Order of the Open Hand

Order of the Open Hand

The Order of the Open Hand worships Datehl, the Giver, an otherwise minor deity of the Kingdom's pantheon. Known as the god of beggars and travelers, Datehl is said to bring fortune to those most in need - but where others pray for his blessings, the Order has taken up the task of following his example.

The Vow of Freedom is one of the most important ones within the Order. Although commonly mistaken as a standard vow of poverty, the Order does not actually forbid its members from owning things; the vow instead pledges the believer to use what he has to help others, and to have no reservations in doing so. In effect, he becomes a "carrier" of items and abilities, freely distributing them to those in need. In return, it is said that Datehl and those who follow his way will provide for the needs of the Order's members. Although the Vow of Freedom is the cornerstone on which much of the Order's beliefs are based, it is often difficult to put into practice - while it might be easy for a member to give away money to the poor, the thought of hoarding it for future use (maybe where it might do more good!) or for covering unexpected expenses comes even easier. Even more essentially, few members would divulge the clothes on theirs backs freely, though they might feel forced to do so when asked. It requires iron dedication to the ideals of the Order and long meditations on the value of things to truly succeed in casting off the basic idea of property, and only very few of the Holiest in the Order are said to have completely succeded at following the Vow.

The Vow of Needs comes next. Here, the members of the Order are to realize the difference between their wants and their needs. Things should flow depending on needs, but in reality they flow based on wants - people, the Order believes, are confused about what they really need. The goal of each member is therefore to strip away this division and harmonize their wants with what they actually require to prosper. Like the Vow of Freedom, this is often mistaken as a fancy name for Chastity and Abstinence, but these are consequences of the Vow, not the essence of it. Many senior members of the Order have found the right person to share their heart with and thrive through love. Likewise, the monks of the Order do not fast (although they will eat last if others need to be fed), and their objection to spirits and other intoxicants comes from their deleterious effects.

Finally comes the Vow of Means and Ends. Here, the monk affirms that he will consider all possibilities ahead of him and choose the one that brings the most good, or (in very bad situations) that which is least objectionable. This is frequently criticized as the most impractical vow, and multiple strains of thought regarding the actions which are most good exist within the Order - a favored topic of discussion among senior members. The official line is that men of purified hearts, like monks of the Order, will instinctively know that which is most good. However, it might be that giving initiates this command without further clarification will lead those eager to follow it to introspect and build for themselves a model of ethics each monk can live with. Within the context of the other vows and the fact that most monks can be found in situations that do not require grand judgment calls, all of that tends to work out to relatively consistent views within the Order: violence is judged a poor solution to most problems, noble actions do not require rewards (though gifts can be accepted), politeness and minimal interference in the lives of those who do not wish help are the default approach. However, putting Order monks (especially younger ones) under pressure can reveal surprisingly...flexible...ethics, as long as a good cause is served or great evil is averted.

A monk of the Order is expected to flow with resistance, giving his opponent's strength no leverage to actually attack him. In both debates and fights, a monk would rather evade his opponent's attacks and turn in a harmless direction than attack directly. Older monks in particular are rumored to have access to a great many works of philosophy and to hold daily debates; the result is a slippery target, inclined to let his opponents exhaust themselves and lose their taste for a confrontation in the struggle. The fighting style monks practice for physical fitness and self-defense reflects this style of combat. In accordance with the Vow of Means and Ends, monks are expected to be familiar with direct attacks so that they have the option to use them, but the lack of use and training leaves many monks unprepared to actually apply them.

One would expect a religious Order with such lofty goals to be well liked, but in practice, monks of the Order are often seen as troublemakers seeking an overthrow of the established social order. Moreover, some say, monks of the Order are so indoctrinated into seeing the Order's beliefs as a perfect "Good" that they stubbornly refuse to accept that they might be wrong. Some monks of the Order have broken laws, joined riots and even committed theft all in the service of what they perceive to be justice, and their conviction and skills makes it difficult to reign them in. Some openly accuse the Order of grooming and training fanatically devoted revolutionaries, but for the time being their very visible charitable work keeps the Order itself out of most trouble.