Religion

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Religion

Table of Contents:

Organized Religions

The Established Faiths

The Autocratic Order
Dictatorial Creed
The Feudal Order
Church of the Monarch
Satrapy of Faith

The Nascent Cults

The Meritoriously Blessed
Church of the Confederacy
Fraternal Republicans
Theologians

Heretics

The Church of the Communist Revolution
The Kleptocratics
Dogma of the Military Coup
Vile Servants of Anarchy

Spiritual Organizations

Martial Orders

Metropolitan Martial Orders
Countryside Martial Orders
Nomadic Martial Orders

Spiritual Academies

Blessed Materials Academies
Parlimentarians
Preservationists

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The Established Faiths

All of the established faiths share similar beliefs in a regimented structure to life, and espouse variations on the proper structure of the "Mandate of Heaven" - a belief that spiritual enlightenment is built on the acceptance of and dedication to the support of the nation-state and its central government. While adherents of the various established faiths may argue, sometimes bitterly, regarding the conduct of the upper echelons of society, all of the established faiths agree that the middle and lower classes should endeavor to live a "virtuous life" that involves skillfully performing the assigned tasks from their betters.

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Autocratic Order

Considered by many to be the purest form of centralized authority worship, the Autocratic Order espouses the belief that the centralized authority should be responsible for all forms of the exercise of power - including the laws of succession. In fact, members of the Autocratic Order are somewhat overfocused on inheritance and heirs for both property and authority. The teachings of the Autocratic Order dictate that “Heaven,” a state of perpetual bliss and knowledge, is attained by receiving unlimited authority to implement one’s will. When another member of the Autocratic Order attempts to implement the will of the Autocrat, they believe they are exercising the literal will of a being in “Heaven.” Consequently, that member of the Autocratic Order is as close as they can be to a state of perpetual bliss and knowledge. Members of the Autocratic Order believe that dutifully executing the will of the Autocrat will improve their standing in the eyes of the Autocrat and may improve their ability to inherit authority from the Autocrat.

It makes little sense to members of the Autocratic Order to inhibit or restrict the initiatives of the Autocrat. Some arbitrary line of succession based on blood ties (as with the Church of the Monarch) or based on philosophical similarities (as with the Satrapy of Faith) would prevent the Autocrat, the person in a state of “Heaven,” from designing the most effective succession plan. While there are similarities between the Autocratic Order’s centralization of power and the other Established Faiths, Autocrats do have a tendency to evangelize their position of subservience to the Autocrat in a manner that rubs some of the other Established Faiths the wrong way.

Ordinary members of the Autocratic Order seek to get as close to a state of “Heaven” in their day to day lives.This is usually done by identifying the traits in the people they come into contact with that are closest to the perceived traits of the Autocrat or the Autocrat’s Inheritors. It is blasphemous for anyone to describe the Autocrat’s will maliciously and inaccurately. Consequently, two members of the Autocratic Order with differing opinions of the Autocrat’s will tend to severely escalate their conflict. The most famous example occurred in the Cey-yon province between two farmers. After a flood, the river that denoted the border between their farms had shifted. One farmer thought that the river moving was a sign from the Autocrat that their property lines had shifted. The other farmer thought that the deed was a written form of the Autocrat’s will and that a mere river would not change that. The families had slaughtered each other for months before a local priest of the Autocratic Order resolved the dispute.

The current Autocrat is Jadwiga Bronzesmith, a dwarven noble residing in the Capital. Autocrat Bronzesmith spends her days in an impressive manor promulgating regulations and adjudicating disputes between members of the Autocratic Order. Autocrat Bronzesmith is seen as a stabilizing force among the faithful, continuing to push for decent treatment for all Autocratic members and continuing to encourage a notion of community in the Church. This does have the effect of pushing a “holier than thou” effect on non-Autocrats, but violence between members of the Autocrats is down considerably in the 23 years that Autocrat Bronzesmith has run the Church.

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Dictatorial Creed

The Dictatorial Creed has many similarities to the Autocratic Order. However, the authority of the Dictator of the Empire is bestowed by a College of Priests. Every six months the College of Priests convenes to determine who shall reign as the Dictator, to determine what powers and privileges are bestowed upon the Dictator, and to determine what tasks the Dictator should prioritize during their six month term. The six month turnover is vitally important to the members of the Dictatorial Creed as they believe the only appropriate check on power is the understanding that the claim to power ends. However, the authority granted to the Dictator by the College is usually extraordinary - checks on Dictatorial power are usually constrained to the means by which the Dictator reports to the College itself.

