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  • Immaculate Philosophy, Prayer Calendar, and Heresies/Offshoots

    So I have some interesting discussion questions. Lets get the clarification stuff out of the way.

    So one of my Players didn't realize the ideal immaculate doesn't direct prayers towards the Dragons because the Dragons are supposed to be beyond such things in their perfection, with Nirvana/Moksha being achieved by attaining oneness with them. Thus actually praying to the dragons would be something perceived as provincial, or a bad habit for folks like Dragonblooded. It can be an odd quirk if a village without monks start directly worshiping the Dragons, viewed maybe in a similar fashion to how Christianity argues over whether praying to the Virgin Mary is okay, or Santa Muerte being a thing. So when he took the Lore Specialty of the Immaculate Philosophy he became aware of this.

    How does an immaculate layman get over killing a dragonblooded, in self defense. The same player killed a Dragonblooded when one was wiping out his Dojo. Once again he didn't seem to fully understand how this is as much of a sin as it is. Killing a Dragonblooded is probably the one thing you could think of on the same level as trucking with Anathema. So that kind of broke his faith/made him a penitent.

    And how do you think the Immaculate Faith would evolve if a population of adherents were separated from the Order? For instance my game is set in the Far North West, and the PC mentioned earlier has raised up relations with Realm Expatriotes, and families descended from Immaculate Followers. The region is isolated from the Order itself though and the nature of the Order really needs Monks to help guide folks spiritually, if not outright Dragonblooded themselves. So I wager families of Immaculate Followers separated from monks/the church would start simplifying the religion and worshiping the Dragons, and other iconic figures, such as the Empress.

    This ties in with another question. The Immaculate Philosophy supposedly only worships according to an established Calendar. And it is said the mortals actually address worship towards the Dragonblooded of the Order who direct it to the appropriate Gods. How do they do this? Do you think its like a sermons and such where the Monk or Lama says and we our heads in thanks to Black Rice the God of the Flavorful Patties, or do you think its more the people are like "I send generic prayer to the Lama" and the Immaculate Lama then goes "I pray these prayers are directed to so and so". Some other books seem to imply the Immaculate prayer Calendar can just make it kosher to pray to specific gods directly at these certain times. I guess a mix of both ways is probably the likely answer but thoughts?

    Also they are Unclear but the Immaculate Prayer calendar, is it one huge monolithic thing composed and updated by the Order or does the order design and separate calendars by the regions, like maybe major gods whom they bought the favor of would have wider groups if not all immaculates worship them on the agreed upon time, and then smaller weaker gods have prayers only in regions they are associated with, so Bilbear god of the glen gets the valley and mountain associated with his territory to aim prayer at him, but not the folks on the neighboring mountain?


    It is a time for great deeds!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    So I have some interesting discussion questions. Lets get the clarification stuff out of the way.
    As a note, that you apparently did this all in custom font made it a pain in the ass to respond to bit-by-bit. Just random tangent, since this is interesting of a topic.

    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    So one of my Players didn't realize the ideal immaculate doesn't direct prayers towards the Dragons because the Dragons are supposed to be beyond such things in their perfection, with Nirvana/Moksha being achieved by attaining oneness with them. Thus actually praying to the dragons would be something perceived as provincial, or a bad habit for folks like Dragonblooded. It can be an odd quirk if a village without monks start directly worshiping the Dragons, viewed maybe in a similar fashion to how Christianity argues over whether praying to the Virgin Mary is okay, or Santa Muerte being a thing. So when he took the Lore Specialty of the Immaculate Philosophy he became aware of this.
    Yeah, this is a thing that makes the Immaculate Philosophy stand out I think as far as fantasy religions. It's not pseudo-Abrahamic in its structure and relation to its primary deities. It's a dharmic faith with a huge layer of Taoist trappings on top of it (note that the ladder of being for the Philosophy is about enlightenment/refinement rather than real piety/karma). In a sense, worshipping the Dragons is also like worshipping the Buddha or Laozi. Folks might do it, but it kind of misses a bit of who they were historically and what their relationship to their messages are.

