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Religions on The Other Side


Ikiry0
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Sorry if this is a silly question (I'm more a Malifaux player but I've ended up with questions about TOS) but outside of the obvious stuff with the Burning Man, do we have much info about various faiths and what they're up to on The Other Side?

I got pondering because I was debating playing an Abyssinian character in Through The Breach but ran into an issue of...I don't know what religion is like in Abyssinia. Abyssinia originates in Ethiopia, which has strong Christian history and the timeline should put the Solomonic Dynasty (With it's claims of being descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba) in charge but...well, Abyssinia is also one of the most divergent parts of the setting.

Do we have any books/podcasts/online releases that go into much details about the culture of Abyssinia on a non-military front/the faiths in it? Or The Other Side in general.

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It's understandable but also gets a little weird when so many of the cornerstones of the setting would have Major Religious Implications that I can't find really addressed anywhere. Soulstones eating up souls, ghosts being a confirmed thing, the Burning Man, An alternate Ethiopia (A country with a strong religious history) being a major world power etc.

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19 minutes ago, Ikiry0 said:

Actually:

A friend has mentioned one area where religion is touched on to a notable degree. Malifaux has Actual Literal Asuras. Sandeep has one stuffed in a mace.

Religion is mentioned quite a lot of times, but almost always in passing because tbh there's always something more important that fills the time

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1 hour ago, Ikiry0 said:

Actually:

A friend has mentioned one area where religion is touched on to a notable degree. Malifaux has Actual Literal Asuras. Sandeep has one stuffed in a mace.

Before you start down that path, it's sort of important to realize that those are "actual literal asuras" in the same way that Stargate has Egypt themed space aliens.  🥶

There are these things which look like how these other things have been depicted, but whether they actually are the same thing or not is not at all touched upon anywhere.  That's really important in a setting where magic is real, other dimensions are real, some of the documented things in other dimensions are shapeshifters, and others have been documented as being shaped into various forms over time.

That's an inch.  The discussion of actual religious implications would be a mile further down the road.

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11 minutes ago, solkan said:

Before you start down that path, it's sort of important to realize that those are "actual literal asuras" in the same way that Stargate has Egypt themed space aliens.  🥶

There are these things which look like how these other things have been depicted, but whether they actually are the same thing or not is not at all touched upon anywhere.  That's really important in a setting where magic is real, other dimensions are real, some of the documented things in other dimensions are shapeshifters, and others have been documented as being shaped into various forms over time.

That's an inch.  The discussion of actual religious implications would be a mile further down the road.

Sorry, I'll amend: Sandeep has a being called an Asura by the narration shoved in a mace. Which I feel is one of those things that likely should have some amount of in-universe religious implications even if it's just religious scholars saying 'Yeah, that's not an Actual Asura, just an elemental spirit with an ego'. Much like I feel like there should be some amount religious implications for 'Hey, we're kinda Using People's Souls as Fuel, or at least something commonly called souls that pop out when people die'.

Hence trying to find something in-setting that examines how various religions are interacting with Soulstones, Ghosts etc. In particular about Abyssinia due to the interaction of 'Lots of Soulstone Stuff' and 'Originated from a country with a strong religious history'.

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21 minutes ago, Ikiry0 said:

Sorry, I'll amend: Sandeep has a being called an Asura by the narration shoved in a mace. Which I feel is one of those things that likely should have some amount of in-universe religious implications even if it's just religious scholars saying 'Yeah, that's not an Actual Asura, just an elemental spirit with an ego'.

Sandeep's in the same sort of situation as a Catholic priest confronting something that he thinks is a vampire.  If you can relate to that, I hope you can work out what the religious implications would be.  I hope you can also relate to how many popular vampire stories don't say anything at all about the religious implications of vampires existing.

21 minutes ago, Ikiry0 said:

Much like I feel like there should be some amount religious implications for 'Hey, we're kinda Using People's Souls as Fuel, or at least something commonly called souls that pop out when people die'.

