Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In the Spirit of Shields and Hirelings Will Be Splintered...

The Yellow Order of Freyse

A short distance from Veyrines in the southern Dordogne lies the monastery of the Yellow Order of Freyse. Its few members are easily recognized by their yellow robes and well known for preaching the doctrine of “Sahima” - a spiritual practice which values nonviolence, abandonment of material possessions, and belief in the supremacy of mind over matter.

The order’s size would leave it largely unknown in the valley were it not for an unusual initiate requirement. True faith in Freyse is said to be best proven by demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for another. By itself, this seems an honorable and commonly held belief. For the order’s members though, self-sacrifice isn’t something to be done only when the opportunity spontaneously arises. Rather, such opportunities are actively sought out by younger monks with the encouragement of their elders. Indeed, monks cannot progress to higher levels of authority within the order without having demonstrated their faith in this manner; senior monks bear their scars and broken bodies as symbols of their deep faith and status.

The Yellow Order came into existence in response to the Long War between the Ocks and Ogleds. At the time, the only way to avoid conscription was to enter the monastic life. It became obvious to both the king and the priests of Freyse that something had to be done to stem the loss of potential soldiers and the rise in deceitful applications for priesthood. An agreement was struck, and the Yellow Order created - any that applied for membership in the priesthood during times of war were relegated to the order, where they were required to sacrifice themselves as human shields in defense of the kingdom.

These days, the origins of the order seem forgotten - or perhaps conveniently ignored by the senior monks and head. Peace has reigned for over forty years and the order’s numbers (difficult to maintain even in times of war) are dwindling. New applicants are accepted without hesitation - be they mentally defective, debtors hoping to escape prison, or the rare but actually faithful. However, the stipulation that nonviolence be followed and self-sacrifice sought out are still seriously enforced. The only exception to the practice of nonviolence that’s allowed by the order is in the punishment of monks who refuse to obey their seniors - and renunciation of membership entails a death sentence.

Young yellow-clad monks can occasionally be found looking for “work” and it’s rare for locals to take advantage of them since most also count themselves as one of Freyse’s Flock. For adventurers new to the valley though, the presence of these monks is a positive boon... diminished only by the fact that they refuse to carry treasure.


Trey said...

Very nice! Again, it has a realistic feel to it I like very much.

The Bane said...

The moral turmoil this would pose to a diverse group, role-play wise, is rather interesting.

ze bulette said...

@Trey: The more I develop the setting, the more I see the valley as a gritty, poor, low-magic location, but with entrances to Faerie sprinkled throughout. Seems like it meshes well with Whitebox.

@The Bane: I think that's something that manifests in the games I like to run.

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