The Church of Ram-Manu

The Church of Ram-Manu is now all but destroyed thanks to the actions of Gil-Geamesq the God-King. Fifty years ago it was one of the most ancient and popular institutions in Unther, this made it a target for Gil-Geamesq and his Church of the Sky Father; his persecution of all other religions in Unther extended to the Church of Ram-Manu at the turn of the century and gradually weakened it until 1345 DR when it was destroyed in a series of extremely violent clashes.

 

History

Like the Church of Ish-Tarri, the Church of Ram-Manu is not native to Unther, it was originally centred in Akanu along with the rest of the Akanic pantheon.

Following the merging of the Akanic and Untheric pantheon in the centuries after the Orcgate Wars, most of the Akanic deities and their churches went with Gil-Geamesq to Unther. Ram-Manu remained in Akanu, content to watch (rule) over Akanu and its people while Gil-Geamesq played God-King of Unther and largely ignored his former homeland (although in truth Ram-Manu was unwilling to move due to psychological trauma he had sustained, and he did not wish any conflict with the then current godking of storms in Unther; Ass-Uraqn)

Eventually opinion in Akanu turned against the godkings due to Gil-Geamesq’s misrule and high taxation. Ram-Manu and his clergy found the local populace became increasingly hostile to their presence and were forced to leave. After a few years of planning and some diplomatic meetings with the God-King himself, Ram-Manu’s clergy seized the temples of Ass-Uraqn during the night in a single day on the 13th Mirtul 108 DR.

Gil-Geamesq withdrew his support of Ass-Uraqn’s church and Ram-Manu became the new Untheric god of war and storms, a position he has held ever since.

Gil-Geamesq began to persecute the other religions of Unther, first the native godkings and churches of the Untheric pantheon, and then later those of the Akanic pantheon that moved to Unther with him. Ish-Tarri and Ram-Manu were the most popular of the godkings and churches and so they survived into the present century relatively unscathed by Gil-Geamesq’s paranoia and persecution.

Beginning in 1328 DR, Gil-Geamesq and his administration began restricting the activities of the Church of Ram-Manu. Ram-Manu himself moved into the Ziggurat of Eternal Victory in an attempt to assure the God-King of his loyalty, but to no avail. The persecution culminated in a month of extreme violence in 1345 DR when the senior clergy of the Church of Ram-Manu were accused of worshipping TiaMa’at and ordered to present themselves to Gil-Geamesq and the authorities for judgement.

Almost unanimously the senior ensi of Ram-Manu chose to resist, and in most cases were joined by the more junior ensi. The blood of nearly 1000 mulan soaked the streets of the towns and cities of Unther as the ensi of Ram-Manu fought the ensi and masate of Gil-Geamesq. In the end almost the entire membership of the Church of Ram-Manu were slaughtered or missing and for almost a decade the shrines of Ram-Manu lay unmanned (the temples were almost all demolished).

Today the Church of Ram-Manu is seemingly rising from the ashes. It was never officially declared an illegal religion by Gil-Geamesq, and Ram-Manu himself is still alive and often seen at Gil-Geamesq’s side during important events at the Victor’s Mercy (arena). New ensi of Ram-Manu have been seen attending to shrines around the Napi’Ther Eqlu and the Storm of Vibrant Rains is now open again to those wishing to pay homage to the God of Storms. The new ensi claim to be priests of Ram-Manu that lived in Azun on the Unther side of Lake Azulduth, in reality however they are priests of Anhur originally from Buldamar in Mulhorand.

 

Organisation

Headquarters: Kaoll, the Storm of Vibrant Rains

Members: 32 (formerly 387 ensi all of whom are slain or missing)

Hierarchy: None (formerly Strict)

Leader: Ram-Manu is the titular head of the church, however in reality Ram-Manu has had no input into the running of the church for at least a decade, and showed little interest long before that time. Until the events of 1345 DR the most senior ensi in the Church of Ram-Manu was Tahaen Ram-Amazzed who disappeared during what can only be described as a battle outside the gates of Messemprar.

