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ZeroGear
2013-07-20, 08:28 PM
After looking at all the different campaign worlds and resource books I have, I was kind of wondering what gods people used in their campaigns.
What is the religion like in your worlds? Do you have a pantheon or a collection of individual deities? Do you use core gods? Setting specific ones? Gods from ancient mythology? A set of unique ones created by the game master? Of so, what do those gods look like? And what domains are most commonly selected on your games?
I am curious, and would like to know about the religions of the worlds you play in.

NOTE: This is purely about gods in games. Please be respectful and avoid discussing real-world religious issues that could possibly be offensive to readers.

QuintonBeck
2013-07-20, 09:42 PM
First game I ran I just stole the greyhawk deities and put them in there. They weren't that important until I made the bbeg not just a Vampire Lord but a xenophobic worshiper of Zarus(LE patron god of humanity) who had been supplanting Pelor as the most worshipped god of humans. Was kinda poorly done because I didn't focus much on the other gods or the pantheon or the religion all that much before I got the idea midway through the campaign.

In my current campaign religion is hardly mentioned at all. I use Greyhawk deities but nothing but the Cleric and Ranger's character sheets make any mention of them.

The world I'm currently designing is based totally on my own custom pantheon. The Children of Iluthas. Iluthas is the original creator god (TN god who died to create the material plane for his children) and its eight children represent the varying alignments. Each is however at war with the other gods and so every god has war as a domain. The prime world they're operating on, the setting of the adventure of course, is one in which Ilurnas' intervention of giving the mortal races sentience has led to a decrease in Deity power though the Eight Churches are still powerful forces within the world and have nations at their command. It will be semi heavily focused on the varying religious wars and a Cleric who identifies with one god will be viewed very differently depending on where he is than one of another.

Fighter1000
2013-07-20, 09:56 PM
You have an interesting setting laid out there, QuintonBeck.
So there is a god for each alignment in your world, except true neutral?

In my most recent campaign setting, I just stole the gods and goddesses from the Player's Handbook 1 from D&D 3.5. Gruumsh, Pelor, and Heironeous are the only deities that are important right now. Nerull might come into play, eventually, to assassinate the King mwhuhahaha

QuintonBeck
2013-07-20, 10:19 PM
Precisely right Fighter1000

The TN god Ilurnas is for the most part not interacting with the world since its(I liked the idea of a gender neutral god since TN and all) spent most of its energy creating existence but it has some influence though no big church following. Arcane magic is the remnant of Ilurnas' power (Hence why in another thread in the 3.5 section I asked about the repercussions of making Druids arcane based) and so wizards, sorcerers, etc. are those who tap into that power and are often opposed by the various churches since The Eight don't like the idea of Ilurnas still having any sort of power.

Since the gods are all fighting each other for dominance combined with a growing secularity even within the churches however means that the Church of the Lawful Good deity isn't necessarily filled with the best people and LG includes killing and converting any non-believers. The other churches are similar, some without the converting part, some that just want to wait out the wars, etc.

Also, each mortal race was created by one of the gods, some gods made multiple races. I've assigned most of the 'standard' fantasy races but I don't know what to do with humans. If I want to stick them with a deity and just claim they're no more special than hobgoblins, make them natural creatures of the world, or not have humans at all. I just don't know yet.

Arkhosia
2013-07-20, 11:11 PM
This wasn't used in a game (wrote a book in spare time, never could make a good story, only a neat world:smallredface:), but I had a pantheon. There were gods that existed in our world with cults of only like, 1 crazy man or so. Now, gods died if they didn't have devotion (think a unborn baby: cut the tube, it dies D: it was kinda like that), so these gods created a pocket dimension to build their own world. They used their powers to form their own world, creating races in their own aspect (there were no humans, only elves (who were tree-brown skinned, red/yellow/orange haired wood elves) , dark elves (think dunmer, also great spellcasters), deep elves (non-evil drow), and delthmir (think planetouched (had no idea of the idea ever being created :smallfrown:)).
Then, the crazy old man was killed for heresy.
The gods spent their last powers sealing their realm from the world we live in, and died. Their essence scattered, infusing the land with magic (attempts to learn to use said power created spell casting: pioneered by dark elf scholars).
But some drifted.
Those essences that drifted were the literal souls of the gods. When, over time, sentient creatures found them, the god-souls were absorbed by them, their ideals and loves becoming their domains. They gained a following quickly, and rose to god hood. There were two opposed pantheons that were all regarded parts of the same religion: the Viedin, the gods of law, which consisted of:
•Eyeros, god of hearth, home, community, sloth, and determination (would you abandon the best you gathered the twigs for?). Also technically god of inertia.

•Muedrai, goddess of executions, justice, punishment, and honesty.

•Suirlacane, goddess of the sun, food, harvest, gluttony, and mothers

Then there were the aedra, gods of chaos.

•Lythira, goddess of shadows, luck, pride, and logic (common sense)

•Del, god of passion, adventure, exploration, and lust

•Syrh, god of spells, logic (info), greed, and fire

•Devir, goddess of envy, ascension, society, and cleverness.

There were no "evil" gods. As each god was once mortal, they all had flaws.
Edit: found info on 2 elven races (elves were called solvarin, deep elves syladrin.

Solvarian
The race of elves, slender and with enhanced hearing and smell. With dark skin and hair ranging from dark gold to maroon, occasionally very dark green, the Solvarians are often found living in forests and meadows. Solvarians are quick and perceptive, these traits often aiding them on ritual hunts. Solvarians are adept with spears, bows, and other projectile weapons. A Solvarian is, despite their endurance, relatively physically weak. To make up for their weaknesses, the Solvarians use projectile weapons. Often living in semi-nomadic tribes, never migrating from their region yet not as often in one place there, Solvarians have many rituals they practice. They celebrate Vevlil, a ritual occurring every season's beginning, asking the gods to grant them good fortune for the season. At the end of the season, they often celebrate a ritual to thank the gods for the fortune bestowed upon them. When the Solvarians fall upon bad fortune, they go on religious hunts to prove their strength and worth to the gods.
When they age, Solvarians take on traits of a season they most represent in personality, growing paler, lighter, tanner, or darker in hair and skin color, depending on the seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall, respectively.

