|Titles||Ruler of the Eternal Tower, The Majesty Becoming|
|Portfolio||Magic, Ambition, Self-Improvement, Creation|
|Worshipers||Scholars, Casters, Nobility|
|Cleric Alignments|| |
|Domains||Clerics: Law, Artifice, Magic, Knowledge, Rune. Oracles: Heavens, Lore, Time|
|Symbol||A crowned tower or pyramid|
The Transcendental Imperium is an obscure and ancient deity. Not widely known beyond scholarly circles, and usually only worshiped by the highly learned, They have none the less have maintained a continuous presence in civilizations wherever magic is strong. It is believed that this deity’s worship survived even the great cataclysms that ruined E’n, and certainly Their pyramid-temples and tower-shrines still dominate some of the high peaks of the land.
The Transcendental Imperium is a deity of transcendence, who encourages all mortals to strive to ‘Become’ and indeed, to ‘Become’ eternally. The theology of the Imperium is one of self-improvement, of constant growth and evolution in a never-ending quest to be more than one once was. Magic, because it is an expression of one’s will upon the universe, is seen as the most apt means of accomplishing this, though it is certainly not the only means. They encourage discipline, order, structure and creation, and promote rulership over one’s self and their environment.
The Imperium is a sexless deity, represented by a crowned tower or pyramid. They are part of no known pantheon- Some scholars speculate They never were, others hypothesize that Their sibling deities’ worship did not survive the ruin of E’n. Their priesthood is diverse, and composed of paladins, clerics, monks, oracles, and especially mystic theurges, who for the most part live in tower-like monasteries in the mountains, where they study, train, research and meditate their way to higher states of existence.
Outside of these monastic communities the Transcendental Imperium has little in the way of organized religion. Their lay worshipers have a private, personal mode of reverence, largely based around the study and practice of the ideals espoused by the deity. They are largely worshiped by artificers, summoners, alchemists, lore-masters, and wizards; but sorcerers, bards, and witches have been known to turn to the Imperium as well.
One of the great underlying philosophies of Imperium worship is the Steps of the Eternal Tower. The faithful regard existence as a series of steps in an endless stairwell. Step Null, or Zero, is the void of non-existence, which is anathema to Imperium worshipers, worse than the Hells. The First Step, or First Becoming, is when an Iota of Being comes into existence, with only the barest hint of sentience. This is the rudimentary beginning of a soul. The Iota gravitates to the Material Plane, where it becomes sheathed in flesh. This is the Second Step, the Mortal Step. The Second Step is regarded by the faithful as the most important. Mortals with strong wills and destinies can become extremely powerful extremely quickly during this Step, and if they persevere, might even skip Steps. The Second Step then is best spent in constant training, practice, self-reflection, study, research, and experimentation.
The Third Step begins with death, where one becomes a spirit on the planes of the Moral Path. Here it is hoped that one will be reformed into a higher spiritual being with memories, skills, powers, and personality intact. Most will become Axiomites, while others may become Archons or Devils. But the process begins again, though more slowly. The Fourth Step and beyond deals with divinity, for the Transcendent Imperium encourages apotheosis, though in practice no one has ever heard of a successful case. Beyond divinity the faithful will admit their ignorance, for the Steps of the Eternal Tower are a spiral stair, whose later steps twist out of view, only becoming comprehensible as one climbs.
It is known from the presence of ancient, abandoned temples to the Imperium that They have at least been worshiped since before the Ruin of E'n. Beyond this, not much is known of Their history from before the Ruin. This is hardly discouraging to the monastic communities who revere Them, and in fact, it is not uncommon for these monastic orders to hire adventurers to assist them in recovering old temples and shrines, or to search other old ruins for artifacts, documents, and inscriptions that might tell them more about the history of their deity. A few sects and scholars propose that the Imperium may once have been a mortal who achieved apotheosis, but this is largely conjecture, though it is not considered a heretical notion amongst the wider community of worshipers. Given the unusual number of ancient shrines and temples in or around Rorn (Labryntyr being the most prominent), some even hypothesize that the Imperium may be a lost Sword-Saint of the Rorn.
