(Creating a Questor)
(Playing a Questor)
 
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Some questors, in the style of Sulemaine, actively try to expose shortcomings in the arguments of people who have set themselves up as moral or intellectual authorities on some subject. This works best when the target possesses significant social status, usually someone with an [[Imperial title]]. [[Cardinal|Cardinals]], [[grandmaster|grandmasters]], [[Senator|senators]], [[general|generals]] - are all characters who might assume they know better than their fellow citizens. Unless another player is actively looking for a personal nemesis, then this approach is easiest to employ in forums that allow characters to openly challenge and question each other. The [[Imperial Conclave|Conclave]] is the obvious example, but the Synod provides many opportunities for priests to debate with each other. The [[Imperial Military Council|Military Council]] or the [[Imperial Senate|Senate]] will also provide you with opportunities to question other characters - if you can become a member of one of these august bodies. It's still good practice to try to think of questions that are fun to ask and answer; even if you're actively working to undermine another character, the best interactions are those that are fun for both of you.
 
Some questors, in the style of Sulemaine, actively try to expose shortcomings in the arguments of people who have set themselves up as moral or intellectual authorities on some subject. This works best when the target possesses significant social status, usually someone with an [[Imperial title]]. [[Cardinal|Cardinals]], [[grandmaster|grandmasters]], [[Senator|senators]], [[general|generals]] - are all characters who might assume they know better than their fellow citizens. Unless another player is actively looking for a personal nemesis, then this approach is easiest to employ in forums that allow characters to openly challenge and question each other. The [[Imperial Conclave|Conclave]] is the obvious example, but the Synod provides many opportunities for priests to debate with each other. The [[Imperial Military Council|Military Council]] or the [[Imperial Senate|Senate]] will also provide you with opportunities to question other characters - if you can become a member of one of these august bodies. It's still good practice to try to think of questions that are fun to ask and answer; even if you're actively working to undermine another character, the best interactions are those that are fun for both of you.
  
Questors, like [[illuminate|illuminates]], have license to be openly sceptical of doctrine, but this is not because you think it isn't important. On the contrary, it's better to treat such matters as incredibly important - just that the doctrines are flawed or imperfect. Depending on how confident you are to push this approach you may be able to create problems for yourself in the Imperial Synod. The definition of [[blasphemy|blasphemy]] in the Empire is ''"The willful rejection, or perversion of, the orthodox Doctrines of the Faith as laid down by the Imperial Synod, or actively teaching and promoting false doctrines."'' The more you can skirt the line of actively doing this then the more successful you'll be at getting into trouble and the more fun you'll have.
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Questors, like [[illuminate|illuminates]], have license to be openly sceptical of doctrine, but this is not because you think it isn't important. On the contrary, it's better to treat such matters as incredibly important - just that the doctrines are flawed or imperfect. Depending on how confident you are to push this approach you may be able to create problems for yourself in the Imperial Synod. The definition of [[Religious_crime#Blasphemy|blasphemy]] in the Empire is ''"The willful rejection, or perversion of, the orthodox Doctrines of the Faith as laid down by the Imperial Synod, or actively teaching and promoting false doctrines."'' The more you can skirt the line of actively doing this then the more successful you'll be at getting into trouble and the more fun you'll have.

Latest revision as of 15:51, 28 September 2021


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Some Urizen regard the Way of Virtue as a work in progress.

Overview

Questors regard the Way of Virtue as an unfinished work, seeing the Doctrines of the Faith as incomplete revelation. They pursue deep philosophical questions searching for new insights into moral philosophy, the mind of the creator and the telos or purpose of life. Rather than guide the actions of others, they prefer to use probing questions to encourage their congregations to seek their own conclusions.

Questors challenge themselves and others by questioning the accepted dogma of priests and wayfarers. They are often at odds with orthodox priests and several questors have been denounced as heretics, or more rarely blasphemers. Most questors who are summoned to inquisition refuse to recant, preferring to stand their ground and challenge their accuser's assumptions.

Questors are radical priests who seek to overturn the established dogma in the search for a higher truth. Refusing to accept simple answers, they question beliefs and create doubt. They challenge authority and oppose the Synod whenever they believe it has erred. They are iconoclasts who are prepared to tear the Way apart in the quest for perfection.

History

Some historians claim that questors existed even before Virtue was discovered by humanity. The first recognised questor was Eudokia of the Spheres, who travelled Urizen investigating spontaneous auras. They were fascinated by the idea of purpose and took every opportunity to question people about their motivation and desires. A personable but keen interrogator, they would push people to examine their own aspirations and goals in the hope of uncovering universal truths about human nature.

After completing their odyssey, Eudokia identified eight fundamental "telos" or forces that they believed motivated human beings and gave them purpose. They claimed that a person who lacked telos would be listless and aimless. Eudokia created eight brass spheres, one for each telos, believing that this reflected the Creator's design in the same way that a musical octave has eight notes. These spheres were enchanted so that anyone who touched one would experience a sense of doubt and find deep and profound questions about their life springing to mind. Some scholars believe that Eudokia's quest for telos involves an early attempt to codify the virtues, while others argue that they were searching for the underlying principles from which virtue arises.

