Pity is an illusion, profiting neither self nor others. Despise pity. Act for the nobility of the act, not for the simple selfishness of ridding yourself of feelings of pity.Sulemaine i Taziel
The sword scholars are warrior priests with a passionate dedication to wisdom and reason. They exhort the virtuous to test what they learn, to eschew hearsay, to despise folly and chastise the fools that spread it. They oppose the Imperial Synod because they believe that obedience to a higher authority stifles virtue. They challenge anyone who presents claims of revelation, rejecting everything that is not founded in logic and evidence.
The first sword scholars fought to oppose Highborn revelation but were ultimately defeated by those Urizen who had embraced the Way. Facing persecution from the sentinels and from the Imperial Synod, the survivors were forced to hide their existence. During the reign of Empress Lisabetta increased interest in the history of Urizen encouraged some scholars to make contact with those they hoped were sympathetic to their cause. This eventually lead to a judgement in the national assembly publicly urging the sword scholars to rejoin the nation.
Modern sword scholars are heirs to a confrontational tradition that demands that everyone think for themselves. They believe that no action taken under instruction from another can ever be virtuous and want to disestablish the Imperial Synod so that Wisdom can flower in its place. They are zealous agitators, ruthlessly committed to action and prepared to fight for their beliefs.
The sword scholars descend from a pre-Imperial cult inspired by the teachings of Sulemaine daughter of Taziel. Espousing a martial philosophy that emphasised observation and reason as a path to truth, she achieved notoriety when the first Highborn missionaries came to Urizen. Angered by their insistence that faith and visionary revelation gave them a deeper understanding of spiritual mysteries, she sought them out, denouncing and executing any whose beliefs she considered insufficiently grounded in reason and logic. Many who refused to accept the Highborn faith flocked to her banner, determined to preserve Urizen's more individual and scholastic approach to religion. In the decades following her death, the sword scholars grudgingly adopted the virtues but they remained fiercely opposed to Highborn religion, arguing that embracing the Way risked Urizen falling under the influence of the Highborn Assembly.
At the height of their power the temples of the sword scholars were a significant military force within Urizen but opposition to them began to grow as more of the nation adopted the Way. Increasingly violent clashes broke out between temples and anyone who attempted to defend the Highborn missionaries. Despite their martial discipline, the scholars were often outmatched by the more organised sentinels who protected the opposing spires. The fierce independence of their temples made it difficult for them to cooperate, and they suffered a number of defeats.
In the end, it took Urizen joining the nascent Empire to unite them in one final act of defiance. They refused to bond themselves to the new Urizen egregore in open rebellion against what they considered to be a tyrannical Imperial presence. As trouble grew, the Senate and the Synod called for the suppression of the sword scholar sects and a brutal crackdown saw the remaining temples destroyed or driven underground. Attempts by Urizen to make peace with the remaining scholars foundered in the face of both the opposition from the Synod, and the recalcitrance of the more dogmatic of the sword scholars. Gathering at the Temple of the Winds in Morrow, the survivors were confronted by an army of sentinels and ordered to disband. Despite being heavily outnumbered they refused to submit, and the resulting battle saw hundreds killed on both sides before the defeated sword scholars were forced to scatter.
That all sword scholars unite under the banner of the disciples of the Tempest Jade Maiden to become an effective fighting force.Edmundo, Spring Equinox 382YE, Upheld (116 - 0 Greater Majority)
Those who seek to teach others should first be challenged to prove their own Wisdom. We send Palladius with 50 doses of liao to urge potential students to study at the Temple of the Winds so that it may be swiftly restored.Palladius, Summer Solstice 382YE, Upheld (72 - 0 Greater Majority)
The example of the sword scholars of Urizen should inspire all those who follow the path of Wisdom. We must all test what we learn; only fools accept hearsay as truth. We send Galene Netherwatch with 150 doses of liao to urge everyone to despise folly and chastise the fool that spreads it, especially when it is done by those close to you.Amnis Johan Menkovich, Summer Solstice 382YE, Upheld (212 - 22 Greater Majority)
Over generations, the remaining sword scholars were replaced by Urizen who were drawn to the teachings of Sulemaine, but had grown up as Imperial citizens. These newcomers took the Empire for granted, but they were often drawn to the sword scholar philosophy because they were deeply critical of the power wielded by the Imperial Synod. The new sword scholars also continued to despise the sentinels, seeing their rigid discipline and focus on preserving order as both a betrayal of quintessential Urizen values and a crime against the virtue of Wisdom.
In 382YE, the Urizen national assembly made another attempt to reach out to the sword scholars and try to end centuries of conflict, calling for the remaining scholars to unite under a single banner. The sword scholars responded cautiously but positively to these overtures, and the Senate agreed to support the rebuilding of the Temple of the Winds in Morrow. Preparations were made to rebuild the ancient temple but those plans were interrupted by the Druj invasion of Morrow. When the barbarian orcs attacked the construction site, nearly two-thirds of the sword scholars were slaughtered. It took nearly a year for the Empire to free the area from Druj control and complete the work to restore the temple.
