Catholic setting for D&D

:knight1:Dear CAF,:knight1:
I was wondering if you could help me make a Dungeons&Dragons setting that would be catholic friendly. I want to make a world/setting that has fantasy creatures, but also have the Catholic church be a main source of evil slaying (like it is in the real world :p ).
So I have a few ideas to bounce off of you guys to flesh out a great, Christian friendly game:

  1. Would Christ’s salvation spread to the other sentient races (elves, orcs, dwarves, etc etc) or would they closer to god because they did not fall…what are your ideas?

  2. I want to replace the pagan gods of the core game with the patron saints, how could I do this and what are your ideas?

  3. Would normally evil races like the Tiefling be beyond salvation, or could they be accepted back into the love of God? (The main argument really is, could being born as a evil race damn you? Or could you choose to follow God?)

thank you to anyone who replies:thumbsup:

This is an interesting idea. Let's see how this goes.

Would Christ’s salvation spread to the other sentient races (elves, orcs, dwarves, etc etc) or would they closer to god because they did not fall…what are your ideas?

I suppose that depends on your interpretation of how original sin would work. If Original Sin corrupted their wills as well as the humans, then they would need salvation in some form. It seems a bit cumbersome at first, but you could find a way around it. Maybe you could modify the background and say that all races were originally human at some point. Or look up what the CC says about the possibility of life on other planets.

I want to replace the pagan gods of the core game with the patron saints, how could I do this and what are your ideas?

I'd say that Good aligned dieties could be your saints/angels, Neutral/unaligned ones could be other famous leaders that have made an impact over time (Confucian leaders, Great Roman emperors maybe), and evil ones could be devils. St. Michael could be a decent St. Cuthbert, for example. However, I would avoid blatant stereotyping if possible.

Would normally evil races like the Tiefling be beyond salvation, or could they be accepted back into the love of God? (The main argument really is, could being born as a evil race damn you? Or could you choose to follow God?)

I suppose this goes back to question 1 regarding original sin. Where did tieflings come from in your modified game? Are they demons in humanoid form, or fallen people in need of grace? I would lean towards the latter, personally.

Those are my thoughts. Good luck!

What edition would you be running this out of, 3.5 or 4.0?

J.R.R. Tolkein, who probably did more to create that style of fantasy than anyone else, was a devout Catholic who interwove elements of the faith into his literature. Perhaps you should start by trying to understand how he did that.

You could also try a low magic campaign (akin to something like Ravenloft where non-human races are very rare and there isn't much in the way of magic). Then, instead of deities, you could have Saints, etc be "high level clerics."

Non-human races could be so very rare that you could make it a case-by-case basis if they can be saved or not. Or use Grimm's fairy tales as a basis (where some mythical races did worship and honor God and some did not).

Good luck with your idea!

[quote="Linkthemissing, post:1, topic:205188"]
:knight1:Dear CAF,:knight1:
I was wondering if you could help me make a Dungeons&Dragons setting that would be catholic friendly. I want to make a world/setting that has fantasy creatures, but also have the Catholic church be a main source of evil slaying (like it is in the real world :p ).
So I have a few ideas to bounce off of you guys to flesh out a great, Christian friendly game:

  1. Would Christ’s salvation spread to the other sentient races (elves, orcs, dwarves, etc etc) or would they closer to god because they did not fall…what are your ideas?

  2. I want to replace the pagan gods of the core game with the patron saints, how could I do this and what are your ideas?

  3. Would normally evil races like the Tiefling be beyond salvation, or could they be accepted back into the love of God? (The main argument really is, could being born as a evil race damn you? Or could you choose to follow God?)

thank you to anyone who replies:thumbsup:

[/quote]

I don't know D&D all that well. Fantasy in general though...

1) CSLewis posited both unsaved and unfallen races in his Space Trilogy. However, given any significant level of interaction I would question the length of time that they would persevere untainted.

2) Establishing the saints as replacements for deities ought to be rather natural of a process, as in many cases that is how the devotion to the saints "took off".

3) Free will would prevent damnation based on birth, again Lewis handled this well in the Last Battle.

I would also suggest going to the beginning of the genre: JRRTolkien. The Simarillion in particular would be useful in creating a world.

[quote="Linkthemissing, post:1, topic:205188"]

  1. Would normally evil races like the Tiefling be beyond salvation, or could they be accepted back into the love of God? (The main argument really is, could being born as a evil race damn you? Or could you choose to follow God?)

[/quote]

Someone mentioned Tolken above, and not even found an answer to that. He never found an acceptable explanation as to what his Orcs were always Chaotic Evil.

[quote="swisscakerolls, post:3, topic:205188"]
What edition would you be running this out of, 3.5 or 4.0?

[/quote]

3.5/pathfinder, I wouldnt touch 4th ed. with a ten foot poll :P. why do you ask?

