Polytheism or multiple monotheistic religions?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Scarab Sages

Shelyn pathfinderwiki wrote:
To this day, clerics of Zon-Kuthon never harm known clerics of Shelyn—doing so results in harsh punishments that do not end with death—but sometimes they actually try to protect such clerics. This behaviour earns them divine rewards. For their part, clerics of Shelyn return the favor by looking the other way when they meet known clerics or cultists of Zon-Kuthon. The exception to this rule is if the clerics or cultists are obviously harming innocents, defacing art, or otherwise being unforgivably evil. This arrangement might seem like a serious

The wiki got this info from a 13-year old messageboard post on the Rise of the Runelord sub-forum. That info never saw print. Be aware that the wiki isn't always reliable.


Apparently so, its really annoying when that happens specially since not everyone has the books to double check.

Sovereign Court

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I think Rahadoum is an interesting case here. It's a country that has banned worship of the gods for centuries and it's still there. They've had more trouble with for example handling disease outbreaks, since they can't call upon clergy to cast cure disease spells. But that's also led to them developing more advanced mundane medicine (lot about that in LO Legends).

The key thing here is that just because a person or a country rejects a/the gods, doesn't mean they go out and smite that person.

Overall the amount of dramatic divine intervention on Golarion is really limited. Most of it is done through agents, like clerics and champions and some outsiders.

That doesn't mean it never happens; Sarenrae smiting the city of Ninshabur for example. But that's also a great example of why it's so rare: Golarion imprisons Rovagug and if the gods came down to the planet to fight things out directly they might break the prison.

I think that's also why not praying to some god rarely has repercussions with clear divine fingerprints on them. If one god started smiting the others' worshipers that could lead to open battle between them.

Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

Looking at real world religion. The best example is Shintoism. They have many gods and many people worship a regional god. But they still give prayer to other gods or the main gods.

Which btw, Tian Xia does follow Japanese gods.

The only real religions that are antagonistic to worshiping and giving prayer to other gods/things are the monotheist. Specially ones like the Abrahamic religions which have historically been very violent against followers of other faiths.

RL derail

This is not true at all. Not that followers of Abrahamic religions have not been violent to followers of other religions, that is well known.

But followers of other religions, including polytheistic ones, are far from immune either.

Check the persecution of Christians in Japan and Rome (before the Christian emperors obviously), the current day persecution of Muslims by Hinduists and Buddhists for some examples.

And the persecution of religious followers by atheist regimes (mostly in Communist countries) show that you do not even need a dogma to be religion-based to justify killing those who think differently.


The Raven Black wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Looking at real world religion. The best example is Shintoism. They have many gods and many people worship a regional god. But they still give prayer to other gods or the main gods.

Which btw, Tian Xia does follow Japanese gods.

The only real religions that are antagonistic to worshiping and giving prayer to other gods/things are the monotheist. Specially ones like the Abrahamic religions which have historically been very violent against followers of other faiths.

RL derail

This is not true at all. Not that followers of Abrahamic religions have not been violent to followers of other religions, that is well known.

But followers of other religions, including polytheistic ones, are far from immune either.

Check the persecution of Christians in Japan and Rome (before the Christian emperors obviously), the current day persecution of Muslims by Hinduists and Buddhists for some examples.

And the persecution of religious followers by atheist regimes (mostly in Communist countries) show that you do not even need a dogma to be religion-based to justify killing those who think differently.

Thats a misquote, I stated that not PossibleCabbage.

And you are right you dont need religion for people to find reasons to kill each other.

But the point is that some religions are much more antagonistic to other because of their doctrines.

Ex: Rahadoum is anti all other religions.

Dark Archive

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Ascalaphus wrote:
I think Rahadoum is an interesting case here. It's a country that has banned worship of the gods for centuries and it's still there. They've had more trouble with for example handling disease outbreaks, since they can't call upon clergy to cast cure disease spells. But that's also led to them developing more advanced mundane medicine (lot about that in LO Legends).

It tickles my sense of irony that Rahadoum is right there in the 'desert' belt with Thuvia, Osirion and Qadira, and seems greener and more fertile than all of them on the map, despite rejecting the gods.

