Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Deities, A Review

Whew! I managed to write a series of nine blog posts in a row without getting distracted by a different subject. That's a new record, I think!

Before I get into my backlog of topics (I've watched two movies and ran a D&D session, all of which deserve a review) I want to take one more look at my pantheon, their relationships to each other, their relationships to their followers, and some other curious observations I've made about them.

For instance, I never noticed before now, but in my pantheon the male deities tend toward the extreme alignments while the female deities tend to be more neutral. Originally there were only a few female deities in my pantheon. I don't remember exactly when I decided to even out the gender ratio, but I'm pretty sure it was before the end of my first campaign. So, now there are nine male and nine female deities. I simply gender-swapped a few, since their genders didn't really matter much for the most part.

Of the eight possible deities with extreme alignments (Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil) only one of them is female: Bialey, who was originally male for the record. Of the ten possible neutral alignments (Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and True Neutral) only two of them are male: Kahn and Ansem.

I'm not sure what this means exactly. It could be entirely coincidental, or I may subconsciously think of men as being more aggressive, much as those extreme alignments tend to seem more aggressive. Or, alternately, my relative unfamiliarity with women at the time may have caused me to assume a more moderate stance. I'm not sure, but I don't see a problem with it anyway. Let me know if anyone is offended by my implication of female neutrality.

Anyway, I went out of my way in my descriptions to show how all of the deities could reasonably have a following in most countries, regardless of the overall moral or structural climate of its people. In this way, I hoped to illustrate that not only do the "evil" deities not consider themselves evil, but the people who follow them are very likely not evil. And, in fact, followers of Waymon or Milana aren't necessarily Good-aligned, either.

Rather, the alignments of the deities and their followers are primarily defined by their actions rather than their intentions. Not entirely, but to a large degree. For instance, Belkar's intention is usually the protection of a favored country, but the result is often a lot of preemptive wars, the stripping away of personal freedoms, and capital punishments to instill an obedience based on fear. I'm sure an argument can be made for Belkar that his actions are for the "greater good," but I also think that's a load of crap. So, I label him as "evil."

That's what I meant when I said that my pantheon probably says a lot about me, both now and when I created these gods. Personal politics plays heavily into the labeling of deities. I eschewed a lot of that in my second campaign when, although I knew who these gods were, the players and, indeed, the NPCs only knew of The Goddess, the Forger, and the Destroyer, all of which were whatever each person wanted them to be. There were no convenient alignment guides to help people choose a deity, and many people simply worshiped them all. Which, honestly, is the most realistic approach one can take with deities.

Anyway, I hope some of you enjoyed my exploration of the pantheon I've used for all of my D&D campaigns. Many of them were solidified as I was writing about them, particularly ones that never really played a large part in my campaigns before now, so it was a helpful exercise for me.

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