation to his advantage- the Order of the Divine Hammer.

Under his command, in 955IA(7PC)the warehouses and halls of the priesthoods throughout the empire were raided, while in other areas of Ansalon, agents of the Kingpriest turned the public against the Forge God and the Matron of Commerce. The kingpriests minions implicated their rivals in scandals of cheating, theft and extortion, all to make the citizens turn against the priesthoods. As the scandals and distrust of the neutral priesthoods grew, the Order began to seize more and more property, using the money gained to fund further efforts to discredit. The public loved the Order for its efforts to bring justice to those who had been cheated by the merchants, money-lenders and craftsmen. Soon riots targeting the followers of the two neutral gods, their homes, businesses and places of worship began to occur across Ansalon. Graffiti marked the doors of their homes, their warehouses were burned, while the people themselves were forced to flee the towns and cities. In only a few short months, the manipulations of the Kingpriest had removed one more rival from his world.

The Fall of the Order:

(The collapse of the Order of the Divine Hammer is a subject of much debate. While some scholars link the fall to this event, others cite other causes. The riot is not recorded in any surviving histories, but does exist in the journals and memoirs of some eyewitnesses. Given the absolute control the Kingpriest had over Istaran society, it is not surprising that this event may have been purged from the official records. Further research into sealed portions of the Library of Palanthas may end the debate, provided Lorekeeper Astinus opens the forbidden volumes.

- Henri deRochefort)

Less that two years before the Cataclysm, the fortunes of the Order of the Divine Hammer had turned. After open conflict with the Knights and heretical proclamations from within their ranks, the Kingpriest forsook them and the citizens turned against their saviors. Within weeks, the warrior-priests were being hunted as outlaws throughout Istar and the rest of Ansalon. Most fled, those that remained to try to vindicate their Order were imprisoned or publicly executed. The final fate of the Order was sealed when their temple in Istar, the Edificum Justae, was the scene of a massive riot on the fifth day of Gildember, 959IA (3PC). Citizens filled the streets, demanding that Apulia Guiscard, the current Lord Protector and head of the Order, be turned over to them. Tensions escalated and violence erupted. The warrior-priests attempted to drive their attackers off without fighting, but soon had to defend themselves. Vastly outnumbered, they finally fell to the rioters, and the Temple was burned. With its destruction, the Order of the Divine Hammer faded from the circus that was the Imperial court of Istar.

Symbols of the Order:

The new order chose the bison manifestation of Kiri-Jolith as their symbol, designing their vestments and icons around it. The Bison, a symbol of strength and wisdom in plainsmen lore, is believed to be the earliest animal symbol associated with the Gods, as it plays such a central role in the barbarian culture.

The hammer is an important symbol in most cultures- it is both tool and weapon, it can build a civilization and defend it. The Order of the Divine Hammer exemplified this idea. They were known to aid in the building of a barn as quickly as they would protect it. It was this sense of responsibility and cooperation with the commoners that endeared the Order to them.

The Duties of the Priesthood:

In worship, the Order is very different than the followers of Paladine. They do not have temples per se, but large gathering halls, complete with barracks, that include chapels to the Bison-God within them. The Order pays homage to its patron in worship, but in accordance to their own duties, they are often travelling the lands of Ansalon, where temples to Kiri-Jolith are not found. As such, they worship in their holy places when they are found, but they also can consecrate a place for their thrice-daily worship in a ritual that lasts a few minutes. Once completed, the member can lay out their prayer rug, and commence with their prayer prostration's. Prostration to Kiri-Jolith is important as it symbolizes the humility with which they approach their worship and their roles in the world. They are servants of the people and of their god a task that demands that he individual sacrifice their own ego and goals for the good of the many.

The Order of the Divine Hammer was initially created to serve as a personal guard to protect the Kingpriest and the holy city, and in times of war, its members, priests of Kiri-Jolith, would serve as advisors on military matters. Soon after the Orders liberation of Lattakay, the Kingpriest realized he had a powerful ally that could sway the publics opinion on key matters, allowing him to stretch his rule even further. The directives of the Order changed, to include not only protection of the Kingpriest, but to protect pilgrims as they traveled to the city and other holy sites. In addition, they were given leave to travel to faraway lands, converting the people there to the worship of the true Gods and to travel Ansalon writing wrongs whenever they encountered them. With these new goals, the priesthood quickly gained popular sympathy and support. It was a common sight in the last decades to see a caravan of penniless pilgrims travelling toward Istar, The Zephaniah Necropolis or any number of holy sites, flanked by heavily armed and armored warriors. These warriors sought no reward, giving their guardianship willingly at the Kingpriests behest. Some even took up residence along the routes, establishing garrisons or fortresses along the more dangerous roads, all to ensure that anyone, rich or poor, who had faith in the gods, would be safe on their journey.

