Bishops represent the clergy and religious leaders of League society. They have embraced the truth and power of The Way and the Imperial Synod. Each has a church and is responsible for the spiritual guidance of a congregation of lay citizens, as well as playing an active part in the Synod.
Religious heritage in the League is both dervived from, and a rebellion against, the more inflexible and stuffier approaches of Highguard's chapters and wayfarers. Whilst still respecting, and recognising, the importance and reality of Virtue, the bishops of The League understand the importance and reality of power too.
There are many routes an individual may take to become a bishop. For some, they simply follow in the footsteps of their parents with their congregations learning to respect their wisdom, much as they have done for generations before. Other more entrepreneurial bishops have invested in a location, perhaps having identified a holy place or relic, and used their charisma and connections to draw a congregation to that location. Some such bishops are even given support by a guild.
Regardless of how the status is attained, it is fiercely and jealously guarded. bishops understand that perception is everything, and so many ensure to present themselves in the finest manner, with civility and style - though of some bishops it has been said that their compliments can sometimes cut more deeply than a bravo's blade. In the sea of the imperial faith, the bishop is a shark.
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of folk,
I will find something in them which will hang them.
Creating a bishop
Bishops are powerful and influential figures who are responsible for the spiritual leadership of congregations of League citizens. The best way to play a bishop is to select a religious downtime resource which will represent a church, tomb, pilgrimage site or other holy location wherein the bishop can administer guidance and direction to the laity. These congregations can be in any part of the League, even if the bishop elects to travel extensively leaving day-to-day matters to junior clerics.
There is no actual requirement for a bishop to know any of the liao ceremonies, as such rituals are not actually required to give sound counsel. Some bishops elect to sell the liao allocated to their holy site so that they may use the funds to further the worth of the faith in more practical ways. Others find that the liao ceremonies are an important part of exerting social pressure.
Bishops may operate alone or as part of a larger group. Within a group of bishops, one or more is usually nominated as their leader or spokesperson given the title of archbishop. Such groups may also include junior priests, who know liao ceremonies but have no congregation, as well as other League folk who have dedicated their lives to The Way.
A Bishop may choose to graciously grant their patronage to a guild or a free company, though never as a common member or bravo. Doing so is usually a calculated act. Such a patronage can enhance the status and reputation of both the group and the bishop, provided that the conduct of each reflects well on the other.
Playing a bishop
For a bishop of the League, perception and reputation are important concerns. The clergy of the League are no less competitive than any bravo or merchant prince, but success is measured by profile and influence. A celebrated bishop is far more likely to be asked to conduct a state funeral or be consulted by senators. Yet, for all that they are a prominent part of a Faith that extols individual Virtue, bishops of the League are perhaps more likely than most to take a pragmatic approach to the Virtues, accepting that - sometimes - the ends justifies the means.
It is possible to play a less-competitive bishop with no interest in politics, machinations and status. Such bishops are important to the more politically-minded and may be courted for the support and resources they can provide. After all, a bishop who commands the attention of other bishops, whether courting or courted, must indeed be a force to be reckoned with.
For inspiration of figures who have walked the tightrope of religious credibility with political acumen and ruthlessness, some good examples are Jeremy Irons' portrayal of Rodrigo Borgia, various interpretations of Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Musketeers, and Abbot Hugo from the Robin of Sherwood TV series.