Polytheism or multiple monotheistic religions?


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There's a mix up in terminology here. There are no monotheist leaders on Golarion, and I doubt any pantheist ones either.

Monotheists believe only one god exists. Period. All others are fiction.
-Which leader thinks only one god exists?
Worshiping only one god uses different word(s) depending on context.
Worshiping only one god while believing others exist is henotheism. This applies to nearly all priests (etc) on Golarion, at least if they have any training in Religion.

Pantheism sounds like it's tied to pantheons, or even 'all' (pan) gods, but it's not. (I made this mistake when a friend described herself thus.)
Pantheism is where there's one god, the universe (all). As in the universe is the manifestation of a god; they are identical. (Whether it's sentient or not is a further question and there are variants, some even tied to religions whose doctrines conflict with this notion.)
Not to be confused w/ panentheism.

Google tells me worship of a pantheon is called polytheism. That is correct, I just thought there'd be a more specific term too. There may not be because polytheism as practiced on Earth had blurry boundaries due to syncretism and similar cultural blending.


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Repeating myself here, but the operative term is Henotheism.

Which is like "Sure Ares, Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, and Hera exist... but I really only care about what Athena thinks."

Dark Archive

I'm honestly kind of confused about why the pantheism/polytheism mix up keeps happening because to us it was taught in elementary school in religious studies <_<; I mean I guess it helps that "pantheon" isn't really a commonly used term in finnish, but is term polytheism (or basic premise of other religions) just not taught in school elsewhere?

Liberty's Edge

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CorvusMask wrote:
I'm honestly kind of confused about why the pantheism/polytheism mix up keeps happening because to us it was taught in elementary school in religious studies <_<; I mean I guess it helps that "pantheon" isn't really a commonly used term in finnish, but is term polytheism (or basic premise of other religions) just not taught in school elsewhere?

In the US, 'religious studies', is not a class that I've ever seen taught. Some schools have it, I'm sure, but it's not standard by any means. Ignorance about religions other than the ones you have personal experience with is in many ways the norm rather than the exception. Greek/Roman mythology specifically gets taught decently often, but more as part of the history of ancient Greece and the Roman empire (which does get taught, at least some) than as anything else, and details of terminology? Forget about it.


Yeah, "religious studies" is something you only see in any real depth in college. Your religious instruction is coming on one day, about one specific religion (yeah you know the one). The other Abrahamic religions might get some introductory lessons in general history classes but you'll never see anything tangible about anything else.

Liberty's Edge

In France, we learn the difference between religions that have a pantheon of multiple gods, such as the Greek/Roman, the Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Norse, the Aztecs, which are called polythéistes, and religions that recognize only a single god (mostly the Abrahamic religions) which are called monothéistes.

Those are taught in History lessons, which are structured as a specific field (with a dedicated teacher) from 10 year-old kids' education but appear before that in the general education.

Most anything beyond this very basic level of detail is only available in college for students who specifically focus on these topics.

Of course, many interested people also learn from all kind of sources, outside the official education's program.

Liberty's Edge

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Arachnofiend wrote:
Yeah, "religious studies" is something you only see in any real depth in college. Your religious instruction is coming on one day, about one specific religion (yeah you know the one). The other Abrahamic religions might get some introductory lessons in general history classes but you'll never see anything tangible about anything else.

In fairness, my education in school actually included very little about Christianity except in a historical context, either.

So whether you get that shoved down your throat is gonna vary from place to place. It's just that it's a choice between stuff on Christianity, or nothing at all on any religion outside of History classes, which teach the bare minimum to understand the history in question (which does include the difference between polytheism and monotheism...but just barely).

I personally enjoy mythology and have studied that of various religions extensively, but I don't think I learned much of anything about it in school at any point in my life.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Repeating myself here, but the operative term is Henotheism.

Which is like "Sure Ares, Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, and Hera exist... but I really only care about what Athena thinks."

Which is really limiting, because while Athena might protect you in the next war you get drafted into what you really need right now is a good harvest from Demeter and a blessing from Hera for more children...


I will admit that I lack the vocabulary for the terms and they have yet to sink in.

Also I was not trying to say that those people were monotheist or pantheist. But that they clearly favored a specific god. Yet still managed to control the area.

