The Church of Kanorthe
The Church of Karnorthe is the name given to the formalised temple structure of the western and south-western portions of the continent of Ethryn. The exact boundaries, like that of many of the regons "nations" are vague. The area is commonly held to be made up of the "realms" of the Morchainti Empire, Gorgrin Tuvess, Alaython, Pathen, Telorthen Ty Taros, Acsynae, Salkasan, and Veslin.
The "formal" Church of Karnorthe does not include Nuril Ka, whose people do worship the same gods but in their own ways, or the areas occupied by the Krizak Nomads. The Krizak worship some of the same deities but have also added numerous nature spirits. Maladon was once covered by the Church but has since fallen under the influence of the dark gods of Sharkan, Urmish and Niona. The Church of Karnorthe has been discussing the possibility of a crusade to cleanse Maladon of this influence.
The full formal structure of the Church of Kanorthe is rather complex, but its basic principles are relatively easy to follow.
The Mandril is the appointed head of the Church of Kanorthe and is normally appointed for life by the members of the Mandrite Council. The Mandril acts as the "president" of the council and has jurisdiction over disputed between the temples of the different deities. The Mandril can also override the Mandrite Council should its wishes and the Mandril's not coincide. In this case the Mandril risks loosing support and could, if his or her decision was not justified, be removed from office. All of the other eleven members of the Mandrite Council would have to agree to this. It is one of the few ways the Mandril can be removed other than by the death of the incumbant.
The Mandrite Council
The Mandrite Council consists of twelve voting members, including the Mandril, each of whom represents one of the twelve deities who make up the heavenly "Council of Twelve". In addition there are varying nubers of non-voting, or advisory members who may put their views before the council. These are generally representatives of the temples of deities not part of the twelve plus other prominant people invited to attend Mandrite Councils.
During normal voting, in the event of a tie the Mandril gets an additional casting vote. The main purpose of the Mandrite Council is to prevent conflict between the various temples. It has no real power over the temples themselves though it does have considerable influence.
Below the Mandril and Mandrite Council are the various temples themselves. Each temple is organised differently according to the dictates of the particular deity. As an example in the more structured of the temples, such as that of Tilanor, the head of the Temple is termed the primate and is a member of the Mandrite Council. Beneath the primate there are up to three branches, the Temple proper, the Monastic Orders and the Fighting Orders, most temples do not have the Fighting Order branch though temples of Tilanor and Karinak do. While the temple of Karinak does not have a normal monastic order.
The Temple Proper
The bulk of the clergy within the temple of Tilanor, and most other temples, belong to this branch. It is this branch which operates and runs the actual temples and shrines. The senior cleric of this branch in most nations is termed the "archbishop" and is responsible, in consultation with the primate, for the appointment of "bishops" and the oversight of these subordinate bishops and lesser clerics. In some nations the oversight also extends to the other branches as well.
The Monastics are further divided into Orders, each of which focusses on particular aspects of the deity. They are responsible for the establishment and operation of monasteries and priories. Many "missionaries" are also drawn from this branch. The head of each order is generally termed the "Abbot General" or "Abbess General" a rank normally equated as equivelent to an archbishop. In most temples the bulk of clergy not part of the temple proper fall within this branch. Some monastics who for whatever reason cannot follow the strict discipline and rigours of an "Order" often become less formally attached as friars.
The Fighting Orders
Not all temples maintain fighting orders, amongst those who do are the temples of Tilanor where this branch is the smallest and the temple of Karinak where this is the largest branch. In other temples this branch can be totally non existant or exist only at certain times or places. These orders provide the fighting "muscle" to overcome the enemies of the temple and can provide loyal guards for members of the other branches. Essentially they are a specialised type of monastic order dedicated to fighting in the name of their deity. The heady of each fighting order is generally termed the "Grand Master."
Although it is more common for an archbishop to advance to primate and thus the Mandrite Council, it is also possible for an Abbot or Abbess General of a monastic order to do so, or in the case of the temple of Karinak it is normally the Grand Master who is advanced to become head of the temple. Historically a few abbots and abbesses have become archbishops rather than Abbot or Abbess Generals which makes further advancement fractionally easier. Though as there are few vacancies in the higher temple positions and many potential candidates patronage is important and much politicking can occur.