Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, I take a look at Non-
Endless Divine Power
One of the tenants that drove me to create the gods as I have in my world is a concept that has embedded itself into the conscience of the D&D group that I play with, one that has a strange and weird effect on the cosmology of D&D overall. This idea that that the Gods derive power from their worshipers. As someone who spends a lot of time in the ancient world reading about the pantheons of the gods and how they interact with the world, the devotion of mortals to the gods plays little into their character, other than determining which mortal is the gods favorite.
The idea that the gods should be disconnected from their worshipers led me down a number of strange paths, but it eventually culminated with me deciding that the gods derived their power directly from the quantity and prevalence of their domains. This means that the gods of certian concepts would be inherently stronger than others. The gods of Earth, Sky, and Fire are likely very strong, while the god of laws, or the god of Roads, or of brewing are of lesser and lesser strength.
with that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the power, origin and being of the Gods.
Some time ago, I did write an entire series of articles on the gods of my world, the Accursed and their powers, so I am not going to go over it here again. Instead, I am going to go a bit of the why and how and what of the gods, instead of the who. I also have both a Creation Myth and the story of the Godswar already written. They are enjoyable and will be ported to the Document (more on that later) soon.
Again, I won’t dwell on what I’ve already written.
Divisions of Power
The gods, strong as they are, aren’t the only beings of divine power and origin. There is also the Demon Queen, Angels, and Demons. As well, there are beings of great divine power that are not of divine origin but where elevated to their stations by divine beings: Saints and Archdemons. Each of these divine beings varies in power, stature
The gods, with a few exceptions, are beings with power and domain over Concepts, Ideas, and Objects. They hold sway over Fire, Justice, Combat and Law. These beings are extremely powerful due to the prevalence of many of their domains above and beyond what humanoid beings experience, their concepts are, relatively, eternal.
These are the strongest beings in the cosmos, and that the G
Angels represent the emotions that a god brings out in their worshipers, and follow
Angels can also share concepts with their diety, when the domain overlaps both concepts and emotions. Vengeance, for instance is both a concept (The Law requires Vengeance be sought against the perpetrator of the heinous crime) and an emotion (His heart was filled with Vengeance as he held the hand of his dying friend). There are some that are hard to qualify as concepts that I have already defined to the gods, which I will work to correct and give appropriate domains to. The Accursed of Grief is, for example, going to become the Accursed of Tears, say. The concept for angels as seperate defined beings came to me long after I had completed my Mythology Monday series finally codifying all of the gods. As I work to complete my Setting, I will be ensuring that these ideas are held fast.
In direct contrast to Angels, who represent emotion taken form, the Demons of Kasan are represented by combinations of pure elements formed into beings of malice and hate by the demon queen, animated with the essence of the darkest portions of the universe itself.
Most demons combine two or three elements together to form dark and twisted mockeries of how existence works on every other plane. Beings of Lighting and Fire, or Smoke and Mud, or Ice and Wind all blend together to form the denizens of the Abyss and the endless soldiers of the Accursed armies. Though these forms have little ingrained purpose, many of them over the aged develop personalities, desires and causes all their own. These beings work to tempt and destroy people of the prime and other locations in order to spread the will and desire of the demon queen.
While most of the beings of the Abyss are called Demons, there are some that are also referred to as devils, and others that are referred to as Imps. The differentiation are largely symbolic, as they both represent evil incarnated in elemental form.
Saints and Archdemons
With the gods representing concrete concepts and objects, and the Angels representing emotional states, Saints and Archdemons are creatures of power who were once mortals. Beyond simply powerful followers or extremely devoted individuals, both these classifications are individuals who committed acts so singular that they achieved the notice of their patron at the moment of action, and were blessed on the earth until their death which often would also be specific, spectacular and individual events. Many of the archdemons and saints are beings that have small cults surrounding them and provide a shred of power to those who are committed to furthering the cause that they espoused in life.
Lastly, there are the Chosen. These specific individuals are graced with their gods’ deific patronage, and in life have been specifically chosen to perform actions on behalf of their god. Unlike many Templars, clergy and other people associated with the faith, the Chosen are often disassociated with the formal hierarchy of the church, when and where there is one. These people are often devout, though they need not be, and they are generally powerful before their anointment.
The gods are only able to provide a small shred of their powers through the cosmos, and they are only capable of having a single chosen alive at a time. Even if a chosen was to be resurrected from the dead after a new anointment was made, the strain on the deities power would be too great, it is theorized, and the strain would likely cause a temporary rift to the iron marches, sucking through everyone in close proximity to both chosen, or it would result in one of the two losing power, or the power itself diminishing to nothing. No one is quite sure. The Accursed are theoretically able to create chosen, though no one knows if they do. Their kind would likely be the hunted down as soon as discovered and would be a source of great conflict. it is rare for chosen to meet, and rarer still for them to come to blows, but the few times it has happened, it has become the tales of legends.
Now, with the creatures out of the way, I want to address the different pantheons that exist around the continent of Tysis. Due to the gods of Kasan not being tied to their followers, it gives me a little room to create different methods of worship for different peoples and cultures. While there is a generic, common pantheon, there are also different views on the structure and power of the Pantheons.
The common pantheon places the gods in order of power based on Age, starting with the elder Fundamental gods, then the natural gods, and finally the societal gods. This forms the basic hierarchy of the gods for most of the lands in Tysis, with people generally acknowledging this structure.
The Dwarves, however, have a historical pantheon based on the elemental families of the gods. Instead of being grouped into power categories based on age, they are worshiped in clusters based on their elemental affinities. Churches of the Fire gods, Ice gods, and so forth regularly populate a traditional dwarven settlement, though many dwarves that have integrated themselves into other kingdoms taken to the age Hierarchy.
There ate two Thraxian pantheons that war with each other, with one being the traditional pantheon, and the other being a relatively recent change in philisophical outlook brought about by the Mighty and Powerful orcish Paladin Terina after getting revelations from her god.
The Traditional Thraxian Pantheon places Evalrun as the all-father of the
Terina, however, had visions of creation from Takannas, as the god of Fire and War reached into her mind to show her the true creation of the Orcs as his. It made nothing but perfect sense, and Terina went on a year’s long crusade of conversion through her homeland, converting many to the worship of the Pantheon of War: Takannas and his children:
The last major pantheon on the continent, though, is the pantheon of the Elves, though it would more accurately be described as a lack of pantheon, for all the Elven gods are absent. it is not known whether the gods all fled, or died during the Godswar, or have simply been forgotten over the ages as to who they were. All races on Tysis credit their creation to some
Well, That’ll be it for today. It’s not a really satisfying amount of progress, but I’m working on putting all of this into a homebrew book that, god willing, I’ll print in hardback for myself one day. To that end, as well, I’ve been creating a Homebrew document that contains all this information and more, and its really becoming a focus. I love doing it, and all the layout and informational parts are really fun. I will likely share snippets of the Document when I have parts “done” though they are as complete as a game demo, which is to say not at all.
Until next time!