Children of Dragons
The Children of Dragons is a religion that worships the creation of the universe and searches for meaning through the teachings of the Dragon Gods. They believe that the universe was created by seven beings of power and seek to emulate them to attain truth and strength. The Children of Dragons appears all over the known universe, but the Draconic Basilica, headquarters of the church, is located in the Hotanga Alliance on the world of Moraine.
Followers of the church tend to display their affiliation with the church with a totem or charm of some kind that resembles a dragon. The Dragons are each associated with a different color as outlined in their individual descriptions. Typically, for a flag or banner, a silver or gold dragon will appear on a field of the color that represents the Dragon and it will be trimmed with the same metallic color. Alternatively, the dragon may be the associated color on a silver or gold field.
History and Belief
The history of the Children of Dragons is long forgotten, lost to time and the Fracture. For thousands of years there have been worshippers of the church who carry on their understanding of the world, how it came to be, and a follower’s place within it.
The Church believes that before this universe existed, seven beings of power existed in an unfathomable void. These Dragon Gods longed for freedom, to stretch their wings and fly. So they combined their strength and created the universe and flew free within it. What they found was a place of mystery, wonder, and surprise. They explored, they celebrated, and they centered themselves in their unique callings. Over time, the mystery and excitement of the universe began to fade. They grew discontented and needed something even more dynamic and unpredictable for them to understand. So they each gave of their power once more, and this time they created their second Great Work: Mortal Species.
Adherents believe that the Dragons each gave of their essence, the trait they are known by. Therefore, every follower of the Children of Dragons has within them these traits to aspire to. It is each individual’s burden and opportunity to make themselves the best they can be. Whatever their calling, they should strive to be their best version of it possible to venerate the powerful Dragons who granted them this gift. Adherents of the Children of Dragons encourage competition, as competition breeds greatness and self-improvement. They sponsor games and tournaments of all kinds to push people to become better; not just strength and physical prowess, but all things that one can better themselves at, such as mental acuity and enchanting wit and charm. However, the Church teaches that even competition must be set aside when times are dire, that cooperation in the face of crisis is the only way to flourish.
Some believe the Dragons can sometimes manifest within those who attain true exemplification of their calling. Even if it is for a few moments, those who are so blessed can feel the Dragons manifesting and speaking through them. This is considered a high honor, though no honor is held so highly as the possibility of the Paragon Dragon manifesting within a person. No one has ever claimed to be the voice of the Paragon Dragon and what that would mean if it ever happened has been the topic of countless hours of theological debate.
There is a story among the faithful of a time just after the Dragons created the species of the universe. The Dragons were still trying to understand the life they had created, and were fascinated to watch the life cycle begin and end. The Dragon of Death watched as the spirits of the dead left their bodies and travelled to the place beyond, where the Dragons had come from. At first, this satisfied the Dragons. The souls were returning to the home of the Gods and were meeting their rest. What they did not expect were the demons that found their way back out to the world, clawing free from their home realm. These demons were the souls that had lost what had made them the species that they were. They had lost their personality and were simply empty souls.
The Dragons looked into new ways to help the spirits of the dead. They found that if they were connected to a soul, they could gather it up when the person died and save the soul for themselves, preventing it from becoming a demon. To do so they required a strong connection to the soul in question. From this requirement the Church arose; teaching the ideals of the Dragon Gods and guiding the faithful to embrace and personify their teachings. It is believed that people who have dedicated themselves to accepting at least one draconic path, and have made significant progress along it, are connected enough to their Dragon that they can be rescued by them when they become a spirit.
The church structure for the Children of Dragons is actually fairly loose, which is fitting for an organization that puts so much emphasis on the individual. Each shrine is created and set up independently by a motivated Adherent. Shrines are always dedicated to all seven Dragon Gods and followers of any one of them are welcome. The image of a golden dragon is used to mark a shrine though individual dragon colors may be present as well. Once a shrine reaches a certain size it can apply to the Draconic Basilica to become an official part of the Church. Admittance comes with both financial support, but also access to the Sanctum of the Stricken where much of the Church’s lore is kept. In addition, shrines gain access to the Dromos Ascetic Church Guard that will help protect them if they are in a dangerous place.
