Trophy: The Sisters

We revere the Sisters, women from the near-mythical Age of Saints whose works are lodestars of goodness and virtue. The Sisters order our lives: we erect churches to honor them, we hold feast days in their name, and we seek their blessings for hearth and home. But how much do we truly know about them, about the women behind the saintly shrouds? There are some historians who suggest the stories we tell of the Sisters are little better than fairytales, that many of these saints have a dark and complicated history that has been whitewashed over the centuries. A few scholars suggest these women never existed at all, that the entities we venerate as saints are, in fact, demons who use the trappings of religion to control us. No matter the truth, we must at least acknowledge that light cannot exist without dark.

@jesseross and I are putting together a standalone book for the Trophy RPG (the game and its many expansions are currently featured in each new issue of Codex). One of the things we’re going to do with this book is include numerous tables that help flesh out the world Trophy takes place in. Keeping with the spirit of Trophy as a community project, we’re going to be crowdsourcing many of the elements that go into these tables. We already have a number of these crowdsourcing threads underway, any of which you can still contribute to. They can be found in this master list:

For this installment, we’re learning about the Sisters, saints whose veneration comprises most of the religion in the world of Trophy. We’re looking for one type of entry here, though each entry needs to have key pieces of information:

The Sisters

  • Name of the Sister
  • The profession or organization she is the patron saint of
  • At least 1 rite that group performs to honor her
  • A dark, little-known aspect of the Sister or her history

NOTE: Please avoid anything that feels like sexual predation or that is misogynistic in nature. We won’t print such things.

You can submit as many entries as you wish. By submitting here, you agree to let us use your contribution in the Trophy standalone book and PDF (you will be credited as a contributor). Submissions should be fairly brief (just a few sentences). Here are some examples:

“Evelyn the White, patron saint of doctors and nurses, is routinely honored by the wearing of pristine, white garments. While she is today associated with saving lives, during her time, which was the bleak Era of Occlusion, she was known for the exact opposite: mercy killings to those left desperate by the apocalyptic wars that defined those years.”

“Clarithe, patron saint of glassblowers, is worshipped in only one place: the Cathedral of Light in Ambaret, an artistic marvel of delicate glass sculptures. But few know the true story: long ago, a wealthy man was so distraught by the death of his wife, Clarissa, he had artisans build a glass replica of her body, inside of which were arranged her bones and internal organs, a grotesque that was then displayed for any and all to see. Over the centuries, this tale became warped, until the glass ‘Clarissa’ became the saint ‘Clarithe,’ who so admired the glassblowers, she commissioned them to create a reliquary for her parts after she died.”

“The woodsmen who venerate St. Fyonne hold a feast in her name before felling a particularly old tree. This rite is significantly tamed from Fyonne’s time, when she required that any tree taken from the forest to serve man must be balanced with the sacrifice of an equivalently old person who was given over to be feasted upon by beasts.”

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St. Aliciar is the patron saint of sailors and all those who set foot on a ship, whether it is the size of a galleon or a simple rowboat. Before each trip, the captain must make sure to wet the faces of all embarking passengers with water collected during the previous trip. On the first voyage, and when this water is lost, no blessing is granted to the ship, which relies on fate to reach its destination. The purpose of this tradition is to show that one does not fear water, unlike Aliciar’s twin sister, who feared water and disappeared during a ride on the lake with Aliciar. The truth is quite different. Aliciar was jealous of his sister and drowned her on that trip, getting back ashore drenched and alone.

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St. Fatimah, the patron saint of charcoal-burners is almost solely worshiped by the flame-brewers of Thornbriar township. Her temples and churches are made of cracked, fire-hardened wood, eternally filling these holy great rooms with the thick, savory scent of burnt wood, mingling with the offerings burnt in praise of her. These buildings are often prone to falling apart in hard winds and heavy storms due to material concerns.

Travelers will give praise to St. Fatimah by taking campfire ash from the last dead fire they approach before starting their journey and smearing it over each eyelid and their lips. It is said that until the ash washes off the faces of the faithful, fires will burn hotter and longer and use less fuel. Villagers have a variant of this ritual, required to apply ash to their faces daily for the last month of autumn in preparation for winter.

