Sunday, October 26, 2014

"A Righteous Judgment of God" -- Religion in the Once-Green and Pleasant Land

This is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood. -- Oliver Cromwell in regards the massacre at Drogheda, 1649

Religion after the Cataclysm has been a tricky business; as in 1348, the vast scale on which death took place in the Once-Green and Pleasant Land has caused a widespread loss of faith.  In the face of what could credibly be seen as the end of the world, with monsters and foul horrors battering at the shutters and Christ nowhere to be found, it's no surprise that many have turned their backs on God and the Church, seeking no more than bare survival on a day to day basis.

And no bells tolled, and nobody wept no matter what his loss because almost everyone expected death... And people said and believed, 'This is the end of the world.' -- "A chronicler of Siena," quoted in A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman

But not everyone turned their backs on faith; others embraced it as never before, finding meaning for themselves in absolute devotion; both Catholicism and Anglicanism, though weakened, still have their strongholds throughout the Isles, and many believers of "The Old Faiths" show their devotion through flagellation and elaborate acts of penitence in hopes of pleasing God and finding salvation for themselves.

Satan really likes a properly-anointed
In some isolated villages and secluded manors throughout the land, demonic cults have arisen; monstrous entities from the Endless Dark, creatures of malicious intellect and cruel intent, having set themselves up as localized gods.  Often, these malignant entities are summoned to the Once-Green and Pleasant Land by cabals of sorcerers seeking to enhance their own power, only to find themselves the slaves (if not hors d'oeuvres) of a power too great for them to command.

Hopkinism is a new faith that has sprung up in the wake of the Cataclysm, if indeed "faith" it is.  The Hopkinites are an order of witch-hunting fanatics and their support network of followers, henchmen and men-at-arms.  Their primary tenet is "suffer not a witch to live," and their holy book is as likely to be the Malleus Maleficarum as it is to be Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible.  Following in the teachings of St. Anthony, the Hopkinites fast before going into spiritual battle against demons, and augment their armor and weapons with frequent prayer and unshakable faith.  Following in the teachings of St. Hopkins, the Hopkinites torture suspected witches and warlocks to achieve confession, subject them to trial by ordeal (including burning them with hot irons and dunking them in rivers) and leave the bodies of convicted witches swaying in the breeze under the nearest convenient tree.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a
Hopkinite torture session and I really good S&M

Interestingly, spell-casting Clerics are far more likely to appear from among the ranks of the Hopkinites; some Catholics and Anglicans manifest Clerical powers, but not with the frequency of the Hopkinites.  Demonic cultists do not manifest Clerical abilities, but are sometimes granted Arcane casting ability.

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