Author Topic: Religion  (Read 25510 times)

Galvez

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Religion
« Topic Start: October 07, 2013, 03:30:39 PM »
Dear players,

I have been playing battlemaster since 2007, and something that always bugged me is the value and power of religion. I want to start a real discussion on how to improve it, make it more realistic and more fun, before I make an official feature request. I'll update this post regularly to keep up with the proposals for an improved religion.

You see that some players put much time and effort in religion, role-play wise in-game and on the wiki. Religion has the potential to be a very interesting part of the game, yet it most cases it is just a silent guild you are part of to appease your peasants, or you aren't part of an organised religion at all. What does it really matter what faith you follow? From a day to day basis it has little use for your character. You notice that in the message group of most religions. It is silent. No one cares. Of course this is not true for all religions, but most of them. We need to revive those religions.

What is the value of a man's faith? How do we value a religion? To answer that, I ask you to look at the Church of Ibladesh. For a very long time in the history of the East Continent, the CoI has been a very powerful church. Probably the most powerful of the continent. After Ibladesh's last war against Perdan, duchies succeeded and peace negotiations followed. Perdan demanded that the new realms closed down every temple of the CoI, the rulers complied knowing it would mean the end of the Church. They complied to give up their faith in order to stay in power. The zealous Ibladeshi just gave up their faith. Who can make sense of that? As priest of the CoI, I told people not to give up their faith, but to continue fighting for what they believe in. I stood alone in that thought. So how much does a religion really matter to a charterer? Too little.

Historically, the Church was a very important institution in medieval Europe. The Church was rich and powerful, and the pope's influence was greater than the influence of Kings. They were powerful and could command a whole continent to take up arms to 'defend' the faith in many holy crusades. There was much intrigue, because the stakes were usually very high. And for the common men, the church was there directive in moral and principle matters. That was also something that made the Church powerful, because they commanded the loyalty of the people.

I say, make the church more important. Give them more power. Give them the people! Make kings fear the power of the Church.

PROPOSALS:
  • Taxes - Allow realms to choose wether or not to tax religions, or perhaps to tax only certain religions. More gold for religions with support of the realm which means more power. Also, it can create interesting intrigue between rulers and the Church's council.
  • Excommunicate - make it an option to excommunicate someone besides kicking someone out. Excommunicated nobles cause civil unrest in religious regions. Depending on the % of followers in the region and the rank of the noble. A simple knight will cause some unrest in the region, a lord more, a duke will cause unrest in his duchy and a council member will cause unrest in the whole realm, and most strongly in the capital. Again, more intrigue.
  • Influence followers - When a noble priest tells the peasant to jump, he jumps. When he tells you to hate realm X and love realm Y, he will hate and love accordingly. This is already a feature, but seldomly used because the penalties are too high. If it takes me more than 100 days to convert 40% of a population (about 2500 people) from an evil religion to my own, I'll not hamper that slow progress by trying to influence the people and lose 300 followers again. It isn't realistic to abandon your faith like that. The Church was the main tool to influence the people. This makes religions actually useful and makes them desirable or not (for different people), which is interesting for the game. The duke wants to keep a good bond with the Church to make sure his peasants act as he commands. Not just statistics and role-play. I propose to minimize the penalties on influencing followers.
  • Evil ally? What!? - The peasants in a region should be influenced by a cross-reference of the dominant faith in the region, its views on other religions, the type of realm-based relations to other realms, and the dominant faith in that realm. (Indirik)

Please debate the above proposals and if you have proposals of your own to improve religions or the priest game, please share them.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 09:25:11 PM by Galvez »
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Tom

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Re: Religion
« Reply #1: October 07, 2013, 04:55:15 PM »
Wrong game.

You are thinking of religion as a tool to power and more buttons to click. It was never intended to be that, and that's why you find it lacking. It's a roleplaying device. If you think of it as a gameplay mechanic, you will always be disappointed.

vonGenf

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Re: Religion
« Reply #2: October 07, 2013, 05:04:10 PM »
Wrong game.

You are thinking of religion as a tool to power and more buttons to click. It was never intended to be that, and that's why you find it lacking. It's a roleplaying device. If you think of it as a gameplay mechanic, you will always be disappointed.

