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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Metropolis worship?

    In a setting where all the base races are intermixed into one structured society and tend to live in sprawling, urban environments where alignment is a gray and muddled thing or at least conflicting ideologies live side by side, how do you go about explaining churches of gods of varying alignments coexisting together?

    The good and neutral ones are easy because they'll generally tolerate each other, but what about the evil?

    Are the urban churches worshiping a "false"/"muted" take on the god (such as Chaotic Neutral worshipers of Erynthul or any good worshipers of Pelor), worshiping a very much flanderized/socially acceptable aspect of the god (such as Omnianism from Terry Pratchett's Discworld or Satanism from Metalocaplyse or Moral Orel), are recovered members of a truer church that still keeps the tennets to some degree (such as the YMPA from Terry Pratchett's Discworld) or are they essentially a successful organized crime syndicate that constantly fails to be proven evil or prosecuted for things they allegedly did?

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    The anti-social ones just aren't openly worshiped and are more done in private in homes or sewers or warehouses.

    Deities like Hextor are evil but pro-society, so they're basically like how lawyers are commonly portrayed in society, unpleasant in general but relatively benign openly and handy to have around in times of war except when they sell you out, but that's a risk of most religions in war, depending upon who you are at war against.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Just out of curiosity, what setting is this for?
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Silverscale View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what setting is this for?
    Just talking in general, but it's for use in my homebrew setting.

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Just off the top of my head, what you're describing sounds alot like Ebberon. Maybe look through that setting's splatbooks?
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    There might be "zones", walled or not, that cater to various alignments or religions or even races.

    The temple of the evil chaos god might be in a poor and/or crime-ridden neighborhood with many races, while the temple of a lawful evil pantheon might be in a very wealthy with private security patrols where each race lives on a different street. For example.

    Evil temples might also be disguised. The guild house for some obscure trade might actually be an evil temple inside. An evil temple might be hidden under a good temple, or in an unused section of sewers. It might even be under such a powerful illusion that everyone in town thinks it is an empty lot.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Maybe it's monotheism.

    It's all the same church. There is no conflict. Different temples cater to different neighborhoods. Any rivalry is one of politics or good sportsmanship.

    Each church is their interpretation of the one god. The god is a distant deity now but each sect claims a different direct intervention in the past as the start of the One True Way.

    Maybe it's dualism.

    Two deities, but one is not Absolute Good while the other is not Absolute Evil. Both can be Good or both are Neutral, but in either case have conflicting portfolios. Demons and Devils deal with Evil.

    Maybe it's polytheism.

    Individual deities are the racial gods of the citizens. The racial gods formed a pantheon to fight off a Great Threat, Tharizdun or Cthulu for example.

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Enlightened self-interest.

    There is some suspicion around the town that clerics of Hextor were the ones who arranged this system in the first place. The story goes that they suggested to the Chaotic clergy that the whole city was going to be taken over by the worshippers of Heironeous and the other Good gods, who - after having dealt with Evil, would turn their attention to stamping out Chaotic heresies. Smaller churches gave their support to the idea as well, hoping to have a better chance of gaining worshippers, and forever insulate themselves from repression. Faced with a large and united opposition - and heavily leaned-on by the Lord Mayor, who didn't want an eternal religious war damaging his profits - the Good churches agreed to the Great Truce. As long as a deity or church isn't actively trying to destroy the city as a whole, every deity is tolerated. (A church can be banned only by unanimous agreement of all the other churches, plus the Lord Mayor).

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    You know, like in Discworld, you could have the squabbling and hostility be part of the setting. Of course, no one is going to encourage open violence, but some in-fighting between sects could make for some excellent adventure hooks.
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Another thing to think about is polytheistic churches that have existed IRL. I think the one that might offer the most traction for this issue is the Egyptian church. How did they handle the disparate gods encompassed in their religion? It was easier for them, of course, since their gods didn't have the tendency to actually show up out of the blue just to mess with them.

