The priest game and the Synod can be a bit daunting to get into at first, but it can be a great bit of the game to be involved in. So what 3 bits of a advice would you give to someone looking to play a priest at Empire?
There are two sides to being a priest - the Synod and the Ceremonies. And you don’t have to have both of them to enjoy the priest game. Your Congregation Resource gives you access to the Synod, whereas the Priest Skills give you access to the Ceremonies.
The Synod is a political game. Which involves going to meetings, voting on Judgements, and using your political powers - Inquisiting people, Raising a Judgement, and witnessing other parts of the political establishment.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THEM ALL. Pick and choose the bits you like. The meetings are quite social, the judgements can be quite thought provoking, and powers can be good for troublemaking. Witnessing, by the way, is like a season ticket to a theme park - you get a free pass to almost any part of the game that you want to watch.
The Ceremonies are great way to be an active force in the game. It takes you ‘out into the community’. Lots of players enjoy interacting with the ceremonies, and want to play with the religious aspects of their character and the game.
Liao is still relatively cheap compared to other resources, so you don’t need a Congregation to get hold of it.
Check out the ceremonies, they each lead to quite different types of fun, and I think are one of the easier ways to get involved in story.
Get yourself to the Hub and find you the Synod board. On it are bits of paper. All of these pieces of paper have a story behind them, so if you want to find things to do go and find the person who put in the motion and speak to them about it. Sometimes that trail will be short, sometimes it will be long, but usually there will be something fun along the way.
If you aren’t sure how the Hub works, ask to speak to a member of the Synod Civil Service. They are good people.
Have a think in advance about how you would want to perform a ceremony. They can often happen spontaneously and if you have a rough idea of how you want it to look that can help when the moment comes! There’s also no harm in writing ideas down in an IC notebook (like the definitions of each ceremony) so you can have something to refer to if you need it.
My top three pieces of advice.
- Good shoes - you will do a lot of walking.
- Have a good idea of the core tenets of your virtue
- Note books are a VERY clever thing.
1 - If you have a congregation, raise a Judgement! It needn’t be a massive thing, but it’s a quick way to get recognition, or affect a change in the system. If that’s your thing.
2 - If you have ceremonial skills, have some quick basic roleplay tips in mind for them at all times. You never know when you have to do a cheeky anointing or what have you.
3 - The Way can be pretty uncompromising. Know where your limits are and, if it is your style of play, find a nice line to draw in the sand and be utterly unreasonable about maintaining it.
Absolutely get to The Hub and check out the Synod boards: there will be things to vote on, random leaflets of heresy/opinions/events, and maybe other stuff - if you can’t find it or don’t understand it, just ask basically anyone in The Hub
Having checked that stuff out, turn to someone else who is checking it out and say “wow, this thing huh?!” - seriously, pretty much every priest wants to talk about the judgement and/or random heresies that have been stuck up in The Hub. It’s part of our game, and we’re always very happy to share it with someone new.
Go to your Assembly meeting - times will be on the board in The Hub somewhere. It should be a simple way to get a hit of plot and RP - unless you’re in a lame Assembly, in which case blow them off and swing by the Assembly of The Way
Sermons, battlefield dedications and the like are awesome. Serious good fun to be had with the softer side of ‘priesting’ over the strict synod/skills.
Virtues are pretty ambiguous so enjoy twisting, turning and arguing anything in the sake of your given virtue. Particularly relevant if you like your lawyering in doing clemency pleas.
Attend random meetings, chat to random people. Raise mayhem by random judgements!
1/ You do not have to throw yourself into the Synod right away, find other priests of your nation/virtue and learn how it works from them at a speed that suits you. People are normally very happy to help new players find their feet.
2/ You do not have to know everything about the imperial faith and every virtue, just know what the core ideas of your virtue are to rp around and you will still have ample game.
3/ Do not be afraid to have strong opinions with regards to your chosen virtue and too meddle in the affairs of other characters due to these. I have had some genuinely amazing and hilarious rp at my first event as a priest due to this and I barely touched the synod. Priesting is fab.
There are different kinds of priests and you don’t have to be all of them (but you can if you want to!) The first sort of priest gets involved with the Synod, campaigns, politicks, votes, etc. The second is the mechanical priest, who has bought priest skills with XP and encourages virtue with strategically placed hallowings, consecrations and testimonies, and probably is also an exorcist. The third type is the pastoral care priest, generally a nosy person who talks to the faithful to help them onto the right path and solve their problems.
