[Faction]The Imperial Cult

One Forum to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
User avatar
SamirA
P:C Coordinator
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: 14 Dec 2010, 16:35
Location: Some interior in Tamriel

[Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby SamirA » 12 Jan 2014, 16:12

TerrifyingDaedricFoe wrote: One idea I had is that there is one faction, called the Imperial Cult for want of a better name, which the player can join. On joining they have to choose to dedicate themselves to the patron god(dess) of the particular temple they're joining. Now, each temple will have an altar where you can receive a blessing appropriate for that god, but if you're dedicated to that god then you get an improved version of the blessing. You can receive most of the quests from the Imperial Cult regardless of which god you choose, but each temple will have a short questline unique to players who've dedicated themselves to that temple.


Wollibeebee wrote:I'd prefer to keep it a single faction, just with multiple branches. Like vanilla guilds.

I really like your idea there.
So, dedicating yourself to a certain divine - other than additional quests - could provide what perks? Perhaps the end-quest reward could be influenced by the divine? Your very own private quarters at the specific temple?
Also, something to help create a uniform would be cool. If you're playing as some-one religious, you're likely to wear a robe, so maybe each divine could have it's own pauldron to be worn over a robe or with armor?

In Daggerfall each temple had a priestly order, and a "knightly" order, so may be each temple could have 2 main quest givers: a priest and a "guardian." Priests could give you quests involving helping the poor, gathering ingredients, investigating disease and hauntings. The other (knight/guardian/whatever) would offer more physical themed quests, like killing necromancers, destroying Daedric worship sites, etc. It would make it more diverse.
Project Coordinator

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 12 Jan 2014, 17:23

The way I imagine the Imperial Cult to work is that there is a central branch/council (in the IC?) that oversees inter-cult cooperation and organizes things like the missionary cult that we see in Morrowind (presumably also active in Argonia, Elsweyr, etc.). The player would have to first join the mainline Imperial Cult and go through a general education, before dedicating himself to one god and receiving the inner mysteries. Players who are already sufficiently advanced in the vanilla Imperial Cult get the option to skip parts of the general introduction (if they want to).

User avatar
Saint_Jiub
Head of Concepts
 
Posts: 575
Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 00:42

Re: The Imperial Cult

Postby Saint_Jiub » 12 Jan 2014, 19:27

A couple of the things I've written over the past couple years touch on this subject:

Church of Cyrodiil – Encompasses all saints†, shrines and chapels associated with the state religion of Cyrodiil, first endorsed by Empress Morihatha in 3E 335 with the unanimous support of the Elder Council. Recognizes the religion of the Nine Divines with glorious Akatosh as King of the heavens. Recognizes also, in an unofficial capacity, veneration of the Daedra as the 16 Acceptable Blasphemies, along with the related shrines and places of power of such.

†Saint – A theo-political seat nominated by the nine primates and sixteen hierophants of the Church and confirmed by majority vote of the Elder Council. In the Western tradition, a saint is recognized as the final arbiter of Imperial law as it pertains to the gods – a decree ruled to be in violation of the Covenants by a four-fifths vote of the saints is considered to be automatically overturned. Once appointed*, saints serve for life or until their resignation.


The following passage comes from a pamphlet dated to the early 3rd era, during the height of Imperial power in Tamriel. The rare bookseller who reluctantly sold it to me informed me that he had received it from his grandfather, a priest of Zenithar.

The Church of Cyrodiil, sometimes referred to as the Imperial Cult in the provinces, is the central religious organization in Tamriel. It is rightly seen as a beacon of tolerance and civilization throughout the Empire, bringing hope to its most miserable subjects. Though the savages of the north and the heathens of the Summerset Isles may lay claim to the same deities, it is our Mother Church who has brought enlightenment to the darkest corners of the Empire, and so it is to her that we turn to as a model for religion across Tamriel.

Though any may worship openly in the chapels across the Empire, and are, of course, encouraged to do so, only the most faithful and those who are truly pure at heart may enter the family of the Church. Cyrodiil’s devout are fortunate, for the Nine in Their wisdom have blessed us with direct conduits to their eternal realms in Aetherius, and a pilgrim who visits and prays at each wayshrine may in so doing be absolved of their past sins. It is customary for a pilgrim to burn a lock of hair at each wayshrine in recognition of the sacrifice of the Divines in creating the Mundus, forming a diamond-shaped tonsure at the crown of their head, which they will wear throughout their tenure as a priest.

Traditionally, a pilgrimage has been the only way to enter the Church, as only those with courage and conviction were thought to make worthy priests. Of course, not every citizen of the Empire can today make such a journey. Therefore, any theurgist or invoker of the Church may, for a fee, hear the confessed crimes of one who wishes to serve the Nine, and appeal on their behalf for the Divines to forgive their sins and grant them purity and peace at heart.

At this point, the aspiring priest will undertake the final leg of his journey, to the chapel where he will serve the Divines for the rest of his days. Each of the nine county seats is home to a Great Chapel of the Divines, usually related to the history and culture of the city. The somber Dark Elves of Cheydinhal seek comfort in Arkay, the god of death and rebirth, while the sailors that make port in Anvil find their relief in Dibella’s pleasures. After their arrival and admittance into the local Communion, the layman or pilgrim then enters a year-long probationary period as a novice under the tutelage of an acolyte of their patron Divine, who will observe them as they perform their duties to the Church and reflect on their former lives.

