Brotherhood of the World Forge
Brothers of the World Forge
This is the largest dwarf religious sect and the official state religion of the chief strongholds of Curasur (Zurnost’Khel and Zurilum’Khel). They worship Xen’Teler as a creator who made Curabel as a gift for the dwarves to cultivate and share with like-minded races and creatures. They have a very strong presence on the dwarf high councils and also act as lore-keepers (both of history and tradecraft).
All dwarfs in Curabel venerate Xen’Teler (The Far-Seer) as creator of the island chain – and the entire world of Meidia. They say that the islands formed when drops of molten ore fell from Xen’Teler’s celestial forge into the ocean. Dwarfs also practice an informal type of ancestor worship, though, alongside their more formal belief system.
The Wardens of the Rock are an order within the Brothers of the World Forge church that feels it has a special mission to protect Curabel – and specifically the dwarf Khels – from invaders. Mainstream wardens interpret this mission as only applying to imperial agents, while more extreme splinter-cells include all non-natives/non-dwarves in their list of enemies. Their influence is strongest in the fortress of Zurilum’Khel.
The mainstream Brotherhood tradition believes that Xen’Teler is the deity responsible for giving form to the world of Meidia and all the creatures that inhabit it, crafting everything in his celestial forge. Whether he worked alone or in concert with others is a point of some theological debate, although the more ecumenical approach implies that other deities helped with the designs that Xen’Teler then implemented using the inchoate matter of the prime material plane as his ore. All Brotherhood worshippers agree, though, that dwarves were his personal attempt to create a race of crafters in his own image, a people who would have a special connection to (and mastery of) the matter he shaped.
At first, however, Xen’Teler could not decide where his chosen people should be placed within Meidia; it needed to be somewhere that would complement their nature as craftsmen while providing them with a place of refuge and power. While lost in thought on this matter, several drops of molten ore fell from his forge into the ocean of Meidia, creating a string of misshapen islands that marred the perfection of the waters. When Xen’Teler noted this, he reached down to correct this flaw – staying his hand only at the last moment when struck with a vision of a future in which his favored people shaped these imperfections into a string of flawless jewels stretched across Meidia’s ocean. Instead of destroying these islands he gave them to the dwarfs as a gift. He charged them with the protection and improvement of the islands and then rested now that his great work was complete.
The modern Brotherhood interprets the responsibilities laid down by Xen’Teler on the dwarfs as follows:
- Each dwarf must in some way contribute to the “perfecting” of Curabel, either by crafting new works of beauty or destroying imperfections (i.e., deviations from Xen’Teler’s great plan such as the monstrous and evil)
- Each dwarf has a special responsibility to aid and protect his fellow dwarf (since the completion of their task depends on the continuation and strength of the species)
- Each dwarf must adhere to the social strictures of their society at all times; they codify the virtues that will enable the completion of their great task. Repeated failures pollute the social body and that can only be corrected by expelling those whose stubborn imperfections endanger the dwarfs’ sacred work.
- The other civilized races inhabiting Curabel are part of Xen’Teler grand design and must be protected, nurtured, and gently shaped to bring about the completion of the great task.
Beyond those tenets, members of the Brotherhood also tend to believe that Xen’Teler honors those whose lives further the great task by creating a perfected copy of them in his celestial paradise upon death; these revered ancestors can intercede with Xen’Teler or be petitioned for guidance (being privy now to Xen’Teler’s vision of the perfected islands).
Hierarchy / Structure
The Brotherhood of the World Forge has a strict hierarchical (and patriarchal) structure, relaxed only outside the bounds of Dwarf Khels where all members are considered to be acting as missionaries who require more than the usual amount of autonomy. In most Khels, the top church positions are awarded based on hereditary much like the civil governance – and often the same individuals will hold both civil and ecclesiastical titles. The highest ranked priests are also the chief lore-keepers and are responsible for deciding which clans are given access to (and/or monopoly of) the most precious tradecraft secrets. Obedience to superiors is expected in all circumstances, and even those outside the Khels understand that abusing their autonomy on this point will result in unpleasant repercussions (up to and including exile) at some point in the future.
Positions in the hierarchy of every Community House include: Father, Revered Uncle, First Brother, Second Brother, etc.
Positions in the hierarchy of an entire Khel’s church include: Patriarch, Blessed Grandfather, Fathers, etc.
Customs / Ceremonies
There are several ceremonies commonly conducted by clerics in the Brotherhood:
- Consecration of homes, business places, mines, etc. for dwarfs
- Blessing (and sometimes enchantment) of tools, raw materials
- Recording any work done towards the great perfection in the Brotherhood’s rolls (the books kept by the lore-master at each community house; the contents are eventually copied into the great rolls at Zurnost’Khel); traveling clerics tend to keep their own journals to aid in this task.
- Donation of any new wisdom/tradecraft/history either invented or uncovered to the Brotherhood’s archives (preferably the original and only copy so that the lore-keepers can make sure the new knowledge is only used to further the great task)
The chief symbol is the Great Anvil (used by Xen’Teler in the celestial forge to craft the world). Every Brotherhood community house has an altar in the shape of the anvil and many (dwarf) homes will have a small icon in its shape. Xen’Teler’s hammer is another important symbol, often seen in conjunction with (or in place of) the anvil.
Slightly less important is the Silver Throne, the seat in which Xen’Teler reposes waiting for the final perfection of the world and fulfillment of his grand design; from this seat he can see the fates of all things in the material world. This is also a popular decorative element in the buildings and homes of dwarfs, often in the form of the constellation that bears the same name. Notably, that constellation contains the only constant (i.e., unmoving) star in the firmament; this star is called the Eye of Xen’Teler.