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Curious
2011-01-07, 08:25 PM
So, I'm crafting a. . . Campaign setting? World? Whatever you want to call it, its gonna suck, for the people that live in it at least. The premise behind the setting was basically this: how do the gods retain their powers? Answer: they devour the souls of their followers. The universe begins as darkness, and then suddenly the gods existed. Even they don't know where they come from, but at the moment of their arrival they number in the millions, scattered across infinite space, and with the power to reshape the universe at will. Many strange and wonderful things are crafted by these god-creatures, including the world that the players will inhabit, but no beings with souls yet exist. Then the gods begin to die.

Only one or two at first, but then many, and then hundreds, simply blink out, becoming one with the endless night. The gods are terrified, and seek out a reason for this. And they find one; their powers were finite. At the moment of their creation, they had only a certain amount of power, and no more, and now most of them have squandered it, or had it simply drain away as they rested amongst the stars. Wars descend upon the gods as they devour each other, instinctually grasping that the soul-matter of their brothers and sisters will nourish them, allow them to hang on to precious life one moment longer.

One particular goddess, Sylis (SEE-liss), proved stronger than her kin, and devoured many, waxing full in her strength. However, she, unlike the rest of her brethren, understood that there were not an infinite number of them; eventually the last of them would devour each other, and their race would disappear for all eternity. Determined to prevent her own imminent death, Sylis descended to one of the many wondrous worlds that had been crafted, and infused a portion of her god-essence into the bodies of the creatures that roamed the earth. Thus were born the first humans, the first creatures to possess souls.

Sylis discovered that the creatures she had created were capable of passing on their essence to their descendants, propagating the magic that the gods required to survive. Better yet, at the end of their short lifetimes, the soul was released from their body, and these phantoms were naturally attracted to the power of a god, allowing her to easily devour them. Overjoyed at her discovery, Sylis spread the knowledge amongst her surviving kin, who quickly flocked to the fledgling world.


So, how's that for a basis? It also provides perfect fridge-logic for the old D&D conundrum; why the hell are there so many monsters? Answer: the gods want them to kill people so that they can harvest their souls. I also have ideas for why dragons exist, and about how Outsiders eternally oppose the gods, but I'm still working on it.

Rainbownaga
2011-01-07, 11:20 PM
Just to play devil's advocate here, it needn't be such a crapsack world after all. It is in the gods' interests to fill the world with as many humans as possible, humans have terribly short lives as it goes and are quite capable of ending each others' without too much trouble. Adding monsters just puts an additional strain on the environment.

What I would suggest is that the monsters themselves have souls, only that the god's didn't let on to encourage the inter-faction slaughter. Doing a big reveal that the "soulless monsters" are every bit as sentient, emotional and feeling as the humans will be much more poignant after they've slaughted several dozen of them. Then there's the dillema of trying to negotiate peace between the races or succumbing to racial hatred.

I assume there will be opportunities to "get-back" at the gods? Maybe including misguided attempts set up by the gods themselves?

Curious
2011-01-08, 03:41 AM
I appreciate the helpful criticism, it definitely helps. The way I was thinking of it was that the gods created 'monsters' to propagate conflict, but do not intend for any race to be wiped out. Rather, they wish for a constant low level of violence, enough to keep them satisfied, but not to stunt the growth of any of the races.
And I quite like the idea you proposed; if all the monsters have souls, it will definitely cause some interesting conflict when the players discover that they feel, as well as making sense from the whole 'maximum soul harvesting' perspective. Yes, I think I'll use that, thank you very much. :D

As for actual aggression against the gods, I was thinking that it would really depend upon the parties composition. All Outsiders will oppose the gods, and it is through their power that humans can wield arcane magic. However, as recompense, all Outsiders demand that wizards must stand against the gods in all things- sorcerers are exempt from this by virtue of recieving magic from their blood. Clerics, of course, are unaware of the gods horrifying true nature.

Dsurion
2011-01-08, 05:20 AM
I just want to say I really like your idea. Since that wouldn't be very constructive to the thread, I'd also like to say it reminds me of the Frank and K idea of how D&D is presented:


9.1.1 Living With Yourself After a Raid

The goblins have gone and conducted a raid on your village in full force. They rode in, took a bunch of the sheep, killed some of the people, set fire to some of the cottages, and rode away again with Santa Sacks filled with this yearís crop. And they laughed because they thought it was funny. And now that your elder brother has been slain you want to dedicate yourself to the eradication of the Goblin Menace and begin the training necessary to become a Ranger so that you can empty the goblin village from the other side of the valley once and for all.

Par for the course D&D, right? Wrong! Killing all the goblins isnít just an Evil act, itís unthinkable to most D&D inhabitants. This is the Classical Era, and actually sowing the fields of Carthage with salt is an atrocity of such magnitude that people will speak of it for thousands of years. In the D&D world, goblins raid human settlements with raiding parties, humans raid goblin settlements with ďadventuring partiesĒ, and like the cattle raiding culture of Scotland, itís simply accepted by all participants as a fact of life.

When your city is raided by other groups of humanoids, itís a bad thing for your city. Orcs may kidnap some of your relatives and use them as slaves (or food), and many of your fellow villagers may lose their lives defending lives and property important to them. But thatís part of life in the age, and people just sort of expect that sort of thing.

tuesdayscoming
2011-01-08, 06:08 AM
I really like where you're going. The first thing to spring to mind, tho, is where do the outsiders come from? Were they created by the gods, too? If so, what gave them the initial capacity to rebel? Are they descended from once-mortals that somehow absorbed enough of the divine essence to attain pseudo ascension, thereby learning of the gods' true nature?

How also, are you going to deal with the varying types of outsider? That is, devils, demons, angels, etc.? All aligned? Does one sort or another still serve the divinities?

I look forward to seeing this develop further. Keep it up!

J.Gellert
2011-01-08, 07:06 AM
The first thing that comes to mind is "How do mortals know all this?". If I were Sylis, I'd just let them think they are going to paradise or something.

Now, this is not really crapsack. It's balance. You are born out of nothing, you die and it's the end. Actually, your death fuels the continuation of the gods (and the universe) so you're contributing! Maybe there can be a balance cult in-game that believes this.

As for the crapsack part, I can see it going in one of two ways.

A. No one knows about what the gods are doing. Very few people are "awoken" to this truth and must struggle against the impossible, the gods. Cue a very fatalistic setting, where humanity is cattle and the PCs are among the few to face supernatural horrors and elder evils. And expect to lose, otherwise it's not really a crapsack world.

B. Everyone knows about this. "Good" gods do this to preserve the universe, but then you have "Evil" gods that just want to harvest as many humans as possible without care for consequences. Think of the Necrons. Now depending on how you treat these villainous gods, it can be a crapsack world ("We're doomed, they will destroy all life") or even epic fantasy ("The dark lord that wants to destroy all life will be defeated").

However, I don't like this second approach much because it downplays the basic premise, that everyone will get eaten anyway. You'd just be fighting against complete annihilation of the world NOW, and to let future generations exist. That's almost too typical.

Now you could have the first approach in a setting where everyone knows what is happening, but really, if it's an accepted universal fact... Would the in-universe people really be trying to change it? Probably not... if it's a crapsack world.

Yora
2011-01-08, 07:16 AM
This setting assumes, that being devoured by a god is a bad thing. But I can easily see lots of religions arising that teach the people that this is something good and desireable. All faiths including ancestral spirits are based on that assumption.
For example, have one people who believe they were all created by the same god, and that god is now protecting them. When they die they become part of this god and help protecting their descendants. The god has to wait a bit longer for each of his followers to die by protecting them from danger, but in return he has a secured and seady supply that might even grow if his people are successful in conquering other people and integrating them into their society and religion.
Everyone wins! Except their enemies.

Curious
2011-01-08, 07:41 AM
Oh, sorry if I didn't make it clear Firkraag; the information in my first post is for the benefit of readers, to help envision the genesis of the universe. Amongst NPCs, knowledge of the gods true nature would be hidden from all but a very few powerful wizards and those clerics unfortunate enough to attempt to Raise Dead. Clerics and the vast majority of people would believe that when they die they are, as you so aptly put it, "Going to paradise."
In less words: method A.

tuesdayscoming:
Well, it's llike this; each plane formed at much the same time, give or take a few millenia, and the Outsiders that dwell on each plane are it's natural spawn, reflections of each planes own slumbering sentience, much as the gods are for the material plane. However, the material plane is the 'center' of the multiverse, and as such more natural, unrefined magic focused there, gifting the gods with greater power. This comes with a tradeoff though, as the ambient magics that swirl through out the Outer planes allows the weaker Outsiders to survive without the soul-fodder required by the greater gods.

Dsurion:
Thank you for your support, and the compliment, and I hope my work continues to interest you.

GolemsVoice
2011-01-08, 07:54 AM
One thing you also need to consider is: what if somebody found out? Would divin kill-squads come to hunt him down? Would he keep quiet, for fear of the gods? Or would the gods bribe him, fearing that, before they can annihilate him, he would spread the news to everybody?

Also, what if somebody found out, and didn't get killed, could he use the power for himself somehow? This would make for an interesting premise for a few villians or even adventures. The leader of the barbarian tribe isn't just attacking villages for the evulz, but he seems to gain power with every raid. Or even better: YOU can gain power with every soul you harvest. Do you kill indiscriminately? Do you gorge yourself? Or do you deny it? And if you grow strogner, will the gods and their servants someday come for you? Can you become a god YOURSELF?

