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Religion in games.I''m not talking about Christian Games or stuff like that, I mean the different gods you use in fantasy games.You know, God of Thunder, God of Justice, Bad God etc etc.I think that most RPGs are full of sh*t when it comes to this.So, what do you think ? Any cool ideas ? How do you handle it ? In my world, there are no Gods.The people worship Gaia, the Earthmother aka Nature.The Druids are the "priesthood".I must say that I was influenced by Stephen Donaldson so there''s a lot of this ''beauty'' and ''nature'' thing, with the addition of ''life''. Runemaster Join the Game Developers RuneRing !
The Specular Lightosis Research Fund

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Maybe take the "everyone is right" approach. The gods or different faces of them are really just the same god, but people look at it from a different perspective. Some believe that it is one almighty god, others think that it is a society of many gods. Some beleive that there are lesser and greater gods. Other beleive in only magic and say that there are not real gods, just vast pockets of magic that cause random occurances. Others don''t even believe in magic, it is all just ''stuff''.

Note: I have been reading a lot of Raymond E. Feist, and just started Krondor the Assassins

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-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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I like the no god thing... I think that a philosophy that was started by an elder (who was mortal) can be passed down from generation to generation. So the history is set. People enter the game where there is a conflict. But it isn''t because of any unseen gods... it''s because in parallel there was another society that had different beliefs, which usually accounts for the conflict.

Taking runemaster''s example, one of the societies worships Nature (I think of American Indians when I hear "worship nature") and possibly the other society could care less about nature (sounds like a modern political arena to me ). They believe in man''s right to prosper at any cost. A conflict arises between these two and that''s when the player comes in.

Essentially you have to build some sort of belief into the player that this is believable... since (most of us) we think in terms of a God or a supreme being, you have to give a reason for why you are where your at in the game. Otherwise the feeling of the game could be lost.



Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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I have no answer on this one...

I''ll think about it.

Anyway I think that you only need to write a good background story and legends involvings gods to make the feel that they''re real.

If additionnaly you met priests having special powers...
You couldn''t say that gods are not for real.

In my RPG (true pen&paper tabletop one), they are artifacts and holy places you mustn''t damage for fear of being struck by the god owning the place...
And of course some players tried to damage them anyway and were killed or something worste

So here its the example that tell you that gods are for real.


-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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The second you personified nature as Gaia and the "Earthmother" and gave her (Her?) a dedicated "priesthood" you created a religion with a god(dess). Of course, if you meant that your god isn''t a male figure, but a female goddess, then you succeeded in having no gods.

As for what''s the best solution. There is none. Your world is your world and what you feel best breathes life into it, whether that is wars, gods, devils, nature, aliens, conspiracies, legends, swords, guns, ..whatever.. is totally up to you!

There are so many ideas out there that I hesitate to even list one. You''re best bet is to read a lot.. then read more.. and after that read some more.. then read a lot.. Once you''ve accomplished that, read a bit more. When you think you''ve pretty well covered it all, read more.

Of course, reading never hurt. It''s all research and the more you read and the broader the topics, the better.


-------
Monkey eat deadCricket, checkmate!

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I agree. RPG games should have an idea in every God. Not just God of this & God of that. Games in overall should be more like good books(don''t that I like to read). They should have a message. Be more phsycological. Like Secret of Mana(If anyone played it). I really felt beeing in the game when you discover that the Mana tree is your mother. Great game.

But it r eally should send a message. That might be the future?
Maybe Black & White will be a game like that.


That''s something I''ve tought about a lot, with messages in games. Becuase I myself have many teories of God & Life.
And usually people write these ideas in books, but why not in games?

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i´m my game there a entidy. and from it come all will(mana) of the world

the caracters know about the existence of it. but don´t know anything else about it. if it manifest in some form in our uniferse. or the relationship of it and the existence in general.

=========
Nothing is perfect.
I´m nothing.
So i´m perfect.

Edited by - The Alchemist on September 1, 2000 12:46:59 PM

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quote:
Original post by deadCricket

The second you personified nature as Gaia and the "Earthmother" and gave her (Her?) a dedicated "priesthood" you created a religion with a god(dess). Of course, if you meant that your god isn't a male figure, but a female goddess, then you succeeded in having no gods.

As for what's the best solution. There is none. Your world is your world and what you feel best breathes life into it, whether that is wars, gods, devils, nature, aliens, conspiracies, legends, swords, guns, ..whatever.. is totally up to you!

There are so many ideas out there that I hesitate to even list one. You're best bet is to read a lot.. then read more.. and after that read some more.. then read a lot.. Once you've accomplished that, read a bit more. When you think you've pretty well covered it all, read more.