It's the same sort of implications as having all sorts of religions decrying murder, and having thousands of years of history with countless wars.

21 minutes ago, Ikiry0 said:


Hence trying to find something in-setting that examines how various religions are interacting with Soulstones, Ghosts etc. In particular about Abyssinia due to the interaction of 'Lots of Soulstone Stuff' and 'Originated from a country with a strong religious history'.

As far as the Abyssian's go...  Do you have a copy of the The Other Side printed rulebook yet?  There's a bit in there about the sacrifices Abyssian's are willing to make by wearing soul stones into battle.

Disclaimer:  I was a teenager during the Satanic Panic.  If you want an explanation for why a game company would completely avoid religious implications in official publications, go read about that.

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1 hour ago, solkan said:

Sandeep's in the same sort of situation as a Catholic priest confronting something that he thinks is a vampire.  If you can relate to that, I hope you can work out what the religious implications would be.  I hope you can also relate to how many popular vampire stories don't say anything at all about the religious implications of vampires existing.

Vampires are not part of Catholic Dogma. They're often seen as supernatural beasties but that's not really the same thing as being part of the religion itself. It would be more like...confronting something that seems to be an Angel, something that would cause massive religious debate/require some opinions by most faiths impacted by it.

Most modern vampire stories don't touch on religious implications by simply...not making them religious related (Much like the depictions of zombies more as a plague than a supernatural threat).

1 hour ago, solkan said:

Disclaimer:  I was a teenager during the Satanic Panic.  If you want an explanation for why a game company would completely avoid religious implications in official publications, go read about that.

I'm aware of the Satanic Panic but Malifaux is an alternate history set in a time period when religion was very prominent and is behind a lot of major events. So being able to tell if they're still going as normal or if they've been altered by said alternate history is important for the RPG. For example: The Kings Empire is a major faction but it was only in 1871 that parliament eliminated religious requirements for attending university. Testem benevolentiae nostrae was written in 1899, arguing against 'Americanism', 'Individualism' and the 'Free Press', things that would link very interestingly into the Guild's oppressive nature. Quaker abolitionists were also a major group in America's anti-slavery movements. We know that slavery went on there longer than it did in actual history (Since it was ended in exchange for the arrest of Ramos only recently) but not much about what happened on that front when several denominations were very, very anti-slavery. Would the guild have declared Quakers to be criminals?

I don't think it's really possible to decouple religious implications when making an alternate history with notable supernatural elements and new factions.

But yeah, I think I've gotten my answer about if more details exist in canon sources and I'll just have to deal with 'Make it up'. Still, that's the nature of RPGs! Thank you.

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Wyrd had religious people camping outside protesting Nephilim at some point IIRC...

As an aside, in the Wyrd universe, Christianity would be very, very different in a world where magic exists to the extent that I doubt it would exist at all. Jesus performing miracles? Well... so's every other mage... big whoop.

The Inquisition and burning witches becomes an awful lot harder when there are numerous real witches that actually have the ability to turn you into a newt (from which, you ain't getting better! Points if you get the reference!). One of my favourite things from Harry Potter was when a witch actually enjoyed getting burnt and just cast an anti burn charm on herself (it tickled).

The only way I could see Christianity existing would be if they embraced magic as bestowed by God. It would certainly be interesting. I'd say it would almost be a small underground cult than the world-wide power it is in real life. After all, exorcists do exist (and are described as fanatical zealots), but so do actual daemons in need of exorcising!

As for other regions shown in universe. I personally view both Oni and the Asura as more daemons from other dimensions than gods (may be my Warhammer bias talking). Neither are as omnipotent as what I'd imagine a god to be... What sort of god would get stuck in a mace (Banasuva), need a human's help to free him (Kandara), need to possess a girl to manifest (Amanjaku) or need humans to perform a ritual to summon it (Lingxuzi, possibly the most powerful oni??)?