In other words having a focus on a single deity for the leader does not necessarily affects the governance or the religion of the country.

Dark Archive

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CorvusMask wrote:
I'm honestly kind of confused about why the pantheism/polytheism mix up keeps happening because to us it was taught in elementary school in religious studies <_<; I mean I guess it helps that "pantheon" isn't really a commonly used term in finnish, but is term polytheism (or basic premise of other religions) just not taught in school elsewhere?

Elsewhere is a big place, and I'm sure that sort of thing is taught in many other parts of elsewhere, but not in middle America where I grew up, where I got screamed at and told I was going to hell for telling a teacher that Moslems worshipped the same God as Christians and Jews.

The distinction between henotheism and polytheism was not on the curriculum in Oklahoma. :)


Temperans wrote:

I will admit that I lack the vocabulary for the terms and they have yet to sink in.

Also I was not trying to say that those people were monotheist or pantheist. But that they clearly favored a specific god. Yet still managed to control the area.

In other words having a focus on a single deity for the leader does not necessarily affects the governance or the religion of the country.

The thing is in a world/religion where you know that there are multiple gods (very true for D&D/Pathfinder because of divine magic and intervention) and where every god is responsible for different, specific things (domain system) it makes no sense to favour or focus on a specific god.

Why would people do that? Do they get punished if they are not faithful enough to one specific god? That might apply to D&D with the wall of the faithless (in itself a rather strange construct) but hardly for Pathfinder.

So when there is no requirement to worship one god over all others, why do so instead of worshiping the god you currently need? And then you are back to a system with rites where religion is less about constant worship and belief (what is there to believe? That gods are real is a fact) and more about bargaining with gods for blessings when you need them.


Maybe Golarion gods don't like to bargain w/ mortals?

In Golarion, I see religious affiliation much like voting. Alignments resemble political parties which might work with other parties whose views overlap, but aren't going to jump across to ally with polar opposites except perhaps in extremis. And each party will have several contenders to choose from, with different platforms.
So our average Joe & Jane voter/commoner will typically have a political/alignment preference, and yes, switch votes for candidates whose abilities/domains best suit context. But that doesn't mean they'll accept all candidates or all platforms.
(And they may get duped or pressured socially, etc.)

Then you have the activists/Clerics (et al) who may have interests as broad or broader than the average folk, yet have chosen to dedicate themselves to one cause or one candidate. Because of that focus, they get perks & access/divine powers. That doesn't mean activists ignore or disrespect those in the same party/alignment, or even other non-conflicting parties/deities/domains/etc. They may even sympathize greatly w/ other beliefs. "I nearly followed Desna, but I couldn't resist Shelyn's call. And I felt I had to dedicate myself to truly know what beauty meant, though I still love watching the stars at night." Such an activist might very well attend or help w/ the rites of allied gods. But all gods? No. Not all gods are there for all people.

ETA: And how gods respond to casual or circumstantial belief will likely vary by deity. Asmodeus likely cares very much, though may toss out some casual blessings as a lure. "First one's free..."

Note: In similar RPG settings, this isn't necessarily true depending on the relations between the gods and sects as well as the nature of belief, i.e. whether it's the source of the gods' power.


Ixal wrote:

The thing is in a world/religion where you know that there are multiple gods (very true for D&D/Pathfinder because of divine magic and intervention) and where every god is responsible for different, specific things (domain system) it makes no sense to favour or focus on a specific god.

Why would people do that?

In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.

Liberty's Edge

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Ixal wrote:
The thing is in a world/religion where you know that there are multiple gods (very true for D&D/Pathfinder because of divine magic and intervention) and where every god is responsible for different, specific things (domain system) it makes no sense to favour or focus on a specific god.

The Gods of Golarion are very distinct in terms of the type of behavior they want from their worshipers. Some have a lot of overlap but many distinctly do not. Worshiping all of them in a way they'd actually approve of is pretty much impossible.

Additionally, Gods are much more versatile in their abilities to effect the world than in many classical real-world religions. Calistria is not a Goddess of Healing, but her Clerics can heal as well as most, and Shelyn is a Goddess deeply opposed to war, but her Clerics are often skilled warriors, and can call on her magic to aid them in battle. Praying to Shelyn for aid in a war is unusual...but in the right cause, it is nevertheless effective.