Of course, reading never hurt. It's all research and the more you read and the broader the topics, the better.


-------
Monkey eat deadCricket, checkmate!


I understand what you mean, but Gaia is not really a person ...something more general, maybe a force.Oh, and another thought.For you who have read Eddings' Belgariad & Malloreon and Belgarath the Sorcerer and so on, don't you think the Gods were great ? They were persons, they actually appeared and were important for the story.Belar is quite "human".



Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

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Edited by - runemaster on September 1, 2000 1:13:19 PM

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quote:
Original post by runemaster
I think that most RPGs are full of sh*t when it comes to this.


Can you please clarify this? What do you mean? Because they didn''t do it the way you think they did? Because it''s unrealistic? I wan''t to know more about your thinking before I get annoyed at this comment.

Religion is a very touchy subject. I''m very religious (Christian), so I usually don''t like the "no gods" situation. I like to present an underlying morality in my worlds. Without that, there is no good or evil and therefore no good vs. evil. That''s what these games (or at least the stories in them) are about. Good conquering evil. Someone mentioned Hitman. I view that as the next step toward total abandonment of all that is good. Yes it''s just a game, but it represents evil and those who enjoy those games are espousing evil whether they practice it in reality or not.

Anyway, you can see that this is a sensitive point for me, and this is my opinion. If you don''t have some underlying morality (and if it''s not enforced by a higher power/law, it doesn''t exist), then your world is dead. There is no reason to do anything for anyone else. Selfishness and apathy would rule unchecked, much like they are doing in today''s mainstream society.


Pax

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quote:
Original post by runemaster
For you who have read Eddings'' Belgariad & Malloreon and Belgarath the Sorcerer and so on, don''t you think the Gods were great ? They were persons, they actually appeared and were important for the story.Belar is quite "human".



Yes, I''ve read them and the Eddings are some of my (and my wife''s) favorite authors. The gods there are quite human, but as a result, the world was nearly destroyed.

As far as Gaia being more of a force, what about our God (on the assumption that there is one, for I''m sure not everyone here believes that)? When was the last time you saw him? His influence on this world is more like a force than a being. He works in and through us. Your Gaia is no different, except that she is physically manifested in the planet, where God is an actual being, ''looking down on us from above.'' What''s the difference?


Pax

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You don''t need gods or religion for good and evil to exist in your worlds. Good and evil are moral/ethical terms, not religious terms. A perfect example of this is the entire Ultima series. It focused on moral issues. Religion took a back burner in those games.

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Hmm, what is Gaia ? hard to explain.I''ll try and put up the part of my design doc that explains is as soon as possible (a few days).As for the fact that morality needs to be enforced by a higher being, I disagree.I do not need God for my morality.There a good things and bad things, and a million shades inbetween.But God does not fit in - not for me.I have no problem with what other people believe, as long as I consider it "good" - as long as it does not hurt people.I''ll post more later - this is very interesting, but I have to go to the toilet .

Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

The Specular Lightosis Research Fund

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Good or Evil ? Seems to me this has already been discussed.
Seriously, do you remember Guy du Bas-Tyra in the Raymond Feist books ? He was considered the bad guy by everyone, but when he explained his reasons, you see that it was his reasoning that was faulty, not his moral sense.
Moreover, the "evil" god (Nalar? I dont remember the name) is not really evil, he''s mad.
So, in my mind you can make as many gods as you want, but saying there are good or evil is a little oversimplistic (does this word really exist? its ugly!)

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There is a problem with the God(s) issue, in that, if the player is a follower of it (one of them?), and s/he fails, why was the God not there to help? If a God is truly powerful, why not stop this from happening? Can a God''s power be limited? I believe in God and Jesus, and my belief is that He is all-powerfull. He cannot be limited in any way. If the hero of the game is his folower, why not fix everything in the hero''s way?

It''s a real tough call. The player won''t believe in this entity/force without the power to back it up, but too much power, and there is no game.

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"

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Well, what I meant with the full of sh*t comment is that the way Gods function in most RPGs suck because
A) They are not well thought-out.The God of Justice/Sun, for example.First of all, it''s cliche.But if it was well-done OK.But the only thing there is is something like going to his temple and getting a temporary bonus of +1 courage.Wouldn''t it be better if you had to *act* courageously and then be rewarded ?
B) The Gods don''t do anything.They''re just there cause the designers had no better ideas or
C) Needed a bad guy so they could say "BG (bad god) made the goblins , kill ''em, then kill him" WHY is that God bad ? Why are all goblins bad ? I dislike the idea of a god who is just bad because the designer needed a bad guy to blame everything on.

Note again that I''m not talking about CHRISTIAN games or games about other religions - I''m talking about fantastic religions in RPGs and how they should be designed to be more fun.

Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

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Heh, okay, this is totally off the cuff...

No religion, despite what it's adherents may passionately believe, has a monopoly on the truth. Believers thinking they're right and everyone else is wrong are like the young soldiers who think they won't be hit once the shooting starts. How do you know? There're probably lots of dead soldiers who thought the same way...

Now despite claims to the contrary, no religion has been able to reliably demonstrate any transcendent phenomena (rising from the dead, walking through walls, perfectly accurate prophecy). Since most fantasy RPGs use this kind of stuff like we use microwaves anyway, this has interesting implications for the RPG: It means that transcendent effects, if any, aren't located in the physical realm.

If I wanted to reflect reality, here are 2 ways I'd do it for an RPG: 1) The believer network, and 2) psychosoma

--------------------
The Believer Network
--------------------

People who believe in a certain way form networks that support other believers. You could either communicate your beliefs thru canned dialog or actions. After a time, your character would have a "belief" other NPCs in a belief networks could respond to. This could mean free healing, or NPCs that protect you from the law because of some higher purpose. This is sort of how the Mason's are supposed to operate, and it forms a second set of laws and rules for the player to be aware of and benefit from.

This also becomes a good basis for conflict, as people
discriminate, subjugate, and even kill one another over how they should believe. A waste of energy, but good drama nonetheless...

So this could mean the player couldn't talk to or trade with certain groups without some kind of social penalty. Or they could get a bonus from the network for mistreating a "heathen." Certain characters could be executed for their beliefs, thus becoming martyrs and unifying the believer network.


----------
Psychosoma
----------
Basically, this is taking advantage of the placebo effect. People sometimes experience effects like increased strength or medicinal responses based solely on what they believe. I can see this working really well for NPCs. Tie it to a hidden variable, and have NPCs somehow express it by what they say, where they go, and what they do. Devout NPCs might get some bonus based on fighting certain enemies. Or they might heal better in a certain temple. This would be coded not for all NPCs, but for only those who believe strongly.


Basically, if you want miracles and gods to make a real presence in a fantasy game, you'd have to tone down or seriously limit magic. This would work fine in a science fiction RPG like the one I'm working on, but for medieval I don't think it'd work at all.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - Wavinator on September 1, 2000 6:02:25 PM

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Damn, Secret of Mana was one of the best games I ever played, along with Zelda, and some others. Even with todays graphics that game kicks ass. Anyway, I think you should make your RPG hero save the God of Caffiene(we all know we worship caffiene anway). Along the wat you might have to help out the God of Pizza r the God of Chinese food...

-----------------------------

A wise man once said "A person with half a clue is more dangerous than a person with or without one."

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I am trying to create both a history of a world with respect to magic, and the different veiws about deities and gods that different facts/religions/orders have. It is quite a task to balance all so that it is sensible and has a deeper meaning. I am basing most of my work on that of Raymond E. Feist. I was discussion religion and veiws with one of my friends today (one of those great ''big questions'' philisophical discussions that I love to have) and we came up with the reason why we like the system Feist has in place.

Feists system: Basically, the universe is magic, magic is all, the gods are magic, the universe is the gods. Yet, as a twist, there is no magic and there are no gods. Just peoples oppinions on what the substance (refered to as ''stuff'' by Nakor) is called, and how it is used. Theoretically, anyone can use the ''stuff'', but only those with disciplined minds understand that (and therefore utilise it). Through prayer they make contact with this stuff, and it empowers them to do certain tasks.

Basically, you can think of the ''stuff'' being invisible and located EVERYWHERE in the universe. There are more dense pockets of this ''stuff'' in regions (closely linked with planets) and it links itself to living/organic material as well as rock and other apparently dead objects. Through prayer, you can access these vast pockets. There are pockets of ''stuff'' that appear to do specific tasks when you invoke them, and so this is where the idea of gods comes...

I hope that made sense. If not, I may try again later. I think everything should be based on preseptions in the game... Perceptions are all that there is to religion on this world IMO (Not trying to start a flame war )

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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This thread reminds me more of the book Small Gods by Pratchett. The one where the god of thunder has something like 37 different hammers, each for a different batch of worshippers. And the goddess of love has huge collection of wigs.

Pokes fun at the silliness in the fantasy mythologies.

FWIW, I think the religions make great plot elements, but it''s tough to get the game balance right. They''re either trivial or they prop up the major storylines - rarely anything in between.

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I am going to make prayer and worship a major part of my game. You just can''t do anything without a god. Unless you really have a strong affinity with magic, in which case you can take the place of one of the dormant gods (by chanelling your power into them)

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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OK, short answer, otherwise I''ll start a flamewar.

