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Bradley Beach, NJ

I've noticed for a while now, and finally decided to start a conversation thread about the fact that in just about every tabletop game and fantasy universe in general, there is always at least one faction that is entirely devoted to some sort of religious ideal. In Warmahordes, there is Menoth and Circle and to lesser extents Cryx, Retribution, and Legion. Just about everyone in 40k is like this, except the Tyranids, Tau and maybe Eldar, Orks and Necrons. Infinity seems to have the least amount of this, but compared to the other factions, Haggislam seems overtly religious while parts of PanOceania has modelled itself after the knights Templar/Hospitaller. I just wanted to see if others had noticed this, or if my thoughts were unwarranted.

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A lot of today's 'factions' could be described in the same way, so it makes sense that people would draw upon that when tasked with fleshing out a backstory for the masses of races in wargaming.

That's especially true since GW moved away from "fantasy battle in spaaaaace" approach, not that that start doesn't live on.

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I like Infinity's take on religion, it's not as hamfisted and over the top as other systems, especially regarding the Haqqislam.

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Religious zealotry is a rather easy position to understand and can be used to justify any desired position. Because religions aren't founded on logic, you only need to say 'the invisible sky wizard said so' and you're done creating a functional backstory for a faction. You can ascribe any traits you like to your sky wizard to create whatever you like, whether that be pacifistic healers or blood-soaked madmen. From a game design perspective, it's an easy shortcut to create behavioural traits in a faction.

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 BrookM wrote:
I like Infinity's take on religion, it's not as hamfisted and over the top as other systems, especially regarding the Haqqislam.

I agree, their religion is part of their background. They're not all in-your-face about it.

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 Squidmanlolz wrote:
I've noticed for a while now, and finally decided to start a conversation thread about the fact that in just about every tabletop game and fantasy universe in general, there is always at least one faction that is entirely devoted to some sort of religious ideal. In Warmahordes, there is Menoth and Circle and to lesser extents Cryx, Retribution, and Legion. Just about everyone in 40k is like this, except the Tyranids, Tau and maybe Eldar, Orks and Necrons. Infinity seems to have the least amount of this, but compared to the other factions, Haggislam seems overtly religious while parts of PanOceania has modelled itself after the knights Templar/Hospitaller. I just wanted to see if others had noticed this, or if my thoughts were unwarranted.


Ultranationalist and religious movements make up a very considerable amount of the warring factions in human history. Making war requires resources, organization, and a hierarchical leadership. Those things are primarily provided by a totalitarian, despotic, religious, communist, imperial, junta, or monarchical regimes. The majority of wars in human history involved states or peoples with consolidated power and up until the last 100 years organized religion played a very strong hand in the majority of power structures in communities.

It's fairly realistic in wargames based roughly on the human experience to find such factions to be commonplace.

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PanO is the more religious of any of the Infinity factions.
They have knights of the church, who take active roles in pushing the church agenda (and it is the church who controls immortality by deciding which of the cubed gets re-sleeved into a new body.)

Haqq may provide the silk that makes cubing and human "immortality" possible, but it IS the church that controls who gets the net result.


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ShumaGorath wrote:
Ultranationalist and religious movements make up a very considerable amount of the warring factions in human history. Making war requires resources, organization, and a hierarchical leadership. Those things are primarily provided by a totalitarian, despotic, religious, communist, imperial, junta, or monarchical regimes. The majority of wars in human history involved states or peoples with consolidated power and up until the last 100 years organized religion played a very strong hand in the majority of power structures in communities.

It's fairly realistic in wargames based roughly on the human experience to find such factions to be commonplace.


Art imitates life. I think that's what's going on here. Nothing has really changed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationale_for_the_Iraq_War#Divine_inspiration

In a 2003 interview, Jacques Chirac, President of France at that time, affirmed that President George W. Bush asked him to send troops to Iraq to stop Gog and Magog, the "Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse." According to Chirac, the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”


If it still goes on in today's world, it's definitely believable enough to make good fiction for a wargame.

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 chromedog wrote:
PanO is the more religious of any of the Infinity factions.
They have knights of the church, who take active roles in pushing the church agenda (and it is the church who controls immortality by deciding which of the cubed gets re-sleeved into a new body.)
PanOceania isn't particularly religious as a whole, nor is Christianity the major religion - that would be Hinduism - the Church just wields an inordinate amount of political and military power.
   
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Religion is also a unifying factor, especially when you ignore actual permutations that would occur in real life.

