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  • Immaculate History : Expanded

    So one of the more interesting aspects of Christianity to me is the huge amount of change that's taken place since the Roman era.

    Envisioning an Immaculate Religion that has had a similar amount of time to mature, what sort of interesting schisms and reformations might you imagine occurring in the church? What would the Immaculate Order of 2000 years from now look like compared to the Immaculate Order today? Obviously barring civilization-tweaking events like Autochthonian interaction and Celestial conquest. Presuming a more or less stable Creation, would the Immaculate Faith evolve into a variety of similar yet distinct belief systems like Christianity did?

  • #2
    I'm sure it would evolve, but considering how much longer the people in charge(spirits, Dragon Blooded, Sidereals) live, it would change a lot more slowly.

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    • #3
      It radically evolved when the Realm was formed, becoming the centralized order and stuff that exists circa RY 768, so that's one place where the Immaculate Philosophy changes hugely.


      Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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      • #4
        In my games the Immaculate Philosophy can already be roughly split into three separate groups, and this is always fairly important when looking at the Immaculate Philosophy as a religion.

        First, you have the Realm Immaculate Philosophy with its state religion, the Immaculate Order. This is the largest and most popular version of the Immaculate Philosophy in Creation. They have the power of the Empress and the Realm behind them, and they claim to have been a continuation of the original Immaculate Order of the Shogunate Era. They inherited the original, religious will of the Immaculate Dragons and theirs is the rightful and true religion, or at least that's what they claim. Throughout the Realm and in most tributaries, this is the official religion.


        Second you have the Lookshayan Immaculate Philosophy. The Realm Immaculates call it the Scavenger's Philosophy in an attempt to belittle their religious rivals while Lookshy refers to their peers in the Realm's Immaculate Order as the Scarlet Order, a snub rejecting the idea that the Order has anything to do with the Immaculate Philosophy and instead suggesting that they are nothing more than the Empress' puppets. They completely reject the idea of the Mouth of Peace and say she is nothing more than a mouthpeace for the Empress and has no religious authority whatsoever.

        According to Lookshayan Immaculates, the Realm's Immaculate Order is nothing more than a tool for the Realm. The Empress has no divine right to Creation and she created the Immaculate Order merely as a shrewd method of using religious belief in order to cement her control. Lookshy believes that the Immaculate Order ignores many of the fundamental tenants of the Immaculate Philosophy and twists many other pieces in order to justify the Empress' rulership of Creation.

        To outsiders, the differences between the two religious beliefs are largely superficial, but both groups claim that theirs is the "purest" form. Lookshy often funds Scavenger Lords who can find and bring back Shogunate era tomes or books detailing the beliefs of the Immaculate Philosophy of that time in an attempt to keep their religious practices as close to the old ways as possible.


        Then you have a third version of the Immaculate Philosophy, which is more heretical. It's practiced by smaller nation states or villages in the Threshold that have little interaction with the Realm or Lookshy. This version is often the result of oral transmission of old beliefs from the Shogunate era, and most of these versions are regional and local. This version of the Immaculate Philosophy is the result of being mingled with local traditional beliefs until it's become something else. Some of the broader points might remain, but many monks from the Realm or Looskhy are often horrified and view the practitioners as terribly heretical and misguided.


        To make a real-world comparison, the Realm's version of the Immaculate Philosophy would be a lot like Catholicism. Lookshy's version would be more like Eastern Orthodox Christianity. And then the third version would be more similar to the sort of Christianity you can find in parts of Africa or South America where the native groups commingled the teachings of Christian missionaries with their own local traditions and beliefs to create something rather different.



        As for what will happen in the future, it's hard to say because it directly depends on what happens with the Realm. If the Realm were to collapse the Immaculate Order would suffer an incredible setback and it's likely that the other two strains of the Immaculate Philosophy would grow quite a bit.

        Another possibility is that with the Empress gone, you could have a group of young monks seeking to remove certain "corruptive" practices that were popular under the Empress. This could give rise to something like a Reformation, with the Immaculate Order being split into two different competing systems with those looking to overthrow the status quo and others seeking to defend it. You may even see different Houses adopting different versions and the Realm itself falling into a religious war.



        One thing I did do in one of my Dragon Blooded games once, was have the Mouth of Peace die. At that point two different alliances put up competing replacements and with the Empress gone there was a huge disagreement over who would become the new Mouth of Peace. This led to two different Mouths of Peace being in power at the same time (sort of like the Antipopes of earlier Christendom) with a huge religious schism rocking the Realm.
        Last edited by AnubisXy; 03-16-2017, 06:50 PM.

