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Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver

A fanciful tale never hurt anybody...

he Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver is widely acknowledged as one of the strangest and most tragic religions to have ever originated on Excilior. Strange because it began purely as a parody - a work of fiction - but now it is followed as an absolutely "true" and "real" religion. Tragic because it is directly responsible for the loss of more human lives, and the destruction of more property, than any other religion throughout casterway history.


rom humble beginnings, the church is now suspected to be sitting on a mountain of cash and assets. Since there is no legal imperative for the faith to be formally audited, any assessment of their net worth is purely speculative. But they have continued a long-standing practice of building their wealth for well over a thousand years. And at this point, it's anyone's guess as to just how much money they have piled up in their coffers.


he Pontificous Rite started not as a religion - but as a joke. It began life through the publication of the Testament of Baldergash. The book was designed as Kadir Ammanar's biting, satirical critique of the world's religions as they existed at the time of its publication in 2051 AoE.

Publication of the Testament
he early days of Ammanar's text were quiet. Books were handwritten implements, painstakingly crafted over months - and even, years. And when they were finally completed - when the one-and-only copy was finished - they often languished on klyster shelves for decades.   The Testament enjoyed a "faster" path to popularity, but in those days "fast" was still a relative term. It's believed that the first copy of his work wasn't completed until nearly four years after initial publication. That copy was shipped to a neighboring klyster in Boissain. From there, it began a steady process of replication, taking it from one klyster, to the next, and so on.
But these early years did not see steady replication of the book merely through some sense of duty. The cognoscenti were very fond of Ammanar's magnum opus and they made it a point to share it amongst all in their order. It was popular enough that, within a decade of its first replication, some of the priori were starting to share the text amongst a handful of trusted individuals outside the protective walls of their klysters. By 2065 AoE, a wealthy bureaucrat in Dampierre had commissioned her own, private copy of the work. And by 2095 AoE, a cottage industry supporting the replication of the Testament had taken root amongst many of the klysters of northern Isleprimoton.   Over the next two centuries, the Testament's status as a cult favorite and a guilty pleasure steadily grew. Comedies, of any sort, were not particularly embraced by the ruling structures of the day. They were judged as wasteful and decadent. And comedies that squarely took aim at the religious establishment were certainly frowned upon. So the early history of the Testament's popularity is one of secret readership and cherished copies passed from generation to generation, or between trusted friends.

Annual Festival of the Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver
o it was perhaps surprising that, in 2303 AoR, the first festival in honor of Baldergash Sparcsylver was sponsored, by the Priori of Syrus, in the city of Courdes where the Testament was originally written. It was christened the Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver.
Priori of Syrus
This was not an act of acceptance by the Priori of Syrus. The Priori was the dominant religion of Ammanar's day. And although the Testament can be taken as a general critique of all religions, there is little doubt that much of Ammanar's rhetorical fury was aimed squarely at the elders of the Priori. So some were shocked to see that the church was sponsoring a festival that seemed to undermine the foundations of the church itself.   But the Priori's decision was a defensive measure, meant to preempt the illicit enjoyment of the Testament's satire that had started to bubble just under the surface in nearly all corners of Lancian society. The thinking amongst the Priori elders was that railing against the Testament in public would both A) legitimize its arguments, and B) stoke the growing fascination with the tome as a "forbidden fruit". Rather than try to shout it into the shadows, they decided to bring the work into the open. To laugh at it. To embrace the joke in a single day of self-effacing goodwill that would give everyone some good fun and allow them to satirize any of their own latent frustrations with the church.   The Priori even encouraged their own leaders to take an active role in the festival. They dressed up as various characters from the Testament. They even donned outfits as Baldergash Sparcsylver. Carnivals were held. Drinks flowed. By all accounts, the first Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver festival was a smashing success.
Raucous Festival
Not only was it well-attended and enjoyed by all. But it seemed to hit the mark for which the Priori of Syrus was aiming - primarily, to give the general populace a "safe" outlet where they could poke fun at the general inconsistencies of formalized religion - without specifically attacking the Priori of Syrus. It allowed the commonfolk to indulge in the latent parody of the Testament of Baldergash, without attacking the literal institutions of the real church that the Testament was intended to critique. It was strongly believed that this "release valve" served as an effective means to vent frustrations and allay any latent uprising that might otherwise occur amongst the Priori faithful.   This situation continued, unabated, for many years. The annual Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver was considered to be a can't-miss event throughout the country. It seemed to grow in scope and attendance each year. The main festivities were always held in the capital city of Courdes, but satellite celebrations soon spread to smaller communities. In less than a century, the raucous celebration became a cherished annual event in other cities, and in other countries. It kept growing until it became the most beloved social event in the region, replete with mindless revelry, gluttonous feasts, silly games, outlandish costumes, and audacious performances.

