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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows - when a mortal being dies, their soul is transferred to one of the Outer Planes, specifically the one most matching their alignment. Following this, they are stuck on that plane for eternity. Not much can interrupt the passage of a soul to the appropriate plane - pretty much the only things are Soul Binding or undeath.

    It is often said that being evil in such a world is a terrible idea, because you are almost guaranteed to go somewhere nasty on death. Even undeath or other magics only delay the inevitable.

    But, do most mortals know this? Certainly, its possible to travel to the Outer Planes, but Plane Shift is a high level spell and likely outside the reach of most people, and just because you've visited a place, doesn't mean you know everything about it. Commune and similar spells can give cryptic answers, which likely religious scholars will argue over for... ever, really. Also, distribution of information is nowhere near as efficient as our world - you can't exactly check wikipedia. Evil outsiders are very likely to lie about how the afterlife works, and this will confuse the issue further. As a result, many religions will have the wrong idea about the afterlife.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    It depends heavily on setting, because not all work that way. (also you forgot that you can end up in your gods realm)

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Dead people seem to be able to travel at least to other outer planes with the same expedience as the living. So, when you die, you may end up in Arcadia, but you can still Plane Shift to Pandemonium. Provided you have access to 13th level magical mojo, which like one in every 10,000 people (or less, depending on setting) can, so the "once you're there, you're stuck" clause is usually accurate. The important thing to note here, however, is that if a high-level Wizard shows up in Baator and doesn't like it, then unless the Devils expend resources on keeping them imprisoned, they can just leave, and it's not usually worth it to bother. So, Evil adventurers, even if fully informed, may be like someone moving to Hollywood to try and make it as an actor, betting it all that they'll be the one who gets an evil condominium instead of getting skewered.

    And being powerful enough to get a good deal out of ending up in Baator is strongly correlated with being powerful enough to have any idea what Baator is like. Particularly in Evil societies, probably most peasants have no idea what happens afterwards, and are told that Baator is the place where the devoted are rewarded for their obedience and loyalty. People who are more powerful can get a pretty sweet deal out of the afterlife even if they're Evil. D&D posits that Evil is locked in an eternal war with Good, and it's a regular land war with army formations and sieges and stuff, so while a pit fiend could render that 6th-level Ranger who hunted commoners for sport down into a lemure, he is way better off just adding that guy to one of his mid-level adventuring parties and shipping him off to the Blood War.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife. Even if one god or a dozen wanted to lie it would be pointless as all the rest would tell the truth. The universe is also full of plenty of 'neutral' forces that will also tell the truth.

    A person that dies has their soul got to the Outer Plane that most matches their alignment , or if they were faithful to the realm of their deity.

    Any people living on a D&D would would know this basic fact.

    In the D&D world being evil is not even close to a 'terrible' idea: it is in fact a great idea. An evil person in a D&D world is rewarded in the afterlife, not punished.

    The typical mythological idea told to the 'people' to make them behave and be worker drones for the rich/powerful is that 'the people' must ''do good'', with ''good'' being defined as ''working for the rich and powerful'' and ''bad'' is anything they don't like. D&D is not like this idea.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kami2awa View Post
    This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows - when a mortal being dies, their soul is transferred to one of the Outer Planes, specifically the one most matching their alignment. Following this, they are stuck on that plane for eternity. Not much can interrupt the passage of a soul to the appropriate plane - pretty much the only things are Soul Binding or undeath.
    In Eberron, your soul goes to Dolurrh, where it waits in line briefly (... in geological time), and then the soul leaves -- and nobody knows what happens next.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Most peasants probably know a watered-down version. If you're good you'll go with (Insert Deity Here), if you're wicked you'll go to hell. So that's why you have to eat your supper, Timothy.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    This is missing a few salient details though. For one thing, en-route to its destination, souls are converted into the form of a Petitioner of that plane - this, in most cases, means losing both memories of life as well as any skills or powers gained during life, reverting to what amounts to a Lv1 character. Furthermore, petitioners generally cannot learn or grow independently from whatever promotion mechanism their destination plane employs. Deities can intervene and preserve their favored heroes or worshippers, but this seems to be infrequent enough that most people can't hope for it even if they live a life of faith to their deity of choice.

