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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    I mean, Sigil is like this representation of the 80s/90s punk/cyberpunk ethos in all it's delusion and jadeness, right? it's culture looking at the planes not like this marvelous and divine place that awes naive primes, but as this prosaic battleground where superpowers (be it "gods" or philosophic factions) fight for influence in their own version of the cold war.

    I can't understand how a plane-born cleric can keep his faith sincere in a cynical environment like that, and knowing that the gods are just another type of players in this belief-sucking geopolitics.

    Or is all faith in this place of the selfish, Pascal wager -sort? (THIS would make more sense for me)
    Last edited by Silva; 2019-04-03 at 04:43 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Silva View Post
    I mean, Sigil is like this representation of the 80s/90s punk/cyberpunk ethos in all it's delusion and jadeness, right? it's culture looking at the planes not like this marvelous and divine place that awes naive primes, but as this prosaic battleground where superpowers (be it "gods" or philosophic factions) fight for influence in their own version of the cold war.

    I can't understand how a plane-born cleric can keep his faith sincere in a cynical environment like that, and knowing that the gods are just another type of players in this belief-sucking geopolitics.

    Or is all faith in this place of the selfish, Pascal wager -sort? (THIS would make more sense for me)
    Pascal's Wager doesn't really apply since the root of it is the inability to know whether that higher power actually exists, but if it does and you have faith you gain everything; if it doesn't you've lost nothing. However, Planescape very much operates on the knowledge the gods are real. You can go visit Moradin if you want. To quote Wikipedia, "In the context of religion, one can define faith as confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief." So taking that as our guide, faith in Planescape is that you have confidence that Moradin's particular beliefs are the best way to live life. A cleric is somebody out there not only living life by Moradin's standards but helping others to see why Moradin is right, and at the very least how Moradin's friends are right if you don't quite mesh Moradin's particular brand of life-living.

    Sigil more that being a cyber-punk jaded super-megalopolis. It has shades of Industrial Revolution growing pains spurred by the fact that the planes are powered by belief. Sure there's a jaded bent to the writing in a lot of places, but there's also this hopeful vibe where if enough people clap their hands Tinkerbell will come back to life things will get better, but there are powers (in the Planescape sense of deities or similar high-ups, and the power groups like Factions) out there that are happy with the status quo, or want things to get worse.

    Edit:

    Actually, after doing a bit more philosophical reading on Pascal's Wager Planescape has more in common with it than I thought. Its literally not about belief or not, but rather one has to make a choice about what to believe since you can't escape the game, and there's no rational way to determine which is the best choice. Admittedly, Planescape outright shows you what the consequences of your choices are if you care to find out, but there's still not rational way to determine what is the best choice.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2019-04-03 at 05:48 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Well, a planar cleric, of all people, KNOWS that belief=reality. People with...say..old fashioned moralistic values can MAKE a place that way, and not in the way one might try in "real worlds", but simply via belief.

    The nature of Sigil could be transformed if enough folks believe X instead.

    However, this personage:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_of_Pain
    makes sure that doesn't happen, the place is as she wants it.

    For all the noise about her not being a goddess/power, she is, in effect, another exceedingly powerful deity in her own realm. The place is run by HER rules, her code, etc.

    I have no idea why a cleric would be especially discouraged by the place...I guess if they are born & bred in Sigil they might have an issue, but being the portal ground zero, clerics, priests, monks, druids & so forth will always be passing through (or coming to stay a while)...and can impact/influence people in the city. Sure, it is neutral apathetic in alignment, but there are much worse places than that!

    " not like this marvelous and divine place" is hardly universal, even in Sigil. Because that is just false. Some cager might believe that, but they probably haven't been beyond their gutter/slum. All the awesome IS real, and can be visited or discovered.

    Still, I've gotten the impression the actual setting (which is infinity to the infinity power) is of no interest, just Sigil. I'm not sure how it works sans the gates, but I guess it could be Thor:Ragnarok Sakar if the gates are mostly one way. Or they can be ignored somehow, for a dark punk urban game. If that later were true, then just play clerics that are of cynical, grim, or other suitable powers.
    Last edited by CE DM; 2019-04-03 at 07:57 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Good points.

    I think the relationship between a Sigilian religious person (clerics and otherwise) to his god would be fundamentally different from what we have today in RL. It would be more similar to a form of fidelity/allegiance/serfdom to a master than what we see as faith per se. This by itself would diminish the sense of wonder one gets from RL religions imo - what makes a miracle is it's uncertainty, rarity, unknownability, etc. The moment it turns into a science where it's workings are scrutinized and replicated, wonder goes out the window. Add to that the punk/industrial/cynical ethos of the city and it gets worst.

