What exactly Is A Grand Theogonist?
Well, if you ask Ricky (one of my players) then he is the High King of the Dwarfs. Thankfully that’s not the case, and I suggest you avoid asking Ricky anything lore related…
So, serious now – The Grand Theogonist is essentially the Pope of the Old World. He is the head of the Sigmarite church, and he is Sigmar’s chosen representative. He also has a vote on who gets to become the next Emperor, which is worth 3 votes in total. So yes, if you ever plan on putting your fat ass on that imperial throne, then you best get cosy with the Grand Theogonist.
The Grand Theogonist operates out of the capital, which in this case is Altdorf. (For those that don’t know, the capital has been known to ‘move’ around.) And of course, within Altdorf is the Great Cathedral of Sigmar, a magnificient and awe inspiring sight to all those who lay their eyes upon it. Even if one were not a follower of Sigmar, you can’t help but feel very small when standing next to the Cathedral.
– Cathedral of Sigmar, which also contains the Temple of Sigmar (its easy to confuse the two) which houses the Templars, aka, Witch Hunters.
So what are the duties of the Grand Theogonist?
The Grand Theogonist primarily heads the Order of the Torch, which is the ruling body within the church. From within that, he ensures that the religious texts are upheld within grand provinces, to tending matters of high state and from time to time, organizing a crusade to smite heretics. Volkmar the Grim for example is very active in his duty of weekly proclamations from the Great Cathedral of Sigmar. His fearsome unwavering zealous nature has proved immensely popular with the people of Altdorf and those from the other provinces. They say that he burns with a fierce fire of purity during his sermons and that he takes a more active role in church activities.
In comparison, Yorri XV, who he succeeded, was regarded as more hands off, and only committing to a public sermon once a month.
The Grand Theogonist however does not carry this burden alone; he is assisted by provincial arch-lectors. There is currently 2 Arch-Lectors:
- Altdorf – Kaslain
- Nuln – Aglim
The Arch-Lectors vote amongst themselves in addition to the lower-ranked Lectors who all have a say as to who will become the next Grand Theogonist. The ranking structure within the church is quite complex, and may seem at times, convoluted, but once you break it down into a ladder system, it’s easier to comprehend. Here’s table that represents the structure within the church, with the top number being the highest attainable position within the order:
- The Grand Theogonist
- Arch-Lector (2 positions)
- Lectors (18 positions)
- High Capitulars (4 positions)
- Capitulars (12 positions)
- High Priests (Many)
- Anointed Priests (Countless)
- Priest/Lay Priests
- Theogonists (Many)
In addition to these, there are the high confessors, who look after the confessions of the nobility and individuals of great importance, as opposed to the confessors who listen to the sins of the common folk. There’s the scriptorium master; while not a high ranking position, it’s important regardless as the scriptorium master documents and archives all religious documents and oversees the scribes. There’s the keeper of the sacred bell, whose sole job is to ring the bell at high noon signalling for mass. And then there’s the arch-adjutant which is purely an administration role within the church, and a very boring one at that. Theogonists is one of the lesser known titles within the church as its usage is rarely used, despite many holding the position. Theogonists are responsible for leading warrior priests into battle, and are often seen at the head of a company of priests. They have little influence or rank and is usually a position that only becomes relevant during crusades or hunting down roving bands of heretics. However, Theogonists who perform exceptionally well in the field, especially those who have miracles attributed to them, are known to excel within the church, as such, its a good position to get ‘noticed’ assuming that there are plenty of heretics to smite…
Lectors oversee province worship and are usually stationed in fairly high profile towns/cities. High priests can be found in many of the more important temples, and they oversee the care of the temple as well as their staffing.
Order of the Anvil is perhaps the second most important order within the church. Headed by the Keeper of the Word who resides from the Helstrum Monastery in the Temple District of Altdorf, the position is kept for life and he is the ultimate arbitrator of the Word of Sigmar. As such, if there is any religious dispute within the church (and there can be many), then the Keeper of the Word is the one to see, although in theory the Grand Theogonist can overrule him if need be, but doing so is usually not wise. The Order of the Anvil does not follow the ranking structure of the church; its a monastic order, as such, expect such titles as ‘friar’ and ‘abbot’ along with ‘novitiates’ which are essentially initiates.
