Defining Religions in Your Campaign

Dr. Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensional model of Religion is an excellent tool for world building and crafting your own religions. This article introduces the seven dimensions and how to use them in your game.

religion.jpg

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

What’s a Religion, Anyway?​

The problem with defining religion is that there are a lot of things humans do that are very similar. Many actual religions suffer from definitions that insist worshiping a god is an important factor. Some don’t have any gods and a few don’t offer what they would consider worship. Essentially, religion is a pretty mixed bag, and if you want to model it accurately in your games some of the fundamentals may surprise you.

Smart’s seven dimensions offer seven aspects that every religion will have in at least some form. For instance, the Ethical and Legal dimension might be one rule saying ‘Be nice to each other’ or a twenty volume legal treatise detailing a rule for every aspect of life. But as long as the faith has at least something, it has that dimension covered. So, when designing a religion of your own, make sure you cover at least one aspect of each dimension.

So, with that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at the seven dimensions themselves:

Ritual​

All religions have some form of ritual, but it can take many forms. Personal prayer or meditation is very common, as are larger rituals like masses. Festivals also have a ritualistic component, making carnivals and bacchanals just as important in some religions. Ritual can be a group affair or individual practice, and be something anyone can do or something that requires a priest of some form. Most offer some form of ritual for at least birth, death and marriage at least. In a fantasy game, such rituals can easily offer magical effects as much as being simple ceremonies.

Narrative and Mythical​

People turn to religion for answers to the big questions, like, where do we come from and how the world was made. Even if it concentrates on the here and now, a certain amount of cosmology is usually required. As many deal with life after death in some form, the detail of what that is, and how it can be possible comes under this dimension. Essentially, this dimension helps the adherent find their place in the universe. Many religions have a wide range of stories and myths, often to either present the gods as heroes or offer moral guidance.

Experiential and Emotional​

Faith always connects to people on an emotional level. This experience can range from several people falling on the floor at a wave from a priest to the simple peace felt when entering a church. A religion needs to make you feel something, often at least a fellowship or a connection to the divine.

What will differ between religions is the sort of emotions that it mainly tries to inspire and how it goes about it. The Sith value rage and anger as a way to channel the power of the force, but the Jedi value peace and tranquillity so they can connect to the force through meditation.

Social and Institutional​

Like any gathering of a lot of people, religion has some logistical and administrative concerns. This dimension covers how a religion is organised among its adherents. Are there any hierarchies or special responsibilities, and if so who performs them? Even if the religion has no priests or leaders, someone might be needed just to remind people when it is time to pray or look after the holy book. Most have at least some form of priesthood, and within that priesthood may be several ranks. After all, unless the deities regularly manifest, someone is going to need to make decisions for the faith in the community.

Ethical and Legal​

Perhaps the most contentious dimension, the ethical one offers the rules of the religion. These are usually codified very specifically, but they can be simple and broad or very specific. In a pantheistic religion the rules might be shared by all the gods, or each one might have their own amendments and/or full sets of their own.

The amount and tone of the rules will depend on the faith. Some religions have a vast array of rules to ensure that adherents must always be considering them, and therefore their faith, almost every hour of every day. Other faiths might simply offer the rules as guidance for keeping the community together peacefully.

In most cases these rules are only ever enforced by the community at large, rather than being arrestable offences. But offending the community by breaking them might lead to social exclusions or even banishment. Essentially, these rules are designed to ensure everyone lives together peacefully and harmoniously to the tenets of the faith and for their own personal enlightenment. However, they are rarely up for discussion if anyone has a problem with just one or two.

Doctrinal and Philosophical​

Similar to the ethical and legal rules are the doctrines of the religion, this dimension focuses on the general principles those rules are derived from. For instance, the Doctrinal dimension details what is required for a happy life, and the Ethical dimension then puts that doctrine into the rules you must follow to achieve such a life. Where it is often hard to argue with the rules of a religion, its doctrine and philosophy might be widely discussed, and even challenged. There may be strictures detailing the level of learning/faith/experience required to be allowed to engage in debate, but others might welcome healthy discussion. Just as some adherents might be wary of the ‘holes in the argument’ and dislike seeing them discussed, others might believe that their doctrine is too strong to worry about a few malcontents.

