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  • Religions of Rifts Earth

    Has anyone done any work on potential religions of Rifts Earth? I always thought worlds with religions were far more flavorful than worlds without.

    For example, do the Simvan have a religion? What about the Fennodi or some of the other more common DeeBees?

    In my setting, the Coalition has The God of Man, which is a version of Christianity that has been perverted. Their cross is a vertical version of what you and I would call a Skull-n-Crossbones, so it is a skull over a vertical bone with a bone crosspiece. The primary tenet of this religion is that only Humans are the Chosen of God, for why else would Jesus Christ be human? After the coming of the Rifts, acceptance of D-Bees was considered a heresy and stamped out. D-Bees are considered not even to have immortal souls. With the heavy handed direction provided by the leadership of the coalition, the tenets even considered magic use to be a sign of the devil. I found that this works very well with the feel of the Coalition States. The bible of the modern faith has been heavily edited. Old versions of the bible are considered even more dangerous than the chronicles of Erin Tarn.

    If anyone else has made religions in Rifts for their campaigns I would like to hear it.

  • #2
    Relevant archive thread: http://archive.pegforum.com/viewtopi...451917#p451917

    Simvan are probably animistic / shamanistic. It fits with being a nomadic, tribal, hunter-gatherer culture that emphasizes mounts. There's some anthropomorphizing, but that's in the original source material so you can get away with it.
    Fennodi probably have a spread of religions, with the major faith in line with the more peaceful versions of Buddhism and Hinduism.
    Lyn-Srial are a race of paladins. Any religion they have is probably to a fairly generic good concept or entity (my headcanon: "The Light", a holy force often mistaken for sun worship by outsiders, that is righteous, good, and ready to smite evil).
    Heads Up: Remember that the forum rules forbid religious discussion that isn't part of playing the game. Everyone keep that in mind.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • #3
      In a previous, short-lived game, the mystic in the group was a Catholic. I made up some various Catholic orders tending their flocks in Rifts North America, and I was working toward having the Vanguard infiltrating one of the orders and causing lots of damage. It was interesting, since Rome is pretty much gone, and there wasn't a proper Pope. They had a more local Curia that administrated the Church. In one game, I had one of the obstinate Postapocalyptic Cavalry bandits they capture insist his "Pappy said to never trust a Papist." That got some good laughs.

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      • #4
        For my Rifts Britain, Christianity is now led by the Prince-Bishop of Durham (Canterbury being destroyed and York being under a lot of water). Most Mystics in northern England and southern Scotland are Christian. The Cardiff Millennium Tree is the centre of Druid mysticism but is based more on a philosophy of harmony with nature than on a religion per se.

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        • #5
          I could see a number of good approaches for addressing what happens to religion during the apocalypse. Different regions may experience different trends, and the importance of religion might vary a lot.

          First, let's assume that the general worldwide trend of secularization continues to the point that being religious is not assumed for an average person. (Think modern Sweden or Japan.) Lots of pre-Apocalypse people are still religious, many of them fanatically so, but they are the exception and not the rule.

          During the Chaos Earth times, you have several drivers for how people might acquire religion.
          • A bunch of End Times types take an I-told-you-so attitude and sway people into their more fundamentalist camps.
          • More mystical religions like Neopaganism and Voodooism are able to demonstrate they were right about the workings of the world and pull in those who want to use their ideas to power magical things.
          • Aliens bring their own religions, and some people adopt those.
          • Some people find simple communal comfort in a practiced religion.
          • Charismatic sociopaths build cults from desperate people.
          Some places are going to enforce religion as a social glue. In Medieval Europe, it was really hard to be a non-Christian (with the exception of Jews living in cities-- but then, it was extremely difficult to be a Jew on some terrifying occasions.) If one lives in a society in which identity and common morality stems from a religion, not being of that faith could be really hard in the same way. You could have any given small town or village follow this path, no matter what the religion is. Such places are ripe for story opportunity, since you can have people trying to escape some aspect of the religion that stifles their individuality, or a madman has taken the reins of the local faith. Perhaps, someone is using the people's superstitions against them, or a people antagonistic toward the town's religion are plotting to start a holy war.