At the end of this year, the layman is offered a choice—remain in the Church as an initiate, or return to the outside world. Those who choose to remain with the Church are granted all the rights and privileges of a full member, including full access to all chapel facilities. They will also, at this point, begin their instruction in the arts inherent to their Communion. An initiate of Dibella will receive training in the arts, poetry, and erotic instruction, for instance, while a novice of Zenithar will learn a skilled trade from one of Leyawiin’s craftsmen or merchants. The next several years for the initiate priest will involve honing these skills in the name of the Divines while providing aid and comfort to the people of the Empire. Once they have gained mastery in their chosen craft, they will be recognized as an adept of the Church and at this point may choose a specialty that they wish to enter.

The upper echelon of each Great Chapel of the Divines is divided into three distinct branches, with three separate but equal overseers who are only answerable within the organization to a chapel primate. The Oracle, served by his or her acolytes, preaches in the chapel to share the teachings of the Divines, their Ten Commands, and bring comfort and enlightenment to the people. They also preside at weddings, funerals, and other events where their eloquence may be required.

The Theurgist, served by his or her invokers, serves as the spiritual leader of the chapel. Through meditation and prayer, he or she is able to commune with the Divines and interpret Their will. The invokers under his or her command hear the prayers and confessions of the people and offer them to the Divines on their behalf.

The Knight-Commander is the leader of the military arm of each church, the knightly orders that serve within the Chapel or throughout the land, protecting the priests or seeking glory in the name of their patron Divine.

Above them all are the Primates, who together set Church doctrine and oversee all actions taken by the chapels. They are also the caretakers of religious artifacts uncovered by the knightly orders, as well as the final authority on apocryphal texts uncovered in Tamriel’s ruins.

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 12 Jan 2014, 21:52

EDIT: most of this stuff has been superceded. Disregard.
Spoiler: show
Ah, you're ahead of me, St. Jiub. I'm going to leave my own collection of scraps here, see what you find useful. These aren't very clean, so writing/logic mistakes will abound.

A HYPOTHETICAL HISTORY OF THE IMPERIAL CULT

  • 1E 243: The Alessian Empire is founded. The Ayleid hegemony was only defeated by an alliance of former Nedic slaves and Nordic mercenaries. Furthermore, several allied Ayleid city-states are now under the rule of the new empire. To avoid religious conflicts between the mannish and elvish point of view, Alessia synthesizes a new pantheon of the Eight Divines, along with a new priesthood. The newborn religion is strongly interwoven with the Alessian government: many of the governors and generals sent out by White-Gold to pacify Cyrodiil are also anointed as priests, and Alessia herself has decreed the Emperor a spiritual leader (Church of England-style).
  • 1E 266: Alessia dies. On her deathbed, she makes a Covenant with Akatosh, shielding Tamriel from Oblivion. The Dragonfires come into existence, and the Amulet of Kings assumes its current form. Alessia is buried either in Sancre Tor or underneath the Dragonfires.
  • 1E 361: Alessian Reforms are enforced. The monotheistic Alessian order preaches the word of the prophet Marukh, the Eight are merely facets of a single, unknowable god. They sweep through the country, abolishing the few remaining Ayleid enclaves and persecuting the traditional faith.
    Presumably, followers of Marukh were chased out of Valenwood because of their anti-elven rhetoric, and welcomed in the Imperial City. Orthodox priests of the Eight flee to the Colovian Estates. Cult leadership settles in Sancre Tor, which becomes the religious heart of Colovia. It is unknown if Marukh himself visited the city, it is possible that he was already dead at this point. The emperor at this point is Ami-El. Rise of Nibenese spirit animal worship as a permitted alternative to the Eight.
  • High King Borgas of the Nordic Empire introduces the Marukhati faith in his holdings in Skyrim, High Rock, and Morrowind. he dies eight years later in a Bosmeri Wild Hunt.
  • 1E 479: The Alessian Reforms are outlawed in the Direnni High Rock. Its advocates are put to death. The Direnni begin a campaign against the Alessians.
  • 1E 482: Battle of Glenumbra Moors: the Alessians are defeated by the forces of Direnni. Nord High King Hoag Merkiller dies in battle, and the new king Wulfharth reinstates the Nordic Pantheon. Alessians flee to Nibenay.
  • Dragon Break: from the 13th to the 23rd centuries, time does not exist due to an attempt of the marukhati Selectives to purify Akatosh from Elvish influences.
  • 1E 2260: Thrassian Plague. Bendu Olo of Anvil unites the nations against Thras. Begin of Colovian supremacy and Alessian decay.
  • 1E 2321 - 1E 2331: War of Righteousness. A complicated period of Colovian-Nibenese strife, ending in the dissolvment of the Alessian Order. Both cultures will remain seperated for several centuries still.
  • 1E 2703: Reman I unifies Cyrodiil in the Second Empire. The Imperial Cult returns from its exile in Sancre Tor, and declares Reman its new spiritual leader. The Marukhati heresies have made a deep impact, however, and Cult leadership decides on internal reforms to make the rise of monotheism impossible. Instead of one unified religion, the cult splits into several sub-branches dedicated to specific Divines, who will also be spiritually divided. A small ecumenical council remains in the Imperial CIty, tasked with maintaining proselytizing work, chapels and churches dedicated to all Divines, missionary work beyond the borders of Cyrodiil, and solving inter-cultic conflict. Various cults are "bought" by powerful kings and city-states, and settle in the cities of Cyrodiil.
  • The Remanite and Interregnum period are not marked by important changes in the Imperial Cult, save for some shuffling around of the cults and internal theological debates.
  • 2E 896: Tiber Septim unites the entirety of Tamriel and starts the Third Era.
    As before, the Imperial Cult affirms the new dynasty by declaring Tiber their spiritual leader.
  • 3E 38 : Apotheosis of Talos. The Imperial Cult adds Talos as the Ninth Divine, a new religious order is organised byTiber's heirs, Pelagius and Kintyra.


