Overview

Sutannir are Freeborn priests who embody the Freeborn ideal that the way to follow the path of Virtue is not to preach it but to live it. Rather than deliver sermons on the virtues, they encourage others to experience the virtues first hand. What sets them apart from many other priests is their belief that the pursuit of spirituality is part of, rather than separate to, the act of living. They maintain that virtue exists only in the act of being virtuous - that one can study Courage all day long but cannot truly understand or practice it without seeking out opportunities to face down fear or stand up for your beliefs. Virtue is practical, rather than theoretical, for the sutannir.

Where some priests of other nations affect a sombre or serious demeanour, sutannir are so renowned for organizing spectacular parties that they are often employed by wealthy familes to arrange such festivities for them. Prosperity exhorts pilgrims to "enjoy the fruits of your labour today" - to the Freeborn mind this is an explicit call for extravagant banquets, lavish parties, and indulgent celebrations with feasting, dancing, and all manner of entertainments. In addition to this celebratory role, sutannir are also called on to conduct important ceremonies such as the coming of age or a wedding.

Sutannir make no apologies for enjoying their job, and scorn the idea that a virtuous life must be arduous, or only ever involve self-sacrifice. They see to the spiritual needs of the Brass Coast urging Freeborn to be honest, not just brazen about their actions and their achievements but true to themselves. They are also guardians of some of the oldest spiritual traditions, exploring ideas about the human soul that long predate the Way.

History

There are sutannir in all three tribes but almost all agree that Riqueza should properly be regarded as the founder of their tradition. Historians broadly agree that she was probably the first sutannir and it is claimed that she was responsible for the Coast's famous motto "Life is short, let it never be dull". Her philosophy is fundamental to the sutannir approach - the belief that people must be free to celebrate all the joys of life.

Riqueza is also credited with saying "No-one is born virtuous" and this is an important idea for most sutannir. This seemingly innocuous statement appears almost anodyne at first glance, but it points to a more profound, potentially heretical, truth. Riqueza meant the phrase in the context of a dismissal of the importance of past lives - she argued vehemently that if they held any importance at all, it was as proof of the failure to escape the Labyrinth. The truly virtuous are not reborn but pass beyond life. Crucially Riqueza believed that people should focus completely on this life, rather than any past or future life. She wanted people to live in the moment - what mattered was how you lived now. Her teachings focussed more on matters of decency, integrity, and justice, than virtue and she urged her followers to pursue the divine in a way that was fundamentally moral while filling their lives with celebration and happiness.

Not every sutannir places the same emphasis on Riqueza's teachings. There is an unofficial split between those who emphasise morality and justice above virtue, and those who see these qualities as a consequence of embracing virtue. Arguments between the two groups frequently hinge on how one can define or recognise decency and integrity without reference to the virtues. Those who argue that an understanding of a just and moral life is intrinsic to human beings, if they are just honest with themselves, are most often found in the assembly of the Way eschewing dedication to a virtue in favour of encouraging their congregations to act with compassion and respect. Those who believe that it is more important to embrace the virtues and use them to guide individuals towards living a good life are currently in the majority, but at various points in history this has not been the case.

Unsurprisingly given their nation's origins, the first Freeborn priests were actually Highborn. The path of the sutannir began not only with Riqueza, but with a rejection of what many saw as maudlin, prescriptive, dour attitudes to human spirituality. One of the earliest sutannir, Salama i Ayekh i Riqueza, said of the Highborn "They do not celebrate their virtue, they mourn it. What should fill them with joy brings them only sorrow." While the Brass Coast has come a long way in the centuries since the Exodus, there is still a strong thread of heterodoxy, and resistance to an orthodoxy that has always been associated with joyless Highborn, about their relations with the rest of the Empire.

This interest in celebrating virtue, and embracing concepts of dignity and integrity informs the attitude many sutannir hold towards the Feast of the Broken Wheel. When it began, the Feast was a response to the reign of Empress Teleri and the growing dominance of the Imperial Synod over the lives of the virtuous. The earliest celebrations were fiercely controversial, with the sutannir of the Brass Coast leading their people not so much in a rejection of virtue, but in a rejection of dogma. It quickly changed, however, becoming the festival of foolishness that is familiar to modern citizens. Very few sutannir will have anything to do with it as a consequence - in fact it is often said to be the only festival the sutannir do not perform. One reason is that the Feast is fundamentally about criticism and denigration of the virtues - it is not a celebration as the sutannir understand it.

