June 8th, 2009

Voodoo Dolly

Religious Detachment in Roleplaying

My sister's had a debate with someone about the role of gods in roleplaying, and she raised some points that had me wondering. If you look at real life religious stories (Greek, Norse, Old Testament, Native American, Chinese, Japanese, etc), the gods weren't detached from mortal society. They interacted with mortals, they meddled, they intervened, and really got their fingers into the functioning of society.

When you look at a number of fantasy novels, the gods play a big role too. They are present, they act, and their actions shift and move world events. The most subtle I've ever seen is the Kushiel series, and even then the odd god shows up in person to talk with the main characters, while the desires of the gods move the characters all over creation. They're subtler than most, but they're still present, still a force, and still very much there moving the world along.

So, why the objection in RPGs to having the gods directly involved? There are, of course, the odd exceptions, but in general the gods are present but remote, not expecting to take direct affect on the lives of the mortals (and specifically, the players). If the roleplaying game 'should' be similar to that of classic storytelling or even fiction, shouldn't the gods be playing a bigger role then?

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