The College of Priests is an insular body with absolutely no authority to do anything but define the rights and responsibilities of the Dictator. Members of the College of Priests tend to be venerated and restrained but some consider an election to the College as a means to put old priests out to pasture. Members of the College are eligible to serve as Dictator, which means members of the College spend the vast majority of their time engaged in political intrigue for the control of the faith and negotiating the Oath of the Dictator - the biannual accord that outlines the authority of the Dictator.

Ordinary members of the Dictatorial Creed place their faith in the College of Priests. The belief that the most enlightened members of the faith are elevated to the College means that the Oath of the Dictator must be the aggregation of enlightened consensus. Members of the Dictatorial Creed believe that goodness comes from adapting one’s life to the perceived requirements of the Oath of the Dictator and trying to make the world a better place by assisting the Dictator in the execution of the directive from the College. The College itself works to promote the ideals of tranquil labor, tranquil family life, and brutally vicious treatment of those who threaten the first two. Members of the Dictatorial Creed think of tranquility not as placid, but tranquility is the restoration of all things to their proper placement as requested by the College and required by the Dictator. By way of example, merchants who follow the Dictatorial Creed are exceptionally willing to haggle and barter, even aggressively, provided they make a profit.

The current Dictator is Hubert de Lancy, a halfling Elector from the Cey-yon province. Dictator de Lancy has served for three terms and is halfway through his fourth. The College of Priests is generally impressed with the Elector’s ongoing efforts to promote tranquility with the survivors of the Scaled Alliance, but there are growing rumors of discontent regarding Dictator de Lancy’s dual role as the Elector of Cey-yon and the Dictator of the Creed. As Elector of Cey-yon, de Lancy is frequently called to work on behalf of The Empire and the people of Cey-yon. This sometimes requires that the Dictator delegate authority to others to execute the will of the College. While the Dictator is doing an effective job of administering the tasks set before him, there are voices in the College that believe the Dictator should handle the most sensitive tasks himself.

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Feudal Order

Whereas the Autocrats believe that the laws of succession define the Mandate of Heaven, and the Dictatorial Creed believes that the College of Priests appoint a Dictator to adjudicate the Mandate of Heaven, the Feudal Order believes that righteousness comes from finding a worthy lord and executing that lord’s will. According to the Feudal Order, happiness comes from making manifest the will of a worthy lord. Furthermore, happiness comes from being so worthy that others come to seek you out as a lord. Through this careful deontological analysis - executing the will of your liege and taking care of those who call you liege - the Feudal Order teaches that the Heavenly experience is achieved.

The structure of the Feudal Order is built on Oaths. Any member of the Feudal Order may swear fealty to any other member. Swearing fealty usually lasts for two years, although the parties to the oath may decide that alternate terms are preferable. Both parties to the oath must determine what the parties are getting from the agreement. The overtly contractual nature of these loyalty pledges means that the Feudal Order possesses an extremely active community of arbitrators, negotiators, and barristers. The proceedings in the courts of the Feudal Order are open to all by custom. It is not uncommon for particularly effective court proceedings to enhance or destroy the career of particularly impressive or depraved members of the faith.

Ordinary members of the Feudal Order in the rural areas of The Empire frequently negotiate for protection from the wilderness. In the cities, low ranking members of the Feudal Order negotiate for protection from brigands, thieves, and other ne'er-do-wells of the metropolis. Sometimes, oaths involve commercial value, such as agreements to purchase or produce foodstuffs, promises to teach a trade in exchange for labor, and even the transfer of real property in exchange for supplying armed warriors to defend the larger demense. What is always present in these terms for vassalage is an agreement that the will of the lord guides and frequently directs the will of the serf. As no serf may serve two masters, serfs and lords either pre-negotiate an early termination clause in their oath or rely on the principle of righteous breach, under which a party to to an oath may assert in court that the circumstances under which the oath was sworn have materially changed and that the severance of the oath would be of benefit to the Feudal Order as a whole. Needless to say, the occasions where the court permits a righteous breach are exceedingly rare. The threat of public proceedings still leads many lords and serfs to consider a hasty and private arbitration.

There are currently twelve “kings” of the Feudal Order. These kings have sued and won litigation for the right to swear fealty to the Feudal Order as a whole. The courts have set a very high bar for eligibility to even attempt to earn such a privilege. The fees associated with continued permission to call oneself a king are sufficient to fund the ambitions of several large merchant houses.

