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I'm not looking for a religious discussion. If someone starts one, I will rip your face off and block your comments.

1. How involved a deity is affects religion. At least in fantasy, anyway.  Now of course there are plenty of fantasy religions that don't bother to clear up whether a god actually exists, and the driving elements of the story or more about religion and power rather than spirituality. So considering whether god or gods actually really do exist at all in your story is a perfectly cromulent question. However, if a god does exist, and is constantly involved in the lives and well-being of its worshipers, enemies or non-believers might think twice before some serious smiting ensues.  For that matter, followers of an attentive god might watch their mouths.  (Look at the Greek Gods and what they did for slights!) A god may be protective, but that doesn't necessarily mean benevolent.  In fact, a god or gods may have the attitude of "No one messes with my people but me!" Ancestors and spirits may replace a full-on deity, but how involved they are with the real world still needs to be addressed.  (I think that Starclan from the Warriors cat series might as well not be there at all, since they are never helpful and at times downright deliberately confusing and obstructive. The overthrow of them would make for the best Japanese RPG ever, though. Get on that, Warrior fanfiction people, I'm throwing you a bone, here.)   If a god is distant, and never involved, it obviously leaves more room for interpretations, like popes and priests.  Often there are magical quotas for gods, that by worshiping a god one gains particular magics or some other boon.  If this is so, pay attention to what that god likes and what it wouldn't tolerate.  (If a god likes babies, for example, and your character accidentally kills one, I'm going to take issue when the god pats him on the shoulder and says, "Eh, that's okay, buddy.") Very few people like the full-on attention of gods.  Heroes tend to have miserable lives, ditto prophets and martyrs.  A god nitpicking all the time creates a tyrannical heaven, especially if they're petty. The angle of gods sneering at poor, pathetic humanity has kind of been done to death; sometimes I wonder how people would behave towards a god that could care less if it was worshiped, or even gods that are at mercy of mankind like in Princess Mononoke. That also begs the question of whether a god or supernatural being needs worshipers in the first place, because that at least can give mankind some pull.  Gods may well operate on their own level of rules, and be forbidden from directly interfering with the mortal realm because it creates chaos.  Indirect contact from the gods is another grey area that can be misinterpreted, even usurped by false prophets.  Of course, the definition of what a god even is opens up all kinds of thematic ruminations (again, Japanese RPGs might kill god all the time, but the argument could be made that the god killed is not God god or what have you, just a super-powerful denizen.) Either way, the role of gods as watchers, judges, or directors of fates needs to be established, even if they don't play a major role in the story.

2. What is exchanged for religion needs to be addressed. Religion either forms or is an extension of morals and ethics, especially in primitive societies. It is often the first attempt of mankind to make sense of that which makes no sense.  While myths are the first science, often attempting to explain phenomenon as-yet undiscovered, religion and spirituality attempts to answer the questions science never can. Do people pray just to exalt their god or gods, and obey heavenly laws in the hopes of being granted a reward?  Or do characters pray for power, for magic, or other favors?  And which ones do the gods agree to?  Why does the religion exist in the first place?  Many times, religion strikes a chord by addressing the major problems people have. If you are a warrior whose livelihood depends on not dying in battle, you're probably not going to be thrilled at praying to some namby-pamby god of peace. You've got to get the attention of the not-dying-in-war god! Honoring one's ancestors might be important for obtaining past histories, or even so one can be welcomed as a proper family member when one dies and joins the spirits on the other side.  Note that the reality of these things existing is not as important as the beliefs they instill: odds are, to your characters, the god or gods exist. I also have to point out that if miracles like smiting and the like occur, that's gonna do an awful lot for convincing people the god or gods are real (provided the miracle is specific enough, but again: false prophets can jump all over that.)  If there are multiple gods fighting over worshipers, things would definitely get interesting. People usually embrace religion because it fulfills a need.  Note that this is not necessarily the presence of a comforting deity, but may well be allowing one to become a part of the community surrounding that religion.  You might all be headed to be circumcised and dance in a drum circle, but damn, you're part of something bigger than yourself!