          Other places like Lazlo will take a more cosmopolitan approach, so people of different belief systems might like side by side. If you want, there may be opposing sects or something generating conflict. Outside groups who insist of religious homogeneity could attempt to convert these tolerant societies into their own religion.

          You can also use 20th Century communist regimes as examples of anti-theist states. If you want to focus on the CS being anti-religion, look at what the Soviets did with Eastern Orthodoxy or what Mao did to Buddhist temples.

          Comment


          • Portentious
            Portentious commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, every crazy cult you could think of would have a place somewhere in Rifts Earth, I'm sure. The story ideas are limitless.

            One I had been working on, but haven't worked it into my campaigns yet is a doom cult. Because the world is so hopelessly full of pain, the God of Pain needs to be appeased; not just to put off the pain of this world, but to guarantee a place by her side in the afterlife. So the cult followers are like traveling preachers who go out of their way to cause as much pain as they can, usually resulting in torture and death. Crazies and Witches would be attracted to it, and Juicers who are close to the end. Full conversion 'borgs would be considered heretical as they are considered an attempt to avoid pain instead of embracing it.

        • #6
          I don't see the Coalition States using any sort of religion as a state faith, honestly--even a stripped-down Christianity would entail divine intervention and miracles, which would be anathema to the CS propaganda machine. Far more likely is the sort of thing we see in modern North Korea, or in Stalinist Russia--the adoption of a Cult of Personality built around the Dear Leader. While not claiming supernatural powers, the Leader of such a cult is invariably painted as being the most exceptional of men, capable of feats that dwarf their peers.

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          • #7
            I feel like if there is any setting where you can get away with A Canticle For Liebowitz-style "this shopping list is an ancient and holy relic", or with cults worshiping unexploded nuclear bombs like "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes", it's going to be RIFTS.

            There's also been a long time for desperate crazy cults to stabilize. Your average crazy cult can't last more than one generation, it's going to implode unless it changes to fulfill a social need beyond expressing the immediate fear of this group of people.

            So there are almost definitely atomic-bomb paladins from atomic-bomb orders going about and laying on hands in the sacred rite of "Nuclear Medicine" to heal the sick. Or a town that grows faster than its food supply, that took a Buzzfeed listicle as sacred instructions for how to sacrifice twelve people each year to ensure a rich harvest (number eight will shock you!). Maybe some dead-eyed David Koresh psycho started a doomsday cult in an isolated compound 300 years ago, and now they're trying to burn down the world -- or maybe without the sociopath to grind all the underlings to dust, all that's left is the utopian rhetoric he used to justify himself and they're a peaceful and flourishing people. "Worships the Founding Fathers" is a popular choice for American post-apocalyptic fiction, but maybe it got syncretized with some magical DB religion and now every July 4th we celebrate how Boccob created the magic scroll containing the Declaration of Independence, with sparklers that were obviously designed by the ancient people to resemble magic wands, and gather as a group to symbolically tell Queen Lolth that we won't pay taxes on her evil spiders. Maybe it's Taoism, except Yin is Brett Somers and Yang is Charles Nelson Reilly.

            I just feel like, the setting is so absurd, you're doing yourselves a disservice if you're just like "well of course there's a lot of Christianity". Religion should be gonzo -- and sometimes, not all the time, gonzo should make something that works.
            Last edited by IlzmerZolond; 05-03-2018, 03:50 PM.

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            • Portentious
              Portentious commented
              Editing a comment
              I totally agree with the butterfly effect on human superstition and craving for a higher purpose, and love your shopping list example.

          • #8
            Whenever I think of a RIFTS religion I envision a mad cult backed by a demon. Even if they think they are worshiping some enlightened deity there is still a sacrificial altar in the back somewhere...

