I posted a number of articles on Canonfire in the past. I’d like to put another copy up in my blog just in case CF disappears. So, here is a pair of linked Greyhawk articles which may have relevance to current campaigns…
The Church of Xan-Yae never had a strong following in the City of Greyhawk. A few years ago, this changed when a particularly dynamic High Priestess of the faith was chosen, Xanetia.
Xanetia saw an opportunity to spread the word of the faith further, so with funds acquired from an early life spent adventuring, she set up a chapter of the faith in the City of Greyhawk. With uncharacteristic openness for a priestess of Xan-Yae, she built a small temple in the heart of the Foreign Quarter. In co-operation with the priesthood of Ehlonna, Xanetia announced that the church of Xan-Yae would fund an archery contest during Richfest that year.
The archery contest was a great success, and further contests were planned for future festivals. Meanwhile, the church began to attract more members as the tenets of physical perfection and mind over matter proved attractive to some of the more adventurous (or larcenous) of the citizenry.
Although happy with the spreading of the faith, the church in the west was rather less happy with the reinterpretation of certain aspects of the doctrine. With conservative elements gaining the upper hand in the western power struggles, a deputy was assigned to Xanetia, Yeven, a master of doctrinal theology.
Unsurprisingly, Xanetia and Yeven did not get along very well. However, further undermining of Xanetia’s position was prevented by her popularity, and the discovery in the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk of The Medallion of Zuokan, reputed to be the holy symbol of Xan-Yae carried by her most puissant servant. (Zuokan is the demi-god servant of Xan-Yae, and is thought to be imprisoned somewhere).
Things were brought to a head a couple of years later just before the Richfest festival began, when the Medallion of Zuokan was stolen by a thief. Divinations revealed that the thief had fled into the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk, but had there perished to one of the many traps. An expedition recovered the medallion, but in doing so found that the thief had uncovered a statue of Xan-Yae!
Further investigations revealed further evidence of an abandoned Temple of Xan-Yae, reached through a teleporter in Castle Greyhawk. Within its confines the priests discovered several ancient scrolls of prophecy, foretelling a time when the church would be split and the Balance imperilled, and a method for combatting this time.
At this point, Xanetia took ill, and died shortly thereafter. Although nothing was proved, her supporters believed it was the result of poison. Yeven became leader of the church in Greyhawk, and began discontinuing several non-orthodox practices.
Then came the Night of Assassins. It was during the Brewfest festival. Yeven was planning to discontinue the archery contest, but he had not yet stopped it, and he was compelled to attend. During the final round, the leading archer suddenly changed his aim and killed Yeven with a Black Arrow of Iuz. Confusion ensued, of course. That night, whilst the temple was still trying to deal with the assassination, black-clad figures poured into the temple and killed everyone there; only a couple of priests escaped with their lives, and the Church of Xan-Yae’s presence in Greyhawk was at an end.
Currently, there are two survivors of the purge. Yahlos, a war-priest of the faith, and Xelia, a mystic with certain gifts of prophecy. (They were investigating the hidden temple at the time.) Together they are seeking the truth behind the purge and Zuokan’s disappearance, for they may be connected. Rumour states that Starlin Farr, the assassin of Yeven has repented of his deeds and has joined them in their quest.
The Secret Orders of Xan-Yae (September, 2001)
The Church of Xan-Yae, despite its recent activities in the City of Greyhawk, is a mystery to most of the dwellers of the Flanaess. Its initiates often appear to follow a completely different way of life than normal people, eating differently, moving differently, and most important of all, looking at the world in a different way than you or I.
This is because the initiates of Xan-Yae believe in perfecting themselves in all ways – mind, body and soul – and creating a perfect balance between these aspects of themselves. This is quite different to a devotee of Kord, who seeks only to perfect the body. The true initiate of Xan-Yae wants it all, and will go to what appears unreasonable lengths to attain it.
There are schisms within the faith on this subject, of course. Most believe that all aspects of perfection must be attained together, in balance with one another. A minority believe that perfecting one aspect first will aid in bringing the rest into harmony. It seems likely that Xanetia, the High Priestess in Greyhawk who was assassinated, followed this latter belief.
Apart from seeking a balance within themselves, certain dedicated adepts become members of theOrder of Shadow Dancers. This order draws much strength from the demi-plane of Shadow, which of course is a balance between the light and dark. The members of this order seem strange even to lesser initiates of Xan-Yae, but none can doubt their loyalty to the goddess. It was whispered to me that the High Adepts of the Shadow Dancer order trade their material bodies for shadowstuff, and become that being we know as the shade, but I have not been able to confirm this beyond doubt. (3E Rules note: Xan-Yae monks may freely multi-class with the Shadow Dancer prestige class, and its BAB should be considered to add to the monks unarmed attack BAB for purposes of determining additional attacks).
The schismatic Greyhawk faith, in addition to attracting a number of rogues who found the faith of Xan-Yae suited their needs, also began sponsoring an archery competion in league with the Church of Ehlonna. My sources within the temple tell me this is at least partly due to an old adventuring friendship between High Priestess Xanetia and a high-ranking devotee of Ehlonna. In any case, certain members of the Greyhawk faith incorporated archery into their methods of attaining perfection, believing that it provided a new method of bringing their mind and body into harmony.
This belief has seen a resurgence with the ascension of Yahlos to the High Priesthood in the City of Greyhawk, and the recruitment of Starlin Farr (a master archer, known by Yahlos to be the assassin of Xanetia, but unwittingly, for he was tricked by agents of Iuz).
One effect of this has been the formation of theOrder of the Bow. Starlin Farr is its head, though often absent as he pursues dangerous quests to prove his atonement and to further the goals of the faith. From my observations of Master Starlin, I would say he has the blessing of the Lady upon him, but it is always possible that another power is watching over him. (3E rules note: the Order of the Bow Initiate is a prestige class from Sword & Fist; it is only available to members of the faiths of Xan-Yae, Hextor or Ehlonna, though there may be odd exceptions).
I have learnt through my contacts in the church that the seeress Xelia has received a vision of Zuoken, the missing servant of the Lady, chained and blinded in some deep dungeon. As a result, Starlin Farr has been charged with the responsibility of finding the lost demi-god, although I am unsure of how many leads he has to go on.
It seems unlikely that Master Starlin will attempt this quest alone, and may seek aid from within the City of Greyhawk – whether his old adventuring party or a new one has not yet reached my ears.