A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Hostile as in, if the missionary revealed their true self they would be attacked on sight. Mechanically, the character will be a bard trying to spread the good word rather than a paladin whose faith is absolute. There is room for their convictions to be shaken. But at the same time, the mission goes to the heart of who they are.

    Struggling to come up with ideas for how this character can push their agenda or even be their own self without getting killed. At best, I see a very slow burn to reaching the character's main goal. But they are most likely setup for failure.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Generally speaking: be a good person.

    People have to trust you before they'll believe you.

    Or ya know, withhold your help until they switch to your religion.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
    "You know it's all fake right?"
    "...yeah, but it makes me feel better."

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    They'd need to gradually integrate themselves into society. Make friends, help people, earn people's respect through good deeds, generosity. Find ways to casually mention their god/religion, "accidentally" reveal their holy symbol to friends, etc. Find ways to demonstrate the benefits of following their god/religion.

    Of course, it depends on the teachings of their religion and the nature of the society they are visiting, too. Why are they a missionary? What, specifically, does their religion or god expect of its followers? Are they trying to "convert" people away from their current religious practices to something totally different? Or just trying to establish a new cult in a place where people already practice all sorts of religions? Why is the territory hostile, why would they be killed on sight?
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2021-11-07 at 04:39 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolwise View Post
    Hostile as in, if the missionary revealed their true self they would be attacked on sight. Mechanically, the character will be a bard trying to spread the good word rather than a paladin whose faith is absolute. There is room for their convictions to be shaken. But at the same time, the mission goes to the heart of who they are.

    Struggling to come up with ideas for how this character can push their agenda or even be their own self without getting killed. At best, I see a very slow burn to reaching the character's main goal. But they are most likely setup for failure.
    Stating the obvious there are existing accounts. How many and which record the details honestly, how many honestly and accurately, how many honestly, accurately and correctly interpreted is another matter. If you pick almost of the obvious occaissions, I'm sure you'll find stories, and any religion is going to have something relevant to add (even if it's just continuing to operate). [Their early days are an obvious source]

    It also depends on what the dynamics of the situation with respect to other parties. Ironically most of the typical 'colonialist' missionaries were very unpopular with the actual colonising establishment (partly because if they actually convert you can't treat them like savages).

    As a fairly neutral told option, possibly try Kipling's Kim. It heavily features a Buddhist priest (not really a missionary) in a Hindu / British region.
    Last edited by jayem; 2021-11-07 at 04:48 PM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    Or just trying to establish a new cult in a place where people already practice all sorts of religions? Why is the territory hostile, why would they be killed on sight?
    I was trying to avoid specifics, but since you asked:

    Greyhawk. Half drow character. Sheltered upbringing away from civilization. Chosen to help give Eilistraee a foothold in the realm.

    Openly doing good, always lending a hand, turning a cheek to insults/injury from non-evil creatures are all part of Eilistraeean teachings.

    My character won't have the luxury of being openly half drow in Greyhawk and expect to survive long. How will she cope when her efforts to build trust with a town, ends horribly when they learn her true identity? Or with the dwarf barbarian in the party who prays to a god that commands the extermination of drow?

    She will be leaving a childhood of fond memories and entering a world that reviles at the sight of her. How long before her cheerful disposition gets beaten down by the harsh reality that she faces? Or do I play her as delusional? After all she claims to hear an unknown goddess speak to her through her sword.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolwise View Post
    I was trying to avoid specifics, but since you asked:

    Greyhawk. Half drow character. Sheltered upbringing away from civilization. Chosen to help give Eilistraee a foothold in the realm.

    Openly doing good, always lending a hand, turning a cheek to insults/injury from non-evil creatures are all part of Eilistraeean teachings.

    My character won't have the luxury of being openly half drow in Greyhawk and expect to survive long. How will she cope when her efforts to build trust with a town, ends horribly when they learn her true identity? Or with the dwarf barbarian in the party who prays to a god that commands the extermination of drow?

    She will be leaving a childhood of fond memories and entering a world that reviles at the sight of her. How long before her cheerful disposition gets beaten down by the harsh reality that she faces? Or do I play her as delusional? After all she claims to hear an unknown goddess speak to her through her sword.
    So it's less about her religion and more about fantasy racism. Her goddess is good, making it easy to introduce her to others, and unknown, so no existing prejudice against her, but people will be skeptical or hostile to the messenger rather than the message. Hopefully she will be able to prove herself and ingratiate herself with the community sufficiently for them to overcome the reputation of her race, before they learn her secret. Spreading the teachings of her goddess, insofar as they are beneficial to people, might actually help her win over her party and townsfolk and convince them not to be so racist towards her.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Generally speaking, and avoiding specifics.

