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  1. Church of the Forlorn Saints “Across a thousand worlds, the Sith Empire shields its citizens from the dangers of the rebel, the alien, and the false prophet. It’s durasteel clad soldiers embrace the vulnerable populace and place their own bodies in harm’s way. They are champions and heroes of order and security, should they not be lauded as such? Should not the Sith that lead them fearlessly into battle be venerated and worshipped as the vigilant saviours that they are? When threats from within the Empire seek to poison and mislead the righteous and the just, do we not owe it to those that bled on the altar of sacrifice to take up arms? We may not be soldiers or gods, but we are indebted to their great sacrifice to carry the blade and the torch against the insidious forces that would ruin our homes and destroy our families.” The Church of Forlorn Saints is a militant religious group and warrior cult that devoutly believes that the civilian populace owes a debt of blood to the Sith Empire, and that all citizens should be prepared to serve as militia if needed. Few outsiders can relate to the zeal with which its members deliver their sermons, but the church will take in anyone, even those that the rest of society has forgotten. Initiates who join just for a roof over their head and steady meals are quickly and thoroughly indoctrinated by the order’s spiritual leaders, who are readily familiar with the best ways to undermine the cynicism and distrust of the downtrodden, and addicts find new purpose as their addiction to drugs is replaced with an addiction to hatred (and sometimes other, more exciting drugs). The church owns its congregation by saving them. Initiates have simple weapons and armor, often used piecemeal with their old clothing and weapons from life on the street. The most martially skilled members of the church are gifted with Dark Side relics that whisper to them at night and scream exultant battle cries into their minds on the field. Utterly devoted to the cause, these zealots obey orders without question, hacking apart the armed and unarmed alike. They may not have the technology and advanced warfare training of traditional soldiers, but their faith allows them to perform duties that would make otherwise loyal soldiers question their dark masters. The church refers to these men and women as the Exemplar Saints. The members most fanatically obsessed with service to the Dark Lord and his agents are often assigned to serve as bodyguards and aides to Imperial officials, particularly ones that have no combat experience of their own. Occasionally, an initiate who catches the eye of a Sith will even be blessed with the opportunity to serve on their personal staff. Necromancers in particular value these servants as they are easy to bring back into service after a fatal intervention, given their attachment to the Sith serving to anchor them. They are called the Silent Companions, as many of them take vows of silence as part of their duties. For those that have learned to be resourceful and clever before coming into the care of the church, the twin roles of scavenger and tinkerer are put in their path. The church often has more initiates than funds to arm and armor them, and the Vestige Bearers (Church Rats in less polite company) are responsible for making the often meager resources of the armory stretch as far as possible, salvaging and repairing equipment from battlefields. Given the mental acuity needed to perform their tasks, the Vestige Bearers tend to be more resistant to the corruption of Sith artifacts, allowing them to reclaim them from fallen Sith with less risk than some of the more unquestioning initiates. Vestige Bearers are often the most likely to advance within the church’s internal hierarchy, and even those that don’t hold official titles can wield influence over other initiates by influencing who does and who doesn’t get equipment and repairs. Vestige Bearers who show specific aptitudes and a detached clinical nature receive education in medicine and cybernetic modification. These pit doctors and battlefield surgeons are taught to place efficiency and speed over any other concerns, and have a reputation as indelicate butchers. These doctors are also responsible for the harvesting and preparation of the church’s own dead, reclaiming cybernetics and preserving corpses for the Sith to use at their leisure. Unlike a lot of other Sith medical personnel they won’t use the opportunity of you being on their table to experiment, they have no such lofty ambitions. So if you’re wounded and don’t want to get turned into a Sithspawn, and you have no issues with a complete lack of bedside manner or unnecessary scarring, check in with your local Crypt Raven. Not everyone has the martial aptitude to march with the Exemplars and Companions, or the mental acuity and technical skills to serve as a Vestige Bearer. For the plainer initiates who come into the church with faith but little else to offer, a life of menial service, common drudgery, and the occasional literal sacrifice await them. As much as some people might like to imagine that the church is composed entirely of holy warriors and priests, half if not more of the initiates simply don’t have what it takes to serve in one of the higher orders. These initiates are used to fulfil low ranking but necessary roles, often under the direction of more accomplished disciples. When the priests and priestesses