Author Topic: Preview: The New Papacy  (Read 6312 times)


  • Megadux
    Executive Officer
  • Posts: 35830
  • Karma: 140
  • Awards Awarded for oustanding services to Exilian!
    • View Profile
    • Awards
Preview: The New Papacy
« on: June 14, 2014, 01:38:44 AM »

(And the City of Qualnar in which it resideth)

Rulebook Information


In the year 1538 Gordrin, High Priest of Jupiter, having been deposed in a revolt against his autocratic leadership, fled north. The “Conciliarist” lands from which he had come set up a ruling council of the Church; the states north of Chaltary were friendlier to his ambitions and feared southern domination. Taking the title of Grand Patriarch, Gordrin founded a “Papal State” around the then small village of Qualnar, from where he began winning himself allies. The Conciliarists, similarly, began shoring up their support; it was not until 1550 that the Northern Religious War began.

The war led to the Papacy’s establishment as a great power-broker; unlike in the old system of religion being a relatively passive civil activity, the New Papacy deployed its own armies, inquisitors, witchfinders, and many other dedicated men and women as it tried to crush dissent. The potential for control grew until effectively all-out war was waged on any belief other than a total devotion to Jupiter.

From victory in the North, the New Papacy was wholly dominant until the rise of the Union; now, it is once more fighting religious wars. The Union have replaced Jupiter with the state-sponsored worship of Hades, as the bringer of stability and law. The response from the Papacy has been consistently hard-line. The Inquisition has been re-organised, and all non-humans or users of any sort of magical craft are automatically considered heretical beings. This has caused friction in some lands, but with more and more Witch Hunters being funded and trained the suppression of “malformed beasts” is ever more one of the Church’s key aims.


The Papacy is based around the city of Qualnar, which occupies a valley in the mountains between Aloen and the Draklands. Qualnar is a hugely busy city and a place of devotion and pilgrimage; it is funded and supplied by constant streams of devotees and donations from across many nations. The Papal Palace tops the capitol of Qualnar, which is in itself also a major temple. The entire capitol hill is off-limits to those who are not consecrated, and is a source of much mystery for pilgrims. Qualnar is also famous for its caves and catacombs, which are reportedly vast and contain many hidden secrets.


Religious fanaticism is the sole defining feature of the Papal state. The blood-red robes of Jupiter’s priests are to be seen everywhere, as are the red tabards with white circles that indicate the Papal Guards, a feared fighting force. Any users of magic or non-humans are likely to be detected, and anyone else is likely to be checked by witch hunters – some just zealous amateurs, some themselves well trained in detecting the telltale signs of a non-human and knowing their weaknesses.

Leadership & Politics

The current Grand Patriarch is Kalimilian II, generally considered a relatively pragmatic but strongly devoted leader. He tends to favour the lay devotees – witchfinders, zealot armies, and the Guards – over the official Inquisition, which has ruffled more than a few feathers in Qualnar itself. Nevertheless he has still been able to provide strong leadership to all the temples under his command, so any dissent has been much muted. There has been repeated talk of a crusade to retake the Union lands and drive out the Vampires, but Kalimilian tends to favour sending small assassination squads or encouraging uprisings. This Machiavellian attitude has won him many victories but few friends.

Military & Warfare

The Papal Guards are some of the most powerful troops in the known world. Armed with rifled muskets, grenades, and sabres, and wearing distinctive cylindrical caps with plumes at the front, they are rightly feared as a fighting force. Their weakness is one of numbers, however. They have been expanded to a battalion of five thousands, but this is still not sufficient to engage in a major military confrontation without aid from other states.


Favoured Career: Priests

Special Items:

Holy Mace
As battle club, but gives +1 to strength and +2 to nerve when wielded by any cleric of Jupiter

Blessed Weapon
Any weapon, gives +1 to nerve of the user if they are a follower of Jupiter

Unique Skills:

Bless Weapon – Level 3
Turns a weapon into a blessed weapon

Perform Exorcism – Level 4
This is an attack that allows Vampyres exposure to the astral realm. In practice it works exactly as does the spell Vanquish Mind, but it may only be used on vampires. This does not require Astral Sight and does (for obvious reasons) not conform to the general rule that Vampyres cannot be engaged in magical/mental combat.

More Artwork
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Designer's Notes

The New Papacy was a big part of the transition from my original ideas set for GS&S, focussed on Chaltary and the Union, to the more Gothic, Germanic style that is obvious in the more recent stuff I've written for it. Religion, in Sarpedonia as much as anywhere else, is both a source of great hope and of great oppression, and all those tensions boil over in and around the Papal State - plenty of opportunities for politicking, but juxtaposed with a very real language and ideology of duty to Jupiter's cause. The Papal Guard are definitely going to turn up more prominently at some point; unlike the real world Swiss Guard, the Papal Guard of GS&S are frequently thrown out onto the front lines and the principle of clerics taking an active military role is much more normal in Sarpedonia than in seventeenth or eighteenth century Europe.

Qualnar was particularly fortunate to be given a lovely snapsimg-story by a friendly passing DeviantArt user called Shadow-Kiki, which has in turn inspired some lovely artwork by Hannah. The catacombs are a particularly neat feature of the city - they're obviously wonderfully atmospheric as a setting, but moreover there is practically a whole new world down there, with its Troglodyte inhabitants living an often persecuted but interesting lifestyle of their own. Read the notes underneath the story if you want more trog-details, as I had to think about them a lot to supply information for the tale!

Much like Orendorf, there's definitely a lot to be done and seen here - but the atmosphere and ambiance is wholly different, and I see them to some extent as opposites. Orendorf throws the old and new in side by side without care; Qualnar carefully preserves the image of the old and reinforces it with new ideas and technology. Orendorf is a bustling metropolis, irreverent and noisy, whereas Qualnar is deeply numinous, the architecture and constant prayer (in some cases literally, Jupiter's monks in some places do prayer chains whereby they ensure in a group of monks that at least one of them must be praying on a rota at any time) giving a much more somber feel. And yet on the other hand they are perhaps more similar - Qualnar more human and driven by base motivations, Orendorf more nostalgic for past ideals and glories - than appears at first glance.

All this makes me feel I need to write more on the actual religious practices of the different religions - a job for another time, though... Hope you enjoyed this preview!
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...