    I don't know much about Egyptian culture, but I have played Pharoah, so I feel that gives me an informed opinion . In Pharoah all of the gods get a church and when you're about to perform an action that is encompassed by the portfolio of one god you pay them homage, so they'll bless your undertaking.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Quote Originally Posted by ondonaflash View Post
    Another thing to think about is polytheistic churches that have existed IRL. I think the one that might offer the most traction for this issue is the Egyptian church. How did they handle the disparate gods encompassed in their religion? It was easier for them, of course, since their gods didn't have the tendency to actually show up out of the blue just to mess with them.

    I don't know much about Egyptian culture, but I have played Pharoah, so I feel that gives me an informed opinion . In Pharoah all of the gods get a church and when you're about to perform an action that is encompassed by the portfolio of one god you pay them homage, so they'll bless your undertaking.
    But in that case, even Set was an evil they knew and were ok with. Someone like Apep on the other hand...

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Quote Originally Posted by ondonaflash View Post
    Another thing to think about is polytheistic churches that have existed IRL. I think the one that might offer the most traction for this issue is the Egyptian church. How did they handle the disparate gods encompassed in their religion? It was easier for them, of course, since their gods didn't have the tendency to actually show up out of the blue just to mess with them.
    A better example might be Rome actually. The Roman Republic, and in turn the Empire, encompassed such a large area that many of their own soldiers ended up worshipping deities and joining religions that weren't native to Roman Italia. This isn't taking into account the fact that several religions that have survived to the modern day were conquered by the Romans.

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    There's also the possibility that the evil religions are gnostic, like the Blood of Vol in Eberron. Basically, it seems like your general light and goodness church (or slightly weird but generally harmless cult) until you're trusted enough to join the upper echelon, where the true nature of the god(s) they worship is revealed.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    It might be best to thing of Evil gods in terms of their portfolios rather than just their alignment.

    So there might be a temple to an Evil storm deity where sailors make offerings and pray before starting a voyage. Similarly people may visit the temple of a plague god when one of their loved ones is sick and pray to them make this not be happening.
    Are they giving protection to people who make offerings or sending problems to those that don't? Probably a little of both; whatever it takes to keep the tithes coming in. The priests will generally try to emphasise the blessings angle to persuade their neighbours to think better of them but will be quick enough to remind people of the curses if they seem to be considering not paying.
    And, of course, if the religion were to be outlawed, the temple demolished and the priests cast out then you can bet the deity would show the city how they felt about that.

    On the other hand, the god of murder is unlikely to be welcome. His "curses" are all delivered in the form of human agents which (unlike a storm or a plague) the law can contain. His "blessings" ("I won't send dudes to kill you") don't allow even the simplest pretense of benevelontly protection from nature/fate.

    On the other other hand (the mutant third hand), the god of murdering-foreigners-then-taking-their-stuff-and-enslaving-their-families is likely to have a huge temple and his priests will be regarded as well-respected pillars of the community.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    This is a problem in many fantasy settings I believe, going on at length about the gods, their adventures and spheres... and never once dedicating much thought at all how the religion works in practise.

    Anyways, I suggest that you design the various temples so that, in a sense, they perform a service to the people. You don't go to a temple out of religious duty (like you would go to a church) but turn to the temple you need (like you would turn to the relevant patron saint).
    If you need to make a trip, you pay the god/godess of travel your respects. If you have trouble concieving a child then you turn to the gods of fertility. If you face a upcoming trial then the gods of society and/or the allfather/authority is the god you direct your prayers to. And if a relative is sick, you make a sacrefice at the temple of the god of death to make sure he/she stays away or perhaps just to treat a recently deceased relative well despite their flaws.

    You don't go to the gods because they need you, you go to them when you need something from them. Or when life's plain difficult (as it frequently is). Or when you need to make up for something you feel bad about.

    I could for instance imagine an elven Allfather being both the god you turn to, as an elf, when you seek advise on the future. But also the god you turn to when you feel the weight of your immortality (which I imagine most elves would tackle with at several points in their lives).

    I think it's important to note that religions as a whole should be about people and not gods.