Some excellent resources for anyone who wants to see how you don''t need hunderds of different gods to create excellent religion based drama.
-Read the book The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Ecco. I warn you, it''s *TOUGH* reading, but it''s absolutely wonderful in the details, especially the theological discussion between franciscans, benedictans, minorites, dominicans, clusinians, the avignon pope and the rome pope ... etc etc. And the worse, is that all is 100% veridic (well, the background, not the story in the book). It''s an excellent illustration that the problem is not the religion you believe in, but rather the people who believe in it
-Try this site for accurate historical info, about the background of the book above mentioned.

More later ... I am warming my flamethrower first


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I knew I was forgetting something
A very good example of how religion can be used in an interesting manner is in Darklands. Quite an old game, indeed. The action takes place in the same period I mention above : 1400 something. The nice thing is the use of the Saints to grant powers, the excellent thing is the number of saints, and the fact that it''s based on real things ( life of the saints). What I would have loved is more depth in the religious life, since it''s quite amazing at that period. A character playing a priest would have LOTS of choices to do, and very different experiences, depending on the order they would choose.

Another excellent idea to exploit is in one of the books by Fritz Leiber (Swords in the Mist, the story is called "LEan times i Lankhmar"). Basically, a God exists because people believe in him. And sometimes, desperate gods with no followers will attempt to create a renewal of their cult by taking someone and turning him into a saint, granting powers, etc. As long as the person can create new followers... (my memories are a bit vague on that story).
When a God doesn''t have any more followers, he goes into a dormant state. The more followers, the more power.
Magic based on gods is generally based on the faith of the person, and on the power of the god in the area. Say, a templar summoning divine help in Arabia would be less succesful than his Maures enemies summoning Allah ...

pax : the word you are looking for is Faith. there is nothing really ''good'' in believing in someone because you can see it. What''s so fantastic about religion is that you believe even though you will NEVER see any proof of what you are told. But that''s the whole point of it. And anyway, you can count on the human mind to see what it wants to see (my mother is especially good at that...)
Pax vobiscum

youpla :-P

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quote:
Original post by pax

Religion is a very touchy subject. I'm very religious (Christian), so I usually don't like the "no gods" situation. I like to present an underlying morality in my worlds. Without that, there is no good or evil and therefore no good vs. evil. That's what these games (or at least the stories in them) are about. Good conquering evil. Someone mentioned Hitman. I view that as the next step toward total abandonment of all that is good. Yes it's just a game, but it represents evil and those who enjoy those games are espousing evil whether they practice it in reality or not.

Anyway, you can see that this is a sensitive point for me, and this is my opinion. If you don't have some underlying morality (and if it's not enforced by a higher power/law, it doesn't exist), then your world is dead. There is no reason to do anything for anyone else. Selfishness and apathy would rule unchecked, much like they are doing in today's mainstream society.



Pax, I belive in God but, I think that the "no gods" thing is ok. Here's why... If you place a God or multiple gods in a game and it isn't the God... then you cause contreversies... with Christians, Muselims, Atheist... everyone that has some sort of god that they believe in.

If you leave god(s) out you definately need to have some sort of morality built into the game... If you can do this then you have created something unique and haven't caused a contreversy!

Keep known religions out of games.



Edited by - Dak Lozar on September 8, 2000 5:17:27 PM

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ACtually dak, I think the history of some religion really would be worth making a game !
I mean, I''ll jsut repeat myself, but read "the name of the rose" by Umberto Ecco, or, for a much lighter taste of it, play Darklands, and you''ll see the richness of events during this period. The amount of shit that goes on in the church at that time is really impressive, and a delight to create "political" intrigues. Fights between the several different monastic orders, fight between the two sides of the church (Avignon vs Rome), fight between the Holy roman empire and the Vatican, the crusaders, the templars, etc !
There is just too much material here to be ignored !
On the other hand I agree that taking a known subject and interpreting it is the perfect way to put yourself up against the rest of the opinion, and we all know how touchy some topics are...
well, that''s where you have to draw the line between making a game with gameplay, making a game with a story, and making a personal game.
Personally I would go for the last option and see what happens.

you can''t satisfy people by giving them what they want to here, but you can be intellectually honest by making as much research as possible before you go on and decide to make some cuts for playability reason. (a game where you respect the 10 commandments ? I''d like to see that big time )

youpla :-P

(and just in case, No I am not trying to be offensice ... I think I just have bad karma today)

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personally i dont really care if its not offensive to my religion like the game says" im sorry but your going to hell!"
thats when i get ticked but otherwise no its doesnt even tickle my pickle one but

"Man who go to bed with itchy bottom, wake up with smelly finger."--Aristotle

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