Roses of Britain
Christianity is a monotheistic faith that espouses the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, a mysterious Jewish preacher and miracle-worker from the first century A.D. From its origins as an offshoot of Judaism, Christianity has ascended to a position of overwhelming dominance in the religious and political life of European realms, including the Kingdom of England. The faith’s teachings emphasize the spiritually fallen state of mortal creatures, the importance of Jesus’ role as a divine savior, and the primacy of virtues such as charity, mercy, and humility. In practice, however, Christianity encompasses a wide variety of moral outlooks, and its adherents include both selfless servants of good and cruel despoilers. All Christians share a conviction that Jesus offers the one true path to spiritual salvation, but there is significant and often fierce disagreement about the nature and terms of that salvation. The faith includes numerous monastic and military orders, and has witnessed countless schisms, upheavals, and reforms in the past fifteen centuries.
Christianity is the official state religion of the Kingdom of England, and royal and ecclesiastical law both maintain the faith’s supremacy. English Christians, like most believers in western Europe, regard the Bishop of Rome as the faith’s supreme spiritual authority figure, referred to as the Pope. In his role as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Alexander VI serves as the direct successor to Jesus’ favored apostle St. Peter. The Pope oversees a vast and powerful religious administration that comprises thousands of local churches, cathedrals, monasteries, convents, and universities. Catholic kingdoms such as England are divided into dioceses, each headed by a bishop who acts as the Pope’s representative and as the highest religious authority in the region. Bishops often hold political power and wealth that rivals that of the hereditary nobility, and the accumulation of such influence in the hands of the Church results in conflict with nobles and kings alike.
Christians offer prayers and adulation to Jesus, regarding him as the son of the ancient Hebrew deity Yahweh, whom the monotheistic Christians refer to simply as God. Christian belief also holds that Jesus is synonymous with and inseparable from God. This doctrinal mystery has been the subject of bitter dispute in the past, but is now a central tenet of the faith. God’s servants include countless angels and also numerous exarchs, called saints. These former mortals have the ability to mediate between mortal creatures and God, and are therefore widely venerated by the faithful. The primary spiritual enemy of Christians is Satan, an angel who rebelled against God and now commands the malevolent devils that tempt and torment mortals. As monotheists, most Christians deny the divinity of the old pagan gods, whom they regard as mere devils or demons that have assumed deceptive forms. Jesus and the saints accept worshippers of any race, and any alignment save chaotic evil. Evil Christians are not common, but do exist. Most are remorseless zealots who seek to punish others who does not fulfill their exacting religious standards.
Jesus is the central figure of the Christian faith, which teaches that he is the Anointed One, the redeemer of Jewish tradition. His Hebrew- and Greek-derived honorifics, Messiah and Christ, reflect this redemptive role. Christians believe that Jesus represents the culmination of Jewish prophecy, which foretells of a savior who will usher in a new age. Believers maintain that the salvation Jesus brought was a spiritual one, intended to redeem mortal creatures tainted by their sinful natures.
Jesus of Nazareth dwelled in the Roman province of Iudaea (present-day Palestine) in the early first century A.D. (The calendar era, Anno Domini, “In the Year of Our Lord,” is reckoned from his purported birth.) Christian belief holds that Jesus is the literal Son of God, miraculously conceived within and born to a virginal human woman, Mary. He preached to massive crowds on ethical and theological matters, and miraculously cured the ill and lame with his mere touch. Betrayed by a conspiracy of Roman administrators, Jewish priests, and disaffected followers, he was eventually executed for sedition via crucifixion. Christian tradition teaches that his death served as a divine self-sacrifice that purified the sin of all mortal creatures, and that Jesus rose from the dead three days later, thereby proving his divinity. He urged his disciples to tell others of his resurrection and eventual return, and then ascended to Heaven.
While the exact nature of Jesus is the subject of convoluted theological dispute, Christians universally regard his life as one of model virtue. His example established a widespread esteem for compassion and simplicity among the faithful that has persisted for centuries. However, the extent to which that example is cavalierly disregarded among clergy and laity alike is a perennial concern for reform-minded Christians.
All English Christians nominally revere Jesus as the Christ. However, believers who feel a particular affinity with him or who wish to express the strength of their devotion may take Jesus as their direct patron. This practice is rare, and confined almost exclusively to the ranks of the clergy, monastic communities, and divine heroes of great power and renown. Jesus is associated with compassion, forgiveness, healing, sacrifice, revelation, and prophecy fulfilled, and most believers regard him as the unofficial patron of all intelligent mortal creatures. Most heroes who take Jesus as their patron are especially pious clerics or paladins, although some fighters, runepriests, and warlords also pledge themselves to him.
