Path of Light
|Alignment||3E/5E: Lawful Neutral
4E: Lawful Good
|Portfolio||Compassion, discipline, light, psionics, righteous action|
|Domains||3E: Balance, Law, Meditation, Mentalism, Protection
4E: Freedom, Skill, Sun
5E: Life, Light
|Home Plane||Dal Quor|
|Favoured Weapon||Unarmed strike|
The Path of Light is a mystery religion from the Eberron setting of Dungeons & Dragons, and is the native religion of the Kalashtar, inextricably linked with their history and culture. It serves as a goodly counterpart to the Path of Inspiration, with a focus on spiritual growth, enlightenment and positivity that will ultimately cause a rebirth of the Quori as positive dream spirits, and not the living nightmares that they are now. As such, they worship il-Yannah, the benevolent future incarnation of il-Lashtavar, the dark-natured current incarnation of the heart of Dal Quor. A fairly minor faith, the Path of Light was first fleshed out in the Eberron splatbook "Faiths of Eberron".
Whilst predominantly a kalashtar faith, it is generally respected by all races in Adar, the center of rebellion against the stifling quori-created culture that rules most of Sarlona. The faithful of this religion are known as lightbringers (or yannahsur in the quori tongue) and spend much of their time meditating and taking small but positive actions to reinforce the Light. Adventuring or militant members of the faith, those who dedicate themselves to actively battling the Path of Inspiration, are called shadow watchers (sheshantol). Full-fledged priests are known as lightspeakers (yannahilath), and most of these are not true clerics, but instead psionics-based classes with a religious bent. Many devotees to the Path of Light carry a small quartz crystal, usually on a fine chain about the neck. Among psions, this often doubles as a psicrystal. The priests bear distinctive, swooping headbands studded with crystals, which are often power crystals made from Siberys shards, and might have other crystalline adornments on their clothing. These visible tokens of the Light are openly displayed only among kalashtar or within a protected area such as Adar. Followers who mingle with nonbelievers take great care to blend in, even as they promote the Light, lest they be noticed and taken by the agents of the Dreaming Dark.
- 1 Becoming a Priest
- 2 Hierarchy
- 3 Fallen Priests
- 4 Quests
- 5 Rites & Rituals
- 6 Minor Rites
- 7 Major Rites
- 8 The Calendar
- 9 The Path of Light in Everyday Life
- 10 The Path of Light and Government
- 11 The Path of Light and Other Faiths
- 12 Temples & Shrines
- 13 Orders and Monasteries
- 14 Variant Sects
Becoming a Priest
Becoming a yannahilath is not easy - someone who wishes to lead the faithful down the Path of Light must be able to change reality.
...Okay, it's not quite as daunting as it sounds. “Changing reality” can mean something as simple as performing good works that transform a neighborhood. Still, the power called for means most Lightspeakers are at least 5th level in a martial or psionic class, although the rare cleric of il-Yannah is usually fast-tracked to the role. Though predominantly kalashtar, Lightspeakers of other races, such as humans and dromites, are rare, but far from unheard of. To attain the role, a prospective yannahilath must be nominated by an unrelated believer in the Path of Light and must then be seconded by an active priest—even among enlightened folk, a few promote personal agendas over the common good. A council of elder priests (as many as are available) then interviews the candidate and conducts a thorough psionic examination, with the candidate’s permission. Afterward, they confer telepathically on the candidate’s merits, then announce the acceptance or rejection of the nominee.
The responsibilities of a lightspeaker are few but burdensome. She must lead the fight against darkness, whatever form it takes. Those who choose to do this by leading the shadow watchers usually concentrate on taking levels in the psychic warrior or psychic assassin base classes, the atavist prestige class (if a kalashtar), or the fist of Zuoken prestige class. Other priests, particularly those who were or remain aligned with the lightbringers, are teachers and masters of mental discipline who teach the deep meditations that they believe strengthen il-Yannah and work toward the coming new age. A lightspeaker runs a special risk because her role makes her visible, and therefore a prime target for Inspired attacks.