    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    How does an immaculate layman get over killing a dragonblooded, in self defense. The same player killed a Dragonblooded when one was wiping out his Dojo. Once again he didn't seem to fully understand how this is as much of a sin as it is. Killing a Dragonblooded is probably the one thing you could think of on the same level as trucking with Anathema. So that kind of broke his faith/made him a penitent.
    Seems about right to me actually. Since the Order's version of the Philoosphy is very much about the spiritual supremecy of the Dragon-Blooded, the will of a Terrestrial Exalt (even if that harms you) technically is more important than yours. Even in self-defense, you have in effect uprooted the Perfected Hierarchy and impeded the spiritual development of both that Exalt who's life he ended prematurely, as well as harming his own dharma in the process by acting out of his station. As for getting over it, I think the general take is some sort of general things most religious folks do to get out of a slump like that. Go on a pilgrimage. Donate to a temple. Send soemthing to their family. Give them the proper burial. Do what you can to fix your damage to the world by making sure others get on the right path (basically undo the karma you put into the world by cultivating that which helps the world). There be options.

    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    And how do you think the Immaculate Faith would evolve if a population of adherents were separated from the Order? For instance my game is set in the Far North West, and the PC mentioned earlier has raised up relations with Realm Expatriotes, and families descended from Immaculate Followers. The region is isolated from the Order itself though and the nature of the Order really needs Monks to help guide folks spiritually, if not outright Dragonblooded themselves. So I wager families of Immaculate Followers separated from monks/the church would start simplifying the religion and worshiping the Dragons, and other iconic figures, such as the Empress.
    Depends. I have notes about for a kingdom in the North which basically lost a lot of the Taoist elements of the Realm's faith and developed a lot of Tibetan-style tulkus things. So things like other routes to enlightenment (lines of reincarnating holy people like the Lamas), some thing that sees their actions as a vehicle to eventually get you to reincarnate to something more legit elsewhere (a society that thinks its monks might eventually reincarnate into someone on the Isle, or even someone who will be a DB or join the Order) and as you note, simpler takes on things which lose out on the dharmic/Taoist elements and just start worshipping the dragons and Empress, kind of like how some sects in Japan in our world turned the Buddha into a deity.

    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    This ties in with another question. The Immaculate Philosophy supposedly only worships according to an established Calendar. And it is said the mortals actually address worship towards the Dragonblooded of the Order who direct it to the appropriate Gods. How do they do this? Do you think its like a sermons and such where the Monk or Lama says and we our heads in thanks to Black Rice the God of the Flavorful Patties, or do you think its more the people are like "I send generic prayer to the Lama" and the Immaculate Lama then goes "I pray these prayers are directed to so and so". Some other books seem to imply the Immaculate prayer Calendar can just make it kosher to pray to specific gods directly at these certain times. I guess a mix of both ways is probably the likely answer but thoughts?
    Likely a mix. My guess is that there are times which are okay to worship or do things in teh god's name, probably things like holidays or festivals or days of the week where the srhine at the temple is available. And if someone wants something specific from the god, they're expected to ask a monk who does things on their behalf. And through a given year, the monks at a temple do the various religious duties of a religion in cycles and schedules that add moe to the god's plate at a steady cycle, whether the peasants come in or not. Or lead sermons which go toa god peasants are expected to show up. It might also depend on region, to boot. An-Teng for instnace probably has a list of kosher ways to deal with the Golden Lord and then regulates most everything else for local gods, and discourages the Pale Mistress.

    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
    Also they are Unclear but the Immaculate Prayer calendar, is it one huge monolithic thing composed and updated by the Order or does the order design and separate calendars by the regions, like maybe major gods whom they bought the favor of would have wider groups if not all immaculates worship them on the agreed upon time, and then smaller weaker gods have prayers only in regions they are associated with, so Bilbear god of the glen gets the valley and mountain associated with his territory to aim prayer at him, but not the folks on the neighboring mountain?
    I think it's based on region. There might be some major gods like the directional ones of some topic or another, but local spirits of rivers, fields and such are probably managed in the context of the temple and what is in its sphere of influence.

