Of Templars and Religion

stonegolem

Scholar
Marshal
It's been said on this board and in person innumerable times that our game (and all "high fantasy" analogues) draws extremely heavily from world-wide mythologies, and that due to the nature of myth and religion, there will always be grey areas and situations in which a given symbol can be construed as being a real-world religious icon. This is unavoidable - it is nigh impossible to tell a fictional story without incorporating symbolism that relates in some way to someone's myths, legends, and dogma.

That being said, it is in all of our best interest and that of the game to agree by certain unspoken spirit-of-the-rule rules, and one of those is the avoidance of symbols and concepts that can be construed as religiously significant by casual observation of a layman observer.

In other words, use common sense - avoid crosses, stars of David, crescent and moons, pentagrams, swastikas (really? Really?) mentions of demons or devils, or anything that someone driving past your camp might write an angry letter to the community association about. ("Sorcery is a sin! Dungeons and Dragons ate my baby!" shut up.) For less obvious stuff, such as what a person might have to look up on Wikipedia to know whether or not they should be offended by it - it might be better if we as a community simply waited until somebody saw fit to complain.

If I ran the zoo, a simple red symmetrical cross on a white field ("Argent, a greek cross gules throughout") would be nothing more than heraldry, but a red Latin cross (the common Christian cross) would be a no-no. However, I'm just a man with an opinion and twenty free minutes to kill at work, entreating the company at large...
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
stonegolem said:
If I ran the zoo, a simple red symmetrical cross on a white field ("Argent, a greek cross gules throughout") would be nothing more than heraldry,
The image that started this thread was exactly this. A red, 4-way symmetrical cross on a white background (the same as on the swiss flag, but 'square' rather than rectangular like on a flag), and even that was enough to start this long discussion of the issue. (He happens to have a more elaborate etching on his shield, but that was not in the photo that triggered this.)

stonegolem said:
It's been said on this board and in person innumerable times that our game (and all "high fantasy" analogues) draws extremely heavily from world-wide mythologies,...
(snipped for brevity)
...That being said, it is in all of our best interest and that of the game to agree by certain unspoken spirit-of-the-rule rules,
Unfortunately, the spirit of the rules is apparently disputed by long-term members of this community. Mike V. indicates that the 'spirit of the rules' is to prevent in-game preaching, prayer and proselytizing, and has nothing to do with incidental iconography. (though to be fair, the cross on his tunic was not incidental, but chosen specifically for the Templar archetype, but to the casual observer could be a medical symbol rather than a religious one since he is a prominent member of the Earthweaver's Guild)
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=14226&sid=6882712060a84192ea2c2280da9e2a6b#p151672

In other words, use common sense - avoid crosses, ... swastikas (really? Really?)
Yes, really. My inclusion of it in this list comes from personal experience. I was doodling swastikas as geometric shapes (in both directions) in my notebook in elementary school (Grade 5 IIRC), LONG before anything regarding World War II was covered (The whole Nazi Germany scare doesn't have as much 'penetration' in Canada - it gets covered in High School and because of my upbringing I was pretty much oblivious to it before then.) I got pulled into the principal's office and was demanded that I explain why I was drawing swastikas in my notebook (I had no idea what a swastika was, it was just a geometric doodle!)

That said, however, this is a game for Adults, who probably have had some exposure to the symbol, however I'm much, much more familiar with the 'clockwise' original symbol than the Nazi counter-clockwise version (though that's because I'm much more interested in ancient world religions than I am in 'modern' history), so it was worth mentioning, especially in case of immagrants with backgrounds from other cultures (another thing Canada seems to be more well-known for than the US is, so chalk this up to a difference in awareness due to local factors.)


Now like I said, I have no problem with the 'No Religion' rule as a whole, and even make a point to abide by it (I was originally going to wear a triskele necklance, but opted for a more generic celtic necklace - and I chose not to include the rune cards with my character, and wound up not taking Fortune Telling because in-game RP took me in a different direction.) However, this whole thread was spawned by a picture of a generic red + sign on someone's white tunic - which completely out of context would indicate that this person is a healer, in my mind (since it's similar to what you see on first aid kits.)