The doctrine and rules of a faith are usually collated in some way, commonly as a holy book of some form. But many religions rely on oral traditions and pass such learning down by teaching and storytelling. Usually the more complex the doctrine and rules the more likely it is to be written down, but this is not always the case.

When it comes to holy books, these can come in many forms. Some are collections of teachings, others of stories, some resemble legal texts. This will often depend on the style of the faith and how important the book is. Some have a single text, while others also reference collected stories from the lives of leaders and prophets to help understand and clarify the rules and ethics of the holy book those leaders wrote or received.

Material​

This dimension is the easiest to see as it represents what physical items are part of the religion. All religions make some sort of mark. It might be the founding of many places of worship, to small roadside shrines, to sacred symbols or holy books. Even religions that emphasise freedom from possessions still offer small trinkets or particular clothes for adherents. Such items not only give the adherent something to physically hold as a representation of their faith in times of crisis, but also mark them as adherents and show the world how widespread the faith is.

Material items will always depend on what the faith declares appropriate. Some might insist building vast churches to show the glory of their deity is important. A god of travellers might just have a few roadside shrines to offer blessings. Sun gods might insist on vast stone circles or cairns that have particular effects when the sun strikes them at certain times of the year. The same goes for the personal dress of both priests and adherents. Do the priests wear grand robes to show they are special or dress simply to show they are no better than those they lead? Do adherents wear particular colours, and do they change across the year as the seasons change? Various holy symbols might be cast in gold or worn as small carved necklaces.

As the physical representation of a religion, it is the material items that are usually attacked by its enemies first. So a religion in hiding will often rely on special symbols to mark places of worship, shrines or practitioners so they can maintain their community.

In Your Campaign​

With these building blocks, you can now flesh out any religion in your campaign. Remember that you can have any emphasis on any of these dimensions, as long as there is at least something for each. Dimensions can also vary within religions. Some adherents of the same faith might just offer simple prayer, while others are screaming for redemption in mass gatherings. Most real world religions have different sects and cultural practices within them and there is no reason yours should be different, especially as these differences are often a source of conflict that might lead to story and adventure for your characters.
 
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Andrew Peregrine

Andrew Peregrine

You can go the Eberron route and have the existence of gods be a theory but ultimately a mystery but still have clerical magic work for a variety of belief systems.
My point is, even in this type of setting, the setting designer has already answered those questions. He knows the cosmology, and builds the setting from there.

Folks are right, you don't have to start designing a setting with the big background stuff. But my experience indicates that if you don't, everything you build will be based upon unconscious decisions. I would rather build my setting(s) with conscious decisions on my part.
 

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Crimson Terrain

Explorer
Publisher
Can you think of any example of polytheistic classical religion ethical and doctrinal elements according to this model?

I am having trouble thinking up some, the closest I am getting are mythology morals such as stories involving the gods with a point like divine retribution for comparing yourself to the gods. That is not quite religious practices though on its own.
So morals and the like as portrayed through various mythology and religion was often the direct source of laws. For instance to give an example of a polytheistic people who determined their ethics and laws and much else from their gods one has to look no further than many of the greeks and related peoples. Spartans are a prime example of this. They often determined their laws based on the oracle's interpretation of their visions said to be messages from the gods as well as basing their ethics and laws on their interpretations of the mythos surrounding the greek gods. Apollo was of particular importance to them and had a great deal of influence on the entirety of their culture.

I'm not 100% sure I have answered your question, unfortunately, but I hope to have at least gotten close to what you are asking for.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Can someone give an example of the ethical and legal and the doctrinal and philosophical aspects of what we know about classical Greek and Roman polytheistic religion?

Those are aspects I normally associate with classical culture and philosophy in general and not with the religion in any specific fashion.
Classical polytheism moreorless lacks doctrine and philosophy. A community does an ancient ritual because, pragmatically, it seems to have worked so far.

There is of course a deep sense of the sacred. But not much analysis about HOW it works. (Maybe compare adherence to modern astrology?)

In many ways philosophy is an antithesis against the polytheistic customs.

Arguably, a synthesis of polytheism and philosophy would be Neo-Platonism.
 

Dr. Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensional model of Religion is an excellent tool for world building and crafting your own religions. This article introduces the seven dimensions and how to use them in your game.