DOCTRINES

According to the Imperial Cult, all mortal souls were once inert spirits, existing in a void without potential. The Divines took pity on these spirits, and sacrificed themselves to give them a place to exist, grow, and manifest themselves. From this come forth two central doctrines of the Imperial Cult:
Divine Law: since the Divines made the world, literally are the world, their laws and desires are the supreme authority on how one is to live. The world is a test, and arena, and to prosper within it one must live by the tents that lie at the foundation of it. The Imperial Cult is the mouthpiece of the Divine will in this. A very legalistic, Confusian point of view.
This also applies to Imperial Law: since Tiber Septim is Divine, all of laws the Empire carry this supreme authority. Laws predating Tiber do not have this.
Divine Eschatology: the Divines, wounded and exhausted by their work, left for Aetherius, only leaving behind voices, reflections and images. If a person faithfully lives according to the laws of the divine, he too can rise to the level of the Divine at his death and live with them.

Some other important concepts:
The Doctrine of Partial Aspects: as proposed by the early church-mothers. The artificial nature of the Divines is acknowledged, but considered a source of strength. Mortal minds cannot conceive of the Divine completely, since they only left ideas of themselves. Different cultures and races on Tamriel percieve different aspects of the Divine. By bringing together disparate aspects, Alessia revealed a more complete understanding of the Divine.
The Divine Mandate: the Imperial Cult is the largest religion on Tamriel, and can point to the manifestation of Divines, the Community of Saints, and blessings as evidence of Divine favor in their advantage. This in turn proves that they are the most perfect representative of the Divine on Nirn.
The Heresy of Created Souls: a rather esoteric bit of theology, this doctrine states that mortal souls existed before the creation of the world, and were not created by the Divines. Nobody really remembers why this is important.
The Doctrine of the Missing God: refers to the way one must affirm or deny Lorkhan as a power in the world. A very difficult and complicated bit of theology, most people don't bother.
Worship of Lesser Spirits: governs the worship and acknowledgment of lesser gods, spirits, and Daedra. Remarkably permissive, though it also includes a complicated chart for figuring out if a spirit may be acknowledged
Worship of Mortal Spirits: governs the worship of of other mortal beings. Exceptions are made for certain kinds of ancestor worship, the worship of Living Saints and Oracles, and Tiber Septim-in-life. On the other hand, worship of "Living Gods" like the Tribunal is condemned.
The Doctrine of Worldly Law: all Imperial Law from Tiber Septim onwards falls under the heading Divine Law, since it is informed by the spirit of Talos. This does not apply to laws from the Remanite or Alessian period, but does apply to laws of Alessia herself, or any law proposed by someone later declared as a saint.
The Doctrine of Saints: some people show such piety and respect for the Divine law that they become saints, exceptional spirits who sit at the side of the Divines in Aetherius. The canonization and prerequisites for being declared a saint are rather complicated: the key issue isn't performing a miracle, but making a covenant with a Divine, just as St. Alessia did on her deathbed. Of course, such covenants can be very private, internal events, and may not even happen until death, so people are often content to imagine that the saint has done so. The Imperial Cult's hagiography is enormous, and includes historical figures, emperors, several minor gods and spirits, a number of converted Daedra, several animal-headed figures, many animals, and a great many completely fictional people.


THE COMMUNITY OF SAINTS

A hagiography of all the saints that are named or referred to in lore (making up the rest will be a community effort, I imagine).

  • St. Alessia
    Associated with Akatosh (and Shezzar in older texts)
    Patron saint of the Empire (one of many, but the most important one), of the enslaved and powerless, of generals, of those thrust into sudden authority, etc. Patron of many things.
  • St. Pelinal
    Associated with Akatosh.
    Patron saint of warriors and crusaders
    Not often referred to as a saint, and technically his divine nature makes him ineligible. Nevertheless, custom names him a saint (somewhat Saint Michael-like)
  • St. Jahn
    Associated with Kynareth
    Patron saint of herbalists and alchemists, healers
    Has a plant named after him.
  • St. Kaladas
    Associated with Zenithar.
    St. Kaladas built the Temple of Zenithar in Lleyawiin, and has his tomb there. Those who pray at his tomb are afflicted with a vision of the Mace of Pelinal.
    Patron Saint of builders and stonemasons.
  • St. Osla
    Associated with Talos
    The Saint of Sancre Tor, statue in Chorrol, in memory of Tiber and fallen soldiers
    Refers to the Battle of Sancre Tor 2E 852, in which Septim retrieved the Amulet of King. Was a healer in service of Tiber's army (According to Oblivion Guide Book)

The Living Saints (Oracles?)
  • Errandil, Living Saint of Arkay
    Temple of Cheydinhal
    Strongly opposes necromancy
  • Olava the Fair, Living Saint of Mara
    Temple of Mara in Bravil
    Claims her task is to live as an example to others


THE NINE CULTS

The Cult of Dibella: worship of Dibella is spread over a dozen different, very private and exclusive sects and cults. All hold these two central tenets:
The Aspect of Joy or The Aspect of Beauty: Dibella is manifest in all the joyous and lovely things, inhabits them, endows them with value. Without her, no thing is beautiful, if something is not beautiful, she does not exist within it, if something was once beautiful, but not anymore, she has left it.
The Whispering: from all beautiful things comes a voice of Dibella, whispering of its secret nature. The faithful servant who has attuned himself to beauty and things of beauty can hear this whispering, and come to know the hidden beauty of all things.
The whispering is central to many of the inner mysteries of Dibella. Some orders, like the Sussuranthes, spend their lives completely wrapped in dark silk, so that they will only hear the voice of Dibella who describes their surroundings, much more beautiful than they could ever appear to be to the naked eye.
Dibella's erotic aspects has become less public since the main cult moved to Anvil, though Nibenese sects still revel in it. Among the Colovians, there is a well-known, if rather Freudian saying: "Mara is the key to the lock of Dibella". This is taken rather seriously by the more puritanical Colovians: astronomically speaking, the planet of Dibella circles that of Mara, and so the cult is considered subtly subservient (though discussing a supposed hierarchy of the Nine in public is a good way to get arrested for heresy). One can usually find at least one priest of Mara in or close by any Dibellan temple in Colovia.