    1) Show yourself to be a valuable member of the community. Depending on the god/society youíre with that will play out differently. Help people with their problems, with no strings attached. Eventually people will start approaching you for help and thatís when you can start attaching conditions to your help.

    2) Be open about the god you worship, if a good/neutral aligned god. If itís an evil god then you quietly drop dark hints in secluded places.

    3) Donít proselytize. At least not until you have a significant number of adherents. Standing on a street corner banging a drum wonít bring any followers except the crazies.

    4) Recruit and train sub-leaders. Establish a system that will live on beyond yourself. Your followers can recruit more followers. Other missionaries can join your mission. If you donít have to personally convert every new member then your mission can exponentially.

    5) Distribute a book. If in an illiterate society then create paintings that show key teachings. Have things that will reinforce your teachings when you arenít present.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    My thoughts:
    1- Elistraee is well aware of the prejudice and danger you will face. She isn't dumb, and neither are you. Hiding your true identity is well within reason, if her teachings are to spread. Wait patiently, till the time is right. Yeah, it is tough. Most missionary work was tough. It goes with the job, as they say.

    2- Focus less on the actual religion at first, and more on it's values. People will react, connect and emphasize better with the values, then actual religion. Once you have established sufficient trust, you might more towards actual religious teachings, and possibly revealing your true self.

    3- Do, act, don't preach:
    Actions and character speak louder than words. Be an exemplary of Elistraee teachings and faith (under the circumstances), aid and help others according to her teachings, set an example by actions, intent, and personality, yet without any outright direct religious teaching. Make people seek you, come to you, for what you embody and display, instead of you coming to them, trying to teach them. Garner their spiritual/ emotional/ mental/ essential interest, let them decide to approach you, and your chances of conversion rise up significantly.

    4- As to the dwarf who's god commands to kill drow, and other such hostile prejudice... History, including fantasy history, is rife with examples of outstanding people who proved to be the exception, and changed the way people think, feel, believe and act. And most of these were leaders and influencers, who gained the trust, followship, alliance and at times friendship of many in their communities, to whom they have proven yo be different-than-expected. Aspire to be such a person, and you may shake these foundations.

    Missionary missions take years, if not decades or more, to actually work. You can't (truly and really), force conversion. It is built on example, servitude to others, and care.

    Good luck!

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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    To be honest I would not play such a character so I am unsure how I would deal with it. LOL

    Good luck in the super drama role you elected to try and play. I hope you have fun regardless of how it turns out.
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude... seeming to be true within the context of the game world.

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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    One way missionaries have historically operated is with the protection or patronage of a local power within the hostile territory. Finding or befriending a heretical or open-minded noble or leader and convincing them of the value of you spreading your views (if not converting them outright) will give your character a shield of authority/authorized violence to defend against the faith they sre encroaching on.

    This will of course pit your patron against the official religion when it's discovered, but maybe they are powerful enough to defy the faith?

    Edit: a campaign could even see a daisy chain of ever more powerful patrons and converts, slowly creating the infrastructure for a cult within that society.
    Last edited by Carecalmo; 2021-11-08 at 05:21 AM. Reason: Additional info

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Step 1 - ask the GM how well they are sticking to Greyhawk canon.

    In Greyhawk canon prior to the events of GDQ (Against the Giants, Descent into the Depths and Queen of the Demonweb Pits) pretty much no-one on the surface had even heard of drow, and that included the 'movers and shakers' of the world (remember Greyhawk has very few high-level NPCs).

    Post GDQ then some people know of drow, but distance from Sterich (which I think is where the modules are set) is a significant factor.

    Most commoners will still never have heard of drow. They will see a dark-skinned elf and be more puzzled than anything else. Their rulers probably know of drow but most have more important things to worry about (some may take such a character for a possible scout/spy, but when there is an actual demigod cambion living as a ruler of a nearby country, as single drow preaching peace is something to keep an eye on but otherwise ignore).
    Inhabitants of Greyhawk City are better informed about such things than most people, but they are also more tolerant of different races - thus such a character may find it hard to get served in shops, but isn't likely to be lynched. (It's not impossible, but behaviour will be a factor.) Again a lot of people probably won't recognise "drow" on sight, but they can probably work it out or ask someone who will know.

