Friday, December 23, 2011

Distant Gods and Corrupt Priests

Today, I was watching the first part of the European production "Borgia", when I realized something. Having a corrupt cleric with a close family of two fighter sons and specialist daughter could be fun. Especially as one of the main antagonists in a fantasy campaign. I haven't seen this done yet, because in a fantasy setting corrupt clerics worship evil and corrupt gods. Therefore, the appearance of respectability is never an option, unless heavily disguised beneath alignment concealing spells. Even then it is hard to pull off, because the deities in a classic fantasy game are ever-present.

Lotfp brilliantly circumvents this by having all clerics be of lawful alignment, recommending that most positions in the church hierarchy are filled by level-0 NPCs and by recommending distant gods. The referee manual talks about religion being about the way worship is done, and not by one universal truth spread by the deity himself. Religion is a mortal lense to view the deity.

This nicely breaks with the assumption of having one true way of worship and one true word of god. I think, in our fantasy gaming we expect clerics to be true to their gods, in a way the real world all too often shows us that our priests are not (I don't intend to offend anyone's religious sensibilities here, but just take a look at all the scandals rocking the churches in Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the western world).

Lotfp actually paves the way for having a Borgia-esque power-mongering going on in a church. Now, imagine the players' surprise, when they find out that the morally questionable, corrupt and decadent cleric is still able to call upon the spells granted by his oh-so-pious religion.

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