The Good King
Mapother IV came to the throne of the Kingdom at a young age, yet was not one of the often ineffectual child-kings that occur from time to time. Fresh from serving in the military, he found his path to the highest seat in the kingdom paved with opportunity. The elderly Mapother III, before him was a reviled man, a braggart, and drunk, a bully and a womanizer. When the old king passed away, the only tears shed were thouse bought from the Chalice Bearers.
The first decades of the Mapother’s rule were hallmarked by his charm and youthful face, as he retained the appearance of a man half his age even when he was entering into his fifties. One of the most visible aspects of the new King was his energy and enthusiasm. While not a particularly gifted leader, he was well received by the populace and by the courts. His Queen was a foreigner, from a distant island kingdom. Their marriage brought prosperity and fortune to both Kingdoms, though hers was the smaller and less powerful of the two.
Mapother strove to be the ideal King, decking himself in gold armor, weilding an enchanted blade as well as hunting orcs and goblins, making alliances with the elves, and even entertaining a permanent ambassador from the realm of the pixies, sprites, and fairies. Few could deny the charming King.
The charismatic Arch-Mage from distant Iacon had a profund impact on the King as he entered his fifties and suffered from a life altering crisis. The King was shaken by the fact that though still young as far as kings went, Mapother III having ruled well into his 90s, there was not much left for him to accomplish. It was not long after this that the king was introduced to a controversial book, Sciomachty, Layton Frost’s seminal work of a human oriented church and the ouster of the supernal, and therefore superfluous Gods.
The Crown Schism
Following a second miscarriage, Mapother had his marriage to Lady Nycholle annuled. The decision was condemned by several of the prominent faiths, as it was considered exceptionally bad form on the part of the King. it was not even weeks later when he took a new Princess into his court to officially woo her before marriage. This wooing failed and the Princess and entourage departed quickly.
A new princess entered the court. There was some uproar as many felt that the Princess was far to young to be married, and especially not a man twice her age. Yet there was nothing that the increasingly impotent bishops and other religious figures could do. It was not long after that the pair was wed, and within a year, the youthful princess bore the king his first child, a daughter.
Sciomachty and Layton Frost
it was not long until the King was able to meet Frost in person, finding the arch-mage to be good natured and full of good humor. Quite a different picture from the man tortured by the gods for his hubris, but as Layton pointed out, how often were those pompus men in silly constumes wrong? The King granted the Arch-Mage a number of state titles, agreed to trade rights with Iacon, and publicly adopted Sciomachty, also known as Laytonism, as his new faith.
The outrage was sudden. The various religious leaders condemned both the king for his decision and Frost for bringin his godless heresy into the Kingdom. Any lesser King would have found himself pulled from the throne, declared senile and unfit to rule. But Mapother IV was no ordinary King and was able to retain enough of his constituency to keep his throne, though many mentioned the seat seemed a bit unsteady now.
A New Faith
Mapother is an ardent supporter of Laytonism, and encourages the populace to embrace the teachings of the Arch-Mage turned guru. While many of the courtiers and courtesans quickly adopted the humanist lifestyle; declining churches and temples for private meetings, exchanging potions and tonics in favor of ancient healing herbs and lore, many did not. Many who had formerly enjoyed good relations found themselves in neutral territory and those who played the loyal opposition found themselves increasingly pushed down in influence and taxed more heavily.
As Laytonism draws on the cold algorithyms of magic, and bizarre contraptions of K’tonian design, many find the faith to be cold and unwelcoming. The thought of giving up the cathedral for a private meeting hall with their peers, or being strapped into a strange spinning frame to increase their intelligence to be frightening. In responce, some faiths find themselves bolstered by those offended by the mage’s created faith. Some members of the court embrace two faiths, paying lip service to the King and Frost, while still tithing to their mother church.
The King’s Siege
Where once Mapother could do no wrong, he now finds himself girded in on all sides. While still charming and youthful in aspect, many still have a sore spot in their hearts for Nycholle who was sent away without ceremony or farewell, or the excessive difference in the ages of the King and his new Queen. The Faiths have rallied around the throne, and threaten to topple the king should he step too far out of line. With Frost returned home to Iacon, and surrounded by sycophantic sybarites, the king is besieged.
To make matters worse, Laytonism has been embraced in other areas, especially the darker and seedier parts of the Kingdom. The new faith has no great articles against many crimes, and without a threat of hell or divine retribution, the new followers act with perceived impunity. Many Sciomachtian Cells were nothing more than fronts for thieves guilds, extortion rackets, conmen and worse.
A Note on Laytonism and Sciomachty
Laytonism is the ideal of a Lawful Neutral ethos, though one that favors the intelligent, mages, and men. this shouldn’t be much of a surprise since it was created by a male arch-mage. Sciomachty, it’s main book is a long and dry work of anecdotes and personal insights from Frost himself.
Increasing Demands - As the tension between the crown and the faithful grows, things flare. Riots break out between those who like the order of Laytonism compared to church dogma, and those who see the new organization as an affront to decent people everywhere. The PCs can be hired to do riot control, protect a location, or be hired by a particularly devout thief to cause some trouble.
Decreasing Returns - As the Organization and Crown work together more, the traditional faiths find themselves being sidelined. Favorable treatment from the crown becomes indiffent, to increased taxes and demands. The church could find itself in a financial crisis, torn between paying the gold the king demands or releasing the rights to their lands to him and his new cronies. The PCs can be sent to enforce a monastary eviction, or stand with a poor church to fight the tax collectors when they come.
Coldness - Laytonism isn’t compassionate, it isn’t consoling, and it isn’t comforting. It is cold, rigorous, and demanding. Quick healing, cure spells, and othe such dogmatic nonsense have been replaced with the alchemists brews, the surgeons knife and gory textbooks like the Vocran Palimpsest. Enjoy your stay, wounded hero…