Friday, March 22, 2019

Faiths Are Complex

So, I was asked by a friend to write about Religion in RPGs. My main issue is that, most religions in major Fantasy Table Top RPGs seem to fall into this... broad pantheist pantheon similar to Greek and Norse gods. And it always seems everyone believes in all of these gods and just chooses their favorite, or whichever is in charge of their species.

It’s kind of a punch in my verisimilitude. Religion doesn’t work that way in real life. My friends who are pagan don’t believe in the same God as my Christian friends, and then some of my Christian friends believe that their God is the same as Muslims’ and others don’t. My Buddhist friends eat meat, and my agnostic friends don’t eat pork. Religion and being religious is complicated and varied. 

I know what some of you are thinking, “That’s way too hard and complicated, I can cut/copy/paste a pantheist pantheon and call it a day.” Sure. No need to stress yourself if this is a subject you’re eight-hundred percent sure won’t be a major factor. But for me having  “Human Religions”, “Elf Religions”, and “Orc Religions” feels about as weird as having race-specific languages (which I’ll write on later). 

People talk, and faiths proselytize. A relative dies and we’re left asking “what now?”. A friend has a near death experience in battle and says “where will I go?”. Someone breaks their dogma in the name of love and asks “did I really believe?”. Someone loses an argument. Someone realizes that their doctrine hurts others. Someone sees a miracle. 

This is vastly more complicated by the fact that, in Fantasy RPGs divine intervention is a very real thing, and the forces of both Good and Evil with capital letters is readily apparent in their divine and infernal agents. You cannot say “Your God is a false-god, Ben-hur!” when Ben-hur’s God literally steps down to punch you in the mouth. 

And then the scene is further complicated by the fact that gods are monsters, and not just posited by the excellent “Revelations of the Mononoke Hime” by Mastered by Marquis. The original game itself encourages such by giving them stat-blocks, a trait belonging to characters and monsters. Modern incarnations give them more vague statistical information, but it is still there. And it isn’t like people fighting with God or gods isn’t a story we don’t tell: The Odyssey and Evangelion both tell that kind of story in very different ways. 

For my home-brew world, I want a variance of religions and religious beliefs. I’m not gonna worry about how the Monothiest god of religion A interacts with the Pantheon of Coastal Region B. Not yet anyways. But I am gonna come up with 5 or so religions for my world, and see what sticks. 

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