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Worlds of Design: RPG Gods – Benign or Malign? | EN World | Dungeons & Dragons

Most RPG settings have some type of godhood. Yet there are some age-old questions that come into play as you create religions.
Gods and “hokey religions” (to cite Han Solo in Star Wars a New Hope) are normally a part of fantasy and science fiction role-playing video games. From a world-building standpoint, you may strategy faith as a type of philosophy, a option to information one’s life, however much more individuals are into faith than philosophy. Rather than utilizing a faith that resembles a modern-day equal, let’s begin from scratch by asking some elementary questions:

How Many?​

How many gods are there? In human historical past, historic gods typically have been members of a pantheon, a gaggle of gods. So it’s with many RPG campaigns and settings. Gods from these historic pantheons (Greek and Roman most prominently) have been superpowerful and immortal, however in any other case behaved very like people. Less widespread was a single god, or a god who has an oppositional side (successfully one other god) as in Manichaeism or Persia’s Zoroastrian faith (Ahura-Mazda and Ahriman). It has been unusual to assume that solely “my” gods exist, and no others. The perception is extra possible when there is just one (or two) god(s) in a faith somewhat than a pantheon. After all, if you can have a bunch of gods, why cannot another person, and people gods compete with each other?


Male vs feminine? Virtually all the traditional religions have been closely male-oriented, simply as societies have been closely male-oriented. Some did have highly effective goddesses typically associated to fertility. But male orientation shouldn’t be needed in a fantasy world through which girls are sometimes handled a lot otherwise than girls within the historic world. There is a few notion that in prehistoric occasions, some religions have been closely feminine oriented.


Do you consider? Just as in the actual world, some characters are going to need nothing to do with gods, whereas others will commit their lives to them. Some will assume that gods are solely dangerous for humanity, others that gods present nice good for humanity. A GM/World-Builder can affect this strongly by way of the precise habits of the gods.

Do You Have a Choice?​

Is there State Sponsorship (forcing everybody to adapt)? In the actual world, generally individuals are free to decide on their faith, different occasions they’re required to adapt to the state faith. And you might have circumstances the place the legal guidelines are devised to encourage somebody to transform (as when non-Muslims paid a further tax within the early centuries of Arab enlargement). The Roman Empire modified state sponsorship from their pagan faith to Christianity within the fourth century CE. And so on. The participant characters could possibly be religionists resisting state-imposed faith.

Divine Right?​

What about males/girls worshiped as gods? There have been many occasions in human historical past that rulers justified their proper to rule by declaring themselves to be gods. Among these are the Pharaohs, the later Roman emperors, and lots of medieval kings of Europe. For some it was simply an excuse, however others appear to have actually believed it.


How a lot do gods manifest in (seem or instantly affect) the world? Some historic gods, e.g. Greek, have been thought to continually meddle with the world. Egyptian gods have been much less current on the planet. If gods do meddle with the world, how do they do it? Provide path for worshipers (even holy struggle?)? Give boons to their most outstanding worshipers?

Fear or Love?​

Do characters worry their god(s) (and for that matter, rulers), or love him/her/it/them? This depends upon the priesthood, or on the habits of the “actual god(s)”. It additionally depends upon what the ruler thinks is greatest. It’s straightforward to make individuals worry him/her/it when the gods themselves are concerned.

The Old Gods?​

What concerning the “old gods,” those who now not have worshipers? Do they fade away totally, or do they hand around in the background, so to talk—maybe offering quest materials for gamers? If they hang around, do they develop into impartial, or benign, or malign?

What Are They Really?​

“Gods” as Aliens – or Monsters. What are the gods, actually? Perhaps they’re all a part of a giant rip-off?

For an in-depth exploration of various methods to implement faith in your marketing campaign (and solutions to a few of these questions), see Andrew “Corone” Peregrine’s wonderful collection of articles on the subject.

Your Turn: What questions did I miss?



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