Thursday, July 2, 2009

Campaign Setting Concept: Religious Conflict

Don raised an interesting idea in an earlier blog post comment, and it lead me to think about religion more in my campaign setting. I've always run a more sandboxy style of play as DM (see The Grumblin Grognard's "Sandbox vs. Adventure Paths" posts). That said, setting up a larger background's religious conflict might be very cool. I'm not talking about the St. Cuthbert vs. Lolth variety, I'm talking about the conflict between deities or whole pantheons where language, history, and culture comes into play, regardless of alignment differences. Has this been played up or examined in any Greyhawk (or newer) campaign setting?

I'm envisioning a much more subtle and challenging set of moral dilemmas for players and characters to confront. What of the zealous, self-righteous religion, bent on evangelism but not necessarily evil unto itself? Or does the the very nature of an expansionist, evangelistic religion in the game automatically define itself as "evil" in some sense, given the polytheistically open, or at least objective nature of the rules system itself?

My ideal campaign setting would in many ways mirror the current social/political/spiritual reality, yet would retain a very fantasy and medieval feel: the concentration of magic power geographically being analagous to our present energy situation, the cultural battle between progressive and fundamentalist visions, and the conflict and confusion of a new and compelling pantheon of Gods or beliefs in juxtaposition with the traditional ways and faiths. Combining these elements as campaign building blocks might be very fun to explore, especially if I can get the actual geographics of it right.

5 comments:

Telecanter said...

I've currently got my players exploring a ruined convent. What they don't know is there are some religious politics coming to a head. Their patron wants proof a certain saint spent time in this convent so he can set it up as a pilgrimage destination. This particular saint is big into mortification of the flesh and is seen as extreme by much of the church hierarchy. So, I don't know where this will lead, but I expect good clerics of the same church to be in conflict shortly.

le bulette said...

let the internecine slaughter begin!

Don Snabulus said...

That brings in yet another angle...bringing the squabbles of current interdenominational conflict and contemporary culture wars into another genre/time through RPG.

I am going through a sci-fi scenario with a lot of themes like that and it really adds to the realism.

Don Snabulus said...

I seem to be repeating a lot of words that I repeat lately. Sorry about that. Sorry.

le bulette said...

Goblinoid Games' Mutant Future might be a great game to use to explore some of these ideas (post-apocalyptic setting). The old idea of Windows vs. Mac becoming their own religions over time comes to mind...

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