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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Help me craft a mythos!

    (Cross-posted in World-building.)

    I'm designing a game setting and need help brainstorming pantheons, names, religions, afterlifes, and associated myths. Any help will be appreciated.

    Here's what I have so far. It's long, but I'm looking for brainstorms, so don't read all of it; just skim it until something pops out at you:

    Most of the religious history will have SOME grounding in truth, but be distorted with time.

    Humans are the only native race of the plane. All other races were originally extra-planar, but have been settled for generations and no longer have a living memory of Somewhere Else. Nevertheless, their myths will usually incorporate some story of exodus from one point to another, with a grounding in actual history but little to suggest planar travel.

    Most gods are actually elevated by mortals, usually raised up to their status by respect and worship (or fear and infamy), but sometimes by this artifact or that acquisition of limitless arcane power. Of course, some of those gods have been gods for a very long time.

    That said, I need several pantheons, each with a different character:

    Humans: The human race's history is one of being first colonized and exploited by the demi-human races, then overrun and enslaved by the savage races, and finally clawing their way to freedom and dominance of the plane. The Human Pantheon is ultimately about serving humankind, and all other races can look out for themselves, or possibly die in a pogrom. (This is one of the points of doctrinal dispute within the Church.) The chief deities of the Human Pantheon are the Twins, a legendary brother and sister who dragged humanity kicking and screaming out of barbarism and into civilization before themselves dying in the pivotal battle against the savage races. Elevated to godhood postmortem, the Twins have in turn taken to elevating those humans who create some monumental advance or benefit for humanity -- the general who conquered and converted half a continent, or the first blacksmith to figure out and codify iron-working, or the legendary doctor who laid the groundwork of the healer's trade. I don't have details on anyone other than the Twins, though.

    Elves: Elves are scattered across the world in isolated colonies, each devoted to perfection in a different ideal. (This accounts for the wide variety of elves. One colony's spent generations trying to be at one with nature, while another has mastered the arcane.) They typically remember their home plane as an island that vanished beneath the waves, and most extraplanar travel is referred to in terms of aquatic voyages. The head of their pantheon is the Emperor at the time their home plane was destroyed, and some say He carved a piece of land free of the doomed island and placed it in the heavens instead, though this is disputed. Elves probably honor overachievers like humans do, but again, I have no details. Expect a lot of variation from one colony to the next.

    Dwarves: Dwarves originally came from an "Inner Earth" type plane (a shell of rock around a central sun where gravity pushes them "outward"). They tunneled their way to other planes, and their migration tales are of journeys through deep and dark places. Originally they made regular pilgrimages back to their home plane (which they called Inner Light) as a religious obligation, but when that plane was overrun by savage invaders and the tunnels began spewing forth twisted beings, the dwarves went through a doctrinal change. Inner Light now refers to a spark of divinity, determination, and potential within each dwarf, and the pilgrimage is meditative in nature. I'm utterly flumoxed about what sort of gods to give them.

    Gnomes: Gnomes believe in the elevation of the world through figurative levity, and its fall through figurative gravity. Seriousness and dourness sends the world spiraling towards destruction, and laughter and humor is the key to salvation. Gnomes have an animistic view of things -- rocks and mountains and animals have spirits, and the embodiment of an entire class of spirits is a god. Thus, Mountain might be a god and Fox might be a god, but these are assembled out of the combined spirits of all mountains and all foxes. Again, I don't have details, and suggestions for fables would be awesome. Their name for all the land (and the plane at large) is Old Stoneface, and the highest calling in their faith is to produce a joke or prank so amusing that Old Stone Faith (and thus the entire world) must laugh. Gnomes are closely connected to fey, and their trips (in multiple senses of the word) may have involved wild parties with satyrs and rings of mushrooms.

    Halflings: Though the typical halfling in their home-plane was very much a sedate, respectable home-body (think hobbits), those who ended up in humanity's plane were the minority of restless wanderers, the exiled troublemakers, and so-forth. Halfling religion on the human plane is upside-down, with the domestic gods that were the traditionally-respected figures now reviled, and the rebellious, trouble-making gods representing the ideal. No clue at all who these gods are, though.

    Goblinoids: Originally, goblinoids were part of a three-caste society (priestly bugbears, noble hobgoblins, and commoner goblins). Almost the entire race was twisted into evil with the destruction of their home-plane, and they lost their good natures and identity as their emigration swept across countless planes in one bloody, barbaric invasion after the next. Nowadays goblinoids only remember a smidgeon of their origins, but I want to know their original religion. Something which speaks both to the goodly beings they once were, but also can be seen, here and there, in the twisted beings they've become.
    Alstroemeria in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.
    GM of A Thin Blue Line.

    Me: How crazy it gets depends on how much expertise, adroitness, and finesse you navigate the current craziness. Stick the landing and the whole thing could be wrapped up in a bow tomorrow.
    Player: In other words... we're pretty much doomed, right?
    Me: You're not entirely doomed yet. Now I'll just be sitting back in the corner here, cackling at your next few decisions.

    I'm not an evil GM! Honest!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Kadzar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    I really like this. It's not just another cliche generic fantasy world; you're trying to do something new here, and I respect that. Now, here are my thoughts:

    The Elves: I like that idea of them being specialists. That way, you can have your wood elves and your magic elves without them having to be really good at both at the same time (even though they're actually not). As far as the mythos goes, I wonder if maybe their ships might actually be some sort of magic spaceships (like spelljammers, except not actually spelljammers) and/or their island is actually a planet. Since no one who was around when it happened is still alive, and they would have nothing to actually reference when talking about it, they might have used ideas that were somewhat analogous when explaining what happened, hence a spaceship could become a sea vessel, a planet an island, and being sucked into a black hole (or whatever) becomes sinking.

