• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

How would you choose a philosophy in D&D world?

Imaculata

Explorer
The beliefs and philosophies of various cultures, is one of the core topics of my current pirate campaign.

There's the Speakers of the Dead, a race of necromancer pirates, who believe their women are a direct connection to the gods. This is why they allow only female captains (who are also witches), and they try to keep their women pleased, for fear of angering the gods. This belief informs the difference in occupations between men and women in this culture, how they dress, how they prepare for war... everything. The Speakers strike terror in the hearts of their enemies, by dressing as the very definition of death incarnate. They paint their teeth and eye sockets black, and cover their clothes in human and animal bones and lots of skulls and spider imagery. The Speakers worship their women as gods, if not more than the gods themselves.

Then there's the Kooghans, who fear a placed called the Eternal Depths. They fear that if you drown at sea, you go to this hellish frozen place at the bottom of the ocean. And so they all wear fabrics that float, and they are all excellent swimmers. They use animal symbolism in their clothing and ship design, and are very close to nature. The Kooghans use scarification on their skin as part of their many rituals, similar to some African tribes. The Kooghans worship the main pantheon of gods, but also the three holy serpents, which are the spirits of their island. The Kooghans do not believe in any form of government. Their leaders are hand chosen by the people, and easily replaced.

The Gongya An are asian pirates who fled the oppressive rule of a powerful empire. They are all fiercely independent, and distrust anyone that would try to impose rule over them. They make their clothes from the fearsome sea creatures that they hunt, and travel the oceans with a giant floating city on the back of a massive sleeping turtle.

The Oarsmen are a tribe of nautical dwarves (or dwarf pirates), who specialize in undersea exploration and salvaging. None of them grow beards, and they don't like being called 'dwarf'. They cover themselves in tattoos, and are very focused on ancient tradition. The Oarsmen are extremely loyal, but often this loyalty must first be earned. The Oarsmen have strong isolationist tendencies. Some of their ancestors are very important in their teachings, but a strong divide in their various ancestral philosophies has created an internal rift between their current leader, and other captains.

All of these people worship the established pantheon of gods, though some may worship additional gods, saints, or specific gods that are important to their culture. One deity that is worshiped by many, is the Lady of the Waves, who is a local (lesser) sea deity that is not part of the official pantheon.
 
Last edited:
That's a lie told by the powerful to keep the powerless from reaching above their station.
No, that's an observation by me about those that normally seek after or attain power. In other words, I'm condemning the powerful and the pursuit of power. You could almost say that I'm stating a rule which suggests that those that seek after power are inherently less worthy of respect, and those that forgo and eschew power are the ones that one ought to emulate and admire. I'm suggesting that if you really want to be great, reach below your station. Stop striving to be great, if by great you mean powerful.

But what do I know, I've already suggested that of my own creations, I admire most the God of Fools.

Power is relative.
Not the sort of power we are talking about here. But, besides which, the fact that power is relative undermines your next argument.

When everyone has power, it's much harder for anyone to have power over anyone else.
How does that follow? And even if that were true, surely reducing the power of everyone would accomplish the same end. After all, you said that power is relative, so it really doesn't matter how much power everyone has; rather, it only matters how much power everyone has compared to everyone else. It seems to me that the more you ennoble this idea of the pursuit of power, and the more of this thing called power you spread around, and the more you honor those that have it, the more likely it is that power will end up lumpy and clumpy.

But the most serious problem with your diagnosis to me seems to be that the mob is just as unjust as the tyrant. I can't take seriously anyone that looks at the condition of the human race and thinks that if we just organized power differently, or if we just made everyone even more powerful, that things would be better.

And even when power is not universal, the larger and more diverse the portion of the people that possess it, the less abusively the powerful can afford to use it.
Why? Why is it necessarily the case that the powerful look on the powerless and say to each other, "Whoa there. You better not abuse the powerless. I'm watching you." Because one look at humanities history would tell you that that usually doesn't happen. Rather, the most human of all responses is to look at the world and say, "Things would be so much better if we just got rid of the useless people. We could fix this for everyone if we just got rid of those people that are dragging us all down." The normal response of the powerful is band together and look down on everyone else with contempt. Why do you think your new race of gods would be any different?
 
Last edited:

FaerieGodfather

Registered User
Why? Why is it necessarily the case that the powerful look on the powerless and say to each other, "Whoa there. You better not abuse the powerless. I'm watching you." Because one look at humanities history would tell you that that usually doesn't happen. ... The normal response of the powerful is band together and look down on everyone else with contempt. Why do you think your new race of gods would be any different?
It's true that democratizing power more often leads to having a larger power bloc oppressing a smaller minority.

That is why it is important that power is not only democratized, but diversified. People who've personally tasted the lash might still be too quick to take it up themselves... but not, generally, in common cause with the same people who used to beat them.

EDIT: It is not the powerless who deserve our respect and our admiration. It's the people who use their power-- in whatever measure they possess-- to help others. It is the people who use their power to stand between tyrants and victims who are the great heroes; the person who picks victims up and helps them become heroes is even greater still.
 
Last edited:
People who've personally tasted the lash might still be too quick to take it up themselves... but not, generally, in common cause with the same people who used to beat them.
And so to the contempt of the weak in the mind's of the powerful they in doing so now add also fear, and they are subject to twice the persecution that they faced before. For although humanity has never shown any proclivity to being subjugated by fear, nonetheless humanity never seems to question the logic of attempting it. As two siblings will seek to assert their authority over each other by ever escalating shouts, threats, and acts of violence, as if by doing so there is any chance at all the other will meekly back down and consent, so now your population consists of nothing but revolution and striving to suppress revolt. Everyone's hand will be raised against each other, and which ever side has the greater power will eventually leverage whatever advantage that they have to crush the other, and in doing so think themselves justified by self-preservation if nothing else. It was us or them.

