Author Topic: Zealosian Cult (working background for next story)  (Read 1635 times)

Lorddarigarn

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Zealosian Cult (working background for next story)
« on: August 17, 2009, 08:37:49 PM »
"The Emperor is the greatest man to every walk this mortal plane, yet a man he was. Even enshrined within his throne of gold, he cannot turn his eye to the whims of every man. His attention is divided, and through that his might is weakened. Daemons manifest, heretics walk free, xenos infest the galaxy because the Emperor's gaze is diverted elsewhere. If this state of matters is to continue, the Emperor shall be blinded by the countless prayers of his servants, and the Imperium will spiral into ruin. We shall not allow this to happen."

- Marko Ugostarthe, “Messenger of the Emperor”

The Zealosians are one of the many Cults of the Emperor, centralised around the western rim of the Segmentum Ultima. Founded on the dawn of the 42nd Millennium, it is amongst the minority of Imperial cults in that it has actually managed to seize a great deal of political influence, having managed to fully dominate several systems, and has ties across two sub-sectors. The eve of the 42nd Millennium was a time of great ritual and celebration, a monumental celebration devoted to the Emperor. Countless trillions of Imperial servants assembled to celebrate, and across the period of several standard days the Imperium burst into celebration as each acknowledged the turning of the Imperial calendar. Upon the world of Catosia, the time was approached with vast displays of faith and zeal, even compared to the majority of worlds. Almost a century before the day, priests began to deliver passionate sermons, preaching across the world. The time of the Emperor was upon them, and the Emperor would grace them with a grand display of his divine might to inspire all who had lost faith.

By the time that the eve of the millennia had approached, Catosia had been whipped into frenzy, throwing themselves into their devotion and worship. Bricks shook as the planet sounded with the devotion of a billion men. The entire planet congregated within the temples and shrines to offer their prayers, countless cries filling the world. As the 41st millennium passed into antiquity, the entire world burst into raucous celebration. As a man, the world cast its eyes to the heavens, waiting for the miracle that had been foretold. However, as the minutes passed, a ripple of panic spread across the world. There was no great miracle. The Emperor had turned his gaze. The Emperor had cast them out, and it was their sins that had spurned him. The situation soon escalated into disaster, as the entire world threatened to become overwhelmed by chaos. Flagellation and ritual debasement spread across the planet like wildfire, and wildfire spread across the planet as mutants and assumed heretics were purged from their realm.

It was during this time that a man rose to unite the world in redemption. It is unknown who he was: some say he was a priest, some a member of the royal family, some say he was a downtrodden worker, having given all that he had ever own to the construction of his own shrine to the Emperor. Many believe that he was a messenger of the Emperor himself, and bore with him the mark of the Emperor to sway the faithless. What is generally accepted is that this nameless figure rose unto the spires of the greatest chapel upon the planet (to this date, thirty-seven places of worship across four continents hold claim to that title) and delivered his message unto the masses. The Emperor was the master of mankind, and in his compassion looked down upon all of his faithful, and took heed to each of his prayers. However, the sheer tide of prayers unleashed upon the Emperor every moment meant that he must focus on each individually, and therefore lost focus. While he bore with him the power to move worlds, by attempting to answer every prayer of man, he was unable to truly aid his mortal followers, his power diluted to the extent of him becoming impotent. The vast displays of piety across the Imperium upon the dawn of the millennia had crippled the Emperor, rendering him unable to stave off the corruption that riddled the galaxy.

The words of the man caught onto the zealous population, and in a matter of months the creed had upturned the entire organisation of the world. The common masses strove to work for the Emperor in silence, venerating him yet not offering prayer. The higher and more spiritually pure an individual, the more they were allowed to worship. The gift of prayer was bestowed only upon the most devout, conducted with vast displays of fealty and zeal. By offering prayer only for the greatest need, the Emperor was able to focus his attention upon each prayer individually, and therefore direct his might to answering these benedictions. The world plunged into a surge of productivity, as each individual strove to attain the purity of spirit required of them, and the planet passed into a period of wealth. To the population, this was proof that the blessings of the Emperor had been bestowed upon them once more, and the doctrine was quickly set as the official planetary creed. Soon, preachers and missionaries exploded from the planet, spreading their words unto the masses at large. If the worship of the Imperium could be conducted by but a handful of men, then the full might of the Emperor would be unleashed to purge the galaxy of the xenos and the heretic, sculpting a utopia for humanity.

