Disclaimer: The gods presented in this series are from D&D 3.5. Although I could have changed the names to be non genre specific, there is no point. They should be considered a template for your game world. Furthermore, they are not 100% accurate to D&D mythology, although I do try to capture the essence of each god.
Disclaimer 2: The deities presented here are designed to exist in a polytheistic world. Most people would offer prayers to many deities, in the same way that Catholics will pray to different saints. Praying to one deity for safe travel, does not exclude praying to another for a luck. Membership in one order does not exclude membership in another. Dedicated clerics are the exception.
- What is the deity like, and what do they represent:
Vecna is the God of Secrets and Power at any cost. Vecna reveres magic, knowledge, power, personal ambition, and cunning.
- How do the temples make money/ maintain themselves:
Vecna’s temples are powerful indeed. They earn their money by selling knowledge and secrets to the highest bidder. Vecna’s spy network is often considered the best in the world, and even kings tread lightly when Vecna’s servants are involved. The temple will also earn money by doing mercenary work that is normally considered unsavory, but this is less common. In order to request the services of the temple, one simply has to leave a note with their name, address, and personal details at one of Vecna’s Shrines. Then they wait. Within a matter of days, or sometimes weeks, a member of the temple will contact them, usually in person. In exchange for knowledge, or other services, the client must give them some piece of valuable, or compromising information, as well as an appropriate amount of money.
- How does the Order protect itself:
The temples of Vecna protect themselves from other insiders with blackmail and extortion. Membership into the temple of Vecna requires giving away your most sensitive secret. Something that would make your life very difficult if others found out. If you don’t have such a secret, you probably aren’t a good fit for membership anyway. Because the temple is so good at finding out information about people, they probably already know what your secrets are. The punishment for lying is severe, usually including immediate expulsion and branding, and often more severe, like continuing blackmail, extortion, or other punishment.
All secrets belong to Vecna, and therefore stealing secrets from other members is like stealing from Vecna himself. Most temples require the removal of all clothing inside the temple, to prevent members from hiding their identities, or other physical secrets. Selling a lie is considered a serious crime, and although it is often done, it must be done so as not to allow others to discover the betrayal. Vecna values betrayal in pursuit of power, but does not suffer carelessness.
The temples of Vecna protect themselves from outsiders in similar ways. Those who steal from his shrines can expect immediate, slow, and painful reprisal. Vecna watches over his shrines, and alerts members of the theft of the letters left for him (or his temple).
Otherwise, the temple protects itself from ousiders by simply remaining secret. Temple locations are known only to members, and there are often more than one temple, each one more secret than the last. Because everybody is well known in his temples, and there is no concealing identities, it is essentially impossible for outsiders to infiltrate his temples without notice.
- How do the temples determine who can join, and how they advance
Joining a temple is easy. Give away all personal information about yourself, and one compromising secret. If you don’t have a compromising secret, you probably aren’t a good fit for the temple anyway.
Advancement is tougher. There is no formal rank in Vecna’s temple. Those who are most prestigious, are those who have the greatest leverage over other members. Secrets are most often traded for other secrets, some personal, and some useful. No knowledge is free within Vecna’s walls, and advancement requires getting as much knowledge from others, while giving away as little as possible about yourself. In the end, becoming powerful within the temple almost always requires giving away your most personal secrets, and those who have gained the most within Vecna’s walls, have the most to lose.
In more established orders, more secret and prestigious temple locations are a prized piece of knowledge that are traded at a premium, as they grant access to more valuable members, however, they can also change, becoming useless.
- What are the benefits of membership/advancement in the temple
The benefits to Vecna’s order is obvious. No other place has the opportunity to learn so much so fast, for a cost, and although the power you gain is subtle, the strings that a highly revered member within the order can pull, keeps kings up at night. The higher your standing within the order, the more you have access to knowledge and power.
- What do the temples look like
Vecna’s temples could be anything. They could be in a wine cellar, or in the back of a tailor’s shop, or even within the temple of another god. These locations are known only to other members. Many of them could be discovered with dedicated effort by the aristocracy, but the aristocracy have the most to gain from the order’s services, and the most to lose from it’s reprisal.