3. Environment and cultural values affects religion. People in the desert might worship rain.  But then again, people in a river valley might, too, because the annual river flooding means their crops are good this year. However, in the desert, I bet the storm god is always a good guy, while in the river valley, the storm god has a reputation for being wrathful if he's not appeased. An abundant agricultural society might put gods of fertility and crops first, while a nomadic warrior tribe might value a god of war. What the society values as ethical is influenced by AND influences religion. When mankind is living-hand-to-mouth, expect to see a lot of tribal totems, polytheism, and morals that make no scruples about killing. The less time spent worrying about a full belly is more time to contemplate one's navel.  To put it another way, civilization and morality only goes as far as one's ability to eat.  Talk to anyone who has known real hunger. Day three, you might be willing to steal and break a law you'd never conceived of breaking.  Day five, you might be willing to kill.  A society facing this constantly would have a god, a belief system, or a set of mores that are okay with this.  Conversely, a society where hand-to-mouth is not a reality for the majority would shake a finger at such primitive behavior.  Having said all that, there's nothing worse than a slap-dash religion that makes no sense within the context of the established civilization.  I have to invoke Paolini's "Religion of Ebul" here for a second, with the priests cutting their limbs off just cause. I don't wanna say no one would join that religion, because there's always someone desperate and sad enough to joint the most obvious idiot-cult, but cutting one's limbs off serves no purpose in the world as Paolini has presented it.  You'd be useless to your society in just about every sense of the word, and religion, largely, is about making connections within society.  Please realize that while belief systems can influence and control society, they can't utterly gum up the works of society's operations, because when they do, people tend to do two things: rebel (Henry the 8th, Lutherans, Protestants, Puritans) or become fundamental (the Spanish Inquisition). The medieval churches of Europe grew crops and bred dogs and had a lot of economic power.  They were useful in other ways to society aside from just the whole "Yay God!" thing, and a believable fantasy religion takes this into account.

4. The role of ritual is one of the most important. Ritual is a huge, huge thing in human lives.  Lack of ritual almost always guarantees a lack of civilization. Rituals reflect or symbolize what the society holds as important, what a culture values.  That is why judges wear black robes, why there are ceremonies for inaugurations or military awards, and why we have funerals. For example, a society that promotes death as the most meaningful act ever, one more meaningful than birth or marriage or anything else, is probably going to have warriors sculpted in ritual to believe that with every ounce of their being (and will probably make you wet yourself.)  If you like life, but it's meaningless to them, would you wanna face a warrior of theirs?  How about a thousand of them?  Rituals of birth, coming of age, courtship, bonding, and death exist in just about every culture.  Disregarding a ritual or doing it wrong can be quite the faux pas, especially if cultures are colliding.  (Throw vengeful opposing gods into the mix and watch the sparks fly.) Depending on how stringent that culture is, it could mean exile or even death (blasphemy laws in Pakistan carry the death sentence, for example.) Modern day disregarding of ritual in say, dating (courtship) might not be that big a deal.  But try spitting on a coffin at a funeral, and someone's head is gonna roll. A friend told me once  that the surest sign of a society on the brink of collapse is a society that tolerates everything.  Rituals dictate what society tolerates. As creatures of habit, we like rituals.  They are comforting, and can be personal habits or hugely communal events.  Ritual gives significance to the insignificant. They are the infrastructure of a society, the software of our brains; they can change, but if they crumble altogether, everyone's in trouble. Ritual is heavily tied to what defines a culture's values and morals, and surest way to become outcast or insult someone is to screw with their rituals. If a god is involved, and says "Do these rituals right or I'll smite you" the pressure gets even worse. For more on the role of ritual and its resonation in religion and culture, I highly recommend The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.