    Mind, temples of this structure depends on donations/sacrefices. The clergy literally lives of them. And the more important the temple, the richer it is.

    Another thing I really suggest is: Only use gods people have a point in worshipping. And not niche groups but all people. Don't add a god of necromancers because your setting has necromancers unless common people have a reason to concern themselves with necromancers regularily.

    And make them silent. Gods shouldn't, as a rule, speak to people (with the exceptions that proves the rule of course). They do not actively confirm their existance. Reality is the proof of their existance. Winning at the lottery is because of Lady Luck, not despite of her. If a god deems you worthy to be listened to, they don't speak to you as an equal... they alter reality to give you signs/grant your wish.

    In addition. While the gods may have whatever alignments you feel they should have. Make all temples neutral. Or more correctly... all alignments. All temples do evil, all temples do good. They only have the alignment of their followers and clergy. Just like the allfather might have a kind and compassionate high priest, the high priest may just as well be a fire and brimstone moraliser that wages his own personal merciless war against all vice and sin. Intending to purge even the slightest mistake with fire.
    And in both cases they serve the god in question correctly.

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    It really depends on what the tenants of all the disparate faiths are.

    Obviously, you're not going to get far if you put the church of Thor, the Evil-Beater-Upper, next to the temple of Ba'al, the Baby Stealer.

    The more sadistic of the evil churches might be underground, but the might-makes-right types like Bane might not be, especially in military districts.

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    *snip*
    That was an excellent post. Well thought out and well written, and I think it addresses the issue presented by the OP perfectly. I strongly approve
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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Quote Originally Posted by GungHo View Post
    It really depends on what the tenants of all the disparate faiths are.

    Obviously, you're not going to get far if you put the church of Thor, the Evil-Beater-Upper, next to the temple of Ba'al, the Baby Stealer.

    The more sadistic of the evil churches might be underground, but the might-makes-right types like Bane might not be, especially in military districts.
    Maybe have different sects that hold variant dogma and creed of the main faith with more mainstream appeal. Say Ba'al the B.S. has Stealth as part of their portfolio, and so is worshipped openly in that respect.
    This could easily work both ways, like having a hidden Burning Hate sect along with the more typical interpretation of Pelor.
    As a kind of example, I had a LN Holy Warrior (Full BAB cleric without domains) of Asmodeus and basically considered themselves a Paladin, focusing on the letter of the law justice aspect of Asmodeus.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Metropolis worship?

    Ignoring that the alignment system sucks. First determine the dominant church or branch of churches, and any other important ones.

    In Standard D&D cosmology, the majority of the Gods with great following are good-aligned, and there are more neutral ones than evil (at least discounting the Olman panthenon that looks like it's rather nasty).

    The archetypical city will have most major non-evil deities represented strongly, or one dominant evil church.

    Hextor is the archetype of the sort of monotheistic pillar of a tyrannical society, it's LE, doesn't tolerate other faiths unless forced to. The church will back the government, at least as long as the government in question desires expansion. It's going to be a militant society, harsh laws, strict enforcement. Although acts of evil against fellow citizens is typically not allowed (though having slaves and treating them like garbage is often completely kosher). The Church will do a lot of good work for the community, much like Pelor's priests would, though this is not out of kindness but as a matter of practicality, a dominant church needs the goodwill of the population, and it does benefit from overall improvements to the society that supports it.

    The more typical D&D metropolis will have large churches dedicated to the major non-evil faiths, each catering to a different segment of the population. Wee Jas typically is the church for the nobility, Pelor has the favour of the lower classes, Heironeuos the patron of Knights, St. Cuthbert for justice, Kord for soldiers. Then you have the racial temples, and shrines/smaller temples for all the others.

    Evil faiths are typically seen as destructive and dangerous, and are therefore primarily practised as hidden cults. This also applies to evil faiths other than the dominant evil faith, because they view each other with as much distrust and disgust as good aligned faiths do. In fact, few ordinary followers of a faith consider their religion as evil, even if it, but readily condemns all other evil faiths as vicked beliefs that is a danger to everyone.

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