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Official CommentsReligion — The Comparative Status of an Ethos

The status of an ethos is directly related to the number of followers it has (in Population Points within a civilization; one civilization's Official Dogma could be a mere Fringe group to neighbor - it's all relative) and its acceptance by governments.

Ethos Status Min. Pop. Level Proselytize Strength Conviction Strength
None n/a d10 2d6 + Alienation
Fringe Group <1% 8 13
Scene 1 - 2% 7 13
Subculture 3 - 5% 6 12
Movement 6 - 14% 5 12
Mainstream Ethos 15+% 4 11
Official Dogma >30% 3 11

The various status levels can be described as follows:

None: A population group with a "None" Ethos effectively lacks any shared world view or ideals. Although there may be many such groups, each is independent, and has no institutional ties or affinities with the rest.

Designer's Note: Populations with a "None" ethos can still proselytize. For example, they might extol the virtues of living as one pleases, unfettered by social constraints. A region that lacks an ethos not because its population consists of nihilists or amoral hedonists, but because its inhabitants devoutly adhere to a whole slew of different and incompatible beliefs, may proselytize by engaging in piecemeal attempts to push a wide range of viewpoints all at once. If enough inhabitants of the target region start to go their own idiosyncratic ways ideologically, then the old order in that region could break down, "converting" it to a "None" ethos.

Since the "None" ethos can represent social conditions that vary significantly, each such population will have its proselytize strength determined randomly. When a lack of shared purposes and goals results in efforts to proselytize that are not well organized or coordinated, proselytize strength will be low. When inhabitants are bullish on the diversity of viewpoints and lifestyles in their region, then proselytize strength will be high.

Similarly, resistance to conversion (i.e. the "Conviction" rating) will vary among population groups with a "None" ethos. Some will be enamored of their freedom from social constraints and be loath to give it up, but others may dislike their chaotic living conditions and willingly submit themselves to a social vision that promises to bring greater order and stability.

Alienation effectively increases the Conviction of population groups with a "None" ethos, since it reflects a lack of social cohesion. A group whose members are profoundly alienated from one another is not likely to unite around a given religion or philosophy, or, for that matter, to come together as a community for any reason.

Fringe group: A fringe group is sustained entirely by the efforts of a few dedicated individuals and their followers, most of whom are in active communication with one another.

Scene: A scene has a minimal institutional presence--nothing more than a few temporary churches or hangouts. Only those enthusiastic enough about an ethos to seek out other like-minded individuals will participate in a scene, and most of a scene's prominent figures know one another.

Subculture: A subculture has a modest institutional presence, including some permanent meeting places, offices, etc. At this level, an ethos begins to reach beyond the hard core of devoted believers and attract more casual members, who admire and support its ideals but aren't always committed to them in practice.

Movement: Almost everyone recognizes a movement as an ideological force to be reckoned with, although it may still be considered disreputable or flaky in some circles. Movements can call upon substantial institutional resources to sustain themselves and extend their reach.

Mainstream ethos: Even most opponents of a mainstream ethos will respect its worldview and ideals, seeing them as matters about which intelligent individuals may reasonably arrive at different views. A mainstream ethos enjoys firmly entrenched institutional support, but this comes at some cost to its vitality: its most zealous followers, who value ideological purity over widespread social acceptance, may become fed up with the need to make compromises. Even if they do not form sects and splinter groups, they are likely to abandon established organizations they see as having "sold out."

Official Dogma: In declaring an Official Dogma, the government throws its weight behind one particular ethos. This ethos will then be taught in government-run educational institutions, touted in public service announcements, used as a source of standards to vet applicants for government jobs, etc.

A civilization can only have one Official Dogma. It can only be declared if at least 30% of that civilization's population is of that Ethos and remains so even if that percentage drops below 30%.

An Official Dogma has several game effects:

  1. It establishes that ethos as an official "identity" when dealing with other civilizations (for better or worse).
  2. It is better at keeping a lid on unrest in those areas of that civilization where it dominates. (This simulates spiritual leaders using the bully pulpit to support the government.)
  3. Each population group in the civilization that subscribes to the Official Dogma gets one extra proselytize attempt per turn.
  4. The State picks up some of the burden of "converting" others when the state is less-than-tolerant; think "army."

NEXT IN RELIGION: "Proselytizing"


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