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Any other bits on the Sentinel?

Question: The role here and discipleship doesn't seem as well defined as many others. So I was hoping I could get you to expound on how this Archlector and her discipleship fits in the world. These are by no means ALL meant to be answered, but just so you get the flavor of the sort of queries I have.

Whereas Mirrormasks are often lawyers, are Magistrates often disciples of the Sentinel? Does the Faith serve in any capacity of authority with the courts beyond offering the Oath of Truth to witnesses? If not, is there a separate Faith trial body? Is there any precedence or scenario wherein the Archlector of the Sentinel sits as a judge and metes out justice? Or pass on penance? Does she have any specialized responsibility akin to that of the Archscholar, or Gild's Archlector, the 13th or the others who have more established discipleships? If the Inquisition pre-dates the courts and became secular, would the Courts as the area of jurisprudence be a likely body for a new established discipleship to take hold? Is there anything you would like to see happen with the Sentinel, or a piece of lore you hoped someone would latch on to as regards the Sentinel and make more present in the game?

Answer: The Inquisition was the discipleship for the Sentinel, and since then it hasn't had a formally organized discipleship. However, this does not mean that the Faith is uninvolved in law, even aside from Mirrormasks- many magistrates are in fact godsworn, and there's not necessarily any formal separation. For example, it would not be uncommon for a seraph to act as a local judge for a domain, with the approval of the local lord, and there's nothing barring the Faith from being involved in the Courts of Arx as judges as well or prosecuting lawyers, and even magistrates that aren't godsworn tend to seek the advice of the Faith (and the Archlector of the Sentinel) for legal advice fairly routinely, as the Faith is seen as the moral arbiter of the Compact, and questions on the nature of justice and formal dogma go specifically to the Archlector of the Sentinel, the legates and the Dominus.

The Faith also sits in judgment of its own godsworn members, and holds its own courts- the Archlector is in that aspect one of the heads of internal review of the Faith and its hundreds of thousands of godsworn.

Black Reflections After Death

Question: Q: This has come up a few times and some parts answered in bits and pieces on the Info channel, but for the sake of posterity:

We know that Black Reflections are never released unless the person stipulates it in their will. From what's been said, they must then be vetted (for safety?) by the Faith. I assume the Archscholar or a Senior Scholar? Who can vet? And then they're given to the family to approve of release. (Just one person in the family? A Head of House or Voice, maybe?) What exactly are they looking for in terms of reasons to disapprove of the release? Can families decline release just because the person said embarrassing things that look bad for their house? Do the objections have to be stronger than that?

2) Another thing that comes up sometimes: Can a person indicate in their journals that they'd only like to release specific journals after death? Or release all but a few specific ones? Could they ask for their journals to be released just to a specific person? Or straight up all or nothing through the standard vetting process?

Answer: Under 'lore vellichor' there's some detail here, but there's a special senior branch of the Scholars of Vellichor that make up the Censor Librorum. Anything whose release could constitute harm in some way is flagged as 'nihil obstat' for review. While this can constitute grave secrets that could start a war or bodily harm, it can also be anything that would be purely spiteful that was written to cause harm after their death. The feeling of the Scholars Superior is that white journals are perfectly valid, trying to do so with the release of Black Journals post death is trying to use the Scholarship to attack one's enemies out of spite, and the Scholarship is under no obligation to do this. But Scholars Superior will forward on a work as 'imprimi potest' if it's possibly permissible, and the Arch Scholar will rule something is 'imprimatur' if something is dangerous but should still be seen. Purely spiteful works are usually removed immediately unless it has some other value.

2) Sure. But from an ooc perspective going through every journal by hand and slowly flagging them and turn them back is painstaking and really annoying, which is why there hasn't been many black journal dumps after people have died unless someone really makes it clear they really want to see it happen.

Divine Favoritism

Question: Is it heretical or otherwise bad for a household to keep a shrine to the Pantheon that esteemed one God above the others? Point in case: can Grimhall have a shrine that puts Mangata on a higher altar, or on the central pedestal? Can we have a household priest/ess to maintain it?

