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HKR
2012-09-12, 04:17 AM
So Ive been working on my own homebrew setting for quite some time now. Im sort of a realism fanatic in a way that everything has to make sense to me even if the players never get to discover it.

The starting region for the campaign Im planning is a feudal state with very influential lords and a comparatively weak king. It was once a colony of a huge empire but is independent now. (think: Holy Roman Empire) The religion of the old empire still is the dominating faith among the nobles and in the big cities, while most of the smallfolk still worship the pre-imperial gods.

Im not entirely sure about which gods i should use. I would like the old empire to be dragon-themed, so it would make sense for them to worship Tiamat (Or maybe Ill make up my own evil dragon deity). The old gods should be more down to earth, but not some druidic treehugger deities :smallbiggrin:. Maybe something similar to the seven gods from Song of Ice and Fire.

Do you think a population that mostly worships a good/neutral pantheon can be governed by a nobility that worships an evil dragon godess? I think it could create some interesting conflict, but would it be a stable society?

Jeff the Green
2012-09-12, 04:30 AM
There are a number of cases in real life I can think of where the rulers' religion was different to one degree or another from the populace's. Rome, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Mugal empire, even Britain for a time.

In general what ended up happening, and I think what makes sense in fiction, is that there's general unrest at the difference that can be exploited by invaders or revolutionaries. The elites might make occasional lip-service to the people's gods and require the same in return.

In my setting, the dwarven nation is a theocracy centered on a pantheon of deities with dual natures. (One nature is Empyreallight and noble but not necessarily Goodand the other Cthonicdark and dangerous but not necessarily Evil.) But the only ones who really care deeply about their worship are the ruling Patriarchs and the priesthood. The rest of the dwarves think it's unseemly to ask the gods for help and instead "worship" ancestors. The Patriarchs don't denounce ancestor worship and the people participate in the various public rites of the gods, and otherwise mostly leave them alone.

Plus, remember, an overwhelming power on the side of the dragon worshipers will always tip the scales toward "stable."

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-12, 06:33 AM
Jeff pretty much nailed this one.

That single factor alone, the dissonance between the ruling class's beliefs and the rest of the society's beliefs, isn't enough to call stable or unstable, by itself. It does unquestionably create at least a little tension between fanatics though.

Over the long-haul, it'll create either a secret war, with assassinations, discreditings, and propaganda; or an open conflict in the form of a rebellion/revolution when the nobles or priesthood make a dramatic misstep. The former is more likely if the religious dissonance is the only major issue, but the latter is more likely if there's social unrest because of other reasons in addition to the religion issue.

Gamer Girl
2012-09-12, 07:24 AM
{{scrubbed}}

Anxe
2012-09-12, 02:51 PM
What if the upper classes worship Tiamat and the lower classes worship things represented by each of the colors of her heads? Black can be the lower classes evil deity, and Red, Blue, Green, and White can be nicer things. You can tie it in to the Seven from Game of Thrones as well. Black is like the Stranger. Red can be the Warrior/Smith. White can be the Maiden. Red can be the Mother. Blue can be the Crone/Father.

Yora
2012-09-12, 03:29 PM
Religion is very rarely a cause for conflict. But as others have said, it has always made for very good justifications and explainations for existing economic or political conflicts. (Same goes for ethnicity.) Religion always has the important role of putting the events of the day into a larger context and to serve as a reference for how problems are solved.
As long as everyone is happy with the ruling class doing it's job, there won't be any religious conflict. But as soon as economic problems become bad, you'll see the lower class using their religion to motivate each other to fight the other class by claiming it is actually a fight against their evil gods. And the upper class will justify any supression of the dissenters by claiming they are an evil cult that wan't to destroy society and overthrow the true gods of the nation.

Don't even need to worship different gods. If it is the same god, then the other group are simply heretics who have been tricked to become evil by an enemy of the gods.
Happened countless times everywhere at every time.

For stability, I think it also works best if the religion of the lower class is not making a major point about everyone being equal and offering everyone who follows it freedom and prosperity. Such religions sooner or later always end in uprisings either to be crushed or drastically changing everything of society completely.
If it is more about making the best with what you got and being happy with a simple life, then there is no much potential for reformers using it for their purposes. Which in turn means there is also no need for the rulers to target the religion when they crush the uprisings.

Jeff the Green
2012-09-12, 08:07 PM
For stability, I think it also works best if the religion of the lower class is not making a major point about everyone being equal and offering everyone who follows it freedom and prosperity. Such religions sooner or later always end in uprisings either to be crushed or drastically changing everything of society completely.

That's another good point. The lower-class religion needs to placate the populace's need for justice without actually demanding justice. It could be very Lawful (maybe even with a caste system or emphasis on obedience similar to Confucianism) or promise salvation in an afterlife.

