[Part 14 of my ongoing translation of "The World" chapters from the Meikyuu Kingdom GM's Book 2nd Edition. This post covers religion and magic in the kingdom. This can be found on page 116. Original Japanese text and art is © Bouken]
Religion and Belief in the Small Kingdom
In the Endless Dungeons, cultures and customs vary from kingdom to kingdom. Religion is no exception. A deity revered in one kingdom maybe denounced as a false or evil god in the neighboring kingdom even if they were only separated by one wall.
The oracle's will has a major influence not only in choosing the kingdom's state religion but the interpretation and application of religious dogma as well, particularly in small kingdoms that have little interaction with other kingdoms. People who do not know any other alternative are easily swayed by the oracle's religious zeal.
Because of this, oracles of small kingdoms who worship some obscure deity have a tendency to distrust outsiders importing new religions. There are horrible stories of such oracles inciting their congregation to sacrifice the offenders to their elevators.
Fortunately, most kingdoms are not as extreme, particularly those with a healthy traffic of visitors. Most missionary priests and their laity are often mild-mannered.
There are countless different religions in the Endless Dungeons, but a few have a lot of supporters and have grown into very influential religious organizations. The six most famous major religions are listed below.
Worshipping the Archangel Quetzalcoatlus Northropi, this is a religion with long history. There is an emphasis on tradition and formality, a hierarchy of seniority within the clergy and frightfully long ceremonies.
According to the teachings of Hazardism, mankind's sinful existence caused the Dungeon Hazard and its progression can only be stopped through intent prayers of self-reflection. Being the state religion of the Millenium Dynasty, it has considerable religious influence. Because it is a relatively simple religion requiring only daily prayers, there are a lot of followers.
This religion worships Haglma, the founder of the Holy Capitalistic Republic of Haglma. Haglma was originally a man who traveled to the Deep Floor, became a Deep One, and later worshipped as a god. Its teachings are known for strict utilitarian and capitalist ideas. It is, of course, the state religion of the Holy Capitalistic Republic of Haglma, but there are believers from all over, like merchants, who are naturally charmed by its teachings, and Land Makers of smaller kingdoms, who are obsessed with money.
The Way of the Ways
The belief in Wild Goose, an angel symbolizing travel, adventure and an entertaining story. Wild Goose is a deity who uses various forms when it appears in the dungeon. When she appears in the guise of a female storyteller, she is called Mother Goose. In the Way of the Ways, all of the dungeon's countless passages are considered holy places. Its faithful believe that the Dungeon is a Mother, nurturing them her children, rather than a terrible, all-corrupting Hazard. This is the state religion of the Metro Khanate, and is popular among charismatic travelers like bards and adventurers. It has a famous hymn called the 13 Chapters of the Way of the Ways.
A militant group worshipping St. Victory, one of the Six Heroes and a knight of Herculean strength.
It does not have many supporters, mostly fanatics who delight in random acts of violence, burning and pillaging the countryside. Practice of this religion is often outlawed as heresy, because its faithful often infiltrate peaceful kingdoms with the intention of inciting war, civil or otherwise, from within.
A religion worshipping Tangaroa the Turtle God, dedicated to exploring knowledge and magic. Tangaroa is a turtle who has lived for many years supporting the world, and possesses immeasurable knowledge carved upon its shell in the form of labyrinthine patterns. Many scholars and wizards are among its believers who have a great passion for collecting uncommon lore, unique monsters and rare treasures. Their temples, called the Room of Wonders, often hold various rare curiosities and treasures. Its priests are often experienced fighters, on account of having to fend off thieves and assorted would-be plunderers from their temples on a daily basis.
This faith worships the maelstrom god, Charybdis. Charybdis, often drawn in the form of a sea anemone, represents change, chaos, and aimless wandering. The faith affirms mankind's instincts, teaching its faithful to live as they are. While often banned as heresy in more conservative kingdoms, this is actually quite a peaceful religion and has many supporters. It recommends sating one's appetites and lusts, before smoking weed and sleeping. Its shrines can often be found in training centers and crossroads where four roads meet.
These six religions also have the side benefit of being a "common language" in the dungeon. When you arrive at a strange foreign country and it turns out you share the same religion with them, the tension is relieved. Many people are attracted these popular religions because of this, which helps with foreign relations. However, just like everything in the Endless Dungeons, travelers can not afford to be careless, because local beliefs, customs or sub-cults may have twisted the religion.
Art and Magic
Magic permeates the Endless Dungeons, but full-fledged magic-use has remained the domain of Land Makers and adventurers. Most people are busy enough with their daily lives without bothering with dubious tricks like magic.
Astrology is a different matter altogether. Among the practitioners of the three main paths of magic (Astrology, Summoning and Science), only Astrologists, who can talk to the stars and manipulate them into helping the kingdom, are widely accepted by the people.
While good kingdoms would otherwise avoid evil stuff, they would still have citizens who know enough about Summoning and Science to be able to do reasonable business. Both paths offer convenient uses in everyday life like delivering small packages via Summoning magic and clearing clogged drains with a solution synthesized using Science. Many enterprising merchants have profited from this fact.
On the other hand, a lot of people also know about common cantrips, which are a minor form of magic. These are various subtle techniques like putting the yolks of two eggs in the wash to remove the bad smell from half-dried laundry. There are also those--like mothers who tell her children bedtime stories or storytellers at campfires--who use a strange art called "Grimm Grimoire" which draws the power from stories.
The prosperity of the dungeon crafting industry is different. They undergo severe training, along with enlightenment from deep meditation, to acquire the skills needed to manipulate the dungeon. Therefore, despite the use of esoteric lore that are often mistaken for magic, they are respected as craftsmen.
[SIDEBAR] Against the Invaders
Many of the Angels and Deep Ones consider the human world only as a object of conquest. When using them in a scenario as an enemy, tokusatsu TV programs are a good source of inspiration. Either the head of the good Angels or the leader of the evil Deep Ones who's plotting the "alien" invasion. The huge monsters of such shows can be represented with strong enemy party combinations, such as island whales or archangels. If you're having trouble coming up with scenarios, consult the Scenario Booklets for reference.