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Doc Democracy

Excommunication and Disavowal

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I am thinking of setting up a fantasy game where the key power resides in Glorantha-like cults.

Characters affiliate with these groups to acquire protection, training, powers and influence.  Their are god-like beings at the top of these groups (not quite decided on their nature yet) and a priestly hierarchy.

You can be excommunicated from these groups with all the loss of privileges that might attract as well the spirits of retribution.  These are pretty well described in many settings and stories.  This is part of the asymmetric power structure of these things.

i was wondering if anyone has any thoughts of how someone disavowing themselves of a group, for good moral/philosophical reasons should feedback to the group, cause it difficulties and give it an incentive to retain and treat its members well.

 

Doc

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What effect it has, depends on how severe the offense was. It does not nessesarily involve eternal damnation. Excommunication can go anywhere from "Suspension of Membership" to "Banishment and vows of damnation":

"Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it, in particular receiving of the sacraments. The term is often historically used to refer specifically to Catholic excommunications from the Catholic Church, but it is also used more generally to refer to similar types of institutional religious exclusionary practices and shunning among other religious groups. For instance, many Protestant denominations have similar practices of excusing congregants from church communities, while Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as the Churches of Christ, use the term "disfellowship" to refer to their form of excommunication.

The word excommunication means putting a specific individual or group out of communion. In some denominations, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group. Excommunication may involve banishment, shunning, and shaming, depending on the group, the offense that caused excommunication, or the rules or norms of the religious community. The grave act is often revoked in response to sincere penance, which may be manifested through public recantation, sometimes through the Sacrament of Confession, piety or through mortification of the flesh."

8 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

i was wondering if anyone has any thoughts of how someone disavowing themselves of a group, for good moral/philosophical reasons should feedback to the group, cause it difficulties and give it an incentive to retain and treat its members well.

It really depends on the group and how uptight they are about the "them vs us" or on that specific mater. The german populist party (AfD) had some issues with people leaving right after the Election. They got anything from Insults to Death Treaths. That group sounds like they are pretty uptight about "us vs them" for me. Other groups can be like: "Okay, that is not working for me. Bye!" "Bye. Have fun".

How extermist and Consvervative the Faith is can be a important factor of it's attraction.


And it can even varry within the Subgroups. Each "congretation" (is that the right word for a Local community?) is pretty much run by it's highest ranking member like a Absolute Monarch. If the higher ups disagree, they may excommunicate the the leader. If the People disagree and continue to follow, they will be all excommunicated (mostly automatically) and propably from their own variant (Confession?) of the Religion. That is how we got all those nice early Christian Shisms:

 

 

 

 

What really maters for Shisms is: Are those "God like beings at the top of the group" really the absolute Authority? Or is there someone even beyond them?

It is the amiguity of who is "verifyably right" that makes Shisms work. It is possible that the God-like leader is impartial towards a specific Shism. That such a minor detail is "below his attention". Or that he even allows both confessions to pull in faithfull from different ends of the Extermist/Moderate Spectrum.

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Alas, if you are giving up (some? all?) of your mojo by leaving the group, there's not much you can do, since you don't have enough power to make your arguments convincing.  You could make friends with other people with power, and coordinate them.  Or you can organize a union or guild or something, but if you had enough problems with your group to give up your mojo, I'm not sure that gentle moral suasion is the most appropriate action.

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I am thinking that if the group misuses its members then there should be a consequence on the group.  There should be something that drives the group to play straight with its members.

In the real world this does not happen but in a fantasy context it should be possible.  A schism should be something the organisation dreads because it should have actual consequences, like tainting the source of its power.

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Well, if there are real gods (or godlike entities) as the ultimate source of the cult's power, the god may be displeased if its higher-ranking servants start abusing its lower-ranking servants. Not for the abuse itself, but because they are substituting their will and interests for the god's. It may be difficult to go over the High Priest's head to contact the god directly and complain, but if it's possible then the setting acquires a degree of divine justice -- at least in the sense that there is actual divine retribution for disobeying particular rules within the cult.

 

(Those rules may not be very nice, but if recruits know what they are getting into the system is still, in some sense, just. Or even if the recruits don't, but there are rules about what lies can be told to novices and how they may be exploited.)

Dean Shomshak

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Well, if the gods at the top of the pyramid are feeding off of the energies being produced by the offerings and ritual worship of the cult members below them (whether they "need" the worship to survive or if it simply makes them more powerful), they aren't going to accept abuses that drive the flock away enmass.

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Doc Democracy’s Gloranthian Gods 

Episode 1: The PC’s are released from the Rival Baron’s Dungeons and allowed to return home or what is left of it. 

