Loseing My Religions

Many a year ago I decided that clerics needed more. Let’s face it, there is not much to hang Brother Simor on in “Lawful Good”. So using the gods within the campaign world I created a religion gloss. A brief write up of the high points of the dogma and beliefs. Toss in some holy days, a few holy writings. A hierarchy for the church structure…

Then I came to alignment. I’m sitting there, fingers ready and the thought hits; “Why?” I just gave a rundown on the beliefs and acceptable behavior of the religion ,why does it need an alignment? The truth was it did not. I ended up extraditing alignment entirely from the game. For those that want the full argument I give it here. “Out of the Box: The Conundrum of Alignment” Today I’m talking fantasy religions.

I am rebuilding my entire religion book. (Cover above.) Most of the included religions have a level 1-7 spells list, yes I customize the spells available. Sometimes more, some times less. Terms are largely 2nd Ed. Heck, the majority of the book was done on my old Amiga 4000 long before Linux.

The methodology is simple, I’ll list it below. You run down the categories, fill them in with as much or as little needed. Is something missing, include it. Is it unnecessary, take it out. Like most of my lists it is not dogmatic. It is there to jog the brain into making a fantasy religion. I have some finished example here, and those will be getting updates soon. I’m not goiong to post the whole book to Pen & Paper

Religion Blank –
God worshiped:
Sphere of Influence:
Sacred Color:
Sacred Animal/Plant:
Place of Worship:
Worship Days:
Holy Days:
Holy Writings:
Favored Deities:
Disliked deities:
Favored Governments:
Disliked Governments:

Teachings and Other Information-- Worshiper Requirements –
Typical Worshiper:
Sex of worshiper:
Minimum Age:
Worship of Other Gods?:
If Yes, Any restrictions?:

War & Fighting:
Love and Marriage:
Duty to Liege Lord:
Self Interests:
Others Needs:
Duty to Religion:
Afterlife Expectations:

Clerical Requirements–
Name of Order:
Statement of Mission:
Sex of Cleric:
Minimum age:
Sexual Practices Allowed or Required:
Wealth and Magic Allowed:
Oaths of Ordination:
Special Attributes Needed:
Special Abilities Given by Level:
Weapons Allowed:
Armor Allowed:
Special Commandments:

Clerical Ranks–
Name – Levels


I like your organizational setup here. Quite solid.

As for Alignment, I don’t see it the way you do. But that’s ok. I’m not going to try to convince you of anything. But for me, Alignment is a useful tool for me as a GM. I have my own way of using it that I developed back in 1978, and it’s worked nicely for me over the years. But I use it sparingly. Under certain circumstances when I want to track my player’s moral progress. And I use it for that. Anyway, nevertheless I enjoyed your post on the topic. I do very much agree with your point one. If people are going to argue about it, then meh. Yep. I agree. As for the other points… I think there’s a variety of ways to deal with Alignment, and some people have had better success with it than others. Lastly, I think it would have been better named in Chainmail as “Faction” rather than “Alignment” as that was pretty much the original purpose. Ah well. Anyway, thanks for the post. Carry on. :slight_smile:

Ah another Grognard. Faction would have been better because that was the way early D&D saw it. Lawful language you can never use unless, what at the lawful club? Other alignments likewise. It was played like the Horrid or Alliance in WOW. They later did do factions proper in some settings. But Alignment hangs on.

As for tracking “morals”, it’s too granular. Like gluing gravel to paper to make 1 grit sandpaper. You need to add a sliding scale to make it useful. I’ve seen several such uses. I would rather put my effort elsewhere. I stand by my words. As written alignment is too granular and too simple to truly be a useful tool. The language is too loaded to fix it using those terms.

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I have the impression from my friends who came out of the wargaming community in the 1970s and got into D&D that at first it was like 90% wargame (ala Chainmail). The use of the Alignment languages has to be seen in that respect. It was a game mechanic, not story-fluff. The way it worked was that when a force met a new force of monsters that they had not encountered before then they had the option to try to speak their Alignment language to them. So if they met werewolves, then they could try Chaos Language and if there was a match (remember, at that time it was assumed that the players at the wargaming table probably did not have a copy of the rules yet – we are talking chainmail and the very early days of the game). So whether or not werewolves were chaos or lawful was up for grabs, and trying the Alignment language was a proof-positive way to find out. Now, IF the new force was the same alignment then they automatically got added as an ally (meaning their miniatures at the table were added to yours). However, if they were opposite Alignment then they would attack immediately. So there was risk involved with the attempt. I’m sure it was a fun mechanic for the couple of years it took for the players to either get a copy of the rules book, or for them to encounter the various monsters and gain personal experience with the results. However, once met, that was it… mystery solved… so it was a game mechanic destined to fade.

Later it transformed, for completely other reasons, into a different concept entirely. And I think most people took the latter day concept and kind of made a mess of it. Using Alignment to constrain characters was not the right way to use it, imo. What I did was I created a point system for Alignment and then used that point system to track player character decisions based on two factors: how lawful or chaotic was the action (building a library is lawful, burning one down is chaotic, etc etc), and their Motivation. So you could have a PC who steals from the rich (theft = chaotic) in order to give to the poor (charity = good), and thus that action would modify their Alignment score, for example, from (10, 10) to (4, 16) (subtracts from the first number for chaos, and adds to the second number for goodness. The (Law-Chaos, Good-Evil) Alignment score is then used to determine how the Gods of the world think of the character. Over time those scores change according to what they do in the world, and why. I’ve always liked this arrangement. But like I said, I use it sparingly. To me it’s a kind of seasoning for the game. Less is more. But it works for me and I like it.