5. Religion is highly structured, so don't be stupid about it. Fantasy religions can kind of say anything; you just have to be consistent about the message.  If you've taken the time to establish that the Sky God says don't touch a woman until she's married to you, and you have rituals that constantly reinforce this message, and everyone who considers themselves upright moral citizens agrees that not touching women is the fair and right thing to do: don't have an ethically-minded hero touch an unmarried woman and not think twice about it. Or, have an unscrupulous bastard do it and not get in trouble when someone catches him. There'd better be some punishment on the way. Otherwise, why'd you bother telling us Sky God no likee the touching? Also be aware of iterations within the taboo.  Is an accidental touch or the brushing of fingertips just as bad as full on canoodling? Because if so, that tells us a lot about the society, especially if it involves a rich noblewoman/chief's daughter versus a peasant girl.  Conversely, if a guy kisses a girl and is subjected to three days blackballing, that says a lot, too.  (Blackballing is one of the most incredibly hurtful and powerful tools a primitive culture has at its disposal.) Taboos within religion trickle into secular life as well.  The biggest offense fantasy religion tends to do is take all this time to establish religion, and then not make it matter one bit outside of the church/synagogue/mosque walls. Religion and spirituality are powerful, powerful forces, because they affect beliefs. If people in the real world can blow themselves up or set themselves on fire because they believe a spiritual text, what the hell do you think could happen in a fantasy world where magic and dragons and gods might have the same spirit of conviction?
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:iconkonnono:
Konnono Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I might be wrong, but for the Japanese kami (or what we call gods) aren't on the same par with omniscient beings like a God that the Western world is used to. Any spirit can be a kami if it's powerful enough and has enough believers. Without believers, they just fade away and stop being gods.

Since I'm more used to these kinds of stories, that's the kind of god the one in my story is haha (oh wow original much?)
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014
Yes, Shintoism usually puts things into a hierarchy (I think Amaterasu is at the top?) but as a religion it had its local or hearth deities that were kami.
I do like the idea that belief demotes godhood, though. That's neat!
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:iconkonnono:
Konnono Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
It's one of my favourite divinity ideas, to be honest. There's just a lot to explore!

It's interesting to note that even Ancient Greek gods aren't omniscient in the truest sense of the word. The very idea that a god can bleed, even if they bleed ichor, is just so human. When you think about it, their worshippers probably have the same relation to them like subordinates under a very capricious and demanding boss. Not all-powerful, but powerful enough to make your life miserable when in a bad mood.
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:iconthewhitejewel:
TheWhiteJewel Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
Fascinating work. I'm beginning to love your writing, if the large number of tabs holding your other journals has anything to say about it.
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:icondastenna:
DasTenna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
"If there are multiple gods fighting over worshipers, things would definitely get interesting."
Thatīs why I like the transition between the later days of the Western Roman Empire and the Early Medieval so much. There were so many changes not only in politics, when borders collapsed and emperors fell like the literal ephemera (ephemerae? O_o), but especially in religion with the declaration of Sol Invictus as the highest god and the emperor as the living sun god especially in the 3rd century, with the cult about Mithras, with Constantine the Great announcing Christendom a legal religion, with Arianism, etc.
The clash of religions can be fertile, though, as many "adopted" gods and goddesses of Greek, Oriental, Celtic or Germanic origin in the Roman pantheon proof as well as many holidays in Catholic church which originate from non-christian feasts.
One could show how the different gods or religions react towards another, how they influence eachother and how one of them or maybe both vanish after a while and make way for something new.
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:icondastenna:
DasTenna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Another aspect instead of religion could be tradition which often comes from a mixture of sacred and practical laws. In my Space Opera, I havenīt shown religion so far, but tradition and rituals coming from that play an important role on most worlds. They define their culture in contrast to another.
Great blog, as always, and very helpful. Iīll keep those points in mind and do my research. Thank you.
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:icondevinital:
Devinital Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Not going to lie, this was one of the most confusing and intellectual reads I've ever had. But it brought up a lot of good questions and I while definitely start asking myself those questions when it comes to creating my fantasy religion and the world it is involved.
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:iconakeli:
akeli Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2012   General Artist
Never read Paolini, so I can't comment on how good or bad his story is, but I just gotta say... ""Religion of Ebul" sounds like someone is saying "Religion of Evil" in a weird accent.
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:iconredvioletpanda:
RedVioletPanda Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012   Digital Artist
The whole "Religion of Ebul" thing I think was basically Paolini trying to saying "religion and ritual in pointless!" kind of thing, which falls apart because it really doesn't make any sense at all, even if you have had studies in anthropology. Other than that, it never really makes sense if the religion doesn't serve any purpose other than for the author to stand on a soapbox and "religion is a barrier, we don't need rituals because I never completed anthropology blah blah blah!" And I'm not trying to apologize for Paolini, I feel like this is a subject that happens in places where they shouldn't.

