Religion plays a major role in the world and the story of the game, as its plot is centered on a conflict involving divine beings and several characters have ties to a religious organization. Like in many other fantasy worlds, religious beliefs tend to vary by biological race instead of nationality.
Church of Ivala Edit
The most common faith among humans on Arclent is the worship of the goddess Ivala as taught by the Church of Ivala. The Church decisively opposed the Incubus King during his invasion and it's the only international force that's still earnestly acting against him after the end of the war. The Church's main hope for finally vanquishing him seems to lie in the Chosen, heroes blessed with extraordinary abilities (see below), though they have had little success so far.
According to the Church's origin stories, in ancient times Ivala defeated and shattered the Lustlord, a being of pure evil (at least as depicted in the holy texts). In a rather curious parallel, some succubi worship as a god the same mythical figure (see the section below).
While the Church's teachings are monotheistic, there are indications that it evolved from an earlier, polytheistic faith. Very little is known about the goddess Ivala herself, though she might have appeared in the intermission scenes after the Prologue, looking upon the world from something resembling a mountain peak. Whatever the truth is, members of the Church practice divine magic, mainly focused on healing, protection and purification, and even Simon acknowledges its existence.
The Church doesn't have a single authority figure; instead, it has several High Priestesses in charge of different territories. There are seven in total: two from Ardoheim, two from Aram, one from Yhilin, one from the elven forests and one representing the territories lost to the Incubus King ("the Lost"):
- Sarai, an old friend of Simon's is the High Priestess of the Lost
- Andra, the zealous High Priestess of Yhilin. At some point after the Thrid Arclent War, she is replaced by Nabith, a more reasonable Priestess of Givini ascendancy.
- Hester, an elderly High Priestess of Ardoheim that represents the Church at the Ardford Summit.
- Bertricia, the High Priestess of the elven kingdoms, a precarious position as most elves worship the Mother (see below).
- Annah, the extremely zealous High Priestess of Stineford, an extreme Desecretionism, obsessed with the combat against sin.
- Keranni, one of the two High Priestess of Aram. She is a very spiritual woman, in permanent conflict with
- Esmera, the other High Priestess of Aram. A dangerous but pragmatical figure, she looks more interested in the politic power than in the spiritual health of the Church members.
Despite the theoretical unity of the Church, there is significant factionalism and infighting. The High Priestess Annah of Stineford has aligned herself with High Priestess Andra of the Yhilini Diocese in an attempt to stamp out prostitution and police morality. Due the practice within the Ardford Diocese of giving captive succubi to soldiers for sexual use, the Stineford High Priestess had declared the Ardford branch heretical. In Aram, the two High Priestesses are at each others' throats and threatening schism.
The Church's power and influence also varies widely from region to region. In Ardoheim and Yhilin, the Church a great deal of autonomy and influence, while, in Aram, the Queen frequently interferes in Church affairs. In the elven forests of the southeast, the Church is barely tolerated.
Church factions Edit
At the time of the game, the Church is suffering from intrigue and infighting, caused by differences in doctrine, personal ambitions, outside political influence, or all of the above. Theological disagreements have lead to the proliferation of factions that are constantly in flux. Nevertheless, they can all be roughly sorted into three major theological camps:
- Consecrationists: They believe that mortals are inherently sinful, but can be purified. According to Simon, they "tend to be reasonable enough." Vhala identifies as a Concecrationist, and Bertricia preaches mainstream Consecrationist doctrine in her Diocese. This denomination seems to favor the Chosen.
- Desecrationists: They believe that mortals are born pure but can irrevocably lose their purity to sin. According to Simon, they tend to be zealots. They are responsible for the creation of Unmen and Unwomen during the war against the Incubus King and their role in turning the tide against him have earned them considerable influence. An example is the zealous Andra, the High Priestess of Yhilin.
- Subsecrationists: They believe that humans are permanent mixtures of sin and purity and thus allowance must be made for both natures. They have a mixed legacy, as they have lead one of the best efforts against the Incubus King (in Simon's opinion), but they are also responsible for the creation of the Inquisition. Examples include Carina and Sarai.
SL has shared the following notes in the blog about the relative strength of the different factions among the average Ivalans:
|“|| As you suspected, the majority of average Ivalans are Consecrationists. They might not have considered the theology in depth, but they have a strong view of Ivala as a helpful figure - there are more than a few nominal followers who might not spend much time in churches but stop by for a blessing from time to time.
There's a powerful conservative minority, however, that holds more Desecrationist views. They generally aren't as extreme as the pure theology might suggest, but they prefer Desecrationist priestesses - especially when they're preaching against the failings of others, as opposed to condemning sins like pride or greed. They got a major boost during the earlier war against succubi, but don't have so many young followers due to recent developments.
Subsecrationists are relatively few, but over-represented among priestesses (especially theologians). This does have an impact on the Church in general. Essentially, many common people might view that stance as too esoteric, but they've probably picked up some Subsecrationist views that might, for example, soften a Desecrationist stance.