    So for anyone who considers their memories and skills to be more important to their identity than just the raw soul-stuff underlying it, there are still plenty of incentives to take risks to change the deal. The most broadly available such method is to be exceptional enough to warrant the direct intervention of a deity upon their death - meaning that if they think they can only do lukewarm deeds of Good but spectacularly earth-shattering deeds of Evil, well, that may be a meaningful temptation. Similarly, direct infernal contracts might potentially let someone retain their identity as part of the process. Simply cheating death directly via e.g. undeath or more esoteric methods can easily be seen as preferable to dying and being erased, even if whatever residual bit of self spends the rest of eternity in a euphoric haze. Finally, someone who wants to dodge punishment and isn't interested in eternity can make endeavor towards various transformations which literally make their soul into their physical body (e.g. they can try to become an Outsider, though the methods for doing so are pretty much restricted to high level shenanigans) in which case they just have to worry about oblivion and not something like eternal torture.

    Not to mention that the Upper Planes have their share of nastiness. Landing in the Beastlands is a bit iffy, and even Elysium has a layer which has been sealed off sacrificially to contain a great evil (so you've got a 2/3 chance of bliss and 1/3 of hunted by abominations in swamp-heaven if you're going there without pre-selecting a divine realm to land in). Ysgard meanwhile is somewhat like the gloryhound version of Acheron - both involve fighting and dying in endless battles, though Ysgard has better booze for when you make it through the day alive. Meanwhile, there are some nice realms in the Outlands if you can pull a True Neutral.

    Anyhow, while some places are pretty obviously bad landing spots no matter who you are (there's not even the hope of coming out ahead somehow if you end up on Pandemonium or the Grey Waste), there's enough variety and uncertainty and inevitable loss no matter what happens on death that I can see people coming to a wide variety of decisions as to how much in particular they're going to sacrifice of the active part of their existence in service of the sedentary afterlife bit.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Ysgard meanwhile is somewhat like the gloryhound version of Acheron - both involve fighting and dying in endless battles, though Ysgard has better booze for when you make it through the day alive.
    It's always amused me that Ysgard and Acheron are supposed to be diametric opposites, but they're basically the same thing -- except Ysgard has booze.

    Is that really the main difference between extra-Lawful Lawful Evil vs. extra-Chaotic Chaotic Good?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    In D&D, hell is indeed other people. Or to put it more clearly, the landscape and planar traits are less important than the simple fact that everybody there shares the same alignment and outlook. Pre-character developlent Belkar sees the world as a place where the strong stab the weak for the lulz, and will wind up in a place where some entities have been at that for way longer than him and have gotten way better at stabbing underlings.

    Some people worship evil deities on the assumption that they'll be rewarded somehow in the afterlife. (Which may or may not be raw idiocy. Evil deities will often prevent random fiends from picking on their followers, just because allowing randos to screw around on your turf shows weakness. It's unlikely to be a nice place full of nice people, but some domains will be appealing to certain types.) Some people feel that they're somehow innately better, and will come out on top of the darwinian scuffles that evil tends to embrace. Some think that deep down everybody is out for number one anyways, and that there's no point in living in denial just so you get to go somewhere with fluffy clouds where the holier-than-thou types will dump on them anyways.

    You don't quite get as many misguided cultists, but there are plenty of reasons someone might sign on with team evil all the same.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife. Even if one god or a dozen wanted to lie it would be pointless as all the rest would tell the truth. The universe is also full of plenty of 'neutral' forces that will also tell the truth.

    A person that dies has their soul got to the Outer Plane that most matches their alignment , or if they were faithful to the realm of their deity.

    Any people living on a D&D would would know this basic fact.
    Pretty much this. If every single real-world religion agreed on the details of the afterlife, down to the precise details and who ends up going where, and important figures of various religious had taken trips to the afterlife and could speak authoritatively about it (and they all agreed on their information), and any church/mosque/synagogue/temple/etc. who claimed the others were lying was subject to an obvious sign of divine disapproval showing that that they were wrong and the majority was right...that would be a pretty good sign that what they were saying was accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    It's always amused me that Ysgard and Acheron are supposed to be diametric opposites, but they're basically the same thing -- except Ysgard has booze.