The Beliefs of the Order:

The warrior-priests follow the same scripture as the priests of Kiri-Jolith, the Sacra Justae. In its pages, the wisdom of the martial arts is set out. Its teachings describe the fundamental philosophies of Kiri-Jolith, specifically the ideals of war. The teachings are for commanders and soldiers alike, and speak of the role of each in victory. While it is also a manual of war strategy, the writings also speak of the importance of the preservation of peace. Armed conflict, it is taught, is not to be entered lightly, only after all other options have failed should the swordarm be raised. It is written that truly just wars are won without bloodshed. The Order of the Divine Hammer seeks resolution first, but does not shrink from combat when it is left with no other options.

Equipment of the Warrior-Priests:

The sanctioned weapon of the order is the hammer, and may be of several types. The mounted warrior-priests favor the Bec-de-Corbin or the crowbill, while the footmen use mattocks, ornate mauls and war hammers. The epaulets and helms of the Order are decorated with images of the bison incarnation of Kiri-Jolith, the horns on the helm coming from one of the great bison of southern Solamnia. Over their padded leather armor, members wear a knee-length white tabard the symbol of the order emblazoned upon its front. The symbol also appears on their shields and the outer face of their long gauntlets. The final piece of their war apparel is a great cape of Bison fur, the harvest of which has caused a great deal of anger from plains barbarians protesting the reckless slaughter.

Structure of the Order:

The Order of the Divine Hammer answers directly to the Kingpriest, and is unfettered by the bureaucracy that paralyzes the Knights of Solamnia. In the thirty years the Order existed, few titles were created for its members. Many of those belonged to one individual or were carried over from the existing hierarchy of the Priesthood of Kiri-Jolith.

Lord Protector: This is the leader of the entire order. He is final arbiter in internal disputes that reach him and determines official direction of the Order.

Lord Marshals: There are six Lord Marshals, who act as advisors to the Lord Protector and are responsible for administration of the Orders day-to-day existence. One of these men, the Lord Marshal Liaison, is responsible for communication with the Priesthood of Paladine and the Kingpriest.

Marshals: These men lead expeditionary forces and are the administrators of the Orders outposts along the roads of Ansalon. On special celebratory days, Marshals lead prayers, instead of Commanders-at-Arms.

Commander-at-arms: Men who possess this title lead the Brothers and Attendants in battle. They are also charged with leading daily prayer services in the field and at the Orders chapels in Ansalon's cities.

Brother-at-arms: These lowest ranking ordained members are the backbone of the Order. They spend as long as ten years in sojourn, crossing Ansalon working the will of their patron. After completion of their sojourn, they are assigned permanently to an outpost or a section of road, which they protect at any cost. Many of these men take it upon themselves to build shrines and chapels to Kiri-Jolith along their road, as way-stations for travelers and pilgrims.

Attendant-at-Arms: As unordained members of the Order of the Divine Hammer, the attendants are the most numerous. They maintain the chapels and shrines of the Order, and their garrisons make up the backbone of its military forces. As they are unordained, they possess no priestly magic. Culled from all walks of life, these men who patrol the empire are at times of unsavory character.

Conclusion:

The Order of the Divine Hammer was a group that the Knighthood could learn much from, both in terms of service and in what to avoid. The sudden death of diSiyan caused irreparable damage at too early an age- imagine what our order would be like had Vinas Solamnus died before completing the writing of the Oath and the Measure. Such was the fate of the warrior-priests of Kiri-Jolith. Willing servants of the Kingpriest and the citizens of Ansalon, they were doomed to be turned on by both. A sad fate indeed, and one we in the Knighthood know all too well.

Henri deRochefort

Order of the Rose

* * * * * * * *

Adventure Seeds and Game Notes:

The time of the Order of the Divine Hammer is one of the most socially turbulent in Ansalons history. There are innumerable possibilities for roleplaying within this age, for it is an era when the acts of mortals had the most lasting of impacts.

  • As members of the Order, Player Characters could be sent into the outer provinces to quell an uprising, retrieve an artifact, rescue a captive or kidnap an enemy of Istar.
  • As members of any of the groups the Kingpriest has targeted, the PC's could find themselves fugitives, or at the very least accomplices of fugitives.
  • Those PC's who follow the teachings of another deity may find themselves branded heretics, while magic-users will be lucky to survive within the empire for any length of time.
  • Depending on who the PC's are, supplies may be abundant or scarce, for Istar in its last century was a paranoid police state. Questions will always be asked, suspicions always raised, and mercenaries always ready to collect one of the Kingpriests bounties.

Player characters of this class follow the experience point chart and general guidelines of the priesthood of Kiri-Jolith, as set out in the Tales of the Lance Boxed set. If they join the Order after the death of its founder, they will not have access to priestly magic. If they join before, his death, depending on their actions, they may lose their powers or retain them until the time of the Cataclysm.

Bibliography:

Daraul, Arkon
1995 A History of Secret Societies. New York: Citadel Press

Hallam, Elizabeth
1997 Chronicles of the Crusades: Eyewitness Accounts of the wars between Christianity and Islam. Portugal: Bramley Books Inc.

King, J. Robert (editor)
1992 Tales of the Lance: A Dragonlance Boxed Set. Lake Geneva, WI; TSR, Inc.

Seligmann, Kurt
1997 The History of Magic and the Occult. New York: Random House, Inc.

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