The Cult of Kynareth: by far the poorest of the nine cults, and possibly the smallest. The Kynarian cult maintains a rather insular house on the outskirts of Sutch, and do not seem overly concerned with preaching to the population. Indeed, most priests of Kynareth are constantly on the move, wandering from town to town. The central tenets of the Kynarians are The Living Sky and the Walking Wind, and most important worship services are performed out in the open: even their temple in Sutch has an open roof. Priests of Kynareth have a bit of a bad name: their way of life has made them more attuned to the troubles of the poor than the other cults (though they don't feel called to organize any form of aid) and they are very popular among sailors, who consider Kynareth the only one of the Nine concerned with their lot. In comedies and stories, priests of Kynareth are often depicted as vagabonds, swindlers and petty thieves (though not in an unsympathetic manner). Few seem to understand the Kynarian wanderlust, and they are not inclined to explain: by the tenet of the Walking Wind, they must go where the wind points them, observe the ways of the wind, and report them to the Temple in Sutch: there, they have composed an ever-changing Atlas of the Winds, in the hopes of discovering the face of their goddess in its moods and patterns.

...

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 23 Mar 2014, 19:02

Right then, the Imperial Cult:

THE IMPERIAL CULT

The Imperial Cult (or cult/church of the Nine Divines) is the foremost religion of Cyrodiil and the Empire. The Cult worships the Nine Divines, eight supreme spirits who sacrificed themselves in the creation of the world, joined by the spirit of Talos starting from the Third Era. The Nine continue to guard over the Empire and the mortal spirits, and send down guidance for them in the shape of laws and rules.

The Nine Divines
Each Divine has his own charge, meaning the area of existence it brought into the world at creation and subsequently embodies. These are respectively: Akatosh (Time), Arkay (The Cycle of Life and Death), Dibella (Beauty), Julianos (Wisdom and Logic), Kynareth (Air, the Elements), Mara (Love, Plenty), Stendarr (Mercy), Zenithar (Work and Commerce), and Talos (Mankind/Empire). The Cult also acknowledges a massive Community of Saints (mortal examples of virtue) and associated mythical beings like Morihaus and Shezzar, though the latter are not actively worshiped within the cult.

Unlike the Daedric Princes or the Tribunal, the Nine are not considered individual beings, instead, they are perceived as a series of images or reflections of themselves: in Imperial theology, the Nine only truly exist as spirits in Aetherius, but they are simultaneously present in the world as planets, as the elemental forces and laws of nature they represent, as occasional mortal manifestations, and lastly as embodied in the structures and hierarchies of the Imperial Cult.

Character of the Imperial Cult
The Cult is the most prominent religion of the Empire (though it is far from the only one, or even the only state-sponsored religion). From the first days of Alessia's reign, the Cult has been part of the Imperial system of governance. This has been fundamental in the development of both institutions: the cult permeates all layers of Imperial society, and being a follower (not a member) of the Nine is a prerequisite for almost any official or important position. The Cult sees little need to spread the faith or keep orthodoxy within Cyrodiil, as it equates its own power with that of the Imperial government: where the Emperor's word is law, the faith is secure. Things are different in the provinces, of course.

Simultaneously, the Cult is curiously restricted: the emperors have limited the Cult's direct influence on governmental, military and aristocratic matters, as religious involvement in such things is equated with the dreaded Marukhati theocracies. Of course, that does not mean the Cult has no (covert) power over these matters, nor that it is restricted in other fields: the Cult is very prominent in social and commercial matters, for example.

Place in Imperial Society
The Nine are considered abstract and unknowable spirits, who rarely concern themselves with the daily business of man. As such, the Imperials' relations to the Divine tend to the impersonal and formal. To the average Imperial, faith serves as much as a social tool as a philosophical guide. Membership in certain cults and orders, worship of specific Divines and saints: these are signs of social standing, dictated by one's profession, political ideology, social class, aspirations, etc. For example, an urbanite Nibenese merchant may be a follower of Zenithar, a member of a secret society dedicated to Clavicus Vile, and part of the local merchant's club/guild, and see little practical difference between the three.

The same attitude applies to the Imperial Cult, but on a much larger scale: to sohow your adherence to the Nine in public is a way to affirm membership of Imperial society as a whole. This is especially important for the many provincial immigrants who tend to reject their ancestral culture in the hopes of becoming accepted in the Imperial weave. The reverse is also true: an outsider who holds on to his own traditions to the detriment of Imperial ones, or a native Imperial who holds Nine Divines in contempt, will find himself excluded from society.

The Imperial Cult as an organization does not play a very active public role. Priests and members play a part in various public ceremonies and occasions as representatives of the Cult, and will act locally and on the higher political field if they think the Divine tenets are not sufficiently respected. Occasionally, an aspect of the Divine will give them a new commandment or task, but this happens very rarely. In imparting its will on society as a whole, the Cult relies on its hold on the faithful community, petitions to the Imperial government, and its large knightly orders.

For the most part, however, the Cult is insular, concerned mostly with theological disputes and internal politics. The Cult is unconcerned with the fate of the poor and the common people, and cares for society only in a way as to manifest their chosen aspect of the Divines. Of course, this attitude varies among the Orders.