"Oh hey, another year, another bumper-crop of wheat! How's that worshipping the gods of weather and fertility working out for you neighbors? What? More sand? Oh well, keep praying!"


I mean people do worship the gods that make sense for their culture and circumstance. People near the sea/ocean pray to the god of the sea. People who depend on a good harvest pray to the god of farming. People who value war worship Gorum. Etc.

Rahadoum manages to live without deities because they live in a good area where they dont need the help of deities. The places where deities could help, the government used magic and propaganda to push them out.

Also like others mentioned deities have a lot of limitations that mortals usually dont consider. Ex: Turning a desert into fertile lands would require for the geography of the area or even the planet to change. Which can cause a lot of problems in other areas.


Temperans wrote:

I mean people do worship the gods that make sense for their culture and circumstance. People near the sea/ocean pray to the god of the sea. People who depend on a good harvest pray to the god of farming. People who value war worship Gorum. Etc.

Normally people are not that one dimensional though and require the favour of multiple gods.


I feel that the religion part of Golarion is the way it is to avoid a society that is way too alien to comprehend.

The monotheistic look may be because right now the existing religions are mainly that and a pure polytheistic society is pretty strange for us because we don't have many modern examples for it.

Worshiping only one god is also way more convenient, allowing players to remember the tenets of only one deity and not have their character's day shapped by a multitude of prayers to divinities that may actually answer them.

The ramifications of having that many gods that are not a question of belief but pure facts are not explored in my opinion but again it's probably best to avoid a world too strange to imagine.

It's a bit the same that for magic. It's strange that magic is only used by a few practitionners that are generalists and do everything. Ok learning full schools of magic is hard but many people would probably learn one spell that help their job and learn to do it almost perfectly. A bit like you specialize when learning a craft and not crafting in general. But thinking about all the ramifications of it would take a lot of time to the authors and lead to a world very strange.

So yeah I think the monotheistic approch is the best way to have gods part of the setting but not so entangled with it that you have to rethink from scratch a universe that makes sense with them answering prayers and shaping the world in general.

Scarab Sages

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Set wrote:

It tickles my sense of irony that Rahadoum is right there in the 'desert' belt with Thuvia, Osirion and Qadira, and seems greener and more fertile than all of them on the map, despite rejecting the gods.

"Oh hey, another year, another bumper-crop of wheat! How's that worshipping the gods of weather and fertility working out for you neighbors? What? More sand? Oh well, keep praying!"

Rahadoum has an ongoing desertification problem, actually. It was mentioned repeatedly in the LOWG.

Liberty's Edge

Temperans wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Looking at real world religion. The best example is Shintoism. They have many gods and many people worship a regional god. But they still give prayer to other gods or the main gods.

Which btw, Tian Xia does follow Japanese gods.

The only real religions that are antagonistic to worshiping and giving prayer to other gods/things are the monotheist. Specially ones like the Abrahamic religions which have historically been very violent against followers of other faiths.

RL derail

This is not true at all. Not that followers of Abrahamic religions have not been violent to followers of other religions, that is well known.

But followers of other religions, including polytheistic ones, are far from immune either.

Check the persecution of Christians in Japan and Rome (before the Christian emperors obviously), the current day persecution of Muslims by Hinduists and Buddhists for some examples.

And the persecution of religious followers by atheist regimes (mostly in Communist countries) show that you do not even need a dogma to be religion-based to justify killing those who think differently.

Thats a misquote, I stated that not PossibleCabbage.

And you are right you dont need religion for people to find reasons to kill each other.

But the point is that some religions are much more antagonistic to other because of their doctrines.

Ex: Rahadoum is anti all other religions.

My bad and my sincere apologies to both you and PossibleCabbage for the misquote. Thank you for correcting it.

Dark Archive

NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Rahadoum has an ongoing desertification problem, actually. It was mentioned repeatedly in the LOWG.

Well, maybe it's all a plot and they have people out there painting rocks green to fool the map-makers. :)


Set wrote:
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Rahadoum has an ongoing desertification problem, actually. It was mentioned repeatedly in the LOWG.

