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Offline Darkstand

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Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« on: August 25, 2013, 04:19:03 PM »
I am currently preparing a game, set in a world mostly based on Victorian-Era England (but with visits to other places planned). It is not set on earth, but a world mostly similar, for plot freedom reasons. This means the broad strokes of history and scientific discovery still apply, as well as cultural norms, but I can change the geography, politics, and such around freely. (I may or may not decide to rename everything, to prevent 'but in England...' responses, leaning toward yes.)
(XWD, if you manage to find this, stop reading please)

The Event
Sometime between 1870 and 1900, however, things changed. One day, without warning, a solar eclipse occurred when there should have been no such event. In areas where the moon was visible, it turned blood red. Lights cascaded across the sky reminiscent of the Aurora-Borealis (aka Northern Lights) and the earth shook. Then, it just stopped. The sun came out, the earth stilled, and life went on. These events were recorded across the globe, and many thought it was a sign of the apocalypse, the end of the world.

The Awakening
The truth, however, was somewhat... stranger. After the Event, strange incidents started to crop up across the world. Strange creatures the likes of had never been seen before began to appear. Miracles and feats that should have been impossible began occurring. It took a while, but slowly the world came to a realization: magic was awakening in the world.

The Forgotten Truth:
Long ago, in the dark ages, magic was real. Wizards battled it out for supremacy, and monsters walked the land. All this changed, however, and magic was sealed away. As the ages progressed, the truth of magic was lost, and the stories and tales containing them were seen as myth and superstition.

...religion?
The issue I am facing, however, is what to do with religion. As magic returns, the question of the gods becomes something that can be answered, and I have not yet decided how to deal with it. Is the voice of the gods now able to be heard, and those who are faithful empowered to perform miracles? What about the issue of contradictory religions? Will we see another crusades, and tear the world apart?
As far as I can see, there are a few ways of dealing with the issue.
1) Nothing changes. The gods remain silent, and even with the newfound power of magic, the question remains a enigma, a cypher. Divine magic is non-existent, other than a few hoaxes. The question of Divinity remains one of faith, unprovable either way. This would be the simplest answer, and the least likely to contain real-world sacrilege and/or blasphemy.
2) Divine Magic returns with the rest, and the truth of divinity is revealed:
   A) One major religion is right. WHOO for them, everyone else has a REALLY bad day. Stinks to be them.
   B) Multiple gods and religions are right, and may not see eye to eye. I will use comparative religion to group together religions that are from the same source and could conceivably be the same god, with a few transcription errors over the years. Abrahamic religions might be one god, for example. The Pagan gods are all real, conversely, but of lesser power individually.
   C) I cheat, and use the option from B with custom made gods to avoid any real-life comparison. This requires a lot of historical revision, however, as religion has played a major role in history.
   
Thoughts and discussion is sought, especially by any who may have tried something like this in the past. Questions of real-life religion are discouraged, except as relative to the question. If real-world religions is a forbidden topic, then I apologize.
Once I have playtested the setting a little, I may try to write it up as a submission, but I have other plans for submissions before then. As it is now I am just laying out the bones to state my issue.

Other things, if you are inspired:
I have very vague notions of what the seal is/was and how it was formed, as well as how it was broken. While one is not likely to matter in-game, the other might, and its good to know these things even if they don't actively come up. This is not as much of a issue as religion, though.
What little notion I have goes something like this: at some point in the dark ages, wars between magi and magi torn the land asunder, and dark creatures from nightmarish realms roamed the land. In a desperate move, a brave few gathered together to try save what they could, and a plan formed, where they would seal this world off from the other realms, and stop the flow of magic. (Perhaps related to the reign of King Arthur?) This plan worked, and magic drained away from the world. Creatures of magic left behind, either died or buried themselves deep in enchanted slumber to await the return of magic.
(As such, this world is actually somewhat of a recovered post-apocalyptic world from the perspective of high-fantasy... heh)
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2013, 04:29:47 PM »
No matter which way you choose to go, I think the appearance of magic will have a huge impact on how others view religion. I expect many of the deeply religious would find such a thing highly offensive and seek to wipe it out. The crusades might start a little closer to home.

