|Art By Christophe Swal|
Recently, I've been toying with some ideas about religions & philosophies for the traditional non-human races, giving them something else to follow and believe in than your typical fantasy deity such as Corellon Larethian or Moradin. Being one to think aloud, here are some of the ideas I've had for a handful of the traditional fantasy races (Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings).
I'm not sure why, but I think it would be interesting if dwarven society was built around an atheistic worldview. Now, unlike real-world atheism, the dwarves admit that the entities that many refer to as gods do exist and grant powers to "worshipers". However, they see these entities as nothing more than incredibly powerful outsiders and not true deities. Instead of worshiping these false deities, the dwarves put more weight into their material existence and focus on the here and now instead of metaphysical concepts.
Due to their close relationship with nature, I think it would be cool to have elves practice a form of animism. The elves believe there is no separation between the spiritual and material world and that every field, every tree, every rock, every flower, and every creature has a spiritual essence. These spirits can be angered and appeased like normal deities, and the elves do everything they can to respect and honor these spirits. Also, the elves believe that when a person dies, their soul returns to the source of all life in the universe, becoming one with everything.
Ancestor Worshiping Halflings
Since clans and families seem to be a big deal with halflings, I think it would be cool to just have them practice a form of ancestor reverence. Instead of praying to the gods and goddesses of the other races, halflings venerate past family members, believing their spirits watch over their living descendants and possess the ability influence the fortune of the living. Before doing something important, a halflings perform a ritual to contact their ancestors and ask for help and guidance. Also, every halfling possesses some item (could be a totem, or a book containing the records of their clan or family's history) that is considered sacred and is the main tool they use to contact their ancestors.