Dust, Flame and Glass

The Freeborn believe the human soul is composed of three distinct elements, dust, flame and glass. Each element is significant, dust represents the loyalty of family and the long history of their people. Flame is the passion for life that flows through every part of Freeborn culture. Glass represents the purity of the soul, the ideal for a honest life with no need for deception or shame. This emphasis on speaking freely is what gives the Freeborn their reputation for being candid and brazen, but many sutannirs see it as the way to a virtuous life. Riqueza taught her followers to live a moral life, a decent life of integrity and justice, arguing that those who follow this path need never heed the objections of others.

Sutannirs encourage their fellow Freeborn to live their lives honestly. It is not always easy to see the virtuous path, and few sutannirs are interested in doctrinal debates about the virtues. Instead they argue you should first do nothing of which you might be ashamed... then you need only be ashamed of nothing you have done and you will live a life of Pride, of Ambition, of Prosperity, of Courage. They urge every Freeborn to be honest with yourself, about who you are, about the choices you have made and why. If Only then can you be honest with everyone else. If you can achieve that, then you need never feel ashamed of the scale of your ambitions, never be embarrassed about the wealth your prosperity has brought you.

Flame symbolises the importance of living life in the moment. Like life, flames are warm and vibrant, but they do not last long. If life is short, then it should be filled with joy and celebration. Sutannir celebrate sacred festivals with entertainment, feasting, parties and dancing. Virtue is a living thing that exists most strongly inside the spirit of living beings, and the best way to help someone understand that virtue is to help them experience the joy it brings. Sutannirs eschew long sermons, they spread the virtues by helping their congregations to feel the spiritual power they bring, and make liberal use of auras to help kindle a personal appreciation in the participants.

Dust symbolizes the body, the ties of loyalty to family and the whole Coast. These loyalties are very important to most Freeborn, your family are the only people to whom you should give freely and the only people from whom you expect generosity. Many sutannir ceremonies are designed to strengthen familial bonds, especially marking those moments when people join or leave the family celebrating births, weddings, and also deaths. Loyalty and honesty are encouraged in all dealings between family members and while many sutannir are passionate advocates for an unabashed life, free from recriminations from others, most of them suggest that the one group you should listen to is your family. Dust, flame and glass - all three are important.

No-one has the right to tell you what to do. But if your sister tells you you're an idiot? Best count the coins again - just to be sure...

Sofia i Huros i Guerra

Zemress Island Sutannir

The recent arrival of Freeborn from the Isle of Zemress has brought a new perspective. These followers of Zemress are almost universally dedicated to the virtue of Prosperity but rather than focus on celebration and enjoying the fruits of their work, they emphasize that all people should "Strive, toil, and {then} claim the just rewards of your labours." Zemress Islanders break their morning fast with a simple, plain meal designed to fill the belly and then they throw themselves into their labours. The goal is to work hard - or more recently to do something virtuous - so that they can earn the right to take a break from their toil to relax and feast. The i Zemress sutannirs reflect this approach dedicating themselves to organizing opportunities for their fellow Islanders to work hard with the same passion that traditional sutannirs have put into organizing parties and celebrations.

A Zemress Island sutannir has two particularly important roles to play. The first is to help people identify vital work that needs doing. On their island, the i Zemress were used to working hard together, communal activities such as raising a barn or clearing a field. As part of their traditional role, the Island sutannir help the community identify important tasks that would aid everyone. A good sutannir will seek out essential work that needs doing and bring it to the attention of their followers. They don't have any particular authority, but rather they look for tasks that need doing and encourage the community to tackle them. At Anvil an i Zemress sutannir can help their group or their nation collectively focus on important work that needs to get done.

Because the Islanders don't believe they can celebrate until they have achieved something meaningful, they often look to their sutannir to tell them when their virtuous obligations have been met. Only then will an individual or group cease their work and settle down to enjoy what remains of their day. This is an extension of the traditional role of the sutannir, to organize and arrange the celebration of important deeds, but the Islanders take this much further, actively seeking the blessing of their sutannir before they will cease their toil for the day.