Personally, I'm more fond of option B. You could keep roughly the same religions but file off the serial numbers (much as you talk about doing for the countries.) Sure we would all be able to guess what religions you refer to, but it would keep you from having to invent things whole cloth (I assume this is a point of using an alternate history.) I would say that the gods are not so much gods as they are powerful entities able to grant magical powers to the faithful. In this way everything works consistently under the same rough system of magic but you have so many seeds for conflict.
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Offline Gossamer

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 06:21:41 AM »
I don't see how this is any different from Gods in any other fantasy world. One could argue that divine magic is proof of their existence, IF divine magic really does come from the gods. Not like anyone could prove it, short of having a god appear. And even then, some people could claim it was all an illusion, plus as time goes by and nothing else happens, it is forgetten/skewed rather quickly. People will always find ways to disbelieve things, just let the gods/god keep quiet I say.

Maybe they could deign to speak to any heads of their religion, like the Pope or something. Not like he hasn't claimed to have heard the voice of god anyways. And of course crazies make excellent prophets.
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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 11:09:30 AM »
From the read it seams like only #1 would work, unless your historical myths have the gods getting involved during the dark ages. My reasoning is if the gods didn't do anything to stop the mass destruction of the dark ages, why would they show up now? If they do, you will have to explain that too.

If you plan on using clerics with spells given by the gods or intend to have gods be involved with the world, then let them appear and do their thing in some kind of form or another. If you don't have a distinct reason for having gods, it would be so much easier to just let them be silent and concentrate on the magic as the primary supernatural type effect.

What it boils down to is what direction do you want to take? Are gods fun for you? Then do it for sure! If you don't care about them and are just doing them because you think maybe you should. Then dump them as you probably won't give them the attention they need.

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Offline Darkstand

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 01:12:40 PM »
No matter which way you choose to go, I think the appearance of magic will have a huge impact on how others view religion. I expect many of the deeply religious would find such a thing highly offensive and seek to wipe it out. The crusades might start a little closer to home.

Personally, I'm more fond of option B. You could keep roughly the same religions but file off the serial numbers (much as you talk about doing for the countries.) Sure we would all be able to guess what religions you refer to, but it would keep you from having to invent things whole cloth (I assume this is a point of using an alternate history.) I would say that the gods are not so much gods as they are powerful entities able to grant magical powers to the faithful. In this way everything works consistently under the same rough system of magic but you have so many seeds for conflict.

An interesting idea on the anti-magic ethos, I can definitely see the Abrahamic monotheistic religions taking this stance...
As for the idea about only slightly reworking the gods, sounds plausible, I'll work out a template in a moment. Yes, the revisionist history was to support some level of familiarity and let me not reinvent the wheel... and also to see how society would react to magic. I wanted to use a time period before the invention of the computer, but after industrial revolution, so thus Victorian era/Golden age if they get to not-America.
My instincts tell me to keep it vague about the divinity of the gods, that there IS something more than mere power residing in the gods, but as to whether or not that makes them worthy of worship is another question altogether. Of course, there WILL be cults and religions popping up that are false entire, founded by demons or fallen angels, but that is a different category.

I don't see how this is any different from Gods in any other fantasy world. One could argue that divine magic is proof of their existence, IF divine magic really does come from the gods. Not like anyone could prove it, short of having a god appear. And even then, some people could claim it was all an illusion, plus as time goes by and nothing else happens, it is forgetten/skewed rather quickly. People will always find ways to disbelieve things, just let the gods/god keep quiet I say.

Maybe they could deign to speak to any heads of their religion, like the Pope or something. Not like he hasn't claimed to have heard the voice of god anyways. And of course crazies make excellent prophets.