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        • #5
          And let´s not forget the Pure Way, the Prasad version of the Immaculate Philosophy who directly venerates the Dragon-Blooded as gods!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Clophiroth View Post
            And let´s not forget the Pure Way, the Prasad version of the Immaculate Philosophy who directly venerates the Dragon-Blooded as gods!
            Nice, I hadn't considered them. In fact, I understand it's a bit late but I am abruptly realizing that there are so many things I've thought about, worked on and included in my games over the years that I suddenly need to reconsider or re-approach in light of new material added in in 3rd edition.

            Looking closer I think Prasad's version would squarely fall under the "heretical" section in this case. Theirs is probably the largest and most expansive heretical version of the Immaculate Philosophy in Creation. In fact, I imagine the Pure Way is probably the most popular version of the Immaculate Philosophy in the Dreaming Sea area, similar to how Lookshy's is likely the most probably in the Scavenger Lands.

            I kind of want to keep the Christian-comparison flavor, as I've found it's something that makes the differences between the sects of the Immaculate Philosophy a bit easier for people to understand. Maybe Prasad's Pure Way could be compared to a Christian gnostic group like the Carpocrates. Some sort of off-branch that practices a form of religion that is seen as terribly dangerous and heretical by the other more mainstream divisions. Though gnosticism itself is pretty obscure so that still might not be terribly helpful for making a comparison.

            Hmmm... something to think about.

            *EDIT* Maybe Arianism would be a good example - something that's more regional but was very popular and sometimes you had fist fights between people who disagreed with the more widespread and popular interpretation of Christian beliefs (even if those accounts were apocryphal).
            Last edited by AnubisXy; 03-16-2017, 07:39 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

              Nice, I hadn't considered them. In fact, I understand it's a bit late but I am abruptly realizing that there are so many things I've thought about, worked on and included in my games over the years that I suddenly need to reconsider or re-approach in light of new material added in in 3rd edition.

              Looking closer I think Prasad's version would squarely fall under the "heretical" section in this case. Theirs is probably the largest and most expansive heretical version of the Immaculate Philosophy in Creation. In fact, I imagine the Pure Way is probably the most popular version of the Immaculate Philosophy in the Dreaming Sea area, similar to how Lookshy's is likely the most probably in the Scavenger Lands.

              I kind of want to keep the Christian-comparison flavor, as I've found it's something that makes the differences between the sects of the Immaculate Philosophy a bit easier for people to understand. Maybe Prasad's Pure Way could be compared to a Christian gnostic group like the Carpocrates. Some sort of off-branch that practices a form of religion that is seen as terribly dangerous and heretical by the other more mainstream divisions. Though gnosticism itself is pretty obscure so that still might not be terribly helpful for making a comparison.

              Hmmm... something to think about.
              Lollardry? Cathars?

              I have Pure Way as within-the-Realm Eastern Orthodoxy, with a few unique traditions (Sainthood, living or otherwise, for example).


              I did a lot of homebrew over here. PEACH.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                Immaculate Philosophy Post
                Stolen for awesome potential.


                Exalted Fanfiction on AO3 that I have authored. A Lunar oral history, a Solar buddy-fiction, and other story hooks.

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                • #9
                  I generally like to run the Realm's version of the Immaculate faith to be very localized and while on the whole all part of the immaculate faith, different locations and belief structures arise within it that result in slight variations, or different focuses on different aspects of the beliefs. Let me see if I can find a write up I did for one such faction for a character....



                  Here we go:
                  On the religious faction known as the Prima Fide

                  The followers of the Prima Fide were considered harmless, and somewhat eccentric during the time when the Empress sat upon the throne, this may change if people truly believe her gone. At the heart of the philosophical structure, for it has few dedicated priests and no organization, is that the chosen of the dragons, and indeed as all those with any power or spiritual refinement should be, first and foremost warriors. This makes it very unusual for members of the sect to ever be unarmed or unarmored, not unheard of, but much on the level of rarity as a fat Immaculate Monk, or one surrounded by great personal wealth. They consider it improper to conduct any form of communication among their own in any language other than the language of the Isle as a mark of the purity of spiritual focus. They naturally organize into a hierarchy of rank, answering to those the individual considers to be of higher spiritual rank, with the Empress filling the roll of most spiritually pure being currently in existence, save for the Immaculate Dragons themselves. Most commonly those that follow this philosophy answer to the head of their houses, and obey with the intensity one would expect of a military unit. Outside of this relatively shallow structure, they hold that as warriors they are to pass judgement based upon their own skills, and otherwise defer *only* to their spiritual superiors.

