Religious orders are formed when clergy get together for intense focus of a particular aspect of their faith. Think of an order as an elite club within a religion or maybe as a private faction within the church. But keep in mind that the order itself is not a church—lay people do not attend services there. Instead, the order exists to serve the religion, not its adherents.
Religious orders focus on a single, particular aspect of their immortal patron, the teachings of an historically significant prophet or priest, or solving a specific problem the church faces (e.g., recovering the holy lands from the infidel or uniting various factions within the faith to a single orthodoxy).
This focus is “reserved” for the clergy. This doesn’t necessarily mean the order is evil or has something to hide—it just means that its membership deals with (or thinks it deals with) some aspect of the religion that’s too heavy/esoteric/unimportant for the average worshiper to be concerned with. It could be super-secret or completely public, aligned with the parent religion or heretical, it could be mainstream or cult-like (meaning that its rites differ from those of the parent church and that it recruits its own followers, perhaps from outside the ranks of existing adherents).
Roll once for Type and Clergy/Guard population; then once each for Dedication, Focus, Alignment, and Disposition:
ROLL TYPE CLERGY/GUARDS* DEDICATION FOCUS ALIGN. DISP.†
1 Holy Site 1d6-5/1d4-3 Saint Healing Lawful S-A-M
2 Hermitage 1d6-3/1d4-2 Martyr Divination Neutral S-A-C
3 Shrine 1d6/1d4 Hero Ancient Text Neutral S-H-M
4 Mausoleum 1d6/1d4 Angel Hedonism Neutral S-H-C
5 Temple 2d6/2d4 Demon/Devil Technology Chaotic P-A-M
6 Priory** 3d6/2d4 Demigod Naturalism Chaotic P-A-C
7 Abbey** 4d6/3d4 Lesser God Dark Secrets - P-H-M
8 Mil. Order‡ 2d6/10d4 Greater God Jihad - P-H-C
9 Chantry 5d6/5d4 - Dimensions - -
10 Glebe§ 6d6/6d4 - Immortality - -
* Ranking cleric is (d6: 1-3 man; 4-6 woman (roll 2d8 for level)); guards are
0-level men-at-arms (plus 1 officer per 8 guards)
** For our purposes, these orders house (d6: 1-4 monks; 5-6 nuns)
† Indicates exposure ([S]ecret or [P]ublic), relationship with parent church
([A]ligned or [H]eretical), and status ([M]ainstream or [C]ult)
‡ Housed in (d8: 1-3 Fortified Manse; 4-5 Tower; 6-7 Keep; 8 Castle)
§ Total population 5d6x10
There are a two ways to use this table: First is as-is, meaning that when you want more detail about a randomly generated religious order, make some rolls and see what you get—match the results as best you can to whatever pantheons, faiths, and religions are already defined in the setting.
But you can also use the results in reverse, essentially as a high-level “religion-generator” either for new immortals or for new aspects of existing deities. Like if you roll up a fighting order dedicated to a lesser god whose focus is ancient texts, there are a couple ways to spin it: is this a new lesser god or perhaps an aspect of an existing god? Do the fighters protect ancient knowledge, or do they sally forth to reclaim it? If the lesser god is lawful, then maybe the knowledge is world-saving; if the god is chaotic, then the knowledge probably includes all sorts of terrible things. As with any random table, take the results and roll them around to create something your busy brain might not have come up with on its own.
Minocra Religious Orders
Using the table above, here’s what I came up with for Minocra’s two religious orders (my results are shown to show you what I was working with).
Hex #1117: Tholdir’s Manse (11 clergy; garrison: 22 warriors) (What I rolled: neutral fighting order; dedicated to a martyr, naturalism, S-H-M)
This secret fighting order is dedicated to the martyr Tholdir, an eastern general who fomented rebellion against the Gods of the Spires by advocating a return to nature and animism. The order, led by Kamocek (Clr 10), has good relations with the local Usabir clans, whose worship of animal totems fit in well with Tholdir’s teachings. Priests of the Spire Gods have sent assassins to Minocra to root out Kamocek and return with his head, but they’ve not yet located the Manse, getting only as far as Alaha.
Hex #2410: Graxis (9 clergy; garrison: 6 guards) (What I rolled: chaotic temple; dedicated to a demigod, technology, P-H-C)
Graxis is an ancient demigod rumoured to dwell in (or beneath) the marshes to the north-west; the cult here has dedicated a temple to his service in the hopes of learning the secrets of the “New Science.” The cult’s leader, known only as The Preceptor (Clr 6), seeks to swell the temple’s ranks, as forays into the marsh for clues are dangerous and costly; he’s tapped the local goblin tribes for fodder, but he needs more reliable servants.
Slowly but surely, Minocra takes shape with the help of random generators. This one, perhaps, requires more GM input than the previous settlement and fortress tables, but as an idea starter, I think it helps.
Again, your feedback is helpful—is this useful, and what’s missing?