As I said, all these points can make for interesting situations, adventures and backgrounds, so I hope you forgive me for just asking a bunch of questions.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-08, 08:07 AM
Also, what if somebody found out, and didn't get killed, could he use the power for himself somehow? This would make for an interesting premise for a few villians or even adventures. The leader of the barbarian tribe isn't just attacking villages for the evulz, but he seems to gain power with every raid. Or even better: YOU can gain power with every soul you harvest. Do you kill indiscriminately? Do you gorge yourself? Or do you deny it? And if you grow strogner, will the gods and their servants someday come for you? Can you become a god YOURSELF?

Where do you think XP comes from? :smalltongue:

Also, really like this idea! If you chose to run a PbP based on it, I'd likely be interested in joining. :smallbiggrin:

J.Gellert
2011-01-08, 09:45 AM
Oh, sorry if I didn't make it clear Firkraag; the information in my first post is for the benefit of readers, to help envision the genesis of the universe. Amongst NPCs, knowledge of the gods true nature would be hidden from all but a very few powerful wizards and those clerics unfortunate enough to attempt to Raise Dead. Clerics and the vast majority of people would believe that when they die they are, as you so aptly put it, "Going to paradise."
In less words: method A.

Sweetness. So you not only have a very specific setting, but also a great way to begin campaigns: The PCs are given a red pill :smallsmile:

Kuma Kode
2011-01-08, 10:09 AM
You could go the Call of Cthulhu rout and make the gods Elder Evils themselves, so that those who take the "red pill" don't just think "Well, Syllis is pretty nice, so becoming one with her isn't that big of a deal. I would rather they just tell us, though. Wonder why they keep it a secret?"

EDIT: Or, perhaps there are actually two pieces to the creature's soul: its spirit and its essence. The essence is the undifferentiated life force, while the spirit is the actual identity and consciousness of the individual. Guess which one the gods don't need? If people realize who they are is being ripped from the soul like chaff of wheat, they might have a problem with that. It changes the rather pleasant "becoming one with your god" into "you cease to be, only the energy is needed."

You could add potential conflict. Instead of "everyone gets eaten anyway," Which provides an interesting but ultimately pointless backdrop, you could have something in which only souls who believed the god's particular brand of religion gets consumed by them. This makes the gods fight one-another and potentially could be a bargaining chip if players get powerful enough. It would make for a very spiritually active world with everyone pimping out their beliefs. :smallsmile:

In fact, there could be places where being non-religious was illegal.

0Megabyte
2011-01-08, 10:55 AM
Utter side note:

What's this Frank and K thing quoted near the beginning, and why on earth was that little snippet so good?

And where can I find more of this genius, so that I may sit in the garden with him and listen to his wisdom Ancient Greek style?

(yes, I'm being overly dramatic. What I mean is: source please!)

Randel
2011-01-08, 11:05 AM
Another idea:

The soul-stuff isn't just found in humans but also in monsters, animals, and to a lesser extent plants (basically all living things). It could even be found in magic items (thats why it takes XP to craft magic items and some such items are intelligent... and maybe how a phylactory can house a Liches soul).

Simple things like plants and animals have a little bit of soul-stuff in each one but there are billions of them... but their souls are not directed towards anything. If a sheep dies then its soul would probably drift through space (possibly fleeing from anything big that heads for it) until it vanishes into nothingness. Humans and other sapient beings however can become attuned to a God so that they will naturally move toward them after death.

So, after death then a soul would normally just drift around until it ceases to exist but the worshipers of gods at least can give their souls to the god they worship. On the gods part having intelligent beings on a planet results in souls that will naturally head for them as opposed to 'atheist' or nonsapient souls which would just float away into the darkness and require the god to hunt them down.

Intelligent monsters would be the sort of intermediate stage between beasts and humans, orcs and gnolls can reproduce rapidly and have enough of an ideology that their own god can harvest their souls easier after they die (but their ideology is more toward violence or whatever instead of actual reverence for their god so their deity still has to do some work in grabbing the souls).

So there could be ranks of gods or types that determine the efficiency of grabbing souls:

1. Nature gods - These gods primarily harvest the souls of animals or plants. There are many of them and they spend a great deal of their time gobbling up the numerous tiny animal souls that drift away from the Earth. They are kind of like fish or whales that eat tiny water bugs or plankton. Not many have time to perform miracles or deal with humans but some of the more powerful ones contact druids and grant them abilities in exchange for helping with nature. They praise the balance of Nature with many animals being born and many animals dying in the great circle of life. Their druids help keep nature safe and ensure a balance of life and death for nonsapient beings. When a druid dies he goes to the nature god that grants his powers.

2. Monster gods - The gods of ocs, gnolls, and other intelligent monster races. There may be numerous smaller gods who lord over these ones mainly due to the monsterous races being just intelligent enough to be evil aligned. Orc souls don't go to a specific god but more to a particular area of space (maybe the evil aligned plane?) where the gods hunt them down. Monster gods may intervene to perform miracles for their races and ensure they prosper/die enough to keep things sustainable, but still spend a good deal of time in the 'hunting fields'.

3. Pantheon gods - A pantheon of gods who watch over a race or society. Each god deals in a particular aspect of life in society and intervenes on the world to promote that. Their worshipers tend to revere the gods portfolio in life and will go to them upon death. Pantheon gods tend to work by supporting eachother (with the occasional bout of politics or backstabbing in any group) to ensure that their society prospers enough to get them souls and that the group members get fed.

Pantheon gods also have the tendency to locate more than one society and patron them, perhaps under a different name. This is their way of ensuring they get souls even if their main civilization fails (A god of agriculture might primarily exist in the pantheon of a human civilization, but might also go to a different pantheon of the dwarves if the dwarvn gods allow it, or could find a lost tribe of halflings on the other side of the world and become their sole god as well. If any of those groups of worshipers die out then the agriculture god can fall back to the other groups).

4. Monotheistic gods - The most wanked out gods in the whole setting. These gods tend to be incredibly powerful, both powerful enough to perform miracles on numerous fronts and to keep other gods intimidated without assistance. A monotheistic god will start religions declaring themselves to be be THE one and only GOD in existence. Their worshipers are taught that all other gods are false and that (instead of pantheon gods who are in charge of some aspect of life) this god is in charge of every aspect of everything in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Monotheistic gods may employ the services of outsiders or other supernatural beings to do work for them but will generally refuse to work with any other god (or being that consumes souls). These gods work on the principle that if they exist in every aspect of their followers lives then their followers soul will be naturally attracted to them after death. Existing in a pantheon would weaken this attraction. If the monotheistic god is 'diplomatic' then they might have their civilization out of the way somewhere where it doesn't interfere with other civilizations and their worshipers. If they aren't then they could have their followers waging holy wars and inquisitions against the followers of other gods to exterminate their worshipers, destroy their idols, and generally ensure that the monotheistic god is truly the only one getting worshiped.

5. Sacrificial gods - Sacrificial gods may be either monotheistic or in a pantheon but they have one major distinction for others: they demand sacrifices. Animals sacrificed on an alter or even humans or sapient beings. To consume the souls from a sacrifice then the god has to get close to the material plane instead of the hunting fields in the astral plane (thus, every moment they are eating souls at an alter is a moment they aren't eating souls that drifted to the astral plane).

Sacrificial gods may not necessarily be evil and might even be more truthful than 'normal' ones. They let their followers know outright that they need souls and that they will use their powers to help their followers as is needed. A sacrificial god might either demand a regular supply of souls in rituals or perhaps the occasional 'grand buffet' perhaps to celebrate or ask for a good harvest season. The souls sacrificed on an alter need not be loyal followers (in fact in the civilization they are often condemmed prisoners or people captured from other civilizations) but sacrificial gods tend to avoid ticking off other gods by devouring their worshipers.

Sacrificial gods may also cross with monster or nature gods in that druids may sacrifice animals for the power to help others or orcs could sacrifice the people they capture on raids. A few weak nature gods have managed to scratch out a decent living by offering good hunts to people who always butcher their kills on specific alters. The god eats the soul of the kill while the hunter eats the flesh and meat.

The-Mage-King
2011-01-08, 11:12 AM
Utter side note:

What's this Frank and K thing quoted near the beginning, and why on earth was that little snippet so good?

And where can I find more of this genius, so that I may sit in the garden with him and listen to his wisdom Ancient Greek style?

(yes, I'm being overly dramatic. What I mean is: source please!)

It's from Frank and K's Tome project. Here (http://sites.google.com/site/middendorfproject/frankpdf)'s a link to the pdf of it.

Curious
2011-01-08, 07:07 PM
Whoo, okay, quite a few more this time.

Yora:
While some religions may teach that assisting the gods in any way, such as by allowing themselves to be devoured, is a good thing, in this setting there are just about no cultures with more than a scattered few poor souls who are aware of their ultimate fate. Perhaps such cultures would develop if the truth was revealed, but as of now, no.