So yeah, a lot of people will pray to whatever God is most appropriate to their situation for aid with said situation, but those who do engage in henotheism (who definitely also exist), aren't nearly as limited as they might be if the Gods worked differently.

Ixal wrote:
Why would people do that? Do they get punished if they are not faithful enough to one specific god? That might apply to D&D with the wall of the faithless (in itself a rather strange construct) but hardly for Pathfinder.

What the Gods of Golarion want is primarily not offerings, but adherence to certain sorts of behavior. The more Gods you follow, the more codes of behavior you must abide by to keep them all happy. That's not something laypeople will always care about, and some deities have a lot of overlap in that regard (indeed, such overlaps are what the existing pantheons tend to be based on) but it's still one reason why blanket worship of every possible deity isn't universal.

Ixal wrote:
So when there is no requirement to worship one god over all others, why do so instead of worshiping the god you currently need? And then you are back to a system with rites where religion is less about constant worship and belief (what is there to believe? That gods are real is a fact) and more about bargaining with gods for blessings when you need them.

And again, the Gods of Golarion don't care much about specific rites or short term bargains, for the most part. They care about your ongoing adherence to the specific principles they hold as important. Even Abadar, the most mercenary of the major Gods, while he might approve of you offering money to him or his temple, will not empower you for it. He reserves that for those who follow the law, expand and defend civilization, and work hard or engage in trade to become wealthy...to those who follow his ideals. He considers that vastly more important than simply trying to buy his favor. And he's literally the God of buying things, so think how much more true that is for the other Gods.


SuperBidi wrote:


In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.

The very first commandment says that you shall not worship other gods. You can argue that God and Allah are the same but for most that doesn't really work.

You also have the problem that God and Allah are Omnipotent, so there is no need to worship anyone besides them.
In a system like Pathfinder each god has a specific role and area of expertise, so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.


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Ixal wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.

The very first commandment says that you shall not worship other gods. You can argue that God and Allah are the same but for most that doesn't really work.

You also have the problem that God and Allah are Omnipotent, so there is no need to worship anyone besides them.
In a system like Pathfinder each god has a specific role and area of expertise, so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.

You don't understand my point: You're applying a utilitarist view on religion. Yes, certainly that you would maximize your gain by worshipping multiple deities. But religion is not about utility.

You can't look at all the religions/gods available and make your own mix to get the maximum benefit out of it. Religions are not about benefit, religions are not "logical". So there's nothing illogical in Golarion's system of belief.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Ixal wrote:
so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.

Really? Why not?

The clerics of various gods certainly don't go around conducting ceremonies for other gods.

And laypeople can certainly pick one god that they want to venerate. Nothing will happen if they do. The gods you ignore on Golarion don't send hit squads after you.

Scarab Sages

Ixal wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.
The very first commandment says that you shall not worship other gods. You can argue that God and Allah are the same but for most that doesn't really work.

Actually Muslims do worship the God of Abraham, YHWH, same as Jews and Christians.

Even if that weren't true, SuperBidi's point still stands - people generally are not both observant Christian and also observant Jews.

Liberty's Edge

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SuperBidi wrote:
In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.

Only one can grant direct divine power, it's true. You can pretty readily follow several if they get along and their tenets are compatible, though. Especially if you're not a Cleric and thus not getting direct divine power from anyone anyway.

Ixal wrote:
In a system like Pathfinder each god has a specific role and area of expertise, so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.

As I addressed above, this is actually not true. Gods in Golarion have significant power even outside their areas of special concern, so you can easily get away with devotion to one if you so choose.

Calistria, Goddess of Lust and Vengeance, can also help the crops grow or heal a sick child if she feels like it, and will in fact readily do either if a Cleric asks (or as readily as any deity can, anyway). So can just about any other God, frankly.

Now, they're certainly more powerful within their areas of focus, meaning praying to more than one can be advantageous, but it's a convenience rather than a necessity.


NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Ixal wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.
The very first commandment says that you shall not worship other gods. You can argue that God and Allah are the same but for most that doesn't really work.