Well, maybe it's all a plot and they have people out there painting rocks green to fool the map-makers. :)

Or they're experimenting with growing edible mosses.

Scarab Sages

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Perpdepog wrote:
Set wrote:
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Rahadoum has an ongoing desertification problem, actually. It was mentioned repeatedly in the LOWG.

Well, maybe it's all a plot and they have people out there painting rocks green to fool the map-makers. :)

Or they're experimenting with growing edible mosses.

On a serious note, that green patch is labeled the 'Eternal Oasis' in ISWG. One of the few parts of Rahadoum that is not desert.

Liberty's Edge

NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Set wrote:

It tickles my sense of irony that Rahadoum is right there in the 'desert' belt with Thuvia, Osirion and Qadira, and seems greener and more fertile than all of them on the map, despite rejecting the gods.

"Oh hey, another year, another bumper-crop of wheat! How's that worshipping the gods of weather and fertility working out for you neighbors? What? More sand? Oh well, keep praying!"

Rahadoum has an ongoing desertification problem, actually. It was mentioned repeatedly in the LOWG.

And it was implied in a Blog fiction that it might be unnatural.


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To be fair, if the gods are blighting Rahadoum as retribution for not being worshipped that just makes Rahadoum even more right.

Liberty's Edge

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Arachnofiend wrote:
To be fair, if the gods are blighting Rahadoum as retribution for not being worshipped that just makes Rahadoum even more right.

Depends on which Gods are doing it. If it's, say, Urgathoa, that in no way means they're right to ban worship of Desna or even Pharasma.

Maybe Evil Gods usually do this to people who ban their worship but in other cases there were Good deities to stop them and the people of Rahadoum are special only in that they kicked out the only beings powerful enough to protect them. Heck, I can easily see many Good deities offering said protection free of charge and Rahadoum telling them to piss off.

Liberty's Edge

No need to involve the gods. Concerned worshippers wanting to show the necessity of gods are enough. Or maybe Pure extremists wanting to denounce a false divine conspiracy so that they can get a strengthening of Rahadoum's policies against believers. Or even a mix of both with each side thinking itself smarter than the other.


If memory serves, Rahadoum's policy was a result of 'OK, you lot fighting messed the place up too many times. ALL of you, SCRAM!'. Also not how well this fits in with Razmir.

I think the Golarion model is more 'you venerate one patron over all but you still accept and acknowledge others'. A Sarenrite is probably going to have a rental contract checked over by a friendly Asmodean, and there's the big brawl that put Rovagug behind bars where a lot of them got together.

Of course there are rivalries and other goings on. But there's no reason why, say, an Iroran cleric, a Shelynite bard, and a Gorumite barbarian can't all get together at a Desnan cathedral. (As friends.)

Dark Archive

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
To be fair, if the gods are blighting Rahadoum as retribution for not being worshipped that just makes Rahadoum even more right.
Depends on which Gods are doing it. If it's, say, Urgathoa, that in no way means they're right to ban worship of Desna or even Pharasma.

If Urgathoa was doing it, Rahadoum would just be one of a long list of countries she'd be smiting for not allowing her open worship. Pretty much all of them but Geb, actually... :)

It'd also be a bad precedent to set. Asmodeus and Zon-Kuthon could blight Cheliax and Nidal's rivals and neighbors, Rovagug would likely blight everyone (but starting with Osirion for having a Pharoah formerly worshipping him and turning away, rejecting him), Lamashtu might blight Isger for how they were so mean to her pretty goblins, etc.

I prefer the idea that the blight has something to do with Divs (who are also encouraging the anti-religion crusade).

Liberty's Edge

Set wrote:

If Urgathoa was doing it, Rahadoum would just be one of a long list of countries she'd be smiting for not allowing her open worship. Pretty much all of them but Geb, actually... :)

It'd also be a bad precedent to set. Asmodeus and Zon-Kuthon could blight Cheliax and Nidal's rivals and neighbors, Rovagug would likely blight everyone (but starting with Osirion for having a Pharoah formerly worshipping him and turning away, rejecting him), Lamashtu might blight Isger for how they were so mean to her pretty goblins, etc.