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    • #3
      Brace yourself for my headcanon.

      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
      How does an immaculate layman get over killing a dragonblooded, in self defense.
      How does anyone reconcile themselves with doing something intolerable? You start telling yourself it wasn't really your fault, or they weren't really a living saint, or that you didn't have a choice and therefore no moral responsibility. Or, if you accept the blame, you start looking for ways to do penance.

      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
      And how do you think the Immaculate Faith would evolve if a population of adherents were separated from the Order?
      That depends on where the new population is and what the social norms of their new culture are. Maybe priests will be allowed to marry and have children. Maybe they'll isolate themselves from society. Maybe they'll become militarized and start conscripting members of the populace to spread their faith and learn martial arts. Do whatever works for you!

      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
      This ties in with another question. The Immaculate Philosophy supposedly only worships according to an established Calendar. And it is said the mortals actually address worship towards the Dragonblooded of the Order who direct it to the appropriate Gods. How do they do this?
      Some sects of Christianity believe that only priests can speak directly with God - that ordinary people are too earthly to pray to Him without guidance. So, then, if we're following a similar model, what would happen is that the priests would lead the laypeople in regularly scheduled prayer ceremonies. Presumably, if any worshipper had a specific concern for a specific god, they would tell a priest to pass it on. And the priests might make prayers of their own on their own time, in lieu of the general populace.

      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
      Also they are Unclear but the Immaculate Prayer calendar, is it one huge monolithic thing composed and updated by the Order or...
      I propose that individual, local branches of the order make their own calendars based on a set of standards that every branch shares. I imagine that there's a standard set of guidelines given in Immaculate scripture that describe how a prayer calender should be organized, included who is allowed to pray, who they are allowed to pray to, and who is allowed to edit the calendar.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post

        This ties in with another question. The Immaculate Philosophy supposedly only worships according to an established Calendar. And it is said the mortals actually address worship towards the Dragonblooded of the Order who direct it to the appropriate Gods. How do they do this?
        That's not how it works. The monks, especially the Exalted, are the ones who engage in the rites. The people don't pray at all.

        Prayer in general does not work in such a material way.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

          That's not how it works. The monks, especially the Exalted, are the ones who engage in the rites. The people don't pray at all.

          Prayer in general does not work in such a material way.
          Don't have the books in front of me but they do mention the people pray and the Dragonblooded direct the prayer.


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          • #6
            Yeah, I assume that the most basic elements (i.e. the fact that the Prayer calendar is a thing) would prove durable enough that they would be common anywhere that the Philosophy is recognizable, but that the details (i.e. what divinities receive prayer at what times) will tend to vary based on region to one degree or another. The more distant and removed a region or culture is from the orthodox center of the Philosophy, the more it will generate its own deviations, and these will tend to grow with time as well.

            I also think it's valuable to remember that even within the Order proper there will be factional differences. The unforgettable Peleps Deled serves as a reminder that members of the Order can have vigorous and sometimes violent disagreements over things as (relatively) minor as scriptural interpretations, but adherents can differ on practical questions too - like how active a role the Order ought to take in bringing wayward principalities to heel, and how aggressive such efforts ought to be. In my current campaign set in the Near South I have a number of satrapies that are home to varying heresies, and several factions within the Order that split based on what different members think ought to be done about it.
            • The Traditionalists tend to take a measured but austere approach. They believe that if the people of the Threshold satrapies have strayed from the orthodox teachings of the Order, those people (and their leaders) need to be brought back into the fold. They want to do so by reinforcing the original and long-held teachings of the Philosophy through existing power structures, like local rulers. Their idea is that it is primarily neglect that has allowed these people to stray, and that an insistent return to the original teachings and structures is the proper remedy. They tend to be influential and politically connected, and so have more sway than other factions.
            • The Pragmatists tend to be more moderate and are engaged in efforts to proselytize among the populace through direct efforts, like missionary work and community activism. They see the drift away from the tenets of the Philosophy more as the result of ineffectual administration and corruption among the ruling classes than of widespread spiritual decay, and often argue that strict adherence to the Immaculate teachings is a goal to aspire to in the more distant provinces, rather than a standard to be insisted upon. They are more welcomed among the populace of satrapies far from the heart of Imperial authority, but wield little temporal or political power.
            • The Interventionists are aggressive, uncompromising, and often borderline radical. They are known for railing against heresy and insist that the Order has a duty to stamp out blasphemies in the provinces, and that the use of militant force to do so is not only necessary but justified. Transgressions against the prescribed spiritual and social order are to be punished harshly and publicly, and those who commit such crimes should be made object lessons. Members of this faction tend to be agitators and are disproportionately represented in the Wyld Hunt. While not as influential as the Traditionalist faction, Interventionists nevertheless can find willing ears among some of the more ambitious and demanding satrapial rulers.
            All of the factions subscribe to the core tenets of the Philosophy - you won't find many even among the Pragmatists who would hesitate to take up arms against the Anathema. But there's plenty of room in the Texts for disagreements over what the role of the faithful is, and what measures are appropriate.


