Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saintly Saturday: St. Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch

Today is the feast day of St. Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch. He lived during the 4th century, when Christological arguments swept across Christendom, threatening to pull the newly Christian Roman Empire apart. The most potent heresy was that of Arianism, which denied the full deity of the Son of God. When the Arian bishop of Antioch died, both the Arians and the Orthodox vied to get one of their own to become the next bishop. Metelius was very popular with both sides. Mistaking him to be like-minded, the Arians pushed for his elevation. They quickly realized their mistake, however, when Meletius immediately started to preach that the Son was of the same essence as the Father. Meletius lived until 381, when the Second Ecumenical Council was convened in Constantinople. He was so highly regarded that he was asked to preside over the council.

During the fourth century, there were several Roman Emperors who sided with the Arians over the Orthodox. So, when priests and bishops like Meletius staunchly defended the Orthodox position, they came into direct conflict with the head of the Roman Empire. Interestingly, these priests and bishops were not imprisoned, tortured, burned at the stake, executed, etc. The picture we have of the bloody conflicts among Christians, as we saw in Western Christendom after the Reformation, is the exception rather than the rule. Meletius was punished for defying the Emperor — with banishment. Over the course of his life, this happened three times.

This brings up an interesting background theme that could bring a lot of meat to the end-game of D&D. Given a typical sandbox campaign where the PCs are at the edge of the wilderness in order to explore and eventually tame that wilderness, a good motivation for the PCs and their NPC allies would be banishment. For theological and/or political reasons, they have been thrown out of the civilized world to the edge of the wilderness.

When PCs get to building their strongholds, this would bring them into direct conflict with those who banished them in the first place. Suddenly, the end-game of D&D becomes wonderfully geo-political and full of potential high-level adventure and conflict.

As a side note, given James' and Roger's recent musing on the subject, this also allows an interesting way to keep an old campaign current while going off and doing things with new PCs. When it comes to geo-political stuff, not every mission is appropriate for the high-level PC. Thus, entire campaigns could center around playing out missions for the high-level PCs with new, low-level characters. While players would be exploring new characters, the old high-level characters will be current and present through the background motivation for the on-going campaign (and, I should point out, return the game to a proper meaning of "campaign").

1 comment:

Lasgunpacker said...

your point about banishment as a motivator is an excellent one.

Further, the banished high level characters could direct the new low level characters with letters, in effect using them as agents to effect their will, and eventual return to society proper.