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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Do You Use Religious Rituals in Your Campaigns?


This past Sunday, Rach and I went to Jamaica Bay to see the sunrise. The last thing I expected to stumble into was a Hindu religious ceremony as the sun came up.

It was foreign to me, almost mystical. I was in awe. I didn't want to intrude but I couldn't look away.

Afterwards, I started thinking about how something like this, not this ritual, but something else, another ritual, could set a scene in a fantasy campaign. Religion in fantasy RPGs is often hand waved, judged by how it benefits the characters. A cleric is often just an armored spell caster without flavor and any two clerics of any two random religions are pretty much the same.

Could a peek behind the curtain, a small snapshot of the rituals that differentiate such religions add depth? Would it make the cleric more than just a sum of the spells he can cast and the undead he can turn?

Perhaps.

I guess I'll find out with my next campaign, as this certainly has me thinking...

14 comments:

  1. I always have used ritual ceremonies as an off scene event

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  2. Festivals and religious rituals are great ways to keep the pc's. #1 together (roughly) in a certain area be it a part of a city, or certain area on a map. #2 adventure ideas that set a timer on the pc's (If brauns silver cauldron isn't found by the new moon ect). This can allow GM direction for the party to some degree without overt railroading.

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  3. I "end up" playing the Cleric (tbh I like to play clerics) a lot. I dress them up a little but basically they're Catholic. So there's some ritual involved, but never anything central to the campaign or adventure yet.

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  4. I hate to sound like Jack Chick but getting this involved in made-up religions borders on the unhealthy, to my mind.

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    Replies
    1. Do you just mean in RPGs, or are you referring to the human race in general?

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    2. Sounds like a Thor spot, to me.

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  5. As someone who chose to play a cleric in older versions, and both a cleric and monk in 5e, I have always added religious ritual to the flavor of the game as a player. It's not just up to the GM to do it. But, sadly, I often forget to add it when I'm juggling all the tasks as a GM.

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  6. I am with AJ Fritz, it is something I always want to bring to the game as a GM but it almost always get sidelined by something else. When I play religious characters, fairly rarely it must be said, I try to incorporate rituals into their life, again when other demands do not interfere.

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  7. As a new player, one of the many things I took into consideration to shape my characters was their religious beliefs and upbringing. And I believe it will play a role in the campaigns (if my DM allows it).
    Personally, when a cleric was first described to be I didn't just see them as bringing spells to the table but also their religious beliefs.

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  8. As a new player, one of the many things I took into consideration to shape my characters was their religious beliefs and upbringing. And I believe it will play a role in the campaigns (if my DM allows it).
    Personally, when a cleric was first described to be I didn't just see them as bringing spells to the table but also their religious beliefs.

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  9. In my most well established campaign world, I have various religious bodies and major practices (and a few minor, in some cases) thereof established. MOST of my players have ranged from "That's neat.", "Don't care, here to kill orcs." and "How dare you shove your thinly veiled religious views down our throats!" (thankfully that last one was a one-off event.)

    My favorite ritual is one started by a player who built a sort of oracle/priest when the world was being run in Runequest, funerary rites that involve the destruction of small icons representing the other party members. "For we are all one within the Tapestry, and when one is lost, all are lost."

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  10. This is something as a DM I have thought of doing but not successful (yet) at implementing. I plan to change that.

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  11. Especially for clerics, it seems that conducting rituals, observing holy days, and other cultic functions could play a much bigger role than they usually do in most campaigns.

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