Fatimah is known as a traveler who moved throughout the land from the south. It is said that she traveled with a cart that held a never-ending collection of firewood, and she would travel to outlying communities during the winter to provide them with fuel for their hearths for free. In the centuries since her veneration, this is all that remains of the story. The wood that Fatimah gave those villages and hamlets was given a malformed blessing by the True Folk that live just out of the corner of the eye. The fire acted as a signal to these spirits, and each household which burned the wood upon its hearth would be found in the morning, their bodies in hideous condition from otherworldly flaying knives.

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That’s really terrific, but it needs to be more concise for us to use it.

Unless it’s 3 different entries? In which case, it’s all good.

Nope, all the same entry! I will whittle it down; I went a little overboard in the details.

Erlea the Amber, patron of florists, gardening and honey gatherers. Erlea encouraged everyone to do honey gathering or gardening every day, and gathered many obedient followers. Whispers persist that she once tested disobedient students by leading them through the hedge maze to be stung by hornets and wasps. Those practising her ways have honey once per day and grow flowers in six locations around their homes.

Urshula the Unrivalled, saint of hunting and wrestling. By day Ursula could be found wandering the woods for berries or deer, and by night she would wrestle down at the tavern, raising funds for the poor. Devotees of Urshula wear animal fur and wrestle before sharing a large meal of meat. Urshuala never lost a wrestling match and some swear she grew taller and growled during the longer matches.

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St. Solacruse is the patron of cobblers and shoemakers. After a funeral it is customary for a loved one (usually a spouse or parent) to leave a pair of the departed’s shoes with a cobbler or devoted of St. Solacruse. The devoted will then wait until nightfall to ritualistically disassemble the footwear and burn it piece by piece, ensuring, legend’s say, the departed’s ghost won’t have to walk far to the afterlife. This is a common practice today, but few know it derives from an ancient queen (likely the original Solacruse) who would have the soles of her prisoners’ feet flayed off when they were sentenced to her dungeon. Perhaps as some sick joke or cruel deterrent, the queen would have the bloody scraps publicly delivered to a cobbler after the inevitable execution.

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Helissen the Subtle empowers those with no means to protect themselves. While no formal school of hers exists, her nuns have honed their graceful unarmed techniques on the street as they defend the innocent and vulnerable. According to her teachings, each time a nun intervenes they must also teach the survivor a technique - how to break an assailant’s grip, simple ways to trip or throw them to the ground, and the art of applying chokeholds using their own garments. In this way they honor the courage of Helissen and ensure her wisdom is passed to those who need it most. They do not speak of her methods which can kill silently and swiftly, nor of the process by which certain notable persons may be “vanished” - for a significant donation in her name, of course.

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Saint Hayma is the revered patron not of lumberjacks, but of the ‘brushboys’ who scurry between them gathering kindling, bark, and sawdust to sell for pennies a bundle on the outskirts of Ambaret. They each learn to draw her symbol so they can use a cast-off branch or chip of bark to scrawl it in a bit of sawdust for each tree that’s felled to ensure that it’s free of rot or boring beetles. Lost to antiquity is Hayma’s habit of forcing the children of poachers caught in her forest to sign for their parent’s remains in the blood of the offenders she personally sawed to bits.

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Saint Thrallasia blesses the kite-makers of the city’s parks. On the day that the sun hangs highest in the sky and the Siroccos blow hot from the West, they cut the braids they have grown for the last year and tie them to the tails of the tiny kites of delicate papyrus and balsa and release them to fly away. Thralassa will receive them in the sky and her laughter will gust until the rains of the winter. None of the scalps flayed from the skulls of rivals that she hurled into the sky with a blood-curdling cackle have survived the centuries since she was the most feared warlord on these steppes.

