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Not to be confused with Great Temple.

Great Temple of Sigmar

The Great Cathedral of Sigmar

The Holy Temple of Sigmar, also called the Great Cathedral is the center of the Cult of Sigmar, seat of the Grand Theogonist and is considered one of the true marvels of the Old World. It is, in of itself, the largest and most powerful religious hub within the Empire and beyond. Some argue it holds more power than the Emperor’s Palace. Its magnificent carved stone facades dominate the city around it, and the building demonstrates to all good citizens for miles around the awesome power of the cult, of Sigmar, and of the Empire. The main hall of the temple is truly one of the marvels of the Old World.[1a]

It has a massively high arched ceiling, overlooked by countless balconies and precarious gantries. It is estimated that the Temple can accommodate thousands of worshipers. The building was constructed, renovated, embellished, and enhanced over the centuries, and has ancient wings and almost-forgotten corners and sections forbidden to all but ordained priests of Sigmar. The reliquary below the temple boasts many sacred and powerful artefacts, but pride of place is taken by the Shroud of Magnus, rumoured to be the very burial cloth used when Magnus the Pious was interred. If the rumours are true, the shroud could be one of the most precious relics in the entire Old World.[1a]

OverviewEdit

The great Temple of Sigmar in Altdorf, centre of the Sigmarite cult, is easily the largest temple in the city. Facing the Imperial Palace across the central square, it represents one of the two centres of power in the Empire and has a physical presence that cannot be ignored. The temple complex includes a large number of buildings, the most important being the main sanctuary of Sigmar. This is a large hall, T-shaped to represent a warhammer, the cross bar of the T in the south. Twin spires stand at either side of the entrance at the northern end at the central square, and the door is flanked by enormous statues of Sigmarite warriors that are triple the size of a Human. The double-tailed comet is carved into the door, which towers four times the height of a Human man. Slightly larger than the warriors flanking the door is a statue of Sigmar, set in a niche over the door, holding his warhammer.[2a]

It was carved centuries ago by a priest famed for his battles against Chaos, but, while competent, it is not great art. However, it has holy significance in itself, so the Grand Theogonist has always resisted occasional campaigns to have it moved somewhere else and replaced by a finer statue, of which the temple has several. Once within, the smells of the street are overpowered by the smell of hundreds of people in a confined area. The temple is big, but there are still enough people that their sweat dominates the odours. The roof soars over 20 yards into the air, topped by solid vaulting. The hall is aisled, the roof in the aisles a mere 10 yards from the ground. Great arches springing from marble pillars support the upper walls, and in the centre of each arch stands a statue of a great Sigmarite hero, twice the size of a Human. There are 12 arches on each side, honouring a total of 24 heroes.[2a]

The statues are moved when a new hero is judged worthy of a place among them. A strong body of contemporary opinion holds that Valten’s statue should be placed there because even though he was not Sigmar reborn, he was clearly a great hero of the faith. Others think that Valten was a heretic and should not be honoured at all. The windows in the aisles are stained glass, depicting famous scenes from the life of Sigmar. There are 12 on each side, those in the east telling of his rise to power, while those in the west tell of his later years consolidating the Empire. The windows above the aisles are clear glass, making the interior of the temple far brighter than most would think. The crossing point of the T is surmounted by a great dome, pierced with windows about its base. The interior of the dome is decorated with a mosaic showing Sigmar ascending into heaven.[2a]

This current mosaic is the seventh, as the depiction of this event, which had no witnesses, is particularly vulnerable to charges of heresy. Beyond the dome, in the south-central wall of the temple, is a great stained glass window depicting the Battle of Black Fire Pass. Sigmar, larger than all the other figures, stands in the centre surrounded by his Human and Dwarf allies, swinging his great warhammer to crush the twisted Greenskins before him. The Orcs and Goblins in this window are depicted with many mutations, to emphasise the double role of Sigmar’s fight. In the sky over his head, the twin-tailed comet shines brightly. In front of the window is a mighty statue of Sigmar, over 20 feet tall, his warhammer cradled and ready for action. A gift from the Dwarfs, this statue is generally agreed to be an artistic masterpiece. Before the statue, under the centre of the dome, stands the High Altar of Sigmar, the holiest place of the Sigmarite faith.[2a]

The arms of the T are brightly lit through their south-facing windows, ending in a mighty tower. However, the arms are divided by pillars and bays into over two dozen semi-private chapels, each with its own altar and Sigmarite icon where the faithful can pray in peace. Even when a service is held in the main body of the temple, those who wish to pray privately here are not disturbed. The altar in the far south-eastern corner is not dedicated to Sigmar. Instead, it is dedicated to all the Gods of the Dwarfs in recognition of their importance in Sigmar’s life. The image behind it depicts many Dwarfish figures, but only experts in Dwarfish culture can identify them. This altar is usually deserted; although, the priests ensure that it is kept in a good state, to do otherwise would show a lack of respect. There are always at least a dozen priests in the temple, praying, counselling the faithful, and keeping an eye out for potential trouble. During the day there are at least twice that number and over a hundred lay folk as well, rising to several hundred if there is a service.[2a]

The temple is never quiet, and characters who just want to speak to a priest of Sigmar can do so here within a few minutes. If they have an important message and can prove it, they will be escorted to the complex of buildings surrounding the sanctuary for a meeting with the appropriate figure. These buildings cover a larger surface area than the sanctuary itself, and in the heart of it all, the smells of the street are imperceptible, replaced by a faint scent of incense, drifting from more than a dozen small temples to Sigmar. Of these, the Sun Chapel is particularly famous. It is called so because it is round and domed, and the exterior of the dome is plated in gold, making it shine like the sun. The interior has an altar to Sigmar at the centre, while the walls and underside of the dome are decorated with the most superb mosaics to be found in the Empire. These mosaics depict the whole of Sigmar’s life story, the Battle of Black Fire Pass raging around the bottom of the dome as the twin-tailed comet flares across its sky.[2a]

The figure of Sigmar is in the east of the dome on the same side as the door. Thus, in order to see him in battle, it is necessary to enter the chapel, cross it, and turn around. The Sun Chapel is used as the private Chapel of the Grand Theogonist, and being allowed to see the interior is a great privilege for any character. The rest of the buildings are residences, libraries, meeting and lecture halls, and refectories, built mostly around cloistered courtyards. The palace of the Grand Theogonist is also found here; although, it is not a separate building. Rather, it sprawls through a dozen ranges of rooms, making a spectacular palace once you are within but presenting a more humble facade. The main entrance is a simple spiral staircase, just large enough for two people to climb abreast, which gives out into a huge reception hall that takes up most of a range. The entrance may not look spectacular, but it is always guarded by six Sigmarite Templars.[2a]

Rooms within the complex vary from the simple cells of the lowliest initiates all the way up to sumptuous suites for the Lectors when they reside in Altdorf. In theory, only residents and those with business are allowed within, but the place is normally so busy that no one has any idea who is there. Only if something happens does security tighten for a few days or weeks, until it becomes apparent that it is almost impossible for the temple to function under those conditions. One rumour that has spread throughout Altdorf is grounded in fact. The food served in the refectories of the temple is superb, among the best that you can get. Unfortunately, it is only available to residents and their guests, and the serving staff is far more vigilant than the gate guards.[2a]

Source Edit

  • 1: Signs of Faith (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 1a: pg. 13
  • 2: Spires of Altdorf (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 2a: pg. 31 - 32

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