The last line of the last post got me thinking - How do the gods communicate? I think most of us assume that priests and priestesses spend a lot of their time in prayer. Why? Well, in my game, prayer grants adoration to the gods, which is in many ways their food and energy. So by praying, the priest type person is feeding his or her god - give a little to get a little. OK, but in modern times, most of us religious types believe that our God hears and answers our prayers. Now I’m not suggesting that every morning during prayer time, a major god needs to pass along pieces of advice to each of his priests, but if the god wants something done, shouldn’t he communicate that?
In my game world, anyone who has spoken to a god is referred to as a saint. If you dream that your god wants you to retrieve a long lost artifact and you survive the mission - you get to be called a saint (assuming that your religious folks believe you). Dreams are good, but sometimes a little too blatant for these major players. Subtlety can work too. I have set out the various “tools” that the various gods use, so that their priests can better understand when their gods are actually speaking to them. A war god’s tool may be fire. Maybe his followers burn their enemies’ homes after defeating them. If this were the case, then a will-o-the-wisp type lure (flying fire, always too far ahead to catch) might be perfect for this god to deliver one of his followers to the site of a battle. Doesn’t matter why the god wants them there, just how he gets them there.
There are all sorts of ways this can work. A magical or knowledge god might see smoke or water as their tool, and then they show their followers images in the smoke or water when they need to let them know stuff. These tools work the other way too. If a war god’s tool is earth, then when he sends a message of his anger, it will likely be in the shape of 30’ tall earth giant, and not in the form of a plague of locust. Yep, they communicate things in bad ways as well as good ways.
Don’t forget the inadvertent or lucky communications either. True believers see their deities as controlling things that are most likely random events. Who knows, maybe they’re right. Maybe it was a god’s will that the tree would fall down in the wind storm and crush the house of that sinner. Maybe it was the will of a god that he got lucky at the card table just when he did. Just because most folks are non-believers and think it was just chance isn’t going to be enough to dissuade a true believer. Just because the GM and/or player knows that it was simply a die roll that caused something to happen, doesn’t mean that the character has to understand that in game!