Summoners and Reconcilers;
Partners in Salvation.
By Aaron Kavli
"And it was Alethon and Rolynd that the folk of the lands of Hirute did own their salvation. For Alethon was able to summon forth the ideals of Larani in a blessed spirit form, and this spirit did grant him the ability to mark the shadows upon a soul. For Rolynd was gifted to reconcile these shadows and set forth a quest of rightly deeds that would drive forth such shadow from the deserving soul. And with these holy gifts, the two chosen of the Defender spent their waking hours as scouts of righteousness, guiding the astray from darkness and back into the salvation of Larani's light.
The race of Hirute had been led astray by the weak, by the appeasers, by the acceptors of all things. These soft-minded rulers had chosen not the guidance of Larani, whose ways are oft difficult but always just. Instead they had accepted every flopping tongue that spewed flattery and folly, every coin that had eased their conscience and failures, and capitulated their morals for the sake of easily gained yet false amenities and friendships. They had not the mettle in their hearts to oppose the wicked and popular, and when they finally fell into their own corruption and were lost, the leaders left a people stained with darkness.
That Alethon and Rolynd did come to Hirute
was the will of Larani, for in her just and righteous wisdom, she did not
turn her grace from the people their. The chosen of Larani spoke thus to
the people. "What can be done?" they cried. "Are we lost then, forever
from the light?" Alethon did see into the shadows of their souls with the
light of the goddess, and Rolynd did solve the shadows and took to guiding
them away from the Hirutes. Each man offered up a lamb or silver 'genyirk'
for he and his family, and Alethon looked into their souls, and Rolynd
did scry what task of righteousness would set them again on the path to
-Tome of Shields; passage of St. Alethon and St. Rolynd.
Among the writings of the Laranian church, there are many tales of holy men undergoing great efforts to save innocents from the depredations of lesser beliefs. While many great warriors are counted among these men, not all lived a life of the sword. The passages of St. Alethon the Summoner and St. Rolynd the Reconciler are devoid of any martial conflicts (involving the saints personally at any rate) and instead speak at length of their special connection with Larani herself. The teachings of the church are that a person is to strive to achieve worthiness on his own merit and actions and as such special guides are not necessary to find Dolithor. But when it comes to spiritual matters having a guide, be it clergy, a wise hermit, or a reconciler, is quite handy.
Even with the belief of ecclesiastical infallibility ingrained into church doctrine, the priests who claimed to be summoners or reconcilers were rare. Laity who claimed to have these abilities were immediately shunned and denounced by the church, unless they were able to prove their claims. Those who could were almost universally adopted into the church. Proving such claims was problematic for the church and the claimant. The tests put forth by skeptical clergy are often quite difficult, but the church officially accepts that summoners and reconcilers exist so it cannot dismiss claims out of hand.
Those few summoners or reconcilers, who were accepted by the church, were venerated and honored for their connection to that which is the light of Larani. Many accepted summoners were merely laity before being brought into the ranks of the clergy. Being a summoner grants no official title or privileges within the church, but they certainly find favor from their fellows.
Unfortunately the honor of being a holy summoner or reconciler was greatly tarnished during the time of Sebrath Lursyle of Perail. During her rule, many aspects of the Laranian church were used to increase wealth at the expense of providing spiritual leadership.
Many people became accepted as summoners during these years, but their sole function was to increase Laranian coffers. Some were even simple folk with low scruples, who paid corrupt clergy to be accepted. These charlatans would approach a worshipper, claiming the summoner had seen the shadows on the person's soul. The reconciler would then claim that for a modest donation, he would explain what would be required from that person to get back in Larani's good graces. This quest was often times easy but designed to give the impression of a higher purpose, such as traveling to another nearby village to hold a vigil, fasting, or doing some light charity work for the church. Those who had earned the ire of powerful nobles or clergy with enough silver to pay summoners well, might find their personal quests were far more difficult, time consuming, and even dangerous. Summoners often donated up to half of their earnings to local temples for their cooperation and validation.
