In my last article about roleplaying tips and tricks I briefly touched upon the subject of the divine. In a fantasy realm where we’ve literally seen the wrath of the Gods in action, spirituality and religion should play a large role in our culture. A character who isn’t living under a rock should have some opinion about these goings on, and as a result, will have a way to better connect to the immersive world around them. But where does one start with all this rigmarole? How does one decide what one’s character thinks and feels about such a deeply personal subject? Luckily for you, we’re going to break down that process and give you some key points to think about that should help you with your decision making.
1.) The Realms is in a unique situation where you can be any creature and have any backstory that you want. However, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily write in your own deities. As such a long running LARP, Realms has a vast history and lore that has been going on for many, many years. Learn what the setting already has, ask around and see what your options are before you generate new content. You’ll be adding to the continuity of the world and setting yourself up for interactive relationships with other players.
2.) Consider your character’s history and where they grew up. Was there a cathedral or temple in their home town? If so, what Gods/spirits were they exposed to in their early life? Did this affect them in any meaningful way? Some people resent being told how to worship, other people cling to what they know and are familiar with. Find out what kind of character you have and think about their history in a deeper way. In Voraniss, we have Mogar who struggles to have any kind of relationship with the Gods. In his backstory he spent much time trying to survive in a world hostile to Orcs. No matter how much help he needed, he never saw the Gods come to his aid and so Mogar feels betrayed by the divine. He acknowledges their existence, but doesn’t actively worship any of them yet because of his painful history.
3.) If you don’t have a backstory that is super fleshed out, think about your character’s general personality. What is important to them? What are their goals? Sometimes the answers to these simple questions are enough to guide a character towards a particular God’s domain. When my own character, Mouse, first started adventuring and making friends she knew she wanted to protect the people that had become important to her. She also knew that she wanted revenge upon the demons that had made her time in the Abyss unbearable. As it turned out, there was a deity that already existed who had both Protection and Vengeance as domains and Vandor became a perfect fit.
4.) Let’s say that you do all your research and still can’t find a God/divine being that fits with what your ideas are. What do you do? If you’re going to create your own, think about how to make it different from anything else the game has to offer. How does this being like to be worshipped? Is there any organization to your Church? Ranks? Are the members of this religion easily identifiable? Does the God have a symbol? Is this God or religion going to bring something unique and special to the game? Will it be contributing to immersion or are you just trying to be silly? It is important to remember that when you make a deity, they sort of become community property. You aren’t making them just for you, but also the world. A magic marshall may not interpret your ideas the same way that you do. Don’t get angry or upset, just go with the flow.
5.) People may disagree with me on this one, which is fine, but I like to encourage people not to bring real world deities into a fantasy setting. You don’t know what people’s OOC religious backgrounds are, so an easy way to avoid offending anybody is by not touching that subject matter at all. On top of that, I’d like to encourage people to get more creative than relying on something that already exists. It can’t hurt you to push yourself a little further, right?
Hopefully this gives you some stuff to think about as you continue your LARPing adventures. Even though I’m writing this from the perspective of a Realms LARPer, I think some of the points are fairly universal. You can take them with you and brainstorm no matter where you’re making your characters. Have any questions, need help with some research? Hit me up. I’m always available to help with this kind of RP project!
(Featured image photo credit goes out to Samantha B. Flanagan!)