Faith is a catch-all term for many religions across Meranthe, ranging from minor practises held by a handful of individuals to city-spanning sects that dictate laws as surely as any noble house. While many citizens might believe in the worth and influence of different gods, to draw power from faith itself requires specific circumstances.
Faith is in direct opposition to Necromancy and Black Magic, which religions and cults may also form around. These practices are of a darker nature and often involve nefarious, corrupting acts, while Faith is of the natural order. No Faith still true to its patron will encourage necromancy and witchcraft, for example. The source of power of all Faith comes from the lifestream, the flow of natural magic that weaves its way through the world, purposed by the rituals and ultimately defined by the Oath the pactee makes.
There is no point in drawing a history of faith; it has existed since the dawn of the human race, the very first man brought to life by deities that walked among the earth. In Eternia, faith is not a question of believing in the existence of deities. They are very real. Instead, faith is a question of which deity best represents the way one wishes to live their life, or the greatest rewards for service, and forming a link with their divine presence.
Almost every citizen of Meranthe, magi or otherwise, follows some sort of faith and at least one or two tenants that influence their lives, however minor. True miracles of faith are reserved for the most devout, priests that preach the glory of their chosen god.
The countries religious beliefs are so decentralized that there can not be said to be any one majority religion, not even in a single city. Though there may be a most popular god (Athelios in Aphros, for example), there are several different faiths that focus on differing ways to worship him.
Heralds of a New God
Those most attuned to their faith (perhaps even the founder of it) have the ability to draw strength from the pact they have made (detailed later). They can provide blessings and soothe woes, enact rituals in the name of their god, empower new recruits with this same strength and even anoint objects and champions as they reach the peak of their divine connection.
The Faith class uses a mechanic known as Faith points, earned by blessing individuals and other actions, allowing them to advance their connection with their god and unlock greater powers. But be warned, they must follow their vows closely lest their power be rescinded. These individuals are priests, paladins, cultists, followers of divine portent.
Principals of Faith
There are three essential prongs of almost every faith. Belief refers to the central figure in the faith, typically a god of the pantheon but not necessarily, from which power is drawn. Rituals are the manner in which faith is demonstrated, some common and others unique to a sect. Vows refer to the sacred oaths taken by the priests and champions of that religion, from which their strength is drawn and without which their power is naught.
While common citizens and player characters may have their own interpretations of faith, the below is designed specially to assist characters of the Faith class with developing the lore of their religion and how to practise it.
The figure of worship in a faith is the heart of that faiths belief. The power of faith is, in essence, a contract between the figure of worship and its followers. When compared to the pacts of witchcraft, the difference is that these pacts do not require you to sign away your soul. Some faiths might offer alternative routes in the afterlife, such as sanctuary in one of the spirit realms, while others have no tie-in to the afterlife whatsoever.
Most figures of worship in Meranthe are gods, particularly of the pantheon, while across Eternia angels and other local gods are more common. It is not impossible for an object or even a person to become a focus of faith. So long as there are enough people with a true belief in that figure as an object worthy of worship, then a pact might be formed. This is why stars are common focuses of religion across many countries. There can even be cults flourishing around great rulers or emperors with enough charisma.
Some beliefs can even be towards a concept or ideal, if it is shared strongly enough- for example, service to a dead god, even if the god itself cannot provide patronage, can spark the pact.
It is up to these figures, or the priests under their direct command, to create the simple tenants of religion and the philosophy as to why they have dedicated their life to them.
Prophecies are also common amongst a religion's core belief; the assurance that one day their patron, or an event related to them, will come to pass.
One of the most grand displays of reverence; every faith has rituals, whether to invoke power or to simply give respects. These rituals have an important magical purpose and are equally as important socially; demonstrations such as this are physical imprints of the success of your religion, manifestations of your commitment that reassure those aligned with your cause and draw others into the fold. Most rituals are group prayers or celebrations. Greater rituals of power, summoning or even invoking the wrath of a god are typically kept secret from the public.
Common example rituals are:
- Blessing an object.
- Blessing an area.
- Praying for good fortune or health.
- Warding against evil.
- Celebrating an aspect of their religion.