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Church of the Monarch

The Church of the Monarch purports to espouse a reality that many of the other faiths refuse to acknowledge. Under the doctrine of the Church of the Monarch, those with more privileged upbringings tend to carry their advantages forward later in life. The most privileged have the most advantages. There are none more advantaged than the children of the rulers in The Empire, so the obvious succession of the mandate of heaven should go to the most capable children of the Monarch. Where the Church of the Monarch differs from most of the other established faiths is in the doctrine of legitimate conquest. The Monarch is expected to be the ultimate authority on achieving heavenly happiness and peace. If the Monarch is not personally able to defeat pretenders to the throne in Church sanctioned duels, then the survivor of the duel will ascend to the throne. Under Church dogma, the mandate of heaven is always held by the champion of the elaborate duel structure. As these duels are almost always to the death, a sanctioned duel is an unusual event.

The structure of the Church of the Monarch consists of priests who see to the laymen of the faith, bishops who see to the priests, and Friars who adjudicate the martial prowess of the Church. Doctrine spread by the priests suggests that the most capable individuals should be relied upon to handle each task, and that a good churchgoer is one who supports the most capable individuals. There is also a primacy doctrine that says the safety and security of Church members is the most important task, meaning that the most capable defender of the faith should be supported. For this reason, martially capable individuals are extremely common in the Church of the Monarch. Friars track the various deeds and capabilities of churchgoers with martial experience and adjudicate the “honor” allocated to each of the faithful who ardently defend the other members of the Church. Bishops are charged with supporting both the priests and the friars as they go about their tasks, handling the majority of administrative and logistical challenges handled by the other two branches of the faith.

Ordinary members of the Church of the Monarch are taught to look for the individual with the most experiences to solve their problems and to work with those individuals to accomplish their needs. When members of other faiths look to more abstract concepts to find guidance in their day to day lives (such as an Autocrat’s obsession with succession or a Serf’s insistence on contractual duty), churchgoers look for practical answers to guide them. The churchgoer simply figures out who is best at solving the problem then executes that expert’s advice.

The Church of the Monarch is preparing for a novel event. The current Monarch, Queen Saryana, faces legitimate challenges from no less than three pretenders to the throne. General Argen Greenleaf is a veteran of Greenskin predations in the Bellirant province and has accrued the strongest right to challenge Queen Saryana for the throne. Bishop Tai Stonefist is a brilliant duelist and has accrued more victories in sanctioned duels than any other churchgoer alive. Finally, the Archmage of the Greenbriar district, Elector Jouseous Flinsover, has earned the title of pretender through the establishment of gladiator schools in several different territories that offer substantially reduced tuition rates to members of the Church of the Monarch. It is unknown if and when Queen Saryana may be required to defend her crown.

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Satrapy of Faith

Among all of the Established Faiths, the Mandate of Heaven teaches that support of the Nation-State is paramount. While the Established Faiths may differ in their views of how the Nation-State should be governed, only the Satrapy of Faith focuses on how any nation-state should be governed. The Satrapy of Faith teaches that the Mandate of Heaven not only applies to The Empire, but the Satrapy of Faith demands that its followers support other nation-states that similarly seek to implement the Mandate of Heaven. Among the Established Faiths, the Satrapy of Faith is the most focused on foreign affairs and is probably the least loyal to The Empire, but is the most loyal to the Mandate of Heaven. Satraps desire only to see all sentient beings live in well structured nation-states and care very little for which nation-state governs.

The Satraps have built a self-sufficient church that has a very flat structure. In any municipality, the Satraps choose among the municipality’s residents a lector. Each municipality develops their own method of selecting the lector, but each municipality always selects one lector. That lector develops the support network they believe they require and appoints other Satraps to the various required positions. Lectors serve for anywhere from one month to five years, as decided by the locals. The lector is tasked with ensuring the stability of the local government, or, in the event that the local Satraps believe the local government is lacking, overthrowing that government and installing a stable one. As The Empire is a very strong local government, the Satraps within the various provinces tend to fight very hard to keep The Empire functioning and functioning well.

The laity among the Satraps meticulously study the impact of the various laws and regulations that govern their day to day lives and ensure that they are complying with those directives. They tend to be extremely vocal about their opinions of the law and the laws of their neighbors, and frequently propose that "someone should do something" about laws which they find to be inadequate, confusion, or counterproductive. As Satraps are less focused on outcomes and more focused on efficacy, Satraps are the most willing to praise a brutally effective raid from a greenskin tribe or to heap accolades on any of the well-structured civilizations that exist beyond The Outpost among the Great Wheel.

There is a murmur of discontent among members of the Satrapy of Faith. The presence of so many chaotic governments in the newly discovered outer planes has magnified the awareness of cosmic disorder for many faithful. The young firebrand Erich Cordanner is pushing for a crusade against all of the chaotic forces in the cosmos. While the Empire alone could not hope to succeed in such a feat, Cordanner is working with various Arcanologists and Thaumgineers to make contact with potential allied forces. There are some, such as the Lector Emma Yonte, who believe that The Empire shouldn't be weakened by a foolish military endeavor against the cosmos.

