In my latest tabletop game (Classic D&D rules with a modified and expanded version of Thunder Rift as the setting) , I've come up with this simple arrangement for religious matters:
- Monotheism: There is one supreme god, at least according to most traditions of the Rift. Humans might think of this deity as a heavenly king or queen, whereas the elves would talk of a World Tree and the dwarves of The Mountain-Forger.
Among the humans, religion and priestly magic come in three varieties, each one corresponding to an alignment.
The Creator is a distant but benevolent deity, who judges souls after death but rarely intervenes directly in mortal affairs. The faithful venerate an array of saints and heroes. These figures taught the thinking races right from wrong, defeated monsters, performed miracles, and so on. The Church is organized along hierarchical lines, with prelates in the towns or cities directling the activities of rural clerics and acolytes. Clerics are trained in holy rituals that allow them to gain the intercession of these saints. Most towns and trades have their own patron saints.
The Church of the Medieval Period was an inspiration for this tradition, and, to a lesser extent, so was Buddhism.
The ‘pagans’ are sometimes kind and helpful, but at other times they are cruel or selfish. In the towns, they keep a low profile, for the Lawful Church is suspicious of their motives and methods. In the countryside and wilderness they are more open about their activities. Their priests are sometimes called’ druids.’ Pagan clerics work magic by the favor of nature spirits and fay creatures. The moon, sun, and stars are very important in their religion. The One God is usually described by pagans as an uncaring creator, a figure who began the world but does not trouble with it much now. Some see him/her/it as a primal deity, embodied in the living earth.
There is no ‘Church of Chaos.’ Rather, there are lone heretics and small covens of witches that work black magic. These ‘anti-clerics’ summon and bind evil spirits, and study foul necromantic rites. Some of these wicked clerics began as priests of the Church, who turned from the saints and sought the support of less-demanding patrons. Chaotic views on the Creator vary widely from one cultist or heretical scholar to the next. Some say that god is dead, blind, mad, absent, or even actively malevolent.
I use the Goetic Demons as inspiration for my evil spirits. I’ve also been influenced by some elements of Gnosticism.
I find that this system works well thus far. It's quite simple, which matches well the simplicity of the Classic D&D rule set.
I'd love to hear feedback from others.
Does anyone else use monotheism, hagiolatry, demonology, alignment-based religions, etc?