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Benalian High Canon

Overview

All Benalian orders spring from the same source, the Church of Mankind- an ancient religion which follows the teachings of Benalus.  The Church is a religion centered around the worship of a central god and dedication to angels who serve this one god. Benalus was considered the primary prophet and religious leader who was instrumental in uniting most of mankind under the banner of one faith in the Ages of long ago. His teachings were that all of humankind is innately holy, created as the physical embodiment of the grace and light of god. Together, all of mankind is collectively responsible for building each other up, becoming stronger, and maintaining their moral fortitude. It is believed that if mankind could only unite themselves under this shared set of beliefs, they could create a perfect world.

 

The Church came close to its goal in the Lion Age, uniting most of the known world, save for the deserts of old Sha’ra, under the Empire of the Throne of God on Earth, an Empire dedicated to the preservation and spread of the Church of Mankind. Of course, much has changed in the ages since Benalus’ death and the fall of the Empire.  These days the church is fractured, led more by the individual orders within the faith than by any cohesive universal structure.  Each Order follows a different Archangel as their patron, and venerates a Saint who was touched by a particular Archangel and was able to make their divine will manifest through miraculous acts.

Priests of the church of mankind may only ever belong to one Covenant, although they share the common rites of the High Canon as these rites are all drawn from the acts of Benalus himself as denoted in the Testimonium.

It is a matter of debate how much of the Testimonium survives to this day.  No doubt parts of it have been lost to the ravages of time, but certainly some authentic pieces of the Testimonium remain. Lost parts of the gospels, psalms, and religious doctrine and records continue to be found by religious scholars 

and priests, but no matter how much erodes with time or is re-discovered, the core teachings of the faith persevere. It is known that Benalus was once the King of Lethia during the Age of Heroes when he began to teach the idea that there was only one god worth serving. The priests of the multitudes of other religions within his city turned on him, and he was exiled to the desert. He survived and returned, wearing the pelt of the white desert lion to wage war upon those who had exiled him and continued to worship vile and obscene gods.  While slavery was common in his time, Benalus’ belief that all of humanity shared one divine spirit meant that this was anathema to him.  Thus, his army swelled with new recruits of freed slaves liberated from each new city and land he came to as he conquered and spread his religion to all corners of the world.   In the end, Benalus was betrayed and defeated by the Witchkings – beings of immense power and tremendous evil, who attempted to remove both him and his religion from existence and collective memory. While they succeeded in killing Benalus, the Church of Mankind only grew stronger in the wake of his passing.

In the modern world, the different orders of the Church work to unify mankind and encourage them to focus on the good of all rather than the individual.  Humanity is advised to stand tall and strong against the forces that seek to tear their fellow man down and render them weak.  For if the essence of god is shared amongst the many souls of humanity, when a person harms another they are actually doing harm to themselves.  As such, the Church also concerns itself with the protection of people against the dangers of the Triumverati, and the damage these and other alien influences wrack upon the souls of those who are unprotected and unbaptized in the faith.

Rank 1 – Pastor

Atonement

Hear sins, provide solutions, and forgive wrongdoing.
The lord forgives those who have the strength to admit they did wrong, but so too shall you bear with each other and forgive those who you have a grievance against.  For those who seek forgiveness are not punished, but are brought closer to god.
Constellation: Saqir
Orthodoxy: 2
Observances:

Focus – The Priest assembles an audience of no less than seven witnesses to hear the sins of the target. The Priest may include themself among the count of witnesses.
Liturgy – “Sinner, I hear you with the ear of god, for the Lord doth forgive all who pass under their divine gaze with heads bowed in true repentance. God sees us sinful children and knows the story to every stain. Those who seek absolution need not go away from the glory of god. Nay, closer to god are those who return from the darkness. Speak now of the injury upon your soul, and hand in hand we will see our way to mending it.
Act – The Priest hears the confession of the target, and through conversation obtains the answers to the following questions: Why did the target sin? Who besides the target was hurt by the sin? How could the situation have been navigated without sin, or otherwise prevented?
Act – A penitent task is prescribed that the target must perform in order to make themselves right with god. The Priest shall use the information learned through their discussion with the target to make an appropriate judgement as to what might rectify their transgression.

Mechanical Effect

Upon completing the penance, the target loses all Depravity gained within the Sin category from the confessed act. For example, a confession of eating the flesh of humans, followed by a successful act of assigned atonement would erase three levels of the Greed sin.  Should Depravity remain unatoned for from other acts within the same category of Sin, the Depravity is not removed. A penance that is too light will not remove any Depravity. If the penitent performs sins of the same category before completing his penance, the Atonement automatically fails. The Priest cannot use this on themselves. 

