Friday, June 14, 2013

Religion and the Hill Cantons Part One: Sun-Lord Sects

I continue to plug away at Live Weird or Die, the obsessive compilation of house rules, variant classes, and Hill Cantons setting whoha. As the project grows it becomes unclear who I am actually writing for. The players? A broader audience? Or just myself?

At any rate I find it a pleasureable place to go in my mind when work gets overwhelming and it's helped fill in the holes during play so I take it as a good place to “procrastitask”.  And because the players have been recently eager as of late to suss out the various big-ticket cosmic mysteries in the campaign, I have been pounding the keys on the religion chapter.

Below is part one of that chapter, headed up by the simple system I am using to spit out the necessary D&D mechanical information. You will note my moving away from Clerics as a universal class for deities and one specifically tied to the ostensibly monotheistic dominant religion detailed here.
The first painting from Mucha's Slavonic cycle
Sect Characteristics
Attributed Alignment (A): the hyper-powerful beings called gods exist beyond the human-derived theoretical framework called alignment. In fact, many stories of the antics of the gods clearly show them acting in ways inconsistent with alignment behavior and it's not an infrequent occurrence for many of the most powerful gods to have distinct aspects, manifestations, or incarnations that act wholly in a different alignment mode (though never in the one directly in opposition). Of course, that doesn't stop humans from attributing a single, approximate alignment to the deity and an aspirational doctrine for followers.

Bonus Spells/Powers (B): Special bonus spells and powers granted to faithful clergy or other temporal agents beyond their normal spell range. The number in parenthesis represents what level the power is granted. All powers are useable once a day unless otherwise specified.

Priesthood Class (C): Clerics are only found in the ranks of the most supreme of all humanity's gods, the Sun Lord. All other clergy are vocational posts (with special powers/spells) eligible to certain classes as per their deity.

Domain (D): What humans consider the deity's area of control. Again the actual deity may consider his or her's brief to be something wider and may share or battle another power for jurisdiction.

Solarist Sects
Most of humanity in Zěm (the world that the Hill Cantons reside in) lives nominally under a single, yet highly fractious and localized religion called Solarism. As the centuries have rolled on this body of religious doctrine has been thought by sheltered Coreland practitioners to be the single “theologically correct” world view ruled (or at least dominated) by a single godhead, the Sun Lord. Though open to fierce debate two other “entities” the Celestial Lady and the Antagonist are recognized--to varying degrees--as part of the religious umbrella.

Paradoxically the more monolithic Solinaity has grown the more hyper-nuanced, locally-differentiated, contradictory, contested and absurd it's actual real world practice has become.

A: Lawful Good (with odd, rare Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil aspects)
B: by sect below
C: Clerics only
D: By doctrine all things human, but Illumination, Glory, Warmth, Sustaining the World, Heroic Activity, All Things Related to the Sky and the Sun,.

It is known that in the post-Hyborean period that the Sun Lord roamed the world conducting great feats. Achingly similar stories of his virile prowess and —the bullwhipping of the Unachus, the jilting of the White Goddess, etc--are told throughout the known world. One school of contemporary thought maintains that the Sun Lord was merely a mighty folk hero, a fleshy mortal sac like you and I, another that the many and diverse manifestations are the work of many separate local heroes. The more orthodox hold that he was an existent god, who manifested himself everywhere as hero and concealed his divinity as a test of humanity's worth.

The Sun Lord (his true name is banned from mention) drives the Chariot of the Heavens along the wheel-rutted troughs of the Dome of the Cosmos daily. The god spends the winter months dining with the ancient divine “space god” luminaries of Hyperborea. Some savants believe that the god is in reality a godhead of 313 “Rays” and that many old gods have been said to be usurped, absorbed or even eaten this way.

The faith is currently divided into 31 Houses of Orthodoxy over seemingly absurd doctrinal differences (whether sign of the sun is clockwise or counter, how many fingers used, the number of wheels on the Sun Chariot, etc.)

The Sun Lord grants special favor to his servants that walk the path of prim and orderly weal (LG), they gain access to the full range of spells and bonus powers. Clerics that have lapsed into Chaotic Good can use the full range of spells but not the bonus ones, while those who have decadently slipped into Neutral (a sad majority of this class, really) are limited to the first 3 levels of spells. Perversely Lawful Evil clerics gain access to all levels of only the reversible spells—though clearly they gain such nefarious power from secret affiliation with the powers of the Anti-Cantons or Ha-Vul the Antagonist (see Part 2). Chaotic Evil clerics do not exist.

Supernal Orthodox Temple of the Puissant Sun Lord
The official religion of the Overkingdom with an established and widespread hierarchy through most of human civilization. Projecting itself as a monotheistic (if syncretistic) religion, the Temple ostensibly dominates the Overkingdom spiritually. The Temple itself holds a tight monopoly on the manufacture and distribution of the Seed of the Sun (gunpowder), which does not work in the Weird.
A: as above
B: Light (1), Continual Light (4), Disputation (6): priest lays down such a mighty and byzantine line of theological polemic that the listener must save as vs. a Confusion spell, only usable on humans who understand Vulgar Hyperborean (the common tongue of the realm)
C: Clerics
D: as above

The Ultra-Orthodox Patriarchate
The official religion of Kezmarok with the Patriarch as its supreme spiritual head. Though astoundingly rigid in its doctrine and intolerance of other sects of the Solianity, they are shockingly tolerant of other “apostate” religions to the point of allowing their open (if regulated and taxed) worship.
A: as above
B: Smell Heresy (2): priest can smell out in a 20-foot radius followers of other houses, Continual Light (4), Disputation (6) as above.
C: Clerics
D: as above

Minor Houses
The Thousand-Faced Myrmidons
A martial order of clerics and lay-brothers who emphasize and centralize the hero-cult manifestations of the Sun Lord.

Brothers of the Other Mother
Orthodox monastic order that promotes the veneration of a less divine “Marian” like mother-figure to the Celestial Lady.

Followers of the Cleansing Rays
An ascetic order of ultra-orthodox followers that believe one must drop away all care of the material world and devote yourself to full-time basking in the rays of the sun and other devotional acts.

Brethren of the Supernal Skies
A mystical and martial order of monks devoted to a heretical reconciliation—cosmic “remarriage”--of the Sun Lord with the Celestial Lady. Nominally at war with the Other Mother cult.

The Quadraligists
An orthodox sect that dogmatically maintains that the Sun Lord's chariot has four wheels and four wheels only. In mutual and heated conflict with the Two-Wheeled School of Immanence and the Troikaites (who go as far as to say at times that the chariot could be in fact a sled).

The Fustians
It's unclear what they actually believe other than a highly contrarian worldview that involves the shouting down of opponents.

Primitive-Reconstructionists, Heimtbach Conclave
Orthodox sect that maintains that the Sun Lord has a single aspect to be venerated among all others. There is internal confusion however on what that aspect is, paralyzing their spread.

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