So where I am going with this is: the religion game is many and varied, and if some parts of it don’t appeal, you’re not locked out from the rest of it. Don’t worry if (like me) you like religion but get no fun out of formal political RP- I’m playing a pastoral care priest with a few mechanical skills who refuses to take a Congregation resource in case someone tries to make her have political opinions. Conversely, you may love the politics and hate the mechanics. That’s fine too. The world of virtue is your oyster. Play what you find fun.
But I will say all three types of priests should at least try out their assembly meeting- it’s the fastest way to meet people with common ground.
- Set your assembly meetings for half past the hour (everyone else’s are on the hour). Chair the shit out of them if you want to get out before midnight.
- Don’t follow the mob. Just because you’re the only person in your assembly who thinks X, don’t assume that 20 minutes later they won’t all vote the way you persuaded them, you awesome bastard.
- Priest is the best fun-for-points ratio at Empire. You can become Cardinal with only entry-level skills.
Pick a Paragon or Exemplar to Uphold and Follow
Guidance on the Virtues is supposed to stem from the example of the Paragons and Exemplars. Give them a read, and pick one whose approach you think you’d be most interested in proselytizing. It’s much more fun to be a Permionite than just a Courage Priest.
You Absolutely Do Need To Know Imperial Theology
You do. I know that there’s a bit on the Wiki that says you don’t have to know Imperial Theology to play a priest, but that’s lying to you.
More accurately, you don’t need to know Imperial Theology if you’re going to play a priest who knows nothing about Imperial Theology. Make sure that ‘I know nothing about theology’ is a deliberate roleplay choice on your part, and don’t try to muddle through. People will expect you to have an informed opinion. Don’t try to play a character that’s smarter than you are.
Don’t gen with a Congregation if you don’t want to play the Synod
Big changes within the Synod require mass engagement from the Priests with Congregation. If you’re not interested in the religious politics of the Empire, in theological discussion and change, etc. then don’t gen with a Congregation. Other priests will be hunting you down to try to drag you out to have an opinion on stuff. If that’s not your idea of fun, just don’t gen with a Congregation. You can still be a Ceremonial Priest with opinions on the Virtues without one.
You’ll get far more liao if you gen with a money-maker, or even a mana site, and then trade in the field.
1: Read up on all the virtues, figure out how they work together and support each other. People will ask you questions and if you don’t have the fundamental knowledge down, you won’t have anything to give when the gears start turning.
2: Go to your national/Virtue assembly meetings. They can sometimes be dull but often aren’t (at least with Courage/Varushka, admittedly the only two I have experience with) but it’s the best way of making contacts with other priests.
3: Figure it out for yourself and come up with your own ideas on virtue and how to represent yours, as well as the way as a whole. Don’t just regurgitate the wiki. The discussions that arise from the sheer diversity of opinion and perspective in the synod is some of the best roleplay to be had in the field. (Personal opinion of someone who plays a priest and has on several occasions stayed up until stupid o clock talking about the way)
1) Give a Damn
Care about stuff and have strong opinions to do with Virtue and The Way. Some of the best game I had while a priest was because I gave a damn about what I was arguing about. There’s a lot of stuff on the wiki that you can base this around, from the basics around a virtue to being inspired by a particular Paragon or Exemplar as well things like Schisms and Heresies. Pick a virtue (or the whole Way) and have a good think about how it permeates and inspires your whole character.
3) Synod politics is awesome and you should totally dive straight in :).
I love the politics aspect of trying to steer the Synod and indeed the whole Empire “towards virtue”. As a member of the Synod you have oversight of the Senate, Military and to a certain extent everyone else in the Empire. Inquisition is a game everyone can play here, not just the inquisitors of each virtue assembly. It is your job to stick your nose into any part of the game at Empire :).
I loved the foot slogging work of trying to convince people of my arguments, building coalitions to support or vote against issues as they came up and doing all the things you do in politics to win the day. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about this and think you’re not good a public speaking, you will learn a lot simply by doing and all the most important political conversations I had were one on one or in small groups.
You can find the pages about recent Synod judegments and elections off the Recent History page on the wiki. This can give you background about the kind of arguments that are going on in the Synod and who some of the names are before you hit the field. And you can get a leg up on having strong opinions about what the Synod has been doing with it’s time.