   
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Fedan Mhor

Because sometimes its just plain fun to play the over-zealous fanatics from time to time. Depending on the setting, and in the particular case of 40k, it can just be down-right silly and OTT, which can be amusing for myself and my opponent.

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 Ronin wrote:
Because sometimes its just plain fun to play the over-zealous fanatics from time to time. Depending on the setting, and in the particular case of 40k, it can just be down-right silly and OTT, which can be amusing for myself and my opponent.


Indeed. Most of the "fantasy religions" are variations on real religious mythologies, and I quite enjoy experiencing those providing I know I won't have to deal with real dogmatism and I can pack it all away into a box afterwards

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Actually, regarding Haqqislam they are not zealots by any stretch of the imagination. In their background blurb "Separating itself from fundamentalism, Haqqislam bases its culture on an Islam which is humanistic, philosophical and in continuous contact with nature" - I seem to remember reading in the book that they are modelled on the scientific/progressive Islam of the Saladin-era, and not really comparable to Islam as it is frequently portrayed in the 21st century.

I believe though a while ago someone tried to make an issue out of the portrayal of Muslims in Haqqislam (chap who runs one of the competitive-gaming 40k blogs I think), saying that it was somehow an insult to Muslims, but from my recollection it was inaccurate and just an attempt to stir some poo really.

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The bottom line as I see it is that it is a trope. Which is fine.

Faith by definition requires no proof or logic behind it. The more rigid and inflexible the faith is, the more conflict it can generate, and conflict is the essence of war. So it is little surprise that Religion or religious archetypes exist in war gaming.

The other side of this is the settings for the games usually have some sort of deities than one can draw power from, or by focusing enough on the concept of the deity generate power that way. So once again no surprise that Religion appears.

And that is why you hear people yelling FOR THE EMPEROR rather than FOR LOGICAL AND QUANTIFIABLE BASED DECISIONS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE MAJORITY!

It also rolls off the tongue better IMO.

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Haqqislam are very definitely fundamentalists, rejecting later interpretations (and the hadith)in favor of their own Koranic interpretation - it is the very definition of fundamentalist; they go back to the fundamental source. Over this someone poured a humanist and "half-nekkid seductress wimmin with guns is feminist" sauce and seasoned with a popular misconception set about medieval Islam (the nice-to-western eyes misconception, not the other one). Resulting in an odd duck. Then again, all the Infinity factions are odd ducks and they still work and inspire players. So why not.

 Pacific wrote:

I believe though a while ago someone tried to make an issue out of the portrayal of Muslims in Haqqislam (chap who runs one of the competitive-gaming 40k blogs I think), saying that it was somehow an insult to Muslims, but from my recollection it was inaccurate and just an attempt to stir some poo really.


There was a lengthy thread on the Infinity forums where a muslim (he claimed) with very good knowledge of certain modern muslim religious traditions and a bit of historical knowledge pointed out that Haqqislam's Islam wasn' much more than a modern western wet dream variant of Islam, and by most standards looked extremely un-islamic. I piped in with my history of science knowledge and knowledge of medieval Islam (admittedly, not an expert view, but I have read up on it a lot due to recent events at work) and what I mined from my wife, an Islamologist. There wasn't a whole lot of solid argument against his views as the topic was very specialized, but the concencus was that Haqqislam is CB's own concept and they can do what they want with it. Much like magic werewolves Which is reasonable enough.
   
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 Squidmanlolz wrote:
I've noticed for a while now, and finally decided to start a conversation thread about the fact that in just about every tabletop game and fantasy universe in general, there is always at least one faction that is entirely devoted to some sort of religious ideal. In Warmahordes, there is Menoth and Circle and to lesser extents Cryx, Retribution, and Legion. Just about everyone in 40k is like this, except the Tyranids, Tau and maybe Eldar, Orks and Necrons. Infinity seems to have the least amount of this, but compared to the other factions, Haggislam seems overtly religious while parts of PanOceania has modelled itself after the knights Templar/Hospitaller. I just wanted to see if others had noticed this, or if my thoughts were unwarranted.

The simple answer is that pragmatic, liberal, secular societies are notably less-inclined to go to war than dogmatic, jingoistic, religious ones, and as such the latter make better background for a wargame, which would after all be either implausible or dull were its protagonists portrayed as preferring to seek diplomatic solutions to their disputes. Warhammer 40,000's Imperium is a particularly good example; as a parody of religious bigotry and totalitarian rule which justifies within the setting its willingness to go to war with absolutely everybody else.

