Gods in games

Many games and campaigns have at some point an important place for gods and religion. Whether it's the power a cleric draws from, the motivation of an ancient crusade, the new age of technogods, or the god king emperor of Mankind, there's always a place for gods. November's theme is gods and religion and we're going to kick things off by discussing why these things are vital to almost any game you want to run and how we can take those needs into consideration.  

 

Mechanical necessity: Some games or systems have gods as nearly a necessity. They have class features, perks or other qualities that draw directly from a divine source.  While other systems may be able to get by without a god, it would certainly dramatically alter the tone of such a game.

Character development: Religion is often a major factor in people making life changes. There are many stories of redemption, sobriety, and spiritual healing that are linked to finding or embracing religion. And likewise there are many tales of heroes falling, and the weak minded being corrupted and turned by dark gods and evil powers tempting and seducing them.

Cosmological:  While not every campaign setting necessarily needs a deep and intricate and well documented cosmology, but when one is required gods are oft involved. Gods can hold a cosmology together, serving to explain where things came from, who rules them, and who designed such a very nicely constructed multiverse.

Narrative: Gods are powerful beings who come with a mythology, a grandeur, and often insight beyond anything a mortal can access. This is why they are often great quest givers, plot hooks, and motivational factors. Gods can also be rallying points even when they themselves aren't involved. A dying god rallies a whole country behind the cause of salvation. A newborn god may be putting all the other religions on edge.

Opposition: Gods and religions make for amazing villains. An overzealous church on a crusade is enough of a foe to fuel an entire campaign alone. A god makes for a fantastic final villain for a game as much as a priest of a knight makes for a fine foe at any point. Not to mention the countless sea of stories driven by evil cult's. An enemy driven by religious zeal or backed by a wealthy and powerful organisation is already halfway to being great before even fleshing them out.

World building: Designing a world means creating places and people that feel alive and believable, and people for better or worse tend to seek out religion. People look for a higher meaning to things in their life and believing in a god provides that meaning. Likewise religion has played a huge role in world history and society today. When you create a world and characters in it, faith and divinity can serve as an inexhaustible well of inspiration and ideas.

 

Hopefully this has shown a few good uses for gods and religion in your setting, stay tuned all month long for more specific details on how to work with these elements