HIERARCHY

The Imperial Cult consists of nine semi-independent Orders, each dedicated to a specific Divine and based in its own diocese (geographical area of authority), plus one subservient branch concerned with unified actions and administrative matters.

Leadership is in the hands of an overarching council, the Ennead (called the Octadic before the Septim reign), consisting of nine (arch)primates, each the head of his own Order. All members of the Ennead are equal, though in practice leadership shifts between the Akatoshite and Talosite primate. In theory, the cult's sole religious leader is the Emperor, though it has been decades since any Emperor dared intervene in Cult matters (which usually resulted in accusations of Marukahtism)

The Imperial Seminary
A unified administrative branch based in the Imperial City, under the direct control of the Ennead. The Imperial Seminary is composed of members of the Nine Orders, along with a large backbone of “undetermined” priests, who for various reasons declined to bind themselves permanently to any Order. The Imperial Seminary controls a small shared treasury, serves as a messenger service for the Orders, has limited authority as a court, mediates in conflicts between the Orders, funds missionary cults (like the ones in Morrowind, Argonia, Elsweyr, …), maintains shrines and chapels that lie outside the dioceses of the Orders (or that the local Order takes no interest in), and, most importantly, oversees the training of novices in the Cult. Work in the Seminary is the highest a member can get without binding himself to one of the Orders.

The Nine Orders
The Nine Orders have not always existed as they do now: under Alessia there was one unified Order, divided in informal groups of acolytes around the eight High Priests. On her deathbed, Alessia imparted the secret knowledge of each Divine to a High Priest each, setting them on the path to eight separate Orders. During the Marukhati period the order became divided between those who submitted to the Alessian Order (Akatosh, Zenithar, and Stendarr), and those who were persecuted or fled to the west (Kynareth, Mara, Dibella, Julianos, and Arkay). Reman reunited the Cult, but chose to maintain the separate orders due to the association between a single Order and the Marukhati belief in a single god. Under the Septim Empire, the Ninth Order was founded for the Divine Talos, mimicking the others in its hierarchy and theology.

While differences between the Orders are substantial, they show broad similarities: each one has its own diocese, which is roughly equivalent to county borders, and is based in a major urban center, close to the local seat of power. The Orders have a main temple in these cities, and usually several lesser chapels in villages within their diocese, for the benefit of local communities. Within these houses of worship, the Orders offer regular sermons and lectures for the edification of the people, in order to explain the nature of the Divine (as far as the people are allowed to know it) and impose their laws and tenets. They also offer the Blessings of the Divines, and sometimes the Blessings of important local saints.

There are several services offered by the temples. These are associated with specific Divines, but are performed by all Orders regardless of their chosen Divine (though you may receive better services in the temple of specific Divines). These are:
  • Healing of diseases, under the contract of Kynareth
  • Healing of wounds, under the contract of Julianos
  • Performing marriage ceremonies, under the contract of Mara (many small Niben cults also have this privilege)
  • Performing of funerary rites, under the contract of Arkay
  • Keeping the time, under the contract of Akatosh
  • Offer basic education, under the contract of Julianos
  • Trade, take part in commerce and craft, under the contract of Zenithar
  • ...

Each of the Orders also has its own Knightly Order, varying from small, exclusive brotherhoods to vast mercenary armies.

Advancement
Each member starts out as a Layman. The Cult provides certain benefits for those who are already member of the missionary cult of Morrowind, but does not offer rapid rank advancement: they do not respect the local cults enough. Likewise, membership of provincial religions like the Tribunal Temple are technically illegal, but usually overlooked, as the Imperial dignitaries are usually unconcerned and badly informed about such cults.

Ranks in the Imperial Cult are Layman, Novice, Initiate, Acolyte, Adept, Disciple, Oracle, Invoker, Theurgist, and Primate. Rank advancement up until Adept happens under the charter of the Imperial Seminary: the initiate is unbound to any of the Nine Orders, and travels to each of the Nine Temples to learn the Cult's principles and the character of each of the Divines. Once one has advanced far enough and received signs of approval from at east half of the Orders, one can advance to Adept and choose to dedicate oneself to a specific Order.

The difference between being a layman or member of the Seminary and the Orders is often explained as the difference between learning the Law of the Divine (which everyone must learn and live by) and the Will of the Divine (which is only ever revealed to the chosen initiates). Of course, the Adept is not immediately introduced to all the secrets of his Order: up until the rank of Disciple, one is still expected to perform various small tasks for his own and the other Orders, and to cooperate with the Seminary.

Once a member has reached the status of Disciple, he can ask to be introduced to the Inner Mystery of a Divine. These Mysteries are exclusive hidden revelations, first taught by the Divines to Alessia, and passed down orally through the long history of the Cult. Even within the higher ranks of the Orders, there are many who have learned of the Mysteries and their meaning, but never experienced them personally: to actually take part in a Mystery is said to be extremely dangerous and harrowing., as it brings you face to face with the Divine. To know the Inner Mystery is required for the final stages of advancement.


THE NINE ORDERS (WIP, others will follow soon)
The Order of Akatosh - Whose Perch from Eternity Allowed the Day
Also known as the Chantry. Austere and insular, the Akatoshites were once the most powerful Order, but have since been overtaken by the Orders of Talos and Zenithar. The temple of Kvatch is popular as a place to worship all of the Nine, and to pray for purity and continuation of bloodline, permanence of legacy, and protection against Oblivion. Of all the Divines, Akatosh is the most impersonal and tyrannical, requiring only complete unthinking obedience from his servants. In return for this, Akatosh promises permanence: the eternal continuation of one's personal accomplishments, the eternal existence of the soul, and the eternal rule of Empire.