Unlike the saints, Jesus himself never assumes an aspect. Christian tradition holds that he will remain in Heaven until his return on Judgment Day. Church authorities react with skepticism and enmity to witnesses who claim they have seen Jesus on Earth in a human form, as such an event usually precedes the emergence of an apocalyptic sect. Nonetheless, Jesus is known to sometimes visit individual believers in dreams or visions, usually to deliver a message of comfort and reassurance.
The devotees of Jesus strive to follow these teachings:
- Give of yourself wherever there is need, without regard for race, creed, or station.
- Forgive those wrong you, and do not carry malice in your heart.
- Stand ready to sacrifice for the good of friends and strangers alike.
The Holy Trinity
Symbol: Interwoven triangle and trefoil
In addition to his status as the Christ and the son of God, Jesus is believed to be God himself, fully united with him in essence and being. This paradoxical doctrine is expressed in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which holds that God is simultaneously a Father who created the world, a Son who was incarnated as a human and sacrificed himself, and a Holy Spirit that dwells in all believers. Christian theologians assert that God’s triune nature—“Three Persons, One Being”—only seems contradictory due to the limited understanding of mortals.
Rarely, an English Christian may take the Holy Trinity as their direct patron, usually out of awe for the unfathomable nature of the concept. Many followers of the Trinity believe that they have a great destiny, but that it is currently hidden from them, much as the true nature of God seems hidden from mortal comprehension. The Holy Trinity is associated with mystery, wisdom, fate, unity, perfection, and faith in that which is unknowable. Among Christian heroes, arcane classes such as artificers, swordmages, and wizards are most likely to adopt the Holy Trinity as their patron, as they perceive an affinity between the mystery of arcane forces and the mystery of God’s nature.
The Holy Trinity is not an entity, but an abstract expression of God’s qualities. It does not assume an aspect to appear on Earth, and very rarely appears in visions or dreams. It does not seem to have a voice, but occasionally, a powerful divine or arcane hero will report a vivid vision of the Trinity that takes the form of a symbol or allegory.
The cathedral in the town of Chichester, Sussex is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Those who embrace the mystery of the Holy Trinity follow these principles:
- Do not flee from that which you do not understand.
- Discover your purpose and fulfill it to the utmost of your ability.
- Be vigilant for signs from God in the world around you.
Symbol: Rose surrounded by twelve stars
Mary occupies a place of honor above the ranks of the saints, and is, by a wide margin, the most significant figure in Christian theology next to Jesus himself. She is believed to have been immaculately conceived without the sin that stains the souls of all other mortal creatures. Legend states that she was a virgin when Jesus was divinely conceived within her womb, a miracle foretold to her during a direct visitation from the Christian angel Gabriel. Mary purportedly remained a perpetual virgin even after Jesus’ birth, and was assumed bodily and spiritually into Heaven at the end of her life.
Mary is the patron of mothers, gentleness, selflessness, joy, innocence, and purity. She is also the patron of all humankind, and of all female mortal creatures generally. Mary is a popular patron among English Christians of all walks of life, especially human women, who regard her as an exceptional benefactor and protector. Mary’s cathedrals and shrines are among the most widely-visited in Christendom. Clerics and paladins often adopt her as a patron, as do female heroes of virtually every class.
Mary often appears on Earth in an assumed aspect, although when doing so she normally conceals her presence from non-believers. Unlike the saints, who have but one or two distinct aspects, Mary seems to have numerous aspects with vastly different attributes and temperaments. For example, as the Lady of Sorrows, she embodies the pain of loss, and offers succor to all those who likewise suffer. Even when she visits Earth, Mary rarely interferes in mortal events in an aggressive manner, preferring to offer guidance and consolation to the faithful. In addition, Mary often appears to her followers in dramatic visions, and seems especially fond of granting such visions to children.
Boxgrove Priory and Dureford Abbey in Sussex are dedicated to Mary (the latter also to St. John the Baptist).
Mary asks that her beloved followers adhere to these precepts:
- Protect what is good and pure against the assaults of this fallen world.
- Offer love to all people and creatures, even those who mean you harm.
- Discover joy in simple acts of generosity and kindness.
Symbol: Flaming heart pierced with a thorn.