As with most confidence schemes, it is often the truly faithful and trusting that suffer the most. The helpful summoners saved Pilgrims and the more simple-minded worshippers time and time again. Even those who began to grow skeptical were leery of insulting priests, and of them possibly being right. The worst abuses of the summoners came when they began acting in the political arena, for sizable donations of course.
When the current Sebrath of the Laranian religion, Allyn of Kamalrith, took the seat of pontiff in 717, he set about rooting out known charlatans claiming to be summoners. The Ethelanca have since been actively interviewing those who have paid summoners and reconcilers. Charlatan summoners can expect very severe punishment when they are caught up with, which is why many have moved on. Those who were accepted and venerated before about 705 TR are not usually suspect, as they were tested before the time of Lursyle. It is believed that some genuine summoners have been corrupted, by force or temptation, however.
A particular trouble being faced on all fronts
by Allyn's subtle reformation is the conflict between cleaning out the
corruption and the idea of ecclesiastical infallibility.
By claiming something that was done by the church must be undone, in this case the proliferation of false summoners, infallibility comes into question. If no real change is made, the reformation is doomed. To this end the church and the Ethelanca are finding ways to discredit these hucksters, explaining how it was they that are the betrayers and not the church.
Summoners and Reconcilers in Campaigns.
In many ways, Harn often lags behind events taking place on Lythia. The same is true of church edicts and policies. The Harnic church did not suffer under Lursyle's corruption as severely as did their continental brothers, but it not free from her influence or temptation either. The efforts of the Ethelanca to rid Harn of charlatan summoners is just getting started.
PCs are likely to encounter summoners and reconcilers (many claim to be both at once) at some point in those kingdoms that are strongly Laranian, namely Kaldor, Kanday, and Melderyn. Except for those well-known and venerated, summoners on Harn enjoy varying levels of acceptance from the church. The clergy is faced with the problems of the reformation, namely ecclesiastical infallibility. As such overt action is problematic some church leaders, who themselves are still left over tools of Lursyle, have chosen to ignore summoners; especially if they are still paying their tithe. The vast majority of summoners and reconcilers, genuine or otherwise, will be members of the Laranian clergy. There are a few however that are more akin to remote hermits.
Summoners and reconcilers range from true, honest
to Larani, people with special gifts that were accepted by the church long
ago, to people who believe they have
the gift (but don't), to those who know they are fake but are trying to be helpful by offering hope, to the more common "shakedown" artist. False summoners, as most thieves, are skilled at picking their marks and carefully exploiting them. Those most likely to be targeted are obviously devout Laranians that are either new to the area or simple minded. A devout, simple-minded, noble, pilgrim in the summoner’s area is sure to be approached.
The most common and noticeable difference between
true summoners and charlatans is their method of operation. True summoners
very rarely approach a person. They are treated more as wise men; respected
from afar and only offer their gift to those who seek them out. Charlatans
on the other hand are more likely to approach those who look to be likely
dupes. Those unfamiliar with the local landscape or the Laranian church,
may be unaware of this however.
Adventures in Salvation.
Aside from being a colorful addition to the Laranian church, summoners and reconcilers offer a number of unique campaign avenues. The most obvious is that PCs will be approached and offered a fair price for their return to grace. Here are some other ideas. The redemption quests, from either fake or real reconcilers, can be an excellent adventure hook to help guide a party, or throw a one-shot adventure in the middle of a campaign.
- PCs, who are Laranian and have any sort of natural or psychic divination talent, may in fact be summoners or reconcilers. This would lead to some interesting church interaction, as the true PC summoner may find a great deal of suspicion and skepticism from local abbeys and the Ethelanca, who are trying to actively rid themselves of charlatans.
- PCs may find themselves approached by the Ethelanca or a local temple. A local pair of known charlatans is quite popular and has the population swayed to their side. Any attempt to oust them will cause quite a commotion. The church is seeking an outside influence to either discredit the charlatans, or eliminate them.
- PCs may find themselves in the middle of the reformation, especially if they are members of the clergy. The church is being very skeptical of claims, and a true summoner may find himself wrongly accused and seeks the PCs help.
- A devout PC may have earned a powerful, political
personage. If the PC is also a Laranian, he may find his quest is quite
dangerous, even suicidal.