Other than that, I have had a feeling, even before I graduated high school in the long ago to really build upon the religious and spiritual aspect of Ferne. In it's earlier incarnations and as it is now, a good deal of the gods and spirits are in animal form, and when I first made them, I made them somewhat like the forest gods from Princess Mononoke, but they were a little more powerful. I've kept their power to a point, in that it's really, really not wise to fool around with them, especially not the ones who assume and ONLY assume animal shape; i.e. in real life, it would not be wise to go up to a grizzly bear and slap it across the face and expect to live, nor would it be wise to meddle and destroy a shrine/tree/spring that a certain spirit pocesses without some form of consequences. I've been a fan of Joseph Campbell ever since I was in high school and found out about that whole "Hero's Journey" thing, so he's helped out in creating the whole spiritual and religion aspect of the various worlds I have. And it doesn't hurt to take two religion classes, especially American Religions; the Seventh-Day Advents actually started the whole health food vegan craze.

Also, I don't know if you need to cover this, but I always find it strangely bizare how some authors approach human sacrifice, or ANY sacrifice. Likewise, I believe there's a book by Eddings where there's a pseudo-Aztec civilization in which THOUSANDS (or a number close to that) of people are sacrificed EACH DAY to some blood-thirsty god or so. I'm not going to go too much into the whole aspect since I neither a scholar on Aztecs or an expert on their religion, but when I find the mention of human sacrifice in any book, or sacrfice period, it seems like the author didn't do much research on it and went ahead and put their own assumptions into it; likewise, we get priests sacrificing virgins or a bunch of people who sacrifice a sacred cow but don't do it without offering the worshippers the meat and the gods the burning fat/entrails/essense of the sacrifice.

Sorry for the huge block of texts, but I was pretty happy about this set of tips.

Oh
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012
I think human sacrifice is a huge leap for people to have to make, because even something as extreme as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were tumultuous. Whereas human sacrifice was an ingrained part of the Aztec culture. I did a little research on it for Mark of the Conifer and found that the heart of the sacrifice was literally about keeping the world intact for another day. I was really struck by that, and really tried to incorporate that element of how intimate it must feel to believe you're dying or sacrificing in order to keep all life intact. Having said that, the Aztecs were pants-shittingly terrifying, and when the Spaniards came every other culture near them was like "Kill those guys." So obviously the middle could not hold forever, and the opportunities for corruption and abuse of power must have been massive.
One of my favorite exchanges with a good friend of mine actually came when we were discussing Aztec gods and sacrifice over the phone, while she was in a grocery store. I remarked that there was a god of butterflies and dreams that needed not just children sacrificed to him, but crying children. My friend tried to rationalize: "Well, I might be able to understand that. You've got a kid you can't feed, what's better, let him starve, or send him to be ritually sacrificed?"
Right in the vegetable aisle, near some nice old ladies.
Apparently the looks she got were pretty awesome.
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:icondastenna:
DasTenna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
A professor of ours, mother of two children, once told us about a conversation she had with two collegues in a restaurant. It was about special burials, burials that might as well be sacrifices or punishments for criminals or people buried with some followers, child burials and other archaeological themes. People next to them mustīve given strange looks at them.
And one of my fellow students once ran through the library shouting: "Were are my premies?" She had to do a presentation about burials of preterm births in early medieval times.

I only know some archaeological facts about human and animal sacrifices in the Old World, of Roman, Late Preroman Iron Age and Skythian cultures.
From special burials in Skythian contexts, it is known that a small elite, maybe chiefs (called like that by Herodot, we only know that those mustīve been special people in Skythian society), was buried with several horsemen and their horses, even with servants and wife(s).
It is said in the historic texts that they died voluntarily.

Animal sacrifices in Roman or Celtic/Germanic contexts are usual, but not every-day practise for most animals are too precious goods to be sacrificed needlessly when a bronze figurine of a deer or an ox would do as well. It doesnīt hurt that much (at least we know of such replacements in Roman contexts).

