The Hexadic Church
is usually just referred to as the Church, but is more properly called
"the Holy Church of the Six-Fold Archons of
Law". It is dedicated to the six greater Lords of Order who are
believed to have direct charge of the world and it's symbol is a six-armed
sunburst. The Hexadic
Church is not a
state-religion in the modern sense, as no state has the power to enforce such a
thing. However, the Church is seen as one of the foundations of Ondish
society. Anyone who professes an alternate religion will be veiwed most
negatively and failure to respect the Church, its offices, and persons, is a
crime. Moreover, anyone who publicly venerates the Lords of Disorder in
any way is automatically considered a "wolf's-head", that is, an
outlaw. The Ondermen do not tolerate demon-worship and "freedom of
religion" is a concept many centuries away.
Despite their reverence for the Hexarchs, Ondermen do not deny the existence of
other gods. Indeed, they recognize a whole slew of godlings, demi-gods,
and spirits, from both the Over- and Underworlds. The Six-fold Archons,
however, are considered the supreme divinities and the only deserving of Ondish
worship. Outright worship of other Overworld entities is considered
eccentric and embarrassing at best.
Priests of the Church are referred to as "Father". Their duties
are to perform the divine offices, giving proper worship to the Hexarchs;
instructing others in the proper ways; and keeping the forces of Disorder from
their communities. Although there are many devout folk in Onderland, there
are others who see the priests as essentially technicans of the divine
-granting blessings and rebukes as required - and no different from any other
[In game terms, any priest may duplicate the effects of the Bless and
Protection from Evil spells by performing the sacred liturgy in a
sanctified space such as a church. This cannot usually be done on
adventure in a dungeon.]
There is no formal education system in Onderland, although pedagogy is a duty
of the clergy; certainly nothing like a seminary. Propsective priests are
apprenticed to full priests as in any other profession and ordained by their
master when they have proved their readiness (invoking the blessing of the
gods). It should be noted that there is no tradition of clerical celibacy
in the Hexadic Church; although certain zealots fear
the temptations of Chaos, such as succubi, in sexual desire, such persons are
most generally regarded as extremists and cranks. Hexadic priests are
expected to marry and support families like anyone else and their sons are
expected to be apprenticed to them.
Because their office requires at least minimal literacy, priest are the most
likely Ondermen to learn magic. The practice of magic is not considered
wrong as such, however, the stench of the Wisse still clings to sorcery in many
folk's minds. Nevertheless, there is nothing heretical or criminal about the
practice of magic.
to Hexadric Doctrine, the Six-fold Archons are more akin to natural forces than
people, each having governance over certain aspects of the Middle World.
However, most common folk ignore this teaching and beleive the Hexarchs
to be much like ultra-powerful people, with distinct personalities, quirks,
The Hexarchs are:
- Geatar, whose domain includes Leadership, Governance, Lords,
- Diu, the Supreme Warrior, whose domain includes warfare, bravery,
- Wielent, the Divine Smith, whose domain includes crafting of all kinds and perfection.
- Huldra, often called "Mother Huldra". She is the Mistress of the Crossroads and oversees magic and mysteries. She also governs the Moon and is especially devoted to women. She is frequently invoked during childbirth and naming.
- Ingvin, the Lords of Flowers, whose domain includes the fertile Earth and who succors those who fight to defend their lands (as opposed to the aggressive warfare of Diu)
- Neorth, whose domain includes commerce and its attendant elements such as coinage, horses, rivers (frequently called "water-horses" by the equestrian Ondermen).
The Cult of the Holy Men
Hexarchs are not the only benevolent powers in Hexadic practice. Certain
men are beloved by the Archons for inscrutable reasons (although devotion is
the usual explanation). These Holy Men are granted some small share of
archontic power in life and afterwards. Relics of Holy Men are prized as
retaining measures of their benevolent influence. The are typically
referred to in Wisse terms and thus are generally called "Saint" from
the Wisse sanctus ("holy").
