The Saintly Circles of Colovia

Discussion of Elder Scrolls lore and how it will be used in Province: Cyrodiil
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Infragris
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The Saintly Circles of Colovia

Post by Infragris » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:46 pm

The Saintly Circles are the inheritors of the old knightly orders designs, which were deemed unfit for the Imperial environment (being more of a Breton thing). Saintly Circles act as a kind of super-localized pseudofactions, where Colovian patricians and dignitaries gather to discuss their affairs and make informal arrangements. The Circles serve to expand the role of the Saints of Cyrod in common Imperial culture, and as a counterweight to the totem societies in the east. They can best be compared to a kind of country club or a masonic lodge. The closest analogy in the base game are the Council Clubs of Morrowind.

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A saintly circle is an exclusive social venue frequented by nobles, merchants, landowners and military officers, united in honor and reverence of a Colovian saint (often the founder of the town or an important local figure). Originally, these societies were reserved for the Colo-Nordic nobility, but they were later opened to all sorts of local dignitaries and wealthy benefactors.

Membership of a circle depends on a number of factors. A potential member must live in or near the local town. They must be without scandal, and a respected part of upper-class society. They must affirm the traditional Colovian virtues that the saints espouse, and share the dominant political orientation of the circle. Finally, they must possess enough money to pay the steep membership prices and continue to maintain themselves as an affluent Colovian patrician should. Some of the older, more exclusive circles also demand that their members provide proof of Nordic ancestry.

Colovians do not venerate their saints as powerful, interventionist spirits as the Nibenese do (they find the idea of coercing a saint to do your bidding distasteful), but see the saints as distant spirits who, like the Divines, have little influence over the mortal plane. Instead, Colovians look up to the saints as examples of virtue and social conduct. Most are founder-saints, credited with the conquest and creation of the Colovian frontier, or warrior-, commander-, and emperor-saints, historical figures whose lives are known through biographies instead of myths. Most saintly circles are political or social affairs, and only pay lip-service to their patron saint outside of routine ceremonies: the saint's shrine room is often the least visited room in a saintly circle.

Saintly circles are influential on the local level, but their power quickly wanes further away their home settlement. Some circles that are bound by fraternal oaths or founded in the honor of the same saint do maintain a united front, but this is rare. Though most Circles are only influential on the local level, larger factions such as the Colo-Nordic Nobility, Imperial Curia, Legion, the Guilds or some of the merchant companies often court the Circles to win political favor. Larger cities often have multiple saintly circles with different viewpoints and alliances.

The most important role of a circle is facilitating communication between the Colovian elites. To the Colo-Nordic nobilty, the circles provide a place free of their restrictive codes of honor and conduct, allowing them to make business arrangements with merchants and landowners. The circle also allows them to find marriage partners outside of the aristocracy, which is necessary to stave off inbreeding (a constant danger due to the obsession with pure Nordic blood). Even apart from blood politics, the dire financial situation of many Colo-Nordic families forces them to create family bonds with affluent merchant families.

The average Colovian saintly circle is a large, discreet mansion with a prominent location in town. Though not quite as luxurious as the private homes of its members, many circles boast of fine furnishings and decoration in the homely, old-fashioned Colovian style. Every circle features at least one shrine to their chosen patron saint, though, depending on their proclivities, it can be very prominent or pushed in a corner and forgotten about. Shrines usually have some guarded relics associated with their saint (a favored Thieves Guild target). Circles that boast exclusive Colo-Nordic membership sometimes also maintain a Shor shrine. Amenities tend towards luxury and relaxation: depending on their wealth and status, circles can have bars, dining rooms, ballrooms, libraries or studies, game rooms, baths or Nordic saunas, and rooms for trophies (from the hunt or from war). All circles feature an area where members can engage in honorable duels or sparring matches.

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Post by Atrayonis » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:20 pm

It reads as a mixture of the 19th century Roman Catholic Church with a healthy mixture of Masonry. I like it!

Using this instead of the Breton Knightly Orders seems to carry a certain weight of using Bretons as barbarians, as they use forces-of-arms to fill the same societal role that masonic lodges do for the Cyro-Scots. The contrast would be between personal might and societal might - as far as Cyrodiil as the center of the Empire is concerned, this is a good idea. but it clashes with my personal image of the Colovians as the arms of he Empire.

What I'm missing here is the connection between the saints and the Divines. Is that intentional? If so, it would probably be good to point out how the Great Faiths deal with the Saintly Circles and their little gods.

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Post by Infragris » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:24 pm

Alright, after some deliberation on Discord, I would like to propose to propose some changes to the concept behind the Saintly Circles.

First, a word of explanations: the current setup is considered inadequate because of the following reasons:
  • It originated as a stopgap solution to ripping out the old knightly order idea, without much reason beyond fitting something knight-shaped in the hole.
  • Too much diversity in Colovian religiosity undermines their core identity when compared to the Nibenese
  • The Circles were first meant to showcase the Saint of Cyrod, but they have since been incorporated into the gameworld in other ways (notably, their wayshrines)
  • Adding even more factions to already faction-heavy Cyrodiil could turn it into a morass in which we ourselves no longer know the way.
  • Other factions, such as the minor cults and the Colo-Nordic Lords, fill the same niche in better ways.
Instead of Saintly Circles being a common Colovian institution found in many smaller settlements, the concept could be folded back into being two or three notable fraternities more in the mold of masonic lodges: exclusive societies/country clubs frequented by Colovian nobles, merchants, landowners and officers who honor a variety of Colovian "founder saints" in a specific way. They will have lodges in some major cities, such as Kvatch, Skingrad, or Sarchal, but also have a much wider reach, with influential members across the land. Gaining their favor and/or fighting their influence will become a key part of the Colo-Nordic questline.

In terms of factual influence and worldspace implementation, the Saintly Circles will just be yet another minor Cyrodiilic cult, albeit of a more Colovian bent, with one or two faction locations and a dozen or so members. Actual in-game factions would only be added if necessary from a technical pov, and none of these factions would officially be joinable or offer quest progression (except maybe as a "fellow").

In practical terms, this means three things:
  • The Saint Amiel Society in Anvil reverts back to being an exclusive restaurant/officer's club (still named for the saint)
  • The large villa outside of Anvil gates loses its purpose (maybe just scrap this building - it adds nothing to the gameworld).
  • One house in Brina Cross has to be repurposed, perhaps as an upper-class tavern (luckily, the interior is unfinished).

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