The more complex answer is that, since these are all the settings for wargames, not literary novels, societies tend to be painted with broad strokes in order to make them distinct, and that "religious nutters", like "slavering aliens" or "mindless robots" is a conveniently distinctive and recognisable sci-fi trope.



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On the main topic, Religion is popular in wargames because it is colorful and because it an easy source of conflict in addition to resources/territory/payback/ideology/you know. I also suspect that it often shows a lack of imagination on many designers' part: with the cardboard parody of religion being accepted by many modern people as something"not needing reason or sense", they don't have to do a lot of work to make their religions attractive or have even a minimum of internal concistency. It is more difficult to make original ideologies: everybody gets Blue Space Commies or WW2-style russian nationalism in Steam Armour, of course, but people are in general more likely to accept the Church of Zucchini than they are Liberal Avocadoism.
   
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 Atma01 wrote:

And that is why you hear people yelling FOR THE EMPEROR rather than FOR LOGICAL AND QUANTIFIABLE BASED DECISIONS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE MAJORITY!


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 Atma01 wrote:

And that is why you hear people yelling FOR THE EMPEROR rather than FOR LOGICAL AND QUANTIFIABLE BASED DECISIONS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE MAJORITY!


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 Ronin wrote:
Because sometimes its just plain fun to play the over-zealous fanatics from time to time. Depending on the setting, and in the particular case of 40k, it can just be down-right silly and OTT, which can be amusing for myself and my opponent.


True. The Protectorate was my first WM/H faction, and I think a big part of that choice was having recently read Hellsing and Father Anderson's kick-ass speeches therein.

Though thinking on it, I wouldn't describe the Circle Orboros in WM/H as being religious. While some of their allies & pawns like the Tharn worship the Devourer Wurm as a god, the druids themselves seem largely agnostic--they regard civilisation (Menoth) and chaos (the Wurm) as natural forces that must be kept in balance to avoid the end of mankind, and regard the idea of rooting for either god to permanently win the conflict as being naive.

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Sometimes it is just fun to play the fanatics, that's why I play Menoth.

The trick is also to really get into character. More sensible minds might stop and reconsider if it is worth placing a flame template over 6 of your own guys to get the bad guy. But when you realize that people would gladly burn for Menoth and you are doing them a favor by sending them home, then you really dont feel bad.

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Eye of Terra.

It's because, other than being chased by an uncaring emotionless robot eyeing you as its next target, a religious zealot is a damn scary thing...

Or, really, really funny.


   
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 Elemental wrote:

Though thinking on it, I wouldn't describe the Circle Orboros in WM/H as being religious. While some of their allies & pawns like the Tharn worship the Devourer Wurm as a god, the druids themselves seem largely agnostic--they regard civilisation (Menoth) and chaos (the Wurm) as natural forces that must be kept in balance to avoid the end of mankind, and regard the idea of rooting for either god to permanently win the conflict as being naive.


Agnostic theyr're not - they definitely believe that the Devourer and Menoth are actual gods. Being agnostic or atheist in the IK is probably a mental condition considering how active the gods are in that setting
   
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Newcastle, OZ

Kaptajn Congoboy wrote:


There was a lengthy thread on the Infinity forums where a muslim (he claimed) with very good knowledge of certain modern muslim religious traditions and a bit of historical knowledge pointed out that Haqqislam's Islam wasn' much more than a modern western wet dream variant of Islam, and by most standards looked extremely un-islamic. I piped in with my history of science knowledge and knowledge of medieval Islam (admittedly, not an expert view, but I have read up on it a lot due to recent events at work) and what I mined from my wife, an Islamologist. There wasn't a whole lot of solid argument against his views as the topic was very specialized, but the concencus was that Haqqislam is CB's own concept and they can do what they want with it. Much like magic werewolves Which is reasonable enough.


Oh, he is a muslim. In a former white-boy-suburbanite-hippy-convert kind (as in "none so devout as a convert"). He seemed more devout than any other muslim I've associated with (I just associate with - in their own words - "not very good muslims".).
I'd think Spaniards would have their own interpretations of what medieval islam and it would differ from an Anglocentric view - given the Moors were in Spain, not just the "holy land" and it did influence more than just the architecture.

Besides, their game, their world, their rules. You don't like it - then either modify your fluff, or go play something else. Not everything has to be a damnfool idealistic crusade.