Although Eudokia was the first questor, arguably the most famous is Sulemaine daughter of Taziel. She came to Urizen from the Brass Coast in the pre-Imperial era seeking enlightenment. She was quick to embrace established questor practices of questioning accepted wisdom, but combined them with a Freeborn distrust of authority. Sulemaine believed that it was vital for the pursuit of virtue for each individual to make their own decisions, arguing that the only virtuous choices were those that flowed from rationality and logic. Accordingly, she reasoned that the greatest danger lay with individuals who tried to tell others what to do, not because what they had to say might be wrong, but because the act of instructing others inherently diminished their capacity for virtue.

While other questors were inclined to discuss these ideas as philosophical concerns, Sulemaine felt it was essential to confront these dangers head-on. At that time, Highborn wayfarers were attempting to spread the Way to Urizen. Sulemaine took great exception to the pedagogical methods of these missionaries (as well as numerous Urizen teachers who sought to instruct their students on matters of ethics). She would challenge these teachers to debate her and denounce any she found unable to sufficiently ground their beliefs in reason and logic. According to the legends, she would then execute them. Those who embraced Sulemaine became known as sword scholars but even the questors that repudiated her methods agreed that priests should avoid telling their students what to think or do.

Questors have been involved in a number of Imperial heresies - most notably the Lucidian heresy which began in the Restless Spire in Redoubt. Inspired by Sulemaine, the Restless scholars believed that clarity of thought was essential for virtue, and that anything that interfered with this lucidity would cloud a person's moral judgement. They were notable ascetics, disavowing material possessions, but it was their refusal to use liao to create auras that led to their downfall. The scholars believed that any aura degraded a human's ability to think for themselves; while some auras might drive people to action, such actions did not attach any virtue to the wayfarers soul because the driving purpose came from the aura and not the individual.

The questors of Restless Spire were able to spread their Lucidian teachings across Redoubt, before they were eventually summoned to Anvil to justify their actions. Their inquisition took place over three days, as the scholars presented their arguments in a trial conducted by the Council of Nine and watched by many attending the summit. Famously, Ansa Ansasdottir, the Cardinal of Ambition voted to acquit and publicly claimed that she would forthwith eschew the use of liao to create auras. The remaining Council members were less impressed, they condemned the scholars and pronounced that their teachings contravened the Doctrines of the Faith. They called on the magistrates to convict them as blasphemers and led the Synod in passing a judgement of excommunication. However, the Cardinal of Ambition was far from the only member of the Synod swayed by the very public debate and Lucidians remain a minority in the Synod to this day.

Questors have continued to play an important role in the development of philosophy and the study of Virtue since that time. They debate Synod judgements and challenge senior figures in the Synod to justify their claims. With the recent rehabilitation of the sword scholars, the questors have grown in numbers and influence and some have begun to take a more combative approach to their dialogues once more.

Questions not Answers

The foundation of the questor approach is to question what is known and accepted. It is no surprise that a nation that debates esoteric lore and challenges metaphysical beliefs might develop a similar approach to ethical and philosophical issues. Questors place great value in the idea of doubt, arguing that many of the things that others take for granted remain to be proven. Most argue that this doubt encompasses themselves and their own beliefs as well, having only contempt for another questor who expresses the certainty of their own convictions.

One of the great challenges for those who doubt themselves is how to provide instruction and guidance to pilgrims who seek them out. If they cannot be certain of the validity of their own beliefs - how can they legitimately impart those beliefs to others? The common solution to this riddle is to question the student on their beliefs, forcing them to consider their own ideas and thereby allowing them to discover their own answers. Questors regard the best teachers to be those who can pose the most thought-provoking questions, not the ones who can provide the glibbest answers.

To guide those who are honest pilgrims seeking wisdom, the questions a questor asks are intended to provide an opportunity for growth, one that allows the seeker to grow in stature as they gain insight. Some questors reserve a different approach for those they believe are presenting themselves as a moral authority. While few questors will openly challenge such an individual to combat with blades as Sulemaine once did, they will ask questions that are intended to expose the flaws in their opponent's logic and reveal any shortcomings.

Questors who trace their tradition back to Eudokia are more concerned with matters of purpose than abstract questions. Eudokia conceived of the virtues as animating purposes, as principles the pursuit of which gave meaning to life. They believed that this purpose came from the human soul, that each person had a purpose or "telos" to which they must commit themselves. Those who follow Eudokia ask questions that are intended to make a person question not what they believe but what they want, to help them discover their true purpose in life.

