Welcome back. Last time we took the raw form of your pantheons and sculpted them into something coherent. Now you should have a firm grasp on who your gods are and their domains. We also knocked out the universal myths of the pantheon. Now you can knit together the religion’s story of how the world began, how it will end, and what happens after people die. Likely you’ve already thought of how a cleric or paladin of a certain god might play.
Today we’re moving from the heavenly domain to the mortal realm. This post will be about the church of your gods. The first task we’re going to dive into is your religion’s organization.
How structured is your religion? Is it highly structured with a central authority like the Vatican? Or, your structure could be a loose confederation of grand temples. or even completely isolated, independent cloisters of religious philosophers.
Incorporation & Authority 1d10
1-4 Tight structure with central authority
5-7 Loose structure with dispersed authority
8-9 Independent structure with regional authority
10 Isolated structure with no guiding authority
The next design question for your religion is where are the religious buildings. Do your religious officials live separated from the people in monastery communes? Or do your religious guides live among the people? The right answer for you may be both. Your religion has cloisters (monasteries, nunneries, religious communes) and urban temples for worship.
2-3 Cloister & Diocese
You also need to know your religion’s political influence. Do your religious leaders guide the decisions of kings and nations? Or maybe your religion stokes the smoldering embers of rebellion.
Political Influence 1d10
1-4 Major (National)
5-7 Minor (Regional)
8-9 Aggressive Minority (Rebellious)
10 Local (Local)
Great! We know our pantheon, and the power of our religious institutions. Now we need to determine the more granular bits of the religion. The first piece we’ll tackle is worship. You’ll need to know where, when, and how people worship the gods.
- Grand Temple
- Holy Site
When/How Often 1d8
- Many Daily 1d4+1
- Once per Fortnight
- Once Monthly
- Once Season
- Holidays Only
How (1d4 ways, 1d12)
- Donation (Material, Money, Property)
- Service (Expertise, Labor, Time)
- Begin/End Meal w/ something (aperitif, bread, coffee, mint, salt, smoke)
- Specialized Diet (Halal/Kosher/Vegetarian)
- Ongoing Flame
- Home Shrine
- Potted Plant
- Somatic Gestures
- Prayer Bead/Rosary/Talisman
- Sacred Texts
- Animal (Domestic/Wild)
- Food (Fruit/Grain/Salt/Spice/Vegetable)
- Self Betterment
- Record Life (Daily Journal)
- Led/Performed by Group, Priest, Self
And that’s as far as we’re going to move today. As previously stated, this detail of worldbuilding moves at a glacial pace. But that’s OK as long as it keeps moving forward and not stalling. Since this post was primarily tables I decided to detail using these tables for my own examples. So keep reading!
All right, I’ll roll 1d10 determine each pantheon’s incorporation and authority. Pantheon #1, tight structure and central authority (2). And for Pantheon #2, loose structure with dispersed authority (5).
This feels right. I like the idea of a byzantine behemoth clerical organization for one of the pantheons. Opposed to that is a more relaxed, tenuously affiliated, confederation of regional institutions.
What’s the level of integration? For Pantheon #1 it’s diocese. Religious buildings and officials are right in the center of a settlement. This feels right for a tight structure and central authority religion. Pantheon #2 falls the opposite way. The religious officials live sequestered from the population. That may mean just outside of town or tucked away in a mountain retreat. I’m not sure at this point. It could easily mean both.
Let’s roll for their political influence. Excellent, Pantheon #1 is going to be a major political player. If you recall from THIS POST, both my religions have a continental influence. Pantheon #1 will be able to influence many nations. Pantheon #2 is going to be more of a regional power. They will have influence over a small region, but a savvy politician may play factions in the confederation against each other.
Let’s jump into the nitty gritty of worship. Where do the faithful worship? Pantheon #1, holy site; Pantheon #2, shrine. I definitely like the idea of worshippers showing up to a secluded shrine or small chapel to worship. For Pantheon #1, I’m not sure. I’ll need to see where the rolls lead me next.
We know the where, but when and how often? Pantheon #1, the people only come out to worship on the holidays. When they have to go to a holy site to worship this makes total sense. I rolled the same for Pantheon #2, but that seems too redundant and too little for visiting local shrines. I rolled again and got many daily, twice daily to be exact. Midday and midnight are the times, so it works beautifully. Does midnight worship seem weird to you?
Did you know, before electricity and cheap lamp fuel people went to sleep when the sun went down. That means they often woke up for a few hours in the middle of the night. It wasn’t unusual for people to read, play games, even visit their neighbors. Midnight seems like the perfect time for a quick stroll to the local shrine to worship.
What’s the worship look like? For Pantheon #1 worship includes worshipers engaging in charitable service. They also receive a priestly blessing, and maintain of a home shrine. I’ll turn the home shrine into a local shrine. What about for Pantheon #2? Worshipers learn religious teachings and then discuss critically with others for self betterment.
That’s all for this post. Thanks for reading to the end. Next time we’ll continue putting the pieces of our religion jigsaw puzzle together by looking at major holidays, rites, and rituals.