While I agree with you that religion should be a roleplaying device, some of the proposed measure are appropriate and would improve the link between RP and game mechanics effect. They're not power-gamey.

The tax proposal, in particular, sounds interesting to me. Right now, even in theocracies, all religions are taxed at the same rate. Allowing different levels of taxation would create a direct soft link between realm policy and religious spread which is currently often completely ignored. It would be historically accurate and create RPed interaction as realms would have a direct incentive to make their opinion of the different religions present on their lands known, rather than the ignore or destroy dichotomy which is often the norm.
After all it's a roleplaying game.

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Re: Religion
« Reply #3: October 07, 2013, 06:53:04 PM »
You see that some players put much time and effort in religion, role-play wise in-game and on the wiki. Religion has the potential to be a very interesting part of the game, yet it most cases it is just a silent guild you are part of to appease your peasants, or you aren't part of an organised religion at all. What does it really matter what faith you follow? From a day to day basis it has little use for your character. You notice that in the message group of most religions. It is silent. No one cares. Of course this is not true for all religions, but most of them. We need to revive those religions.
To this point, I wholeheartedly agree with you. With, of course, Sanguis Astroism being the sole exception.

Most religions are very silent shells, where nothing really happens. Even the biggest ones in the game, so far as I have experienced. And from what I have heard, this is pretty much universal. They have one or two people dedicated to it, and everyone else is a silent partner.

Quote
What is the value of a man's faith? How do we value a religion?
---snip---
So how much does a religion really matter to a charterer? Too little.
These are good questions. But they are also things that we cannot enforce in game mechanics. Some characters will believe very strongly, some weakly, others will not believe at all. Some will believe in whatever faith can promise them what they want.

Quote
Historically, the Church was a very important institution in medieval Europe. The Church was rich and powerful, and the pope's influence was greater than the influence of Kings. They were powerful and could command a whole continent to take up arms to 'defend' the faith in many holy crusades. There was much intrigue, because the stakes were usually very high. And for the common men, the church was there directive in moral and principle matters. That was also something that made the Church powerful, because they commanded the loyalty of the people.
At certain points in history, this is very true. At other times, this was not. The power of the church waxed and waned, depending on the relative power and influence of the pope and the various kings.

But you also cannot directly compare RL religions directly to BattleMaster religions. The situations are completely different. We don't have the situation where a single religion dominates the entire continent. If you did, you'd probably see that religion having a lot more influence and power.

In fact, I've gone on record and stated before that what we need is not game mechanics power for individual religions, but fewer religions in the first place. If you want a really good religion game, then what you need are two, maybe three, religions that control the entire island, and are evenly matched. (Maybe two each for EC/FEI, three for AT/BT, and four for Dwilight.) Then you'd have some good concentration of power, and a clearly defined goal of who to go after.

And, on top of that, you also need a set of leaders willing to actually use that power in a religious manner, and a group of people willing to play along with it. Look what happened when you assembled all that on Dwilight. You got a strong church with lots of secular power, willing to use that power to achieve its own goals, and a bunch of nobles that jumped when the prophet said jump.

Game mechanics alone will not make any particular religion in BattleMaster the equivalent of the Catholic church at the height of its power. It takes players to get together and allow the church to have that power. If you try to force it on people, then you will end up with a lot of what we had when religion first was implemented: Each realm having its own empty-shell state religion run by the realm, and all other religions outlawed.

Now, having said that...

I do agree with you that a few more options for religions to handle some specific circumstances, and perhaps allow them to have a bit more effect on the world in general, may be in order. Adding things on to the extent you are suggesting is, IMO, a mistake.

Quote
Taxes - Allow realms to choose wether or not to tax religions, or perhaps to tax only certain religions. More gold for religions with support of the realm which means more power. Also, it can create interesting intrigue between rulers and the Church's council.
Excellent idea. I fully support this. This information should also be publicly available to all nobles in the realm.

