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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The paradox of belief in AD&D

One of the things I loved about 2e (and especially Planescape) was that the gods gained more power if they had more believers. This does present an interesting paradox, though.

If a good priest is trying to get his congregation riled up to fight the forces of a demon, he has to convince them that the demon is powerful enough to be a threat. While this certainly works to get his followers ready to fight, they have to believe the demon is powerful or they won't bother. Therefor, they are granting the demon more power, because they believe in him.

I just think this is kind of funny, but pretty awesome, as well.

3 comments:

Black Vulmea said...

And conversely the demon is riling up his followers again the good priest's (and good god's) congregation.

Quid pro quo.

This would make athiests hated enemies of the deities, regardless of alignment.

Dan said...

Good point. Yet another reason no one liked the athar.

1d30 said...

I always figured it was veneration, actual worship, that gave deities power. Which is why it's not enough for them to walk their avatars around and chat up the locals, they have to get people to actually pray and do the rituals and live according to the deity's dogma.

Which is why destroying a temple is such a big deal - the victim deity loses a place for worshippers and those worshippers lose confidence in the deity.

After all, everyone in the D&D world knows that all the deities exist. Where else do Clerics get their spells from? Secondly, the King of Whatever is a well-known public figure and a lot of people believe that he exists. Is that enough to give him deity powers? Heck no.

Finally, a god without worshippers will still be known by his enemies, or scholars, so no deity should ever die from lack of support if all it needs is people to believe that it exists. If that's the case, why bother putting it into the game? It'll never come up.

All of that's why I figure it's not belief in or recognition of a deity that gives it power, but proper worship.