3) Giving virtuous counsel to people is big and clever
The other side of the priest game I loved is helping people by giving them advice on how to be more virtuous. Like the politics stuff the best way to learn this is by doing, stick your oar in, offer people advice, at one point I even stuck up posters tell people who I was available for counsel and ended up giving impromptu marriage counselling :). You can do a hell of a lot by listening and then just giving people permission to do the thing they want to but think they can’t for whatever reason.
Being able to use auras helps here a bit as you can give people handy roleplaying effects to help them go do the totes virtuous thing, stuff like “You feel empowered to speak out. The more unwelcome the truth is, the more important it is to face it.” They’re lots of fun to play with so feel free to use your Liao to throw them about.
So yes do it all, stick your face in and devour the whole thing, like @Daisy said the Synod is hella fun
1: You are a beacon of Virtue, not a blessing factory.
This is what grabbed me about Empire religion. It is not about “Pray to my Boss and get Numbers/Avoid Smiting”. It is about moral guidance. Auras don’t make your numbers go up. They encourage a PC to do the Virtuous thing. Their mechanical benefit comes from overcoming obstacles to doing the Virtuous thing.
You know you’re doing well as a priest when PCs come to you and want advice, or justification, or to beat their chest and wail over their lack of Virtue. And you get thanks or reward for the advice alone.
2: Judgements are easy, make one
Do you have a Congregation? Did you make a Judgement lately? Then why not try these?
- Statement of Principle: This PC is Virtuous because X.
- Statement of Principle: This PC shows a lack of Virtue because X.
Rewarding: This PC is awesome, give them money from the Virtue Fund. (It can be some token amount, the important bit is it says the PC is awesome and got money)
*Inquisition: This PC(s) is shady, let’s question them!
*Inquisition: This PC(s) is awesome, let’s make them tell us all about that so we can give them recognition!
All you need is a PC or group your character likes. Or hates. Then wrap it up in Virtue talk and go go go. It’s not all about getting it passed. It’s about getting people talking about the Judgement and seeing your PC’s name on the board as a Priest Who Does Stuff.
3: Compliment people on Virtue
Give people shout-outs at your Nation meetings, or Senate, or wherever. Apply positive testimonies if you have the skill. Buy someone a beer for being super Wise. Hand out little tokens.
It’s easy and fun to DENOUNCE HERETICS but that requires people willing to play heretics. There is a much greater supply of people who aren’t dug in deep on the Virtue game and respond positively to people IC going “Hell yeah buddy, you done good”. It lets them know they are playing the brief and buying into the setting.
Then they see the Synod is good for PCs like theirs. And they might remember you and show up asking “Hey mate, so we found this heretic…”
Learn your Virtue inside and out
Learn your Exemplars and Paragons of your Virtue in particular, learn you Illuminations (the 5 things, they are brilliant). I have them written up into a book I carry round with me. I quote them in conversations. The look on peoples faces when they waffle about X Virtue and you can legitimately counter and shut them down is instant confidence boost and the look on their faces is priceless. Many Virtues are misunderstood by non-priests and this is a feature not a bug that you can use for your game.
You are an enabler to others and yourself
This is a good thing. You enable Characters to have moral authority in what will make their game fun. Being able to convince another that doing the thing they want to do is good and proper because it’s got Virtue all over it (looking at point 1 above) even though OC it may not seem the smartest thing (most fun things in larp are not the smart thing by real life standards). Compromise is the death of fun and Virtues are there to kill compromise and create fun.
Whichever powers you have, use as much as possible with prep
I have Excorcism. I have never used exorcism. This sucks and is boring. I have Annointing, I have used annointing almost every event since buying it, it’s great. I have prepared words and props that correlate to my Nations brief and make me more crazy inuit birdman fundamentalist. This is fun. I raise a judgement in the Synod every event, every dam one. Because it gets my name out and it’s fun because that’s an instant talking point in the hub “please vote on X motion” queue discussion/arguement with priest. It means I have a reason to talk to people, and I struggle with openers. I’m not some random priest I’m that priest who changed the powers of the Synod, causes causes diplomatic incidents and tries to burn Heretics - that’s all because I wrote on an A5 sheet of paper on a pin board and used it to RP with. And when that happens you suddenly have a very busy event.
