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D&D 3E
Religion 
27th-Jul-2005 09:19 pm
geometry, roleplaying, random numbers, games, 3e
I'm doing some world-building, and one of the themes I'm working on is a greater moral and religious ambiguity than D&D normally has. I've scrapped alignments, and am creating a variety of religious systems that are basically contradictory. But I'm slightly stuck... This is what I have so far:

Dwarves have a monotheistic religion, driven by tradition and prophesy, that has schismed into two churches that can be considered analogous to the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches.
Elves follow a shamanistic system based on totem animals.
Humans worship their ancestor-heroes, in the system most similar to the standard D&D pantheon.
Goblins worship their clan leaders as gods, similar to Egyptian pharoes.
Coivalds (from Mythic Races) worship nature (it may be more accurate to say that they worship a god whose completely coterminous with the world). They invariably become druids rather than clerics.
Sandesti (also from Mythic Races) worship elemental forces in the forms of sand (earth), river (water), sky (air), sun (fire) and moon (spirit).

The problem I'm having is that I can't think of anything to do with gnomes. To be honest, I've been kind of drawing a blank on them for more than just religion. I'm half-tempted to drop them as a race altogether, but I do like them, and I'd rather keep them, if I can just think of a decent handle...

If anyone has any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.
Comments 
28th-Jul-2005 01:22 am (UTC)
The gnomes worship a mysterious machine.
28th-Jul-2005 01:25 am (UTC)
Hrm. I can think of ways to spin that... Though it would have to be multiple mysterious machines, I think.

Or possibly specific locations...
28th-Jul-2005 02:05 am (UTC) - Idle thoughts
The Machine: a self-aware, autonomous engine that constantly removes its own detrius as raw material with which to rebuild itself. Te central manifestation is the size of a small planet, and drifts through the Etherial Plane and the outer planes. It incorporates material from whatever machinery is offered to it, and adapts to its surroundings by using native rocks, ores, and brick as replacement materials.

It doesn't have avatars. Instead, it disgorges little drones which it sends off to run errands.

Clerics are gnomes (and self-aware machines) with clockwork "holy symbols" that they use to channel the Machine's will. Instead of "praying," the cleric "winds up" the holy symbols with the spells she's preparing.
28th-Jul-2005 02:12 am (UTC) - Re: Idle thoughts
that sounds so cool.

*ganks.*
28th-Jul-2005 02:28 am (UTC) - Re: Idle thoughts
Certainly interesting. Plenty there I can adopt.

No deity has avatars, which is one of the things that allows dwarves (for example) to deny the existance of human gods. The existance of clerics isn't absolute proofs, as druids can cast divine spells without needing to believe in a god. I'm not sure about having divinely-powered golems, but it's certainly something to consider...
28th-Jul-2005 08:21 am (UTC) - Re: Idle thoughts
Who needs drones when you have Inevitables!
28th-Jul-2005 01:58 am (UTC)
polytheistic aspects of a single diety (multiple facets of a single gem)

...or you could make them hard-core atheists.
28th-Jul-2005 02:17 am (UTC)
While any sentient being has the option to be an athiest, I don't want to deny a gnome PC the chance to be a cleric. But I can get some ideas out of the multipartite deity. I'm just not sure I can make it different enough from other systems...
28th-Jul-2005 03:27 am (UTC)
I used a similar system for my world.

And I did drop Gnomes. Not because of the god issue, just because I think they're a mostly useless race.

And you mean "Catholic and Protestant", not "Catholic and Orthodox".
28th-Jul-2005 11:53 am (UTC)
No, I mean Catholic and Orthodox. The protestants don't have a strong enough church structure for them to have made a good analogy for me. The Eastern Orthodox church does, however.
28th-Jul-2005 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church.
28th-Jul-2005 02:00 pm (UTC)
While they do claim to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, I've never heard the term "Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church" in preference to "Eastern Orthodox Church". I don't think it makes a great deal of difference, though, so long as we know what we're talking about.
28th-Jul-2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
True enough.

