Monotheistic Church Of Arceus

Patron: Arceus, The Alpha, The Savior of Serrin, The Light
Symbol: Shown on the right
Tennets: Hold Arceus above all else in your heart. Root out Evil where it may lie. Ward your mind and your heart from Evil's sweet poison.

The spirit of Arceus took hold of the hearts and souls of the people of Serrin two hundred years ago, and this religious fervor remains the driving force behind the nation. Serrin practices something called Civil Theology, where there is no separation between church and state. Religion permeates almost every part of the people's lives. Of course, this makes Serrrin rather uncomfortable for those who do not follow the church of Arceus, and only the church of Arceus.

Churches of Arceus are a dime a dozen throughout Serrin. No population center with more than 20 people lack a Church. Only in major cities do any other building come close to the splendor of Arcenian churches. Churches are usually built using white marble, into large vaulted chambers. Even the smallest churches stand at least 2 stories high, with a bell tower twice that height. Rigded columns usually border the main entrance of a church, with matching columns supporting the vaulted roof of the main chamber. Most churches open into an atrium, where patrons may converse and socialize before and after services. Usually a message board is posted with the atrium which serves to inform the populace of new laws, outlaws and community events. From the atrium, the church opens up into a large chamber known as he Chamber of Light. The Chamber of Light is the main room of any church and where services are held. All churches are oriented East to West, with the far end of the Chamber of Light pointed towards the East and the Atrium and main entrance to the West. Within the Chamber of Light, there are rows upon rows of wooden or marble (in more lavish churches) pews facing the altar of Arcues on the stage in the far end of the chamber. While the altar varies between churches, they are all depictions of Arcues, and are always centered behind a large circular stained glass window behind it. The glass is stained in a color representing the Form the church primarily pays respect to, some larger churches having multiple glasses of different colors they change periodically as needed. Along the vaulted ceilings, more stained glass is accents the roof. The roof is usually a painted mosaic depicting some part of Arcenian scripture, as do the stained glass panels depict different Forms and former Lights of Arceus.

The largest and most important of these churches is the Rivenkeep Cathedral. This massive building is made entirely or white marble and houses the highest levels of religious leadership in the Church. The building is built around the Beacon, or the sphere of light that houses Arceus and Famin, and this sphere is encased in a well protected room known as the Shrine of Arceus. While people are allowed in this room with the Light's approval, the vast majority of worship occurs in several large rooms near the exterior of the church. Eighteen bell towers form the outer ring of the cathedral, and their ringing officially starts the various prayers throughout each day. The Light lives and works in the cathedral, managing the country's affairs from an office on the ground floor. The Council of Bishops operates from this building as well. Several contingents of Knights of the Beacon keep the peace in the Cathedral, which has been subject to more than one attack by corrupted pokemon.

Practice of the People:
Practitioners believe that Arceus is the one true god who created the world and everything in it. This was a distinct step from the traditional values and stories of the Common Pantheon, in which Arceus was simply the head of a whole host of heavenly beings. In this religious ideology, the other 'legendary pokemon' exist, but they are not gods. Instead, they are servants of Arceus. They are very powerful servants, but in the end they are simply pokemon. Specifically, these people worship the Beacon in which Arceus is currently confined, and search for a way to release him without letting out Famin. They thank Arceus for his sacrifice to save Serrin, and his constant devotion to fighting Famin even at the cost of his own freedom. They revere the natural world, for they view it as their Lord's greatest creation, and they seek to remove the poisonous influences of Famin from it. They particularly decry various levels of corruption and sin (turning away from Arceus). However, their worst fear is that of Corrupted Pokemon, the children of Famin.

A typical member of the Monotheistic Church of Arceus prays three times every day. At sunup, sunhigh, and sundown, bells toll to signify the beginning of a mass prayer across the country that lasts for five minutes. During this prayer, the believers rest on their knees, face the location of the Beacon, clasp their hands, and begin to pray. Three minutes of this prayer is said aloud and in unison with those around them. Then, the worshiper continues for two minutes in silence reciting a personal prayer of thanks, forgiveness, or polite requests. These prayers are pivotal to the church's theology, and nonbelievers will often pretend to pray in order to fit in with the masses. In most places throughout the country, it is considered a crime to conduct any business during these prayer times, and the law is heavily enforced.