Syladrin
The colder cousins of the Solvarians, with slender forms, grey skin, gem-colored eyes, and metal-colored hair. Often residing on mountains or in cavern networks, the syladrin have superior hearing and sight, due to the ability to see dimmer light than detected by a human eye. An average syladrin have a notably stronger body than a Solvarian, being able to resist 1.5 times as many blows compared to a human, with syladrin able to resist 0.75 times as many blows. The Sylvarian militia are well known for their proficiency in thrown weapons, trained from their teenage years to calculate the arc and precision of their throws with ease. They also are proficient with scythes, scimitars, and other curved blades. However, syladrin often have to travel at night when outside, due to their increased sense of sight making the sun's light more intense. Since a syladrin's code of honor usually consists of fight, win and live another day, they are well known for being ruthless and somewhat untrustworthy. This causes many of the other races to be wary or downright hostile to an average syladrin

Ninjadeadbeard
2013-07-20, 11:38 PM
I'm a huge fan of the "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD" sort of deities. So much more fun for the players to know, as a fact, that their gods are a gaggle of incestuous, envious, capricious murderfiends who do wacky **** for giggles. People who "Love" their gods are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome at best, or buy season tickets to see The King in Yellow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King_in_Yellow#Cthulhu_Mythos) at worse. Otherwise, if a few prayers keep the Guys Upstairs from sending a flood, why not?

The only God my players have ever really been aware of, personally, was Nol. He was the TN god of Death in a Roman-inspired setting (ie; all gods are considered real, powerful, and worthy of Imperial recognition), and the head of an order of Assassins that the Empire allowed to legally practice. No need to tick off a god, right?

Anyway, my gods tend to be...hard to prove, let's say. Clerics and Paladins exist, and can royally mess someone up in a hurry, but the "Gods" they keep praying to never seem to show up. It prevents the usual question of, "If this quest was so important, then why doesn't one of the gods step up and do something?", and when a Real God finally does makes an appearance, it is truly Awesome, in the traditional meaning.

Arkhosia
2013-07-20, 11:55 PM
Nice to know the word's original meaning is still used.
I think the meaning is awesome, other-meaning-wise.
:smallamused:

Flickerdart
2013-07-21, 12:53 AM
I'm generally loathe to include religion in my games, mostly because I can't be arsed to design new ones and never use premade settings. In my most recent games, I have had two with gods though, of the "guys who make stuff in the world go" rather than "guys who sit around pretending they're in charge" kind:
In one game, set on a tidally locked world, there are three gods which are of the Eberronian "kind of exist possibly but probably not" variety, corresponding to the three distinct regions of the planet (heat, life, and cold). Through some blundering, the PCs bump into an angel of a real actual god who was deposed untold millenia ago in the world's origin myth by similar pseudomythical beings, and whose restoration to power would set the sun in motion again as he literally carries it through space.
In the other game, gods are mortals who have managed to seize a portfolio governing a part of reality from primordial beings that have existed before there even was a reality. Each race has its own set of gods and its own relationship with them, and the mightiest gods command portfolios which are unique across the world.

Ravens_cry
2013-07-21, 01:03 AM
Depends on the world, but, in general, I like gods that are semi-mythical. Sure, priests get power, but is it truly from the gods, or is it just another kind of wizardry, cloaked in religious mysticism? Hard to say. If you do encounter something like a god, it will be something akin to an Eldritch Abomination, even the good ones. The good ones are the ones who try to say something akin to, "BE NOT AFRAID."

Paperback
2013-07-21, 01:06 AM
I'm running a campaign right now where I have my own custom-crafted pantheon, even if the pantheon itself is currently playing very little importance (It's all about the worldbuilding, baby.)

In my universe, there is no planes accessible by humans. At all. As such, spells of the teleportation school are banned and summoning spells are limited in what they can conjure. When people die, they either move on to heaven by referral of one of the gods (one central, shared heaven by all the gods) or their souls are broken down and reincarnated. Or their souls are Taken. I'll get to that in a second.

“Be wary when making wishes upon the stars, for the stars listen.” -Leowyn, Seer of Vision

In the universe, there are a small number of beings powerful enough to be considered gods, and several lesser deities involved in world affairs who are the Greater Spirits. Some are fickle, some are malicious, and some truly want to help the races of the world. Many gods are often referred to as 'stars' in reference to the heavens above, which is believed to be their domain.

ALTERASEven though such written records have long been destroyed, folklore states that mankind (and more recently the new sentient races) have worshiped Alteras since the dawn of the world. In the beginning, Alteras crafted the earth. It was empty, so he sought to create life. To heat it, he forged the sun. For water he spilled his blood and made the oceans, imbuing the land with himself. Finally, he made the moon, which pushed and pulled the oceans. Then life was ready to form.

Alteras watched over his new creations as they grew, and once he felt they were advanced enough, he revealed himself to several of the early cities so that they might know their origin and worship him, and spread the word to others.

This plan backfired, however, when those who had accepted Alteras ran into each other. They tried to convert each other, only for conversations to quickly turn violent and for all the early nations of man to turn against each other in war; every one of them fought in Alteras's name. Alteras grew angry, and when all the nations together prepared to clash on the field of battle, he threw down fire and lightning and smote half of those assembled in his rage, and cowered them.