And, to bring this back to the original point - this whole mess would have been completely avoided if the class was not named Templar. The player saw that, chose the class, and concepted his character as a 'holy defender' and then proceeded to try and figure out what religions were worshipped in game. He THEN found out about the no-religion rule AFTER he based his character idea on the class name, and made some adjustments (though, apparently not enough adjustments for some people.) <- this is as it was explained to me, I wasn't a member when he made the character.

If the class had not been named Templar, he would not have based the character idea on the historical and English meaning of the word Templar.
 
MathGwyson said:
this whole mess would have been completely avoided if the class was not named Templar
Yeeeeeah.... I don't buy that, even a little bit. The 'No Religion' thing is in there pretty clearly. We got one guy out of thousands that have played the game that made this mistake because he didn't read about something before spending money on it. Similarly, we get someone at least once every year who signs up for the forum and says something like "I'm making a dark elf that uses two scimitars! How do I bend PVC?" There's just nothing you can do to preempt people who just aren't going to read the directions. We could change the name, whatever, but let's not kid ourselves about the actual cause of the confusion here.
 
obcidian_bandit said:
MathGwyson said:
this whole mess would have been completely avoided if the class was not named Templar
Yeeeeeah.... I don't buy that, even a little bit. The 'No Religion' thing is in there pretty clearly. We got one guy out of thousands that have played the game that made this mistake because he didn't read about something before spending money on it. Similarly, we get someone at least once every year who signs up for the forum and says something like "I'm making a dark elf that uses two scimitars! How do I bend PVC?" There's just nothing you can do to preempt people who just aren't going to read the directions. We could change the name, whatever, but let's not kid ourselves about the actual cause of the confusion here.
What Math(Justin) is saying is that the specific incident in question, where one person in a new chapter made an incorrect assumption after scanning the rule book, wouldn't have occurred if the class was called "Fighter-with-Spellshields." What he may not fully appreciate is how much the "no-religion" rule comes up for discussion and the years and years of backlogged debate the topic has already seen. There is another thread about this on the front page as I write this.

The fact of the matter is this: the exact line does not exist. Some things are obviously over the line, some things are right on it, and somethings are only offensive to someone who gets a kick out of being scandalized. The general principle that we should always try to observe is "If something is close to where the I think the line is, I should reevaluate how important I think it is that that thing be just how it is." If there's a reasonable chance something could cross the line, try and change it enough that it no longer does. There's plenty of creative types at events and on these forums. If folks have a disagreement and neither one is able to reach a compromise in person, turn it over to the event staff and then respect their decision.
 

evi1r0n

Baron
Since I love animals, I won't post a pic of the dead horse this thread is kicking.

It's already been stated that the fellow in the pic is changing his costume. Problem solved. We are never going to agree in black and white regarding the religion rule, so arguing grays gets us no where.

It has been widely agreed upon that templar should be changed to something else. Lets write the proposal and leave it to the powers that be at symposium, which is coming up.

Lastly, to my Canadian brothers at arms. I really hope this thread doesn't sour you to the rest of the game or the American chapters. This board represents a vocal minority of players and staff members. Sometimes these boards can spawn heated debates that don't have a clear resolution. I think most people here's hearts are in the right place, they just want to see the new chapter succeed within the bylaws of the Alliance. I am thrilled to have another chapter in the Alliance and I hope we get a chance to play at each other's chapters. When your level cap raises or I can afford to costume and have time for an alt, I'll make the trip. :thumbsup:
 

Avaran

Baron
The image that started this thread was exactly this. A red, 4-way symmetrical cross on a white background...


Left: Knights Templar Cross.

Middle: Dude's shirt.

Right: The Red Cross cross.

Dead horses feel no pain.™
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
evi1r0n said:
Lastly, to my Canadian brothers at arms. I really hope this thread doesn't sour you to the rest of the game or the American chapters. This board represents a vocal minority of players and staff members. Sometimes these boards can spawn heated debates that don't have a clear resolution. I think most people here's hearts are in the right place, they just want to see the new chapter succeed within the bylaws of the Alliance. I am thrilled to have another chapter in the Alliance and I hope we get a chance to play at each other's chapters. When your level cap raises or I can afford to costume and have time for an alt, I'll make the trip. :thumbsup:
This. A thousand times this. Even the most well meaning of souls can get caught up in "winning the internets," but in the end we are an Alliance that is bound together by something pretty awesome (if I do say so myself). I'd wager that if you put every person on this thread in a room somewhere that there was food and drink it would be one heck of a party! (All you need is one person to shout embarassing stories about me/my character and it'll even have a comedy act.)

