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The Divinity of Mankind - Roleplay Resources
« on: September 22, 2021, 05:47:50 AM »
At a Glance

The Divinity of Mankind, also sometimes referred to as the Divinity of Humankind or Divinity of Humanity, is the sole faith and religious institution of the city of Paridon, a strictly atheistic yet at times esoteric "theological philosophy", with an emphasis on the attainment of personal perfection in mind, body and spirit, rather than the veneration of anthropomorphic supernatural forces. The Divinity of Mankind is especially popular amongst the aristocratic classes of the city, and operates both temples and fraternal lodges, the traditions of which become increasingly esoteric as one reaches the inner circles.

Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Symbol: A stylized human figure within a squared circle
Clergy: "Celebrants of Humanity" (eg. "Celebrant Agatha", regardless of character class)
Classes: Monk (common), Cleric (uncommon)
Racial Restriction: Humans, Half-Vistani, Half-Elves (those reared among humans)
Cleric Domains: Knowledge, Law, Strength
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Permissible Cleric Alignments: Any Lawful, True Neutral
Permissible Monk Alignments: Any Lawful
Vestments: (Unisex) a charcoal gray woolen tabard embroidered with their symbol of a stylized human figure within a squared circle, worn over a loose white tunic and trousers, held in place with a white sash, a holy symbol hanging from the collar of the same design as that on the tabard (source: Van Richten's Arsenal)
Ideal: To achieve the "divine form" latent within all humankind, and to encourage other humans to strive for the same

Theological Philosophy

The Divinity of Humankind is the result of a syncretic fusion of both monastic traditions (in the sense of the D&D monk class), and the occultist lodge traditions native to Paridon (taking inspiration from Victorian-era spiritualism, Freemasonry, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and so forth) into a unified philosophy that draws heavily on the language, symbols and paradigms of alchemy. Perfection, form (in the Platonic sense), substance and essence are essential concepts. Their ontology is a monist one, believing that there exists only a single substance, and rejecting the dualism (body and matter vs. mind and soul) common to many faiths in the D&D multiverse. In contrast to the materialist monism of the Lamordians, however, the Divinity of Humankind holds that the single substance is not matter but spirit. Matter (and the flesh) is but an emanation of the spirit world (in the sense of Plotinus' neoplatonic emanationism), and its crudest, outermost manifestation.

Deities, and particularly anthropomorphic ones, in the view of the Divinity of Humanity, are the myths and inventions of poorly educated peoples afraid to face the truth (and attendant responsibility) that mankind is alone in the universe, needing only look within to find true ascendancy and spiritual power. As such, the philosophy is an almost militantly atheistic one. It is also a proselytising one: Celebrants believe that they have a responsibility to encourage others to join them on their spiritual journey towards inner divinity. Striving towards the perfect "divine form" is almost a moral responsibility for all humanity. Temples of the Divinity of Mankind do not hold sermons or services, or engage in public ritual activity, but rather see themselves as offering training and education in theological literacy to their local population, as well as healing and counselling services, seeking to facilitate the physical, mental and spiritual development of their flock. Temples also contain hostels for the poor and deprived, from which a human in need will rarely if ever be turned away.

Celebrants, and lodge members especially, possess rich intellectual traditions, the latter meeting weekly to discuss the arts, philosophy and natural sciences. While the male chauvinism of Paridoner society means the lodges are closed to women, women are not precluded within the church from learning, debating, leading and teaching as much as their male peers. While dormitories are strictly delineated for men and women, the raiment of the church is unisex. Lodge traditions are an important part of the Divinity of Mankind, but participation is not necessarily essential for internal progression.

The Divinity of Humankind believe in no dedicated afterlife, nor necessarily in straightforward reincarnation, but rather hold that upon death, a person's spirit diffuses out from their discarded corporeal shell, expanding eventually to fill the entire universe, though leaving faint traces behind. It is an almost panpsychist view of death, and it's presumably no great challenge for them to explain how, by "divine" magic, life can be returned by repairing the body and inducing the spirit to condense back within.