It is said in Roman (!) texts that Celtic and Germanic tribes sacrificed people, often the captured of an adversarial tribe by burning them alive or by other cruel methods.
There is still no clear evidence for such sacrifices, even though there are strange "burials" like ca. 20 men who had been put, probably captivated, in small holes in Acy-Romance (France), the warriors who had been found fully armed in the river at the site of La Tčne (Switzerland) or the bog bodies of Tollund and others. We donīt know whether those were real sacrifices, voluntarily or not, or if those where criminals or captives of war punished this way.

I agree that a sacrifice of human life is rather unusual in most religions and used only as extreme means, whereas the sacrifice of an animal, food or goods is much more common. And we donīt have any proof (for European cultures at least), the Skythian rich burials aside, that the abovementioned body parts and whole inhumations are really from sacrificed or just punished people.
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:iconredvioletpanda:
RedVioletPanda Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012   Digital Artist
I did read the first Mark of the Conifer comic you did, and I think you handled that whole aspect very well, considering how that might have been taken. And I'm sorry if I threw that question out there.

And in addition, I would think those looks in the vegetable aisle were pretty "awesome".
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:icondrinkteaordie:
DrinkTeaOrDie Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Student Filmographer
This looks very helpful, thanks! :D
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:iconfullmetalzergrush:
FullmetalZergRush Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
Great! :D Thanks for this journal. I think it's something people have to think about before starting their stories. Well-written.

By the way, I am just wondering...

I know this question has absolutely nothing to do with what you said here on this journal, but do you think it's possible to have Communist/Socialist dictatorship or the equivalent of that in high fantasy setting? Because I think when it comes to fantasy, the political system we are exposed to a lot is either feudalism in the Medieval Europe (with King or Queen ruling the country with religious leaders) or pure monarchy. Unless of course there's one that I have never head of.

I know that the Cold War has been over since the collapse of Soviet Union or USSR, but the countries that proclaim themselves as socialist or communist states in the world still exist (even though they may not be as true to their own ideologies as they say - for example, People's Republic of China - its political system is a single-party authoritarianism while its economical system capitalistic).

It would be great to discuss the existence of socialism or communism in fantasy setting with you. :D
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
I have talked about government in my World-Building 5 Tips entries. I think it's entirely probable that socialism or communisim can exist in fantasy, just like plutocracies or oligarchys. People do crazy shit, and you don't need magic or dragons flying around to make them do it. Dystopias are built on that very concept.
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:iconfullmetalzergrush:
FullmetalZergRush Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
Ah, I remember that journal. I will have to look that up again. Thank you for your answer. :) I've always wondered why there aren't many fantasy stories about Communism or the fictional equivalent of it (Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engel's Communist Manifesto has inspired some of the most brutal regimes in man’s history, such as Stalinist USSR, North Korea, Mao's Red China, Cuba under Fidel Castro, Cambodia under Pol Pot, etc.). Wouldn't it be a lot more interesting? It's a parallel to the real life, so we can relate ourselves more to it. Probably it's because the young writers tend to not read or listen enough, and write and talk too much. Unfortunately, many of these "speshul" teens who severely lack experiences and critical thinking don't bother to question the nature of humanity and vice versa and turn their attention to something with which they can escape from harsh reality.

I brought up this discussion because, whether we like it or not, religion's huge impact on society and its corruption have caused countless radical movements (Communism included) to happen and wars over different ideologies (Chinese Civil War between KMT and CPC, Korean War and Vietnam War) to break out throughout the history of mankind, which would serve very well as a plot element for any story, whether it be sci-fiction, dystopia or fantasy.

Yeah, I wholeheartedly concur with your last statements. Like I said earlier, people need to read more to fill in their resource pools. If they are only gonna write about something they are most familiar with, they will write something very cliched. I love dystipia - it's usually interesting to see dystopian societies under the guise of being utopian portrayed in fiction, because it often shows us where our own society can go wrong and what to avoid. Orwell's classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes what North Korea is now today - its utterly terrifying because its so real and true, but at the same time, readers are incredibly fascinated by it because it depicted the nature of humanity and political corruption so vividly well.