Atoning for a large number of sins or the Wicked Flaw may be atoned for as a “Lifetime of Sin” and the Atonement must as such be a lifelong commitment, such as joining the priesthood, or submitting to some eternal vow, such as a vow of chastity.  The petitioner must accept the Beholden flaw and a new Honor Code tenet relating to their oath to change their ways.  Upon doing so, the Wicked Flaw is removed, and the Depravity is removed if the Vow is left unbroken for at least a year.

Baptize

Bless a new follower into the Benalian faith.
A baptism into the Church is both a death and a birth. A union, and a break from the past. You are born anew in strength and righteousness.
Constellation: Tariq
Orthodoxy: 1
Observances:

Focus – The Priest walks into the middle of a bridge over a running river, leaving the target on the bank, and turns to face them.
Liturgy – “On the eve of the White Siege to shatter the halls of the Flesh Merchants of Hacona, Benalus received supporters from the warriors of the Black Lakes. Brutish and uncivilized, they were eaters of horse flesh and worshipers of wolves. It was then that Benalus blessed the river Narithis and strode into it. He spoke unto the masses. “All those who follow me shall follow me always or not at all. Join me and join all of humanity, but leave my side but once and I shall visit you only once more.” Will you follow me into the river Narithis, accepting the Lord our god as your judge and keeper beyond the veil of death?
Act – If the target accepts, they must walk to the Priest in the center of the bridge and join them in a platonic embrace. Then the Priest takes their hand and guides them to the opposite bank of the river from which they started.

Mechanical Effect
This Rite does not suffer Vulgarity from any target that is Faith in Self.

The target becomes Faith in Higher Power if they were not already. When using Prayer, they must perform an act from among the Benalian Dedications, those being Practice and Evangelize.

The target may choose to replace one or both of their Cultural Sins with those of Pride or Passion.

Funeral Rites

Celebrate the life of someone who has passed on, putting their soul to rest.
“Death is a release from the suffering and conflict of this world, and those whose souls know purity shall find their reward everafter.”
Constellation: Jabal
Orthodoxy: 2
Observances:

Act – The Priest digs a hole no less than 4 feet deep – large enough to house the body of the target. All who wish to speak at the funeral must participate in the digging of the hole. The liturgy is spoken over the pit once completed.
Liturgy – “The untimely shadows of oblivion creep over all of us. Our time in this world is precious. The road to salvation is paved in the corpses of friends and foes alike. To walk it is to walk along their bodies. To honor them is to remember the face of each person you tread upon. Today we honor the fallen. Their memory shall continue in our minds, but it is the memory in our hearts that is to be feared by the wicked, for it shall fuel our righteousness in the coming trials.
Offering – A Leonem is placed around the neck of the target, and they are lowered into the hole.
Act – The Priest speaks on the deeds of the departed, the loved ones they have left behind, and the work they have left unfinished if any remains. They are wished safe passage into the arms of god, and then the assembled is invited to contribute any words or offerings of their own to the grave of the deceased. After all have said and given their piece, the grave is covered with dirt.

Mechanical Effect
The digging of the hole is a roleplayed action that should take what feels like an appropriate amount of time.

Any items buried with the target are turned in to Staff. The target will bear any items buried with them on their Harrowing, so long as they received Funeral Rites between the time of their death and the dawn or dusk immediately after.

The target’s body cannot be targeted by necromancy, nor is any part or humor of their bodies useful for any alchemical creation, rite, or spell. Exhumation of a grave that has undergone Funeral Rites to obtain the corpse or items buried with it inflicts the Damned state on any involved in the desecration.

Hope from the Scriptures

Bolster the spirits of the faithful in the face of adversity.
“Stand fast! Stand Tall! The might of god stands with us!”
Constellation: Tanin
Orthodoxy: 2
Observances:

Focus – A silver censer is held in the Priest’s right hand.
Offering – The censer is filled with sage and set alight.
Focus – A Leonem is grasped in the Priest’s left hand.
Act – The Priest quotes an inspirational line from the Testimonium from memory exactly as it is written while swinging the censer around them sunwise.

Mechanical Effect
The cultist may call “Remove Fear”, and all target allies within speaking distance may dispose of the Fear condition. This includes the cultist. 

