The Winter Crusade
Order of St. Jerome
Saint Jerome de Bleis
A noted prophet and healer, St. Jerome de Bleis lived ~ 540 years before the Common
Era. Born in the town of La Romean, he was son of a provincial noble and initially
followed in his father’s footsteps. It was during one orcish raid he was struck in the head
and fell ill. Many thought he would die from the injury, but he awoke restored several
days later claiming he had seen visions while he dreamt. Abdicating his seat to his
brother Marius, he began a pilgrimage to the Temple of St. Solean, where he took his
vows. During his time there he became famous for acts of healing and prophetic
dreaming. He was sought out as a seer by many of the nobility, and was found that he
could often commune with those who had died from treason or with unfulfilled vows.
When he did so, he was called to wander, to better contemplate god, during which he
attracted followers who took on his duties of ministering to the poor, especially in
performing last rights, whom few of the peasantry could afford temple fees for.
These alone would mark him as a great holy man, but during the incursion of the infernal
Lord Krutz and his demonic allies, that his greatest miracles occurred. It was during that
holy crusade that he, like many brothers of the church, took up arms to defend the
faithful. Then father Jerome was found to be exceptional at fighting back the infernal and
undead hosts that Krutz had gathered. His greatest feat was when Krutz laid siege to the
city of Merchelle. In response to Krutz’s demand for the city to surrender, St. Jerome is
recorded as shouting back from the battlements “As long as there is a faithful soul of this
city left, you will find swords to oppose you!” It was at this, that the few remnants of the
city garrison found their numbers tenfold increased as their fallen comrades and even the
fallen knights of the king residing in the city catacombs rose to defeat Krutz and his
Order of Saint Jerome the Caretaker
Aka – Graycloaks.
Symbol – Sable a raven displayed argent
This order was founded by St. Jerome’s followers following his death. Largely a
monastic order, they have morphed from the original traveling brothers to a largely
monastery bound order. They also serve as advisors to royalty, having continued the
tradition of divination, largely through astrology (though some dream prophets are
known). They are officially recognized by the church and hold several high offices. For
nobility, and those lucky enough to live near their monasteries, they provide spiritual
Militant brothers of St. Jerome the executioner
Aka – Blackcloaks, the owls, Nightcloaks, Death Riders
Symbol – argent, a bearded axe sable
The Militant arm of the Jeromites, the Blackcloaks get their name from the duties of St.
Jerome as he fought necromancers and other fallen in his wanderings. Sworn enemies of
the undead and demonic forces, they travel the lands administering justice. Their
traditional weapon, the bearded axe, was s
Aid to be the same type of weapon wielded by St. Jerome in his battles against the forces
of darkness. They are strict to their vows, often zealously so, and have at times earned a
reputation as far to eager to provide criminals and non-humans their righteous death.
Repentant Sisters of the Hospital of St. Jerome
Aka – the gray widows, dreaming daughters
Symbol – Rouge a hand displayed or
Founded over two centuries from the death of St. Jerome, the sisters were founded by
Margarette of Luceian, an aging widow who had a dream vision of St. Jerome who gave
her a mission of caring for the sick and dying. Margarette’s marital status, and the
tradition of rural widows to join the order, has earned them their nicknames. The
sisterhood has a long-standing reputation for its members having prophetic dreams. They
operate several abbeys with a reputation as fine healers, as well as several orphanages.
Poor Brothers of St. Jerome the Wanderer *
Aka – the gilded ravens, the gravediggers, the shovel men
Symbol – or, a raven displayed sable
The Poor brothers have their origins as lay clergy assisting the repentant sisters. The
sisters are known to travel, especially as healers and midwives, and would take lay clergy
as protection. Also, as they initially largely consisted of aging women, they needed
laborers to dig the graves and care for the cemeteries and catacombs in their charge. In
time, the practices of the poor brothers, who would also minister to the poor, became an
order in their own right. Due to their spending such a large amount of time around the
interred, they would often encounter the restless dead. In imitation of St. Jerome, they
would try to find ways to given them final peace. As this tradition grew, the order
embraced defending the poor and rural folk, especially against undead other dark forces.
The order has been criticized by the main church and some of the other sects (save the
repentant sisters, who welcome them) for their acceptance of spirits and restless dead.
The poor brothers make a distinct difference between the restless dead – those good souls
bound to the world due to betrayal or unfulfilled vows, and the undead – the mindless
animated corpses or those who have found ways to cheat death for their own accord. The
fact that St. Jerome himself is known to call upon the righteous dead and aid good spirits
to their final rest has allowed the brothers to continue, though not without suspicion they
may fall similar to the Javian Heresy (see below). As a result, they are traditionally
barred from attending services for marriage or baptism/naming on temple grounds
(though they often perform these duties to a greatful peasantry) due to fears of tainting or
bringing bad luck to those involved. Some members of the church, whose views have
hardened to view any type undead or risen dead, generally view them with suspicion.
By tradition, they wandering brothers always carry a simple shovel to carry on their
duties, as a staff of mark to the people. They hold all life sacred, and are known to
consult with the druids, even teaming up with them when the natural cycle of life and
death has been disturbed (another thorn in the side of the church). They also offend some
of the more militant nobles and orders, for their tradition of burying ALL the dead who
fall in battles with them – many find the idea of human, dwarven, or elven burials side by
side with those of orcs and goblins insulting.
The Javians began as a splinter group of what would become the monastic order of St.
Jerome. Some of his later followers began to view St. Jerome’s preaching regarding the
nature of death and that life is a gift as a call to embrace life to its fullest and enjoy it.
This tradition has continued in all the orders of St. Jerome, who are usually quick to
laugh and usually forgo the vows of silence and abstinence from drink other orders
follow. The Javians, though, took it to excess. The monasteries of this group first turned
to drunken revels on regular occasion and progressed through the hundred years of their
existence to hedonistic orgies with elements of necrophilia and even dark necromancy.
This perversion of the teachings of St. Jerome lead to the Javian crusade, which
supposedly destroyed all remnants of the sect some 200 years ago. Rumors persist that
some remnants continue to exist as secret cults in various cities or remote areas. The
church, though, has repeated stated the rumors to be completely false, though the paladins
of the Blackcloaks and the Poor Brothers investigate any such statements with fervent