High Canon

THE HIGH CANON

The High Canon are the set of Rituals that are derived directly from the teachings of Benalus the Prophet himself, both from the account of his holy wars during the Eschaton and the teachings he left behind for Mankind.  His teachings within the gospels of the Testimonium preach how to live a life that is honest, pure and strong, to stand up for righteousness, and the nature of Mankind.

All Priests of Mankind can perform these as Rank 1 Rituals once they learn them.  

Atonement

Forgive a misdeed and assign a penance to the repentant.

“Lo, the Lord doth forgive all who pass under his gaze with heads bowed. He sees his sinful children and knows the story to every stain. Those who seek true absolution need not go away from His glory. Nay, closer to him are those who return from the darkness. Look upon such men and rejoice, but gaze not on his brother who hides from the light. They are the servants of devils and their time will come.”

Ritual: After a sinful deed, a priest can hear confession in a public place, not seeking privacy, and prescribe a task to do as penance. If done, the task will erase a sin from the confessor’s soul, but if he does not complete the penance assigned to him he cannot ask for further forgiveness.

Props: None

Effect: Upon completing the penance, the penitent loses all Depravity gained from the confessed act. 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 poverty.  The petitioner must accept the Beholden flaw (Minor) and a new Belief relating to their oath to change their ways.  Upon doing so, the Wicked Flaw is removed, and the Depravity is removed if the Belief is left unbroken for at least a year.

 Note that the Depravity gained for the specific sinful act is removed, not the value of Depravity that the act is worth.  Thus, if a character that already had Wrath 2 were to commit murder, moving to Wrath 3, then atone successfully, they would return to Wrath 2, not Wrath 0.  Each sinful deed needs to be atoned separately, and thus even successful Atonement may not remove any Depravity, instead moving the character closer to a day when it will.

A Priest who restores a soul to perfect purity, with no Depravity, by administering Atonements, receives a Priest Achievement.  This may be earned once per purified character.

All Atonements require the Staff to be notified of their terms when assigned, and their completion for record keeping.  

Baptize

Using a body of water a priest may convert a willing subject to the Morality of Humanity and indoctrinate someone as a member of the church.

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. “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.”

Ritual: The priest and the willing subject must stand with a body of water between them. The priest then asks if they will accept God as their judge and keeper. Once answered affirmatively, the priest calls her to cross the water, holding out a hand for them to cross the divide and join with Humanity. The convert steps into the water and takes the priest’s hand, leaving on the opposite side. The priest then anoints the convert with Holy Water, consecrating them as a welcomed part of God. Some priests prefer to use large or rough bodies of water, calling the convert to struggle across, waiting until they thrash in the water before rescuing them as the hand of God.

Props: A body of water or large tub

Effect: Someone of alternative Faith is converted to the Morality of Mankind and someone with  Pragmatic Faith is converted to Spiritual Faith.  The Priest that is responsible for the conversion gains a Priest Achievement.

Blessing of Daily Bread

Give thanks for the meal and bless all those who break bread with you.

“Thank the Lord for your food. Thank Him for your blood and breath. Thank Him for the path before you and the purpose He provides. Thank Him for the chance to serve.”

Ritual: The supplicant stands and raises their bread (or other food) above their head with their eyes shut. They intone a small prayer of thanks either silently or aloud and ask that God give them the strength through the gift of bread to allow them to continue living to further His glory. If the supplicant wishes to perform the ritual for those who will also partake of the food, the prayer must be spoken loudly enough for all to hear and listen.

Props: An actual meal to be eaten

Effect: All partakers of the ritual gain a use of Toughness they may use this day, as per Comfortable, which does not stack with that.

Funeral Rites

Properly celebrate a life passed and ensure they rest forever undisturbed.

“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. His memory shall continue in our minds. But, it is the memory in our hearts that are to be feared. For it shall fuel us in the coming trials.”

Ritual: The Priest requires some fore knowledge of the life the person has led. At the funeral, the Priest will speak of her deeds and wishes the departed a safe journey to the Kingdom of Heaven, reading a passage from the words of departure in the scriptures. Then the body is lain in a grave no less than 4 feet deep. The Priest then beseeches The Lord to watch over the departed and be allowed peace.

Props:  A shovel, mimed digging. Do not dig holes at site.

