Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R is for Religion

I’ve never really been a stickler for religions in my D&D games. I was always content to simply have clerics worship nameless gods of good (and, perhaps, evil as well), in the interest of moving the game along. Eventually, I started forcing players with clerics to have a patron god, but since there was so seldom clerics in my campaigns, it wasn’t usually a problem.

Now, I see the need to have at least an IDEA of organized religions in play. I must admit, that I do like the idea of simplifying churches down to “the Church of Law” and “The Church of Chaos”, possibly leaving the neutral church as the Old Faith of the druids. In one respect, this is a lot simpler for organizing things, but I also find it… well, a bit drab. I have always been fascinated by the stories of the Greek and Roman gods, and their attendant myths, but I find it rather… daunting? unnecessary? to come up with an entire pantheon. I also like the idea of allowing “specialty” priests, complete with different spell lists and weapons of choice. But, I have also come to believe that that is a mechanic perhaps best left to a more advanced game.

I think it was my Catholic upbringing that first made me consider the idea of using saints as deities in my campaign. As I said in one of my previous posts, in my campaign world, humans are going to be the only race that can use clerical magic, because they are the only race that understands what “faith” can do. From there, it was easy to start thinking that each sphere would be controlled by a different saint. The beauty of this is, it would allow me to be creative in that spheres could have different patron saints, depending on where a character hailed from. The other perk in using saints is, it gives me a simple way to customize clerical magic. The way I envision it, each clerical spell is a supplication to another patron saint. For example, need to heal the wounded? Instead of Cure Light Wounds, you would have to offer up the Prayer to St. Seraphina. Cure Moderate Wounds would be the Orison to St. Seraphina, and Cure Serious Wounds would be the Benediction of St. Seraphina. Need a Bless spell instead? Then you would instead relate the Kyrie of St. Maximus. Instead of having a “spellbook”, a cleric would have a prayer book, which would contain the necessary “prayers” to invoke the benediction of the appropriate saint. I think of clerical spells like prayers and orisons… you need to address your prayer to patron saint of the sphere you seek aid in, and you must know the proper benediction to draw their favourable attentions. This would go a long way to making magic much more “magical”. Just as mages have to seek out rare and unique spells, so too would clerics have to seek out knowledge of the different patron saints of the differing spheres of influence, as well as discovering the prayers which will enable their pleas to be heard.

I have also been toying with some ideas of ancestor worship as part of the worship of the saints, but I haven’t thought about this enough yet. I have a list of Nature Spirits as well, which would be responsible for granting the spells of druids (or, alternately, of simply clerics… I am also toying with the idea of just shipping druid spells {if I use the Advanced Character Companion] into the cleric lists, and simply saying if you want to be a druid, you simply choose Nature spells, and I might change the clerics Turn Undead ability to Turn Wildlife, with a druid instead being able to “turn” different types of aggressive natural wildlife at low levels, and eventually adding SOME magical creatures, and perhaps even fey creatures).

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