Let´s build a Dark Fantasy Religion

It is „Toy Time“ again. I got myself a pay-what-you-want generator title called Dark Fantasy Religion, and as I did with the EFAG, I will have a test ride with it. My current LotFP game could use a little fringe religion or cult that rises (again?), as fantastic and monstrous things start to happen in an otherwise rather common 15th England. Let´s see what this generator guides me to…

First things first: what kind of help is offered?

There are “Where are your gods now?”; “Religious clothing”; “Religious powers”; “Taboos, oathes and vows”; “Small prohibitions”; “Religious Orders” and three further tables to provide adjectives, nouns and virtues for three different blends of the divine: Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic (so the latter has a distinct touch of “Evil” to me). Aside from that, some paragraphs about the topics and the matter of Dark Fantasy Religions in general are added as well.

The opening text advises not to use ALL tables at once to create a religion, but to select just a few and to work with the outcomes instead. I made up my mind as follows:

Religious Clothing: it felt strange to start with this, but then again it would conjure up a picture that I could mend and change later on. Three rolls on that d20 table should do.

Religious Powers: these are not (necessary) supernatural powers, but what acts (or benefits) the spiritual leaders of this religion are entitled to. This will sharpen the picture -and- tell me something about the function of the faith. I decided to roll twice or thrice on this d20 table

Taboos, Oaths and Vows: minor prohibitions do not bother me here, as it is a little cult or fringe religion. It will hardly be big and acknowledged enough that its priests/shamans/druids/whatever would have the luxury to get bogged down in details. Three “no goes” should help to define the creed further.

An adjective, a noun and a virtue from the table for the Neutral gods: this (sadly) is just a d10 table, so rolling for more than one attribute per column seems to be a bit of an overkill. I wanted nothing Lawful (I have the “real” monotheistic faiths for this) and nothing chaotic/evil, but rather something the common folk could perhaps relate (or fall back) to.

So, here we go!

Religious Clothing: I got “Bare Feet” first and “Very Colorful” as a second. This did not tell me much to start with, aside from something that is either “down to earth” or “sensual”. I would perhaps even said “humble”, but this did not seem to fit the “very colorful” part. I rolled a third time to gain another bit, but got “monochromatic”. As this is the opposite of very colorful, I ditched it and kept the first two. …puzzled as I was, I decided to take an unplanned detour over the “Where are your gods now?” table. The answer: “Gathering Followers in Order to Regain Power.” H-hm… something heathen then. Well, perhaps it will all make sense later (hint: it did!).

Religious Powers: I got “Send Sinners on quests” and “Ordain other priests” first. The latter makes sense for a cult that is intend to spread, the other is powerful within a believing community… but I wanted something more… something more gameable, perhaps. The third result was “Lift Curses”. DING!DING!DING! Jackpot! In a time with strange powers raising their heads, the ability to lift a curse would be something that would be reckoned. For a long time, one player character in my group walked around with hand-turned-to-stone because he was not sure how to get rid of this curse. The church did not seemed to be an option. I guess he would have rather turned to a fringe-thing.

Taboos, Oaths and Vows gave me “Cannot Carry to much metal”, “Cannot Benefit from Spells Directly” and “Cannot Own Property”. Obviously, the faith was -not- about material or supernatural benefit for their “chosen”. Interesting. The metal-bit is a bit lame and hackneyed to me, but in the context it is easy to turn it into another part of the “own property” taboo: metal tools and jewelry WERE valuable in the middle ages, and not owning to much of fits the “abstain from wealth” theme quite fine. But, what is this faith centered on?

The Earthbound Gods (Neutral): gave me the term “wild mother” with the virtue “sacrifice”. And quickly, things feel into place in my mind. Naming the faith something like “Wild Mother” would be a bit to close to the source. After a bit of pondering I choose the rather unassuming “The Loving Mother”.

The Faith: the very first goddess was the mother, and mankind has worshiped her for ages before the dawn of civilization. All of mankind were her children, and she loved them and taught them the value of family life and kinship, of love between women and men and the one between family and friends, told them simple crafts and arts, how to sing and dance, to gather and how to weather what life had in store.

Then, with the dawn of civilization, the men made gods for they were jealous of the love, position and prestige only a mother could gain, for only she was the true source of life. Their faiths were build on dogma, harsh dominion and many, many laws. They turned their eyes away from the loving mother and pushed her into the darkness, in an attempt to subjugate and replace here. It broke the heart of the Mother, but she reckoned that her children had turned against her. She tried to keep her remaining children with her, but one by one the new faith drove them off, with insults and punishment or ostracism. So, she withdraw her counsel, as it was not sought no more, and left mankind to the errors of their ways. But as a mother, she never completely gave up her love for her children.

Those who want to come back to her, to make peace with her and join the family again, may do so after they have show that they -mean- it. For even a mother cannot lightly forget the grief and vilification She has suffered: no woman would. To those that find their way back to her, she offers counsel again, as well as aid and the joys of freedom of the senses. For creation is there to be enjoyed. To make sure that nobody that found her again may every bear the seed of that kind of jealous betrayal to her ways again, she denies their most beloved what the followers of the now dominant gods crave: wealth and power. They are to be the motherly and fatherly leaders of the family.

As cult that is less dogmatic and more sensual than the churches of that time, those that try to spread the word are often mistaken for traveling folk or carny people. They make use of this, as “having a good time” is one of the good things their faith has to offer, and those that bring song, dance and marry-making are the kind of stranger usually welcomed in the communities, even if only for a while. Aside from that, they keep their true ways secret, and those in a village who adhere to it are secretive about it as well. The word of the Loving Mother spreads only slowly, as trust does. Her family does not preach, it waits for somebody to come and ask, or to show keen interest and an open heart.

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