There were some short stories I wrote for English class, all of which inspired me to work on the two current projects(one is about an aging professional wrestler combating sex trafficking after the bankruptcy of the wrestling promotion he had worked for over many years, only to discover that such evil will always exist and that humans will always be capable of unimaginable horrors so long as they live, no matter how many perpetrators/traffickers - some of whom are his mutual acquaintances - he physically and mentally cripple. Through his eyes and people around him, readers will see the causes of modern-day slavery that's still happening around the world, in our neighborhood, etc. It will also be seen from the traffickers' points of view. The other story is so complex that it's difficult to summarize the whole plot in one or two sentences, so I will just say that it features humans, vampires and dinosaurs and that it's a harrowing anti-war story about the irrationality of human motives, the meaning of independence and liberation, and how the world lacks so much understanding).

To simply put, these short stories were about the classic movie monsters and folklore creatures witnessing with their own very eyes the horrors that humanity unleashes on itself. The first one was Count Dracula's experience during the post-WWII and the Soviet military occupation of Romania and its political oppression. Another short story shows the family of Dokkaebis (Mischievous Asian goblins/demons in Korean folklore/mythology) being torn apart by the Korean War which broke out when the North Korean troops invaded the South to "liberate" from US influence. But the most ironic thing about these short stories is that the supposedly inhumane terrifying creatures have more "humane" hearts than the actual humans initiating such horrors. Instead of humans (or to be more specific, spoiled brats who don't deserve even the slightest of sympathy) giving up on their humanity to "become one with the lord of darkness (who happens to be a stereotypical arrogant jerkface)" like in some of the shitty stories we are being exposed to these days (50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, Evermore, Mortal Instruments, etc.), these grotesque-looking monsters are discovering the nature of humanity, corruption and greed by witnessing such horrors.

I am pretty sure that you are just as tired of all these cliches that are infesting literature as I have been. Why stories like yours, your supporters' or mine don't get enough recognition in spite of all the hard efforts we'd put into is simply beyond comprehension.

Looking forward to reading your next 5-tips note. We will be waiting. :)
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:iconcpereira:
CPereira Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Professional Writer
This post is awesome. Not only did you introduce me to a new word ("cromulent") and assert that both religion and gods are inexorably tied to the encompassing culture but you introduced me to the glory of the not-dying-in-war god.

I think we can all agree that's a pretty awesome god. Even if you live hundreds of miles away from any war, it's nice to know that you have one less thing to worry about when you worship the not-dying-in-war god.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
And the best part? Cromulent isn't a word! How embiggening!
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:iconcpereira:
CPereira Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Professional Writer
Actually, I did some research when I first read your post and the word was at first a neologism created by David X. Cohen and used on the Simpsons. Since then, it has been picked up into somewhat more common usage and has been picked up by dictionary.com categorized as a slang word meaning "fine" or "acceptable." So, while "cromulent" and "embiggen" aren't words in the dictionary, they still have a specific meaning and can be used in a sentence. I'm still impressed by your master wordsmithing, though. If everybody keeps using these neologisms, maybe they will land themselves in "proper" dictionaries (or does that take the fun out of it?).
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:iconkaraechi:
Karaechi Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Hobbyist
Was anyone else reminded of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when they read about the head priest in Inheritance?
I digress...
Hooray for another 5 Tips! Excellent, as usual.
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:iconanimallover07:
ANIMALlover07 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012   Traditional Artist
:iconclapplz: Thank you. I'm writing a book right now, and I've been reworking the society of the little fantasy world they live in. This helped a lot.
. . .I was really confused by the Religion of Ebul thing when I read the book. It didn't seem like limb-hacking served a purpose other than making the head-priest-guy look creepy.
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:iconsnurtz:
snurtz Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Student Writer
THANK YOU for this!! I needed it!
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:iconmissdudette:
MissDudette Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012
This is fantastic stuff. I love reading these. ^^
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012
May i add my 5 cents?

Only God of Abrahamic religions is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (sorry, i'm not sure about how last his quality is called in English, correct me if i wrote it wrong).
Most of other gods are not. They may be very competent in what they do like controlling Sun or guarding souls but they didn't do much outside of that.
What comes about other creator-type gods, we often have no bloody idea what qualities they have.