I addressed this in the rest of my post. All the people of those nations have other Gods to protect them, but the people of Rahadoum do not.

Set wrote:
I prefer the idea that the blight has something to do with Divs (who are also encouraging the anti-religion crusade).

This is also certainly possible.


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Qaianna wrote:
If memory serves, Rahadoum's policy was a result of 'OK, you lot fighting messed the place up too many times.

Pretty much. When the Church of Sarenrae burns your country down in pursuit of Norgorber's cult the whole idea of righteous crusades gets a bit suspect.


As an aside, and in the vein of “interesting takes on religion” Kobold Press Midgard Campaign Setting uses the concept of “masks” whereby the gods are known in different regions or by different people under different names, guises and even portfolios.

Which makes it incredibly easy to install plots or bring in slight (or major) variations to “known facts”. The Thunder God might be known in the north as Thor the Thunder God, yet in the south might be a wind/storm god who is female and might be known as Patalie Nortman.

Cults, splinter faiths, sects, splitters etc are all on this theme. When it comes down to it, folk worship who and how they see fit, and occasionally it comes up roses. Other times you have all of your crops blighted, your flesh flensed off the bone or all of your children are born with monstrous horns, tentacles or vestigial wings.

Religion is for idiots. Gods suck. Misotheism all the way.


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I think the point that RPGs are “adventurer-facing” made above is very useful to remember for this discussion. Clerics, Inquisitors (plz plz plz), Warpriests, Druids, Divine spell-list users etc all make the tacit connection between veneration/worship and....daily spells!!! Yay!!! They can like/love/loathe/respect/disdain whichever bigwigs upstairs/below/upside down/overthere they like, but when it comes down to It, only one god/pantheon pays the magic dividend.

So for mechanics, until you cast spells, it’s not abundantly necessary to be singular in your common acts, and yes, occasionally you can be specific to one god when you want something special. Which is not to say, that in some places/times individuals/groups do not be individual-god focused.

Liberty's Edge

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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
Cults, splinter faiths, sects, splitters etc are all on this theme. When it comes down to it, folk worship who and how they see fit, and occasionally it comes up roses. Other times you have all of your crops blighted, your flesh flensed off the bone or all of your children are born with monstrous horns, tentacles or vestigial wings.

In Golarion at least, these outcomes tend to be pretty predictable based on who and what you worship.

OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
Religion is for idiots. Gods suck. Misotheism all the way.

Can we not do this? I doubt I'm the only one here with real life religious beliefs I care about.

I mean, maybe you meant in-game only, but it's pretty demonstrably untrue if so, and you should probably be clearer that's what you're talking about if that's your intent.


DMW, I think/hope Ocean mentioned misotheism in the context of the RPG they were presenting with the tangible, fickle, sometimes aberrant results of religion in game**. Since misotheists believe in and hate god(s), they're quite rare in reality (despite atheists being described so by some presuppositionalists, i.e. Sye & Ray). Unless Ocean's a mistaken antitheist (someone against belief in gods, i.e. Hitchens), in which case yeah, we don't need to bring personal theological viewpoints into a gaming forum. RPGs = escapism for many. It's no more appropriate to preach against god(s) & religions here than it is to evangelize. Though do note MY side has cookies. :)
Cheers

PS There's an online blogging site, Patheos, where one can go for online discussions on hundreds of blogs across the theological spectrum* if one wishes to pursue such.
*Okay, still no misotheism or other rare variants, having a lack of audience, but many non-mainstream options and a library for personal edification.

**ETA: In that RPG, as opposed to in PF/Golarion, where expectations are met unless deceived by some subversive agent.


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Your real world opinion of religion is necessarily going to affect your opinion of religion in fiction. We've already seen the flipside of that with DMW assuming the best of the Good deities and the worst of Rahadoum.


I'm personally disappointed that pantheism and panentheism are insufficiently represented on Golarion, especially in Vudra where it would fit very naturally.