Some traditional Freeborn sutannir have disdained this new attitude, believing that each individual should choose their own path - and that their role is to encourage their congregation to be virtuous rather than providing such leadership. But others have been inspired by the actions of their Island cousins and have begun to adopt a similar approach with their own congregation. The idea that helping their congregation identify endeavours worth celebrating and helping them to achieve them creates new reasons for celebration is slowly spreading across the Coast.

Creating a Sutannir

The sutannir archetype is intended to let you create a religious character who embraces virtue as an uplifting force in your life and encourages others to find a similar joy in virtue. It allows you to play a priest who strives to lead by example, rather than by sermons, who embodies virtue rather than preaches it. It gives you a chance to enjoy celebrations and parties, either as part of the festivities or as the one organizing them or contributing to them as an entertainer or performer.

Sutannir are priests, so you should usually consider having at least one or two priest skills in addition to dedication. The skills that allow you to create auras can be particularly useful, especially consecration and anointing, or hallow. Insight can also be useful to a sutannir - as much for the roleplaying as the mechanical effects of the skill since part of your role is to help people understand themselves so that can be honest with themselves and others. You can take the other religious skills if you have nothing more important that you want, but most sutannir can get by perfectly well without exorcism, excommunication or testimony.

A sutannir can be part of almost any Freeborn group - a family might have a sutannir or two among their ranks, but so could a band of kohan or a fleet of corsairs. It's a good idea to talk to your group to find out the kind of celebrations they would enjoy and then you can work out what your role will be in helping make those happen at events. If you're creating a group of sutannir then you want to think about how your group can create festivities and celebrations for other groups. Any sutannir group will benefit from having a performer or two, but there are many talented performers at the event in the Brass Coast and other nations. Sutannirs are meant to be experts at arranging festivities, there's no need to be providing the entertainment yourself if you're not so inclined.

A lone sutannir is a perfectly valid character, but bear in mind that organizing festivities is hard work, especially on your own. If you're attending the event on your own, it's a good idea to think about how you might support existing groups that are hosting celebrations. Sutannir are not meant to be particularly competitive - their role is to help the Freeborn live joy-filled lives of celebration, so working with other characters to make a festival more spectacular is much better than trying to create something that can compete.

While sutannirs are known for leading festivities, remember that such things are just part of your role. A lavish banquet is a celebration of Prosperity, but the real goal is to get your fellow citizens to stop talking about virtue and to start embodying it. Have a look at the virtues and think about the ones that speak to you. Think about how you might embody the tents of the virtues in your character - and then how you might encourage others to do likewise. Don't bother studying all the virtues or trying to learn all the tenets, the sutannir are notoriously disdainful of doctrine. Just pick a few tenets that you feel will be fun to play and plan to embrace them every opportunity you get. Don't just pick the easy ones though, the harder something seems, the more fun you're likely to have striving to embody it.

Playing a Sutannir

Playing a sutannir gives you a set of basic character goals: to encourage your fellow Freeborn to celebrate and be joyful, to encourage them to be enthusiastic and determined so that they embody virtue, and to encourage everyone on the Brass Coast to be unabashed about the things they have accomplished and done

As a priest, other characters might look to you for guidance. You want to avoid sermons, especially critical ones, it's not part of the sutannir's role to tell people they're doing things wrong. Rather you want to find ways to encourage the Freeborn to do amazing things - and then make them feel proud of those things (especially if others are unhappy about what they've achieved!). One of the ways you can do this is to start by finding out the good things people have done and applauding them for it. Throw a party to celebrate an accomplishment, hire a bard to pen a stanza praising some achievement. If you create an environment that makes people feel proud of what they've done, then they're more likely to do praiseworthy things in the future.

Empire is deliberately designed to bring characters into conflict with each other, so be aware that the actions of your senators, generals and similar may cause trouble. If they do something great, then in Empire there's a fair chance that someone elsewhere will be unhappy about what they've done. Part of your role as a sutannir is to celebrate these achievements - the Freeborn are meant to be unabashed in the face of public criticism, but that can be really hard. You can make the Brass Coast more awesome by flaunting the festivities you hold to celebrate the things you've done that upset other people. Doing so will bring interaction and conflict, but it can also help to make everyone in the Brass Coast be more brazen about the things they've accomplished.

