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General [Dragonlance/Faerun] Anyone here met any Cataclysm/Wall of the Faithless defenders?

Libertad

Explorer
In the vein that they view the Cataclysm that the gods sent to the mortal world for Istar's corruption as justified to some extent. Or believe that consigning antitheists and atheists to cosmic building blocks is a necessary evil for the greater good.

Dragonlance has been on my mind lately for various reasons, and between it and Forgotten Realms I notice that the tabletop social circles I notice certain acts of divine violence as a big dealbreaker for people who'd otherwise be interested in the settings. Or they like the settings but would either retcon or alter said aspects, or even cast the gods in a more antagonistic role.

But the number of Wall/Cataclysm defenders I know of can be counted on one hand. And I've been on quite the number of forums.

Has anyone here encountered such defenders? What was their reasoning?

And if any posters happen to be such defenders, I wouldn't mind hearing your rationales.
 

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I don't think the two are the same thing. The Wall of the Faithless is punishment for those who refuse to take a divine patron. The Cataclysm is a punishment from the gods to the overmighty faithful.

(The Kingpriest Trilogy adds further nuance to the Cataclysm as well as raising Fistandantilus' role in propelling the events)
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Well my friend Joe is very much stuck on FR cannon. I don't know that you'd exactly call him a defender of the Wall of the Faithless concept, but he absolutely assumes it to be the default in anything that he thinks resembles an FR based game.....
 

Sometimes I imagine the fate of the souls in the faithless wall isn't totally the end, but something linked with the demiplane of the dread will happen and most of them will be abducted into Ravenloft, but the souls who suffered enough punishment and obeyed the Natural Law.

Usually fantasy fiction talks about the trove of the faith without mercy. If we abuse this trope it may become repellent and forgetting the original warning against the fanaticism.

I don't know the story about the kingpriest and with enough details to judge, and in my own game I don't respect the canon.

Before the cataclysm there were various warnings, but I suspects the evil powers tricked something to cause the cataclysm, and not only the elfmaids who lied to lord Soth.
 

Something to bear in mind is the notion that the thought process of the gods is different than we can understand as a mortal. They see the long view of everything, while we can only see the short term. Divine violence, as you put it, may offend our modern sensibilities, but it can make sense for a fantasy setting. If a player or DM is uncomfortable with it, they should simply avoid it or change it (if a DM).

While I don't know much about the details of the Cataclysm, from the Time of the Twins we learned that the priesthood had become horribly corrupt. The gods were overall displeased with their arrogance, putting themselves on the same status as the gods themselves, and so sent warnings that were ignored. The final straw was when the pope equivalent (totally forget his name/title) demanded the gods of good give him the power to utterly destroy Evil. Not only did the mortal dare demand of a god, but the world of Krynn is based on a delicate balance between Good, Neutral, and Evil. These two major transgressions after many years/decades (centuries?) of corruption were too much for the gods to accept, even the gods of good.

The Wall of the Faithless makes sense, or at least it did back in AD&D (I don't know if they've made any changes to it). The souls of the dead arrive at the Fugue Plane where they await their god to arrive and take them to their eternal plane of existence. If you don't have a god, obviously you can't be picked up, so you belong to Bhall, the lord of the dead. Bhall being evil AF, created the wall of the faithless as a punishment for them. The ones who were unfaithful were instead tortured by Bhall and his fiends. This was the natural result of the Fugue Plane and the need for the gods to collect their faithful, with an evil god running the underworld. When Kellemvor (sp?) became the new lord of the dead, he stopped the building of the Wall, but could do little for the souls already made part of it.
 

Bitbrain

Black Lives Matter
WALL OF THE FAITHLESS
At present, everyone else in my group is an evangelical christian. They see absolutely nothing wrong with the Wall of the Faithless.

What they do have a problem with is D&D’s approach to religion in general, ESPECIALLY with regards to the very concept of the Blood War. In the end, we agreed to just make it a divine punishment inflicted upon both demons and devils.

As for myself, yeah, I don’t run games in the Forgotten Realms, so I don’t have to bother with the Wall of the Faithless.

The thing sounds an awful lot like being put in a straitjacket for all eternity... shudders.


THE CATACLYSM
I’ve only read the first two original Dragonlance novels, plus a few of the other expanded universe stuff. None of them really went into the cataclysm in any detail, so I was rather disappointed when I learned there was a canonical reason in-universe for the cataclysm.

It felt unnecessary.

