Bacchus

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Pleasure, Wine, Fame, Fortune. This is what it means to be a Bacchan. The Church of Bacchus is about the pursuit of one’s happiness and expression of one’s creative abilities. As the God of Wine, Pleasure, Music, and Commerce, Bacchus demands His priests seek the good life for themselves and others.

Major Religious Tenets

There are five major principles in the Bacchan religion, as follows:

1. Have Fun
2. Keep the Party Going
3. Promote Freedom of Expression
4. Promote Creativity
5. Celebrate the Gift of Life

Having fun is the main driving force behind many of the things Bacchans do. Keep the party going usually refers to what a Bacchan is willing to do (or sacrifice) to keep a good party going.

The next two major tenets are what Bacchan's are most known for, and that is freedom of expression and creativity. Bacchans are constantly seeking new and inventive ways to express how they feel or what they believe. These expressions can come in the form of dance, song, poetry, or whatever the Bacchan comes up with. Denying a Bacchan the chance to express themselves is seen as an insult and is one of the few things that can stir a Bacchan to violence.

The last (but not least) major tenet of the Bacchan faith is the wish to celebrate life as a gift no matter what strife or hardships may befall them. It is true when it is said all Bacchans strive to see the goblet as half full at all times.

Symbols

The symbols of Bacchus's worship are commonly reflected by the vices practiced by His priests and clerics. Common symbols are flasks, pipes, wreaths of grapes, and goblets.

Cultural Religious Practices

Bacchus is worshipped in a variety of ways worldwide. In the seafaring nations (Maitlyn and The Frozen Sea, for instance), Bacchus is most heavily worshiped as the Wind, and is consistently asked for good seafaring weather and fast travels. Bacchan worshippers in Epertoch worship Him in every aspect of His glory (largely due to the fact that the Grand Hall of Bacchus is located there). In the Razor Valleys, Bacchus is largely worshiped as the God of Pleasure. He is also very popular among the fae, who worship Him as a part of nature.

Holy Rites

A party is held after each of these ceremonies in honor of the honorees.

The Newborn’s New Clothes

When a child is born to Bacchan parents, a ceremony will take place some weeks after the birth. During the ceremony, the child will be entirely bathed (except the head) in wine and given a crown of flowers (blue for a boy and pink for a girl). The most important part of the ceremony is the dressing of the child. Each friend and family member of the parents will give them a scrap of their finest clothing. Not giving a piece of clothing is considered a grave insult to the parents. Once the parents have pieces from everyone, then the child's maternal grandmother (or next closest family member if she is not alive) will sew them together into a shirt for the child. This symbolizes the family and love shared by the Bacchan community.

As the child grows, the shirt will be reworked to fit them and more pieces will be added.

New Arrival

This can be one of the toughest yet most fun days for a new Priest of Bacchus. On this day, the new priest is taken by one of the older priests (one who shares a similar vice) and spends the day indulging in their vice. During this time, the older priest will also pass on his wisdom to the new initiate. A priest is first considered for the New Arrival initiation when the most powerful priest that shares their vice thinks they are ready.

A Gift from Bacchus (Or the Bacchan Wedding)

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This is one of the most popular events in the Church of Bacchus. The wedding is structured similarly to weddings of other faiths, with some exceptions. Normally, the priest presiding over the ceremony will be the most powerful Priest of Bacchus present. Usually someone will be hired to cast a Sanctuary spell for the priest, bride, groom, best man, and the maid of honour to stand in. The priest will recite the words, the bride and groom will give their vows and exchange something of value. Casters of the following schools of magic: Earth, Healing, Augmentation, Nature, and Protection may choose to grant their spouse their most powerful beneficial spell in this exchange. After the ceremony, the newly married couple immediately takes part in a ritual consummation to thank Bacchus for the gift of each other.

The Great Send-Off

When a Priest of Bacchus who was good to those around them dies, they are given a good send-off. The body is burned, and the ashes collected into a jar. The jar is then taken to the largest cliff the deceased’s loved ones can find. Some prayers are recited in honour of the departed, and then the ashes are poured off the cliff into a strong wind. It is said that if the deceased led a good life, then the Winds of Bacchus will carry them from this world up to The Great Party.

Sacred Festivals, Feasts and Holidays

Though the Bacchan festivals and holidays described here are the most widely celebrated, they are far from being the only Bacchan holidays. Every church, country and race may have their own holidays and festivals to celebrate Bacchus, particularly in societies where Bacchus is a major deity.