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The Nascent Cults

The idea of the Mandate of Heaven permeates political philosophy so thoroughly throughout The Empire that fewer than 5% of all Imperials believe in anything other than the Established Faiths. The radical schools of thought that are tolerated within The Empire are the Nascent Cults. The Nascent Cults espouse order and structure just like the Established Faiths, but the Nascent Cults believe that the governments rule through the assent of the governed. Rather than implementing the will of some superior being, Nascent Cults believe in "Emergent Heaven," or the idea that happiness and efficiency in government arise through the cooperative amalgamation of the best interests of each governed parties.

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The Meritoriously Blessed

Of all the Nascent Cults, the Meritoriously Blessed are the closest to the Church of the Monarch when it comes to practicality. According to both faiths, those most capable of rule should bear the burden of governance. Whereas the Church of the Monarch assumes that the most capable start with exposure to politics and governance from their childhood, the Meritoriously Blessed believe that the deeds accomplished by each individual are the best predictor of future success. Both faiths place a heavy emphasis on capability and experience in their leaders. However, the Meritoriously Blessed has no analogue for the system of duels used by the Church of the Monarch to adjudicate disputes. Instead, the Meritoriously Blessed are required to work through proxies. Most often, power struggles are resolved through diplomacy. When diplomacy is insufficient, assassins are the preferred tool of choice for many among the Meritoriously Blessed. For that reason, assassins are very heavily regulated by the Cult.

The Meritoriously Blessed believe that leadership is a profession, and that a leader does not need to be a great warrior to lead an army, a great merchant to lead a guild, or a great politician to lead a province. Instead, a leader needs to have an abundant technical understanding of the people who make up the institution that is being lead as opposed to a technical understanding of the craft performed by the individuals in that institution. As a Nascent Cult, the Meritoriously Blessed belief in "Emergent Heaven" dictates that the moral good (and by extension, inner happiness), arises from institutions where people interact in effective and productive ways. When the institutions hold people back or otherwise prevent smooth operations of the day to day functions performed by the people in the institution, The Meritoriously Blessed look for the cause. With zeal, members of the Meritoriously Blessed look for the blight to be excised. Sometimes that blight is a rule, a process, or a workflow. The Meritoriously Blessed alter that intangible thing so that the tangible people in the institution might approach a state of Emergent Heaven. Sometimes, however, the blight is very tangible. The Meritoriously Blessed believe that the assassination of a counterproductive being is not evil - they are removing the evil of being counterproductive efficiently.

It should be stated that the Meritoriously Blessed do not resort to assassination lightly - the death of a member of society carries with it counterproductive emotions, funeral rites, and a loss of potential productivity. However, the Meritoriously Blessed that are passionate about the pursuit of Emergent Heaven always consider the full range of options when dealing with productivity problems.

Ordinary members of the Meritoriously Blessed believe very strongly that they should carry out the directions of their leaders. If the lay member of the faith believes that their leader is ineffective or an inferior leader compared to another candidate, the lay member is likely to try to discuss the issue at a bi-monthly meeting attended by local members of the Cult. The debate around performance of leaders is always fascinating to followers of the religion, as the performance of those leaders is a moral evaluation rather than a dispassionate classification.

A small few members of the Meritoriously Blessed seek more visceral ends. The Cult trains assassins for the purposes of dispute resolution. These assassins are authorized to kill any member of the Cult - but all members of the Cult are also authorized to kill any assassin they meet. For this reason, Meritorious Assassins tend to live their lives in seclusion until a church member demonstrates the need for their services. In order to become a Meritorious Assassin, a member of the Cult must train in one of the five temples dedicated to such scholarship. This education typically takes between five and ten years, depending on the local circumstances around the Temple. During this time, the would-be assassin is tutored in ethics (as the Cult sees it, anyway), survival, and murder.

The Meritoriously Blessed are currently operating extremely smoothly, thanks in part to the efforts of Yuli Carthoom, a great leader in the Cult who is extremely adept at resolving disputes without resorting to assassination. Carthoom wanders The Empire and engages local branches of the Cult with ethical dilemmas and thought experiments that inevitably demonstrate that Emergent Heaven is best achieved by choosing the right manager for the right task. Similarly, Carthoom teaches members of the Cult how to recognize the best talents in the individuals around them and, importantly, Carthoom teaches members of the Cult how to best benefit from those talents.