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            • #7
              I've got a little sect going on in my latest campaign (Basically "Dark Ages" Britain, with post-Shogunate [Not!Roman] sub-kingdoms, the Migration of Not!Germanic Tribes, etc) that is largely the last remaining remnant of the Shogunate on the island, much like Christianity was the last remaining aspect of Rome in Britain in the 500's.

              In said campaign, the Immaculate Faith is prreeeettttyyyyyy much Catholic Christianity with some Taoist flair. The ceremonies and prayer sessions are all spoken in High Realm (and translating the prayers into "vulgar" languages is a heresy), there are monasteries dotted across the landscape, with monks preserving Shogunate-Era texts and documents, with some added stuff like Insular Art. Dragons are used as a representation of temporal power, and as a metaphor. (For example, the King Arthur-expy in the backstory, a Dragonblooded officer of the Shogunate that stayed behind when the Shogunate shat the bed, is referred to as as a literal Dragon, and "dragon" is also used to refer to any powerful leader or warrior)

              The populace has to meet once a week (more often would be nice, but preindustrial agriculture is hard work and takes a lot of time) in an Immaculate chapel to hear the prayers of a priest, and Gods other than the Dragons are treated much like Saints, and get their own festival days where they get celebrated. People also "pray" to these Gods, much like asking a Saint to intercede with God for you in real-world Christianity.

              Monasteries, like I said earlier, are pretty common, and tend to be pretty wealthy. The monks work the land as a physical and spiritual penance, and make high-quality beer, foodstuffs and suchlike. The abbots of these powerful and wealthy monasteries have as much influence as secular lords, and in some cases, the abbot and the lord are one and the same. In the Kingdom of Vestland (the Wessex-expie, and the most "Shogunate-ized" of the barbarian kingdoms), many several abbots have seats on the Folcmeet (The Witangamot)

              As for actual monks, the "official" policy is that "people of the cloth" have to swear vows of celibacy, vows of poverty, etc, but like most things in real life, these things vary. As above, many monasteries are pretty wealthy places, with resulting levels of hypocrisy on part of the priesthood and monk orders. While a small village chapel is likely going to have a table as a lectern, with a couple of wooden/ceramic candlesticks, and no glass in the windows, larger chapels in wealthy monasteries and in cities are going to be richly decorated, with carpets, finely carved pews, bronze/silver/gold candlesticks and votive objects, fine stained-glass windows, and priests wearing fine cloth robes and such. The monks and a

              Religious art is probably the largest derived aspect of this Immacule offshoot. As before, most monks are going to be putting Immaculate-related Insular Art into texts and such they copy, and stained glass windows (and wall-paintings, for smaller and poorer chapels) in places of worship are going to be depicting various parables of the Faith. Dragons, as above, are a popular thing to depict, and Insular Art--ized depictions of the 5 Elemental Dragons are going to be pretty common.