Actually Muslims do worship the God of Abraham, YHWH, same as Jews and Christians.

Even if that weren't true, SuperBidi's point still stands - people generally are not both observant Christian and also observant Jews.

The point stands, but isn't really relevant. Each of those religions have the same God, in a sense, but hold that the others have a completely wrong understanding of Him.

That doesn't really apply in Golarion. The various gods are different beings, but acknowledge each other's existence and have complicated relationships with each other. There's nothing inherent about worshipping Desna that precludes worshipping Shelyn. They both exist. Neither claims the other is a misunderstood version of themselves. Neither has any "shall not worship other gods" commandment.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Can we please take the real world religions out of this conversation? I understand the utility of comparing concepts of pantheism, polytheism, henotheism, and monotheism, but I think those conversations work fine without bringing current religious practices into this.

Not least because about 4 of you have repeated a basic error about comparative religious studies, highlighting the very lack of that education mentioned upthread. The urge to jump in and correct it, even though it is off-topic and beside the point being made, is starting to make me twitchy.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
In my opinion, for the very same reason you can't be a christian and a muslim at the same time. On paper, they are not mutually exclusive (actually, they share a lot of things, even the same god historically). But you can only really worship one, like on Golarion where only one god can be your patron deity.
Only one can grant direct divine power, it's true. You can pretty readily follow several if they get along and their tenets are compatible, though. Especially if you're not a Cleric and thus not getting direct divine power from anyone anyway.

Clearly.

The thing is: It's supposed to be the case, but I never see that during adventures. Everytime someone is devoted, it's only to a single deity. The character sheet puts Deity next to alignment and size, the character creation rules put it between alignment and age.
So, even if not having a deity is definitely a thing, from the way the rules are written it looks like the basic thing is to have a patron deity. It doesn't mean that you can't pay homage to other gods, but it looks to me that most people in Golarion are supposed to have a main god they worship more than the others.


Except you can't worship multiple gods on Golarion (unless the uber-god/GM manifests an alternate Golarion.) The rules for Golarion/PF2 say so.
And that's due to the theological definition of "worship" as it would develop in such a world with such a rule (which might in-game ultimately come from the gods or the way divine power transmits or who knows?)

You can venerate multiple gods, which to most layfolk looks much the same, and frankly is the same IMO except "for reasons" that can seem odd from the outside. Worship in Golarion carries a different, stronger connotation than veneration. Heck, there are probably several layers of meaning that don't translate well into English due to divine powers existing.

Perhaps...
Respect: Mildest form of observance, passive involvement, lip service
Venerate: Active involvement, not singularly devoted to, follows edicts and anathema based on their personal ethics & needs
Worship I: Henotheism, setting that target deity above all others in importance, strong dedication to edicts & anathema
Worship II: Worship I + divine powers
And there might be separate words for if that involves spellcasting from a list, having a Divine Font, or just being good at Ritual magic (which on the other hand might be used to trick people into believing you have divine powers).

Clerics have such similar power that it does hardly matter which deity you worship re: mundane tasks and needs. It'd be difficult to distinguish Clerics of different deities, especially if they shared a domain. The specific spells granted would be about all, and that's likely esoteric knowledge.

God of Abraham:
The discussion re: are the different versions of Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah the same deity has never been resolved and has strong advocates on all sides. There's disagreement within the same religions and even denominations. So it's awkward to see people write as if it's some settled issue. Or that it even can be settled without blurring the concepts that define those religions (which internally have lots of blurry divisions too!)

Coming at the topic culturally a student can track the development of the concept; the deities share the same root so are the same deity in that sense. Except they've manifested contradictory traits so can't be the same deity theologically. Many theologians will stridently say that being wrong means you worship a wrong, therefore different, deity. Other theologians accept the errors as us being human, with the intent being fine as it's aimed at the same target.

Put them in the same room and the finger pointing begins as to who's misled whom or who's misinterpreted what or the importance of rigidity in this doctrine or that. I've witnessed followers of the same religion point at each other and say "That's not my God" in rebuke, even though they use the same source material. Oy!

Tack on the concepts of the Demiurge, deism, universalism, and others that have arisen within Abrahamic circles for extra obfuscation!