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            • Portentious
              Portentious commented
              Editing a comment
              With Supernatural Intelligences actually part of the lore of Palladium Rifts, this should probably be more common than not.

          • #9
            Worth remembering, too, the Cult of the Dragon, or whatever it's called, that sets dragons up as god-kings of small settlements.

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            • Sgt Anjay
              Sgt Anjay commented
              Editing a comment
              Cult of Dragonwright

          • #10
            Originally posted by IlzmerZolond View Post
            Maybe it's Taoism, except Yin is Brett Somers and Yang is Charles Nelson Reilly.
            So how would Nipsy Russell fit into this?
            You're rational, sir. It's only us crazy people who get to swap out realities on a whim.

            Comment


            • IlzmerZolond
              IlzmerZolond commented
              Editing a comment
              I'm gonna go with "Nipsey Russel, Richard Dawson, and Patti Deutsch are the Three Pure Ones, from which all chi derives."

              ...Gene Rayburn is Lao Tzu.

          • #11
            As part of the background for my crazy, she worked for a short time with a traveling show which was a Big Tent Revival type show with a "Preacher" claiming to save the souls of his flock all the while fleecing them of their credits. My mental image was the tent revival scene from Blues Brothers 2000 but fronted by Joel Osteen instead of James Brown.

            Comment


            • Portentious
              Portentious commented
              Editing a comment
              Tent revivals are a great staple for story content. But it has been used so much in other media, we need to throw a twist somehow. Or... outwit our players and only make it look like there's a twist and they end up being the unwitting villians.... mwahaha.

              But your post also reminded me of another staple: The long black train or the ghost ship, phantom carnival or other damned vehicle of perdition

            • Sitting Duck
              Sitting Duck commented
              Editing a comment
              The Vampire Kingdoms World Book had the Night Arcade and Freak Show. Two words: vampire clowns.

          • #12
            I was looking into religions based on death, decay and rebirth, association with fungi, and I ended up creating a new religion for Rifts Earth based on the Honey Fungus. If you don't know, the Honey fungus is the largest organism on the planet. Add to this the fact that any two dissociated honey fungi can merge to become one combined organism. Add to this the fact that plants communicate with each other by way of the fungi that encase their roots. I know, it's pretty trippy stuff; and it's all actual reality, but I bet you know where I'm going with this.

            So I came up with a history that by the time of the Great Cataclysm, the Oregon Honey Fungus had grown/merged to encompass northern California, Washington State, Idaho and Wyoming. When the yellowstone caldera blew, it scattered spores and rhizomorphs of the Honey fungus across the continent and the world. Now, 300+ years later, all those dissociated parts have merged into a continent-spanning organism. And due to the coming of the rifts, the eruption of the ley lines and the absolute enormous magnitude of the mycelium neural network created by the fungi, it became sentient and is becoming sapient. It also learned how to absorb not just plant matter, but decaying flesh as well; thereby becoming the dominant, nay the omnipresent fungus on the continent.

            You can imagine that superstitious peoples of Rifts earth started worshipping it and the more they did so, and sacrificed to it, the smarter it got. There is now an organized religion worshipping Armillaria. Nearly all funeral directors in North America are priests of the "Circle of Life." There is so much I could do with this idea.

            I created a World Anvil entry for it. If this interests you and you have any suggestions or improvements, I'd be happy to hear them. You can find it here:the-circle-of-life-article ,armillaria-article

            Comment


            • Freemage
              Freemage commented
              Editing a comment
              It sounds like the mega-fungus is a few steps shy of becoming our very own native (not-so) Alien Intelligence....

          • #13
            Given how many Rifts open to higher and lower dimensions you can reasonably base a religion on any mythos your heart desires. I agree about the Coalition most likely banning any kind of organized religion. Those kinds of governments never want competition for the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Even a tame religion would have the potential of getting out of control and causing headaches for the ruling elite. Besides, given their view towards the coming of the Rifts they would take a dim view of anything smacking of the supernatural.

