Thematic variations in flavor text (PLEASE!!!)

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You really need generic gods in the players handbook with names. This way if a War domain cleric meets another war domain cleric you can actually figure out if they should be familiar with each other or are worshipers of two completely different gods. So its bad for a new player to start playing a game and then find out that they don't have all the information to actually play the game for example needing the forgotten realms book(s) to get the list of dieties. And if none are present in the players handbook, then I'm quite certain that inded the Forgotten Realms gods will become default (whether anyone wants them to or not).



This is a function of DMing.  The DM can create a small packet to hand out to the players with the dieties in the campaign, listing the appropriate archtype(s) for each along with relavent information about the diety and church or faction/branch.  The players then choose diety (and faction/branch if neccessary) and archtype for their cleric characters.  Or, if racial dieties overlap the domains of other racial dieties, it could be assumed that clerics of a certain race will worship the diety of their race, and, although two clerics may follow a war domain god, it would be obvious that they worship different gods when they are of different races.  It is possible that two War gods wold have slightly different archtypes, which would be up to the DM to determine, and it is also his or her responsibility to design or change the archtypes to fit with the world, but the basic archtypes work well in any number of settings as is.
I agree, though the Cyclopedia should have enough generic background material to run strictly with it and no other guides.  Much like the dieties' names in the playtest packet are really just archtypes, they are useable as is with no need for proper names.  IIRC, there was no real default setting for D&D until 3e; it was merely a medieval Europe-like setting, but on a world (or on an alternate plane) where magic and monsters existed.


Some of the settings have no gods. So baking “generic” deities into the rules of a Cleric class is a good example of what not to do, because it will interfere with any settings that have a different cosmology and a different theology.


But these don't even have to be individual dieties. You could run a monotheistic game, where the archtypes are used to define clerics of different factions.


Call them “paths”. Call them “archetypes”. Call them “ideals”. If they are not deities.

D&D 3e calls them “domains”. That sounds great. The domain of the sun, the domain of war. No problem.



Much like the playtest packet does by giving examples of the specific dieties with those archtypes in different settings, this generic system can be used to model whatever you need it to.  And, of course, if you have no dieties in your campaign, you can remove the cleric altogether, make the archtypes model different philosophies, or even create an archtype to model the old 2e cleric and use that as the only cleric in your game.


The Playtest explicitly says the Cleric doesnt need to honor deities:


A cleric is the devoted servant of a deity, a pantheon, a philosophy, or a universal principle.



So the rest of the Cleric rules need to be consistently clear, these arent deities because they may well be philosophies or principles - or ideals or archetypes.

It is ridiculous to bake into the Cleric rules the polytheistic theology and the personal names and the cosmogony that exists in one setting only - and no other.

Instead, just publish the Cyclopedia rules for each setting. The “Cyclopedia for the Forgotten Realms” will list the setting-neutral Basic, Standard, and Advanced rules for the Cleric class. Afterward this version of the Cyclopedia will explain how the Cleric class fits into the Forgotten Realms setting, and go into pages of detail about the polytheistic beliefs, the “portfolio” of each deity, and how each Cleric tends to dedicate themselves to a particular one.

Then there is a clear distinction between what is true for the setting-neutral Cleric class and what is true for the Forgotten Realms setting, but may not be true in any other setting.

Look, this is a deal breaker for me. If the Cleric class says my Cleric has to worship polytheistic gods, or even mildly pressures me to do so, I will not play D&D again.

Leave spirituality to the personal choice of the player.

5e is a new chance for D&D to reach out to new audiences, and I hope they dont blow it.



Any setting where a specific spiritual tradition is objectively true, needs to be an optional setting.

The D&D rules system needs to be setting neutral.


Look, this is a deal breaker for me. If the Cleric class says my Cleric has to worship polytheistic gods, or even mildly pressures me to do so, I will not play D&D again.

Leave spirituality to the personal choice of the player.

5e is a new chance for D&D to reach out to new audiences, and I hope they dont blow it.



Any setting where a specific spiritual tradition is objectively true, needs to be an optional setting.

The D&D rules system needs to be setting neutral.