Golemsvoice:
You nearly got it; numerous times young and idealistic wizards have attempted to warn others of their impending doom, but in every civilization across the world, they have been universally hunted down and put to death. The gods have thought long about this problem, so they came to an agreement; every time a new cleric was anointed, they would give them a vision of 'heaven', their place of rest in the after life. So beautiful is this image that most clerics cannot even imagine defying the gods will, and so they simply ignore the dire warnings of the poor, doomed mages.
As for devouring souls, rituals could possibly be designed to allow someone to do so, but seeing as few know of the fate of their souls in the first pace, only the most depraved and powerful of wizards would possibly experiment with such things.

chilingsworth:
Thank you! I may run this as a play-by-post in the future, after I have finished the design and drawn out an adventure, so I'll keep you in mind!:smallsmile:

Firkraag:
Indeed, although I also envision many adventurer groups becoming the unwitting pawns of the gods, slaying the 'evil' wizards and heretics who would threaten the safety of the world.:smallwink:

Kuma Kode:
That was generally what I was trying to depict; each god is only allowed, by ancient treaty designed to prevent fratricide, to consume the souls of their own followers, which incidentally disallows the 'pantheon' arrangement. This means that most gods are quite militaristic and expansionist, constantly pressuring their high priests to expand the influence of their patron.

Randel:
I have structured things in a slightly different manner. Every creature that has an intelligence of 3 or greater has a soul, and is thus eligible to worship the gods. The 'worth' of souls is determined by the power of the individual, not the race in general; for instance, a 10th level goblin warrior would be worth more 'soul juice' than a first level human. Also, as mentioned in Kuma Kode's section, there are no pantheons in this world, as each mortal is allowed to dedicate their worship to only one god, to avoid more direct conflict amongst the gods.
Another thing I have changed is the nature of, well. . . Nature. Nature is not represented by a small number of gods, rather, Nature is the subconscious power of all sentient beings. Each human or gnoll or whatever is technically a deity clothed in mortal flesh, but their individual power is so weak that they manifest no powers whatsoever. Nature, however, is the undercurrent of deific power that runs through the bodies of each and every creature that possess a soul, which naturally interacts with the planet itself, shaping itself to more suit its environment. In effect, all the sentient races together form a collective 'god'. The power of this Nature can only be accessed, however, by a deep understanding of the world itself, which is why druids are the only ones able to even comprehend the power, let alone wield it effectively.


Thanks for all the feedback people! I'm getting quite eager about this project, and work should advance on it at a steady pace. Next up: the world!

Edit: Oh, and as a side note, I'm designing this world using the Pathfinder RPG rules set, which can be found at the online SRD.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-08, 07:21 PM
So, if nature is a "divinity" seperate from the gods, does that mean that Druids can act as allies to the anti-thiest parties? (I use anti-thiest since they would believe the gods exist, and be trying to defeat them.) If so, then I'd guess druids would be the primary source of healing for anti-thiest groups, right? (With clerics and paladins not options.)

Also, what is the alignment spectrum of the gods? Or are they so alien that alignment doesn't matter?

One more thought: might the gods be willing to release (or not immediately consume) favored sevants' souls? That way, when an important cleric, say, gets assassinated by some wizards, he/she could be brought back to continue tending the flock. Also, doing so would allow the diety to show how "caring" it is to its worshipers.

And, I look forward to the game! If there's anything I might be able to aid with, just PM me.

Curious
2011-01-08, 08:13 PM
Chilingsworth:
Yes, many druids eventually learn of the gods true nature and turn against them, so they would provide most of the healing to deity-opposed parties.

The gods do have alignment, and as is probably obvious, a good portion of them are evil, and they have a tendency to be lawful. Sylis herself is Lawful Neutral, while the rest of the gods are split up into generally three groups of alignment.
About fifty percent of the gods are evil, interested only in gathering more souls and expanding their own domains at the expense of the races below. Thirty percent are neutral, harvesting only to survive, not to cause general misery. The last twenty percent are the good gods, who attempt to make their followers lives as comfortable as possible before they regretfully devour them.

You're idea about the gods releasing the souls of their powerful servants definitely has merit, and it makes sense: send back a beloved leader after showing them an illusion of the perfect paradise, and they'll spout love of the gods to the end of the world, and be perfectly earnest about it.

If I need anything for the campaign, I won't hesitate to call on you. Thanks for your support.

LOTRfan
2011-01-08, 09:07 PM
Have you considered using something similar to the gods in Supernatural (http://www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=Gods)? In the show, there are thousands of different Gods, all competing for worshipers. They eat their worshipers. Its never specified whether this is tied into their life force or power level, the Vanir in Scarecrow (http://www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=The_Vanir) required at least two sacrifices a year to keep the area surrounding its worshipers healthy.

If your players are going to go on a crusade against the gods, I highly suggest doing something similar to Supernatural's idea; the Gods have corporeal bodies in addition to their divine forms, and if killed in this state, they are permanently dead. This keeps them fearfully powerful creatures, while at the same time players don't have to climb high into epic levels to defeat them.

Mark Hall
2011-01-08, 09:43 PM
Perhaps there are different factions of Gods? The Gods of Orcs actually live off human souls... and the Gods of Humans live off of Orcish souls? And suchlike?

Curious
2011-01-09, 12:50 AM
LOTRfan:
I have never watched Supernatural, but I don't believe I will introduce the mortal bodies concept; much of the conflict, despair and terror that this setting is supposed to inspire is based around the fact that surviving, let alone defeating the gods themselves, seems impossible, and may in fact be. Thank you for your creative input though, I much appreciate it.

Mark Hall:
I agree that it would make some sense that the gods would devour the souls of those sacrificed to them in wars won, but it would cause unnecessary conflict among the gods if their souls continued to be stolen. I believe that I wall retain the system I have now, and change things only as necessary. Thank you for your support.


And now, with no further ado, I present:

Azajiras (AS-a-JEER-as), the Serpent-King of Ahkis.

A vast expanse that stretches from the sheer base of the Dajhi (DAH-jee) mountains in the west, and the edges of the Sandgrain Plateau in the east, the Ahkis desert is one of the most inhospitable places in the world. For centuries, its only inhabitants were the wandering human Jahin nomads and the blue-scaled kobolds, who often fought bitterly over limited water supplies and resources. This all changed, however, with the arrival of Azajiras. A mighty blue dragon well into his prime, Azajiras was unusually restrained and thoughtful for a member of his species, and dedicated to the expansion of his race. Since the arrival of dragons to the Ahkis region, their only interactions with the other inhabitants had been through the roar of lightning and the tearing of their terrible claws, never seeing them as more than convenient sources of food and occasional treasure. Azajiras thought to change this; after all, with servants, not only would his species be well protected from the fear and hatred of the gods deluded servants. but much wealth could be garnered from a successful kingdom, sating his own lust for treasure.

But first he must find a suitable location for the capital of his new realm, and so he took to the wing. For weeks he flew, stopping only to devour unfortunate creatures that could not hid themselves beneath the sands, until at last, body shuddering and tongue lolling, Azajiras arrived at his destination. He had discovered the ideal location for the seat of a desert kingdom; a dried river valley that ran from the base of the Dahji's to the shores of the Shining Sea, the most fertile land in the barrenness of Ahkis. Satisfied with his discovery, Azajiras took to the wing once again. For months he flew across a vast expanse of the desert, driving tribes of kobolds and clans of Jahin together into the valley, harrying them mercilessly, but killing only when they made motion to leave. Finally, with the two races gathered, helpless and starving within the valley, Azajiras appeared before them in a shattering cry of lightning, declaring himself their master, and lord over the expanses to the desert. With his declaration, the Serpent King used his innate magic, the magic that would transform the dried valley from a wasteland into a paradise, to form life giving water from the parched air, wetting the cracked lips of his subjects.

Under the guidance of Azajiras, the nomads constructed a great city, with a vast reservoir at its heart, feeding conjured water to every corner of the newly stylized 'Serpent's Heart' vale. Many blue dragons flocked to this new kingdom, finding their place as vassals of the Serpent King, savage rulers of a savage land. And so was formed the realm of Ahkis, the first kingdom.


Well? How is it? Any good? :smallconfused:

Acanous
2011-01-09, 01:09 AM
As far as "Raise Dead" is concerned, maybe it takes a little while for your soul to get to a deity, or when it does it may not be instantly devoured.
Heck, I like the idea that "Good" deities would benefit greatly for keeping a "Paradise" around for adventurers to see before getting rezzed. Maybe there's only 30-50 people in it at a time, but it LOOKS great, and surely there's more of it where all your relatives and such are, right?
That way, they can propegate that their followers are "The good guys" and are just and vindicated in going out and killing the bad guys. Perhaps the head cleric of the church is in on the hunger, and lets his deity know in advance who not to eat. (Here's a list of people on quests for the church, and important nobles with enough money to affoard a rezz, my lord:)

This would be doubly effective as a propaganda campeign against the outsiders and wizards. You'd find it bloody hard to garner support from people when they have verified testimonials of something opposite to what you're saying.

Roderick_BR
2011-01-09, 01:56 AM
I agree. It doesn't need to be a crap sack world. Instead of the "the gods will eat our souls when we die" people could see it as "becoming one with their deities, sustaining and empowering the divine cycle of life", and without the idea of afterlife (or at least a permanent one).
In fact, you could have different churches with different dogmas. Some deities see mortals like a morsel. Sheep being fattened up for dinner. Others would care more for their creatures, promoting a better relationship, in a more "cycle of life" mentality, sorta like a Nirvana thing.

