Gods and Divine Magic - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    It varies for me depending on the tone and setting of a game. I'm much less likely to run a gritty low magic game or something like a rendition of the Christian God as something that can be directly interacted with.

    That said, I tend to default/prefer a bit of a combination of your Channeled and Inspired. My portrayal of dieties tends to be that they are filled with motivations and plans involving mortals, though the mortals may not always know the full game being played. Think of it like a grand game of cosmic chess. That said, I like to make my deities not fully snetient as well, in that they embody certain aspects of creation. I.e. the god of storms and sea can't *not* be chaotic any more than the goddess of healing would be unable to stop herself from trying to tend to the wounded. It sort of mirrors outside behavior like demons/devils. There are some things that just fundamentally go against their nature and it is *why* other gods exist and why they care about mortals in the first place. They can do things the gods cannot.

  2. #12
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    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    Inspired-ish.

    In my world, the Gods are out there being Gods. Whie a few were once mortals, most have always been Gods and are concerned with Godly issues. Their worshippers are their batteries. The more they are worshipped, the more powerful they are. Worship takes many forms - it can be based on appreciation, respect or fear. The Gods have power because mortals *give* that power to them through worship.

    There are also beings that obtain this power via agreement. Asmodeus had trouble getting people to give him power via worship, but he discovered a way for people to give him power (more efficiently) via contract. He became the first Patron. While he later used the power accumulated from his contracts to also reach Godhood, othe beings have followed his path and created contracts with mortals to exchange warlock powers (or other benefits) for their soul powers and choose to rely upon these agreements rather than attempting to be a God.

    These Patrons and Gods are so powerful that their concerns are often incomprehensible to mortals. A War God may direct his priests to wage war on a neighboring country, only to have them pull back and retreat at the moment of victory. A Love God may instruct a priest to coax the leaders of two kingdoms together, only to tell the priest to shatter that relationship at a later date. The most ancient of the Gods represent broad concepts such as 'Good' or 'Evil', but rarely have any direct impact on the mortal worlds at all.

  3. #13
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    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Staffan View Post
    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.
    I actually had a similar idea. Each domain is one of the greater planes of existence which interact and create the multiverse (the prime tending to be created by the mixing of all domains). This setting had no gods or clerics rather there was a wizard variant white mage who studied a domain and had access to the cleric list. There were still religions, some might have even been sponsored by celestials or fiends but no actual gods.

  4. #14
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    I personally do not like gods powered by belief. Gods created or at least existed long before the mortals and created the mortal races and all that is. So gods powered by belief has never worked for me. I much preferred
    The pantheons of Oerth for this reason.

  5. #15
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    I keep it simple. There is only "magic" a type of energy that flows through reality that you need either special keywords (arcane) or special permission (divine) to access. This, for me, explains why in D&D Clerics have to "pray" for their spells. They are literally asking their gods if they can cast XYZ today. The god, on the other hand, is a powerful individual who has already figured out how to access the magic of the universe.

    Though a god may choose to limit certain spells for specific reasons, most gods simply aren't interested in every one of their followers magical requests. "Praying" is basically filling out a bureaucratic request form, most gods don't read them, just stamp them and approve it. They may check in with a follower from time to time, but more often than not most gods take a "hands off" approach.

    This is in part because even small effects by gods are extreme by mortal standards, and in part because there are all sorts of treaties and agreements between the gods on who can do what, when, and where.
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  6. #16
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    I'd say agnostic, using those terms as defined.

    I tend to draw my own settings use a pretty broad brush, to leave room for the player's ideas. But I generally have a small-c catholic "Church" that does the classic fantasy genre temple things, that's a fixture in most areas under human control. It tends to exist in some tension with nature worshippers (elves and other fae adjacent creatures, deeply rural communities, tends to fit classic "witchcraft" tropes) and ancestor worship (dwarves and halflings, and is the older "root" religion for much of humanity). There are also plenty of smaller cults devoted to particular faeries, demons, or other strong mythical creatures.

    It's a simple structure that I can customize easily, and has a lot of classic tropes in it so players can port their concepts in with little work required on my part.

