Gods and Divine Magic
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  1. #1
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    Gods and Divine Magic

    Religion.

    Like it or not, its an integral part of most fantasy settings; particularly those with the concept of divine magic. Im curious to know, what approach do other worldbuilders take when dealing with interactions between the mortal and the divine?

    The way I see it, there are three approaches:

    • Agnostic: Gods are non-sentient, ephemeral, or unconcerned with mortal affairs. The power for divine magic comes from the wielders faith (force of will) rather than as a divine gift.
    • Channelled: Gods are real but not necessarily sentient, or are unconcerned with mortal affairs... the power of divine magic flows from the priest knowing the correct incantations to invoke that gods power, rather than the god willingly imparting such power to the priest.
    • Inspired: Gods are real, sentient, and involved (for good or ill) in mortal affairs. They invest their power in their Clergy directly, as a reward for service perhaps, or maybe as a way of influencing the mortal world due to some limitation on their ability to interact with it.

    So, worldbuilders, what method do you use for divine magic? Did I miss any approaches out?
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    I had an idea for a setting that was somewhere between your Agnostic and Channeled. The idea was that the gods were like in Eberron - they may exist or they may not, but religion is primarily a social construct. But the Domains represented real aspects of reality, and the cleric class represented mystics who had a special bond that allowed them to channel this power. Using this power was a thing you had to learn, but at the same time it was more of an art than a science (hence being associated with Wisdom rather than Intelligence).

    Many religions would consider one or more domains linked to their god or gods, and there'd be some clerics who associated with those religions, but you wouldn't have a definite tie between clerics, religions, and gods. You might as well find a cleric of Trickery working for (or running) a shady merchant cartel or a thieves' guild as a temple of Sehanine.

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    Inspired Channeled. They real, they busy, they may pick up on the first ring of your god call. Or you may just get their service dept.
    "Hello Thor Help Line. SMITE LOKI! You are 666th in line. If this an actual emergency press 1."
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  4. #4
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    Inspired Channeled. They real, they busy, they may pick up on the first ring of your god call. Or you may just get their service dept.
    "Hello Thor Help Line. SMITE LOKI! ....Click"
    Hi... Loki here. My brother is busy with his beer and pizza How may I help.

    Edit to add. What a double post the Gawds must be crazy.

  5. #5
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    I tend towards a Fred Saberhagen approach: the gods are real, but they need a host (usually mortal) to be active. Sometimes the mortal might override the god (possibly permanently--my pantheon is a mix of 4e and PF, and Cayden Cailydon got the God of Alcohol gig and transformed it into the God of Folk Heroes, and it stuck--he also moved from Limbo to Ysgard and then to Arborea to help it stick). Gods are portfolio-driven, not directly soul-driven. Most are aligned with an outsider group (who are very soul-driven) and most of their divine servants are members of the outsider group imbued with the god's power. Organized religion is a means to push the portfolio in a systematic way (also when you have to turn your attention to a different world or are between hosts, this keeps things running).
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    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)



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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper View Post
    Inspired Channeled. They real, they busy, they may pick up on the first ring of your god call. Or you may just get their service dept.
    "Hello Thor Help Line. SMITE LOKI! You are 666th in line. If this an actual emergency press 1."
    ....not sure I appreciate this comment ....


    :P
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  7. #7
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    I usually go with Inspired. I actually prefer how Tolkien handled it, with Eru, the Overgod, or big 'G' God, who created everything, and He gave authority over the world to his Valar, or little 'g' gods, who each took control over an aspect of the universe and added their own personal touches to it. And then I like how FR deals with the portfolios, where there must be a god in charge of *insert portfolio*.

    Their job is more to tend to and regulate their own portfolio, but are able to gain in power and influence via worship of Mortals. This encourages them to court mortal churches, and grant power to those who devote themselves to their tenants. But the Overgod needs no worship, He simply is.

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    Greater and Elder Gods are Channeled, but are aware of what their followers are doing with the power. They simply focus more on greater aspects of the multi-verse, rather than the mortal realm.

    Lesser Gods are Inspired, using their blessed followers to advance their goals in the mortal realm, as they cannot directly interfere except in extreme circumstances.

    Demigods are Inspired, but while they have less power to grant to followers, the are less restricted on acting directly.

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    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



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    Oh definitely inspired.

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    My view of the gods has been heavily influenced by Harry Harrison's The Hammer and The Cross series. Basically the gods are real-ish in that they are powered by peoples belief and worship in them. They are real in the sense that they have their own agendas, thoughts and ideas and indirectly manipulate people and events. However, in other ways they are not real in the sense that they are given life by their worshipers.

    In addition, rising to godhood is really a reflection of how many people worship that deity and their cultural norms. So people create gods that reflect their beliefs which then provide kind of a feedback loop. I find this an interesting option because it explains the gods aligning with the society at large, and gives me room for "new" and "forgotten" gods. Individuals can indirectly influence gods and people can have an impact in the long term on their own pantheon, although that's not something PCs (or players) realize.
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