Like "land of a thousand gods" makes a lot more sense when the practitioners of that religion see all of them as aspects of a single unifying, pervasive, infinite principle that realizes all that is, which is beyond name, form, and the ability to sense it.

Generally religion in Pathfinder is insufficiently mysterious, for my taste- the downside to all those setting books that go into "here's how the planes are structured, and here's what happens when you die" shuffle off most of the mystery to things like "Pharasma's whims are mysterious" by canonizing one perspective.

Liberty's Edge

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AFAIK, animism and shintoism see spirits in many places but do not see them as aspects of a single principle. Not sure why Vudra should be any different.

Liberty's Edge

The Golarion "religion" which is most mysterious to me is the Prophecies of Kalistrade. I also find them rather uninteresting as a concept.

I guess I prefer my religions clear-cut likely because I see lot of plot hooks in their interaction with the rest of the universe, other religions included.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Generally religion in Pathfinder is insufficiently mysterious, for my taste- the downside to all those setting books that go into "here's how the planes are structured, and here's what happens when you die" shuffle off most of the mystery to things like "Pharasma's whims are mysterious" by canonizing one perspective.

I think there's merit to having a religious system with hard verifiable rules - it matches well with the kind of system Pathfinder is, really. A setting where you get three miracles per day that you have to specifically pick out during morning prayer is one in which mysticism has been made into a science.

Not every fictional religion has to be like this, obviously, but it's one of the ways Golarion is pretty different from the bog-standard medieval fantasy setting we see everywhere.

Liberty's Edge

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Arachnofiend wrote:
Your real world opinion of religion is necessarily going to affect your opinion of religion in fiction. We've already seen the flipside of that with DMW assuming the best of the Good deities and the worst of Rahadoum.

Actually, no. Real world and fictional religious opinions can differ pretty widely based on the differences between the fictional world and what one believes is true about the real world. I've certainly run into fictional worlds where misotheism is an objectively correct attitude, for example. The Gods really are all complete bastards there.

OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0's post is just a bit broader sounding than that, and I think they should make clearer they're talking about in-world religion if that's what they're doing (well, and I think they're pretty clearly objectively wrong in Golarion specifically, but that's a much more minor issue).

And I'm not actually assuming anything. I was floating a theory that explained what was going on in Rahadoum without them necessarily being right that all the Gods are a&+#~&&s. It could be right or wrong, I was just noting that them having ecological problems, even of Divine origin, does not inherently make them right on that score. It was an example of what might be going on, rather than what I believe is necessarily true.

Also, that theory doesn't really assume the worst of Rahadoum (it assumes the Rahadoumi aren't hypocrites and thus wouldn't take the help of the Gods when offered...I'd argue that's assuming the best of them). It does sort of assume the best of the Good Gods, but not because of any real world religious beliefs on my part. It does so because of the way Alignment works in Pathfinder, which the Gods are not arbiters of or immune to, and means they're generally not able to hurt innocent people for petty reasons and remain Good, which is why I consider it more likely than the 'Rahadoum is right that all the Gods are actively screwing them over' theory.


To be honest, I was poking at real world religions by using Golarion as a mirror.

I wrote something twice here and deleted it, because each time it would have invited lengthy debate that I’m really not interested in. There’s a Poisoning Alchemist after all...

I’ll refrain from further comment on real world religions in this thread.

@Castilliano: I’m not really sure what a “mistaken anitheist” is, unless that is an opinion held by theists, that antitheists are mistaken for not believing in god/s? Or are you saying that I’m mistaking realworld antitheism for misotheism? To be clear, I’m saying that if you live in Golarion, misotheism is not an altogether insane response. Perhaps not a healthy one, but definitely understandable.

Liberty's Edge

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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
I’ll refrain from further comment on real world religions in this thread.

Thank you, this seems the wrong place for that sort of discussion.

Dark Archive

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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
I’m saying that if you live in Golarion, misotheism is not an altogether insane response. Perhaps not a healthy one, but definitely understandable.