With the temple complete, the sword scholars now have a focal point around which to rebuild their philosophy. Mandates from the Urizen national assembly, and from the Wisdom assembly of the Imperial Synod, have encouraged the spread of their beliefs, and sent new devotees to study at the temple. In particular, the sword scholars are actively encouraged to challenge anyone who wishes to spread the imperatives of the Synod to justify their actions with reason and logic, effectively opposing the mandates of the Imperial Synod at every turn. As a direct result, it has become much more difficult for the Synod to enact its will.
Unsurprisingly the Synod has not welcomed this challenge to its power. Autumn 383YE saw the General assembly and the Assembly of Nine raise a judgement rebuking the sword scholars for their beliefs and practices.
Tenets of the Sword
The soul is a blade; properly directed, one strike can change the world.Sulemaine i Taziel
Sword scholars claim that reason and logic must trump all other considerations. While most are dedicated followers of Wisdom, inspired by the example of Sulemaine's life, her teachings also exhort her followers to be ambitious. Sometimes mocked as extremists or fanatics, they seek the best course of action, free from considerations of compassion and mercy. The first step is to evaluate a situation through the lens of Wisdom, and then commit utterly to the outcome, no matter how cruel or contentious it might appear.
Believing that all virtuous actions must be based purely on rational concerns, some sword scholars embrace Lucidianism, opposing the use of auras to influence someone. Many disdain emotional attachments that could cloud the judgement, especially mercy or pity, which they see as a clear failure of poise. Some are ascetic, taking vows of abstinence in the view that any indulgence risks weakening a scholar's clarity of thought. Others follow vitalist traditions, arguing that physical excellence is as important as spiritual excellence.
While few sword scholars go as far as Suleimaine, they are notorious for their opposition to anyone who claims moral authority. Sulemaine taught that it was essential to the pursuit of virtue for each individual to make their own decisions, claiming that the only virtuous choices are those that are based on rational decisions free from all external influences. In essence, her view was that those who chase virtue by following the instructions of others have achieved nothing other than a failure of their own Wisdom. The sword scholars oppose the priests of the Synod, not because they disagree with their conclusions, but because they view the act of moral instruction as inherently unvirtuous - a threat to the Wisdom of all who hear it.
Opponents of the Sword Scholars
The sword scholars have a long and bitter rivalry with the sentinels. In centuries past, the sentinels waged a bitter war to exterminate the sword scholars that took them close to the point of extinction. For the sword scholars, the sentinels' emphasis on subsuming the individual identity to a military hierarchy is an abdication of reason and logic. By encouraging people to observe customs and follow orders rather than to think for themselves, the sentinels reinforce the stifling bonds of tradition and make true virtue and personal excellence all but impossible.
In the opinion of many sword scholars, the sentinels have been disastrous for Urizen. Despite being the greatest magical power in the world, it's magicians and army are routinely conscripted to serve the interests of other nations. The sentinels are competent warriors and reasonable scholars, but their emphasis on obedience lays the nation bare to exploitation by the Empire. By recognising this philosophy and abrogating all matters of defence to the citadels, the magicians of Urizen have abdicated responsibility, allowing the Sentinels to make them subordinate to lesser minds.
Few modern sword scholars seek to leave the Empire, but they remain deeply critical of the Imperial Synod. They quote the tenets of virtue, saying that "Wisdom is not always knowing the answer; Wisdom is finding the right question." With it's countless statements of principle and interminable judgements the scholars accuse the Synod of issuing answers rather than asking questions. The core philosophy of Sulemaine and her successors is fundamentally at odds with any organised body that tries to dictate how people should behave. Those who participate in the various assemblies do so with the intention of revolutionizing the Synod so that it encourages individuals to find their own path to virtue.
Creating a Sword Scholar
The sword scholar archetype exists to let you create a radical warrior or priest who opposes the very idea of a higher moral authority. It gives you a chance to play a priest in Empire who refuses to be pushed around and actively pursues conflict with others. Sword scholars fundamentally oppose the idea that anyone has the right to tell anyone what to do; it's a great archetype if you enjoy playing a contrary character who opposes the status quo.
Sword scholars are philosophers as well as warriors. If you're planning to emphasize your martial side then you only need to be familiar with the key elements of Urizen philosophy, arete, poise, the Net of the Heavens, the tenets of wisdom, and the teachings of Sulemaine. If you want to be more a rounded philosopher then you will benefit from reading about the other virtues of the Way as well as the Doctrines of the Faith. Suleimaine considered herself to be a questor, so it's helpful to read about read about them if you want more insight into their philosophy. It is also well worth looking at how the Imperial Synod works; you can quickly pick up the important details in play but the more you understand about how the Synod functions the more effective you'll be at opposing it.
Either a congregation or a military unit is the best personal resources for a sword scholar. This can represent a score of sword scholars who follow your lead in battle or listen to your teachings. Taking a military unit gives you a way to take part in the Empire's military campaign, and might bring you into greater conflict with the sentinels. Taking a congregation gives you power in the Imperial Synod, which you can wield to thwart any judgements you think are flawed.
