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Spheres and Immortals

by Frederick Weining

There has been some discussion of the relationship of Immortals to clerics, or priests in AD&D parlance, and the spells and other abilities the Immortals would bestow on them. There seems to be a presumption that the answer to this is to re-write Immortals in the terms of the gods of other AD&D settings. They would then have individual priesthoods, and grant spells from the same contrived spell groups just as these other beings do. I think a better answer for Mystaran clerics is to have their priestly orders organized around a veneration of the Essential Spheres of Power: Thought, Time, Matter, Energy, and Entropy.

The Immortal hierarchies are arranged along these divisions, so the clergy they inspire should be likewise arranged. This would also help retain the distinction between gods and Immortals. Immortals in this view would remain exalted beings, something like Saints or Angels, but not as powerful or distant as deities. The Immortal's patronage of mortal characters would continue, as long as it promotes the interest of the Immortal's chosen Sphere. Such patronage need not be limited to clerics, of course; some Immortals may even favour other classes.

Clerics would gain their standard abilities from the Sphere of Power they honour, and be subject to a church hierarchy that is not focussed on only one Immortal, or even one alignment. This would also explain the existence of a broad roster of "basic" spells that are available to all clerics. Each Church of Power (or Essence) would offer its clerics access to the same basic spells and abilities, but would differ in their preferences of how these powers are utilized. Clerics of Energy, for instance, could be expected to be more aggressive in combat and spell-casting while those of Thought would tend to be more philosophical in their attitudes.

The Churches of Essence might also follow broad alignment trends. Energy has traditionally been associated with Chaos, so Chaotic clerics (whether good, neutral or evil) could receive a modest experience point bonus in the Church of Energy. This does not exclude clerics (or Immortals) of other alignments, but will tend to encourage the traditional alignment trends. This pattern would follow with the other Spheres. Time would be associated with Neutrality, and Matter associated with Law. Under AD&D rules, there is also a Good and Evil alignment axis, and the other Spheres can be included here. Entropy would favour Evil, and Thought (somewhat by default) would favour Good.

Specialty priesthoods can exist outside these parameters, and some do. The Druidic hierarchies are most notable in this regard. They view all the Essential Powers as necessary, and do not revere one above the others. There may be other "mystical" religions that hold to a similar philosophy, or some national or "political" churches that view all Powers as useful to varying degrees. The Spheres of Power that permeate Mystara make it more magical than other worlds, and of necessity its religions will reflect this nature. The advantage to DM's of Mystaran campaigns is that this provides an opportunity to retain the solid foundation both D&D and AD&D rules share, while the presence of Immortals under these broad divisions allows for personalization within the Spheres of Power.