Followers who devote their lives to the church can request the path to Adherent be opened to them by Adherents at their local shrine. If they are accepted, they take the vows, which are different for each of the Dragons, then they apprentice for at least three years before they can start shrines of their own. Most do not rise above Adherent in the church, but the Draconic Basilica in the Hotanga Alliance, the headquarters of the religion, has a few Adherent Megistos that oversee the operation, direction, and doctrine of the church. Typically there are no more than two Megistros for each of the Dragons but there is no set rule.
Worshipping the Dragon Gods
The Dragon of Death
In the story of creation, each of the Dragons gave of themselves to create the universe and then again to create mortal life. The Dragon of Death gave the gift of finality. Life ending gives value to the time that we are alive. Without it, life would not have its urgency, its ingenuity, its spark. The knowledge that death will one day claim everyone is a gift of foresight and certainty rarely afforded to even the most powerful of oracles. Death, then, is not a thing to fear but a thing to prepare for. To aspire to greatness in the image of the Dragon of Death is to do great things to leave your mark in preparation for what comes after death.
Adherents of the Dragon of Death all take many interpretations of the basic teachings of the Church, but most believe that their role in guiding people on the path of the Dragon of Death lies in teaching them about legacy. The mark we leave on the world is the purpose of the time we have, so use it to leave the best mark you can. There are some sects of the adherents of the Dragon of Death specifically who find the Lapis Vitae to be unnatural, and an abomination. That to return with its magic is to defy the will of death. However, their numbers are small, and most realize that even with the stones, death will claim people when their time has come.
The Dragon of Life
For outsiders of the religion, the Dragon of Life is the easiest for them to understand, or so they think. It seems obvious that the Dragon of Life gave life to the universe and should be revered for it. The best version of one honoring the Dragon of Life must, therefore, be to preserve life. While the preservation of life is important to the followers of the Dragon of Life, they see death as a part of life, not its opposite. Instead, they seek perfection in understanding life. Most followers of the Dragon of Life are good at reading people and understanding their motivations. They value charisma and wisdom and use both to negotiate difficult situations.
Adherents of the Dragon of Life tend to be nearly as scholarly as those of the Dragon of Memory, but their focus is less on facts and more on philosophy. They seek to understand what it means to be alive, how people think and act, and how certain stimuli affect people differently. They understand that the path they are on is impassable, that they seek to understand something that may never truly be understood. They seek anyway, and they share what wisdom they do find with others of the faithful.
The Dragon of Reason
Followers of the Dragon of Reason believe that it gave humanity its greatest gift. The one that separates humanity from animals. It is reason that has created logic and rhetoric but also law and order. Followers find comfort in these and pride themselves on conducting themselves with maximum efficiency within these rulesets. One of their primary competitions for bettering themselves is long form debate with obtuse rules and scoring. Many followers of the Dragon of Reason find themselves in public service, putting their trained skills to good use.
Adherents of the Dragon of Reason are also highly logical. Many of them are mathematicians and Thuamaturges. They are schooled in the classical arguments, abhor logical fallacy, and endeavor to pass this information on to followers. A core tenet of this Dragon is that a person may improve their ability to think and, consequently, that people are not all equally logical and reasonable. A follower of the Dragon of Reason should seek to set aside all emotion and bias, including implicit bias, to make decisions from a place of pure logic and reason. Adherents of Reason encourage cooperation in pursuit of their faith, as it is often very difficult to detect the flaws in your own arguments and cooperation allows both parties to grow stronger.
The Dragon of Passion
Passion is a powerful draw for the Children of Dragons, and has the most followers. Followers of the Dragon of Passion embrace their emotions and creativity. They draw strength from not turning their backs on their feelings and, instead, trusting those instincts. Many orators, artists, and politicians are followers of the Dragon of Passion, although the latter are usually much less rigid than their Dragon of Reason compatriots who also become politicians. Politicians who follow the Dragon of Passion create policy that feels right and just, and care much less for the structure in place.
The Dragon of Passion’s Adherents work very closely with followers to tap into the interests and emotions of the followers of the faith. They seek to cultivate sparks of creativity and excitement, and to fan the flames into roiling passion. They are also encouraged to seek their own interests, but to channel their passions into a single focus. The church believes that the most perfect form of passion is one that is focused and precise, but boundless in that pursuit. The Dragon of Passion has the largest force of militant Adherents in the church, and they serve to protect the holy sites from interference by people who would seek to do them harm. The process of becoming one of the Dromos Ascetic is difficult, and only the most devoted Adherents are capable of joining their illustrious ranks.Though the Dromos Ascetic is run and primarily populated by Adherents of the Dragon of Passion, followers of all of the Dragons are welcome.