    Is that really the main difference between extra-Lawful Lawful Evil vs. extra-Chaotic Chaotic Good?
    Opposing planes often have similar surface themes. Acheron and Ysgard have endless battles, Elysium and Hades make you want to stay there, Bytopia and Carceri have separate planets with their own gravity and everyone has to work for everything, and so on. But the alignment of the plane is expressed in the details. They're sort of Mirror Universe versions of each other, and seeing the two side by side gives creatures a deeper understanding of both planes and both alignments.

    Acheron and Ysgard both feature endless battle, but Acheron is all about press-ganged armies fighting for their masters to the (permanent) death, while Ysgard is about individual bands of warriors fighting for glory and self-improvement and returning if they're slain. Elysium and Hades both cause creatures to eventually make you unable to leave, but Elysium does it by fulfilling all your dreams of peace and harmony to the point that you have no reason to leave and face the drabness of the rest of the multiverse, while Hades does it by being an emotional void that drains your hope that you could ever find peace and fulfillment so you might as well give up and stay there. Bytopia and Carceri both require hard work of their inhabitants, but Bytopia does it because hard work is its own reward and contributing to the betterment of the fellow creatures working alongside you is the honorable and righteous thing to do, while Carceri does it because you're surrounded by traitors and backstabbers and if you rest for even a moment you'll lose everything you've gained and be trapped on your current orb with nothing to show for it.
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This is missing a few salient details though. For one thing, en-route to its destination, souls are converted into the form of a Petitioner of that plane - this, in most cases, means losing both memories of life as well as any skills or powers gained during life, reverting to what amounts to a Lv1 character.
    This depends on the edition. Petitioners don't come around until Planescape in '94. 0E, 1E and 2E don't have the word, and just have ''the dead'' in the Outer Planes.

    In D&D, creatures do not "fall" into Evil. Being Evil is a valid choice that is fully supported by half the gods just as Good is. Those who follow the tenets of Evil throughout their lives are judged by Evil Gods when they die, and can gain rewards at least as enticing as those offered to those who follow the path of Good (who, after all, are judged by Good Gods after they die). So when sahuagin run around on land snatching children to use as slaves or sacrifices to Baatorians, they aren't putting their soul in danger. They are actually keeping their soul safe. Once you step down the path of villainy, you get a better deal in the afterlife by being more evil.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Actually, all sahaugin loyal to their deity, get exactly the same afterlife, no matter what their alignment is. Some might be strongly Evil, some weakly evil, some, even clerics, might be LN - but they all go to the same destination - Sekolah's part of the Nine Hells - and they all have the same thing happen to them.

    Instead of being turned into lemures like most LE souls - they are turned into fiendish sahaugin. And they all have the same thing to do - follow their deity around the cold sea layer. In an extremely exact formation. Put a fin wrong, and the deity eats them.

    Their status might possibly determine where in the formation they go - but, in practice, every sahaugin, from an LN cleric who is one of the least evil, to an LE baron who has taken a ton of vile feats and is one of the most evil, is having the same thing happen.



    So, in this particular case, the degree of evilness/devotion they did to get there, doesn't matter much - they are all being treated in roughly the same manner regardless. No sahaugin has gotten a "better deal".
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Actually, all sahaugin loyal to their deity, get exactly the same afterlife, no matter what their alignment is.

    So, in this particular case, the degree of evilness/devotion they did to get there, doesn't matter much - they are all being treated in roughly the same manner regardless. No sahaugin has gotten a "better deal".
    Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?
    Sekolah's "afterlife" being the area directly around him in the Fated Depths has been a thing since at least 2nd edition Planescape. The only "reward" is that you get to be half-fiend while stuck in your eternity of being the god's retinue.