I much prefer the implication from that really beautiful scene in Dragons of Autumn Twilight where Goldmoon was comparing the cataclysm to a threatening situation that makes you concerned only for your own survival. It’s only after the situation has passed and you’ve calmed down again do you try to go back and retrieve what you lost.

Sometimes, freak accidents occur. Sometimes we lose something in the resulting chaos. But eventually we might find it again after a time.
 

I'm sorry, how is the Wall of the Faithless 'evil'?

An atheist chooses the fate of non-existence after death - in that they reject both not only Deities, but also afterlives such as Heaven and Hell (and indeed all the outer planes) and also their place on one after death.

Ao (who has no alignment and exists outside of alignment) has decreed that the souls of Faithless who reject the existence of the Gods and reject desiring an afterlife are to contribute to the wall, where they lose all individuality until they eventually disintegrate and cease existing completely.

And ceasing to exist completely after you die is precisely the sort of thing atheists expect will happen when they die isnt it?

Dont forget, even then Kelemvor can still judge a person 'True' even if that person is an Atheist. A Lawful Good Paladin who has lived a life of honor, duty and self sacrifice could find themselves offered a place in Celestia with Torm for being true to that Gods teachings even though the Paladin in question is an atheist. A horrific atheist serial killer could also be judged 'True' and offered a place in Bhaals divine realm. A wealthy merchant atheist might be offered a place in Waukeens realm. And so forth.
 

My main concern is the fate of the False. They get tortured for all eternity.

Which means a servant of Cyric, who engages in acts of evil, but then legitimately recants his evil God, embraces a life of altruism and kindness, and seeks to atone for his sins but yet dies before committing to another deity...

...gets tortured for all of eternity for his atonement.

I suppose he wasnt going anywhere nice anyway for his afterlife (The Supreme Throne is no Disneyland) but still.

Ditto a LG Paladin of Torm who renounces warfare and violence and forsakes Torm for a less militant way of life. Should he die before aligning with a different deity, he would likely be judged 'False' and tortured for all of eternity on the Fuge plane.
 

Something to bear in mind is the notion that the thought process of the gods is different than we can understand as a mortal. They see the long view of everything, while we can only see the short term. Divine violence, as you put it, may offend our modern sensibilities, but it can make sense for a fantasy setting. If a player or DM is uncomfortable with it, they should simply avoid it or change it (if a DM).

While I don't know much about the details of the Cataclysm, from the Time of the Twins we learned that the priesthood had become horribly corrupt. The gods were overall displeased with their arrogance, putting themselves on the same status as the gods themselves, and so sent warnings that were ignored. The final straw was when the pope equivalent (totally forget his name/title) demanded the gods of good give him the power to utterly destroy Evil. Not only did the mortal dare demand of a god, but the world of Krynn is based on a delicate balance between Good, Neutral, and Evil. These two major transgressions after many years/decades (centuries?) of corruption were too much for the gods to accept, even the gods of good.

The Wall of the Faithless makes sense, or at least it did back in AD&D (I don't know if they've made any changes to it). The souls of the dead arrive at the Fugue Plane where they await their god to arrive and take them to their eternal plane of existence. If you don't have a god, obviously you can't be picked up, so you belong to Bhall, the lord of the dead. Bhall being evil AF, created the wall of the faithless as a punishment for them. The ones who were unfaithful were instead tortured by Bhall and his fiends. This was the natural result of the Fugue Plane and the need for the gods to collect their faithful, with an evil god running the underworld. When Kellemvor (sp?) became the new lord of the dead, he stopped the building of the Wall, but could do little for the souls already made part of it.
That's not quite correct about the Cataclysm. There was corruption in Istar, but the Kingpriest (Beldinas Pilofiro) was corrupt, he was fanatical. Kurnos was definitely corrupt, but he had nothing to do with the Cataclysm, apart from being the catalyst for Beldinas to take the throne. I don't know that there was really centuries of corruption, it was more than abrogation of free will under Beldinas and the meddling of Fistandantilus.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
That's not quite correct about the Cataclysm. There was corruption in Istar, but the Kingpriest (Beldinas Pilofiro) was corrupt, he was fanatical. Kurnos was definitely corrupt, but he had nothing to do with the Cataclysm, apart from being the catalyst for Beldinas to take the throne. I don't know that there was really centuries of corruption, it was more than abrogation of free will under Beldinas and the meddling of Fistandantilus.
My big issue with the Cataclysm was Fizban saying that sure the Kingpriest was torturing, kidnapping and killing people, but he was still a Good man. I mean, that’s why we need a balance between Good and Evil, right? So the Good people won’t get out of hand and start persecuting Good (or Neutral) people who are different from them? Also, the gods had no choice but to drop a mountain on the just and unjust alike. It’s not like gods in D&D have other ways to communicate with their faithful and the High Priest of their religion.
 

