Am I the only one who is bothered by how most DnD settings (meaning: the large official ones, like FR, Greyhawk, etc) get the idea of polytheism wrong?
I mean, characters seem to chose a deity, and follow that one and only that one. And even though the information is mostly vague, it seems that even common folk tend to worship only one chosen deity.
Where does this come from? Is it ingrained in the developers and writers because of the Christian mindset? Or is it because of the alignment system? I mean:
>you can't pray to the god of death when your loved one dies cause he is a different alignment and you worship the goddess of agriculture anyway, cause you're a peasant
What do you guys think? How do you handle polytheism in your games?
>I mean, characters seem to chose a deity, and follow that one and only that one. And even though the information is mostly vague, it seems that even common folk tend to worship only one chosen deity.
That's not the case in most D&D settings.
Players choose patron deities, but they still worship the rest when appropriate. A fighter who hates undead and worships Pelor still offers Fharlanghn a prayer before he sets out on a journey, and a wizard that considers Mystra to be her patron still praises Tymora when she wins a game of cards. Even clerics dedicated to a single god respect the rest, as long as their church's dogma don't come into conflict.
This is explicitly stated in the rules books.
But that makes little sense(with the exception of clerics and monks), as the gods are extremely thematic. Henotheism was an early form of monotheism, where the worshipped gods gave a lot broader portfolio, so to speak.
I'm not sure about actual D&D settings, but in Pathfinder, it's "I choose a primary diety that has the most influence in my life, and pray to the others when something within their domain occurs."
So, for instance, if a peasant woman's husband is conscripted into war, then she might pray to Gorum for his safe return, while still being a worshipper of Erastil.
I'm by no means a scholar of D&D fluff, but everything I've read shows people celebrating holidays of gods of the same plane and even having multiple shrines in small towns. Even with a "main" God of worship the events around town are polytheistic.
>players and DMs get it wrong.
That's also the reason why some people don't like the alignment system. If you play it in the way the books describe it works well, but if an idiot uses their own interpretation instead, people are going to complain.
>players and DMs get it wrong
Bingo. And the reason why they do is abundantly clear to anyone who actually tries to be actively polytheistic: it's really fucking hard to do. People naturally gravitate towards the god/gods that they feel most connected with.
Source: I'm polytheistic and it's a damned hard thing to live with, carrying so many gods with you so often. I have those that I primarily worship but the rest are hard to keep in active memory constantly.
Alignment has massive problems not just derived from getting the rules wrong. Almost every edition has a very different take on alignments.
It is not a blanket statement in D&D at all.
Players and DMs do not get it wrong, they just cut out the riffraff.
Festivals and such can happen with npc villages and townships but for PCs a god is a means to an end, whether they're worshiping one or slaying it....... or both. A cleric or paladin knows where their power comes from and during game sessions with limited time frames they focus on the task at hand instead of remembering to fluff everything out at length, and likewise the DM accommodates to move things along without stagnating the pace.
This is the same reason a lot of PCs of any other class in practice seldom even mention a god at all unless specifically dealing with a sect or cult during a quest. Fighters seldom bring up polishing the armor, and for the same reason even clerics seldom expound on offering up their devotions to deity when they bring it up at all.
It's more like the "in _____ name I smite you!" kind of fluff. Direct. To the point. Means to an end.
There is rarely an actual pantheon, that's why. "Gods" may be known to exist but they exist as islands, who occasionally war or cooperate with each other but don't have essential relationships.
In my experience, its more of a case of ''People worship the gods that suit them best''.
Yer average farmer wont gain much by worshipping a god of War. However, the gods of health and agriculture could be very important to him.
This is more or less how polytheism worked, tho. Most people would have a single god they offer prayers to, even if they might honor other gods at certain times of year, or when undertaking certain activities. It's even more true of priests, who were generally exclusive worshipers of a single deity to whom their temple was dedicated.
>Yer average farmer wont gain much by worshipping a god of War. However, the gods of health and agriculture could be very important to him.
>Community of large farms and scattered hamlets, all worship Chauntea who rains favor down upon their crops.
>But not Glob.
