Of all the faiths of Ansalon that have suffered from the departure of the true gods in the aftermath of the Chaos War, perhaps the Order of Majere has been the least affected. Two of the teachings of the god Majere were meditation and faith. These two teachings have become the backbone in a revival of the monastic way of life in Solamnia. The Order of Majere Monastery in particular has become home to the new monks of the Fifth Age.
Unlike the followers of other faiths, the monks of Majere take an oath never to raise edged weapons of war against their enemies. No weapons beyond a staff are allowed onto the grounds of their order. The monks have dedicated themselves to meditation and service to the community. Though they appear weak and powerless, the monks’ meditation techniques involve working the body into physical perfection through exercises involving the martial arts. Even the lowest monks can grab arrows out of the air or break thick boards with their bare hands. They can defend themselves and their fellows, but only after they have tried other methods to drive their enemies off.
History of the Monastery
Of the monasteries that have risen in Solamnia during the Fifth Age, perhaps none have such a grand history than the Order of Majere, which is located near the city of Elmwood in the northern edge of the Lemish Forest. Two monasteries devoted to Majere have been built near the city of Elmwood. The first came into being in the year 35PC, during the time of the dominance of the Istar clergy. Many faiths other than Paladine’s were in decline as Istar’s dogma expanded throughout Ansalon. The Monastery of Majere was built on the northern edge of the Qualinesti Forest to seclude itself from Istar’s influence. The monastery remained undamaged during the Cataclysm though the lands around it underwent great changes. Records indicate that many of the elder monks in the monastery disappeared before the Cataclysm, leaving only the youngest and most inexperienced ones behind. As time passed, the village of Elmwood sprang up nearby for the pilgrims who journeyed to the monastery looking for answers to the gods’ abandonment. For hundreds of years, the monks kept their routine of meditation and faith in the return of Majere. In the year 351AC, the War of the Lance exploded into their peaceful world. As the dragonarmies advanced westward, a benighted priest of Majere brought the sacred artifact known as the Sign of Majere to the monastery. Fearing this would be a tool used to ignite faith in the true gods, dragonarmy agents attacked the monastery in search of the artifact. They killed many of the monks, and fire gutted the building. For all their efforts, though, they could not find the artifact. The forces of Evil left the building in ruin as the Blue Dragonarmy occupied the nation of Lemish.
However, the monastery continued to provide aid to the people near it. Several of the surviving monks from the dragonarmy attack returned and spread the word of the return of the true gods, giving the people hope. They also helped those who sought to flee to Solamnia from the tyrannical Evil of the invaders. Then, after the monks spent many years helping others, outside forces rocked the order again. The Chaos War had ended and with it, the nation of Solamnia had conquered Lemish, ending its reign of Evil over the land. However, to save the world from the god Chaos, the god Majere and his fellow gods had been forced from the world. Unlike the other faiths, the monks’ history had prepared them for this occurrence.
A new monastery was completed over the ruins of the old in 3SC. Monks again fill its walls as they await the return of Majere. The new monastery looks much the same as the original. The front doors open into a large foyer and continue on to magnificent sanctum with an elaborate altar against the back wall. Light comes through three rows of large windows on both walls. To the left and right are stairs that lead to the second story. An open-railed walkway surrounds the sanctum and connects over the foyer. This walkway leads to the various cells of the monks as well as guestrooms for visitors. To the left of the foyer, doors on the ground floor lead to the dining room. The opposite doors to the right lead to the scriptorium and chapter house.
A low wall surrounds the grounds of the monastery. Gardens are located in the back, which provide food for the monks. A small building near the gate of the wall is used to store visitors’ weapons.
Life of a Monk
Life in the monastery requires complete dedication. Their strict life keeps a monk’s day busy. All monks begin their life as a novice in the Order of Majere. Children whose fathers gave them to the monastery are called oblates until they are old enough to take their first vows to become a novice. After several years, if the head of the monastery (abbot or abbess) agrees, the novice takes his or her final vows and becomes a monk. Currently, no females reside within the order’s walls, they live in a hut outside the wall, but the question of how the order will handle them when this eventually happens is in constant debate. The favorite option thus far is to create another set of living facilities for them and allow them to share the current common areas (such as the scriptorium and sanctum).
