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[Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:34 pm
by Infragris

"First, the Army is divided. Supposedly the local commander reports to the governor, right? But the Army has never liked being under a civilian, and lately its gotten worse. Much worse. You'd be surprised what's going on out in the districts. Then add the Red Templars to the mix. Theoretically tied into the chain of command, right? But they don't really take orders from anybody but themselves."
-- Unidentified Khajiit, Narsis' Foreign Quarter
The Red Dome Templars are an influential fraternity embedded within the Imperial Legion's chain of command. They dedicate themselves entirely to the fundamentalist worship of the Divine Tiber Imperator. The Templars are extremist Emperor supporters: they believe that the Elder Council should be reduced to a ceremonial function and that the provincial governments should be abolished entirely, leaving the Emperor an absolute monarch.

The Templars are mostly active within the Legion's chain of command, though they have supporters elsewhere and lobbyists in the Imperial City. High-ranking Templars are easily recognized by their gilded armor, which is an accepted Legion uniform. Templar enforcers often seek to suppress ideologies they do not approve of, such as the Arcturian Heresy or Numidianism. Their sectarian activism is met with tepid condemnations by Empire officials, who often look the other way when Templar militants raid a scholar's home or incite a razzia against foreigners.

Central to Templar beliefs are the Blood Dome Temples, shrines erected on places where Tiber Septim has shed blood in battle. These sacred grounds are anointed with pools of Incarnadine, an addictive, hallucinogenic substance likened to the blood of Talos, and used by the cult to enter a trance-like berserker stance and commune with the Divine.

The cult originated among high-ranking officers during the Tiber Wars. According to Templar doctrine, Tiber anointed his favored generals with his own blood, painting the Chim El-Adabal on their hands and tongues, thus empowering them to act in his name. This claim has little base in historical facts, and most see the Templars as an extreme outcrop of Tiber's personality cult, which was widespread among his personal guard.

Support for their cause by high-ranking generals and unscrupulous Emperors who used their cult of personality has kept the Templars in the Empire's good graces, despite their extremist beliefs. Templar disdain towards provincials is considered a valuable asset in suppressing rebellions and pacifying unruly provinces: as a bonus, a Templar sent abroad is less likely to cause trouble back home. The unfortunate result is that some Templars have managed to build support for their cause among soldiers outside of Cyrodiilic jurisdictions.

Templar-affiliated Legion commanders are easily distinguished by their iconic golden Templar armor. These officers serve in all kinds of Legion posts throughout Cyrodiil and the Empire. Not all Templars are extremists: many see the cult as a vessel for their personal ambitions, or seek a personal relation with Tiber Septim without subscribing to the rest of their agenda.

The Templars maintain exclusive Blood Dome Temples in Sutch, the Imperial City, Sancre Tor, and Caer Suvio. Each of these Domes is governed by a Headred, a champion to whom all Templars must answer regardless of rank or station: his command is said to outrank even a direct order from a Legion general. Each Headred is an absolute ruler of his own temple, answering to no one but the Emperor himself.

The Templars are primarily an officer cult, unpopular among the common ranks (who tend towards Stendarr, the Talos Cult, or some of the popular soldier-saints). Rumor claims that membership in the Red Templars is a fast-track towards promotion, which is why many ambitious petty officers flock to it. Only a small group is ever invited to become part of the Cult. The Templar's attitude has not endeared them to their fellow officers or superiors, and Legion High Command has taken steps to curtail their influence. Unsurprisingly, the Templars are unpopular with the Elder Council and the Imperial Curia.

The Templars have strained relations with other Tiberite cults, such as the Talos Cult or the Ysmirathi. Despite nominally worshiping the same deity and even pursuing the same goals, these cults differ on social levels: the Templars are exclusive to officers and martial nobility, while the Talosians are popular among broad layers of the populations, both common soldiers and citizens. Hostilities between the Tiberite cults have become more prominent lately, and some fear a that a large temple-war might break out, which would be very disruptive for Legion affairs.

The Red Templars offer no common quests or faction advancement, but will play a part in the Legion questline. As the player climbs the ranks of the Legion, the Templars will approach them with an offer to join the cult and be sponsored by them. This will open up a number of options later on in the questline.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:58 am
by TerrifyingDaedricFoe
Will there be Curia quests to discredit or impede the Templars, or would you prefer to avoid such conflicts? It could be set up so the Templars won't offer membership to the player if they join the Curia and vice versa, so a Curia PC gets locked in to the other route(s) of the Imperial Legion questline.

How does Uriel Septim VII view the Templars? How did the Templars react to the discovery that Tharn had been impersonating the Emperor? Had he ever used them to further his own ambitions?

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:42 am
by Infragris
The main problem of the Templars isn't with the Curia: you need those pen-pushers to keep the Empire rolling, after all. The Curia and the Legion dislike each other in general, but they are both branches of the Imperial government so they can't explicitly refuse members of each party. You might get some snide comments, but Curia membership would not impede Templar membership (on the other hand, they might think of you as an asset in undermining the Elder Council).

The Legion as a whole was complicit in the actions of Jagar Tharn: as pseudo-Emperor, he ordered massacres, jailed political opponents, etc. The Legion, used to obeying without thinking, mostly went along with this. The Templars were obviously more excited about this new course and quite eager to assist the Emperor. After the Simulacrum, a lot of them were demoted or sent to backwater provinces to molder. The Templars used to be a lot more influential, but they lost most of their political capital through association with Tharn.

