Government and Religion
The Arch-Bishopric of Imardin and the Church of the Goddess are often thought of as separate entities, but in reality the two terms refer to exactly the same thing. Imardin was once a territory of the Old Serran Kingdom, its northwestern-most region and what was originally intended to be its foothold in Forelle. When the religious uprising that resulted in its independence occurred, the region kept its former name, and was recognized by outsiders as a nation ruled by the Church. However, in truth the nation is the Church, as there is no separate governing body of Imardin itself – the only power is the Clergy. As belief and worship of the sole Goddess spreads, either through might or mission, so too does the territory of the Arch-bishopric.
The Clergy – This is the name for the ruling class of the Church of the Goddess, people from all walks of life who have proven their faith and devotion to the Goddess and her teachings. It is arranged in a hierarchy, beginning with the Arch-bishop at the top, followed by the Bishops, and then the everyday Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters.
Arch-Bishop – The head of the Church, and sole authority over all of the other Bishops. It is usually a man, though women have also served in the past as well. Functionally the Arch-Bishop is similar to an absolute monarch, though the title is not passed on genetically. They are chosen from among the other Bishops on the death or resignation of the previous one, with the entire group traveling to the Cathedral of Elys to vote on who the next Arch-Bishop should be.
In addition to serving as the head of the Church, the Arch-Bishop is also Bishop of Aerlynn, directly overseeing the capital’s churches and cathedrals, as well as serving all of the other duties a regional Bishop might hold.
Bishop – Bishop is the title given to anyone holding a great position of power in the Arch-Bishopric, and thus there is no set of duties that all of them share. Some Bishops are governors of regions, for example each island conquered in Forelle has a single Bishop that presides as the ultimate authority for that region. Others are top ranking military commanders, and generally any promotion to the rank of Admiral coincides with being appointed a Bishop as well. Others obtain their rank in other ways, some perhaps mixing both aspects already mentioned, some using neither. The main thing uniting all Bishops is that they are all viewed with the utmost respect by the citizens of Imardin, and they are all allowed one vote from amongst their ranks for the next Arch-Bishop, when the previous one leaves their post.
Mothers & Fathers – Like the Bishops, Mothers and Fathers can come from all walks of life. These titles are used much less frequently in everyday speech, and indeed are barely thought about in the day to day life of an Imardanian, but nonetheless the title commands respect.
Generally, those granted this rank are more senior members of a local Church, or are politicians or civil servants of some renown. They are seen as mentors and role models, people to be looked up to by the general public and other lesser members of the clergy, people who may one day be Bishops. Military officers and war heroes are often typically awarded the rank of Mother or Father, and the title has no bearing on the recipient’s age.
Brothers & Sisters – Anyone not of the higher ranks in the clergy is merely called by one of these, based on gender. It is less an actual rank as just a catch-all title appended to those choosing to serve the nation rather than work for a private business, or for themselves. Likewise, those who bear the title could be of vastly different importance; a fresh recruit in the navy and a seasoned veteran alike could both be Brothers, despite one clearly being of higher rank in actuality.
Bishoprics – Imardin is currently divided into many administrative regions, which are known as bishoprics. Each island it captures typically has a presiding Bishop to oversee the island as a whole, and the mainland is divided into a few different administrative bishoprics as well. The Bishopric of Aerlynn is the seat of power for the nation and the church, and other than that the most influential is the Bishopric of Ellisport.
Imardin society can be divided into three broad categories: peasants, aristocrats, and the clergy. Officialy, the nation has no formal nobility like Serran or Tulrisse, instead stressing that everyone is inherently equal. In practice this is less true, though things are generally more equal than the caste systems found elsewhere.
Members of the clergy are, in theory, the most prestigious class, though this typically only extends to those in the higher echelon. Bishops, Mothers, and Fathers are all generally regarded more highly than any other members of society, and often benefit from their positions as a result.
Below the clergy are aristocrats, the wealthy of Imardin society. Aristocratic families, old money in the nation, like to fancy themselves as de facto nobility, though the Church often undermines this. While officially no different from peasants, the vast wealth some aristocrats possess make them even more influential than their more devout counterparts. Some are even wealthy enough to rival the influence of their local Bishop, though the Church would never openly admit to being so weak as to allow a civilian to hold sway over them.
All others are regarded as peasants, from the beggars in the street to the self-made businessman, to the artisan, to the mercenary. There is no strict cut-off point separating a well-off peasant from the aristocrat, as the distinction is more based on one’s connections and secular influence than actual wealth.
Lake al-Farsa – one of the few parts of Imardin to retain its original, Serran name. This is the largest lake in the Arch-Bishopric, a beautiful and serene body of water surrounded by hilly forests and pristine beaches. All of the wealthiest members of Imardanian society have homes somewhere along its shores, taking after Arch-Bishop Michel II of the Church of the Goddess, who declared that no other place but its shores would be fitting for the Grand Cathedral. The four major cities built on the lake are some of the most beautiful in the world, and are home to various water sports that the Imardanian aristocracy partake in for fun.
The River Elys – This major river, the southernmost of the major rivers in Imardin, empties into the Bay of Elys at Ellisport. All three were named after the prophet who was responsible for the founding of the Church of the Goddess after her death, by her son the first Arch-Bishop. The river forms from many tributaries stemming from the southernmost portions of the Dwarven mountains in the region, and passes primarily through forest areas. It is home to many rapids and is overall not easily traversable, making past attempts to settle more inland along its banks meet with failure.
Vantonne Gorge –
Sennioux Bay –