All monks are called “brother” or “sister” regardless of their station in the order. Additionally, they must give up all of their personal wealth before entering the monastery.
Monks spends much of their time in meditation. They also train in the use of martial arts, work in the common gardens, and help those of the city of Elmwood. In fact, monks have very little time for nonproductive activities. The abbot or abbess creates a schedule of activities for each individual. Refusal to follow the schedule without good cause is grounds for the abbot to ask the monk to leave the order. Perhaps the strictness of the life of the monk is most evident in the dining room. This time is the only part of the day all monks currently at the monastery gather. In the years past, this time would be spent in silence. Now, they discuss the day’s activities, which builds the foundations of friendship with each other. They are allowed two meals a day in the wintertime and three in the summer. Rarely do the monks eat meat, but when they do, it is prepared in stews.
Many of the monks unable to work in the garden, practice martial arts training, or travel spend their time in the scriptorium. The scriptorium is where books and manuscripts are written and illustrated. Monks known as illuminators decorate these written items with beautiful paints and gold leaf. It requires a very skilled hand to be an illuminator. Most of these works are histories, legends, and songs of Majere or Solamnia. The monks take great pride in their work and hope to replace the lost manuscripts from the Great Library of Palanthas. One of the most highly praised works is the history of Solamnia during the Summer of Chaos called A Discourse on the Upheaval of Solamnia in the Year 383AC. The monks traveled across Solamnia for interviews and firsthand accounts of that frightening time.
In the chapter house, monks can ask for a pardon for anything they have done wrong. They can also accuse each other of bad behavior if they have a very good reason. The name chapter house comes from the practice of reading a chapter from the monastery’s rules before beginning the meeting. The abbot or abbess presides over each chapter house meeting and determines what actions should be made if any bad behavior is brought up.
A Monk’s Background and Role
It is important to remember that not all monks have been cloistered their whole lives. Many have had various vocations. However, they have put their previous life behind them to take up the challenging role of the monk. The monastery teaches that Majere will return as he has before, but not all monks believe this, nor are they encouraged to do so. The monks of the monastery do not believe it is their purpose to spread faith in Majere or any other god. Their purpose is to experience an honest confrontation with one’s self. Once achieved, they seek to help others to reach the same self-discipline or find ways to help the surrounding community lead more fulfilling lives.
A Monk’s Garb
The clothing of a monk consists of simple robes of red. The only other item they wear is a medallion crafted in copper with the image of the mantis symbol of Majere (native to Solamnia). Their hair is kept short, with some monks opting to shave their heads to keep it from disturbing them during their work. Sandals complete the ensemble. The abbot’s or abbess’ dress is no different from any other monk’s.
Characters of the Monastery
- Tilden Brynwood, Abbot of the Order of Majere Monastery: Human elder male, insightful demeanor, Master. Ag 6C, Dx 5A, En 6A, St 4A, Re 7D, Pe 8C, Sp 8A (64), Pr 7A, Dmg 0 (common clothing), Def +1 (unarmed), also mysticism (channeling, healing, sensitivity).
- Abbot Tilden Brynwood, male human P11: AC 10; MV 12; hp 65; THAC0 14; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2; SA priest spells; SZ M (5’11”); ML elite (13); Str 8, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 14; AL NG. Spells Memorized: Choose from these spheres–Major access to All, Astral, Charm, Divination, and Summoning, and minor access to Animal and Sun.
Tilden is sixty-three years old and was the leader while the monastery was rebuilt. He is a bald man whose eyes remain bright with a youthful glow. Tilden was born after the ending of the War of the Lance and so never knew a time when the gods were not with the world–until the Second Cataclysm. He spent a year in meditation without speaking to any before construction was begun. During this period of silence, he says that a dream revealed “the harbinger will sing.” At the time, Tilden did not understand the dream’s message but began rebuilding the monastery waiting for this harbinger. Now, he believes the harbinger to be Goldmoon and her song the gift of mysticism. Tilden has become a great interpreter of dreams, as he believes they carry messages from Majere even today.