Before them he appeared, and set down his Holy Orders. As part of them, Alteras would never come down to the planet below ever again, but those who were faithful to him would be blessed, and would have a place in the stars with him forevermore.
Alteras is essentially the head deity of my campaign. He created the earth and the water, and all of the other gods moved in later. Despite being lawful good, he's pretty relaxed and doesn't require people to worship him to get into heaven. He doesn't poke around the earth anymore, but still keeps a close eye from up above. His holy symbol is the scales emblazoned on a sun.

THE THREE SISTERSLong ago, three shining lights fell onto the world in a time of darkness, and led the powers of good in a triumphant victory over the forces of a corrupted and evil nation. These three lights were the Three Sisters, and they remained upon the earth for many centuries afterward, guiding mankind along the teachings of Alteras with their own focuses. Although they are since passed from physical form, their teachings survived the apocalypse, and all three have small but dedicated worshipers that operate freely around the continent.


Ilisanya, the Sister of Vision
Legend says that Ilisanya, the eldest of the sisters, had the ability to prophecy the future. She traveled the world for many centuries, appearing in places quite unexpected to avert doom to nations, villages, and even individuals. Despite a distant personality, she made many friends during her travels and some of her adventures with her companions are told in tales that have survived the apocalypse. She passed from the world before the birth of the industrial era, but her clerics, though few, pray and receive their power from her.
Ilisanya's followers today are called the Seers of Vision, after their patron, and they travel the continent following ancient paths that Ilisanya herself tread a millennium ago. They help small communities by keeping paths safe, predicting the weather, and reading fortunes. It is a common practice among them to imbibe large quantities of mind-affecting products before going into a trance-like state, where they believe they are granted visions of possible futures, as well as increasing their spellcasting power.


Chanastya, the Sister of Truth
The second eldest of the sisters, Chanastya forever sought after knowledge and truth, and scripture states that none could utter lies in her presence. After leading the armies of good to victory, Chanastya stayed with the nation that built it's new capitol upon the ruins of the old one, where she built and managed the largest collection of books and lore in the entire world, along with arbiting law within the court. Leaders of nations and common men alike came to the library to learn from the university and hear her wisdom; she accepted in those who she believed could influence the world for the better. She lived until the apocalypse, where it is believed she met her end along with millions of others.

The followers of Chanastya live in monasteries close to civilization, where they collect ancient books on all subjects, so that they may copy and republish them. While their knowledge of post-war events is conflicted, it is undoubted that they contain the best records of pre-war history and knowledge.


Mindirra, the Sister of Mercy
The youngest sister, Mindirra, was the most public of the three and beloved of the populace worldwide. She gathered the largest following of worshipers while she was still alive, traveling the world promoting peace between nations. When the world looked ready to go to war over it's dwindling natural resources, Mindirra was the one that cooled tensions and kept open fighting from breaking out for twenty years. During a peace summit which she was hosting, she was killed by a sniper's bullet. No nation claimed responsibility, and the world's anger over her death was more kindling onto the fires of war. Her final words on this earth were those of forgiveness to her murderer.

All devout followers of Mindirra take a vow of peace, swearing not to propagate violence, and practice only non-lethal self defense. Many extend this vow to animals as well (although machines and aberrations are fair game). Most of her followers take positions in hospitals, or as the village wise woman in less populated areas.
When a great evil arose and corrupted an entire nation, the Three Sisters were called down to save mankind and defeat the Devourer of Souls (more on him later). They remained on the earth in physical form and guided mankind through the second age until their passing. They stretch across the good side of the alignment spectrum, with Chanastya being LG, Mindirra being NG, and Ilisanya being CG. Their holy symbols are an open book, two palms cupping a heart, and the winding path, respectively.

THE GREATER SPIRITSThe following is a brief listing of the more obscure stars that otherwise have clergy that perform open rituals and whose membership is not restricted or secret. Included near the bottom are spirits that history tells us used to be widely worshiped, but in the present have no known clergy or have abandoned the world. Not included in this list are spirits whose existence is merely speculative among theologists, for reasons that their clergy operate in secrecy, or that no definitive proof of their existence was found in history. Also not included are the Lesser Spirits, whose worship (for those with clergy) usually does not extend outside of a single village.


Galae, She of the Garden
When Alteras spilled his blood to make the rivers and oceans, Galae arrived. She trailed behind her cosmic dust, and when she flew over the land the dust she spread grew the plants and trees. Her creations flourished, and when Alteras forged the race of man she landed in a secluded spot on the earth. Here she raised around her the most beautiful garden for her sanctuary and busied herself with the care of the flora and fauna of the world. She ignored much of the human race, except for those who worshiped her for her favor, or who sought to destroy the forests.

Those who worship Galae are often druids and some hunters and barbarians, along with some villages who live outside of civilized lands. Her clerics often dwell in the outlying villages, or else take into deep seclusion in forests to care for the wild. Galae's aversion to most of humankind within their cities has always kept her worshipers few in number. Galae is a True Neutral deity whose holy symbol is a flower encircled by thorns. Her domains are Growth, Animal, and Earth.


Arcturus, Soldier of the Storm
As the early nations of man fought against each other all in the name of Alteras, it was Arcturus that orchestrated the final fight in such a way that all tribes of the world were present. The patron spirit of war and challenges, Arcturus wishes to see mankind push itself to become strong and honorable. He praises those who engage in fair combat, but frowns upon those who commit treachery or cowardice. When a storm appears on the eve before a battle, it is said that those who fight are judged by Arcturus, and those who are honorable will be presented with either a blessed future or a glorious death.

Arcturus' clergy are often tacticians and advisers to generals, and those that worship him are often soldiers who seek to become strong or renowned. His worshipers who are evil often revel in the carnage of war. Other than those who fight Arcturus has very few followers, because his chosen try and seize as much glory as they can for themselves, which is what Arcturus wants for them. Arcturus is a Lawful Neutral deity whose symbol is the crossed blades. His domains are Glory, War, Storms, and Leadership.