The Dragon of Despair
The Dragon of Despair is the hardest one for non-followers to wrap their head around. To follow the Dragon of Despair, one does not need to wallow in their own loss or darkness. It is instead incumbent of the followers of the Dragon of Despair to face darkness and overcome it. Tragedy befalls all people. How we face that tragedy, how we grieve, and how we come out the other side allows us to better ourselves. The Dragon of Despair is not a dragon many seek out, instead it is one that many find themselves with an affinity to when they face loss. Very little competition springs up between followers of the Dragon of Despair. They have all seen darkness and come out stronger for it; that shared experience bolsters them and endears them to one another, but they do not compare tragedies.
Adherents of the Dragon of Despair are known to travel often, seeking people who have had great loss and bring them comfort. Their goal is to help people through dark times so they can blossom on the other side of them, stronger than they have ever been, though changed. Almost all of the Adherents carry the scars of despair themselves, but the weight of those scars are theirs alone to bear. Once an Adherent has taken the vows of the church they must never speak to any of the uninitiated of their woes lest they bring despair on others they did not earn.
The Dragon of Memory
Scholars, scribes, researchers, historians, and all manner of bookish types find their home amongst the Dragon of Memory. The Dragon of Memory gave people the power of memory. It was an amazing gift that empowered them to learn and grow. When the Dragon of Memory was killed a thousand years ago by the Dragon of Death as is told in legend it shattered the minds of everyone in the Many Worlds. To Adherents of Memory, the Fracture is proof of the divine gifts of the Dragon Gods and the devastating consequences of their loss.
However the Dragon of Memory had given the power of language and the written word, allowing mortals to communicate and share ideas, to record history, and to research even without their memories. To use this gift to its maximum is to seek information in the world and to share it with others. To illuminate secrets and divine truth from lies. Some of the greatest scholars have been followers of the Dragon of Memory and some believe that the Dragon never died but simply manifests in the truly brilliant when they make discoveries.
Adherents of the Dragon of Memory are devoted scholars who seek to consolidate and categorize information for their followers to access. For a long time they would try to maintain a library specific to their local church, and some small versions of that still exist. However, the creation of the Sanctum of the Stricken allowed for more information to be pooled by the Adherents than ever before. Since its inception, it has been the goal of the Adherents to create a library that can rival that of the Concordia Iluminata, but that rivalry has always been friendly. The two institutions have shared research for centuries even as they compete to catalogue new discoveries, this in spite of perpetual grumblings in the Republic of Illara’s Senate who are mainly faithful of the Imperial Cult and less fond of the Children of Dragons.
The Paragon Dragon
Among the Dragons Gods, the Paragon Dragon is unique. Some do claim to follow the Paragon Dragon, seeking to make themselves exemplary in the eyes of all the Dragons.. However, there are no official Adherents of the Paragon Dragon. The path is said to be a personal one, and guidance along it only undermines its intent. To master oneself is a singular journey of individualism. Few follow the path and none are chastised for turning away from it. The Paragon Dragon is an ideal beyond ideals, and knowing your limits is as important as trying to push them.
The Draconic Basilica
Located on Moraine within the Hotanga Alliance, the Basilica is the high cathedral for the Children of Dragons. The Basilica was built at a site that legends say has seen each of the dragons, at some point in history, spend time there. The Basilica is one part of a rather large facility with housing for pilgrims of the faith. It is the only place of worship recognized as superior to a local shrine, and thus receives a lot of visitation by the faithful.
The Sanctum of the Stricken
The Sanctum of the Stricken resides in the heart of the Draconic Basilica, and has been meticulously kept for many years. Many followers of the Dragon of Memory make their home on Moraine and it is seen as the hub of information within the Hotanga Alliance. The Sanctum is one of the most heavily guarded assets for the church and few followers, much less outsiders, see its halls.
The Secular Games
The Secular Games are a set of competitions, lasting several weeks, that occur once a century. For Adherents and followers, they are an opportunity to showcase those who have progressed the most in their ideology and to compete against some of the best in tests of physical endurance and mental prowess. It is a religious holiday, but it still attracts many people from outside the religion to come and see the amazing displays of skill.