Sometimes I wish certain Rpers will actually try and understand the whole church RP thing instead of freaking out the moment they see a ‘bishop’ in their city/land/claim and feels whatever power they have on ‘their’ land is being threatened. I keep going back to the salesman and sales territorial…
This is the key issue I have with the Council of Bishops.
People attempting to RP high-ranked individuals representative of a particular region or canonical organization is monopolistic of a certain sector of RP by nature.
It is something that has been raised repeatedly before and been ignored by certain individuals for a variety of (largely selfish) reasons. The fact that there is a body which claims to be representative of the corps of the Church’s bishops and furthermore maintains a procedure for admitting others to that body means that people who do not pass the CoB’s muster are automatically excluded from that sector of RP.
This is a problem that is seen quite often with people claiming to be high ranked characters or representative of a particular in-game region/faction. By virtue of the fact that you claim it, it limits others’ ability to break ground into that RP because there is often the expectation that others in that sector will defer to you ICly, on top of filling a position that only one person can fill. For example, RPing as the Mayor of Lakeshire means that a) nobody else can be the Mayor and b) there is an expectation that people will obey you in Lakeshire.
This is not true of every guild or organization that claims to represent a region; most notably, the most well thought out acknowledge the gaps in their claim and RP as just that - a claimant. This does not apply to the CoB or Holy RP in general as there has been a marked effort to centralize the structure of that sector of RP and subject it to singular authority.
It is all well and good to want to promote community roleplay for Holy RP, but the way the CoB goes about it is monopolistic and (for me at least) kills any interest in breaking ground into Holy RP, much less touching it on my existing characters.
I think that’s where most people get it wrong. According to the creators of the COB (and really just clergy), they RP as a branch of the church and not the entire church itself (I will have to ask Moor for details). It has been said time and time again that they welcome anyone else doing the whole ‘Light-thing’ with their own set of beliefs, but for the short while that I am here, I have seen ‘other branches’ sprung up and poof in a matter of weeks if not months, or just stay silent for long periods of time, only to pop back up here and there. Whether because their own creators lost interest, aren’t as loud, didn’t put enough effort into it or for whatever other reason, they didn’t have staying power and just vanished.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard. When the Clergy has literally essays and essays of fanon/stucture/guidelines already written down by some very knowledgeable folks to back the RP up along with an established presence, a random group coming out of nowhere with zero written material trying to ‘preach the Light’ and look credible…it’s rough.
Currently there are…three(?) other ‘church of Light’ factions(?).
Renna’s OCtN, which is going fine with it’s own structure (I heard they took over Alterac? Rumours, can’t be sure).
There’s also this Hand of Uther group, who works on their own set of beliefs/order and doesn’t deal with the COB at all but I haven’t seen them around at all recently.
There’s Everen’s thing - also not familiar with this but it pops up here and there and is made mention of.
I can name a few groups that did their own thing and poofed in a matter of weeks. Or realized their own written stuff isn’t as complete and ended up using Clergy’s scriptures.
So the option is there, for those who wants to ‘break ground’ and do their own thing. It has been done before and it is still happening. The only exclusion the COB has would be to people who wants to be ‘our bishop’, but refuses to play by ‘our rules’ and work up ‘our ladder’ for it, and automatically expects to be one and while not follow ‘our fanon’ (re: scriptures). Which to me is completely ridiculous because that’s the same as saying to a raiding guild “I want to join your guild as an officer/class but I don’t want your guild tag, nor do I want to follow your guild rules or prove that I’m service-capable.”
No…just no. That’s not how the CoB works. Even with Renna’s OCtN (whose structure is WAY more accepting and lenient), there are conditions to abide by (e.g. you must be accepted by ‘your people’). You can’t barge into a group’s RP expecting a top seat without meeting the requirements/doing the legwork. That’s like joining the League of Lordaeron saying “I’m a Major, so I am”, and expecting an instant promo to Major because “I RP I am”. Unacceptable.
If there is something I do dislike about the COB right now, it’s that without Caspius to put the boot in on a few things (and don’t get me wrong, for all the bad that has happened, he did do a few good things for the COB), a few currently existing good and capable Light Rpers who are in the Light-sphere (and agrees with the fanon) is now barred from promotion because they either pissed off Clergy (the players), and thus certain bishops are voting no because OOC grudges (despite IC their characters did absolutely nothing to each other), that or those Light-RP individuals said one or two sentences IC during the madness of Ashvale, and tanked their chances on getting an ‘aye’ because said individual bishops were pissed/wary/threatened/whatever. I’m more pissed off about the former than the latter. The latter is IC and completely valid, the former is a lack of OOC and IC, personal and council separation discipline.
Like Caspius who had a gigantic problem sorting OOC and IC to a point it practically destroyed his credibility, we also have a few people who can’t put personal OOC grudges aside and make good for-the-RP decisions. So it is quite messy and the raider in me seethes in frustration. Maybe everyone should raid, and learn that even though you have a personal grudge on the guy, you have to acknowledge his capability and accept him into your raid if your goal is to kill a boss.
One day I will post that letter of condemnation and dissect it to point out which parts were OOC bleeding into IC and which parts were real, and which parts were Caspius doing mental acrobatics.
It has not been the case that the Council of Bishops simply roleplays as a sect of the church - from its inception its creator envisaged it to be a centralized authority for Holy RP on the server.
The phenomenon of larger guilds tending to absorb those interested in a particular sector of roleplay and making the emergence of new ones difficult - what I like to call guild inertia - is a thing, yes. But it does not negate the arguments posited against the Council of Bishops, or the state and behaviour of the Holy RP community on Moon Guard.
Owing largely to the existence of the Clergy, Holy RP on the server has become highly centralized from an in-character standpoint. The notion of the Church as a singular and hierarchical body has been pressed with such force that it has been accepted by most of the community as a whole. It is specious to say, then, that people are free to ‘break in’ to Holy RP whenever they like. The CoB does not and has never acted or been advertised as simply a group of likeminded Clergypeople attempting to spread the good word - rather, it is advanced as the sole legitimate governing body of the Church to which all others must submit. The fact that it appoints -the- Bishop of Lordaeron or -the- Bishop of Stormwind, the fact that it elects -the- Archbishop is rather telling; the fact that it appoints people to bureaucratized clerical positions at all demonstrates it is not an open forum for members of the community, but instead presses its particular agenda from the top down in a bid to herd the Holy RP community under its authority.
That is the sad story of Holy RP on Moon Guard, really. The lore itself states very little about the nature and particulars of the Light as a faith, beyond tenants like the Three Virtues, and that the community of the faithful is divided amongst differing systems of belief and different groups. Rather than use this nearly blank slate as a pretext for a rich and diverse array of religious roleplay, Holy RP on Moon Guard has turned into a bad facsimile of late medieval Catholicism. There is no attempt at dialogue and diversity in Holy RP; a particular body of dogma is pushed as the sole legitimate form of belief, and any attempts to present ideas the contrary are responded with ‘heresy’, ‘excommunication’, or ‘crusade’. OOC beliefs and prejudices concerning morality and faith are advanced as naturally accepted. They do not want to roleplay religion as it exists or may exist in Azeroth - instead, the effort is almost entirely devoted to importing real-world faith and disparaging people that question it.
Even confronting the “central authority of the COB” rhetoric would be to condescend to a classic, loaded question: does the Council of Bishops represent the entirety of the Church of the Holy Light? The answer is that it simply doesn’t matter on way or the other in the same way that it doesn’t matter if the League of Lordaeron claims to be the authority over Lordaeron. On an in-character level, sure. On an out-of-character level, the very question is just absurd.
People started role-playing bishops not for “largely selfish reasons,” just like “bureaucratic” formation is not attempting to push things from the top down. The minimalistic bureaucracy that exists (e.g., the fact that there are positions that must be fufilled) exist so that goals can be met. The company that has a vice president and a comptroller and a marketing director is not a company that is trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD necessarily; rather, the company is trying to get things done and sell a product, in this case, the faith, or Holy RP in general.
Assertions that the COB/COTHL is just following the precedent set by Medieval Catholicism is absurd… The COTHL has entirely unique doctrine that very often stands at complete opposition with that assertion. The most similarity that the doctrine has with Medieval Christianity has is that it is a structured discourse community (lore) with cathedrals and churches (lore) and bishops (lore) with public, symbolic services (lore) that acts as the state religion (lore) demanding righteousness of its followers (lore) with a heaven that heroes ascend to (lore) and a hell for the wicked (lore). Even the very nature and immanence of the Light is closer with ancient Iranian religion than Christianity in general.
That doctrine that is not specifically lore prescribed, non-prescriptive and minimalistic as it is, is player-created, and has been changed and debunked in the past. It undergoes constant revolution and change with role-play. Besides that, every effort is made towards inclusion of these other groups to enrich and diversify the discourse community insofar that it can be sensibly done. One would know that, if anything, if one was both observant and involved with the role-play in even the most nominal way.
The mechanisms of our RP and how it is managed are accelerants to the roleplay of others, even opponents… Assertions to the contrary simply lack imagination. The OCOTN has it right.
This is what I don’t get about this crowd. How much more can IC take a hike for some slippery, imagined, greater ideal? The answer, I think, is that it cannot, or at least that it should not. Just stopping role-play because it makes someone uncomfortable somehow for some vague, ass-backwards reason that they refused to genuinely qualify is obviously not the way to write an organic story.