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Board's Plot: Blood Rites
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* Plot Information for Tacea

Tensions are rising in Tacea after the destruction of their Territory Court at the hands of its Queen. Unable to continue their traditional cycle of succession because of accusations of treason, Tacea must find a Queen capable of uniting the land while building bridges to the world outside its borders.
Overview of Tacea
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Author Topic: The Monasteries  (Read 1064 times)


Offline Seung Corro

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The Monasteries
« on: Mar 08, 19, 09:21:00 PM »
The practice of religion is considered an exclusively feminine art in Tacea. Males may serve as temple attendants, guards, escorts, or servants, but women are the sole vector of the word of Mother Night. A male may act as the representative of a Priestess indisposed, but Taceans believe he is innately incapable of understanding the Darkness the way a woman can. His lack of bodily rhythms is an insurmountable separation from the earth and the Abyss below it. Not every male in Tacean history has accepted this diktat, and it was one such male (whose name is lost to time) that founded the monastery system.

Tacea’s monasteries are an all-masculine religious cult, for lack of better words. Rarely seen by feminine eyes and even more rarely influenced by them, the monasteries are a retreat from the world for males whose female relations cannot, or will not, support them. Over the centuries since its initial founding, the population of the monasteries has risen and fallen, but the tradition itself has proven hardy and always makes a resurgence. Part of the system’s longevity is the fact that it doesn’t actually challenge feminine dominance. The monks stay in the mountains and rarely come down; when they do, they come alone or in pairs, and cause no trouble. While they don’t directly serve women, as geisha do, they do give up all earthly concerns. Monks, generally speaking, do not enter the political arena.

As such, monks have a strange place in Tacean society. They are honored for their decision to devote themselves to the ultimate feminine, Mother Night, and to deprive themselves of earthly sources of honor in that pursuit. They are also reviled for their daring in pursuing their own personal connection to something that, according to common wisdom, they can never understand.

The monasteries are located in the northern mountains of Tacea, which are generally held to be uninhabitable. They exist separately from the system of temples and altars operated by the Conclave of the Priestesses. Though the physical temples, cloisters, and abbeys where the monks live are in Shingetsu or Ariake territory, they are beholden to neither and won’t respond to the call of either Clan in war.

A major source of funding for the monasteries is in the veneration of the dead. While blessings and memorials by Priestesses are higher status and no aristocratic family would neglect securing their assistance, the monks do have a certain cultural cachet, and more importantly they have voices. Every voice that remembers the name and deeds of a decedent builds that person’s honor and strengthens their darkspark, which improves that darkspark’s ability to intercede on behalf of their descendents.

Monasteries also secure funding from the sale of fine goods, particularly hand-transcribed books and ‘beautiful calligraphy,’ which can mean poetry or blessings for a house. What few females work with the monasteries tend to be their agents, securing the sale of their work, or Healers seeking the peace of isolation.

The final common source of funding is donations. When a boy is left to the monastery, it is customary to give a gift of marks or resources to ease the burden of raising the child. A boy won’t be turned away for his family refusing to make the traditional offering, but the gift is part of the reason why the Priestess-run orphanages remain by far the most popular place to abandon a child. The monasteries are usually used by the Great Clans and their vassal families, as the boys who go there almost never return.

There are six vows that a monk can take, though they don’t necessarily take them at the same time or even in the same order. Some monks don’t take all six vows, though this situation is considered somewhat strange. Each vow is meant to guide the monk towards living a life worthy of Mother Night and following the values of the monastery: celibacy (in this case, refraining from relationships with women in the long term), asceticism, and faith.
  • I undertake the training rule and renounce my worldly possessions and any family ties I once possessed. I am a concubine to Mother Night. My brothers are my family.
  • I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing. I will take no life that is not attempting to claim mine.
  • I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given. I will perish before I claim what is not mine to have.
  • I undertake the training rule to avoid sexual misconduct. I will perish before I claim what is not offered in good faith, without coercion.
  • I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech. I will be honest with myself, as I am honest before the Mother, but I will not be cruel.
  • I undertake the training rule to avoid drinking to carelessness. I will be mindful of myself, and reflect honor towards the Mother.
The first vow a monk takes is always the vow to renounce all worldly connections and possessions, but from there, the order can go however the monk in question would like it. A monk’s vows and the order in which they’re taken is a deeply personal matter, and many monks do not discuss them openly.