    It seems to me the true religions in the setting are the philosophic factions, because their "miracles" are much more subtle and unknowable than the gods' ones. Yes, there's proof of strong belief altering reality in the planes, but the chance of a single individual doing that seems really rare, thus, "miraculous" in a way.
    Last edited by Silva; 2019-04-03 at 08:28 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Again, the setting is infinite, but if one focuses on Sigil alone, sure. They won't be as useful to you as they might be (as you are not playing AD&D), but I'm working on a batch of clerics that would be useful for the mindset you seem to have.

    Now that I think of it, though, I was also making sure they'd be solid for Sigil play under the 2e rules (ie deities of the outlands/concordant opposition)...which might not matter too much if it isn't actually the same game.

    I do not follow/agree about some of what you are saying, but you will be the DM, so you can make it true, so there is no point to argue it, the game will be as you wish it to be.

    EDIT: Anyhoo,
    how about:
    a cleric, or cleric/fighter of Ulaa (Greyhawk mountain/mining goddess); human, dwarf, gnome or stout halfling; as clueless, or better, in the Harmonium?
    cleric or cleric/fighter of Morrigan(war/combat goddess); faction: Doomguard
    cleric or cleric/fighter of Goibhniu (god of armorers, weaponsmyths, healing): several faction options
    dustman cleric of Yen-Wang-Yeh(YEN-LO-WANG, god of the dead)

    Others included Diancecht (healing/medicine), Lugh (arts, skills, excellence, war, sorcery), Oghma (words, languages, knowledge), Bes, Nuada, Thoth, Boccob, Zilchus, Gond, Waukeen, Gilean, & Shinare.

    However, if it is not following D&D rules, that gives more freedom, actually. Usually, traveler gods of all stripes are a good choice for planescape, but if that is not the case, skip them (as I mostly did). Nature gods aren't much for the city, though again, in some campaigns they would be better (on the trips). But there certainly ARE gods that suit urban games very well indeed.

    Gods of trade, commerce, cities, thieves, assassins, guards/guardianship, crafts of all sorts(smiths, weavers, inventors, engineering, cobblers, fletchers, etc, etc), knowledge, language, song, dance, poetry, merchants, excellence, the dead, disease, medicine, etc are all as relevant, or MORE relevant, in a place like Sigil.

    Choices on deities the people OF Sigil prefer (as opposed to those passing through or newcomers, which is any/all religions & gods) can emphasize the setting tone, including the one you are zeroing in on, and still maintain a diversity of beliefs (which is key, as it is the centerpiece of the whole place: philosophers with clubs, indeed).
    Last edited by CE DM; 2019-04-04 at 11:24 AM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    On Hallowed Ground covers some of this.

    My take is that "faith" is the wrong word to use in D&D in general, and Planescape in particular. "Belief", or even "allegiance", makes sense. Even if you know that "the gods" aren't omnipotent (which D&D gods don't pretend, for the most part), they are powerful, and they're willing to grant their agents powers in exchange for directing magical power this way.
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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Yep, I've got On Hollowed Grounds around here. I think was in it I've read about this supposed cold war/delicate peace treaty the diffenret gods/pantheons have in the planes ? I'll try to find the reference.


    Quote Originally Posted by CE DM
    how about:
    a cleric, or cleric/fighter of Ulaa (Greyhawk mountain/mining goddess); human, dwarf, gnome or stout halfling; as clueless, or better, in the Harmonium?
    cleric or cleric/fighter of Morrigan(war/combat goddess); faction: Doomguard
    cleric or cleric/fighter of Goibhniu (god of armorers, weaponsmyths, healing): several faction options
    dustman cleric of Yen-Wang-Yeh(YEN-LO-WANG, god of the dead)

    Others included Diancecht (healing/medicine), Lugh (arts, skills, excellence, war, sorcery), Oghma (words, languages, knowledge), Bes, Nuada, Thoth, Boccob, Zilchus, Gond, Waukeen, Gilean, & Shinare.

    However, if it is not following D&D rules, that gives more freedom, actually. Usually, traveler gods of all stripes are a good choice for planescape, but if that is not the case, skip them (as I mostly did). Nature gods aren't much for the city, though again, in some campaigns they would be better (on the trips). But there certainly ARE gods that suit urban games very well indeed.

    Gods of trade, commerce, cities, thieves, assassins, guards/guardianship, crafts of all sorts(smiths, weavers, inventors, engineering, cobblers, fletchers, etc, etc), knowledge, language, song, dance, poetry, merchants, excellence, the dead, disease, medicine, etc are all as relevant, or MORE relevant, in a place like Sigil.

