UTBS, God, and Wesnoth (*SPOILER WARNING*)

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turin
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UTBS, God, and Wesnoth (*SPOILER WARNING*)

Post by turin »

It doesn't seem to me like we have an actual policy on reference to God - or, more generally, references to the (non-)existence of God(s) - within the World of Wesnoth. We just have a sort of "don't want to offend people" attitude, which usually results in no references to God. In fact, it always resulted in that, until UTBS was added to mainline.

Now... is that a good thing? Methinks not. Personally, I am and will probably remain strongly against the inclusion of UTBS. This is not because I think it is a bad campaign. It is because of my dislike of the religiously themed plot - I don't dislike the plot, but rather the fact that it is religious, and intrinsically so. I do not dislike the campaign, either - I just don't think it is suitable to be an official campaign.


And, I don't think that the fact that it is an elvish, not human, religion that isn't comparable to any real-life religions helps it. My understanding was that religion was not allowed in Wesnoth because it is a topic that we don't want to address, it being an immense and divisive issue that the devs don't have (and don't particularly want) a consensus on. We don't have anything to say about it. But, apparently this is not the reason. Instead, it is because of some sort of "don't want to hurt people's feelings by having religions in the game similar to their own religion" idea.

I don't like that. At all. First of all, it just doesn't make sense - am I more likely to be offended by a religion similar to my own existing in-game, or by a completely alien one? Personally, I choose the latter, although I guess some people won't. Secondly, it is really hard to do - there are a LOT of religions, and so it really hard to actually come up with an original religion that won't offend someone. But, most importantly, it seems arbitrary. Why is it allowed to have a religion where elves worship a goddess and fight against another, evil, goddess, but it isn't allowed to have one where humans worship a god and fight against a demi-god (i.e., Abrahamic faiths)? If we allow some religions, we should just allow all religions, philosophical musings, and whatnot - so long as it is a good campaign, of course.


Apparently someone higher up than me disagrees. In which case, I'd like to hear their reason. If somehow this was just never discussed before UTBS was added, then, I'd like to discuss it.
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allefant
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Post by allefant »

I think UTBS is no problem, because at no point does it say if Eloh is an actual god or not. So I doubt anyone could be offended by it.
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Post by Ranger M »

Eloh, (or whatever her name was) never actually appears, but is only talked about, and impersonated. and the great evil yaxa..... (whatever it was) isn't a god, just a powerful evil thing.

It would be normal for any race which went through the changeing of their world into a barren desert where they could barely survive would create a god to help them get through it (or have somebody to cry to), so who is saying that Eloh actually exists (in the campaign)
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Post by Oreb »

Ranger M wrote:Eloh, (or whatever her name was) never actually appears, but is only talked about, and impersonated. and the great evil yaxa..... (whatever it was) isn't a god, just a powerful evil thing.

It would be normal for any race which went through the changeing of their world into a barren desert where they could barely survive would create a god to help them get through it (or have somebody to cry to), so who is saying that Eloh actually exists (in the campaign)
Almost everyone one wants a god to cry out to or something like that, they want to believe in something after death as well not just nothingness
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Post by SmokemJags »

Even I'd probably turn to religion in a post-apocalyptic world. Besides, it turns out to be an imposter and there never is any appearance or divine intervention beyond that.

Maybe we should put a spoiler warning in this discussion? I know I would hate to have known 'Eloh' was just an imposter before playing the campaign.
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Post by turin »

As I (thought) I made clear in my post, I wasn't debating whether Eloh was offensive or not. I was debating whether that is the criteria we should use for whether to allow a god or not. :roll:


(I was under the impression that God(s) were out, period, but apparently not. I want to know why.)
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Post by scott »

It has been discussed, but it's lost in IRC-land somewhere. I won't say it has been discussed to death, but it was advanced to the point where UTBS received the ok after adequately addressing the issue. At this point, you can trust my claim, make me dig up the discussion, or recreate the discussion.

In this case, the correct decision was made. A campaign the developers liked and enjoyed, that was in their judgement ok, was added to a game being written solely for their enjoyment. Judgement trumped any previously communicated standard, since the standard was the external manifestation of the rule - not the rule itself. The actual rule, which you can most easily think of as personal taste, instinct, or something else internal, may not be fully expressible.

Judgement brings each situation back to the internal rule, whereas bureaucracy brings each situation back to the standard. Making the discussion about fairness and clear standards reeks of political correctness. While probably acceptable on the surface, clear standards are always pushed to absurdity in the name of fairness, and it makes life worse.

