Saturday, September 3, 2011

Extant Religions in RPGs

A few days ago I posted about using made-up religions in RPGs, and I created a set of tables to generate these made-up religions. I mentioned in passing that using real religions was something I thought was cool, but didn't give it much more mention.

There were two reasons for that. The first is that I try (often unsuccessfully) to keep my blog posts unified and not excessively long. The other reason is that, while I know more than most people about a lot of religions, I don't know much at all about using real religions in RPGs. I've never done it and never seen it done.

I know that some other bloggers out there use real religions in their games. FrDave is the classic example. I was surprised and interested to see that one of the first characters Rob Conley ran the Wilderlands for was a Christian. Antion commented on my religion post that one of his clerics follows a real life religion. Of course, the inspiration for this series, Jeff Rients, is currently running a campaign with clerics who follow extant religions as well. There are probably more of you that are reading this that also run games with extant religions.

I'm wondering if you could talk about what that's like. Is that really different in any way from running games with made-up religions? Do you have a mix of real and made up religions in your game, or only extant ones? Do you make an effort to be at least basically accurate in your portrayal of these real religions?

Also, does anyone at your table follow any of the religions in your game? Does that complicate things? How do you deal with the differences between the actual religions and the way Clerics work in D&D? One of my biggest hesitations in using real religions is that I can't think of any extant religion that offers power, but only a certain level of power until you reach the next level the way D&D works… instead, most religions that offer supernatural power usually will teach that the power will meet the problem, not the person who is the channel of that power. I'm especially thinking of Christianity here, but it's true about every other religion that comes to mind. Anyway, do you, and how do you, deal with that?

You can answer in the comments if you want, but many answers will probably be too long for the comments. If you answer this with a blog post and let me know about it (or I see it on my own) I'll add a link to your post to this post. Thanks!