Before anyone suggests that D&D is steeped in the occult or associated with anything else more dangerous than general nerd-dom, I'll go ahead and point out that all such criticisms can literally be traced back to the libel and blatant lies of a single crazy woman.

Anyway, I've thought about how one might build a campaign setting with far more sensitively portrayed and nuanced religions than the usual pantheon of guys who give you magic spells. You seem to be looking at something much more explicitly Catholic, though.

I can't imagine how you could reasonably portray an unfallen race that is constantly in contact with the fallen races.

I also can't imagine that all the races wouldn't share "human" nature and fall and get redeemed together by the paschal mystery. Maybe there could be some bad guys who are supralapsarians and believe that some races are necessarily the elect and some the reprobates.

The reason I ask is the subtle difference of how divine magic works. For example, I believe that paladins in 3.5 receive divine power from their deities directly, and said deity can revoke that power at will. 4.0, however, grants that power through a religious body (the church), and that power cannot be removed easily (like once a priest, always a priest and stuff like that). It's not critical, just something to think about thematically. How does divine "magic" even work in this game? Can God take the power of a paladin away immediately in your world, or does God work through his instrument, the Church?

Other questions to ponder: Why is God more "direct" in his intervention in this game than in real life? Or will you scale magic back? Also, what is Arcane magic? Is it devilish sorcery, or the work of pious monks learning more about the natural world? Are druids really Franciscans, or some barbarian group?

So many questions...Good luck w/ the answers!

:tiphat:Thank you guys! Im getting a lot out of this thread

Have any of you made such a world/setting before? if you have, what suggestions could you give me? I am a new-ish DM would can write up some good rp (if the party would stop talking long enough to role play...:banghead:) but my party is not very kind or thoughtful about my faith, Ive tried to talk to them about it but they dont seem to really care. so I am thinking about starting a new group.

That is not entirely surprising. I am the only "religious" person in my group. I've observed that many gamers tend to have had bad experiences with churches and religious people, so they tend to avoid them. I've found that incorporating Catholicism into such groups requires extreme caution.

The talking thing can be annoying, too. Some groups really do prefer to just hack n' slash ;)

A Catholic setting would probably only work where you had people who either were Catholic or open to working in a Catholic world.

Best of luck, though. Let us know how it turns out.

i don't suppose you guys know of a way to play 3.5 online? it would be great to have a group of catholic gamers to play with, even if it is short. and I would love to hear your ideas about a campaign centered around the catholic church.

Im looking for a group of 4-6 people who know the rules, but dont mind bennding them for the sake of RP. non-evil players please, but if you have a good way to have ONE in the party I might let the rule slide. I think it would start at level 1 or 2.

Do a search for OpenRPG. It's an online tabletop. It's pretty hefty and not very user friendly. But some study has made it very useful for stuff I do.

Barring that, if you and your players want to spend some money. Look up Fantasty Grounds. Last I checked it was up to version 2.0. It's another online tabletop that is more idiot-proof. (Forgive the term)

I have made countless campaign settings for many different versions and editions as well as writing campaigns for established settings such as Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, etc. etc. Feel free to PM if you'd like some advice/encouragement/words.

…better late than never! My friends and I at Steubenville made just such a game. Called “RisenWorld”, it was a Catholic RPG, with open-ended game settings.

Some adventures took place in a medieval themed Jerusalem, with Centaur Romans and Greek elves. Other game settings let you built angelic characters and battle bad-guy demons for the soul and virtue of the mortals.

Go to this website and scroll to the bottom. THe illustrations aren’t there but it’s a fun system,:

claymore.50megs.com

Not sure if I can address your opening questions, but I have done some work on my own Christian-themed D&D setting, actually stuck in ver 3.0 :rolleyes:

I switched Druids to “Forest Hermits”. Imagine a St-Francis-type out in the woods, dispensing cheerful wisdom to all who visit his humble hermitage – but woe betide anyone who tries to abuse God’s poor critters…! :eek: I got rid of the scimitar and some other things that seemed to make no sense to me, but you can tweak it as you see fit for your milieu.

I also brought back the Monk out of Oriental Adventures, making him a Friar Tuck type. Really good at fisticuffs and general beatdowns, generally not great with actual melee weapons, but very adept at using certain non-weapon items, actually as weapons: using an abbot’s crozier as a staff with trip capability; a thurible as a horseman’s flail; a candelabrum as a sai or jitte (depending on the number of sticks); a collection plate as a quoit; etc. Viking-type raiders have found, to their chagrin, that monasteries of certain orders can fight without penalty with almost anything in their monastery as an efficient weapon. I had such a monk character in a campaign I was in years ago: Brother Sebastian, of the Abbey of St Martin the Thrice-Martyred. He looked like a cross between JS Bach and Leo McKern.

Another thing to look into may be the early Deryni books by Katherine Kurtz. Takes place in a medieval Christian world, but not of this Earth. (Her later stuff seems to have gotten more Gnostic, and I believe she is since “ordained” a bishop in the Celtic Catholic Church. Caveat lector.)

