The Divine have forever been a part of the fantasy genre. Even in our own times both ancient and modern, divinity has been motivation for people and groups of people to do a many number of things. In our fantasy worlds, the gods exist but religion is rarely, from my experience, role played. Worship of gods merely becomes a mechanic and fades into the background of things. It seems as though the guys over at 13th Age seem to agree.
So what do they say? To hell with making a whole pantheon, that’s what! In 13th Age there are vague references that people do worship gods, that they are clearly a structure within society. Otherwise we wouldn’t have clerics or paladins… or the Crusader, for that matter. A Dragon Empire without the Crusader is simply a little less interesting, I believe. Since there is no set pantheon outlined in the book, it might be a little confusing and/or overwhelming when considering gods and religion in the 13th Age. At my table, any class who is religiously focused simply gets to make up their own god. They tell me about the basic idea of the religion and what the god represents, and bam! There it is.
Beauty in simplicity.
I’m not a huge fan of making religion a focal point in my games regardless, but it’s not about MY story. It’s about the story your players write with you. If they want gods, then damn it, you better give them gods! Some people tend to argue the point that Icons can be considered gods, and to a degree, I stand with that. The Icons themselves are insanely powerful beings in the world, however, I don’t think that they should be explained as gods to a new player.
The biggest point to iterate in regards to the Icons is that some people worship them as if they were gods. NOT that they are gods in actuality. For a religion based class such as the cleric and paladin, I would bar a character from choosing an Icon as their god. However, any other class, sure. The reason behind this philosophy is that those religion based classes draw every aspect of their power from their god. Since icons aren’t gods, clearly, you can’t do that.
Now there are a couple of rare exceptions here, and honestly I find them interesting to explore: The Crusader and the Priestess. What’s that all about? With these two we clearly have the fantasy trope of light and dark, good and evil.
“The Priestess hears all the Gods of Light and speaks for those who please her. She is part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.”
pg 24 of 13th Age
A very interesting take for an Icon, especially in regards to religion and worship. So what about revering the Priestess as a god? Well, the person can believe whatever they so choose. But a cleric or a paladin of the Priestess, well, not being a god, it’s not entirely possible. Unless…
What if a cleric or paladin uses their Icon relationship with The Priestess as a conduit to get in touch with the Gods of Light? If a player put it to me that way, not only would I be impressed, but I would totally go along with that.
“The Crusader is the armored fist of the Dark Gods. So long as followers of the Gods of Light stay the hell out of his way, the Crusader turns his wrath against the demons that would destroy the world that his gods want to rule. Follow the Crusader if you must win at any cost”
pg 15 of 13th Age
The same philosophy could be assigned to someone who wants to create a more ambiguous character that follows the Crusader. The shaky ally can be an interesting dynamic to have in a party, so long as everyone’s on-board. Using the Crusader as a conduit of the Dark Gods can become a little tricky though, since he fancies himself more of a ruler than the voice of his gods. All the more interesting, no?
So by the end of all this, what do we have?
- Players who are clerics or paladins should be able to make up their own gods.
- Players dictate how important faith is in the campaign.
- Icons aren’t gods, but can be worshiped as such by non-divine classes.
- The Crusader and the Priestess could possibly be considered divine conduits.
Stay Metal \m/