One of the most popular saints in Onderland during the Age of Lords was Saint
Getorix. Getorix was a general in the Old Kingdom,
who refused to bow down to the Lords of Disorder and persevered in his Hexadic
faith even after the Kings fell into sin. He maintained his position for
a time due to his outstanding martial prowess, continually driving off hordes
of Wild Men. Eventually, the King plotted to have Getorix murdered.
There is a rich tradition of "the Trials of Getorix" in which the
King hatches plot after plot to kill the faithful general, only to have his
victim foil the plan each and every time through increasingly miraculous
occurrences. At last, however, the King sends an entire legion
after his opponent, a legion led by Getorix's faithless lieutenant.
Despite inflicting great losses, Getorix is eventually killed and his corpse
brought before the wicked King. But as the King gloats, the corpse of the
general rises and strangles the monarch with its bare hands. It is
asserted that the holy corpse was secreted away by faithful soldiers and his
relics preserved to this day.
As can be seen, Ondish hagiography often reads more like romance than sober
religious reflection. The two were not seen as incompatible by the
Ondermen. However, not all saints embodied the warrior-tradition of the
Ondermen. Saint Marcinus, for example, was a man of humble origin who
wandered Onderland helping the farmers when crops failed and livestock took
ill. Saints Desidera and Euphania, two sisters, were princesses who were
killed while still children as part of some palace intrigue; their cult is
focused upon caring for the sick and destitute, particularly children.
Such humble saints were the exception, though. More exemplary might be
Saint Onorius, a nobleman of the Old Kingdom.
He was an active participant in court-life, an advisor to Kings during the days
when the Hexadic faith was new. He was also a scholar who wrote many of
the important early Hexadic texts; he is particularly famed for his elegant yet
emotional prayers to the various Archons.
Veneration versus Worship
The proper behavior of the living toward the Holy Men has been a continually vexing issue in Hexadic doctrine. Saints are not divine and are not to be worshipped. They are, in essence, heroic exemplars of religiosity and are to be venerated and emulated. The line between worship and veneration, however, can get fairly narrow in practice. During the end of the Old Kingdom, the Cult of Holy Men had become exceptionally popular among those who had not abandoned the powers of Law for the worship of demons. The Ondermen who put the remnants of the Wissen polity to the sword saw little difference between demon-worship and the worship of humans, no matter how holy they had been in life. Thus, practice among the Ondermen has tended to down-play the Cult.
is the usual Ondish name for the Lords of Disorder and their minions. The Wisse eventually worshipped them as gods
and, in the Elder Days, the Fey thought of them as impersonal forces equal and
opposite to the forces of Order. Have
the powers changed to meet the expectations of mortals? Who knows?
there are countless beings of Chaos, the Hexadic Church
traditionally counts six, great Arch-Demons as the counter-parts to the
Hexarchs. The names of these Arch-Demons, sometimes called "the
Princes of Chaos,” come from the Wisse-penned Book of the Majestic Sapphire,
a mystical text. The names are therefore not Ondish (which probably adds
to their uncanniness).
The Arch-Demons are:
- Aaman, the Destroyer, master of violence and battle.
- Astorath, the Imprisoner, master of oppression and bondage.
- Baal, the Fury, master of storms, floods, droughts, and natural disaster.
- Moloche, the Whisperer, master of arcane secrets, alien sorceries, and things men were not meant to know.
- Nergal, the Torturer, master of cruelty, pain, and the slow death.
- Shax, the Deceiver, master of illusions, lies, and dreams.
this is the most common version of the hierarchs of Entropy, it is not
universally accepted. Some scholars suggest that this is too great a
simplification and that Chaos would never be bound to six, immortal lords.
Certain texts indicate a vast series of Chaos Lords, ranging from princes to
dukes to counts, in a bewildering array. Others have suggested that these may
all be simply manifestations of the great Arch-Demons who, being of Chaos, can
appear howsoever they will.
All of the above speculation is a little interest to the average Onderman.
There are demons, great and small, that seek to inflict chaos on the
Middle World and its inhabitants and tempt Man into service after death.
That's really all that matters.