I have an order of pseudo-Templars, called the Pandectine Knights. Like the Templars the have three parts, the Chaplains (clerics), Knights (paladins), and Serjeants (fighters). Chaplains generally use maces, steel-shod staves, etc, and eschew edged or pointed weapons, because of the old “rule” about not drawing blood. (The fine print in canon law, however, maintains that law only in fighting living humans. Against non-humans and the undead, all bets – and restrictions – are off.)

I also had clerical abilities granted by the Church. Clerics are all ordained priests. If a cleric is elevated to the office/rank of Metropolitan (or Abbott for cloistered clerics), he can ordain another cleric (thus granting clerical powers). Once he reached the office/rank of Atriarch (or Archimandrite), he can elevate a cleric to the Metropolis/Abbacy. Also, priests can forgive/retain sins, command minor quests, lift minor curses, etc. Metropolitans can excommunicate (with various details and effects I haven’t quite worked out). Atriarchs can anathematize (ditto).

Monks and clerics have the feat Chant, which allows a group of said characters to gather together and start a holy chanting, which they can use to bolster the power of another cleric’s “spell” or other effect trying to be accomplished.

Oh, and regardless of character class, feats, or skills – or lack thereof – the **rightful **King of any country, crowned or not, can cure scrofula by touch and can, one day per year, stick a sword in a rock and pull it out again as many times as he wants.

If you have a group fine with noncombat then there are plenty of times in the Middle Ages that could feature plenty of intrigue and some combat.

Are you mistaking J.R.R. Tolkien for C.S Lewis? I can’t in particular think of any Catholic themes in Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.

I’m more of a fan of Christian themes than actual Christianity in my fantasy settings, but I’ll throw my 2¢ in.

  1. I’d put all sentient races on a level playing field, assuming they all have free will and the same kind of soul. It gets weird otherwise.

  2. For good deities this is easy- in Pathfinder, you could replace Iomedae with Joan of Arc, Sarenrae with Mary, Erastil with St. Francis, etc. The difficulty is evil deities. You’re either left with evil clerics as an impossibility, or you have to make evil “gods”. I suppose I’d probably solve the problem by having evil clerics serve demons or something.

  3. This is my personal opinion, but I love playing “evil” races as people who rejected their birthright that are now heroes (or sometimes light antiheroes on their way to heroism). In PF Tieflings aren’t even evil by default; it’s already established rules-wise that any sentient race other than straight-up fiends and demons can choose their own fate. Even a good hobgoblin or bugbear isn’t a mechanical impossibility, and I’d definitely keep that dynamic in the Christianized game.

I’m sure he does, in fact, mean Tolkien. There are Catholic parallels throughout (single good deity, lembas bread as the eucharist, etc.), but overall Tolkien’s work is much less explicitly Christian than the works of C.S. Lewis. Which is part of why I like it- there’s more subtlety, and it feels more honest because the parallels aren’t so heavy-handed.

The main problem with trying to transplant Christianity to D&D is that fundamental pieces of history or theology no longer make sense. I’m not speaking of the fact that there’s magic or anything. More like, if magic allows almost anything (up to and including routine resurrection of adventurers), then why was THE resurrection enough to prove that Jesus was the Son of God? Was it even necessary to prove that, or does this version of God boom down from the heavens pretty regularly and let everybody know what’s up? If God and his saints are so involved in the lives of the people, why does anybody choose evil? Is even a neutral NPC alignment an anomaly, rather than the rule?

And then if you try to transplant the saints, well, they had historical circumstances that made them who they were. Was Joan of Arc burned at the stake for witchcraft in this continuity? Was she a witch, or a wizard, or some other spellcaster? What of the war between France and England- are those real places here? Are they populated by humans, elves, halflings, a mixture? Did the Protestant Reformation take place? Is religious liberty considered a right- and how can it be, if the only options are following Christian Saints or archdemon cults? What’s the time period, if we want to keep the pre-industial feel? If we decide on the Middle ages, is the Church still a political heavyweight in Europe? Is it as corrupt as it was before? How did the crusades take place without an analogous Muslim culture? Did they? Did Christianity grow out of a great pagan Empire like Rome, and if so, why is there no trace of that older religion and way of thinking?

If you choose to answer some of these questions (and any subsequent questions that crop up while playing), you’ll either end up with something that doesn’t feel like D&D anymore, or something that doesn’t feel like Catholicism, or something really interesting and weird that doesn’t really feel like either. Or you could pretend you never read this post, and satisfy yourself with writing “St. Valentine” where you used to write “The Goddess Sheyln”, continuing to use the same setting, killing random orcs in an ill-defined war that may or may not make any sort of political sense, and justifying your XP-motivated rampages by saying that the Lord is on your side. Or something in between.

I don’t know what the best option is, and that’s why I keep explicit Christianity out of my campaign settings. But in any case, I’m sure you’ll have fun figuring it out! :stuck_out_tongue:

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