St. Senren was a 2nd century saint who lived during the dark times of the Secession Wars. He was the lord of a region in what is now Benthos and, under his rule, that region was peaceful and prosperous and he administered it with just laws and was a devout and pious man. He had successfully rid the land of the plagues of bandits and brigands; however, the peace was threatened when a dark mage, meddling with forces too powerful for him, summoned a number of demons including a demon lord, Soharadon Naxtil. The Soharadon had found ways to (slowly) bring other demons through to this plane and, to gain more power, came out of the mountains to he north and occupied one of St. Senren’s towns, destroying all the inhabitants and killing or fleeing the soldiers. Whilst his courtiers and guardsman panicked and spoke of flight, Senren, with just 6 retainers, rode out to meet the Soharadon. While his retainers desparately fought against the hordes of Sthand and Goruthang (various demons), Senren himself engaged the Soharadon in single combat. Long and grievous was the struggle, but at the last, Senren drove his sword in to the Soharadon’s chest, perishing even as he slew his foe. It is said that a red flower, the Crown of Senren, sprouted on the ground where he died; it is now found widely all over Laurentia. Since that time, many miracles have been attributed to him and he is revered by all who fight against evil.
The History of the Senrenites
As will be seen from this history, the Senrenites were clearly not founded by St. Senren. Rather, they were founded in the 8th century by Karanaven Jaeland, a minor noble of Aalenium in what is now Namuria. The order was founded as a militant order, dedicated to the protection of the weak and the fighting of evil and, from it’s humble beginnings, has become one of the largest and most influential sects of the Church of Order.
Principles and Beliefs
The Senrenites worship Andur, lord of Order, as did St. Senren. Their beliefs are, for the large part, quite mainstream - the followers of Order are fundamentally committed to balance between all things; in addition, this balance should consist of everything being ordered. They are strongly opposed to disharmony, chaos and disorganisation (though not necessarily to war). Other high priorities to Order are honour and justice.
The Senrenites place particular emphasis on the protection of the weak and of the fight against evil creatures, particularly demons and undead. They would be strongly opposed to summoning demons for any purpose, even if it is claimed that to do so would serve a greater good. However, they are quite tolerant to those of other faiths: they view most faiths as being merely one aspect of the worship of Order (and see other gods as an aspect of Andur): they will certainly not hesitate to protect those of other faiths and are even willing to take part in ceremonies of worship to other gods. Most ordinary practitioners are thus quite accepting of them, though some priests occasionally take great offense that their god is seen as merely an aspect of Andur.
The Senrenites themselves are highly skilled warriors. They are mounted knights who train extensively; furthermore, they are highly skilled in the arts of clerical magic (and the magic of Order is known for its puissance, its practitioners able to cause great dismay to their foes, though sometimes at fearful personal cost). They recruit from all classes of society, though their training programme is hard and many fail.
Organisation and Practice
The leader of the Order is known as the Vicar-General; in practice he has absolute authority over the order. Under him are around 30 Servant-Captains, each of which has command over a Hand of Senren, consisting of 100 knights. Ordinary knights are free, for the most part, to undertake individual quests or to serve in a particular combat, providing permission is obtained from his Servant-Captain (in an emergency, permission may be sought after the deed). However, on occasion, a Servant-Captain may (either on his own initiative or by command of the Vicar-General), ask for 10 or 20 knights in his Hand to undertake a particular task. Occasionally, he may command his whole Hand to follow him; even more rarely, the Vicar-General may command several Hands to udertake a great task. The entire Order has only been mobilised as one twice: once in the Nightrunner uprisings of the 11th century and the second time in the Variscan War of the 17th century. Usually, around 2/3 of the knights will be serving individually or in groups of 10 or fewer.
Believing in balance and justice, the Senrenites will frequently fight in secular wars, usually on the side of the weaker side, of the wronged party or of the more honourable side. It is not uncommon for Senrenites to be fighting on both sides of a conflict though they will never directly attack one of their own order. In any war, feud or skirmish both sides will frequently petition the Senrenites (usually at the Servant-Captain level) for aid.
The Senrenites do expect certain conditions from those who they fight alongside. These include just and humane treatment of prisoners who surrender, not slaughtering the inhabitants of captured towns, no torture, no demons summoning or other dubious magics and so forth. Those who violate these conditions will find that their aid will immediately leave, usually joining the other side; in addition, they are unlikely to gain additional help until and unless they reform. This has had the unplanned consequence of causing most nations in the region to adhere to this code of conduct - essentially an informal international military convention. To any army, the Senrenites represent invaluable aid, whether as 10 knights in a border struggle between barons or five Hands in a national war. Once the reforms and codes of conduct has been put in place, they usually remain, even after the Senrenites have departed, partly in the hope of gaining more aid in the future and partly because it then seems inhumane to return to their previous ways.
Customs and Practices
When not in the field, the Senrenites attend three sessions of worship a day - Matins, Midday Prayer and Compline. Even in the field, they will try to pray, particularly if more than one of them are serving together. A Senrenite knight can, in the absense of a priest, take services, conduct marriages and perform most other rituals (except the most holy) in the church of Order.
The knights are sworn to celibacy and to give over their wealth to the order; however, the order is fairly wealthy (from those who can afford it, it charges for its aid) and this is reflected in the superb equipment of the knights. It is based in half a dozen fortresses scattered across the region, each capable of housing 500-2000 knights (depending on the fortress) and being well defendable.
Typical greetings and sayings include:
“May you find balance in your life”
“St. Senren protect you”
“Andur watch over you”.
Their emblem is a red longsword and shield upon a field of gold, the shield being emblazoned with a white Crown of Senren flower. The Vicar-General carries what is reputed to be the orginial sword of St. Senren, the hilt of which has been remade to contain his knuckle-bone. The sword is almost 5 1/2ft long and, due to its age and its having being wielded by so many great warriors (including of cause St. Senren) is of great renown.
The Order Today
The Order today comprises around 3300 knights. They are the most powerful militant religious order in the region and are one of only three militant orders to have a seat on the Grand Synod of Order. Their influence is significant and the Vicar-General’s word carries some weight, even to rulers. Though they will rarely act directly against a tyrant, they will aid his enemies, and thus their region has known better rule than one might expect. Likewise, though wars still occur, the standard of conduct within them has likewise improved. They are generally well-liked by the common person and respected by most in authority.