The United Clergy of Orun is a large sect of Orun worshipers based in Paraton. They are militant and evangelistic in their ways, and this causes friction with other countries around Paraton or in other regions where they have a presence where they are regarded by many as religious extremists. They follow a very strict set of rules that put them at odds with many races and countries and even other Orun worshipers because adherents to the sect hold their own interpretation of Orun's will to be superior to the laws or customs of other countries or cultures. It has been revealed that the United Orun Clergy is in fact actually a very recent sect, only having existed for 20 years or so prior to the main campaign.
The UCO have a history of coming into areas of the Alton region and demanding that the inhabitants conform to their beliefs. The Dwarven nation of Buldur expelled the sect when they made demands such as increasing the light levels of their underground cities and requiring dwarves expose themselves to the sun at least one day a week.
Recently, the UCO have taken to directly antagonizing Alivast after the aasimar named Solliandris deserted the clergy, and has made aggressive moves near their shoreline, threatening invasion. They have also entered the Canary Channel, using large ramming ships to antagonize shipping vessels, primarily for magic items and weapons. An ulterior motive for this is the apparent desire to claim alliances with several unnamed parties in Alivast, presumably for a full-scale invasion.
Practices and Beliefs
The United Clergy of Orun has its own dogma for appropriate behavior and worship of Orun that is considered extreme by other Orun worshipers. Some central tenets are the infallibility of its leadership and a strict code of conduct to keep worshipers pure. Intentionally obscuring the sun or avoiding its light is considered sinful, though the necessity of things like roofs on buildings is acknowledged. Areas of darkness or shadow are considered cursed, unlucky, or even an affront to Orun, and to be avoided if possible. It is also believed that the stronger a person's faith (the UCO's doctrine) then the more resistant they are to the corrupting or unholy nature of darkness and shadow, so they don't need to be as concerned as the rank and file worshiper. According to Hellina, the United Clergy of Orun don't sing songs as part of their worship, but have sermons and speak in tongues.
Indoctrination and Punishment
The UCO uses harsh tactics to condition and enforce compliance with their dogma. Peer pressure and public humiliation is used to ensure conformity and obedience to the authority of the Clergy's leaders. When verbal abuse and social consequences are not enough physical punishment will be meted out including branding offenders. The brands serve not just as a punishment, but also as a warning to other Clergy that the branded is weak in their beliefs and to be cautious around these potential moral hazards. The harshest punishment appears to be known as being thrown into "The Void", though what that entails is unclear.
Clerics and Paladins
The Clergy has displayed a very disturbing trend of strictly regulated gender roles that place women in positions of subservience and given the purpose to support their male partners. Even though the female clerics can access some very powerful spells, the teachings of the Clergy are that they should not outshine their paladins in battle and are resigned to a role supporting them.
Clerics in the Clergy encountered so far are young women who are frequently plucked from convent schools that are tailor-made for molding them, and paired with Paladins that they follow into battle and support with their magic. It appears that many are not experienced soldiers and react poorly to the rigors and brutality of combat. In these two-person combat teams, the clerics are apparently supposed to be completely subservient to the paladins and expected to be seen, but not heard, and are frequently treated with almost callous indifference. Their errors or hesitations in battle are judged harshly, as is any action that goes counter to the sect's hard-line stance.
Clerics and Paladins are trained at separate temples in Paraton, raised on the values and trained in the arts of the church. They are then paired off at a certain age, and are expected to be married, with a quota of children expected. It varies depending on the Cleric. Paladins who lose their Clerics are considered dishonored, receive a bronze badge marking their shame, and are referred to as "Bleeding Hearts".
Aasimar in Paraton live very restricted lives even by the United Clergy of Orun's standards. They are simultaneously deified and controlled and every aspect of their existence dictated by others who believe they are doing what is best. They are not allowed to marry or freely form friendly or physical relationships. They can take lovers or act as a consort, but only with people the Clergy has pre-approved. The justification is that the Clergy values the purity of the celestial-touched aasimar so highly that they feel only people who meet exacting standards of purity, social class, and proven piety should be allowed to interact or produce offspring with them.