Augustine of Hippo was a Roman citizen born and educated in northwestern Africa in the fourth century A.D. He followed the Gnostic faith of Manichaeism early in life, and taught rhetoric in Africa, Rome, and eventually Milan, then the capital of the Empire. However, in A.D. 386, Augustine underwent a profound conversion experience beneath a fig tree, and thereafter became a passionate Christian. He returned to Africa and became a priest, using his arresting oratory skill to urge others to accept the teachings of Jesus. He wrote extensively on theology and philosophy, and eventually became a bishop of Hippo Regius, in the present-day realm of the Zenata Berbers. Augustine passed away while the city was under siege by the savage Vandals, and the magnificent cathedral and library he built were the only structures left untouched by the barbarian horde.
St. Augustine is the patron saint of scholarship, education, teachers, remorse, penitence, chastity, and religious zeal. He is regarded the spiritual benefactor of bishops and other Church officials, and is often venerated by those who are recent converts to Christianity. Like St. Benedict, Augustine authored a Rule outlining the principles of religious orders, which today serves as the basis for the Augustinians and Dominicans. Clerics, invokers, and runepriests favor St. Augustine as a patron. Due to the saint’s dim view of arcane magic, he has few venerators among arcane heroes.
St. Augustine does not assume an aspect often, preferring to appear to the faithful in visions and dreams. In such visitations, he usually appears as a bishop with miter and crosier, or as a flaming heart that speaks with a human voice. He typically appears in order to offer valuable knowledge or to admonish his venerators regarding some sinful behavior.
St. Augustine dictates that his venerators fulfill these obligations:
- Constantly seek to expand your understanding of God and all Creation.
- Spread your knowledge to others, and be vigilant for new sources of wisdom.
- Stand firm against the seductions of this fallen world.
Symbol: Rod wrapped with a scroll
Benedict of Nursia was the privileged son of a Roman noble who dwelled in central Italia (the present-day Papal States) in the late fifth century A.D. While studying in Rome, he became disenchanted with the decadence of city life, and relocated to the Italian countryside. There, he eventually became an ascetic hermit who attracted numerous followers. He survived several assassination attempts by embittered local monks, and went on to found thirteen monasteries according to his own teachings. It was during this period that Benedict authored his celebrated Rule, outlining the precepts of monastic religious life. The Benedictine Rule subsequently became the dominant model for monastic communities throughout Christendom, including not only the self-governing Benedictine Houses, but also formal religious orders such as the Cicstercians and Trappists.
St. Benedict is the patron saint of monks, students, discipline, moderation, community, fraternity, cooperation, and self-determination. Even monks and nuns who do not follow the Benedictine Rule are known to venerate him, as do all manner of Christian military orders and mystical societies. Benedict is believed to watch over all the Christian faithful who gather together for a common purpose. Bards, clerics, and warlords who are deeply devoted to their companions often venerate Benedict, due to the saint’s association with Christian fellowship. Unlike the severe St. Augustine, he is not hostile to arcane magic, and wizards sometimes revere him as a patron of learning.
St. Benedict rarely assumes an aspect to appear on Earth. However, some monasteries and convents have reported encounters with a mysterious old monk that was later recognized as the saint. Benedict seems to reserve his appearances for select, small groups of Christians who are in need of his wisdom during a spiritual or mortal crisis. He rarely dispenses knowledge directly, preferring to show the faithful how to work together to uncover answers for themselves.
St. Benedict commands his venerators to live according to these rules:
- Strive for simplicity and humility in all that you do.
- Devote yourself to your companions, for you are stronger united than divided.
- Endeavor to continually better your mind and your spirit.
George of Lydda was a Roman military officer in the third century A.D. who hailed from the province of Syria Palaestina (present-day Palestine). Born to noble Christian parents, George served as a soldier at Nicomedia, then the eastern capital of the Empire. Legends attribute all manner of valorous deeds to him, the most prominent being the slaying of an ancient blue dragon that had been extorting tribute from the city of Cyrene. However, in A.D. 302, Emperor Diocletian ordered all Christians within the Roman army to be arrested, an early step in a sustained campaign of bloody persecution against believers. Rather than convert to Roman paganism, George publicly renounced the Emperor’s edict and submitted himself for punishment. Diocletian attempted to dissuade him, but George went willingly to his execution on a wheel of swords.
St. George is the patron of soldiers, knights, horsesmanship, honor, chivalry, courage, and heroic deeds. He is also the patron saint of England itself, and for this reason is widely venerated by English people of every background. He is enormously popular saint among adventures and monster-slayers of all stripes, especially those of a lawful good alignment. Paladins in particular favor St. George, but avengers, fighters, rangers, swordmages, and warlords also commonly venerate him.
