Skip to main content

Chigan: Religion

Chigan’s native religion acknowledges an indefinite but very large number of gods. Mountains, winds, classes of plants and animals, stages of life, strong emotions, and just about any other aspect of life and the natural world has at least one god. There is some dispute over whether the god of, say, the southeast wind as he is worshiped in one place is the same as the god of the southeast wind in another but under a different name, a physically separate aspect of a primal god of southeast winds (who is in turn an aspect of an even more fundamental god of the winds), or an entirely separate entity. However, the debate is largely scholarly, with most people worshiping the gods they grew up with.

Practical aspects of religion concern the accumulation of what is loosely called “benefit” or more commonly “virtue.” Virtue, in this context, comprises a variety of good and selfless acts, physical and emotional suffering, and esoteric meditation and practices. Different acts can provide different kinds of virtue, which in turn are believed to grant different kinds of moral and physical power, but there is significant overlap. For example, many believe that, say, giving a bowl of rice to a poor person provides a certain moral virtue, but giving up that rice from one’s own meal instead of eating it provides a physical virtue as well (mere starvation because of poverty is insufficient; self-denial must be a deliberate act).

When a soul acquires enough virtue, it ascends to a different and eternal plane; there are several different such planes corresponding to different types of virtue: scholarly, familial, martial, and so on. The quantity of virtue necessary to do this, though, is vastly greater than most people can accumulate in a single lifetime, so souls are reincarnated several times before they can do so. Souls approaching transcendence are believed to inhabit people in a position to accumulate more of the virtue they already have. Monks and priests, for example, are often seen as reincarnated souls which have accumulated “prayerful” virtues, while having a large family is seen as both a cause and result of accumulated familial virtue.

As a consequence of the doctrine of accumulated virtue, practice of the local religion is less focused on influencing the gods (though cultivating their favor or at least not angering them is universally regarded as a good idea) and more on exercises to acquire whatever types of virtue the individual desires. Just about any action, if undertaken with a spiritual mindset, might be regarded as suitable to gaining virtue. Many roadways, for example, are maintained by the labor of volunteers seeking to better their spiritual position. For those who can afford teachers, martial arts training is a popular method of accumulating virtue, and many tiny highland monasteries offer the opportunity to acquire both prayerful and martial virtue.


Popular posts from this blog

The Last Pyramid

Today saw the publication of the final issue of Steve Jackson Games's Pyramid magazine, as was announced several months ago. Broadly speaking, it was the victim of generally rough times within the gaming industry.

I'm one of what is surely a small number of people who have been published in all three iterations of Pyramid. I'd had some previous contact with SJ Games--some stuff I helped with ended up in GURPS Cyberpunk, which in turn has doubtless gotten my name on the Federal Register of Dangerous Hoodlums--but it wasn't until the later days of the paper version of Pyramid that I finally got up the nerve to try my hand at writing an article. The result was a short piece on low-tech (mostly Medieval) economies, which became my first professionally published work.

This, apparently, was enough encouragement. Having seen how painless the process actually was, I started thinking in terms of writing for publication. It didn't hurt that around this time I went to work fo…


I came across another one of those historical footnotes which would in years past have prompted a Pyramid  article. With Pyramid still gone, here we go again:
Introduction The early Middle Ages were dangerous and chaotic for much of western Europe. Vikings raided along coasts and river from the north and all the way around Europe's west coast and into the Mediterranean. Magyars attacked from the east. And Muslims (mostly but certainly not all North African Berbers) took over most of Spain and raided elsewhere along the Mediterranean coast.

But while many people know at least about the existence of Muslim Spain, fewer people are aware of Muslim France.  For a time in the 8th through 10th centuries, large stretches of the south coast of France were under Muslim rule, and parts of that were administered from one of the world's most glamorous vacation spots. This was Medieval Fraxinetum.
History In 711 AD, things were going well for the expanding Muslim caliphate. An Arab-led Berb…

Writing GURPS Adventures

Someone over on the forum asked for advice on writing adventures for GURPS. Or more specifically, in context, writing GURPS adventures with an eye towards publication by SJ Games, which is a very different animal. Whatever method and structure you have for writing up adventures for your own use is, of course, the best and you should use it for your own purposes. But we're talking about commerce here, not just art, so this should be thought of as advice on how to do business with a particular publisher, not generally useful advice on how to write adventures.

I need to start by defining a term. SJ Games means something specific by "adventure." As the wish list uses the word, an adventure has a plot, or at least something plot-like in it. It presents a specific problem to solve through a progression of encounters. They are not sandboxes. Sandbox-style adventures, with their multiplicity of possible PC objectives, are, in the terminology of the wish list, locations. There ar…