The Festival of Fools

The Festival of Fools (or “FoF”, as some call it) takes place during the summer season sometime before harvest begins. It's mostly a peasant gathering (although nobles are more than welcome) and it is used to break up the normal day-to-day toil of peasant life. During the festival, games such as tag, dunk the monk, and shells are played, and friendly contests are held (archery, axe-throwing, and log rolling to name a few). Silly costumes and copious amounts of food and beer are all staples of the Festival. Although the festival is open to anyone, the games and contests are generally run by the local Bacchan Church. The Bacchans help to supply the food and beer, set up the games, and hold any bets for the competitions. During the festival, Bacchans will also act as medics, in case competitions go awry, and host drinking competitions. Some of the more powerful priests will put on magic shows.

The height of every FoF is when the King of Fools is crowned. The Bacchans will pick the most drunken, haggard, and ridiculous person in the crowd and declare them the King of Fools. The king is usually declared a couple hours after the FoF has began (giving everyone a chance to drink). The privileges of being king during the festival include getting first dibs on food and ale, and acting as judge for most events and competitions. This individual will retain the title King of Fools until the next Festival of Fools.

The Gathering

Every year after the harvest (usually during the fall months), many Bacchans will gather together (some traveling a long distance) to bring together a large meal in celebration of the end of the working season. The priests will bake pies, cakes, and pastries. Some of the tougher folk (friends or priests who may be versed in martial skills) will capture, skin, and prepare the main dishes such as boar, poultry, or horse. After the feast is presented, everyone involved will sit down and prepare for The Passing of the Goblet.

The Passing of the Goblet is a large part of the Gathering. A large goblet is filled with wine at the head of the table. The person seated there takes a drink then passes it to the person to his left. That person takes a drink, but then decides how much of their goblet (or cup or mug) they want to pour into the passing goblet, and then they pass it along to their left in turn. This continues until the goblet either returns to the head of the table or the goblet is emptied. The pouring of one’s own drink into the passing goblet is a reflection of their generosity and their respect for the individual they’re passing to.

The real fun of the party comes when the eating begins. Guests at the Gathering make sure they bring a lot of one kind of food, but not enough for everyone to have a share. Therefore, it's first come, first served for whoever wants what. This will normally end with some priests actively making deals with priests down the table for foods they both want. This friendly competition will turn the dinner table into a form of free-flowing marketplace where bartering and trading are the law.

After the meal is over and everyone is full those who did not help prepare the food will begin cleaning up. During this time those who do not have to clean will sit or lay down and begin chatting it up with the others. Once everything is cleaned and everyone is done talking, they'll all spend one night sleeping in the same room. Once the morning comes, the Gathering is over, and the guests return to their lives as they were before, should they choose to do so.

Three Days and Learn

Each winter season (usually in the last couple weeks of the year), many Bacchans will gather together and prepare for the three-day friendly competition known as Three Days and Learn. The Three Days and Learn attracts Bacchans from around Dremlin to compete against each other in large-scale drinking, smoking, gambling, and even magical competitions. This holiday pits worshipper against worshipper for the glory of Bacchus. The only prize that is usually granted in the Three Days and Learn is the right to brag and call oneself the best. Sometimes, finely-crafted holy symbols are given as prizes, but this is the exception, not the rule.

The drinking and smoking competitions are just what they sound like, but the gambling competition is much more. Those participating in this game have three days to legally acquire as much wealth as possible within the time limit. The winner of the competition has the choice to either keep their money or donate it to the Church of Bacchus. The “losers” have no choice; they must donate to the Church. This competition is traditionally held in the Grand Hall of Bacchus.

Church Structure and Titles

The church “structure” in the Bacchan faith is very loose when compared to most of His Siblings' faiths. It's also one of the few Churches where the person running the church (or commune) might not have any magical ability granted by Bacchus. They may simply be the most wealthy (therefore capable of purchasing large amounts of intoxicant and euphoria alchemy), or they could be an accomplished alchemist (therefore capable of creating the large amounts of alchemy needed for the church). They could even be great combatants (therefore being able to protect the weak and ensuring the quality of parties by removing unwanted guests or fending off thieves).

There is no absolute set of titles used by every church of Bacchus. There are similar jobs but the name varies from church to church, and race to race.