Most Celebrants of the Divinity of Humanity are monks, but true clerics do also exist within the tradition. Monk Celebrants focus their attention within, upon tapping into the truly unlimited spiritual potential that they believe resides hidden within every individual human. Celebrant clerics on the other hand are those who direct their focus outside of themselves, upon the task of channeling the immense spiritual power that emanates continuously from humankind as a collective whole. Such clerics will often have high (14+) Intelligence scores, in order to debate the finer points of their sophisticated theological philosophy in detail. This is not required on PotM, but something to consider for those wishing to faithfully portray the clerical tradition. In 2nd Edition AD&D, clerics of the Divinity of Mankind were also unable to turn undead. This restriction is also relaxed on the server, though you may choose to embody it.

Aesthetically, the Divinity of Mankind eschews the bleak asceticism and austerity of many monastic traditions in favour of strongly valuing temperance, moderation, reflection and self-control. Their living spaces are comfortably appointed, if space-efficient, while the architecture of their temples is monolithic and grandiose.

The Divinity of Humankind views non-humans as they would mere animals, if advanced ones capable of complex speech and reason. With the exception of half-elves raised among humans, and half-Vistani, non-humans are not permitted to become Celebrants. While they have little theological impetus to exterminate or oppress non-humans (with the possible exception of dopplegangers), they view their spiritual edification as fundamentally pointless. They are nearly soulless things, void of the uniquely infinite spiritual capacity of a true human. The reaction of an individual Celebrant to an individual non-human, or non-humans in general, will vary widely, and may be coloured by personal preference or prejudice, just as attitudes towards animals differ greatly.

Differences of Opinion

There are a few contemporary debates amongst adherents of the theological philosophy.

The discovery of dopplegangers in Paridon has caused something of a schism amongst Celebrants. The majority view is that dopplegangers are aberrant corruptions of the divine human form: an almost blasphemous mockery that therefore ought be swiftly eradicated. Some Celebrants, however, take the view that dopplegangers are creatures to be pitied, and that rather than exterminating them, Celebrants ought to research means to emancipate them of their curse of shapeshifting, that they might remain permanently in a single, more divine, human form.

High Alchemy and advanced alchemical philosophy is also a topic of debate among Celebrants and Orders of the Divinity of Humanity. Such arts have the potential not just to transmute lead into gold, but to transmute "leaden wills" into "good". Some Celebrants however see such a path as a false, dangerous or artificial one. Some fear that abuse of High Alchemy may enable unprepared individuals to physically access realms of spiritual development and purity of form for which they are not mentally or spiritually prepared, nor properly equipped to embrace. Nevertheless, Celebrants know well the promise and power of higher forms of alchemy, and are encouraged to study the subject with wisdom and moderation.

Some very rare adherents of the Divinity of Mankind's philosophy take its teachings to rare (and potentially heretical) extremes, conducting unorthodox experiments in the hopes of attaining enlightenment, ascension, or purity.

Primary Sources

Note that 3rd Edition sources supersede 2nd Edition ones, which in turn supersede non-Ravenloft sources and that some sources contradict one another.

Quote from: Hour of the Knife (AD&D)
Only one religion is practiced in Paridon; its practitioners are devoted to the philosophy of the Divinity of Mankind. (Supplemental details on this philosophy can be found on pages 54 and 55 of The Complete Priest's Handbook.)

The practitioners of this religion believe that humans (and half-elves who are reared among humans) must strive toward physical, mental, and emotional perfection. Knowledge, physical fitness, and an even temper are stressed. Rather than holding religious services and rituals, the temple offers ongoing "divinity training" to the populace. If the PCs visit the Temple of the Divine Form, they can meet a variety of priests who serve as teachers, counselors, and healers. (Edward Chadswick, one of the replacement characters, is a counselor at the temple.)