Perhaps the most important aspect for a follower of faith is the vows of a religion. Every faith has tenants that are considered unbreakable; core ideals which bind a priest to their lord like string tying hands together. Some consider these oaths the exchange given from mortal to god, the human part of the bargain. If these tenants are ever betrayed, a chosen priests favour may be stripped from them, leaving them powerless and tarnished. This can be direct divine intervention or the decision of a superior follower of faith with enough evidence.
The seriousness and difficulty of maintaining these vows differs from religion to religion and on the god being worshipped. Some do not expect much, while others have strict commands that must be followed. Typically, the stricter the oaths, the more power that their followers will be able to obtain from their piety. To refrain from fighting against certain foes, to restrain from vices, to pursue a goal single-mindedly- these are powerful oaths.
Every faith has at least one oath, taken at the moment of obtaining the class; most have several. Vows typically only apply to the priests and upper echelons of a faith, not a simple follower, though they must follow the vows if they hope to one day reach those ranks. Those whom are sworn underneath these oaths are considered oathbound and it is a requirement to pursue advancement in their chosen faith.
The oath is is heard by the higher power like a prayer and, if desirable, accepted to form a faith link.
These are written examples of the sort of oath a Faith-class character might have a new initiate recite and vow themselves to. The more potent and explicit the restrictions, the greater potential for major miracles at the pinnacle of their craft. On the other hand, populists or forgiving faiths can enjoy the base benefits of the class with a mindful lifestyle.
The examples provide the name of the faith and its patron.
Order of the Silver Chalice [Aphelios]
My life, to the hands of the great gatekeeper.
My sword, forever pledged to banish fel flame.
I shall see through the trickery of the Dark Lords servants.
My eyes will be blind,
My ears will be deaf,
My hands will be clean,
My heart will be ice.
From my tongue, no lie to my brothers may I ever speak.
From my hands, no innocent life will I ever claim.
I vow to serve, now and forever, beneath the masks of secrecy and contempt.
With my brothers and sisters in arms, the Silver Chalice,
In service of Athelios,
And all Meranthe.
I swear to uphold the sanctity of your chosen lands, the greatness of the forests guarding Pavonis.
I swear to speak wise and true and share your wisdom with all who seek it.
I swear to find balance in natures cycle and to act with compassion.
I swear not to harbour the enemies of the lifestream, and to be vigilant.
Never will I wear a helm to shield my face, so Nemea can always find me.
Never will I guard my chest with leather or steel, so that my heart can be felt by her.
So long as I live, my heart and my grief are shared with you, great Goddess.
There is no room for anyone else.
Grant me your merciful adoration,
The willpower to struggle through the pain of life,
The humility to understand that greater things lay ahead,
The tranquility to know who I am.
Faiths of Old
Below are some of the faiths that dominated Meranthe in the past, when the influence of primals was still fresh and godling children fought over the world, up into the second age. Some continue to this day.
The Golden Concord
Patron: Amphal Aeschylus
Religious head: N/A
Description: The Golden Concord was a religion built around the ancient Nephilim ruler Amphal Aeschylus at the prime of his power. So great his influence and arrogance that, in the wake of a world devoid of gods, he nurtured a religion all unto himself. Though his name was chanted across the country and banners of his visage dressed every street, such was not a welcome religion outside of the privileged priests whom were paid lavishly to propagate the greatness of the Emperor and wash away his sloth, misdeeds and incompetence. Popular, certainly, only because to go against the religion at the time was considered a great heresy. Amphal Aeschylus was the second last of his line, and the legacy he left was so ruinous that the man that came after him could not keep the empire together, and it crumbled. This was one of the last times Meranthe saw a country-spanning religion.
- Great parades, now lost to time, the only evidence of which the ancient busts and strange writings singing praise.
- Follow every word of Amphal Aeschylus as gospel.
- Do not make eye contact with those above you lest you threaten to stain their soul.
- Uphold the virtue of your superiors in battle.
