Again I'd like to thank Tom Harrison, Erik Mona, and many authors of the Living Greyhawk community for the inspiration for my articles on Dimre. I also would like to apologize for the delay in getting out part three, and the next Hero-God warlock patrons as I moved last week. I finally am unpacked enough to start diving back into my articles.
While the Theocracy of Dimre has been able to weather several storms through luck, and force of arms, the High Canon does not let the kingdom grow lax. War is inevitable in its future, and the High Canon does all that he can to prepare his country for it. All citizens receive some form of weapons training every year for two weeks, and every able-bodied citizen serves in a militia for a year once they turn 18. Each citizen has either a bow or spear at home for use when the reserves are called up.
High Canon Winuid is currently making plans for the day the current cold war heats up again. His plans are reactionary, however, and depend on the actions of the larger powers such as Furyondy and the hordes of Iuz acting first. The long term goals of the High Canon are not commonly known. Still, rumors speak of possibly reclaiming the territory lost around the Rift Canyon in 300 CY to the Free Lords from the Bandit Kingdoms. As the story goes, since the Fee Lords that had claimed the land are now gone or scattered by the Iuzians, he could claim them in the name of Dimre without any objects from their neighbors.
Regardless of the theory, if a large scale war against Iuz breaks out once more, Dimre intends to join the fray. High Canon Winuid realizes that the safety of Dimre depends on counterbalances to Iuz. If another war were to erupt and Iuz was successful. In that case, High Canon Winuid knows that their nonaggression pact will be worthless. Iuz will seek his revenge for the previous losses suffered at the hands of the Dimreans. Because of this, High Canon Winuid is prepared to join in the next war against Iuz to ensure Dimre's survival.
Dimre has always been a destination for refugees and followers of the True Path. Still, no one was ready for the flood of refugees that came into Dimre from the Bandit kingdoms and Tenh during the Greyhawk Wars. These refugees were not turned away, but instead, many were rounded up and placed in camps. For an orderly kingdom, Dimre could not have thousands of refugees roaming around, which could cause trouble. These efforts were short-lived as the priests of the theocracy and the militias were soon locked in combat with an Iuzian horde. With no one to stop them, many refugees slipped into cities and towns unaccounted for, while others passed through on their way to the Phostwood.
Before the Iuzian attack, the militias were able to round up a large number of able-bodied types and press them into service at the battle of Schloss Hill. But once the war was over, the High Canon Winuid turned his attention to getting the kingdom back in order. The first step was locating as many of the refugees as possible and sending them to Krostenburg. Those deemed as threats were rounded up and given a choice, leave Dimre or be burned alive. Those who wished to stay had to either accept Pholtus as their only god and become citizens or move to Krostenburg where they must stay so long as they lived in Dimre.
The most unusual and controversial refugees that made their way to Dimre was a large band of hobgoblins that had once been a part of the Horned Society. Priests reminded the militia that first came in contact with them that the guiding light of Pholtus must be offered to everyone. The priest approached the hobgoblins by himself, and much to the surprise of the militiamen watching, he succeeded in swaying them over to joining them and worshiping Pholtus.
The hobgoblins, led by a minor War Chief named Karstalf, we used to an orderly, even strict form of government from their time serving in the Horned Society. Dimre, with its rigged code of laws and guidelines, appealed to them, and the band was given lands along the border as their domain to guard.
Of course, this caused a stir of controversy and unease among the general populace, an unease that was quickly quashed. The priests of the Masak reminded their citizens, sometimes roughly, that all races are the same in the eyes of Pholtus, so long as they accept his guidance. Since the acceptance of the hobgoblins, they have become some of the most loyal and devoted troops in the militias.
Dimre has long had a policy of separating the believers from the non-believers within their kingdom. Followers of the True Path are allowed to live wherever they wish, work whatever job they chose, and own land and property, while non-believers can not. Those who are not believers and enter the kingdom are monitored and forced to live in Krostenburg.
Krostenburg was a melting pot even before Dimre became an independent theocracy. The earls established it as a hub of commerce and trade within the earldom, and the city retained this designation after the province changed to a theocracy. In addition to business and commerce, the processing centers for accepting new converts into the faith were established there. Krostenburg became the only place in Dimre that welcomed visitors from anywhere in the Flanaess.
The Commandments of the Masak are still enforced here, but there are some variations, such as nonbelievers being allowed to mix with believers of the True Path. Weapons beside personal daggers are not allowed to be carried in Krostenburg, but weapons are not confiscated. The worship of other gods is permitted, but not in the open. All ceremonies must be conducted within one of the public shrines provided for the public.