    Most of the evil gods in most settings (leaving aside the very poorly thought out Faerūn Cosmology) have an "afterlife" that's just whatever corner of the evil aligned planes they've managed to carve out for themselves, and their petitioners spend that afterlife defending the area. That's hardly a pleasing way to spend eternity. It's marginally better then ending up in the Nine Hells or Abyss, because at least you keep your sense of self, but it hardly fits the assertion that the evil afterlife is just as rewarding as a good afterlife.
    Last edited by War_lord; 2018-07-07 at 01:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Why do you say this? Is this in a rulebook somewhere? That sahaugin afterlife does not follow the normal way of things? Is this maybe a wacky 4E thing?
    It's in Fiendish Codex 2, which is 3.5. There is something similar for kobolds- they are fiendish kobolds in the afterlife instead of lemures. In fact, the general rule for LE deities that reside in Hell, is that their followers aren't bound by the standard "turn into a lemure" that "ordinary LE souls" get.

    page 40 of FC2:

    "Lawful evil deities do not necessarily condemn their dead worshippers to the Maggot Pit. Many, like Kurtulmak, instead allow favoured followers to serve for eternity in fiendish form. Each such soul retains full memories of its mortal life, along with an idealised, if horrific, appearance."

    page 59:

    "Miles beneath the Stygian ice lies the frigid, aquatic realm of Sekolah, the gigantic white shark deity of the sahaugin. Sekolah glides silently and languidly through the bright blue waters of Sheyruushk, attended by his fiendish sahaugin minions. These creatures swim eternally around him, nervously maintaining their positions in a series of complex geometric patterns that change according to a strict choregraphy. Any sahuagin moving so much as a flippered limb out of place is swiftly snapped up and devoured by its deity."


    In Complete Divine, a point is made that, for a devoted follower of the deity, "deity's afterlife" overrides alignment - so you can have LN and NE souls in a LE deity's domain.

    page 126:

    "If you were a cleric or a devoted worshipper of a specific deity, your soul goes to the outer plane that is home to that deity, even if your alignment doesn't exactly match your deity's."

    "If you didn't worship a deity, or if religion wasn't an important part of your life (as demonstrated by your behaviour, especially right before death), your soul goes to an outer plane that matches your alignment. In some cases, any of a number of planes might be appropriate. For example, a CN character's soul might go to Ysgard, Limbo, or Pandemonium."

    "If you aren't sure whether a character was devout enough to be with her deity in the afterlife, err on the side of uniting the soul with the deity it worshipped."
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2018-07-07 at 01:48 AM.
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Ever since Rich did that thing with Roy going to the afterlife, that's how it's been pushed into my mind. At least for LG characters.
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kami2awa View Post
    But, do most mortals know this?
    In short: Yes. The gods are real and present, priests and mages alike can and will voice their actual, factual knowledge of these things. There are ways of contacting the dead and get real confirmation of how things stand.

    It's possible to imagine a deity that has some obscure interest in deliberate misinformation about these things, but offhand, I can't come up with anything.

    To me, it would be much more interesting to drill deeper into how true it actually is. I've always felt that the huge majority of everyone feels themselves to be good people. You can think of your favourite real world example, and I'd argue 'that guy (m/f) propably felt he (or she) was a good person with high moral standards, perhaps forced into making harsh and difficult decisions.'

    Ghengis Khan, who apparently left whole civilizations in ruins, propably felt he only did what he had to.

    So if Ghengis Khan felt he was LG, how surprised would he have been on his death, when he found out the universe in general disagreed rather a lot, and he was tossed straight into the Abyss? =)