Religion: Anhur (formerly Ram-Manu)

Secrecy: Medium. (formerly none). The priests of Ram-Manu from Buldamar never travel in groups, deliberately know little about their colleagues’ whereabouts and current identities, and provide only simple and vague answers to questions about their faith. They appear to all outward appearances as novices of the church and act accordingly. In reality they all possess the most disciplined minds and are entirely aware of the deception they must play if ever they meet ensi of Gil-Geamesq.

Symbol: Lightning bolt through a storm cloud

The Church of Ram-Manu used to have a strict military hierarchy that was actually entwined within the hierarchy of the Gurmasate of Unther. The ranks of the church were synonymous with military ranks as well, although not all the senior ranks of the Gurmasate were filled by the ensi of Ram-Manu, and the most senior positions were often held by those nobles favoured by Gil-Geamesq.

In descending order, the ranks of the Church of Ram-Manu were: Tahaen (General or Warlord), Sutirasi (Commander), Rafamasate (Sergeant), Imasate (Auxiliary), Eedmasate (Corporal), Masate (Soldier), Gibim (Cadet). Those ensi that held a position within the church but not a corresponding position within the Gurmasate of Unther prefixed their church rank with an Om (1st) and their army rank with an Ist (2nd), those without a rank in the army had no such prefix.

The ensi of Ram-Manu were an integral part of the Gurmasate but were only required to be on active duty for 3 months of the year, with ensi rotating between the four Esba’Tahar (Battalions), the rest of the time they were stationed at one of the shrines or temples to Ram-Manu.

The priests of Anhur have established no formal hierarchy (making them more difficult to track), they each answer only to themselves, wandering Unther preaching the new teachings (those more in line with the Church of Anhur).

 

Dogma / Motivations / Goals

The Church of Ram-Manu was charged with the defence of Unther and the command of its armies (although in reality only one of the four Tahaen (generals) of the battalions of Unther was an ensi of Ram-Manu – the other three were usually held by the Ul’Aen (high lords) of Unther. The command of the armies of Unther meant very little as Gil-Geamesq (or more likely the high priest of his church) decided what the armies of Unther would be doing and the Church of Ram-Manu was there purely to assist the army.

This assistance included the recruitment and training of new soldiers, ensuring the soldiers were equipped to standard, and sufficient supplies were available to feed them.

The Church of Ram-Manu was also charged with controlling the weather and keeping Unther free from the most destructive of storms that so often plague the southern shores of the Alamber Sea (many believe this is a by-product of Thay’s weather controlling magic). The church preached that Ram-Manu was able to control weather and granted that power to his priests, for the past few centuries the Napi’Ther Eqlu enjoyed plentiful rainfall during the rainy season. Now that the Church of Ram-Manu is all but destroyed, and Ram-Manu himself is absent from his duties, the rainy season is shorter and less plentiful.

As a result of the twin ethos of Ram-Manu’s church the ensi were excellent engineers for both the purposes of sieges and flood / storm defences as well as being trained fighters, commanders, combat medics, and military administrators.

The newer incarnation of the Church of Ram-Manu charges its ensi to act most honourably at all times, defending the weak of Unther whatever their status, and only obeying “true” orders from honourable commanders, whilst honing their skills in battle. It also declares the nation of Thay to be behind Unther’s troubles, especially the unpredictable weather.

 

Holy Festivals

The Church of Ram-Manu used to have many holy festivals celebrating various events (mostly victories) from Unther’s and Akanu’s history. Those festivals are now largely forgotten and replaced with a single festival. Every tenday the ensi of Ram-Manu perform a remembrance ritual that invokes the names of brave warriors that died saving others.

The Coming Storm: This festival is held on the last day of Tarsakh and lasts into Mirtul, ending on the 13th day. It is said (by the ensi) to celebrate both the coming of Ram-Manu to Unther a millennia ago, and the arrival of the rainy season each year (although it was often earlier than this). The ensi of Ram-Manu celebrate this festival by staging mock tournaments wherever they are based, the tournaments are all nonlethal and often require the ensi of Ram-Manu to train the locals in the martial arts.