    The Dwarves: It could be that the Inner Light was their god (representing fire, creativity, life, etc.), and when they could no longer return to it, they internalized the concept, believing that the Inner Light exists within all Dwarves, and clerics are simply those Dwarves who have reached such a level of enlightenment that they are able to manifest their inner divinity through outward shows of power. Also, I think there should be some on-going theological discussion about whenever or not other races possess the Inner Light.

    The Gnomes: This is something I'm not so keen on. Frankly, I think they could be made to fit the themes of the setting a bit more and also fit a bit better with what you first said about them. My idea is this: their levity is a defense mechanism. Their home plane was overrun by a powerful entity that fed on negative emotions like fear and despair, infecting anyone who were filled with such emotions to a great enough degree and taking control of them. They found that the only way to halt the infection was by overriding the dark emotions with mirth (something that's hard to do when you face the possibility of being overcome by the entity, and all your friends have been turned. Eventually almost all of their plane was overrun, save for a few who managed to find a way to escape. Nowadays, they still tell this story, though told in a silly way so as to not incite dark emotions, and live in fear that the dark ones will follow them to this new plane, or that some of the entity managed to sneak itself on board one of those early travelers, biding it's time until it's ready to strike. Then, to dispell those dark thoughts, they cast an illusion on the party thief to make him think his underwear is on fire.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    And I do this sort of thing for giggles...

    What sort of timescale are you looking at, because canon elves can live upwards of a thousand years - long generations there.

    I'm going with Kadzar on the Dwarves - Enlightenment rather than entity. If you want some sort of personage, I'd go with great teachers-as-saints. The question then being what sort of afterlife to they envision? Becoming one again with the light? The Inner Light of their home plane being the light of their ancestors, pouring their wisdom and their warmth unto their descendants?

    The nice thing here is that you can use the inner spark of divinity as their spark of inspiration - their motivation to build. This would be a way to tie the traditional dwarven crafting into the philosophy. And monks. Dwarven Monks.


    Gnomes - the strong Fey and spirit connections make me think Shinto. Sites are sacred. the world is sacred. The humor - levity, jokes - and anger - emotions are important. Something dark and oppressive from wherever they were? Some sort of evil, soul-sucking gloom?


    Goblinoids: I've always wanted to do Roman goblins. Hobs seem to have that sort of organization to them, and the goblin = plebeian sort of works (though goblin = citizen, anything else = plebeian, or slave, or dead fits better). ...anyhow, some sort of civil heirarchy would be a good starting point - somewhere between Greco-Roman and the Celestial Bureaucracy. A hodge-podge of gods mirroring the goblin society (or the goblinoid society modeling that of the gods). Somewhere along the line, they started a lot of fighting, which started to skew priorities a bit - the rolling expansion, or the continued moving - strips away the finer areas, leaving what is most essential for a warring lifestyle. War gods are elevated, the concept of the chief moves from benevolent lord to mad despot, darker gods with promises of faster power insinuate into the structure. If you want to make them really complex, also have them acquire gods with their expansions - brought into the fold, conquered with their worshippers - or freed from their inferior petitioners to serve a truly right and noble species. A Holy war to save the divine from inadequate followers.

    Halflings: Teenagers. The conservative authority is now the stifling tyranny, and the ne'er-do-wells and tricksters are the good guys. Chaotic (Good) vs. Lawful (Evil) - at least from their perspective. Determinism vs. Free Will. Do they value chance, or consider it letting things fall by Fate? If they choose not do decide, have they still made a choice?
    Hmmm... Apotheosis of the Revolutionaries? The free-thinking leader, the writer of their manifesto, the sneaky spy, the fat drunk one who somehow got all the ladies, the scout who found the way out, the quilting bee of wise women who take the scraps of broken Fate, and sew together a harlequin future for Those Who Chose to Leave. The bad guys are a mad tyrant king, some manner of governor/jailer (chains being a strong image here), and some sort of smothering mother - weaving themes appropriate here. They do not like spiders.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ravens_cry's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post

    Dwarves: Dwarves originally came from an "Inner Earth" type plane (a shell of rock around a central sun where gravity pushes them "outward"). They tunneled their way to other planes, and their migration tales are of journeys through deep and dark places. Originally they made regular pilgrimages back to their home plane (which they called Inner Light) as a religious obligation, but when that plane was overrun by savage invaders and the tunnels began spewing forth twisted beings, the dwarves went through a doctrinal change. Inner Light now refers to a spark of divinity, determination, and potential within each dwarf, and the pilgrimage is meditative in nature. I'm utterly flumoxed about what sort of gods to give them.
    The Lost Sun could be a venerated personification of the sun on their home plane, mostly worshipped by older, more conservative dwarves who remember the pilgrimages to their home plane.
    With the Inner Light, every act of creation is an act of worship, the gift of the divine to emulate the divine. Of course, for the more conservative who worship The Lost Sun, this may be an act of heresy, so now you have some driving conflict between people.
    Quote Originally Posted by Calanon View Post
    Raven_Cry's comments often have the effects of a +5 Tome of Understanding

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Hmmm....I do like myths and stories. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

    For now, I will merely plant the idea that, perhaps, the gnomes and the halflings are not unrelated. This idea of something other from the home of the gnomes may be somehow related to the oppression the halflings escaped from.

    Perhaps complacency rather than soul-sucking gloom?
    ATTENTION ANYONE WHO I'M PLAYING WITH:
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Humans: Perhaps take ideas for human gods from real life people who are considered to have made monumental contributions to humanity - what would deified versions of Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, or, hell, Gary Gygax look like?