Effect:  Digging the grave requires a shovel item or Impressive Strength, and requires characters to collectively Exert 10 times, either across multiple characters or after periods of rest. Those not laid to rest with this ritual are very likely to rise again as Malefic creatures unaided.  The effect of proper Funeral Rites reduces this chance, but those with terrible darkness may rise again even still.

Hope from the Scriptures

Inspires courage and fortitude in the face of adversity.

“Stand fast! Stand Strong! The might of God Stands with us!”

Ritual: The priest calls out and refocuses fearful minds with the power of the scriptures. Reciting from memory or reading from the gospel itself, the priest speaks to a fear stricken ally and rallies them against their fears.

Props: None

Effect: The Priest may Exert to call “Spiritual Remove Fear” on one of their allies.

Last Rites

Forgiveness for the sins of the dying.

The Solidarity of Man extends far beyond any mortal coil. In their dying breath, each man is like one for a brief moment and understands the unity we all share in death if not in life. This revelation alone is but the first step into true service of the Lord.

— Chapter X, Covenants, 10:16

Ritual:  The Priest offers the dying or condemned a chance to confess their deepest regrets and sins.  The dying confesses these misdeeds, one at a time, and for each sin the Priest prays with the condemned to the Lord for forgiveness.

Props: None

Effect: Successful use of this rite allows the dying to speak freely in the Last Breath stage of dying.  For each sin that the condemned confesses, the Priest may grant full atonement upon their death so that the subject may pass into death with a clean soul and join the Lord.  If this clears the fallen of all Depravity, it counts as a Priest Achievement for redemption.

Lead in Prayer

Lead a quick prayer to raise spirits and affirm victory in your hearts.

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.

— Chapter 2, Epicus 7:16

Ritual: The priest has all participating members of appropriate faith stand in a circle and hold hands with him. The priest then speaks on the coming trials and how faith will conquer it.

Props: None

Effect: All faithful participants in this ritual may count their Prayer as being one degree better for the purposes of Praying for success in an event ahead.  This ritual takes at least one undisturbed minute to perform properly and all of the Prayers are for the subject matter that the Priest selects in his speaking.  This ritual gives no benefit to the one who uses it, and doesn’t increase the benefit above the ordinary limits of Great Faith.

Matrimony

Join two kindred spirits in holy matrimony.

“Thanks be to our Beneficent and Merciful God. We declare to Him the marriage of his two children, blessed and beautiful. With His mercy and permission we ask this union blessed in His name.”

–Chapter 3, Caeremonia 4:12

Ritual: This joyous celebration creates a holy union between two consenting, unmarried and baptized adults.  The two swear oaths of fidelity and loyalty to one another of their own design, and promise to become partners forever after, relying on the other as they rely upon them, confess their fears and wrongs to one another, and swearing to guide, uphold and uplift the other, until death parts them.  They swear to create a family and raise the next generation of the faithful, to teach them and guide them into their own adulthoods.

Props: None

Effect:  For spiritual purposes, wedded couples are considered the same person.  Spouses automatically gain the Depravity of their Spouse for any sin they are aware of, but may take part in Atonement on each other’s behalf and lose Depravity as well when the other loses it.  One spouse may make a gesture to the other that relates strongly to their spouse’s Devotion, accomplishing or protecting some aspect of it.  Doing so may remove a Despair for their Spouse. 

Consenting players of new characters may enter play married.  If one spouse has the Wicked flaw, the other may not atone for that sin without atoning for it as such.

Sanctify Wine

Wine becomes infused with the divine purity of God.

At the eventide meal of Benalus’ first return, the first general slaked himself with only water, refusing Benalus’ own wine from his own halls. When word reached him, Benalus took the general’s cup from him and filled it with wine from his own. “Wine is the pleasure of temperate men, whilst the bane of fools. For a fool can control his wine no more than he can control his fear. Too much or too little is an undoing. Sip or drought, but drink as you fear for there is no abstinence from terror.”

Ritual: Wine is poured into a large, shallow bowl of any sort. the priest recites a passage on the parable of fear, where fear is equated to wine itself.  The participants take turns offering a single prayer in thanks to one specific thing, or one prayer for upcoming success, and then all drink.  Each prayer should be for something different.   This continues until all participants in the ritual are intoxicated.