The most powerful lightspeakers all dwell within Adar, protected by natural fortifications, capricious storms, and well-defended monasteries. There they lead the war against darkness through regular meditation. They focus their energies together on establishing a zone of peace and harmony right at the heart of Riedra. As this “bubble” of the Light grows, it saps the current Quor Tarai of strength and begins to transform it for the next incarnation. The lightbringers believe this is the most direct, effective attack against their enemies. It has the additional benefit of counteracting the monoliths’ tightening of the connection to Dal Quor.
Because they spend most of their time in such meditation, the high priests do not often communicate with others. When they do, it is only on matters of critical importance. They telepathically contact those they need to speak with, if possible, or they contact those who pass the word to other followers or to the intended receiver.
Beyond the borders of Adar, individual priests carry on the secret war in whatever way seems best to them. No dogma or strict religious offices exist. Each priest has the same duties that all followers of the Light ascribe to—bringing in the Light.
Should a lightspeaker somehow turn away from the Light, that person becomes an object of both pity and fear among the followers of the Path. Madness is surely the cause of such folly. When it happens, every other priest knows within moments of its discovery. Such a person is a threat, because the tainted one can influence the positive consciousness created by meditations on il-Yannah. A fallen priest is immediately cut off from all mental contact as a preventive measure—shadow watchers and lightspeakers are charged with seeking out and eliminating the danger. Elimination often requires killing a fallen lightspeaker, but the shadow watchers avoid this if possible. Lightspeakers would rather not lose a soul if it can be redeemed, so they first attempt to capture the renegade and mend any wrong thinking.
A fallen lightspeaker who manages to evade discovery and capture can cause tremendous damage. Such a one might become a priest of another faith. Or, worse, she might continue to act as an underground priest of the Light while contaminating the spirits of ignorant followers. A soul that has gone over completely to the darkness reinforces the Dreaming Dark and might expose other practitioners of the Path to danger. Such a one must be destroyed.
Every moment of a lightspeaker’s life is a quest for the purification of the Dream of the Age. But some seek out new knowledge that can further this ultimate goal. The path of the atavist, begun by Soserath the seer, has led to great advances in regaining and strengthening the bond between kalashtar and quori. His research dealt with finding a way to fully incarnate quori spirits devoted to the Light. Thus, some devotees of the Path of Light take levels in the atavist prestige class.
A very few clerics of il-Yannah sometimes embark on a different but related quest—discovering a divine connection between the gods and the Great Light. Many note the parallels between their faith and that of the Silver Flame. Some of these priests make pilgrimages to Flamekeep, and if they are allowed to do so, they meditate in the presence of the Silver Flame in the hope of further revelation.
Practical quests require defeating the agents of the Inspired and the Dreaming Dark. Some lightspeakers are brave warriors who strike directly against Riedran holdings or agents of the Dark in Khorvaire. Many such lightspeakers are bright lights indeed, burning out much too quickly.
Rites & Rituals
The Path of Light is at once intensely personal and selflessly altruistic. This seeming contradiction vanishes through understanding its purpose. Survival demands that the lightspeakers keep their devotion hidden, for enemies are everywhere—and those enemies can sometimes sense the light within. Yet spreading the Light demands that the priests do good works, understand their neighbors, and encourage more such behavior. The lightspeakers are very humble in this duty, and this is not only because being noticed can mean death.
Lightspeakers do not utter spoken prayers to il-Yannah. For one thing, most do not believe it to be an entity that can answer requests. More practically, open practice of the faith exposes them to detection. However, they spend virtually all their free time in contemplation of the Light, and undertake each action with it in mind. In a way, everything a lightspeaker does is a prayer. Those who find divine inspiration in the Light don’t ask for intervention (for they know that the Light is within), but they do give thanks. They do so silently, as a conscious moment of thought, and sometimes share a brief prayer with another follower during mental contact. They also offer prayers for the safety of Taratai’s soul, wherever it exists, in the hope that it might one day find its way back into the Light.
