Yes, it really does exist. Was, as the story notes, confirmed in dogs in 2006. In the Near Now, it’s a real and growing threat.
Well Europe is, by and large, a very secular collection of countries. In England, for example, there are two churches together on the same road that were designed to hold thousands of churchgoers, each. And, every Sunday, they have about 26 attendees… between them.
The churches in Europe are empty. So how do you “sell” a Dark Ages corrupt Christian theocracy to such a people?
The three beliefs that make Supporters: Do exist, will exist, should exist.
Christian miracles, theocracy, pagan magic: these are the three easiest beliefs to sell to Europeans. If you can convince people that any one of these three does exist, will exist, or should exist, they can count as a Supporter. (Not will, but can.)
Cancer is one of the most feared diseases known to man. An actress famed for her beauty had a radical double masectomy, just because she was genetically prone to cancer. No lumps, no tumors, not even a hint of disease… just because she would probably get it some day.
And there is, as of yet, no vaccine and no cure. Treatments — painful, humiliating treatments — but no cure.
So, the Antipope calls down a plague on the nation of unbelievers. A scourge that will cause people to sicken and die. And contagious cancer begins spreading.
And people panic. And some turn to God. Some go to churches. Some pray for miracles.
Statues of saints, and if you touch them you might be cured. Fountains of blessed waters, and if you bathe you might be cured. Priests of many different religions, and if you pray you might be cured.
Does happen, will happen, should happen. If you are desperate, and you want miracles, need miracles, spend hours in prayer or pain hoping for miracles… you might qualify as a Supporter.
It is a brutal and ugly strategy, but High Lords are brutal and ugly people.