Lead in Prayer

Lead a group in prayer, assuring them god is at their back as they pursue a specific goal.
At the Standing Stones, Benalus and his army stood outnumbered by a hundred score by the Dread Cavalry of King Septimus. Cruelly, Septimus’ son, Valziir, offered those who left Benalus to leave unharmed. Benalus stood his army on a hillock and planted his banner. “This is the path the Lord hath laid before you. Never stray from it. Every obstacle is a test of faith to see if you are truly worthy of His favor. Those unfit for such immortality at the side of God should go and never return.”

On the third day of fighting, the Dread Cavalry was killed to the last man. Those who took up Valziir’s offer were betrayed and captured. When the fold of Benalus found them, they were to the faithful as strangers and heretics.
Constellation: Sahm
Orthodoxy: 4
Observances:

Focus – The Priest joins hands with one or more baptized targets and all bow their heads.
Act – The targets are invited to speak of the coming trials they will endure together, as well as their hopes and fears.
Act – The Priest addresses their fears and confirms their hopes, quoting scripture when appropriate to solidify that so long as they remain true and pure in faith, they will prevail. Finish with “In Veritate.”
Offering – A tagged meal is served among the group, with one meal needed for each target receiving the blessing.
Offering – A serving of beer per target is handed out by the Priest to those assembled.
Act – All raise their glasses in a toast to each other, to their success, and to their faith.

Mechanical Effect
The cultist and the targets may choose to use their daily Prayer if they have Faith in Higher Power. If they choose to do so, they have the option to perform both Dedications god finds appealing. Upon accomplishing both of them, their first use of the Hopeful state granted by Prayer refreshes the Hopeful state, allowing them to use it twice rather than once.

Matrimony

Join a pair in a ceremony of holy matrimony.
“Marriage is half of one’s religion. For spouses meld into one another more and more through their advice, support, and shared experiences. What one believes, the other listens to; and while those in a marriage are still individuals, they cannot help but deeply and lastingly influence one another’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions.”
Constellation: Aldhiyib
Orthodoxy: 4
Observances:

FocusTwo consenting, baptized, and unmarried adults are brought before the Priest.
Liturgy – “I, [Name & Holy Titles], stand as witness to your wish to be joined in holy matrimony under the eyes of god. Life is a journey, and every journey is best shared with a companion at your side. In holy oaths you shall be bound eternal, but until dawn you shall not leave each others’ side, for this night is the beginning of your walk together, and yours alone to share in loving memory.
Offering – The right wrist of one target is tied to the left wrist of the other with rope.
Act – The targets are asked to submit themselves to the following holy oaths: To remain loyal to one and other. To share burdens of pain and confess wrongdoings. To support one and other in just ambitions. To remain honest, open, and true to one and other. To create a family and raise the next generation of the faithful. Any further oaths the targets may wish to swear.
Liturgy – “Thanks be to our beneficent and merciful god – who looks down with favor upon the marriage of two most worthy and devout members of our faith, blessed and beautiful. With god’s mercy and permission we ask this union blessed in his name. In Veritate.
Act – The targets retreat to a private place to consummate the marriage. At some time after dawn the next day, the Priest severs the rope binding their wrists.

Mechanical Effect
The married couple are treated as a single spiritual entity after the completion of the rite. Any depravity one gains the other gains automatically as soon as they become aware of it. One spouse may undergo Atonement on behalf of their spouse, ridding both of them of Depravity, though if one wishes they may choose to atone only for their own Depravity.

Consenting players of new characters may enter into play as already married. If one spouse has the Wicked flaw, the other may not atone for that sin without a vow of lifelong service as described in the Atonement Rite.

Tears of Benalus

Infuse water with the blessings of god, making it Holy.
“When Benalus was forced into exile, they say he cried for our sins. He cried not from the pain or the injustice of his banishment, but for the fate of man. His tears cut clean lines across his soot covered face and when the Centurion, Benedictus, saw Benalus, he began to weep as well.”
Constellation: Nahr
Orthodoxy: 1
Observances:

Focus – The Priest gathers clean, potable water in a vessel, raises it above their head, and prays.
Liturgy – “When Benalus was forced into exile, they say he cried for our sins. He cried not from the pain or the injustice of his banishment, but for the fate of man. His tears cut clean lines across his soot covered face and when the Centurion, Benedictus, saw Benalus, he began to weep as well.
Offering – A gram of salt is placed into the vessel of water to symbolize the tears Benalus wept for the unatoned sins of humanity.