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    As the gods in D&D are real, they would tell all their followers the truth about the afterlife.
    Personally? Does every peasant in D&D Morder get a personal visit from Gruumsh to explain what's up? The magical power needed to actually confirm the afterlife is pretty much all reserved for characters 9th level and up, and even then only the ones who chose one of a small handful of classes. For most D&D settings, characters of that high a level are rare enough that any given small- or mid-sized city most likely has maybe a single Cleric of that level. Long range or otherwise rapid communication between cities is likewise limited to mid-level characters of specific classes and is not freely available to the commoners. If a god wants to deceive people living in and around that city about the nature of the afterlife, he only has to convince the one person who can personally verify things one way or another. If that one person is an acolyte of the god who would prefer that city and its hinterland not know how Baator actually works, it will not be very hard at all to convince them.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    Personally? Does every peasant in D&D Morder get a personal visit from Gruumsh to explain what's up?
    This is why gods have religions with servants, followers, priests and clerics. If fact, the god can come down just once..do a couple miracles and say somethings and have their faithful believe in that for 2000+ years. Though in D&D a god could pop down every couple years too.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    For most D&D settings, characters of that high a level are rare enough that any given small- or mid-sized city most likely has maybe a single Cleric of that level.
    Depends on the setting. Sure, some like Ebberon have like one 2nd level cleric in a city of a million people that can cast the spell light once a day. Some, like the Forgotten Realms or Planescape, have more clerics above 1st level in a single temple, then the whole Ebberon planet.

    And note the ''high level NPCs are rare'' is a 3E thing. 0E, 1E and 2E have no super strict rule saying the number of npc levels in a spot.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    Long range or otherwise rapid communication between cities is likewise limited to mid-level characters of specific classes and is not freely available to the commoners.
    Long range communication is not a problem for mundanes: see history. ''Rapid', maybe not by modern standards....even more so the last couple years, but there was communication. But then the average folk did not need to send and get messages from 5,000 miles away anyway.

    And you might note from history that religious communication does spread very well among the commoners.


    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    If a god wants to deceive people living in and around that city about the nature of the afterlife, he only has to convince the one person who can personally verify things one way or another. If that one person is an acolyte of the god who would prefer that city and its hinterland not know how Baator actually works, it will not be very hard at all to convince them.
    As I said above, this will only work if the god can somehow get rid of all the other gods from that city, and also get rid of any 'neutral' powerful beings that know the truth.

    Though, sure, it's possible for the god(or anyone really) to brainwash everyone and make them moonbat crazy too. Again: see history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    As I said above, this will only work if the god can somehow get rid of all the other gods from that city, and also get rid of any 'neutral' powerful beings that know the truth.

    Though, sure, it's possible for the god(or anyone really) to brainwash everyone and make them moonbat crazy too. Again: see history.
    It also works if it is to the advantage of all the gods involved that people believe something that isn't true. For example, if people go to the plane of their alignment regardless of what they believe in, the gods might very well lie to them and tell them that they go to their god's realm when they die. If people found out that they don't have to worship the gods to go to "heaven" the gods might find themselves losing much of their power.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    Dead people seem to be able to travel at least to other outer planes with the same expedience as the living. So, when you die, you may end up in Arcadia, but you can still Plane Shift to Pandemonium. Provided you have access to 13th level magical mojo, which like one in every 10,000 people (or less, depending on setting) can, so the "once you're there, you're stuck" clause is usually accurate. The important thing to note here, however, is that if a high-level Wizard shows up in Baator and doesn't like it, then unless the Devils expend resources on keeping them imprisoned, they can just leave, and it's not usually worth it to bother. So, Evil adventurers, even if fully informed, may be like someone moving to Hollywood to try and make it as an actor, betting it all that they'll be the one who gets an evil condominium instead of getting skewered.

    And being powerful enough to get a good deal out of ending up in Baator is strongly correlated with being powerful enough to have any idea what Baator is like. Particularly in Evil societies, probably most peasants have no idea what happens afterwards, and are told that Baator is the place where the devoted are rewarded for their obedience and loyalty. People who are more powerful can get a pretty sweet deal out of the afterlife even if they're Evil. D&D posits that Evil is locked in an eternal war with Good, and it's a regular land war with army formations and sieges and stuff, so while a pit fiend could render that 6th-level Ranger who hunted commoners for sport down into a lemure, he is way better off just adding that guy to one of his mid-level adventuring parties and shipping him off to the Blood War.
    Dead people who get a body and aren't just floating soul stuff that merges with its plane become petitioners, which can't gain levels and certainly plane shift.
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunali View Post
    It also works if it is to the advantage of all the gods involved that people believe something that isn't true. For example, if people go to the plane of their alignment regardless of what they believe in, the gods might very well lie to them and tell them that they go to their god's realm when they die. If people found out that they don't have to worship the gods to go to "heaven" the gods might find themselves losing much of their power.
    This requires either a FR-esque afterlife for nonbelievers, or some reason why having followers go to a specific god's realm is better overall than just having good people go to general heaven. It also opens up a big can of worms. When a prophet comes down explaining that the existing religions are all wrong and that you just have to be nice to each other (as part of a fiendish plot), it's incredibly tempting to model the fake fiend-prophet on some real religious personage that one dislikes.

