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MonkeySage
2013-02-03, 04:41 PM
Alright running a game in which one of the villains is the newly crowned empress. Among the actions she's taken so far, she's sent soldiers to coerce shrines and temples to abandon the spirits they're dedicated to.

While religious intolerance would be a really good reason for a villain to do this in a western setting, this is not a western setting.

In this setting, most people tend to just adopt new spirits into their pantheon when they learn about them. A shaman of one spirit could have tea with the shaman of another and they'd have absolutely no conflict other than possible philosophical or mild cultural differences... Which they'd probably discuss in a peaceful manner.

So my question is, what motive could I possibly give for why the empress is so interested in what spirits a small town temple gives tribute to? Admittedly this is a plot element that I didn't put much thought into, but now I wanna run with it. I just want a good reason for her intolerance, despite the culture she grew up in.

The empress is a human lawful evil fighter, and became empress by sending assassins after her(admittedly not much better) sister.

(This is not a Legend of Five Rings game)

Doomchicken
2013-02-03, 04:54 PM
Maybe she thinks that gods are too much of a threat to the world's safety and doesn't want them in her kingdom?

Grim Portent
2013-02-03, 05:39 PM
The villain could perhaps worship something other than the gods/spirits worshipped by others and seeks to propagate their faith while removing others.

Kurgan
2013-02-03, 06:54 PM
It could simply be a power dynamic between the monarchy and the church, so to speak. Perhaps the temples/shrines collect tithes to maintain them, or some of the high priests and such are wealthy land holders, or the like. Perhaps the empress wants to assert her authority over the spiritual by showing that she is more powerful than the priests.

She picked those particular shrines because they didn't have large followings, so were comparatively easy pickings. This way, should the plan go without a hitch, she puts her rivals [the powerful shamans] in their place as subservient to her, and with the threat of having their shrines/temples ransacked, most of the other shaman are more willing to give a portion of their tithes to the state.

Think something like the dynamics between the pope and monarchs of Europe, where there was constant fighting over who had the ultimate authority.

Science Officer
2013-02-03, 07:16 PM
While religious intolerance would be a really good reason for a villain to do this in a western setting, this is not a western setting.


What makes you think religious intolerance has not existed outside the west?
The first example I thought of, oddly, was Akhenaten (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten) who attempted to end polytheism in Egypt in favour of monotheism. There are examples around the world and across history of intolerance. Conflict between religions and between religious and secular powers has surely existed wherever such things did exist. But maybe this is not a point to debate here.



In this setting, most people tend to just adopt new spirits into their pantheon when they learn about them. A shaman of one spirit could have tea with the shaman of another and they'd have absolutely no conflict other than possible philosophical or mild cultural differences... Which they'd probably discuss in a peaceful manner.


Ah, but the Empress, she is not a shaman, now is she?

Perhaps she thinks her empire would be stronger and more united if they followed only one god, and could be convinced to regard the spirits of other nations as abominations.
Perhaps she has her own favourite spirit, and wishes her people to worship no other.
Perhaps she wishes that her subjects worship her...
Perhaps she is hateful of the power the shamans have with the common people, sees the shamans as rivals, enemies, or parasites.

ReaderAt2046
2013-02-03, 10:45 PM
Possibly she is trying to destroy the power of the spirits in order to weaken unauthorized magic. Possibly she spited the spirits in some way/is afraid they'll slap her down for murdering her sister, and she's trying to prevent a counterstrike.

doc neon
2013-02-03, 11:50 PM
What do the spirits stand for?

If they emphasize peace and goodness, or, alternatively, following your own conscience and disobeying unjust orders, then their followers would be less likely to join a Lawful Evil army if the call went out, or might refuse if drafted.

If that's the case, perhaps you might introduce the spirits she hoped to make the village turn to as bloodthirsty, or at the very least Proud Warrior Race Guy spirits.

Slipperychicken
2013-02-04, 12:47 PM
She wants to become the God-Empress of Mankind.


Religious authority does not currently flow from the Empress. This means it's a potential threat, and must be eliminated. All power the throne. Whatever beliefs the kingdom has, she will be the core of it. She will essentially be a Prophet who delivers the divine word, or Pharaoh/God-Empress who is divinity. Whether or not she actually gets a divine rank from this (although that's certainly a goal of hers) is a matter of taste.

Arbane
2013-02-04, 01:28 PM
Maybe she has a perfectly good reason? To steal from Exalted's Immaculate Order:

The gods allow themselves to be bribed by prayer and illegitimate sacrifices to carry out their duties improperly, resulting in great disruption of the Natural Order. The Scarlet Empress's patron god has mandated that all gods shall only receive their proper allotment of prayer on official worship days, no more, no less.

Slipperychicken
2013-02-04, 01:35 PM
all gods shall only receive their proper allotment of prayer on official worship days, no more, no less.

Sounds unenforceable and absurd.

Hyena
2013-02-04, 01:37 PM
Some spirits demand tribute in exchange for not cursing people with horrific plagues and generally act just like greek gods - they esentially blackmail people into worshipping them. The Empress, after being personally screwed over by some of them, decides that the world would be better without spirits at all.

TheThan
2013-02-04, 01:45 PM
She wants to become the God-Empress of Mankind.


Religious authority does not currently flow from the Empress. This means it's a potential threat, and must be eliminated. All power the throne. Whatever beliefs the kingdom has, she will be the core of it. She will essentially be a Prophet who delivers the divine word, or Pharaoh/God-Empress who is divinity. Whether or not she actually gets a divine rank from this (although that's certainly a goal of hers) is a matter of taste.

i was thinking the same sort of thing. but maybe go one step further, maybe she's some sort of Ur-priest like class and is actually stealing the powers of the spirits, or absorbing them into her to gain more divine power.

