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4 Comments

  1. Noella
    March 13, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    I’m far from an expert on this, but I would also suggest considering how important religion is in the society that you’re writing. Also, since the population of a world is never homogenous, what other religions and belief systems are there? You probably wouldn’t have to flesh out other ones as much as your main one, but different cultures tend to have different religions.

    If you’re writing about a conflict between two cultures, you might want to think about how important differences in religion play into it (Think of historical examples, it could be a minimal factor or the main factor such as in the Arab-Israeli conflicts).

    Also, what differences in religious opinion are there within the society itself? Are there athiests, agnostics, or people who are just apathetic on the issue of religion? Are there different sects within the religion? (Think of the big religions in our world such as Islam and Christianity, they different sects ranging from large to small). How are they different, and what kind of conflicts does this cause?

    What kind of effect does religion have on everyday life? Expressions such as “Oh my God” and “what the hell” are Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) in nature, and we often talk about concepts such as the Seven Sins which come from a religious source. Also, we use the term “Bible” as a generalized term to refer to something that is the ultimate authority on a certain topic. Also, it affects the way of life of characters if their are rules about what they can eat (think kosher food), what they can wear, what kind of behavior people can be punished for, and views on warfare and violence.

    The organization of a religion may also affect a society. Social structures such as the caste system have roots in religion (the caste system comes from a religious text part of Hinduism), and the clergy often have a special place in society. There are often rules for what members of the clergy can do and who they can be. Can they get married, be of either gender, etc.? What are there responsibilities and how much power do they have? Also, what kind of rituals do they perform, or do the common people partake it? Are there any religious holidays or observances like Lent or Ramadan that affect the schedule of a society.

    Sorry for dragging this comment on for so long. That’s just my two cents, and I hope it was helpful!

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  2. Catherine Krahe
    March 14, 2012 @ 1:55 am

    One thing that bugs me particularly: even if you know how the gods work, that is not always how the religion works. Build some error into the translation and it becomes more realistic.

    I’m not even sure that you have to know the truth about the gods if you know what characteristics the religions have.

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  3. CrucibleofWords
    September 26, 2012 @ 8:05 am

    Catherine makes a good point. Religious ideas are often filtered through various media and get misunderstood, misinterpreted and otherwise warped in the transmission. Part of how god(s) and the world interact would have to include how “near to the truth” the religion(s) of the world are.

    And another point is that, particularly in pseudo-Medieval societies, religion shouldn’t really be a tack-on. It influences the way that people see the world, how they understand it and how they react to it. In some ways, it affects what things are to certain people, even if it doesn’t change the “reality” of a thing. These things change the nature of societies radically, but it rarely seems to be acknowledged in fantasy.

    But I really shouldn’t get into ranting about that. I’d just say look at the Elder Scrolls series if you want to see fictional religion done really, really well.

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  4. randyellefson
    August 3, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

    You covered this so well I can’t think of anything to add, with one exception – consider whether the gods have magic items that ever fall into the hands of mortals and what the consequences are. This could produce a good story or two.

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