With that being said, there are certain positions that are treated with some honour. The first of these is the Emcee. This is usually the most devout priest in the Church. It is their job to keep parties going and making sure there are enough intoxicants and euphorics to go around.

Another prestigious position is the one known as the brewer or grower (depends on the vice majority). This person’s job is to either purchase or create enough intoxicants or euphorics to healthily supply the church.

Cook is another popular position among churches, as everyone likes to eat and having good food helps any party.

The last position has several names but to most it is known as the Enforcer. The enforcer's job is to remove any party crashers or to ruff up any people trying to raid or steal from the church.

Prestigious Positions/Specialists

(To be filled in after consultation with Andrew.)

The Gifts of Bacchus

The Schools of Magic

The schools that Bacchus grants are Alteration, Confining, Elemental Air, Enchantment, Protection, Chaos, Life, and Nature. There are many theories as to why Bacchus grants these schools. These are some of the most common.

It is often said that Bacchus grants Confining to His priests so they have a peaceful, non-lethal way to resolve conflicts which are bound to arise when crowds are mixed with hard liquor. Most priests don't study beyond Bind because there aren't many creatures that can rip free from such a spell.

Like Confining, it's said that Bacchus grants Enchantment to give His priests a non-violent way to solve conflicts. Enchantment tends to be more popular among Bacchus's priests because unlike Confining, most of its spells have no potential for causing harm and many of them have non-combat uses that most priests find entertaining. Fumble is often used for pranks. Fear is used by priests to remove unwanted or rude company. Sleep is often used to put children or people who have had too much to drink to bed. Domination is actually quite unpopular among the Bacchan community, as it removes free will from the victim, and freedom of expression is a major tenet in the Church.

It is speculated that Alteration is granted as a catch-all utility school for priests, because this school helps perform many different tasks which is useful in a religion whose priests’ skill sets and lifestyles are so diverse.

Like the other eight gods, Bacchus grants Life. It is believed that Bacchus grants Life for two reasons. The first is to give His priests a way to heal themselves after conflict or an accident. The second reason (which was most likely thought up by a non-Bacchan) is that Purify Blood is used to sober up a priest when they've had too much to drink.

Protection is granted for the sole purpose of giving priests a sense of calm, because they know that no matter what hits them, they are likely safe.

Bacchus's granting of Nature is one of the big reasons Bacchus is a popular patron deity among Fae folk. Nature serves many purposes in the Church because the spells vary so greatly. Speak with Animals is often used to either send away dangerous animals or to open a possible conversation to ask the animal for help. Goodberry is popular as it creates food with the healing properties of a Cure Wounds spell and a Resist Toxin alchemical ingestion. Barkskin is a popular among priests of Bacchus who also practice martial skills, as it makes them much tougher than they normally are (assuming the opponent doesn't enjoy fire magic). Priests of Bacchus who master Nature enjoy using Insect Plague on those of bring them harm or have gravely insulted them.

Elemental Air is granted because Bacchus is the Wind. Commonly, priests will only study this school as far as Silence. Repair Armour is used for minor repairs around the Church, and Silence has its obvious uses during parties. Those priests who also have martial training will find great use in the Lighting blade spell. Priests who master Air are often utilized as defenders of the Church when raiders attack, as the Lightning Storm spell can be used all day, so long as the priest keeps his feet planted.

Many people do not understand why Chaos is granted by Bacchus, a non-Dark deity, but some of His more devout followers stand by the belief that Bacchus’ granting Chaos is a way to give Himself individuality from His sister Gyellina. They also believe that Bacchus, being a prankster and mischief-maker at heart, uses this school to pull pranks on His and other gods’ priests.

Blessings

The first of Bacchus's Blessings grants the priest the ability to resist toxins. Now, it may be confusing to some why the God of Wine grants His priests the ability to resist intoxicants, but some believe that this again stems from Bacchus's wish to keep His followers safe, as there are many deadly alchemical poisons that can be resisted with this Blessing.

The second Blessing grants the ability to bestow a magical euphoric effect upon a person. This blessing has many uses. It is fairly commonly passed around at parties. It has also been known to be employed during medical procedures to eliminate any pain for the victim. The last common use was discovered by a priest who also practiced martial skills. He learned that if any enemy is successfully struck with this Blessing, it will render them completely unable to attack or defend themselves, making for an easy victory.

It should be noted that many civilized nations outlaw or restrict the use of Euphoria-like spells, alchemies, and effects.

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