How organized is YOUR Dark Sun religion?

So I was going through my Pathfinder books. I was thinking about non-standard classes and how, if they could, fit into Athas. Many need a whole different discussion. However, I’m focusing on the divine classes. I noticed something pretty quick. Organized religion. Dogma.

Many of the classes and concepts I saw depended on organized religion and firmly established dogma. An inquisitor needs to have a dogma to enforce and a community that supports that. A war priest needs to have an army, ideally a crusade, to follow. You get my point.

The only canonical areas these character types would make any sense are the templarates. Strict, hierarchical organization and unrelenting dogma (sorcerer king GOOD). To greater or lesser degrees, the city states (except Tyr) can be seen as theocracies.

Contrast this to the elemental cults and the druids. The druids, while they can be assumed to agree on most things faith wise, are not organized. There is no hierarchy. If a druid strays too far from his beliefs, he simply looses his divine abilities. Even if the druid went so extreme as to become a defiler, any druids hunting him would be doing so solely as a personal vendetta.

Elemental cults are even more diffuse. Most clerics get mentored by another cleric. They would inherit the traditions of that person, but they are just that. Traditions. In the event of a huge religious disagreement, they would likely just go their separate ways. Especially if their elemental lords do not show disfavor or favor. They rarely do. I do want to emphasize that of course, druids and elemental (and paraelemental) clerics naturally have traditions (like the initiation ceremonies) they are far looser.

Let’s say you are a married merchant, who travels from Gulg to Nibenay to trade his wares. Sadly, after arriving at Nibenay, you get dominated by a t’chowb who makes you feed yourself to a Gray-touched mekillot. All too common I know. Your widow (hopefully grieving) comes to claims your goods and money. It all belongs to the Oba after all.

However, the templars block the reclamation. The Nibenese templars have rules about using the dead man’s goods to pay for the expenses incurred by his dead. And it’s seen as blasphemy to hand goods over to the Oba. Gulgan templars come to press the claim. A Nibenese inquisitor investigates his own for embezzlement. According to her, the goods belong to Nibenay. Better not have kept any for yourself. Meanwhile, Gulg calls upon a warrior priest in order to wreck damage to Nibenay for recompense, but who decides that amount and…

Village in the middle of the waste. “So you got married in a different village? Cool. By a water priest? Hello Mr Fancy Pants.” Using our above example, the dead merchant’s property would likely be claimed by the local strong man, thieves or distributed for the good of the community. If a widow showed up, they’d mostly just want to know if she’s telling the truth. Then it’s just an RP encounter.

It doesn’t matter too much if you got married by a water cleric and went to a fire worshipping village. Some teasing maybe, but no one is really going to care.

By the by. One divine class that is easy peasey to add into Dark Sun? Oracle. The Charisma driven, sorceror analog for clerics. You would want to restrict their spheres of influence to reflect the setting (elemental mostly).

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There’s definitely local religious traditions: the Sun (Fire?) worship in Kled, the clerical teachings of that Racked Spirit in TotDL, etc. but they’re few and far between.

Certainly nothing global - figuratively or literally.

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I think Raam also has one of the largest attempts at an organized religion with the worship of Badna. The city has hundreds of shrines (upubadna) throughout the city along with prayer wheels. I could see Templars enforcing the use of these especially prior to entering a public building.

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True, but… The city has shrines, but its my understanding the populace doesn’t care. I’d say Urik has a more successful SM cult, but i suppose it depends how you’re sorting those ideas in your head.

The city of Raam does have a more extensive religious tradition going on.

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I believe that Sun was meant to be Fire, but the DS supplements took it literally and made sun different to fire.

When it comes to elemental clerics, my guess is that heterodoxy is the norm and attempts to produce orthodoxy fail. And lucky for the elemental clerics, else the Sorcerer Monarchs might consider them a threat.

Sébastien Jalbert over at worldofathas.tripod.com back in 2005 did what I thought was a fair summary of different religions on Athas. It can be found in his one of his pdfs Here Pages one two and three.

Though I wasn’t too keen on the rest of the document for names and languages. YMMV

In my current campaign Abalach-Re has put aside Badna. She survived the Prism Pentad by faking her death. The return of Rajaat shook her out of her hedonism followed by several attacks from Dregoth. She’s changed the religion to say that benevolent Badna was slain by the devil Dregoth and his demons the Dray. Badna gave his last strength the Grand Vizier making her the new Godqueen of Raam. With such a tangible threat the people of Raam finally fell for her lies and believe in her divinity.

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Very interesting document… though I’ve got to side with you on the names and languages

Very cool take. Thanks for sharing

I agree heartily. The SK’s can be tolerant… so long as it poses no threat. Or even perceived threat.

My first thought when I read that was “sick burn dude!” Then I realized the only person being burned would have been me…

The templars are more or less enforcing a sham, because their queen demands they do. If there are any true believers, they are probably fanatical secret police.