The Way of Virtue – often simply known as the Way – is the religion that was adopted across the Empire when it was founded.
At its core, The Way of Virtue teaches:
- Human souls are immortal and, upon death, will eventually be reincarnated as a newborn child.
- Reincarnation is not instantaneous. The soul must first travel through the Labyrinth of Ages before being reincarnated.
- Those who follow the Paths of Virtue pass through the Labyrinth more quickly and with greater integrity of their soul; wicked souls are trapped in the Labyrinth for longer and perhaps forever.
- The Way teaches that all laudable human qualities are rooted in the Paths of Virtue. For example, the Freeborn commitment to truth is actually an expression of Courage and Pride.
- Souls who attain sufficient purity of spirit, predominantly through perfection of virtue, pass through the Labyrinth to enlightenment. These individuals are called paragons.
- There are some priestly ceremonies that require dedication to a single virtue. Dedication is practised by those who have a calling, such as priests, pilgrims, exemplars and paragons.
- For most Imperial citizens, dedication is not required. It is sufficient to know of the Paths of Virtue and how they can positively influence this life, and the next.
The Way and the Non-human
Pure Liao has an equal effect on all adult humans, including those who are lineaged. However, it has no particular effect on orcs or, it is assumed, any other non-human species. This is understood to mean that the non-humans have no 'past lives' and thus supports the Doctrine of Reincarnation’s claim that only human spirits traverse the Labyrinth of Ages.
Opinions are divided as to what this means for the non-human. Some maintain that they are incapable of following the Way because of their natures. Others maintain that, even if they do not reincarnate, they should still be encouraged to follow the example of the paragons and exemplars.
The Paths of Virtue
Imperial doctrine currently states that there are Seven Paths of Virtue that make up the Way. These are:
Further reading for religious PCs
- Imperial Synod
- History of the Way
- The Labyrinth of Ages
- Paragons and exemplars
- The Way and Imperial Citizens
- Religious skills
- Religious Crimes
- Malign spiritual presences
- Symbols of the Way
- Imperial Theology