    Here's also an idea for the human afterlife: when a human dies, his soul goes to a vast hall where the gods feast eternally, each presiding over her own table. If the human was worthy in life, a god may invite that human to join her table and partake in the feast among others the god has invited. Likely, worthy traders would be invited by the god of trading, worthy warriors by a war god, and so on. Those humans who are unworthy because they failed to contribute to humanity or because their souls were stained by crimes or sin must wander the hall forever, eating nothing and taking no part in the merriment.

    Elves: Go with tutelary deities specific to each elven colony. These deities were the captains who brought each ship/colony of elves to the world. Each colony recounts a different journey full of different trials. Unlike many other races, the elves of each colony only honor, pray to, and otherwise interact with just their patron deity.
    I don't expect you to agree with what I say, but at least defend to the death my right to say it!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kitten Champion's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    (Cross-posted in World-building.)
    Most gods are actually elevated by mortals, usually raised up to their status by respect and worship (or fear and infamy), but sometimes by this artifact or that acquisition of limitless arcane power. Of course, some of those gods have been gods for a very long time.

    That said, I need several pantheons, each with a different character:

    Humans: The human race's history is one of being first colonized and exploited by the demi-human races, then overrun and enslaved by the savage races, and finally clawing their way to freedom and dominance of the plane. The Human Pantheon is ultimately about serving humankind, and all other races can look out for themselves, or possibly die in a pogrom. (This is one of the points of doctrinal dispute within the Church.) The chief deities of the Human Pantheon are the Twins, a legendary brother and sister who dragged humanity kicking and screaming out of barbarism and into civilization before themselves dying in the pivotal battle against the savage races. Elevated to godhood postmortem, the Twins have in turn taken to elevating those humans who create some monumental advance or benefit for humanity -- the general who conquered and converted half a continent, or the first blacksmith to figure out and codify iron-working, or the legendary doctor who laid the groundwork of the healer's trade. I don't have details on anyone other than the Twins, though.
    This is interesting. It's something like the canonization of the Roman Catholic saints into semi-divinity. A twist you could put in, as far as churches manipulating events, is that the Twins were in fact, Elves -- or some similar non-human race. They were royalty in their own clan, but were exiled from their land for breaking the taboo of incest. Embittered and vengeful, they co-opt the struggling and contemptible humans with overwhelming charisma and by sharing the collective knowledge of their civilization on technology, warfare, philosophy, and so on. Like Prometheus, providing fire to early man.

    Some humans, the more perceptive among them, realize that their intentions were not benevolent, or they were simply revolted by the manner that these siblings have wrapped their race around their finger out of chilling hatred. Thus, in the heart of battle, when it was clear their victory was assured and mankind was going to ascend past the Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and all the extra-planer races -- they have them assassinated. Cut down just before the two could obtain control over the whole world. Shrewdly, the human conspirators quickly filled the void the Twin's death created. Crafting lies about the Twin's ascension into godhood -- over time revising history and remaking them into humans. They also claimed, rather boldly, that those foremost members of the conspiracy had their blessings to be the rulers of man, as both their official church and as monarchs. The church would eventually split, to some degree, as the rabid racists who wanted to secure humanity from threat of non-humans forever and the more pragmatic members who simply wanted to rule in peace, would compete for the hearts of man.

    The capacity to achieve godhood through worldly acts, would make a fairly good starting point for a rraison d'etre. You could take the Buddhist approach, endless cycles of reincarnation -- thus endless toil in the mortal realms -- unless you achieve some level of worthiness. People born with natural skill and superior social status could be claimed to be more holy, with ardent faith and great acts (like say, offering money to the church -- or being king) they can move closer to that godhood. Regular serfs merely have to be content in their position, and support their betters in hopes that in the Grand Narrative of Creation they will be the ones able to become like gods. Entering a celestial hierarchy on a plane of idyllic beauty and devoid of suffering. Goblins and other races could be seen as being punished for some vast racial blasphemy, and incapable of achieving godhood in such a state, thus the only kindness is to make their lives end quickly and reduce the capacity for sin in hopes that they'll be able to be born as a human, dwarf, elf, gnome, or animal.

    This would be some version of the Elven (or whatever) faith, the theology would be a bastardized version of their Twin's cosmology.

    Which in fact, is something closer to the Truth. The Storm of Souls, a plane where the departed souls of creatures from various realities intersect and mingle. These souls are, over time, managed and re-inserted back into the physical worlds by the divinities which exists there. These gods thrive off the spiritual residue of countless lives having been lead in innumerable different fashions -- consuming their identity and memories prior to releasing them to wherever there's a spiritual vacuum (they have no value for null souls, and need more food -- thus they all do this). Each god has its own aspect of the soul they like to consume, valour, wisdom, justice, fear, blood lust, jealously, vengeance, lust -- and so on -- as those gods who shared the same "food" or tried to take more than their individual aspect ended up breaking the precarious balance between them and were eaten by the others. Every god is, to some degree, influenced and shaped by the aspect they ingest.

    The plane is jealously guarded by these gods, they exert power in every sphere of reality in order to ensure their positions are secured from would-be usurpers (preventing mortals from getting too powerful) and to promote their own particular aspect of the soul. Each god wants to overcome the others in this plane, creating intractable competition between them in the other realities. This competition ensures they're confined in most of their being to the Sea of Storms, while constantly looking over their shoulders at one another they play a cosmic game across the omniverse. They're somewhat paranoid and are unwilling to act directly due to their eternal staring contests, they thus prefer to use proxies and extreme subtlety rather than simply naming themselves to all and showing off to the mortals demanding worship. Occasionally, there's a noticeably brighter flash in the Storm, such rare souls are taken from the multitude and transfigured into a form that deity requires (demons, angels, devas, totemic spirits, ect) to serve as their purposes and and defend their kingdom.