Don't forget that you're much more than just a party organizer. Celebrating Prosperity is great, but there are at least seven virtues, you don't have to restrict yourself to any particular one. Your goal is to get people to act in ways that are ambitious, courageous, wise and vigilant. Part of your role is in encouraging people to be honest, but that starts with them being honest to themselves. Honest about who they are, what they want to achieve, what they want to do. As a sutannir you've got the perfect excuse to talk to other characters about their goals - and then see if there are ways you can help them achieve them.

One of the tools you have to help you is your religious skills. Anointing and hallow can be powerful roleplaying tools - a well chosen aura can be the boost another character needs to encourage them to embrace Courage, Loyalty, etc. You may find it helps to work with other sutannir who follow different virtues so they can create other auras that might be useful to you. You shouldn't feel any need to be promoting one particular virtue - the sutannir tradition is about encouraging people to have a life well-lived, rather than just blindly following a single virtue.

When you play a sutannir, think about how you can bring the spiritual elements of flame, glass, and dust alive with your ceremonies. Props can be very helpful here such as glass bowls or cups to drink liao-infused liquid from; coloured glass used to examine someone's aura; candles lit or extinguished when creating or removing auras; handfuls of dust or coloured sand used to mark consecrated areas and so on. Sutannir can also make good use of face paint, the actual designs themselves are in many ways less important than the colours and the act of marking someone out. Mixing liao with paint and using it to create a single design on the face or arms is a great way to perform a dedication, testimony, or anointing for example.

The ultimate goal of the sutannir is to get everyone in the Brass Coast to embody the ideal that "life is short, it should never be dull". You want everyone to act in ways that are moral and just but are also dynamic and decisive so that they can feel unabashed in the face of criticism from others. Celebrate the achievements, big and small, of your fellow Freeborn, so that they are ebullient and joyful.

Dust, Flame, and Glass in Play

A sutannir often paints their own face to draw out their own passion and zeal, but you can also paint someone else's face as part of a liao ceremony or similar. The act of donning make-up lets you change how you roleplay your character and helps add weight to the roleplaying required to use liao. If you want to psych yourself up for an important encounter of any kind, this can be a good way to do that, both in and out-of-character. You might ordinarily be a calm and quiet individual but become a proud and defiant speaker or a driven warrior when you paint your face with a design of red flames with dark outlines.

Kohan have their own face paint traditions, but the sutannir use it to evoke the power of the soul. Designs tend to be personal. You might use a different one each time you apply face paint, or you might have a favoured design that you try to follow each time. Some sutannir don't do the face painting themselves; you can absolutely mix liao with paint in-character and guide someone else in applying it. The point is to use the act of painting as a focus for the roleplaying, and to draw out the symbolism of fire, glass, and dust.

Some forms of face paint have real world implications that should be avoided. Nobody in the Brass Coast paints their whole face black, red, or yellow, or uses designs clearly evoking native American patterns.

Costume

According to legend, Riqueza would paint the faces of the Freeborn warriors before battle, to fill them with passion and banish fear. Both the sutannirs and the kohan still do this, although each group maintains their own very different traditions. The sutannir have traditionally favoured symbols of flame, but since the return of the Zemress islanders, older practices of portraying dust and glass have returned to favour. Sutannir in particular will often use face paint as part of a ceremony to anoint someone, or when first creating a hallowed item for them.

Employing the element of flame seeks to grant a person boundless energy and unbridled ferocity of a forest fire. Some designs are actual flame motifs, but others are more abstract using straight lines and patterns of brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow.

Drawing on the element of glass helps a person to achieve purity of purpose, granting clarity and single-mindedness. It gives focus to passion and direction to fervour. Glass is often portrayed with silver or gold paint, or with pale colours, often in circles, whorls or radiating patterns. It is a valuable aid to anyone who needs to keep a clear head - a senator presenting a contentious motion or a priest preparing for an important inquisition.

Finally, the element of dust anchors a person's strength to the causes they fight for. Dust can be portrayed with blocks or bands of yellow (representing sand). It is commonly combined with either or both of the other two elements, often as thin lines separating the two. It serves to counter fear, especially the fear of death.

Further Reading