When a man first comes to the monastery, he is considered a visitor; he has no duties to the monastery and is treated as a guest. This state can last up to three weeks before the man is asked to either join the monastery as a novice or move onward. Being sent to the monastery is not a punishment that can be ordered by a Queen, but sometimes a man’s family may pressure him into leaving to lessen their dishonor or lighten their financial load. Children abandoned to the care of the monastery are not considered novices until their birthright, but they are all taught to read and write Common. All children are given temple names and are later given the option to choose their personal name.

Novices have made no vows to the monastery or to Mother Night. They have not yet given up ties to their families or to their physical concerns, and as such have no high responsibilities. A novitiate may last years. During this time, a novice has many physical chores to complete: contributing to the upkeep of the temple, cooking meals in the kitchen, cleaning altars, and maintaining libraries. The main focus of this time, however, is the study of doctrine. Novices are taught to read using religious texts written by the monks. When they aren’t doing chores, studying, or praying, they are often in meditation or running errands for the older brothers.

As a novice nears the end of their training period, the focus of their training becomes less about the physical work and the learning required and more about whether they have the personality to fit in with the brotherhood. Warlord Princes sometimes struggle with the disdain for violence and lack of women that comes with the monastery life. Men who were forced or guilted into leaving to the monastery have a difficult time with this as well. They are only ejected from the monastery if they are a physical threat to the monks, though what that means seems to vary based on the male.

A novice becomes a monk when they take their first vow and choose a temple name. Temple names are drawn directly from doctrine, or else are the traits that a given monk wishes to embody. (You can consult this list for examples of temple names.) (A child novice may take their first vow at the age of ten, but this is considered very, very prodigious and is quite rare. The most common age for a first vow is closer to 18 or 20.)

Monks are responsible for the creation of blessings, the performance of prayers, and the leadership of novices. A brother’s unique skills from before his vows are often put to use here: architects and engineers will be charged with ensuring that the temple is kept up, and there’s almost always a chatelain to manage stores and chore shifts. They still study doctrine, but their focus is no longer solely on learning, but on living a life which is honorable to Mother Night.

The monks are led by one of their number, referred to as the Abbot, who is chosen by democratic vote. It is a lifetime appointment: Once a monk has been selected as the abbot, the only way out of the role is to die or to abdicate. The nature of the thing means that very few abbots step down. Due to the fact that the monasteries hold such a strange place on the outskirts of proper society, the abbot is almost always a devout man whose main concern is the persistence of their tradition. Among the abbot’s responsibilities is the duty to secure a connection with at least one, but preferably five, Priestesses who are willing to perform life cycle ceremonies for the Blood among the monks. He also must represent the monks socially. Alone of all the monks in the monasteries, the abbot will answer the call of the Dragon Queen, should she request his presence.

Dual caste males, where they occur, are commonly abandoned in the monasteries of Tacea, and as such, one is more likely to meet a dual caste male at a monastery than anywhere else in the Territory. (They are still incredibly uncommon; most monks will know of a brother who wears two castes, but they probably haven’t met one themselves.) However, rather than being considered abominations with no place in Tacean society, dual-caste males are somewhat revered by the monks. To the monks, a dual-caste male represents the heights a male can reach out of devotion to the Darkness, and is the nearest any male can ever come to Mother Night.

As such, many monks within the monastery do attempt to gain a second caste, with the most commonly attempted being Priest. Healer is a distant second, with Black Widow being vanishingly uncommon. The key word is ‘attempt,’ as success rates among the monasteries are similar to the rates of success outside them. Most males attempting to acquire their second caste still fail, even in the ideal setting of the monastery.

There are very, very few women permitted into the monasteries. The ones that do stay for the long-term tend to be Healers, who are contracted to look after the health of the monks. Women may also take refuge in a monastery for up to six months, if necessary, but after that she is expected to leave. Being a woman in a monastery is a much more dangerous position than one might think. Blood males are Blood males, and rut does not only happen to males who are in a good place to deal with it. A woman in a monastery with a Warlord Prince in residence runs the risk of becoming the focus of his rut. The monks will attempt to send a woman on before a brother loses himself, but the risk is always there.

Otherwise, the only women who see the monasteries tend to be there to abandon their children or else are Priestesses there to officiate Birthrights and Offerings. Sometimes they also bring late-blossoming dual caste males, though this is not as common as one might otherwise think.