    For instance, The Elves (or whatever) theology is based around one such god's interest, and the Elves (or whatever) have concluded that living in a certain fashion is the best means of being elevated after death by this being. The complicated nature of this they're unaware of, but they have met past proxies which have encouraged their beliefs.

    Occasionally, individual memories are too inextricably tied to their soul, creating something as mundane as deja-vu all the way to detailed memories of past events and selves.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Lots of talk about planar cosmology here, so I'll put in some stuff that I left out last time:

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    The Inner Planes are surrounded and contained by the six elemental planes. Of these, the four classical elements act as passive "walls", but the positive and negative elemental planes serve a greater role. New planes are spontaneously generated by the positive elemental plane, and over time will tend to drift towards the negative elemental plane and oblivion. Conditions on each plane will reflect where along this process the plane is; those close to the positive energy plane will be idyllic paradises, and those close to the negative energy plane will be barren, apocalyptic wastelands. Cause and effect are difficult to separate, as events within each plane can cause it to move "up" or "down", or movement up and down can trigger good or bad events in the plane. In any event, salvation, elevation, and ascension of the entire world IS possible (through massive, worldwide goodness), and most religions have this truth at their core. However, most religions do NOT release this knowledge beyond their inner-most circles, because enlightened self-interest just isn't enough.

    Outer planes are simply entire planes, or parts of planes, that have been ripped out of this natural state and placed beyond the rules of buoyancy and sinking by beings powerful enough to be called gods.

    Upon death, a soul leaves the world and naturally floats either upwards towards the prime elemental plane, or downwards towards the negative, depending on its alignment. (Neutral alignments will still drift one way or another, but much more slowly.) Souls that eventually reach the positive energy plane become one with life and goodness itself, and have a hand in crafting entire new planes as Creators. Souls that land themselves in the negative energy plane are consumed by oblivion in a suitably horrific manner. However, MOST souls would tend to hit another material plane before their journey is complete, causing them to be reborn in a better, or worse, place. Also, the gods like to grab souls in transit and bring them to the outer planes. While there is competition for souls, belief and alignment give critical advantage, with the result that souls usually get grabbed by the pantheon they believed in and by a deity suitable to their alignment and placed in an afterlife suitable to their belief system.

    Movement between material planes by mortals was usually accomplished via the Plane of Twilight. Though navigating that plane is normally extremely hazardous and chancy, conduits linking pairs of planes made interplanar travel accessible even to the least powerful of individuals. No great magic is needed to use conduits, just a good map or perhaps a high Magoo factor. Naturally occurring conduits are dangerous and unpredictable, often encountered in storms or other chaotic circumstances, but many of the extraplanar races learned how to forge their own artificial conduits. These conduits tended to take on different flavors, depending on who made them, which is why (for example) elven conduits tend to be experienced as aquatic journeys.

    A great interplanar confederacy known as Fae'rin was established this way. Though principally comprised of fey, most races were either full members of the confederacy (gnomes and halflings), or within its sphere of influence through trade and cultural exchange (dwarves, elves, and goblinoids) or colonization (humans). (This is why the only language that humans speak is Fae'ri Common. When your tribe has its own native tongue, and the tribe over the hill has a different native tongue, but you both speak Common because that's what the Fae'ri who want to trade you jewelry for spices speak, pretty soon all humans are speaking Common to each other.) The fall of the goblinoids and the resultant bloodshed (known as the Goblin Wars) sweeping across the planes led to the collapse of Fae'rin, as some worlds were overrun, others destroyed the conduits to threatened planes, refugees trapped in sinking worlds were twisted and desperately sought escape through any means possible, and free travel between the planes became chancy and dangerous. What conduits remain are often hazardous and ill-maintained, and used only by medium-or-high-level characters.

    Something in the Plane of Twilight was altered concurrent to the Goblin Wars, and it has become a much more dangerous and darker place. Competing explanations by planar scholars have been provided (including who is to blame), but no one theory is dominant. This further impeded travel after the end of the Goblin Wars. The Plane of Twilight is now more commonly known as the Plane of Shadows.

    Time proceeds differently on different planes, but from the human plane the Goblin Wars started about 2500 years ago. They rather quickly fell on dwarven and elven civilization. The home elven plane was first invaded about 2300 years ago, and finally fell about 2000 years ago. The dwarven plane fell in about the same time frame. The goblin hordes reached the human plane about 2200 years ago, but this was an auxiliary thrust. The goblinoids were focused on the dwarves, elves, and Fae'rin, and weren't particularly interested in the primitive humans. (This means that the human plane only got twenty or so legions of goblinoids securing it, rather than being overrun entirely.) The Goblin Wars never really ended, but the invading hordes lost most of their momentum and coherence about 1800 years ago. An enslaved humanity began throwing off their shackles about 1500 years ago, this marking the rise of the Twins, and can be properly said to have dominated their plane about 800 years ago. This empire lasted and expanded until about 300 years ago, when it collapsed under the weight of its bureaucracy and internal feuds. The culture and Church still remains intact, but politically it has splintered.


    .... also, I forgot to mention. The Human Empire, though dominant in the plane until its collapse, never totally converted all of humanity. Uncivilized humans on its fringes still worship a combination of natural elements and the other-worldly Fae'ri, and comprise about a third to a half of all humanity. I could give the barbarian humans a pantheon as well, or just say it varies by tribe.

    Okay, enough and more-than-enough planology and history. Onto responses!

    Humans:
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    I'm agreeing with Vitruviansquid -- once I've got the basic idea of what the human gods were elevated for, I need to abandon the idea of a religion based on portfolios and focus on a religion based on their human personalities, desires, and interests. Human gods will be PEOPLE, with all the complications and curlicues suggested by this.

