The following sections deals with the various Immortals and their churches found on the world of Mystara. Except for the table giving the major Immortals and their followings, the material below is a preview up the upcoming "The Immortal Scriptures" due out this Fyrmont by Joshuan Gallidox Publishing. Those with interests in the Immortals should make sure to place this book on their must-read list.
To most folks, anyone who worships the Immortals or gods and receive spells in return are simply known as priests. The common peasant does not care to note that there is a difference in behavior, devotion, powers, or even duties between various priests within the same religion. The fact is, there are two main types of priests found on Mystara; the cleric and the specialty priest.
On Mystara, there are two types of Clerics: the Philosopher, and the Pantheist.
Philosophers receive their spells from all the Immortals of Law (or Chaos or Neutrality), and therefore upsetting just one of them will not cause any problems with the cleric's powers. Only a severe change in ethos (alignment) will affect the Philosopher's powers.
The Pantheist is a cleric who believes in a way of life represented by several Immortals as to be the correct way to live. As such, a Pantheist worships and entire pantheon in which she believes are the true ideal of perfection. She therefore honors all the Immortals of the pantheon and will only lose her spells if she somehow offends them all. The goal of the pantheist is to make sure that all the Immortals in a pantheon are respected, thereby keeping a balance between them all.
There are several pantheons found on (and within) Mystara. More details will be given in the pantheon chapter later on in this tome [in The Immortal Texts. Ed.].
Clerics tend to travel the land, as they are not locked into a hierarchy or organization. Some join various churches and religions throughout their lives, while others do not. Those that do often do so because the Immortal worshiped in that particular religion is often very close in philosophy to the beliefs of the cleric. For example, clerics of the Norse Pantheon often join the church of Odin, as being the head of the Norse gods, he obviously represents them best.
Still, clerics can (and do) leave a particular faith without much incident. The above mentioned cleric might decided that the worshiping of Thor is starting to slip and therefore try to fix things. He would likely resign his role in the church of Odin and then join the church of Thor. This is one of the main advantages of being a cleric.
The other comes from the fact that, since you worship almost all the Immortals, a cleric will generally be well treated by most religious organizations and priests. After all, the cleric is a potential recruit into their order.
The powers of a cleric as are detailed in the Player's Handbook, although a more up-dated and balanced version can be found in Player's Option: Spells and Magic. As such, they have access to most spells and can turn/command undead. They can wear any armor and only use blunt weapons.
The biggest misconception people have about specialty priests is that all priest of a given Immortal are all alike. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most Immortals have several specialty priests of various natures working for them. Each type of specialty priest has a specific function within the hierarchy of an Immortal.
Think about it. Both the Temple of Vanya in Thyatis and the Heldannic Knights worship Vanya, yet to two religions are different in attitude and behavior. Would it therefore not be logical that the abilities of the specialty priests also vary slightly?
Even a relatively peaceful Immortal, such as Asterius, still needs warriors to defend his temples. If his specialty priests are all merchants and thieves, how would he manage? The answers is simple: by having fighting specialty priest (such as Defenders [warrior kit from the Savage Coast setting. Ed.]) act as guards. The difference is that being a less warrior-like Immortal means he will probably have less warrior-type specialty priests than, say, Vanya.
Despite each Immortal having a different portfolio and goal, many share the same type of specialty priests. For example, Ordanna, Faunus, and Zirchev have druids among their specialty priests, as do a few others.
The most common specialty priests of Mystara are described below:
For example, a Priest of Halav gets a +2 to damage against goblinoids in addition to all abilities listed for the cleric (as per Player's Handbook or Player's Option: Spells and Magic). On the other hand, the extra power of a Priest of Protius is a swimming movement equal to his movement on land. The exact ability a Priest of an Immortal gets is described in the Codex of the Immortals from the Wrath of the Immortals box set.
Priests are the catch-all specialty priest of an Immortal. Their ability to use any armor and blunt weapons along with a decent THAC0 make them capable of holding their own in combat while their access to most spells can be useful in just about any situation. Their versatility often makes Priests the adventuring specialty priest of a deity, traveling around the world and spreading the faith. Many also serve as temple guardians, caretaker of the flock of worshipers, and representatives to the average person.
All Immortals commonly use Priests in their ranks.