Milus, Dreamer of Ten Thousand Things
The Greater Spirit known as Milus is sometimes referred to as the 'collective human subconscious.' An impulsive, flighty deity, he has no true motives or goals other than to watch humans go about their life, stirring in trouble and drama like the writer of a play. It is commonly believed that he is the one that whispers into the ears of madmen, and grants visions to artists.

Despite being relatively active in the affairs of mortals, he has few worshipers. Any place that is devoted to him is usually covered both inside and out with vibrant colors. His clergy all have the ability to create art in one form or another. He is popular among artists and poets for bringing them inspiration, and many bards treat him with a reverence of some degree. Milus is a Chaotic Neutral deity whose symbol is an abstract and colorful spiral. His domains are Whimsy, Imagination, and Madness.


Exanimus, The Darkest Moon
A bizzare, cult-like religion whose beginnings date back to fifty years before the apocalypse and the start of the third age. Scientists and Astronomers at the time had discovered an asteroid that was heading towards the planet, but would miss it by a small margin. Instead of continuing on through the void of space, however, the body was caught in Rueh's gravitational pull and started orbiting the planet. Named Tenebris Saxum, the new moon became the idol of a joke religion at first, but took on a much more serious tone when some of the dedicated worshipers began displaying clerical powers. They started calling their god Exanimus, and was soon a fringe religion that attracted those that felt disconnected from society.

The followers of Tenebris Saxum, or Exanimus, operate under a thin shroud of mystique. While they do perform their religious services in private at night, they do sometimes welcome outsiders who express interest in joining them. Members in a city often know each other by sight, having been inducted by friends or family. It is uncommon to find more than solitary worshipers in small villages. Exanimus is a supposedly True Neutral deity whose holy symbol is the Crescent. Exanimus' domains are Darkness (or Moon), Stars, and Fate.The Greater Spirits are the sort of hangers-on that aren't powerful enough to have a world of their own but still want to mess around with creation or be worshipped. You'll notice a lack of Evil deities in my world. They all got themselves ganged up on and killed off by the other gods, because Alteras has a pretty sweet gig going on here and it doesn't need to be messed up.

THE LOST SPIRITSThese deities no longer have any presence on the world, due to them no longer having an active clergy, being defeated by the other gods, or abandoning the earth.

Rapatrix the Deceiver: An ancient and spiteful spirit from before the ages, he fooled some of the early tribes of men into worshiping him. He was the one that tricked the tribes dedicated to Alteras into fighting each other, hoping to claim the world as his own. He and his tribes were destroyed by Alteras during the last battle of the Holy War. The innocents killed in this fight prompted Alteras to set down his Covenant of the Holy Orders, which marked the beginning of the First Age and the civilized times.

Premit: A spirit of the earth and fire, who slept within a volcano biding his time to cleanse the earth anew should Alteras require it. He was fooled into awakening before he was at full power too early by Rapatrix, and destroyed by him. The eruption of the volcano wiped out an entire civilization, prompting Wrynn to grant the gift of Magic to humanity in order to give them control over their surroundings.

Mali: The original goddess of peace and dreams, she was destroyed upon the awakening of The Devourer of Souls. Her remnants of power twisted upon themselves and joined a floating collection of feelings and emotions, which became fully cognizant and called itself Milus.

The Devourer of Souls: A dark being who fell unto the earth before the recording of the ages. He slumbered until near the end of the first age, but even in his sleep he had corrupted an entire nation to follow him. His return to consciousness and power created a mental shock-wave that was strong enough to destroy the goddess Mali immediately. Alteras sent down The Three Sisters to rally the world against the Devourer and his nation, and his defeat marked the end of the First Age.

Wrynn: The ancient god of magic, he tried to give humankind the power of the arcane to help them gain some control over the world around them. This only propelled the fighting that broke out in the Holy War, and to seek forgiveness for the destruction he helped to propagate, Wrynn helped Alteras forge the Covenant and gave humans access to the divine as well to fix the balance. While never having any true clergy of his own, he considered all arcane magic users to be his children. He left the earth completely in the Second Age, confident that under the watchful eyes of the Three Sisters humankind would not abuse his gift of magic.For the most part, the Lost Spirits are included in my background notes as flavor material, all except for the Devourer of Souls. While defeated, the Devourer was never destroyed, and continued to sleep beneath the city that was built on top of him.

This brings us to the idea of souls that are 'Taken.' While the Devourer slumbers, he releases waves of (for lack of a better term) supernecromantic energy that breaks down the bonds that hold living beings together, called Enervation Fields. These fields mostly occur in the tunnels that run underneath the entire continent, spiraling outward and then eventually returning to their origin. Living creatures caught within particularly strong areas of Enervation could have their bodies break down in front of their very eyes. People killed by the enervation have their souls caught inside of it, and dragged back to the Devourer. And he's waking up again...

...

Anyways, that's the gods of my campaign. They're all pretty passive except for the Devourer, who (big surprise) is the final boss, though not necessarily the BBEG. There's also two other gods from above that relate to this, but going into detail on that would just stretch the page.

kieza
2013-07-21, 02:39 AM
The gods of my setting are distant and enigmatic. Nobody even knows their names (or appearances, genders, etc.), and there's a common belief in almost all of their churches that knowing or speaking a god's name is bad for the god, the speaker, or all of creation. Instead, worshippers refer to them by titles. The gods have never appeared in person or sent angels to speak for them (in fact, angels are notoriously close-lipped on the subject of the gods), but they do send revelations to spiritual and enlightened mortals.