One of the UOC's core tenets is a fanatical hatred of races that dwell in the Underdark or eschew the sun or fail to meet their standards. Tieflings, kobolds, gnolls, and drow are killed on sight. Orcs, dwarves, ogres, and goliaths are treated with suspicion or outright hostility if they dwell in caves or underground. Despite a people's exposure to the sun being a basis for their racism, they appear to heavily favor humans over all other races with the possible exception of elves regardless of how they live. Individuals in occupations that work in darkness, such as rogues, are also considered anathema. Clerics are taught that their healing spells will not work on creatures such as tieflings, kobolds, or drow because those races are inherently tainted.
Holidays and other Religious Observances
Rainy days are considered a time of unrest, fear, and mourning, though a person of sufficient devotion to Orun can be out in this "weaker darkness" without fear of taint.
The "Mourn" is what their clerics call the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year. Followers fast, light candles, and pray for the sun's return, creatures of dark are feared to rise and hide in the shadows of the snow, many temples consider it the most dangerous day for the faith.
One observed tactic are teams of paladins and clerics working in pairs. The paladins and clerics are paired off, and are expected to support one another, though in the observed cases, the clerics are obviously the junior partners in the team. The clerics befuddle, delay and debuff the defending parties and heal their allies, while the paladins attack. Both Paladin and Cleric use the Channel Divinity ability frequently to maintain control of the battlefield to invoking fear and panic into their opponents.
A weakness in this general strategy is the reliance on the cleric's own experience under pressure to help the paladin, and the paladin's desire to help defend the cleric should the need arise. The teams encountered so far have suffered somewhat due to the inexperience of the clerics and how the paladins use them as tools rather than partners. They also are extremely susceptible to strategies outside the confines of conventional warfare, and can be blindsided quite easily.
Relations With Other Clergies
United Clergy of Orun members are, unsurprisingly, generally intolerant of most religions outside of their own. Though they take special issue with certain gods and goddesses for their relationship to the sun, and their followers as consequence. They distrust Avan followers because of how mountains by their very nature can block the sun and therefore Orun's gaze on the world. Despite other sects of Orun worshipers having a friendly, even familial relationship with followers of Illunay, the UCO is wary and indignant of her worshipers due to her association with the night and how she basks in darkness. UCO worshipers also find Uspa distasteful because they believe her storms and rains block out Orun's love. Other (non-UCO) Orun worshipers don't have these particular hang-ups, and are looked down on by the UCO as false believers, calling them Half-Dedicated, Eclipsed, or Lazy Faithed.
The Clergy forces in Alivast seemed to have no issues forming an alliance with the Dragon Cult. Whether this was the local commander's decision or from higher up, they traded pirated goods for supplies with the cultists, including the delivery of two very young red dragons that would presumably aided the Clergy forces in Alivast.
The Unexpectables and the United Clergy of Orun have clashed on multiple occasions now. At first the Clergy likely had no idea who the Unexpectables were other than a unremarkable group of ruffians that clashed with their envoys in Alivast, or a bunch of seafaring trash they captured and sentenced to drown in Canary Channel. This all changed when the party and their orcish allies raided the United Clergy Base, slew Athtar, Herald of the Sun, and then Panic Grimtongue held the heads of Athtar and one of his Paladins aloft and demanded the fleeing forces to inform Viantius Apastrophi and Ragis Cade that "The Unexpectables say hello." The United Orun Clergy most likely knows who The Unexpectables are now.
The United Clergy took Remy hostage from the sinking wreck of the Green Gulley after he offered his freedom in exchange for his friends’ safety. The Clergy chose to reinterpret Remy’s wish for his friends as “give them a merciful death” and tossed The Unexpectables overboard after confiscating and dividing their items. They took their hostage to the mainland in the ship’s brig and tied him to a post in the square. Here, he was humiliated, stoned, and denied food and water until he accepted the signing of a letter that was to be send southward. Remy’s approval of the letter would safeguard it against interception by Alivast’s military. Remy was defiant to the end, and has recently vanished from under the watch of the clergy, rescued by Kiwi who reluctantly agreed to also take the unconscious Audrey. He would later return to the United Clergy Base to enact his vengeance upon Athtar, along with The Unexpectables.
The United Clergy as procured the assistance of some of the Coastal Orc tribe through dividing and conquering, acquiring the services of one converted Orc named Snaglak, who bested the leader of the Blood of Gnash, crippling their numbers and taking most of the Orc women with him. The Orcs appear to work as hired labor and also as raiders on the UCO's behalf.
