Jump to content
  • Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

MatrixCubed

Religion in RPGs

This topic is 5894 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Hopefully this won''t turn into a Real Life Religion debate. I''m curious to know what benefits and hindrances exist for different theological models in games; for the most part, which have the most potential for entertainment that, at the same time, do not reek of redundancy. The options would be as follows: None: Characters don''t believe in deities; not to say they are heathens or whatnot, just that they are never mentioned or become a factor in the storytelling. Conflicts are more concentric around "king vs. usurper", "dragon vs. villagers", "mad wizard vs. hero", and so on. Monotheistic: One deity, good characters perform deeds in His/Her/Its name. Non-followers might be viewed as heathens (if they serve other idols like daemons for example), societal rejects, or might just not be a factor in the game as "everyone believes". Duo-theistic: Classic "good vs evil" conflict, personally my favorite, character fealty in the game is clear. Provides more of an engine to tell the story based on characters or world-events than faction skirmishes. Polytheistic: Common in ancient mythology (Greek, Egyptian, Norse), potentially many factions (and many alliances) exist, can tend to be confusing for the casual gamer who doesn''t investigate who is who. My personal least-favorite, as it''s simple to write a too-detailed story that might annoy users who could care less about deity mindless characters follow. (NeverWinter Nights, I fear, chose this model, which makes the characters seem a little... empty-headed). Ideas? Comments? And please, don''t view or treat this post as flame-bait. MatrixCubed
http://MatrixCubed.cjb.net

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Not that I can really tell you why, but I never cared for Greek and Roman mythology. IMO having a lot of different gods is more of a hinderance than an aid to storytelling. Unless the story is really about the gods themselves, I would much rather have deep characters that move the story along.

Since religion has played such a huge role in midieval times, it does make sense to include some religeous factors into any feudal era game.

Interestingly, much of the European wars of that era were not in the name of opposing gods, rather in the name of the same god but because of differences in how the people believe the god should be worshipped.

For me religion is a seasoning. Sprinkle in for flavor, but don''t overpower the natural goodness of the story.

CDV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(by the by, this thing sounds like it belong in the game writing thread.)

Religion as a narrative tool is a chance to throw the audience a bone, as far as seeing into the character''s personality. Having your character follow a religion would indicate several given personality traits. Like, being a muslim would probably either indicate humbleness and a vow of poverty, or in today''s age, psychotic fanatasicm. A protestant christian would probably be the happy type that said hello to everybody and gave little phamplets on how to get into heaven. And a catholic would probably investigate into agnosticism. However, these are stereotypes and shouldn''t be devotely followed, but lightly touched upon. Mind you, if religion doesn''t have a place in the story, then don''t give it one purely for the shock value.

As a means of gameplay, I''m not so sure. If the deities are active characters in the game, then having characters rally behind deities assumes some benefit. Its some crazy idea to play with, and for a nice example, try Actraiser on the SNES, where you played as GOD trying to revive the world. It was a half ghost and goblins, half sim city. Nice game.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Polytheistic:....(NeverWinter Nights, I fear, chose this model, which makes the characters seem a little... empty-headed).


I don''t think so because in computer RPGs the Gods are real and you usually meet a few and fight one at the end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For a wonderful example of Polytheistic done right, play Sacrifice .
For those who haven''t, it is essentially an RTS game. Except unlike the tradition campaigns where you choose one of 2/3 sides (C&C, Starcraft, etc), you can actually choose what god you wish to help for each mission.
If you do a certain god''s mission, you get that god''s spell for the level, the unit for that level, and special units/bonuses depending on what you actually did.

It''s very interesting, and gives great replay value.

I like having multiple god''s, gives more room for secret alliances and backstabbing

------------
aud.vze.com - The Audacious Engine <-- It''s not much, yet. But it''s mine... my own... my preciousssss...
MSN: nmaster42@hotmail.com, AIM: LockePick42, ICQ: 74128155

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I''m not sure I see the difference between mono-thesitic and duo-theistic. Zoroastrianism would definitely be dup-theistic as both Ahura Mazda and the bad guy (forgot his name) were equal in power. But in mono-theism, even if there is only one supreme being, there are still challengers to tempt people, so it also ends up being a "good vs. evil" struggle.

However, in terms of what I''d like to see if religious overtones are to be made, I think I''d prefer the monotheistic....with one caveat. He doesn''t appear in person. His minions can, but the almighty himself. But the questions has to be asked, if religion takes a central stage, and basically the conflict is over the correct form of religion then who is right? If side A believs in mono-theism, and Side B believes in polytheism, who is right?