And then perhaps the more secretive of the orders within the church is the Order of the Cleansing Flame. Upon reading that name, you’d be forgiven to assume it was the witch hunters, but alas the witch hunter order is the ‘Order of the Silver Hammer’. The Cleansing Flame are the inquisitors, and while they share aspects with the Silver Hammer, there’s a big difference between the two. The witch hunters main focus is on outward corruption; most of their duties involve ensuring that rogue wizards are dealt with, witches are hunted down and any sign of taint is eradicated. The Cleansing Flame inquisitors main focus however is inward corruption; corruption from within. As such, they ensure that the church is kept clear of any taint. The order is led by the Inquisitor General (similar position to the Witch-Hunter General) who controls the high inquisitors and inquisitor priests. Many of their number are recruited from the other orders, especially the Order of the Silver Hammer. One has to show a devout pious nature that goes above and beyond the normal demeanor of a priest of Sigmar. The Order of the Cleansing Flame also has the power to seize assets or command ‘almost’ any Sigmarite, within reason.
The current present reigning Grand Theogonist is Volkmar the Grim, who succeeded the previous Grand Theogonist, Yorri XV.
– Volkmar the Grim
There have been many, many Grand Theogonists in the past. There have been corrupt ones, there have been bad incompetent ones, there have been unpopular reformers and then, once in a while, a ‘good’ Theogonist comes along. It’s hard to say where Volkmar falls into this category, but what can be said is that he’s devout, more so than many others who have attained his position, and that what he preaches is what he believes to be the truth. In the eyes of common folk, that makes him a ‘good’ Theogonist.
Born as Manfred von Hindenstern, he was once a Lector within Middenland until he got voted in as the Grand Theogonist in 2510, four months after the death of Grand Theogonist Yorri XV, who was assassinated by a fanatical cult. He adopted the name of Volkmar the Grim, paying homage to the dwarfs and to their ancient alliance. Volkmar inherited a position that was dominated by incompetence and greed; a consequence of Yorri’s rule. As such, Volkmar seemed like a glowing beacon of divinity compared to his predecessor. Surprisingly however, he nearly missed the opportunity to become Grand Theogonist. At the time, Volkmar was gaining a reputation as a unforgiving and harsh lector to his subordinates. The reputation was somewhat undeserved; Volkmar did not tolerate idiots, incompetent fools and those who fail to reach his standards of what makes a good priest. As such; when the voting began, many feared what the church would be like under Volkmar. Some of the Lectors grew too fat with opulence under the reign of Yorri XV. Others felt that the church needed someone like Volkmar to get it back into shape, less they suffer to hear the japes from the other cults endlessly.
The vote was close… Volkmar the Grim ended up tied with Kaslain, with Johann Esmer coming in a close third. But a tie represented a unique problem… As far as they were aware, this was unprecedented, as there has never been a tie in the history of their order. Which was a lie, of course, there were at least a couple of ties in the past, but of a time so ancient that the religious texts did not contain reference to such an instance.
The Keeper of the Word, who was the chief arbitrator on all things concerning the word of Sigmar, and in this case, the lawful ascension of the Grand Theogonist, was sought out. After a two days of intense contemplation, the Keeper of the Word returned from isolation with his verdict; “The Emperor must decide. It is he, who will have the casting vote.” The reaction to this was mixed; some argued that the State had no business in such matters. Others argued for a re-vote. Then the Keeper of the Word spoke, “Did I hear rightly? That there are those among you, who wish to cast aside their votes, and start again? Surely that’s not what I heard, for you voted with your hearts intent, guided by Sigmar’s divine spirit. There will be no re-vote. It is the Emperor who will have the final say. For he is Sigmar’s chosen; it is he who has inherited his kingdom, and we, who are the servants of such a kingdom. Is my word clear?” There was silence… Not even Volkmar the Grim uttered a word, despite his earlier protests about State interference.
And so it had befallen upon Karl-Franz. After much careful and considerate deliberation, Karl-Franz voted in favor of Volkmar the Grim.
The two would later become fast friends.