This is one of those topics that is discussed in the rulebook, but is worth discussing again whenever the game expands. If the same people share the same ideas for a decade then the ideas start to become a little inbred... this is a fresh infusion of ideas that should be relished.

With that said, I think it would be best if we focused our attention on crowdsourcing a specific proposal as opposed to discussing one guy's costume. The guy made a mistake that is remedied as easily as an iron-on patch and a cloth shield wrap.

Thanks folks! This has been an enlightening discussion!

Stephen
National CS
 

Mobeus

Artisan
It is true, you don't want Stagnation of ideas, and even after all this discussion, we really have no formal complaints from our game regarding this, I leave it up to our Plot and our people to decide... and I do intend to help anyone write up a follow up for the games expansion. As it's been said before every LARP game I've ever attended uses religious symbols regularly, except for this one. It might be a good rule, or maybe it needs updating, and only new unseasoned players could voice it because it's been discussed by so many older players over so many years it's become old hat.

Anyways, thank you all for all the discussions, even if you didn't agree, or if you do... they give a lot to think about...
 

Toddo

Knight
HQ Staff
Marshal
Proposed Proposal for submission to the owners:

Hey guys, the word "Templar" is too religiony, can we change the class name to something else? We trust ya to make the name cool.

Sincerely,
Concerned Players
 
Please don't make it that vague, the more debate that occurs at symposium the less gets done. Make it short, specific, and address the why and how. Like:

Proposed change: Change the class name Templar to Weaselthief
Reasoning: To better serve the Alliance's goal of remaining as religion-free as possible.
Expected Results: No game rule alterations, minor changes to logistical database (then include a one our two line opinion from an ALC member about how easy or hard this would be).

That's it. Any more than that and it risks getting talked to death and tabled, never to be seen again.
 
Proposed name:

Collin Babcock

I'm a 24th level Collin Babcock, known for requiring magic to offset my poor combat skills.

Bam, genius.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
obcidian_bandit said:
MathGwyson said:
this whole mess would have been completely avoided if the class was not named Templar
Yeeeeeah.... I don't buy that, even a little bit. The 'No Religion' thing is in there pretty clearly.
The point is that if the 'No Religion' thing is really all that clear, why have a name for a class that so clearly is derived from religious roots. It really does blur the lines for people who do not read things all the way through thoroughly (and even for those who DO). Many of the people in our chapter have played D&D - we see Templar, we think 'Paladin' - and all the religious trappings associated with it. In fact, looking it up, it has only 3 meanings. TWO of which are religious orders, and the third is pretty specific to modern British law, and it's definitely the least used of the meanings (and doesn't even appear in most of the dictionaries I've looked in).

And since for many people, the Oxford and/or the Merriam Webster is/are the only dictionary(ies) that 'count(s)', and both of those only list 'Knights Templar' as the meaning (the London barristers aren't in those dictionaries) - it's a pretty clear bend to the 'No Religion' rule. What happened to this one player is a pretty logical step because of this class name.

You call a class by something which has a pretty specific meaning, and then go on to tell people (in completely different sections, mind you) that the meaning is pointless in this campaign. It would be pretty akin to calling the Rogue a 'Thief', but taking out the sneaking/searching and saying that stealing things from other players or NPCs was against the rules.

I don't know how or where to submit a proposal, but if I did, I would include the dictionary references in it.

I really hope this thread doesn't sour you to the rest of the game or the American chapters.
Not completely soured, no. Some of the things that have come up in my discussions over the past month and a half have been an annoyance, but most of that has been easily forgotten and put behind me and nothing completely off-putting.

@Avarian - point taken. I hadn't noticed the very slight 'hooks' on the tips - I suppose I just presumed they were folds in the cloth.
 