The Chantry is obsessed with the following of a byzantine set of rules and rituals dictated by Akatosh, the meaning of which no one cares to uncover: endless chanting and singing, the ringing of bells at set moments in the day/year/decade, meaningless incantations, the burning of leaves and flowers, … all in the sign of blind obedience.

The Knightly Order of the Hour is dedicated to the promise of stability and permanence. The knights are strongly integrated within the structure of the Order as a whole: each place in the knightly circle is imbued with ceremonial tasks and obligations, most of which have little to do with the task of defending the Chantry. The Order is highly nepotist, with knights offering their place to sons and daughters, who are expected to follow in their ancestor's path without deviation. Apart from several prestigious ceremonial tasks, the knights of the Hour are no longer very significant.

The Inner Mystery of Akatosh is known as the Heresiarch's Golden Scripture. During the First Era, the Marukhati Selectives attempted to erase all Elven influences from Akatosh in a secret ritual, with catastrophic consequences. During the Dragon Break, most priests of Akatosh spontaneously vaporized, taking their knowledge of the Inner Mystery with them. The High Priest of Akatosh had foreseen this, and had secretly written a set of ritual instructions on slates of Dwemer metal, which would not be affected by the temporal chaos. During the Remanite revival, these instructions were once again put to use, though knowledge of their actual meaning has been lost.

The Order of Akatosh is troubled by two existential problems, that define their questline:
  • The Order is in decay, slowly losing influence and prestige. This is in direct opposition to their gospel of permanence, and may be a sign of Divine disfavor. This is the low, political aspect of the Order, the scrabbling for influence of old knights and families.
  • For decades, the Order has been organized according to the Golden Scripture, without knowing the how or why of these rituals. Some have meditated on Akatosh and came to a deeper understanding, though this is considered blasphemous (how can a mortal understand time?) and dangerous (the risk of zero-summing, vanishing into thin air). Akatosh may or may not be a very coherent, or even sane, Divine. His commandments are contradictory, his manifestations rare and difficult to comprehend. The fact that the Golden Scripture was written for the pre-Dragon Break Akatosh is also cause for some concern. Searching for the Divine's identity is popular among the younger priests, who wish (and fear) to know what it is they worship.

User avatar
MoonAndStar
P:C Reviewer
 
Posts: 155
Joined: 03 Jan 2013, 15:52
Location: España

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby MoonAndStar » 24 Mar 2014, 01:50

Lovely. I'm elated to see Imperial religion being fleshed out like this.

Infragris wrote:
Each of the Orders also has its own Knightly Order, varying from small, exclusive brotherhoods to vast mercenary armies.


It would be interesting to have a small questline involving one of the Orders being crazy powerful and having a more substancial weight and presence than the local count.

Infragris wrote:
Likewise, membership of provincial religions like the Tribunal Temple are technically illegal, but usually overlooked, as the Imperial dignitaries are usually unconcerned and badly informed about such cults.


Maybe I misunderstand this, but I see provincial religions as being legal. I'd imagined myself the Tribunal cult actually existing in the Imperial City as one of these marginnal Nibenese cults, with small shrines and actual Nibenese devotees worshipping the Tribunal in their own way. Think of how the eastern "mystery religions" like the cult of Mithra, Serapis, Cybele or even Christianity came to have a degree of significance in the city of Rome in ancient times.

I look forward to reading about the rest of the Orders. :)

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 24 Mar 2014, 11:19

Some sources state that the Tribunal Temple is on "Proscribed List of Hostile Cults", though I'm not sure if that list is kept by the Imperial Cult or the Imperial government. This is ignored (or can be bribed away) because Imperials are ignorant of provincial matters + for practical reasons: this is a faction with nine mutually exclusive quest paths. It we start cutting it off for Temple members as well, very few players are ever going to see this content.

I was thinking the Tribunal Temple could come into play once we get to Leyawiin, with Dunmer refugees, exiles and the struggle to control the Blue Road traderoute. The eastern mystery religion template would work great for Azura, Boethiah and Mephala as well.

As for power-hungry Orders, something similar is planned between the Knightly Order of Iron (Zenithar) and the Fighter's Guild. Conflict with the local count is a great idea as well, maybe for Stendarr or Talos.

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 07 Apr 2014, 11:26

'nother god, Arkay of the Cycle of Life and Death:
The Order of Arkay – he who braves the Diminuendo
Arkay and his priests are most prominent during funerary rites, but they also play a part in the birth and first blessing of children, harvest celebrations, the blessing of fields and livestock, and people's passage from one stage in life to another. Imperials consider Arkay not only the god of death, but also of passage and change: when something is lost or changes in their lives and communities, Arkay is invoked to bless and conduct the proceedings.

Priests of Arkay maintain graveyards and funeral sites, put the undead to rest, and invoke the Blessing and the Law of Arkay across the land. The Blessing of Arkay protects mortal souls from being used without their consent, while the Law of Arkay protects mortal remains that have been buried in the proper way. Both require constant vigilance against tampering and (more commonly) stupidity. Outside of their strict anti-necromancy stance, the priests of Arkay are very tolerant, and were the first to allow Orcs in their ranks. They are, however, notorious for not offering Divine blessings or healing outside of their duties, as this would upset their idea of balance. Most temples of Arkay have a priest of Kynareth, Stendarr or Mara around for these tasks.

The Knightly Order of the Circle specializes in fighting the undead and necromancy. They have a reputation for attracting death-seekers: the sick, the dying, repenting criminals, the doom-stricken, the suicidal, those who have nothing left to live for. The knights of the Circle look only at competence, and do not ask questions – as a matter of fact, inquiring about the past is a major insult in their system of honor. They tend to pick fights with bad odds, and have a high mortality rate.

