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Real World Religions in Roleplaying Games

We-ll, in Factions, I decided to include religions as actual Ritual Magic paths.

Granted, I haven't released materials that cover the Christianity School, but it's in the works.

I figured if I was going to make Ritual Magic real in a modern supernatural setting, I would have to make a place for common Western religions. In Factons, purposeful, ritualized direction of belief and will *is magic*, regardless if it is done by a Hermetic, Wiccan Druid, or Catholic Priest.

I knew that this was going to be a bit of a hot spot, though. That's part of why I left the major religions out of the core materials (with the exception of Buddhism, because frankly it's not too common in the US). Also, I went out of my way to be respectful to each School, and spent a lot of time researching each. And it's pretty obvious, especially with the higher level Rituals in Factions, that they are meant to be seen as fantasy. I have yet to read of a Wiccan, Druidic, Gardnerian Wicca, or any other "witch" Ritual that actually claims to be able to, for example, conjure up a storm, or any other observable, flashy effect. So, when such things are included in the game, I think people know that we've entered into the realm of fiction.

Still, I think it is all handled with an even hand. No one religion or belief system gets to be the "one true path," but all get to be included.

I think it helps that there isn't a single, all-powerful entity in the game. In Factions, reality is what it is because of what humanity believes. Since humanity as a whole can't agree on such things, all exist at various levels of "truth." Is there an Abrahamic, Christian God in the game world? Yes. And there's also a Native American "Great Spirit," and Shiva, and Buddha, and everyone else, too.

Anyway, enough shameless promotion. On with the show.


Black Vulmea

Really bad egg
Validated User
. . . I hope to learn how religion pops up in other roleplaying games that I'm not aware of or more specifically (if you like) in those I've already mentioned.
In Flashing Blades, you can play a 17th century Roman Catholic priest or a Calvinist minister, rise to positions of authority in the respective churches/congregations, possess the secret "Religious Fanatic," and go off to war against heretics (pick your persuasion).

Clearly the subject of religious institutions is approached head-on by the system and the setting - religious belief is addressed to a lesser extent. The relationship between the Catholic, Protestant, and even Muslim and Orthodox faiths can play a significant role in adventures, as is wholly appropriate for a game set against the backdrop of 17th century Europe.


New member
I think adding elements from real world religions enhances a setting or game's attraction. I use religions all the time when building my campaigns. Whether it is a global faith based on the catholic church, or a mystic sect of monks based loosely on the Therevada Sect of Buddhism, I feel these vaguely familiar religions work much better than something completely made up (if that is even possible).


Mothman Analogue Diogenes
That's real good. I think i'll have it(if anyone asks) that it's a subconsciously cast spell based on belief/hope/desperationthatit will work rather than the thing itself.
And that vampires are vulnerable to that.
Fits neatly into the dresden files too. Knights of the cross , which also makes a nice character archetype for buffy.
Well see I didn't want it to have anything to do with the faith of the individual wielder. Buffy and Giles, to say nothing of Willow, are not Christian but they use crosses. No one uses anything other than Christian Holy Symbols to repel vampires (in Buffy/Angel). So it was a spell cast that effects all vampires/crosses everywhere for all time.


RPGnet Member
That being said I do see a distinction between debating ideas and attacking individuals, but I do not not see see any reason not to discuss an idea solely on the grounds that someone might get their panties in a bunch.
I officially predict an exciting future for you at RPGnet.

Oh, it's not that bad. I was told something similar by somebody else. Just try to be polite. Everything seems to work out better that way. :) RPG.net is still one of the biggest sites that I know of for discussing rpgs. Enjoy. :)

Mike McCall

Registered User
Validated User
Well, as a Christian who treats the history and stories of his own religion as mythology, and tries to be both respectful of and creative with said mythological elements when they're appropriate to the setting he's working with, I'm pretty fearless in including real-world religions in my settings.

In the past, I've had an Odin-worshipping Mage character, a couple of devout Christians in various contexts and a Jewish Changeling. I've also GM'd for characters who included Christians in the Matrix, neopagans, real-world druids and many others.

Right now, I'm working on three settings, and two of them directly address real-world religion (the third addresses religion too, but it's about the characters looting ruins and becoming gods, so it's not relevant).

One is an urban-fantasy game, and one of the magical paths PCs can take is to make bargains with spirit-entities and channel their power. Among these mystics, I've included a Hades-priestess, demon-worshippers, and an Orthodox deacon who leads the local preternatural-investigations division of the police. I've also made a plot point of the "Reformed and Liberated Church of Satan", who adhere to the tenets of real-world Satanism in a world where demons are known to exist. I fail to address whether there is some ultimate One, or Satan himself, but that's largely because the focus of the game is on the street-level, and the "ultimate answer" just isn't accessible from there.

The second setting where religion features prominently is a near-future superspy setting. Thanks to a limited nuclear war between Israel and Iran and the subsequent revolt of Christian extremists in North America, all organized religion is now viewed as tantamount to world-destroying fanaticism. The heroes of the setting have a much more moderate view, so defending freedom of religion is actually an issue. It's pure science-fiction, so it doesn't address the issue of the validity of these religions, just their context in society.


New member
I too am a Christian and my campaigns are always in congress with the catechism. Alignment is based on Christian Ethics, and there is only one God. All other false gods are treated as demons. This has allowed my gaming group to enjoy the fun of gaming, while not risking their immortal souls.


Mothman Analogue Diogenes
I too am a Christian and my campaigns are always in congress with the catechism. Alignment is based on Christian Ethics, and there is only one God. All other false gods are treated as demons. This has allowed my gaming group to enjoy the fun of gaming, while not risking their immortal souls.
I'm sorry that you feel that God requires even your imagination to match up with the "correct" world view but am glad that you may enjoy gaming.
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