One unusual feature of theism in a fantasy world is that most of the magical benefits of worshipping a god and becoming a cleric, one can match by being a wizard, or a druid, or a sorcerer, or a witch. *If* becoming a cleric and 'selling yourself' to some all-powerful outsider-what-wants-your-soul was the only game in town, than rejecting that would be cutting off your only route to power.

But looking at the current gods, several of them got their start as powerful wizards (or rogues, fighters or even paladins). Nethys, Aroden, Arazni, Norgorber, Cayden, Iomedae, etc. None appear to have been clerics, making it seem, in-setting, to be a choice to forever be someone else's servant, and never to 'be the boss' or ascend to the the highest possible level.

(And this sort of thinking predates PF. Witness the party that became gods in the Time of Troubles, in the Forgotten Realms. The wizard Midnight became a god. The rogue Cyric became a god. The fighter Kelemvore became a god. The cleric Adon, bupkiss. Forgotten man, for the Forgotten Realms.)

In Golarion, the Runelords of Thassilon were wizards. Geb and Nex, wizards. Tar-Baphon, wizard. Razmir, wizard. Pretty much any mover or shaker in every country on the map is a wizard, barbarian, bard, rogue, fighter, witch, etc. But rarely a cleric.

It's a self-limiting career choice, it seems, and monotheism is part of the reason, IMO, because generally a setting designer doesn't want to lock too many of his setting's possible adventuring locations to just one of the setting's many options (everyone from X must worship the state religion!), which making a nation's ruler a cleric of just one of the setting's gods would lean towards.

If a cleric could be more pantheistic, following 'the Taldan pantheon' or 'the dwarven pantheon' or 'the Sandpoint pantheon,' a nation or city-state could have a cleric ruler and it not feel like the state religion is Bob, and clerics of Jane and Ralph need not apply.


OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

To be honest, I was poking at real world religions by using Golarion as a mirror.

I wrote something twice here and deleted it, because each time it would have invited lengthy debate that I’m really not interested in. There’s a Poisoning Alchemist after all...

I’ll refrain from further comment on real world religions in this thread.

@Castilliano: I’m not really sure what a “mistaken anitheist” is, unless that is an opinion held by theists, that antitheists are mistaken for not believing in god/s? Or are you saying that I’m mistaking realworld antitheism for misotheism? To be clear, I’m saying that if you live in Golarion, misotheism is not an altogether insane response. Perhaps not a healthy one, but definitely understandable.

Thank you for this mature response.

As per one of your interpretations, I thought perhaps you were an antitheist mistaking your viewpoint for misotheism.

As for Golarion, I think Ezren should label himself a misotheist rather than an atheist, since I'm certain he accepts there are creatures called gods capable of doing god-level magic, even if he despises them due to his backstory. Antitheist could work too due to its root words, though that'd twist it from how we use the term in the real world.
With belief systems, it's what believing it spurs you toward that determines whether it's healthy or not. IMO that is, with lots of caveats!


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Kind of splitting hairs saying that Iomedae "isn't a Cleric". She was a Paladin of Aroden, which is a similar enough archetype to provide evidence that it's possible to ascend even as a former servant.


Set wrote:
OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:
I’m saying that if you live in Golarion, misotheism is not an altogether insane response. Perhaps not a healthy one, but definitely understandable.

One unusual feature of theism in a fantasy world is that most of the magical benefits of worshipping a god and becoming a cleric, one can match by being a wizard, or a druid, or a sorcerer, or a witch. *If* becoming a cleric and 'selling yourself' to some all-powerful outsider-what-wants-your-soul was the only game in town, than rejecting that would be cutting off your only route to power.

But looking at the current gods, several of them got their start as powerful wizards (or rogues, fighters or even paladins). Nethys, Aroden, Arazni, Norgorber, Cayden, Iomedae, etc. None appear to have been clerics, making it seem, in-setting, to be a choice to forever be someone else's servant, and never to 'be the boss' or ascend to the the highest possible level.

(And this sort of thinking predates PF. Witness the party that became gods in the Time of Troubles, in the Forgotten Realms. The wizard Midnight became a god. The rogue Cyric became a god. The fighter Kelemvore became a god. The cleric Adon, bupkiss. Forgotten man, for the Forgotten Realms.)