The Inner Mystery of Arkay is Lunar Currency. It refers to the cycle of souls and life-bringing Creatia between the mortal world and Aetherius. Each soul, when brought into the world, carries within it the spark of the Divine, which allows it to live, develop, and use magic. Memories and growth of character are symptoms of this spark's development into something greater. When a mortal dies, he takes his past life back to Aetherius, where it adds to the luster and beauty of the Divine. Afterwards, his soul returns to the world, and the cycle begins anew. Only souls of exceptional virtue, who maintained balance and the circle in life, are allowed to stay in Aetherius among the Divines.

In the present, the Order of Arkay is faced with two problems:
  • First is the accepted practice of necromancy in Nibenay, and the rise of Mannimarcean-style necromancy in the west. Followers of the Worm King have been making inroads into Nibenay, converting or crowding out the old, somewhat more benevolent necromantic traditions. The Order of Arkay has used this controversy to push for a general necromancy ban with the Council. Some priests within the Order fear this shift in balance: the Order used to tolerate the native necromancers, and even relied on them to enforce the Blessing and the Law, or share expertise for putting a troublesome spirit to rest. Now, the Order pours all its efforts into eradicating the native necromancers, ignoring the rise of the more covert Mannimarceans.
  • The second problem of the Order is their bad reputation. Their macabre activities and refusal to give blessings have caused resentment among the people, while the battlemage aristocracy considers them a threat to their necromancy privileges. The Order's push for new legislation has proven a perfect opportunity for their enemies to take them down: for a religious order to involve themselves in politics to such a degree is a step too close to Marukhatism for many Imperials. This has caused heavy public opposition.

User avatar
MoonAndStar
P:C Reviewer
 
Posts: 155
Joined: 03 Jan 2013, 15:52
Location: España

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby MoonAndStar » 17 Apr 2014, 12:11

Would it make sense to have multiple temples in the bigger cities, instead of just the one chapel? Or maybe smaller shrines funded by nobles dedicated to certain divines or saints, and indirectly to the glory of the dynasty. In this case I think it would be interesting (though I'm not sure if it would make sense in TES) if different aspects of divines were venerated through epithets (e.g: Talos Avenger, Akatosh the Victorious, Kynareth the purifier, etc.) much like what normally happened in ancient Rome.

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 17 Apr 2014, 16:47

I'm very much in favor of having smaller temples in cities and villages, and having small shrines for various Divines and saints along the roads (especially in Nibenay). Nobles, various organizations and guilds could occasionally have a shrine or two on their premises.

The epithets are a nice idea, but their role here is filled by the massive host of saints we're supposed to have in the Imperial Cult. On the Nibenese side we also have the animal spirit-cults and about a thousand random sects and religions, many of whom are variations on the Nine. I'm leery of throwing yet another layer of Divine spin-offs on top of that.

User avatar
Praedator
P:C Reviewer
 
Posts: 516
Joined: 02 Sep 2011, 18:52
Location: The Netherlands

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Praedator » 01 Aug 2014, 15:09

I just made a wayshrine in Anvil, how do I make it Zenitharian?

Worsas
Asset Manager
 
Posts: 847
Joined: 17 Mar 2011, 20:55

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Worsas » 01 Aug 2014, 15:56

It is maybe only needed to create a copy of the wayshrine saying "shrine of zenithar". We could give that shrine distinctive visual features later on, if needed.

User avatar
Praedator
P:C Reviewer
 
Posts: 516
Joined: 02 Sep 2011, 18:52
Location: The Netherlands

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Praedator » 01 Aug 2014, 16:37

Worsas wrote:It is maybe only needed to create a copy of the wayshrine saying "shrine of zenithar". We could give that shrine distinctive visual features later on, if needed.


So not an Anvil Statue for Zenithar, like the ones in TES5Heartfire ?

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 01 Aug 2014, 17:12

The Order of Dibella
Dibella is worshiped by a large number of exclusive convents across Cyrodiil, dedicated to aspects of beauty, art, or erotic instruction. Most of these cults are Nibenese, though the exception is the "head" Order of Dibella, which moved to Anvil some hundred years ago as part of the rebuilding of Anvil.

Priests of Dibella consider the encouragement and protection of beauty their first task. They teach and promote the "Imperial Arts": painting, music, dance, and poetry (the Imperial definition of the Fine Arts includes eight branches, some associated with other Divines: architecture, sculpture, and jewel-making are taught in Zenitharite schools, and public speaking is associated with Talos). They also teach the Diblashuut, erotic instruction, though that is considered a more exclusive and covert activity. The Dibellans finance their cult through the teaching of the fine arts, though their main source of income is the taxation of affiliated bathhouses, inns and licensed bordellos (lower-class pleasure-houses are usually associated with Sanguine). Apart from these activities, the Dibellan cults rarely interact with the community at large, isolating themselves in their convents. Nevertheless, Dibella is one of the most popular Divines among the upper classes.

The Dibellans collect works of art and worship them. According to their dogma, Dibella manifests in all things beautiful and joyous, thus endowing them with value. By interacting with them, one can grow closer to the Divine. Without her, no thing is beautiful,and if something is not beautiful, she does not exist within it.

The great temple of Dibella was founded in 3E 267, after the Order of Dibella moved from its old convent near Mir Corrup to Anvil, on the invitation of the newly elected Count Fasil Umbranox (a distant relative of the Order's Primate). Apart from its shrine and public halls, the temple is also famous for its sacred baths.