The Imperium is a quiet and withdrawn deity who generally does not interfere in the affairs of Their fellow gods. They have a close affinity with Councilors despite being a Ruler, and is sometimes called upon to facilitate or intercede for the two classes of deities. They may consult other deities of magic or knowledge.
Appearance and EmissariesEdit
The Transcendental Imperium is an abstract and sexless deity, and as a result They rarely appear before Their followers. If They do, it is usually is an endless tower rising up over the horizon.
They do have a number of emissaries though:
Or, a celestial Gold Dragon. Or is a patron of royalty and nobility, representing enlightened and efficient rule. The dragon encourages dynastic marriages between great families as a means to peacefully unite nations into greater and greater empires, and is often called upon to bless marriages and pregnancies. Besides this, Or is the founder and spiritual Grand-master of the Imperium's paladin orders, as he codified and transmitted oaths and laws that Imperium paladins live by.
Jyotoor, a monstrous giant with scaled skin, tusks, claws, and ram horns, dressed in a grey hooded robe. Jyotoor is ancient, his race unkown. But he is a master architect, a builder of labyrinths and towers whose dimensions defy physical laws. It is his impossible designs that influence the mind-boggling and alien architecture of the labyrinthine towers and pyramids built by the Transcendental Imperium's mortal worshipers.
Lalana, the Dark Consort, the Necromancer Queen, a Fiend who appears as a beautiful, black-feather-winged elf in dark royal garb and crown. She exemplifies ambition and is a patron of necromancers and those who consort with devils. She promotes the orderly and lawful use of the undead for cheap labor, and is said to bestow the secret of achieving lichdom on those servants of the Imperium that she favors.
Archos, an Axiomite with the shape of a fair-haired human in wizard's regalia. He is a patron of science and magic, who communes with wizards, alchemists and artificers alike.
Yet, another Axiomite, she is the youngest of all the emissaries. She appears in the form of a shaven-headed halfling monk. Her legend states that she lived as a hermit at the base of one of the Imerpium's otherwise abandoned tower shrines. Every day she would climb to the top of the tower to meditate, and it is during one of these meditation sessions that she stumbled upon a piece of divine truth that allowed her to bodily ascend and become an Axiomite.
Orders of the ImperiumEdit
The Transcendental Imperium is revered by a number of monastic orders. All of the orders are open to enrollment, but in practice only truly exceptional individuals will pass their tests of initiation and proceed on to the rites of initiation and full induction in their chosen order. Anyone may retake the tests of initiation as often as they like, but few are the cases of those who fail them at first but succeed later. (Effectively, the orders are only open to those with PC classes.)
The Knights of Or (LG):
The main paladin order of the Transcendental Imperium. Their colour is gold and their helms bear draconic wings. The symbol of their order, which emblazons their shields, banners, and breastplates, is a crowned tower framed by extended dragon wings. They are the most traditionally religious of all the Orders, worshiping the Imperium as a selfless giver of knowledge who empowers mortals to transcend suffering.
The Knights are a philanthropic order, who believe in the power of education to transform the lives of the unfortunate, and so they establish and patronize schools and vocational training for the poor. They also give to other educational institutions who they believe are contributing to the common good through research. They are also a very wealthy order, partly because their members are not required to surrender their worldly goods or noble titles, and partly because the order controls a bank and engages in a broad portfolio of business enterprises and investments.
While paladins make up the vast majority of the Knights of Or, they do keep a few clerics and theurges on hand to supply divine and arcane magic. They also host a single potent oracle at their headquarters. The Knights of Or rarely hire adventurers, as they prefer to handle their own problems, but occasionally they do bring them in when a situation calls for skills outside their expertise.
Society of Stones (LN):
A secretive cult of architects, these artificers, transmuters, and alchemists are responsible for the construction of new towers and pyramids for the various orders of their faith. Jyotoor is their patron, and it is the giant's designs that inspire their cyclopian and labyrinthine temples. They also undertake the repair and refurbishment of older, abandoned Imperium temples when they are found and cleared, and they will quietly contract adventurers to discover lost temples and purge them of monsters or other unwanted interlopers.