Quote
Excommunicate - make it an option to excommunicate someone besides kicking someone out. Excommunicated nobles cause civil unrest in religious regions. Depending on the % of followers in the region and the rank of the noble. A simple knight will cause some unrest in the region, a lord more, a duke will cause unrest in his duchy and a council member will cause unrest in the whole realm, and most strongly in the capital. As an excommunicated member, you can not leave the religion for at least 30 days or after paying some sort of ransom. Again, more intrigue.
Another good idea. Some kind of official Excommunication, which may also include forbidding them from rejoining, is a good idea. I like the idea of excommunicated lords/dukes generating problems in their regions if the region is high in followers of that faith.

The "can't leave for 30 days', though, I don't really understand. You've been excommunicated. You're no longer part of the religion.

Quote
Influence followers - When a noble priest tells the peasant to jump, he jumps. When he tells you to hate realm X and love realm Y, he will hate and love accordingly. This is already a feature, but seldomly used because the penalties are too high. If it takes me more than 100 days to convert 40% of a population (about 2500 people) from an evil religion to my own, I'll not hamper that slow progress by trying to influence the people and lose 300 followers again. It isn't realistic to abandon your faith like that. The Church was the main tool to influence the people. This makes religions actually useful and makes them desirable or not (for different people), which is interesting for the game. The duke wants to keep a good bond with the Church to make sure his peasants act as he commands. Not just statistics and role-play. I propose to minimize the penalties on influencing followers.
In general, the influence followers ability is pretty low-powered. The advent of diplomats/ambassadors (which I feel are WAAAAY overpowered to the point of being absurdly ridiculous) has made this option mostly pointless, and usually more damaging to the religion than the target. The only practical use for it is to help recover regions in core areas of the religion's power.

One additional thing that I think could really help:
Peasants should object to realm relations based on the religious beliefs of the various realms. Not based on state religions, but based on the amount of followers in the various regions/realms. For example: On EC, Westmoor is /heavy/ in Church of Humanity followers. Ibladesh was pure Church of Ibladesh. Both religions considered the other as Evil. But the two realms were federated! wtf?! That's pure BS. In a situation like that, the peasants should have been rising up in open revolt daily, and twice on Sunday.

The peasants in a region should be influenced by a cross-reference of the dominant faith in the region, its views on other religions, the type of realm-based relations to other realms, and the dominant faith in that realm. It sounds complicated, but it's really not. It works like this, assuming the prior Westmoor/Ibladesh scenario:

1) Westmoor city is part of the realm of Westmoor.
2) Westmoor city has 90% CoH followers.
3) The realm of Westmoor is federated to Ibladesh.
4) The realm of Ibladesh consists of mainly CoI followers.
5) CoH considers CoI as evil.
6) The peasants in Westmoor city should have a declining sympathy toward Ibladesh.
7) As the sympathy toward Ibladesh drops, the people in Westmoor city should start grumbling and complaining about their federation. This mechanic already exists. It should be modified to include a religious component that takes the religious views into account.

The amount of the effect would be based on the type of relationship between the realms, the type of religious view, and the amount of followers in each region/realm. If there is no clear religious majority in either place, then you shouldn't have any strong reactions.

This could give religions some additional power in a political arena, and is based directly off of existing mechanisms. However, it doesn't give in to the idea of just giving priests another button to click to hold realms hostage with an overpowered option. It's an effectively passive option that is based on the presence of the religion alone.

Tim whipped together the basic stats for something like this once. IIRC, it didn't take too long to work out the raw data.
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vonGenf

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Re: Religion
« Reply #4: October 07, 2013, 07:17:25 PM »
1) Westmoor city is part of the realm of Westmoor.
2) Westmoor city has 90% CoH followers.
3) The realm of Westmoor is federated to Ibladesh.
4) The realm of Ibladesh consists of mainly CoI followers.
5) CoH considers CoI as evil.
6) The peasants in Westmoor city should have a declining sympathy toward Ibladesh.
7) As the sympathy toward Ibladesh drops, the people in Westmoor city should start grumbling and complaining about their federation. This mechanic already exists. It should be modified to include a religious component that takes the religious views into account.

The amount of the effect would be based on the type of relationship between the realms, the type of religious view, and the amount of followers in each region/realm. If there is no clear religious majority in either place, then you shouldn't have any strong reactions.