Curious
2011-01-09, 04:27 AM
Acanous:
Perhaps. It would depend, I suppose. The only ones who would allow anyone to be resurrected at all would be the unusual good ones, and even they could only allow a very few to escape them. At the same time, I can definitely see a propaganda campaign such as that working out quite well for the gods, so some select few devout and powerful followers may be allowed to be resurrected.

Roderick_BR:
Ah, but the atmosphere I am attempting to convey through this setting is one of despair and terror, where mans ultimate destiny is that of nameless fodder. To that end, I am attempting to form the world with as much grim darkness as I can without going overboard.

Zaq
2011-01-09, 06:05 AM
This really isn't especially grimdark, though. I don't want to get too close to real-world religion here, but honestly, there's a lot of people here on Earth who don't believe in any sort of afterlife at all, but that doesn't mean that they automatically think of this world as grim and awful. (It certainly can be grim and awful, but the two are not necessarily related.) If your soul ceases to exist after death (be it because it gets eaten, or because that's just what happens, or whatever), so what? Does that mean that this life doesn't matter? Some people would say that it makes this life matter moreóif this is all we have, then we may as well make the best of it and do what we can to make a lasting impression! Make the world a better place for your descendants, do what you can to be remembered for centuries to come, or just try to squeeze everything you can out of what life you're given, you know?

Compounding this is the fact that most people in your proposed world, from what I understand, have no idea that this is the case (kind of like Lords of Madness says the Illithids view their brains being given to the Elder Brain after they die, no?). If they don't know what's going to happen to them, then why should they care? Even if the PCs know, that doesn't mean that Joe Commoner is going to be moping about his god eating him, which means that most of the NPCs in the world won't have any reason to treat this any differently from the default setting.

Now, that's not to say that a setting in which the highest-ranking members of the clergy know a Terrible Secret about their gods (that they're not real, that they're real but not as benevolent as we'd like to think, that they were once real but are now dead, etc.) isn't interesting. It's a fun trope to play around with, and it can lead to some interesting sociopolitical setups if you start with a few base assumptions and try to logically figure out how they would flow. It's just really not that grimdark if you're not in the habit of following the misadventures of characters for quite some time after they've been put in the dead-book.

Curious
2011-01-09, 06:21 AM
Oh, I understand what you are saying; I'm not trying to make it as grimdark as the trope namer, nowhere near. However, I would say a world in which near-omnipotent god creatures vie amongst each other, and actively sow conflict so that they can devour your soul, and eventually the souls of all your descendants, is worse than our own. Its really more the fact that we do possess souls than anything else that makes it so terrible; in our world, cessation of existence is a very real possibility, but to know that you have a soul, and then to have it utterly obliterated rather than sheltered and protected. . . I view that as much more horrifying than simple death.

Timeras
2011-01-09, 07:35 AM
What do you expect the players to do after they find out?
It's not like they could just decide not to die (ok, they can decide whatever they want but it probably won't help).
Do they just have to accept the fact and are supposed to continue adventuring? In that case the whole soul-devouring thing would probably just fade into the background and be forgotten.
Or is there anything they can do to avoid their fate, either just for themselves or for every creature? While this would bring hope into world and would reduce the "crapsack-factor" it could make for an interesting campaign. The players are trying to save everyone, humans and monsters alike, while they do not know their souls are in danger and may even be convinced by the gods that the players are threatening their "immortal souls" and must be stopped.

JaronK
2011-01-09, 07:44 AM
Just to make more verisimilitude, consider saying that souls mature with the body, but once you hit your prime the soul slowly decays in god-stuff, so gods want people to die in their prime. Furthermore, gaining experience makes the soul more nutritious. As such, the gods want fast breeding and constant simmering conflict... every human that lives past 30 is wasted potential, though everyone who dies as a baby is likewise wasted. Thus the gods scheme and manipulate (using direct power would waste too much god energy and thus defeat the purpose), trying to keep all factions balanced and yet prevent peace. In this world, there is only war, for the gods will it.

JaronK

WarKitty
2011-01-09, 09:41 AM
How does the reincarnate spell work? I could see some potential interest there, since it's a druidic spell.

Coidzor
2011-01-09, 10:17 AM
Well, considering what happens to petitioners according to the bog standard D&D, it's not very functionally different from the god eating their soul, the part that matters, the person is gone.


In this world, there is only war, for the gods will it.

So you might want to actually look at Acheron and some of the lower planes' ecosystems and environments, come to think of it. And maybe Warhammer/40K due to being case studies in crapsack worlds fueled by constant endemic warfare that serves mostly to feed the gods...

Chilingsworth
2011-01-09, 01:29 PM
How does the reincarnate spell work? I could see some potential interest there, since it's a druidic spell.

Also, there are two other spells worth mentioning: Revivify and Last Breath Both work by returning the creature to life within one round of its death, before the sould has fully left the body. Revivify otherwise works like Raise Dead, Last Breath otherwise works like Reincarnate. Do they still work in your universe?

AyeGill
2011-01-09, 02:00 PM
I suggest having some sort of god of war be the dominant god, encouraging warmongering amongst his followers. Maybe make a magic item made primarily by his clergy, that grants bonus XP for killing intelligent creatures, dtermines by their CR and their INT, but regardless of your own ECL. Give it the side effect of sending every soul killed by a person who bears it straight to the god. Fluff it with a bit of the enemy's soul getting bestowed upon the wielder(this soul is of course sent to the god when the wielder dies). This encourages conflict, and so is a net gain for the god, and mortals who are *******s get more power in your world, which is perfect for the Crapsack part.

Curious
2011-01-09, 06:04 PM
Timeras:
I've been thinking about adding a few, 'escape clauses'. For instance, if you are present on another plane when you die, your soul will remain there, rather than being drawn into the gods hungry maws. This gives a 'goal' for campaigns based around conflict with the gods; reach a high enough level to escape the gods.

JaronK:
I think I may introduce such a concept; a human in their prime is worth more than a decrepit old one, or a child. . . Yes, I think that works well, it suits the constant warfare attitude. Thank you very much! Implemented!

Warkitty:
Resurrection would work like any other spell in the vein of raise dead; if you managed to use the spell on someone before a certain number of rounds expire, you can drag the soul back from the gods clutches. However, all spells such as Raise Dead or Resurrection carry an innate risk; after, say, 2d4 rounds, the soul has been absorbed by its patron god- or whatever god got to it first -and using the spell won't bring them back. Instead, it tears off a chunk of the gods consciousness and forces it into the body. As you can guess, none of them enjoy this, so they usually attempt to kill their raiser in the most horrific and painful manner at their disposal, and they inherit all the abilities that the rezzed person possessed in life.

Coidzor:
I do draw some inspiration from Warhammer in some places, and it sure is an exercise in grimdarkness taken to extreme levels.

Chilingsworth:
Yes. As do normal rez spells, providing you get to a person soon enough.

AyeGill:
Hm, it makes sense. The most volatile and bloodthirsty god would be the one that inevitably forced his chosen nation to expand. I am not certain about the 'soul-gathering' device, but I'll keep the thought in mind. Thank you for your help.

Fouredged Sword
2011-01-09, 10:29 PM
Thinaun that can be used for preventing resurection by storeing a soul. I could see two uses for that metal. First, if you adventured with a piece of it touching your skin you could be raised without problem by anyone who got the metal storeing your soul, no worries about godmunching. The adventurers don't know about the destruction of souls, just the knowledge that Thinaun allows you to be revived. Such knowledge could be passed out by outsiders to mortals in a plot to eventualy weaken the gods by traping souls.

Second I totaly see a homebrew soulmage class that powers spellcasting through souls stored in Thinaun. Adventures and spellcasters could know about the usefulness of Thinaun without fully understanding why it is so. A soulmage could realise souls have power that can be taped without realiseing that the gods are based on such power. You couldn't refresh your spells without a traped soul, and doing so degrades it over time, forcing the soulmage to seek a new soul to power his magic. Later I could see them turing into living liches with contingent true resurection cast on a piece of Thinaun set to catch the mages soul after death. Eventualy with enough souls traped a soulmage could step from the mortal coil and become a god (far into epic levels), takeing his place among his soul eating brothers.

Coidzor
2011-01-09, 10:42 PM
Warkitty:
Resurrection would work like any other spell in the vein of raise dead; if you managed to use the spell on someone before a certain number of rounds expire, you can drag the soul back from the gods clutches. However, all spells such as Raise Dead or Resurrection carry an innate risk; after, say, 2d4 rounds, the soul has been absorbed by its patron god- or whatever god got to it first -and using the spell won't bring them back. Instead, it tears off a chunk of the gods consciousness and forces it into the body. As you can guess, none of them enjoy this, so they usually attempt to kill their raiser in the most horrific and painful manner at their disposal, and they inherit all the abilities that the rezzed person possessed in life.


That just seems unnecessarily heavy handed for actual play.

Kuma Kode
2011-01-09, 10:46 PM
Why would ressurection even exist in such a world?

Curious
2011-01-09, 10:49 PM
Well, thats the thing, resurrection is a forbidden act for any person that worships a god. The only ones who could actually try it are druids and magic users, any cleric that tries it won't be granted the ability.

