"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If D&D Deities Were Real

I use religion fairly superficially in my B/X games. I use the typical vast pantheon that I assume is pretty common in most D&D campaigns.

One thing I do find interesting is considering what a world would be like where not only is the existence of multiple deities a given but also where they take an active enough roll that their clerics have supernatural powers.

I take the easiest way out in my campaigns and just treat them as any other commodity/service in the game world. You need a sword made - you go to the weaponsmith. You need a curse removed - you go to the priest. They also become a great source for adventure hooks.

Three things that I think would happen in a D&D "Deities are Real" world (not saying they/him/her aren't in our real world):

1. The already mentioned commoditization of religious services.

2. There would not be any Atheists.

3. The fear of death would be largely removed. The great unknown would be answered. Dead adventurers have been brought back to life and are able to tell the tale. Heck, if you have a high enough level cleric or magic-user you could magically check out the afterlife ahead of time.


  1. You know, for a lot of human history we had all three of those things! The whole atheist/rationalist/rejection of religious teachings is a (relatively) recent phenomenon.

    ; )

  2. Not sure about #3 ... depends upon the pantheon. The Greek and Finnish conceptions of the afterlife (for regular folk, not heroes) is hardly something to embrace, so most people would not be eager to experience that a moment sooner than necessary.

    You might not have much existential angst ("what happens after I die"), but you could certainly have fear and anxiety about it ("I like my life ... I don't want to fade away into oblivion")

  3. Number 2 doesn't follow unless you think that the existence of atheists in 'the real world' proves that one or more deities don't exist.

    In a world where supernatural powers are relatively routine, scientific materialism would be impossible to believe. However, debate about the origin and legitimacy of supernatural powers would be many times more severe.

    An 'atheist' might be a person who believes in the (obvious) supernatural order but who rejects its ethical force to compel worship (and therefore the explicit authority of its agents)... ie atheists might find gods to be merely superhuman (and barely that, depending on your ruleset) - not "divine".

  4. I am taking 'atheist' just to mean one who does not believe in the existence of the deity.

  5. But in a world where we can document that the world is round we still have people who believe it isn't.

    Why wouldn't there be people who don't believe in gods, especially since most of the pantheons have little to no direct interaction with their followers (well, outside of the Greek / Roman model of gods being spoiled one-dimensional children).