I don't know... that's my take, feel free to tear it apart! It's certainly an interesting topic...

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Religion is definitely featured in Malifaux. For instance Sandeep is pretty clearly Hindu, and Asami's backstory has her growing up at a Shinto (?) temple. Furthermore, the supernatural myths of those religions are quite real and play a significant role in the story - Sandeep deals with an Asura bound to his weapon, while Asami was groomed and manipulated by Oni for their own ends. In fact the Oni look to play an even bigger role in the future, with Yan Lo & Asami's hunt for Linguizi (sp.) and the previewed Kimon faction for TOS. I suspect the Abyssinian's spirituality is based on pre-christian beliefs in Ethiopia, though I'll gladly admit that's a total guess based on zero research (sorry, Ethiopia)! There's numerous references to ancient/dead religions too, including Norse and Aztec mythology. 

 

Wyrd has regularly drawn from various religions and mythologies (the two are linked, after all) to create their universe. So maybe a more accurate description of Wyrd's approach to religion in Malifaux/TOS is that they steer clear of overt references to the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam & Judaism). I don't think I need to elaborate on why they've avoided that!

 

That said, I suppose you could argue a fictional explanation to the absence of these religions? Maybe in the universe of Malifaux, circumstances conspired to prevent the worship of the "God of Abraham", from which these other religions eventually developed? Perhaps these beliefs simply failed to spread in a world where magic was still commonplace? The only catch is that I don't recall if there's been any direct references to Christianity etc in the fiction. If it has, then maybe the Abrahamic religions did develop, but failed to become as dominant as they are in our world due to the prevalence of magic and soulstones? 

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1 hour ago, Rathnard said:

That said, I suppose you could argue a fictional explanation to the absence of these religions? Maybe in the universe of Malifaux, circumstances conspired to prevent the worship of the "God of Abraham", from which these other religions eventually developed? Perhaps these beliefs simply failed to spread in a world where magic was still commonplace? The only catch is that I don't recall if there's been any direct references to Christianity etc in the fiction. If it has, then maybe the Abrahamic religions did develop, but failed to become as dominant as they are in our world due to the prevalence of magic and soulstones? 

In our history Christianity would not have became what it is today if it had not been decreed official religion of the Roman Empire (4th century) as due to this precedent it was later adopted by many other countries that went on to colonize other parts of the world. The religion is based on Judaism (Old Testament) with some additions (Jesus, Holy Spirit, New Testament collected and written by Romans). As such, before Roman adoption this faith was indeed a local phenomenon; not especially well organized, nor did it want to spread and dominate people's beliefs.
So for the setting, should there be world-wide (or at least Abyssynia-wide) Christian religion, how would it come to pass? Not due to the intervention of a Roman empire equivalent, I would expect.
There is no need to mention Christian influence in Malifaux as it is all over the place. The Victorian style clothing and manners of multiple characters exude this influence. In short: The Victorian era was a period of cultural, architectural and artistic 'revival' (basically a tribute to past cultural, architectural and artistic tendencies). As such, even discounting the religious situation at hand at the time, the culture and style it evoked is still influenced by earlier Christianity.
 

On 9/7/2021 at 2:41 PM, Da Git said:

The only way I could see Christianity existing would be if they embraced magic as bestowed by God. It would certainly be interesting. I'd say it would almost be a small underground cult than the world-wide power it is in real life. After all, exorcists do exist (and are described as fanatical zealots), but so do actual daemons in need of exorcising!

