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Author Topic: The Cult of Mortality  (Read 4644 times)
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Ankhi Doomhand
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« on: 30 March 2015, 13:32:39 »

Overview- The Cult of Mortality is a group of people who believe all gods are simply mortals who trained their minds, bodies, and souls to a state they call Empowerment. It was founded and has remained prominent in the city of Carmalad, where it is generally tolerated, if not accepted, as a major belief system of the region.

Prevalence- The Cult of Mortality flourishes in Carmalad and the surrounding regions, where it was founded in 1550 a.S. and has continued to grow ever since.

Brief Outline- The Cult of Mortality believe that by perfecting oneself both physically and mentally, one may attain godhood. They see people as imperfect, far inferiour forms of gods, and thus rank people based on how close to becoming gods they are. They believe that once one becomes a god, they help to hold off the end of the world by connecting to the All-Spirit, or the collective soul of everything in the world, and helping to bind it together. All of the beliefs of the Cult were written down by the founder, Nasojeren Tharor, in a book called "The Book of Broken Chains". In it, he explains that the binding of the All-Spirit was beginning to fray, and that if nothing is done, the world will end within the century. He said that all of the gods of the Twelvern existed and formed the world, but had all begun to die off soon before the writing of the Book. He claimed that all information contained in the Book had come from Seyella herself, as she attempted, with her final breath, to fend off the end of time. From the "Book of Broken Chains": "As it would turn out, all beings, no matter how perfect, must die, gods included. Seyella has passed the mantle of godhood unto us mortals, that we may inherit the power and purpose she and her brethren used to possess."

People- Members of the Cult of Mortality look, by and large, like a normal person with one small exception. Upon induction into the Cult, a member has tattoos done on the backs of their hands. As they progress through the Cult's ranks, they are given more and more tattoos progressing from the hands up the arms to the face and chest, such that when one is considered to have attained godhood, their upper body and face are entirely covered in tattoos.

Members of the Cult are extremely utilitarian, considering ones spiritual value determined by their tangible value. It should be noted, however, that though only real world abilities and strengths are valued, mental values, such as intelligence and creativity, are held to be much more important than physical ones. As such, most members are scholars or bards, even if not professionally. Additionally, members have a tendency to be arrogant, seeing others as unenlightened, lesser beings not comparable to their godly exaltedness.

Coat of Arms- The closest thing the Cult has to a unifying symbol is the Transcendence Sigil, portrayed here: To be designed at a later date.

In general, the sigil is only portrayed through tattoos. Both the first tattoos a member gets and the last ones are of this sigil, with the first ones on the backs of the hands and the last ones in the centers of the chest and back.


Organization- The Cult of Mortality is a very hierarchical organization for obvious reasons. However, most ranks are only symbolic, because of the belief that the qualifications for the rank give such power to the people who meet them that additional reward is unnecessary. Also note that not all tattoos are specified in this list, only the significant ones. Those things noted, the hierarchy is as such:

  • Council of Overgods: Overgods are the highest ranked members of the Cult. It is composed of people who have not only attained godhood themselves, but have been deemed suitable of leading others who have reached the same status. Overgods are the only group within the Cult who don't have any distinguishing markings aside from those of a god. Because of the difficulty of this job, there are only ever four overgods at any one time, forming the leading group of the Cult.
  • Gods: Gods are the second highest ranked members. Considered to be at the pinnacle of physical and mental mastery, they are revered by all lower level members as role models and sages. They are covered from the waist up with tattoos of patterns or important symbols, like mountains for resilience or flames for power and rage.
  • Archmortals: Archmortals are considered the transitional phase between mortality and immortality. As such, they serve as teachers for low level members and leaders of smaller groups of medium to high level ones. At this stage, members are trained in the highest levels of both the mental and physical disciplines, attaining the final pieces needed to become gods.
  • Livelords: The group consisting of those who still have a mortal perception of the world, the livelords are those who haven't yet trained themselves to view all those below them as little more than swine. While this doesn't mean they're not arrogant, it does mean they can see some value in those not of the Cult, which is generally frowned upon above this level.
  • High Minds/ High Bodies: At this level, members are split based on which aspect of life they excel in, either mental or physical. Here, they are taught to master the opposite discipline, balancing the two and bringing the member closer to Empowerment. Upon reaching this level, members get a tattoo on their left shoulder with an eye for High Minds and a sword for High Bodies.
  • Bound Spirits: These members are those who still associate with friends and family from outside the Cult. Often, this level is skipped entirely, as it is very hard for one to keep friends who they believe are inferior. It also serves as the final boundary between medium and high level members.
  • Adepts: These people have successfully trained themselves to apply Cult doctrine to their day to day lives. They serve as the face of the Cult, meaning they are the ones who speak at public gatherings in representations of the Cult. This is because members any higher than this are either wholly removed from the real world or attempting to reach such a state.
  • Caelbound Practitioners: At this stage, those part way through implementing Cult teachings into their lives are deemed fit to learn otherwise hidden techniques for the improvement of one's life through godly powers gradually attained part this point, or at least that's what the current Council of Overgods would like the public to believe. Interestingly, members of this level are required to swear silence about anything learned at or after this level.
  • Chained Ones: These are people who have wholly accepted the doctrine of the Cult but haven't yet implemented it into their everyday life. They are the border between low and middle level members as they have learned the entirety of the Cult of Mortality teachings, but have yet to apply them.
  • High Trainees: Higher level doctrine is taught to trainees of this level, such as basic methods for implementation of doctrine.
  • Cadets: Newest, lowest level members or people considering joining the Cult are taught the fundamentals of the dogma of the Cult
.

