O is for the One

theurgThe Symbaroum setting contains a lot of significant shifts and events in a short space of time. Considering the core timeline covers about 30 years, a lot happens. War has a lot to do with that.

Generally, real world war generates waves in almost every facet of life and society. War unseats people at every level, disrupts ages of tradition, flattens the landscape, messes with technology, drains or syphons off resources, opens the door to radical thinking, disease, social upheaval, and a great deal more.

Much changed in the wake of the Great War. The most radical change was when the sun god Prios went from being one of many accepted deities to being recognized as the One.

Referenced in the timeline (that I assert should serve as your first point of reference when considering a campaign in Symbaroum), in Year −5 the Church of Prios really stepped up. Where the old faith of the Young Gods held many dear – in my experience something that held true for many countries in Europe two thousand years ago – the Church of Prios found only one warranted their belief and made that the way of things with the support of the Crown.

Many into One

Without a doubt, sixteen years of war against an enemy steeped in darkness – since the border city of Berendoria fell in Year −21 – opened the door for the word of Prios to take on a new light, if you’ll pardon the pun. I imagine that the cities of Alberetor had many preachers of a multitude of faiths before the conflict erupted. Like the Romans, I daresay each family took many deities to their hearts, accepting them into their home.

I would absolutely play it that way when running adventures in the past, with small gods of hearth and home, as well as a variety associated with weather, nature, work, the nation, the emotions and so forth. The list of Roman deities runs to considerable lengths and niches – though I imagine that some pantheonic faiths go even further.

In Alberetor, during the early years of the war, I could see the various major temples of the Young Gods at odds with one another about the best way forward. After the enemy took Beredoria, some might have still hoped for a peaceful resolution, sending emissaries to seek an audience with the enemy or suing for peace through missives to the King. One or more adventures could revolve around those missions to meet with the enemy – or at least try to seek face to face contact. I don’t envisage a faceless and malignant force – but one with a human (or humanish) face, at least in terms of an ambassador or embassy to the people of Alberetor.

Shadow of a Crown

Once the King died, I imagine the Church of Prios kicked it up a pace, the light of hope in a well of darkness created by the passing of a beloved ruler. Adventures in this period, between the death of the King and the Church’s establishment as the one true faith, could focus on the hunt for and discovery of artefacts and relics to strength the might of the Church. I think the Sunstone would be amongst these – and would be a neat touchstone to call back on for an adventure after you’ve already run the Copper Crown.

So that’s where the Sunstone came from… Maybe we should have taken it more seriously.

In the space of 25 years, not only has the Church gained priority and sole focus, the Queen has also allowed the formation of both militant and enforcement arms in the form of the Templars and the Black Cloaks. On top of that, she has gifted the Church with their own domain. Those facts say a great deal about something, though I haven’t decided what. Utter faith? Absolute trust? Or coercion of a puppet monarch?

Strings and Whispers

Yeah. I’m serious about that last one; I have grave concerns about Korinthia and her fitness to rule. You don’t spend two years in the hands of the enemy unscathed. She emerged physically changed and has worn a mark since to hide it – but what of the mental scars? Does she rule herself or has she got competing influences that rule through her? Or, worse yet, as I suggest – does Korinthea serve solely, in voice and action, as a mouthpiece for First Father Jeseebegai?

I’ve also considered the possibility that the Church of Prios had a greater role to play in the conflict against the enemy. How does a small sect amongst a great ocean of deities find prominence? What better route than to find people something to rail against? What better power to use against an enemy of darkness and ruin than a faith that embodies the light, warmth and growth of the sun? I imagine the Church of the Moon might have drawn followers, but at some point day got the upper hand – because the moon only illuminates the night, co-existing rather than vanquishing it. When the King died and thousands lay dead upon the battlefield, co-existing would have seemed a pretty bitter prospect…

The Abyss and the Spark

In the abyss, in absolute darkness, was the spark which gave hope to the world, the spark which in the care of we Ambrians will make Prios blaze as never before.

What lies ahead, more power to Prios I would imagine. With darkness to the north and corruption to the south, what more fertile soil could the Church hope for? Perhaps another minor war?

But perhaps the Church has pushed too hard and in splintering with that growth into militant and enforcing arms, can the centre hold?

Spock: “Jim – there is an historic opportunity here.”
Kirk: “Don’t believe them! Don’t trust them!”
Spock: “They are dying.”
Kirk: “Let them die!”

Endnote

Looking back at the fundraiser for the English translation, I hope that we will yet see the publication of The Howling of Damned Gods in the not too distant future!

During the Great War, the Young Gods became old – banned and branded as aspects of the Dark and as enemies of Prios, the Sun God who rose to becoming the One and the Giver of Laws. But now the war is over and there are those who begin to question the supremacy of Prios. This adventure will be written for the Swedish and Anglo-American market if the fundraiser goes well, based on the abovementioned area of conflict. It will also include an appendix describing the Young Gods as well as the border town of Prios Pass.

3 Comments

  1. I believe two other gods are mentioned in Väktarens Vrede: Jordemor (The Earthmother or Mother Earth) and Bödeln (the Executioner).

    Also, I personally believe Prios’ elevation may be connected to the relative purity of the church’s theurgy. Theurgs are the only mystics who can entirely avoid corruption, so in a conflict where the enemy wields corruption as a weapon I could see the disciples of Prios decrying anything that taints the soul as foul witchcraft.

    It raises a question though: Why are Theurgs protected from corruption? What strange covenant have they entered to be spared from the poison that stains every stream of magic?

    And why is Prios dying?

  2. Not about this post in particular, but just a general note.

    I now have the Symbaroum core book.
    Wow. That is a nice bit of work you have there. I love the art (that jumps out at you first) and all the attention to detail. I love the wizards, mystics and sorcerers. Can’t wait to try one of them out.

    Anyone coming here from the A to Z should check out your game.

    Expect a reveiw from me in May.

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