Creating a Questor

The questor archetype is intended to let you create a religious philosopher who actively questions the beliefs and practices of other characters. It gives you a chance to play a priest in Empire who prefers logic and introspection over sermons and lectures. You can ask questions of fellow pilgrims to help them find their own path or interrogate other priests to expose any weaknesses in their beliefs.

When you play an questor, you are a philosopher first and foremost and a priest second. You will need to be familiar with the virtues, their tenets and teachings. Any knowledge of real-world philosophy may be useful, as will an understanding of cultural beliefs like the Net of the Heavens or the Great Dance. Most questors benefit from taking a congregation as their personal resource, not for the liao it provides (you can trade this away if you don't need it) but because membership of the Imperial Synod gives you a forum for discussing matters of faith with other priests.

If you want your questor to be a sword scholar then you will need to have some martial skills. 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 - as well as an argument - then you should leave dedication and similar skills to other priests.

If you're creating a questor as part of a group then the most important thing to decide is if your group has any shared beliefs or practices. Even if your group isn't a sect, it is a good idea to discuss what views and assumptions they might hold in common. It's up to you whether your character accepts these beliefs or is actively questioning them, but it's a useful starting point for roleplaying with other characters. Questors can be part of any Urizen group, but they can also be travelling to Anvil alone. Questors are often itinerant, travelling from one spire to another in the pursuit of wisdom, so it's a good choice for a lone character.

The most important thing to think about are the questions and subjects that interest you. Questors are often defined by their opposition to something, some commonly accepted belief or practice that the questor sees fit to doubt. They see the Way as unfinished revelation, so any part of the Doctrines of the Faith or the practices of the Way might be something you are actively probing. We will never provide definitive proof to metaphysical questions such as what happens to a character's soul after death, so you can make exploring ideas like this part of your character's long term ambitions without needing to worry that they suddenly stumble on the answer.

Playing a Questor

The key goal of a questor is to pursue wisdom, deepening your understanding of the world not by performing experiments, but by asking questions of other characters. The idea is to push other characters to justify their beliefs, to see what understanding that reveals. You want to seek out characters who have strongly-held beliefs and look for opportunities to question them about their convictions. The best questions are ones that are fun for the other party to try to answer. Most of the time, questors aren't trying to trick the other party or catch them out - they're working with friends and allies to learn more about the world by asking questions of each other.

As a priest, other characters might call on you for guidance or counselling. Most questors adopt something akin to the Socratic method. This is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. Questors strive to avoid telling people what to do - the idea is that it is more fun to help a person come to their own conclusions about what they should do. If you enjoy challenging people to justify their assumptions and tell you why they believe something is true, then this is a good archetype for you.

Questors can also act as teachers and guides by using the tools provided by Eudokia. This approach is more akin to psychoanalysis, asking someone probing questions about what they want to achieve. Your goal is to help someone identify their "telos", by which Eudokia meant their purpose in life. Is it Ambition that drives them - or do they want the satisfaction that a prosperous life brings? Every questor is different, so it doesn't remotely matter what Eudokia thought the eight virtues were. The point is to challenge people's perceptions about the world - but you can also ask them questions that challenge their perceptions about themselves - about who they are and what they want to achieve. As always the best questions are ones that lead to more questions and are fun to answer. If you're a proper teacher then you're trying to help your students, not trip them up!

Questors often use religious skills judiciously, since many of the auras create certainty and dispel doubt. Anyone who comes to you seeking an aura is giving you an opportunity to question them about what they are doing and why. Even if you actively oppose the creation of auras, you can still use liao to guide people spiritually using the ability to prompt visionary dreams. These dreams are a great tool for questors because they come from within, rather than being created by or imposed by an outside force.

Some questors, in the style of Sulemaine, actively try to expose shortcomings in the arguments of people who have set themselves up as moral or intellectual authorities on some subject. This works best when the target possesses significant social status, usually someone with an Imperial title. Cardinals, grandmasters, senators, generals - are all characters who might assume they know better than their fellow citizens. Unless another player is actively looking for a personal nemesis, then this approach is easiest to employ in forums that allow characters to openly challenge and question each other. The Conclave is the obvious example, but the Synod provides many opportunities for priests to debate with each other. The Military Council or the Senate will also provide you with opportunities to question other characters - if you can become a member of one of these august bodies. It's still good practice to try to think of questions that are fun to ask and answer; even if you're actively working to undermine another character, the best interactions are those that are fun for both of you.

Questors, like illuminates, have license to be openly sceptical of doctrine, but this is not because you think it isn't important. On the contrary, it's better to treat such matters as incredibly important - just that the doctrines are flawed or imperfect. Depending on how confident you are to push this approach you may be able to create problems for yourself in the Imperial Synod. The definition of blasphemy in the Empire is "The willful rejection, or perversion of, the orthodox Doctrines of the Faith as laid down by the Imperial Synod, or actively teaching and promoting false doctrines." The more you can skirt the line of actively doing this then the more successful you'll be at getting into trouble and the more fun you'll have.