Each of the sixty-six quori whose spirits still survive in the kalashtar has a five-day period of remembrance in its honor. Four of these are set aside for contemplation of the ancestor—a member of that lineage spends more time than usual meditating, and the meditation is deeper. Some lightspeakers remain awake throughout this time and spend the extra hours in discussion with others of their lineage. The apex day of this period is a formal Day of Remembrance observance.
With so few members in a typical kalashtar enclave, not many lines are represented. A very large population might have ten different quori ancestors. Thus, the community’s lightspeakers commemorate each along with the actual descendants, regardless of their lineage. Many adherents also practice a minor ritual, sheshan talarash dasyannah, which translates loosely as “the path of shadows.” This martial arts exercise can prepare a warrior for battle or focus the thoughts for intensive meditation.
Many common folk in Adar know bits of the path of shadows or perform it in a stylized way, but they do practice it.
All light speakers of a given quori line observe the apex Day of Remembrance for that spirit in communal gatherings. Celebrants ritually purify their bodies and their residences with water and by burning sweet herbs. This makes their minds more receptive than normal to psionic communication. Some celebrations use physical foci to amplify the mental state, such as a roomful of lit candles or the gentle tinkling of a fountain or chimes. Those with the necessary abilities, such as remote viewing, can even participate from a distance. Although low-key, the apex Day of Remembrance is the most public display of the Path of Light. Community members share thoughtsongs and story circles, remembering their ancestors and promising to honor them with specific devotional acts. The lightspeakers of the enclave lead the thoughtsongs if they have such ability, or they lend psychic strength to the performance if they do not.
Apex observances go on for 24 hours. When they conclude, the participants are fatigued both physically and mentally. After breaking the fast with a light meal, they spend most of the next day in deep, dreamless sleep.
The most solemn observance for all dreamers is the five-day period originally designated in remembrance of Taratai. With the utter destruction of her line, this is instead a time of mourning called the Void of Taratai. Lightspeakers gather the community, much as they do for an apex day, but they do so for the entire Void. In this dark time, the priests of il-Yannah lend their spiritual energy to the entire community. Their devotion to the Light sustains all, as they manifest sustenance, share pain, and similar soothing powers for those in need, often using metaconcert. As the participants remember Taratai, the lightspeakers remind them that they walk within the Light and that even the spirit of Taratai could be reborn in the new era to come.
In the private lives of all kalashtar and lightspeakers, wherever they live, a year consists of sixty-seven periods of five days each. Each ancestor quori has five of its own Days of Remembrance, with the Void of Taratai coming last in the sequence. This calendar was established just after the exodus, when the fugitive quori fled into Adar, and it did not take into account the regular celestial events of Eberron.
Among the people of Adar and Khorvaire, the kalashtar use the usual calendar. They still practice Days of Remembrance, but these days shift in the year to keep time with a cycle that doesn’t contain 335 days. Only the Void of Taratai observances are regular in Adar and Khorvaire, set when the last of Taratai’s line disappeared from Adar—at the end of Zarantyr and the beginning of Olarune. The other Days of Remembrance are observed privately as they occur, except when they overlap the Void. Any such period is interrupted by those five days, restarting after they end.
The Path of Light in Everyday Life
Every kalashtar is troubled by a conflict within her very nature. On the one hand, her soul is descended from a quori spirit—an alien child of Dal Quor, even though it is a rebel against the Dark. Its thoughts intrude upon her consciousness, and their strangeness can send her human mind over the edge into madness. The Path of Light is the most common way to achieve balance between these disparate souls and build the inner calm so important to survival in the secret war. More than that, it is a common bond among kalashtar, one through which they can sense each other and work together toward the greater good. The most sensitive among them walk the Path to become more aware of the shadows, to call out a warning before their enemies can grow too strong.