My big issue with the Cataclysm was Fizban saying that sure the Kingpriest was torturing, kidnapping and killing people, but he was still a Good man. I mean, that’s why we need a balance between Good and Evil, right? So the Good people won’t get out of hand and start persecuting Good (or Neutral) people who are different from them? Also, the gods had no choice but to drop a mountain on the just and unjust alike. It’s not like gods in D&D have other ways to communicate with their faithful and the High Priest of their religion.

Yeah but the Kingpriest was actually a good person - you can read the Kingpriest Trilogy, it makes it pretty clear. And the gods tried to communicate with him many, many, many times, visions etc. Paladine even sends his avatar.

I mean, honestly, if you have a setting with the conceit that the gods physically exist, and can manifest on the real world, you are not going to square this with a liberal secular style worldview like you have the modern world. It's just not compatible. If you're not comfortable with this then change how things work in your campaign.

I go with the Eberron approach. Maybe the gods are real. Who knows? What's important is what people believe. Having Zeus turn up and clear everything up just seems to take a way a bit of the magic.
 

Or believe that consigning antitheists and atheists to cosmic building blocks is a necessary evil for the greater good.
I wouldn't say it's for "the greater good", but it's nowhere NEAR as unreasonable as some people make it out to be.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the Faithless in Kelemvor's realm.

You only end up as one of the Faithless if you actively deny all the Gods during your life. Doing that in a world where the Gods Themselves walk the world regularly and their existence isn't a matter of faith, but objective fact.

If you never followed one in particular and weren't particularly devout, then you end up being claimed by one who fits your general personality and alignment. A random farmer will likely be claimed by Chanuntea. A random soldier might be claimed by Tempus. A lawful good individual might be claimed by Tyr, and a neutral good individual might be claimed by Lathander.

Interspheric arrangements and deals mean that if you followed a non-Faerunian power, you'd be handed off from Kelemvor to whatever god or gods you worshipped outside Faerun. It's the same divine back-end deals that let clerics of non-Faerunian deities receive spells while on Toril.

If you never followed one, followed an evil one and now fear what will happen to you in the afterlife, or even if you actively denied them and don't want to end up in the wall and are of an evil alignment, you can make a deal with fiends to go to the Lower Planes instead of the wall.

To earn a spot among the Faithless, you had to be actively atheistic in a world where divine avatars walk the world regularly, where prayers to gods are answered with actual bona-fide miracles on a daily basis in every village and small town, and where planar travelers can literally go to the planar homes of the gods and see they are there. . .and that the wall of the Faithless is well known to exist.

You have to actively deny all the Gods, knowing all this, to earn a spot there. At that point you'd basically have to be one of the Athar from Planescape, dying while visiting Faerun, or someone who's been converted to the Athar philosophy (that the gods aren't truly deities, that they're simply powerful outsiders playing an elaborate scam on mortals), to count.

Think how relatively uncommon atheists are in the real world. About 5% of the US population identifies as atheist according to recent polls. 10% of the population, when asked, say they don't believe in any form of god or higher power (so about 5% of people meet the definition but don't call themselves that)

Another 5% is agnostic, and 19% of the people who say they are atheist, when asked about their beliefs, say they do believer in some form of higher power.


That's in a world where it's purely a matter of faith, there's no hard, objective, quantifiable proof of religion. In Faerun, pretty much every member of the clergy gets real, bona-fide answers when they pray, where many people have seen the avatars of Gods themselves walk the world, where people have gone to the Outer Planes and visited the homes of the gods, and the fate of total nonbelievers is well known.

I'd expect only a pretty small part of the population, 1% or less, to be truly Faithless, and those bricks in the wall don't get added too horribly often.
 

Yeah but the Kingpriest was actually a good person - you can read the Kingpriest Trilogy, it makes it pretty clear. And the gods tried to communicate with him many, many, many times, visions etc. Paladine even sends his avatar.

I mean, honestly, if you have a setting with the conceit that the gods physically exist, and can manifest on the real world, you are not going to square this with a liberal secular style worldview like you have the modern world. It's just not compatible. If you're not comfortable with this then change how things work in your campaign.