                  This spiritual purity as hierarchy factor has lead to the occasional difficulty with interactions with the Immaculate Order, leading Immaculate Monks to simply contact the relevant head of house and request a direct command to their lessors to obey the Monks as representatives of her Imperial Highness... previously it was not unknown for her Imperial Highness to simply issue periodic edicts to this effect which would resolve the issue for several years at a time, and is sadly not possible any longer.

                  Followers are known to tend towards antagonistic behaviours towards the Followers of the Ledgers, due to a fundamental doctrinal disagreement over the ability of individuals to refine their spiritual nature without suffering other spiritual drawbacks, and thus "Unbalancing the Ledgers of the Incarnation"



                  Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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                  • #10
                    My belief is that Immaculate Philosophy is already a syncretism of five different spiritual philosophies, with each Glorious Dragon Path originating in a different terrestrial direction.The original martial arts schools of that early era become the ancient Immaculate monasteries of the modern day, each a center of a different interpretation of their Immaculate's teachings.

                    But before you get to that point, you get the first Texts themselves. The Bronze act in their traditional roles as viziers to the rulers of the world but hamstrung by Arcane Fate they took to writing political and religious texts as means to disseminate their ideas. If you're familiar with "mirrors for princes" as primers on rulership, that's what many of the early Texts serve as. While statescraft and military tactics are often covered (being so vital to the new Terrestrial daimyo and their Gens) it is ethics that the Bronze truly want to impart to the Princes of the Earth. Each heroic tale of the Immaculate exemplar gave both practical and moral advice: do as Mela, and you shall be as respected and powerful as she! Except for Sextes Jylis, the last set of Immaculate texts written, but that's a bit of a diversion. Immaculate knowledge is studied by nobles, but to truly seek enlightenment you leave secular matters behind for the monastery.

                    Each monastery is a political unit unto itself, regional in scope, with religious disputes more likely to be solved with martial arts than debate. The Shogunate era is a time of turmoil and warfare, Terrestrials constantly warring with one another; the Bronze vision is not the result Kejak's circle had hoped for. So after a few hundred years of Warring States crap the Celestially Guided Itinerants walk between monasteries and arrange a council of the most powerful and influential nestors forming the nucleus of what will later become the Order. Their first among equals is titled the Mouth of Peace, and given the duty of harmonizing the fractious temples.

                    By the late Shogunate you have a church that vaguely resembles the contemporary Order if you squint. The Mouth doesn't have anywhere near the power she does in in the Empire and the unified canon for the Immaculate Texts is still an idea, probably the major debate of that era. Spiritual patronage practiced by Shogunate daimyo and well-educated mortals would be rampant as the Central Tenet will not be "refined" until Kejak meets the Empress. Iconic imagery is probably ok too. The most important difference is that the religion is still much more heavily monastic; the Immaculate teachings are focused on the behavior of the Dragon-Blooded first and foremost, or mortals determined to become Exalted in their next life. Religion is a more personal affair than a communal one, the Perfected Hierarchy not yet a fact of every day life for your average mortal.

                    This is largely how the Seventh Legion's Immaculate Faith is depicted, an openly Melaist sect devoted to emulating/worshiping her as the Perfect Soldier. I have some ideas for Danaa'dist sects from this time period that studied reincarnation and the nature of the soul, handled funeral arrangements the Sijanese do in the East, others that were political seditious against Shoguns and led peasant rebellions, and still more that were proponents of the most FYGM libertarianism possible. Followers of Danaa'd have a historical tendency for trouble-making, by fist or pen, that helps me explain why the present-day Water Dragon Temple is so fiercely fundamentalist towards heterodoxy.

                    The Great Contagion happens. The role of the nascent Order changes to a much more activst one in maintaining what remains of civilization. Kejak trades the endorsement of his Immaculate Order, the most powerful organization still standing in the wake of apocalypse, to the Empress in exchange for reestablishing the Realm. From this deal the Order draws on a body of Heavenly law ordaining the Realm's Exalted to police the spirits of Creation, while the Empress won a state religion that secured her rule. Many gods acquiesce to the prayer calendar, mortal communities trade their little religions (the Hundred Gods Heresy) for an Immaculate one that demands noblesse oblige from their ruler, and so on. By this point monks of the Order are openly engaging mortal populations in a way that only a few sects did for centuries, opening temple doors to educate children, officiating marriages and funerals, and agitating against corrupt officials on behalf of a peasantry that is otherwise powerless. All monks are expected to be able to perform these duties for their communities and this tutelage forms the new basis for the Coils of the Dragons.