Also language also will be affected by religion. Such expressions as "Oh my god!" do not exist in the language if people who worship a thousand of different gods. You know mentioning of what god will be appreciated in this situation. If it is at all.

And do gods have their own hierarchy? If they do, what is it based upon?
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:iconk9battlecry:
K9battlecry Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2012  Student General Artist
If you want to get into hierarchy look into religions that are polytheistic (i think that's the right word. ><) Many religions with multiple gods do have a very structured and complicated structure. Like in Egypt, many of the gods are related and their rank is biased off of who is older than, married to, son/daughter of, ect. ect. Others i think of are Greek and Norse religions, but i know there are many others.

So for fantasy gods i think it would depend on relation to one another, origin, and possibly what they are in control of. For example if the sun god was the father of the fire god and earth god, who then were the parents of say the pottery god, then i can see them having an order and rank. if they all had a system like a council, lets say earth, wind, fire, water, ect, then they could be seen as equal.

That's my 2cents. ^^
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012
I know that. What i asked were more of questions to public around.

But yeah, what's allowed for a Jupiter isn't allowed for an ox.

Lol, also one can combine several types of hierarchy for extra fun)
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:iconk9battlecry:
K9battlecry Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Student General Artist
Do you mean like current religions?

And yeah no kidding. XD
And that's an epic idea! I would love to see a world like that. >:3
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012
Nope, more like a question about fictional ones.

Lol, yeah, that would be awesome)
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:iconk9battlecry:
K9battlecry Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Student General Artist
Ah ok, i got you. :)
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:iconpaperiapina:
Paperiapina Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Student General Artist
Yay, brain food!

[link] Just a little thought sparked by the first two parts of this journal.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012
I wish some of the Warriors cats had that kind of conversation. Everyone worships, but I wonder how many people ever bother to ask the question of whether or not something's worth worshiping.
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:iconfurrama:
Furrama Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012   Digital Artist
I think I like how Terry Pratchet does his gods, but he's being rather subvert-y. Still amuses me.

The movie Happy Feet still makes me angry in regards to The Great Guin. They don't really define him at all until suddenly the plot needs to happen, the leader Noah is a cardboard cut out, and it's all supposedly this huge part of the story. It's all "this is a stand in for some religion winkwinknudgenudge", but they don't really define it in universe. If they had at least given us more to go off of for Noah's character it might have been okay.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012
Plenty of people saw subversion in Happy Feet in terms of it being a liberal thinktank piece of propaganda trying to convince everyone global warming was real, so it's no small wonder they didn't go into detail about religion of all things. Books are banned every day for "promoting alternative spiritual practices" (i.e. witchcraft or the like), so I can't blame the director for being like "Yeah, that's something we're not going to touch with a ten foot pole."
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:iconfurrama:
Furrama Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012   Digital Artist
But if they had gone the whole nine yards I could have at least respected it. It's already there as it is, and AS it is it's insulting. All I'm saying is that Noah, the religious leader/social leader should have been better defined. One doesn't always need the religion defined in detail if the "people" in it and their motivations are.

I remember the whole " HAPPY FEET IS TRYING TO TURN OUR KIDS GAY" bit on Fox News. Blah.

It's a movie I'm fascinated with for some reason. It's alllmost good, but it does so many little story telling things wrong that it irks me.
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:icon69bellasbitch:
69bellasbitch Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Student General Artist
omg

Sorry for jumping in, but where is that " HAPPY FEET IS TRYING TO TURN OUR KIDS GAY" bit on Fox News. Is it on Youtube. I want to see it. .__.
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:iconfurrama:
Furrama Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012   Digital Artist
I have no idea.

