The Shade Isle Campaign
The Connaian Empire was the first truly powerful nation-state to emerge from the Dark Age that followed the Fall. The founding of the Empire is regarded as the year 1; and the Empire is generally held to have persisted until around the year 400. Although the Empire collapsed as a state, its religion—the Imperial Church—has more than survived the following centuries; it has thrived and gone on to become one of the dominant forces in religion and politics in Lethandria.
In the early days of the Empire, the Connaians worshiped a pantheon of seven deities—the Seven Gods of the South. This pantheon consisted of:
- Diu Pater, the sky-father.
- Gia Mater, the earth-mother
- Phoebus Sol, the sun-god
- Phoebe Luna, the moon-goddess
- Mercurius Trismagistus, the god of magic
- Nereus Oceanus, the god of the sea
- Dis Plutus, the god of the underworld
(To this pantheon, the demi-humans of the south—the nymphs, fauns, and centaurs—added an eighth deity, Epona, the goddess of nature and animals.)
In the decades leading up to the Empire’s fall, though, politics and money and pride and ambition all converged into a great theological crisis that rocked the very foundations of the Empire. Each deity had its own priesthood, with temples, clerics, sacrifices, and holidays; the money flowing into all of these temples was attention-getting to the emperor, the senators, and the army. The senate tried to combine the temples and the priesthood into a single, pantheon-worshiping church; and the emperor at the time tried to focus attention on cult-worship of his own family; and the priests and priestesses of each religion tried to justify their existence by cursing their enemies, or trying to pin all of society’s ills on mystery cults and foreign gods. In short, it was a mess.
When all was said and done, two emperors and many, many senators and high priests had wound up stabbed or poisoned or otherwise eliminated. And out of the hullabaloo came the new dogma of the Imperial Church: the doctrine of fides tribus, or “faith in three”. The Imperial Church formed a single hierarchy and priesthood and declared that only three gods were genuine: Diu Pater, the father; Gia Mater, the mother; and Phoebus Sol, now to be called Sol Invictus—the unconquered son, and greatest of the gods.
A little over five centuries have passed since the founding of the Imperial Church in its modern form. Since then, the Church has tried—with varying levels of success—to stamp out the worship of “pagan” gods, including the remaining deities from the old southern pantheon.
Each pagan god is regarded somewhat differently by the church, though:
- Many shrines in the countryside have long been devoted to both Phoebus Sol and Phoebe Luna. Whenever the Church finds such a shrine, they try and refocus it on Sol Invictus. Worship of Phoebe is grudgingly tolerated, but it is considered a sign of rustic ignorance.
- Nereus Oceanus remains a popular deity among sailors everywhere. The Church simply cannot eliminate Nereus-worship, because it’s far too widespread. But it’s low on the list of priorities.
- Mercurius Trismagistus (the “thrice-magical”) is still worshiped by small covens of sorcerers and alchemists. Because the cult of Mercurius teaches that magic or alchemy can transform one’s soul and possibly bestow immortality, the Imperial Church finds this an intolerable heresy against their own dogma, which teaches that immortality is only possible in the afterlife through faith in Sol. So the Church is actively trying to persecute and destroy Mercurius-worshipers.
- Even in ancient times, nobody really worshiped Dis Plutus. Practically everyone believes that a Plutus cult is going to have no members beyond necromancers, demon-summoners, and lunatics trying to bring about the apocalypse. Plutus-worship is occasionally used as a pretext for an inquisition or a witch-hunt, but it’s rather unclear as to whether the practice actually exists.
- Epona was never officially a deity within the Empire, and so the Church takes a rather fuzzy position on Epona-worship. Some within the Church take a hard line and want to convert all Epona-worshipers to the “true” faith, like they would with followers of any other foreign god; while others are largely unconcerned with whatever silly and primitive spirits non-humans pray to. After all, if centaurs and dryads and such might not even have souls to begin with, why bother wasting energy trying to save them?