The War for Thamatra
The Orders of Wisdom
The Orders of Wisdom
A brief overview of the function, structure and types of Orders As researched by Dr. Dudley Smallrog, Professor of Improbabilities, the University of Ansgar
The Orders of Wisdom are a series of enclaves and institutions whose purposes are for the gathering and use of knowledge and information for the betterment of the world. Most Orders have specialization in areas of focus, (for example: healing, metal lore, divination), as well as general areas of study (reading, mathematics). Most Orders have a religious affiliation (a patron deity or demigod), a means of funding (either a patron state, tithes, or thru commercial ventures) and cooperative alliances with other Orders, although there are exceptions.
Most Orders are influential in the governing and activities of the host haven, and also in host nations, due to the knowledge they represent and possess. Usually Orders have ambassadors or advisors present to the various nations and kingdoms who they associate with, or have an interest in (such as a host nation) but are not usually in positions to have a final say in the matters of state issues, although if a haven is specifically an Order enclave, the Order typically will directly administer the haven.
Order structure varies, depending on spiritual affiliations, host race(s), locale and areas of focus. Typically an Order has a grand patriarch, grand matriarch, or both, who lead other clerics in administrative or educational roles. These clerics in turn provide services to the Order ranging from spiritual services, training, journeywork, or in providing goods, such as potions, alloys, poisons and antidotes, or, in the case of an Order enclave in a remote area, crop production and clothing manufacture. And, of course, treasurers, adventurers, and fund raisers are necessary to keep the economic aspects of an Order running.
Most Orders have well known symbols or glyphs that serve as an identification of what Order the bearer belongs to, as well as their focus of study. This allows the general public to identify the specialties of the cleric, and also helps a cleric to identify a member of an allied Order. (It also allows one to recognize an “undesirable” wanderer.) These sometimes serve as holy symbols or magical/spiritual talismans for those Orders who use them.
Most Orders also have safeguards concerning their glyphs to prevent non-Order members from posing as members, mostly to ensure the continued good reputations most Orders have painstakingly developed over time; these reputations are key to the continued goals of most Orders.
Members of Orders usually have a lot of inferred privileges and status in the societies they interact with, although these privileges depend on the Order’s focus as well as local customs. Example: One place may donate gold for a healing service and set up the healer (and companions) in luxurious accommodations; another, a goat may be the tithe and the haystack (with or without daughter) the bedding accommodations. Oh, well, when in Windstop…
There are several militant Orders who use the lore and tactics of combat and martial skill, training paladins and monks for service in roles important to the Orders they serve. These roles may include bodyguard service (to either an Order member or another person(s) of interest), security, or warfare (usually in defense of an Order or an Order host). Some militant Orders ally themselves with non-militant Orders to compliment each others focus (like healers and metal smiths).
There are Orders who specialize in magic and wizardry. These Orders do not necessarily have a spiritual affiliation as such, but instead are centers of learning for the magically inclined. These “mage-guilds” have on occasion banded together with each other and with other Orders for a greater cause, but such alliances haven’t happened since the last Wyrm War. Unfortunately, there are currently few of these Orders in existence, due mostly to the misguided efforts of an Order known as the Dark Brethren, whose sphere of influence has exceeded their original boundaries in the Southern Kingdoms.
There are also nonaligned Orders, who have no formal agreements or connections with other Orders or nations, preferring to be neutral in their dealings with the world. Some of these Orders are considered “rogue” by the other Orders, and there have been “unfortunate misunderstandings” in the past. Typically, these institutions are called “universities” or “academies” in the Human Lands; the University of Ansgar is but one example of a nonaligned Order.
Orders also have their secrets, and many have strict codes of silence about what things an Order may have or know about. Most consider it rude to spy on their allies, instead relying on faith and trust to help them in their joint endeavors. This usually keeps most Orders honest in their dealings with each other. (Of course, this might also be a front, and they may be buggering each other in the background, playing “Spy Vs Spy” games for fun and profit.)
Refer to “The List of Orders” for further information.