Quincentenary Celebration
n 2551 AoR, Courdes prepared for the grandest Pontificous Rite festival ever. It was the 500-year anniversary of the original publication of the Testament, and the organizers were determined to make it bigger and better than anything that had ever come before it.
Chinto Marzin
Unbeknownst to them, one of the attendees of that quincentenary festival was Chinto Marzin, the dictatorial warlord of the Wansian empire. He was not traveling with his usual cohort of guards and state officials. He merely attended the festival as just-another-reveler. And it's doubtful anyone had any idea who he was, because he was in full Baldergash Sparcsylver regalia. The festival attendees that day also did not realize that the Wansians had a raiding force of 2,000 waiting just tens of kilometers outside the city.   Marzin was about to conduct a raid quite different than all others in the long history of Wansian aggression. After decades of pillaging, then retreating, then pillaging again, he pondered a formal expansion of his empire. He didn't just want to sack Courdes. He wanted to annex the entire country as his own. But he wasn't interested in maintaining a protracted hostile occupation. His research, coupled with some of his own recent experiences, indicated that this was a tiresome path that would eventually trigger an armed rebellion, in a foreign land, that he could not defend. Marzin's objectives were much more nuanced.
Cultural Misunderstanding
His advisers, vaguely-educated in Lancian customs, informed him that the nation was home to a vast, suppressed, religious minority - the followers of Baldergash Sparcsylver. They told him that the reigning theocratic regime - the Priori of Syrus - tolerated a single festival to this lesser god, but that they otherwise oppressed anyone who wished to worship Baldergash openly.   Marzin's covert attendance at the joyous, quincentenary Pontificous Rite left him in awe. Here he saw many thousands of revelers happily praising their "preferred" deity, Baldergash Sparcsylver, and he was convinced that he could win the hearts and minds of these new subjects if he installed this faith as the official state religion.

State Religion & the Wansian Occupation
ays later, Marzin's forces did what so many Wansian raiding teams have done throughout time. When the Lancian defenders finally got wind of the Wansians roaming through their lands, they engaged the raiders in battle - and they were summarily destroyed. But when Marzin's forces marched into the capital city of Courdes, they did what no other Wansian attackers had ever done. They left the city intact. And Marzin installed his own puppet ruler to facilitate Lancia's new status as part of the Wansian empire.
Death of the Priori
And then Marzin enacted, what he believed would be, his master stroke. His puppet government announced that, theretofore, the Priori of Syrus was outlawed. In a coordinated strike, taking place in a single day, Wansian raiders throughout the entire country stormed every Priori temple and outpost. They rounded up every individual who was serving, or had ever served, as a Priori official - and they slayed them. In a single day, the entire administrative body of the Priori of Syrus was put to death.   In its place, the new government declared the Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver as the official state religion. To be more specific, they declared it as the only allowable religion in the country. Anyone caught worshiping any god other than Baldergash Sparcsylver would be put to death. In a single, fateful day of gross cultural misunderstanding, the satirical, fictional religion of the Pontificous Rite had suddenly been legitimized, not just as a real religion, but also as the only acceptable religion in the country.   This may have been nothing but a sad - and odd - footnote in Lancian history were it not for Marzin's dogged determination to bolster the fledgling Pontificous Rite in every way possible.
Installing the Faith
A prodigious printing effort was initiated, by which a great many copies of the Testament of Baldergash were reproduced and disseminated around the country, wherever they were wanted (and even where they were not). The previous Priori temples were not destroyed or left to rot. They were reconstituted as temples to Baldergash Sparcsylver.   And those temples required staffs. The previous clergy were all dead. So active recruiting ensued to find priests, elders, monks, etc., that could fill the vacant roles in this nascent religion. These were paid positions, offering generous stipends and comfortable accommodations. So they appealed to a great many potential applicants. Once people realized that they could be paid, with cushy government salaries, to proselytize the good word of Baldergash Sparcsylver, it wasn't hard to find people who were willing to do just that. It didn't matter that they had all grown up understanding the entire Testament of Baldergash to be a farce. Now that they were being handed leisurely jobs to "spread the faith", they were more than happy to play the role.