I have always held that in the 'typical' high fantasy world (like D&D) that the belief in gods was never in question, but rather their worthiness to be worshiped. Its hard to hold a atheistic belief  when the gods can flex their power so obviously, or even walk the land themselves on occasion, but its easy to say they are not worthy of worship, that they do not follow through on promises, or that the aspect itself is flawed (such as refuting a evil god).
The issue here is this world is transitioning from one type to another, and the belief system has not changed.
If the gods were inclined to keep their peace, and remain silent, then I could see this happening. IT would only take one, though... maybe there could be a divine accord that prevents contact, even with the seal broken. Any one breaking that rule would face the wrath of the other gods. It becomes a little more complicated with mortal magic in the mix though. Not at first, but when people start getting the hang of magic again they can begin to pierce the veil if I don't obscure it intentionally as part of cosmology.

From the read it seams like only #1 would work, unless your historical myths have the gods getting involved during the dark ages. My reasoning is if the gods didn't do anything to stop the mass destruction of the dark ages, why would they show up now? If they do, you will have to explain that too.

If you plan on using clerics with spells given by the gods or intend to have gods be involved with the world, then let them appear and do their thing in some kind of form or another. If you don't have a distinct reason for having gods, it would be so much easier to just let them be silent and concentrate on the magic as the primary supernatural type effect.

What it boils down to is what direction do you want to take? Are gods fun for you? Then do it for sure! If you don't care about them and are just doing them because you think maybe you should. Then dump them as you probably won't give them the attention they need.

I have to mess with historical records lightly as it is, if magic has existed up till the dark ages, but record keeping was somewhat less accurate up till that point anyway. I'll also note that as of the start of the campaign, the characters have little to no knowledge of the 'real' histories. Divine magic is fun to play with, especially stuff like Angels, Fallen Angels, Demons and Devils. Now, two of those 4 could still exist. I'm very much on the fence about the issue.

Giving it some thought, IF I use religion, I would divide the religions up as such, into a HEAVILY oversimplified list, and use the idea to remake the gods slightly- ok, not so slightly:
  • Abrahamic Religion - these religions all claim to worship the same god, and that the others have go the transcription wrong. (Simplification.) For this setting, fuse the Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian, Islam, Bahá'í Faith, ect.) into one. This monotheistic religion believes the others are false, pretenders, and that only God is God. They also are heavily anti-arcane, and see it as a abomination and a sin. Clerics will gain power to dispel magic. Still need a new name. I hate names.
  • Polytheistic Faith - Believing in one or more of many gods, divided by domain and aspect. These gods do not reject the existence of other gods, and so can cooperate more harmoniously if necessary. The Chinese Celestial Bureaucracy is a good example, or the Greek Pantheon. This resembles how religion is often treated in fantasy. The power of a cleric - and what is asked of him or her - depends on the god or gods worshiped.
  • Animistic - Believing not in gods, but in ancestral guidance or guidance from spirits, these beings are clearly not deific but are no less revered. Shinto, and some parts of Native American religion is like this. These clerics attempt to live in harmony with these forces, and draw their power from that. D&D style Druids fall under this section, as do some demonologists (think more 'lesser' demons like oni, although Diabolists probably exist too.)
  • Idealistic - not relying on the presence of gods for enlightenment, these religions practice a path of introspection and reflection. Buddhism and certain variants of Taoism are like this.  There can be a number of these 'paths' and each one is no less true for the others. Psychic powers would arise from followers of these paths. (Psionics, if I choose to use it. Otherwise its just a thematic change.)
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 01:31:47 PM by Darkstand »
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Offline Gossamer

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 02:18:57 PM »
I have always held that in the 'typical' high fantasy world (like D&D) that the belief in gods was never in question, but rather their worthiness to be worshiped. Its hard to hold a atheistic belief  when the gods can flex their power so obviously, or even walk the land themselves on occasion, but its easy to say they are not worthy of worship, that they do not follow through on promises, or that the aspect itself is flawed (such as refuting a evil god).
The issue here is this world is transitioning from one type to another, and the belief system has not changed.
If the gods were inclined to keep their peace, and remain silent, then I could see this happening. IT would only take one, though... maybe there could be a divine accord that prevents contact, even with the seal broken. Any one breaking that rule would face the wrath of the other gods. It becomes a little more complicated with mortal magic in the mix though. Not at first, but when people start getting the hang of magic again they can begin to pierce the veil if I don't obscure it intentionally as part of cosmology.