These revelations mostly come to people who already have a dedicated, spiritual nature, and they usually take a common form: the recipient finds themselves floating in an endless, abstract expanse (common variations include warm, golden light; harsh, glaring brilliance; and rippling, solid shadow which paradoxically gives off illumination) and hears an androgynous voice which relates commandments, advice, or philosophical musings. Most of the world's religions were founded on these revelations, and every generation sees new revelations and prophets fueling religious debate. Naturally, many charlatans fabricate stories of similar events in order to prey on the gullible, but a genuine visitation leaves a metaphorical mark on the soul that is hard to duplicate, and stands out to other prophets.

Most people (who aren't outright atheists) casually worship all of the gods: they go to each major god's temple during that god's yearly festival, and maybe attend a specific temple when they want to pray for something that falls in a particular god's purview. Only a small segment of the population devote themselves entirely to one god. There are clerics and other divine casters from both groups, but most of them are monotheists. The gods' churches aren't monolithic, either; over the centuries, the churches have dealt with schisms and heresies, and now there are many churches of each god, each with its own spin (much like the difference between the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. churches).

At the moment, there are nine major gods, plus another pair who are worshipped together and are effectively a tenth.

Deus Valiant: God of courage and protection
Deus Triumphant: God of war, fighting, and strength
Deus Ending: God of change and destruction
Deus Making: God of creation, craft, and art
Deus Knowing: God of knowledge, science, and magic
Deus Radiant: God of light and truth
Deus Veiled: God of darkness and deceit
Deus Ruling: God of laws and civilization
Deus Untamed: God of freedom and nature
The Bright Lady and the Dark Maid: Goddesses of childbirth, life, death, and eternal repose.

There are also dozens of minor gods, who are worshipped by small subcultures (for example, there's Deus Well-Soled, god of footwear and walking, who is worshipped by poor travelers and cobblers) and fringe gods, whose churches are widely considered cults (such as Deus Revelling, god of debauchery, alcohol, and drugs). Historically, there has been some movement between groups; up until about three centuries ago, Deus Growing, god of agriculture, was a major god. Then the industrial revolution happened, and a lot of people in the cities stopped worshipping him on a daily basis. The church fell into poverty, and now Deus Growing is only widely worshipped in rural areas. Around the same time, Deus Making and Deus Knowing gained a wider following, and their churches rose to the same prominence that Deus Growing had recently lost.

It's important to note that none of the major gods are outright evil, or outright good. Deus Valiant gives courage to villains as well as heroes, and Deus Ending isn't a world-ending dark god; instead, he and Deus Making work with each other in a cycle of creation and destruction. However, the established, accepted churches of each god tend to be good or at least neutral; there are cults that worship Deus Ending as an apocalyptic herald, but they are hated and hunted wherever they pop up.

Yora
2013-07-21, 03:34 AM
Religion in the Ancient Lands is all shamanistic or mystic. Gods are simply the greatest and most powerful nature spirits, but since they span basically the whole world, they don't really notice any individual people trying to reach them.
Less poweful spirits can easily be reached by shamans who communicate with them to make sure the villagers aren't doing anything that offends the local spirits and to bring offerings to thank for the spirits blessings of allowing food to grow and keep away natural disasters.
Since the local spirits are also just as limited in their knowledge and power as mortals, people who are searching for a greater understanding about the universe tend to gather in mystic cults that contemplate the nature of things based on their philosophy. The mystic cults often revere one of the greater gods as a poweful manifestation or paragon of their philosophy, but they can't directly talk to them either.

Priest are basically mages who also serve the spirits and gods, and may sometimes get help from spirits, but they don't get their magic powers from them.

Actana
2013-07-21, 04:23 AM
The following contains spoilers for a game I'm currently running. So if you're in any of my games, stop reading. Seriously, I mean it. :smallannoyed:

For everyone else, there's a fair amount of worldbuilding and history to read here. It's not all necessary, but if you're interested in how the gods work in my setting it's useful. There's also a tl;dr at the end for convenience.
Seriously, I'm explaining the entire plot of the game here. You don't want to be spoiled. Yes, I'm looking at you. Yes, you know who you are. Last chance to turn back.The gods are a select few members of the giants - a race that came before the humans dominated the world. Races go through cycles in the setting, with an all-consuming fog destroying each civilization after a while. Sentient races are powered by Souls in the setting, and the current "gods" of the world are merely giants who managed to acquire through one way or another sufficiently powerful souls. The leader of the gods, Astar Bel, found the Firesoul, an immensely powerful soul, which allowed her to fight back against the fog, imprisoning the entity that was controlling it, a being known only as the Primordial One.

This caused the fog not to destroy the civilization of the giants. Astar Bel then recruited other gods to work with her, including some of her sons and a former servant of the Primordial One. In addition, Astar Bel learned of the existence of an even older force, and managed to convince one of them to join her. These Old Ones had been manipulating the world into the never-ending cycle of destruction and rebirth for unknown purposes. They created both the Primordial One and the Souls of Power, and the Arbiter Souls, souls meant for the ones who would keep balance in the world in the place of the Old Ones, as they are forbidden from interfering with the mortal world, unless they reside there permanently. Most do not wish to do this, though there are two exceptions (and one skirting the rules).

The Arbiter Souls were originally made for the servants of the Old Ones, but with the power of the Firesoul, which was an errant mistake by the Old Ones and not part of their plan, Astar Bel managed to free the Arbiter Souls from the binds of the Old Ones, and gave these souls to her closest allies. These gods became the five major deities in the word: the gods of death, knowledge, honor, dreams and fate.

Eventually, however, Astar Bel and her allies grew tired of the giants. They weren't easy to control, and it would be easier if they built the world in their own image instead of confining themselves to what the Old Ones had created before them. The giants were all either wiped out or enslaved by these new "gods", leaving only a small pocket of "free" giants living in hidden parts of the world. In the form of the giants, though wholly inferior, Astar Bel and the gods uplifted the human race, who at the time were living in the shadows of the giants and would then proceed to worship their deities as divine beings. They created new Souls of Power, and even the new God of Magic was born during this time, something that wasn't expected.