Members of the Society are known for their bizarre appearances, as they frequently experiment on themselves, using alchemy or transmutation to induce controlled mutations, or replacing limbs and organs with golem prosthetics. The society is relatively small, but they build and employ legions of constructs and homunculi to work on their construction projects and assist in their experiments.
Their symbol is a crowned tower framed by a compass and square.
Lalanite Order (LE):
An ancient cabal of necromancers and diabolists, the order is currently shattered and inactive. In better days, they operated from their Black Pyramid in the unclaimed wilderness where they could practice their arts without falling under the jurisdiction of states that forbid their rites. They captured orcs from underground, and goblinoids in the mountain to serve as their experimental fodder and a source of souls to barter with devils, as they knew that no nation would miss or protect them.
For many centuries they labored and worshiped in secret, until they were set upon by a coalition of paladins from various faiths (excepting the Knights of Or, who refused to intercede for or against them), for just as no nation would prosecute them beyond their borders, nor would they protect them. Only a warning from the Society of Stones gave them time to smuggle the most powerful and sacred of their tomes and artifacts out of the Pyramid before the assault began.
The battle was furious, with thousands of paladins fighting their way through armies of the undead and summoned fiends into the temple. The magi and priests inside cut down dozens of holy knights for each of their own member that fell, but it quickly became apparent that the sheer numbers of the opposing forces would prevail. Those who could retreated to the inner sanctum and Gated or Teleported to safety. Since then the Order has been mostly inactive, though not totally destroyed.
Many of its highest rankings members live (in one sense or another) still, and there are many new necromancers and diabolists who worship the Imperium and long for the return of the Order. Now the leaders of the Lalanite Order believe the stars are right for the glorious return of the cabal, and they have been working subtly through intermediaries to hire adventurers who will clear out the monsters who have taken over the Black Pyramid, retrieve potent artifacts of the Imperium, and otherwise carry out the Order's will.
Their insignia is a black pyramid outlined in gold, surmounted by a gold crown.
The Sacred Order of the Sudden Revelation (LN with good tendencies):
Established by those who wished to follow in Yet's footsteps, the Sacred Order clusters in a monastic compound around the ancient tower Yet bodily ascended from. The order is unique in many respects. Firstly, it is the only order of all the Imperium orders composed solely of monks. Secondly, the order has an unusually large number of halflings among their ranks.
Additionally, the Sister and Brothers of the Sacred Order are not particularly ascetics; they eat healthy, hearty, regular meals, sleep on comfortable beds, and abstain from from fasting and over exposure to the elements. They entertain each other with jokes and riddles, craft puzzles, engage in philosophical debate and discussion, and create art. On the other hand, they eschew drugs and alcohol, engage in sex only with moderation, refuse luxuries, and live communally, surrendering all worldly possessions.
They train to perfect both body and mind, and most of them are Ki Mystics or Monks of the Lotus. They are ardent pacifists who fight with the quaterstaff to subdue rather than kill. They are friendly to travelers and visitors, and frequently cook them excellent meals and offer them lodgings for the night, seeing them off with generous rations of tasty preserved foods. They want for little and rarely interact with the outside world, so they have little reason to hire adventurers.
They employ a motif of a tower or staff crowned by a lotus.
Beyond these four there are many smaller monastic communities and hermitages, but are either so obscure or young that they do not bear mentioning.
Worshipers and ClergyEdit
The Transcendental Imperium is worshiped primarily by divine and scholastic arcane casters. Beyond these individuals, some non-scholastic casters, nobility, and scholars revere the Imperium. There is no established church outside of the monastic communities, at least not yet, so lay worshipers pray at homemade shrines, or else simply contemplate the Transcendental Philosophies. Travelers may also come across isolated shrines in the shape of a tower or pyramid, a common enough site on prominent, isolated hills is a low-grade pyramid topped with an altar flanked on either side by stone incense burners filled with the ashen remains of burnt offerings.
Some noble households will build chapels to the Imperium at the top of a tower. Such families usually enjoy the service of a cleric or paladin from the Knights of Or, who serve as a family chaplain and adviser.
Grand Master Vincenti Mariez
The Grand Master of the Knights of Or. Despite his long white hair and deep wrinkles, he is a giant of a man whose body ripples with muscle beneath his shining gold armor. Kind and gregarious, he affects the appearance of being slightly senile, so that he can get away with saying what he thinks rather than what's polite in noble society. He has many children and grandchildren, most of whom have also joined the Knights of Or out of admiration of their grandfather. Privately, he worries for their safety.