    Kitten Champion: All interesting ideas, but they interfere somewhat with stuff I've already got planned. Let's see what I can incorporate...

    What I had: The Twins were definitely humans. They learned various arts from the dwarves and elves, and brought them back to their own kind to form the basis of civilization. They were captured, tortured, and executed by a union of savage races trying to squash the upsurgent human "rebels", but in the process they were turned into martyrs and the seeds of human civilization were thrown into a fanatic fervor that turned the tide of the war and broke the power of the savage races.

    Now: The dwarves and elves were in trouble. Though their colonies and subterranean cities were very secure, the rest of the plane was overrun by goblins, and other races twisted into savagery by the sudden falls of their home planes (orcs, gnolls, etc). They sought to build the much-more-populous humans (who at the time treated the other races as otherworldly spirits rather than enemies) up as allies and proxies, and turn them against the savage races. I don't see them assassinating the Twins at the moment when it looked like the savage races would win, but perhaps they failed to show up with their armies in support of what looked like a failed gambit. This earned those two races the distrust of humanity, but they're still pretty far down on the list of grudges to settle, and in the meantime trade, wary coexistence, and temporary alliances against mutual threats are the norm.

    Also, I see humanity as taking the initial gifts of the dwarves and elves as being somehow polluted of inferior, and making it imperative to produce a superior HUMAN art as soon as possible. Thus, while dwarves taught humans the art of perfectly cutting and shipping stone so that they fit together to form a fortress that needed no mortar, elves taught them the lore of gathering and nurturing edible plants, these were "improved" upon by reinforced concrete and intensive farming that exhausts the land. The stalwart dwarves have been known to shed a tear or two as they watch perfectly good granite being ground down to concrete and bagged for shipping, and the elven opinion of high-yield farming is hardly repeatable.

    The Human Pantheon is definitely going to be a united force. There might be some competition within it, but it will be less a matter of holy war and more a matter of court politics. I don't think that your Storm of Souls is a good fit for it, but might work well in the Elven, Halfling, or Goblinoid religions.

    I also kind of like the idea of the cycle of rebirth, but I'm aiming for more of a feudal European than south-east Asian feel for humans. I'm thinking that all humans are pressed into service of humanity and the Pantheon in the afterlife, and their rank in the afterlife is dependent on their accomplishments in life. Kind of a Valhalla, only with much more going on than just drinking and fighting. However, any soul may petition for rebirth, in hopes of improving their position the next time around.

    Also, I can't believe I didn't see this earlier, but human religion has to be horribly entangled with a guild structure. The smith's guild is not JUST a guild, it's also the Church of the Blacksmith. This suggests severe curtailment on social mobility, especially with a secular law (imposed well after the religion was founded) saying you inherit the profession (and faith) of your family. One can move up and down in the Guild easily enough, but moving SIDEWAYS to another Guild... and essentially changing churches... has a lot of obstacles involved. Furthermore, as new arts are invented, the established guild-churches eagerly snap them up, claiming they fall under their purview, while the new artisans clamor that this is a new art and deserves to be a new guild, with the inventor elevated to godhood. All of this is made worse by the prospect of an afterlife of basically performing the same art you did all your life. Someone who hates their job while alive isn't going to want to do it for eternity. This has spawned several doctrinal debates... is it the will of the gods for someone who was born in a blacksmith family to remain in the blacksmith profession? Can someone be reborn into a different profession, or always just the same one? The power and purviews of the guilds are multi-faceted. Larger guilds with a wide variety of arts in their portfolios have vast income and worldly power, offer a wide choice of professions to their members, and provide their gods with lots and lots of worshipers. Smaller guilds... don't. Meanwhile, there may be cults within the guilds, who never accepted their art's absorption into the larger guild, and heretically worship that inventor in secret.

    I don't see pulling off the Twins as elves. Official theology will have them being humans or aasamir. However.... I COULD buy into the idea that they were half-elves. This dovetails well with the preexisting notion of other races as powerful spirits, and could easily have been turned into half-angels in the retelling. I don't think an "official" stance on this is necessary. Instead, we've got a few elves somewhere spreading that rumor and earning the hatred of humans, and more progressive (less bigoted) human priests suggesting the possibility and being branded as heretics by their conservative brethren.

    The Twins Themselves, I see as caught in something of a bind. In life, they nurtured and harnessed human bigotry as a liberating force (the only good orc is a dead orc!). In godhood, they've become aware of both the nature and history of the planes, and know that if humanity runs full tilt into pogroms and purges it could mean the twisting and corruption of their world. This could be another Goblin Wars in the making. However, the Twins are dependent upon their worshipers for power, and the religion had taken on a life of its own before the Twins could really settle into a stewardship role. They're afraid of moving too quickly, making too many contradictory or confusing revelations, for fear that humanity will splinter in the face of the other races, the faith-power feeding the Twins' godhood will slack off, or that the church will shatter (and with it, their ability to disseminate their gradualist instructions). And, of course, the Twins ARE products of their times, when the only good orc WAS a dead orc, and they have the prejudices to match.


    Dwarves:
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    I'm liking what several posters have said: The Inner Sun was the original god of the religion, it got transformed into the Inner Light path of enlightenment (which can have some real-world Taoist or Confucian elements) for practical reasons. The Inner Light is by far the dominant religion of those dwarves who haven't wandered back down their tunnels on pilgrimages and DIED HORRIBLY, but the Inner Sun still exists and regards the other dwarves as heretics. Also, there have been several teachers regarding the Inner Light, and the religion can be divided into different schools of thought. Those teachers HAVE become gods in the sense of power, but unlike most gods don't present themselves as such, and they are more interested in guiding the souls of dwarves to the positive energy plane than to an artificial afterlife. Regardless of school (or original sun-worship), if they're good dwarves their afterlife is to become One with the Light/Sun, joining their ancestors. The Light (or Sun) can additionally be a metaphor for inspiration. I like the idea of creativity and crafting being an act of worship (and even divine mission); all this dovetails well with the role of the positive energy plane in my cosmology. It also suggests the possibility of an "outer darkness" to balance it, but I think I should find a different name for that to avoid treading in real-world religion.


