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"There is nothing that keeps men at any one moment out of the cold and shivering Abyss, but the vigilance of the Abbey."
—High Overseer Falke Barrowe[1]

The Abbey of the Everyman, or simply the Abbey, is a religious order in the world of the Dishonored franchise, spread and enforced by Overseers and headed by the High Overseer. Based in the cities of Whitecliff and Dunwall, the Abbey's ideology centers on the belief that "the universe is unknowably vast and swarming with all manner of dangerous spirits and forces, most of which are hostile to man's existence".[1] The primary goal of the Abbey is to stand against the Outsider, but it is also tasked with civil matters, such as officiating marriages and regulating the Isles' calendar and the Fugue Feast.[2] Under Lord Regent Hiram Burrows, the Overseers of the Abbey are granted the full authority of a civilian police force.

The High Overseer during the early events of Dishonored is Thaddeus Campbell, who remains in command until he is neutralized by Corvo Attano. This act throws the Abbey into a state of disarray. Shortly after the elimination of Campbell, Loyalist Teague Martin is named the new High Overseer through blackmail but as his role was short-lived and illegal, the official successor to Thaddeus Campbell is Yul Khulan.

History[]

Foundation, Rectification War, and Whitecliff[]

Overseer chant

An Overseer and his wolfhound in Dunwall Tower.

The creation of the Abbey of the Everyman's body of beliefs is shrouded in mystery, but it is known that Benjamin Holger was the religion's founder and first High Overseer. Holger's movement rose to prominence in 1701 when Overseer John Clavering ordered the construction of the titular Abbey in Dunwall, at which point adherents began gathering in the city. In 1705, the Abbey embarked on the Rectification War,[3] a "large unifying conflict" against the other religions of the region. In this conflict, the offending groups were quashed by the Abbey.[4][5] The war was ended in 1708 with the Siege of White Cliff led by High Overseer Holger, during which a great number of heretics were "cleansed" by the early Abbey in the town of Whitecliff. Holger died in the fighting after being stabbed in the eye, and John Clavering succeeded him as the second High Overseer. Several days of sermons followed the battle, which were transcribed into the Abbey's holy book. It was also in this year that the Abbey's construction was completed.[3] In 1711, the Abbey of the Everyman became the official religion of the Empire of the Isles.

Delilah's Coup[]

During Delilah Copperspoon's coup in 1852, High Overseer Yul Khulan managed to escape Dunwall Tower to safety. The Abbey initially took a neutral stance towards the new Empress, but was wary and concerned by rumors that Delilah was associated with the occult. Simultaneously in Karnaca, Delilah's co-conspirators Breanna Ashworth and Kirin Jindosh designed and assembled the Oraculum in the Royal Conservatory, a device which allowed Ashworth to infiltrate the dreams of the Abbey's Oracular Order and manipulate their prophecies, effectively granting her and Delilah indirect control of the entire Abbey. This interference began to bear fruit, as the Order started issuing proclamations that were increasingly favorable towards Delilah and pushed for the Abbey's recognition of her ascension to the throne. Vice Overseer Liam Byrne of Karnaca also noticed subtle discrepancies of tone in the Order's missives and took measures to monitor Ashworth and the Conservatory, suspecting witchcraft. This plot was stopped by Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin while the Oraculum was still being tested, however.

Several weeks after the coup, as Delilah's dark activities became increasingly evident to all, High Overseer Khulan assembled every Overseer in Dunwall and marched on Dunwall Tower to depose the Empress and her coven. While the Overseers were able to break through the City Watch guarding the main gate and their music boxes were able to suppress the witches' magic with the Ancient Music, that music had no effect on Delilah's clockwork soldiers. The Overseers were slaughtered to the last man; the machines killed most, while the witches turned the rest to stone. Among those lost was one unidentified Overseer who had been secretly tasked by the Oracular Order with searching the palace for evidence of Corvo Attano's ties to The Outsider. Yul Khulan himself was dragged away and killed inside Dunwall Tower, his body displayed in the grand hall and desecrated with a pair of bone charms. The decisive rout of the Overseers marked the elimination of the last significant threat to Delilah in Dunwall for the remainder of her reign.