Coidzor:
Yeah, I'm not quite certain of it myself. This is all in the experimental stage, however, so I may change it up at some point, or just scrap the idea all together.

WarKitty
2011-01-09, 10:56 PM
Mechanical question: How much access do you want your PC's to have to resurrection magic? How much do you want PC death to "count" in your game?

Randel
2011-01-10, 12:51 AM
Do the gods cause any disasters other than just eating peoples souls? I think it would make it much worse if they were actively causing trouble instead of just passively eating people.

Maybe there are a few gods who use their divine powers to create undead that kill people (either to harvest souls for themselves or as a gift to their fellow gods). If for some reason the mortals don't want to fight eachother endlessly then the God of Undeath steps up and starts a zombie apocalypse to begin with the killing. The various other gods (or the ones that have peaceful followers at the moment) then just sit back and let it happen and help themselves to the souls (they might even give a few to the Undeath god in return for his helping them).

Just a quick glance through real world mythologies can show gods causing all sorts of problems for people. Floods, plagues, earthquakes, famine, curses and all sorts of other disasters. In many of those cases they supposedly did it because their followers weren't being loyal enough to them or they were worshiping other gods or just doing something the god in question didn't like (or maybe the disaster just happened on its own and somebody takes credit for it and spins it for their own purposes).

Maybe the gods aren't so much sitting around and collecting souls without peoples knowledge as they are tossing lightning down on the houses of whoever they feel like killing today. The gods are HUNGRY! Not just the kind that tend a nice little garden in a sustainable field but the kind of hungry where they harvest and devour all the ripest fruit until the field is nearly depleted and then maybe toss some water and stuff on the remains and head off to a different field until this one regrows.

Life under the hungry gods consists of decades of peaceful regrowth and rebuilding (unless you're still fighting someone or there's a disaster still happening) and then when there's a whole bunch of fit youthful people in their prime and some of them start getting old then a freaking huge disaster strikes or a war starts and people die horribly! People who had before doubted the existance of the gods pray for help and suddenly the clerics have power to help.

If its a famine then the clerics can conjure food or water or change the weather to grow crops, if its a plague then the clerics can cure diseases, if its a war then there are battle spells etc... the point is that when the gods get hungry and return to one of the lands they've been farming then they start killing people in disasters and feasting on the souls. They then boost their clerics so the clerics can save whoever is most loyal to that god! After the land is in ruins the survivors will praise that god for granting his protection to them (as opposed to the numerous people who died and were probably sinners or something) and the god moves on to another field while this one rebuilds.

If anyone starts putting two and two together and figures that the god is the one causing all this trouble while getting praised for fixing it then they will likely get lynched by the survivors who are still alive because the cleric helped them.

Some of the people who come across this correlation might figure that the gods are doing this to keep control of their followers. Basically by causing disasters that kill off the unworthy while their clerics can save those who are loyal. They figure that this is an unfortunate but effective way for the gods to keep loyal followers or that the gods require praise to live.

Only a few who finally discover that the GODS EAT SOULS will have the horrible realization that the gods don't give a rats backside if somebody worships them or not. They honestly don't care how many 'worshipers' or 'followers' they have and in fact their clerics don't even have to be particularly loyal to the god in question. The gods just swoop into lands and start mass murdering people on a whim to devour their tasty souls once that land is productive enough to be worth eating. The survivors are just either people that the cleric (or others) were able to save or people who were resourceful enough to survive the disaster on their own. The clerics in fact are just people that the god in question decided to grant some power to in exchange for keeping the populace in that area loyal to the same god.

The cleric to a so-called lawful good deity could be a true neutral bordering on evil con artist who was down on his luck when suddenly a god shows up in his dreams and tells him that disaster is about to strike and he has to save people. The cleric is shocked because up to this point he's been running scams on old ladies and impovereished farmhands, selling them bad moonshine and calling it medicine and doing bad things to nieve young actresses...

At which point the god in question smacks him upside the head and says "Listen pal, I'm a friggin GOD and I say you're going to save peoples lives when a swarm of locusts comes through here and people will have to start killing eachother and various tribes of gnolls in order to scrape together enough bread to avoid starving to death in the streets. Are you telling me that I'm a bad judge of character? Are you saying that you're so utterly useless that even my divine magic can't fix you? If so then fine, I'll just go find somebody else and maybe give you mummy rot for wasting my time."

"Okay, okay! I'll be your cleric!"

"Excellent."

And after that point the cleric speaks about how his life was turned around by the god who chose him despite his questionable past. He'll rationalize it as a case of the god seeing the truly good person he is in his heart... he'll put on a good face and try to be the loyal servant of the peoples savior when he's speaking to the children of the people he'd saved from death all those years ago. But behind closed doors when he's guiltily downing his fifth whiskey bottle and trying to figure out exactly what the words in his holy book actually mean other than 'your lives stink and dying is great' he can't shake the feeling that the only reason he's here and not dead in an gnoll camp somewhere like thousands of others is that he was literally the first person his god had come across before the locusts hit.

Remember that clerics do not choose their calling, their calling chooses them.

Yahzi
2011-01-10, 02:25 AM
they devour the souls of their followers.
You might find my game-world interesting, then.

In the World of Prime (http://www.worldofprime.com/)XP is souls made tangible and harvested by death. From XP comes magic, monsters, and gods. Not quite the same background - my gods are not necessarily evil devourers - but the same economy: power is limited by how many peasants you have. Very feudal.

I strongly encourage you to consider making XP tangible in your world. Players really appreciate the extra dimension to the game.

Cerlis
2011-01-10, 03:01 AM
I love the idea, but i think we need more horror.

Everyone on the planet (real or not) dies, and whether they come to terms with it or not they know it will happen. If they believe in an afterlife or not they know it will happen. People who dont believe at least know they wont have to suffer after they die, and people who do believe they will be able to exist forever.

Thats why you take both of these away.

I have this image of someone trying to use a forbidden resurrection on their paladin friend, but they are a day (few rounds? weeks?) to late. See the "good" gods have to devour their followers but dont want them to suffer, so they put their souls through an intense experience. While making the soul experience the illusion of thousands of years of bliss (all fake, and instantanious) they slowly numb the souls "mind". Since the soul is "greater" because of its experience, and good thoughts and life, those experiences are "eaten" first. So imagine your paladin ally has been dead a little while and you are so grief stricken (for whatever reason) that you try the blasphemy of bringing him back. His soul in the outer realm "wakes up" as your magic takes hold of him. He opens his (soul perfect) eyes to see a great beautiful horrible lovecraftian.....THING* slowly digesting his "legs" He screams in horror (since his "mind" is no longer numb) from the pain of the devouring and the horror of seeing the true face of his "glorious god" and it all seems to take forever because hes still in "infinity mode" so is experiencing years of this pain in these few seconds. His soul is finally pulled back, and your smiles and cheers at having your age old friend back are turned to horror and self loathing when you see that most of his memories have been devoured. he doesnt remember you, he doesnt remember right and wrong, his soul and mind are almost completely destroyed and all he can do is scream and convulse due to his only remaining memory of being eaten for a thousand years by a monster and he doesnt even know what it is except that its still there waiting and nothing can stop it.

Sure you are perpetuating the creator. But you dont even have the satisfaction of knowing your conciousness will still exist. All your love and happyness will be gone forever. There might as well be no gods, other than the knowledge that as soon as what makes you YOU is snuffed out, your spirit will be devoured by a monster.

*I'm inspired by all the wonderous bayonnetta bosses who look regal, but when you hack off their armor they are all tentically and inside out looking




Further, you talked about how some souls would be worth more. More experience, knowledge and power will have its effect on the soul. But Not all gods value knowledge or love. Some(maybe minor Gods) seek to cause as much pain and misery as possible, for the more traumatized and soulraped a soul is the more empowering it is to these lesser gods. You will have your group of people who venerate nature, and seek to be one with it, you will have your (Very small group) of heretics who eventually come to exsist who realize their race is self perpetuating, they dont need the gods. and dont want to stop exsisting after they die. And then your group (most people) who point out our flaws and say "These flaws, this sin is what makes us us. once we become one with the god we will be part of perfection" and know that even if they must stop existing as they are the gods will do it mercifully.

AyeGill
2011-01-10, 03:20 AM
AyeGill:
Hm, it makes sense. The most volatile and bloodthirsty god would be the one that inevitably forced his chosen nation to expand. I am not certain about the 'soul-gathering' device, but I'll keep the thought in mind. Thank you for your help.

Well, you dont really need the soul-eater device. Just a general something that makes being an ******* and committing genocide, even on defenseless orphans, a good idea, and makes sure that the most nasty people in the world are also the most powerful.

Coidzor
2011-01-10, 03:32 AM
Well, as it stands, enslaving the orphans and raising them so they die just before they can actually be a threat to anyone is more valuable to the gods.

Sort of like by strapping them to a wheel and having them push it for several years...:smallamused:

Fouredged Sword
2011-01-10, 09:53 AM
I would think such a world would have an effect on the population as well. Slavery would be common in most populations, as there is always an enemy to fight and take prisoner. Raceism and fanaticism taint everything. Life is cheep and death is common. The powerful people who are in the know are activly intrested in being at war or something to prevent a buildup of young people, as such a buildup of young people would bring the gods wrath down on the area. Better to kill most in a constant war that lets the elderly and the very young still have a chance.