The Path of Light and Government
Kalashtar do not usually speak to other races about their ancient, secret war. They can even be arrogant, believing that such “lesser” people can’t understand the enormity of their struggle. The practical needs of survival dictate silence as well.
The arcane authorities in Aundair and Karrnath distrust the kalashtar and their alien mental powers. If they knew the truth, they would fear the Inspired more. Kalashtar and the lightspeakers prefer to conduct their war in their own way, but they value informed allies. Occasionally, this means the lightspeakers or shadow watchers provide information to other forces for good. Such information is reliable and discreet, and it can rarely be traced to its source.
A few lightspeakers and shadow watchers have established a small outpost in the Demon Wastes, near the watch posts of the Maruk Ghaash’kala. They come to learn about Kalok Shash, the binding flame, and its possible connection to the Silver Flame. Their interest goes beyond the merely academic, and they use divine magic to assist the barbarian warriors in their struggles against the fiends of the wastes.
The Path of Light and Other Faiths
As mentioned earlier, the Silver Flame and the Kalok Shash fascinate some scholarly lightspeakers. Clerics of those religions have differing attitudes to this idea, ranging from outright hostility among the Pure Flame to calculating appraisal by Ghaash’kala, who welcome any available weapon against the fiends. Other devotees of the Path of Light find this fascination strange and believe it distracts from the true struggle.
The lightspeakers don’t have much interest in other faiths. However, they recognize the value of religion as a way to strengthen a community, and they often participate in holidays or festivals to blend in better. They do learn about the pantheons and other cults, of course, just as they study anything else about their adopted society. Followers of the Path of Light are horrified by the travesty of religion that the Inspired have established in Riedra. They fear that, beyond the enslavement of innocent souls, this system strengthens the power of il-Lashtavar. Priests of the Path of Inspiration are often strategic targets for Adaran shadow watchers.
Temples & Shrines
In Khorvaire, followers of the Path of Light do not build temples. The only shrines to the Light are those within the minds of its followers. Personal quarters double as meditation chambers but do not display any obvious religious function.
Fortified monasteries in Adar are home to powerful lightspeakers. These sanctuaries of the Light allow them to devote all their energies to meditation and purification of the Dream of the Age. The people of Adar also build shrines within their villages. Reaching Adar is nearly impossible, for a powerful psionic barrier and forbidding mountains defend that land. The fortresses of Adar do have means to allow teleportation into a fortress, but this method is secret and rarely used.
Orders and Monasteries
Most followers of the Light fall into one of two categories, depending on their attitude toward the secret war. Lightbringers comprise the majority, and they believe in strengthening il-Yannah through active mental exercise. Shadow watchers are a militant minority who are convinced that simply waiting for the turning of the age is not enough. They take the fight directly to the Inspired wherever they can.
Within Adar’s fortresses, elite monks train for war against the darkness. Many of these monks develop psionic or magical ability to complement their physical training. A large number of them take levels in the fist of Zuoken prestige class, which they name fist of the Light. Adar is home to other forms of martial mysticism as well.
A small number of kalashtar are neither evil nor insane, but they don’t follow the Path of Light. Some call themselves dreamwalkers, professing that the il-Lashtavar is not a force of evil. It is incomprehensible to nonquori, and its alien nature is deeply disturbing to them, but its purpose is not active malice. The dreamwalkers study the Dreaming Dark in the hope of making it more understandable to all. In this way, kalashtar can once again take their place within Dal Quor as true quori spirits, and the warring halves of their people can be reunited.
Kalashtar do not dream, for dreams would take them to Dal Quor, a place still hostile to them. But the dreamwalkers retrace the steps of the exodus, when Taratai led the rebel quori through mortal dreams, to find a way to skirt the edges of the Dreaming Dark without being consumed by it. They also hope to find the lost spirit of Taratai, which they believe remains trapped somewhere in the dreaming. Sometimes a dreamwalker loses her way and becomes isolated, so others also seek their lost colleagues. Those who can be rescued from Dal Quor might have valuable information to impart concerning its nature.