Dissolution[]

In the spring of 1852, following the defeat of Delilah, Emily Kaldwin's restoration to the Imperial throne, and the disappearance of The Outsider, the Empress ordered the dissolution of the Abbey of the Everyman. The dissolution was preceded by a tragic incident involving the new High Overseer, an unidentified man who succeeded the late Yul Khulan. The High Overseer had conducted a series of arcane rituals with the High Oracle at the Abbey's headquarters in Dunwall in an unsuccessful effort to quell the supernatural disturbances caused by the Outsider's absence. Unfortunately, he descended into madness in the process. One day, he convened a meeting of the Abbey's top officials, and then killed the High Oracle and over a dozen other clergy before he was overpowered. The Abbey tried to hide the High Overseer, but could not cover-up the incident. Shortly afterward, the Empress issued the dissolution order.[6]

A battalion of Imperial soldiers from Whitecliff occupied the Abbey's headquarters, the Oracular Order's chapels across the Isles were stormed and razed, and all of the Abbey's treasures were confiscated by the Imperial government. Most Overseers fled ahead of the soldiers' arrival and were allowed to remain free, but those who resisted were killed or incarcerated in Coldridge Prison. However, contrary to the terms of the Empress's order, the Sisters were hunted down and most were burned at the stake on sight. The circumstances behind the massacre of the Sisterhood were murky; all that was known was that "something happened" to the Imperial soldiers sent to subjugate the chapels. As for the last High Overseer, an unverified rumor claimed that after being found within the Abbey's headquarters, he was transferred to Coldridge and kept under restraint with an iron straitjacket.[6]

Leadership and Structure[]

Senior Overseers and Oracles[]

The Abbey of the Everyman is led by a High Overseer, who directs all of the Abbey's chapters across the Isles from Dunwall. Beneath the High Overseer are a series of Vice Overseers who administer individual cities. The Abbey is also divided between the all-male Overseers and the all-female Oracular Order, which is cloistered and tasked with interpreting prophecies to guide the Abbey in rooting out darkness. The head of the Oracular Order is called the High Oracle, and is subservient to the High Overseer, but the Order exerts enormous influence on the entire Abbey through its missives.

The Abbey's first High Overseer was its founder, Benjamin Holger (?-1708).[7] High Overseers who followed Holger include John Clavering (1708-?), Falke Barrowe, Abram Templeton, Francis Perry, Steven Gainsford, Scott Grafton, Rhye Mattson, Tynan Wallace, Gerard, Thaddeus Campbell (1818-1837), Teague Martin (1837), Yul Khulan (1837-1852), and the unnamed last High Overseer (1852).[3][6] A list of notable clergy in the Abbey can be found here.

Under the High Overseer, Vice Overseers serve as upper leadership outside of Dunwall. Each city has one Vice Overseer, who is in charge of ensuring the faith and safety of their city and the surrounding region. The Vice Overseer of a capital city serves as the de facto leader of all Abbey personnel and assets for the entire nation, with nationwide authority and direct contact with the High Overseer in Dunwall. Vice Oracles carry similar authority to their Vice Overseer counterparts, however the more insular nature of the Oracular Order tends to leave Vice Oracles less active in politics and warfare, instead traveling between the Order's convents, ensuring the safety and stability of the organization.

Common Overseers and Oracles[]

Each Overseer has varying levels of authority based on their seniority, capability, and specialty. Veteran and especially pious Overseers are often charged with tending large congregations, usually in the Isles' busiest chapels or in large rural areas, as well as commanding many subordinate Overseers; alternatively, they may be assigned as senior military liaisons or political advisors, ensuring the security and pushing the agenda of the Abbey respectively. Similarly, Keepers of the Oracular Order are veteran Sisters, tasked with intensive studies to best contribute to the Order's predictions and prophecies. Among these, a few may be designated and trained as Weavers, assassins assigned to eliminate rogue factions within the Abbey, and silence any loose lips that threaten to leak the Order's secrets.