Mechanical Effect
The water becomes Holy Water, to be used in other rituals. This rite may be used to create 7 Vials of Holy Water if it is transferred into tagged glass vials. If an individual with more than 0 Depravity handles a vial of Holy Water when it is not being immediately involved in a rite, it loses its potency and becomes regular water with no holy properties, unless it is contained in an Argent Phial.

Rank 2 – Priest

Convocation

Lead the congregation in a declaration of timely teachings based in scripture
“For god has not abandoned you, though your room is still and quiet. A trial is intended to test your limits, else they would be meaningless. Thus, the trials of life are necessary for growth, for lessons, and for the building of strength. What weak children we would be if our path was chosen for us and we faced no obstacles along the way. No, god will never abandon you, but there are times where god will watch and wait for you to learn. ”
Constellation: Ghazal
Orthodoxy: 3
Observances:

Act – The Priest gathers the targets on the Day of Rest (Saturday) at the time the sun is at its peak. The liturgy is spoken once all are assembled.
Liturgy – “The one true Lord, the Pantocrator, we offer ourselves to you, and speak with our heads bowed and downcast. We show reverence to your might and glory and seek only to do your goodly works in this world. To prepare your Throne on earth and to wash ourselves of temptation.
Act – The Priest then makes a speech drawing upon the Testimonium, the Gospels of the Saints, or other Benalian holy texts that lasts no less than 15 minutes. It must have some sort of “Moral”, a persuasive argument being made that is stated at some point in the speech, such as “The Devout must not have ties with followers of the Triumvirate” or “It is better to do virtuous acts for love of god than for love of one’s own reputation”.
Act – At least one other Benalian Rite with zero Vulgarity is conducted either by the Priest or another Benalian cultist. If multiple rites are performed in this Act, they must be in this sequence: Baptisms, Atonements, Blessings of Daily Bread, Sanctification of Wine, Ordain, Initiate, Elevate, any other Rites, Lead in Prayer. Though rites in this sequence can be skipped, they cannot be rearranged.
Act – A parting message is offered to the target congregation, such as a reminder of the “Moral” of the prior speech, or some other holy message, before thanking them for coming and allowing them to depart.

Mechanical Effect:
Everyone who arrived before the start of the Liturgy and remains until the end loses the Traumatized and Battered states.

Rank 3 – High Priest

Ordain

Designate a faithful follower as worthy to perform sacred rites in the lord’s name.
Blessed are the nameless, for they give up their own self to be united with the Godhood of Mankind
Constellation: Tariq
Orthodoxy: 7
Observances:

Offering – A fragrant herb with no negative effects is burned in a vessel.
Focus – A baptised, consenting adult that bears no depravity on their soul approaches the Priest and kneels before them, hands upturned on their knees with palms open and empty. If the ordination is penance for an Atonement rite, the target may only have depravity on their soul relating to that specific Atonement.
Liturgy – “Oh Lord, we come before you today to raise up one of our own who has chosen to become a bearer of your word, a representative of your will. You, who know all of our deeds, we ask you to strengthen those who want to serve you and be your servant.
Act – The Priest must acquire an affirmative answer to the following questions from the target:

  • Have you been baptized into the Church of Mankind following in the example of Benalus the King?
  • Is it your desire to follow the will of god in word, thought, and deed until the end of your days?
  • If god accepts this offering of your eternal service, will your soul be clean?

Offering – The Priest then takes a vial of holy water and sprinkles it upon the target’s brow.
Act – The Priest must acquire an affirmative answer to the following questions from the target:

  • Do you swear to follow the Lord, the bringer of light and life, in all things
  • Do you swear to lead others in the brotherhood of mankind to god’s truth and the light of god’s love?

Focus – The Priest then provides the target with a copy of the holy writ of the Benalian High Canon. It takes a downtime and a Blank Book for the cultist leading the rite to copy their own writ.
Offering – The Priest then says, “Lord have mercy upon us, your children, and lead us to your light. Let us pray.” Four candles are lit for the target, for God, for Benalus, and for the Church of Mankind. The Priest and the target both kneel before the candles and pray for at least a minute before standing up.
Liturgy“Blessed is our Lord, now, before, and forever. May he cleanse you of your impurities and come and dwell within you fully. May he have mercy on you, pardon your transgressions, and bring you into a better understanding of his glory so that you might share it with the world. I welcome you, <target’s chosen new name>, into the priesthood of the Church of Mankind.”

Mechanical Effect:
This rite creates a Priest of the Benalian faith, but not one dedicated to any specific order.

It is traditional for a new Priest to choose a name in line with the old Empire naming conventions (Latin or Greek-influenced).

