Divine Trappings: Temples and Holy Places

Somehow, I almost forgot to talk about temples, shines, and other holy places. This is particularly ironic because I originally get the idea for Divine Trappings when I read Ragin Swan’s Urban Dressing: Temples, which presents temple features based on domains and subdomains.

Domain aspects don’t just apply to the deity. The domain can influence a deity’s holy places.

The features and architecture, and even location, of a religious building likely incorporates elements of a deity’s domain aspects. I doubt anyone would be surprised to find a temple to the fire god has many open fires or an eternal flame, or a temple to the god of death having a skull and bones motif and perhaps a charnel stench. These are not mandatory elements, though. Sjajan is one of the fire deities of the Elemental Tetratheon and the Fire and Artifice domains. Her temples attract smiths and inventors, so certainly has forges… but being the goddess of inventors her temples might have gas lamps and heaters rather than open fires.

A deity’s domains might also influence the chosen locations of the deity’s religious buildings. Sjajan might favor locations with ready access to resources useful to her followers: coal (for forges and to make coal gas used in the lamps and heaters), useful metals (iron, copper, lead), wood (lumber, or to make charcoal), and so on. Her followers could of course arrange to have these things shipped in, but that would not be efficient.

Povjetera is one of leader of the air deities of the Elemental Tetratheon, and her shrines have a stifling feeling of still, dead air. Promijena, of the same group, is the god of eternity and reincarnation, and of healers (Death, Healing, and Repose)… his temples seem more like hospital. Charolija is the god of just desserts, and his shrines always seem like a court, with raised throne where a ruler might give judgement, and devices of punishment or execution are present. Pokonici is a dark reflection of Promijena, who embraces and encourages death so the wild lands can gain from it; her shrines are untended groves, well-fertilized by those who have died.

Holy places also include places of interest to the deity that aren’t religious buildings. Libraries are holy places to deities of knowledge, battlegrounds are holy places to deities of war, roads and crossroads are important to deities of travel (as might be rivers and natural harbors), and so on. There might not be actual temples in these places, but I would imagine you could find shrines and monuments.

As with other aspect elements, these are mostly suggestions and represent trends rather than hard rules. One might expect to find shrines to a deity of travel at crossroads and where roads meet settlements (wishing for good travels or to give thanks for safe arrival), but you might also find shrines with marks of a deity of repose near the road to elicit brief prayers from travelers who pass by.

Closing Comments

Domains can influence more than just how a deity looks or what the deity demands of followers. A deity’s domains could influence the places the deity finds special, and the nature and appearance of a deity’s religious buildings.

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