The gods coveted power, but two gods, Quietus, the god of Dreams and the Moon, and Bellerophon, god of Love and Fate, thought that humanity had potential. In the event of a massive cataclysm in which humanity would have been wiped out, and unknown to Qilin, the god of Magic and Ruin, the two gods gave humans the powers of arcane magic directly, which previously was only possible by channelling the powers of the gods, ie divine magic. The power of magic helped humans save themselves, but the act enraged the other gods. Bellerophon took all blame for the matter and was stripped of his status as a deity and Arbiter, his Soul cast out of the divine home and his name erased from all records. He was sentenced to live among the humans whom he so loved. This would later come back to haunt the gods.

Time went by uneventfully, and despite arcane magic being developed by the humans, they still revered the gods. All was good for the gods. Except that the Primordial One, the being Astar Bel imprisoned, was slowly breaking out. Kel Alyon, the former servant of the Primordial One and now the god of Death and Sanctuary, as well as "the final arbiter" was the first to be affected by this. Due to his close ties with the fog, Kel Alyon started accumulating the essence of the fog, driving him insane. No longer could he pass along the souls of the dead into the afterlife, and thus all souls remained in their body when they die, resulting in a plague of semi-undead called hollows, who would proceed to ravage the known world. The fog seeped through the Primordial One's prison even more, and eventually the gods were determined to fight it back. Many of the gods died in battling the fog, and the remaining ones retreated to their mountaintop city, hoping they would be safe.

Back in the human world, the presence of the gods had decreased dramatically, to the point where priests could no longer contact their deities. This eventually lead to the renouncing of all gods, and a government which focused on bringing order and stability among the still alive population. Worshipping the gods was decreed illegal, and any divine practitioners were hunted down.

In a desperate attempt to halt the fog's approach, Astar Bel sacrificed herself and bound the Firesoul, herself, and the Primordial One into the sun, creating a prison which it could not escape. This divine sun was anathema to the fog, and it halted the spread of the fog which had almost completely covered the entire world, buying the gods at least some time to figure out a solution. Meanwhile, the Old Ones have plans of their own to punish these self appointed "gods" for their hubris.

tl;dr: the gods are powerful beings from a by-gone era who have, by an unforeseen accident, gained power to free them from the indecipherable Old Ones who watch over and manipulate the world. These new "gods" killed and enslaved their own race and uplifted a new one (the setting has no other fantasy races). There are ten gods, one of which has been exiled. They are:

Astar Bel, the Flaming Heart - goddess of the sun. Sacrificed herself to halt the fog.
Kel Alyon, the Voice of the Fallen, the Final Arbiter - god of death and sanctuary. Has been driven insane by the fog.
Damnameneus, the Ravenlord, the First Arbiter - god of knowledge and pride. Has disappeared.
Amesha, the Rousing Dream, the Second Arbiter - goddess of honor and conquest. The only god to remain sane in the Godsland.
Qilin, the Phantom Agony - god of magic and ruin. Is now dead from fighting the fog.
Taal Shamem, the Wheel of Fortune - god of wealth and infamy. Is now dead from fighting the fog.
Heisen Yao, the Perfect Harmony - god of order and preservation. In a catatonic state from the death of his twin brother, Cenos.
Cenos, the Broken Illusion - god of chaos and progress. Is now dead from fighting the fog.
Quietus, the Mourning Star, the Errant Arbiter - god of dreams and the moon, formerly an Old One. Has disappeared.
Bellephoron, the Third Arbiter, now exiled for his crimes - former god of love and fate. Is exiled in the world of the mortals.

Vitruviansquid
2013-07-21, 07:22 AM
I dislike making an actual pantheon for my games. Half of it is because it's a lot of hard work, half of it is because it's hard for me to think of a pantheon that makes sense and is fun to write about.

As a result, most of my games that take place in a polytheist society have a numberless collection of spirits and deities that normal folk invoke, bargain with, or exorcise. Spirits or deities are made up on the spot when they're needed in the narrative, except for a few important, recurring ones... that is, if the setting even included spirits/magic.

Eldan
2013-07-21, 07:38 AM
In Etherworld, at least, there's no "real" gods. The outer planes are cut off, so the conventional deities are dead. Mortal faith, then, just sort of attaches itself to any convenient vessel. Usually, this is in the form of small gods, monsters and people that are especially respected or feared in some fashion, sometimes even worshipped and that, from those feelings, gain some divine spellcasting. Various powerful fae, elemental lords and ethereal spirits are also worshipped. Clerics simply pool the faith of a group and apply it, magically. Finally, binders reach across the veil to the remnants of the outer planes and draw shards of former outsiders and gods back into the mortal world, though they tend to be fragmented and insane.

BWR
2013-07-21, 09:02 AM
Since I'm running Mystara, I use the Mystaran Immortals. There are lots of them to use, for just about every conceivable taste. I have introduced exactly one homebrew Immortal, one a friend of mine invented for his Hollow World cleric back nearly 20 years ago - Cecira. Cecira is basically just a hippie. Peace, love, pacifism, being nice to eachother.
The Immortal Maat, who has exactly 1 line of flavor text in official sources, is getting some important screen time, so I'm stealing some other fan-made stuff for her.

Radar
2013-07-21, 09:40 AM
In the world I am sort of building (with little progress in quite a long time) I want to try pantheistic approach:
1. Each celestial body is a divine being in its own right and doesn't need believers to maintain its existance.
2. While mortals can tap into the power radiating from those beings, direct communication is next to impossible - it would be as if an ant tried to talk to us.
3. Motives, goals and characters of those deities have however impact on the type of powers they grant and people sharing their ideals have it easier to tap into godly power.

