House of the Faceless Watcher
A minotaur stands in the centre of an arena, armed with only his horns and his hands. He is about to be tested by a group of predatory animals, starved into madness and released onto the sands. If he lives, he is innocent. If he dies, he is guilty. He does not know what his crime was, but he knows that it was dire indeed. He paradoxically understands that his understanding is unnecessary. A grey-robed figure stands atop a great dais at the westernmost point in the arena. The crowd falls silent. The figure wears a featureless grey mask, grey gloves, and their form is obscured under the heavy grey robe. The only distinctive feature is the figure's horns, which are wrapped in gold wire. The figure raises its hands, then drops them abruptly, signalling the start of the trial. The man in the arena turns to the gates, awaiting his fate. A lone chicken runs out onto the sands. It pecks at the ground. The robed figure nods, turns, and exits the arena. The crowd, disappointed, disperses. The minotaur in the arena sinks to his knees, weak with relief. None but the grey-robed priest understood what took place, but all had unshakable faith that justice had been served.
The House of the Faceless Watcher is the prime religious and governmental organisation of the Minotaur Protectorate. Priests fill most public offices, and control almost all aspects of civilian life. The organisation is structured into heads of geographical areas as small as districts within cities, based on population. These members are elected by their citizens every year, but can serve as many terms as they are elected. The priests, once elected, are in charge of all policy and development of their areas, and cannot be questioned. The Protectorate is run by a council comprised of each municipal priest. The council then elects four members of its own ranks to serve as the national lords of war, knowledge, trade, and agriculture. Each member serves for a year, and while there are no limits on how many terms an individual can be elected, they cannot serve consecutive terms.
The health and prosperity of the Minotaur Protectorate and its client states.
The House of the Faceless Watcher wields the full resources of the Minotaur Protectorate.
The House of the Faceless Watcher's origin is older than most outsiders realize, but much younger than the minotaur would have one believe. The order is comprised of the worshipers of The Faceless Watcher, the head of the minotaur pantheon. A dispassionate and aloof deity, The Faceless Watcher goes by no name and prides itself on no deeds. Instead, it concerns itself with law, order, fairness, and justice. A cold, genderless individual devoid of morality or compassion, it cares only for consistency and order in all things. Depicted as a grey-robed minotaur wearing a featureless, rough metal mask, the deity is seen by the minotaur as a guiding star, the force that brought them out of the primitive savagery that was their history. Others see The Faceless Watcher as a dangerous force, viewing its worshipers as arbitrary taskmasters at best and brutal fascists at worst. While minotaurs have had many deities in their history, the worship of the Faceless Watcher began at a time of great calamity for the then-disorganized minotaur tribes. Constantly invaded and captured in slaving raids by the False Folk to the south, the minotaur of the Rainlands increasingly became desperate as the False Folk pushed further and further into their ancestral home. They could not, however, put aside their differences long enough to form anything resembling a unified front, and more tribes fell to the encroaching human empire. Unity was what was required, however, and unity was to be achieved. It began slowly; dreams, omens, signs. Soon, minotaur all across the Rainlands were all being told the same thing; come to a specific location, high in the damp coastal mountains, and your salvation will be at hand. None can say for sure what happened that day, but the several hundred who made the journey returned to their tribes wearing grey robes, featureless metal masks, and the words of the Faceless Watcher on their lips. They also wielded formidable divine power, including the ability to harm and heal, to communicate across long distances, to expose and see through lies, and to peer into the hearts of those around them. In less than a generation, the squabbling minotaur tribes had formed a unified front. The Kingdom of the Faceless Watcher, as it was called in those times, was the only True Folk assembly to ever fully resist the encroachment of the False Folk. Despite initial success in resisting the human assault, the Kingdom of the Faceless Watcher was eventually pushed back, its territory taken, until it was barely more than a single city in the far northern coast that was too fortified and too inhospitable for Careodunum to bother assaulting. There it remained for many centuries, a religious theocracy of hardened and unified warriors, until word came from the east that the orcs had successfully taken the Irminsul, and wished for an alliance. After War of Tusk and Horn, the Kingdom of the Faceless Watcher became just another nation under the pan-coastal empire of the Minotaur Protectorate, despite the Protectorate being ruled over by priests of the Faceless Watcher.