    Classes don't really exist in games I run, other than as an occasional template for generic low level NPCs. Magic from NPCS following the tradition of the church maps pretty closely to classic cleric abilities (healing, protection, divination, anti-undead and extraplanar entities). Nature worshippers are obviously more druid-like. Ancestor worship and cults tend to be a hodge-podge rationale for all sorts of specialized abilities. They're usually the reason for extraplanar stuff to enter the real world, while the Church tends to oppose extraplanar activities.

  7. #17
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    None of those categories work for me because they all assume that if gods are people then divine magic has to directly derive from their agency.

    Here's how it works in my world. Gods are sentient super-beings. People with lots of hp and powers and some control over aspects of reality (represented by domains, or spheres if you want to go pre-3e). Mortals' access to divine magic originally derived from the gods giving it to ancient priests. Once it was given, it was independent of those gods' agency. The priests have passed it down throughout the ages. The gods may be aware of those who act "in their name" but they don't control or decide if they get spells. If all the gods died clerical magic would still work just fine (with the exception of spells like commune that need someone to commune with).

    How invested a god is in the mortal world or their own clergy is a matter of individual inclination. Most gods will punish (not by withholding spells, because they can't really do that directly) those who claim to be their priests but blatantly misuse the divine magic they wield, but some may be more hands off than others.

    This isn't some fringe idea--it's basically how 4e D&D defined it right in the description of the cleric class. I don't care for 4e, but I like how they did this. It's also similar to how some other editions did it, although they usually considered gods to be able to deny at least higher level spells to punish their clerics.

  8. #18
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    See, thats how I differentiate Clerics from Warlocks. For me, Warlocks LEARN their magic. If the Patron decides to leave the Warlock for some reason, the Warlock keeps what theyve earned. They just have to serve the Patron to get better.

    But for me, Clerics have no real power at all. Its not actually them doing it. Its the god channeling their power through the Cleric. The Cleric gets to aim the gun, so to speak, but the god pulls the trigger. If the Cleric wants to use the power granted for an act their god would find abhorant, then the god denies the spell. It doesnt work. If a god leaves a Cleric, because the Cleric is fundamentally no longer compatible, then they are no longer a Cleric.

    Now, I dont know if I would ever enforce that, except in extreme circumstances. If a Cleric of a god of mercy wants to murder a baby using a Cleric Spell, then Id probably rule the spell fizzles and doesnt work. If the Cleric then murders the baby, then their god leaves them, and either they lose all their power, like a Paladin, until they either make amends, or start worshiping a god that would approve of their actions.

    That said, what allows a Cleric to cast higher level spells is the power of their faith, not some skill or learning. So as they level up, it is indicative of their faith growing.

  9. #19
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    I land somewhere between Inspired and Channeled. My version is that gods can bestow power on mortals and find it both easiest and most effective to do so to champions who sincerely believes in the god's dogma. That belief not only forms a connection, it means the Cleric is less likely to go renegade with their granted powers.

    This is important because the gods are neither omniscient or omnipotent. They have to spend a lot of attention on cosmic level stuff and can often spare only a little time to be directly checking up on their worshipers. This means most of them set the business of investiture and spell granting on what's effectively autopilot, especially the major gods with widespread followings. There are rules for how things are supposed to work, there are clauses that are supposed to draw more direct attention when things go wrong, but like all blind enforcement there's a lot of room to bend the rules as long as you're not sending up clear red flags. It's actually the minor deities who are more directly involved. With few followers and fewer priests they're far more able to personally vet candidates and provide divine visions. In the larger faiths you have to prove yourself pretty exceptional before you get that sort of personal attention.

  10. #20
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    One thing I have thought of for Pathfinder (although never acted on) is that there are a couple of gods who are basically super versions of one kind of outsider. My idea was that the god was really the hive mind of that outsider group. The more powerful the member of the group you deal with, the closer you get to dealing with the hive mind. So beat up that imp, you are really dealing with Asmodeus, just a little bit of him. Evil is inherently self-destructive, which is why archdevils scheme against each other and demon lords feud, even though it really makes no difference to the hive mind.
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