This is such a good idea that I though it was already the case. The game doesn't give reasons for the peasants liking/disliking another realm, it could be any of a bunch of reasons. Having this in the mix seems logical.
After all it's a roleplaying game.

Galvez

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Re: Religion
« Reply #5: October 07, 2013, 09:16:51 PM »
Wrong game.

You are thinking of religion as a tool to power and more buttons to click. It was never intended to be that, and that's why you find it lacking. It's a roleplaying device. If you think of it as a gameplay mechanic, you will always be disappointed.
It disappoints me as a role-play device, as it miserably fails at that.

These are good questions. But they are also things that we cannot enforce in game mechanics. Some characters will believe very strongly, some weakly, others will not believe at all. Some will believe in whatever faith can promise them what they want.
Of course. I hope that when religions are more 'useful' it becomes more attractive to invest time in it, role-play wise and take religion in general more serious.

And, on top of that, you also need a set of leaders willing to actually use that power in a religious manner, and a group of people willing to play along with it. Look what happened when you assembled all that on Dwilight. You got a strong church with lots of secular power, willing to use that power to achieve its own goals, and a bunch of nobles that jumped when the prophet said jump.
From my experience that is difficult to achieve, because what I usually hear is that religion shouldn't involve itself in politics. In my opinion, it should, as much as possible.

Game mechanics alone will not make any particular religion in BattleMaster the equivalent of the Catholic church at the height of its power. It takes players to get together and allow the church to have that power. If you try to force it on people, then you will end up with a lot of what we had when religion first was implemented: Each realm having its own empty-shell state religion run by the realm, and all other religions outlawed.
The equivalent of the Catholic church is desirable in my opinion. I do not want to force people to all become religious zealots, but I do think the current balance is off.

Another good idea. Some kind of official Excommunication, which may also include forbidding them from rejoining, is a good idea. I like the idea of excommunicated lords/dukes generating problems in their regions if the region is high in followers of that faith. The "can't leave for 30 days', though, I don't really understand. You've been excommunicated. You're no longer part of the religion.
I was thinking in terms how to code this. I saw the excommunication much like the exile option. So the game knows that you belonged to religion X, so it knows what peasants will be upset. The 'do not leave for 30 days' was to avoid that you dodge the negative civil effects of the excommunication.

In general, the influence followers ability is pretty low-powered. The advent of diplomats/ambassadors (which I feel are WAAAAY overpowered to the point of being absurdly ridiculous) has made this option mostly pointless, and usually more damaging to the religion than the target. The only practical use for it is to help recover regions in core areas of the religion's power.
Yes, it is not very productive compared to a diplomat. I say make it more powerful and minimize the penalties.

One additional thing that I think could really help:
Peasants should object to realm relations based on the religious beliefs of the various realms. Not based on state religions, but based on the amount of followers in the various regions/realms. For example: On EC, Westmoor is /heavy/ in Church of Humanity followers. Ibladesh was pure Church of Ibladesh. Both religions considered the other as Evil. But the two realms were federated! wtf?! That's pure BS. In a situation like that, the peasants should have been rising up in open revolt daily, and twice on Sunday.

The peasants in a region should be influenced by a cross-reference of the dominant faith in the region, its views on other religions, the type of realm-based relations to other realms, and the dominant faith in that realm. It sounds complicated, but it's really not. It works like this, assuming the prior Westmoor/Ibladesh scenario:

1) Westmoor city is part of the realm of Westmoor.
2) Westmoor city has 90% CoH followers.
3) The realm of Westmoor is federated to Ibladesh.
4) The realm of Ibladesh consists of mainly CoI followers.
5) CoH considers CoI as evil.
6) The peasants in Westmoor city should have a declining sympathy toward Ibladesh.
7) As the sympathy toward Ibladesh drops, the people in Westmoor city should start grumbling and complaining about their federation. This mechanic already exists. It should be modified to include a religious component that takes the religious views into account.

The amount of the effect would be based on the type of relationship between the realms, the type of religious view, and the amount of followers in each region/realm. If there is no clear religious majority in either place, then you shouldn't have any strong reactions.