                    Not every faction of the Immaculate Faith agrees with these changes. The Immaculate Brotherhood's perfect circles ignore the Mouth of Peace and travel the southwest, emulating the deeds of the Immaculates; the Temple of Shuyun continues their monastic meditations except when Anathema defile the southwestern savannahs; Lookshayan sohei bargain with the gods in Great Forks instead of enforcing the Calender. A few are declared heresies, but most pay lip service to the Mouth, and the fiction of the Immaculate Order is a single cohesive power is maintained.

                    I'm in the process of researching for some Immaculate texts and commentaries I want to write for our current game related to those later councils in the first decades of the Empire, long before the Scarlet Dynasty. In the process of various temples moving sacred objects to the Crystal Palace*, then home of the Mouth of Peace, a lowly scribe discovers a long lost text penned by Pasiap among the artifacts. This text details Pasiap teaching Juche engineers the exact ratios for the Blessed Bond, the vital concrete used for infrastructure projects in the First Age lost to the Shoguns for centuries, and guided them in raising sturdy aqueducts and roads after the destruction caused by vanquishing the Anathema. It immediately catches the attention of the council after tests prove the formulas are true, but there are moral objections to including it in the canon; the pages depict Pasiap with a whip, directing slaves in their labors, something Immaculates are deeply uncomfortable with. Friction over the text's authenticity provides casus belli for the Lookshayan faction to cut ties to the Order over religious grounds, as opposed to political ones, and even until RY768 is still considered an unsettled debate by some temples that nominally are part of the Order. These are the temples that take in "donations" of slaves as means of emancipating them, providing them a place within the Order as acolytes.

                    *Yes, that Crystal Palace. After Princess Mnemon is granted her Great House and lease on the Immaculate Order's home they swiftly evacuate to Sion and the Palace Sublime. Truth be told I have no idea why Empress might have done this yet, I just think it's a cool twist to Mnemon in RY768 supposedly wanting to move the center of the Order to the Imperial City.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                      you have the Lookshayan Immaculate Philosophy. The Realm Immaculates call it the Scavenger's Philosophy in an attempt to belittle their religious rivals while Lookshy refers to their peers in the Realm's Immaculate Order as the Scarlet Order, a snub rejecting the idea that the Order has anything to do with the Immaculate Philosophy and instead suggesting that they are nothing more than the Empress' puppets.
                      Liked and swiped



                      Long time lurker

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                      • #12
                        How about another twist on this idea - what about Immaculate communities without access to Dragonblooded? The reasons are unimportant, but could be extinction, reclusive inclinations, or any number of other explanations.

                        What does the Immaculate Faith look like 50 years post-DB? 100? 1000?

                        How are the Elemental Exalted remembered? Where does the boundry between fact and legend blur?

                        And maybe most fascinatingly to me, how long is it before what remains is absolutely unlike what actually existed? When do the Dragonblooded vanish into the fog of myth and become indistinguishable from any other fanciful story in the past? How are they described and worshiped (if indeed they remain part of the faith at all) in absentia, and how do the scriptures adjust to handle the new world?

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                        • #13
                          One things to consider is that in the Immaculate Faith only Dragon Blooded can serve as intermediaries between spirits and the mortal world. Without Dragon Blooded, humans would naturally have to start offering prayers to spirits on their own. More importantly, since they're not Exalted, they wouldn't be able to bully or browbeat spirits the way Dragon Blooded can. This leaves mortals in the unenviable position of being subjected to blackmail by spirits and without Dragon Blooded around, there's no real way they can do.

                          So one possibility is, as a town or village is forced to bow and scrape before spirits, the Dragon Blooded (and the Immaculate Dragons) become mythological savior-figures that are shared in stories and whispers. "Some day they will return and put the spirits in their proper place and free us from our bondage." Any Dragon Blooded who ever showed up in such a village would immediately become a rock-star hero, but of course he would be expected to go out and stand up to the spirits. He'd have to act the part of the savior-figure that the locals believed he was or else.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                            Any Dragon Blooded who ever showed up in such a village ...
                            Any of the exalted, really, though there would be splitters between "beware of false saviours" and "the warnings were a lie" if the villagers' lore still recognised the distinction between dragon-blooded and anathematic exalted.