    Thinking about it, I suspect that Elves of the Valley are better known than drow so most non-elves might take them for one of them on the grounds that they are different and an elf!

    Even to other elves drow used to be a myth rather than something to be recognised on sight - D&D has so many monsters that the natural reaction is more "wow - you look a bit like the descriptions we have of mythical race enemies!"

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Not to hijack thread, but as far as I understand half-drow means half-drow, half-human. Were there any existing races defined as "half-elf, other half also elf" in D&D? Any other mix of two subraces? Powerful creatures usually get a template which is a straight upgrade (half-dragon, half-ogre, etc) but elves, and 1HD humanoids in general do not lend themselves to that treatment.

  13. - Top - End - #13
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    hamishspence's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    From what I can tell from D&D fiction, when elf and elf of different subraces hybridise, the result generally takes after only one parent, and when one parent is drow, the offspring generally takes after the drow.

    So, you could have a character who has the drow statline and the drow appearance, but whose parentage is actually one drow parent and one high elf parent.
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    Vinyadan's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    I can't give you a serious answer due to forum rules, so I'll just go with this:

    Step 1: Introduce missionary's position.
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    I thought Tom Bombadil dreadful ó but worse still was the announcer's preliminary remarks that Goldberry was his daughter (!), and that Willowman was an ally of Mordor (!!).

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    Step 1 - ask the GM how well they are sticking to Greyhawk canon.

    In Greyhawk canon prior to the events of GDQ (Against the Giants, Descent into the Depths and Queen of the Demonweb Pits) pretty much no-one on the surface had even heard of drow, and that included the 'movers and shakers' of the world (remember Greyhawk has very few high-level NPCs).

    Post GDQ then some people know of drow, but distance from Sterich (which I think is where the modules are set) is a significant factor.

    Most commoners will still never have heard of drow. They will see a dark-skinned elf and be more puzzled than anything else. Their rulers probably know of drow but most have more important things to worry about (some may take such a character for a possible scout/spy, but when there is an actual demigod cambion living as a ruler of a nearby country, as single drow preaching peace is something to keep an eye on but otherwise ignore).
    Inhabitants of Greyhawk City are better informed about such things than most people, but they are also more tolerant of different races - thus such a character may find it hard to get served in shops, but isn't likely to be lynched. (It's not impossible, but behaviour will be a factor.) Again a lot of people probably won't recognise "drow" on sight, but they can probably work it out or ask someone who will know.

    Thinking about it, I suspect that Elves of the Valley are better known than drow so most non-elves might take them for one of them on the grounds that they are different and an elf!

    Even to other elves drow used to be a myth rather than something to be recognised on sight - D&D has so many monsters that the natural reaction is more "wow - you look a bit like the descriptions we have of mythical race enemies!"
    This is very useful as I have no GH knowledge, will confer with my DM, thanks!

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    Not to hijack thread, but as far as I understand half-drow means half-drow, half-human. Were there any existing races defined as "half-elf, other half also elf" in D&D? Any other mix of two subraces? Powerful creatures usually get a template which is a straight upgrade (half-dragon, half-ogre, etc) but elves, and 1HD humanoids in general do not lend themselves to that treatment.
    In XGtE, there are tables for your origin with specific tables for half races. IIRC, the half-elf table was 50% chance for one human, one elf parent; 25% chance for two half-elf parents; and 25% chance one half-elf, one human/elf parent.

    But as the previous poster in the thread said, two elves of different subraces will still produce an elf that takes after one parent.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Follow up post

    Last night's session ended with my character trying to gain an audience with the town's performance guild master in hopes of putting her Entertainer background to work. Once my character gets that audition, she will perform under a stage name... Eilistraee. And her goal is to let all of Greyhawk learn the name of Eilistraee and give her praise.

    Given the info provided in this thread, it seems rather unlikely I will come across any wayward drow in GH that are in need of saving. So I am shifting my character's focus to getting Eilistraee some name recognition in the realm.
    Last edited by Foolwise; 2021-11-18 at 04:52 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolwise View Post
    Follow up post

    Last night's session ended with my character trying to gain an audience with the town's performance guild master in hopes of putting her Entertainer background to work. Once my character gets that audition, she will perform under a stage name... Eilistraee. And her goal is to let all of Greyhawk learn the name of Eilistraee and give her praise.

    Given the info provided in this thread, it seems rather unlikely I will come across any wayward drow in GH that are in need of saving. So I am shifting my character's focus to getting Eilistraee some name recognition in the realm.
    That's going to be interesting as in canon Elistraee is not a Greyhawk deity and has no power or presence in the Crystal Sphere... Obviously your DM is changing things around for you (which to a fair extent is the whole point of a campaign) so this could go in absolutely any direction!