Less senior Overseers tend to have fewer responsibilities, preaching to smaller congregations or leading groups of Initiates and Abbots. Overseers less suited to preaching or management are assigned as Warfare Overseers, which make up the bulk of the Abbey's elite militarized corps. Sisters of the Oracular Order tend to carry similar levels of authority, but like the senior Oracles above them, rarely leave their convents except to investigate heretical incidents involving especially dangerous magics.

Initiates are the most junior of Overseers, having just recently completed the Trials of Aptitude. They have begun their training proper, and rarely leave their enclaves, however they may be called to action if the main forces of the Abbey require additional manpower. Although they have the least authority within the ranks of the Overseers, they are still Overseers, and as such, retain absolute authority in faith over commoners in the Abbey's eyes.

Laypeople[]

In addition to ordained Overseers, the Abbey also employs a number of commoners. Laypeople faithful to the Abbey are often called upon to help build chapels, and other such common work. Especially devout laypeople may, in time, be officially recruited into the Abbey as Abbots. Abbots serve as assistants to Overseers and Oracles, handling the smaller minutia of their assignments.[8]

Locations of Note[]

Spiritually, the Abbey is centered in Whitecliff, where the invocation ceremony for new Overseers occurs. Most of the high level meetings and administrative work is done in Dunwall, where the Office of the High Overseer is located in Holger Square. The old Abbey, their main place of congregation, is also located in Dunwall but was shuttered during the time of plague and the reign of the Lord Regent.[9]

The various convents of the Oracular Order are spread across Serkonos, serving both their own purposes, and acting in a supervisory role over the Karnacan Overseers. It is unknown how many Oracular Order convents exist, their exact locations, or if there is any meaningful heirarchy.

Throughout the Isles, Overseers tend to make smaller administrative bases, sometimes by building chapels from scratch, other times by occupying abandoned buildings and converting them into Overseer Outposts.

Beliefs[]

Stu03

An Overseer sermonizing in the Office of the High Overseer.

The Abbey has no stated deity (and indeed opposes worship in the traditional sense), although it places special importance on astrological and cosmological movements - the organization regulates the calendar based on the observation of cosmological signs,[10] and in eulogies, the deceased is bade to "fade and merge with the Cosmos".[11] The Abbey follows a strict set of doctrines known as the Seven Strictures, which dictate how followers of the Abbey should conduct themselves. Citizens are encouraged to place all their devotion and faith in the institution of the Abbey, particularly the High Overseer. Thus, the Abbey is generally regarded as a spiritual watchdog.

According to developer Harvey Smith, the Abbey believes that the world was created when "[t]he Void issued forth the worlds and stars, swirling around that great, birthing abyss". He also states that the followers of the Abbey believe that "[p]lant[s] and animals arose from the primordial chaos, with humanity separating itself from the beasts of the earth. Dread spirits poured forth from the Void and set about plaguing all men and women, attempting to create discord in their hearts. And since creation, the entirety of the Cosmos has been slowly returning to the Void, pulled back toward eventual destruction".[12]

The Abbey permits no other religions and opposes all acts of magic and witchcraft, in addition condemning those who diverge from the Abbey's ways. As the Outsider is the source of all magic in the world, the Abbey disavows him and actively combats his temptation of mortals.

The Abbey practices the burning of witches and heretics even in the industrialized age, as well as the destruction of supernatural objects, such as runes and bone charms.[13] Conversely, the Abbey is generally accepting of technology, with electrical lighting and broadcast systems common in the Office of the High Overseer. The Abbey even states that the technological progress of the present time eliminates any excuse for the practice of witchcraft.[14]

Authority[]

Overseermask

Overseers in Holger Square.

After the assassination of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and the ascension of Hiram Burrows to Lord Regent, the Overseers are given leave to work with impunity within Dunwall and are on occasion deployed to act as police alongside the City Watch.[15]

The Abbey has the authority to prosecute civilians for religious crimes and sentence guilty parties at their discretion - logs found in library at the Office of the High Overseer note that seizure of property,[16] financial recompense,[17] public humiliation,[17] service to the Order,[17] prison time,[16] and execution[18] are all sentences that have been carried out by the Abbey.