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                            • #15
                              I've got a local sect of the Immaculate Faith present in my totallynotDarkAgesBritain-campaign. It is one of the last remnants of the Shogunate on the island, and is mainly concentrated in the southern not!Anglo-Saxon portion. The northern not!Norse and eastern not!Britons have their own religions.

                              Basically, take Roman Catholic Christianity, add some Confucianism, and mix to taste. Lots of bells, monks in roughspun habits, masses led by priests and spoken in not!Latin (High Realm), etc.

                              The Faith is the descendant of the pre-Realm Immaculate Philosophy, meaning certain things that wouldn't be acceptable in the modern Immaculate Philosophy are allowed, like iconography and the (limited) acknowledgement and quasi-veneration of deceased ancestors and deities.

                              First, this offshoot has religious icons of the Faith in prominent display, as opposed to the "orthodox" version of the Realm. Generally, if one is a believer you are going to have an amulet displaying the 5-pointed-star pentacle of the faith (carved from wood for poor people, precious metals for the wealthy), and even the poorest of village shrines will have a painting of the Dragons displayed. Wealthier temples will usually have stained-glass windows depicting the Elemental Dragons and Paragons (aka the Dragonblooded, who are viewed as a combo of angels and paladins). LOOOTTTSSS of Dragon-related Insular Art.

                              Secondly, wealth is prominent, although this isn't so much a tenet of the religion as a result of greed and pride. The Faith has a lot of monasteries and abbeys in productive lands, and receive regular tithes and donations from the populace. This means that many abbots, through the productivity of their see, can be pretty damn rich. Now, technically, this money is supposed to be used to maintain the monks and to buy up reserves of food and medicine, but in many cases you will see a monk wearing roughspun wool bowing before an abbot in fine vestments and jewelry. Hypocrisy is a part of the human condition.

                              In many cases, shrines and temples will be finely decorated, compared to the rest of the community. While a small village shrine will generally only have a table covered with a cloth as an altar, along with wooden water-bowls and such, even modest temples in a quiet country town will usually have candles (tallow, usually), prayer-mats, water-bowls (the island is in the Northwest, so water is culturally important) and other votive objects made from copper, tin or pewter. Wealthy temples, on the other hand, tend to go ham with decorations, with carved wooden pews, finely-woven and embroidered rugs on the floor, votive objects of precious metals, incense, fine white candles made of spermacetti or beeswax, the works.

                              "Temples" have full-time priests, while "shrines" do not. Shrines tend to be found in smaller communities, but there are enough travelling monks to have one stop by every week in order to administer to the needs of the faithful. Religious services happen every Sunday, with the parish gathering in the shrine/temple and meditating while the priest says prayers in High-Realm. In addition, certain gods (along with all Dragonblooded) are recognized as patrons of specific things, very similar to the idea of Catholic saints, and limited prayer (more like asking for help with their specific profile) is allowed, so long as it gets cleared by a priest (and in some cases, the priest might not want someone to pray directly, and instead offer to make an intercession for them instead), and these gods also have specific days (again, much like Catholic saints) where anyone can pray to them, no priestly intercession required.

                              Acknowledgement of deceased ancestors and the like is allowed, but actual worship is discouraged/prohibited. Funerals tend to be pretty somber affairs, heavy on respect, the acknowledgement of the deceased's life, and the fact that they are dead and need to move on. Bodies are ritually washed in blessed water, wrapped in linen or canvas shrouds, then buried in the earth whenever possible. Most of the time, the body will be marked with a tombstone/marker of some kind, where flowers and other offerings are placed. (Generally, the dead tend to be pretty placid, with the exception of the draugr of the early pagan settlers, who tend to get pissy when graverobbers break into their barrows for lootz)

                              In the case where an earth-burial isn't practical (like in the middle of winter when the ground is frozen), other methods of disposal are permitted, but it is thought that the dead will have trouble reincarnating when not committed to the earth. ("We are the Children of the Earth, and to the Earth we should return" is a common saying). One of the more common alternative methods is through fire due to sheer practicality, but it is viewed as dangerously close to paganism. This is because both the ancestors of the current not! Anglo-Saxons and the current not!Norse practiced the same religion, where the deceased is placed in a boat with grave-goods and other offerings (up to and including human sacrifices), then pushed into the water and set on fire.

                              Yadda yadda yadda

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