When you enter Dimre, and again when you enter Krostenburg, you are given a list of the laws that must be followed and obeyed along with pamphlets about the glory of Pholtus and the wonders of the True Path. Anyone that breaks these laws is subject to the punishments as outlined in the pages of the Commandments of the Masak. This even includes the Iuzian emissary Quarzknot and his contingent of troops.
Just outside the walls of Krostenburg is a camp where the contingent of Iuzian troops agreed upon in the nonaggression treaty stay. They are not allowed out of their camp, and all of their provisions are provided for them. While his troops are stationed outside of Krostenburg, Emissary Quarzknot, and his sixteen half-ogre body-guards, have rooms in the holiest place in Dimre, the Alabaster halls of the Masak in Falscheit.
The presence of Iuzian troops caused quite an uproar when the general populace of Krostenburg was informed about it. The uproar died quickly after a dozen of the Iuzians were burned alive for break the Commandments of the Masak without retaliation. The Iuzian troops even learned quickly what not to do for fear of the penalties of breaking specific laws.
The Commandments of the Masak
The Masak, as the main temple and center of administration for the theocracy is called, was erected in 350 CY by order of the then High Canon Sagmered. The structure is massive, and simple in design while also doubling as a fortress in Falscheit. In addition to building a new temple, the laws of the True Path were codified into a single tome called, the Commandments of the Masak, and distributed throughout Dimre. The laws and rules of the religion were well known to the priests of the faith, but this was the first time that they were made available to all citizens of Dimre.
The Commandments are firm but surprisingly fair. Most punishments for breaking these laws are fines and short term forced labor for the theocracy. However, some crimes are considered crimes against the state, or treason, which has only one punishment, being burned alive. Below is a list of treasonous crimes within Dimre.
There are exceptions to all the Commandments of the Masak, but these exceptions can only be given by word of a Canon member of the Council of Masak. The Council of Masak is the ruling body of Dimre after the High Canon. An example of a standing exception is regarding the Militia of Dimre having the right to bear arms and use them against anyone in defense of the theocracy.
The Church and its Hierarchy in Dimre
Dimre is a theocracy and ruled by the head of the church of the True Path, the High Canon. Directly below the High Canon is the Council of Masak, a body of nine priests with the rank of Canon. Below them, are the priests that run most of the day to day business of the theocracy, the Rectors and the Curates. Each settlement of more than 50 citizens will have a Curate that lives among them. Larger villages and towns will have a Rector and two to three Curates. Krostenburg has it's own Canon, the Canon of Krostenburg, The city also has two dozen Rectors and fifty Curates under his command. Falscheit being the capital, and the home of the Masak has a constantly fluctuating and a large number of Rectors and Curates.
To become a priest requires one year of indoctrination into the faith. Rectors are chosen from among the Curates after at least four years of service. Canons are elected by the Council of Masak when a position opens and is approved by the High Canon. The position of High Canon is elected by the Council of Masak from among its own members.
Customs of the True Path mirror those customs found in the Theocracy of the Pale, except the dress of the priests who wear contrasting white and black robes as a symbol of their acceptance of all peoples and races so long as they follow the True Path.
While the priests are taught the use of weapons and armor, the bulk of the priests that serve the Masak are acolytes and have little or no ability to cast divine magic. The ability to cast and work divine magic is a requirement to advance to Rector's status.
The military arm of the church is the Templars of Dimre. Members of the order are chosen from the ranks of the Curates that show promises. They are trained for one year, at which time they undergo a series of tests that they must pass to be taken into the order. Those who do not pass return to being a Curate of the faith. Members of the order are not required to be able to work divine magic. The order generally has anywhere from one to two hundred members, but there is no set number that the order is required to have.
Again I'd like to thank Tom Harrison, Erik Mona, and many authors of the Living Greyhawk community for the inspiration for my articles on Dimre.
Now a full-fledged theocracy, Dimre under the direction of Canon Sagmered went about strengthening itself internally and externally. The first order of business being the reorganizing of the Militias. Since it's founding as an Earldom Dimre has prided itself on its militias. The militias, situated in a chaotic land full of bandits, were initially formed to protect the silver mines in the Rift Canyon. As the then province grew and villages turned into towns and a few small cities, protection of the populace became an issue. With a large percentage of the growing population being followers of Pholtus, many of the troops that were recruited into the militias were used to a lifestyle of laws and order. Many of the visiting dignitaries from Rel Mord would often remark how orderly and disciplined the Militias were.
