Friday 27 November 2015

Stations in Life #2

A Nun of the AkâshicCollege.
Second of three extracts on Social Stations. Today, Priests. 

Found among: Tlavatli, Atlanteans and Muvians.

Attributes: Tlavatli priests add 2 points to People and 4 to Psychic; Muvian priests add 4 points to Psychic and 2 to Will; Atlantean priests add 4 points to Psychic, and either 2 points to Body, 2 points to People, or 2 points to Machines (you have to choose one).

Whether because you were chosen at a young age, or because your family pushed you forward, you spent most of your life from your early youth until now training to be a member of one of the numerous priesthoods of Atlantis, the Five Islands or Mu. Although many of the outward paraphernalia are different, all of the priesthoods in their varying flavours are hierarchical.

Tlavatli priests never cut their hair. The Tlavatlis expect their priests to manage the building of the stone circles that serve them as temples. They perform regular animal sacrifice, often spend weeks or months fasting, and join Tlavatli fleets in war or piracy.

They perform their rituals skyclad, revealing the extensive tattoos that they gain over years and decades of service, and when not in ceremony wear simple robes of grey. Each has around their neck a stone with a natural hole through it, threaded onto a leather thong. The stones are foci for powerful psychic disciplines, and part of a Tlavatli priest's initiation involves finding their own stone and attuning it, so that no other may use it.

The Tlavatli know their priests as those who act as celebrants of Incal the Sun, and mediums for the spirits of the Glorious Ancestors, whom they also worship. The Tlavatli priests' practices and magic depend on them being able to alter the states of their own minds at will; a priest of the Tlavatli has no beliefs, only the recollection of divine experience. The priests take part in the celebrations and everyday lives of their congregations, and marry and take lovers from among the laity. The eldest child of a priest of the Ancestors always joins the priesthood. It's hard to be a heretic among the Tlavatlis because they don't have much in the way of doctrine. The Tlavatli priests aren't teachers so much as conduits.

Muvian priests carry the reputation of being even more hard-working, unforgiving and humourless than the rest of their people. They do not generally mix with their laity, except when engaging in instruction, since they are the primary educators of their people. Muvian priests sometimes take oaths of celibacy; those who do not may only take lovers from among the priestly caste. The Muvian priests wear ornate masks of stone or metal, and will fight alongside the leaders of the Muvian armies in times of war.

The High Priest of the Atlanteans is the God-Emperor, who is, they believe, an incarnation of Incal. He is the sole conduit through which the gods of Atlantis speak, and the attitude of the varied orders of the priesthoods depends largely upon the current God-Emperor. The more benevolent the God-Emperor, the more benevolent the priesthood. As it stands now, with two God-Emperors, the priesthoods of the White Sun are distant and cold; The priests of the South passionate and cruel. The priests of Atlantis endure lengthy psychic conditioning and sometimes physical alteration. The Priest-Eugenicists and Priest-Engineers guide the people's future and present; the grim, shaven-headed Akâshic Nuns and Monks are the final judges of the masses; the priests of Dannuih manage the nurseries, hospices and euthanasiums of the cities; the priests of Akhantuih select and teach the governors.

Let us not be disingenuous: in whichever culture, the poor and the disenfranchised do not get to join the priesthood; the selectors won't take in anyone who falls below a baseline of apparent respectability.

• Don't carry money, but don't generally need it when you're among your own people, since you can expect the laity or your temple to support you;
• Always wear some visible sign of your calling or profession, whether a robe, a piercing, a tattoo or a symbol;
• Have access to pretty much any tools you want, within reason;
• Can read and write languages that don't even exist any more;
• Can expect respect if not always deference from all other than the superiors of your order;
• Are expected to obey without question the commands of your superiors;
• Are expected to maintain a higher moral standard than the laity, and will be judged severely if found wanting;
• Usually expect to be more proficient at the use of magic than others;
• Can expect to be consulted by others, and asked for advice, and you can expect your advice to be given due consideration;
• Probably have more enemies in the hierarchy of your order than friends.