Today is celebrated by many Christian churches as All Saints’ Day, a traditional observance used to remember the faithful departed. Originally (and the origins aren’t entirely clear), the day was meant to honor the traditional path to canonization for Christendom’s first saints: martyrdom. From the whipping and beheading of St. Alban to the torture and roasting alive of St. Zoe, these highly revered individuals were said to epitomize the courage and devotion necessary for adherents to their faith. Somewhere along the line, the term ‘saint’ was applied to not just these original martyrs, but to any of the faithful congregation. Martyrdom was no longer necessary for canonization, but rather physical proof of miraculous works.
Ever since that first revision, the title of ‘saint’ has become somewhat subjective. First came the sports teams (New Orleans Saints), then the movies (Boondock Saints), then the… well. Whatever the hell the Saint of Killers was supposed to be. I never did enough drugs to read Preacher all the way through; but I digress. My point is, saints aren’t just for Christians anymore, and the term has been stretched enough that it can apply to shining examples of a cause without necessarily requiring a vote on canonicity.
Which brings me to my current project. Our group is currently making preparations to launch the inaugural game in my original campaign setting, as described here in my Lost & Found series (links below). One of the features of this setting is a pantheon of legendary individuals, referred to collectively as ‘The Lost Saints.” The ‘Lost’ part comes because these figures are said to roam the wilderness, as they have for centuries, protecting mankind and making paths to the future.
The ‘Saints’ part came because I didn’t know of any other word that would conjure the elevated status I wanted these individuals to enjoy in this campaign world. It implies station and connection with a higher state of being, but thanks to pop culture it doesn’t require these beings to serve a divine purpose, much less be divine themselves. In other words, they can serve as beacons to humanity while still retaining what makes them unique, what makes them human.
The Lost Saints are either historical personages that played a major part in the founding of the world, or mythical hunters who endured the dark forest through legendary acts. In either case, their deeds and personalities have been passed down through generations, until eventually they have come to be respected, revered, and even at times worshiped as physical manifestations of human virtues.
Some believe that they are immortal scions of humanity who still physically intervene in the affairs of humanity. Others hold that their bodies have passed, but their spirits and their lives may still inspire greatness in those who choose to follow their example. The practice of a certain saint’s ‘path,’ as their teachings are known, involves the pursuit of the utmost limit of that virtue which made them famous.
Most often, these paths take the form of hero cults that have taken it upon themselves to preserve and perpetuate the rituals, methods, and weapons of their patron. Frequently, the intense commitment of those on a particular saint’s path resembles religious devotion. Some are more worldly, however, teaching adherents practical skills to survive, hunt, lead, and protect their fellow man.
Traditionally, there are ten Lost Saints; five male and five female.
- Rufinius, the Path of Humility (male)
Domains: Modesty, Reverence, Respect
Favored Weapon: The Knife
- Goward, the Path of Charity (male)
Domains: Grace, Generosity, Sacrifice
Favored Weapon: The Flail
- Haydon, the Path of Honesty (male)
Domains: Ethics, Truth, Honor
Favored Weapon: The Staff
- Laslo, the Path of Kindness (male)
Domains: Loyalty, Friendship, Empathy
Favored Weapon: The Axe
- Diedrick, the Path of Diligence (male)
Domains: Persistence, Conviction, Zeal
Favored Weapon: The Sword
- Josepha, the Path of Temperance (female)
Domains: Restraint, Justice, Self Control
Favored Weapon: The Mace
- Portia, the Path of Liberty (female)
Domains: Freedom, Opportunity, Choice
Favored Weapon: The Crossbow
- Daphinius, the Path of Valour (female)
Domains: Bravery, Selflessness, Duty
Favored Weapon: The Polearm
- Isaiadora, the Path of Chastity (female)
Domains: Purity, Integrity, Sobriety
Favored Weapon: The Spear
- Hester, the Path of Patience (female)
Domains: Peace, Forbearance, Constancy
Favored Weapon: The Longbow
The Lost Saints can also be venerated collectively, and these cults tend to refer to themselves as the High Road. Practitioners of the High Road seek nothing less than to manifest all the virtues in perfect harmony, and in so doing elevate humanity to their highest possible evolution. Adherents to the High Road strive for the ability to destroy their enemies with any weapon they touch, and masters of this path are said to be a weapon in and of themselves. Because of the intense personal sacrifices necessary to walk it, to encounter one traveling the High Road is a rare and wondrous thing indeed.