What’s a Religion, Anyway?​

The problem with defining religion is that there are a lot of things humans do that are very similar. Many actual religions suffer from definitions that insist worshiping a god is an important factor. Some don’t have any gods and a few don’t offer what they would consider worship. Essentially, religion is a pretty mixed bag, and if you want to model it accurately in your games some of the fundamentals may surprise you.

Smart’s seven dimensions offer seven aspects that every religion will have in at least some form. For instance, the Ethical and Legal dimension might be one rule saying ‘Be nice to each other’ or a twenty volume legal treatise detailing a rule for every aspect of life. But as long as the faith has at least something, it has that dimension covered. So, when designing a religion of your own, make sure you cover at least one aspect of each dimension.

So, with that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at the seven dimensions themselves:

Ritual​

All religions have some form of ritual, but it can take many forms. Personal prayer or meditation is very common, as are larger rituals like masses. Festivals also have a ritualistic component, making carnivals and bacchanals just as important in some religions. Ritual can be a group affair or individual practice, and be something anyone can do or something that requires a priest of some form. Most offer some form of ritual for at least birth, death and marriage at least. In a fantasy game, such rituals can easily offer magical effects as much as being simple ceremonies.

Narrative and Mythical​

People turn to religion for answers to the big questions, like, where do we come from and how the world was made. Even if it concentrates on the here and now, a certain amount of cosmology is usually required. As many deal with life after death in some form, the detail of what that is, and how it can be possible comes under this dimension. Essentially, this dimension helps the adherent find their place in the universe. Many religions have a wide range of stories and myths, often to either present the gods as heroes or offer moral guidance.

Experiential and Emotional​

Faith always connects to people on an emotional level. This experience can range from several people falling on the floor at a wave from a priest to the simple peace felt when entering a church. A religion needs to make you feel something, often at least a fellowship or a connection to the divine.

What will differ between religions is the sort of emotions that it mainly tries to inspire and how it goes about it. The Sith value rage and anger as a way to channel the power of the force, but the Jedi value peace and tranquillity so they can connect to the force through meditation.

Social and Institutional​

Like any gathering of a lot of people, religion has some logistical and administrative concerns. This dimension covers how a religion is organised among its adherents. Are there any hierarchies or special responsibilities, and if so who performs them? Even if the religion has no priests or leaders, someone might be needed just to remind people when it is time to pray or look after the holy book. Most have at least some form of priesthood, and within that priesthood may be several ranks. After all, unless the deities regularly manifest, someone is going to need to make decisions for the faith in the community.

Ethical and Legal​

Perhaps the most contentious dimension, the ethical one offers the rules of the religion. These are usually codified very specifically, but they can be simple and broad or very specific. In a pantheistic religion the rules might be shared by all the gods, or each one might have their own amendments and/or full sets of their own.

The amount and tone of the rules will depend on the faith. Some religions have a vast array of rules to ensure that adherents must always be considering them, and therefore their faith, almost every hour of every day. Other faiths might simply offer the rules as guidance for keeping the community together peacefully.

In most cases these rules are only ever enforced by the community at large, rather than being arrestable offences. But offending the community by breaking them might lead to social exclusions or even banishment. Essentially, these rules are designed to ensure everyone lives together peacefully and harmoniously to the tenets of the faith and for their own personal enlightenment. However, they are rarely up for discussion if anyone has a problem with just one or two.

Doctrinal and Philosophical​

Similar to the ethical and legal rules are the doctrines of the religion, this dimension focuses on the general principles those rules are derived from. For instance, the Doctrinal dimension details what is required for a happy life, and the Ethical dimension then puts that doctrine into the rules you must follow to achieve such a life. Where it is often hard to argue with the rules of a religion, its doctrine and philosophy might be widely discussed, and even challenged. There may be strictures detailing the level of learning/faith/experience required to be allowed to engage in debate, but others might welcome healthy discussion. Just as some adherents might be wary of the ‘holes in the argument’ and dislike seeing them discussed, others might believe that their doctrine is too strong to worry about a few malcontents.

The doctrine and rules of a faith are usually collated in some way, commonly as a holy book of some form. But many religions rely on oral traditions and pass such learning down by teaching and storytelling. Usually the more complex the doctrine and rules the more likely it is to be written down, but this is not always the case.

When it comes to holy books, these can come in many forms. Some are collections of teachings, others of stories, some resemble legal texts. This will often depend on the style of the faith and how important the book is. Some have a single text, while others also reference collected stories from the lives of leaders and prophets to help understand and clarify the rules and ethics of the holy book those leaders wrote or received.