 The expansion of the Zealosians was initially resisted by the majority of planets. Many priests saw these men as attempting to destabilise the Ecclesiarchy, and reaction ranged from distrust to execution. However, across each world, the creed was slowly passed from man to man. Those who had lost faith, those who’s prayers went unanswered, all of these quickly turned to this new creed. When the official envoys of Catosia arrived, they would often find the seeds of redemption already sown. With the span of two hundred years, over two dozen systems had given themselves to the Zealosian word. Quick to prevent a loss in power, the Ecclesiarchy accepted this new creed as the true word of the Emperor, and inevitably it was these priests that found themselves in positions of religious power within the new structure. However the changes may have commenced, the true word of the Emperor spread with speed.

However, as the cult expanded, it was not long until they encountered fierce resistance from opposing cults. Out of all these groups, it was inevitably the Cult of the Red Redemption that drew the most conflict. The Redemptionists launched a constant tirade of meaningless, insignificant prayers unto the Emperor, driving him to the point of impotence, and in their zeal threatened to cripple him. If they were allowed to spread, the Astronomicon would shatter as his focus grew too weak to sustain it, and a tide of daemons would be unleashed as his resistance grew feeble. In return, the Redemptionists saw them as ultimate heretics, not only opposed to the Redemptionists, but actively attempting to prevent their devotion. Upon those planets upon which the Zealosians held political sway, the two organisations are at loggerheads, constantly trying to undermine and overwhelm each other. Upon those worlds yet to be swayed, “negotiations” between the two have descended into open conflict, a constant underground war for the Emperor’s life.

- - - - -

Alright, I’m glad that’s out of the way. Since I last posted my old profile for Inquisitor Otho Morn on the old ‘clave, I haven’t been particularly active on the forum. I’ve been spending a lot of my time working on a tale centred around him (which I will be posting in due time), but that also means I’ve been flexing my mental muscles a lot without direction. I randomly thought of the idea of a cult devoted to focussing the Emperor’s might while doing the cleaning (please, just do not ask), and over the day have developed it into a full sect, with background. Though it’s not suitable for my current novel, it might just be the central point I need for the following work (I’ve know the general plot of what’s going to be a trilogy, but I still need a reason/excuse for the second piece), so I would appreciate some help fleshing this out.

Offline TheNephew

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Re: Zealosian Cult (working background for next story)
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 02:50:32 PM »
I like it.
I would have replied days ago, but I tend to do most of my Conclaving at unsociable hours at well below my peak mental state - with an appropriately reduced attention span.
It's certainly a novel concept, and would indeed make a very powerful political driving force if/when a population accepts it wholeheartedly.
Indeed, it could almost be the perfect construction of some political genius, but that's a rather distracting avenue at this point.
The two points that stuck out at me on the first read-through were the name, and the opening quote.
Such cults are usually named for a place, event, aim or figurehead - in this case the latter is supposedly anonymous, so isn't really a viable option. Naming them as zealous is almost tautological, so I'd consider changing it. Possibly something related to their relative silence, or their promotion of a few chosen faithful.
The opening quote is attributed to a person that should be nameless, according to the background. I'd either change this to one of the missionaries, or someone's recording of the original speech. Either way, it sits much better with the theme if the messenger remains nameless.
Also, I'd like to hear a little about how one would progress through the 'ranks' to become sufficiently faithful to be allowed to pray to the Emperor, and how one would progress further from there.
Also, how do the common populace 'pray'? Do they ask for prayers in a confession-type arrangement, anonymously asking the designated faithful for prayers to be said in their stead? Or are they simply content to trust the designated praying men to judge for themselves the worthy causes?

Simeon Blackstar

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Re: Zealosian Cult (working background for next story)
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2009, 11:21:51 AM »
This is a really nice idea.  I think it could do with some development such as the things suggested by TheNephew, but it seems like an interesting background over which to run a campaign.  Perhaps with further development it would make a good article for Dark Magenta?

Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Zealosian Cult (working background for next story)
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 04:30:25 PM »
On the name - while I would agree if it were changed, I don't know if its necessary for it to change - by Imperial terminology, the Catholic Church would be a cult, but its not named for a person, or an event, but a claim - that it is all-encompassing, that is, that it is catholic. Similarly, this cult makes a claim - that they are zealous. So, they're named the Zealosians. This applies to other groups too - Islam is so named because of the quality that Islam holds in the highest regard - submission before Allah - and the Gnostics wanted to attain Gnosis, or Knowledge.
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