Considering the 1. point, the head honcho of the local solar system is obviously the Sun (placeholder name, but I don't think I'll ever give the gods any true names - just the various names people gave them). It is mostly interested in keeping order in its domain and making sure the world works properly in the neighbourhood. In particular it banishes any outsiders. Iron is often associated with the Sun, since it's particularly harmful to outsiders as well.

Second important deity is the local gas giant circling around the Sun. Unfortunately it is mentally fractured. Two oposite personalities are locked in an eternal struggle, which creates a vortex of wild magic around gas giants' equatorial plane. Due to the ongoing conflict moons of the gas giant are left comatose, insane or even completly dead.

The actual game world is one of those moons (let's call it Bob). Its mind was cracked into innumerable pieces, which split and merge at random without forming an overarching personality of its own. It makes Bob very impressionable, so if through some random process a given place is infused with divine energies, people can through worship keep this sanctuary from falling apart. Given enough time and effort they might even unwittingly make it grow in power and form a sentience. This is where worship-dependent deities come from in my setting and the most important part is, mortals are unaware of this process and the true nature of their homeworld.

There are also obviously many outsiders which despite the threat of banishment try to set up their personal cults for fun and profit.

Angel Bob
2013-07-21, 09:54 AM
My current campaign uses the default Fourth Edition deities (I believe they are the Greyhawk pantheon, more or less). This is partly because I'm too lazy to rename and revise all the deity-central items, locations, and characters in my campaign world, and partly because this pantheon is pretty well-rounded.

However, I did make one change to the pantheon: I added the god Soma (from Mesopotamian mythology, I believe). Soma is the god of plants; specifically, those plants that can be fermented. This means he basically functions as the god of drink. Technically, I suppose Kord could serve that function (since he's basically Thor anyway), but my group's elven ranger was more pleased with the idea of worshipping a god whose sole domain was alcohol.

Knaight
2013-07-21, 10:39 AM
This is highly setting dependent, but generally speaking I focus much more on the religions of the settings than what is behind them. These include animism, ancestor worship, polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, near-philisophical enlightenment paths, so on and so forth. The extent to which they are true is often left ambiguous*, though there are a handful of fantasy settings where at least some of the religions correspond to actual gods, with at least some of the details being accurate.

*For the vast majority of my settings, I would consider the religions within the setting real, but their basis consistently wrong. I only rarely use monsters, and basically never use anything actually divine outside of a scant handful of fantasy settings. This impacts how I GM the settings, but if the players come to a different conclusion that is fine by me.

Mark Hall
2013-07-21, 11:02 AM
I operate under a slightly different regimen of godly power than the default D&D assumption. While direct worship provides gods power, so do actions within that god's domain. Every time you buy or sell something, you're providing power to the God/ess of Trade. Every seed you plant, you're giving power to the God/ess of Agriculture. So the Gods of evil don't NEED cults, but they encourage them because worship gives them more power and tends to encourage activities that give them more.

I tend to run in the Forgotten Realms, so I primarily use their pantheon. While I run pre-Time of Troubles, I like to include Kelemvor as a more neutral god of the dead. In most of my games, I tend to have a few cults bubble to prominence, largely depending on the actions of the players. Some of my favorites to include are Malar, Waukeen, Llira, and Chauntea.

When I run in Tellene ("Kingdoms of Kalamar", the default setting of Hackmaster), my preference is to use their pantheon, and since the entire set of HM deities isn't in the current rules yet, that tends to bias towards certain deities. I like to include the Caregiver, but the Eternal Lantern is also good, and my friends like the Face of the Free.

Driderman
2013-07-21, 12:33 PM
I'm (theoretically) working on a fantasy setting where the main "gods" being worshipped are actually dragons (and possibly other weird and powerful beings) that defeated the True Gods years ago and usurped their power.
Since the Usurpers couldn't contain all the power of the True Gods they destroyed due to not being inherently divine, much of the power of the Gods was absorbed into the world itself, and sometimes strange and powerful demi-deities arise, power by worship and/or superstitions or simply an arcane affinity that allows them to absorb some of the leftover power.

Also, since the dragons aren't the True Gods, they're not really able to maintain the Balance that existed between the True Gods and they battle among each other, all of them fighting to be the dominant god, although mainly through intermediaries (such as nations and prophets) as they won't risk direct confrontation and death.

Mark Hall
2013-07-21, 04:06 PM
I'm (theoretically) working on a fantasy setting where the main "gods" being worshipped are actually dragons (and possibly other weird and powerful beings) that defeated the True Gods years ago and usurped their power.


That sounds pretty epic, and really pulpy.

originalginger
2013-07-21, 05:57 PM
My campaign that is currently about wrap up takes place on an archipelago about the size of Hawaii by square mileage. In that setting there are exactly four 'gods' and all four are actually post-epic level living beings. All four are named after Myst-Series ages, just because I am a nerd.

Serenia, often referred to a "The Many-Armed Lady of the Sea"
She is an enormous octopus and the primary deity of the sea races, the Undine and the Selkie, as well as the primary deity of sailors and pirates. She lives off of the coast and patrols the waters, keeping malevolent sea creatures away and preventing anyone from leaving the island chain.

K'veer the god of the elven races. He is a presumable immortal creature best described as a horse-sized fox with a mane of blue and violet feathers, the antlers of a deer, and three tails. He is the protector of the forest and the god-king of the Elven and Eladrin races.

Edanna Essentially Lolth, only in scorpion form, rather than spider form. She lives deep in the vast network of caverns carved out by ancient lava flows, and underground tunnels crated by the Dwarves.

