Welcome to Part 17-1 of my World Building blog series :D I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know :)
Religion is a major part of history and culture and so it should probably be incorporated into your fantasy world, even if it’s just to say that there isn’t any. This is part 1 and we’ll be covering holidays, sacred sites and worship in subsequent posts.
An important thing here is to make sure that you have more than one religion mentioned. You don’t have to develop a dozen, but having a single religion that everyone blissfully follows is unrealistic.
What does the religion worship? Is what they worship “real”? By this, I mean, if you’re having them worship deities, spirits, etc., do they interact with people and exist within the physical world or are they more of an abstract concept? Also involved with this concept is mythology. Are the myth and legend things that happened in your world as a part of the history or are they primarily stories? Do any of those myths explain natural phenomena such as the seasons, landmarks, etc.?
If you’re creating a pantheon of deities, what are the domains and personalities of each? Why do they have that domain? Are all the deities worshiped the same or are specific ones more important? Do they have a hierarchy?
How powerful is the religion? Historically religion has had a lot of power and say in how things are run. The most dominant and powerful religion will have a huge impact on society so be aware that the values you set within that religion are going to have to be in line with the cultural values you want as well.
How are members of the non-dominant religions treated? Are there stigmas or restrictions against specific religions? Are there conflicts between religions? If yes, how intense are the conflicts, have they led to war, massacre, etc.? If there’s no conflict, why? What is it about the religions that makes them harmonious? If there is religious persecution, is there a religious underground?
Is there someone specific running the religion or is it an individual spiritualism? If someone’s running things, what is the hierarchy? Can anyone enter into this hierarchy or is it restricted to specific groups of people? Does this vary between the religions?
Once you know how society as a whole feels about the various religions, figure out how your characters feel. What religions are your characters part of and what do they think/feel about them? Consider how your characters interact with the religion and any deities, etc. as well as how neighboring nations have interacted with it as well. Speaking of other nations, be sure to develop at least minimally the religions of them as well.