Use question marks, I almost misread this.
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:icongirlonwantedposters:
girlonwantedposters Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012
I read it all! :D
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Have you read Gaiman's American Gods, and/or Stackpole's Secret Atlas series?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012
Read American Gods, but not the other one. And American Gods was too literary for my tastes. But a competent deconstruction of God Needs Prayer Badly.
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
That was my thought. ;}
You might enjoy the Secret Atlas series for many reasons, but the fantasy religion is interesting and I think well presented and important to the plot.
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:iconlaughingheron:
LaughingHeron Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for sharing this will help me and many other when creating religions for their stories.
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:iconmajass:
Majass Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Professional General Artist
Religion either forms or is an extension of morals and ethics, especially in primitive societies. It is often the first attempt of mankind to make sense of that which makes no sense. While myths are the first science, often attempting to explain phenomenon as-yet undiscovered, religion and spirituality attempts to answer the questions science never can. Do people pray just to exalt their god or gods, and obey heavenly laws in the hopes of being granted a reward? Or do characters pray for power, for magic, or other favors? And which ones do the gods agree to? Why does the religion exist in the first place? Many times, religion strikes a chord by addressing the major problems people have. If you are a warrior whose livelihood depends on not dying in battle, you're probably not going to be thrilled at praying to some namby-pamby god of peace. You've got to get the attention of the not-dying-in-war god! Honoring one's ancestors might be important for obtaining past histories, or even so one can be welcomed as a proper family member when one dies and joins the spirits on the other side. Note that the reality of these things existing is not as important as the beliefs they instill: odds are, to your characters, the god or gods exist. I also have to point out that if miracles like smiting and the like occur, that's gonna do an awful lot for convincing people the god or gods are real (provided the miracle is specific enough, but again: false prophets can jump all over that.) If there are multiple gods fighting over worshipers, things would definitely get interesting. People usually embrace religion because it fulfills a need.


I like what you've said here, and totally agree with the nonsensical aspect of the "Religion of Ebul"... I had the same reaction when reading that book, haha.

On the topic of the definition of religion, I just want to point out that religion is not the same thing as mythology, though the two can intertwine in mythological stories. Myths are an attempt to explain the world without any particular evidence, and though sometimes religious people brought in religion as part of an explanation, religion does not attempt to explain the world. Religion starts when people question, "Why do I exist, what is most important to me, and what will happen if I lose what is most important to me?" That is why it isn't just a societal duty or an emotion. They are ultimately concerned about something, and the object of their ultimate concern is what can be deemed their god (idolatrous gods can also fit in here, only they are not actually "ultimate", such as another person, money, personal success, etc.)

It's not so much about whether the person wants to be strong and therefore prays to receive strength, it's that the person is ultimately concerned about not being strong enough and therefore fully commits his life to the object of his ultimate concern by surrendering completely to it (god, Krishna, oneness, nirvana, nature, personal success, money, etc.) And then like you said, you get opportunistic "mouthpieces" (priests, etc.) for a society's object of ultimate concern when that concern is actually infinite and therefore can't directly be communicated with. And on a rabbit trail here, but that's why so many get disillusioned with traditional religion: they have to just "believe" and "follow" with what a mouthpiece is saying to do which may deviate from the ultimate concern.

I hope you won't bite my face off :D I'm just hoping to add input on what you've said.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012
Oh, definitely religion and myth are separate things. Myth permeates just about every aspect of a culture due to mankind's innate love for organization and meaning: i.e. story. If religion begins when people question, "Why do I exist, what is most important to me, and what will happen if I lose what is most important to me?" myth begins when someone says "This is how someone else found out." Myth plays the role of teaching and trying to make sense of the human condition, and religion very much overlaps with that. Myths are more pervasive than dogma, because dogma tends to be stagnant and unyielding, whereas myth evolves and immigrates. Syncretism is when one religion's parable or myth leaks into someone else's religious parables.
Myth is at the heart of religion, spirituality, culture, and ritual, which is why I find storytelling and stories to be so powerful.
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:iconsidequestpubs:
SideQuestPubs Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
"Syncretism"
New word for the day, woohoo!
I guess my fiction is full of religious syncretism; I love playing mix-and-match with real-world belief systems. :plotting:
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:iconmajass:
Majass Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Professional General Artist
Hah, that's a nice way to put it! Dogma was indeed the word I was looking for in that last sentence I had. But yeah, incorporating religion naturally into fantasy does require it to be thought extensively. I think what you've just said here also cleared up the thought process behind what you wrote in your paragraph that I was disputing. Thanks for replying :)
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:iconlaughingempress:
LaughingEmpress Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, this has really helped me in organizing and planning the religion for the fantasy story I'm working on off-line!
Thanks!
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