Adoption by the People
s for the general population, most of them had no desire to drop their "real" gods in favor of the fake ones now being pushed by the state. But those same people no longer had any official place to worship. Nor could they openly brandish any of the symbolism of the Priori of Syrus, lest they find themselves in the list of slain adherents. But there were still temples throughout the land. And there was still a caste of (new) clergy in those temples to tend to the needs of the faithful. So it came to be that those temples were, originally, a "rebranded" version of the Priori of Syrus.
They sat in pews marked with the symbols of Baldergash. They read the holy book dedicated to his name. But all the symbolism of the Pontificous Rite, for those early individuals under the new Wansian rule, was an elaborate code meant to invoke their true faith. They said "Baldergash Sparcsylver", but they were really speaking of their old god, their original god. They read the Testament of Baldergash, but they were thinking about the passages in their old sacred texts, their original sacred texts.
Fading Memories
While the adaptation worked, on some level, for those ancient people whose connection to the Priori of Syrus had been severed, the distinction became more academic amongst successive generations. For the Wansian occupation was actually longer, and more successful, than even Chinto Marzin might have hoped for. And the longer that occupation lingered, the more generations of churchgoers were raised not in Priori temples, but in Pontificous Rite temples. And as each generation came and went, the cultural memory of how to translate Pontificous Rite concepts into Priori concepts faded, no matter how hard some of the elders worked to maintain the "old ways".   Within a hundred years of the Wansian occupation, and its correlated support of the Pontificous Rite, most of the younger churchgoers in the country couldn't even define the original precepts of the Priori of Syrus. Two hundred years into the Wansian occupation, it's doubtful how many of the Lancians even understood that the original underpinnings of the Pontificous Rite were a joke.

Attempts to Clarify the Nature of the Testament
he ludicrous nature of this situation was not lost on other casterways. In the early days of the Wansian occupation, a cadre of respected cognoscenti were dispatched to Chinto Marzin in an attempt to help him understand the true, satirical nature of the Pontificous Rite. Marzin deeply appreciated the sincere efforts of these scholars to educate and further enlighten him - and he rewarded them all with execution. For the remainder of his life, no one else tried to explain to him that the Pontificous Rite was not a "real" religion.   For many decades, those who allowed themselves to be identified as Witnesses or sheeple were roundly mocked by clergy, cognoscenti, and politicians around the world. In hundreds of pulpits, priests used the example of the Pontificous Rite to smugly tell their worshipers that they were following the "true" gods - unlike those dolts in Lancia who prayed to fake gods.