    Elves:
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    I'm thinking the elven court under the Last Emperor needs to be deified as well. However, each colony was supported by a different Patron in the court, and will thus worship that individual principally. I also like the idea of the ship's Captain being the primary object of worship; the Court was at a distant remove, and dealings with it could only be accomplished via the Captain. In actual history (which take longer to die out, given elven lifespans), the bodies of elves were ferried back to the home plane to be placed in state; in the new mythology, the Captain ferries the souls of the dead to the Court. (I like how this works vis-a-vis Tolkein's "go west beyond the sea" business.) In the mythology, the Court is a place of delights, where all the exotic wonders brought home by colonies of a thousand different specializations are enjoyed, and all elves are united as one race.

    .... which just leaves me the question of what the elves USED to believe, and how the older generations regard this new heresy. Maybe the Storm of Souls works here.


    Gnomes:
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    I'm not going with the idea of the lurking evil, but I think the planology I presented above makes for a good substitute. I'm also thinking that while they will acknowledge "gods" of all sorts of animals, they are particularly found of the burrowing mammals that they can talk to. Laughing Fox, Wise Mole, Grumpy Man Bear. I was thinking more of a native American folklore, but Joe the Rat's idea of sacred sites and Shinto elements is also intriguing, and I'm wondering about fusing the two.


    Halflings:
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    I'm liking Joe the Rat's ideas, except for one thing: All the old gods that halflings worshiped (and still worship) on other planes STILL EXIST. In their original form. Because there ARE the more traditional hallfings out there, still worshiping.

    This has me wondering, to what extent does worship shape the god, and to what extent does the god shape worship? Suppose that the exiles, through spreading out to all the worlds they could reach, began to outnumber the stay-at-homes? Suppose that conservative halfling faith was overwhelmed by the worship of the rebellious? Could the gods themselves be twisted by that change?

    Right now, I'm seeing every god in the Halfling pantheon as having an Old and New face. The Old Face is the traditional view (the one of the domestic halflings), and the New Face is the view of the halflings who've gone abroad. In essence, each god is a duality, having a good and evil side. The New Faces could be very, very much as Joe the Rat describes. We can even have a sort of expected transition from New Face to Old, where as a halfling (reluctantly) matures, she becomes more amiable to the Old Faces. There might even be an Age of Geezerhood (or something like that) where the halfling is EXPECTED to start worshiping the Old Faces over the New. Don't trust anyone over 30, dude, they all worship the Weaver and Gaoler.


    Goblinoids:
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    Greco-Roman goblinoids.... actually works, with some slight modifications. Emphasize these gods at their most boorish, petty, and spiteful, then shift some greater gods to lesser status and lesser gods to greater status. An Ares-equivalent could become the head of the pantheon, while the Zeus-equivalent could be just a major god. Demeter might be reduced to minor status and Nike promoted to major, and so on. That's the sort of transition that could be made when the goblins fell. I think the Greek gods make a good template, and feel but I'd definitely want a different pantheon, not just "Oh lookie greek gods".
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
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    I'm agreeing with Vitruviansquid -- once I've got the basic idea of what the human gods were elevated for, I need to abandon the idea of a religion based on portfolios and focus on a religion based on their human personalities, desires, and interests. Human gods will be PEOPLE, with all the complications and curlicues suggested by this.

    Kitten Champion: All interesting ideas, but they interfere somewhat with stuff I've already got planned. Let's see what I can incorporate...

    What I had: The Twins were definitely humans. They learned various arts from the dwarves and elves, and brought them back to their own kind to form the basis of civilization. They were captured, tortured, and executed by a union of savage races trying to squash the upsurgent human "rebels", but in the process they were turned into martyrs and the seeds of human civilization were thrown into a fanatic fervor that turned the tide of the war and broke the power of the savage races.

    Now: The dwarves and elves were in trouble. Though their colonies and subterranean cities were very secure, the rest of the plane was overrun by goblins, and other races twisted into savagery by the sudden falls of their home planes (orcs, gnolls, etc). They sought to build the much-more-populous humans (who at the time treated the other races as otherworldly spirits rather than enemies) up as allies and proxies, and turn them against the savage races. I don't see them assassinating the Twins at the moment when it looked like the savage races would win, but perhaps they failed to show up with their armies in support of what looked like a failed gambit. This earned those two races the distrust of humanity, but they're still pretty far down on the list of grudges to settle, and in the meantime trade, wary coexistence, and temporary alliances against mutual threats are the norm.

    Also, I see humanity as taking the initial gifts of the dwarves and elves as being somehow polluted of inferior, and making it imperative to produce a superior HUMAN art as soon as possible. Thus, while dwarves taught humans the art of perfectly cutting and shipping stone so that they fit together to form a fortress that needed no mortar, elves taught them the lore of gathering and nurturing edible plants, these were "improved" upon by reinforced concrete and intensive farming that exhausts the land. The stalwart dwarves have been known to shed a tear or two as they watch perfectly good granite being ground down to concrete and bagged for shipping, and the elven opinion of high-yield farming is hardly repeatable.

    The Human Pantheon is definitely going to be a united force. There might be some competition within it, but it will be less a matter of holy war and more a matter of court politics. I don't think that your Storm of Souls is a good fit for it, but might work well in the Elven, Halfling, or Goblinoid religions.

