Shattered Swords of Hyboria
“Conan, do you fear the gods?”
“I would not tread on their shadow”, answered the barbarian conservatively. “Some gods are strong to harm, others, to aid; at least, so say their priests. Mitra of the Hyborians must be a strong god, because his people have built their cities over the world. But even the Hyborians fear Set. And Bel, god of thieves, is a good god. When I was a thief in Zamora I learned of him.”
Robert E. Howard: “The Queen of the Black Coast”
There are a variety of religions in the Hyborean Age. From the wide-ranging Mitran worship to the loathsome Set (or worse…yes, there are worse); there is something for everyone.
There are several levels of participation in a religion. For game purposes, they are:
- Fervent Worshipper (aka readily available sacrifice)
If you are one of the first three, you should have it written down on your character sheet. This makes you eligilble for the benefits of worship (i.e., Faith, Atonement, etc)
Priest is readily understandable and should not need any explanation. Priest is available under the scholar class and in some other instances.
Fervent Worshippers are, quite plainly, fanatics. To the fervent worshipper, everything is attributable to their particular god; good or ill, to the exclusion of all else. They can make a priest look tame by comparison (Sorcerors love these guys…soooo many power points available).
Worshippers are those who are initiated into the faith, follow the tenets, but realize that there is more to the world than their particular diety (in other words, they are not frothing at the mouth fanatics).
The final possibility, follower means that you acknowledge a particular diety. You might even attend services on occassion, but you are not an active worshipper (i.e. you do not follow all of the tenets of the faith). Being a follower does not entitle the character to the morale bonus.
In truth, most people of the Hyborean Age would fall under this particular heading. If this was not the case, then everyone would get the morale bonus and it would be for naught.
A note on gods in the Hyborean Age
I am a devout follower of the original REH stories. I am not a big fan of the later works of De Camp and others who have tried to ‘fill in the blanks’ between Howards stores (and essentially make some silvers off of his works). Don’t get me wrong, I love the Marvel and other comic adaptions and stories (because lets face it, I am a comic-geek at heart).
REH’s treatment of the gods in his world is spelled out in Thulsa’s discussion of Good Gods. A very good read in my opinion and one in which I am basing my use (and abuse) of religion in the game.
- Not all religions listed give a faith bonus
- If you follow a religious code I need to know at what level so that I can monitor this.
- Read and understand the requirements of your particular faith.
- Be prepared for the consequences of not following the tenets of the faith.
Benefits of Worship vs Code of Honor
Some religions (not all) offer Faith as a Benefit of Worship
Faith: All worshippers of a god or pantheon that offers this benefit gain a +2 morale bonus to all Will saving throws. This represents their faith in the religion, which can be a powerful source of spiritual strength when faced with evil sorcery or unnatural creatures. Faith is generally offered only by the more ‘civilised’ religions – those which regard themselves as somewhat above the supernatural.
Codes of Honor: Usually offer a +3 morale bouns to all Will saving throws.
The bonuses from Faith and the bonuses from Code of Honor do not stack.
Conan is a d20 based game, and is fairly good about spelling out what does and does not stack, keeping them in-line with the standard d20 rule on stacking:
Stacking: In most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack (combine for a cumulative effect) if they come from different sources and have different types (or no type at all), but do not stack if they have the same type or come from the same source (such as the same spell cast twice in succession). If the modifiers to a particular roll do not stack, only the best bonus and worst penalty applies. Dodge bonuses and circumstance bonuses however, do stack with one another unless otherwise specified.