Answer: Divine Patrons or Matrons aren't uncommon, and discipleships all highlight the god, but what is uncommon and would be considered heretical is any implication that a god is somehow better than the others. That really isn't done, as it's more about emphasizing that sphere that the god controls. "We spend our times talking about Mangata because we spend our lives on the sea" is fine and not unexpected, "Mangata is the best goddess" would strike others as heretical and weird. It should be noted that there's not specific priesthoods for the gods- while there's discipleships of lay people that venerate the worship of a specific deity, to honor rites that are about what that particular deity embodies, the godsworn priests are priests of the Pantheon. Archlectors who oversee the worship aren't really the head of a specific priestly order, they more are specialists who oversee anything that has something to do with that particular deity.

Eternal Flame-Lit Items

Question: Hi. Considering how many items there are that have been lit by the Eternal Flame -- some going back at least 3 IC years -- I'm wondering if the fire in those lanterns eventually go out? Thank you.

Answer: Items lit by the eternal flame last significantly longer than normal (from two to thirteen times as long, abouts), but do eventually go out, unlike the eternal flame itself.

Excommunicated and Charity

Question: Under excommunication, all religious rites and sanctuary are denied. Does the charity of Gild, the writing of journals to Vellichor, and the care of the Mercies pertain as well as they are Faith maintained? What of disciples or Godsworn who continue to give aid and charity to the excommunicated (this excludes any authorized to guide the excommunicated's penance)?

Answer: Excommunication is commonly used by the Faith to publically declare that a leader or other public figure is in error in the eyes of the Faith, continues to err after being warned, and then must be chastened so they might amend their error before returning to the Faith. In practical terms, the excommunicated is barred from setting foot on holy ground while they have yet to repent, however the Faith is free to interact with them in any way aside from that, and is often encouraged to do so, so they might help encourage them to repent from their error.

This does mean, however, they are barred from entering any hospital run by the Mercies of Lagoma and Knights of Solace, and are dependent on mercies being willing to leave to offer them aid. There is no condemnation of mercies doing so, as it's still a reflection of their relationship with Gild, and the same holds true for healing Abandoned (which, conversely, does have some societal condemnation, but is NOT considered explicitly treasonous, like trade with them is). The excommunicated that have been not made outlaw has no legal issue with interaction in any way, though members of the Faith do need to be careful in their interactions, as any support that would signal agreement with the heretical could find themselves similarly barred from the Faith, and for that reason most members of the Faith receive explicit permission from their seniors before interaction with the excommunicated that were punished for blasphemy.

Excommunication and Fealty

Question: I was thinking back to excommunications in game, and the big excommunication of the Great Lords, and to the RL dogma on this and whether it applies here. As they cannot swear under the Gods, obviously someone excommunicated can't make new oaths - but do existing oaths they have sworn technically count (could you just not pay debts owed? Does the person risk being declared not part of their existing fealty and pushed crownsworn at the whim of their liege? Or would it just be that they are not trusted to necessarily hold to those oaths?). Equally, one of the impacts of excommunications RL is that the Church no longer considered that the faithful had any duties of obedience to a ruler excommunicated. Now, given that temporal power rested in - as we have it in game - with local lrods with local soldiers it didn't mean much, but is that also the case here? Or is the view of excommunication that though they are outside of the Gods, their protections and the rites and swearing of the Faith, everyone else is still under that and must hold to their oaths, even to one excommunicated?

Answer: So much of law in the Compact ultimately comes down to the belief that by Limerance, someone's word will be honored and that vows before the gods are taken seriously. It's a bedrock concept that ties into fealty, and that bestows an enormous degree of power to the Faith of the Pantheon.

But it stops just short of someone being able to be declared an outlaw (literally Outside the Law) by the Faith excommunicating them.

During the early days of the Faith, in what's now the Oathlands and before the Compact existed, the Western Kingdom DID, in fact, have anyone cast out by the Faith of the Pantheon based in Sanctum functionally outlaw anyone that was excommunicated. But the power of declaring someone an outlaw was moved from the Faith to the Compact as a whole when the Compact was created by King Alar and the first highlords, and what became a tradition became firmly enshrined during the time of Lorwroth Kinsbane, as the excommunication over kinslaying was simply insufficient to convince sworn swords to break fealty. This was largely due to well meaning reforms done by the Reckoning-era Dominus Tin, who feared a powerful Faith and Crown coming into conflict after King Alar I was declared the King of the Compact, and thus said that when it came to outlawing and casting the highborn from the Compact, the Faith "should not exert itself over the Crown, lest we rule over all". That dogma has made excommunication result functionally in meaning that the Faith would not condemn someone as an oathbreaker that failed to keep their oaths to one cast out, but it also refused to -condemn- anyone that still decided to keep their oaths. That line of dogma, mostly encouraged by the Lycene faction of the Faith and their Mirrormasks, became particularly relevant during the Crusade of Shattered Mirrors, with individual seraphs taking markedly different stances on the excommunicated.

Faith And The Crown

Question: I wondered how exactly the members of the Faith see themselves in relation to the Crown? Is there an idea that the King was placed to rule over everything by the Gods so they are his subjects? Is it that they answer to the Gods, but the land is man's domain and so they respect and offer obedience to the laws of man in so far as they don't interfere with the laws of the Gods? Do they view themselves as allies more than subjects?

I guess what I'm burrowing down to is where does a Godsworn see themselves in relation to the King, the King's minions etc, whether we view ourselves as another (and ultimately more overarching) fealty, or whether the Faith is more there to offer the King critical advice, and act as the mouth piece of the Gods?

Answer: It is significant that the Faith are all crownsworn, and unlike most crownsworn, when they take a vow to the gods and the crown, they do take that second part seriously. This waxes and wanes through the years based on the current dominus and legates, and reached an epoch during brief shining moments with a Valardin Queen wearing the crown extremely briefly after the death of King Darius Thrax the Vowbreaker, before the oathlander was in turn assassinated by Thrax, and continued the Faith being solidly and militarily behind the Grayson-Valardin faction during the Crownbreaker wars.

In current times, the Faith militant usually sees itself as firmly in control of the Faith, but friendly towards crown institutions like the Iron Guard. Historically they've had a rivalry with the Inquisition since the Crownbreaker Wars, and have butted heads, and sometimes come into open and overt conflict particularly in times with a weak crown that didn't exert control.

So short version, yes, the Faith militant generally do see themselves as the stewards over Limerance's vows, and particularly the vows of fealty that would lead to the crown. This also leads to lords being extremely reluctant to openly oppose a liege before they have very clear and explicit backing from the Faith to do so, since no one wants to fight both their liege and the armies of the Faith at the same time.

Faith Hierarchy

Answer: Perhaps the oldest institution on Arvum, the Faith of the Pantheon has existed long before the Reckoning, and is believed to have originated out of Sanctum, the seat of House Valardin. Even today, the Faith is still dominated by most of the western houses, though officially the Faith bears no allegience to any house, and all who wear the formal robes of priests and priestesses of the Faith must become godsworn and set aside their families, vow to only serve the gods and the crown, and abstain from marriage or gaining or granting inheritance.

The hierarchy of the Faith is as follows:

The Most Holy: The Dominus of the Faith, Voice of the Pantheon and Closest To the Gods, the living embodiment of the Faith in the world. The Dominus serves for life, and acts as Seraph of Arx, with all members of the Faith ultimately answering to him (or her, in the case of a Domina). When the Dominus should die, the three legates gather in the Star Chamber of the Rectory and start the secretive process of choosing the next Dominus, involving each Archlector in turn judging the nominee's recitation of a god's tale in regards to their patron deity while overseen by the three legates. The last Archlector called is always that of the Thirteenth, who then acts as Tehom's advocate and argues the case against the nominee and why they may be ill suited.

Fathers and Mothers of the Faith: The Three Legates. The Legate of Concepts, also know as the Legate of the Shield or the Shield of the Faith, oversees the devotees of Gild, Limerance and the Sentinel, and the associated Archlectors and the Grandmaster of the Order of the Knights of Solace. The Legate of Arts, also known as the Legate of the Sword or the Sword of the Faith, oversees the devotees of Gloria, Jayus and Vellichor, with the associated Archlectors (including the Archscholar of Vellichor) and Grandmaster of the Holy Knights of the Templars. The Legate of Creation, known as the Ward of the Faith, oversees the devotees of Petrichor, Mangata and Lagoma, though they are traditionally tasked with the appointment of seraphs to parishes and have enormous sway over how tithes are collected for the Faith.

The Blessed: The Archlectors of each of the gods of the Pantheon. In theory this is a position tasked primarily with theological work and the development of worship of a specific god, but in practice most of the positions are concerned with bringing the rural discipleships that veer away from the Faith back under the auspices of the Faiths' control. Some, such as Archlector of the Sentinel, have essentially lost control of their discipleship (such as when the Inquisition, originally a faction of the Faith dedicated to the worship of the Sentinel, became a secular investigative body for the crown), while the Archscholar of Vellichor controls an entire institution in his own right. All report to their legate, save the Archlector of the Thirteenth, whom reports to the Dominus. The Grandmasters of the Templars and Knights of Solace respectively are treated as peers of the Archlectors and report to the legates or the Dominus.

Brothers and Sisters of the Faith: All godsworn typically are referred to as brothers or sisters, recognizing that they have left their families behind and now only have a family in the Faith. This includes any who have formally become priests of the Pantheon (which the majority of laity in the discipleships never do), as well as templars and knights of solace who have taken their vows. Seraphs are priests who are appointed as heads of individual parishes, which can be as minor as a seraph of a tiny village, or the Seraph of Sanctum, the seat of House Valardin and original home of the Faith- a prestige posting that is often seen as a sign that the seraph is likely to become an archlector, legate, or even the Dominus.

Children of the Faith: Any laity can join the discipleships to the different gods, which vary from institutions with a great deal of organizational control (the Scholars of Vellichor, for example) to completely informal arrangements with no oversight by the Faith whatsoever (the Drinking Discipleship of Mangata). The Templars and Knights of Solace have a great number of men-at-arms who never formally take godsworn vows and become knights, but fill their ranks and provide the Faith with military might to rival the great houses, even if it's scattered throughout the entire Compact of Arvum. While the godsworn might refer to a disciple as 'child', it is not uncommon for laity to address any disciple as a brother or sister of the Faith, even though formally they have not been inducted into the Faith of the Pantheon by taking godsworn vows.

Faith Q And A

Question: Q: "What are the cultural implications of the heads of the great houses being excommunicated from the Faith? What does Fawkuhl want, both publicly and between the lines? How should commoners and nobles be feeling about this? Are there day to day ramifications that we should be playing? This seems like a huge deal/nuclear bomb to me but I'm not sure that I'm interpreting this correctly."

A: A mix of pretty dire and surprisingly underwhelming. It's dire in the sense that theoretically, the few universal laws of the Compact and the Crown are largely derived from the Faith, with no separation of church and state and many of the deepest institutions having a relgious element, such as technically any noble marriage requires the recognition of the Faith to be seen as valid, and fealty has a religious imperative to it.

However, the Compact has grown increasingly secular in the past two centuries moving hand in hand with the near universal skepticism in the existence of magic, demons, elves, and while that is now being challenged again, the average member of the Compact just isn't particularly superstitious and simply doesn't have a very fire and brimstone take on religion. Breaking vows is considered a great cultural taboo, but it has become cultural, even though it had a religious origin, and the average soldier in the field is not going to suddenly turn against his lord because a distant Dominus of a faith the soldier pays lip service to suddenly declared his lord excommunicated. Picture that given any 10 soldiers, 7 would be extremely uncomfortable with the situation but not be particularly disloyal, 1 would be fervently religious and would be near the point of rebellion or desertion, and 2 would be extremely angry at the faith for daring to turn against their liege and might be violent against the faith. With the individual numbers being much different based on region, with the Oathlands being far more religious in terms of Faith orthodoxy, and far less in the Lyceum or Northlands.

For practical purposes, the excommunicated would be denied all religious rites or sanctuary until they repent and prostate themselves (literally or figuratively) before the Faith, but the reaction in the own Domains are probably muted, despite being dangerously tense. However, if anything further challenges their leadership, it could be disastrous.

Q: "Generally how are prayers done? Kneeling? Standing? Hand gestures? Silent? Spoken Litanies? In private or groups? And what differences are there in the worship between different gods, other then the obvious?"

A: Canticles are most popular, with songs for each of the gods' spheres and individual dominions being very common throughout the Compact. Typically services of the Faith vary from -extremely- ornate and regimented (Oathlands Orthodoxy) with a complicated litany that has carefully ordered canticles based on the service and feastday, to very very very informal in say, Thrax or Redrain, and there being strong regional differences. Arx tends to favor Oathlands Orthodoxy in the services, having a great amount of pagentry in their services, with a combination of kneeling, standing, organized and ritualized prayer, and sung canticles throughout the liturgy.

Q: "I know there is no posted list of languages for REASONS, which is fine, but several of us in the Faith would like to know if there is some liturgical language we would/should know. Thank you!"

A: No, there's not. Truthfully, there's very little like any kind of specialized cants.

Faith Titles

Question: Q:How do titles interact with the Faith? If a knight is anointed to be a priest, does the Sir drop in deference to Brother? Do they become interchangeable, or can they be combined? Do knights need to be, in essence, re-knighted by the Faith? Does it depend if you're taking vows to be a priest vs a sworn Templar or Knight of Solace? (Are the vows different in those instances?)

A: It depends on the title. Titles that are related to a family are dropped, as becoming godsworn would no longer apply. Lord, Lady, Princess, etc would be lost because those titles represent being a noble in standing with their family, which is given up when taking the vows (though keeping the surname is not unusual). While on the other hand, becoming a knight or titles related to military service or some other kind of trade or craft are often kept, as long as the service can be applicable to the faith. Knighthood then, is recognized by the faith, and the Templars and Knights of Solace actively try to recruit knights into their ranks, though they do distinguish between being dubbed by a secular lord or by the Faith- knights of the Faith are usually termed as 'annointed knights', as the ceremony for being made a knight in the service of the faith involves ceremonial oils for each of the gods, and a vow of service to each god. Knights that become templars or knights of templars typically are annointed later, usually when they become godsworn.

Faith and Asking Questions

Question: In Theom Dogma 1, it states that asking questions - expressing doubts - is part of the worship of the Thirteenth. It is even cited as why much of the population is inherently skeptical. Yet asking questions has limits, questioning why we have a King for instance is unlikely to go over well. Where is the line on questions that go too far for the Faith, and can an example be given of something that was right on the edge? Maybe a question where the Lycene Liberalism and the Oathlands Orthodox found themselves with differing positions?

Answer: The Oathlands Orthodox emphasize faith, and believe doubt (which is a fundamental aspect of asking questions), undermines that, which is the heart of their dogmatic differences. They believe that questions should never be asked which would ever encourage one to lose faith, or intrinsic feelings of loyalty towards any form of vow or oath, such as a fealty to a king, so the Oathlands Orthodox would shy away from any questions asked that would challenge the fundamental basis for government or veneration of the gods. On the other hand, questions that look at moral ambiguity in daily struggles (such as white lies to minimize harm), they find less objectionable, since it's about moral clarity and would not attack foundational loyalty.

Faith through the Centuries

Question: What was the Faith like before the Crownbreaker Wars? Specifically worship of the Queen of Endings.(this is for clues for a PR

Answer: There's very little evidence of changes of the Faith of the Pantheon throughout the centuries, and the lack of evidence has been connected with several historical incidents. Firstly, Darius Vowbreaker sacking the Great Archive (and destroying records and accounts), executing most of the Scholarship of Vellichor, and enacting purges for any religious works that did not conform to his rule. Secondly, the Great Fire of Arx, when virutally all records were destroyed. Thirdly, the Crusade of Shattered Mirrors during the time of Marach the Apostate, when the Oathlands Orthodox rose and attempted to purge all of his writings.

Oaths and Succession

Question: How are successions handled in regards to oaths? The assumption being as outlined in "lore oaths" under Oaths Section that the noble family members, any vassals, and knights say their vows to the new House leader. And the new House leader would also make a vow to the liege lord (example Marquis to the Duke). And all this in front of a Godsworn.

If new vows are done for each succession, is the ceremony done off-camera or handwaved by assuming all in that House are ok with new leader?

Answer: This is part of what will be discussed tonight. Thematically it would be something done in front of Godsworn - and we can handle it off-camera as long as everyone involved is ok with the way things are. But there's no ambiguity there, and it's not a casual thing - the Godsworn would have been there to recognize it and witness it being done.