In Golarion, the Runelords of Thassilon were wizards. Geb and Nex, wizards. Tar-Baphon, wizard. Razmir, wizard. Pretty much any mover or shaker in every country on the map is a wizard, barbarian, bard, rogue, fighter, witch, etc. But rarely a cleric.

It's a self-limiting career choice, it seems, and monotheism is part of the reason, IMO, because generally a setting designer doesn't want to lock too many of his setting's possible adventuring locations to just one of the setting's many options (everyone from X must worship the state religion!), which making a nation's ruler a cleric of just one of the setting's gods would lean towards.

If a cleric could be more pantheistic, following 'the Taldan pantheon' or 'the dwarven pantheon' or 'the Sandpoint pantheon,' a...

I do question how much deliberate planning goes into the majority of high powered characters in the setting being arcane casters & not clerics or druids. If that's an intentional statement on behalf of the developers to paint those classes as lesser or less viable, or if it's just on various individual basis the design of the characters or the whim or the need of the story dictate they be this thing, this thing, or this thing, with no grand plan about it, and we're left to speculate at the results & see patterns that aren't really there.


FormerFiend wrote:
I do question how much deliberate planning goes into the majority of high powered characters in the setting being arcane casters & not clerics or druids. If that's an intentional statement on behalf of the developers to paint those classes as lesser or less viable, or if it's just on various individual basis the design of the characters or the whim or the need of the story dictate they be this thing, this thing, or this thing, with no grand plan about it, and we're left to speculate at the results & see patterns that aren't really there.

I do believe most NPCs are done based on what the story needs and not some planning. There might be some borad outline for the key events, but I doubt they are planned way to far ahead. Regardless, NPCs are not about what classes are viable.

Specially when you consider that PF1 (where most of the lore comes from) had wildly different power level depending on what you look for.

Liberty's Edge

Most casters named here are BBEG. A Druid BBEG is a bit more complicated to motivate than a Wizard. And a Cleric BBEG is only a servant for their evil deity.

Not to mention that Evil theocracy seems to be a theme absent from Golarion.


That high powered BBEGs who have the aspirations to rival gods do not put much faith into them makes sense, but for the way religion is organized and presented on Golarion the mass of common people would batter more.

I just wished there would be a more polytheistic approach in which it is normal for characters to worship and perform rites to multiple gods based on what he currently needs. Even specialized priests would offer gifts to other deities, only that they were not experts on worshipping a different deity.
After all people know that multiple gods exist. There is no much benefit of only worshipping one, especially when that god can't currently help you.

I made such a character once (basically looked like Mr.T with all his holy symbols) in a D&D game and everyone was perplexed because of that (the players, not the characters).

Liberty's Edge

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Ixal wrote:

I just wished there would be a more polytheistic approach in which it is normal for characters to worship and perform rites to multiple gods based on what he currently needs. Even specialized priests would offer gifts to other deities, only that they were not experts on worshipping a different deity.

After all people know that multiple gods exist. There is no much benefit of only worshipping one, especially when that god can't currently help you.

They literally do exactly this. The first chapter of RotRL, the first thing ever published in Golarion, features a single temple devoted to...I think six different Gods (I'd need to check exact number). The current priest is a Cleric of Desna, but he respects and makes the basic offerings to all of them.

Nothing has really changed since then, with many combined churches showing up and many people praying to different deities circumstantially.

Sometimes this gets ignored by PCs, but it's very much a thing.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
They literally do exactly this. The first chapter of RotRL, the first thing ever published in Golarion, features a single temple devoted to...I think six different Gods (I'd need to check exact number). The current priest is a Cleric of Desna, but he respects and makes the basic offerings to all of them.

I was about to post a similar example, the largest temple in Averaka, a town in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, is dedicated to Gorum, Calistria, Desna, Cayden Cailean and Erastil.

And there's another, even better example of polytheistic worship in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the Desnan shrine of Moonwing's Bough, which not only grants boons to followers of Desna, but also to those of allied deities like Calistria, Sarenrae or Shelyn, who pray there.