Kadish Tolesa The God of Gods, and Lord of the mountain's and earth. He literally causes volcanic eruptions by breathing fire into the mountains and earthquakes by preforming great stomps. He takes the from of a dragon plated in pure and glistening gold.


The campaign I am designing now takes place on a flat-earth with literally edges that you can walk to and look into the endless void, and a series of islands floating at about cloud level. In that campaign there are only two gods, referred to only as "The One of Light" and "The One of Darkness"

Together they created the world, and neither is good or evil, both being true neutral. All godly responsibilities are divided equally between the two, prayers being answers and divine interventions being preformed by one or the other, depending on whether it is day or night.

Tork
2013-07-21, 06:45 PM
I have always used the Forgotten Realms pantheon.

Most of the gods 'look' humanoid, but they are not as they are just 'masses of energy'.

Lots of domains are picked, depending on the character.


My religions are quite big and complex, so each god has dozens of groups that ''think'' they are right And each group has it's own social ways. Some groups inter act, some don't.

lord of pixies
2013-07-21, 07:04 PM
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Desirebro%27s_Tale

I Would Give my left foot to play in a campaign like this.

Anderlith
2013-07-21, 07:24 PM
I always play around with god archetypes.

You have the "Cultural Champion" the "Maimed God" "Trickster" "Warrior" "Smith" ect.

add in a bit of theme or fluff. Elemental axis. Sun, Moon, Stars. Specific animals Cats, spiders, lions, elk.

Blend & serve. lol

Volen, other names are Volyn, Valen, Valar
He is the artifice god of the sun. The light & heat of his forge allows us to live, & he is the one who created the race of man (Humans) in my custom setting. The priests have a philosophy based around metal, & personality types. Some men are like iron, hard but brittle, these are people like sellswords or old soldiers. Some men are like silver, bright & shining & pure, these are holy men. Some are soft & only use comes from the use they make themselves, like merchants & bankers, these men are like the gold they keep. Some men are like bronze, sharp but weak. Soldiers are like steel, flexible & strong. etc etc.

They best of men are Orichalcum. It looks kind of like electrum, but has is stronger than most known metals.

Another belief system I used & love a lot is a form of ancestor worship, where necromancy isn't evil. A priest will cast raise undead so that a dead farmer can continue to work a farm even in death. A dead soldier will continue to serve etc.

originalginger
2013-07-21, 08:02 PM
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Desirebro%27s_Tale

I Would Give my left foot to play in a campaign like this.

Just to throw it out there, I have been considering running a game online, and wouldn't be opposed to running something like that. If you have any interest, and are willing/able to assist in some design, I would be at least willing to discuss it.

Any preference on system? I have 3.5, 4e, Pathfinder and of course, access to any free online systems. I wouldn't want to go out and buy a whole new system, but if needed I have no issue with buying a few supplements or splat books to expand on what I already have.

prufock
2013-07-22, 08:24 AM
Rose Lake
Rose Lake is my default setting (which I think I'm soon retiring), and is very broad. Just about any published deity is worshipped somewhere in the world; the popular ones depend on where you are. In my current game the major deities are Cuthbert, Hieroneous, Obad-Hai, and Osprem. There is also the atheist (not really), humanist (also not really) organization known as the Mission, which is working to take over and eliminate all other churches.

Weird West
A magic and cowboy hats game, with several native races and several settler races. On the native side, Raptorans worship their ancestors (air), goliaths worship the Mountain (earth), darfellan worship the Sea (water), dusklings worship the Shadow, asherati worship the Sun (fire), and lizardfolk worship panathea (animist). On the settler side, most races worship the Highfather, their creator god. Some drakes (a draconic race) worship the Dragon, a sleeping deity that is foretold to wake one day and establish drakes as the ruling race.

Empires
One god for each of the 4 alignment extremes - good, evil, lawful, and chaotic, as well as a neutral god of balance and the unaligned "nature god" Gaia. I'm still working on this setting, so the gods aren't officially named yet.

The Godslayers
This is one of those "world built for campaign" things where there is really just one story to tell, but could be told in multiple ways. The gist is that ages ago, the gods were gracious, and humanity flourished. As humanity flourished, it became spoiled, arrogant, and basically ungracious, and turned its back on the gods. In their turn, the gods became spiteful, and thus humankind fell under their oppressive, neglectful, or downright cruel rule for centuries. One day, as foretold by prophecy, a chosen few would rise up against the gods, and take their place as the new benevolent overlords.

The gods are based on the seven heavenly virtues, perverted into the seven deadly sins.

Chastity: Once the goddess of knowledge, family, and purity, she has left mankind to fall to their lustful ways. Now the goddess of lust and secrets.

Charity: Having seen the growing greed of mankind, she has become jealous of her gifts, now demanding regular tributes from humans.

Modesto: Having spent his time as the muse of all beautiful creations, humanity's arrogance is reflected in him. He now only inspires works of himself.

Patience: She was a peaceful goddess of justice, mercy, and righteousness, but was forced to become stricter and more punitive to deal with humanity's crimes. She now holds the land in a state of martial law.

Temperance: Before the fall, she made sure mankind never wanted for essentials. Her presence would bring favourable weather and make crops sprout. Now she demands most of what the people grow, leaving them in a state of near-starvation while she grows massively obese.

Industrus: The former god of craft and creation has become a slovenly wretch, depressed with the state of the world.

Unitas: The highest of the gods, the god of life and healing, was humanity's biggest champion. As such, he had the farthest to fall, and fell hard, embracing death and undeath, replacing the love he once received from mankind with emotionless zombies.

I have a few other settings I'm working on as well, and am still making pantheon decisions. One is a pirate-themed sea-based setting, one is a primitive setting that incorporates fey taint, one is an asian-inspired kung fu/samurai pastiche similar to Oriental Adventures, and finally there's a more modern "city of monsters" setting.