Gods don't really make appearances in my Campaign, other than in legends, and possibly in disguise. Simply because I don't like the concept of gods. They're already showing all their cards. If you're standing face to face with Lolth, you have a pretty good idea that she'll one up you somehow. And like I said, even if most people believe in the gods, and maybe even take divine magic as proof of their existence, there's also the fact that arcane magic could do pretty much everything divine magic could, any miracle could just be an illusion. So what can be perceived as proof of their existence, could also be perceived as proof that they don't exist. Another reason for my gods not to show themselves so openly, is that it would invite their enemies to do the same, and wreck havoc on the planet in a larger scale than any stray summoned demon ever could. Plus, as a PC, the only fun way to interact with a god is defeating them, I would say.
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Offline Dossta

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 03:30:11 PM »
I see an opportunity here for you to use the Seal to your advantage.  Perhaps the gods *did* communicate and were more-or-less visible in the lives of mortals before the Seal was placed (back during Arthurian times).  However, they were locked away or prevented from extending their reach in the world afterward (maybe Merlin had something to do with that).

Now that the Seal is broken, the gods could potentially resume their old roles and schemes.  They might start interfering with life on "Earth" in a big way, and there might be many who resent the intrusion.  I can imagine that a lot of religions held to a certain doctrine, in absence of divine guidance.  Now that the boss has returned, however, the Church may find that they were doing something wrong the whole time.  Or perhaps the deity just wants to shake things up, replace people in key positions within the Church.  There could be huge splits within the larger religions -- between those that accept the return of the god, and those who are losing power because of it.

For many, this would be akin to the Second Coming, happening for all the worlds' religions, all at once (oh, so *that's why Jesus never came back :P).  Gods would reward those who stayed faithful, or try to regain control in places where they had been forgotten.  Whatever changes had occurred in their absence might be very displeasing to them, so expect the rites, ceremonies and beliefs to be rolled back to the way they were over a thousand years prior.  Old forms of punishment and reward would be reinstated.

In other words, it would be complete and utter chaos.  Perfect fodder for a campaign :D

What the gods actually *are* and whether or not they are worthy of worship is another matter altogether.  No answers here, but I'll leave you with a couple of questions: how powerful are these beings, really, if they can be sealed away like all the other mythical creatures?  And where do they come from in the first place?

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Offline Darkstand

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 03:50:07 PM »
I see an opportunity here for you to use the Seal to your advantage.  Perhaps the gods *did* communicate and were more-or-less visible in the lives of mortals before the Seal was placed (back during Arthurian times).  However, they were locked away or prevented from extending their reach in the world afterward (maybe Merlin had something to do with that).

Now that the Seal is broken, the gods could potentially resume their old roles and schemes.  They might start interfering with life on "Earth" in a big way, and there might be many who resent the intrusion.  I can imagine that a lot of religions held to a certain doctrine, in absence of divine guidance.  Now that the boss has returned, however, the Church may find that they were doing something wrong the whole time.  Or perhaps the deity just wants to shake things up, replace people in key positions within the Church.  There could be huge splits within the larger religions -- between those that accept the return of the god, and those who are losing power because of it.

For many, this would be akin to the Second Coming, happening for all the worlds' religions, all at once (oh, so *that's why Jesus never came back :P).  Gods would reward those who stayed faithful, or try to regain control in places where they had been forgotten.  Whatever changes had occurred in their absence might be very displeasing to them, so expect the rites, ceremonies and beliefs to be rolled back to the way they were over a thousand years prior.  Old forms of punishment and reward would be reinstated.