Religion is more about what you feel. The rationalization is used to support the belief.

It doesnt matter if you worship or not or even if you followed specific rules or not. What matters is how you behave overall.

And the order of the God Claw clearly shows you can get power from multiple gods depending on how you do it. The how is more important than the who.


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I think we need to separate "worship" and "receive divine power from". Clerics only get power from a single deity, but I'm sure there are a lot of small villages out there with a holy person who is able to conduct the rites of, say Erastil and Pharasma (they just don't get spells.)

It would be pretty strange if every remote county in the inner sea region supports over a dozen priests so that they can cover all the bases. Plus even if most people in Ustalav are Pharasmans they still need to do a bunch of stuff outside of Pharasma's purview (like harvest, court, go on journeys, fight, etc.)


Arachnofiend wrote:
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.

Nah, at least not in the short run. Cheliax is run according to the precepts of Hell, and veneration/worship of Asmodeus and other archdevils is common, but Abrogail II is the one on the throne.

Cheliax's government is based on diabolism, which is more about the hierarchies of Hell. Diabolists "admire hierarchical systems of power, the virtue of strong leadership, the understanding that pleasure cannot exist without pain and suffering, the suppression of free will, and the value of slavery."

We have that sort of stuff here too. We call it "fascism" instead, but it's basically the same thing.


CrystalSeas wrote:
Ixal wrote:
so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.

Really? Why not?

The clerics of various gods certainly don't go around conducting ceremonies for other gods.

And laypeople can certainly pick one god that they want to venerate. Nothing will happen if they do. The gods you ignore on Golarion don't send hit squads after you.

Birth, marriage and death.

So deity of choice for marriage and death/funerals, but for births you want an experienced midwife, which most likely means a Pharasma cleric or worshipper.
Most places probably prefer a Pharasman cleric overseeing cemeteries as well


Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
Ixal wrote:
so you can't really get away with just worshipping one.

Really? Why not?

The clerics of various gods certainly don't go around conducting ceremonies for other gods.

And laypeople can certainly pick one god that they want to venerate. Nothing will happen if they do. The gods you ignore on Golarion don't send hit squads after you.

Birth, marriage and death.

So deity of choice for marriage and death/funerals, but for births you want an experienced midwife, which most likely means a Pharasma cleric or worshipper.
Most places probably prefer a Pharasman cleric overseeing cemeteries as well

Maybe...

I think all three would vary and depend on the person, their culture, their base religion, and who's available. People with a god that doesn't do the rite in question may simply go to a wise person or government official rather than a priest. Depends on how one views marriage; is it a civil, community, personal, or religious rite?
And death seems like it would involve Pharasma nearly always, even if one's personal priest were also present.

And rather than a midwife, maybe whoever can cast Heal or Soothe for the childbirth. Or is trained in Medicine w/ how effective that is on Golarion. This could be a midwife, but baby's not always gonna wait!
With the high risks with childbirth, I'd lean toward getting that caster who fixed up Rolf's leg when his axe went astray. Or most likely a priest w/ Heal of a deity who teaches midwifery! :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I think we need to separate "worship" and "receive divine power from". Clerics only get power from a single deity, but I'm sure there are a lot of small villages out there with a holy person who is able to conduct the rites of, say Erastil and Pharasma (they just don't get spells.)

While we're on the subject... how about the Sandpoint Cathedral?

A little town (or is it an indomitable village?) in Varisia has a central house of worship that honors Desna, Abadar, Sarenrae, Shelyn, Gozreh, and Erastil.

The guy running this fairly major (for the wild and woolly Lost Coast, anyway) multidenominational house of worship is a cleric of Desna, and that's obviously where his priorities lie, but his job requires him to be open to the concerns of members of other faiths.


I do feel that RPG polytheism, Golarion included,* is often fairly unsatisfying as such, sometimes to the point of strained suspension of disbelief. I thought I remembered discussing this on Paizo before, but a post history search only came up with a single, rather lightweight post from 2014 complaining about how RPG polytheism often comes off like a monotheistic caricature of it.

*:
to the extent that Golarion religion could even be called polytheistic at all, which seems dubious.