SamBurke
2013-02-04, 01:47 PM
Alright running a game in which one of the villains is the newly crowned empress. Among the actions she's taken so far, she's sent soldiers to coerce shrines and temples to abandon the spirits they're dedicated to.

While religious intolerance would be a really good reason for a villain to do this in a western setting, this is not a western setting.

In this setting, most people tend to just adopt new spirits into their pantheon when they learn about them. A shaman of one spirit could have tea with the shaman of another and they'd have absolutely no conflict other than possible philosophical or mild cultural differences... Which they'd probably discuss in a peaceful manner.

So my question is, what motive could I possibly give for why the empress is so interested in what spirits a small town temple gives tribute to? Admittedly this is a plot element that I didn't put much thought into, but now I wanna run with it. I just want a good reason for her intolerance, despite the culture she grew up in.

The empress is a human lawful evil fighter, and became empress by sending assassins after her(admittedly not much better) sister.

(This is not a Legend of Five Rings game)

Perhaps she wants some sort of cultural unification. The thing that many cultures did well was precisely what you're talking about: they brought all the gods together. Other cultures did well by quietly removing the deities.

So, IF ( and only IF) she can remove the deities currently worshipped, and replace them with new ones, she can build a better, stronger, more unified country. In this way, it can even be construed as a very good thing to do. Perhaps they're at war, or there's a massive interplanar threat coming. The more people praying to one very powerful god there are, the more likelihood that that god will defend them, and/or that the people will band together around that one deity.

The question must be posed, though: can all those people believe similar things? Even in modern countries, there are a lot of vary, vary, different values.

MonkeySage
2013-02-04, 03:28 PM
Generally speaking, the people in these cultures have varying takes on animism(a lake is just as alive as the fish swimming in it, even if the lake isn't sentient), or subscribe to a more philosophic system, and there's a lot of overlap between them. I would say that the closest thing to traditional gods would be the Immortals, who are really just powerful humanoid spirits or sages. And even the chief sage isn't actually "worshipped".

However, shamans do act as agents to say... a mountain spirit, a river spirit, or even an ancestral spirit, in hopes they'll garner favor and magic from the spirit. They often act as priests for their people as well(and receive a hefty tax free tithe, particularly from wealthier members of society). The spirits in question don't actually gain power from worship directly, but a little respect and appreciation still goes a long way, and naturally, older spirits are much better known.

You've all given great answers so far, I'm starting to get a picture of her motives.
She's greedy, power hungry, egocentric, fears competition and anarchy and seeks to unify the country. Perhaps also, she sees the spirits as a distraction from a philosophy she's trying to spread. I like this so far. Anyone wanna add more? I like having well rounded characters.

Arbane
2013-02-04, 06:47 PM
Sounds unenforceable and absurd.

It's Exalted. There's a Celestial Bureaucracy, audits are both possible and a credible threat to most lesser deities, and when all else fails the PCs can just beat up the offending god and/or its worshipers. :smallbiggrin:

And it seems reasonably workable even in D&D, except maybe for the 'beat up god' part - you wreck shrines, jail or imprison priests, and politely ask them to inform their deity that it can either get with the program or find itself bereft of worshipers. You just need to have a few of your own priests around to deflect any petulant displays of Divine Wrath.

ArcturusV
2013-02-04, 09:14 PM
Well, an obvious, but twisted on? Have your would be Empress on the route to Enlightenment, and not spiritual alignment. But more of an intellectual enlightenment. One of those people who is on the verge of discovering several natural sciences and is very interested in the laws of the natural world outside of "spiritual mumbo jumbo". So while a villain, is not exactly inspired by Evil but is trying to force a Renaissance by forcing the populace to turn towards her philosophies and studies of natural sciences rather than appeasing spirits like savages.

Jay R
2013-02-04, 10:26 PM
These temples don't send part of their tithes to the Empress would be reason number one.

These temples don't preach obedience to the empress is number two.

Thajocoth
2013-02-05, 12:39 AM
She needs to value something. Money, power, order, something... Then, it's clear.

Greed: She wants more money in taxes. Reducing tithes can help allow for this.

Sloth: She doesn't feel like going to pray, and doesn't want to be thought ill of for this, so she outlaws it entirely.

Envy: She runs an empire, but that's nothing compared to the power of the gods. She wants more! She wants to be worshiped as a god!

Wrath: A god or cleric or someone in some way affiliated did something to tick her off, and she wants to sap them of their power. Deny all the gods control over anything in her empire.

Pride: She has high standards for her empire, and the gods are a chaotic force to it & a constant disruption. Out with them! She will have order! She will have control! She will have respect! It is HER empire to rule and it will run like clockwork! Any who slow it down will have their blood lubricate the proverbial cogs of her well-lubricated machine of an empire!

...I'm partial to pride myself...

AntiTrust
2013-02-05, 12:53 AM
What about a polytheism vs monotheism plot? She wants to get rid of this spirit worship in favor of the creation of a singular deity religion. Bonus points if you can then get her to claim a divine right to rule instead of her sister based on this new religion.

The Mormegil
2013-02-05, 09:26 AM
Alternatively, you could make this act her "only mistake". I find that often the best reason for PCs to be... well... PCs is to have them start out as those who have witnessed, or are involved in, the weak link in the BBEG's plan. Maybe the assault on the temples was the result of miscommunication or betrayal in her ranks, but she now needs to make the most out of it to keep her power intact. The PCs care and will expose her for this, undermining the power and trust she is trying to build in her empire.

randomhero00
2013-02-05, 11:42 AM
Shrug, or maybe she just had a bad childhood experience with those particular priests/shamans? No not trying to make a joke here :D It could be something as simple as she got one too many beatings for being uppity when she was a kid. Now that she has the power she wants to return the favor.