In other words, it would be complete and utter chaos.  Perfect fodder for a campaign :D

What the gods actually *are* and whether or not they are worthy of worship is another matter altogether.  No answers here, but I'll leave you with a couple of questions: how powerful are these beings, really, if they can be sealed away like all the other mythical creatures?  And where do they come from in the first place?

This was more or less both what I had in mind and my worst fear about the issue.
My thinking is that the Gods still existed, but were prevented from interacting with the world by the same thing that sealed the other worlds away from reality - and magic with it. Hrmmm... that does make the idea of a religion hating magic kinda self destructive though.
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Offline Gossamer

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2013, 12:43:26 PM »
2 Ideas;

The sun used to run counter-clockwise around the world, and that somehow let magic into the world. When magic returns, the world's rotation will start to slow down until it reverses.

Like the ozone layer, a kind of anti-magic layer exists somewhere beyond the moon, for whatever reason that layer has now started to wane and letting magic through. This also implies that it could be true in our reality, since noone has ever travelled beyond the moon.

In both of these cases, the moon could somehow act like a lock or a seal, somehow.
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Offline Darkstand

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2013, 02:50:39 PM »
2 Ideas;

The sun used to run counter-clockwise around the world, and that somehow let magic into the world. When magic returns, the world's rotation will start to slow down until it reverses.

Like the ozone layer, a kind of anti-magic layer exists somewhere beyond the moon, for whatever reason that layer has now started to wane and letting magic through. This also implies that it could be true in our reality, since noone has ever travelled beyond the moon.

In both of these cases, the moon could somehow act like a lock or a seal, somehow.

Interesting idea... the moon as a Lunar Seal. Maybe the Sealing happened on the moon, with Merlin and a few other mages enacting the ceremony on the moon, away from prying eyes. This could be how a ARCANE seal could stop the flow of magic without defeating itself. They would have to get there through the other planes (a trip through the Fey realm perhaps... ) and once the ceremony was done, they could not get back.
Perhaps they were, themselves, made into a part of the seal (a living contradiction; a arcane creation blocking off magic from earth and the mages who created it living forever locked away from time). When the seal broke (what broke it is still undefined) they could have been released, and make their way back to earth... eventually.
Could also become important if the PC's need to get to the original Seal itself for some reason, and divination points straight up...

It does raise the question of, from a magical point of view what is unique about the moon. Werewolves and other creatures are already known to respond to it...

For the record, I am going with the 'gods silent' method for this game, and save the ideas about religion for next time. There is enough to play with with magic alone, I don't want to muddy the waters this time. The Church IS going to be highly anti-magical, will probably give the faithful abilities to Dispel magic.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 03:37:39 PM by Darkstand »
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Offline young0ne2

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Re: Questions of Religion in a world awakening to magic (HELP)
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2013, 11:45:28 AM »
hmmmm after reading everything here it almost sounds like a Steam-punk(esk) "Earth Inherited" situation.

... Asuming you DONT know what that means, i'll explain Quickly.
"EARTH Inherited" is the idea that when the 7th seal is broken the Gates of the Heaven and Hell will open, unleashing themselves on earth, and all things humanity, as the final battle of the "3 kingdoms". This dosent happen untill Humanity stands an equal chance in the battle between the Heavens and Hell.
AFTER THE BATTLE,  the gates seal and Demon's, angel's, and humans (all those who are still alive) are left to restart an existance on the ruined Earth. From these Ruins "Earth" is rebuilt with influence from all matter of creature.

