Scales of Eberron
The Silver Flame
“Why do you hurt your fellow citizens?”
The innkeeper froze. “What?”
“I can see the greed swirling in your soul,” Handor said. “Do you water down your ale? Charge three crowns when the price is two? Or worse?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the man stammered. His eyes flickered down to Handor’s blade.
“I am a paladin of the Silver Flame. I am sworn to fight evil in all its forms. My sword is for the fiends and monsters that deserve neither reason nor mercy. But you are no monster, and you can still find redemption.” Handor put his hand on the hosteller’s shoulder. “Consider your actions. Think about those you have harmed. Seek out a minister and cleanse your soul. The true darkness is rising, and if we are to survive we must all find a path to the light. If you cannot . . . then perhaps you are a monster, after all.”
The Silver Flame has existed since the dawn of time. When Eberron was overrun by darkness and the demon spawn of Khyber, the Flame arose to bring light to the world and to bind the fiends in the depths of The Dragon Below. But the Flame was too pure for flawed humanity, and the people of Khorvaire could not hear its call until Tira Miron set upon her righteous path. This noble warrior had devoted her life to the cause of honor and sacrifice, and in her the Flame found a worthy vessel. Guided by a glorious feathered serpent, Tira gave her life to end the reign of a demon lord that had escaped its bond. Though she fell in battle, Tira’s soul joined with the Silver Flame, and in so doing, she became a conduit a voice that humanity could hear. Across Thrane, the pure of heart heard her call; and ever since then, the Church of the Silver Flame has stood against evil, whatever form it might take.
The Silver Flame is not an anthropomorphic deity. It is a celestial force comprised of a vast multitude of noble spirits. It neither requires sacrifices of gold or spices, nor does it want praise in the form of prayer. Instead, it needs bold warriors and pure ministers who will embrace the light and use that inspiration to banish evil from the world. A typical worshiper of the Sovereign Host offers prayers in the hopes that the deities will help him; a true follower of the Silver Flame is interested only in how she can serve the cause of the flame.
The Afterlife: Some say that when a true follower of the Flame passes on, his spirit joins with the Silver Flame, strengthening the light. While some people may see this as a mediocre reward, the priests of the Flame say that they can achieve no greater bliss and that glory beyond anything that can be experienced in life awaits …not to mention that this far surpasses the experience of wasting away in Dolurrh. For this reason, clerics of the Silver Flame are loathe to raise the dead; when a true hero dies, his spirit has gone to a better place, and he continues to fight from the other side. Gold rarely influences a true priest of the Flame; the cleric brings the hero back only if she believes he has a noble purpose to serve in this life, and this often involves a quest or vow.
Human Evil: The goal of the Church is to cleanse the world of evil. In the minds of most outsiders, this conjures up images of templars and exorcists fighting with sword and spell. But the vast majority of the members of the Church are not warriors. More people are in the ministry and the Order of Friars than in the Order of Templars, and they seek to battle evil by nurturing good. A Thrane farmer who is faithful to the Flame does not fight demons. But he seeks to live his life by the ideals of the Church: to help those in need, to encourage virtuous behavior, and to be a force of light in the world. Gradations of evil exist, and while no mercy can be granted to the demon, hope remains that the greedy merchant or the arrogant king may follow a different path if shown how. The minister …and the paladin …leads by example and demonstrates to others the errors of their ways. With this said, puritans of the Flame may be less forgiving and more apt to use violence as a tool to eliminate social evils as well as supernatural forces.
Other Faiths: While the Church of the Silver Flame seeks to abolish the worship of The Blood of Vol, the Cults of The Dragon Below, and the Dark Six, it can be tolerant of other religions. Warriors of the Flame have much in common with the followers of Dol Arrah, and the teachings of Aureon and Boldrei echo those of the Church. With that said, followers of the Sovereign Host are often somewhat lackadaisical in their faith, and this often draws disdain from the faithful of the Church. A loyal member of the Church can associate freely with followers of the Sovereign Host or the Path of Light, but a zealous friar will still try to lure them to the true faith.
The Fury of the Flame
The ministry of the Silver Flame performs countless good works throughout the Five Nations, but the actions of the templars often overshadow these efforts. The most dramatic instance of this occurred when the inquisition destroyed the lycanthropes. To outsiders, this wholesale slaughter may seem shocking and unforgivable. However, a few factors can help people understand how such an event could occur …and what the Church might do in the future.