Peope would develope an outlook that horrid disasters are normal and nothing good ever lasts. Even good societies would belive that they are on the looseing side of any fight, as how else would there be so much suffering in the world.

Nerdanel
2011-01-10, 01:37 PM
Maybe you could consolidate the resurrection spells and have the result depend on the elapsed time...

Within seconds after death: free (save for the spell slot)
Within minutes/hours: One lost level (caster pays XP to patch up the victim's personality somewhat)
The next day: At least one lost level and serious stat damage from the mental trauma (caster pays even more XP)
After two days: Too damaged to continue as a PC (caster still pays XP)
After three days: Total failure - a mini god in friend's body out for revenge (caster still pays XP)

For extra anxiety, make these time limits somewhat random.

It also occurs to me to wonder about what the pieces of the divine soul will do with their new lives besides kill their summoner. Perhaps they, knowing that returning to their old self would only result in them being eaten like any hapless mortal, would try to stay alive and avoid that fate. Perhaps they would even strive to regain their godhood as independent entities. However, that would require eating many, many souls, making such "beings of unholy magic" good adversaries for PCs.

And if they could eventually become true gods, so I suppose could the PCs...

Beelzebub1111
2011-01-10, 04:01 PM
It also occurs to me to wonder about what the pieces of the divine soul will do with their new lives besides kill their summoner. Perhaps they, knowing that returning to their old self would only result in them being eaten like any hapless mortal, would try to stay alive and avoid that fate. Perhaps they would even strive to regain their godhood as independent entities. However, that would require eating many, many souls, making such "beings of unholy magic" good adversaries for PCs.

And if they could eventually become true gods, so I suppose could the PCs...
OOOH! maybe the people with god in them would seek positions of power, to keep the veil up, eventually forming a secret society to create wars and and destruction!. Every major king and lord-mayor in the setting could be one of these "God-raised." A little paranoia never hurts.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-10, 07:06 PM
Timeras:
I've been thinking about adding a few, 'escape clauses'. For instance, if you are present on another plane when you die, your soul will remain there, rather than being drawn into the gods hungry maws. This gives a 'goal' for campaigns based around conflict with the gods; reach a high enough level to escape the gods.

JaronK:
I think I may introduce such a concept; a human in their prime is worth more than a decrepit old one, or a child. . . Yes, I think that works well, it suits the constant warfare attitude. Thank you very much! Implemented!

Warkitty:
Resurrection would work like any other spell in the vein of raise dead; if you managed to use the spell on someone before a certain number of rounds expire, you can drag the soul back from the gods clutches. However, all spells such as Raise Dead or Resurrection carry an innate risk; after, say, 2d4 rounds, the soul has been absorbed by its patron god- or whatever god got to it first -and using the spell won't bring them back. Instead, it tears off a chunk of the gods consciousness and forces it into the body. As you can guess, none of them enjoy this, so they usually attempt to kill their raiser in the most horrific and painful manner at their disposal, and they inherit all the abilities that the rezzed person possessed in life.

Coidzor:
I do draw some inspiration from Warhammer in some places, and it sure is an exercise in grimdarkness taken to extreme levels.

Chilingsworth:
Yes. As do normal rez spells, providing you get to a person soon enough.

AyeGill:
Hm, it makes sense. The most volatile and bloodthirsty god would be the one that inevitably forced his chosen nation to expand. I am not certain about the 'soul-gathering' device, but I'll keep the thought in mind. Thank you for your help.

One problem: Raise Dead and such have a 10 minute casting time... Or was that changes in Pathfinder?

Kuma Kode
2011-01-10, 07:16 PM
One problem: Raise Dead and such have a 10 minute casting time... Or was that changes in Pathfinder?

I think the implication was to fold all the different resurrection/raise dead/revivify into one with a standard action or full-round casting time.

TheGeckoKing
2011-01-10, 07:23 PM
Just to throw this out as a question;
How do immortals fare in this world? Liches, Necropolitans, Elans, anyone who gets one of thoes unoriginal capstones that makes you an Outsider/ Construct/ Elemental, Actual Sentient Constructs, and so on.

flabort
2011-01-10, 10:02 PM
Since the "personality" of a person's soul is basically, what was it, "Thrown away like chaff"... What happens to it? Really, the gods aren't consuming it, and all you need to create a soul is that, and the energy that the gods ARE consuming. OK, it could be 'justified' that the energy is made up of memories or whatever, which would discourage resurrection... but if it's NOT, then all you'd need is to find the personality drifting out there, a fraction of soul energy, like maybe from yourself, and BOOM, resurrection. The fraction of soul energy would then act as a well, or a spring, or seed crystal, and then fill up the body, quickly, to fullness. So, by letting their clerics resurrect their followers, they'd get to harvest them twice. Like an apple tree, instead of wheat.

Lets say, though, that only a handfull of gods have figured that out. the others are acting in that archaic manner of preventing resurrection at all costs. those who DO know, corral the personalities of harvested souls, and then bottle and label them, like juices to ferment into fine wines. Except they don't ferment them, but preserve them. eventually, a follower will want to, say, resurrect a 'hero of old'. the god uncorks a personality, splits a shard of energy off the cleric, finds a bit of clay or a body or whatever, and then waits a little while for the energy to replenish.
Such gods would, of course, encourage the resurrection of those with much more potent/nourishing souls (once up at full strength), and if the desired resurrect-y was devoured by another god, they'd have to either seek out the personality (which might have dissipated), or if the other god was also in on the resurrection-goodness, trade something for the partial soul.
By resurrecting the strongest, highest leveled souls, they'd actually be not only harvesting more, but gathering more followers who witnessed the fallen hero or loved one, and therefore increasing yield even more.

Only a few major gods would have realized this, though, I'm sure. And the others are too busy feuding or farming to notice that the 'stronger' gods are eating the same followers several times over.

Templarkommando
2011-01-11, 03:29 AM
Let me throw a couple of hypotheticals at you.

What is the point of being a cleric in your campaign world once you discover that the pantheon is full of con artists? It seems to me that the only "good" choice to make is to become a cleric who reveres an ideal rather than a god. I guess that's possible, but meh...

Furthermore, I can't see any legitimately good being saying "Well, I guess I don't have any choice I guess I'll do this morally reprehensible thing instead of dying." No, in my opinion it would be better to just let nature run its course. There is no compromise with evil. There is no metaphysical soul-farming for a god that is truly good.

Maybe - and this is just a suggestion - good or neutral gods try to preserve the souls of their followers as much as they can. They use them like batteries rather than a steak dinner. Batteries don't disappear when you use them, but a steak dinner might. In the meantime, good gods are looking for a solution to the soul devouring problem as best as they are able while reserving a portion of their energy in order to preserve as many souls as they can. Kind of a Schindler's List kind of thing. Fortunately the good gods are popular enough that they have a greater income of energy anyway without having to devour the souls of their followers outright.

Cerlis
2011-01-11, 03:36 AM
Let me throw a couple of hypotheticals at you.

What is the point of being a cleric in your campaign world once you discover that the pantheon is full of con artists? It seems to me that the only "good" choice to make is to become a cleric who reveres an ideal rather than a god. I guess that's possible, but meh...

Furthermore, I can't see any legitimately good being saying "Well, I guess I don't have any choice I guess I'll do this morally reprehensible thing instead of dying." No, in my opinion it would be better to just let nature run its course. There is no compromise with evil. There is no metaphysical soul-farming for a god that is truly good.

Maybe - and this is just a suggestion - good or neutral gods try to preserve the souls of their followers as much as they can. They use them like batteries rather than a steak dinner. Batteries don't disappear when you use them, but a steak dinner might. In the meantime, good gods are looking for a solution to the soul devouring problem as best as they are able while reserving a portion of their energy in order to preserve as many souls as they can. Kind of a Schindler's List kind of thing. Fortunately the good gods are popular enough that they have a greater income of energy anyway without having to devour the souls of their followers outright.

He did say "crapsack world" and imply that anyone who knew the truth was either under their thumbs or killed.:smallwink:

Curious
2011-01-11, 06:20 PM
Okay, I'm just going to try to get out some information.

Undead are reviled by all the churches of this world, and any undead you see will have been created solely by wizards. Immortals are discriminated against, including long-lived creatures that are not undead, especially dragons. Liches, vampires and other powerful undead are usually hunted down as soon as possible, to put an end to their heresy.

I think implementing the idea from one of the people above me would be excellent; if you are too late to revive a persons soul, they come back utterly insane, driven into madness by the insufferable pain of deific digsetion.

Slavery, racism and discrimination are common in most societies, and there is a thriving market in slaves.

Tvtyrant
2011-01-11, 06:21 PM
I think you should be able to use Planar Binding on extra planar undead. It would help with the "wizard undead" thing.

Randel
2011-01-11, 07:57 PM
Furthermore, I can't see any legitimately good being saying "Well, I guess I don't have any choice I guess I'll do this morally reprehensible thing instead of dying." No, in my opinion it would be better to just let nature run its course. There is no compromise with evil. There is no metaphysical soul-farming for a god that is truly good.

Well, considering the origin of the setting there could have been genuinly good gods who refuesed to eat souls but they all died effectivly from starvation. The only gods who survived to this day are the ones who eat souls. Asking a god from this setting to not eat souls would be like asking a natural carnivore to not eat meat.