Also Hardline. Hardline all the time - but that’s me being bias
1 - Don’t be afraid to learn as you go along.
I don’t know all my virtue’s brief yet. I’ve got the core stuff down, and I ask questions. I mention ICly that I’ve recently become a priest to help gently nudge people that I’m not making mistakes deliberately. I also have a copy paste of my virtue’s brief put into a nice font on a cream piece of paper hidden away for me to refer back to if I need to.
Don’t be put off by the idea that you need to learn everything. You can pick it up as you go.
2 - The Synod is Political
The Priests of the Synod (those with the Congregation Resource) are a political force in the Empire. You are not a distant figure contemplating the infinite - the religion of the Empire is about Doing Things.
If you do not want to be a political priest, avoid the Congregation resource. It is a reasonable choice to avoid the politics, but if you have Congregation, people will try and find you and get you involved in politics of all sorts.
3 - Pastoral Care is OOC too
The virtues have a game design principle of encouraging the behaviours that the game design team want to see in their game. They promote inclusion, getting involved, and all that fun stuff. So, unless you are playing a heretic priest (and this should be a conscious choice and thought through what you’re wanting to achieve) - its your game role to help reinforce this!
Is someone playing massively against their nation brief? That’s a sin against Pride! It might be worthwhile having a word. You have an IC reason to do so. People being discouraged from trying something - wisdom says they probably should try the thing if that’s all the info they can get.
Most importantly, you have a certain amount of implied social currency by playing a priest, and you can help people who are having trouble with the game find something to engage with both IC and also OOC. Help people find their ambition. Something that takes you fifteen minutes might make someone’s entire weekend.
1 If you have a congregation, you can Inquisition people. This is (potentially) a cool thing to do, but there are some additional things to bear in mind.
2. you need to know what you’re about. If you are going to Inquisiiton someone, you should know:
a) The Constitutional basis of why you can do this. (read the constitution)
b) background information aroundt he circumstances you’re looking into (get out there and talk to people, do some sleuthing)
c) How the process works, what you can and can’t do (talk to other priests, talk to the Virtue inquisitors, the Imperial Inquisitor and the Magistrates)
3. Inquisition can be an awesome RP experience, but it can be hard to pull off. Don’t waste people’s time too much (it’s easy to do, I’ve done it). If your inquisition is going to be adversarial, it’s still a good idea to design it so that it can be fun. Don’t be inclined to some wishy-washy compromise - aim for a definitive outcome with consequences; compromises are a bit of a damp squib. Do your prep; have your questions ready, don’t be tempted to do it off the cuff.As the inquisiting priest you have leeway on who else you get involve - so involve other people. Think through your possible outcomes so that you can bring some cool drama or intense RP to it.
Print out a copy of the Doctrines of the Faith and keep it in your pocket to refer to when you feel lost. Your character knows them much better than you do.
Don’t be afraid to be ‘controversial’. If you have a fun new spin on virtuous living (be it unflinchingly orthodox or radically heterodox), start preaching and revel in whatever consequences it brings.
It’s religion; there’s no such thing as “wrong” (outside basic facts like what the doctrines and laws are and what legal powers priests have).
I recommend this to all new players, but going through the questions set for the Test Of Citizenship for young players and answering them all is a really good way to ground your character. For Priests, the particularly interesting question is the one about Your Favourite Virtue; I’d extend this out into thinking about why that particular one and not the others speaks to your character.
One thing my partner did during his brief time as an aspiring priest of Pride (before a particularly disastrous battle killed off our unit for good) that I’d recommend as Good Game for people playing (ICly) new / aspiring / less experienced priests is to jot down the names of the priests in the relevant Virtue Assembly and make an effort to track them down IC, ask what their Virtue means to them and how they endeavour to show it. It gives you good structure for your own weekend (which is particularly useful if you’re the sort of player who thrives on having Things To Achieve) and gives other Priest players a chance to wax lyrical about a part of the game that’s presumably important / interesting to them.
Remember to eat, drink and sleep; it’s easy to get overwhelmed by Assemblies and Motions and Witnessing and all the other shenanigans. Taking time for yourself is not failing anyone
Despise, Despise, Despise.
Every Virtue gives you an upfront explicit reason to dislike* someone so don’t just concentrate on the nice parts of doctrine.
*strength of dislike can vary depending on much PvP you personally want to handle.