The Church of the Silver Flame operates under a strict hierarchy. The Church expects the faithful to trust the wisdom of those who stand above them, since those higher in the hierarchy stand closer to the Flame. Thus, most templars act without questioning their orders: If a cardinal authorizes an action, it must be in the best interests of the world. This is especially true of the puritans.
The ultimate goal of the Church is to cleanse Eberron itself. For many members of the Church, this noble goal justifies any means required to reach it. This manner of thinking serves as one of the sources of evil-aligned priests within Thrane. Such a priest may be good in almost all ways, but she has a willingness to employ evil tools such as torture when necessary to achieve a goal that furthers the Church’s cause.
When the Church targets a problem, it seeks to completely eliminate it. The templars act with ruthless efficiency. In the case of lycanthropy, any lycanthrope can afflict a victim with a curse that alters behavior and alignment, and this makes the victim a threat to others and a new carrier for the curse. In 832 YK, the Keeper of the Silver Flame declared that lycanthropy afflicted the soul as well as the body, since it could turn the noblest soul to a tool of darkness. Even those lycanthropic strains that were not inherently evil still force a change of behavior on the subject, and were thus suspect; the Keeper declared that these still imperiled the soul. If a single lycanthrope remained alive, it could pass the curse to others, and they could pass the curse to others, and within a generation the problem could arise anew. Thus all lycanthropes, even those seemingly innocent and young, must be destroyed.
A handful of paladins found alternatives. Some helped werebears escape to Lamannia, while others sought to cure the afflicted. Unfortunately, the process of breaking the curse is long and involved, and the Keeper of the Flame said that once the curse was set (via changing alignment), nothing could save the victim’s soul. And so the templars relied on their silvered swords, cutting out the cancer and praying for forgiveness when innocents fell at their hands. The Church is fighting a war, and it intends to win. Casualties are certain. Sacrifices must be made, and allies may fall to friendly fire. But the Church will always act swiftly, decisively, and in a manner that serves the greater good at least, as the cardinals see it.
The idea that good people can do evil and that evil people can serve the cause of good is a central theme of Eberron. The Church of the Silver Flame embraces this paradox. It has a noble cause. The majority of its followers champion the ways of the light. And yet, with the best of intentions, they can become your enemies or you may be asked to do questionable things in the service of the Church.
Ministers and Priests
The Church of the Silver Flame is highly structured. Someone who seeks to enter the order of friars or ministers first serves as an apprentice within his local community, learning the basic teachings of the Flame. When he receives the blessing of the local minister, he can enter one of the seminaries of the Flame.
Paladins and Templars
The templars learn their trade in one of the fortress monasteries scattered across Khorvaire. While monasteries exist throughout Thrane, Breland, and Aundair, the three largest fortresses are located in Thrane: the massive monastery of Kloijnir, which watches over Flamekeep; Tira’s Watch, on the southeastern border of Thrane and Breland; and Morningcrest to the west. Templars live an austere life, and they dedicate themselves to combat training and religious studies. The majority of templars become warriors, while the most gifted become fighters or monks. A cleric typically travels to a fortress monastery after completing spiritual training in Flamekeep, and here he learns the use of weapons and armor. These monasteries also serve as garrisons, and most templars remain at the monastery even after completing their training. Occasionally a templar accompanies a friar or serves as a pilgrim; this calling is a matter between the templar and the abbot.
Paladins are a special case. You cannot train to be a paladin: it is a spiritual calling. Many paladins learn basic skills outside of the Church, since the Voice of the Flame guides them. Ministers and friars who discover a potential paladin send her to a monastery for full training, though some paladins have risen to significant levels before officially joining the church. A paladin must undergo tests at Flamekeep before she can act as an official representative of the Church. Some then take up residence at the templar monasteries, but many serve as pilgrims or serve in secular organizations, such as the Knights of Thrane or the King’s Citadel; their calling draws them out to the world, and they find monastic life stifling.
Friars and Pilgrims
Ministers and templars are assigned to specific regions. Friars and pilgrims take the light of the Flame into dark places. A friar goes through the same training as a minister, but instead of settling in a single community, he is charged with the task of missionary work. A friar travels across Khorvaire preaching the virtues of the Silver Flame and attempting to win converts to the church. Friars also serve as the eyes of the Church; a friar will search every new village for signs of possession, cult activity, or other foulness, and then he can report his findings back to the nearest Church official.
