A Contest of Ideals
One of the problems that faced the nascent power of the Kingdom of Trinistine was that of an arrogant, and self-empowered nobility. As the faith grew in strength, power and influence, it came into conflict with the areas of interest of the nobility, stepping on their toes as it were. AS the Faith laid out edicts and laws, the nobility enforced their own, and picked and chose among those of the faith. This was the most obvious during the abbreviated rule of Pontiff Xaniel, known as the Vellum Dragon. Xaniel issued 142 edicts during his decade as Pontiff, and fewer than half a dozen saw widespread enforcement.
Before the time of Logan, the most influential and important Pontiff was Acre, later canonized into Saint Acre after his death. Acre is remembered for bringing the nobility of Sangreal to heel, as well as establishing the Legion Penitens. How he did this is a matter of conjecture among scholars and sages. Assumptions range from ecclesiastical debate, to the conspiratorial manipulations of magic. The most common answer is that the nobles were given an ultimatum, to submit to the will of the faith or face excommunication and eternal bondage. This sort of hellfire and brimstone theology, the promise of spending an eternity imprisoned within the grasp of Belex, the Trinitine of death, brought many to the Faith’s point of view.
While this brought about the end of openly flaunting the views of the faith, regular infractions were still being made. Many of the powers and institutions of the nobility ran against the laws of the faith. During those days after the Nightmare war, before the dominance of the faith, it was common for nobles to keep multiple wives, and concubines. Many ran cult’s of personality with commoners making sacrifices to the noble in question, and other gratuities.
Censure and Servitude
Entering the 15th year of his reign, Acre issued the Edict of Censure, which officially made someone being censured an outsider to the Faith. While an annoyance at first, it became a serious matter when Faithful peasants refused to pay taxes to the Censured lords and ladies, and were backed by the Arms Militant when nobles themselves took up arms.
To end a censuring, the individual censured had to make confession to a Trinitine Priest, and a suitable donation. For a while this seemed to work except that the more affluent lords were able to dance in and out of censure by means of their fortunes and less than sincere vows on contrition. Entering his 24th year of reign, Acre instituted the Legion Penitens as a repository for these powerful and wealthy nobles who openly flaunted doctrine. Rather than buying their way out of censure, the only way out for some was serving in the new legion.
The Legion System
The Legion system was not a new innovation in Falhathian history. The practice dated back to the Old World. A legion would be supported by various financial factions, most often the reigning faith, or powerful noble. The troops were paid at a high rate, but this was in contrast to the fact that they had to provide and maintain their own gear. The Arms Militant started as such legions, but became full fledged arms of the Faith, and were supported entirely by it, and no longer required a manorial support system akin to Feudal Knights.
The Penitent Legion
This single legion is composed almost entirely of censured nobles and wealthy burgoise. During their time in the legion, a period of no less than 6 months, the censured are required to provide their own arms and equipment, as well as paying for any supplies they need in the field. This is part of their penance. After riding campaign for the Faith for a year at their own expense, many nobles are less likely to refute the power of the faith. Being primarily noble in nature, most of the legion is composed of heavy cavalry armed with plate armor, lances, and suitable heavy weaponry. Support units are comprised of noble hired mercenaries, most often skirmishers and archers to support the heavy horse.
The command of the Legion is held by the Confessor General, a position of esteem among the clerics of the Faith, and one that is generally held by former Captains of the Gold Talons who have accepted the cloth after retiring from the Guard. Thus, they are thoroughly indoctrinated in dealing with less than reputable troops, are seasoned soldiers, and have a strong grounding in the Faith. Within the clergy, the Confessor General hold a rank equivalent to a Priest, and is subservient to the Bishops and the Pontiff himself.
The Legion Penitens’ standard is a bare fist gripping a base sword blade, red with blood. They often refer to their legion as the Sword of the Trinity, as it sees the most action in the field, defending the walls of Soixane from ogre raids, launching reprisals against Askari and Reaver rebels who cross the border, and the like.
Strong Arm of the Faith - A PC has been found guilty of some doctrine and is censured. They are required to serve a stint in the Legion, a short one to be nice, which leaves the DM plenty of leeway for those Faith directed adventures, IE the Priest says go and whack the zombies.
Red Handed - A band of unknown Legion cavalry has been raising havoc and slaughtering indiscriminately. The PCs are tasked with finding out the cause of the violence, be it explainable evil cultists opposing the Penitens, or an infiltration and corruption of the Knights of the Shroud?
The Cavalry - When facing the vastly superior forces of the Evil Mage, aid comes in the form of the Legion, who ride in like a whirlwind of steel and fervor. Now the PCs have a chance of not only surviving their encounter with the massive powers of evil/orcs/whatnot, they have a chance to carry the day.
Enlisted! - The PCs are hired by a censured noble to investigate the allegations of his censure, or to serve as his mercenary men at arms while he rides with the Legion. More interesting is if the noble in question is a lady, as the Faith is non-discriminatory…