I go with the Eberron approach. Maybe the gods are real. Who knows? What's important is what people believe. Having Zeus turn up and clear everything up just seems to take a way a bit of the magic.
One of the unrealistic things about the Cataclysm was exactly what you said, that the Kingpriest was supposed to be a pinnacle of Lawful Good. . .but when he kept denying repeated visions, even to the point that the Avatar of Paladine appears to him personally to warn him just how wrong he is, and nothing dissuades him, it seems rather absurd.

I'll absolutely agree that a modern, liberal, secular worldview of religion is just plain NOT compatible with most D&D worlds. When all it takes is a Plane Shift spell and you can visit the home of the Gods Themselves, when every random parish priest can perform miraculous wonders, and plenty of people have seen the Gods walk the Earth (for a generation after on Toril after the Time of Troubles, think how many people of weak or uncertain faith became True Believers after seeing the gods walk the world and do battle right before them).

I don't like the Eberron approach though because I think it makes fantasy religion TOO realistic.

It reminds me of a set of quests in Dungeons and Dragons Online (mostly set in Eberron), where at a low level, you have to massacre a bunch of good-aligned followers of the Silver Flame, because a ranking bishop of the Sovereign Host has declared them heretics. Then, later, you learn that Bishop was actually a Rakshasa, actively working to subvert the Church of the Sovereign Host to evil, like sending adventurers out to do evil deeds in the name of the Sovereign Host.

If you play D&D to get away from real world troubles and strife, stuff like that is way too much a reminder of real-world problems that aren't matters for ENWorld. Clear cut good and evil, fantasy religions that unambiguously exist and tend to be pretty unambiguously heroic or villainous with their deeds, those (at least in my opinion) help escapism a lot more than nuanced, realistic moral dilemmas that I can get just by reading the morning news or scrolling through Facebook.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I don't like the Eberron approach though because I think it makes fantasy religion TOO realistic.
Alternatively, there's the Dark Sun approach, where it doesn't matter how you act, what you do, or what you believe. Everyone goes to the Gray when they die.
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
IMO, the Cataclysm makes more sense when one goes back to the original concept--the Kingpriest tried to magically summon a god to purge evil from Krynn, and the Cataclysm was the natural consequences of such an act. (You have to dig into Hickman's notes and hints in the oldest game material to find this.)
 

J-H

Explorer
I'm a lot more OK with the Wall of the Faithless after reading the discussion here than I was before. Only knew a tiny bit.
 

My main concern is the fate of the False. They get tortured for all eternity.

Which means a servant of Cyric, who engages in acts of evil, but then legitimately recants his evil God, embraces a life of altruism and kindness, and seeks to atone for his sins but yet dies before committing to another deity...

...gets tortured for all of eternity for his atonement.

I suppose he wasnt going anywhere nice anyway for his afterlife (The Supreme Throne is no Disneyland) but still.

Ditto a LG Paladin of Torm who renounces warfare and violence and forsakes Torm for a less militant way of life. Should he die before aligning with a different deity, he would likely be judged 'False' and tortured for all of eternity on the Fuge plane.
In neither of those cases, would they be found False.

False is for the hypocrites, for those who profess one faith, while living in contravention of it.

Someone who renounced their faith in a specific deity before death, but before formally committing to a new deity, would be treated the same as one who had never formally committed to any deity. . .that their soul would be up for grabs by deities of their alignment or with a portfolio similar to their profession or interests.

A random follower of Cyric, who repented, gave up faith in Cyric, atoned, and changed alignment, but never formally converted to a different religion, might well be claimed by a good-aligned deity that was an enemy of Cyric. . .Mystra, Tyr and Torm come to mind.

A Paladin of Torm that renounces violence and the faith of Torm, and does not purport to be a follower of Torm while being a pacifist, wouldn't be False, they aren't being hypocritical. Even if they never adopted another faith, it's pretty clear from alignment and philosophy that Ilmater would accept them in the afterlife.

A Paladin of Torm that publicly still held himself out to be a Paladin, carried the Holy Symbol, prayed for spells, functioned in the Church all as a Paladin, while being an avowed pacifist, THAT would be false. A follower of Cyric that thinks that Cyric is a fool and is secretly a reasonably good man, but wants the power that comes from being in Cyric's cult, or fears retribution if he leaves so he still worships Cyric despite not following Cyric's doctrine, that person is in danger of being found False.
 

Dausuul

Legend
IMO, the Cataclysm makes more sense when one goes back to the original concept--the Kingpriest tried to magically summon a god to purge evil from Krynn, and the Cataclysm was the natural consequences of such an act. (You have to dig into Hickman's notes and hints in the oldest game material to find this.)
That makes so much more sense than the explanation they finally settled on.