I enjoy the unmitigated pedantry blog too, although as a nonreader (to date) of any of the Dune series, I wish he'd picked a different way of describing his hardy-barbarians-vs-decadent-civilizations series of posts than the Fremen Mirage.

In addition to the points made in the blog, I would add one specific to RPGs with an alignment system: the alignment system does a lot to pull the flavor of all sorts of game settings away from polytheism, since it sets up alignment-based camps of divine allies and enemies in a way that does really interfere with mortals trying to spread their worship around across the cosmological battle lines that alignment imposes. You end up with something that is purportedly polytheistic but, on a cosmology level, often looks more Judeo-Christian, with the gods fulfilling the cosmological roles of medieval saints and demons and such: the gods are themselves in service of higher powers, but instead of being personified as God/Satan/whatever, these are the impersonal forces of alignment.

Then in turn you have situations where all the gods, including bad gods, have separate religions, separate churches, separate followers, beliefs, texts, teachings, and in general each god has a whole separate pseudo-monotheistic edifice devoted solely unto them - since that's how religion in the setting is presented - and you have to come up with explanations of why people would do this for the s!!+ty gods. Often rather unconvincing explanations, because the more compelling explanations built into actual polytheism aren't applicable to the caricature of it.

Super Zero wrote:
"Pick your favorite!" is... not a religion.

Right, and RPG "polytheistic" religions are less compelling the closer they match this approach.

Tender Tendrils wrote:
Historically in polytheistic religions, while the common people prayed to multiple deities, the priesthood was usually seperated - you didn't have a priest of the entire Roman pantheon, you had a priest of Jupiter and a priest of Mars and so on.

What was the pontifex maximus if not a priest of the entire Roman state religion?

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I think the word some people in this thread are searching for is "Henotheism" which is essentially "I acknowledge there are or may be other gods, but I worship one."

Which again seems reasonable since it would be bizarrely egocentric to assume that more than one deity cares at all about you in particular.

Would it be bizarrely egocentric to believe that, though? Why?

Is the answer different for an archmage or a king than for a farmer or a shepherd? And even in the latter case, why would it be bizarrely egotistical for a farmer to court the good graces of both a deity of storms to rain upon her fields and a deity of motherhood to ease her childbearing?

Liberty's Edge

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Actually Pick your favorite is very much how religions work in Golarion. Even a Cleric can easily change deity with zero loss of power. And the deities of Golarion do not promise rewards after death. They reward their Clerics now as long as the Clerics respect their edicts and anathemas. So a Cleric will follow the deity they feel closest to in worldview. Which has clear consequences on alignment BTW.


The Raven Black wrote:
Actually Pick your favorite is very much how religions work in Golarion.

I know. To try to be clear, I wasn't saying "Golarion religion doesn't amount to pick-your-favorite-god."

I was saying "Although Golarion religion superficially imitates polytheism, really it does amount to pick-your-favorite-god, which is something I don't like about it."


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Just putting a "deity" field on the character sheet is a weird artifact of the genesis of this family of games coming from the idiosyncratic personal politics of one particular Wisconsinite.

The same way that "Sex" gave way to "Gender & Pronouns" and "Race" gave way to "Ancestry & Heritage" on the character sheet, "Deity" should really give way to something else unless we want to privilege, for example, Sarenrite characters and Iomedean characters over Rivethun characters and Sangpotshi characters.

Like if the field were "Religion/Philosophy" instead of "Deity", writing "Animism" or "Laws of Mortality" in that field would feel less weird.


I mean that is only relevant to PCs and only if they are a cleric, paladin, or inquisitor.

I know that before a paladin could just be a paladin of good/law and effectively just worship the gods in general.

But I get what you mean with how prominent clerics are.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Just putting a "deity" field on the character sheet is a weird artifact of the genesis of this family of games coming from the idiosyncratic personal politics of one particular Wisconsinite.

The same way that "Sex" gave way to "Gender & Pronouns" and "Race" gave way to "Ancestry & Heritage" on the character sheet, "Deity" should really give way to something else unless we want to privilege, for example, Sarenrite characters and Iomedean characters over Rivethun characters and Sangpotshi characters.

Like if the field were "Religion/Philosophy" instead of "Deity", writing "Animism" or "Laws of Mortality" in that field would feel less weird.