The Twelve Lost Kings
The following tale exists of various versions
throughout Onderland in the Age of Lords. The number of Lost Kings and their
identities vary; sometimes the details of their fate does as well. The
following the is the most common variant.
After the disappearance of the Last King, many great lords sought to claim
the Iron Crown. As is well‐known, none have ever succeeded. Twelve
[sometimes nine; sometimes seven] mighty nobles have come very close over
the centuries. Each suddenly achieved great power; many demonstrating
heretofore unknown sorcerous might. Each stood on the verge of the
kingship, but, at the last moment, each disappeared.
The source of their sudden power was the Pale Rider. Each of the lords
had made a bargain with the Rider for a throne in exchange for their
service. But the Rider is a clever bargainer; he granted them great
powers, enough to approach the over‐lordship, but dragged them down to the
Underworld before they could do so. There, he made them Kings in Shadow;
undying, with terrible powers, but all slaves to the Pale Rider.
view this tale as explanatory for the chaos of the age, as well as a pointed
commentary upon the follies of the mighty. Many clergy use it as a
cautionary tale about the dangers of pride and ambition, as well as dealings
with the powers of Chaos. Some nobles believe that the Iron Crown of the Old
Kingdom is cursed and that any who lay claim to it will become Lost; others,
however, see themselves as more clever than the Lost Kings and believe that
they could avoid the traps of the Rider and become King of Onderland with his
Pale Rider is, incidentally, a figure of some uncertainty. He is implied
to be a powerful Lord of Chaos and many scholars have suggested that "the
Pale Rider" was an old title for Moloche the Whisperer, who promises much
but whose gifts are always tainted. However, on other tales (which may be
of a later vintage) he is described as the chief lieutenant of the Archdemon
Shax the Deceiver.
The original identities of the Twelve are forgotten, although some claim them
to be the forefathers of whatever lord is currently hated. Their earthly
identities, however, are believed to have vanished into the shadows and they
are now known only by their titles. The most frequently named of the Lost is
the Horned King, who is pictured as a large man with a skull for a head and
great antlers branching out atop it. He is frequently associated with the Wild
Hunt. Other Lost Kings include the Sword King, the Crimson King, the
Witch King, and the Beast King.
is ever-present in Onderland and few take their lives for granted. On the other
hand, death is expected and is a part of life, making Ondermen seem somewhat
The early Ondish conception of the after-death was bleak (as with much else of
Ondish thought). What remained after death was a mere shadow of what had
been there in life and thus usual term was for a ghost was a
“shade”. This shade would wander the world for some period of time;
held there, in some fashion, by the memories of the living. Once the
deceased was forgotten, his shade would wander out beyond the world into what
the poet's call "the Black Mere" and disappear.
This gloomy vision explains the early Ondish appreciation, even obsession, with
glory. Since all men will die, the only thing a man can do is try to die
as famous as possible, to be remembered as long as he can and thus forestall
his extinction into the Black Mere. The greatest of heroes will be
remembered forever in song and story and thus (it is believed) that their
shades will always be near.
This pagan notion was elaborated upon once the Ondermen accepted the Hexadic
faith by adding a role for both the Under- and Overworlds and introducing the
startling notion that the best hope was to remain a gloomy spectre. The
Black Mere was reinterpreted as a description of the Underworld and so the idea
became that the natural course of death was for a person's shade to descend
into the Underworld, there to pass an indeterminate period as a play-thing of the
demons, perhaps occasionally bubbling up into the Middle World again as the
Unquiet Dead, until his ghost finally fades away. However, if a person
has been devoted to the Church (even minimally) he is expected to be lifted up
into the Overworld upon death, there to serve proudly at the sides of the
Hexarchs in the Hall of Valour. The usual formulation is that one is
"under the grace of the Hexarchs" and this grace is seen as spiritual
shield which protects one from the grasping of the Underworld.
with the personae of the Archons, scholars contend that the Hall of Valour is
to be understood as a poetic description of a spiritual state, but the vast
majority of Ondermen beleive it to be a literal place in which the faithful
will pass eternity as the beloved of the Hexarchs.