The Templars obviously didn't take the Tharn revelation well: a number of them went into denial or claimed that it was a hoax of some kind. They mostly stepped away from the matter, though: all that matters to them is that there is an Emperor on the throne, heir to Tiber Septim. The identity of this Emperor is completely irrelevant to them: they probably never gave Uriel VII's personal convictions a second thought.

Uriel himself is obviously not very happy with the Templars. In his youth, he palled around with them for a bit, but he made a u-turn on that after the Simulacrum. Uriel does not trust Tiberite sects in general, after the Talos Cult tried to assassinate him. The Empire's tolerance policy prevents him from intervening, and for the Emperor to lash out at the legacy cults of his dynasty's founder would be a fatal error. But he does try to undermine them in other ways, like staffing the Legion High Command with anti-Templar generals.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:07 am
by roerich
How feasible would it be for the Templars to want to build a Blood Dome Temple at or near Old Hrol'dan? It's an important location in Talosian mythology, but it's located in a no-man's land full of hostiles, and relatively far from current Imperial power centres. I'm also unsure of how influential the Templars are in Skyrim, where there's already numerous Talos movements, but diminishing Imperial influence over all.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:40 am
by Infragris
The topic came up before, I think. The Templars are a paramilitary organization with limited access to Legion resources, so there's nothing really stopping them from building a temple in Skyrim - which is still one of the friendliest provinces to Imperials, all things concerned. If they had reason to do so, I think they would have built a temple there a long time ago when Imperial control over the area might have been better - which means it could now be a ruin, or claimed by someone else.

Do note that Blood Domes are not built on every place of talosian significance: they are limited to places where Tiber Septim actually shed his Divine blood on the ground. The temple in the southern Nibenay (which might be in Caer Suvio or Ancra, don't know yet) was built on a place where someone threw a rock at Tiber's face. Other than that, the place is of no significance to his mythos.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:51 pm
by roerich
I see. I wonder if such a ruin would even fit into the current idea of the region, although it might be an interesting location with the right assets. Among the Reach tribes, Tiber Septim is second only to Hestra in the category of hated Emperors/southern Demons. I would suspect the Battle of Old Hrol'dan being one of the places where he shed blood.

Am I right in assuming that the Nordic Talos cults are more occupied with his gift of Thu'um and ascendancy to divinity as the God of Men, and the Cyrodiilic cults like the Talos Cult and the Red Templars are more occupied with his role as God-Emperor of the divine Cyrodiilic Empire and included Legion association?

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:13 pm
by Infragris
The Templars and Talos Cult are mostly concerned with Tiber as patron and commander of the Legion ("I do this for you, Red Legions, because I love you"), but between them, the Talos Cult considers itself more "Nordic" (Falkreath/Brumathi, really) and the Templars are more "Heartlands" (as shown by their bizarre ceremonies and the use of sacred drugs - really Nibenese customs). It might be that the Talos Cult originated with Nordic Legion forces, or with the "converted" Nords who allied with Tiber at Sancre Tor. Usage of the name Talos generally denotes a Nordic conception of Tiber, or at least a focus on his early role as a general. Cosmopolitan Imperials speak of Tiber Septim when they mean the historical person, or Tiber Imperator when they mean the god - the latter is also in use by the Imperial Cult (who have yet another conception of Tiber Septim). It should be noted hat "Nordic" in Cyrodiil does not really refer to the current inhabitants of Skyrim, but more to a shared mythological fiction, similar to the use of viking mythology by some fascist organizations.

I don't really know much about Nordic religion. I vaguely remember reading that Nords in the early Third Empire would bless all new things they encountered with the name of Talos, since he was a new god and they did not know what he stood for or protected. In general, Talos/Tiber cults represent the Endeavors of Man, the idea that the human races are blessed with an exceptional aptitude for progress and dominion, which legitimizes their domination over others. The line between what makes a cult Nordic or Imperial is not that easy to draw: the Templars place special importance in the "Voice of the Emperor", by which they mean both his thu'um and his hypnotic ability to make his commands absolute. They claim that the godsblood from their wells allows them to mimic this ability. Other cults, like the Talos Cult or the Imperial Cult, place a very high importance on Tiber's divinity and ascension.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:21 am
by Saint_Jiub
Great write-up Infragris, this all sounds really cool.

Do you see godsblood as being the literal blood of Talos? Otherwise, what about this?

"Central to Templar beliefs are the Blood Dome Temples, shrines erected on places where Tiber Septim has shed blood in battle. These locations are identified by the abundance of sacred mandrake plants, the roots of which are mixed with human blood to create an addictive, hallucinogenic substance used by the cult to enter a trance-like berserker stance and commune with the Divine."

It would synergize well with some of the existing lore on Colovians and hallucinogens, but the pun of Man-Drake plants being associated with Talos is amusing to me to no end :P

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:02 am
by Infragris
I was thinking literal bloodbaths: shallow pools built around places where the blood just wells up from the rock. The Templars would probably think it beneath them to muck around with roots and alchemy. Could we do the mandrake thing for a cult of Akatosh instead?

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:11 am
by roerich
Indeed, really interesting writeup. Thanks for the clarification.

Re: [Minor Faction] The Red Dome Templars

Posted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:04 am
by Assur Dreleth
Hello all. I've gone through all of the factions here and find this to be one of the most fascinating by far - I was actually planning a Morrowind playthrough as a Red Templar exiled from Cyrodiil. It would be a great addition that the Red Templars have at least a slim chance for a sort of comeback through a questline - but I can understand why this wouldn't be a priority.

As I see it, they are a group which cultivates the Princes of the Blood, trying to instill in them the virtues - as they see them - of an emperor with absolute power.