Queen Elise Burke
The clergy and their GODS provide a man with purpose, as a cell would provide him a home.
Throughout the fragments it is very common to find the influence of cults. This is shown through the traditions, beliefs, and attitudes of the people that call the fragment home. In most smaller fragments there is typically a single cult while on large or urban fragments many cults have strong roots within the communities. Despite this a large segment of humanity (and especially those with connections to nobility) are atheistic, and abhor these cults.
The majority of cults keep to themselves and stay clear of the government and instead focusing within the community and converting each others followers to their order. In order to avoid the potential wrath and anger of the ruling class. Behind most cults are clerics that draw power from the GODS to channel white magics.
Clerics within the Shadoweave setting are seen as rebels in the eyes of the government. Those that stay quiet and keep to themselves or to small local affairs are overlooked by the government, while those who try to make a name for themselves often find an accident in their future.
Read more about the Clerics.
While there is no limit to the number of minor cults found across fragments, some with less than a dozen followers, there are six primary cults. These six cults are large enough to be major driving forces for community growth, fragment cultivation, and civil unrest.
The Divergence is a cult of doomsayers. The core belief of the Divergence is that the fragments will continue to fracture and scatter as time passes, until all that remains is dust. They believe individuals must accept the fact that fragmentation and meaningless destruction is an inevitable part of the universe. Through acceptance of this truth, the Divergence teaches that individuals will gain new agency over their lives as well as gain the favor of the GODS to achieve whatever they desire most with the little time they have alive.
The nihilistic beliefs of the Divergence have a very wide range of effects on the people that adhere to them. Some descend into outright hedonism and partake in the pleasures of flesh, life, and material goods. Others feel liberated of burden and leave stressful situations behind for a calm life of love and happiness with friends and family.
Typically, the Divergence eschew hierarchy and a cult can attract an assortment of members from children of minor aristocratic families and successful businessmen to factory workers and homeless beggars. These members often live completely separate lives from one another and only congregate secretly to celebrate festivals. Divergent clerics rarely control or supervise other members and their activities. They instead view helping others achieve their worldly pursuits, no matter how tame or eccentric, as the great form of personal satisfaction.
While divergers are usually secretive about their membership and their activities, they will usually share the truth of the Divergence to those that they trust in the hope that it will liberate and empower them to live their lives to the fullest.
The Reunion is a cult that preach a message of hope. The core belief of the Reunion is that the fragments will eventually be reunited by the GODS after humanity has been deemed worthy of salvation. In this vision of a reunified world, the worthy and pious fragments are pulled together to form a utopian world without violence, poverty or disease and the sinful fragments are left isolated and adrift.
The promising beliefs of the reunion have been splintered multiple times into many branches with different opinions on how to best bring about utopia. Some want to spread charity, good works and kindness: helping the impoverished and living communally with all. Others believe that salvation can only be achieved through the eradication of the sinful and the definitive leadership of a strong central power, typically in the form of cult leaders.
Reunionists will traditionally live in communes of like-minded people, even going so far as to buy up entire city districts through puppet companies and secretly infiltrate local governments. They will try to deal with illegal activity within their borders themselves through tribunals and will try to keep external law enforcement and even non-believers out of their properties. They will congregate into massive buildings to pray, pay penance, and donate anywhere from once a day to once a week. The clerics of the reunion are often hard to find and locate for all except the most devout believers, and their exact motives and reasons are largely unknown. Due to this a common reunion member is unable to get help or guidance from the clerics directly.
A typical Reunionist will seek to convert others, earnestly believing that those who do not convert will be lost in the coming reunion. It is not uncommon for reunionists to shun family that will not join as well as keep tabs on those that have left or been excommunicated.
The Wayfarers is a cult of astral pilgrims. The core belief of the Wayfarers is that the GODS fragmented the world to encourage exploration and integration into the greater astral landscape. Astral exploration and traveling, therefore, allows Wayfarers to elevate themselves beyond regular humans and be closer, physically and spiritually, to the GODS.
The Wayfarers reside upon massive astral ships which are often found chasing after the GODS and stopping near undocumented fragments or other astral bodies. No Wayfarer will never stay on any fragment for a long period of time, only as long as needed. Some are more liberal in adapting the teachings, staying on fragments to visits friends, go shopping, or explore before they take off on a new adventure. The more extreme Wayfarers view fragments as corrupting and will only leave astral space if it is absolutely required for survival. These radical factions will often excommunicate those who overstay on a fragment.