              The "symbol" of this faith is a pentacle, much like the "symbol" of Christianity is a cross. People are going to wear amulets depicting this, wooden if you are poor and silver/gold if you are well-off. This symbol adorns the belltower of chapels and cathedrals in much the manner you would expect.

              As for the relationship of this Faith with the "Orthodox" Realm one ...... the Orthodox Immaculates view this one as pretty much heretical filth. The only reason more Orthodox monks haven't showed up to straighten things out is the fact that this island (the size of Great Britain) is out in the middle of nowhere in the Northwest.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post

                Don't have the books in front of me but they do mention the people pray and the Dragonblooded direct the prayer.
                ​Without wanting to be too derisive, I would expect that was the kind of thing that occasionally cropped in from people who didn't really remember or understand how the original outline of the Philosophy worked.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  That's not how it works. The monks, especially the Exalted, are the ones who engage in the rites. The people don't pray at all.

                  Prayer in general does not work in such a material way.
                  But I don't think that is right. Dragonblooded are the only ones allowed to deal with spirits but they always were described as having a prayer calendar and leading mortals in prayer and using this to bribe gods with a carrot while they applied the stick of Kung Fu. It wouldn't work as a very good bribe if only the Dragonblooded prayed.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                    ​Without wanting to be too derisive, I would expect that was the kind of thing that occasionally cropped in from people who didn't really remember or understand how the original outline of the Philosophy worked.
                    Without wanting to be too derisive, what would you propose as an alternative?


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                    • #11
                      Okay, to explain my prior sentence; I do not want to deride writers who I judge to have made mistakes.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        Okay, to explain my prior sentence; I do not want to deride writers who I judge to have made mistakes.
                        To explain my prior sentence; I would like to know how you would describe Immaculate worship practices, or if there is a specific published description you are using as a reference point.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                          It wouldn't work as a very good bribe if only the Dragonblooded prayed.
                          ​The Cult background is not strictly tied to a direct quantification of how many people pray. There's a matter of the weight of one's presence, the scope of social recognition for that god.

                          ​There was a thread discussing this subject before.


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                          • #14
                            When it comes to the calendar, certain days are most likely dedicated the same all around, while others have a more local things.

                            Then, I think it is also important to separate what people think is praying, and what generates prayers the god/spirit/whatever can receive. Look at the midsummer celebration in Scandinavia. It is a pagan festivity with people dancing around a large phallus symbol. The Christian church just rebranded it and claimed it has no connection to paganism. No, of course not. It is just a little midsummer celebration. Nothing religious at all.

                            So there is a lot of ways to bribe and punish gods, without having any "organized praying."

                            Then also, don't forget all the small curse words, or a thanks to the dragons, when someone fall but nothing bad happen.

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                            • #15
                              Here's a question:

                              ​If you only ever get prayed to by one person on one day out of the year, but that person is the Scarlet Empress praying on behalf of the nation by the authority of her being the Scarlet Empress, and that day is the end of the harvest in which the offerings burnt by the rites carried out by the Empress include tokens taken from across the length of the Isle, do you have Cult 5, or Cult nothing?

                              I would posit that you have Cult 5.

                              ​I'll need to read back over certain sources describing the Immaculate Calendar, but it occurs to me that there might be significance not in how many days you're given, but which days you're given, because there are definitely days that make for more choice festivities than others. One might think of the Immaculate Calendar as being like a big spiritual timeshare, in which everybody is competing to not be stuck using the thing for a couple of days in the middle of the rainy season.

                              ​Likewise, consider how the monks and the Exalted might be the only ones performing the rites, but they're performing the rites including offerings that come from certain numbers and classes of people, or even just with the strength of the rites being determined by the status of those performing them. The people do not participate in the prayers of the Exalted, but for those Exalted to be enriched by the labours of the people, cementing their status and thus ensuring that their prayers are heard, that might make for a functionally larger cult even if the majority of people are not performing the rites themselves.

                              ​So in that sense, the people are investing their participation in the cult into the individuals who perform the actual prayers, just in a less mechanistic ways than actually praying the Essence into one person, who processes it and passes it on.


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