Material​

This dimension is the easiest to see as it represents what physical items are part of the religion. All religions make some sort of mark. It might be the founding of many places of worship, to small roadside shrines, to sacred symbols or holy books. Even religions that emphasise freedom from possessions still offer small trinkets or particular clothes for adherents. Such items not only give the adherent something to physically hold as a representation of their faith in times of crisis, but also mark them as adherents and show the world how widespread the faith is.

Material items will always depend on what the faith declares appropriate. Some might insist building vast churches to show the glory of their deity is important. A god of travellers might just have a few roadside shrines to offer blessings. Sun gods might insist on vast stone circles or cairns that have particular effects when the sun strikes them at certain times of the year. The same goes for the personal dress of both priests and adherents. Do the priests wear grand robes to show they are special or dress simply to show they are no better than those they lead? Do adherents wear particular colours, and do they change across the year as the seasons change? Various holy symbols might be cast in gold or worn as small carved necklaces.

As the physical representation of a religion, it is the material items that are usually attacked by its enemies first. So a religion in hiding will often rely on special symbols to mark places of worship, shrines or practitioners so they can maintain their community.

In Your Campaign​

With these building blocks, you can now flesh out any religion in your campaign. Remember that you can have any emphasis on any of these dimensions, as long as there is at least something for each. Dimensions can also vary within religions. Some adherents of the same faith might just offer simple prayer, while others are screaming for redemption in mass gatherings. Most real world religions have different sects and cultural practices within them and there is no reason yours should be different, especially as these differences are often a source of conflict that might lead to story and adventure for your characters.
Great overview of a very useful tool.

My undergraduate studies emphasized phenomenology of religion and drew heavily on Smart's ideas; several of my professors had been his students at Lancaster. Thinking in these terms really allows you to flesh out religions and ground them in the world in plausible ways.

You can apply Smart's dimensions to other phenomena, as well - social, political, philosophical - and they often yield interesting results.

If you apply them to D&D itself - well, you'll find that, purely phenomenologically, D&D ticks more than a few boxes. ;)
 

I do want to speak to the topic, but...there was a rather arresting bit of poor phrasing right at the start that I must note. "Many actual religions suffer from definitions that insist worshiping a god is an important factor." That's a pretty deprecatory way of talking about how approximately two thirds of all living human beings believe (Christians, Muslims, and a majority of Hindus are theistic). You may mean the word in a neutral sense, but given how sensitive this specific statement is liable to be, and how early it appears, I think you could have done a much better job.

Smart's dimensions are of course both comprehensive and flexible, which is always a good thing. I find it interesting that he forked apart doctrine from ethics, but I appreciate the separation: the former is reasons, while the latter is practical behavior and the limits thereof. On the flipside, I'm a little surprised that the experiential and emotional are lumped together; I would personally consider those distinct things. Experiential is one's response to the outer environment, as noted the particular sensations of entering a holy or revered place, or that of participating in important rituals. Emotional, as I would see it, is purely internal, the changes in personal affect that occur within and around the experiential and behavioral components of the religion. I can see why these would be similar or related--sensations are often the data which drives emotions--but to conflate the two seems like a mistake, possibly rooted in the failure of English to distinguish "feelings"-as-sensations from "feelings"-as-emotions.

Thinking of the two religions (technically two and an important heresy of one of them) that have appeared in my game...I've taken a soft touch with a lot of these, but tried to imply a greater scope through what IS seen. E.g., social and institutional elements only really come up when those institutions are involved; doctrinal elements exist, but are not randomly blathered about on the street, generally coming up more in academic or diplomatic discourse; ritual practices include both well-known and secret rites, some of which are properly magical and others are not; even the relatively loosey-goosey religion (practiced by the Kahina, druids and shamans) has its own sort of semi-legal process for judging its members if they go TRULY off the deep end; etc. I did not have a formal theory to guide me, but I would generally agree that these various things have been important along the way.
 