With this extended authority, the Overseers become fanatical in their efforts to cleanse Dunwall of occult practices. The Heart tells Corvo that "[t]he Abbey is dark - its doors are locked, and no more the great sermons. The Overseers have taken to the streets".[19]

Practices[]

Seven Strictures

The Seven Strictures as seen in Dunwall Tower.

The Trials of Aptitude[]

Children who have the "proper inclination" for the position of Overseer are "marked" by the Abbey and observed for several months to "determine whether this inclination is supported by cosmological conditions and other signs, ongoing throughout the year". Those found to be worthy are abducted from their homes and, after several months of spiritual preparation, make a pilgrimage to Whitecliff. There they undergo the Trials of Aptitude, which determine who among them is worthy to become an Overseer, and who must be "put down".[20]

The Feast of Painted Kettles and the Dance of Investiture[]

In the event of an acting High Overseers' death, a group known as the Ascending Circle made up of senior Overseers, Vice Overseers from various enclaves, senior Sisters of the Oracular Order and the High Oracle[21][22] announces the Feast of Painted Kettles, commencing deliberations over who should be appointed to the position of High Overseer.[10] When a new High Overseer is chosen, a ceremony called the Dance of Investiture commences.[22]

The Fugue Feast[]

The Fugue Feast occurs after midnight on the last day of the calendar year, a period which is said to exist outside time. Any events that occur during this period are not recognized to have ever happened, giving the population free reign to commit inappropriate, immoral, and sometimes criminal acts without official consequence. Although it is unknown if the Fugue Feast is strictly a religious holiday, it falls to the High Overseer to officiate the ceremony, and to the Overseers to observe cosmological signs, which determine when the new year begins.

Trivia[]

Overseermask

Sigil on an Overseer mask.

  • The symbol of the Abbey is a capital C with what appears to be a trident passing through it. This symbol features heavily within the Abbey, from its use on ink fountains to tablecloths, and the masks and uniforms worn by the Overseers.
    • According to Harvey Smith, the symbol used by the Abbey was based off of a farming fork. [23]
  • According to Harvey Smith, there was a time in which "[p]eople just joined" the Abbey, and children were not taken from their homes.[24]
  • High Overseer Campbell is skeptical of Sokolov technologies.
  • The Abbey forbids the consumption of rats, though rat skewers can be found in numerous areas of Dunwall and Karnaca.
  • Sokolov performed rituals under the old Abbey while it was shuttered in order to contact the Outsider.[25]
  • According to Harvey Smith, most major cities have a Vice Overseer, while smaller towns have an Overseer who tend to the chapels or outposts there.[26]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Official Dishonored website: Discover Dunwall - The Abbey
  2. The Fugue Feast (book)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
  4. Developer Commentary - Religion, part 1
  5. Developer Commentary - Religion, part 3
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dishonored: The Veiled Terror, Chapter 3
  7. Notable Clergy: Benjamin Holger
  8. Dishonored Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook Pg. 141-143, 183-185
  9. Developer Commentary - The Abbey's location
  10. 10.0 10.1 The High Overseer
  11. Loudspeaker Announcement:"May the High Overseer's spirit fade and merge with the Cosmos."
  12. Developer Commentary - Creation Story
  13. More Tools
  14. The Bone Charm Situation
  15. Loudspeaker Announcement: "...in this continuing crisis, the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman remain in service of the state, and are empowered to enforce whenever and wherever necessary..."
  16. 16.0 16.1 Confiscation Log 2749
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Disclosure Log 965
  18. Deposition Log 73826
  19. "The Abbey is dark - its doors are locked, and no more the great sermons. The Overseers have taken to the streets."
  20. The Trials of Aptitude
  21. Developer Commentary - Ascending Circle
  22. 22.0 22.1 Loudspeaker Announcement: "Attention Dunwall Citizens: The Ascending Circle has chosen Teague Martin to be High Overseer. Let us praise their choice. The Dance of Investiture will take place without delay."
  23. https://twitter.com/Harvey1966/status/745580725257248768
  24. Developer Commentary - The Abbey of the Everyman
  25. "Sokolov believes there are specific words and acts that can compel me to appear before him.[...]He performs disgusting rituals beneath the old Abbey."
  26. Developer Commentary – Overseer


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