I need to post this just because it's been bothering me. "Paladin" does not have its roots in religion except for in Dungeons and Dragons. The word paladin is thought to have first appeared in the Song of Roland. The Paladins were the best of the best of Roland's knights. They all happened to be Christian knights (as were ALL Western knights of the middle ages), but the word paladin itself does not originally have religious significance any more than knight, duke, cavalier or man-at-arms does. Gary Gygax made the religious part up.

Scott
 
As much as I personally hate it, Scott, common usage defines a word as much or more than the dictionary. In NH we use the term Paladin to describe a council of knights that serves the queen directly, but there's been no shortage of people who cocked their heads the first time they heard it.
 
Dan Nickname Beshers said:
As much as I personally hate it, Scott, common usage defines a word as much or more than the dictionary. In NH we use the term Paladin to describe a council of knights that serves the queen directly, but there's been no shortage of people who cocked their heads the first time they heard it.
Is there really common usage for the word paladin? Sure, D&D players (and readers) and gamers in general think of holy warriors. But would History or English Lit scholars? Not so much. The average person probably wouldn't be familiar with it at all unless you were say in your 60s+ and then you probably think of a cowboy.

The holy warrior part is lingo, IMO, not common usage. In that case, I'd personally prefer to rely on etymology.
 

Dr_Chill

Fighter
If ppl are hung/up upset over the term templar, how about:
Arcane Warrior
Synergist
Spell Blade
 
Duke Frost said:
Dan Nickname Beshers said:
As much as I personally hate it, Scott, common usage defines a word as much or more than the dictionary. In NH we use the term Paladin to describe a council of knights that serves the queen directly, but there's been no shortage of people who cocked their heads the first time they heard it.
Is there really common usage for the word paladin? Sure, D&D players (and readers) and gamers in general think of holy warriors. But would History or English Lit scholars? Not so much. The average person probably wouldn't be familiar with it at all unless you were say in your 60s+ and then you probably think of a cowboy.

The holy warrior part is lingo, IMO, not common usage. In that case, I'd personally prefer to rely on etymology.
Lingo, sure, but it's from a very related demographic. I'm willing to bet the LARPer Venn diagram has a larger overlap for D&D players than for historians. Also, the term has migrated from D&D to other places as well, notably the Warcraft mythos which is very widespread.

I would personally prefer etymology too. Sadly, "etymology" is probably a less well known word than "paladin".
 
So the question then becomes in regards to paladin, if something is viewed as "religious" by the appropriate demographic but is not from a real religion (as far as I know no one is worshipping the Forgotten Realms gods), does the term fall under the no religion rule for our purposes?

IMO, I don't think it does.

Scott
 

Mike Ventrella

Duke
Owner
Moderator
HQ Staff
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paladin has the origin of the word.

The other thing to take into consideration is whether the word is used TODAY by any religion. Are there Paladins or Templars today? Exactly who would we be offending, then?

In full disclosure (and at a risk of offending a few of you), I am an atheist. To me, religion and mythology are interchangeable. The reason I have always promoted a "no religion" clause in the game -- and it was me who first insisted on this way back when we started NERO -- was to avoid having to deal with religious fanatics who would boycott us and prevent us from renting camps, and also to open the game up to a wider group of players, many of whom would never have joined if we had gods and religions in the game.

So that's the ultimate goal. If no one is coming to me and saying "because you have templars, we refuse to deal with you" then why is this even an issue?
 

Toddo

Knight
HQ Staff
Marshal
Not to nit-pick, but in Warcraft being a Paladin is simply being a Knight who can call upon "the light" as a power source for their spellcasting. Magic in that world leaks in from other dimensions and depending on your racial makeup you can interact with that magic in different aspects (the light/demonic/nature/arcane). Certain beings are from these "magical dimensions" and can grant access to this power or enhance it (or have it stolen, see the Blood Elves and their enslaved Naaru), but worship is not a prerequisite of accessing the power.

If Warcraft had gods that required Paladins to be good guys a la D&D then Arthas would have lost his powers upon destroying his ships and stranding his army in Northrend. (I still hold fast to my belief that the culling of Stratholme was the ultimate expression of "Lawful Good doesn't mean I'm not a jerk and a war criminal")

So, now that that's out, I don't feel Warcraft Paladins are religious, they're just Earth Templars. :p
 
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