Monday, November 28, 2016

Religion in a Space Fantasy RPG, Part 3

Continuing this line of inquiry, we can turn our attention to how concepts for their different deities help people decide how they should live their lives.


Notions of Right Conduct
Having established which types of deities are worshiped in the campaign setting, one then starts to understand just how followers of those deities are expected to act based on their individual faiths.

Those who espouse the Universal Architect, for example, promote activities involving learning and building. After all, they believe that their god understands the master plan for the entire solar system, and they try through study and exploration to discover that plan. This leads to a generally lawful mindset. Just what one does with information gained, however, and how one tries to shape the world, is open to interpretation, and thus opens the door to good or evil tendencies.

In contrast to that, proponents of the Sun God try to embody honor and righteousness along with learning. Just as their god represents the source of light and thus life in the solar system, they work to expose evil and promote justice for all. Thus they tend to be both lawful and good, with a rare exception of neutrality in one aspect or the other.

Worshipers of the World Mother encourage the practice of mercy and thus the establishment of equality among all people. After all, any given world provides plenty for its inhabitants; seeking more than what an individual needs is greedy and even wicked. This sometimes brings them into conflict with the merchant princes and others, when they work to protect newly discovered worlds from harsh exploitation and and speak out against imbalances in labor and wealth. They are good at heart, but do not have strong tendencies toward law or chaos.

For followers of the Moon Goddess, freedom is something to be maintained at all costs. They generally respect the laws of the place in which they live, but do not hesitate to criticize and even take action against laws that don't seem to promote the common good. In this way, they stand somewhat between those who revere the Sun God, the World Mother and the Void. For that reason, some view them as being flighty and noncommittal. They tend toward chaotic or neutral outlooks in regard to ethics, and neutrality or goodness when it comes to morality.

Those who believe in the ultimate power of the Void believe that the solar system faces inescapable doom; it is only a matter of time before the end of all creatures and things will come to pass. For that reason, some are absolute hedonists, taking what pleasure they can from life before it ends. Others work actively to bring about chaos and destruction. In this way, they are almost always chaotic, and few promote goodness.

Further Developments
One of the fun aspects of developing a setting and campaign for an RPG is putting together different elements and then seeing how they develop. While this is most common with Player Characters and adventures—as they say, no plot ever survives contact with the PCs—it can also happen with the background for a world. Take, for example, the deities that are introduced in a previous article. Considering some of their attributes, logical extrapolations can lead to some intriguing and dramatic situations.

  • Male and female relations have some interesting implications for interaction between clerics who worship the Sun God and the World Mother. Given that life cannot exist without the necessary interaction of the two, some members of these faiths conduct elaborate rituals that emphasize this interaction. They often take place during a planet's summer solstice. Given that they embrace fertility, clerics of the World Mother don't feel puritanical about such events, but some clerics of the Sun God regard them as scandalous.
  • There is a small subset among clerics of the Sun God who view the relationship between the system's primary star and its planets as justification for members of their order to practice polygamy. After all, since the primary star isn't limited to just one world, then why should they who worship it be so limited?
  • Although, given their belief in one god who is the Architect of the Universe, clerics of Ptah claim to look beyond such divine attributes as male and female, some view that dichotomy as necessary to the act of creation. Known as the Navigators, this group is known to participate in some of the aforementioned rites involving clerics of the Sun God and World Mother. They take as their symbol the compass and the square, which are emblematic of that union. What is more, they make much use of innuendo involving their group's activities and “the exploration of heavenly bodies.”
  • Some of the more patriarchal followers of the Sun God view worshipers of the Moon Goddess as their rivals, since she is a strong female figure who does as she pleases. So far, occasional biased sermonizing is all that has come of it.
  • Given their embrace of entropy, and the fact that this doesn't make them popular with others, worshipers of the Void must usually be secretive about their faith and activities. That is why they sometimes where their holy symbol as a tattoo, often on the chest, where it can be covered or revealed as necessary. This is accentuated because, while some cultists just see entropy as an irresistible force in the galaxy, those of evil alignment actively work to cause destruction through acts of murder, arson and the like. 
  • Because deciphering and then implementing the plan of the Universal Architect requires a clear mind, some congregations who revere that deity prohibit the consumption of alcohol and other mind-altering substances. Of course, there are others who maintain that certain concoctions can help a worshiper transcend the normal limitations of thought and invention.   

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