(Edited to add: Reminds me of the Matrix, whose original conceit was that humans were being used not as energy sources but as processors. The Matrix is being run on billions of living human CPUs. It explains everything so cleanly--why the computers have to use humans instead of animals, why we need a virtual reality to keep our brains active and functioning, why you can die in real life if you die in the Matrix, why human minds can learn to manipulate the Matrix, and as a bonus, it doesn't violate basic thermodynamics. I still want to smack whoever made them switch to the battery explanation.)
 
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I'm a lot more OK with the Wall of the Faithless after reading the discussion here than I was before. Only knew a tiny bit.

Unfortunately a lot of the discussion re: the Wall of the Faithless here is misleading, which is unsurprising given the FR's messy canon.

People are going on long explanations/apologia and not even getting the god who created it right!

The reality is, it's a grim and even vile concept that really undermines the entire idea of faith in any god in the Realms, by making it essentially coercive in nature, which seems, oddly, to be what Ed Greenwood intends. His own most recent major FR book certainly seems to portray FR worship as somewhat coercive in nature, and he doesn't seem to think anything is wrong with that.

Whether Kelemvor has "stopped it" depends on exactly what you read and when, but canon is that that's not true. Greenwood himself doesn't seem to acknowledge the Kelemvor exists, at least recently. SCAG is more recent than any other official works which involve the Wall, and features Kelemvor maintaining as a punishment for failing to worship a god, being the same utter horror/atrocity that it is in earlier works.

So if you're okay with it because you think an evil god created it (they did) and Kelemvor just couldn't break it, but replaced it, that's not actually current canon. Current canon, or as close as we can get is that it's working now as it always did, destroying the souls of anyone who:

A) Didn't actively worship a specific god.

or

B) Did actively worship a specific god, but that god got killed before the person died.

(Bureaucracy!)

or

C) Did actively worship a specific god but is rejected by that god for any reason.

(And we all know exactly how petty and mean-spirited even many of the G-aligned gods in the FR are)

So it's really just purely grim in canon.

@wingsandsword Most of what you're saying is not up-to-date. You seem to have decided to reject the most recent canon in favour of an older canon which you like better.

That's fine for your game, but it's misleading to state the stuff as fact that you're stating. In fact you're putting quite a lot of spin on a collection of your favourite bits of "older canon". Also, the entire idea of "faith" and "true believers" is pretty silly when the gods walk Toril. It's a bit like having "faith" or being a true believer in Superman (were Superman real). That's a circle the FR has never been able to successfully square, because contrary to what you're saying about modern views on faith being incompatible with the FR and so on, it's clear that FR writers have consistently striven to somehow jam together a sort of Greco-Roman take on the gods with a modern Western-style view of "faith" and it's value and so on. And the result has been a terrible mess.

Here's an example of something you're claiming as fact, which I don't think is supported by a single modern canon source:

If you never followed one in particular and weren't particularly devout, then you end up being claimed by one who fits your general personality and alignment. A random farmer will likely be claimed by Chanuntea. A random soldier might be claimed by Tempus. A lawful good individual might be claimed by Tyr, and a neutral good individual might be claimed by Lathander.

That is a gigantic "CITATION NEEDED" right there. I cannot find any FR source, on a quick flick through of the ones on my shelf (and a couple of PDFs), which supports this take - specifically that gods swoop in to "rescue" the souls of people who didn't actually worship the gods.

Further, the idea that you have to "deny" the gods is directly contradicted by some fairly recent sources. Greenwood's book on the customs of the Realms and the like (I forget the name) is pretty clear that anyone who doesn't ACTIVELY worship the gods, by prayer and by offerings, is going to be in a whole lot of trouble.

I can probably do some cites later if you need them, but you need to cite the above first.

@M.L. Martin That take on the Cataclysm does make vastly more sense. Do we have any idea why it was abandoned in favour of the far less convincing take they went with?
 
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ardoughter

Adventurer
Supporter
This thread brings to focus what I do not like about D&D religion and alignment. I do think that the wall of the faithless does offend my sense of justice. If they lead otherwise good lives., why should they have to suffer for their beliefs. I also think there should be some element of re-incarnation in the FR. That said I have never delved deeply into the religious aspects of D&D.
As for the Cataclysm, well here is one of the issues I have with alignment. At some point, in my opinion, lawful good warps around to evil or to static order and so on.
 

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