With Dimre changing from being a province of a vast kingdom to an independent theocracy, there was some culling of the officer core. Fortunately, those officers stripped of their rank, and commissions were not the field commanders. A new code of ethics was introduced, and those that felt they could not adhere to the new standers could leave without incident. The regime change did not affect the rank and file much, which was vital in keeping out the bandits and later in its war against Iuz.
As it became apparent that Nyrond had no intention of retaliating, Canon Sagmered shifted his focus to the kingdom's western borders and stopping the hemorrhaging of territory to the Free Lords of the Bandit Kingdoms. Over the past fifty years, the province had lost nearly two-thirds of its land to these lords. However, the Free Lords seemed far less interested in Dimre after gaining the silver mines in the Rift Canyon. While the bandits were no longer interested in acquiring and holding territory, they were raiding into Dimre with alarming frequency. Canon Sagmered's first action was to deploy the church's clerics of the True Path with the troops.
While Dimre had been a destination for all Pholtus worshipers that had been excommunicated from the main church in the Theocracy of the Pale, it had also been a destination for excommunicated priests. The Alabaster halls of Masak, the main temple of the True Path in Falsheit, was full of priests. Many of these priests were assigned to mundane tasks throughout the theocracy, and most settlements had a local cleric. Many of these clerics were now attached to the militia, bolstering them with their divine magic.
With this added firepower at their disposal, the militias pushed back against the bandit raiders, smashing them when they dared to enter their lands. Canon Sagmered did not try to regain the lost territory, most notably of the unwanted attention it would bring. Instead, Sagmered started a building project erecting one hundred fortresses. These ranged from small stone watchtowers to small castles. These new forts dotted the theocracy's western border.
The most significant deterrent for bandits was the new practice of burning alive all bandits caught venturing into Dimre. These unfortunate souls were taken to the border, where all but one would be bound within large wooded cages. These cages were then set ablaze, and the one bandit selected at random to watch was later released to go back to tell the tale.
Adding to the defenders of Dimre, Canon Sagmered formed the order of the Templars of Dimre, a holy order of knights whose sole purpose was the protection of the Kingdom from all foes. These Templars were given free rein over the kingdom having to answer only to the priest of the theocracy. The Templars of Dimre quickly became an elite order, with their members being heavily vetted by their Order and the priests of the theocracy. To become a member, one first had to find a sponsor among the clergy, then they would have to undergo the "Trials of the Order." If they were able to pass the trials, then they would be sworn in as a Templar.
Because of Canon Sagmered's commitment to a robust military force infused with priests the True Path, the raiding eventually stopped. The last foray of any note into Dimre not only found themselves repulsed out of the kingdom, but the fleeing bandits have tracked back to their lord's fortress. Where it was sacked and raised to the ground, and all the captives burned alive.
583 CY, The Iuz Invasion
When the forces of Iuz invaded the Bandit Kingdoms, many of the Free Lords were unprepared. Even those lords that fielded sizable bandit armies found their undisciplined men lacked the proper training to repel such an enemy. That is until they came to the Theocracy of Dimre.
For its entire existence, the small nation had lived with the threat of invasion. There was the Free Lords, who quickly learned the futility of raiding their lands. However, there was still the constant threat of either Nyrond or the Theocracy of the Pale invading to conquer them. The threat from the Pale was far more severe than that of Nurond, as the Theocracy of the Pale loathes Dimre. It is a heretical state in their eyes and should be wiped off the face of Oerth. The Pale regularly sends their own templars to Dimre to stir up trouble and dissension. However, none of them have ever succeeded or returned from such a mission. It is now merely a tool used for getting rid of those they see as troublesome within their own orders.
Should the Theocracy of the Pale ever consider invading, it would most likely force Nyrond's hand. Nyrond would invade to deny them as much territory as possible. Nyrond has never officially recognized Dimre as a kingdom and still considers it a breakaway province. Thus, much effort and expense are put into maintaining a well-trained and sizable militia in Dimre.
The first battle between Iuzian forces and those of the Theocracy of Dimre was a complete route of the Iuzians. The horde was not at full strength as it was spread out with many of their ranks pillaging the countryside. Many believed that the undisciplined horde that attacked had grown sloppy and accustomed to easy victories in the Bandit Kingdoms. The militia of Dimre was well prepared, having been informed of what to expect by the stream of refugees flooding in ahead of the horde. After the victory, Dimre did not pursue the horde giving it time to reorganize.