Carnivores need to eat meat to survive. One could argue that 'good' carnivores are the ones who let their prey die of other causes before eating them or a least make the preys death as painless as possible while 'evil' carnivores are the ones that torment and kill other animals for sport instead of necessity.

So, if you are going to say that D&D alignement says that Good gods don't eat souls and the setting requires gods to eat souls to live... then yeah, there aren't any good aligned gods who survived to this day. The 'good' ones all died of malnutrition eons ago. There could be neutrals who make sure to eat only what they need (maybe there is an afterlife or something and a god may choose to eat only a fraction of the souls sent their way... or maybe their afterlife is like a big food storage thing for them and the gods keep souls in Heaven until they get hungry and start snacking on the people in it).

The Evil gods would be the ones who torment and kill people for sport instead of necessity.

Though keep in mind that humans, animals, and gods are different things. One could argue that a God eating human souls is comparable to a human eating meat. Alot of people eat meat they get at the store that was killed/butchered by someone else. Others hunt for themselves. And there are some people who are total jerks who kill animals for fun without the slightest intent of eating the animal afterwards.

So... I'd toss in the idea of there being gods who actively cause disasters and kill people without even bothering to harvest the souls. No idea where the souls would go... its basically a case of the god being needlesly cruel and wasteful (maybe they kill the followers of other gods and destroy the souls to starve the other god).

Also, maybe a lesser supernatural being that gathers souls of the dead for the gods. Like the Grim Reaper. Their job is to gather the souls of the dead, sort through them and judge them, and then see that they are sent to the proper gods to be consumed. They would be like the butchers ar meat markets who sort animals or bits of meat for resale. People might even know about these 'angels of death' and talk to them and they hear all sorts of stuff about how great the afterlife is. These guys could even sort the souls to determine who can be resurrected, who gets sent to Hell, who gets eaten right away, or whatever.

Templarkommando
2011-01-11, 08:36 PM
Well, considering the origin of the setting there could have been genuinly good gods who refuesed to eat souls but they all died effectivly from starvation. The only gods who survived to this day are the ones who eat souls. Asking a god from this setting to not eat souls would be like asking a natural carnivore to not eat meat.

Carnivores need to eat meat to survive. One could argue that 'good' carnivores are the ones who let their prey die of other causes before eating them or a least make the preys death as painless as possible while 'evil' carnivores are the ones that torment and kill other animals for sport instead of necessity.

So, if you are going to say that D&D alignement says that Good gods don't eat souls and the setting requires gods to eat souls to live... then yeah, there aren't any good aligned gods who survived to this day. The 'good' ones all died of malnutrition eons ago. There could be neutrals who make sure to eat only what they need (maybe there is an afterlife or something and a god may choose to eat only a fraction of the souls sent their way... or maybe their afterlife is like a big food storage thing for them and the gods keep souls in Heaven until they get hungry and start snacking on the people in it).

The Evil gods would be the ones who torment and kill people for sport instead of necessity.

Though keep in mind that humans, animals, and gods are different things. One could argue that a God eating human souls is comparable to a human eating meat. Alot of people eat meat they get at the store that was killed/butchered by someone else. Others hunt for themselves. And there are some people who are total jerks who kill animals for fun without the slightest intent of eating the animal afterwards.

So... I'd toss in the idea of there being gods who actively cause disasters and kill people without even bothering to harvest the souls. No idea where the souls would go... its basically a case of the god being needlesly cruel and wasteful (maybe they kill the followers of other gods and destroy the souls to starve the other god).

Also, maybe a lesser supernatural being that gathers souls of the dead for the gods. Like the Grim Reaper. Their job is to gather the souls of the dead, sort through them and judge them, and then see that they are sent to the proper gods to be consumed. They would be like the butchers ar meat markets who sort animals or bits of meat for resale. People might even know about these 'angels of death' and talk to them and they hear all sorts of stuff about how great the afterlife is. These guys could even sort the souls to determine who can be resurrected, who gets sent to Hell, who gets eaten right away, or whatever.

I think you missed my solution to the problem. If you read a paragraph farther than what you quoted, you'll see my solution.

However, you made the argument that gods eating humans is comparable to humans eating meat. I have to disagree. If gods were consuming the physical matter that makes up the human's body I might be inclined to agree with you, but we're talking about devouring the makeup of the being's soul.

As far as I'm aware, people don't fry up an animal's immortal soul and eat it with a side of risotto. If we go with the belief that animals do in fact have souls, human's aren't consuming that part of the animal when they have something for dinner.

What occurs to me is there are really only a few solutions to the problem here. One is the solution I posted earlier. Another is that all deities that are presently in existence are only posing as good beings for the sake of consuming human souls. There isn't any of this "regretfully eating the souls of their followers." Another solution is that there just aren't good deities, and all good clerics are affiliated with ideals because there is an absence of good deities. One more possibility is that gods disappearing is a recent development. So there are good deities around that are aware of the problem and are actively seeking an alternative.

Ytaker
2011-01-11, 09:47 PM
You could have the people come back as ghosts or wights or something. After the god has sucked out the best parts of their soul they disgourge the waste back into our plane. These beings would have an endless hunger for souls to fill the void in their own tattered and torn souls. They would have limited intelligence. These beings can then be killed for exp, thus making the remaining souls more useful to the gods.

That would give your players the chance to actually meet some very insane and psychotic npcs again, npcs who they loved, and reinforce the grimdark theme. If they die they are going to become a horrific being in constant agony trying to fill the void inside.

Kuma Kode
2011-01-11, 09:49 PM
You could have the people come back as ghosts or wights or something. After the god has sucked out the best parts of their soul they disgourge the waste back into our plane. These beings would have an endless hunger for souls to fill the void in their own tattered and torn souls. They would have limited intelligence. These beings can then be killed for exp, thus making the remaining souls more useful to the gods.

That would give your players the chance to actually meet some very insane and psychotic npcs again, npcs who they loved, and reinforce the grimdark theme. If they die they are going to become a horrific being in constant agony trying to fill the void inside.

I like this. Perhaps there's an Underworld, a location these shades are confined to? A kind of spiritual trash can?

flabort
2011-01-11, 10:18 PM
And nobody noticed that I pointed out that some gods might NOT discourage resurrection?
Look a few posts up for that.

Kuma Kode
2011-01-12, 08:17 AM
And nobody noticed that I pointed out that some gods might NOT discourage resurrection?
Look a few posts up for that. Of course we did. We just like our line of thinking better. :smalltongue:

Honestly, though, I don't think resurrection actually working as expected plays enough into the subtle cosmic horror we're all aiming for, that creeping sense of inevitable doom. I think there's been a kind of subconscious agreement that it needs some kind of cost.

Actually, though, it could be made to "work" in a different way. What if this soul energy is extracted from the caster, not from the gods? I did that with my d20 Modern setting's Black Lazarus (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8638151#post8638151), and I think it works to make the spell something only desperate people would consider.

Ytaker
2011-01-12, 08:23 AM
I like this. Perhaps there's an Underworld, a location these shades are confined to? A kind of spiritual trash can?

That could work. It should be accessible, though. Say, holes caves and all over the world leading to subterranean areas of varying connectivity. Then they could regularly spill out and attack the PCs. It should be a constant background menace for them.

Fouredged Sword
2011-01-12, 12:42 PM
Or through portals that open in the skin of the world at the whims of the gods. The perfect disaster when war and sickness and such become boreing.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-12, 12:51 PM
Another question, Curious: How do Outsiders interact with eachother? For that matter, do the usual outsider alignment types apply in this world?

I could see outsiders having a grand council of some kind to reduce conflict amongst themselves, maybe led by the Rilmani and/or Concordant Killers. Maybe the different outsider types specialize in working against different sorts of gods?

Otherwise, the default option seems to be the outsiders failing to create a united front against the gods, and/or some of them being even worse than at least some of the gods. Either way, the outsider cause would be made even weaker than it already is.

Curious
2011-01-12, 03:26 PM
Outsiders have a kind of non-aggresion treaty amongst each other, but still don't get along very well. They will always unite against the gods if the opportunity is present, however, so there is very little conflict between the outer planes.

Ytaker:
The idea has some merit. Perhaps when damaged souls are resurrected, after they die again they become wights and ghosts, eternally half-empty and longing for the warmth of life. Yeah, I like it. Thanks very much for the ideas everyone, implemented!

Curious
2011-01-13, 10:06 PM
Next up:

The Sand-grain Plateau

A cracked, dry land, the Sand-grain lands are only barely more fertile than the shifting deserts they rose from. However, the numerous rivers that crisscross the plateaus length are just enough to support life, in the form of vast, migrating herds of wildebeest and the nomadic hunters that stalk them. The Dahul (DA-hool), descendants of the Jahin nomads that once stalked through the desert wastelands, live frugally, following the herds and moving quickly. Their principal rivals are the Gnolls that infest the plains, loose tribes that keep to the fertile river valleys, leaving only to capture slaves and food from the Dahul.


Also, bumped. :smalltongue:

Karoht
2011-01-13, 11:39 PM
Interesting world.

Suggestion on how the party can be informed as to the truth (or brought into the lie, depending), in a very quick and easy manner.

Kill the whole party in the first session. Either the party sees the illusion, or they see the truth, or something in the middle.
Or, to create tension in the party, different people see different things.