That would also open the door back to divine casters having a basis in a philosophy or drawing power from a force, which for some reason is a no-go in Golarion (and for that matter the Forgotten Realms, at least back in 3e). This is something I see as a weakness of the setting.

I mean, looking at Eberron, we have:

* The Sovereign Host and the Dark Six, a split pantheon with a total of 15 gods where the most common thing is to worship nine of them as a group. These gods do not manifest overtly in the world and are beyond direct contact by followers, but their followers believe that they are present in all parts of the world that are relevant to their "portfolio".

* The Silver Flame, a force whose purpose is to bind and defeat evil, primarily of the supernatural variety but also to lead people toward good.

* The Blood of Vol, a philosophy based on everyone having a spark of divinity within themselves, and claiming that the gods are evil for making mortals mortal so they do not have the time to cultivate this spark.

* The Path of Light, a philosophy primarily followed by the kalashtar people who believe that by practicing certain rituals and leading their lives in a particular way, they will hasten the cycle governing the Dream plane, changing it from the nightmare place it currently is.

* Assorted fiends and aberrations able to grant power to a small number of followers. These are collectively known as the Cults of the Dragon Below, even if few of them would consider themselves as such.

* Assorted other small cults and religions.

Even if Avistan has 20 major deities and an assortment of minor ones, I still think Eberron offers more religious diversity, because the religions have a greater degree of difference.

Note that following a force or philosophy is not a backdoor out of having to follow requirements – a cleric still needs to have faith in himself and be acting in what they believe to be their object of veneration's best interests. And since it's based on faith, it means that you can have legitimate disagreements on how to do things, and you can't call up your gods and ask them, or see who still has their magic left.


Staffan Johansson wrote:
That would also open the door back to divine casters having a basis in a philosophy or drawing power from a force, which for some reason is a no-go in Golarion (and for that matter the Forgotten Realms, at least back in 3e). This is something I see as a weakness of the setting.

Cultures whose religion is not based on "worship these gods" are supposed to have divine casters, just not clerics. Animists, Rivethun, etc. had Shamans and Oracles were more common than Clerics in Tian Xia.

If Golarion has these people whose religion is not "we worship [God]", then not only should the game mechanics reflect that (i.e. unless "no divine casters" is your thing a la Rahadoum, you have them) as should the character sheet.

I mean, the Principles of Kalistrade is not a deity. The Green Faith is not a deity. The Whispering Way is not a deity, etc.


PF1 had no restriction of what Deities could be worship heck a Cleric didnt have to worship anything.

PF1 Cleric wrote:

As their powers are influenced by their faith, all clerics must focus their worship upon a divine source. While the vast majority of clerics revere a specific deity, a small number dedicate themselves to a divine concept worthy of devotion—such as battle, death, justice, or knowledge—free of a deific abstraction. (Work with your GM if you prefer this path to selecting a specific deity.)...

A cleric can't cast spells of an alignment opposed to her own or her deity's (if she has one). Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaotic, evil, good, and lawful descriptors in their spell descriptions.

Channeler of the Unknown wrote:
Among these, an even smaller number find that while their original deity no longer answers their prayers, something else does: an unknown entity or force of the universe channeling its power through a trained and practicing vessel.

The whole "Clerics can only worship 1 deity" is a PFS thing to make things more standardized.

And again Paladins, Oracles, Druids, Shamans, Divine Arcanist all classes that had "Divine spells" did not require the worship of a deity.

There are also many Golarion locations that are well known for their varied worship, and those places surely still have some clerics.

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

PF2 has removed some of the language that allows for more varied deities. But they have also given philosophies deity entries as PossibleSavage pointed out.


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That PF1 text is due to 3.5 backwards compatibility; PF2 is fully designed for the Golarion setting, which means it follows the rules that Golarion always has, ergo that clerics only get their spells from deities, which are specific things with specific rules. If clerics could get their spellcasting from a philosophy then Razmir as a character fundamentally does not work.


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Except from Gods and Magic.

Philosophies and Spirituality wrote:
Faith on Golarion isn’t limited to worshipping one god Some worshippers draw power from multiple deities, while others follow the spirits of the world, or reject the divine entirely, relying on secular philosophies for guidance. The following pages present examples of the diverse religious and philosophical practices of the Inner Sea region.