Initiate

Allow an ordained priest of the Church of Mankind to dedicate themselves to one of the Orders of the Archangels.
When Benalus returned to the world, He was changed. The callow youth who entered the desert had been blasted away by the sand, and a man, powerful and present, emerged, wearing the skin of a powerful white desert lion. He was alone, and yet not alone, for in the desert, He had learned the truth of the world and returned bearing purpose and conviction.
Constellation: Jabal
Orthodoxy: 7
Observances:

Act – The Priest obtains a holy writ of the relevant order and presents it to a group of witnesses numbering no less than three. The Priest and the target cannot be included in this number.
FocusA baptised, consenting adult who has been ordained and who bears no depravity on their soul approaches the Priest and kneels before them, hands upturned on their knees with palms open and empty.
Offering – An herb with no negative effects is lit in a vessel and placed before the target so that the smoke rises into their face.
Liturgy – “This is the Holy Writ of <the relevant order>, the word of <name of gospel author>, and the deeds that bring us closer to the archangel <name of archangel of the order.> We gather here today to seal <name of target> to this order.
Offering – The Priest lights four candles in turn, saying:

  • As the Priest lights the first candle, “This candle represents god, the light of the world, creator of all, the divine grace who cures the infirm and supplies what is wanting to those in need.”
  • As the Priest lights the second candle, “This candle represents Benalus, the king, he who learned the truth of the world and created the Church of Mankind.”
  • As the Priest lights the third candle, “This candle represents humanity, the Church of Mankind, the brotherhood of man- those of us who bear the light of god and carry it into the world.”
  • As the Priest lights the last candle, “And this candle we light for who <author of the relevant gospel> who through sacrifice and will brought the <relevant order> into the world through their sacred intercession with the archangel <archangel name.>”

Act – The target then must swear the oath of the chosen Holy Order.
Offering – The Priest sprinkles the target with a vial of Holy Water
Focus – The target is provided with a copy of the holy writ of the relevant order. It takes a Downtime and a Blank Book for a cultist to copy an existing writ.
Liturgy – “Stand <Name of Target> priest of <name of Order> God who is without beginning and without end, who is outside of all creation, grant to this one the grace of your spirit and the bestow upon them the blessing of the Archangel <name of Archangel>.”

Mechanical Effect:
This dedicates a Priest to a specific Benalian holy order. They take on the Vow of their chosen Order.

Elevate

Elevate a priest of the Church of Mankind to the next highest Rank within their Order.
Like all kings of his age, Benaus was a great Hero, and was given special power to protect his people. Worried over the fate of his kingdom, he consulted with several of the great priests, shamans, gurus, and mystics of his city. He learned their philosophy and Meaning, growing in wisdom and quietly discussing his fears with them, and considered using his great power to set the city on a different course – Benalus had a notion that there was only one true God, that all other gods, while real, were imposters peddling in stolen wares.
Constellation: Tanin
Orthodoxy: 7
Observances:

Act – The Priest gathers a group of witnesses numbering no less than three. The Priest and the target cannot be included in this number.
Offering – A Blessed Candle of the Appropriate Order is lit on a raised dais. If the Priest being elevated has not been initiated into an Order, any Benalian Blessed Candle will work.
Focus – A baptised, consenting adult who has been ordained and who bears no depravity on their soul approaches the Priest and kneels before them, hands upturned on their knees with palms open and empty.
Focus – A Silver Leonem is held within the smoke of the candle while the Priest repeats the following, “We are gathered here to elevate one of our number into a higher rank of responsibility. Heavenly Lord, who is everywhere present and in all things, bestower of life, come and dwell within this- your holy priest- and cleanse them of all that would defile them. Bring them to the truth of your life.”
Offering – The Priest quenches the leonem in a vessel of holy water.
Offering – The Priest then places the leonem down and holds both hands over a vessel of oil.Glory to you, holy god, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, granter of mercy and grace. Bless this oil so that we might anoint our brother/sister with your blessing.
Act – The oil is rubbed into the leonem before the Priest places it upon the Target, followed by anointing their brow, neck, hands, and feet with the remaining oil and holy water.
Liturgy – “Rise, <target’s priestly name> priest of <relevant order> We pray for you, elevated to <rank> in the protected city of < city.> We pray for you, that you might lead our brethren to the light of god. In Veritate.”

Mechanical Effect:
The Priest is raised to the next rank within their Order. This may meet but not exceed the rank of the Cultist officiating this rite.

Those who obtain Rank 4 in one of the Benalian orders are given the title of Bishop and referred to as such.