RELIGION

Religion
There are four major religions active in Dawn of Legends: Druid, Celtic Christian, Roman Catholic, and Saxon. Here we’ll attempt to describe how they interact and perceive one another.

The Druid Religion
Since the dawn of the Celtic people, the druids have been there. They are the teachers, the learners, the judges and the holy men. It is true that the druids went into hiding when the Romans came, but they did not die away. They kept the faith alive, and in their hidden places, passed on their knowledge from teacher to student as they always did.

Now the Romans are gone, the druids have returned. Their people never forgot them, and the resurrection of the druid religion was to many a joyous and miraculous event. Their return is not so easy as they might have hoped, however. Even now, a century after the death of the great hero chosen by the druids, High King Arthur, the druids do not find universal acceptance.

In the four hundred years of the druids’ absence, many of the British people took faiths brought by the Romans. The primary faith of the Romans eventually become that of Christianity, and these Christians were not eager to loose their faith to return to the old ways. The Celtic Christian church welcomed the learned druids and their brothers the poets and bards. The druid ways, rich in wisdom, law and ancient tradition are thought to be kindred in spirit with these folk. Although the Celtic Church did not encourage anyone to convert back to the druid religion, they at least respected it.

With their acceptance by the Celtic Church, the druid religion’s return was made easier in the north and west of Britain, where this church was strongest. However, the druids found the east and south of Britain to be quite resistant to their return. These portions of Britain are controlled by the intolerant and powerful Saxon rune priests, as well as a strong Roman Catholic Church which dreams of the return of Roman power.

The Roman Catholics have tended towards fanaticism. The are totally committed to the belief that their religion is the only true religion. This has made dealing with the Catholics difficult for the druids. The Catholic priests do not practice any form of magic, and go out of their way to illustrate the evils of practicing magic to their followers. Some priests are so devoted, they can actually convince themselves there is no such thing as magic – even when presented with direct evidence! This delusion often applies to the existence of creatures of the Otherworld as well, much to the amusement of the druids. Although the Catholics hate the druids and their practice of “evil” magic, the druids continue to perceive the Catholics as simply misguided.

The Saxons hold their beliefs above all others. The druids understand the Saxons to be dangerous and fanatical people. Its priests wield strange powers not well understood by the druids, and they do not treat conquered people well. The druids can not tolerate the mistreatment of Celtic people, and move to oppose the Saxon priests at every opportunity.

The Celtic Church
The Celtic Church has the distinction of being the first, original Christian church in the British Isles. During the twilight of the western portion of the Roman empire there lived a British monk known as Pelagius. In the year 391, he made a pilgrimage to Rome but was appalled by the lax morals of the church leaders. Pelagius believed that man was not born with original sin and that humans could merit heaven by leading good, righteous lives. Thus, he even reasoned that baptism at birth was not necessary. The Celtic Church even allows its priests to marry! The Roman Catholic Church heavily criticized these views and by the year 416ce had declared this doctrine heresy. The Celtic Church in Britain, for the most part, did not accept the Roman Catholic view that man could gain entry to heaven only by the grace of god, and instead embraced what became known as Pelagianism. The schism was made all the easier when Rome finally withdrew the last of its legions from Britain around the year 410.

The Celtic Church has never been given reason to oppose the return of the druids. In fact, the Church greatly respected the knowledge and the good the druids did for the Celtic people. Some druids even were open to the idea that there might in fact be one single god above all others.

Dealings with the Roman Catholics on a civil level have been nearly impossible, however. Since the declaration of Pelagianism as heresy, the Catholics have done everything in their power to drive out the Celtic Church where ever they could. Pelagianism has been nearly wiped out in southern and central Britain.

The Celtic Church has another foe in the pagan Saxons. The Saxon Rune Priests and their Masters delight in capturing members of other faiths. For druids, the punishment is usually death. For the Christians, the Saxons delight in “turning” them to the pagan religion. If they do not convert, captured Christian priests are usually killed in public religious sacrifices meant to illustrate the power of elder rune priests called Rune Masters to their people. Celtic monks are certain the Saxon Rune Masters are spawn of the devil himself, and the Rune Priests soldiers in his army.

The Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church in Britain still manages to retain strong ties to Rome, in spite of the withdrawal of the Roman legions 220 years ago and the decline of Roman civilization in Britain since that time. Couriers and traders bringing messages to and from the Mediterranean keep the line of communication alive for the Catholic Church in Britain. The Catholics see their religion as the only true religion here, and are not shy about stating it as fact.

The Catholics are quite conservative when it comes to magic and things magical. Convinced that their god is the sole provider of miracles, and that he would not provide miracles to the unfaithful, the Catholics view any other magic or magical creature demonic. Since Saint Augustine, the Catholics have taken a pretty colorful view of hell (to put it mildly) and have determined that those unworthy of God’s Grace, are sent here to spend eternity. This is in sharp contrast with the druids who believe in reincarnation within one’s family line and the Celtic Church who believes in salvation through man’s works. Ironically, the pagan Saxons under the religious leadership of the Rune Priests and Masters also believe that a good afterlife (with Woden) could be obtained only by obeying the Rune Priests and being a good warrior. Obviously, the Roman Catholics do not get along with the pagan Saxons or the druids.

As shepherds to the faithful of the one true god, the Catholic priests remain rather intolerant of all other religions, and sternly opposed to heretical beliefs.

The Saxon Religion
The Saxons belief in the afterlife dictates that essentially only great warriors and those who remain obedient to the priesthood will gain entrance to the afterlife in the army of Woden. Their culture glorifies warfare and heroism. But it is not the Saxon people who are so virulently opposed to other religions. In fact, it is the Saxon Rune Masters and their hierarchy of Rune Priests who view the other religions as a potential threat to their power.

The Rune Masters retain their power by virtue of the fear and respect they can instill in the masses. To do so, the Rune Masters and Priests employ Rune Magic (see the chapter on Magic for more information) to destroy their enemies, protect their allies, and impress the people. The druids, being of the only other magic-wielding religion, pose a direct threat to the Rune Masters in their view, for they are the only ones who can challenge them in terms of magical power. Whenever they can, the Rune Masters will send squads of priests and warriors to seek out and destroy druids, druid priestesses, poets, and bards. The Rune Masters will also seize any holy place or shrine belonging the druid religion and consecrate it for their own use.

The Rune Masters and Priests view both the Christian churches as being lead by weak fools. The Rune Masters have access to powers that terrify the Christian priesthood and generally use these supernatural abilities to good effect. However, this tactic can backfire if the Christians can manage to stir up a fanatical host to crusade against the Rune Masters’ aggressions. To the Saxons’ surprise, the Christian churches sometimes manage produce some pretty effective war leaders, due to training in the Roman arts of war.