- Sandor Snowmist, Monk of the Order of Majere Monastery: Half-elf adult male, curious demeanor, Adventurer. Ag 8B, Dx 7A, En 9C, St 7B, Re 6C, Pe 6B, Sp 7B (36), Pr 8C, Dmg 0 (common clothing), Def +1 (unarmed), also acute sense (touch) and mysticism (healing).
- Sandor Snowmist, male half-elf P6: AC 10; MV 12; hp 34; THAC0 18; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2; SA priest spells; SZ M (5’5″); ML elite (13); Str 14, Dex 15, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 16; AL NG. Spells Memorized: Choose from these spheres–Major access to All, Astral, Charm, Divination, and Summoning, and minor access to Animal and Sun.
Sandor grew up in the monastery as an oblate. The slanted eyebrows and vague points on his ears are all that gives away his elf heritage. Sandor is of average height and has rich brown hair that he keeps short. He has found a love of gardening and enjoys traveling to find exotic seeds to try in the garden. He prefers to observe life and rarely speaks on any subject save gardening.
- Northrain, Illuminator of the Order of Majere Monastery: Barbarian young adult female, meticulous demeanor, Novice. Ag 6C, Dx 6C, En 7C, St 7C, Re 8C, Pe 7C, Sp 7A (49), Pr 8C, Dmg 0 (common clothing), Def +1 (unarmed), also mysticism (alteration, meditation, mentalism).
- Northrain, male human P2: AC 10; MV 12; hp 14; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2; SA priest spells; SZ M (5’10”); ML elite (13); Str 14, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 16; AL NG. Spells Memorized: Choose from these spheres–Major access to All, Astral, Charm, Divination, and Summoning, and minor access to Animal and Sun.
Northrain is from one of the tribes of the mountain barbarians whom the monks of the monastery often visited. When she came of age, she left her home and entered the order as a novice. There she discovered a natural gift for artistic work and has become an illuminator. Word has spread as far as Palanthas of the incredible talent she possesses. Northrain is a tall woman with dark hair that she has allowed to grow in the style of her people. Though she spends a great deal of time at her work, she still maintains a daily regiment of training.
- The Sign of Majere: Tales have circulated of the existence of a magical bronze amulet with the old symbol of the Monastery of Majere etched into it. The Sign of Majere was thought lost during the War of the Lance. Tilden sends a group of monks to investigate the rumors. The rumors lead to a priest’s grave in Maelgoth, where the heroes discover the story of the last bearer of the artifact, Velin Tephoras. Velin had been buried with the artifact embedded in his chest. Upon investigating Velin’s grave, they find it despoiled and the artifact missing. Clues lead to a village near Maelgoth where a crazed man is calling himself the god Majere and terrorizing the citizens. However, a company of the Knights of Takhisis is also searching for the man and the artifact. They must find this man and retrieve the artifact before it falls into the hands of the Dark Knights.
- The Garden Thieves: Sandor reports that thieves have been in the garden. Tilden suggests a watch be set up and the thieves discovered. On the second night of the watch, goblins from Lemish Forest sneak into the garden. Fearing this may be a prelude to an attack, the monks request support from Elmwood. However, the warriors may be too late. As night falls, the goblins, led by a hobgoblin, attack the monastery, and its outlying hut. Unable to find food and shelter, they have discovered the isolated monastery. Seeing what they believe an easy target, they have amassed outside the walls. What can the heroes do to assist in this situation? Will they arrive in time? Or, if at the monastery, what plan can they come up with to prevent the goblins from winning the day?
- The Importance of History: Murder has visited the monastery. One of the brothers is found half-buried outside the wall of the monastery. The next night, the scriptorium is ransacked, but Northrain discovers the thief. Unfortunately, the thief escapes, but Northrain reports that the rogue grew wings and flew to the top of the monastery. The thief is a Sivak draconian who has been hired by a wealthy man in Lemish to retrieve notes on the history of Lemish. The notes were originally sent to the monastery to be made into a book. In this history, a small passage reveals his father’s involvement with a dragonarmy. In order to secure his status, he has hired the draconian to infiltrate the monastery and steal the book. The draconian, Kardash, has killed and assumed the identity of another monk. He was forced to kill the one discovered outside the walls quickly, which did not allow him time to bury the body properly. How do the heroes discover this and what do they do when they find this information out?
* See the Dragonlance comics for more information on past bearers of the amulet.