    More directly, though. If for some reason good gods gained more power to do good deeds through mortal acts of worship and devotion, why wouldn't good mortals throw a few prayers around as a cheap way to buff up their team? FR wall logic (worshippers of good gods would stop empowering strong forces for good if they weren't personally threatened) seems nonsensical.

  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Did some digging on Elysium, and even the 3rd swampy layer isn't so bad. It isn't that the whole layer is a prison for some monster, but that one or more monsters happen to be imprisoned somewhere on that layer. It's also frequently patrolled by guardians.

    Not the safest of places, but I still think your survival chances would be good.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    This requires either a FR-esque afterlife for nonbelievers, or some reason why having followers go to a specific god's realm is better overall than just having good people go to general heaven. It also opens up a big can of worms. When a prophet comes down explaining that the existing religions are all wrong and that you just have to be nice to each other (as part of a fiendish plot), it's incredibly tempting to model the fake fiend-prophet on some real religious personage that one dislikes.

    More directly, though. If for some reason good gods gained more power to do good deeds through mortal acts of worship and devotion, why wouldn't good mortals throw a few prayers around as a cheap way to buff up their team? FR wall logic (worshippers of good gods would stop empowering strong forces for good if they weren't personally threatened) seems nonsensical.
    I don't think you understood what I was saying.

    Hypothetical world:
    1. People go to the plane of their alignment when they die, no matter what.
    2. Gods exist and have power because people worship them.
    Therefore:
    3. Gods of all alignments tell people that when they die they go to their worshiped god's realm or will be rewarded in some way, possibly just by not being made part of "the wall of the faithless"
    4. People believe that they have to worship a god to go to heaven

    Note that this does not require the existence of any form of punishment for nonbelievers.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    If you tell me that I need to worship to get into heaven (or to dodge hell), that's a threat. Even if the metaphysics of the universe make it an empty one.

    What bugs me more, though, is the idea that good people are selfish and need to be threatened in order to worship good gods. Assuming that prayer does empower gods, and that good gods are indeed good, why wouldn't a good character want to say their prayers every night if it supports some of the strongest champions of goodness out there? The idea that good characters would say "I'm getting into heaven, no point in doing something that advances the cause of team Good" seems rather off.
    Last edited by Anymage; 2018-07-07 at 06:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kami2awa View Post
    This is based on my understanding of how the afterlife works in D&D, which is as follows -
    Mostly correct according to D&DG which provided the first book rules on the subject. Most PC races have souls, elves and half-orcs have spirits. When a character with a soul dies it goes to the plane of its alignment - and which plane that is, is determined by the DM's assessment of the characters alignment rather than what the character sheet says, or what the player might otherwise believe. The soul then remains there forever (or, obviously, when pulled back to mortality by resurrection magic). When a character with a spirit dies they similarly go to the plane of their alignment, but their afterlife reward is somewhat lesser and they may only be there temporarily and may be reincarnated (even without the reincarnation spell being used upon their corpse). However, the book also says:

    Quote Originally Posted by DDG
    (Note: The above is only a suggested method for dealing with character life-after-death. The DM may, of course, use whatever system is most appropriate to his or her campaign.
    But the trip to the plane of alignment is not instantaneous. It takes 3-30 days, thus accounting for why it takes progressively higher level casters to interrupt that journey and raise the dead, whether it's a soul or a spirit. Resurrection is different from Raise Dead in that it pulls the deceased from the outer plane where they ended up and that has implications for interaction with the deities concerned -those of both the cleric and the recipient of the spell or which rule the plane they're on.

