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Common Religion in Utterby

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Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Troubadour » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:28 am

From my understanding, religion was not described in-depth by Tolkien and I have a small understanding of Eru and the influence of this deity on the inhabitants of Middle-earth and in turn the citizens of Utterby.

What I was wondering is, what sort of influence does religion play in the everyday lives of the citizens? There do not seem to be churches, so would there be other gathering places? Would there be teachings of moralities and how people should act? Who would teach this? Same with prayer. Do people pray and if so, who do they pray to. I've had some thought that it would likely be to the spirits of ancestors, but it would be nice to hear if there is something specific. Thank you.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Onasaki » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:57 am

Honestly? I think religion is up to the players who want to create their own sect of Gods or whatnot. That's how it works Orc-Side, I don't see it not working Human-Side. It'd just be a little tougher, since from what I understand in Utterby, priestly types aren't really a big thing.

You could pretty much develop a cult out of any sort of major symbol, like, I think for Farmers and lumberjacks, the Sun would be a thing to worship. The sun gives life to plants. Plants give life to humans. Etc.

It's up for interpretation and doesn't solely need to be something drawn directly from any of Tolkien's books.

I don't think Bulgash existed in Tolkien's works and he was a thing, though One-Eye is pretty obvious (to most of us, anyway, I'd think), in terms of orcish religion if that gives some ideas.

There's nothing stopping anyone from believing in an afterlife, or thinking Fate itself has a plan for everyone. I mean, magic is real, and I'd think alot of Utterby would at least be somewhat superstitious.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Throttle » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:18 am

Well, religion is notably absent from Tolkien's writings. There are the Valar and things like that, but they're not treated as gods or actively worshipped. It's also unlikely that common Men would have any detailed knowledge of the Valar and their history, although a few of their names might figure into local folklore in regions where the culture or terrain matches their domain (Oromë around forests, Ulmo near water etc.)

I think anything closely resembling actual religion, with priests and specific gods and whatnot, is a bit too off-theme for the human sphere. Tolkien barely wrote anything about orkish society so it's a bit easier to excuse it there, but even then it's total fan fiction with no canonical support whatsoever. This has historically been true of SOI's orc spheres in general, but the human spheres tend to adhere more to the writings.

Someone showing up in Utterby with a cult or talk of some previously unknown god would probably be received much like someone doing that in real life would, i.e. they would be treated like a bit of an idiot and almost certainly wouldn't be taken seriously. It wouldn't be a concept that anyone should expect to make very much of.

It has apparently become faux pas to tell people not to do something on RPIs, but I genuinely doubt if someone inventing their own religion would have any kind of success with it unless they did an unbelievably good job and brought an immense amount of roleplay and activity to the game through their religion. Needless to say, this is a tall order.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Hazgarn » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:22 am

Keep in mind with these opinions that I've not read the books in a very long time, so I may be missing details.

Troubadour wrote:What I was wondering is, what sort of influence does religion play in the everyday lives of the citizens? There do not seem to be churches, so would there be other gathering places?

As places to come together and feel like part of a community: the inn, the market, the local square? Probably other places where certain tasks might be performed communally.

I'm not religious, so I don't know if "gathering places" has more of a specific meaning in your question. If you mean places dedicated to some form of devotion to an entity? Probably not, or not many. And those that did exist would likely be of only specific, narrow significance (such as monuments or resting places of well-known individuals, or places associated with figures of local legend).

Would there be teachings of moralities and how people should act? Who would teach this?

There would certainly be morality tales, even without the cloak of religion. My assumption is that these would primarily be disseminated as part of an oral tradition along with any understanding of their history. I'd imagine the passage would be primarily from parent to child, but traveling storytellers would see popular stories becoming more wide-spread and significant to the value system of the larger area.

Same with prayer. Do people pray and if so, who do they pray to. I've had some thought that it would likely be to the spirits of ancestors, but it would be nice to hear if there is something specific. Thank you.

