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Divine Theory

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Characters, Worldbuilding, and Adventures with Divine Magic

Divine magic is an element of tabletop fantasy with that’s seen a lot of changes. Originally intended to help emulate vampire hunters in Hammer Horror films (seriously) by allowing characters to turn and disrupt the undead, it’s grown to encompass a whole spectrum of real-world religious influences, mythology, and game design necessity. Most characters that tap into divine magic are either modified fighters, acting as an agent of their deity in the mortal world, or healers there to back up the rest of the adventuring party with handy utility spells.

Some systems skip over the notion of divine magic entirely, because it really doesn’t have many precedents in fantasy fiction. It’s there in novels and short stories after the release of First Edition, but you’d be hard pressed to find characters that align with the tabletop gaming classes prior to that. At the very least, there is no clear distinction between the arcane and divine in Tolkien. It’s completely absent from the Vancian magical canon. Robert E. Howard’s evil priests call upon demons for power, more akin to witch, but there’s no good equivalent there. A better can can be made for tapping into the Bible, with early spells that turned staves into snakes a la Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's film The Ten Commandments.

The existence of divine magic has a lot of implications for your worldbuilding. It requires extraplanar beings and deities willing to share their power in exchange for worship, sacrifices, and some degree of proselytizing. This means that they have interacted with the people of the setting in the past, at the very least, if not in an ongoing basis. Doctrine, dogma, and a whole set of religious practices will develop around a deity’s teachings, or at least how mortals interpret and assign meaning to their actions. There are institutions, cultural practices, and political influences that will grow out of religious beliefs. That part, at least, has historical precedence if not a body of fantasy fiction to back it up.

Because the divine is such an established element of tabletop fantasy, we often treat it as a given. We don’t spend enough time thinking about why it’s there, who uses it, and how it has shaped the setting. This book will dive into ways that you can use divine magic for character development, worldbuilding efforts, and adventure design. Hopefully you’ll come out of it with a greater appreciation of this influence, or set of influences, within your fantasy universe, and new ways to utilize it to make your campaign stand out.

Because the Foragers Guild Guide supplements are system-agnostic, this volume will delve more into the perceptions and archetypal racial capabilities of the arcane rather than their specific abilities. In places, some broad generalizations will be made. You should adapt the concepts to what best fits the mechanics, setting, and character that you’re working with inside the context of your campaign. 

 
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87
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RWR1011
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File Last Updated:
June 08, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on June 08, 2018.