    But, do most mortals know this?
    Unless extraordinarily ignorant of spiritual matters, yes, they'd know that after they die they're going someplace particular, generally a plane where their chosen deity (if any) resides or holds sway. Although the things your chosen deity cares about and how your PC deals with those matters in their life are important matters, really it just comes down to your characters alignment. That's all. The rest is all details left to the DM to implement or ignore as the DM desires as house rules for their campaign.

    Planescape came along and made additions and changes to all that (which _I_ never really cared about at all), but that holds little water in a game where the DM does not choose to incorporate the rules of the Planescape setting to also apply to whatever setting they are running; just as Spelljammer rules mean doodly squat - in ANY setting - if the DM simply doesn't want to use them, or perhaps simply doesn't OWN the rule books that include them.

    And clearly, if the DM is using a specific pantheon a lot of those D&DG rules can simply be rendered moot by pantheon-specific religious beliefs, myths and legends. In the Norse mythos, whatever your alignment, the DM could determine that your PC ends up in Valhalla simply waiting for Ragnarok, despite the fact that by the default Great Wheel cosmology, Valhalla is for "chaotic good neutrals". In the Egyptian mythos, you may not be going anywhere in the afterlife if your DM determines that as a worshipper within that mythos you want or even NEED the whole pyramid and rooms full of loot to have any kind of decent afterlife (or at the least it might matter what powerful NPC's afterlife wagon it is that you hitch YOUR fate to as a faithful servant... and then you get to be buried with them to continue to serve them in the afterlife...), none of which has a lot to do with your PC's alignment except perhaps HOW you get the loot to stock your tomb with.

    Yet, those pantheons can still stick to the default D&DG procedure for the afterlife which hinges ENTIRELY on your alignment and whether your race has a soul vs. spirit, not character class, choice of pantheon or even particular deity.

    In just about any religion there's going to be information about life-after-death, and the default D&D information is the same for everyone of every religion. But then add to that the fact that such information CAN be (though doesn't ever HAVE to be) verified first hand by others before YOU ever die, then the idea that anyone in a D&D world WOULDN'T know what's going to happen when they die is actually difficult to grasp.

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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    If you tell me that I need to worship to get into heaven (or to dodge hell), that's a threat. Even if the metaphysics of the universe make it an empty one.

    What bugs me more, though, is the idea that good people are selfish and need to be threatened in order to worship good gods. Assuming that prayer does empower gods, and that good gods are indeed good, why wouldn't a good character want to say their prayers every night if it supports some of the strongest champions of goodness out there? The idea that good characters would say "I'm getting into heaven, no point in doing something that advances the cause of team Good" seems rather off.
    Some people won't need to be threatened, probably most people, but if the threat of hell brings in more worshipers, most gods will include it. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the population in most worlds tends towards neutral, not good, in their actions.

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    If it is simply the metaphysics of the universe drawing souls to a particular outer plane rather than actions made by gods, then I wouldn't call saying an evil person is going to hell is a threat. It's no more a threat than saying to some idiot standing on a train track trying to take a selfie that he's about to be hit by a train.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    An oldie of mine, but...

    Corpses and Caches

    I'd say that the degree of knowledge somewhat varies by edition. In 2e, I'd say that knowing about it would be the province of clerics, wizards, bards (who know a little bit of everything), and anyone with the Religion NWP.
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    Default Re: Do Most People Understand How the D&D Afterlife Works?

    Quote Originally Posted by WindStruck View Post
    If it is simply the metaphysics of the universe drawing souls to a particular outer plane rather than actions made by gods, then I wouldn't call saying an evil person is going to hell is a threat. It's no more a threat than saying to some idiot standing on a train track trying to take a selfie that he's about to be hit by a train.
    Agreed. Threats require that the threatener will take discretionary action if not appeased. Warnings of natural and inevitable consequences are not threats. Or bribes. They're conditional facts.

    Telling a kid in a lab "don't combine bleach and ammonia, it produces toxic chloramine" isn't a threat, it's a warning.
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