Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Religion in Cinder

My World of Cinder uses the primordial 3 alignment system of Law/Neutrality/Chaos and the three main religions fall out roughly along those lines.

The Church of the Gold Dragon

Alignments: Lawful, Neutral.

There are no good/metallic dragons in the World of Cinder, only neutral and chaotic ones. The Church of the Gold Dragon is basically the Crystal Dragon Jesus trope taken to its illogical conclusion. I don't normally use this kind of faux medieval Christianity in my games, but I'm trying to step beyond my normal Howard-esque sword & sorcery roots to allow for pious knights and clerics and grailquests and all that sort of Arthurian stuff. But the Church isn't all gumdrops and lollipops. The faith supports the social classes of early feudalism, going so far as to divide its sacred texts into Copper, Brass, Silver, and Gold Codices. Only the Copper Codex is used in the presence of the peasantry. Nobles are given access to the revelations of the Brass Codex. The Silver Codex is reserved for clerics. Only the Patriarchs of the Church may read from the Codex of Gold.

The Twelve

Alignments: Any

Your basic Greek/Norse/Kirby New Gods mash-up pantheon with a Mother Earth and a Father Sky and a sea god and all that standard stuff. Not necessarily opposed to the Church of the Gold Dragon, but open conflict between the two is certainly possible. The priests of the Twelve are losing ground in the long, slow competition for faithful followers, as the Church is better organized and the chaotic dudes (below) promise quicker results and more fun. Some priests of the Twelve are getting all apocalyptic on everyone's asses, claiming that falling away from the Old Faith will only hasten the end of the world.

The Frog God Cults

Alignments: Neutral, Chaotic

Slaad worshippers. Chaos cultists in the tradition of Warhammer. Dudes in black robes wielding wavy-bladed daggers. Naked witches. Etc. In some areas a Frog God might be worshipped openly, but in many regions this faith has gone underground. The Frog Gods are not necessarily evil, but they are opposed to many of the institutions of Cinder society. And their propensity for human sacrifice puts them outside the law in many areas. Totally metal.

Those are the three main faiths of the land. Jesus is a dragon, Satan is a frog, and Thor still speaks crazy faux English. Other religons exist, such as localized mystery cults with weird initiations, heretical off-shoots from the Church, the odd non-amphibious chaos cult, and minority cultural groups with their own secretive ways.

14 comments:

  1. Re the "crystal dragon jesus" thing once again:

    I wonder why whomever decided to sling buzz-labels at that particular fantasy tradition focused on religion, anyway ...

    What I mean is, there's no functional difference between having a cross as a holy symbol in a world without crucifixion, and carrying a Lucerne hammer in a world where there's no such place as Lucerne.

    I desire - nay, demand! - a new postmodern-buzz-trope-netspeak-gobbledygook label thingy for "Crystal Dragon Polearms."

    ... And all the other thousands of ways in which the same thing happens, and must, if we don't want all our characters to live in Jorune :)

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  2. I'm not sure the average trope-slinger thinks about polearms that much!

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  3. (Speaking of, 5 points to anyone who noticed my recent homage to this principle in a certain Encounter Critical project ...) ;)

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  4. I'm sure they don't :)

    But it is marvellous (or scary, whichever) that a basic facet of trad-fantasy can be known for years, enjoyed for years, celebrated, understood and discussed for years on its own terms without buzz-speak ... and then suddenly become a "trope" just because someone a bit slow notices it a few decades late and slaps a specific buzz-label on it.

    The good-guy part of me just marvels at the progress of language and the often childlike essence of the Internet. The bad-guy part of me considers the marketing implications ...

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  5. Hooray for Frog God Cults!

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  6. (Speaking of, 5 points to anyone who noticed my recent homage to this principle in a certain Encounter Critical project ...) ;)

    You mean something like the absurdity of a Theskian Duffel Bag?

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  7. Wait, what about bronze dragons? Or perhaps the Bronze Codex is followed only by a heretical progressive sect that recognizes the influence of the emerging merchant / skilled crafter class?

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  8. You mean something like the absurdity of a Theskian Duffel Bag?

    Today I'll code in a special cheat command that'll give you 5 extra points :)

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  9. I like the breakdown here - I especially like the Frog Cults.

    So are the gods of Cinder going to be physically present and able to be "confronted" by the PCs (a la Greyhawk, or the Greek myths) or are they more "spiritual beings who have no real form" (a la Eberron, among others)?

    Also - are you making "Law==Good" in the game, or is there a possibility of Lawful priests of The Church carrying out Inquisitions against heretics and the non-Church worshippers in the world?

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  10. So are the gods of Cinder going to be physically present and able to be "confronted" by the PCs (a la Greyhawk, or the Greek myths) or are they more "spiritual beings who have no real form" (a la Eberron, among others)?

    The gods have real physical bodies like you or I. But you can't bump into the local Thor any old place either. Frog Gods and miscellaneous local deities will be more commonly encountered, simply because they are more numerous. And it is a tenet of the Church that the Great Golden Dragon is currently asleep in his lair in the sky. But one day he will awaken to usher in the new age of peace and prosperity for his believers.

    Also - are you making "Law==Good" in the game, or is there a possibility of Lawful priests of The Church carrying out Inquisitions against heretics and the non-Church worshippers in the world?

    Law does not always mean good and Chaos does not always mean evil. An Inquisition is certainly possible within the scope of this campaign.

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  11. Jeff, I like the three religions, but it strikes me that you really haven't left the B/E/C/M-Cyclopedia worldview of D&D. You're basically on the Law/Neutral/Chaos tip of the whole D&D Knowne World setting.

    If you add some futuristic scientist guy as a god trying to prevent the end of the world, I'm confiscating your copy of Wrath of the Immortals.

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  12. I'm not sure I follow you, man. Lately my primary sources for alignment issues have been Moldvay Basic/Expert, the original Little Beige Books, and Chainmail. What about this schema looks BECMI-ish to you? I haven't read any Mystara material in years, so maybe I'm unconsciously channeling something.

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  13. xlmTJX Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

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  14. TS2N3R Please write anything else!

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