 

Membership / Recruiting

The current membership of the Church of Ram-Manu are increasing their numbers very slowly. They do so only after careful examination of the individual and tests to prove their utmost loyalty to the new church ideals. The small membership and the fact that its members are spread across Unther make it impossible for Gil-Geamesq to track the numbers or names of these individuals.

A secret sign (right forearm pointed down with fingers together in line and with left hand clasped across it with fingers spread out to symbolise a khopesh with a cord wrapped around it – the symbol of Anhur) is used to determine whether members are true or not when more than one ensi meet. All new recruits are taught this secret sign, but only after they have risked their life in battle to save another weaker individual (or some other death defying act that proves their honour and combat ability).

 

Allies

The Church of Ram-Manu has always worked closely with the Church of Ish-Tarri to protect Unther and its people, and on other projects such as the annual rituals to bring rain to the Napi’Ther Eqlu. Following the destruction of Ram-Manu’s faithful and rebirth as a front for the Church of Anhur this alliance may have been in question, however the Church of Ish-Tarri is now being transformed from within into a mirror of the Mulhorandi Church of Isis so the alliance may in future grow to be stronger than ever.

The Church of the Sky Father (Gil-Geamesq) was supposed to be an ally of the Church of Ram-Manu, however it was instrumental in organising its destruction and slaying the ensi of Ram-Manu. Should the Church of Ram-Manu ever be re-established and any of its old membership return, relations with followers of Gil-Geamesq are likely to be extremely hostile.

 

Enemies

The Church of Ram-Manu was charged with defending Unther and its people, which made anything threatening Unther an automatic enemy of the church. After its membership was all but destroyed and replaced by priests of Anhur, the church is preaching that Thay and its Red Wizards are the greatest threat to Unther.

 

Important NPCs

Ram-Amazzed (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Expert 10): Ram-Amazzed is originally of the House of E from the Akanu branch of this noble House now resident in Unther (unrelated to the Untheric House of E). He was Tahaen of the Esba’Tahar of the North and the Church of Ram-Manu for 27 years when Gil-Geamesq declared all senior ensi of Ram-Manu to be worshippers of TiaMa’at. He was last seen with 3 other ensi of Ram-Manu battling over 200 masate at the Burnished Bridge just outside the walls of Messemprar, but his body was never found.

Ram-Barerith (Good, Human – Mulan, Warrior 2): One of the priests of Anhur in the guise of an ensi of Ram-Manu, Ram-Barerith spends much of his time wandering the southern shore of the Alamber Sea between the River Angol and the River of Swords. He visits Kaoll more often than most other priests of Ram-Manu and has made contact with renegade ensi of Ram-Manu sailing the Alamber Sea.

Ram-Chadibbur (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Warrior 4): Ram-Chadibbur fled the temple in Kaoll in 1345 DR with a handful of other ensi of Ram-Manu. Using an old trireme the renegade ensi have become little better than pirates, although they prefer to prey on trading vessels entering or leaving Unthalass and reserve a special hatred for any vessel rumoured to contain ensi of Gil-Geamesq.

Ram-Momeris (Good, Human – Mulan, Expert 2): One of the priests of Anhur, Ram-Momeris spends much of his time on the western side of the River Angol, roaming the Napi’Ther Eqlu, rescuing slaves from wandering monsters and fending off bandits from the south. He is also keeping an eye on troop movements in the area (occasionally venturing within sight of the walls of Unthalass) so that he can report these back to Mulhorand through other wandering priests of Anhur that he encounters.

 

 

Sphere of Influence

Unther: Unther has been the primary region of concern for the Church of Ram-Manu for over a millennia now. In the aftermath of the church’s destruction and rebirth, Unther is likely to continue to be the only area of concern, as Akanu (where Ram-Manu was formerly resident) is now Chessenta and its Mulan populace are resistant to any Untheric influence while its other populations worship the Faerunian pantheon and have little interest in strange gods from Unther.

Unthalass: Unthalass was the centre of power for the Church of Ram-Manu, because Ram-Manu himself resided here and was the head of the church. Since the destruction of the church, the new ensi are careful to stay well away from concentrations of Gil-Geamesq’s powerbase and so have little interest in Unthalass or the former high temple that exists here.