            I could see the Emperor declaring himself a God King at some point or another. Especially if he were to be possessed by some ancient intelligence at some point. Now wouldn't that be an interesting plot development.

            Comment


            • Portentious
              Portentious commented
              Editing a comment
              In our history, the ruling bodies that tried to eliminate religion were typically the communist governments who wanted to make the state/party the everything. No person was above the state/party, or so they profess. But in fascist states, they typically needed a state religion that placated the people and kept them sticking to a set of beliefs so they would not realize the ignorance imposed upon them, and would have a outlet (in the form of a happier afterlife) besides rebellion if they thought they were being mistreated. I always figured the Coalition States were more fascist than communist. But then, in the world I made, as long as I am consistent with myself and the players have fun, what else matters?

          • #14
            Originally posted by Freemage View Post
            I don't see the Coalition States using any sort of religion as a state faith, honestly--even a stripped-down Christianity would entail divine intervention and miracles, which would be anathema to the CS propaganda machine.
            Originally posted by Radecliffe View Post
            I agree about the Coalition most likely banning any kind of organized religion.
            While I would agree with you in a reasonable world, canonically it's not the case. In original Rifts, the Coalition's leaders explicitly make reference to god and prayer in several of their speeches, and the "letters to home" we get from some of the grunts in flavor fiction refer to religious stuff as well. They're never super-explicit about which god they're praying to, but it seems like some fairly homogenized and bland version of Christianity. The Coalition definitely isn't an atheistic state like North Korea, but they're also not a religious state like Iran.

            Since the setting never zooms in too closely on that sort of thing, in my games I've played up the Coalition as seeming to have a fairly light hand when it comes to religion, only banning faiths if they demand illegal activities (like human sacrifice) or involve "pacts" with supernatural powers (which includes basically ever miracle-granting religion on Rifts Earth, including the Church of Light and Dark, Dragonwright, and druidism). This gives them the appearance of being religiously tolerant while having the practical effect of banning any religion that could offer a threat to their power base.

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            • Portentious
              Portentious commented
              Editing a comment
              You mentioned the church of Light and Dark. I love the Egyptian themes of it and have adopted that pantheon into my world as well. (https://www.worldanvil.com/w/savage-.../a/zem-article)
              But your comment also reminded me of an earlier remark made by the ubiquitous ValhallaGH here:
              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
              Relevant archive thread: http://archive.pegforum.com/viewtopi...451917#p451917
              Lyn-Srial are a race of paladins. Any religion they have is probably to a fairly generic good concept or entity (my headcanon: "The Light", a holy force often mistaken for sun worship by outsiders, that is righteous, good, and ready to smite evil).
              ... and I got to thinking how interesting it might become if the Lyn-Srial also had an egyptian flavor to them and worshiped Ra the sun got from the Pantheon of light. They don't realize their pantheon is just as nefarious as the Pantheon of Dark because 1) they believe what they are told, and 2) they only see what they want to see (confirmation bias, rationalization, denial and even willful ignorance of the less than good aspects could all play a part in this).
              I love the complexity this brings. I love the possible character arcs and adventure ideas. I don't have any Lyn-Srial Player Characters in my adventure now, but I think I'm going to retcon this into my world now. Thanks, guys, for the idea.

            • Deskepticon
              Deskepticon commented
              Editing a comment
              Portentious
              ... confirmation bias, rationalization, denial and even willful ignorance of the less than good aspects could all play a part in this...
              Not to mention a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance to round out the rough edges. I.E. - "It's not bad when we do it."

              P.S. - I like how you think.

          • #15
            If the Coalition States were modeled after facism, religion would be less about doctrine and more about establishing a common identity; a way to claim moral superiority without worrying about the nitty-gritty details (which can breed division if too focused upon).

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