As part of her plan to amass power in the seas near Alivast, Cullith Cascadia has forged a trade alliance with the United Clergy. She’s offered them the use of her vessels in exchange for a cut of the profits they make through trade.
Some opportunistic traders from Alivast have taken advantage of the United Clergy’s sale of unregistered magical items. In particular, a green dragonborn was seen purchasing some of the magical items stolen from The Unexpectables.
No shadow can but hide
No night eternal last
Dawn brings hope and day, truth
‘Neath light that Orun cast
By sun we see, in light we thrive
Through night we hope and dream
With dawn we rise
See the dawn
Come and rejoice
Fear not the dark nor shadow
By Orun’s light do we see
It does by wheat and barley grow
And does thus all live by Orun
We thank the dawn for morning meal
We honor you O Celestial with midday bread
If lift ye days last to the candle and hearth-fire
Orun’s gift to the ‘morrow
May you see true by the light
- The Speaker - enigmatic leader of the United Clergy
- Viantius Apastrophi - 2nd in command
- Ragis Cade
- Icarus, Champion of the Sun - an aasimar. Said to be awe inspiring and terrifying in battle. Kept separate from the common people and only allowed to be "in the best of company".
- Hellina (deserted, no longer affiliated)
- Solly (escaped, no longer affiliated)
- Audrey - Served under Athtar. Deserted.
- Athtar, Herald of the Sun - captain of the warship that attacked the Green Gully and leader of the Clergy's expeditionary force in Alivast. He is an older elf with white hair, ornate heavy armor with wings like a Hussar that glow with magic light. His devotion to his beliefs was genuine and he resisted being baited or swayed by Remy. He was killed in a dramatic fashion by Borky.
- Aden Scale - Athtar's right hand man. A human dragonblood sorcerer. Blond hair, red dragon scales on his face and draconic eyes. Crushed unceremoniously by Kiwisaurus.
- Boris - The leader of the paladins and Honoré's paladin, considered to be in line to become a Herald of the Sun someday. Was one of the Paladins temporarily turned into a lobster by Zenrio. The shocking tactics of the Unexpectables and their orcish allies panicked him and to Athtar's disgust Boris called for a retreat that immediately turned into a rout of the UOC forces.
- Evelina - Served under Athtar. She picked up Lys' mask and was allowed to keep it. She later asked Remy in captivity where it came from, mentioning she saw a mask like it in a dream that was more bird-like. Deserted.
- Honoré - Served under Athtar. Wanted to escape the Clergy according to Audrey. In love with Kendra. Has a long nose, long, black hair, and is quite tall (6 feet). She has a rather severe appearance like a math teacher or lawyer. Deserted.
- Kendra - Served under Athtar. A pretty blonde woman with short cropped hair. In love with Honoré. Deserted.
- Maria - Served under Athtar. A nervous young woman with thick glasses. She was partnered with the paladin Westcott the Cruel who was especially abusive to her as well as the other clerics. Deserted.
- Leonel - A young paladin serving under Athtar. He showed The Unexpectables a picture of an (unscarred) Hellina asking if she was alive. When Panic nodded in affirmation, he was not allowed to give any further explanation when Leonel's commanding officer put an end to the interaction, though he expressed relief that "his cleric was alive". He later tried to get more information from the captive Remy. Considered a "bleeding heart". He was badly hurt by the Kiwisaurus, but managed to survive and escape. He is now under the custody of Alivast due to war crimes (captured, no longer affiliated)
- Westcott "the Cruel" - paladin partner of Marie. Said to be very brutal and abusive of her and the other clerics. He was killed by Borky and his head taken as a trophy by Panic. He had long, greasy black hair, a pointed goatee and a sunken, wicked stare.
- A common nickname that the Unexpectables' fan community calls them is Sun Nazis, though Monty has stated a dislike of that nickname and prefers "Sun Zealots".
- In-game they have been derisively called the "sun-hats" by an NPC
- The United Clergy of Orun practices arranged marriages between clerics and their paladins. With their Aasimar also having the option for multiple lovers at once.
- They use pigeons and hawks to carry messages by air.