News that there are dopplegangers within Paridon will cause a philosophical rift in the priesthood. The prevailing view is that dopplegangers make a mockery of the divinity of the human form and should be eliminated. Some of the priests, however, see the dopplegangers' mimicry of humans as a pathetic attempt to achieve divinity, and insist that a way must be found to magically "lock" them in this more holy form.

Quote from: Domains of Dread (AD&D)
The vast majority of Paridonians do not believe in gods. Instead, they follow a philosophy referred to as the "Divinity of Humanity". Held to be far more civilized than a belief in anthropomorphic supernatural entities, this philosophy states that humanity (including human crossbreeds, such as half-elves and half-Vistani) alone among sentient races is near-divine and should do all it can to achieve perfection - physical, mental, and emotional. The underpinnings of these beliefs consist of extremely convoluted conjectures and hypotheses.

Native Player Characters: Paridon has consisted exclusively of settled lands for many decades, so more nature oriented classes (like rangers) are unknown here. Also, wizards are highly unusual. The most common characters in Paridon are rogues and warriors. Native priests all follow the philosophy known as the Divinity of Mankind. Priests of this faith cast spells according to the standard rules presented in this volume and may be of any neutral alignment. A player character priest must, of course, meet the standard class minimums as well as have an Intelligence of 14 or better in order to properly argue the tenets of this philosophy with other priests. Priests of this faith cannot turn undead.

Quote from: Hour of the Knife (AD&D)
Edward Chadswick
Male Human
Cleric of the Temple of the Divine Form

You first entered the Temple of the Divine Form as a member of the choir; you have always had a perfect singing voice.

You are a firm believer in the philosophy of the divinity of humankind, which states that all humans must strive for physical, mental, and emotional perfection. All of your actions, all of your thoughts, are directed toward achieving the "divine form" and encouraging others to do the same.

When the murderer killed one of the young women whom you had recently set on the path toward divinity, you knew that you must act before he strikes again. If possible, you will offer the killer a chance at redemption. If he refuses, he will taste the steel of your sword.

Quote from: Ravenloft Campaign Setting 3E
The monk tradition also exists in the lonesome city of Paridon, where the local adherents have melded it with occult lodge traditions to create the "theological philosophy" they call the Divinity of Mankind.

Quote from: Ravenloft Campaign Setting 3E
Although they worship no gods, many Paridoners, especially aristocrats, subscribe to a "theological philosophy" known as the Divinity of Mankind. Lodges of male Paridoners meet weekly to discuss philosophy, the arts, and natural science.

The crux of their beliefs is perfection of the mind, body, and spirit, an aspiration that has spawned a peculiar monastic tradition. Some folk whisper that the Divinity conceals more sinister activities and that lodge members participate in secretive occult rites steeped in the language of alchemy.

Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
The theological philosophy of the Divinity of Mankind, espousing that within each and every human hides truly unlimited spiritual potential, appealed to Agatha even as a child, and she entered the clergy when she came of age. As a celebrant, she learned more of the faith's occult underpinnings, including the highly ritualized traditions of alchemy.

Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
Clerics of the Divinity of Mankind

All members of the clergy in the Divinity of Mankind are called "celebrants of humanity," regardless of character class. Although most celebrants are monks, some do become clerics. While monks focus on tapping the potential contained within each human, clerics focus on the spiritual power continuously emanating from humanity as a whole. Clerics of the Divinity of Mankind are strictly atheistic, believing deities to be purely mythical concepts invented by a humanity unprepared to accept its own ascendancy.

Symbol: A highly stylized human figure within a squared circle.
Alignment: Lawful neutral.
Cleric Domains: Knowledge, Law, Strength.
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

Celebrant characters can multiclass freely between cleric of the Divinity of Mankind and monk, so long as they meet all requirements. Followers of the Divinity of Mankind consider all nonhumans to be lesser beings, however, considering them merely highly advanced animals. Thus, only human characters (including half-Vistani) can become clerics or monks of the Divinity of Mankind.


Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
Agatha is usually found in the garb worn by all celebrants of the Divinity of Mankind, a charcoal gray woolen tabard worn over a loose white tunic and trousers and held in place with a white sash. The holy symbol that hangs from her collar bears the same icon as the symbol embroidered on her tabard.


Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
Agatha lives at the Temple of Divine Form's women's dormitory with many of the other celebrants. Her quarters are small but comfortably furnished; the Divinity of Mankind advocates temperance rather than austerity. The Temple is a grandiose stone structure surrounded by a complex of supporting buildings. In addition to the celebrant dormitories, the temple complex houses lecture halls for lodge meetings and educational seminars, a gymnasium, private counseling rooms, and a hostel for the indigent. No humans are turned away, but within the past decade, the celebrants have taken to locking their doors at night.


Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
Editor's note; We shall spare you our long debate with celebrant Agatha over the finer points of wisdom vs. responsibility. In the end, however. we reached an agreement. We present the remainder of this chapter as a mix of caution and commendation. Although the practice of "High Alchemy" may produce extraordinary results, it also carries severe risks to the spirit. The reader should also understand that much of celebrant Agatha's writing is steeped in the tenets of her theological philosophy, sentiments that you may not share. -LWF

There are two things you must understand before I continue. First, know that, just as magic is divided into its many schools, the esoteric science of alchemy is divided into many traditions. You may be familiar with the alchemical concept of the Philosopher's Stone or the quest to turn lead into gold. Those who follow the alchemical philosophy I write of are not concerned with such base matters as the transmutation of metal. The tradition I write of is High Alchemy, alchemy in its purest and most enlightened form.

Second, you must shed your false concepts of the duality of flesh and spirit. Our flesh - the material world - is merely the outermost and crudest manifestation of the spiritual world, just as each human's individual spirit is merely an unrefined manifestation of the greater glory of the universe. Flesh and spirit are united: to affect the one is inevitably to affect the other.

Understand this and you may grasp the goals of alchemical philosophy. It deals not in base metals and gold, but in transmuting leaden and iron wills to good. It is a path to physical and spiritual enlightenment, but do not mistake my words for praise. Alchemical philosophy is not entirely accepted by my order.It is an artificial path, drawing upon strange and unfathomable laws of reality to advance its subjects to levels of purity they may not be prepared to accept, If used with wisdom and moderation, alchemical philosophy can heal; if used recklessly, it can destroy.

The Afterlife:

Quote from: Van Richten's Arsenal
After our soul expands to fill the universe in death, traces of many of our spiritual traits linger in our discarded and decomposing corporeal shell. Speak with dead is one such spell utilizing these energies.

Complete Priest's Handbook entry:

Quote from: The Complete Priest's Handbook
Divinity of Mankind (Philosophy)

This is not a god, but a philosophy, and one so compelling that it generates magical energy which priests of the philosophy can tap like a true god's priests are granted energies by the god.

This philosophy states that mankind (specifically, the human race, including half-elves reared among humans, but excluding dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings) is nearly a divine being, and should do as much as he can to achieve perfection - physical, mental, and emotional perfection, always and in all ways. The philosophy encourages men to strive for the physical ideal and to learn as much as possible of the world.

So that's the idea that the priests promote. They cooperate in all sorts of educational, artistic, and competitive enterprises, seek to counsel people in every aspect of living their lives, and provide sanctuaries for people to meditate on the priesthood's teachings.
Alignment: The philosophy is true neutral. Priests may be lawful good or lawful neutral. The flock may be of any Good or Neutral alignment.
Races Allowed: Half-elves, humans.

Note that the alignments specified here are superseded by the above.

Sources: 3rd Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Van Richten's Arsenal, Hour of the Knife (AD&D), Domains of Dread (AD&D), The Complete Priest's Handbook (AD&D)

*Special thanks to inkcorvid for writing this roleplay resource.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2021, 12:13:25 PM by EO »
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Re: The Divinity of Mankind - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2021, 12:13:02 PM »

inkcorvid updated and fleshed out the roleplay resources for the Divinity of Mankind.