    I also kind of like the idea of the cycle of rebirth, but I'm aiming for more of a feudal European than south-east Asian feel for humans. I'm thinking that all humans are pressed into service of humanity and the Pantheon in the afterlife, and their rank in the afterlife is dependent on their accomplishments in life. Kind of a Valhalla, only with much more going on than just drinking and fighting. However, any soul may petition for rebirth, in hopes of improving their position the next time around.

    Also, I can't believe I didn't see this earlier, but human religion has to be horribly entangled with a guild structure. The smith's guild is not JUST a guild, it's also the Church of the Blacksmith. This suggests severe curtailment on social mobility, especially with a secular law (imposed well after the religion was founded) saying you inherit the profession (and faith) of your family. One can move up and down in the Guild easily enough, but moving SIDEWAYS to another Guild... and essentially changing churches... has a lot of obstacles involved. Furthermore, as new arts are invented, the established guild-churches eagerly snap them up, claiming they fall under their purview, while the new artisans clamor that this is a new art and deserves to be a new guild, with the inventor elevated to godhood. All of this is made worse by the prospect of an afterlife of basically performing the same art you did all your life. Someone who hates their job while alive isn't going to want to do it for eternity. This has spawned several doctrinal debates... is it the will of the gods for someone who was born in a blacksmith family to remain in the blacksmith profession? Can someone be reborn into a different profession, or always just the same one? The power and purviews of the guilds are multi-faceted. Larger guilds with a wide variety of arts in their portfolios have vast income and worldly power, offer a wide choice of professions to their members, and provide their gods with lots and lots of worshipers. Smaller guilds... don't. Meanwhile, there may be cults within the guilds, who never accepted their art's absorption into the larger guild, and heretically worship that inventor in secret.

    I don't see pulling off the Twins as elves. Official theology will have them being humans or aasamir. However.... I COULD buy into the idea that they were half-elves. This dovetails well with the preexisting notion of other races as powerful spirits, and could easily have been turned into half-angels in the retelling. I don't think an "official" stance on this is necessary. Instead, we've got a few elves somewhere spreading that rumor and earning the hatred of humans, and more progressive (less bigoted) human priests suggesting the possibility and being branded as heretics by their conservative brethren.

    The Twins Themselves, I see as caught in something of a bind. In life, they nurtured and harnessed human bigotry as a liberating force (the only good orc is a dead orc!). In godhood, they've become aware of both the nature and history of the planes, and know that if humanity runs full tilt into pogroms and purges it could mean the twisting and corruption of their world. This could be another Goblin Wars in the making. However, the Twins are dependent upon their worshipers for power, and the religion had taken on a life of its own before the Twins could really settle into a stewardship role. They're afraid of moving too quickly, making too many contradictory or confusing revelations, for fear that humanity will splinter in the face of the other races, the faith-power feeding the Twins' godhood will slack off, or that the church will shatter (and with it, their ability to disseminate their gradualist instructions). And, of course, the Twins ARE products of their times, when the only good orc WAS a dead orc, and they have the prejudices to match.
    Your actual cosmological afterlife is good. I was, I think, suggesting that your faiths shouldn't be objectively true, but rather they are all half-truths which obscure while hinting at some larger game by unseen god-like entities. If you whittled out the egoism and examined the religious canons of all the races critically you'd find they are all grasping at a greater truth but are unwilling or unable to reach it. The human pantheon would be both true, in a sense of these people were ascended to a higher existence after death and work on humans behalf, while being false -- there would be greater gods which predate and surpass humanity that don't want to reveal themselves.

    No one would want to believe in the Storm of Souls, regardless of whether it was true or not. Not only would it deny them an idyllic heaven, it would put them on the same level as the people they feel are their inferiors. Those born into their position may be a random soul from eons ago from a completely different reality -- not the beneficiary of some past-life well lived. The fact that the afterlife doesn't actually care about you or your status, only insofar as it can use you for its own purposes, would not be a happy circumstance especially the ruling elite and racially prejudiced. Something kinder and more useful would have to be invented by the aristocracy and clergy if they were being pragmatic.


    Still,

    I love your idea of guild-churches. Each could have a holy icon members wear or tattoo on their body -- reflecting the ideology and belief system of that particular god. A follower of the merchant god would wear the most valuable metals he/she could afford and wouldn't sell their icon even on the verge of destitution, merchants would go into debt to buy the most ostentatious holy decoration. A soldier/warrior's guild (or whatever) would be made of the most durable metals-- something that could also function like a small dagger if needed. A blacksmith would have to personally fashion his/her own, and the god would smile upon the most well and intricately crafted. Beggars would make there's out of wood, declaring their intentions to pander. Prostitutes, similar to merchants, would make theirs out of various metals and gemstones, denoting their price (they could even be use the same god, ironically). Sailors and dockworkers, anyone who's labour intensive and somewhat poor -- would have their icons tattooed on as an absolute statement of faith. Some would be riddled with such marks. The iconography would be simple, but everyone would based on a bifurcated image -- a mirrored image to represent the Twins. They could use them as charms which provide boons and protections, either literally or just figuratively. With a universal law that anyone wearing the icon outside their calling would be branded with that mark -- upside down -- to announce their sacrilege to the world. The priests, clerics, paladins and such, would have the Twins-theme iconography liberally.