This young Aasimar girl is the potent, half-blind oracle of the Knights of Or. Her Mystery is Lore, which she uses to prophecy the future via Automatic Writing. She reserves this ability for the Knights of Or, and will only expend her daily use of this ability for others under the most dire and needful of circumstances. She will, however, freely entertain those who come to ask her advice, which she will answer to the best of her ability with her vast knowledge. She spends most of her day meditating and reading in the enclosed garden behind the tower monastery of the Knights of Or, which has been planted with fragrant flowers for her benefit. She is deeply committed to a romantic relationship with Dame Katerine van der Brunnen, a passionate young Knight of Or from the Baronies.
Arch-Mason Morxiour of the Many Psuedopodia, Whose Tentacles Grasp a Thousand Truths
The Arch-Mason of the Society of Stones was described at the last sighting of his personage outside of the inner Sanctum of Labryntyr as, 'a giant, shuffling figure covered over in many layers of long, draping robes, with hundreds of clamy grey tentacles dangling from his deeply lowered hood and sleeves'. That was 112 years ago, and he has not been seen since, though he frequently communicates telepathically with his subordinates, and seems to know everything that happens, within the Labryntyr and without. In his many hundreds of years leading the Society of Stones he has been known to have mastered many magical disciplines; no one is certain of the full extent of his power, or what he does in the Inner Sanctum.
The Lich-Theurge Hexis ruled the Lalanite Order before the violation of the Black Pyramid, and still holds sway over the disparate splinter cells that now compose its remainder. For centuries he has worked to slowly draw the broken pieces of the Order back together again, and now judges the time to be close for when they will rise again. His eyeless sockets turn now to Rorn, where he sees a golden opportunity to convince its leaders that only armies of the undead and Infernal agents can turn the tide against the Harran, and that only the Imperium, with the Lalanite Order acting as Their intermediary, can deliver this dark salvation.
Mistriss Young is the shaven-headed but rosy-cheeked leader of the Sacred Order of the Sudden Revelation. This serious and serene halfling is somewhere in her middle age, but her body is fit and wiry. She would love nothing more than to tend the orchards and vegetable gardens around the Tower of Yet, but finds herself more often than not tending to the daily administrative tasks of running the monastery. She is on good terms with the Green Circle, an organization she used to be a part of before her conversion to the faith of the Imperium. Although the Imperium favors artifice over nature, green things still hold a special place in her heart, which she expresses through agriculture, which she views as a synthesis between the two concepts.
Temples, Shrines and Holy SitesEdit
The Shining Tower
This tiered fortress-tower of gleaming white stone and gilt-brass dragon statues is the home and headquarters of the Knights of Or, towering over the foothills outside Venza. This mighty tower is large enough to house all the functions of the Order, including structures that would ordinarily be outbuildings, such as stables and smithies. Surrounding the Shining Tower are acres and acres of orchards and vineyards belonging to the order, tended by skilled farmers who are the tenants of the Knights of Or.
The Tower lives up to its name even within, for it is beautifully decorated. Here in the marble halls of the Knights of Or, scholars, merchants and nobles alike will rub elbows as they pursue knowledge, religion, and business. Below the ground lie armories, wine cellars, domestic functions such as kitchens and servant quarters, and the fabled, impenetrable Vaults of Or from which the Knights conduct their banking business.
Above stretch living quarters, libraries, training halls, chapels and offices, from which the Knights conduct their daily business. Behind the Tower is an enclosed garden, and it is here that the Oracle of the Knights spends most of her day, contemplating the Mysteries.
The Tower is fairly new, built only a couple hundred years ago for the Knights by the Society of Stones. The Knights insisted that the tower be less ominous and labyrinthine than what the Society usually builds, specifying that it be beautiful and comforting to behold. The Society built the entire tower in a year to the Knights precise specifications, excepting the Vaults of Or, which they employed all of their considerable ingenuity and magic into making impenetrable.
