I have a world occupied by different empires and societies with different points of view when it comes to Gods, religion etc.

Most of them are only described very briefly with just the basics since my game party has not encountered any significant worshippers of that religion, nor visited the places where such religion is popular. However, at the moment I am working on a specific religion in a desert-like area with many city states which share the same belief in Gods and I would like to hear your tips how to set their point of view towards other Gods and their worshippers.

Basically, my religion is based on a dual deity with a God of Light and a God of Night (like R'hlor in Game of Thrones with the exception that the God of Night is not evil and it is basically just another side of the same God). Their worshippers believes that this is the only God and that all the magic in the world is the gift from this God (and that is why the only sorcerers in this culture are priest dedicated to serving this God).

This, however creates an interesting dilemma. How do they look on other religions and especially other magicians from different cultures (some magicians might come to visit their cities as a part of a trading party or as adventures/scholars)? I don't want such people to be "burned on sight" (it is not supposed to be too radical religion) but I don't know how to setup the basic perception of such people...

Example: I am a priest (or just a common worshipper) who has been told that the magic comes from my God and it is the only true God. Now comes some other sorcerer from God-knows-where and he can use magic but does not worship (or even does not believe in) my God. How do I cope with that?

Of course there might have been wars caused by such conflicting religions but they are over now all the cultures (or most of them) learned that they could cooperate on some level and get over such conflicts.

How would you proceed to make the religion realistic?

  • $\begingroup$ You mention a "dual deity", then you state that " another side of the same God", and finally you only refer to a single God. Are the worshippers aware of that dual nature of the same God, or do they actually believe there are two of them? Whether tthere is a difference between their belief and the "reality", is here irrelevant. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2015 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ As usual, please read "is there a way to make a realistic religion..." and consider whether this question should be refined or eliminated. $\endgroup$
    – CAgrippa
    Jul 15, 2015 at 23:36

3 Answers 3


Mirza watched with interest as the outlander called a pillar of flame, drawn from the foundation of the earth, whipped into a lethal whirlwind by the force of summoned air, then driven towards the ranks of their enemies. They had discussed this strategy at length over the preceding evenings in the relative comfort of the command tent and she rather enjoyed discussing the philosophy of magic with their ally. He talked of the power that he drew through himself and from the wells of force beyond the world, how his intent could give form to that energy to shape and direct it.

It amused her, of course, because he was so misguided in its root and origin, for what power could be granted save by the grace of God? But those who directed it need not understand where their power came from in order to do God's work. They could work Her inestimable will in ignorance or knowledge and if - having been granted knowledge of the truth - they should continue to insist on choosing ignorance, well, that was their mistake.

From somewhere beyond the enemy ranks a column of ice rose, glittering so bright in the morning sun that it was hard to look up on it, a brave move in these hot lands. The column became an arch, reaching over for the pillar of fire, closing on it and bursting into a mist and shower of sparkling rain as the opposed elements conflicted. Their enemies could wield Her power too, and why should they not? They might be infidel, but they were still part of Her plan, if Her people had grown indolent, if they were not hardened by strife and battle, then how could they truly serve Her? Mirza reached deep into the grace she had been granted and the ice arch began to shatter and dissolve in the bright air, she would not question. She would serve.


I see a couple of possibilities:

  • They see the outsiders as "confused" in the "god is god whether you call him Yahweh or Allah" sense. They could believe that their god is the true god and anyone else using magic from a "different" god is actually using magic from their god only they call them something else. They could accept these outsiders chalking the differences up to just different interpretations of the same god or as the same god manifesting in different ways to different tribes.

  • They see other "gods" as disciples of their god that teach adulterated versions of their magic. They believe that anyone else using magic is using a lesser version of their magic based on their magic but corrupted or less pure. For example their god Joe invented magic. A lesser god or other such deity named Greg saw Joe's magic and recreated some of it from watching Joe or his worshipers and taught it to his followers. Greg's version is weaker since he didn't have access to Joe's teachings he just tried to copy it form what he saw. Things they might say "You should come to our church/temple and learn real magic", "Our magic comes to us form the writings of Joe himself, the true creator of magic", etc.

Either way allows for your society to accept outsiders and their magic while remaining smugly superior.


As long as those practioners of religion in your world practice non-violent secularism, they should be okay. When/if they start thinking "my god is better than your god, therefore I'm better than you", or "you're just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!" or if religious differences become a cover to wage war for economic reasons, then you'll have trouble there too.

@Glenatron has a good example of how members of different religions can explain other religions to themselves. Exactly how this explanation will play out depends heavily on the theology of that religion. One explanation might be "well, my god inspired your religion but because you weren't ready for all the truth, so you got a degenerate god and half truths instead", said in the tone of voice a long-suffering but kind tone of voice a chemistry postdoc would take when talking to an undergrad who's spouting off about quantum chemistry.


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