"Realistic" things that no-one actually wants to deal with in fantasy games

Dagor

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But in a world that also has fireball casting wizards that part wouldn't be especially important relative to belief, would it? The power of the god wouldn't be in the magic, because lots of people could do magic, but in the spiritual aspects. Those would still be true for people.
Well, there we'd get into the whole question of how much D&D's whole divine/arcane magic split even makes sense. :) I mean, if people legitimately can do magic without needing any help from the gods at all, that makes magic just another "mundane" part of the world -- and then what does that in turn make the gods other than perhaps just another sort of powerful wizards? How would you be able to tell the difference?
 

DarkStarling

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It’s true, many people in our world DO live in a world of Angels and demons, or equivalent Powers from their own religion. And they are real and active as far as they are concerned. As far as meeting Gods on the road? That’s still supposed to happen, I’m most familiar with Pele in Hawaii but she’s hardly unique.
 

DarkStarling

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Well, there we'd get into the whole question of how much D&D's whole divine/arcane magic split even makes sense. :) I mean, if people legitimately can do magic without needing any help from the gods at all, that makes magic just another "mundane" part of the world -- and then what does that in turn make the gods other than perhaps just another sort of powerful wizards? How would you be able to tell the difference?
Well that gets into the real world magic/miracle divide doesn’t it. But there’s two main ways to split it. Either it’s a magic if it’s from a god or spirit the culture doesn’t approve of, or it’s magic if it’s just doing something tricky with the laws of the world. Gods on the other hand are more fundamental, defining reality by decree.

And then you get things like The Dresden Files, where God and the Angels and Wizards and all the rest are basically doing the same things, but Wizards don’t know what they’re doing as much and have been given the power anyway for some reason. And since it’s in mortal hands, with the freedom and lack of sophistication that comes with, it’s very different in practice. But Dresden, whenever he’s feeling philosophical, still talks about Magic as the power of life and creation.
 

Dagor

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It’s true, many people in our world DO live in a world of Angels and demons, or equivalent Powers from their own religion. And they are real and active as far as they are concerned. As far as meeting Gods on the road? That’s still supposed to happen, I’m most familiar with Pele in Hawaii but she’s hardly unique.
The question is, do those gods ever show themselves to people who don't already believe in them? Because that would seem to be kind of the most elementary test of their "reality" -- anyone can claim the world is really secretly run by pink miniature elephants who use their awesome mind control powers to make the people who do their bidding not realize they're even there and who only ever consider the person making said claim worthy enough to occasionally talk to.
 

Dalillama

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It’s true, many people in our world DO live in a world of Angels and demons, or equivalent Powers from their own religion. And they are real and active as far as they are concerned. As far as meeting Gods on the road? That’s still supposed to happen, I’m most familiar with Pele in Hawaii but she’s hardly unique.
But in D&D land, gods and their servitors can and do manifest themselves to absolutely anyone, regardless of their religious predilections. You piss off Lolth enough and it's spider demon time, even if you're a devotee of Tyr and always have been.
 

DarkStarling

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The question is, do those gods ever show themselves to people who don't already believe in them? Because that would seem to be kind of the most elementary test of their "reality" -- anyone can claim the world is really secretly run by pink miniature elephants who use their awesome mind control powers to make the people who do their bidding not realize they're even there and who only ever consider the person making said claim worthy enough to occasionally talk to.
Supposed to yes, but that’s not really the point. The point is that they have seen what, to their satisfaction, are miracles. And if other people see the same events and don’t acknowledge it that’s their problem. They do act like they’re in a magical and divine world and they can see the proof of it. So their situation is the same as someone in a fantasy world with gods and Gods that are much more...noisy.
 

DarkStarling

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But in D&D land, gods and their servitors can and do manifest themselves to absolutely anyone, regardless of their religious predilections. You piss off Lolth enough and it's spider demon time, even if you're a devotee of Tyr and always have been.
They would say that miraculous healings, speaking in tongues, knowing things they had no way to, and so on are things other people can see. Same with curses and so on. Whether or not you can scientifically validate any of that isn't the point, the point is how they see it. To them it’s obvious and people who don’t see it don’t want to.

For that matter, they think people who don’t believe see things too. You say sleep paralysis, they say demon attack.
 

Dagor

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Supposed to yes, but that’s not really the point. The point is that they have seen what, to their satisfaction, are miracles. And if other people see the same events and don’t acknowledge it that’s their problem. They do act like they’re in a magical and divine world and they can see the proof of it. So their situation is the same as someone in a fantasy world with gods and Gods that are much more...noisy.
Their situation, maybe. Not so much the skeptics'. A god you can reasonably safely deny because the worst that can happen is that his followers will kill you for being an infidel (which proves exactly nothing because we already knew people could kill each other for all sorts of dumb reasons) simply isn't much of one, period -- or alternatively isn't one who particularly cares to interact with mortals, in which case his existence isn't terribly relevant even if it could be proven since he'd just be godding around in the background doing his own thing.
 

Dalillama

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Once again, there's a difference between 'immateriel thing that gives you knowledge, bad luck, or horrible panic and inability to breathe' and 'giant fucking spider-thing tearing the place up and killing people right and left"
 

Reynard

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But in D&D land, gods and their servitors can and do manifest themselves to absolutely anyone, regardless of their religious predilections. You piss off Lolth enough and it's spider demon time, even if you're a devotee of Tyr and always have been.
Of course, Tyr is real too and might not be so happy with Lolth if she sends demons spiders to eat the disrespectful to her among his followers. There's probably some sort of rules for those divine folks to keep such things from spilling over into outright heavenly war.

On the subject of faith in a setting with gods that show themselves: afterlife matters, even in D&D. Regardless of what your god can do or not do on the material plane, the real power is in the afterlife. Most people can't become liches or attain immortality by way of adventures. The only way for those folks to attain everlasting life is to be welcomed into heaven by their chosen deity. That seems to suggest that completely regardless of healing spells and demon summoning, people will still have a powerful motivation to be religious and observe the requirements that their chosen deity lays out.
 
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