Many in the Church hierarchy take more nuanced views as a result of years working with others. Nobles can be a bit mercenary, going with whichever theological school has more local support. There are also many common people who just focus on basic tenets of Ivalanism and view internecine conflicts as matters for priestesses.
Church hierarchy Edit
Though men and women both follow the Ivalan religion, church hierarchy seem to be dominated by women. You first encounter a male Ivalan Priest quite late in the plot, in Ardford - he's elderly and mentions that when he became a priest, men could still advance in the hierarchy. Thus, the gender imbalance seems to be another result of the Incubus King's invasion.
The standard form of address for a Priestess is "Sister", though higher ranks enjoy more formal titles. There are two types of priestesses: lay priestesses, who can marry and have sex, and ordained priestesses, who are sworn to celibacy. In theory, the two types are equal, but only ordained priestesses can advance in the hierarchy. Rising through the ranks, an ordained priestess can become a Sanctified Priestess, and further up the hierarchy, a High Priestess.
Celibacy requirements are kept on the honor system in the lower ranks, but higher positions require stricter, magically enforced restrictions. High Priestesses have to be virgins and can't even masturbate. It's unclear what happens if they try - if the restrictions make it actually impossible, or if they act more like a magical "alarm" that goes off when a priestess does something prohibited. It's suggested during the Council of Gawnfall that strict chastity is actually verified by routine magical purity checks. Like many other changes, the celibacy requirements were made stricter during the war against the Incubus King, as the Church feared that its leadership could be seduced by the enemy.
The Chosen Edit
The Chosen is a hero purportedly blessed by Ivala with extraordinary fighting abilities and other gifts in order to the defeat the Incubus King and save the world. But while the name implies singularity, over time it's become a title worn by a long sequence of unfortunates. As a result, "the Chosen" is often used in the plural, referring to them as a group. It is mentioned during Sarah, Janine, Simon, and Riala that the Chosen appeared after the war.
It's unclear whether they are actually chosen by Ivala or somehow created by the Church. During the interlude scenes after the Prologue, a then unnamed minion reports to her menacing lord that "the Church of Ivala has a divine channel making humans into Chosen warriors". (He seems unperturbed at the news.)
It looks like only young human males can become a Chosen. Almost all Chosen encountered so far in the game seem to suffer from excessive self-assurance and entitlement, paired with impulsiveness and poor judgment. It's unclear whether this is the result of their newly revealed destiny going to their heads, or they were that way before becoming Chosen. They also share a tendency to try fucking anything with a vagina (or, in one instance, something that just looks like one), including defeated lust monsters. In addition to being ethically questionable and tactically unreasonable, this behavior clashes hard with the general prudish attitude of the Church and Ivala's stance against the Incubus King, which raises doubts about the true nature of the Chosen.
Known Chosen so far: Kai, Tal, an unnamed Aramite mentioned by Simon who charged off a cliff during his first battle, a guy loitering in the yard of the Yhilin Cathedral, a pair first encountered in the Silver Stump tavern in Ardford, and a guy who has locked himself in a house in the Slums after the Battle of Yhilin. Andra had a bodyguard Chosen, who you defeat upon returning from elven forests and capture (poor Ginasta). No sure he is the same one from Yhilin Cathedral.
One individual, who may have been a Chosen, challenged the Lustlord in Rodak. The Lustlord easily defeated the challenger, but, fearing his return, bound his remains to an ossuary. When the seal was broken, a Fallen Chosen arose to do battle.
During the Third Arclent War, a chosen can be convinced to give up the power of the chosen rendering him to a normal person once again who mentions his name is Kalant.
The Inquisition Edit
The Church's armed force, used for protection from internal and external threats: rooting out heretics and fighting against the forces of the Incubus King. Perhaps reflecting the two prongs of its purpose, its staff also seems to come in two forms: soldiers in armor, sent out for dangerous missions, and civilians in sinister masks who enforce order and conduct investigations. At the start of the game Sister Carina is a commander working with the more militant branch, though circumstances lead her to operate independently.
Like the rest of the Church, the Inquisition is a mixed bag. Some of them are used as tools of oppression by zealots (e.g. the campaign against the unlicensed mages in Ari-Yhilina), while others conscientiously try to guard the Church from its worst members (e.g. the Unforge investigation).
The religious beliefs of the succubi are primarily centered around the mythical figure of the Lustlord, acknowledged as the same being depicted in Ivalan theology. The form these beliefs take varies between the different succubus societies.
On Arclent, religion in the Incubus King's domain seems to be as (dis)organized as everything else in it - though there are succubi who do worship the Lustlord, the Incubus King himself thinks that he is a myth.