As it is in the playtest, and as I want it to remain in the final format, it is essentially setting neutral.  That's why they gave examples of dieties in different settings for each archtype.  As I said in my previous post, the DM can choose to allow or disallow any or all of those archtypes to be representative of different factions of worshippers all devoted to the same god, who can be the only diety that exists in the world, if he or she so desires.  And he or she can create a single archtype for the cleric, or use just one of those presented, if the DM wants all clerics to be like the one in 2nd edition, or any other type of cleric.

I absolutely agree that the core rulebook should be setting neutral, with setting guides for the likes of Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, and the like, for those who want them.  However, there should also be a blurb, as in the playtest packet, about which dieties from these settings fall under which domains as a point of reference for those who want to play in a specific setting, but don't want to go all in buying campaign guides, especially the players in those campaigns.
Some settings will have no deities. “Setting neutral” means the absence of the assumption of deities. LOL, and you want to list them by name!
Some settings will have no deities. “Setting neutral” means the absence of the assumption of deities. LOL, and you want to list them by name!



You are right, "setting neutral" in its truest meaning does mean the absence of the assumption of dieties.  It also makes no assumptions of races.  Or weaponry.  Or spells.  Or armors.  Or classes.  Or even that the sentient inhabitants are primarily humanoid, or animal, or possessing any form whatsoever, for that matter.  You could have a game where all sentience is energy which spreads throughout an infinite universe.

But any game must make assumptions.  The assumption for D&D is that many games will have a pantheon of dieties, but that not all will.  For ease of reference, the developers have chosen, at this point, to provide examples of dieties from popular settings for DDN.  They have not "baked-in" any of those dieties, or that there even be dieties.  They have not made any "specific spiritual tradition...objectively true."  They have given players and DMs a point of reference to use for their games in those popular settings.  Never, in the last two iterations of the playtest packet, at least, have they said that you must use those dieties, or any dieties at all, and I am not espousing that they do.  I am espousing that they retain the examples for those who wish to use them.

If you really believe that "5e is a new chance for D&D to reach out to new audiences, and I hope they dont blow it," why would you want to exclude potential new audience members by forcing them to buy more expensive books for every campaign setting they want to play in, when there could be a less expensive core rulebook with all the rules most players need and less expensive setting books for those who want them?

If you feel that the core rulebooks citing of example dieties is "mildly pressuring" you to make your cleric "worship polytheistic gods," that "this is a deal breaker for [you]" and that "[you] will not play D&D again" if it continues, then that is your choice.  If given a choice, mine would be to buy smaller, less expensive, more useful books, but you want that choice taken away from me.
Setting neutral ...

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no Feywild.

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no Warforged.

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no guns.



Setting neutral precludes the assumption about the cosmology, and especially about the spiritual traditions.



For every one person who *wants* to play a worshiper of a specific religion, like polytheism, there are easily eighty people who will never go near D&D because it pushes a specific religion.

It seems D&D cannot become a $50 million business if it pushes polytheism, cannot become $100 million business if it shoots itself in the foot by alienating the majority of the population, in this country and many countries.

If you want D&D to fail financially, then you have your gods.
Setting neutral ...

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no Feywild.

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no Warforged.

It is more important to have no gods, than it is to have no guns.



Setting neutral precludes the assumption about the cosmology, and especially about the spiritual traditions.



For every one person who *wants* to play a worshiper of a specific religion, like polytheism, there are easily eighty people who will never go near D&D because it pushes a specific religion.

It seems D&D cannot become a $50 million business if it pushes polytheism, cannot become $100 million business if it shoots itself in the foot by alienating the majority of the population, in this country and many countries.

If you want D&D to fail financially, then you have your gods.



Inclusion of the Feywild, a plane of existence that is not the mortal world or the afterlife, won't keep people from playing because of their beliefs?

Ditto on the inclusion of Warforged, a result of mortals trying to create life?

And do you really want me to bring up the whole gun control issue?

How about the book burnings in the 80s because there were demons in D&D, and the people who played were all into satanism, and some kid killed himself over the game?

You think mentioning polytheism is the problem?

And 80-to-1?  Really??  Where did you get those statistics?

It is not "pushing" polytheism, merely suggesting it.  Besides, China, the most populous country in the world, India, one of the most populous, and Japan all have polytheistic religions.  What about that whole market segment WotC would be losing by not including the possibililty of polytheism?

The bottom line is:

What I want doesn't hurt you.