The Knightly Order of the Lily is the dedicated fighting arm of Dibella. This exclusive order has accrued a reputation for arrogance and debauchery: it is popular among young aristocrats and dandies, enchanted by the romantic aspects of knighthood and "fighting for the cause of beauty", but willfully ignorant of their other knightly duties. They can reliably be encountered in gambling dens and drinking halls across Cyrodiil. Knights of the Lily are recognizable by their exquisite silver armor and rich, cultivated appearance. They have an eye for good equipment, but are on the whole a lax and undisciplined fighting force. Their Knight-Commander is a famous warrior-poet, a legitimately fearsome opponent, but an inept leader.

The Inner Mystery of Dibella is The Whispering. It is said to be an omnipresent hum, only audible to those attuned to it by service to Dibella, and representing the song of Dibella that calls out from all things she inhabits. Those who listen to it are privy of secret knowledge, which can lead them to treasure, or help in persuasion and mercantile affairs.

Major themes and questline:
The original leadership of the cult came from Nibenay, and their interpretation of the Divine is more sexual and intimate than what most Colovians prefer. Recently, a new, Colovian Primate has taken the reins of the cult, and moved it into another direction. Primate Hiriel was an Acolyte in the Order of Julianos, before she encountered a manifestation of Dibella during a pilgrimage to the Imperial City. She quickly rose through the ranks of the Dibellan priesthood, and has now taken control with the backing of a small core of Colovian priests and a number of the more conservative notables of Anvil. She is writing scriptural guidelines with a focus on symmetry, mathematical order, architecture, of the pure and unspoilt, and or pure intentions. This new direction is opposed by the Theurgist and her allies, all raised in the Nibenese tradition. The current Theurgist is the direct descendant of the first Primate who first settled in Anvil, and she has much authority among the older members of the Order. The Player will have the option to either defend or attack the new paradigm.


EDIT: a shrine of Zenithar would be a blinged-out anvil, basically.

User avatar
Praedator
P:C Reviewer
 
Posts: 516
Joined: 02 Sep 2011, 18:52
Location: The Netherlands

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Praedator » 01 Aug 2014, 17:23

So I need Lilies :) garden, and beauty :D TY Infragris well done :)

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 19 Aug 2014, 21:29

A time for words.
Kynareth
Kynareth was once one of the most important spirits of the new Empire: the progenitor of Morihaus, an ally of mankind, and ever faithful to the ideas of Shezzar, the Spirit of Man. However, as the Empire developed, her cult was overshadowed by Akatosh and later by Talos. Today, the Order of Kynareth is the smallest and least influential Order.

The priesthood of Kynareth is a nomadic affair. The priests are bound to the winds and the will of Kynareth, wandering across the land, and their tasks include the maintenance of sacred groves, springs and sanctuaries all across Cyrodiil. The Order maintains a chapter house on the outskirts of Sutch, humble in comparison to the temples of other Orders, and little frequented even by the Kynarites – most “settled” priests of Kynareth here and elsewhere are those too old to do extensive traveling. The Kynarites prefer to be on the move, to practice their rituals in the field and on the road, where Kynareth can hear and see them. The sacred space in Sutch is roofless.

The priests of Kynareth perform a vital task for the Imperial Cult: they connect the cult to the people. Many rural villages and farmsteads in Cyrodiil do not have their own priest or shrine nearby. Marriages, funerals, births, livestock, houses and wells all require blessings and approval of the Divines: some events are delayed until a traveling Kynarite passes by – although in most cases, the priest will be dragged in after the fact to give retroactive approval. These priests also serve as their communities' primary source the healing of diseases and other blights: for this reason, Kynarites have a reputation of being excellent healers (though the more involved work of healing wounds is the domain of the priests of Stendarr). In turn, the priests report everything they have seen on the road back to the chapter house in Sutch, which makes them the Imperial Cult's premier spy network. If you want to know what's going on in the country, ask a priest of Kynareth.

Although the priests are popular among the poor, and practically revered by sailors, they are also openly mocked in many comedic plays and stories. Kynarites are depicted as untrustworthy vagabonds, swindlers and petty thieves, who will sell their petty charms and blessings to naive housemaids and farmer's wives while stealing the silverware and seducing their daughters. More sympathetic portrayals make them as simple and good-natured as the rural people they frequent, blessing marriages and farmhouses in return for a jug of beer and a place by the fire.

The “Knightly” Order of Kynareth is known as the Forester Knights. The Kynarites look at skill over breeding, and mostly select scouts, hunters and rangers to patrol the hinterland, hunt down unnatural creatures, and guard the sacred groves and wells that are too far in the wilderness to be protected any other way. It's a bit of a joke to be a Forester Knight, as pretty much any backwoods trapper with sincere faith can say the same – there's no lodge or uniform, save a small amulet. Still, one should not underestimate them, for they are excellent hunters, fierce in their faith, and their order has a long and noble history – just ask one about their arduous and bloody crusade against the werewolves of Cyrodiil (now completely extinct). Many of the more respected knightly orders are in a worse shape.

The Inner Secret of Kynareth is called the Furor Lexicon. Is is a massive reference book, kept in Sutch, something between a record and a genealogy of wind and weather patterns - the spirits of the sky. The faithful travel the world, observing and recording the land and the wind, and report these back to their Order for transcription. In this way, they learn the face of their goddess.

User avatar
Saint_Jiub
Head of Concepts
 
Posts: 575
Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 00:42

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Saint_Jiub » 19 Aug 2014, 22:36

Yes to everything except one: priests of Kynareth specialize in curing disease, poison, and curses, while the tending of wounds and easing of pain is associated with the Temple of Stendarr.

User avatar
Infragris
Head of Lore
 
Posts: 425
Joined: 23 Jun 2013, 19:46

Re: [Faction]The Imperial Cult

Postby Infragris » 20 Aug 2014, 00:05

Thx, I forgot the details on that healing business.


Return to The Master Plan



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron