The Priesthood of St John the Suffering is part of a larger order of clergy who work to quietly save humanity from the supernatural evils of the world.
The clergy provide the town of Streitstadt with the strongest (and only) defense against the nearby ancient Vampire Lair. The Church has provided lodgings for Hunters and priests for decades, and within the surprisingly spacious cellars under the old Church are a hidden workshops and an armament of magical artifacts.
An ancient Ritual of Shielding was in the past used to keep the town completely safe, but after the recent slaughter of the clergy (see timeline), the means to perform it have been… lacking, leaving the town in doubt of the Clergy's capabilities.
The Priesthood of St John the Suffering's History
- 1870-1890: A healthy congregation guards the quiet Catholic town of Streitstadt. They have plenty of supernatural trouble, but sustain a powerful clergy with devoted priests and a servile Nunnery.
- 1892: Reports of a growing vampire population in Knochenwalde are investigated, but deemed unfounded.
- 1918: The town suffers a devastating attack from a vampire clan residing in the catacombs of Villa Baccanale; the entire Nunnery is slain, and the clergy left understaffed, but the threat is ultimately thwarted, leaving Streitstadt without its Nunnery and the town without its defenses. The mayor flees to the surrounding forest, leaving the rebuilding of Streitstadt's walls and defenses halting.
- 1919-1920: A lot of odd foreigners are flocking to the underpopulated town ...
For the majority of human history, the Church has been hunting vampires and other monsters around the world. Not all sectors of the church are dedicated to hunting, but in most parishes even regular priests will learn a bit of monster lore and exorcism. However, there are dedicated sects that devote their lives to hunting and protecting the flock.
To overcome their far more powerful predators, humans of all religions tap into the collective belief of the faithful across the world. While the priesthood of St. John is Catholic, non-Christian holy powers are common. Strong powers can indicate strong faith, strong will, extensive training, or the favor of God/Gods. However, there is no certainty as to the exact cause, which casts a shadow of ambiguity on even the most powerful priest.
While most priests receive monster defense 101, there are orders specifically devoted to hunting the supernatural forces that would prey on humanity. Surviving as a hunter is very dangerous, and specialized hunter orders are quite rare. However, hunters tend to travel often and can be found throughout the world.
- Unranked/Self-Taught - Rare, but anyone can be a hunter, even without a religious organization
- Trainee - Learns the most basic elements of exorcism, Demonology, and combat.
- Candidate - Student-Exorcists. Study to become hunters, performing non-combat missions, such as maintenance and errand running.
- Hunter-Knight - Most basic qualified hunter. They will specialize in at least one class.
- Arc Knight - Highest ranks, acknowledged by the highest religious order (For Catholics, the Vatican).
- Paladin - Incredibly rare, the appointment is exceedingly difficulty, with the minimum conditions to learn all five classes.
Even in areas less concentrated with the supernatural than Streitstadt, monsters have always been a danger to humanity. While normal churches exist, special Hunter monasteries have been established since the beginning of human history. Some groups may have started as small pockets of priests trying to defend towns, later establishing themselves over hundreds of years into well organized training grounds for the most elite hunters. Others have started as non-secular/pagan groups of villagers that integrated into larger religious organizations (or didn't). Some groups are more prestigious than others, and certain orders are known outside the Church, by name if not by actual work.
Training starts at a very young age, particularly if the hunter is born directly into the hunter sect. All hunters are trained in hand-to-hand combat, melee & ranged weapons. Those who can use holy powers also train rigorously to use them. Specialization comes with time.
Uses magical blades or long-range holy magic magic techniques from their blades.
Uses ranged weapons, (handguns, bows, etc). Weapons themselves or specific weapons/ammunition can exploit monsters' weaknesses.
Treats and heals wounds through faith powers (could possibly be used to hurt undead, rpg style where cure spells damage zombs). Typically users also possess knowledge of basic & emergency first-aid, and the ability to treat ordinary injuries.
Summons and controls other-worldly beings, spirits, and other strange entities. It is a natural talent that few possess. Being tied to Heaven and Hell takes a toll; most tamers are marked mentally and physically from their work. Taming is frowned upon by most in the Church, seen as a necessary evil at best, witchcraft at worst.
Fights by reciting verses from the Bible or other sacred scriptures. Aria can specialize in particular verses which exorcise specific Demons. Multiple Arias can join together to form an incredibly powerful choir.