First, a general status update. Religious symbols have been expanded to almost double the possibilities shown in previous entries, and not just have duplicates been wiped out but even similar generations are disabled. Theocracies are now generating, and (mostly) perpetuating, via various combinations of selecting new leaders, electing them, waiting a sign from their god(s), popes/anti-popes (and similar), priesthoods, ruling councils, sects, and all that other goodness. I’m aiming to finish off theocracies in the next few days. Myth, god, hero and legend generation is coming along – by the next devblog entry I’ll be able to post some generated myths, and hopefully showcase the variety I’ve got in them.
Broadly speaking, religions (and their sects) will play a role at the level of grand strategy and a comparatively small ‘micro’ role, whilst cults will play a significant role at the ‘human’ scale but have minimal impact at the grand strategy level. I should start this by saying I’ve had several debates with people, online and offline, about making a distinction between religions and cults. Needless to say, in the real world, where one draws the line between a religion and a cult is entirely subjective – the power of the word “religion” as a legitimate form of worship means that the overwhelming majority of real-world groups who are generally labelled “cults” nevertheless strive for the “religion” label. Originally the word “cult” had no real negative connotations – as a sociological term, cults were a more “personal” kind of belief than religions and might have significant variation within their ranks, lack organization and the money/funding/support/interest of a major religion. Over time, the more negative/deviant/brainwashing qualities we now associate with “cults” came to pass. This little piece of historical sociology is not without purpose, I assure you (as much as I do enjoy relating the crossovers between my academic work and URR) – I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to split them up. I felt there could be gameplay value from having groups fight for recognition as full religions and the like, but also gameplay value in having the two quite clearly separated, and serving different roles.
In the end, I decided I could have my cake and eat it, and have both. Religions and cults have been split up, but cults may still fight for power, recognition, etc. Religions (and their sects) will play a primarily grand-strategic role, which I’m in the process of coding into history generation at the moment. They play roles in the happiness of the populace, in what they believe to be just/unjust policies, as justifications for war, peace, expansion, and will play a role in battlefield morale, concluding battles, diplomacy, etc. They will spread slowly in various ways (which I’m working on now) and civilizations will have their chosen religious affiliation (if any) shown in the encyclopedia when you look that civilization up. Religions will have architectures, buildings of worship, and other goodness. Religions will also be able to split into different sects, which have similar (though generally lesser) effects to the above.
Cults will spring up around specific gods. They will be hidden in cities, or towns, or in the countryside, or in ruins, or across entire empires, and each will have various ways of locating them, getting in with them, etc. The plan is that they will be able to offer the player a) specific missions/tasks relevant to the cult’s beliefs or political goals, and b) rewards tailored to the god they particularly worship. So, if you have a cult that has sprung up around a god of battle who is especially keen on beheading, each foe you behead and return to the cult will earn you some kudos. Naturally, not all gods can have cults, because who wants to help out a cult of agriculture? Equally, I hope to have cults battling amongst each other, and also attempting to gain influence in governments and similar. They will also be much more likely than “mainstream” religions to point you in the direction of tombs, temples, artefacts etc relevant to their faith…
The next blog entry will have generated myths (at last!), probably some new policy icons, and maybe a first look of some of the other 0.3 features. Blog entries will likely stay fortnightly for the moment, as we’re between releases so I have to focus primarily on my academic work, but as ever, towards release blog entries will move back to weekly. As ever, any and all feedback on this is greatly appreciated Last but not least, many thanks for Hugo & David for the donations – you’ll both be added to the ‘Supporters’ list in the 0.3 release.