Slaughter of the Divine Council
his situation may have continued to this day, were it not for the events of the Divine Council, held in the Sceraisian capital of Fazochesse, in 2890 AoR. The Council was one of the rare events in Isleprimoton were the leaders of multiple faiths came together in an attempt to smooth out differences and peacefully coincide. The Council was led by Hazael Ronyon, a respected scion of the Fazochesse community.
Invited Into the Fold
Despite the protests of his own advisers, this was the first meeting of the Council where the sheeple were invited to attend. The invitation was incredibly controversial. Most felt that the inclusion of this blatantly-fake religion sullied the gravity of their talks. But Hazael was adamant that they should be included. He reminded some of his colleagues that they also viewed many of the other religions as "fake", in their worldview, but the purpose of this Council was not to determine whose faith was real or counterfeit. It was to further engender goodwill between all the faiths practiced on the continent. And whether his colleagues liked it or not, there was no denying that the Pontificous Rite was indeed the official state religion of Lancia, and had been, at that point, for centuries.
Inconsiderate Guests
Hazael quickly came to regret his decision. The sheeple delegation was rude, entitled, and generally hostile toward everyone else in attendance. They shouted down anyone who did not acknowledge Baldergash's supreme (and sole) divinity. They made a point of interrupting sessions so they could engage in their own audacious rituals. And worst of all, the Council occurred in the middle of one of the sheeples' holiest observances - The Shartening. The holy period fosters practices that many outsiders consider to be... unsettling. This left their delegation weakened and cranky from days of induced diarrhea. It also meant that they tended to smell horrible - so much so that their stench would fill meeting chambers and chase other attendants from the events.   By the third day, Hazael had seen enough. In his final attempt at congeniality, he tried to gently suggest that the sheeple might want to retire for the day, get a shower, and come back the next morning when they felt refreshed. The sheeple took it as an affront, and responded by sharting over every centimeter of the Council chambers.
Public Rebuke
Hazael's rebuke was angry and epic. He gathered all attendees in the central hall, and with the sheeple absorbing every word, he angrily denounced them and every fake virtue that they claimed to stand for. He told them, in no uncertain terms, that they are not a religion and they will never be welcome again amongst those who chose to worship real gods. He then called upon an armed unit which marched the sheeple delegation out of the Council chambers in front of everyone else, as they were viciously ridiculed by the other attendees. The military escort did not end there. They were forcefully led all the way to the city gates and informed that they should never come back.   Hazael was loudly cheered by the rest of the Council. He told them that he would never make that mistake again and he apologized for underestimating the ridiculous Lancian clergy. Everyone was in good spirits and the entire chamber had a good laugh about the whole thing before they returned to their business. But they did not realize just how right Hazael was. He would never make that mistake - or any other mistake - again.
That night, the Lancian sheeple snuck back into the city. But they weren't alone. They managed to rally several hundred local sheeple from the Sceraisian countryside when news spread of their embarrassing and public admonishment. And in the dead of night, they slaughtered every single attendee of the Council - nearly a hundred clergy in total.   When news of the butchery traveled through cognoscenti communication networks, it became clear that, whatever the Pontificous Rite is, it is very clear what it is not. It is not a "fake" religion. Once the faithful are happy to slaughter others in the name of their religion, that religion can no longer be dismissed, on any level, as "fake". With the destruction of the Divine Council, the Pontificous Rite had completed its improbable journey from satirical fiction to real religion.

Mythology & Lore

he mythology of the Pontificous Rite is almost entirely defined by the original holy precepts found in the Testament of Baldergash. Since its publication nearly two thousand years ago, numerous compendia have been published detailing ancillary stories of Baldergash Sparcsylver, Stan, the Witnesses, and various other members of the sheeple. But there are no works that compare to the Testament as far as their overall influence on the faith.   The Testament details the origins of Baldergash, the creation of Excilior - and in fact, of the entire universe - and the establishment of humanity.

Divine Origins

he Pontificous Rite originates from a single source - the Testament of Baldergash. The book is an acknowledged parody of religion, written by the cognoscenti Kadir Ammanar in the 20th century AoE.   From this perspective, the Pontificous Rite is unique among all casterway religions. Although nonbelievers may accuse any religion as being entirely fabricated, it is highly abnormal that a "real" faith would spring from a text that is, from its first publication, openly acknowledged as farce.   It is, perhaps, this legacy that has factored into the bloodthirsty reputation of the Pontificous Rite. For some of the religion's deadliest incidents have come in response to those who characterize their faith - and their god - as "fake". Thus, the satirical basis for the religion has, in turn, served as a catalyst for some of its most violent acts.

