The Path of Inspiration is a religion in the Eberron RPG setting. Here we're using it generally to refer to a religion with a facade of benevolence over it's true purpose. This purpose could be to force the people of a nation to behave as the founders of the religion want them to, or to empower an evil god or force, but whatever the case only the higher ups in the faith are aware of the true purpose. Everyone else is likely oblivious. This is distinct from Corrupt Church, which is a good religion that went bad, the openly evil Religion of Evil, and the Saintly Church (Self Explanatory).
The Pied-Piper archetype can quite easily be found in a leadership role in this sort of organisation.
Game and Story Use
- A cynic would claim that all organized religion falls into that category.
- But that's an over-simplification. It overlooks the fact that the vast majority of believers in this religion are going to be sincere, if deluded, adherents.
- Also, even if the religion's founders only wish to manipulate people, their religion will have to offer something meaningful; a moral code, a sense of divine order, a philosophy that people find fulfilling, whatever; if it's going to attract those adherents.
- It's even possible that the religion might grow beyond the original social-engineering scam into something of spiritual value.
- For example, in Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, the character of Sam "invents" Buddhism as part of his campaign against self-styled gods and passes himself off as The Enlightened One; but one of his disciples actually does achieve Enlightenment.
- Or that the current hierarchy of the religion no longer remember what the original purpose was and are just as deluded as the rest.
- A false religion like this makes a formidable opponent in a campaign, particularly because the PCs will be fighting not just the evil priests, but also the misguided but sincere adherents.
- It's also possible that the founders of the religion were not evil per se, but well-meaning paternalists.
- I don't have the exact quote, but John Adams once said something like that it was important for the common folk to believe in religion to keep them honest and law-abiding.
- A lot of modern cults fall into this territory - apparently syncrectistic "peace and harmony" movements of commune dwellers that end up with everyone handing over their property to the cult leader and drinking poison in the jungle somewhere.