Total Drama Dungeon!
Monotheistic mystery cult followers of the “Unnamed God”.
Monotheists have very seldom been popular within the Empire – some blame the collapse of the First Empire on the wrath of the gods for increasing tolerance of monotheists and other heretics.
The cult known as the Messianics started as an offshoot of the local beliefs of Judea – a cult following of a local prophet who believed that the end times were near and that their god would deliver a savior to purge the world of evil. A line of prophets in the same mold sprang up like wildfire though that region and made significant impact on the core religion of their native tribe. The cult spread even outside that group as rumors of miracles followed these prophets (probably caused by a sect of local wizards within their midst).
Conflict began as the cult made inroads into the core Empire – although the state religious has always been accepting of foreign gods, the Empire can never accept those who refuse to pay homage to the godly patrons of the state. The Messianics became one of the varied “Mystery Cults” – those who practice in secret because their beliefs are contrary to the State Religion.
As the Messianic movement grew, those practitioners who were uncovered were originally prosecuted to the full extent of the law – a righteous campaign to prove to the Gods that the Empire still swore fealty to its divine patrons. As leadership changed the fate of the unrepentant Messianics would rise and fall based on the sympathy of the current leadership towards their cause.
The highest official point of the Messianic religion would come under the reign of Constantine I, who accepted the cult to the point of permitting official public gatherings. Under his reign the scattered leaders of the Messianic movement came together in Nicaea in an attempt to codify their theology. However, this council was interrupted by the outbreak of war with the young Persian king Shapur II. Shapur, who was only 16 at the time, built an alliance with tribes of hobgoblin raiders and broke through the Imperial defenses to raid throughout the Anatolian peninsula. The Blood Knife tribe carved a bloody swath all the way to Constantinople, and several of the fathers of the Messianic church were killed during the conflict. Though Shapur’s initial land gains were limited, this attack weakened the eastern empire for years to come and led to significant gains in later campaigns.
Following the disastrous Council of Nicaea, the Messianic cults never successfully organized into a single unified religion. Though they never have disappeared entirely, they have always remained a fractious lot. Through the course of the collapse of the First Empire, some sects did rise to brief power both on their own and as influences among Imperial Successor States. During this time some of the beliefs, precepts and ceremonies of their faith were incorporated into Imperial life.
Today, both the NAE and the Imperial States of Europe have adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Legally, it is still considered blasphemy to deny the existence of the gods, or to deny any god his due worship on a designated holiday. However, the state has taken a hands-off approach to rooting out heretics. As long as the Messianic keeps his beliefs to himself and performs the required functions of the state religion, he will not be prosecuted for his private beliefs. Even ownership of Messianic writings is not automatically considered a crime, however printing or distribution of those materials is.reNotes:
- A growing rumor within the NAE says that Messianic believers have been quietly gathering at a secret colony called “Vineyard”, located within lands abandoned by the NAE during the Great Incursion.