Sunday, October 3, 2010

City Generation - Templedowns

Last time, we talked about the aristocratic district of Sylvennis, trying to flesh it out and make it playable. Today, we'll do the same for Templedowns, the religious district.

What we know about Templedowns:
  • It holds most of the churches, including the central church authority for the City.
  • The dominant population are Leovites, the leonine priest caste of the City.
  • The dominant religion is known as "the Light." (Don't worry, I determined this between posts, you didn't miss anything. We'll go into this more later).
Hm. Not much more than Sylvennis. That's okay. Let's flesh it out.

Religion: Obviously, this is a big deal in Templedowns. The Light is the dominant religion - it's a monotheistic faith that worships the sun as the creator deity. The Church of the Light is mostly based on Christianity, but I want to ensure it's distinct and has a fantasy feel. Consider the Chantry from Dragon Age. Heavily, heavily based on Christianity, Dragon Age changes their prophet's gender and models her after Joan of Arc, makes their priests exclusively female instead of exclusively male, and makes the church in charge of utilizing mages (read: witches) instead of simply exterminating them. That's all that distinguishes the Chantry from medieval Christianity -- this made it immediately understandable and relatable, but kept it from feeling suitably alien for my tastes. So the Light needs some definitive differences -- let's start with borrowing from other religious traditions, to add verisimilitude (and to keep things easy):
  • The priests of the Light, known as Lightspeakers, are expected to take a spouse and continue the Light in a procreative fashion as well as proselytizing -- in the fashion of Judaism, Islam, and most Protestant traditions.
  • Lightspeakers are born, not made -- without special dispensation, any priest of the Light must be related to another. This borrows from the Judaic tradition of kohens and the Levite caste.
  • There is no single divine book, instead there are a number, with commentary from religious leaders -- again, borrowing from Judaic tradition (hmm... I think we're seeing a pattern).
  • Asceticism is seen as a sin. It is denying the wonderful world that the Light has provided -- but avarice is also punishable. The middle path, as in Buddhism, is encouraged.
  • Non-violence is a big deal, beyond Christianity's take on it. There shall be no religious crusades in the City.
  • Ambition is a virtue -- this is a notion borrowed not from any religion, but from modern secular American culture.
  • Death is a major taboo for the light. There are no notions of afterlife rewards, only during-life rewards. The religion has no official stance on the afterlife (Judaism), and death rites are considered unclean and not honoring the Light, so are passed on to secular funerary arrangers.
A couple things I haven't seen specifically in any real-world religion (though they may exist and I'm just not aware) and want to include:
  • The supernatural is not seen to be related to religion in any way, either positively or negatively.
  • There is no separation of church and state, but nor is worship of the Light mandatory. Church leaders are encouraged, even expected, to hold important secular positions.
There are also a few minor religions in Templedowns, mostly relegated to Cult Circle, an unpleasant little cul-de-sac that shows how the Light considers other religions in its very name. A few cults that spring to mind: 
  • The Promethean Heresy: If you'll recall, Prometheans are descended from Prometheus, who is, let's say, not a Titan in this mythology, but the half-mortal son of the Light. He rebelled against the Light and gave the arts and sciences to humanity, and the Light chained him up for his insolence. The Promethean Heresy paints him as the hero. It's mostly Prometheans, artists, and philosophers.
  • Kivian Taoism: I have no idea what this is, but it sounds cool. Presumably a variant on the Taoism we know on Earth, but as practiced by the Kivians, whoever and whatever they are.
  • Practical Theosophy: Theosophy in our world was an attempt to pull religions together and combine religion and science into a coherent whole, using each to understand the other. The "practical" implies a more hands-on approach to the concept -- perhaps these folks attempt to find gods and, well, interview them?
Government: Let's create an opposite to Sylvennis here, and have Templedowns actually respect the City government's proper authority. Templedowns follows the laws laid out by the High Council and the Elder Trio, enforced by a police force funded by the Church. Leovites, the biggest population in Templedowns, are an honorable Bloodline, and so they are likely to be mostly law-abiding and uncorrupt -- but as the Sons of Light are seen as Chosen by the Leovites, their population gets a lot of special treatment which leads to plenty of corruption on that end. The small areas of the district that aren't associated with the Light, such as Cult Circle, are, unfortunately unprotected and undesired.

Culture: As the district is dominated by religion, that faith permeates every facet of Templedowns culture. Church is a daily, not weekly, ritual. Prayers ring in the streets. Those who aren't priests are church caretakers, or church clerks, or have a family member who is a priest... 

Okay, let's round off the discussion with a couple interesting Locations:

Church of the Blinding Light
Description: Church of the central religion
Threat: The place of religion for the City
Aspect: Beloved But Constricting Faith
Face: Zias lev-Phimeon – Leovite of Great Faith and Passion
and Theodocrita – Crackpot Who’s Right
Cult Circle
Description: Where the tiny religions of the City live.
Theme: The place for the small, alternative faiths.
Aspect: Not Too Small To Matter
Faces: The Heliolate – Son of Light Helior Cultist Intent on Destroying the World
and Stegdan Korcena-per – Eminently Practical Theosophist

Next time, let's venture into the Council's territory in City Generation - Council Heights.