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Thought on Deity Systems and Religion

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Wanara009, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

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    I've saved this one for last since I hated touching religious matter, even made up ones.

    Basically, my world (named in Andalusia, after the Andalas Continent where most of the humanity lives) have one god called The One Almighty. He creates the universe and bladibladibla... the point is, He's the all-powerful, all-knowing God. The One Almighty very rarely interfere with Andalusia, relegating everything through His countless messengers and Overlords.

    However, the world has 4 Overlords. The Overlords are the natural forces given life by The One to kick-start life on Andalusia (I based it on the "Living Earth" theory). They are given one task: make Andalusia habitable and maintain that habitability. (In this universe, only habitable planet will have living Overlord). They are the Overlord of Earth (geological activity and geothermal energy), Overlord of Water (the flow and cycle of water), Overlord of Air (weather pattern and atmospheric activity), and Overlord of Life (life, adaptation, and evolution).

    Overlords sometimes make Avatars, which is a living mortal creature they create and give a fraction of their power. Avatar are only used if an Overlord want to directly interfere with an event or feel the need to communicate something.

    I'm thinking that there there will 4 ways religions on Andalusia structure their belief system. 1) Worship the One Almighty but dismiss the existence of Overlords as blasphemy, 2) Worship the Overlords but laugh at the notion of a single, all-powerful god, 3) Worship both The One Almighty and Overlords as equal gods, and lastly 4) Worship another pantheon of God entirely.

    Any suggestion and comment is welcome, since I'm not good at making things like these.

    Thank you in advance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  2. Griffin

    Griffin Minstrel

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    While I do like the idea, I think just having four religions is too narrow, especially since three are based one theology. It is very possible for the worshippers of the Almighty One and/or Overlords are simply divided into different sects. If you put 100 people in a room and show them a painting, they'll have their own interpretation of said painting. Yet, it is still the same painting.

    I do not know every aspect of your world nor its races. I would recommend exploring various other beliefs. We humans are complex creatures.
     
  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I think a system like yours could work as is, but perhaps it could be expanded a little to allow for more variety within the hierarchy. Perhaps the high god and each of the Overlords have underlings (like angels/demons etc.) that are sent to do their bidding. That way, even those "messengers" of a particular overlord would be considered sacred and may form the basis of a religious faction all their own.

    It could be interesting if the power of said deities come from their worshippers as it would tip the scales of power in the heavens one way or another depending on which factions have more popularity; meaning the dieties or messenger would have to actively promote themselves via miracles or gifts to the mortals.
     
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  4. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    To add onto my other post; these could be some examples of ways.

    1) Worship One high God and the others are blasphemy.

    2) Worship Overlords but Laugh at a single God.

    3) Worship both Gods/Overlords as equals

    4) Worship seperate pantheon.

    5) Worship a "messenger" of a particular god, thus increasing the power of that God as well.

    6) Worship all "messengers" AS Gods, dismissing the greater gods entirely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  5. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

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    Yes, but unless this is a story specifically about religion then too much complication is unnecessary, and maybe even detrimental. The Seven Kingdoms only have two religions: the Seven and the Old Gods, but that's because the story doesn't need a plenitude of faiths and the world is complicated enough without having to keep track of the Reform Faith of the Seven of 301 and the Born Again Hussites. I'd say four religions is plenty, and I like the way you've set out the theology as well: it's simple but compelling.

    Do the Overlords encourage people to worship them without reference to the One or not?
     
  6. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

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    Seeing as the majority are from the same continent I think it would be perfectly feasible to have a small number of religions (or forms of worship of what sounds like a single religion). It's when people are separated and societies grow in isolation that you get a number of vastly different religions such as Hinduism compared to Christianity. When societies are joined at some point by a shared history, you get a smaller number of religions that are broadly comparable or share the same basic tenants, such as christianity, islam and judaism. My caveat to that would be that it also depends on how advanced the society is, as the less advanced, the more beliefs will differ between separate tribes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    If the Overlords interfere directly in the lives of mortals, would you have a group that didn't believe in them? Maybe they would be opposed to them, but it seems like denying the existence of them would be difficult if they keep doing things to interact with the world. Unless those things are pretty obscure.
     