Church Positions on Kadir Ammanar
y some accounts, the church should have a real problem with the acknowledged history of Kadir Ammanar and his famous book. After all, most religions have sacred texts that either have no acknowledged author (and are thus conveniently attributed directly to divine authorship), or were written by prophets and sages who are understood to be under divine influence. But the Testament of Baldergash fits neither of these categories.   Ammanar's intention with the Testament was blatant. As such, he never claimed to be under divine influence. And the fact that he did write the book is globally accepted as truth.   Nevertheless, the sheeple don't seem to bother themselves too much with explanations for the provenance of the Testament. They long ago accepted the precept that the Testament is divine truth, and as such, it matters little who wrote the book or what their intentions were when they did.   Of course, this does not imply that no one in the Pontificous Rite has ever attached an "acceptable" answer to the distinctly secular origins of their holy book. The answers tend to congregate around regions, with one explanation tending to be most popular in one part of the world, while another explanation holds sway somewhere else. The most common explanations are:
  • Unintended divine intervention
    Just because Ammanar thought he was writing an anti-religion polemic doesn't mean that the glorious hand of Baldergash wasn't still working, mysteriously, through him. This divine assistance need not come consciously to the recipient. So Ammanar may have been an unwitting prophet.
  • Conspiracy
    Just because Ammanar is widely-acknowledged as being the sole author of the Testament doesn't make it true. The work may have been attributed to him in an attempt to discredit the legitimately-holy material within its pages. Following this line of thinking, Ammanar himself may have been part of the conspiracy. He could have found these divine writings somewhere else and, fearing the effect they may have on other religions, he chose to publish them in his own name under the guise of them being nothing but satire.
  • Outright denial
    There are certainly some amongst the sheeple who simply deny that there ever was a person named Kadir Ammanar or that he was the true author of their sacred text.


he church's ethics are divided into two contradictory camps that somehow coexist side-by-side.

With Us
In the first camp, the Pontificous Rite preaches a message of love and acceptance. Baldergash is love. Followers are called upon to show love and compassion to all humanity - whether they worship Baldergash or not. The teachings of the Testament are clear in that the faithful must honor all, just as they would honor their own arbyr. The sacred texts are unequivocal in their insistence that the sheeple must show love to everyone they encounter.
Or Against Us
In the second camp is nearly two millennia of empirical data making it clear that the Pontificous Rite lives by an internal code of "Us vs. Them". For every individual, congregation, village, or nation that has faced hardship within earshot of the Rite, they could always rely on copious support if they were avowed followers of Baldergash Sparcsylver. And they could be sure of relentless aggression if they did not acknowledge Baldergash's benevolence.
Legacy of Violence
It is not conjecture to contend that the Pontificous Rite maintains paramilitary units to "protect the faith" and further the interests of church members. No one - not even the church elders themselves, denies that the religion has executed numerous, and repeated, guerrilla missions, for no better purpose than to glorify their god - and punish those who do not. Starting with the slaughter of the Divine Council, the church's adherents have built an impressive track record of attacking their opponents - any of their opponents - by any means necessary. While the church tries to present a public personae of love-and-acceptance, their deeds suggest that they will bring deadly force upon anybody who dares to stand in their way.   This places the church in a unique position amongst the casterway's many religions. While there are many other faiths that have been forced into life-or-death quasi-military engagements, the Pontificous Rite is the only one that seems to have embraced - with a bloody fervor - the possibility that they could bring the fight to the enemy. And in the contentious course of history, there are few groups that have not found themselves defined as an "enemy" to Baldergash's followers, at one point or another.

We are all witness

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Founding Date
2551 AoR
Religious, Organised Religion
Alternative Names
Pontificous Rite

Articles under Pontificous Rite of Baldergash Sparcsylver

Cover image: by Flying Spaghetti Monster


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