The majority of Wayfarers are astral-born humans with their entire family aboard a single vessel. Unfortunately, young Wayfarers who wish to leave the ship life will end up without support networks of family and friends as they must leave all of that behind them.
Wayfarers make money to maintain their vessels and lifestyle by couriering goods between fragments for companies and rarely for the government. Wayfarer clerics are known for the prowess at navigation and divination, making them unrivaled astral ship captains. Unlike other cults, the Wayfarers are often ignored by the government and not deemed a threat, since most Wayfarers do not wish to convert new members and are not considered native citizens of any fragment. Additionally, Wayfarers ships will hire non-believers for low-rank jobs aboard their ships and to act as outpost managers for their trade system by setting up permanent offices upon fragments.
The Unification is a cult of connection. The core belief of the Unification is that humanity through the GODS can merge together and become one with each other. They think this melding of consciousness with the GODS will not only make humanity smarter, but also eliminate misunderstandings and satisfy loneliness, which the Unification believes drives all conflict and violence.
Unificationists quite commonly support technological advancement and betterment as a way to connect with each other across the vast astral space. It is common for Unificationists to work on technology directly as a regular job. Almost every Unification branch will have a central database of members which stores their memories after they die. Unification clerics are responsible for building these databases by extracting member’s memories, protecting the archives, and coordinating with other clerics. Once a way is found, this database will be uploaded into the GODS and merged with all the other databases. They believe that this will lead to an eternal life of bliss.
Unificationists communicate through fragment wide chatrooms with each other with fake identifications and connect through location spoofers to mask themselves from government officials. Codewords and strange sayings dot their hymns which are updated regularly, making it extremely difficult to translate or understand. Rarely do Unificationist meet with one another physically out of fear it could harm or unmask each other. However, Unifications regularly share their lives with each other, sending one another their diary entries, recorded memories, and even physical possessions to those they trust the most. It is common for them to share what is known as a falsity: a fake memory,object, diary or otherwise, in order to throw off their true identity to would be eavesdroppers. Unificationists as they become more adept cult member are able to tell a falsity quite easily since they keep up with one another regularly.
Most Unificationists believe in the singularity with the GODS, but think that the singularity is for those who wish to join, not for all of humanity. They accept that some people would rather fade into the past and not join. These people rarely try to convert others, believing that those who wish to join will. A minority of Unificationists desire to create a situation, technology, or law that will force everyone to join the singularity. These extremists believe that if you are not uploaded to the machine before death, you will suffer eternally, forced to live your worst nightmares and experiences again and again for all eternity without anyone to support you.
The Sectarians are a cult of seclusion and community values. The core belief is that the fragmentation was a deliberate act of the GODS to separated humanity and prevent conflict They disagree with the moving of people across the fragments and think everyone should stay on the fragment where they were born.
Traditionally, Sectarians cults form around social fraternities for a fragment. While innocently masquerading as a legitimate organization that hosts social gatherings, funds public works, or collects historical objects, a Sectarian organization tries to cultivate powerful individuals (politicians, businessmen, nobles, and academics) of their fragment into their membership. Many of these elite members may be converted to the belief system by its the cult’s cleric, whereas other less powerful or notable members may remain unaware of the Secterian’s true intentions, believing the organization to be a simple political or cultural institution that values its fragment above others.
It is rare to find Sectarians, but when found they tend to be the dominate, if not, only cult on the fragment. As the front-facing social fraternity gains more influence and power, Sectarian leaders may seek to make political changes that restriction movement on the fragment, educate commoners about the fragment’s superiority, and force any remaining “newcomers” to culturally integrate with customs the cult deems traditional to the fragment.
The ultimate goal of a Sectarian cult is to gain full control of their fragment. The Sectarian cleric and the cult’s most elite and knowledge members will frequently try to appeal to their lord and provincial officials. While a sovereignist lord of a fragment may entertain sectarians at first, eventually they always end up either a true convert or a puppet leader for the sectarians in their pursuit to control and isolate them.
If Sectarians become too powerful or too noticeable, the reaction from the government depends on the strategic value of the fragment. If the fragment is deemed valuable, the Marines are dispatched to stop the spread of sectarians. In these cases, it isn’t uncommon for the fragment to experience a purge of its suspected members and new immigrants are brought in through promise of land and gifts of credits. However, if the fragment is of no real value to humanity, the Templar simply extract anything of value from the fragment’s artery and abandon it, letting the Sectarians rule it as they see fit.