Worshipping practices- In the twenty-third day of each month, all members of Bound Spirit level or below gather in a ceremony called the Reverence for the purpose of paying respect and tribute to those who have attained what they call godhood in exchange for blessings. This ceremony consists of exhibitions of dancers, acrobats, and musicians, as well as plays and storytelling. These festivities are followed by a prayer session led by the eldest Overgod, giving thanks to all their gods for their services in helping to maintain the order of the world.

Festivals/Celebrations- The Cult of Mortality has but one annual festival: the Heavenly Inauguration. In this festival, held annually on the fourth of Changing Winds, any and all new gods are announced and plaques with their names on them affixed in a hidden place by an Overgod. There is a common folktale in Carmalad that states that should one ever find and remove one of these plaques, they are forever bound to the service of the soul of the god in question, even after their death.

Temples/Housing- The Cult generally prefer to hold their ceremonies in outdoor theatres, partially because of the natural lighting and partially because it is the best atmosphere for their performers. These temples are always marked by what they call the Mark of Commune, which is a sword with an eye on it; it symbolizes the unity between mind and body taught by the Cult.

Origin and History- The Cult of Mortality was founded by Nasojeren Tharor, a human of Caltharian descent. He first came up with the idea for the core beliefs of the Cult when his father died of disease. Bring as he was fourteen at the time, this death tore his life apart, sending him desperately searching for answers. In the "Book of Broken Chains", he says that he "reached out to the world, and the world reached back. That was the first and last time [he] came into contact with Seyella. She met [him] on her deathbed and instructed [him] on the path to godhood, teaching [him] how to discover more for [himself]." He spent the next four years of his life using Seyella's techniques to bring himself closer to the final secrets of the gods while simultaneously learning to read and write from various traveling scholars. Do traveling scholars exist/Are they common enough for Nasojeren to be trained by several of them?

At the end of this time, Nasojeren wrote a pamphlet detailing his beliefs and gained exactly three followers. These four people would eventually forme the first Council of Overgods who would assist Nasojeren in creating the rest of the philosophy in the "Book of Broken Chains". The Cult was officially founded in 1550 with the holding of the first Reverence, by which time it had already accumulated over a hundred devotees. At first, the general populace of Carmalad protested, saying that their gods could never die, nearly burning Nasojeren as a heretic. Throughout it all though, the Cult kept training themselves and holding Reverence each month, much to the annoyance of the people of the townsfolk. Nasojeren, however, simply used the shock value of his philosophy to attract fellow "heretics" to the Cult. Indeed, in the "Book of Broken Chains", he says that "were it not for those first outraged citizens, this world would have bit the dust Anyone have a Santharian expression for 'bit the dust'? long ago."

In 1552, the "Book of Broken Chains" was published, causing another public outcry. Probably not coincidentally, this was around the same time protesters began failing to show up at Reverence. Since those early days, the Cult has stopped publicity stunts quite so frequently, solidifying itself as a real belief system instead of a group who take advantage of the outrage of others. This has caused it to grow with reasonable consistency, with almost one thousand currently practicing members.

Importance- The Cult of Mortality is a very real presence in Carmalad and the surrounding areas, with enough members to influence politics in a substantial way. Aside from that, it continues to spark controversy among some of the more devoutly religious people in Carmalad, though not on as dramatic a scale as it used to.
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Ta`lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #1 on: 30 March 2015, 16:05:41 »

That's a great idea and well written, Ankhi!

I need to read it more thoroughly the next days, I have just two remarks right now

- Women - any distinction?
- you write, that they look like normal people. And though they value more the spiritual virtues I wonder if they not attach great importance to the look of the body, if not people who look good and are beautiful are more revered than 'normal' looking ones. What if a member (or god) looses an arm or gets blind? Of course they will die, but what if there is a very ugly illness?
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Ankhi Doomhand
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« Reply #2 on: 31 March 2015, 06:36:38 »

Women: I would assume they'd be equal to a man of equal mental and physical strength, at least in theory, though, as in real life, individual members may not stick to that 100%. But yeah, the philosophy has no reason to discriminate. Though this may just be because our modern society has embraced equality - this kind of idea wouldn't come so easily to a person living in medieval times. I'm still going to say women are equal though - if gods and goddesses are equal, and men and women are lesser gods and goddesses, why wouldn't men and women be equal?

Beauty: I wasn't even thinking about that when I wrote this, but let's see. Here we have 3 options: either a) looks don't count, and anyone can attain any status no matter what, b) looks do count, so only those who look good naturally can attain godhood, or c) looks do count, so all gods use extreme amounts of cosmetics.

Right off the bat, B seems antithetical to the utilitarianism in the Cult, so that's probably out. Cosmetics don't really fit into the "bettering oneself through training" idea, so I kind of have to say it doesn't matter how you look, though it is up for dispute - after all, all of the Twelvern gods and goddesses are pretty good looking, so maybe it is a factor, however minor.
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