The role of religion in fantasy MMORPGs is one of the great untapped goldmines that can be used to augment character advancement and give context to the culture/lore of the world in question. Most online game designers and loremasters I’ve talked to have barely scratched the surface in realizing the full potential deities and their followers can have in bringing a virtual world to life. The concept of religion and worship has usually been an afterthought or something to give a particular part of town “flavour”.
EverQuest had some good lore for their deities but never fully realized and fleshed out the relationship with their followers in Norrath. Religion didn’t have the full impact it could have had in providing for an adjunct to essentially a combat-centric game. Worship of a deity gave many players a chance to immerse themselves in the culture of the characters they role-played. It also provides for some great lore which is critical for tension and drama to take place in virtual worlds.