This could give religions some additional power in a political arena, and is based directly off of existing mechanisms. However, it doesn't give in to the idea of just giving priests another button to click to hold realms hostage with an overpowered option. It's an effectively passive option that is based on the presence of the religion alone.

Tim whipped together the basic stats for something like this once. IIRC, it didn't take too long to work out the raw data.
Nice idea. I'll add it in the proposal section.
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Re: Religion
« Reply #6: October 07, 2013, 09:40:40 PM »
It disappoints me as a role-play device, as it miserably fails at that.

What, exactly, do you think a "role-play device" is, and whose responsibility do you think it is to make it work?


Quote
From my experience that is difficult to achieve, because what I usually hear is that religion shouldn't involve itself in politics. In my opinion, it should, as much as possible.

This is an unfortunate result of having people who live in the modern age apply their values to a medieval game. Actually, it's also because far too many realms will punish religions for trying to make themselves politically relevant in any way.

Yes, religion should involve itself in politics a lot more if we want it to mean more.
Timothy Collett

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Re: Religion
« Reply #7: October 07, 2013, 10:22:39 PM »
i will take personal freedom to not beleive that roleplaying can add any more flavour or fun in game if not being linked with in-game dynamics.

i remember times when some group of ooc friends had lot of, say, local fun by making whole rp'ing novels which were lightly linked with game. some of them were indeed funny for a while to the extent that i, with my limited english, was joining them.

that cannot last for too long, i really believe.

if priests and religions in general, are powerless and therefore irrelevant in all game-mechanics related aspects, who would actually care for their rp if it affects nothing, had no any weight as fun potential.

giving more power to religion actually increases game rp-ing potential in general, i believe. what would priests do with some extra funds earned, some stronger influence on peasants or even feudal hierarchy? the best they can do is either enlarge their sole religious power or grab some mundane power, which makes them mundane rival.

alternative way of grabbing power can largely improve depth and dynamics.

having possibility to play game in different manner is really much more interesting, while on the opposite, reducing ways to accomplish things to simple straightforward path simply leads to degradation.

it is very visible in game. as ages-old priest my character does not see anyone being interested in pure rp-ing. almost all interaction with old priests are related with deals, attempts on how few remaining buttons would be used in daily politics, while in times when religions were strong, elders themselves were developing strong stories about their actions.

the worst aspect of weak religions is largely reduced ability for new religions to develop, which would create at least some thrill, leaving few remaining monster-religions to enjoy in their fun-killing complacency.

if religion is to be mere rp-ing, deprived of almost all other aspects, than it might be better to disband priest class, leaving temples as some semi-automatic facility where any noble could make rp-ing at appropriate occasion, but i truly do not understand why so deep and wide game as battlemaster is being deprived of its width.



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Re: Religion
« Reply #8: October 07, 2013, 10:29:59 PM »
i will take personal freedom to not beleive that roleplaying can add any more flavour or fun in game if not being linked with in-game dynamics.

You are, of course, free to believe whatever you wish to believe.

However, if you cannot convince us that it is the case, you will simply have to live with it.
Timothy Collett

"The only thing you can't trade for your heart's desire...is your heart." "You are what you do.  Choose again, and change." "One of these days, someone's gonna plug you, and you're going to die saying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"  ~ Miles Naismith Vorkosigan

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Re: Religion
« Reply #9: October 07, 2013, 10:58:23 PM »
i will take personal freedom to not beleive that roleplaying can add any more flavour or fun in game if not being linked with in-game dynamics.
RP can be quite powerful, if handled properly. For example:

1) Your character is a member of Keplerism.
2) The prophet of Keplerism declares Evilism as, well, Evil. (Duh!  :P )
3) If your character is a faithful, Kepler-fearing follower of Keplerism, they should make every possible effort to seek out and destroy Evilism in all its icky-nasty forms. This should include war declarations, looting, grain burning, kicking out of guilds, etc. Everything in your power to destroy the evil of Evilism.

That's pretty powerful, isn't it? And all you have to do is RP your character as a faithful follower of Keplerism. After all, the mechanism to declare Evilism as evil is a simple one-word change, that really doesn't affect anything, and has no real game mechanics enforcement. But we as players can give that RP some teeth by simply acting out our characters.