Or are you saying that, for example, in reality, there really is only one God, but side A is fighting against sideB who doesn''t believe in the one true god?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The classic good versus evil struggle is always good. You could even do without creating names for specific diety, and just have a "moral" conflict rather than religious one.

On the other hand, I developed a system for my old MUD that had about 12 dieties. Each diety had a story, and had control over an aspect of the world. For instance, one diety controlled magic. Followers could (under extremely rare, random circumstances) benefit from following the diety by having their mana-cost reduced, or spell-casting times reduced etc... We called it "divine intervention". After running for a short time in game, we removed it, as it was somewhat resource intensive.

Always remember, some players will get offended because you have gods or a "God". Some players will get offended because you don''t have gods. There is no right answer, but IMHO being blatantly evil in your portrayal of religions is about the only situation that will turn any players away.

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, if we learn anything from Jesus, the how of religion isn''t as important as the why. You "clean the outside of the cup" so to speak, but what about the inside?

That said, I can see that implementing religion as part of a game does help to emphasize, or parody - if you will -, the problem of religion that Jesus pointed out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Zoroastrianism would definitely be dup-theistic as both Ahura Mazda and the bad guy (forgot his name) were equal in power.


Actually, by historians, Zoroastrianism is considered the first ethical monotheism (before Judaism). Angro Manya (sp?), while equally powerful to Ahura Mazda, is still just satan in disguise (different role) and thus just as monotheistic as Christianity/Judaism.

I prefer multitheistic. It gives another dimension to every character, a focus point. You know that a follower of Tyr is going to be somewhat militaristic, but that he will have a definite sense of fairness and honesty. The same could be said of a follower of Odin (Wotan, whatever), but it''s hard to say how he will act in a particular situation.

It may seem to make characters more... transparent or ''empty-headed'', but that''s the player, not the character. The character is only what the player makes him. Of course, NWN might make the NPCs rather transparent, but they are NPCs, not PCs in that case and need to be somewhat... dumb. AI is VERY hard to program well and it isn''t uncommon for games to be delayed months or even years because the AI for NPCs just isn''t doing what the makers want it to do.

I do agree that religion is sometimes used in place of actual personality by gamers though. Too often followers of one diety will consider it a "with me or against me" situation, not realizing that even Loki was a trusted son of Odin. Odin wouldn''t want you to run around killing Loki''s followers, just imposing law and order upon them and teaching them the error of their ways, sometimes through force, but never through murder.

One thing to remember though, every pantheon has it''s head honcho and what he says goes. If Zeus tells Poseidon to do something, he will do it 99% of the time, just find a way to warp it to his own means. It''s the way of things. The unfortunate thing about most completely fictional religions (non-historic) is that they never have this facet. In Everquest there is no ''head honcho'' deity, they''re all generally equal and work against or with whoever they see fit. Mystara (D&D''s Forgotten Realms world) doesn''t have a deity who makes the all encompassing decisions that the darker deities warp to their purposes. This is usually how you can tell the difference between fictional religions and history based religions. Historical religions are organized, hierarchical entities while fictional ones are almost chaotic creations with little order.

When conflicting religions (pantheons) are encountered, one of two things happened throughout history: Either the religion is conquered and incorporated or it is incorporated as a derivation of itself. One only need look as early as the Egyptian mythoi (originally 3 separate, smaller pantheons) to notice this, or as recent as the Christian religion''s incorporation of any vast number of pagan rituals, celebrations (holidays) and persona into their religion. The rituals were made a part of the good part of the religion, while the personas were made equivalent to satan worship. Thus, you can have a spring fertility celebration and stick bunnies and eggs in it (obvious symbols of fertility), but you have to call it Easter and associate it with the rebirth of the savior... You can have a Winter equinox celebration, but you have to associate it with the actual birth of the savior. It''s the oldest trick in the book, targeted at the lack of communal memory from generation to generation, but it''s also been proven to work almost every time it was used.

You want a pantheon? Either do a little research and do it right or make one based upon an actual historical pantheon. You want a simple good/evil battle? Those are a dime a dozen.

Well, as usual I took a planned 3 paragraph post and turned it into an essay...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by fingh
The classic good versus evil struggle is always good.


everybody, please, dump the good vs evil stories.

look at real religions. every (sensible) member wants to be in that religion to be a good person.

conflicts come in two ways:
1) fanatics who hate everyone else
2) one''s practice interferes with another

how many RPGs have seen angelic figures slaughtering deamons from hell. let''s try not going to extremes and create a story where religion only matters on the character level, eg "i just found out my best freind is a protestant.". it''s a lot more intimate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!