They arrive and have time to grieve before meeting Mr. Wednesday and offered a place within his organization in exchange for their services. 

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7 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Well, if there are real gods (or godlike entities) as the ultimate source of the cult's power, the god may be displeased if its higher-ranking servants start abusing its lower-ranking servants. Not for the abuse itself, but because they are substituting their will and interests for the god's. It may be difficult to go over the High Priest's head to contact the god directly and complain, but if it's possible then the setting acquires a degree of divine justice -- at least in the sense that there is actual divine retribution for disobeying particular rules within the cult.

 

(Those rules may not be very nice, but if recruits know what they are getting into the system is still, in some sense, just. Or even if the recruits don't, but there are rules about what lies can be told to novices and how they may be exploited.)

Dean Shomshak

I love the idea of a God's HR department devising a complaints policy and how to ensure everyone gets the right notification and training on the new "Respect Rules".  :-)

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"Apostasy" is not such a big deal when your religion isn't monotheistic.  The spirits of retribution shouldn't really be on you just because you switch temples.  Their job is to go after actual blasphemers like temple robbers and priestess rapists, or people who try to collect the benefits of membership while failing to living up to the responsibilities.  Bear in mind that the new god you have adopted as a patron (or matron) should offer protection or at least retaliation if it's new recruits are being attacked just for voting with their feet.  

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I think retribution would be more likely for defection the higher up the hierarchy you might have been.  Lay members would not risk anything, initiates might depend on circumstances, priests and above might have to think hard...

However, apostasy was not what i was wanting to focus on.  I was thinking more about the impacts on the organisation should people leave.  If several people leave the local temple, would initiates and priests find it more difficult to cast magic??  Would priests that gouge the local worshippers for their own gain face trouble from above?  

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22 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I am thinking that if the group misuses its members then there should be a consequence on the group.  There should be something that drives the group to play straight with its members.

In the real world this does not happen but in a fantasy context it should be possible.  A schism should be something the organisation dreads because it should have actual consequences, like tainting the source of its power.

If the group abuses it's members it will over long have fewer members. Wich is bad for the boss. Wich made it bad for the ones in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and doward ranks.

 

19 hours ago, MLMII said:

Well, if the gods at the top of the pyramid are feeding off of the energies being produced by the offerings and ritual worship of the cult members below them (whether they "need" the worship to survive or if it simply makes them more powerful), they aren't going to accept abuses that drive the flock away enmass.

 

12 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I love the idea of a God's HR department devising a complaints policy and how to ensure everyone gets the right notification and training on the new "Respect Rules".  :-)

In a lot of ways, this is Economics:

There is a finite Market (all faith creating creatures in that setting), how can you make certain to get the greatest share of it?

 

Actually that now raises a question (as I do not know the Setting):
How exactly does a godlike being "tap into" the Energies? What does the Follower need to do? Must htey follow on their own free will? Can they be forced to convert to a certain cult?

What if they fear the god (like most people would fear a god of death or war) but primarily follow another? Would the fear syphon off some power from the actually followed god to the feared god (splitting the great river of faith between two gods)? How would the other god(s) react to that? Stuff like Fear of Death could potentialyl syphon off power from every follower of every other god in the region. While not a lot, it would still make that god powerfull.

 

Now that I think about it, it does somewhat remind me of the Setting of "Hyperdimension Neptunia". The CPU's are figthing in the Console wars, and a lot of the power is derived directly from ther "Share" of the Market (and no, I am not making that up). But since they are a bit busy fighting each other directly, they tend to loose sight of their worshippers, so the day to day work of fighting monsers and making certain the CPU has a good share is left to Heroes organized into Guilds.
But at least one 3rd party musceled in on the Turf of one CPU, as she was too focussed on fighting the main battle.

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If you're using Hero System, an easy divine wrath is that the Active Points of whatever powers are granted get cut.  Without warning.  And this could abort the effect.  Traditionally the guy in trouble has to work out his own path to reinstatement.

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On 11/1/2017 at 3:58 AM, Disavowed said:

Doc Democracy’s Gloranthian Gods 

Episode 1: The PC’s are released from the Rival Baron’s Dungeons and allowed to return home or what is left of it. 

They arrive and have time to grieve before meeting Mr. Wednesday and offered a place within his organization in exchange for their services. 

 

Episode 2: The PCs see that most of their home has been subsumed into the new home.  Apart from the curtains and carpets, much of it remains what it was before.  As it turns out Mr Wednesday was the man who was previously known as Mr Tuesday and was in charge of their old organisation.  

 

Mr Wednesday does not like to be reminded of his old name and warns the PCs off of looking into the reasons behind the change or spreading rumours or bad news.

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