The General’s Repose: Formerly the greatest temple of Ram-Manu in Unther, now an empty monument under constant guard by the Anur’Masate of Unthalass (the honour guard of the city), this large building is constructed in the style of Unther’s famous citadels built during the First Age of Unther.

The General’s Repose was previously the high temple of Ass-Uraqn before Gil-Geamesq helped Ram-Manu supplant and exile the former Untheric god of war. In the centre of the citadel is a keep where Ass-Uraqn and now Ram-Manu kept their personal quarters. Adjoined to this keep is the main temple where Ram-Manu held his war council and where worshippers were admitted in times of peace.

The temple was the site of a great atrocity which permanently altered the state of the General’s Repose. When Ram-Manu ousted Ass-Uraqn from Unther he personally led his priests into this citadel and ordered the priests of Ass-Uraqn to leave the city, when they resisted Ram-Manu flew into a berserker rage and killed every inhabitant of the citadel, including his own men. Since that day the inner walls of the citadel have been stained the darkest red colour (the colour of dried blood) which refuses to be removed by any amount of cleaning.

In the night wailing can be heard inside the citadel, although no one can pinpoint its exact location. The priests of Ram-Manu have tried hard over the years to keep it a secret, but on the anniversary of Ram-Manu’s arrival, a lone guard disappears leaving behind only his clothes and equipment bundled in a heap next to one of the walls. The senior ensi of Ram-Manu used to ensure they were always absent from the citadel during this night.

Kaoll: This town was a former stronghold of Ram-Manu and the recruiting headquarters of the Esba’Tahar of the East. Since the destruction of the Church of Ram-Manu the town has been largely abandoned by the Esba’Tahar and the local economy has plummeted as a result. The newly arrived wandering priests of Ram-Manu are making sporadic visits to the town and are rebuilding the temple which they have reconsecrated as the Storm of Vibrant Rains.

Storm of Vibrant Rains: This ramshackle temple once used to house arms and armour for a hundred recruits, a granary store with food for several months, and attending priest quarters for 30 ensi. The troubles of 1345 DR saw all the priests butchered during training exercises, and the slaughter wrecked much of the temple structure and furnishings.

The ransacking ensi of Gil-Geamesq recovered little in the way of relics, for escape tunnels led to a secret bay on the coast and a number of fugitive ensi of Ram-Manu escaped. The new priests of Ram-Manu have cleared the priest quarters and training grounds and have erected a shrine made of the ruined armaments of the ensi that perished here.

Akanu: There are many, long abandoned temples to Ram-Manu dotted throughout the lands that once constituted the Empire of Akanu. There is rumoured to be a temple to Ram-Manu in Adanu (the former capital) which now lies in the Adder Swamp. Other temples are likely to be dotted around the countryside of Chessenta (although generally near the coast and not the interior which used to be heavily forested), masquerading as impromptu hills hiding steppe pyramids beneath. As Ram-Manu and his clergy had to abandon Akanu it is likely that a number of treasures were left behind.

 

Resources

All the resources of the Church of Ram-Manu are lost. Its temples are destroyed or abandoned, its relics stolen (now owned by the Church of the All-Father), and its coffers emptied.

The priests of Anhur brought little equipment with them except for their steel khopesh and enough coin to last each priest several months on the road.

Oil of the Land: This oil was prepared from the carapace of an ant-lion (boiled to nothing in flax oil), mixed with other secrets known only to the senior ensi of Ram-Manu. This oil, when applied twice daily to the skin hardens it to the point that many blows fail to pierce the now armoured hide. The oil was favoured by champions of the church who were encouraged to fight unarmoured, and were made more visible by the marble sheen the oil gave to the skin.

The secrets of creating this oil are believed lost, although it may be documented deep in the bowels of a former temple to Ram-Manu. Gil-Geamesq has a stockpile of these oils in the Ziggurat of Eternal Victory, having confiscated them from Ram-Manu’s temples across Unther

Enhancement Level: +1

Slot: None

Magical Properties: Resistance (Slashing); Uses (Charged x1); Activation (Destruction); Target (Self). Cost 180 gp

 

 

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