Friday, August 5, 2016

Complicating 7th Sea: Expanding Ussurans

The Ussuran Orthodox Church traditionally fills the role of both the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in 7th Sea. But, thanks to its devotion to only the first of the Four Prophets, I have taken the liberty of expanding the Ussuran faith to cover an analog of Judaism within the other nations of Theah. This requires a little balancing, and of course some trust in the players that this isn't intended to be an anti-Semitic slur, but rather to bring some extra life and complexity to the setting. As I've expressed before, 7th Sea is great... but its too simple a world when compared with the 16th, 17th, or 18th centuries its supposed to represent.

Communities of Ussurans
As written, Ussurans rarely leave Ussura because they believe Matushka, a religious figure and also a folk-spirit or magician, protects them there. But in order for Ussurans to mimic Jews in Theah, they must have communities scattered throughout the Théan countryside. There are, therefore, two types of Ussuran Orthodox communities in Théah: native and transplanted communities.

Native communities sprang into being with the coming of the Second Prophet. They rejected the Second Prophet as false, wherever they were. These were Théans of other ethnic descent than Ussuran. However, as time went on these small sects were herded together and denounced by the Vaticine Church. They found comfort in the Ussuran Patriarch, who took them in and pronounced all the Rejectionist Sects to be under the guidance and influence of Matushka and the Ussuran Orthodox Church. Centuries of persecution were ended as a formal church claimed these disparate sects. Priests were dispatched from Ussura. Old Teodoran was taught in these communities and they are now more or less indistinguishable from the transplanted communities.

The transplanted truly came from Ussura. Whether at the whim of an ancient Gaius, or because there was a time of strife or famine, these Ussurans left the Mother Country. Some where ordered to, so that they might build trade posts at the terminus of Ussuran rivers. As the Renaissance progressed, more moved into Vodacce to head trading companies connected with the amber, jet, and fur trade of their homeland.

Both types of communities are bi-lingual, with transplanted communities tending to be tri-lingual: Ussuran, the native tongue in the land of their exile, and Teodoran being the three languages spoken. In most Théan countries, Ussurans are required to live in particularly marked out quarters or districts. Avalon expelled its Ussurans, and so did, at one point in the Middle Ages, the country that would become Montaigne. Ussurans abroad tend to be legalistic, paternalistic, and highly socially stratified. They sing dirges of longing for the homeland, which is holy, but know that they may not return until the Matushka calls all of the True Faith back. Rather, many make pilgrimages to Ussura to step upon the sacred earth.

They are often permitted certain liberties by the Théan monarchs: they may practice their religion in peace, even where Objectionism or Vaticineism is hated. They may wear their hats indoors and in courthouses, and are not subject to the traditional "hat honour" of Théah. They are permitted to give loans and mortgages, and to charge interest on both. But they are also required to wear clothing which identifies them as ethnically Ussuran, and marriage between a Ussuran Orthodox and a local comes at a hefty tax to the lord.

Still, they thrive as many communities might, and the Ussuran Orthodox banks of Vodacce are known as some of the best and most secure, because you can take a loan from a Ussuran on the banks of the Arnot and claim it in cash in the Ussuran Quarter of Kirk several months later.

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