>Every single day, Glob starts the morning off by marching to a mound on his property.
>On the mound is an alter, and a standard with Hextor's emblem. He sacrifices a chicken.
>Nobody much cares for Glob.
>Glob is a poor farmer, never has enough to sell because he kills so many chickens.
>After years of this, Chauntea tires of it and turns against only Glob's lands.
>His family suffers and many chickens die of exposure, but he still always finds one to sacrifice each day.
>It looks like Glob may even starve this year, and no one in the community much cares.
>Enormous raiding army storms over the horizon like water gushing through a dam break.
>The pillage, slaughter and gangrape is immeasurable by human comprehension.
>But not Glob's farm. It looks like shit and isn't worth pillaging.
> ......and it's flying Hextor's standard.
>The invader's battle clerics give the entire murdered community's farmland to Glob.
>His job is now to send food to the conquering army to sustain it.
>Every day, they send him workmen. Former soldiers who grew too cowardly to fight and were made slaves for it.
>Every day, Hextor gives him one of His chickens.
>Chauntea refuses to bless anything to grow there, in rage.
>They grow bloodwheat, enough blood of her followers saturating the land to keep the farm going for centuries.
>Nerull tips his fedora
Mess with the Glob, he gets a job. You spiteful cunt.
I intentionally have PCs and NPCs who aren't clerics etc. or dependents on such omit all reference to deities, by the logic if they actually cared about god stuff, they would get their money's worth and become a cleric.
Yes and no.
What you're describing is only really present with Clerics and Paladins. Most characters in my campaigns seem to not be all that interested in religious matters.
Of course, being such a history buff, the idea of a world with Medieval trappings, but POLYTHEISM kind of gets my hackles up. One of the reasons I rather like Thedas, is because that world or at least the country of Ferelden is MONOTHEISTIC.
I have a True Neutral God but given that most of mine are sentient they have their own leanings.
If you look at real life pantheons, some gods are considered evil if necessarily so. Its the sorta ''need evil to have good, need destruction to have creation'' approach.
True but generally one is high-lighted.
Like Hades is the God of Death and is necessary for rebirth. However, he is Guardian of the Underworld first and foremost.
I tend to take a similar approach. The God of Agriculture and Growth also has dominion over insects that destroy. That sort of thing. So while they are associated with death and destruction they primarily have domain over life and creation.
I forget which book this is in, maybe the core 4e book.
Actually makes a lot of sense, yes. Not being evil for the sake of being evil or POWER, UNLIMITED POWER. but actually believes he makes the world better. Now that's relatable, you rarely see that in DnD.
Most players and GMs fuck it up.
Also, the alignment system causes some of the issues, because some of the gods themselves can't get along.
A Greek might make an offering to Hades, but nobody good or even neutral in the Forgotten Realms is going to be making an offering to Cyric.
No good or neutral character would, but average joe who's just going about his life probably would in the hopes he won't incur Cyric's wrath. There's a huge difference between "Oh mighty Cyric, please direct your power elsewhere for I am only a pathetic mortal unworthy of your attention" and "Oh mighty Cyric, I shall take up a sword to smite your enemies!"
At least Eberron gets it right.
Gods/divinity don't exist in the usual sense.
Most of the general population worships the Sovereign Host and occasional the Dark Six, sometimes dedicating themselves to one of them, and asking appropriate blessings where necessary. For example, the Devourer is also a god of oceans, so sailors leave offerings. The Fury is the god of unbridled passion, and so some artists pay tribute.
Otherwise, the other gods really ARE different religions. The Valenar and Aerenal elves worship their ancestors in totally different ways, since Aerenal LITERALLY has their ancestors walking around, while Valenar has patron spirits. The Silver Flame is literally a giant flame which people worship.
The other cool thing in Eberron is that the afterlife is a known element, and it's SHIT. At best, some religions think that after your spirit is stripped of all memories, it's reincarnated. So every religion is focused on life.
>His Gods are a set list instead of a strange background with possible new gods, renamed gods, and totally false or even once mortal Gods
>he doesn't have every nation with severely differing religions ranging from polythestic, pagan, monotheistic, ancestor worship, etc.