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Suraya, commonly known as the Weaver, is revered by artisans and those who mend broken things. From weavers of fine baskets and tapestries to carpenters or smiths seeking to repair a delicate joining, many sing to invoke her blessing at the most trying moments of their craft. It is customary to honor her by hanging a broken or unfinished piece of work inside one’s place of business. This signifies that nothing is made perfect, but may be improved with her aid. Only the surgeon-priests of Barsul Prison remember her origins as the patron of early leeches and physikers, who prayed to her for forgiveness when their experiments failed. They claim to be her only true followers, dedicating their surgical alteration of “broken” prisoners to her and declaring the survivors new “miracles” in her name.

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St Daphine is for the Ditch Diggers and Trough Scrapers. They say she cast the moon in the sky so one knows when to take up the shovel and the other to put it down. Others say she was a kindly widow who sprinkled silver sovereigns wherever the Earth begged to be turned and especially far from where her many husbands and lovers went missing. Either way, ditch diggers and trough scrapers pound a silver sovereign into their tools and all work stops if even the smallest bone is uncovered.

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St Rose is for the Art Critics who must bring meaning to the works of fools and offer the needed commentary to guide the thoughts of those who rule. At their soires and boutiques they gather to sip cheap wine and commemorate her limitless style. They mourne the death of beauty because they know that art is an attempt to remember a beauty that will never be regained. Others recall her as a charmless and crass patron who attracted charmless and crass children of the rich and their followers into a cluster of self importance that was as equally convenient for those who were involved as it was for those who were not.

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St Sletsa is for those who fall in battle. She is often invoked as a warning `Stay in formation lest you meet St Sletsa!’. Seasoned troops and garrison guards talk of her as a companion who is always nearby but for unforseen and often haphazard reasons, they have not yet encountered. Soldiers often leave notes for her thanking her for her tireless efforts and recommending particularly disliked officers and nobles as people she may like to meet in the near future. As her following has grown a genuine concern is emerging, especialy in the upper classes, that her patrons are transforming into a murder cult.

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@jasoncordova How’s this?

St. Fatimah, the patron saint of charcoal-burners, whose temples and churches are made of savory-scented, fire-cracked wood is given praise by taking hearth ash before starting their journey and smearing it over each eyelid and their lips. Until the ash washes off the faces of the faithful, fires will burn hotter and longer and use less fuel.

Fatimah is known as a traveler who moved throughout the land from the south. It is said that she traveled with a cart that held a never-ending collection of firewood, and she would travel to outlying communities during the winter to provide them with fuel for their hearths for free. The wood that Fatimah gave those villages was actually a signal to foul spirits: burning the wood upon a hearth would result in a visit from the True Folk from Beyond the Pale and their otherworldly flaying knives.

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That works! Thanks! (Filling out mandatory character count)

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Saint Chara is the patron saint of birth and midwives. She is often depicted with a barren branch that holds one young leaf. Her followers are known to give pregnant women seedlings, so they will grow with the child in the belly. To barren women desiring children, they bring naked branches and offshoots, to plant them and see if something will grow - and if it does, so does a baby grow in the mother’s womb.

But few people know that once, Chara was a witch who would implant manikins into barren womens wombs, so that these manufactured golems might grow strong and wise there. Even fewer people know that the highest ranking initiates of Saint Chara still use this technique on rare occasions.

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To ensure success and a fast recovery, the bloodletters of Lower Ambaret must mark their own flesh with the sigil of Sister Meorita and offer the first drops of their patient’s product to the flame in honor of her, earning them the unsavory nickname “Bloodburners.” Those that already publicly curse the practice of draining life essence to heal whisper Sr. Meorita’s other alleged name in private, Obedmeah the Devourer, and steel themselves for the day when she receives enough sustenance from the unwitting Bloodburners to fill her veins and rise once more…

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Many have asked why such a subjective profession as jewelry appraisal requires a patron saint, much less one as demanding as Sister Lonetta. One would assume that without her guidance the shine and luster of gems and metals would surely remain as marvellous. But the ceremonial polishing rituals of the Katawolk Appraiser’s Guild in the nearly silent upper towers of Ambaret’s northwestern wall show otherwise, with each pass of their secret polishing agents bringing more light and life to their work while transferring the precious same from the workers themselves to their beloved Sr. Lonetta’s afterlife.

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