RP can also change a character's beliefs and attitudes. If someone RPs their character as crass, rude, and vulgar, your character can respond appropriately by either disliking them and their realm, or maybe liking them more if they are rude toward your enemies. In either case, the RP that people associate with their characters can have a powerful effect on the game, without any game mechanics involved at all.
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Indirik

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Re: Religion
« Reply #10: October 07, 2013, 11:05:46 PM »
From my experience that is difficult to achieve, because what I usually hear is that religion shouldn't involve itself in politics. In my opinion, it should, as much as possible.
I quite agree. And this is what I tell everyone when they want to know how to make a religion fun and attractive to players. Get involved in politics. Take a stance Cause controversy.

This is, however, not just something that leaders of religions have to work on. Other people in the realms need to work on this, too. When a priest or religious figure tries to get involved, they shouldn't be calling out to that priest to "stay out of secular affairs".

Quote
The equivalent of the Catholic church is desirable in my opinion. I do not want to force people to all become religious zealots, but I do think the current balance is off.
To the extent that religions should have power, I agree. But not to the extent that it's the only game in town.

Quote
I was thinking in terms how to code this. I saw the excommunication much like the exile option. So the game knows that you belonged to religion X, so it knows what peasants will be upset. The 'do not leave for 30 days' was to avoid that you dodge the negative civil effects of the excommunication.
It could probably be handled by adding that character to an Excommunicated list for that religion. That way the penalties can be applied without needing to keep them in the religion.
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Re: Religion
« Reply #11: October 07, 2013, 11:19:24 PM »
The problem really is the BUY IN for your RP. As a player I can write endless RP for my religion, publish massive amounts on the wiki. If I can't get other players excited and joining in, the religion is dead. SA on Dwilight shows it IS possible, so the real question should be, how can others replicate some of that success, what is required to do so and is it reasonable to expect it can become a more common occurrence. Perhaps it is an isolated case given the current state, or perhaps the fact that EVERYONE seems to want to make their own cool religion and so very few have any real power base or any real depth to the faith that is the problem.

Before I took a break from the game, the PeL area had a few very significant and influential religions, to the point were the tensions between the religions were starting to lead to conflicts between the realms involved. People were taking sides and supporting their prophets and being INVOLVED.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 11:21:52 PM by De-Legro »
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Re: Religion
« Reply #12: October 08, 2013, 12:00:13 AM »
I would attribute SA's success to two things.

1. It had good ideas behind it.
Star worship is a fresh but natural concept for a modern audience. The nomenclature is cool. The very name Sanguis Astroism is pleasing and unique. These things attract attention and respect.

2. It came early on in the formation of a map.
While the religions on established islands were merely background flavour, due to their late comings,  SA's early appearance allowed it to become an intrinsic part of Dwilight. The general player base accepts it as established tradition, attaching to it reverence reserved for the old school.

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Re: Religion
« Reply #13: October 08, 2013, 01:10:19 AM »
RP can be quite powerful, if handled properly. For example:

(...)

with my limited english, my rp-ing is not a big deal, but nevertheless, now and than i try to pull out some sequence of rp's. i see others make much more effort, but people simply don't care. not only beginners, but even mid-age players are ready to leave the game after being totally ignored on visible effort... people collect family gold, fame points, whatever, but don't care for rp. game mechanics could push them a little more. more power to religion is in my opinion more power to rp-ing in overall, as religion is bound to rp-ing one way or another.

since i have been playing, i saw many independent religions (religions which had high positive earnings that did not rely on permanent noble donations) which were greatest source of rp-ing in game.

Galvez

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Re: Religion
« Reply #14: October 08, 2013, 11:39:45 PM »
Before I took a break from the game, the PeL area had a few very significant and influential religions, to the point were the tensions between the religions were starting to lead to conflicts between the realms involved. People were taking sides and supporting their prophets and being INVOLVED.
Religion should be a main cause of conflict in the game. I think that it is also a problem that some people see religion in-game outside the right timeframe. Some religions are way too tolerant to others. Where is the fun in that? Too little debt cause for little strive. The people's characters should start believing that there is only one true religion, theirs.
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