The succubus-dominated Orgasmic Empire on Renthnor has the most elaborate organized forms of the cult, with several competing groups: the zealous Old Order of the Lustlord, emphasizing tradition and strict performance of rituals; the less restrictive New Order, preaching fun for all rather than ritual; and the Reformed Order which teaches that the Lustlord was also a succubus and focuses more on sex itself rather than cocks. In contrast, in the kingdom of Philon on the same continent religion plays a very small role.
It should be noted that according to some versions about the origin of the Soul Shards that grant the Incubus Kings their power, the shards are either a gift from the Lustlord or fragments of his soul.
It's unclear what succubus religion says about the current fate of the Lustord. It's claimed that he used to have a harem of goddesses, but so far no worshiper has elaborated on what happened to them, or to him.
While a small portion of the elves on Arclent worship Ivala (including Altina), the majority of them, both inside and outside the elven kingdoms, worship a different goddess that they call simply "the Mother". Their religion appears to be monolatrist or henotheist - it recognizes the Mother as the only patron goddess of elves, but it also acknowledges the existence of other deities, striving for power among themselves. In contrast, the monotheistic Church of Ivala holds Ivala to be the one and only supreme deity of the world, while elves consider her to be the goddess of humans. Unsurprisingly, the Church suppresses worship of the Mother in the human kingdoms along with all other rival religions.
During the attack on the First Root Simon is briefly confronted by a powerful being who claims to be the Mother. The incident shakes his lack of faith and at the same time affirms it by suggesting that the gods might exist, but just as incredibly powerful beings...
So far little is known about dwarven religion other than their beliefs apparently are centered around Tertia, the "Goddess of the Earth". In the library of Stineford's Thaumaturgical Academy, Simon mentions that dwarves believe that she created them from the stone, but most dwarves don't worship her, as they believe that she either abandoned them or died. This seems to be coupled with a general fatalistic attitude about the race's dwindling numbers and power.
Later on, Megail's group has the chance to see an underground shrine to Tertia during their visit to Eustrin, complete with a lone dwarf praying in it. Surprisingly, the shrine is decorated with green plants, as Tertia is a goddess of "all the earth, not just the rock." Nevertheless, the dwarf describes the shrine as a memorial and talks about Tertia in the past tense when he points out that Tertia was not a jealous goddess and everyone can pray there, including to Ivala or the Mother.
Many Zirantians worship the goddess Antiala, who is a racial goddess similar to the Mother. But unlike the Mother, who doesn't seem to care about the conflict between Darghelon and Gheldaron, Antiala is dedicated to the country of Zirantia itself.
Though it is implied that many Zirantians worship her, little about their religion is known. It is also unclear if many Zirantians in other nations worship Ivala or other goddesses.
Surprisingly, halflings apparently don't have a religion of their own, though there might be some halfling mythology. All halflings encountered so far either worship Ivala or don't mention religion at all.
During the journey, the party can also come across other creeds.
Goddess of Magic Edit
The Goddess of Magic is worshiped by a secretive cult of female mages. In the words of their leader:
|“||In the beginning, we were just gathering to worship the Goddess of Magic. But those of us with talent have joined together to improve our community.||”|
Compared to most of the religions encountered so far, the cult is rather racially diverse. It includes representatives of all the races living in Ari-Yhilina's slums - humans, elves and Zirantians. The underlying principle of the Goddess' teachings seems to be freedom from imposition. According to the head cultist, the Goddess does not demand people to worship her (unlike Ivala) and she doesn't even have a definite visual representation.
Unlike some some other divine figures, she is unheard of outside the narrow circle of the cult. However, the cultists who claim to hear the will of the goddess all get the same messages as each other, so there does appear to be some genuine entity behind the cult.
- ↑ First mentioned by the holy book behind the aura reader in the Church's temple in Feroholm.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Conversation at the statue depicting the Lustlord's defeat in the Yhilin Cathedral.
- ↑ Conversation between Simon and the nun in the Thaumaturgical Academy.
- ↑ The library of the Yhilin Cathedral, "High Priestesses" topic.
- ↑ In game, we only learn her name in the Chapter 4, during The council of Gawnfall.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 According to Simon, when discussing an outdated book about "Ivalan Denominations" in the library of the Thaumaturgical Academy.
- ↑ Conversation with Sarai?
- ↑ Per her conversations with Simon/Aka stating this.
- ↑ "Religion" topic in the library of the Orgasmic Palace.
- ↑ For example, the worshiper Yara's group can meet in the Succubus Village during the Gathering.
- ↑ Yarra's conversation with the worshiper in the (other) Lustlord's Palace Grounds during the Gathering, days 1 and 2.
- ↑ Book about goddesses in the Denmiel Archives.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 The book about dwarves in the Thaumaturgical Library (third-from-right in the row of books about races).
- ↑ Conversation with the praying dwarf.
- ↑ Conversation with Sarai after dealing with Andra.
- ↑ Check the Secrets page to learn how and when.
- ↑ In game, it has been showed in conversations between Vera and Simon.