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:: :: Wits, Cunning and Silence: The Shadow World of the Setites ::
:: Please submit Temple Set History ::

Wits, Cunning and Silence: The Shadow World of the Setites

By Scruple Tamarind

Author's Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles on the religions of Aradath. My intention is to shed some light on the religions, get a little below the surface stereotypes and focus on the beliefs that define it and its effects on the lives of its followers (and sometimes others). I consider this article the first in my series to fail utterly to do that. -S.T.

Everyone has an opinion about the followers of Set, but what does anyone (except a Setite) really know? I spent some time speaking with (and sometimes badgering) Setites, trying to shine some light into their shadows. I found of world of opposites: speakers eager or reticent, the rich, the poor, thief and altruist, predator and prey. And I can't say I understand them much more than I did when I started.

I have been told Set is the god of: the underpriveledged, the downtrodden, the ignored, the lost, the poor, thieves, those who have none and those none want. God of adapting, god of creativity, god of freedom, god of imagination. God of surviving with what you have, and god of helping others do the same.

Helping others survive is one of the cornerstones of the temple. Many of those I spoke to were eager to tell me about the soup kitchen, the garden, and other improvements made in the Poor Quarter. Some were orphaned and raised in the temple and wanted to give something back. "I wanted to change the world for the better," Changeman the San told me. "To help my fellow people of the Poor Quarter, where I lived for years as a beggar." He continued, "Throwing money at the problem doesn't work though it helps a few. Tons die painfully every day, from disease, cold and starvation... what has to happen is for people to care about people more than money." I also spoke with Castor, who some might remember as a Leuian who came to opening night of the Fifth Stage banquet hall and, shall we say, raised awareness of the poor just outside the front door of this posh 35 gold-a-plate party. He told me what was most needed was more books, trainers to teach the poor to make a living, or even street lights. I had to agree with the latter from personal experience: I'd gotten lost in the dark trying to find the shelter for our meeting. Few know of the shops in the poor quarter and fewer patronize them. Castor hopes signs to the flea market might be installed someday, and asked me to pass a request along to our editors here at the Spurian Free Press to consider putting up a newspaper stand. Ward the Leuian told me, "It would be nice to see a small shop that sold goods from the garden to the public though, maybe if people read it in your paper they will take action."

I also spoke to Arrek the San about this outpouring of aid for the poor. "(Set's) ideals are interpreted differently," he said. "The Spurian temple is far more... humanitarian than the one I was taught in. Neither side is more or less Setite. They use the same skills and techniques, and apply them to different purposes." He continued, "The common thread is learning to make your own way, no matter what hand you were dealt. Thief, beggar or activist for the poor. You must learn how to survive."

Like the 500 pound ogre in the middle of the tap room, the subject of thieves is hard to ignore when discussing the Setite religion. Arrek said, "My temple feeds the poor. As such, it is often percieved as, weak, shall we say... I welcome the thieves, the cutthroats. They remind the people that the Serpent is not to be trifled with, or it will bite the enemies that disturb it." Castor told me theft is one way to use what you have to survive. This was echoed by every single Setite I spoke with.

Changeman explained, "Let us say you are a beggar, with no useful skills except begging. You can't just kill an ork for food money, the ork would waste you. And you have no HOD contract, so your death is permanent. You can maybe live off begging...barely. But maybe you get sick and can't even beg, or the cold takes you. Or you start getting creative to try and survive. It's no surprise that the Poor Quarter residents often end up as thieves. Muggers are also people who have chosen not to starve. Do you think they enjoy getting smushed by adventurers so often?"

Slade was more succinct: "Self-preservation is a must for many living things, regardless of what anyone else tells you."

I asked Orchist how much of a connection there was between the temple and the Theives' Guild. "I think I choose not to answer that," he said.

I asked a close friend, Yaquah, if she enjoyed the thrill, the danger of the underdog, living in Spur as a Setite. She stared at me in disbelief a moment and said, "Thrill and danger? I had enough of that as a child. I just try to make sure the younger of my temple don't have to go through the suffering I did. I follow my god because He never let me down."

What I took for thrill and danger turns out to be just danger for most Setites. Sure, some of the more accomplished adventurers and most influencial Spurians have followed Set, but they're the exception. For every Seneschal Cynus or Archmage Sadat there are hundreds of others living hand to mouth and trying to survive. The daily life of most Setites is not an easy one. Because so many poor become beggars or petty thieves, there is a strong anti-Set sentiment in Spur. Another friend of mine, Mont the Bard, left Spur when he could no longer stomach the persecution the godmark of Set brings on His followers here.

'You're right in thinking there is some oppression," Orchist told me. "Personally I think it is very unwarranted. If people actually sat down and thought about it, they would be hard pressed to find something that our temple did...that was so terrible." Orchist believes the removal of the Taathian temple left a vacuum and Spur needed another group as scapegoat.

Castor said, "There are some that will judge me by my mark before even knowing my name."

"Most is upset jes cause they miss a couple golds but Odies kin kill people and they the good guys," Nasci said. "I ain't never hurt nobodies."

Because they feel the world is against them, the Setites are a very close-knit group. Nasci told me, "I finally gots a family so that's what I kin think of when I think of Him."

"The temple," Yaquah said, "is more like a family. Set is the father, we are His children.

Ward said, "We look out for each other, that's all that matters."

Whatever you think of the Setites, whether you think they'll save society or be the ruin of it, they are here and they're not going away. They're used to being pushed to the margins and go through every day to day with what seems to me to be a gritty determination. Nasci doesn't think this article will change anyone's mind. She said, "...they already think they know it all. It dun matter what we give...they see what they wanna. It won't matter...no one will hear it that dun already know. They gots an idea already. If tey wanna give onna us a chance then maybe but it ain't gonna be cause of an article. I just dun think we feel the need to explain to people that won't listen."

Arrek told me, "There are few concrete answers in the Setite faith, and those that there are, wouldn't be revealed."

Shadows, indeed.

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