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Thyatis: the Religious Quandaryby James Ruhland
In order to accurately reflect a "Byzantine" mentality, religion must be central to peoples lives in the Empire. Some small indication of this is given in DotE, with the mention of the cultivation of clerical studies. However, the reasoning given for this is almost entirely pragmatic (clerical "ompf" to counterbalance Alphatia's magical strength), and not for reasons of true devotion.
In my opinion, this is unfortunate. As Galwylin mentioned, religion, and the perceived backing of the Immortals should be an almost paramount concern. And, to be a "Byzantine" faith, it has to have a certain structure.
To rectify that, while remaining somewhat true to the Byzantine model, while still holding to the characteristics of Mystaran cosmology and attempting a creative conversion, I had worked out what I think was a functional system.
To work, in my opinion, Thyatis must have a patron national Immortal who is clearly paramount, and who reflects certain characteristics (see also Harry Turtledove's Videssos books, which will also indicate why IMO my "choice" of paramount Immortal was appropriate). However, to keep in the spirit of Mystara and not be monotheistic about it, numerous other Immortals would have a distinct and important role.
Managing that was easy: you have the "paramount" Immortal, and then a cosmology where other Immortals play the functional role of very important patron saints, with their portfolios", all within a hierarchical religion. Each city would have its patron (Constantinople had a cult of the Theotokos, the Virgin Mary. Thessaloniki had St. Demetrius, etc.) So, what I developed (in brief) looked like the following:
Solarios: "paramount" Immortal, patron of Thyatis; Light, Order, opposition to Entropy/Chaos, passion for knowledge, seek peace but be harsh in war.
Valerias: Patron and Guardian of Thyatis the City. "Girder on of Weapons," lover of Solarios, hater of Entropy.
Vanya: Patron of Hattias and warriors. Strategy, Tactics, and strength of arms.
Tarastia: Patron of Kerendas. Guider of the Laws, judges, and those who seek just administration.
Thanatos: the "boogieman" of the Thyatian cosmology. (cf Skotos from H. Turtledove's works).
etc. (numerous other Immortals having their roles and urban cults).
The whole thing organised into a largely unitary church, headed up by a Patriarch, with temples and monasteries devoted to the various Immortals. Clerics primarily serving one specific immortal, but all Thyatians revering each in their own portfolio, with special attention to Solarios.
Anyhow, as you might imaging, fitting the above into the WotI scheme would be rather hard, since two prominent members of this cosmology are the chief Immortals of the Ring of Fire, opposed to Glantri during the Wrath war. Thus, if you want to run WotI, either Thyatis is on the wrong side, or the cosmology is screwed up. Putting Thy. on the other side causes all kinds of obvious problems.
Anyhow, that makes this a somewhat serious post in that I am seeking advice/commentary on how to construct a effective cosmology for ByzThyatis.
General comments on what Thy. religious practice should look like are of course also welcomed.
Special attention should be given to who the pre-eminent Immortal should be: IMO, except for the WotI thing, Solarios/Ixion is almost perfect. One thing is certain: the pre-eminent Immortal should be powerful, "decent" but stern, and not aloof: should be involved in the lives of followers, not distant/inaccessible.
I suppose I could have Tarastia as Patron of Thyatis the City, replacing Valerias, and juggle some other things. Well, anyhow; as I said, advice not only welcomed but encouraged strongly.