Corone

Adventurer
I do want to speak to the topic, but...there was a rather arresting bit of poor phrasing right at the start that I must note. "Many actual religions suffer from definitions that insist worshiping a god is an important factor." That's a pretty deprecatory way of talking about how approximately two thirds of all living human beings believe (Christians, Muslims, and a majority of Hindus are theistic). You may mean the word in a neutral sense, but given how sensitive this specific statement is liable to be, and how early it appears, I think you could have done a much better job.
I very much disagree with you on that point. There is nothing depreciatory in that statement. I'm not saying 'religions that worship a god are rubbish' I'm saying defining any religion as 'you just worship a god' is rather simplistic and fails to cover many other religions, as well as rather short changing religions that do focus on worshiping a god. It is the definition that is at fault not the religion.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I feel D&D handles religion best when its "core" rules are ethnically inclusive, and have mechanics that assume a framework that is open to any kind of sacred traditions across the diversity of humanity.

It is ok for a specific setting to premise a specific sacred tradition as "objectively" true. As a setting, the players are opting into it. It can be a polythestic Theros setting, an indy monotheistic The Bible setting, the Eberron setting where agnosticism is objectively true, the Dark Sun setting where the elements of nature are sacred, my own setting that makes animism an aspect of psionics and objectively true, etcetera.

Meanwhile the core of D&D can effortlessly support any of these sacred traditions without needing to change anything.
 

MGibster

Legend
There's a scene in the movie In the Name of the Rose set in an Italian monastery during the 14th century based on a book of the same name by Umberto Eco. It's a good movie, and it's a murder mystery, so I'm not going to spoil it. But there are some scenes where characters have theological discussions. The story takes place during a theological disputation, which is a formal debate over religious issues, and one of the points of contention was whether or not Jesus Christ owned his own robe. This sounds rather ridiculous to most modern folk, but the debate had its origins in the role of wealth in the Roman Catholic Church and whether or not monks should take vows of poverty (that's a simplification of course). I bring this up to illustrate a point, that it's sometimes difficult to get into the mindset of someone else who has a different worldview than your own. And that's especially true for religion in D&D I think.

Despite numerous settings where the presence of gods are palpable, most D&D games are shockingly secular. D&D is truly a bastion of liberal western ideals including freedom of speech, secularism, freedom of religion, and individual rights. In the vast majority of campaigns I've played in, the importance of religion is pretty much limited to what powers and abilities in gives PCs access to. Oh, and maybe some motivation to evil cults.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
As a core D&D class, the Cleric especially needs mechanics and narratives that are more inclusive of the sacred traditions of diverse ethnic groups.
 


gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I feel D&D handles religion best when its "core" rules are ethnically inclusive, and have mechanics that assume a framework that is open to any kind of sacred traditions across the diversity of humanity.

It is ok for a specific setting to premise a specific sacred tradition as "objectively" true. As a setting, the players are opting into it. It can be a polythestic Theros setting, an indy monotheistic The Bible setting, the Eberron setting where agnosticism is objectively true, the Dark Sun setting where the elements of nature are sacred, my own setting that makes animism an aspect of psionics and objectively true, etcetera.

Meanwhile the core of D&D can effortlessly support any of these sacred traditions without needing to change anything.
What if you design a religion for a setting of one specific culture or limited set, including it's unique cosmology and religion - a closed setting. I developed and published something exactly configured that way, and it was largely inspired by xenophobic feudal Japan - there's no room for any culture that falls outside the available cultures within the setting, So being inclusive could be counter-intuitive for such a setting. Inclusion is more in line with a setting of many cultures, that isn't true for every setting. I don't use vanilla settings for my games. If you were developing a Viking setting for example, would you need a religion that was any more inclusive than Norse mythology, which isn't very inclusive? For the default, there's 150 sentient races on this world - then yes, inclusion is importatnt.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
What if you design a setting for one specific culture or limited set, including it's unique cosmology and religion - a closed setting. I developed and published something exactly configured that way, and it was largely inspired by xenophobic feudal Japan - there's no room for any culture that falls outside the available cultures within the setting, So being counter-intuitive for such a setting. Inclusion is more in line with a setting of many cultures, that isn't true for every setting. I don't use vanilla settings for my games.
Yeah, a regional setting or even a world setting that is a monoculture is fine as a D&D setting, but problematic as core for all settings. It is also part of the old scool D&D tradition that encourages each DM to create their own settings.

The core rules need to be flexible enough to welcome other cultures, rather than to discourage other cultures.