    Choices on deities the people OF Sigil prefer (as opposed to those passing through or newcomers, which is any/all religions & gods) can emphasize the setting tone, including the one you are zeroing in on, and still maintain a diversity of beliefs (which is key, as it is the centerpiece of the whole place: philosophers with clubs, indeed).
    I like your attempt at pinpointing the different clerics' gods per citizen segments/profile (faction-inclined, travellers, native sigilians, etc). Thanks, I'm taking note of this.
    Last edited by Silva; 2019-04-05 at 01:10 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Well, it's pretty easy to do, actually. Most factions have a wide range of possible clergy able to be attached. Certain deities certainly lend themselves more to a certain 1 or 2 (no brainer combos), but they CAN often stretch much further, if desired.

    In the standard AD&D game, the more meta trick I'm pulling is so that their clerical powers are peak while in Sigil, and only slightly impacted on ANY outer plane. This might not be a concern for you, but for me, I automatically make account of this. The section I dropped, which is an obvious & frequent choice for planescape, is deities of travel, protection of travelers, etc. For PC's, certainly, but a disproportionate amount of Sigil overall.

    Not a lot of agriculture in Sigil...so, despite often being among the, or most important of deities, they probably aren't highly regarded in Sigil, at least to far less than usual. Deities/religions reflect the culture they are from/in, and sometimes vice versa.

    anyhow, lets take Thoth, the Egyptian god. A wonderful choice, as he is familiar to many (most) gamers & even some regular folk. home plane is the outlands, also perfect. Then the 2e L&L details

    "Thoth (lesser god)
    As the god of science, knowledge, and medicine, Thoth is an important figure in the Egyptian pantheon. Thoth is not related to any of the other gods in the Egyptian pantheon, a fact that makes him something of an outcast. On the other hand, there are those who believe that it was he, not Ra, who was the source of all creation. Thoth is very close to Isis, Osiris, and Horus.
    It is said that Thoth maintains a set of three great books in which all knowledge is recorded. These books are locked away at the heart of a great crypt.
    Role-playing Notes: Thoth is not generous with his knowledge, but neither is he covetous of it. For those who work long and hard at research and science, he is a faithful source of information. Thoth is truly omniscient.
    Statistics: AL n; WAL any; AoC knowledge; SY ibis.

    Duties of the Priesthood
    Priests of Thoth are expected to learn all that they can and help to spread wisdom throughout the world.
    Requirements: AB standard plus Int of 16; AL any; WP any; AR a; SP all, astral, charm, divination*, guardian, healing, protection, sun, weather*; PW 1) detect lie (always active, no saves apply); 5) Intelligence and Wisdom increased by 1 point each; 10) commune with Thoth once per week; 15) Intelligence and Wisdom increased by 1 point each; TU nil.

    it is very odd divination is a minor, but whatever. Dragon 201 suggests "Thoth: Major: Numbers; Minor: Thought." from TOM spheres.

    OK, now lets look at the major factions:
    Athar: no, priests of specific deities are never part (ie not atheists)

    Believers of the Source: yes, but priests of specific deities suffer from a version of what you describe: "a -1 penalty on all saving throws, for lack of utmost faith in their high-up man."

    Bleak Cabal: yes, if not lawful, albeit an odd mix, perhaps

    Doomguard: no (due healing sphere)

    Dustmen: yes

    The Fated : yes, unless LG. can be a good fit

    The Fraternity of Order: yes, if lawful. can be a good fit

    The free league: sure

    The Harmonium: sure, if lawful

    Mercykillers: sure, if lawful. Note: Thoth priests have detect lie on constantly; Mercykillers can detect lie vs one question 1/day. I think they might be jealous.

    The revolutionary league: yes, if not lawful

    The sign of one: sure, might be interesting version

    The society of sensation: sure, works for most anyone

    The transcendent order: if N. Appears to be a paradoxical combo, but one can work it.

    The Xaositects: if chaotic

    The outsiders/clueless: of course

    Another version from the FR: Powers & Pantheons exists (more potent late 2e sp priests, with higher xp reqs), but none the less, the point is that lots of clerics/religions/deities can work in Sigil, and with the Factions. Some are capable for most anything desired.

    "science, knowledge, and medicine"...hard not to find room for that, especially when neither tethered not untethered to morality or ethics, for Thoth's example.

    Easily used & great for villains, heroes & all in between.

    Dr Valmong (aka the vivisectionist) male human cleric of Thoth, NE, the Fated; highly skilled in medicine; teaches & is a sage on such matters (but only when well compensated), who finds Sigil perfect for his research, as all manner of creatures are available for him to learn from (be it via tomes or talk, dissections or vivisection!)

    Tao Ying female human cleric of Thoth, LN, fraternity of order; judge, scientist...pretty much an archetypal Thoth priest & Guvner both.

    Zarlech, male tiefling cleric of Thoth/thief, CN, the sign of one; egotistical, but gifted, engineer, locksmith, trap & security expert.

    Ondrona female aasimar cleric of thoth/bard, CG, society of sensation; kind hearted hedonist, virtuoso, musician, masseuse, dancer, performer, & magician

    you get the picture, I'm sure
    Last edited by CE DM; 2019-04-05 at 04:08 PM.

