Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: Magic and Technology 2

Gods, Alignment and the Divine

Almost all Faiths in Crux have no alignment.  Their beliefs vary enough that individuals can take a variety of views on any alignment.  This means the main faiths (The Twins, the Machine, Shraxes, Kazism, the Wolf-Mother, and the Singer of the Song) have no distinct alignment that defines them.  They tend to include people, even the most despicable of people.  Why would any faith let itself be open to those of any Evil alignment?  They can detect those of such alignments, of course, and could drive such people away from their faiths, to let only the more pure be part of their mission.

Each Faith has its multitude of reasons for including those of an Evil alignment.  This is a case of remembering that Alignment doesn't dictate one's actions, just flavors the tone of their beliefs to a degree.

First, any Faith would say that they can't be completely certain about the beliefs of the source of their faith.  It may be evil or good, lawful or chaotic.  But because they believe it is a higher power, they also tend to believe its beyond the judgement of mortals.  After all, they can't tell one act from another.  So, alignments aren't applied some of the time because its believed to be a case of the mortal trying to cage the divine.

There is also the fact that mortal faiths are fallible.  Each would like to believe its membership was pure and untainted by evil beliefs.  But any organization has to deal with the entropy of such corruption.  Sometimes good men turn away, becoming darker in their views and faith.  A few even become dark and evil on purpose, taking on sins in order to serve their faith's interests.  Monsters that make that sacrifice.

A reason that most everyday folk tend to embrace, especially through the Summer Rose or the Singer of the Song, is that such faiths need to redeem the corrupted.  Ignoring or driving away those of evil alignments is cruel.  Such good folk will allow evil members of their faith, believing they can help them to a better path.  Whether or not this merits returns on the investment, varies.

The Divine Itself

Faith itself powers divine magic, something all Clerics and Oracles know.  This faith also doesn't care about alignment, not unless the individual caster uses their Faith to express their personal alignment.  The trappings of faith still apply, but alignment magic is used by the individual, not the faith entirely.  Clerics, Druids and Oracles all still have to match their alignment with the spell they cast, or risk changing their alignment.

Because divine magic will work for any member of a faith, regardless of their alignment, it also can lend credibility to various sects and heresies.  A heretic who casts spells has the spiritual mandate of his faith.  This has created a diverse set of sects in all faiths.

It should be noted in Crux that each faith has heralds and divine servants.  But like the faiths themselves, heralds and servants tend to vary as much in alignment as mortal followers do.  Established heretical Heralds and servants only further lends itself to helping lend credence to very different alignments.

The Lesser Faiths

But there are some faiths and religions in Crux that do have alignments.  These faiths are tied to beings and entities who aren't beyond the petty systems of alignment.  Some might think them narrow cults.  These faiths include the obscure ancient faiths, like those of Mount Salir or cults around the recently ascended.

Perhaps that is where younger faiths seem attractive to some.  Some mortals have succeeded at achieving some measure of divinity, becoming like demigods and wandering planes far away from the world.  But they don't last for long.  Divine Mortals are still Mortals.  Even a ascended mortal from little more than a century ago isn't remembered today.  They have perhaps a shrine or two, but they collect dust and are forgotten.  The major Faiths continue on.

Other lesser faiths maintain smaller numbers, but they are aligned with dark entities from long before the world was born.  Things that wish to bring a end to things.  Dark nightmares, these cults manage to remain active in the world despite efforts to drive them away.  They don't fade, but always rise anew from generation to generation.

Another purview of these lesser faiths and divine powers are Patrons.  These potent entities act in concert with some faiths, in rivalry with others, and sometimes pursue their own independent interests.  They are the source of the Witches' Patrons, as well as Oracles' Mysteries.  These include devils and demons, angels and archons, as well as Djinn and other more alien things.

Witches walk a dangerous line in that Patrons often ask them for favors in exchange for more and more power.  They can refuse such offers.  But Patrons are patient, and know how to gently and subtly draw Witches into further, greater pacts.