The role of the pilgrim is less strictly defined. A pilgrim wanders the world. She is not required to perform missionary work, but she is expected to lead by example wherever she goes, to oppose evil in all its forms. This is the lowest rank in the hierarchy of the church, but it still represents a commitment a vow to serve and protect. Pilgrims are not as well received as paladins, but the faithful will still support a passing pilgrim in exchange for a sermon or tales of her bold deeds.
The most common form of corruption is when zealous devotion causes a priest to set aside mercy and compassion. Such a priest may be a pillar of his community and an admirable man who has absolute dedication to the Church. But if he must sacrifice the innocent in pursuit of the greater good, he will. He will torture and kill without remorse. He will not glorify these actions, and will not torture needlessly …but he will not shirk from using dark methods to win the battle against evil.
A second form of corruption is greed. The clerics and adepts of the Silver Flame are not supposed to sell divine spells; these miracles are to be saved for the protection of the faithful. But some clerics use their spells to gain gold or influence. Some just want to live lives of luxury, but others believe that there are many ways to fight evil …and that political power is a more effective weapon than a paladin’s sword. While these priests have an evil alignment, they may still be working in the interests of the greater good …at least, as they see it.
These two types of priests both have their redeeming features. They do not see themselves as evil and may aid the cause of good. But then there is the third category …the priest who knowingly embraces the darkness. A second voice whispers in the Silver Flame …that of the terrible demon that Tira bound in battle. Occasionally a good priest is led astray by this false flame. However, a few seek out this quiet voice and serve the interests of the Lords of Dust from the heart of the church. Some believe they will gain immortality or fiendish power in exchange for their devotion. Others have been driven mad by the horrors of the Last War and believe that the light has forsaken the world. Either way, these heretics are cunning and dangerous.
Unfortunately, dealing with corruption is a tricky business. The Church does not define evil as “that which can be detected with detect evil”; as noted earlier, someone with an evil alignment may serve the greater good. Furthermore, a cleric of a good deity always possesses a good aura, regardless of her personal alignment. Rank within the church hierarchy is another complication: a pilgrim can’t kill a cardinal and expect to get away with it because “he was evil.” She will need proof of actions that went against church doctrine and harmed the innocent. Thus, a paladin’s ability to detect evil allows her to judge the character of those around her …but it’s in no way a license to kill.
The Silver Flame has a simple goal: Abolish evil. There are hundreds of options: venturing into Droaam to strike against an enclave of monsters; sneaking into Karrnath to destroy a temple of The Blood of Vol; battling lurking fiends or possessing demons in the cities of Khorvaire; recovering a cursed object and then traveling to the Demon Wastes to destroy it; and so on.
Appeals to the Silver Flame are short and direct; this religion is born of war, and prayers must be called out in the midst of battle. References to light and flame are extremely common. “Light of the Flame, guide my arm.”
Temples of the Silver Flame always are heavily fortified and capable of providing shelter to the innocent. Furnishings are typically austere, but elaborate carvings displaying intertwining flames and heroes of the church often cover the walls. A brazier filled with silver continual flame is set before the altar.
Priests of the Silver Flame perform many services. While some of these are practical ranging from marriage to military training (specifically, archery) the tasks of the priest also include offering guidance and inspiration to the community. Daily services provide the faithful with the chance to hear the words of the priest and to present their troubles.
Heralds and Allies
Tira Miron is the voice of the Silver Flame, and her spirit responds to commune, augury, or similar entreaties…or so it appears. Tirahas never manifested physically since her sacrifice, and in all likelihood she cannot; she is a conduit that allows the Flame to speak to the common races, not an avatar to fight its battles. Its primary allies are the couatl, but over the millennia a number of noble celestials have heard the call of the Flame and chosen to serve its cause. Thus, a cleric’s call for aid could be answered by an archon, an angel, or something stranger and more exotic.
The favored weapon of the Church of the Silver Flame is the longbow. Many believe that this dates back to the battle against the rakshasas, who are most vulnerable to piercing weapons. Furthermore, a quiver of arrows can include shafts with a wide range of enchantments or arrowhead materials, allowing a templar to operate at peak efficiency against all manner of beasts and fiends. Priests also encourage archery as a form of meditation, and in many communities the faithful can come to train at the local church of the Flame.