I would argue that Christianity would have denounced using soulstones and some types of magic (associated with other religions/beliefs) as immortal. Other than this, if Magic is a natural occurrence in The Other Side, it makes sense that it would be celebrated as a 'gift from God'.
During the middle ages, with the degradation of, put bluntly, civilization (and therefore learning and scientific progress) most European societies largely relied on the already established Christianity and it's dogmas altered by the Roman scholars some centuries earlier for control over the masses. Exorcism (and later on the unfortunate, cruel acts of 'burning witches') was a more blunt-approach extension of control. It replaced the need for a scientific, physical explanation and solution for health, mental and 'behavioral' issues with a mystified avoidance of responsibility (I'm not incompetent, it's the Devil's fault!!). What's more, it was a useful tool to spread fear and thus, gain further control. 

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On 9/7/2021 at 9:41 PM, Da Git said:

As an aside, in the Wyrd universe, Christianity would be very, very different in a world where magic exists to the extent that I doubt it would exist at all. Jesus performing miracles? Well... so's every other mage... big whoop.

The Inquisition and burning witches becomes an awful lot harder when there are numerous real witches that actually have the ability to turn you into a newt (from which, you ain't getting better! Points if you get the reference!). One of my favourite things from Harry Potter was when a witch actually enjoyed getting burnt and just cast an anti burn charm on herself (it tickled).

The only way I could see Christianity existing would be if they embraced magic as bestowed by God. It would certainly be interesting. I'd say it would almost be a small underground cult than the world-wide power it is in real life. After all, exorcists do exist (and are described as fanatical zealots), but so do actual daemons in need of exorcising!

Mind you, it's also a setting where most spellcasters can be dealt with via a sword or counterspelling and blessed (We see it in the bows of the Ten Thunders) objects can punch straight through mystical protection.

Mind you, for most of it's history the Catholic Church's opinion was 'There is no such thing as Witches', with the Inquisition generally being more about Heresy than Witchcraft. 'There are spellcasters, they can often be jackasses' wouldn't really change much overall I think. There were plenty of Christian Alchemists, after all. The idea of witch trials is honestly really overstated in pop culture views of the church. For example, the Spanish Inquisition wasn't really about Witchcraft. It was about 'So we forced Islamic and Jewish people to convert at sword point and we think they might not be loyal Christians' in large part.

Witch Trials are more of an Early Modern thing, long after the Inquisition.

On 9/7/2021 at 9:41 PM, Da Git said:

As for other regions shown in universe. I personally view both Oni and the Asura as more daemons from other dimensions than gods (may be my Warhammer bias talking). Neither are as omnipotent as what I'd imagine a god to be... What sort of god would get stuck in a mace (Banasuva), need a human's help to free him (Kandara), need to possess a girl to manifest (Amanjaku) or need humans to perform a ritual to summon it (Lingxuzi, possibly the most powerful oni??)?

I think part of is that gods in many religions and mythologies are not Omnipotent/Omnipresent. For example, Ra was supplanted by Isis when he went senile and got his true name tricked out of him (Which kinda makes the mention of Egyptian Burning Man Cultists calling him Ra kinda a bit funny).

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4 hours ago, Rathnard said:

I suspect the Abyssinian's spirituality is based on pre-christian beliefs in Ethiopia, though I'll gladly admit that's a total guess based on zero research (sorry, Ethiopia)! There's numerous references to ancient/dead religions too, including Norse and Aztec mythology. 

I must admit, that would be very surprising/more of a change than the soulstones part. Ethiopia has been very Christian since like...4th century AD and during the 1900s (When TOS is happening) is in the 7th straight century of the Solomonic Dynasty, who claim to be descended from...well, the name sorta says it. Which is sort of why I made the thread/was so curious. The mix of 'Country so heavily influenced by Christianity' and 'Big Soulstone Users', alongside the military leader of the faction, Prince Unathi being...a prince. So presumably he's Solomonic Dynasty/claims decent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

But yeah, thanks for confirming they mostly stay away from Christian/Jewish/Islamic mentions (Something I'll admit I personally find a bit of a pity. I mean, Shinto and Hinduism are currently followed religions with millions of worshippers, so it's not really a 'dead religions only' thing).

Thanks

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