I am currently working on the construction of a religion. It actually has to be believable to the characters or they won’t look plausible doing what they do in the name of this.
Needful is the manufacture of metaphysical state caused by imposing the juxtapositions of esoteric and unprovable statements that cause detrimental hardships in the day to day existence by instigating stringent and often contradictory clauses to behavior modes. I haven’t quite decided who the whipping boys are going to be, and there will have to be a people/race/set of alternative beliefs that will have to be persecuted at full intensity by my characters. They have to feel sanctimonious in order to appreciate the ritual deprivations on themselves designed to generate obedience, awe and fear. After all, one of the clauses will be ‘be good followers/worshipers or I will destroy the world like I did before’. There also has to be some sort of nebulous reward system, such as the imagined life after death, or why go through all the deprivations and grovelling? Now this will depend very much on the general character of the type of people involved in the entrapment as to what is important to them in how they perceive the next emanation.
It might also be amusing to have a reverse bigotry going on and stick women above men. Given most of the current religions in our world, and a goodly many of the past ones, held men in esteem and women as chattel something slightly beneath an ass or an ox, then it would be a change. Of course, all this might be subject to alteration as the story progresses. I can never stick to any sort of restriction, however loose the outline might be.