November Campaign Design III – The Religion Question

As mentioned in the previous post in this series, here’s the trimmed-down map that only focuses on the northern, settled, parts of the continent (which I’ve christened “Lost Artanis”):

The map has a scale of 10 miles per hex. The eastern areas definitely need some more detailing, and I might throw another large lake in there to break up the landmass and give things an interesting contour.

I also realized I need names for the home countries of these colonies. New Valais is obvious, of course, with its people coming from Valais, and being beholden to the king of that nation. Aedgaria is a colony of the kingdom of Wynnland, a rather conventional, bucolic place; while Lippegen is a colony of the Dual Kingdom of Grott-Heimburg, with its two kings who swap out the duties of royalty as the seasons turn, with one being the Winter King and the other the Summer King.

Regarding the question of religion, I’ve already decided I want Aedgaria to be a traditional cleric-based religion, and Valais will be drudical in nature. That still leaves the question of what to do with Lippegen. I could go with something completely new, or I could go with another clerical land, but with a different spin than Aedgaria. Since I already have one country that is completely different (Valais), I’m going to go with the option I think lends itself to the most dramatic possibilities, and say that Lippegen and Aedgaria share a religion, but that they are in schism, and thus each regards the other as heretical.

This religious tension can flare up and be tamped down from time to time, with hostility increasing or decreasing as events unfold. It gives me another arrow in my quiver for making plot-advancing events come to life.  So what’s the deal with this religion in crisis?

The Church of the Holy Kin is based on the worship of the Holy Family, a trio of gods that is said to have created the world and who are related to one another. There are no evil deities, but demons, devils, daemons, and etc. take that role. The Holy Family consists of:

Adar – Sky father, appears as a powerfully-built human male with the head of a lion. Neutral good. Greater god. God of the sky and weather, storms and the rain that quickens the fields. He is prayed to in most circumstances, especially for fair winds, gentle rains, and good weather. He is also god of craftsmen. A primordial being with no father or mother.

Amara – Earth Mother, appears as a beautiful woman with the head of a falcon. Chaotic good. Greater goddess. Goddess of the earth, plants, animals, and agriculture. She is prayed to for bountiful crops and game, and also in childbirth and healing in general. A primordial being with no father or mother.

Kest – The Joyous Warrior, appears as a prototypical knight in shining armor, with great eagle wings, or a beautiful young girl, scantily clad, with butterfly wings. Lawful good. Lesser god. God of war, victory, chivalry, and knighthood as well as sex, lust, food, drink, and pleasures of the flesh. S/he is prayed to for victory in battle. Child of Adar and Amara.

Temples of the Church are dedicated to all three members of the Holy Family, as are clerics. The idea of a cleric dedicated to a single member of the Family is unknown. Clerics wear blue and white, and are as described in the Players Handbook. The religion is a moralistic one, embracing the tenets of Good, imported from a now-destroyed city-state of great splendor in the distant past. 

There are, however, specialty clerics that arise in different places and cities, emphasizing particular aspects of life that are of particular interest to their faithful. Naturally, Lippegen and Aedgaria have their own, and some from Hanar (the home continent off to the west across the Stormsea) will have come themselves as settlers. No specialty clerics trained in Artanis will be anything other than Lippegen or Aegarian Order. Here are a few such orders of specialty clerics that could be found:

Lippegen Order specialty clerics: AL LG, LN, NG; RA blue and white tunic and leggings with green and yellow trim; WPN longsword*, dagger, spear; SPL tracking as a ranger 2 levels lower; ADD burning hands, locate plants, slow poison, stoneskin, transmute rock to mud. The Lippegen Order evolved to be more aggressive and warlike, while at the same time gaining skills that are helpful in a new environment.

Aedgarian Order specialty clerics: AL LG, NG, CG; RA blue and white tunic and leggings with red and white trim; WPN flail, battle axe, horseman’s pick; SPL re-roll all 1’s when curing wounds; ADD animal friendship, charm person or mammal, plant growth, animal summoning I, animal summoning II, commune with nature, anti-animal shell. Such clerics are well-suited to the rigors of life on an untamed continent. It is possible that a North Aedgarian and South Aedgarian order will emerge at some point, but it has not occurred yet.

Lordain specialty clerics: AL any good; RA blue and white tunic with silver and blue trim; WPN dagger, knife, cutlass*; SPL predict weather 1/day at 1st level, gust of wind 2/day at 5th level, control weather 1/day at 14th level; ADD feather fall, fog cloud, call lightning, control winds. Lordain is one of the great seaports of Wynnland, and their clerics are used to serving aboard and helping ships and those that travel by water.

Kreff specialty clerics: AL any good, RA blue and white tunic with gold and red trim; WPN longsword, lance*, horseman’s flail; SPL +1 to hit when mounted, immune to fear at 3rd level; ADD flaming sphere, fireball, protection from evil 10′ radius, wall of thorns. Kreff is a barony in Heimburg that has seen generations of warfare in the struggle between the Orthodox and Reformed churches. Their clerics serve on the front lines, encouraging paladins and their troops to greater deeds of action. They follow the Orthodox church, but a single decisive victory by the Reformed church forces would render them all but extinct.

The nature of the schism within the Church is, on the surface, one of theological minutiae. The Orthodox church, to which Grott-Heimburg (and thus Lippegen) holds allegiance, believes that Kest can only be male or female at any given time, thus constantly shifting the balance of gender within the Holy Family. The Reformed church, to which Wynnland (and thus Aedgaria) is pledged, holds that Kest is at all times inherently both male and female, and thus there is always equality of gender within the Holy Family. There are other, minor, issues as well.

But that is on the surface. The real root of the schism is political and economic. The Orthodox church is centralized, with a single Great High Priest who rules as priest-king over his own realm in Hanar and who has spiritual authority over the church organization in the various kingdoms that uphold it. The Reformed church, on the other hand, is very locally centered, with the highest level of authority at the level of an individual temple or shrine, or at most a town with three or four temples.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

5 thoughts on “November Campaign Design III – The Religion Question

  1. I didn't choose the hex scale for any particular reason. I wanted the setting map as a whole to be a certain size, and just divided by the number of hexes in the map I had already made. That map is just a temporary one anyway.

  2. Right on. It looks good. It's just that I had not seen 10-mile hexes before.

    There are arguments in favor of 5-mile and 6-mile hexes, and you sometimes see 8-mile ones.

    My own DM made his map at 40-miles hexes, which is very strange!

  3. Have you thought about what would happen if your players got to role play ascending into godhood? I'm always curious as to what type of god characters players would create when they are all vying for the same worshipers (as opposed to DM caveat). Would they work together? Apart? Ask their followers to use certain symbols or colors or teachings to associate with the deity? Would the world end up with the bad versus good sides? Or something else from a more organic growth of powers.

    I ran a high-level campaign once and it was interesting to see how powerful mortals could be. We had a magic-user creating undead armies. I can see how the desire for power would motivate the characters to mow down everything they could (as a team). But if they where gods, I can kind of imagine how trying to collect followers wouldn't be that different a concept from controlling the undead. The more you have, the more powerful your character. And therein lies the incentive for most characters–mortal or not. And for worshipers too, if they side with the right power, then they should be able to defend themselves from hostile powers. Then I start to wonder what type of domain would the player-gods develop to protect themselves. Would the results look anything like what we have in Planescape or the H-series modules? What sort of things would hostile parties be trying to steal from each other? What would be horded by the gods in their "homes"? Would the "first" gods in a setting try to prevent others from attaining godhood? Would the results of this gaming spill into your products like the Greyhawk references in the DMG.

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