FORCES AND PHILOSOPHIES
Not all divine powers need to be derived from deities.
In some campaigns, believers hold enough conviction
in their ideas about the universe that they gain magical ·, ·
power from that conviction. In other campaigns, '
impersonal forces of nature or magic replace the gods
by granting power to mortals attuned to them. Just as
druids and rangers can gain their spell ability from the
force of nature rather than from a specific nature deity,
some clerics devote themselves to ideals rather than to
a god. Paladins might serve a philosophy of justice and
chivalry rather than a specific deity.
Forces and philosophies aren't worshiped; they aren't
beings that can hear and respond to prayers or accept
sacrifices. Devotion to a philosophy or a force isn't
necessarily exclusive of service to a deity. A person can
be devoted to the philosophy of good and offer worship
to various good deities, or revere the force of nature
and also pay homage to the gods of nature, who might
be seen as personal manifestations of an impersonal
force. In a world that includes deities with demonstrable
power (through their clerics), it's unusual for a
philosophy to deny the existence of deities, although a
common philosophical belief states that the deities are
more like mortals than they would have mortals believe.
According to such philosophies, the gods aren't truly
immortal (just very long-lived), and mortals can attain
divinity. In fact, ascending to godhood is the ultimate
goal of some philosophies..
The power of a philosophy stems from the belief that
mortals invest in it. A philosophy that only one person
believes in isn't strong enough to bestow magical power
on that person.
HUMANOIDS AND THE GODS
When it comes to the gods, humans exhibit a far wider
range of beliefs and institutions than other races do. In
many D&D settings, orcs, elves, dwarves, goblins, and
other humanoids have tight pantheons. It is expected
that an ore will worship Gruumsh or one of a handful of
subordinate deities. In comparison, humanity embraces
a staggering variety of deities. Each human culture
might have its own array of gods.
In most D&D settings, there is no single god that
can claim to have created humanity. Thus, the human
proclivity for building institutions extends to religion.
A single charismatic prophet can convert an entire
kingdom to the worship of a new god. With that
prophet's death, the religion might wax or wane, or the
prophet's followers might turn against one another and
found several competing religions.
In comparison, religion in dwarven society is set in
stone. The dwarves of the Forgotten Realms identify
Moradin as their creator. While individual dwarves
might follow other gods, as a culture the dwarves are
pledged to Moradin and the pantheon he leads. His
teachings and magic are so thoroughly ingrained in
dwarven culture that it would take a cataclysmic shift to
With that in mind, consider the role of the gods in
your world and their ties to different humanoid races.
· Does each race have a creator god? How does that god
shape that race's culture? Are other folk free of such
divine ties and free to worship as they wish? Has a race
turned against the god that created it? Has a new race
appeared, created by a god within the past few years?
A deity might also have ties to a kingdom, noble
line, or other cultural institution. With the death of
the emperor, a new ruler might be selected by divine
portents sent by the deity who protected the empire in
its earliest days. In such a land, the worship of other
gods might be outlawed or tightly controlled.
Finally, consider the difference between gods who
are tied to specific humanoid races and gods with
more diverse followers. Do the races with their own
pantheons enjoy a place of privilege in your world, with
their gods taking an active role in their affairs? Are the
other races ignored by the gods, or are those races the
deciding factor that can tilt the balance of power in favor
of one god or another?
CHAPTER 1 I A WORLD OF YOUR OWN