The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Religion and the Afterlife
The seven gods of The Drylands tend to emphasize different behavior, but all their clerics teach some form of literal afterlife with tones of literal or metaphorical reincarnation.
Stripped down to the basics:
The Temples of Desna teach that if you challenge yourself, rise outside your comfort zone to find new experiences, and do it in a way that uplifts others alongside you, you move to a new life after death of new experiences, discoveries, and wonder. If you stay inside the lines and are indifferent/hostile to others, you bring that with you into death and stew in your own boredom and malice.
The Church of Abadar is all about fairness and justice. If you keep your promises and obey the Dictates of Abadar, then Abadar promises to send your soul to an appropriate destination, either to a state of peace and contentment, or to a new life if you aren’t done living yet. If you are dishonest, unlawful, and/or unjust, then your soul is on its own and Abadar washes his hands of you. Whether that results in freedom or oblivion is not explicit, but the negative connotations of the teaching suggest an undesirable outcome.
The Green Faiths of Erastil and Gozreh share similar literal reincarnation teachings.
If you respect and participate in the natural order of things (no undead, ecosystem adaptation vs destruction, killing for need not pleasure, eschewing pointless wealth, etc) you participate in a cycle of death and rebirth and your soul comes back for another go-around. If not, you’re shunted from the cycle and your soul wanders with other unnatural beings until something destroys it.
Erastil adds a moral dimension to it, requiring you to follow fairly rigid social codes to promote the good of your family, seeing family as an integral part of the natural order. His teachings don’t resonate well with all the races as many have societal structures which require a good deal of loose interpretation to make the family dynamics apply.
The Inner Path of Korada and the Outer Path of Brigh are opposites of each other in many respects.
Korada teaches that you can always reincarnate in some form, but in achieving inner harmony (physical/mental/spiritual) you will negate the desire to reincarnate and find ultimate peace in the afterlife. In the process, you will have done your best to elevate those around you and seek forgiveness for wrongs committed. The most highly regarded are those who negate the desire to reincarnate but return anyway, as they are blessed with a mission to help other achieve that state (think Bodhisattvas).
Brigh doesn’t see any reason you’d want to disengage from the world. The more engaged you are with it, the more discoveries you try to make, the more inventions you attempt, the more new things you try to do, all empower your soul to return in a smarter, stronger, and more inquisitive state to do more of all those things worth doing. Conversely, people who are boring, disengaged, or disruptive come back even more so.
The Cult of Urgathoa, as in many things, has beliefs at odds with the rest of the faiths. Her clerics teach that reincarnation is possible but largely random and out of your control, that the other faiths overstate the impact of personal choices on the natural outcome of the soul, and only the most exceptional individuals receive divine guidance to the next stage in their existence. Therefore, people should focus on getting as much as they can out of their current life, experiencing everything they want to experience and accomplishing everything they want to accomplish without being concerned about ‘good’ and ‘evil’ or following rules as an end in itself. There are texts considered heretical even within the Cult that advocate enteral undeath as a desired alternative to normal death. Intelligent undead being universally outlawed, these are not allowed to be read, although the legend of them remains. The followers of Urgathoa often don’t see the creation of undead to be a desecration of life, rather than a repurposing of spent life similar to making bone arrows out of a slain animal. This view is not shared by anyone else, and the divine scale of morality is weighted against it.
The Demon Lords’ promises are known only to their followers; the Boggards serving the Unsaid and mad Moldfolk cults of the deep Underground. In addition to being evil on a social disruptive scale that far surpasses the Cult of Urgathoa, Demon Lord worship is considered heretical as it postulates realms of existence that don’t figure into traditional cosmology.
Gogunta promises a paradise of swimming and killing and a hell of torture for obeying/disobeying her changing whims.
Cyth-V’sug makes no promises and intends to absorb all into his massive fungal existence.