  8. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

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    Not neccessarily - you could have people believe in their existence but have a more earthly explanation for their existence and refuse to worship them as dieties, e.g. an air elemental that controls the wind could be seen as a creature rather than a God or a fire breathing dragon could be worshipped as a diety or thought of as a scourge.
     
  9. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

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    No, the Overlords only 'duty' is to keep the planet habitable and nothing else, since they themselves worship The One. If they want to communicate or interfere with human activity (they don't do this often since The One set a strict rules that pretty much limit them to using proxies), they have to use an Avatar. Avatar is usually mortal animal given sapience by Overlords, some power, and a mission they'll follow to their death (and nothing else), so they can count unreliable source

    I'm trying to shift away from the concept of God(s) needing the faith of the people to get stronger. I really don't like it since it brought up too much fridge logic.

    @Griffin: You brought up an excellent question about how human would interpret the deity hierarchy. I've been thinking about putting the practice of henotism and monolatrism into the theology.

    @Saigonnus: Thanks for the theology and hierarchy suggestion. I'll try to explore and expand upon the theology more. You also gave me a good idea to put in conflict between Overlords, like perhaps one of them aren't too keen about humanity and waged a slow proxy war against us while the another one tried to defend us. It'll set up a nice conflict on the backdrop.

    When I'm finished with the religion, my world-building project would be officially complete. Thank you so much for the help! :D I bid all of you Good Luck and Best Regard.

    EDIT: @WyrdMystic: Thanks, I'll put that element of interpretation in too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
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  10. Brave_Raven

    Brave_Raven Acolyte

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    Maybe keep the idea of the 'One Almighty' as esoteric as possible, so only very learned sages and high priests in the sects that worship the Overlords even know of its existence. Perhaps make the One Almighty more of an aloof creator who cares little about the planet and even less abouts it's inhabitants.I am imagining a sort of watchmaker that builds a watch then becomes disinterested and abandons it.

    As for the Overlords I would keep the four of them but instead of an Overlord of life, make it instead into an Overlord of fire. Then you have the four basic elements.

    Make you're world filled with natural disaters; tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires, huricanes, volcanoes, tornadoes blizzards etc. The it would appear to the common man that these elemental gods are angry and that they demand worship, sacrifices, whatever.

    In reality only the overlords themselves know why they create natural disaters, so most of the money given to the temples in donations or tithes would be squandered by corrupt priests on riches or building more temples. This continues for a long time until a true prophet comes along that can communicate with an Avatar. Give this control over the prophet's chosen elements.

    Don't forget religous wars between religions that worship different Overlords or wars between different sects in the same religion.

    Just some ideas hope it helps.
     
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  11. JonSnow

    JonSnow Troubadour

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    Religion and Gods are a difficult concept to create and implement well. You have to take into account the advancement of your world's people, technology, history, and culture to make believable Gods/religions. Remember, throughout history, people have used Gods to explain what they don't understand. Religion can be used in conjunction with magic and/or the supernatural, or in opposition to it. This is where your creativity can make it believable.

    In my world, the Gods are fairly simple, and modeled after Greek/Roman mythology. I have 4 Gods-- The Mariner (god of the sea, worshipped by coastal/fishing regions and sailors), The Paragon (the warrior), The Craftsman (god of the forge and craftsman, farmers, harvest), and The Noble (god of trade, wealth, and fortune/luck).

    In my world, religion and magic are polar opposites, and act as sort of a counter-balance to eachother. In the West, there are more magic users, and very few worship the old Gods. In fact, most westerners believe the Gods abandoned mankind thousands of years ago after a great cataclysm (which I call "the heaving") caused by clashing factions of magi, that pretty much destroyed the world. In contrast, in the eastern kingdoms, there are very few magic users and the Gods are heavily worshipped, and constitute an important part of every day life. This contrast of belief systems is caused both by physical proximity to this old magic war (which happened to the west of where my book takes place), and cultural evolution since. Obviously, this contrast is going to play heavily into my plot. Easterners were far less exposed to the fallout from this cataclysm, therefore fewer people in the east have acquired the natural ability to use magic, and their memories/customs/lore don't include much about The Heaving, either. Which is why they don't share westerners' belief that the Gods abandoned mankind.

    Sorry if I blathered. I just wanted to give you my example of how I dealt with the same anxiety you're experiencing :)
     
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