Friday, November 6, 2009

Religion in my upcoming campaign

All of the following assumes a campaign world where there are multiple gods, who are real, and are actively involved in the running of the world.

One thing I want to avoid in my upcoming campaign is modern style religion. Clerics' prayers are actually answered, the gods walk the earth in the form of men from time to time, many gods are known to actually exist, and they kind of act like children. This will make for a different kind of religion. In fact, by modern understanding, it wont be religion at all. It will be science.

Faith isn't needed in a world with a traditional fantasy pantheon. A god's followers are not taking his existence on faith when he can show up and lightning bolt someone. Clerics' prayers are actually answered. Religion in a world like that isn't about faith, it is about reacting to reliable evidence and things you directly observe. Religious people are not the ones sticking their heads in the sand denying verifiable phenomenon in a fantasy world. Furthermore, you know that all of the gods are real, not just yours.

Conversion will work differently too. It will not be about getting people to stop believing in their god and start believing in yours. It will be about convincing people that making sacrafices or praying to your god will be more effective. They are going to expect you to back this up too.

The idea of "my god" will be blurred in many ways. Some people may have a god that they are more loyal to than others but everyone has to deal with all the gods. If you are going on a boat trip you will make a sacrifice to the sea god, even if you are a cleric of the war god. The idea of a personal relationship with a god will be very different too. It will not be based on some personal interpretation of what the god means. The people of the world will have a pretty good idea of what their god want, they get feedback.

Since interpretations of what a god said 2000 years ago will be less important, people will not be able to use them to gain as much power over others. If someone was using an interpretation of what a god says to force others to do what he wanted, and the god did not agree with that, he could make it very clear. Any time someone is saying that a god told him to do something chances are he will be right or will be dead very soon.

With real gods, people get feedback and responses from their actions. They will record the response and attempt to connect it to their actions. They will develop theories about what causes gods to act the way they do, theories that can actually be tested. Clerics will have to take a far more logical approach to religion, it is likely that religion and science will not be at odds with each other in a society like this, but will actually be closely intertwined.

In a game with fantasy gods, religion would be nothing like the religions in our modern world.