With regard to "xenophobic Japan", I assume you are intimately knowledgeable about Japan and speaking from the perspective of an insider?
 


gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
It's also almost a baseline ethical human act. Maybe not entirely altruistic, as a stranger might be an angel. Or Odin.
Guest Laws have been around for thousands of years. In Celtic cultures, all guests had to be accommodated, the guests too had responsbilities in the exchange, but no monies were exchanged for the act - it is freely given. I think it had more to do with minimizing inbreeding issues, when such guest encounters involve romance... but is one of humanity's oldest laws.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Perhaps, but I don't see it as outlined by the OP.

Not necessarily, but it depends what those answers are. And, as a DM, I would want to know that answers even if the players and characters don't, otherwise you are developing the world in response to the players & characters at a fundamental level.

i.e. if you don't now if gods really exist, then what do you do with a cleric that wants to worship the One God? If you don't even know if gods exist (and have power) and if their is actually more than one such entity, how do you empower divine magic? There are answers to this, but that imo is not something I would want to determine during play.
Fair enough. I would find that interesting to determine during play - but depending on the game and the players, I'm happy to give my players some agency over the world.
 

Guest Laws have been around for thousands of years. In Celtic cultures, all guests had to be accommodated, the guests too had responsbilities in the exchange, but no monies were exchanged for the act - it is freely given. I think it had more to do with minimizing inbreeding issues, when such guest encounters involve romance... but is one of humanity's oldest laws.
Hospitality laws are fascinating. In Ancient Greek ξένος (xenos) means both "guest" - with connotations of giving and receiving hospitality - and "foreigner/stranger." The guest who is received in a house for the first time is given precedence over its habitual guests with whom a greater familiarity exists. In the same way, diplomatic etiquette forbids placing a countryman of the host in the place of honour if foreigners are present; hospitality laws, in fact, still form the basis of modern ambassadorial protocols - particularly diplomatic immunity.

Ancient Arab custom forbade asking the guest who he was, where he came from, or where he was going - cf. Odysseus being asked such questions only as he was leaving Phaeacia.

In antiquity a stranger possessed no status in law or religion, and it was necessary for him to have a patron in order to gain the protection of the local laws and gods. To offend the newcomer was to offend his patron, since by the code of hospitality, the two were allied in this way.
 
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MGibster

Legend
Hospitality laws are fascinating. In Ancient Greek ξένος (xenos) means both "guest" - with connotations of giving and receiving hospitality - and "foreigner/stranger."
When I ran Curse of Strahd for the second time, the PCs were invited into the home of the abbot of the abbey of St. Markovia who had an item they needed to defeat the devil Strahd. The abbot was perfectly nice to his guest, feeding him, offering them a place to sleep, and just generally being a good guy but after a while it was somewhat apparent that this dude was unhinged. When the PCs saw what they were looking for in plain sight, they hatched a scheme to abscond with it before the abbot knew what was what. When the abbot realized the item was missing and put two and two together, he chased the PCs down angrily shouting about how they violated the ancient law of hospitality.
 

I never use real world religions as part of my game, however, if I am using a regional/national INSPIRED setting I always reiterate, this setting is inspired by but does NOT recreate or represent a real world religion and is a fantasy representation. Yeah it's kind of like a Surgeon General's warning, but if you can be offended by my fake religion, at my fantasy TTRPG, that affects no real world situations, the problem is most likely you.
 

jgsugden

Legend
As a core D&D class, the Cleric especially needs mechanics and narratives that are more inclusive of the sacred traditions of diverse ethnic groups.
A list of examples would be helpful for the discussion. What do you want to see?

Beyond that request, there are a couple angles that need to be considered here when trying to look at the real world for inspiration.

There is a line between inclusion and appropriation, and there is not a consistent definition of where that line lies. When you look at and attempt to include parallels to real world religions into your game, we run the risk of offending those that practice or respect those real world beliefs.

To that end, I think it is a wise idea to keep a distinct and clear separation between game religion and real world religions. This is not to say that you can't be inspired by the religions of our real world, but I believe it wise to avoid making something a clear real world parallel. I believe this is a good idea for all elements of culture - not just religion - in RPGs.

If you walk in my campaign world, I try to keep all parts of the setting from seeming too much like any real world culture. I want it all to be relatable, but I don't want players to feel like they can visit the "Japan" or "Mongolia" or "Egypt" or "Norway" or "England" of my setting.
 

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