Most sword scholars have some martial ability. If you're following the tradition of Sulemaine, it's fine to favour heroic and combat abilities over religious skills. If you need to be able to hold your own in a fight you may need to leave dedication and similar skills to other priests. If you want to emphasize more your role as a philosopher than you can take dedication and consider skills such as excommunication and insight. Some sword scholars are Lucidians, who disavow the use of auras, so it's important to decide your character's views on that before taking skills such as anointing, consecration, or hallow that are most often used to create them.
In Urizen, a temple describes any spire that is devoted to the pursuit of philosophy and religion rather than magic. If you're part of a group with other sword scholars then it's a great idea to create your own temple. If you and your friends can develop a consistent set of beliefs and practices for your temple, then it will make it easier for you to work together at events, which will raise the profile of your group and make you more effective in the game. The more you can collaborate with other like-minded characters the more you can achieve, whether that be opposing the power of the Imperial Synod, sticking it to the sentinels, or helping others to embrace reason and logic.
You can still create your own temple, even if you are attending the event by yourself, but you could play an itinerant sword scholar who is travelling from one place to another in search of Wisdom. Sword scholars have spent years being outcast from Urizen society, so the idea of a wandering scholar is a good one, provided you make sure your character has lots of good reasons to talk to other characters and get involved.
Sword scholars are all about working out for yourself what you should do - so every temple and every sword scholar is encouraged to develop their own personal philosophy. The words of Sulemaine are an excellent starting point, but your shouldn't feel like you have to agree with everything she said - paradoxically a slavish devotion to her teachings undermines one of the core themes of the archetype. While the most common virtue for sword scholars is Wisdom, you can deviate from that if you're confident you can create a striking personal philosophy based on the tents of a different virtue. There are sword scholars who believe their philosophy is best expressed by Ambition or Pride for example, or by exploration of the telos described in the questor brief.
Playing a Sword Scholar
Your ultimate objective as a sword scholar is to transform Urizen and the Empire into a society where everyone makes decisions for themselves based on reason and logic. You want to oppose anyone who tries to set themselves up as a moral authority, but you also want to teach people to think for themselves. Your main rivals are the sentinels who encourage people to subsume their will to a higher purpose, so one of your goals is to replace them as Urizen's defenders.
You can be a revolutionary who wants to destroy the Synod or a reformer who strives to change them for the better. The Imperial Constitution means that you won't be able to get rid of the Synod completely, but there are many ways to limit the Synod's power so you will have opportunities to oppose their influence at every event. Like many far-reaching character goals, the fun is in the struggle rather than the victory. The Synod wields it's power through judgements voted on by members. If you have a congregation then you will have a right to vote on some judgements, but if you really want to oppose a judgement you shouldn't stop there. You want to get as many people as possible to vote against it because it gives you a reason to speak to countless characters. Take every opportunity to engage with people; anyone is a potential ally or - even better - a potential rival.
Just as Sulemaine did centuries ago, you can also seek out the priest who raised a judgement and challenge them to defend the wisdom of their action. The best way to attempt this is to make being challenged as much fun as possible - give the character an opportunity to demonstrate wisdom and reason, rather than showing off yourself by trying to take their arguments apart. If you can create an opportunity for another player to spotlight their character and what they're doing then it's more enjoyable for everyone. If they can convince you that their judgement is built on a rational foundation then you can give the judgement your full support knowing that it has passed the high demands that the sword scholars make for such matters.
You can also set out to proactively weaken the power and influence of the Synod. The sword scholars have achieved some astonishing feats in recent times, making it functionally harder for the Synod to pass mandates in the future. If you study how the Imperial Senate works, then you can look into opportunities to get motions passed that might further limit the power of the Synod. Your ultimate goal could be the total disestablishment of the Synod - that's not something you are ever likely to succeed in, but is a fantastic goal that you can spend years working towards, one small victory at a time.
Another part of the fun of playing a sword scholar comes from their fierce rivalry with the sentinels. The sword scholars despise the sentinel philosophy of surrendering individual will to fight together more effectively, so you have plenty of reasons to dislike them above and beyond the fact that they spent four hundred years trying to wipe you out. Alongside the Urizen idea of excellence, both archetypes have a theme of testing and improving themselves - creating obvious opportunities to challenge sentinels whether in a duel with blades or a fierce debate about the best way to strengthen the nation. Don't get hung up on winning, you and the people you challenge will have much more fun if the challenges are close contests, so you are bound to lose often. If your character treats losing a challenge as a learning experience, they will better reflect the spirit of the sword scholars than if they just seek to win all the time.
One long term goal of the sword scholars is for one of their own to supplant the sentinels as general of the Citadel Guard. This position is traditionally held by a sentinel and no sword scholar has ever succeeded in claiming the title. If you are successful it will open up many excellent opportunities for conflict with the Imperial Military Council, but you don't need a title to challenge the general and their supporters. Where is the army being sent and why? How does that help Urizen? It is not just the priests who should be able to demonstrate the logic and reason behind their decisions!
As implied by their name, most martial sword scholars will use a sword in battle. Many favour heavy armour and the offensive power provided by a larger two-handed sword. When a scholar chooses to embrace a different weapon it's often a two-handed spear or similar powerful weapon.