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You should probably examine Pathfinder 1e’s book, Inner Sea Gods.

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Hmmm. Slightly different approach over here. I use alignment as a meta-level collection of moral values and ethical values at the various points of the spectrum. Universal benchmarks basically. And then I compare and rate the various religions against that framework. Kinda medieval in it’s simplicity, joke intended. But it’s intended to be a tool used at the player and DM level, not the character or setting level.

Instead, I use Contracts in-world. Regardless of the nature of the entity, mortals can enter into one (or possibly more) Contract(s) of their choice. This system smoothly allows for Outsiders, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, and pretty much anything else appropriate to be used as the Contractor. It also is a more compatible model of the alliances at the various levels of existence regardless of the actual “alignments” of said allied entities.

Alignment effects are all changed to Contract effects, aligned weapons are instead Contracted weapons, and so on across the board.

The Contract can be left generalized or specified as appropriate for my players and their interests and preferences. The meta-level framework is also useful for giving players advance awareness and a common ground of what is good and what is evil in the world setting, regardless of player’s (or character’s) personal beliefs or practices - this has saved me in advance from a number of potential arguments and other unpleasantness.

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Very interesting. It kind of reminds me of Charter Magic from the Sabriel series by Garth Nix. Charter magic | Old Kingdom Wiki | Fandom … Not that there is a direct overlap, but something about how the contracts idea works is remeniscent of the idea of Charter Magic. And I always thought that Nix was basically positing the two forms of magic as both chaotic, but one far more chaotic than the other, so relative to one another, Charter Magic would be Lawful, while Free Magic would be Chaotic. Anyway, thanks for your comment. Gives me something to think about. :slight_smile:

While I did not happen to base my concepts off of that series, I am quite fond of it and own almost all the books. =D

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Yup. Same here! :slight_smile:

My point about alignment being loaded is proven right here. It was an aside to the subject of making religions.

  • @ vbwyrde the fact you use a point system demonstrates that the basic alignment system is too simple for any kind of score keeping. I’m too lazy to keep score.

  • TSR encouraged the use of alignment as a box to keep characters in. Look at the consequences to changing alignment within the game itself, loss of level and more. It was meant to be a restrictive box. This is further reinforced by pontification in Dragon Magazine. The DM must punish any deviation in alignment.

  • The idea that a bunch of chaotic people would join up just because…chaos, is a head scratcher. It has the same vibe as an anarchist government, an oxymoron. Herding cats anyone?

  • I treat good as creative, evil as destructive, in the broadest sense. Yes this is a touch simplistic but is a frame that does not move. No genocide in the name of good, no matter what some King/priestt claims. Killing for good is like orgies for virginity. Law/Chaos is a philosophical division not function of the universe. Most people do not care. Propaganda can motivate people to kill and die for nothing, look at the Crusades. But the structure of the universe does not care.

  • The alignment system is proof that if you want factions, create those.

  • @ Jeebers thanks for the suggestion. The gods of Thindacarulle have been pretty fixed in place for the last thirty years. Most of those god books are late-comers. I pat them on the cover and say “Good kid”. My current work is updating some truly outdated writeups.

In general gee guys, the firestorm over a side issue is amazing. Do you start to see why I treat alignment hands off?

I’ve always treated alignment as a general guidepost than a fence/box. It’s an indicator of how a player wants to act the majority, but not all, of the time. It’s also an indicator of how the player is acting, if the GM comments on it or changes their alignment, they may want to take an introspective moment.

I don’t believe it should be used for more than that though. No penalties or such aside from the common sense stuff like ‘evil folks can’t be a cleric or paladin of a good god’. They can be a follower if they want to be, even though it’s odd.

Not arguing these uses. However, that said the official stance WAS fence/box. AD&D is at the core a “No” system. What ever the question, the default answer is “No”.

Gygax was an ass and control freak, but I repeat myself. In sermon after sermon he pontificated how it was his game and if we did not play his way, we were doing it wrong.

Fine Gary, we are doing it wrong, go pound sand.

Heh, well we may have been doing “Gygaxian D&D” wrong, but we were all playing D&D right. It’s our world, our rules, and we can change them if we want to!


Gygax is gone and my game survives.

The book so far. No, it’s not early, it’s LATE. And I am headed to bed after this. I have quite a few left to do.

Religion Sphere
Centaur Gods Centaurs, family, nature, and other things.
Church of Creation Creation, Life
Church of Heaven All
Church of Kirt Hellreaver Life & Death, Sauroi, Adventurers
Church of Mephistopheles The Self, Hell, Haven
Coran the Oathkeeper Oaths, warriors
Creeds of Abican Lust and fertility
The Disciplines The Changes of Life,L ankmar, thieves outcasts,
Fellowship of Plenty Merchants
Hospitallers of the Rose Healers
the House of Crafters Craftsmen, Women & Children
Judges of Tesral Justice and the Eyrian Empire
Sharla of the Leomans Leomans, love, & beauty
The Way of Eternal Truth All

Massive update at The Olde Phoenix Inn. The work of weeks in updating the religion files. As of yet the Anton file is broken, I’m working that now and the Sacred Self has not been done. All others are updated.

Funny, I have not used HTML in ages, it comes back to you as you work it.