Source Gods & Magic pg. 93

That section is followed by the rules for following a Pantheon that ends with

Pantheons wrote:
In rare cases, a character can worship a pantheon without following a patron deity. Such cases are unique and subject to GM approval.

Source God & Magic pg. 93


Temperans wrote:

PF1 had no restriction of what Deities could be worship heck a Cleric didnt have to worship anything.

PF1 Cleric wrote:

As their powers are influenced by their faith, all clerics must focus their worship upon a divine source. While the vast majority of clerics revere a specific deity, a small number dedicate themselves to a divine concept worthy of devotion—such as battle, death, justice, or knowledge—free of a deific abstraction. (Work with your GM if you prefer this path to selecting a specific deity.)...

The whole "Clerics can only worship 1 deity" is a PFS thing to make things more standardized.

It was a Golarion thing, not a PF1 thing. Pathfinder 1 was not as strongly tied to Golarion as PF2 is, and allowed deity-less clerics because of backward compatibility. If you look at the Golarion-specific material, it seems quite clear that clerics, at the very least, need a specific patron deity. For example, in the section on philosophies, the 1e Inner Sea World Guide says "Clerics who follow a philosophy must select a patron deity among the philosophy’s associated religions (they gain no additional benefits from adherence to a philosophy).", and Inner Sea Gods says "Even clerics, who must choose one deity as their patron above all others, sometimes offer such minor prayers to divinities allied with their chosen gods, although their faith must still remain primarily focused on their deity of choice, for even the good gods can be jealous."

Quote:
And again Paladins, Oracles, Druids, Shamans, Divine Arcanist all classes that had "Divine spells" did not require the worship of a deity.

Oracles in particular are called out as being how people can get divine magic without being dedicated to a single deity. In other words, in PF1 Golarion you could not be someone who cast cleric spells without either a patron deity or a curse. PF2 at least allows the option of divine sorcerers, although deity-less divine casters are cut off from many of the stronger spells on the divine list.

But yeah, I misspoke slightly. I should have said PF1 Golarion required clerics to adhere to a particular deity, not divine casters in general.


Staffan Johansson wrote:
Temperans wrote:

PF1 had no restriction of what Deities could be worship heck a Cleric didnt have to worship anything.

PF1 Cleric wrote:

As their powers are influenced by their faith, all clerics must focus their worship upon a divine source. While the vast majority of clerics revere a specific deity, a small number dedicate themselves to a divine concept worthy of devotion—such as battle, death, justice, or knowledge—free of a deific abstraction. (Work with your GM if you prefer this path to selecting a specific deity.)...

The whole "Clerics can only worship 1 deity" is a PFS thing to make things more standardized.

It was a Golarion thing, not a PF1 thing. Pathfinder 1 was not as strongly tied to Golarion as PF2 is, and allowed deity-less clerics because of backward compatibility. If you look at the Golarion-specific material, it seems quite clear that clerics, at the very least, need a specific patron deity. For example, in the section on philosophies, the 1e Inner Sea World Guide says "Clerics who follow a philosophy must select a patron deity among the philosophy’s associated religions (they gain no additional benefits from adherence to a philosophy).", and Inner Sea Gods says "Even clerics, who must choose one deity as their patron above all others, sometimes offer such minor prayers to divinities allied with their chosen gods, although their faith must still remain primarily focused on their deity of choice, for even the good gods can be jealous."

Quote:
And again Paladins, Oracles, Druids, Shamans, Divine Arcanist all classes that had "Divine spells" did not require the worship of a deity.
Oracles in particular are called out as being how people can get divine magic without being dedicated to a single deity. In other words, in PF1 Golarion you could not be someone who cast cleric spells without either a patron deity or a curse. PF2 at least allows the option of divine sorcerers, although deity-less divine casters are cut off from many of the stronger...

A while after I posted that I actually found a post by James about that. Effectively, he was out voted for the mechanical aspect in PF1, but Golarion does require a deity. So you were right.

Still the PF2 Gods and Magic book stance of philosophies makes me question things a bit. They are even listed along with deities, not even separated.

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