>He doesn't have cults springing up everywhere that worship weird bullshit ranging from new gods to colors to their mortal leaders or animals
>he has Gods tied too closely to alignment
>He is this much of a pleb
Anyone who denies the existence of the Gods is an idiot.
Most people worship one key deity who governs whatever they primarily do, as they seek his blessing in their mundane life.
To strongly worship more than one is a sign of a lack of direction or devotion.
It's like supporting a sports team, but having a favorite player.
Eh, I've always wanted to play something like this. Specifically, I wanted the Pantheon to be at least semi-universal, so the party might encounter a band of marauding Orcs, but the Orcs won't attack because they have a Cleric of Pelor with them. I think that could be fun.
>it's just that most players and DMs get it wrong.
There you go
>That's also the reason why some people don't like the alignment system.
Woah, that's a big difference between "some players misunderstand how people in a genuinely non-monotheistic society treat religion" and ignoring the fact that morality being a measurable truth being as measurable as PH has philosophical ramifications that make a game more alien than medieval noteurope will ever be.
Granted, my opposition is with the inclusion of the good-evil axis (which wasn't original.) Personally, I think the system works just fine with law and chaos. Entropy and its lack IS a measurable feature of the universe, which could easily be extended to cosmic/magic forces. Similarly, it also makes sense that moderate law aligned beings would be interpreted by mortals as good, and moderately chaos/entropy aligned beings would be interpreted by mortals as evil. Both, however, when taken to their cosmic extreme, are truly alien to mortal morality.
It seems to me that your DM just runs a shit setting. Blame your DM when the setting is shit, not the game. when me or my other DM pals run settings with polytheism the character's "deity" is more like their "chief deity", like "I pray to a lot of guys, but this one is my favorite/one most relevant to me/one who I pray to most often/etc". It's implied that people really do pray to whoever is most appropriate for that situation and culture.
>Not having 8 separate religions in your setting
>Not having a mix of polytheistic and monotheistic ones
>Not having a religion that includes atheists somehow
>Not purposefully putting in inconsistent or weird bullshit for the sake of authenticity
>Not having the same religion interpreted 100 different ways
>Not using this to fuel the entire setting
That's actually completely fine by me. I'm proud of my setting and all, but there's nothing wrong with praising Pelor all day, every day.
Sotillion's better though.
>Not having a religion that includes atheists somehow
Some sects of Buddhism advocate that you not worship any Gods as they desire to keep their worshipers trapped in the Wheel of Karma.
But that's not atheism - that recognizes that the gods exist. I don't know what you would call it when you recognize gods but refuse to worship them. I would include it in my setting, though.
That's called open defiance, and in Forgotten Realms it gets you stapled to a wall that slowly dissolves your soul over eternity. The Gods are dicks.
I've got a friendlier version of that in my setting, but it's more a god that'll accept you even if you don't worship.
>A paladin or cleric knows where their power comes from
Except for the fact that the rule book specifically states under the religion section of Clerics AND Paladins, that they do not need to worship a specific god to grant their powers.
I had to bitch fight my DM today over it, literally from the books about how a Paladin can worship all gods or no gods as he sees fit and draw his powers from righteousness and goodness. He kept bitching and then said "Oh yeah, but what is a paladins spells classified as hmm? Divine that means you dont get those!" at which point I pointed out Clerics did not have to worship a god either, and until I read him it from the book he wouldnt budge. Then he tried to say that in an old version there was a line that said "These are just guidelines". Well fuck you fine I will roll a fighter then, give me 30 minutes to rework my character... "Come on man why are you being like this?!" Why aren't you just following the rules and let me have fun playing a character concept I created? "Well at least the guidelines say you cant smoke, drink, have sex, and have to act retardedly good..."
... actually....... and then I had to read him the basic paladin code verbatim in its entirety. He was butt-frustrated because he learned all this shit from a shitty DM that used to DM for him and had a very very shitty setting full of high-powered "I'm better than you" NPC's that were the DM's old characters and self-insert wankery....
God I just realized how much I hate a lot of the people I play with.