This sounds about right to me. To my recollection people in the books talk about their ancestors a lot. There's definitely a sense that the opinions of the dead still hold some kind of weight in the world... The extent of this weight would probably best be left to player discretion, and would probably vary greatly. They might not engage in "prayer" as such, but I think it's likely people would make appeals to those ancestors, and to figures of legend, in the general spirit of those figures' values or reputation.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby krelm » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:43 pm

the sun


You know, the sun even has a name, and so does whatever it is (Maiar? Valar?) that guides it across the sky. I would probably accept seeing some farmer PC or something saying something like "Anor has been good to us this season," or something along those lines, if I saw it IG.

As for orcs, from what I remember of old MM, they really didn't have any religion until TEK showed up, then that was basically the only religion. There were a few plots via Japheth, which were pretty amusing, that had some spirits show up to Gothakra (if I'm not mistaken, there was a spirit made entirely of shit), but the worship of those never caught on. I didn't play an orc very much after TEK was wiped out, so I can't say much as to the spiritual side of things beyond that.

The point of all that is, on the orc side, you can go from basically atheist to super zealous and everyone would be cool with it-- but, I guess that can be attributed, as Throttle pointed out, to the fact that orkish society was basically never mentioned by Tolkien, so anything that crops up is either going to take hold or not depending entirely on if players find it enjoyable.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby tehkory » Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:08 pm

krelm wrote:The point of all that is, on the orc side, you can go from basically atheist to super zealous and everyone would be cool with it-- but, I guess that can be attributed, as Throttle pointed out, to the fact that orkish society was basically never mentioned by Tolkien...


Won't argue on that point, but I will make note that Melkor/Morgoth/Sauron all deeply desired dominance and worship, and that I think it's fair to say that Orcs are perhaps designed to worship/be subservient. That is, via Morgoth's corruption(Morgoth's Ring is Arda itself), they were turned into beings that inherently worship. What exists/can be discerned from Tolkien's writings suggests that, yes, you ought to create religion.

Also, one of the Maiar pulled the Sun, and one the Moon, yes.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Taurgalas » Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:09 am

The point about Anor and Arien is a highly valid one - would all mankind know about them? Possibly, possibly not. Such mythology is wonderful, but not necessarily all pervasive. I suspect that the Maiar of the seas - even if not using their Sindarin or Numenorean personnas would be highly revered and worshiped given the rivers and the strong basis of fishing in this region.

Ossë who was the Maia of coastal waters and storms was, at one point, tempted away from the rest of the Valar by Melkor, to create chaos out of the seas. His love for his wife, Uinen, brought him back into Ulmo's service, eventually. (From the Valaquenta in the Silmarillion) - call him the Stormbringer or something similar and man would surely see a need to make an offering or send up a prayer - particularly those who travel by boat.

Uinen is the Maia of all water and it is said her tresses pass across all waterways of the world. She is the bringer of calm to the waters. Lady of the Seas, Stormbringer's wife, She of the Peaceful Waves, etc. She's the one humans are most likely to thank for a lull and clear sailing.

More so than Ulmo, I'd think these would have at least some basis in the world of Edain.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby Troubadour » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:20 pm

Thank you for all the perspectives and the info on the Sun, Moon and Seas is appreciated. Even gave me a new outlook on Orcs too.

I rather like the fact that religion is not a major element in Middle-Earth, and I admit, I'd be a little remiss if suddenly priests and churches sprouted up, but after my character had a minor moral dilemma and I realized there was little outlet with which to deal with it, got me thinking of this matter.

Have some feasible avenues to work with now and other view points are still greatly welcomed.
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Re: Common Religion in Utterby

Postby truthiness89 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:20 am

I'm also curious about what levels of mythology it's appropriate for an uneducated character to understand. Is it reasonable to think that someone without a formal education, in the area around Utterby, would be aware of the creation myth (the ainulindale)? I think more mythology regarding histories and so on would probably be beyond them, but I'm not sure about the ainulindale. It might be something that only someone with a more mystical background than the average person would know about? Or not? Is there a general vision in the game regarding that sort of thing?
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