Order of the Silver Chalice
Religious head: The Dutiful Tenant (title)
Description: This small order of witch hunters has religious roots drawing back to Athelios and is a fundamentally faith-driven organization. With members spanning up to two dozen, each witch hunter took upon a moniker and vow to hunt down the servants of the Dark Lord. It is said that most of their ranks perished in the Desolation of Lira Moore, unable to prevent the cataclysm from occurring. The most notable circumstance around this group is their potential continued survival into the modern era, with the occasional reports of activity or training of new witch hunters, either into their own ranks or to walk through Meranthe in times of crisis.
- Upon induction, drink from an empty silver chalice. If the member is worthy, then they will taste the brackish, stale water of Helheim in their mouth; they must spit it out onto the floor and have their tongue branded with the seal of Aphelios to inherit his trust.
- The Frozen Hour, a wide spanning ritual used to detect witches caught within it in a large radius. Lost to time.
- Members of the Silver Chalice oft worked in pairs, binding each other with magical pacts so that they could interfere if one suspected the other of being put beneath a hex.
- Suffer not black magic, and work to destroy it at every opportunity, immediately.
- Let your blade never bite into the flesh of an innocent (meaning, non witch).
Religious head: Pelthos Delgrad
Description: Pilgrims and followers of Eos, the blind goddess, patron of light and empathy. They travelled the country during times of great strife, offering service as doctors or healers, welcomed across most borders without persecution. The benevolent image of their deity made it easy for them to slip into the role of spies, collecting information from city to city, passing it off however they saw fit, so long as it did not contradict their tenants to do so. Unsurprisingly a religion of self mutilation and altruism could not sustain itself forever and it eventually fell into the annals of history after the passing of its founder, Pelthos Delgrad.
- To enter as a true faithful, one must cast aside their eyes and walk for a year without any sort of magical enhancements. Only then might they receive a blessing.
- Undocumented rituals suggested gatherings at night to pray for the solace and health of cities or regions as a whole.
- Do not yearn for more than you are given.
- Assist those that are weak and in need. Do not assist where a life saved will lead to more deaths in the future.
- Raise your weapon only in self defence.
- Avail yourself of all meats except on the last day of the month.
Below is a list of some of the faiths currently being practised by player characters in Esshar. To submit one of your own, please us the following format and edit the post or message mim#7772. If any categories do not apply, write n/a. Put your religion's name in the heading location. Use the above historical religions to inspire yourself.
Patron: (Who or what does the faith venerate?)
Religious Head: (Who is the most senior figure in the faith?)
Description: (1 or 2 paragraphs detailing your faith maximum.)
Rituals (List a few fluff rituals or days of celebration that your religion might follow.)
Oath (What are the unbreakable tenants of your religion? List at least one. You can list dot points or copy-paste your full vow.)
Initiate - 5 Spell Points
Prayer: -1000 Energy. Grants a temp buff of +5 MANA to the target player for 1 year, cannot stack. +3 Faith
Channel Faith: -500 Energy: Transfer X amount of Faith to a target player that has spell/Priest
Unlock Blessing: Purchases Blessing by spending 10 Faith
Unlock Acolyte: Purchases Priest by spending 15 Faith
Priest - 0 Spell Points
Sanctify: Grants +5 Occult defense to the target for 1 year. Costs 5 Faith
Baptize: Grants the target spell/Initiate by spending 5 of their spell points if they accept, making them an initiate to your Faith. Costs 5 Faith.
Sacred Vow (Weddings, festivals, etc): -500 Energy. While facing an item, lets you change the name, description, and unique tag.
Unlock Radiance: Purchases spell/Radiance by spending 50 Faith. Must have 100 Faith spent total
Festival: Host a sermon, tournament, wedding, etc. Requires 'Incense'. Generates Faith based on the activity around you.
Radiance - 0 Spell Points
Shoulder Burden: -20 Faith, -1000 Energy. -5 permanent injury to self, unhealable. Counts as prosthetic/arcanium, allowing the player to heal an injury
Restore Vigor: -50 Faith, -1000 Energy. Immunizes the target against age nerf for 1 year.
Dedicated faith members that have achieved some level of renown that have practiced a Faith with an Oath that tests their willpower and commitment should also considering requesting Signature and Mythic abilities based on their Faith: https://chronicles-of-eternia.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=12133