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  Chapter 4: Religion
Places of Worship

          Temples are the typical worshipping place in the Imperial tradition, the larger the better. There are two sorts of temples in the Empire, practical and service-oriented. Practical temples are those temples which serve a dual purpose, such as a temple to Evander which doubles as a gatehouse, or a temple to Minos which serves as a bank. Service-oriented temples are those whose primary purpose is worship, such as those dedicated to Ophion or Luna. Most fall somewhere in between, providing facilities for both practical purposes and the general worship of the deity by the masses.
          Most deities will have monastic orders as well as a regular priesthood. These monks, who live out their lives serving the needs of their deity, often reside in remote monasteries where they ponder the deeper truths that their chosen deity embodies. Monasteries provide places for worship and reflection, but they must also be self-sufficient communities, as monks are rarely encouraged to leave for their goods and in very remote places may be unable to leave for several months due to an inclimate season.
          The architectural styles of the temples in the Empire generally come in three brands: Traditional, Ganesian and Narbonese. Traditional temples are grand affairs with great rooves supported by pillars. They are typically composed of only two rooms, one of which holds a large statue or image of the deity and the other of which acts as a treasury for the church. It is not equipped for worship by a large number of people, nor are the living quarters or offices of the clergy contained within (though they are generally placed in the same compound). When worship service must be conducted at such a temple, it is conducted on the temple steps in front of the chamber which holds the statue of the deity. Ganesian temples are also pillared affairs, but they contain a central worship area surrounded by offices and quarters for the clergy. These are, by far, the most popular designs in the northern reaches of the Empire. These temples tend to be smaller than the Traditional sort, at least in height, and tend to have problems with lighting and air circulation. The most recent form, which is only started to catch on in the Empire, started in Narbonne among worshippers of Vortumnus. It quickly spread to Koramia and almost all of their major centers of worship are based on this design. The Narbonnese temple is composed of a large, central worship area with offices and quarters for the clergy, much like the Ganesian style. Unlike that latter style, the Narbonnese temple has extremely thin walls and high, vaulted ceilings, all of which are supported by a series of external buttresses. This style allows for large, painted windows which allow much light into the worship area during the day and obviate the need for torches or similar lighting techniques. The Narbonnese temple combines the grandeur and awe of the Traditional style with the practicality and closeness of the Ganesian style. It is also substantially cheaper to construct, in terms of materials, though the architects who design them and the masons who work on them are a specialized breed who can command extremely high prices for their knowledge. The Narbonnese style has caught on in the southern reaches of the Empire and Koramia, but it is used only sparingly elsewhere. The Aescalapeans, however, have truly taken to the Narbonnese style of construction and have started adding their own additions to the design in the form of gargoyles and extensive bas relief designs throughout the temples. This design is not popular amongst some priests, who believe that such artistry distracts worshippers from their sermons. Other priests have discovered that the carvings assist in the common manís understanding of the parables and stories that the works depict.
          Another concept in temple design that has been popular for the last millennia is the combination of like-minded traditions or allied gods into the same or connected buildings. For example, individual temples to Lord Ptharos, Betshaba, and Baelthor are rare in the Empire outside of Zeth. In most regions, the individual temples are connected in a triangle or trigram shape to emphasize the tight connection of the Triad. Even practical temples often serve like-minded deities; most towns, for example, have a Hall of Virtue which serves as a courthouse, legal library and records depository as well as a combination temple to Aridnus, God of Judgment; Fides, God of Oaths, Majestas; Goddess of Law; and Meliboea, Goddess of Justice. One recently-completed temple takes this concept to the extreme. The Pantheon in Zeth is an immense structure composed of shrines to each of the 78 gods (excluding, of course, Dagon and his Inimicures). It is constructed in the Traditional style, in that it is intended for personal reflection and prayer, not for worship service, but has the thin walls and buttressing of the Narbonnese style.
          Some deities, of course, do not permit or care to have worship inside a temple. Some, such as Faunaros, God of Hunting, and Polydorus, God of Wild Beasts, prefer that their worshippers conduct service outside, away from the intrusions of urban life. Others donít really even have a clergy that holds services, such as Adrasteia, Goddess of Rivers and Streams; Cottus, God of Lightning; and Fraus, God of Ice.