The exact abilities and requirements of a Crusader can be found in Player's Option: Spells and Magic. Briefly, they require a Wisdom of 9, Strength of 12, and Charisma of 12. The most important power is the fact that a Crusader uses the warrior's THAC0 instead of the priest's THAC0. They have major access to the spheres of All, Combat, Guardian, Healing, War, and Wards. They have minor access to Necromantic and Protection spheres. For a more complete description, as well as a list of the rest of their minor abilities, see Player's Option: Spells and Magic. (Note: they cannot turn/control undead.)
Crusaders are common among the Immortals of war, guardianship, justice, revenge, rulership, strength, and thunder. Vanya's favorite specialty priest in the Crusader.
Defenders are actually fighters with the "Defender" Kit. They therefore have the THAC0 and hit points of a warrior. They must have a Strength of 12 and a Wisdom of 13 to take the Defender kit. Spells available to a Defender vary according to the Immortal they worship; they are not necessarily combat oriented spells (that's the role of the Crusader), although they often have major access to both Combat and Healing . A few have weapon restrictions limiting them to weapons noted as being favored by their Immortal (such as a war hammer for Defenders of Thor or a longbow and longsword for Defenders of Ilsundal), but most Immortals let them use whatever weapon they want. There is never any restriction on armor. The exact spell progression of the Defender, as well as other benefits and disadvantages can be found in the Savage Coast on-line rulebook, in the warrior kits' section. (Note: they cannot turn/control undead.)
Defenders can be found worshiping all the Immortals, although peaceful ones will only have a handful of Defenders while more war-like Immortals will have complete regiments of Defenders. Defenders of nature-oriented religions are often called "druidic knights," while evil-aligned Defenders enjoy the title of "avenger" or "anti-paladin."
Contrary to popular beliefs, Druids are not simply "forest priests." Druids are found in any natural setting. There are desert Druids, mountain Druids, and even underdark (underground) Druids. Their abilities can vary slightly according to their favored terrain (for more information, see Complete Druid's Handbook).
Unlike the traditional druid, a Mystaran Druid can be true neutral, lawful neutral, or chaotic neutral in alignment. The lawful druids believe in keeping things as they are while the chaotic ones see a more dynamic approach with the advances of man in one area balanced by an advance in nature in another. True neutral druids are somewhere in the middle (for more details, see Karameikos, Kingdom of Adventure.)
Of special note on Druids is the fact that some of them don't worship any Immortals at all, but instead worship Nature directly. Sages speculate that the Immortal Djaea grants them their spells, but Priests of Djaea deny this. Regardless, Druids of Nature receives spells even if they don't worship an Immortal.
To the Druids of Nature, all other Druids are not real druids, so they call them Balancers instead (although their powers are identical). Druids of Nature still give praise to many of the Immortals of nature - much as a Cleric can honor a particular Immortal - but they do not receive any benefits from it.
There appears to be one Great Druid for each region of Mystara. The female half-elf Great Druid Maud of Robrenn (a forest druid) is in charge of the entire Savage Coast region. In the Old World, the human male Kaikhatu who lives in the Steppes of Ethengar (a plains/grassland druid) is rumored to be the Great Druid of the area. The Great Druids of Norwold and other regions are still a mystery to most people.
Like Druids, however, some Rangers worship Nature directly instead of any particular Immortal, and they still receive their spells. Once more sages speculate that Djaea grants them their spells in theses instances, but again this has yet to be confirmed.
As Rangers, Paladins are considered to be warriors, not priests, and their class abilities are well described in the Player's Handbook (again, the Complete Paladin's Handbook gives variations on the theme).
The Immortal Tarastia has been known to grant spells to Paladins who uphold their ideals but don't worship any particular Immortal of paladins. Her priests claim that as long as they serve justice, Tarastia will continue to grant the Immortaless Paladins their powers, since to her, the ideal is more important than the religion. Most of these Immortaless Paladins scoff at the claim, yet none have outright challenged it.
Others examples of specialty priests, created by various members of the Mystaran Mailing List can be found in the mailing list archives
Needless to say, the amount and type of specialty priests are endless, and depend greatly on the whims of the Immortals. The advantages of specialty priests comes from the fact that they can possibly gain powers far beyond the grasps of most clerics. On the downside, their actions are closely monitored by their deity, and any stray actions or thoughts from the tenets of the religion can cause a loss in spells and powers. Also, it is difficult for a specialty priest to break free of an organized religion to his Immortal; after all, she can't exactly join the church of another Immortal, now can she?