Ytaker
2011-01-14, 12:05 AM
That would have the downside of them being dead. It's not paranoia.

You could do...

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ATasteOfPower


When starting a game, often the player starts out with an extremely powerful party, character, weapon or ability, which can easily slaughter anything it comes across, playing through a short battle or dungeon. The player is in no real danger of losing at this point, but this incredible power never lasts long. Once the introductory segment is complete, the player switches to the real party, usually at level 1 with basic starter gear.

Give them premade high level divine characters and make those face an easy dungeon. Then have them suddenly face a sharp spike in difficulty and all die. And describe in detail their individual fates.

Edit.

The Sand-grain Plateau

There's nothing flavourwise that draws me in. No mysteries or challenges.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-17, 12:26 PM
Hmmm... How about a gods-dominated town?

Thiliogas City:

This is the capital of the nation of Thilia, one largest god-realms on the continent.
Its population of roughly 100,000 lives and works among glittering archatectural masterpieces, each a monument to Thilia, the Wa-Goddess, Mistress of the Waves, and Protector of Ships. As a port city and capital of a merchantile empire, Thiliogas has a thriving, busy harbor. While this harbor also has its seedy side, this is not to be seen near any of the monuments or temples, which are kept immaculately clean and are adorned with continual flame spells of varrying colors.
Away from the high-class areas, though, life is often harsh. Unknown to the vast majority of the citizenry, this is by design. The periodic diseases that ravage the lower wards clear people out before they age overly much. This keeps the Goddess well-fed, and has the side benefit of ensuring only the fittest workers remain to do the drudge work of the city.

All I got at the moment. Any other offerings for "enemy teritory?"

Nerdanel
2011-01-18, 03:37 PM
If eaten mortals continue to exist in some fashion, I wonder about the genuinely good Gods who died of hunger. Let's say still exist and are conscious, but unable to do anything to affect the world. Since they didn't experience the pain of being eaten, they retained their sanity, although even that is gradually crumbling away as millennia pass. These once-Gods could be contacted by wizards and act as their mentors instead/in addition to Outsiders. (The remains of the Gods who were eaten by other Gods are just as insane as the eaten mortals.)

I think it could be good if Outsiders also could eat souls. Although they don't need to do that to live, they could get considerable power that way, and the experience of eating souls could be so pleasant as to be addictive. The ones doing that would be mostly fiends, hoping to become so powerful as to overturn the status quo. Their problem is that, planar travel aside, the Gods are between them and the souls.

If a once-God gets offered a soul and eats it, they could gain a degree of power to do good things. The problem with that would be that a) the power is very limited and soon gone, and b) the once-God might find it intolerable to go back to its old existence and rationalize why it's good for it to feast on more human souls, becoming no different from the other Gods. (If a God that was eaten by another somehow got granted power, it would likely be quite horrible for anyone in the area, as such an insane God would not respect any treaties, but likely just kill and eat indiscriminately until stopped by adventurers or other Gods.)

-------

A possible area:

This hilly, forested country is a maze of sheer limestone cliffs and narrow gorges. There are also plenty of water-carved caves. The land is dotted by the ruins of a lost civilization which is said to have worshipped a dead God associated with benevolence and the art of magic. Treasures from those times are still said to remain in out-of-the-way places for adventurers to find.

The land is currently inhabited by various orc tribes that fight both each other and the elves and humans at their borders. The orcs worship a cruel God of war and strength that demands sacrifices of thinking creatures. Any prisoners of war are likely to meet that fate. Non-orcs are first tortured until they break and accept conversion to the orc God. The orcs are not aware of the real reason for the sacrifices, but believe that the sacrifices will in orc Heaven be the slaves of the orc that captured them. For those few orcs that care, the shamans say even the part of a slave isn't that bad in Heaven and is in fact better than what would happen to the non-orcs otherwise.

In the world of the living, the orcs keep as slaves mostly captured outsider children too young to be good sacrifices.

In the orc culture, living to an old and feeble age is considered a mark of cowardice and failure and dying in battle is held to be the greatest honor. As an orc's strength starts to wane due to age, the orc is expected to seek out combat and take increasingly suicidal odds for the glory of the tribe so that he might find a death of great worth.

Curious
2011-01-18, 06:21 PM
Ah, sorry for neglecting this thread, I've been working on some revisions. I'll post a thorough answer to both your posts in a little while, as I don't have much time right now. And since you asked, Chilingsworth, I do have some more civilzations coming up: Azte Gnolls, and Elemental-worshiping asians. :smallbiggrin:

Karoht
2011-01-18, 08:53 PM
That would have the downside of them being dead. It's not paranoia.

You could do...

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ATasteOfPower



Give them premade high level divine characters and make those face an easy dungeon. Then have them suddenly face a sharp spike in difficulty and all die. And describe in detail their individual fates.
Or do the exact opposite. Start them all at lvl 1. First dungeon is really easy. Until you get to the boss, who is a dormant servant of one of these gods who is now awake due to their presence and now wants a snack. The party get brutalized. They die. When dead, they see the afterlife of sorts, they actually witness two of these gods fighting it out over who gets to eat these souls. The party has some kind of involvement in this struggle, and as a result, are resurrected back in the dungeon, however they are now the actual starting level of the campaign. They kill the servant, who's body along with the artifacts of the starting dungeon are now clues which are part of their first quest.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-19, 07:43 AM
Ah, sorry for neglecting this thread, I've been working on some revisions. I'll post a thorough answer to both your posts in a little while, as I don't have much time right now. And since you asked, Chilingsworth, I do have some more civilzations coming up: Azte Gnolls, and Elemental-worshiping asians. :smallbiggrin:

I look forward to seeing them!

Curious
2011-01-19, 09:54 PM
Sandgrain Plateau, Redux:

A cracked, dry land, the Sand-grain lands are only barely more fertile than the shifting deserts they rose from. The savage tribes of Dahul, however, descendants of the Jahin of the deserts, have eked out a meager life on this harsh land. Clothing themselves in the skins of their fallen prey, these nomads haunt the footsteps of the vast herds of wildebeest that migrate slowly across the cracked plains, taking the old and the wounded as their prey. But although the beasts might wander far, neither they nor the Dahul will ever approach the unholy sites that spot the plains; the black pits. The stories told by the shamans speak of these smoking wounds in the landscape as the result of a war between the good spirits that bring the rains, and the demons that infest old food and steal the youngest children. They say that the demons grew too bold in their invasions of the material world, and the spirits, moved to protect their charges, blasted them back into the flames they emerged from, leaving nothing behind but ash and flickering fire.


The River Valleys:

Although most of the western Sandgrain is parched grass-land, the fertile eastern half is rich in life, fed by the warm waters that flow down from the Stone Throat mountains. These humid jungles are not inhabited by humans though, instead, they serve as the den of the monstrous race of Gnolls. Indolent creatures at heart, the Gnolls are fierce warriors nonetheless, and use their combat prowess to make frequent slave raids against the Dahul and other Gnoll bands. Utilizing these laborers, they constructed magnificent cities of stone, bedecked with gold and gems. At the heart of their cities, they erect tiered pyramids of porous stone, with a small altar set at the top. After every battle, a line of slaves is led up the pyramid, where the ruling clerics slice open their bellies with knives of obsidian, and then hand the entrails to a favored servant. The servant then races down the steps, hauling the screaming slave behind them, before they release them at the base, where howling crowds tear them to pieces.

Gorilla2038
2011-01-19, 10:16 PM
Just to note, this idea is very, very close to the various central/south american religons. Blood that feeds the gods and the universe and such. consider those people reactions, might be of help.

Curious
2011-01-19, 10:29 PM
Yes, I based it primarily off of Central American civilizations, and I will be adding more detail to them as I put more research into this project.

Ytaker
2011-01-19, 10:33 PM
They say that the demons grew too bold in their invasions of the material world, and the spirits, moved to protect their charges, blasted them back into the flames they emerged from, leaving nothing behind but ash and flickering fire.

Uppity outsiders trying to move into the God's territory?

Curious
2011-01-19, 10:37 PM
Yes. Although the plains people have an unfortunate habit of labeling anything that doesn't look like a human or herd animal as a 'demon', so elementals and other fantastical creatures could be included in the designation.

Ytaker
2011-01-19, 10:41 PM
I like it. I always enjoy it when a region's backstory actually ties into the larger issues at play in a game. When you do finally realize what's going on the world seems a lot more meaningful.

Curious
2011-01-19, 10:50 PM
Thanks, I do try to tie the backdrop of cosmic forces into the history of the world, and utilize it as much as possible. Otherwise it would just be a cheap gimmick, with no real impact on the game, and thats just no fun. Thanks for all the criticism and positive feedback! :smallsmile:

Chilingsworth
2011-01-24, 10:57 PM
So, are you still planing to run a PbP game for this campaign?

Also, please don't die little crapsack world!

Speaking of which, did you have an actual name for this setting? I don't think I caught it. :smallconfused:

Curious
2011-01-25, 11:25 AM
Yes, the pbp is still going to happen, and I am going to finish detailing this thing. Just. . . Not right now. I am actually about ten minutes away from starting my chemistry exam at this moment, and the next few days will be similarily packed, so I may not have time ot finish anything more for a little while. Have no fear though! It'll happen. Eventually. :smallsigh: