Religions and Magic of Karil
Religions of Karil
There is ostensibly only one religion in the Karils, the Church of Three. However, over time, the Church has splintered over canonical differences. So, while there is only one Church, there are three sub-sects of the Church, each with a different religious outlook. The mainstream outlook of the Church has remained the same for many hundreds of years, and so almost forms a fourth ‘sub-sect.’
Members of the Church worship the Forgotten God, a mysterious being who has never spoken directly to any but a very few, known as Prophets. It is unknown whether the powers the priests wield are granted from their diety, or if they are simply the result of devoted training.
The point of life, according to the Church, is to seek perfection. On this point, all the sects agree, perfection is the goal. How to reach it is another matter entirely.
The Church of Three
The mainstream view of the Church is put forth by most of the priests and bureaucrats that make up its clergy. The Church says that there are three paths to perfection, and all of them must be followed equally: purity of mind, body, and spirit.
Unfortunately, the Church has become corrupt. Priests have been known to feast while the farmers who tithed them their hard earned money lived on the meagerest of rations. Bribery is rampant, and indulgences are sold. If you come seeking sanctuary from the Church, be prepared to not only pay inflated rates for room and board, but also to expend large sums of money bribing officials to allow you to stay at all.
Not all of the priests are corrupt though. Many would give their meal to a hungry child, and tend to a dying plague victim even though it put their own life in danger.
Perhaps most impressive is what happens when several priests combine their powers to cast spells. None of the sub-sects can do this, and it is this power that gives the priests the edge in any large-scale armed conflict they may need to face.
The ascetics were the first group to splinter away from the main church. They saw the corruption and greed that infested it, and swore that they would not go down that path. Their priests have taken vows of poverty and live austere lives in monasteries, where they strive to achieve purity of body. They are known for the amazing degree of control they have over their own bodies. They can withstand great heat or cold, ignore pain, break bricks with their bare hands, and it is rumored that their greatest masters are no longer bound by the shackles of time.
The priests are humble and quiet. They learn to be utterly dependent upon themselves, scorning the use of enchanted items, weapons, and even armor. They are known throughout the land for their generosity, giving most of their wealth away, and keeping only enough to live on.
The rationalists were the second splinter group. They could not bear the corruption of the Church, but they felt too that the ascetics placed too much emphasis on the body. They chose instead to explore their minds, observing the world around them and learning to control their emotions. They learned to exist in harmony with nature, speaking with the animals and plants surrounding them.
The rationalists typically are very calm and slow to anger. They have a certain economy of movement that is often called laziness by others. Still, they are known to make friends among the animals, and more than one would-be highwayman has been mauled by a bear trying to rob a rationalist. The rationalists become adept at seeing through illusions and shams, as their keen minds pierce through the subtle errors in the inevitably flawed images.
The solipsists are the most radical splinter group. They think the other groups are bumbling fools, wasting their time training their bodies and minds when only the spirit is everlasting. Solipsists go so far as to state that the world does not exist. Nothing exists at all except for faith. This could be true, as the solipsists can perform amazing feats: calling lightning and gouts of fire down from the sky, summoning up blades of fire to fight with, and passing through other people as if they were not there.
The solipsists are ruled by their emotions and their religious fervor. When a solipsist is mad, he lets it out in a rage. They do not concern themselves with politeness or diplomacy, they simply lay their cards on the table and wait for the other party to respond. Their straightforward candor has led to more than one ruler having a solipsist executed. When the solipsist is not out causing trouble, be can usually be found in prayer, striving to perfect his beliefs.
Magic of Karil
The alchemists are much akin to the rationalists. But whereas the rationalists seek purity of mind through nature, alchemists seek it through science and magic. They are forever trying to unravel the secrets of the universe, searching for a way to preserve food one day, and the secret of immortality the next.
Alchemists work their magic in the laboratory. They mix exotic compounds while reciting Scripture. They travel the Karils in search of rare and precious ingredients for their elixirs. It is the alchemists who discovered smoke powder. The Church has yet to forgive them for that discovery, but it puts up with them, for they are useful, and at least they don’t have traffic with demons, as the enchanters do.
The overwhelming characteristic of an alchemist is the desire to go and find out. Curiousity leads them to great discoveries and terrible disasters alike.
The enchanters have discovered ways to pierce the barriers between planes and call out to the creatures that live there. They barter with these creatures, exchanging their life force and magical gems known as vitae for the creatures’ servitude. It is a dangerous business, and many are killed pursuing it. Still, the lure of power continues to constantly draw in new students wishing to be apprentices.
Enchanters are often very likeable, and skilled at the arts of diplomacy and haggling. They have to be in order to deal with the creatures they summon. The Church, of Three for its part, forbids its members to have anything to do with the summoning of ‘demons’. The enchanters have protested that only a few creatures that they deal with are demons, the bulk being elementals and other creatures of a more exotic bent, but the Church judgement has not wavered, denouncing ‘demonologists’ for their sordid practices.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Phillip Riley
Last Updated Sat Aug 11, 2007