Just Past the Edge of the Empire
Religions and Philosophies
Religion creates enough trouble and solves enough problems in our own world that I feel like I would be robbing this new setting if I suggested we just ignore it. It’s not uncommon to ignore it in sci-fi, as we tend to think of science as replacing religion. But if these worlds have fallen into barbarism and rebuilt civilization multiple times, it would be crazy to think that they don’t have at least one religion or philosophy per world. Although, of course, some should span multiple worlds, particularly if they are proselytizing faiths.
I refer to philosophy purposely because there are “faiths” like Buddhism (well, certain branches) that don’t necessarily have a deific figure and are consequently unlike other religions. Here I make a special note! I am not suggesting we reconstruct the entirety of Buddhism or create a whole bunch of philosophies that mirror those of our philosophy texts. I’m just saying that, in a universe where people wander around amongst the stars there are likely to be faiths that don’t refer to “the heavens” as the place where “gods dwell”. 8)
So what faiths do we need? How do we develop them? I would suggest we take the same approach we did with systems, although I don’t think we need these all fleshed out before we can play. I’m going to list a few ideas here. Please feel free to add to them, and also please speak up if you would like to develop any one of these.
On a side note, I think it would make for a richer experience if we were to develop worlds, religions, etc. that were not just focused on the individual character each of us wants to concentrate on.
- Buddhist-like faith that refers to reincarnation and an end to striving. Might be good for a world that is low-tech because they have fallen away from T+4.
- Cargo cult — also for a low-tech world — which makes the natives very friendly to visitors from other worlds.
- Judaism-like faith that is centered on rituals that seem out of step with a starfaring society. This could make for neat contradictions in the nature of adherents.
- Islam-like faith that is very proselytic. This probably ought to make reference to a sequence of prophets with a confirmed last prophet.
- Norse-like faith that refers to a destined Ragnarok to be fought amongst the stars. This might be good for the Yotuns, particularly if Helgrim’s role as a Promised One puts her in the situation of fighting at the head of one faction.
- Scientology-like faith that refers to self-actualization a lot. We have already discussed making the “Zee-Naughts” follow a faith that has them searching for and working against the machinations of Lord Zenu.
- Cultish faith with a living messiah leading them. This might make for a nice focus for the Zee-naughts to battle against so that there is some question who the heck are the good guys.
- The technology-worshiping faith mentioned on one of the world of the cluster. Anybody remember which one?
That’s all I’ve thought of. Others?