Arachnofiend wrote:
Your real world opinion of religion is necessarily going to affect your opinion of religion in fiction.

I disagree. While I personally don't believe in the existance of any real world deity, the deities of Golarion are among my favorite aspects of this world and I enjoy playing religious characters.


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The Raven Black wrote:

Most casters named here are BBEG. A Druid BBEG is a bit more complicated to motivate than a Wizard. And a Cleric BBEG is only a servant for their evil deity.

Not to mention that Evil theocracy seems to be a theme absent from Golarion.

Nidal says hi

Dark Archive

FormerFiend wrote:
I do question how much deliberate planning goes into the majority of high powered characters in the setting being arcane casters & not clerics or druids. If that's an intentional statement on behalf of the developers to paint those classes as lesser or less viable, or if it's just on various individual basis the design of the characters or the whim or the need of the story dictate they be this thing, this thing, or this thing, with no grand plan about it, and we're left to speculate at the results & see patterns that aren't really there.

Oh I agree with that. I don't think there was a sinister plan to underrepresent clerics, druids or sorcerers among the movers and shakers of Golarion. It just sort of happened that way, and part of the reason why, IMO, is that clerics, in particular, are very limited, and making a monotheistic cleric the ruler of a land sort of pigeonholes that section of the map towards a state religion, which limits playability and story possibilities and alignment options (effectively cutting away various options, which can be fine to a small degree, but can be annoying if taken so far as to only be able to play race X or class Y in like 20% of the setting...).

Also wizards seem to make more popular 'end bosses.' :)

It is weird that, right out of the gate, Golarion had wiggle room for regions run by witches (Irrisen) and alchemists (Thuvia) *which weren't even classes yet*, but has such a dearth of sorcerers, a class which 3.0 introduced to d20 and a few of us old guard never really got around to integrating into our world-design. :)

(I'd swap Razmir (?), Geb (undead) and even *Aroden* (destined) into sorcerers, while keeping Tar-B and the Thassilonians and Nex wizards.)


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Creative Burst wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Most casters named here are BBEG. A Druid BBEG is a bit more complicated to motivate than a Wizard. And a Cleric BBEG is only a servant for their evil deity.

Not to mention that Evil theocracy seems to be a theme absent from Golarion.

Nidal says hi

Nidal is the clear cut example, for sure. Cheliax would also apply IMO, though the human leadership may protest the government is clearly run by Asmodeus's minions for Asmodeus's interests.


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A lot of things aren't common in Golarion *because* Cheliax does them, and Cheliax is less effective narratively if it doesn't stand out as distinct from everybody around it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm just going to park this here:

Henotheism. I feel like this is what most clerics do.

Alatrism. The approach many of my rogues and fighters have taken over the years, and arguably kind of the Rahadoumi approach.


There are sorcerer rulers. For example Dtang Ma which is ran by 5 sorcerers.

The Technic League has a lot of Arcanist/Lore Seekers. But they also had Sorcerers, Wizards and many Magi.

Mendev is ran by a Paladin.

Khenet I was at one point the ruler of Osirion, and a Cleric of Sarenrae.

Mzali was ruled by the god-king Walkena.

Abrogail Trune II is a Sorceress.

Mediogalti are ruled by Red Mantis Assassins.

*******************

I have 2 points to make with this list.

1. Looking at indivudual countries is an exercise in futility. There are way too many countries and each does things differently one way or another. There are just as many monotheistic leaders and rulers as there are pantheistic countries and rulers.

2. Looking at the leadership you can get an idea of the religion of the area. But the leadership enough is not enough to determine how the common folk worship. A place might have a leader who worships a specific deity, but still allow other deities to be practice.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Temperans wrote:
Mendev is ran by a Paladin.

Mendev is run by a Politician now.

No seriously, that's Chancellor Irahai's actual listed class. I don't think it actually means anything at the moment, , as NPCs only tangentially have classes at all, but if they ever convert the Envoy to Pathfinder 2 that might be what they call either it or one of its subclasses.

Queen Galfrey is now the herald of Iomedae.

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