Three more engagements followed two minor, and one massive battle. The two smaller engagements were probing attacks as the horde tried to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Dimrean forces. Both attacks were thoroughly smashed, giving the Iuzian generals little information. The horde leader knew that the time was now or never as Iuz had personally taken an interest in what was happening with his armies and this small nation in the corner of the Bandit Kingdoms. Wishing to keep his head intact, the general drove the horde forward with a straightforward goal; kill the Dimrean army mustering around Fort Edge.
The Battle of Schloss Hill, 585 CY
Before the battle of Schloss Hill, the refugees flooding into Dimre ahead of the Iuzians were collected into camps. Then the Dimreans went through separating out the known bandits and warriors and sent them to Fort Arnsten. These men and women were pressed into loose skirmisher units lead by a Dimre militiaman. Those that refused to comply with these demands were placed into cage wagons and taken away. Those that complied were given a one-week crash course in tactics then shipped out to the Dimre militias.
These new skirmishers, along with the bulk of Dimre's militia, was currently stationed at Fort Edge where the last of the Rift Barrens melted away into the rocky plains of Dimre. From this vantage point, atop Schloss Hill, they could see for leagues in every direction. The system of roads leading to and from Fort Edge allowed for the militia's rapid deployment to other locations in the theocracy. Fortunately, they did not have to chase down the Iuzians as the horde was coming straight at them for a pitched battle. Despite their earlier defeats the evil humanoids and demons of the horde still felt confident that they could win through their advantage in numbers and ferocity.
As the horde came into view, the wagons of the washed-out bandits from the training at Fort Arnsten were driven out and placed in a line awaiting the horde, then they were set ablaze. The scene was shocking to the horde, but only slightly as something new they had not seen before. The horde simply began bypassing the wagons that had become funeral pyres. After the burning wagons were surrounded by the advancing horde, a ritual magic spell activated, and the wagons erupted in massive explosions. When the smoke cleared, left behind were colossal fire elementals. These elementals then began mindlessly tearing through the ranks of the horde. This paused the horde within range of the Dimre priests who began unleashing a barrage of offensive magic upon the evil humanoids and demons.
Eventually, the elementals were all destroyed, and the horde came on in a fervor. The Dimre forces remained in their defensive embankments waiting for the onslaught, which crashed against the first line of defenses and quickly overcame them. The militiamen had anticipated this and withdrew to a second line of defenses, and then a third. With each withdrawal, the defensive perimeter around Fort Edge grew tighter and more easily defended. At the third line of defense, the enemy was checked and had been whittled down enough that the mounted Templars of Dimre were finally released from their positions on the far side of Schloss Hill to slam into the flanks of the horde. The templars charged through with lances leveled, to reform and prepare for another pass. The Templars took heavy losses doing this and managed only two passes before withdrawing back to Fort Edge.
After the first three engagements against Iuzian forces, the theocracy knew what to expect and knew that the horde's true might was the summoned demons fighting alongside the evil humanoids. To counter this, the priests had prepared spells of banishment to try and send the more powerful demons back to the Abyss. Knowing that they would not have enough spells to deal with all the demons, so the priests formed squads of elite archers. These archers were equipped with blessed and magically imbued bows and arrows to ensure that they could damage the demons. These squads were then given orders to rove the lines and target and take out the demons and to leave the evil humanoids for the infantry. Many of the archers used in this tactic were drawn from the bandits trained at Fort Arnsten.
At the start of the battle, Dimre had been outnumbered nearly ten to one, but by the time the horde had made it to the third line of defense, they had destroyed almost half of them. With nearly all of their demonic support gone, the horde broke ranks and began fleeing. Unlike in previous engagements, the Dimre forces gave chase. This time, under the Guidance of High Canon Szek Winuid, who took part in the battle, they harassed the forces into the Rift Barrens, destroying nearly the entire horde.
Victory and Aftermath
The victory at the Battle of Schloss Hill was decisive but costly. The forces of Dimre had lost a quarter of their militia killed and another quarter wounded. Fortunately, not long after the battle, the Crook of Rao was used in the ceremony called the "Striking of the Crook," resulting in the "Flight of Fiends," which banished most of the demons from the Flanaess. With their demons gone, Iuz did not have the manpower to attempt another assault on such a small and insignificant part of the Bandit Kingdoms. Begrudgingly the Great Old One sued for peace, which was accepted and a nonaggression pact signed.
As part of the treaty's stipulations, Iuz was allowed a representative diplomat to stay in Dimre. Emissary Quarzknot was given an Embassy in Krostenburg along with a barracks for his small detachment of Iuzian troops. Many Dimrean citizens were upset with this, but the unease quickly died down as it became apparent the Iuzians, while in their lands, were forced to comply with their laws. After a handful of Quarzknots detachment were burned alive for breaking those laws.
