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Article - 'Creating Religion' by Guest

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Oct 7, 2004

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How to implement religion in your rpg, to give more realism and depth.

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Religion, is and always was, everywhere. Most of the world revolves around it, and then you have some who refuse it. Religions have shaped governments, minds, and (possibly) the world. To keep up the realism in rpgs, I think it’s important to involve religion (s) in your world or in your plot. This article will help you a bit on how to implement religions into your game to touch up the realism and keep things interesting.

-#1 Creating Religions
When creating a religion for your rpg (or story), you have to think about all the religions today. You got the one’s about a single god, these religions are monotheist. Some religions that are monotheist are Christian, Roman Catholic and Satanism (there is countless more). Then you have the religions who believe that there is more than one god, these are called polytheist. I don’t know any religions that are well-know in the present, but many (especially in Africa and Central America) ancient civilizations were polytheist.
Now that you have a general idea in your head of what people believe in, try to jot down some notes describing what you think you religions follower’s should believe that relates to what your town’s folk or rich people want. Let me take an example out of my history book… “The Aztecs believed that the world had been destroyed by the sun four times, each by the sun. To keep the sun from destroying the Earth once again they sacrificed humans to keep it nourished.” The Aztecs don’t want to die so they created a way in their minds (witch could possibly be real) to prevent a way. Another good example is the Roman Catholic religion. They believe that when you die and you’ve been a good boy (or girl) you will live eternally in peace. They want live forever so they created in their minds (witch could be real, sorry about saying it twice) a solution.
Now that you have some notes on what will benefit you from your religion, you have to think of the consequences. In Roman Catholic, if you’ve been bad you go to hell and if you were Aztec, you’d believe that if you don’t sacrifice people than the sun would blow you to oblivion. You want to make the people afraid of the consequence and do the reward (notice I didn’t say bad or good because some religions can be evil or good).
Ok, now you got your pro and your con. You want to make a force that controls this (like Aztecs have the sun and Catholics have God). This can be a god, nature or even a real being. Your going to want to make note of your religious leader’s believed characteristics (good, evil, giving, taker) and what kind of powers he possesses.

-#2 Placing your religion (s)
Now that you have your religion, your going to need to decide witch kind of people believe this. Like for poor people, you may want to give them a religion that if they burn trash they will get gold and become rich. For evil people you may want to give them something that enforces their evilness (like Satanist). You can have just one general religion (and in some cases that may be the better idea) but its more likely that there is more, because not everyone is the same.
One more thing, people will want you to join their religion! That is very important to implementing it into your rpg (or story).
Here’s an example of putting more than one religion into your rpg’s world and how it will make it seem more realistic. “The green people believe that if they never talk then they will get infinite food forever. However the red people believe that if you talk as much as you can than you will get infinite food forever. Conflict broke out because of the complete opposite religions.”

-#3 Creating religious ceremonies (or gathering)
Now here is something I’m yet to see in a game and I think is a very creative idea. Make it so you have a special gathering place in your game (or in the plot) where there is a gathering of people of a certain religion. Either it be a sacrifice, or just a mass, I think it would touch things up a bit if these events occurred.
Another good idea is to have a religion system to where you can have a religion and you’ll get different remarks from people of a specific religion. You can also switch between religions and attend certain ceremonies or participate in religious wars.

-#4 Your god!
This should not be a problem if your good with making heroes or villains. If your god is physically there than you may want to give him a more in-depth personality like you would one of your main characters. If your god is only worshiped and no one has actually witnessed his existence than you might want to give him a lesser personality. For example, the people worship a god who is mean and selfish. That’s a very basic personality but it give a good picture.
Next you got to give your god power(s) so that he can be feared and thus worshiped. This part could be difficult to be creative with. Instead of giving him simple powers like Zeus, the Roman god of thunder, give him a power like to make people age quicker (or slower). You want to avoid clichés as much as possible to add excitement to your god.
Then, finally your going to want to give him a name. Something unique, not just plain old god. Latin, Greek and other European’s names are usually interesting. You could also give him a name that describes his powers (make it a difficult word that barley anybody knows to make it sound better :> ), his personality or even his appearance. There is a lot of other articles about naming characters so I’m not going to get into that.

Yup, that covers everything I need to say. *Special thanx to Angroth!