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Old 09-25-2014, 12:01 PM   #1
Disliker of the mary sue
 
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Default How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

Hm something I was considering for a game of dnd was playing a cleric of a god of thieves. The process of thinking was I want to play a roguish personalty type character yet I also want to be a cleric so I can actually have a good use, so logically a chaotic neutral god for thieves rouges and bards would have kind of a loose moral rule set so I can be a bit of a rogue while avoiding the problem of the stick up his ass lawful good paladin.

Hm I just wondering how exactly would such a thing be organized with temples and the resources to train clerics to begin with if your main worshipers are traveling mistrals and thieves people who probably can't have a public church. Would worshiping such a being be something you keep to your self or like social stigma? I don't know anyone has any thoughts, are their real life equivalent temples to gods of thieving and debauchery? Figure this be a good place to ask since everyone in this forum seems to have very esoteric knowledge.
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

The way I'd see it could work is if said deity also had another portfolio, one that would be socially acceptable to publically follow. Or at least not openly criminal.

Hermes would be one such god, from Wikipedia:
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God of trade, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, and border crossings, guide to the Underworld
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Old 09-25-2014, 01:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

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Originally Posted by Disliker of the mary sue View Post
I don't know anyone has any thoughts, are their real life equivalent temples to gods of thieving and debauchery? Figure this be a good place to ask since everyone in this forum seems to have very esoteric knowledge.
Actually saying "god of thieves" is a little on the nose. A god worshiped by thieves would be more likely characterized as the trickster god, the god of travelers, the god of luck, the god of wealth or the god of darkness or some combination thereof and would have worshipers who are not in fact thieves, but gamblers, beggars, people who work at any job at night, transvestites, travelers, musicians or something.

Last edited by David Johnston2; 09-25-2014 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 09-25-2014, 01:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

Most gods with thieves as worshippers are probably trickster archetypes, or those with much broader portfolios as David Johnston2 suggests. Outright criminals might have their own shrines where they worship a specifically thieving aspect of the deity, but the same god might also govern merchants as well, governing everyone who seeks wealth (this would also suit a medieval mindset which tended to consider arbitrage as something close to theft).

Remember that most polytheists don't worship one deity from their pantheon exclusively - you worship the pantheon and venerate the appropriate deity for your business in hand. You may, of course, have a tutelary deity who is your favourite. Priests could well be itinerant and train by apprenticeship - especially those of the thief-cults as opposed to the public cult.
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Old 09-25-2014, 01:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

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Hm I just wondering how exactly would such a thing be organized with temples and the resources to train clerics to begin with if your main worshipers are traveling mistrals and thieves people who probably can't have a public church.
If you are a chaotic god of a socially unpopular (and highly mobile) group of people, why would you want organized temples?

There's a tendency for fantasy religions to fit the pattern of medieval Christianity, but Christianity is a serious outlier really. Other than some strands of Chinese traditional religion and occasional and largely unsuccessful efforts of various empires (Egypt, Rome, Japan) to force sort of more controllable hierarchy on the faithful, every temple, monastery, roadside shrine or individual teacher is independent, and the bulk of people's religious activity takes place inside their households, not at temple services.

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are their real life equivalent temples to gods of thieving and debauchery?.
Debauchery sure. Debauchery is a popular activity, well able to attract large congregations eager to participate in the annual orgy or monthly get blind drunk celebration or whatever. Theft not so much.

Part of the problem is that real gods aren't often gods *of* something, they are just gods. You can pray to any of them for anything you like. Some gods will develop reputations for being more likely to respond favorably to prayers for something in particular, but it's unusual for them to become completely exclusive. The way you become the thief god is usually for your myth to include you stealing something yourself. Thieves who need some divine help will figure you are more likely to be sympathetic than the stern god of justice whose gaze destroys the imperfect, and ask you instead of him. If they then get lucky, hey you must have blessed them. In principle once you develop a rep for helping thieves your respectable worshippers could go elsewhere, but that doesn't actually happen much. The other major route is that gods tend to run in families. And so do professions. The favorite god of the fellow who just happened to be the most successful brothel owner around here a century ago, and who set up several of his sons and grandsons in the trade, may not have originally been the god of brothel-keepers, but he is now.
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:01 PM   #6
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

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If you are a chaotic god of a socially unpopular (and highly mobile) group of people, why would you want organized temples?

