Bell Digest v940628p3

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From: 100102.3001@CompuServe.COM (Peter J. Whitelaw)
Subject: Taskan Empire Notes pt.8
Message-ID: <940627205118_100102.3001_BHJ83-3@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 27 Jun 94 20:51:18 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4868


Part III

Zygas Taga

The Cult in The World
The cult of Zygas Taga is the principal religion of the Taskan Empire.  His
worshippers come from many peoples and all walks of life, bonded by their
citizenship of the greatest Empire in history.  Although individuals often join,
most recruitment is by the submission of whole communities to Taskan rule.  The
alternatives for a conquered people are often rather undesirable.

To become an initiate of the religion requires only that the candidate be free,
and 'willing' to make the required sacrifice of a point of current Pow.  The
examining priest will most likely exact a tribute of about 100 pennies in money
or kind, or as much as he thinks the supplicant can afford.  

An initiate is a citizen of the Empire. He/she must never act against its
interests, and should always report any threats to the state to his priests.  In
return she/he receives nominal protection and privilege and full rights under
the Taskan legal system.  He/she can be called upon at any time to undertake
some service to the state in keeping with their abilities.  The initiate cannot
sacrifice for one use Divine Magic, and does not receive the benefits of Divine
Intervention.  No special skills are taught by the cult and none are proscribed.
Initiates are not taught any magic by the cult but may learn any spirit or
sorcery spells from other sources.

The priests of the Emperor-cult are the administrators and governors of the
empire.  In each province or district the priests are organised into a college,
which forms an executive council that encompasses both civil and military
administration.  The high priest of a college is chosen personally by the
Emperor, whose preference is usually for the most powerful sorcerer in the
college.  For a new priest to be appointed there must be a vacancy in the
collegiate, caused by the death or retirement of a current member or the
expansion of its number.  A candidate must have at least 50% ability in Orate,
Human Lore, Read/Write Tarsenian and Speak Tarsenian.  He/she must also be a
master in some field of expertise useful to the government - usually a pertinent
knowledge skill.  The preferred candidates for priesthood are priests of
compatible cults and adept sorcerers or magi.

Common Divine Magic
Excommunication, Extension, Find Enemy, Sanctify, Soul Sight, Warding, Worship

Special Divine Magic
Absorption, Charisma, Command Human, Command Salamander, Contact Emperor,
Emperor Bonding, Melding, True (Weapon), Shield

CHARISMA: 1pnt, Temporal, Reusable
This spell increases the user's APP by half again its original value.  For the
duration of the spell the recipients Orate and Fast Talk skills are doubled.

EMPEROR BONDING: 2pnt Ritual Enchantment, one use
Only the High Priest of a temple may learn and use this spell.  The ritual is
performed within a sanctified area, using a mirror of polished copper.  The
mirror becomes a channel to the consciousness of the deified Emperor, so that
anyone who knows the Contact Emperor spell can attempt communication with him
through it. The first point makes the enchantment, the second provides a
condition that only priests of the Imperial cult can use it.  Communication is
audio-visual, images being seen in and sound emanating from the mirror.     

CONTACT EMPEROR: 1pnt, Ritual Summons, Reusable
The Contact Emperor Spell is a supplement to the Emperor Bonding Enchantment.  A
casting of this spell through the mirror gives the user a POWx5% chance of
attracting the emperors attention so that communication can take place.  This is
the only spell that can be cast through a temple's sacred mirror.

MELDING: 1pnt Ritual Ceremony, reusable
This ritual is designed to allow members of a college to pool magic points and
free INT in order to cast spells of great power and duration.  All participants
must Sacrifice a point of POW and succeed in a ceremony roll to establish the
meld when the meld leader casts the spell.  When the meld is in place none of
the participants except for the leader may do anything but concentrate on it.
If the meld circle is broken in any way or if any ceremony roll is fumbled, all
the participants must fail INTx5 or be befuddled for 1D20 rounds, and all
personal magic points except 1 dissipate as if cast.  

The meld leader may draw on one point of free INT from each participant, and any
number of personal (but not stored) magic points.  The meld remains in place
until cancelled by the meld leader or the meld circle is broken.  


The Cult in The World
Bast's cult has a universal hierarchy, whereby the chief priest of his temple in
Pryjarna is recognised as Patriarch by the priests and congregations of all
other temples.  He receives no worship through the dictates of tradition as to
most gods of the Tarsenians, but only as an act of personal devotion on the part
of the worshipper.  Bast is the exceptional character of the Tarsenian pantheon.
He is the only god who can still effect changes in the human condition, because
he is the only god whose myth is still unfolding through the lives and deeds of
his followers.  In this he rivals the Emperor Zygas Taga, who can effect such
changes because he is a man, and exercises his power in human terms.  Both Bast
and Zygas Taga can create new rituals, but only Bast can modify the old ones.
Nothing is certain any more because of this god.  Only Bast's cult has a dualist
doctrine of good and evil as two warring forces, and in this its teaching is
akin to that of the Sanekite monotheists.      