What you want does hurt me.

End of discussion.

Goodbye!
See, your “goodbye” is exactly why WotC must avoid offending spiritual sensibilities of potential customers.

D&D will fail financially because of these “goodbyes”.
What I want doesn't hurt you.


Telling me my Cleric worships deities, hurts me.

Really?  My you're thin skinned.  Is someone giving you papercuts with that page of the book, or something?

I couldn't care less if the book says the setting has gods, because it's FICTION.  If your FICTIONAL characters having FICTIONAL religions with a structure you disagree with is a painful to you... how on earth are you even playing D&D at all?  It's not like it hasn't had a variety of explicit, living gods who communicate directly with and empower the PCs since at least 3e, if not before.
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Friends... Please... I am not sure how a thread on offering greater variation in flavor text became so "intense". I like the fact that WotC has already re-started this trend in this edition, and hope it continues into the final print version. I do like the fact that they have included such fluff details as clerics who DO NOT worship gods... As it allows me to make characters who are Buddhist, who though by some deffinition are a "religion", they do not believe in a god or gods but an ideal. But, the mention of deities, firearms and the like are all good (though leave the Warforged for an Eberron book) Such additions to D&D's "fluff" allow a much more open game system and provide tools as well as inspiration to players and DM's. We should not become so sensitive as to allow "personal preference" to ruin the fun of other players. Peace...
... As it allows me to make characters who are Buddhist, who though by some deffinition are a "religion", they do not believe in a god or gods but an ideal.

Why do we even need that?

Why that dude is casting 'teh healz' is something that dude gets to define, if at all.

... As it allows me to make characters who are Buddhist, who though by some deffinition are a "religion", they do not believe in a god or gods but an ideal.

Why do we even need that?

Why that dude is casting 'teh healz' is something that dude gets to define, if at all.



I am trying to understand here... But I will always try and advocate openness for players and DM's to enjoy their fantasy... If you do not, that is certainly your choice.
... As it allows me to make characters who are Buddhist, who though by some deffinition are a "religion", they do not believe in a god or gods but an ideal.

Why do we even need that?

Why that dude is casting 'teh healz' is something that dude gets to define, if at all.



I am trying to understand here... But I will always try and advocate openness for players and DM's to enjoy their fantasy... If you do not, that is certainly your choice.



In short, I think it means that if every way to define something is valid, then not defining it is also a valid choice
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I am trying to understand here... But I will always try and advocate openness for players and DM's to enjoy their fantasy... If you do not, that is certainly your choice.

Yeah, openness.

Pick a prefab deity, make up a deity, follow some philosophy or creed or whatever, or simply ignore the associated fluff entirelyAny mandatory fluff is too much mandatory fluff.

I don't think that fluff like that should be mandatory. I think that it should exist for those who do want to include such a thing in their game though as an optional modules. As for weapons it would be helpful to be able to know and visualize them more. 
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The only bit I (the OP) was after was CONTEXTUAL, the sort of bits of "fluff" that can both explain unfamiliar ideas as well as offer example of scope and idea pertaining to an object so described. I simply think some may be believing that I am asking for more then I am. Just a bit of words to show parallels with ideas you may wish to play with but are unsure how they fit WHAT IS described. Too much fluff CAN get in the way.
Ya I think the general consensus here is that setting neutrality is a good thing as it becomes easier to use things in other settings. It is also generally agreed here that examples from common settings provide an easy transition into those settings and allow us to use them without the need for external setting books. A common opinion is that celrics and other divine classes should not require adherance to a specific diety (unless required by the setting) but instead to an ideal which may be abstracted to the philosophy, diety, faction, spiritual realm, church, value (perhaps of a single monotheistic god), etc. as doing so allows for no assumptions of the nature or existence of divinity creating more setting neutrality.

Finally I think everyone but Haldrik can agree that removing all references to polytheism is rediculous as such references are no mandatory in any way. Polytheism is a staple of many fantasy settings, the settings D&D is built to play in. If someone has so much religious greivences with any reference to polytheism that they will not buy a book containing common examples of their use in fantasy setting, then I can't see how that person would justify not having grievences with the many other elements of D&D that wouldn't mesh with their world view.

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@BoredDan and ORC_Arjac... Thank you both for trying to help cool this thread...