Seasons and Celebrations
While the Monotheistic Church of Arceus follows the traditional calendar used by the rest of the world, they also divide their year into 18 seasons and call the process the Cycle of Forms. The order of these seasons remains the same, but their length varies from year to year and is decided by the Council of Bishops. Each season corresponds to one of Arceus's 18 Forms. The order of the cycle is as follows: normal, fighting, flying, electric, ground, ice, fire, water, grass, poison, psychic, dark, bug, rock, steel, dragon, fairy, ghost. On the first day of each season, a festival is held across the nation honoring this particular Form of Arceus. These festivals celebrate the bounties that this aspect of the One True God brings to the world. Some seasons, like poison and dark, are short and dull, but others like grass and fairy often last the longest, and their celebrations sometimes go on for days or even weeks. Port cities and fishing villages have a particular affinity for Water Form, and they are known for their eventful Water Solstice Festivals.

Pokemon are an integral part of Serrin's daily life and every Arcenian. While they are mostly treated as property, the amount of care and treatment pokemon generally recieve is above the world standard. grass and fairy pokemon are particularly common, both because of the landscape and because these pokemn are seen as pure types. As the Cycle of Forms goes around, there is a corresponding trend in popular pokemon. Ice Form shows an increased demand for Ice types from the Frozen Wasteland to the North, for example. While the each Cycle is different in lenght and timing each year, they are all showed equal respect and revernance in the pokemon that are seen on the streets.

Hierarchy of the Church:
The church is organized into three main branches. The Light of the Beacon is chosen by Arceus, with whom he communes directly with daily. The Light is responsible for passing down theological and religious laws, as well as ruling the country in place of the monarch. While she has no official power over the military, her influence with the men is great since they view her as a savior to humanity. The Council of Bishops holds control over the military of Serrin and determines the annual Cycle of Forms. Their power is checked however, by the Light. They tread carefully when they go against her wishes, as their men may refuse to serve them and instead honor the Light's wishes. They also have veto power of governmental laws the Light passes down if they come to a unanimous agreement. The Council of Bishops (and the whole Church to an extent) are consumed by power struggles and petty politics. Corruption and selfishness aren't foreign concepts in the Church, and, while it pretends to be pure and unified, it is actually a place full of backstabbings and false alliances as men and women struggle to gain power over the fanatic country.

The final branch is the friars. The friars live among the common people, work with them to improve conditions, and run charities. Every four years, they come together as a giant group in Rivenkeep to discuss issues. Any decisions they reach are considered the voice of the people, and are almost always listened to. However, such a large group rarely agrees on anything of importance, so this power is not often used. They are sworn truthtellers, and friars are universally trusted. A letter of recommendation from an established friar goes a long way towards getting your foot into the door of the Serrin Church. Power politics are common inside the church's hierarchy.

Additionally, the Council of Bishops has a section of the army that owes their allegiance not to the light, but solely to the Council. Known as the Knights of the Beacon, these men and women are perhaps the Council's strongest political tool. They are the most accomplished warriors of the government, and they often spend time protecting the citizens from the corrupted pokemon that ravage the countryside. Each Knight answers to some member of the clergy, with high ranking commanders of the Knights reporting directly to the Council. There are some Knights that have more freedom than others, as many clergymen aren't concerned with power, but the good of the people. There are enough corrupted Bishops however, that a good population of the Knights has been turned into a political tool rather than protectors.

The Church in Your Campaign:
If your campaign is set in Serrin, the Church is going to be one of the major forces in your campaign. If you campaign is set somewhere else in Aatos, this religion will have little to no impact on the players unless they seek the church out. The religion is generally not tolerated anywhere outside of Serrin's borders, so churches are rare and oftentimes treated as cults, which may be an interesting experience for a Serrin PC travelling outside of their borders. The church can fill an enormous amount of shoes and facilitate a wide variety of campaign styles. PCs could easily be Knights of the Beacon, travelling the country and eliminating cults to Famin and corrupted pokemon. The church could hire adventurers to perform specific duties or protect certain locales. Political intrigue games would thrive using the Church as a backdrop, for gaining power is one of the primary motivations for many clerics. If nothing else, the Church is a tool to be used for and against PCs in Serrin, as the force is too monolithic to ignore.

One interesting campaign arc that would guide your entire campaign could revolve around releasing Arceus from his prison in the Beacon. This involves collecting the 18 plates of Arceus and performing a ritual by placing them clockwise in the order of the Cycle. However, if placed counterclockwise when the ritual is performed, it will instead release Famin. Currently the Church is unaware of this ritual (though they are aware of the plate's importance to Arceus, and they keep the few they have protected as relics), but the Ring of Shadows is hunting for all the plates to release their god. The PCs would learn of this threat and then search for the plates that have not yet been discovered, or worse, held by the Ring of Shadows.

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