Religions and Cults

I’ve pretty much finished all the work on religions. These take three forms – monotheistic, polytheistic, and “spirits”, which is the under-the-hood classification for animist/shamanistic beliefs, ancestor worship, and so forth. Hunter-gatherer civilizations are highly biased towards the third category whilst feudal civilizations have a roughly equal chance of producing monotheistic and polytheistic religions. Nomadic civilizations, meanwhile, never have official state religions – made up as they are by peoples from a wide range of places, and given their fluidity as civilizations whose people are generally in near-constant transit, I decided it would be more interesting if they were to often serve as “hubs” where large numbers of religions might be represented, as opposed to their feudal equivalents who may be more restrictive in the religions they’ll allow.


As in the above image, feudal religions have agendas and rewards. I have tried to design these so that you cannot build your game plan around pursuing them – since there will be an overarching “clock” in the game (not a food clock, something else) you will not be able to farm for the rewards that your religion offers, but rather these are things that in the process of playing you might be able to work towards and thereby gain the religion’s rewards. Many religions have agendas that you can pursue by exploring the world, getting access to multiple cities and the like, but carrying out one religion’s wishes may turn others against you. As with most good things in roguelikes, the religious agendas are meant to be a middle-ground between things you can plan for – “I’m going to focus my gameplan around doing X and Y that my religion wants” – coupled with things you cannot plan for, such as which religions might be close to you, which religion you start with, how easy or difficult its agendas will be to carry out, etc. Religions will be one “faction” you can assist, and gain rewards from, or not, depending on the situation and your preference.


Religions can all now be viewed in the in-game encyclopedia once you’ve discovered that religion. Monotheistic and animist religions can fit all their information on one page, whilst you can use Tab to cycle through the gods in polytheistic religions (as below). For monotheistic and polytheistic religions, the symbols or items that individual deities carry are dependent on what their worship entails; an agriculture god may have a sheaf of wheat, a war god an axe, and so on and so forth.


The last part of religions I need to finish off for this release are the spread of religions, but I think this might need a reasonably sophisticated mechanic. In the end it would be interesting if you could view the spread of each religion on the world map (i.e. switch between religions, as many may overlap) so that you can see where in the world you might meet with a positive response, and where else you might meet with a rather less positive one. However, depending on how complex I want to make that system, that might get relegated to a future release or not. Currently hard to say. Some religions appreciate the player spreading their religion to other nations – setting up altars, encouraging nobles to allow the religion to exist within their borders, etc – so such data about the spread of religions will be important for that, though I still need to desire exactly how that mechanic is going to work.

I have also begun work on some of the hidden cults in the game – their names/functions will be fixed, though their locations, how you access them, who leads them etc, will be changed each game. I wonder what purpose they serve?


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8 thoughts on “Religions and Cults

  1. Looks very interesting and sophisticated. Looking forward to seeing them in-game.

    I did notice two little language-related things in the images you shared. The second one has a simple typo: *shamanastic for shamanistic (or is that a lore-related thing?). The third one has two colons following each other, which is stylistically a bit questionable. Minor points, I’m sure, but since overall you get these things right so much, they might stand out.

  2. Nice! I wonder, are you familiar with Ninian Smart’s idea of the seven dimensions of religion? As a game design tool, it might be useful (if at times misleading).

    Have you considered implementing special religious communities, such as monasteries? Having read a bit of medieval European church history, I’m convinced that monasteries (and later, convents) were an integral piece in the societal evolution of European cultures. Monasteries, being hubs of great religious import, served also as centres for education in eg. literacy and agricultural techniques.

  3. Looks great as usual.

    Was wondering though…it’s one thing to have all this wonderfully detailed info, or data. Do you have any mechanics in place that allow you to manipulate the data?

    Can you build/destroy altars, and does doing so have any effect in game? Can you select a deity for your own worship, or can you do things in game that affect your relationship with a given deity?

  4. “She is most often shown as a short woman with white hair and midnight blue skin […] She wears bright yellow formal attire with dark violet trim.”

    … “Her followers are renowned for the surpassing hideousness of their ceremonial vestments, and provide lucrative income for merchants of rare pigments and dyes.”

    I do wonder if you might want some kind of colour-coordination algorithm in there.
    Still, it sounds marvelous! So much extra RICHNESS to the world with this sort of thing.

  5. Pingback: DevLog Watch: Trees, Religions, Spaceships | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  6. @ Vincent – thanks for spotting those, I’ve fixed them both. I’m currently proof-reading a HUGE amount of history gen, which is taking a decent amount of time…

    @ Vod – I am not, but I am now after a quick Google (ah, modern technology). Interesting, and those have given me an idea or two. Communities… not currently, no, but it’s not out of the question. I have been pondering things like military orders and guilds, but I am not going to implement them without clear gameplay value. I really like the idea of a world with a HUGE number of interrelated factions – civs, families, religions and cults so far – and I wouldn’t object to adding more, but I would need to decide on a distinct use for them.

    @ Chris, my thanks! Yes, indeed, some religions want you to build their altars/destroy enemies, and at game start you can choose your deity, and can change later. However, importantly, the deities are not real a la Dungeon Crawl or most other roguelikes – your relationship is with the religious institution, not the deity itself.

    @ Crane – hah, I do see what you mean. Although… who said deities had sartorial taste? I think I’ll leave it as is! And thanks – just wait until I post some of the history gen…

    @ Rogue – I TOTALLY AGREE

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