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Iconodule Heresy Outline

by James Ruhland

Well, on the subject of potential Heresies, Iconoclasm, a glorious infamy, came up. IMO, it is a good starting point, but I think I have an idea of how to add a twist to it.

Players are unlikely to sympathise with those who go around smashing important relics. So imagine instead this situation:

A number of important relics are in Thyatis. Some of normal (powerful) scale, others more down to earth (providing healing, cures, and other more typical magics to the faithful). Still more are just nice artifacts from the life of an important priest/holy man. Even the latter might provide some benefits (I imagine the following: a priest casts a Cure Light Wounds spell, and touches the relic to the wound. Instead of healing a random amount of damage, the spell is cast for maximum effect).

However, almost all these relics are locked away in big temples, Imperial Arsenals, and Monasteries. Access is restricted by priests, Imperial officials, and monks. Only the "truly devout" share in their benefits, and whispers of corruption are widespread (officials insisting on "donations" or "tithes" before allowing access, which the Heretics equate with bribes).

So we get a populist-style "Iconodule Heresy", with the heretics demanding fair access to holy relics by all, with typically Thyatian/Byzantine theological fervour (nothing is done half way when it comes to religion), going around in mobs, chanting, vandalising monasteries reputed to be the "most corrupt", and the like. Imperial officials intervene ineffectually.

So, here you have a heresy that Player Characters might sympathise with, and it also opens up some adventure opportunities. Instead of smashing relics, the Iconodules "liberate" (steal) them. PCs can be tasked with recovering the stolen relic. They find themselves in broad agreement with the goals of the heretics, but not their extreme methods (well, we hope they don't go that far). So you have a "sympathetic villain" (I doubt most characters would sympathise with folks who go around destroying art and magic items).

Ultimate goal of the PCs might be to find some middle ground, recover the stolen relics but try to work out more equitable access to them (if only on an individual scale; IE they bring the stolen icon back to the monastery but convince the monks to be more charitable in giving access to relics, and this might serve as a model to encourage others to adopt a similar policy).

Then, some time down the road perhaps, another adventure could open up: seems the new "open door" policy has backfired a bit, and the relaxed security as a result allowed some thieves to make off with a different (but also important) relic, and the PCs, being responsible sorts, work to recover it.

At any rate, the above is just an outline, and IMO this kind of heresy opens up more adventures than a purely iconoclastic heresy would (and still inflicts some disorder on Thyatis).