I’m quite interested to start building up ideas and quests for the Temple faction in TR, particularly as the work for House Indoril has been mostly built out now. The key questions for me at the moment are as follows:
- How are they different to the Vvardenfel Temple?
- What role does House Indoril play?
- What is their relation to the other Houses? Does this have an impact on their geography?
- What impact do various stages of the MQ have on the faction?
- Where are their power bases?
I'll attempt to answer some of these questions in the following post. Also, I’ve tried to incorporate thoughts from these threads in the old forum, so that we don’t end up retreading old ground:
http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/old_forum/viewtopic.php?t=24025 in particular this line from Gez:
Temple quests probably run along these three themes: Mercy (all the "heal the sick" type things), Mystery (pilgrimages and other esoteric stuff), and Mastery (various heroic feats).
My thoughts on the whole shebang are:
Temple as Underdog/Client
The Temple is the big fish on Vvardenfel, owning the land and leasing it to the Houses. This forces the Houses to be nice to the Temple if they want to get anywhere. On the mainland, this is pretty much reversed. The Houses own the land here to a much greater degree than they do in Vvardenfel, which means that the Temple will be much less of a player outside its own sites (Necrom etc), and less respected.
This means that the Temple would need to be less a patron to the Houses, and more a client. Think how the Telvanni treats the Temple in Sadrith Mora being more common (although potentially less openly derisive). The Temple is something to be worked around at worst, and at best something a particular House can use for its own ends.
The idea of temple-as-client suggests an element of vote-packing by the Houses, particularly Indoril. It will of course vary by region, but I imagine that certain noble families of all Houses will send off their sons to the Temple, with the expectation that they will advance House interests as part of that. The Temple will be mostly staffed by those looking to advance their own or their family's interests, cloaked in "it's for the Temple/the People" rhetoric. I imagine quest lines that involve choosing who your "patron" is in the organisation and being instructed on how to advance their House's interests through working at the Temple, and the choices being around how much the PC goes along with that or limits it, either to the good of their own House or to the Temple as an organisation. Ideally, it shouldn't be clear which is which.
One key thing I would like to implement as part of this is event-based quests, which differ according to the giver. That is, an event is happening and, depending on who the PC gets the quest from, they are asked to do different things about it. One NPC is trying to achieve something, and asks the PC to facilitate, while another will ask the PC to stop it. Within the structure of the quest the PC should be given the option to double-cross the quest giver and fulfill the other side's part of the bargain if they so wish.
Temple as Organisation
Forgive the real-world analogies for the moment, but I see Vvardenfel and Mournhold as the Temple's Mecca & Medina, and the Seven Graces as the Tribinal Faith's Hajj (I can't remember any particular pilgrimage activities in Mournhold itself). As such, some of the most popular (and most lucrative) activities for the Temple will be arranging for pilgrims to travel to Vvardenfel under Temple guidance and complete the Seven Graces. We will therefore see more Temple infrastructure (potentially even Temple transport) around getting pilgrims to and from Vvardenfel and Mournhold. This is the place where we'll see the most Temple independence from the Houses, and where they will have the most leverage. Through controlling pilgrimage routes they can control how certain people are seen in Morrowind society. Their power base with the rest of society is as a legitimising agent. This is even truer in terms of "vetting" families to allow their dead members to serve in protecting the Ghostfence - if the Temple refuses the family because of their reputation, that family will lose a lot of face.
This set-up enables good old fashioned religious corruption and bribery to enter into things - players could uncover priests who are taking bribes to accelerate a pilgrim's progress, accelerate or block the movement of their ancestors remains, lie about their devotion through pilgrimage and forge records to show that their ancestors serve loyally at the Great Ghostfence while actually remaining at a family shrine. With sufficient status, interaction with certain NPCs could bring about the opportunity for PCs to set up their own bribery schemes in this regard.
Temple as Doctrine
From Progress of Truth, we can assume that the bulk of the Temple does not accept “personal revelation and mystical experiences” as part of religious practice. We can expect the imposition of Temple orthodoxy to promote itself as the authoritative issuer of interpretations on matters of faith, which means quelling independent exegeses. The Indoril, as keepers of the Laws Determined & Laws Ordained, will have a fair bit to say about this. Is it worth exploring the notion of canon law in the Roman Catholic church as an analogue here?
Spreading the word of the acts of various saints, which should be emulated, could also be an element of this. Taking up a particular Saint's modus operandi to suggest to others could be a "converstion" exercise, depending on the PC's quest-giver.
Factions within the Temple
Each House will likely have its own family members serving in the temple, whose prime motivation will be to further their family's secular agenda. This is where I imagine the PCs starting, unless they have pre-existing status within the Vvardenfel Temple organisation. This will need to be nuanced depending on which House (if any) the PC serves, likely on a same/different basis for simplicity. This does run a little counter to Progress of Truth, which believes that the "frontline" priests are mostly devout and honest, but I think this is probably a very rose-tinted point of view. There will be devout members, but there will also be self-serving or House-serving priests in this faction.
These cadres likely won't have their own architecture (and potentially not their own buildings). Quests here will revolve around either encouraging the secular members to become more holy, petitioning the Temple hierarchy on their behalf, or solving House-specific faith problems, like cover-ups and petty politicking. I expect the bulk of the Temple staff to fit into this category.
The Temple Hierarchy
I expect most of these will be Indoril. Given comments in the main quest, the Ordinators and the leadership are of similar mind until after the MQ gets completed. Beyond presiding over ceremonies, these members will spend most of their time interpreting canon law, which overlaps to a large degree with the Indoril's sphere. I'm not sure, given the haughty nature of the Indoril, that we can ascribe the factions within the House to broader theological trends within the Temple, but I would certainly expect the Temple to reflect the diversity of Indoril views, and then some. Perhaps we need to have the Temple questline becoming more about the rebirth of the Temple as an organisation distinct from Indoril? And then the PC's actions determine the degree to which they become independent or the client of another Great House.
I also see a degree of interaction with the Imperial Cult being possible here - does the Hierarchy welcome it, try to discredit them quietly, or actively drive them out? Perhaps the PC gets conflicting orders from different members, and has to make up their own mind. As most of the Imperial Cult quests in vanilla revolve around getting money for the Cult, there should be some opportunity for financial gain off the back of this.
The Dissident Priests
These will need to vary, depending where on the MQ the player is. I imagine three possible stages here, each with their own potential quests
- Pre-MQ: suppression of the Dissidents and False Incarnates, or helping them function in secret.
- Mid-MQ: gathering support and information from the Dissidents, when the Temple Hierarchy turns their back on the PC. Some particular interaction with False Incarnates here could include trying to persuade false incarnates that you are Nerevar. This may be a little too similar to the False Incarnate quest in vanilla, but I imagine additional possibilities like gaining followers once they're converted.
- Post-MQ: supporting or disowning the Dissidents as a faction within the Temple hierarchy. Either they become the ones who were right all along, or scatter to the winds to pursue their own goals now that their goals are accomplished. Either way, individual Priests should strive for status within the new Temple understanding.
Pre-MQ Dissident Priests will meet in secret, use coded documents, etc, and I think offer the most potential for descripbing the faction. I see them as meeting in secret, using coded letters etc, as well as using quite fetishistic and misunderstood applications of Ashlander practices in their private worship. Those few that have traveled to meet and speak with Ashlander wise women about Nerevar and the Ashlander faith would be held in high regard.
Tracking them down should be hard. The quests to convert them to the orthodoxy can then go into theological argument, threats to expose them or outright slaughter, depending on the PC's disposition. PC could also help send them into hiding, potentially with groups of sympathetic Ashlanders.
Post-MQ, there could be quests attempting to persuade members of the Temple hierarchy that they should acknowledge the Dissidents, and adopt various elements of their philosophy (such as the element of personal revelation and mysticism) into the mainstream. This could create no end of confusing quests, as various Temple members try and sort out the mess between false insights and real ones, with the PC potentially deciding which is the true version. Their status as Nerevarine should grant them some sway within the Temple, even if they’re not members.
Militant members of House Indoril are those who enforce Temple law. It should be apparent during the questlines that they are acting according to their own interpretations of Temple law (in line with House Indoril), rather than the Temple as its own entity. PC can either support or work against these interpretations, either through disseminating Ordinator-focused literature to non-Indoril priests who will lap it up (I expect priests from Redoran would feel a kinship here, particularly), or to members of the non-Ordinator hierarcy who will either brush it under the rug if they're Indoril, or take steps to curtail Ordinator power if they are part of another House.
These I envision being mostly House Dres, and the more backwater places on the mainland. These will play up the Anticipations to a role similar to (and in some cases greater than) the Tribunal. Quests and interactions here could revolve around persuading them to dismantle their family shrines and send their remains to be part of the Vavardenfel Ghostfence. Post-MQ, I imagine these will be some of the strongest voices calling for the dismantling of the Ghostfence and the return of their family's remains to them.