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Yeah, learning the campaign was in GH where Eilistraee has no presence was a hard blow to my Eilistraeean sword dancer build. But I found it odd that she was the lone drow deity not in GH. So since I couldn't really expect to draw divine power from her in GH, I changed my Swords Bard multiclass dip from Divine Sorc to Hexblade.

    Instead of growing up in a surface drow conclave with a loving human father and drow mother and learning the art of sword dancing from Eilistraeean priestesses, my character received an heirloom from her dying father, a moon-touched longsword that her long estranged drow mother once weilded. The sword urges her to spread the word of Eilistraee. And she self-taught herself the sword dances with a little guidance from the sword.

    I like this direction. It will allow me to lean heavier into being a bard instead of a cleric.
    Last edited by Foolwise; 2021-11-19 at 01:19 PM.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolwise View Post
    Yeah, learning the campaign was in GH where Eilistraee has no presence was a hard blow to my Eilistraeean sword dancer build. But I found it odd that she was the lone drow deity not in GH. So since I couldn't really expect to draw divine power from her in GH, I changed my Swords Bard multiclass dip from Divine Sorc to Hexblade.

    Instead of growing up in a surface drow conclave with a loving human father and drow mother and learning the art of sword dancing from Eilistraeean priestesses, my character received an heirloom from her dying father, a moon-touched longsword that her long estranged drow mother once weilded. The sword urges her to spread the word of Eilistraee. And she self-taught herself the sword dances with a little guidance from the sword.

    I like this direction. It will allow me to lean heavier into being a bard instead of a cleric.
    Sound interesting, and as inter-world travel is canon the possibility of a sword from FR ending up in Oerth defintiely exists. Also, I think someone proseletyzing for a non-existant deity will mainly make people consider you weird or touched which should increase your survivability! (Oddly I think that if they were able to gain spells then people would suspect some Archfiend running a scam so the absence of any manifestations should make you safer...)

    Which aspect of perform are you taking as your main source for "bardic music"? (Note, it has to be a sound-based one so dance probably doesn't count - but that doesn't mean you cannot make use of it, I worked out a bard painter build once.)
    Also, for a sword-dancer will you be using any Dervish levels? It ought to work, but iirc it's too scimitar based so I think it won't be much use for you.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Playing 5e so no dervish or perform aspects tmk

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Do you mean how would I prefer a missionary or what my expectations are for a missionary?

    The first would probably be a person is generally helpful and directs people to a church as they ask.

    The second would probably be a door to door kind, condescending and disparaging of those that disagree with them.

    I like playing characters that trend evil so I would play the second more likely.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolwise View Post
    Playing 5e so no dervish or perform aspects tmk
    Ah - I know not 5e so that may help, but it means I cannot suggest.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: How would you roleplay a missionary in a hostile land?

    In the words of the Late, Great Terry Pratchett

    ". well, you wouldn't catch me sayin' things like 'there are two sides to every question' and 'we must respect other people's beliefs.' You wouldn't find me just being gen'rally nice in the hope that it'd all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin' sword. And I did say burnin', Mister Oats, 'cos that's what it'd be. You say that you people don't burn folk and sacrifice people anymore, but that's what true faith would mean, y'see? Sacrificin' your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin' the truth of it, working' for it, breathin' the soul of it. That's religion. Anything else is just ... is just bein' nice. And a way of keepin' in touch with the neighbors."

    -----

    And that's the crux of it. Being a missionary isn't really about running the calculus of how to spread a faith. You are spreading the faith because you believe, in your heart of hearts and soul of souls, that not only are you right, but your given ideology is Self-Evident and truly Morally Right, to the point where not believing is someway a perversion of natural truth. You might imagine any number of topics in the modern day that inspire similar reactions.

    Crank that back into an age of illiteracy, superstition, boredom, poverty, and horrifying lethality...well suffice to say that real apocalypse cults - you know the kind we put in d&d as a handful of wackos maybe chasing Evulz Power - were pretty successful in many historical cases. Why monks in certain ancient cites debating the nature of their god(s) were more akin to bands of violent thugs and rapists than what you imagine these days. And on and on.

    You get the idea. A missionary isn't someone with a 21st century secularized vision of "how would I solve my subscription problems", it's someone who believes it, who lives it, who's entire sense of self worth and purpose and morality is wrapped up in it. Get that right and you're on track

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