With four victories under their belts, and the bandit kingdoms under Iuz's dominion, a small but steady flow of refugees, and those interested in defying Iuz, came to bolster the kingdom. Krostenburg has grown in size and is now larger than Falscheit. Krostenburg, the trade city of Dimre, is now a diverse place with people from Nyrond, Urnst, the Bandit kingdoms, Furyondy, and even the Theocracy of the Pale being found there. From this influx of people, the militia, and the priesthood, have replenished their loses from the Battle of Schloss Hill. Proving once again that Dimre is favored in war.
The Ebongleam, 4th book of the holy text of The Blinding Light (Tomes of Law)
In the religion of Pholtus, several sacred texts that are venerated by its followers. These books outline the history and teachings of the faith. They also describe the strict code of laws that must be followed and adhered to. However, these books were not all the tomes penned in the days the Oeridians made their migrations across the Flaneass. One of these tomes was later banned and declared heretical in nature. Today it is called the Tome of the Ebongleam. Among the devotees of the so-called Cult of Ebongleam, it is known as the True book of Law, and its followers refer to themselves as the Followers of the True Path.
To understand the Cult of the Ebongleam, and why it became hated, we need to look into the past when the Oeridians left their ancestral lands in the west and heading east. The tribes of the Oeridians that began their exodus were more akin to what we see today in the Nomads of the northwest and the Paynims of the dry steppe. As they moved east, however, they encountered not only the nature-loving Flan peoples but also the remnants of the great prehistory Flan civilizations. During this migration, the Oeridians began to refine their own culture, and the laws of their gods began to move from a spoken and memorized religon to one codified in texts and tomes. The teachings of Pholtus were one of these gods who's teaching the priests began writing down. As the god's laws took form on the page, the sects within the worship of this god began to push for their own interpretations.
Primary among the teachings of Pholtus is that to ensure order, the people must adhere to a strict code of laws. Without these laws, chaos will drive all that is achieved eventually into dust. While this principle is paramount in all forms of Pholtus worship, the texts considered to be those worthy of protection became a key topic of debate. As the Oeridians traveled across the lands of the Flanaess, they were not peaceful. In fact, the Oeridinas became increasingly warlike. They did not seek to live in harmony with the peoples already living in the lands they moved into; they conquered them. This warlike attitude was not the sole domain of the leaders and warriors. They looked toward their priest for aid and validation from their gods, and the church of Pholtus responded.
The doctrine of Pholtus, which used to be about the need for unbiased and stern laws applied to everyone who lived on Oerth, not just the Oeridians changed. Definitions of those that were of the light began to be written into the scriptures. The Oeridians became the champions of light, bringing civilization to savages. Those who did not believe in order become those that believed in chaos and dwelled in the darkness. This change in the philosophy caused a schism within the religion and some of the tomes and doctrine that had been a part of the religion since pre-cataclysm times became heretical and outlawed. The Fourth book of law thusly was deemed the Ebongleam and banned. The true believers of the faith's original doctrines were driven underground.
What does the Ebongleam Actually Say
According to the Prelate of the Theocracy of the Pale, the 4th book of law, now called the Ebongleam, fools followers into opening their hearts to perverse practices. They say that they try to align themselves with demons and devils to enforce their will. Turning away from the Blinding Light of Pholtus and embracing the darkness of evil instead. They are the ones who coined the phrase that is now attributed to the cult, "To know the value of the light, one must walk first in darkness." This is not a saying ever used amongst the Followers of the Truth Path as those that believe in the 4th book of law call themselves.
What the 4th book of law actually says and outlines is this; there is no good or evil in the world, only order and chaos. To ensure that chaos does not triumph and destroy everything, an orderly must prevail. And for an orderly world to prevail, there must be law. In the teachings of the True Path, all creatures are equal under the eyes of Pholtus and his laws. Orcs, goblins, dragons, Flan, Suel, Baklunish, and any intelligent being have the same rights under the True Faiths doctrine.
Because of this philosophy, priests of the True Path embrace light and darkness in equal measures because from the black and the white, you get the gray that is the world. Priests know Light and fires spells as well as darkness and cold spells.
The Bastion of the Faith
In all of the Flanaess there is one land that follows all the Books of Law from Pholtus, the Theocracy of Dimre in the Bandit Kingdoms. Followers of the True Path have dominated the Pholtus worship in this former Nyrond province since 342 CY, and openly declared themselves an independent Theocracy of Dimre in 350 CY. Dimre is considered a heretical society by the Prelates of the Theocracy of the Pale, who has openly tried to undermine them since then.