There's a tendency for fantasy religions to fit the pattern of medieval Christianity, but Christianity is a serious outlier really.
The reason is that most people alive today are only familiar with Christianity and variations over that one theme (the other Abrahamics), and so they assume that all religions that have ever existed are like that.

But I disagree that Indo-European gods are just gods. Most have portfolios, or end up having portfolios ascribed to them, but they're a lot more messy and complex and confusing than the portfolios of fantasy RPG setting gods.

For instance, which Norse god is the god of war?

Thor and Tyr are the two obvious ones. Even there there's a problem. There's not one god of war. But cases can be made for Odin also being a god of war, and even Freya! So the Norse have three war gods and a war goddess. The Norse would use whichever one seems most relevant to their current martial situation, or whichever one they feel the closest to.

The same messy portfolios goes for Christian medieval saints, as far as I know. They end up having many completely unrelated areas ascribed to them, extremely different from the clear-cut way that it is in typical fantasy settings (and quite possibly because medieval saints fulfilled some of the same needs as were earlier fulfilled by the gods of polytheistic religions, although in some cases saints were hijacked pagan gods rebranded as mortals, with Saint Brigid probably being the best known such case).

Another poster mentioned aspects of the same god. I don't really know how that works, but it makes sense for some religions, perhaps larger ones, urban ones or empire-spanning ones. I'd look to Greek and Roman polytheism if (or rather, when) I want to know more about how one god can have multiple aspects.

If thieves must have a god, and it makes sense that they'd want one, I concur with the poster who suggested a trickster god. Hermes or Mercury, or even Loki. Or a god of travellers and luck, or of illusions and trickery.

Some gods may end up being seen as "bad company", though. I'm not sure I can envision anyone sacrificing publically to Loki in my Ärth setting, for instance. He's simply too antisocial, whereas somone like Hermes and/or Mercury has a wider portfolio and so can be completely legitimate. For instance some of the couriers of the Greek empire in my Ärth setting may well perpetuate customs or traditions that harken back to old pagan rituals to placate Hermes, either doing them in a partially Christianized form, or else doing them in secret not because Hermes in particular is a bad god but because he's one of the pre-Christian gods and therefore is no longer kosher.

A god for travelling, for roaming, for a generally rogue'ish lifestyle (with luck as an element), sounds like a much more reasonable "specific" portfolio, than having a god for the specific social role or function of the thief.

Or it could be a god largely associated with the underclass, with those who don't own property, with farm hands, serfs, slaves and indentured servants, and gipsies and orphans. But in that case it would be rather eccentric for a gentleman thief, or a gentleman assassin, to sacrifice to such a god, or to engage in otherforms of ritualistic behaviour towards him or her.
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:17 PM   #7
Disliker of the mary sue
 
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

Meh I just more or less going by what the book said...he is basically the patron god of bards and rouges...not much info on him but that might be in a book I don;t own. But yeah I thinking their needs to be a structure simply because if they did not then how exactly would clerics be trained... I assume in most setting you can't just declare yourself a cleric and instantly get divine abilities until you **** off the god.
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

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Originally Posted by Disliker of the mary sue View Post
Meh I just more or less going by what the book said...he is basically the patron god of bards and rouges...not much info on him but that might be in a book I don;t own. But yeah I thinking their needs to be a structure simply because if they did not then how exactly would clerics be trained... I assume in most setting you can't just declare yourself a cleric and instantly get divine abilities until you **** off the god.
Is there some reason why you are reluctant to write his name?
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

It would be somewhat appropriate for the god of thieves to have a secret name.
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:42 PM   #10
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: How exactly would a Religion of a god of theives work?

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Originally Posted by Disliker of the mary sue View Post
Meh I just more or less going by what the book said...he is basically the patron god of bards and rouges...not much info on him but that might be in a book I don;t own. But yeah I thinking their needs to be a structure simply because if they did not then how exactly would clerics be trained... I assume in most setting you can't just declare yourself a cleric and instantly get divine abilities until you **** off the god.
Training could be via a master/apprentice system. Some polytheistic religions may have worked like that.
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