In the Seither Mountains south of Rorn and Heth rises cyclopian Labryntyr, the ever-rising tower.The dwarves of these mountains do no tread here, nor dare mine beneath the tower. The vast, grey, octagonal tower rises into the clouds, its distant top wreathed in scaffolds. On its upper levels are many rectangular windows set into the massive blocks of stone that compose the structure, but its one egress upon the ground are the enormous double-doors of stone.
Past this is the cavernous entrance hall leading to the main shaft, where stairs and chain-strung lifts serve to carry the tower's inhabitants to it's furthest reaches and deepest depths. Visitors are never allowed beyond the first few levels in either direction except in the most unusual of circumstances, and the remote tower receives few enough visitors as is. It will quickly become apparent that the laws governing reality are suspended inside this structure. It's labyrinthine halls and chambers are larger within than the tower should rightfully contain, windows look out onto eerie vistas, and gravity is oriented not to the ground (which quickly becomes lost in the weird tangle of upside-down and side-ways stairs, rooms and halls) but to relative surfaces.
Here are libraries so vast no man could hope to read all their contents in a single life time, laboratories filled with bizarre experiments, and vaults of strange artifacts and curios. It is easy to tell who is an initiate and who has been here for ages- the acolytes are relatively 'normal', while the master could scarely be called mortal.
Labryntyr is the oldest known tower-temple of the Imperium, and commands the greatest amount of respect from its various orders, even the Knights of Or and the Lalanite Order. Here the leaders of the Orders of the Imperium will meet to discuss matters of importance to the entire faith, but otherwise this is the ever-growing home of the secretive Society of Stones.
The Black Pyramid
No one knows where this pyramid of polished black stone lies, except for the old priesthood that survived the assault by the Coalition, and have survived the centuries since. Even the paladins who found it to purge it have forgotten where it lies, their old records crumbled to dust, or else destroyed discreetly by agents of the Lalanite Order.
Wherever it is, it is in the untamed wilderness of the world, and the place is one of great darkness and great power, whoever it is inhabited by. Perhaps on day the Lalanite Order will rule the Pyramid once more.
The Tower of Yet
The Tower of Yet is actually one of the smaller tower shrines of the Imperium, but the order of monks who venerate this place (the Sacred Order of the Sudden Revelation) have added a compound of pyramids arranged geometrically around the Tower. Here at the top of this tower is where Yet ascended to become an Axiomite in life, and was lifted bodily into the realm of the Transcendental Imperium.
The Tower and its monastery compound lie in a fertile Seither Mountains valley south of Tal Hollow, and the fields around the monastery are planted with orchards and vegetable gardens. Cows and chickens graze solemnly here too, as travelers follow the mountains south along the eastern edge of the Seither Mountains towards Irthos.
While there are countless supplementary texts, there are really two defining texts. The main one is the Transcendental Philosophies, a series of philosophical texts transmitted directly from the Imperium. The other is the Orian Code, which is the Paladin Code of the Knights of Or. The Orian Code can be summarized thusly:
Suffering is evil. No mortal deserves suffering. Therefore, all mortals are entitled to ascend from their state to achieve freedom from suffering. The Imperium shows the way to ascention. You must pave the way to allow the less fortunate to ascend. Teach them. Protect them. Create just laws and live by them. Selfishness exists in the world. But other are entitled to this too. Understand that you must pick your battles. When making difficult choices, choose the one that creates the greatest good in the long run.
Beyond the Code, many followers of the Imperium search for their religions ancient and lost Historia, which details the origins of their faith and their deity. The Society of Stones in particular search for this lost text, and will pay handsomely to acquire it.
Birth days and Death days are of particular importance, for they mark the transition of a soul from one spiritual state to another. The Knights of Or celebrate the creation of the Orian Code and the completion of the Shining Tower. The Society considers certain stellar events to be portentous, though this more a reason to engage in special magics than celebration. The remnants of the Lalanite Order celebrate the founding of their order, and mourn the Violation of the Black Pyramid. The Sacred Order of the Sudden Revelation have a great celebration on Ascension day, the day Yet ascended bodily to a higher spiritual state. All Imperium worshipers celebrate the day when the Transcendental Philosophies are said to have been transmitted to mortals, but celebrations vary widely.