From a theological standpoint, however, I believe they are technically Catholic, thus my original supposition.
28th-Jul-2005 04:22 am (UTC)
I dropped gnomes. They just don't fit, the only reason to include them is for completeness.
28th-Jul-2005 08:23 am (UTC)
It sounds like the religious structure from Eberron almost. Perhaps the gnomes could worship a pantheon at once, for instance clerics calling upon the group of deities or just any particular deity given the situation.
28th-Jul-2005 09:31 am (UTC)
Gnomes - naturals at alchemy, adpet in illusions, and skilled as bards

You could use either of these as starting points for a religion; a god who brought them magic and alchemy, or The Great Entertainer who they praise in their performances

Maybe have music and performance as the centre of their religion - the power of music itself. Festivals based around different instruments - all clerics get perform and choose a specfic instrument with which to worship their god. Maybe gnomes have no clerics, but their bards are seen as their holy men - might need a slight rejigging of spell lists
28th-Jul-2005 11:59 am (UTC)
Hrm. I'm already making a distinction between priests (who choose to minister in the name of a god) and clerics (who are granted special powers by a god) and aren't neccessarily the same person. It would certainly be possible to make bards and priests be the smae thing, in gnomish religion....
(Deleted comment)
29th-Jul-2005 01:42 pm (UTC)
I'm not including gnomes simply out of a sense of completeness; I've dropped half-elves and half-orcs, and added 4 additional races (including half-goblins), so I'd not be worried about dropping more PHB races, if I can't think of how to use them well. But I like gnomes, and I want to keep them if I can. I think I'm coming up with something at the moment that might make them rather special.

In terms of making religion ambiguous, the only thing that can really be taken as proof of the existence of gods is the existence of clerics. And plenty of people argue that bards and druids can do pretty much everything clerics do without assuming the existance of divine beings. Mostly clerics just do the theological equivilent of putting their fingers in their ears and singing "lalala I can't hear you".

As for alignments, they're mostly easy to drop; No alignment domains, no spells that have specific alignment effects (protection from chaos, magic circle against law, detect evil, etc). The dificult bit came with paladins. At first, I thought of only having certain deities (those that would traditionally be considered "good") sponsoring paladins, but in the end, I figured that was a step backwards.

In the end, I decided that a paladin was simply a holy warrior, fighting for the ideals of their religion, and that there was no reason why every god shouldn't be able to have paladins. They can still detect and smite evil, but the definition of "evil" varies depending on the dogma of the specific deity. Lay on hands can either cure or inflict, depending on whether or not clerics of that deity can swap out for cure or inflict spells, and they can turn or rebuke undead, again depending on what clerics of that faith can do. It's suprising that even with those small changes, a paladin of a god of thieves and assassins is very different from a paladin of a god of borders and boundaries, whose main goal is stopping the dead from being raised.

29th-Jul-2005 01:43 pm (UTC)
[Continued...]

Also, I'm getting rid of Holy Avengers, in favour of making a unique holy weapon for each faith. in the case of the two gods listed above:
Shadowblade
In the hands of anyone but a paladin of Flay, this plain, black iron blade functions as a simple +2 dagger. If the wielder is not a follower of Flay, the blade is treacherous, twisting away from the vital organs of its target; in such hands it is treated as having an enhancement penalty of -2 when rolling to confirm a critical hit. In the hands of a paladin of Flay, the shadowblade gains several additional abilities; it becomes as a +5 dagger that deals an additional 3d6 damage when the target is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC. This stacks with a rogue's sneak attack ability. A paladin of flay can also command the shadowblade to change into an unadorned black ring (or back to a dagger) on his right middle finger. While in ring form, the shadowblade appears non-magical to any detection less powerful than wish or miracle, but still counts towards the number of magical rings the wielder can wear. Finally, when drawn (and not in ring form) it can wrap shadows around its wielder, granting a +10 competence bonus to Hide checks.

Hammer of Charos
This maul +3 has a steel haft and a wooden head with copper caps decorated with skulls. Upon command, the Hammer of Charos is sheathed in fire. The fire does not harm the wielder. The effect remains until another command is given. It deals an extra 1d6 points of fire damage on a successful hit. It acts as a +5 weapon against undead, and deals an additional 2d6 damage against them. Any undead stuck by this weapon must make a Will save (DC 14) or be destroyed. It deals damage normally against incorporeal creatures; An incorporeal creature's 50% chance to avoid damage does not apply to attacks with a Hammer of Charos. When undead are within 100 feet of the hammer, the caps turn a deep black as they emit a powerful negative energy effect; any undead within this range must make a Will saving throw (DC 18) or move towards the wielder. Non-intelligent undead move at their standard move rate; intelligent undead may move faster if they so choose. They must move directly towards the wielder, and cannot attack any other target, unless they are attacked first.
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