St. George appears on Earth with some regularity, usually assuming the aspect of a mounted knight in plate armor. Unlike many saints, he often involves himself directly in conflicts, taking up arms alongside devout heroes if their spirits are courageous and their cause is just. Although he is the patron of the Kingdom of England, St. George does not take sides in political conflicts, and reserves his aid for monstrous threats such as undead, devils, demons, and especially dragons.
St. George expects his venerators to carry out these orders without hesitation:
- Confront evil directly, wherever it appears.
- Do not permit your heart to be tainted by fear or doubt.
- Be honorable and forthright in all your dealings.
St. John the Baptist
Symbol: Lamb resting on a camel skin
John the Baptist was an itinerant Jewish preacher and prophet, and a contemporary of Jesus. Christian tradition holds that he served as a spiritual herald for Jesus, speaking of a forthcoming Messiah who would offer redemption to the world. John dwelled as an ascetic in the desert of present-day Palestine, gathering throngs of followers and ritually baptizing them in the waters of the River Jordan. Eventually, Jesus came to John and asked the prophet to baptize him, which John reluctantly did. According to legend, this event was accompanied by a thunderous voice and the appearance of the Holy Spirit as a dove, revealing Jesus’ divine nature and beginning his ministry on Earth. The Tetrarch of Iudaea, Herod Antipas, eventually captured John and had him beheaded, allegedly at the urging of his bloodthirsty, resentful stepdaughter.
St. John is the patron of hermits, wanderers, messengers, prophets, purification, rebirth, and the wilderness. He is seen as the originator of the Christian rite of baptism, and a virtuous model for wandering preachers and mystics. Christians who pursue their religious devotion far from the Church’s reach, whether due to circumstance or choice, regard him their spiritual guide, as do clergy who serve in remote locales. He is a popular patron among invokers, as well as the rare Christian primal hero.
St. John occasionally assumes an aspect to appear on Earth, although he rarely identifies himself even to his devoted venerators. His aspect usually resembles bedraggled, wild-looking hermit, dressed in camel hides and carrying only a cruciform staff. St. John never interferes directly in the affairs of his venerators. His purpose on Earth is almost always to convey vital knowledge or a direct message from God.
Dureford Abbey in Sussex is dedicated to St. John the Baptist (and also to Mary).
Venerators of St. John the Baptist dedicate themselves to these ideals:
- Spread the word of Jesus’ salvation far and wide.
- Do not burden yourself with excessive possessions or attachments.
- Offer everyone a chance to change themselves for the better.
Symbol: Three orbs of gold.
Nicholas of Myra was a Greek miracle-worker and bishop who dwelled in the Roman province of Lycia et Pamphylia (the present-day Ottoman eyalet of Anatolia) in the third and fourth centuries A.D. The son of wealthy Christians, he was devout from an early age, and entered into the priesthood without hesitation. Renowned for his gentleness and generous spirit, Nicholas regularly distributed gifts of food and gold to believers in need, often anonymously and under cover of darkness. He eventually became celebrated for his astonishing miracles, such as doubling Emperor’s wheat supplies to feed the famine-struck Myra, or his resurrection of three children slain and devoured by a bloodthirsty demon.
St. Nicholas is the patron of children, sailors, merchants, prosperity, generosity, humility, and miracles. His compassionate reputation and association with wealth ensures that he is a popular saint among everyday Christians. In England, the celebrations on his December 6 feast include the selection of a “Boy Bishop,” a child who plays the role of the local bishop for one day. Many heroes of good alignment venerate St. Nicholas as their patron, and he is particularly popular among rogues of a benevolent bent.
It is believed that St. Nicholas assumes an aspect to travel Earth quite regularly, but that he rarely shows himself to mortal creatures. He seems fond of working behind the scenes, leaving gifts in locations where they will be stumbled upon by the faithful. Tales of poor peasants discovering caches of gold are often attributed to the saint. Heroes who venerate St. Nicholas have reported receiving powerful magic items from a mysterious benefactor. Such objects often serve a critical purpose during a quest, and thereafter vanish from the hero’s possession.
The churches in the towns of Brighthelmstone and Pevensey, Sussex are dedicated to St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas asks that his venerators keep these values close to their hearts:
- Give your wealth and your time to those who are most in need.
- Do not seek recognition or adulation for your good deeds.
- Promote that which brings happiness and awe to the world.