It may appear arbitrary, but there are good parallels that I won't bring up unless you need them to understand my point.
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Post by turin »

It makes sense that the devs disregarded the "rule" (I didn't really like the rule anyway). But I don't like it when rules are created and then not followed - if that isn't an actual rule, why do we tell everyone it is? That seems even more hypocritical when we actually have a campaign in-game that frequently talks about God.
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Post by Sapient »

Suggestion: maybe you should put a (*SPOILER WARNING*) at the top of the thread, or do the old white font trick? Developers aren't the only ones who read this forum. :shock:

I've already stated my opinion on IRC. I totally support the devs for making an exception to the rule (edit: or perceived rule, whatever) in this case.
Last edited by Sapient on March 23rd, 2006, 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by scott »

Can you be hypocritical, literally undercritical, when the issue is between you and yourself? It's not that the rule was disregarded or an exception made. It's that UTBS was determined to follow the rule... the fact that the standard may not have led to the same conclusion is not relevant. It only makes it appear arbitrary, when in fact the standard was too crude. Just my opinion though. I didn't take part in the discussion but I saw it.
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Post by Eleazar »

Where does this "rule" reside? In my time here i can't think of anyone except Turin saying, "There is no religion in Wesnoth." And what exactly is meant by "religion"?
Wesnoth (without UtBS) certainly already has a spiritual element . The existance of undead and their descriptions assume that the soul and body are distinct, and that there is an afterlife. The power of the MoL over the undead assumes a higher power(s) that (at least indirectly) interfere in events in Wesnoth. Yes, you could explain these facts without Deity, but that's not the most obvious explanation.
Lots of campaigns make additional references to spiritual entities.

There is always someone somewhere who will be offended by anything. But ever since Tolkien, the vast majority of Fanatasy worlds have some sort of spiritual hierarchy(s). Is part of what make these stories interesting. (Weather you think gods are real or not, it's clear most people want some sort of gods, even if only in stories.) The rare player offended by anything less than 100% religion-free Wesnoth, probably does not like fantasy at all.

I think it's wise to continue to not make obvious (positive or negative)reference to specific real-world religions in Wesnoth.

But to keep Wesnoth 100% atheisitic (or agnostic) would make it a wierd and generally unpopular type of fantasy world.
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Post by quartex »

Personally, I was surprised that religions and gods in a fantasy world would be so controversial. I grew up reading fantasy series where religion or gods were important parts of the culture. Specifically J.R.R. Tolkien's "Simarillion", George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series and Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series come to mind. I played also a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, which featured campaign world where gods often take an active role in their followers conflicts. So I've often thought of religion and how humans react to the supernatural as a key part of the fantasy milieu.

UTBS is intentionally ambiguous about the existence of Eloh. Also I never meant to talk about the Judeo-Christian God or any other real-world religious figure. UTBS was not written as a allegory about religions and gods anymore than Heir to the Throne was written as a allegory about regicide.

Personally, I'd love to see more campaigns that discuss cultures with some sort of religion. I think it's hard to have gods appear in a story without making the humans seem rather insignificant, but religions are a great way of showing conflict between various groups of worshippers. That said, I understand and respect the developers' decision about including gods in the mainline campaigns.

P.S. I also added a spoiler warning to this thread. I'm sorry if anyone was spoiled. I encourage you to still finish UTBS, I think that you will still find some surprises.
Last edited by quartex on March 23rd, 2006, 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Jetrel »

Eleazar wrote:... I think it's wise to continue to not make obvious (positive or negative)reference to specific real-world religions in Wesnoth.

But to keep Wesnoth 100% atheisitic (or agnostic) would make it a wierd and generally unpopular type of fantasy world.
No kidding.


But more than anything else, I side with Scott in saying, as I would phrase it, that "this entire discussion is completely [censored]." General Principles, not "absolute mandates", are what we should, and do follow.

Furthermore, wesnoth is no longer a representative of a single artistic vision. Sure, we fight to keep it from becoming a made-by-comittee mess, but you really shouldn't hold other people's campaigns to your own standards. If I worried too much about other people's narrative/cosmological/writing preferences, I'd have never joined wesnoth in the first place. We don't exactly have a masterpiece in those departments, and it was really bad when I joined.
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Post by zookeeper »

Personally I think it's just [censored] to try to exclude religions from the game on the grounds that it might offend someone. Anyone who might get offended by a made-up religion in a fantasy computer game already has a lot bigger problems to deal with, and would probably be living in a closet already instead of even touching a computer, so I don't see a point.

The principle of not introducing actual gods into the world of Wesnoth is good, of course. UtBS doesn't present a problem here, since it takes place in a very special setting and whether Eloh exists is left unclear. Obviously it would be bad if several campaigns started to have elves, dwarves and whatnot running around on errands from their gods in the main timeline, and especially if there were indications that those gods were real.
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Post by torangan »

In short: keep religious references to the very common fantasy type (undead, white mage) or vague like utbs.
That way the only people you'll offend are fanatics and I don't care about hurting the feelings of fanatics at all. Would be ridiculous to do so in my opinion. On the other hand one should try to stay away from obvious references to existing religions and before adding such things at least some discussion should happen. For utbs the problem was discussed more then once over time and there were never before strong objections against including it. If you feel so, you should have voiced your concern much earlier since including it was discussed rather often. The right point in time to voice your concerns would have been the first time you noticed such discussions.
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