Bast has many lay worshippers, because, like the Emperor, he hears petitions
from people who want his help.  One who has attended services regularly for a
year might be accepted to his following.  Initiation into his cult is no easy
process, and is the occasion for an elaborate ritual.

In Pryjarna, the candidates for initiation take part in a foot-race which takes
them on a circuit of the Holy City of Bast, starting and ending at the temple.
Along the way crowds of spectators pelt the runners with garbage, stones and
whatever other missiles come to hand, and strike out at them with punches, kicks
and even staves.  Although there is a prize for the winner of the race, those
who demonstrate selflessness in helping along injured fellow-runners are held in
high esteem by the spectators as much as by the priests.  Following the
foot-race the competitors are feasted and given the attentions of prostitutes
from Tethis' temple.  The following morning begins the greater ordeal, in which
the candidates are shut for three days within the temple of Gomorg without food
and water.  During this time they might have many visions, and receive
visitations from the land of the dead.  At dawn on the third day, the priests
break open the seal on the temple, and welcome the new initiates into the light.
A great breakfast feast is held, and the initiates then receive individual
instruction from the priests in the lore, traditions and taboos of the cult.
The final Pow sacrifice is made, and the initiates then participate in the
procession which marks the climax of Bast's 5-day festival, at the end of which
those candidates for initiation who perished during the ordeals are restored to
life by the priests.  

The chief benefit of joining Bast's cult is that the initiate gets a Power Gain
Roll on the god's annual high holy day, and the chance of recieving Divine
Intervention as per the Runequest rules.  Additionally, the initiate has the
assurance that he will be spared an eternity in the Halls of the Dead, for one
day Bast will defeat Death, and all his worshippers will be resurrected.  To
this end it is important that the corpse of an initiate is interred intact.  If
burned or dismembered, resurrection in the flesh is made impossible.  Initiates
of the cult also receive the benefit of membership of a community, for devotees
of Bast are accustomed to extending filial love, respect and hospitality to one
another, even if they be strangers.  Initiates are commonly asked to tithe 10%
of their income to their local temple.

To those initiates who have a magic bonus of 10% or more, the priests will
provide the instruction and facilities for initiates to learn the following
sorcery spells:  Glow, Mystic Vision, Spirit Resistance, Spell Resistance and
Treat Wounds.  The priests will teach the intensity skill to a level of 25%.
Initiates may not learn the spell Tap.  The cult also teaches the skills of
First Aid and prepare corpse.

Priests of Bast are teachers, healers and morticians.  The emphasis placed by
the cult on resurrection in the flesh in a culture in which cremation is the
standard practice means that the priests are entrusted with the management of an
alternative system of funerary and burial rites.  Candidates for priesthood
within Bast's cult must be initiates of at least 5 years standing.  The cult
also expects the candidate to have a POW of 18 and at least 50% ability in the
following skills and spells:  Ceremony;  First Aid;  Mystic Vision;  Orate;
Prepare Corpse;  Spirit Resistance;  Treat Wounds;  World Lore.  There must also
be a vacancy in the hierarchy of the local temple, or else the candidate must
have sufficient means to provide a meeting place for a congregation of his own,
such as a good-sized chamber within his house.  The prospective priest must then
sacrifice for the divine spell Worship Bast.  

A priest of Bast is expected to know sorcery, but should not spend his time on
offensive or combat oriented magic.  A priest may learn Bast's special spells,
which gives him the power to restore life to the dead.  This is usually only
performed on initiates and priests of the cult who have been promised it in
return for the performance of some deed or service.  It is said that there are
maverick priests of Bast around who have sold their services to wealthy
outsiders. Using a Preserve Corpse ceremony spell, the priest prevents the
corpse from further decay.  Then, using the Restore Corpse enchantment, the
corpse is made whole again.  Through this spell the caster sacrifices to the
corpse a point of any characteristic - including hit points but excluding INT
and POW - which is currently zero, from which the corpse gains 1d6 points of the
characteristic(s) in question.  The priest then summons the spirit of the
deceased from the halls of the dead.  This is the most dangerous part, for if
the summons is failed there is rarely time for second chances, and if fumbled
the Death God will be only to pleased to despatch one of his demonic minions to
put an end to the presumptuous spellcaster.  The spirit must then be commanded
into the corpse using a Dominate Ghost spell.  The spirit can only be returned
to its original body, unless a ghost binding enchantment is prepared.

These spells are freely available to a priest of the cult if he can find a
teacher and the time to study them.  Other magic available to the priests
includes the Divine Magic spells Excommunication, Sanctify and Turn Undead.


[the notes have only been developed this far]

You're on your own!  Have fun.  Hope you enjoyed them.