Most of human history and as far as I can tell all of human prehistory, was just one damn genocide after the other. Do you think that if some or all were gods that it would be any different?

So diversification of power is of no use as well. The strong will still oppress the weak. The numerous will still oppress the few. And why should they not? Are we not striving for power? Don't we all want to be gods? Isn't that what we should be doing? Surely if a few eggs get broken on the way to that goal, it will still be justified by our eventual ascension?

Nor is it possible to level everything so that everyone holds equal power. Indeed, the very act of attempting to do so implies we are engaged in violence against the strong, nor is it the case that if we give power to someone that they are empowered by that, because they are simply now dependent on the giver for their power and those that have the power to give also have the power to take away.

EDIT: It is not the powerless who deserve our respect and our admiration. It's the people who use their power-- in whatever measure they possess-- to help others. It is the people who use their power to stand between tyrants and victims who are the great heroes; the person who picks victims up and helps them become heroes is even greater still.
Now we are getting somewhere. Keep that up, and you'll be as foolish as I aspire to be.

But I didn't say it was the powerless who deserve our respect and our admiration. I specifically said it was those that eschew power and the pursuit of power.

And also, surely the one who stands between the mob and victims are as great as those that stand up to tyrants? And if one were stand up to injustice perpetrated by the weak and the desperate, would it make it less right to do so just because the one who did the resisting was stronger than the one doing the oppressing? But what of the heroism of the weak? Are not that uses their weakness to stand up to those that are stronger than them greater than those that used their strength to resist those weaker than them? For if one is nigh invincible, what valor is involved in resisting one much weaker than themselves? That is no greater achievement than an adult separating two children in a petty brawl. But consider the valor of the weak standing against giants in their weakness. Is that not true courage? So if one was covetous of honor, wouldn't one pursue weakness instead of strength? And would it not be the greater honor by the very fact that being weak, you could not demand anyone give you honor. For a king receives honor because they are the king and people fear them, but a hero receives honor because they are beloved.
 
Last edited:

FaerieGodfather

Registered User
A weak man can do nothing for which the people would love him. A weak man who stands up to the terrible foe is not a greater hero than the powerful man-- he is a speed bump to those from whom he would protect others.

There is greater glory in the hero who stands up to the more fearsome foe-- very true-- but it is not glory that I covet.

I am driven by compassion. And for a man to give much to the world... he must first have much to give. For a man to teach the world, he must first have great wisdom-- lest he find that his gifts are not blessings.

It takes incredible strength for a man to heal himself. How much more strength does it take to heal others?

EDIT: My one true hero in this world is Fred Rogers. He was not a loud man, or a violent man, but he was absolutely a strong man-- a man who could command authority so effortlessly that an untrained eye might not notice. He entered his adult life with a mission. He identified what power he needed to pursue his mission, and he cultivated it; he sought the power he needed, and he was great because he remembered what his power was for.

He remembered what all power was supposed to be for.

If my ambitions would be bigger than his, in a different world, it is only because a different world offers bigger opportunities. In our world, I write silly books that help people dream of being Big Damn Heroes... and if I can do that while reminding them, gently, what a Big Damn Hero uses his hands for before he closes his fists, then maybe I can say that I've honored one Big Damn Hero's Big Damn Legacy.
 
Last edited:
My one true hero in this world is Fred Rogers.
You have chosen well.

And yet, for all of that, I can't imagine Mr. Rogers saying that he wanted to be a god, nor can I imagine so said, "I want to be a god." acting like Mr. Rogers.

This power he sought after seems hardly like power at all to an untrained eye. Not only did he know what all power was for, but what he sought did not look like power to those that covet it.
 

FaerieGodfather

Registered User
And yet, for all of that, I can't imagine Mr. Rogers saying that he wanted to be a god...
Mr. Rogers' god would disapprove of the sentiment. I believe that mine would encourage it. I'll not say further here, but check your Conversations.

... nor can I imagine so said, "I want to be a god." acting like Mr. Rogers.
How I wish that I could provide myself as an example! I do my best to act like Mr. Rogers in every way, but sadly, my best is often not very good.

Ironically, he would be kinder to me than I am to myself about it. He would remind me that I am capable of being better, and that tomorrow would provide more opportunities to be better.

Bright gods, how I wish that I could have benefited from his example more when I was younger.

This power he sought after seems hardly like power at all to an untrained eye. Not only did he know what all power was for, but what he sought did not look like power to those that covet it.
I believe you are reiterating my point, sir.
 

Doug McCrae

Adventurer
According to the Primary Chronicle, Vladimir the Great rejected Islam as the religion of the Kievan Rus in part because of its prohibition on alcohol. Something to bear in mind when selecting a faith. And it certainly fits in the tradition of Leiberian cynicism toward religion that influenced Gygaxian D&D.

An evangelist from Earth might talk to you about Morality and Truth and similar, but a D&D style practitioner can show you literal miracles.
I don't think that's an issue. Whether they were real or not, medievals and earlier peoples believed in supernatural powers. Many in our own time still do.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Before I dive back into this, I think I'd like a definition of "Philosophy".

In D&D terms that tends to tie very directly to alignment, but a truly clear definition will help de-fuzzify things.

In short, we demand clearly defined areas of uncertainty. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the Hitchhiker's Guide reference.)

But to clarify what I said before, unless someone's class specifies their alignment or a hard religious philosophy, I think most people would be like they are in the real world: Too self absorbed to consciously choose a philosophy.

I mean, in real life most people wouldn't know a Jungian view from DeCarte. (...I drink therefore I am).
 

Advertisement

Top