Life is a (Blog) Carnival; Religion’s Effect on Dungeons and Dragons.
Well, since I caught a fancy and looked at a couple of blogs which struck mine, I came across this concept of Blog Carnival. Essentially, the Carnival is a monthly topic for rumination, and since I first saw it on Handful of Dice I will give NiTessine from #Enworld on Otherworlders props here. The current Carnival covers Religion, and so I get to discuss a gripe I’ve always had with religion in D&D: the cheapness of miracles.
Now, I’m not much of a religious man, but miraculous events occur every day in D&D. The blind are given sight, arms and legs magically reattached, and the dead rise on the whim of their spirit and a nice chunk of rare gems. The costs involved in religious magic are akin to those involved with arcana but come with a price; a required allegiance. However, this allegiance of self has absolutely nothing to do with the allegiance of the target of these ministrations.
Say you’re a follower of Billoby, God of Mischief. You decide to run around with scissors as part of the hallowed Festival of Bad Ideas, and poke out one of your eyes. Perhaps Billoby holds the tenet of ‘you break it, you fix it’, and considers his worship so awesome as to be without reproach. The local Temple of Slapstick refuses to give you aid, but the worshippers of Frigidia, the Goddess of Uptight Morality, will heal your eyes with nothing more than a how-you-do and a cache of gold pieces. You get your eye back, everything is fine, but you have just engaged a spellcaster antithetical to your own creed for your own good.
Where exactly does this stop? Would two deities in divine war allow their clerics to heal enemy troops without forethought? Would a priest of Jumbuck, God of Cuteness, be able to curse a Dire Cutie to a demesne of horrible ugliness? In this world where magic is real, and angels and demons come to the world to literally save (or damn) souls to eternal hellfire, anyone gets to be given the assistance of anyone who happens to carry a Cure Light Wounds handy . . . as long as they’re not undead, of course.
It is strange that in our world where we are in constant turmoil, a game which has been defamed as the tool of the Devil has such a lesson of mercy and willingness. The gods do not blame their followers for giving succor, nor do they remove their boons from those who they were freely granted to save for in the most overreaching states. Indeed, it seems that clerics are granted the right of oversight of their own books, and they get to choose to whom their gifts are given. This movement, the right for an enemy to be granted aid or an ally to be granted ill seems far beyond our own clergy. The right to free will, so often discussed in theology, is rarely the true hand of those involved in religion in this day and age. Those who refuse a specific ideal may be denied the right to calling themselves leaders of their religion.
I can only hope that someday, in a time where we will long be forgotten, that gods and their churches will grant freewill to those willing to walk the path of their specific brand of righteousness. Laity and clergy alike allowed to associate freely, without ill will or issue, with any and all who practice their own ways freely.
Since this is not a gaming blog per se, I leave you with good words,