Another option is that the lower class has sinned (in a specified or unspecified way) against their gods and so they have withdrawn their protection from their people until they atone. Not hugely common in real-world religion, but there are prominent examples, and it comes up more than once in fiction I've read. The tiamatites won't be happy with ruling a populace that views them as a divine punishment, but at least it's stable; as long as they remain powerful enough to keep order it's demonstration that the people haven't atoned yet.

HKR
2012-09-13, 04:15 AM
For stability, I think it also works best if the religion of the lower class is not making a major point about everyone being equal and offering everyone who follows it freedom and prosperity. Such religions sooner or later always end in uprisings either to be crushed or drastically changing everything of society completely.


Well, this nation was feudalistic even before the old empire turned it into a colony, so i guess the old gods would be of the "be happy with what you got" type.

So I had some Ideas based on some of the replies here:
There are two types of noble houses in the kingdom: The ancient houses have been around before the empire and managed to recover their power after the empire dissapeared. They survived the imperial period. The newer houses have been newly founded after the collapse of the empire by local warlords (mostly ex-imperial generals or mercenaries).

In the ancient houses there are some elements that still secretly favour the pre-imperial gods. Also they are still more popular with the smallfolk. The newer houses have fully adopted the culture and religion of the empire.



Another option is that the lower class has sinned (in a specified or unspecified way) against their gods and so they have withdrawn their protection from their people until they atone. Not hugely common in real-world religion, but there are prominent examples, and it comes up more than once in fiction I've read. The tiamatites won't be happy with ruling a populace that views them as a divine punishment, but at least it's stable; as long as they remain powerful enough to keep order it's demonstration that the people haven't atoned yet.

I like this one, too. Though I think it would be too much, if everybody believed this. Maybe there are some radical elements in the old church that spread this rumor.

I see some potential plothooks here with many unresolved conflicts. I really like it. Thanks for the advice so far.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-13, 04:47 AM
Well, this nation was feudalistic even before the old empire turned it into a colony, so i guess the old gods would be of the "be happy with what you got" type.

So I had some Ideas based on some of the replies here:
There are two types of noble houses in the kingdom: The ancient houses have been around before the empire and managed to recover their power after the empire dissapeared. They survived the imperial period. The newer houses have been newly founded after the collapse of the empire by local warlords (mostly ex-imperial generals or mercenaries).

In the ancient houses there are some elements that still secretly favour the pre-imperial gods. Also they are still more popular with the smallfolk. The newer houses have fully adopted the culture and religion of the empire.



I like this one, too. Though I think it would be too much, if everybody believed this. Maybe there are some radical elements in the old church that spread this rumor.

I see some potential plothooks here with many unresolved conflicts. I really like it. Thanks for the advice so far.

I smell a civil war brewing.

This new information shows a much clearer line of opposition. It's not so much religion A and religion B, but old guard and new wave. The religion issue is probably a sticking point, and will certainly come up when the coming conflict begins in earnest, but it's really a minor factor.

The questions now are: "Do you want the conflict between the old and the new to be a secret war or a civil war?" and "Do you want religious fanatics to create their own factions that are dependent on, but independent from, the main old-guard and new-wave factions?"

Even more so than IRL, the churches of a D&D world are political entities in their own right, with their own agendas. That kinda happens when you have active interventionist deities.

Yora
2012-09-13, 05:09 AM
(maybe even with a caste system or emphasis on obedience similar to Confucianism)
That was exactly what came to my mind when writing it. :smallbiggrin:

Somehow caste systems appear to be remarkably stable, enduring for many centuries. The ruling class should probably be established as being part of the local people and their society and serving a vital function. That tends to be much more secure than the appearance of being ruled by foreign opressors, which is often just inches away from the next genocide.

HKR
2012-09-13, 05:50 AM
The questions now are: "Do you want the conflict between the old and the new to be a secret war or a civil war?" and "Do you want religious fanatics to create their own factions that are dependent on, but independent from, the main old-guard and new-wave factions?"


What about letting the players influence this by their actions. What if they find a Lords Banner (Crusades) (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/a-b/banner-lord-s) in some dungeon which has the insignia of one of the ancient houses, but the religious insignia of the old faith. The old church and the noble house will both claim ownership to the banner. The old church might try to convince the nobles of converting back to the old faith. If they agree to convert, the Tiamat-followers might get angry.

Sorry if Im rambling a bit here. Im just making that up as a write and would like to hear your thoughts about it?

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-13, 07:13 AM
What about letting the players influence this by their actions. What if they find a Lords Banner (Crusades) (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/a-b/banner-lord-s) in some dungeon which has the insignia of one of the ancient houses, but the religious insignia of the old faith. The old church and the noble house will both claim ownership to the banner. The old church might try to convince the nobles of converting back to the old faith. If they agree to convert, the Tiamat-followers might get angry.

Sorry if Im rambling a bit here. Im just making that up as a write and would like to hear your thoughts about it?

That could work. I was just spit-balling, bringing up questions that this sort of political landscape begs and providing some of the more obvious examples.

Ultimately the best option is whichever you think your players will enjoy most.