Props: Alcohol or substitute to be imbibed

Effect: Each character that participates in the wine ritual gains one use of Discipline against Fear  each scene while Intoxicated.  This Ritual does not impart any Depravity.

Tears of Benalus, the Consecration of Water

By uniting in purpose with a fellow human, the priest may bless water to hold that divine purity for use in later rituals.

“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.”

Ritual: The priest and at least one other faithful person must gather around an open container of clean, potable water while holding candles. The participants pray over their candles and the water while the priest speaks a blessing unifying their will. While Inspired, any participant may exert and extinguish their candle in the water in order to bless the water. 

Effect: The water becomes a vessel of Holy Water, usable in other rituals. Each Inspired participant that Exerted creates another use of Holy Water.

Comfort of the Sacred Choir

The priest may lean on their people for support in difficult rituals.

“The voices of Humanity are gathered in strength. When such a host calls out together in unity, even the Heavens must listen.”

Ritual: When a group of no less than three faithful people are gathered together singing religious hymns or chants, the Priest may give thanks to the voices of heaven and become bolstered by the voices of the faithful.

Props: Songs or Chants

Effect: Once per scene, the Priest may choose to become Inspired while listening to a religious choir perform. This is in addition to the choir being an acceptable vector for the Performance skill. Other rituals may call on the Choir where appropriate.

The Ceremony of Convocation

The community gathers together, led by the local priesthood.

“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.”

— Chapter 3, Caeremonia 1:15

Ritual: Once per Event on the day of rest (Saturday), the Priest may gather the congregation. During this ritual, the priest will bring the community together, preach the word of the scriptures and the virtues of faith, and accept atonements. If there are multiple priests they should work together to decide who will perform which functions during the ceremony. Priests of higher rank should be deferred to.

The Ceremony

The priests must first prepare the shrine or altar, ensuring that there are lit candles and lion iconography. There should be iconography for each of the present Covenants as well.

The service should open with a Sacred Choir, leading the congregation in a hymn as they gather and take their seats.

This should be followed by a prayer of unity, often in a style unique to the local Civic Cult, which marks the official beginning of the ceremony.

There must be a reading from scripture, which is often done by an educated layperson or one of the priest who is not leading the sermon. The selected passage is usually either relevant to current events, or follows a more traditional local calendar of topics. 

The priest leading the Convocation must now give a short sermon, around 5 minutes, relating to the scripture, often calling on laypeople to relate personal or communal events and draw meaning and connections between the wisdom of the scripture and how it is applicable to the everyday life of the congregation.

Each Covenant has unique rites they may perform during Convocation, which may occur now. If priests of different Covenants or performing the Convocation together they may perform their specific rituals one after the other in any order.

The Covenants

Mithrihim Convocation

These tend to be reflective, focusing on past mistakes and how they can be avoided in the future. If the War Priest has previously performed the Rite of Conflict and failed to bring about a peaceful resolution, they may speak of it to the congregation, discussing the cause of the conflict, and how it could have been resolved peacefully. This grants the War Priest a Mithrihim Achievement.

The War Priest should give a tangible, active goal that the community can work towards to prevent tragedies like this from occurring again. Everyone who listens and participates in this discussion may take a Bond toward achieving this goal. 

Lurihim Convocation

One of the somber duty of the Lurihim in the community is to remember the dead. This should focus on the life of the deceased, and try to bring some joy for them, as they are united with God in the hereafter. The Lurihim should read aloud the last words of a person who died at the last Event, entering them into the communities official Book of the Dead.  The Priest should also talk about the person’s Devotion, their place in the community, and the circumstances of their death, This grants the priest a Lurihim Achievement.

Closing

Should there be a public Baptism, Matrimony, or other public ritual now is an appropriate time to perform that ritual before the gathered community.

The leading priest should now hear out community issues and work to resolve internal conflicts so that the congregation may remain united. This should include taking Atonements from the congregation. The Eparch, if there is one, may speak here.

The Sacred Choir should begin again as the ceremony comes to a close.

Should the priesthood need to replenish the church’s reserve of Holy Water, they should distribute candles to the congregation and lead them in the Consecration of Water, praying together in unison and calling the congregation to extinguish their flame one at a time in a collective font placed in from of the altar.

Effects:  The Priest should call “Spiritual Remove 1 Despair” for all attendees after the closing.