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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Clerics, what are talking about? they make perfect sense.

    have you seen cities? they are a clash of ideals. full of people trying to tell you what to believe and why. in real life we just call them people who work in marketing.

    if deities are real, prayer is nothing special. anyone can talk to a deity, just like you talk to a person. you may ask someone something but that is no guarantee they'll do it. but pay them to do a service? now we're talking, money is sacrifice and true deities require sacrifice, y'know? as in acts of devotion, work, a pig slaughtered in their name y'know? belief makes the world go around but how you can really believe if your not willing to do something for that belief?

    clerics are those people willing to do stuff for that belief. they market their deity, by being walking billboards of what to expect and showing why its good to believe in them. they sacrifice their time and energy to be their hype men and get payment in happiness and spells. they are the PR guys, the rock stars of their deity. belief is a business, and a gods got to manage their rep, and if you do good, you get a cut.

    why? because guess what, corporations and religion aren't that different. they're both hierarchies trying to enforce an image and code of behavior on you and to believe in that organization so that you work for its greater good in the hopes that you'll move up through it and achieve some great reward in exchange for your time and devotion working for it. when the deity is real and providing a physically provable service...there is no difference. and the only question remains is what the price is for getting that service. there are true believers of both, just as many cynics who try to use them for their own gains.

    and if the cleric is good enough they'll start converting populations to their belief, like factory towns.
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    Default Re: [Planescape] Clerics don't really make sense in Sigil, do they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Silva View Post
    I think the relationship between a Sigilian religious person (clerics and otherwise) to his god would be fundamentally different from what we have today in RL. It would be more similar to a form of fidelity/allegiance/serfdom to a master than what we see as faith per se. This by itself would diminish the sense of wonder one gets from RL religions imo - what makes a miracle is it's uncertainty, rarity, unknownability, etc. The moment it turns into a science where it's workings are scrutinized and replicated, wonder goes out the window.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    My take is that "faith" is the wrong word to use in D&D in general, and Planescape in particular. "Belief", or even "allegiance", makes sense. Even if you know that "the gods" aren't omnipotent (which D&D gods don't pretend, for the most part), they are powerful, and they're willing to grant their agents powers in exchange for directing magical power this way.
    Indeed. Faith and wonder and so forth aren't necessary for all (or even most) religions, they're much more a characteristic of modern monotheistic religions, the practices and belief systems of which a lot of players assume translate perfectly and completely to D&D's syncretic multi-polytheistic religious setup.

    A priest of Thor, for instance, didn't become a priest because he was "called to service" or demonstrated the most faith or whatever. He wouldn't need to proselytize that Thor existed--who else would be making the thunder and keeping the jotuns from killing us, eh, smart guy?--because he wasn't part of a monotheistic religion that claimed Thor was the only god and competed with other monotheistic religions that claimed Thor didn't exist. At most you'd see monolatrist religions that thought their god was better than Thor, but they still didn't challenge the other gods' existence. (Until stuff happened that gets into real-world modern religions, of course.)

    Rather, being a priest of one of the Norse gods was a job like any other (though it did come with social perks and such), and worship was much more transactional than most modern folks realize. You didn't get down on your knees and pray "I'd really like you to make it rain, O Thor, but if not, your will be done, you know best," you'd stand before an altar and say "All right Thor, we've got an important harvest coming up, so I sacrificed an extra ram in the blót last week; you'd better come through, or the karls working the fields are gonna be pissed and the jarls aren't going to set aside the funds to build another statue in the for you, got it?" Worshipers had obligations to the gods, but gods had obligations to the worshipers too.

    Also, the Norse/Greek/Roman/etc. religions were syncretic: if some other priest comes up and says "Have you heard about our lord and savior Amun-Ra?" a Norse priest wouldn't go "No! Sól is the one true sun goddess! Die, heretic!" he'd go "Oh, cool, guess someone else drives the sun across the sky down by you. Up here, Sól drives the sun chariot; why don't you throw a few prayers her way while you're here and if I'm ever down in your neck of the woods I'll send a few Amun-Re's way then?" Much like how D&D settings have multiple gods of war, the sun, magic, etc. and it's totally fine and expected that one warrior prays to Tempus and another prays to Garagos and another to Tyr before they charge into battle.

    So D&D's divine casters (who get a bunch of divine power as long as they follow the rules and go on the occasional quest, and don't really care about anyone else's religion unless their respective patrons hate each other) actually represent the syncretism and transactional nature of polytheistic worship fairly well compared to more modern-style priests (who would focus more on worship, evangelism, and so forth with a set temple and followers), and no one in Sigil would bat an eye if they saw clerics of Pelor, Lathander, Amaunator, and Tezcatlipoca sitting next to each other in the same pub.
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