Mythology & Lore
The Faceless Watcher is the origin of law, consistency, and legitimacy. It is the ancient entity that embodies all systems, processes, methods, and rituals that work the same way each time. Without the Faceless Watcher, the mortal races would have no access to law, logic, rationality, mathematics, or the scientific method. It is also the deity of scribes, historians, judges, inquisitions, and scholars. Anything that is, and continues to be, owes its existence to the Faceless Watcher.
The Faceless Watcher's origins are very simple. In the absolute chaos before even the other gods, when the primordials were all that was, The Faceless Watcher came into being out of the pure chaos. Chaos, at its root, is inconsistency made manifest, but absolute inconsistency cannot be maintained. Whether the chaos was not absolute enough, or so absolute as to spawn a kind of hidden order to itself, none can say, but the Faceless Watcher emerged from the chaos as an agent of stability within a sea of change. With it came The Unchained Storm, the Watcher's consort and opposite in all things. The two oppose each other always, but are not truly at odds and do not seek each other's destruction, for they know that one cannot exist without the other.
The Faceless Watcher, together with The Unchained Storm, came across the world already mostly formed. Of who and what created the world, none know. The orcs believe that it was the force of their gods' rage that solidified the world out of the primordial sea, while the goblins believe that it was created by the primordial entities that existed before the gods. The minotaur, however, believe that The Faceless Watcher and The Unchained Storm created the lesser deities by accident, as a side-effect of their own existences. These lesser deities, as a result, contributed to the world in its current state.
Tenets of Faith
The followers of The Faceless Watcher follow endless lists of rules, tenets, and prohibitions, though most of these originate from the Watcher's mortal clergy rather than from the god himself. The mandates put forth directly from the Watcher can be summarized thusly:
- Justice shall be served
- Order before happiness
- Suffering is irrelevant if it brings unity
- The chain of command is unbreakable
The House of the Faceless Watcher does not deal in ethics, it deals in absolutes. Ethics mean nothing when the ends always justify the means, and the Watcher's position is that they always do.
The Faceless Watcher is worshiped via rituals undertaken with algorithmic precision. Most rituals are small, everyday things; a minotaur bows three times and touches his horns to the ground before opening his bakery for the day, and repeats the action before he closes in the evening. Each action is undertaken at precisely the same time every day, or he loses the perceived benefits. Larger weekly, monthly, and yearly rituals exist, as well, that must be undertaken in extremely precise ways. The precision required necessitates a whole industry of professional ritual organisers, who walk the individuals through the motions and words to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Granted Divine Powers
The Watcher grants access to the Knowledge, Order, and Protection domains.
Political Influence & Intrigue
The House of the Faceless Watcher has complete control of the Minotaur Protectorate, though it is not without its detractors. Non-minotaur find the laws of the Protectorate convoluted and extremely restrictive, while minotaur enjoy the structure that it grants their lives. Minotaur politics are complex webs of jurisdiction, authority, and rank. Debates do not last for long, however, as the followers pride themselves on their lack of bias; the best ideas are quickly evaluated and executed, regardless of origin.
The House of the Faceless Watcher is one umbrella organisation that is comprised of many denominations, sects, and minor cults. The Hooded Masks and Silver Horns are the largest denominations; the Hooded Masks, despite their ominous name, advocate for a lightening grip on civilian life, believing that individuals can honour the Watcher without every aspect of their lives being regulated. The Silver Horns, conversely, are a sect of The House of the Faceless Watcher that believe that the Watcher is primarily and solely a minotaur deity, and wish to keep the Protectorate's clergy free from other races. They are viewed as regressive by many, but their ideas are slowly gaining ground as more non-minotaur citizens of the protectorate turn to worship of the Faceless Watcher and become involved with the government.