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The Basics - Bad Religions

Here is a blorg post on religion (and witchcraft, which might or might not be considered a subset of the former) in the world of Malleus Maleficarum. This will go up as a page later along with the rest of "The Basics" blorg posts. I feel like I should add some kind of disclaimer because Malleus does feature religions that are closer to direct analogues to IRL religions than the graet majority of fiction and games. But hmm...exactly how to phrase it?

"The portrayal of organized religion in Malleus Maleficarum, while partially based on historical research, is not meant to disrespect anyone's real life faith or to denigrate its worshippers. While similarities may be more than coincidental, no offense is intended in this fictional portrayal."

There...how's that?

Oh. Every piece of art featured on this page--the entire gamepage, not just this blog post/subpage--is one that I own and/or have the legal right to use. This was an important bar for me to clear for making a commercial game so I wanted to make sure it was understood. On this page, for instance, the illustrations I've used for Astarte/Ishtar and Osana were both Creative Commons licensed, whereas all images of medieval treatise depicting the Spanish Inquisition are public domain. A comprehensive credits page is in the work and holy crap, this game is definitely going to have enough credits to justify the overly elaborate credits sequences I fantasize about scripting. If for some reason you know as a fact that I shouldn't be using a given piece of art (i.e. I'm mistaken about its licensing or w/e), let me know and I'll take it down and investigate. But as far as I know or can remember, all of the art here is art I can actually use in association with a commercial project.

BAD RELIGIONS - Religiosity In Malleus Maleficarum

Pontifex Iolaus XIII is the Spiritual Leader and Sovereign of the Holy Szargovian Empire, which has existed in some form or another for over 2,000 years. The Pontifex sees virtually no one but the Cardinal, who oversees the day to day affairs of the Church, for the most part leaving the royal house of Grimaldi (Crown Prince Regent Erik Grimaldi has accepted the regency from his elderly, ailing father, King Vladislaus II, making him both the heir apparent to the Szargovian throne and the de facto ruler of Szargovia). Beneath the Cardinal is Grand Inquisitor Simon Grimaldi (a blood relative of Szargovia's ruling house) who oversees the High Council of Inquisitors who oversee the Inquisition.

The faith of Holy Mother Church is built around a Trinity of Three Pillars, three divine beings who are at the same time one: the Father, the Mother, and the Holy Child. The Trinity is separated both separately and unified. The Mother is named Astarte and is venerated as a righteous warrior angel as well as a symbol of fertility. The unseen Holy Child that will one day forgive all our sins is named Jason. The Church's teachings warns against indolence, greed, wrath, covetousness, pride, and gluttony. But heresy--the veneration of any other spirits besides the Holy Trinity--is what the Church combats the hardest.

The other faith practiced in secret lairs like rat warrens dotted all over the Sanguine Peninsula south of Green River is considered by most church theologians to be a syncretic tradition blending aspects of six or seven different cults. The heretics know this to be false: they worship six aspects of one god. That god, never named within the cults (although the Church names him as Shaitan or the Devil), nor worshipped directly, is referred to as The Ageless Stranger*. And the worship of his six aspects is a far, far, far older practice than the Holy Szargovian Church.

A Church Depiction Of The Witches' Black Mass

The six aspects of the Ageless Stranger are the demon lords Abaddon, Baphomet, Leviathan, Lilith, Moloch, and Samael, and it is these that are worshipped and trafficked with by the witches. Having railed against the blapshemous horrors of sorcery for centuries, Holy Mother Church now seems determined to act.

Inquisitors will hunt, and hunt, and hunt, until all idolators, traffickers with demons, devil-worshippers, heretics, blasphemers, and other filth have been swept off the face of this land. Their mandate is broad and their power is great, with no one holding the reigns but the Cardinal.

The Innana Heresy is one of the most popular alternate narratives that the Church has tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress for centuries. It teaches that a mortal woman or goddess named Innana (in some versions of the heresy, she is the mother goddess who birthed the earth, in other versions she was a mortal who ascended to godhood for one reason or another) is at the core of the faith of both the Holy Szargovian Church and their nemeses, the pagan demon worshippers. The Heresy states that at some point after the world was created, but before recorded history (thousands of years before the Dragonfall) Innana was herself split (or chose to split herself, depending on which version) into two aspects.

The Goddess Astarte

One of those aspects, Ishtar, represents the fidelity, charity, chastity, and grace of the fairer sex, and the ferocity of a warrior angel, and eventually came to be known as Astarte, the Mother in the Church's trinity.

The Witch-Dancer Osana

The other aspect, Osana, was everything that Ishtar wasn't. Where Ishtar was fair and bright, Osana was dark of skin and hair. Ishtar embodied loyalty, while Osana is a seductress that tempts, deriving pleasure from cuckolding men and departing with their wives. Where Ishtar was generous, Osana hordes treasure, magic, and especially secrets. Where Ishtar was chaste, Osana is branded a whore.

Many believe that Osana was in essence the first witch and that it was with her that the worship of the Ageless Stranger began. Others say that she became Lilith, the only purely female aspect of the Stranger. It all comes down to the version of the Innana heresy you believe. If any. It is, after all, heresy.

* The phrase "Ageless Stranger" as far as I can tell originated with Stephen King (I think I first remember seeing it used to describe Randall Flagg in The Stand), but reminds me a lot of the legend of the Wandering Jew (link above). Its similarities to the seven-faced god of George R.R. Martin's ASOIAF books (one facet of which is called "The Stranger") is coincidental, or at least, if it was an influence, it was a subconscious one.