need sacrifices for rites, these are usually the first ones tapped for “special assignment”. These unfortunates are referred to within the church as the Sable Heart. Very rarely, a member of the Sable Heart will snap, and through some measure of cunning and deceit, murder one of their superiors, usually in response to a long line of abuses. Rather than being punished (provided the motive wasn’t treason against the Sith Empire or the church), the initiate is taken aside and evaluated on their abilities as a spy. Those that pass the test are trained in secret to be the unnoticed eyes and ears of the church, utilizing the preconceptions of the initiates to move with practical invisibility through the halls of the faithful. As a secret arm of the church, they have no proper name, but the priests and priestesses often refer to them as church mice or little birds. The priests and priestesses of the Church of the Forlorn Saints are all Force sensitive, but often not enough to complete training as a Sith. The church is a way for powerful families that produce children of middling potential to save face and give them a respectable path to pursue in Sith society. The Church of the Forlorn Saints is not the only church to practice this approach to recruitment. That being said, any initiate stupid enough to mock them for it is in for a bad time. The clergy primarily serve to recruit new initiates and ensure that their wolves(Sith clergy don’t lead a flock, they lead a pack) are properly focusing their hatred towards the enemy and remaining devoutly loyal to the Sith Empire. They evaluate initiates for placement in the various branches of the church, and decide when an initiate is worthy of a relic, or in need of its guidance away from the false paths of compassion and mercy. Before battle, the clergy may choose to dose their charges with combat stims, which are delivered under the guise of incense filled censors. They rarely have enough mastery over the Force to have meaningful Force combat skills, instead using their meager talents to detect spiritual weakness and incite rage. Similar to the Krath, the church uses familial terms, with the clergy being addressed as Mothers and Fathers by the initiates. Truly powerful Dark Side users are a rarity amongst the clergy proper, but not unheard of. The church offers opportunities for both power and to study a multitude of Dark Side relics, not to mention access to exceedingly loyal minions. Most citizens of the Sith Empire either fear their dark masters or consider them too distant to really think about, but the initiates truly revere the Sith and the Dark Side with a blind love and devotion that can be addictive. Sith of this nature who join the church often do so in the role of archivists and artisans, creating Sith relics within the church workshops while enjoying open access to its vast libraries of knowledge about relic creation. Others were once initiates that managed to slip through the Empire’s screening process and grew up in the church. These Dark Side adepts are hard believers in the cause, whose faith emanates like a roaring fire around them, warming the devout and terrifying the unbelievers. The most powerful of these workers of dark miracles are said to be able to bestow others with the ability to manipulate the Dark Side of the Force. The church calls these practitioners Hallowed Paragons. The most sly and charismatic initiates find themselves being reinvented as symbols of the church, examples of what devotion and ability can achieve. The days of dented piecemeal armor and dull blades are behind them, instead the church now outfits them with properly fitted gear made specifically for them. Old scars are erased under the care of doctors who actually went to medical school, and vitality is restored through the profane blood rituals of Krath biomancers. Some are even rumored to have implanted pheromone glands similar to the Falleen and Zeltrons. These initiates form the public face of the church, especially in regards to the media, recruitment rallies, and wealthy patrons. While the church doesn’t have an official name for these ambassadors to the world at large as they are introduced as run of the mill initiates, in house communications refer to them as Masks or the Masked. Should an initiate show both martial prowess and a mind for tactical and strategic thought, they may be exalted to a command position within the ranks of the Exemplars or Companions. These are the hardline veterans of the church, having survived countless battles, and often countless injuries, but continuing to follow the path of the devout warrior unswayed. These crusaders are the most likely to be uplifted by the Hallowed Paragons into Dark Side Force sensitivity. They use their powers to guide their brothers and sisters in battle, and drive them into zealous furor. They are known as Dark Prelates. On extremely rare occasions, initiates that served in combat roles will age out of service, and be retasked with overseeing the church’s vaults of Sith relics and advising newer initiates in need of wisdom from someone that walked the same path. Most artifacts within the vaults have a grudging respect for them on account of their ability to survive for so long, although a fair bit of cursing and arguing can often be heard coming from the vaults as the keepers quarrel with their charges. They are known as the Sepulchral Archivists by the church.
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