Silent Reflections

Question: Q: What infractions, exactly, lead to becoming a Silent Reflection in the Faith (i.e. having your tongue and hand cut off, and being sentenced to humble service)? 'Help Vellichor' suggests that it's an exclusive punishment for Scholars revealing black journals or otherwise breaking the sanctity of the Archive. But 'help Tehom' suggests that it can be a punishment for any dire infraction against the Faith by the Faithful, including heresy. I'd think that the latter would be more likely, but it'd be nice to have clarification. As a secondary question, about how many Silent Reflections are there at any time in the Arx areas?

A: Heresy can cover the infraction, for a specific case- betraying an oath to the gods by word, which could also mean willfully and maliciously speaking falsehoods and presenting it as dogma to justify actions. This does fall under malfeasance on the part of local seraphs and their godsworn, who might willfully misrepresent their religious authority for personal gain at the cost of the Faith as a whole and their parish. In other words, a Seraph found guilty of misusing church funds and misrepresenting that, and lying to the rest of the Faith, and justifying it falsely, could be guilty of heresy by breaking their oaths to the gods, while one argunig possibly heretical beliefs may not be, as it's a harder call if oaths are being violated. Nearly all Silent Reflections were Godsworn, and relatively few come from Arx itself (generally just the scholars trying to personally benefit from black journals and being caught), with most of the few dozen in Arx being churchmen who commited crimes against the Faith that specifically broke their oaths. Allowing sanctuary to be broken for one granted protection of the Faith, embezzling church funds, willfully concealing information from the Faith on Faith matters for personal gain. Offenses that constitute a grave betrayal of trust of the faith in a way that would also potentially destroy the trust of the faithful in the church.

Sins

Question: Just to explore this topic for people! How do the variety of sins rank according to the gods? Oathbreaking, kinslaying, worshipping other gods (shamanism), etc? What are considered major sins? Is envy and pride, for example, considered sins? Complete with an info log:

[Info] Gian: So, in the hierarchy of sins, breaking an oath before Limerance is worse than kinslaying, right?
[Info] Hellfrog: I mean, maybe according to the gods. Probably not from a perspective of "am I going to prison forever"
[Info] Aislin: I feel like breaking the oath will get you seen as dishonorable and like, you might have concern for your soul. I feel like kinslaying, depending on the circumstances, might get you, you know... actually /executed/.
[Info] Gian: Well, so would any murder, though.
[Info] Hellfrog: Right, Aislin.
[Info] Gian: Any extra special stigma for killing famiky?
[Info] Calliope: Depends on your family, right?
[Info] Cristoph admits that I have been going on the assumption that lying is generally viewed as super bad, from a religion point of view. Given the quasi Zoroastrianism influence.
[Info] Hellfrog: Not legally.
[Info] Hellfrog: Socially? Sure.
[Info] Hellfrog: Lying, but more the breaking of your word, of your oath.
[Info] Gian: Cool. Just checking, thanks.
[Info] Cristoph nods. I figure that lies are sort of a mild version of that though, with actual oath breaking SUPER BAD above that?
[Info] Sylvie throws onto board for future preservation! :)
[Info] Sylvie: I don't think lying is considered a sin. Lyceum lies all the time (taken with a grain of salt, please), but doesn't oathbreak.
[Info] Sylvie: Or if it is-- I have been playing wrong.
[Info] Cristoph: Lyceum take on the faith is not the same as Oathlands take on the faith though neccessarily.
[Info] Sylvie: Yeah.
[Info] Orazio: Lying would seem to be an offence to the Sentinel, being that he's the god of Truth and all.
[Info] Hellfrog: lying is a sin, but lying is a sin in almost all religions, right? It's not the sort of sin that gets you kicked out of your faith or your tongue ripped out.
[Info] Cristoph has been working on the assumption that telling a lie, for a genuinely religious and orthodox person, is definitely the kind of thing you think 'Gah, I need to actually repent and make amends for this or else I endanger my soul a fair bit'.
[Info] Sylvie: idk, is lying a sin in all religions. I am horrible at religions.
[Info] Calliope was just thinking the same thing Sylvie.
[Info] Orazio: Yeah. Just because something's a sin doesn't mean there's a lot of a punishment that you're going to face secularly, and even talking to a priest might get you, "You should try and do better," not "Burn in the Abyss!"