Quote
nteresting idea... the moon as a Lunar Seal. Maybe the Sealing happened on the moon, with Merlin and a few other mages enacting the ceremony on the moon, away from prying eyes. This could be how a ARCANE seal could stop the flow of magic without defeating itself.
The Moon WAS the 7th seal ALL ALONG. With its distruction ( we could say the when the eclips happened a maybe Merlin and the mages completed their spell, whichin turn broke the seal?) the "EVENT" could be the after math of it all.
Quote
Sometime between 1870 and 1900, however, things changed. One day, without warning, a solar eclipse occurred when there should have been no such event. In areas where the moon was visible, it turned blood red. Lights cascaded across the sky reminiscent of the Aurora-Borealis (aka Northern Lights) and the earth shook. Then, it just stopped.
The Shaking the "Earth" felt could be the gates of Heaven and Hell Opening, and the flood of both into the world. With them, came magic as well, allowing the "Awakening" to start, the strange creatures/instances, miricles, Etc. it Could ALSO explain why the gods are silent.

Now here is where i think the religion idea should start to form, but i also think this is where the Steam-punk idea should come in too.
Steam-Punk is the idea that we didnt advance technologically in to computers and what not, but advanced with STEAM Tech.
With the breaking of the Seals and all that happened its not hard to see how this idea could work, AND why i think it ties in with the religion ideas you spoke of earlier...
  • Quote
    •Abrahamic Religion - these religions all claim to worship the same god, and that the others have got the transcription wrong. (Simplification.) For this setting, fuse the Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian, Islam, Bahá'í Faith, ect.) into one. This monotheistic religion believes the others are false, pretenders, and that only God is God. They also are heavily anti-arcane, and see it as a abomination and a sin. Clerics will gain power to dispel magic.

I Think this idea would work great in the situation(s) you have. Their will still the the faithful after "THE EVENT", and who will try to rebuild their religion and shun the new things of this world that counterdict their belifes.

  • Quote
    •Polytheistic Faith - Believing in one or more of many gods, divided by domain and aspect. These gods do not reject the existence of other gods, and so can cooperate more harmoniously if necessary. The Chinese Celestial Bureaucracy is a good example, or the Greek Pantheon. This resembles how religion is often treated in fantasy. The power of a cleric - and what is asked of him or her - depends on the god or gods worshiped.

This idea only just begins to Blossum with these EVENTS. With everything going on and all the gods its not hard to see how they could only benifit from this in this world. Hell you might even get some of the Demons/angels trying to be these beings made manafest.

  • Quote
    •Animistic - Believing not in gods, but in ancestral guidance or guidance from spirits, these beings are clearly not deific but are no less revered. Shinto, and some parts of Native American religion is like this. These clerics attempt to live in harmony with these forces, and draw their power from that. D&D style Druids fall under this section, as do some demonologists (think more 'lesser' demons like oni, although Diabolists probably exist too.)

This i think would be a big one, especually to survivers of the CHAOS of "THE EVENT". Not only that, if magic does come back then spirits might be able to be seen, or they might mistake some of the new creatures of the planet as such. THIS IS WHERE i think the steam-punk idea becomes fun and grand. I'll explain why lastly.

  • Quote
    Idealistic - not relying on the presence of gods for enlightenment, these religions practice a path of introspection and reflection. Buddhism and certain variants of Taoism are like this.  There can be a number of these 'paths' and each one is no less true for the others. Psychic powers would arise from followers of these paths.
Again Depending on how the survivors choose to look at the events that havae happened great idea.

Quote
•Animistic - Believing not in gods, but in ancestral guidance or guidance from spirits, these beings are clearly not deific but are no less revered.
This i think can go down 2 paths. The Traditional way, as you have stated, or the more Materialistic way.
Meaning that instead of putting their "faith" in animal spirits or spirits of nature, but rather in Machine or Personal Items. People who believe the only real "Faith" is that of a family sheild, or in a machine crafted by your own hands ( this being the Steam Tech part)
(Almost like the idea of " The Machine Spirit" from Warhammer 40k, or a Samurai warrior and his familys sword)

Sorry if this complicates things, just wanted to share my thoughts... my :twocents: ... probly more like  :twocents:  :twocents:  :twocents:

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