Ah, echo chamber or discussion group? Some people have been writing about the question of good and evil, recently.   
Here’s what I like when it comes to religion:
- Pick some deities and give them recognizable temples if the party meets them for the first time.
- These temples all perform a particular kind of service to the community and thus nobody really wants them to leave.
- We’re not talking about cults.
Here’s what I like when it comes to players:
- When there’s a fight, we fight.
- Enemies on loosing side will try to flee.
- Enemies in a desperate situation will try to surrender.
- Enemies who have surrendered will spill the beans. All of them. No torture required.
- There are no prisons. Punishment is effected bodily, by the people in charge, immediately. No prisons.
- If players release prisoners, they generally keep their word and disappear forever. Otherwise the players will never give quarter to anyone.
I’m keeping the definition of good and evil muddied on purpose. All the powerful people in my worlds have strong Machiavellian tendencies. It’s all about power, and keeping it.
Some examples from my Alder King campaign to build on this:
The gods I try to use whenever possible, based on the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia:
- Orcus, Demonlord of the Undead, provides raise dead, temples hidden away in nearby dungeons, believers organized in secret societies, goblins and orcs like him
- Tsathogga, Demonlord of the Frogs, hidden away in ancient ruins sinking into bogs all over the world, no useful service as far as I know, usually associated with summoning spells, maybe planar travel
- Hecate, Goddess of Evil Magic, when the moon is all black, pigs are slaughtered to placate her, provides charms and amulets, protects witches
- Set, God of Serpents and Poison, hidden away underground and in ancient forest temples, provides poisoning and detoxification services, protectes assassins
- Arden, dead God of the Sun, useful because humans like to look back upon a golden age.
- Thanatos, forgotten God of Death, usually not important at all but I dug him up because one of my players was interested in the topic, excellent connections to the Caverns of Thracia
- Hanuman, accursed Ape God, crazy and strong, useful for war and rage, kidnappings and monkey help
- Dunatis, disappeared God of the Mountains, the name reminds me of donuts, must change it one day, the lost god of the dwarves, a connection with him helps you contact dwarves and possibly magic arms and armor
- Nhakhramat, Goddess of the Emerald Flame, on the rise with Pathfinder-inpsired pact halls in many settlements
- Ishtar, Godess of Love and War, need something for the romantic players as well
- Marduk, General of Law, the St. Cuthbert of the campaign, hasn’t made an appearance in any of my games, yet
- Nergal, God of Plague, a cool source of plagues, lycanthropes, rats, and other monsters, worshipped by the urban underworld and placated to spare believers from disease (harr harr harr)
But these are just the gods I’ll focus on when adding a temple to a city or a wilderness hex, or picking a god for a cleric. That’s it. I don’t care about alignment so much. Clearly, none of them are obviously good. I also don’t focus much on how the gods interact. I don’t care about world creation, nor do I want to know more details about their religious ceremonies. If a player picks one of them as their god, then we’ll start thinking about it.
These gods also don’t have much of an opinion about orc babies, on how to treat surrendering foes, on war and peace, etc. I side-step the issue of morality and focus on actual play.
Of course, if one of my players is explicitly interested in questions of morality, I’d add some component of that. Or better yet, the player would recommend a way to introduce this element.
Looking at the list, the only thing I notice is that paladins seem to be restricted to Ishtar. This probably reflects my belief that paladins should either focus on being lawful-good independent of any gods, pick their own god, or just join the dark side: There are no paladins. There are only clerics and fighters. As I’m playing a paladin in our Shackled City game right now, I’m starting to think that this would make much more sense.
Continued here: 2009-07-04 Organized Good is an Oxymoron.
Tags: RPG thoughts alignment