In most fantasy campaign worlds there is a rich pantheon - or even several pantheons - of deities, but Arthad is somewhat different. There were gods, but after a climactic battle they mostly killed each other (and a large proportion of humanity) off, and any survivors fled. However, what the common people call 'The Spirit of the Gods' remains, a pervading power known as Harmony which has the happy effect of allowing clerical magic to still work, albeit a bit differently from normal.
The book opens with the background theology of Arthad, a brief run-down of the deities' murderous quarrel and its aftermath, and a list of the key players both on the side of Light and those of the Dark. It's essential reading for anyone wanting to run the Arthad-based adventures completely within this setting, rather than using them in a modified form elsewhere. It's a good example, as well, of how to create a detailed background theology for your own campaign world, even if you don't want quite such an unusual one.
Despite the absence of 'Gods' to worship, there are still groups, known as 'Brotherhoods,' who band together with a common view and purpose to conduct rituals and further their own ends. Many do not seek to spread their philosopy and may retreat from everyday life, living communually in isolated monasteries; while others mix more freely with non-religious people. However, the main contact the ordinary people have with the religiously-inclined is with 'Mystics' who practice the healing arts.
There is a detailed section on how to create your own Brotherhood - a type of community that would work well as an occasionally occuring organisation in any fantasy world even if you are not using Arthad as written - followed by complete write-ups of several Brotherhoods (and at least one Sisterhood!) that exist on Arthad. There's enough detail for your characters to be able to visit, interact with (fight?) or even join each Brotherhood, and plans of their monasteries. Most Brotherhoods are small, just a handful of members, and maintain a single community; although there is one with over an thousand members spread all over the land. Many are capable of combat as well as more peaceful pursuits, some could with justification even be viewed as paladins rather than clerics.
The book is a good example of how to create the religious background for your campaign world, well worth reading even if Arthad is not a setting you want to use. Presentation is good (this is 0one Games after all!) but occasionally the English gets confused... given that the authors' native tongue is Italian this is unsurprising, especially when discussing complex theological ideas. It doesn't detract much from the overall quality of the work, though.
Return to Brotherhoods page.
Reviewed: 17 February 2005