Dungeon Master's Guide 5E

(Jeff_L) #1


The cult's ritual of initiation follows the pattern of its
foundation myth. Neophytes retrace the god's footsteps
in order to share the god's ultimate fate. In the case of
dying and rising gods, the symbolic death of the initiate
represents the idea of death to the old life and rebirth
into a transformed existence. Initiates are born into
a new life, remaining in the world of mortal affairs
but feeling elevated to a higher sphere. The initiate is
promised a place in the god's realm after death, but also
experiences new meaning in life.

Monotheistic religions revere only one deity, and in
some cases, deny the existence of any other deity. If you
introduce a monotheistic religion into your campaign,
you need to decide whether other gods exist. Even if
they don't, other religions can exist side by side with
the monotheistic religion. If these religions have clerics
with spellcasting ability, their spells might be powered
by the one true deity, by lesser spirits who aren't deities
(possibly including powerful aberrations, celestials, fey,
fiends, or elementals), or simply by their faith.
The deity of a monotheistic religion has an extensive
portfolio and is portrayed as the creator of everything, in
control of everything, and concerned with every aspect
of existence. Thus, a worshiper of this god offers prayers
and sacrifices to the same god regardless of what
aspect of life is in need of divine assistance. Whether
marching into war, setting off on a journey, or hoping
to win someone's affections, the worshiper prays to
the same god.
Some monotheistic religions describe different
aspects of their deity. A single god appears in different
aspects as the Creator and the Destroyer, and the clerics
of that god focus on one aspect or the other, determining
their domain access and possibly even their alignment
on that basis. A cleric who venerates the Destroyer
aspect chooses the Tempest or War domain, while
one who worships a Creator aspect chooses the Life
or Nature domains. In some monotheistic religions,
clerics group themselves into distinct religious orders to
differentiate clerics who choose different domains.

A dualistic religion views the world as the stage for
a conflict between two diametrically opposed deities
or divine forces. Most often, the opposed forces are
good and evil, or opposed deities representing those
forces. In some pantheons, the forces or deities of law
and chaos are the fundamental opposites in a dualistic
system. Life and death, light and darkness, rna ter and
spirit, body and mind, health and illness, purity and
defilement, positive energy and negative energy-the
D&D universe is full of polar opposites that could serve
as the foundation for a dualistic religion. Whatever the
terms in which the dualism is expressed, half of the pair
is usually believed to be good- beneficial, desirable,
or holy-while the other half is considered bad, if not
explicitly evil. If the fundamental conflict in a religion is
expressed as the opposition between matter and spirit,
the followers of that religion believe that one of the two
(usually matter) is evil and the other (spirit) is good, and


so seek to liberate their spirits from this material world
and its evils through asceticism and contemplation.
Rare dualistic systems believe that the two opposing
forces must remain in balance, always pulling away
from each other but remaining bound together in
creative te nsion.
In a cosmology defined by an eternal conflict between
good and evil, mortals are expected to ta ke sides. The
majority of those who follow a dualistic religion worship
the de ity or force identified as good. Worshipers of
the good deity trust themselves to that god's power to
protect them from the evil deity's minions. Because
the evil deity in such a religion is usually the source
of everything that is detrimental to existence, only the
perverse and depraved worship this god. Monsters
and fiends serve it, as do certain secretive cults. The
myths of a dualistic religion usually predict that the
good deity will triumph in an apocalyptic battle, but the
forces of evil believe that the outcome of that battle isn't
predetermined and work to promote their deity's victory.
Deities in a dualistic system maintain large portfolios.
All aspects of existence reflect the dualistic struggle,
and therefore all things can fall on one side or the other
of the conflict. Agriculture, mercy, the sky, medicine,
and poetry reside in the portfolio of the good deity, and
famine, hatred, disease, and war belong to the evil deity.

Animism is the belief that spirits inhabit every part of
the natural world. In an animistic worldview, everything
has a spirit, from the grandest mountain to the lowliest
rock, from the great ocean to a babbling brook, from the
sun and moon to a fighter's ancestral sword. All these
objects, and the spirits that inhabit them, are sentient,
though some are more aware, alert, and intelligent
than others. The most powerful spirits might even
be considered deities. All are worthy of respect if not
Animists don't typically pay allegiance to one spirit
over the others. Instead, they offer prayers and sacrifices
to different spirits at different times, as appropriate
to the situation. A pious character might make daily
prayers and offerings to ancestor spirits and the spirits
of the house, regular petitions to important spirits
such as the Seven Fortunes of Good Luck, occasional
sacrifices of incense to location spirits such as the
spirit of a forest, and sporadic prayers to a host of other
spirits as well.
An animistic religion very tolerant. Most spirits don't
care to whom a character also offers sacrifices, as long
as they receive the sacrifices and respect they are due.
As new religions spread through animist lands, those
religions typically win adherents but not converts.
People incorporate new spirits and deities into their
prayers without displacing the old ones. Contemplatives
and scholars adopt complex philosophical systems and
practices without changing their belief in and respect
for the spirits they already venerate.
Animism functions as a large tight pantheon. Animist
clerics s erve the pantheon as a whole, and so can
choose any domain, representing a favorite spirit for
that cleric.
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