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Kaptajn Congoboy wrote:
Agnostic theyr're not - they definitely believe that the Devourer and Menoth are actual gods. Being agnostic or atheist in the IK is probably a mental condition considering how active the gods are in that setting


Probably a poor word on my part--I was looking for a term for someone who acknowledges the existence of gods without worshipping them. In any case, a cynical view of "Keep the god happy and distracted from our world, so we can stop it eating everyone (and leech off it's power for our own ends)." probably isn't fanatical.

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 chromedog wrote:

Oh, he is a muslim. In a former white-boy-suburbanite-hippy-convert kind (as in "none so devout as a convert"). He seemed more devout than any other muslim I've associated with (I just associate with - in their own words - "not very good muslims".).
I'd think Spaniards would have their own interpretations of what medieval islam and it would differ from an Anglocentric view - given the Moors were in Spain, not just the "holy land" and it did influence more than just the architecture.

Besides, their game, their world, their rules. You don't like it - then either modify your fluff, or go play something else. Not everything has to be a damnfool idealistic crusade.


He did seem quite into it, yes. The main problem was that nobody really argued against him beyond "their game, their world, their rules", which is definitely the case and a decent defense of their future history, but also sort of reinforces his point that Haqqislam is a CB fairytale-culture.

It's an international debate, not a country-centric one (I guess mine would have be scandinaviocentric if it hadn't been so, although I am a spectator to the debate rather than participating in it). It has to be; there are preciously few specialized historians on premodern science and technology (there are, however a LOT of laymen in love with a period, a culture or an idea, though, that try to get their viewpoints across with little regard for historical methods, research and older works). People have access to pretty much the same sources all round when it comes to ancient, medieval and early modern natural philosophy. Most natural philosophy (of all variants) texts before the modern period are in classical and byzantine greek, classical and medieval latin or the medieval version of classical arabic anyway, so you need knowledge beyond what is available to you as a speaker of other languages. It is not like a lot of the early and high medieval sources from scandinavia, which are in old norse and thus can be read with some difficulty by modern scandinavians (and therefore are accessible to only extremely specialized foreigners). By the time the people of the iberian peninsula were writing texts in the vernacular, we're talking, at the earliest late to post-almohad muslim iberia...and the almohads can't exactly be described as being very supportive of natural philosophy and open societies. Rather the opposite, really.

If is is a damnfool idealistic crusade to point out that cartoon lies-to-children history is, indeed, cartoon lies-to-children history, then I fear I am on a great many crusades . But misconceptions based on lack of knowledge should really be corrected - it is the only way to learn and go forward rather than stagnating intellectually. It is not a case of denying the intellectual history of the medieval muslim world; indeed, orientalists (as anyone studying the arab world were called back then) tore the myth of an exclusively dogmatic medieval and early modern muslim intellectual society down before medievalists started on tearing apart the similar myth about the western medieval world.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2012/09/06 14:39:08


 
   
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A bunch of heretic talk in here. Not one minion of the God Emperor or Gork&Mork.

Considering the backgrounds of the games we play in that their gods are real and their power can be conveyed. In D&D 3.0 there was a class specifically for Atheist called "The Forsaker". Pretty bad ass class features but,
you had to go around spouting how much you didn't like gods and breaking other people's magic items in order to keep your special abilities. I haven't seen anything else quite like it in other setting since. Probably
because I'm not willing to look very hard.

   
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Please keep posts gaming-related . We do not need this to turn into a discussion of real world religions. It's off-topic and the incendiary potential is strong.

Thanks.

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Kaptajn Congoboy wrote:
 Elemental wrote:

Though thinking on it, I wouldn't describe the Circle Orboros in WM/H as being religious. While some of their allies & pawns like the Tharn worship the Devourer Wurm as a god, the druids themselves seem largely agnostic--they regard civilisation (Menoth) and chaos (the Wurm) as natural forces that must be kept in balance to avoid the end of mankind, and regard the idea of rooting for either god to permanently win the conflict as being naive.


Agnostic theyr're not - they definitely believe that the Devourer and Menoth are actual gods. Being agnostic or atheist in the IK is probably a mental condition considering how active the gods are in that setting


More than just believe, it's quantifiable fact in the case of many of Caen's gods. Beings still exist that have interacted(Old Witch was around when Menoth walked the mortal realm) and still DO(Goreshade) interact with the gods. IIRC, some of the Lich Lords were also around when Morrow and Thamar were mortal.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2012/09/09 04:28:12


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