    It would be a great way to ensure class segregation, and players entering the world would know what to look for with every human, assuming that person is being honest. People from outside the empire would be noted for their lack of such marks or icons, heathens naked in the supposed eyes of the divinities of man.
    Last edited by Kitten Champion; 2012-09-14 at 10:18 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Gnomes:
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    I'm not going with the idea of the lurking evil, but I think the planology I presented above makes for a good substitute. I'm also thinking that while they will acknowledge "gods" of all sorts of animals, they are particularly found of the burrowing mammals that they can talk to. Laughing Fox, Wise Mole, Grumpy Man Bear. I was thinking more of a native American folklore, but Joe the Rat's idea of sacred sites and Shinto elements is also intriguing, and I'm wondering about fusing the two.
    They should mix-and-match fairly well, and maybe give you a distinct flavor. Sacred sites is not unknown to Native American traditions, though I can't think of any personified examples (as opposed to just sacred), though that's usually in regard to geographic boundaries (Four sacred mountains in some Navajo traditions) or good hunting (The Black Hills). But giving them a voice or face would not be an unreasonable shift.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Halflings:
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    I'm liking Joe the Rat's ideas, except for one thing: All the old gods that halflings worshiped (and still worship) on other planes STILL EXIST. In their original form. Because there ARE the more traditional hallfings out there, still worshiping.

    This has me wondering, to what extent does worship shape the god, and to what extent does the god shape worship? Suppose that the exiles, through spreading out to all the worlds they could reach, began to outnumber the stay-at-homes? Suppose that conservative halfling faith was overwhelmed by the worship of the rebellious? Could the gods themselves be twisted by that change?

    Right now, I'm seeing every god in the Halfling pantheon as having an Old and New face. The Old Face is the traditional view (the one of the domestic halflings), and the New Face is the view of the halflings who've gone abroad. In essence, each god is a duality, having a good and evil side. The New Faces could be very, very much as Joe the Rat describes. We can even have a sort of expected transition from New Face to Old, where as a halfling (reluctantly) matures, she becomes more amiable to the Old Faces. There might even be an Age of Geezerhood (or something like that) where the halfling is EXPECTED to start worshiping the Old Faces over the New. Don't trust anyone over 30, dude, they all worship the Weaver and Gaoler.
    I'm liking the duality. Looking at the pantheon as a whole rather than at individual gods, you can get some interesting shifts in role and relevance. The Trickster moves from a central heroic figure to a dangerous agitator and source of trouble - very much the same being, and probably still telling the same stories, but seen in a different light with a different Face. Weaving this in further, the Halflings might have a cultural obsession with dualities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Goblinoids:
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    Greco-Roman goblinoids.... actually works, with some slight modifications. Emphasize these gods at their most boorish, petty, and spiteful, then shift some greater gods to lesser status and lesser gods to greater status. An Ares-equivalent could become the head of the pantheon, while the Zeus-equivalent could be just a major god. Demeter might be reduced to minor status and Nike promoted to major, and so on. That's the sort of transition that could be made when the goblins fell. I think the Greek gods make a good template, and feel but I'd definitely want a different pantheon, not just "Oh lookie greek gods".
    A long time ago I promised some folks to write up a primer for making worlds and gods. My first suggestion: "Steal this pantheon." The second is to invest in a metal file to take the serial numbers off. Existing groups have their roles and logic (and illogic) figured out - strip off the cultural trappings, toss on some fresh paint and leather, hand out name tags, have the hammer guy and the spear guy and the dude with the stringed turtle trade weapons, and you're good to go. You just need to pick the right flavor of names for the culture. For goblins, lots of Y's and hard consonants seem to be the vogue. The other way to go is to skip the proper names, and call them by their roles or dispositions: The Warlord, the Thunderer, The Forgemaster, Lord Victorious, The Bountiful Lady, etc.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    I'm noticing that duality and the number two are showing up a lot in these mythos. The Twins, the Two Faces of the Halflings, the Inner Sun/Inner Light of the Dwarves, and the possibility of the Spirits of Nature/Dark Thing of the Gnomes.

    I wonder how else duality can be incorporated into the other pantheons. The Elves and the Goblins are the two who don't really have a connection to it yet.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Gnomes: Gnomes believe in the elevation of the world through figurative levity, and its fall through figurative gravity. Seriousness and dourness sends the world spiraling towards destruction, and laughter and humor is the key to salvation. ...Their name for all the land (and the plane at large) is Old Stoneface, and the highest calling in their faith is to produce a joke or prank so amusing that Old Stone Faith (and thus the entire world) must laugh.
    I think that this will get old very quickly. This way lies the madness of Kender. I think a better focus would be on Hope and Optimism rather than jokes. They may hold clowning in high regard but not everyone can be a comedian. You need to allow for more variety in an entire race than just saying they are all pranksters. The problem is that pranks are funny for the people they don't happen to. The other PCs in a party with a gnome are going to get irritated very quickly by the gnome's constant attempts to "cheer them up" with pranks and jokes. That's the exact opposite effect that you want.

    But if the gnomes are just dedicated to Optimism, then they have a lot more options. For example:
    • The Clown: He doesn't take anything seriously and tries to keep everything lighthearted by downplaying the negatives. If he gets hurt in combat, he'll make action hero puns and quips like "I'm going to feel that one in the morning!" when taking a mace to the face or "Anyone got tweezers? I've got one heck of a splinter." when getting stuck with an arrow.
    • The Daredevil: He's just thrilled to be alive. Is he scared to go into that cave and fight a dragon? Absolutely! But the adrenalin rush and the singed eyebrows make the cold beer back at the tavern for the apres-slay party taste that much better. Sure, slogging through a murky swamp in constant terror of being ambushed by lizardmen or poison monkeys is rather uncomfortable, but think of the stories! No one ever asked his grandkids "Did I ever tell you about the time nothing interesting ever happened to me?" Life was meant to be enjoyed, not endured!
    • The Stoic: "Come now, chap. Stiff upper lip! We're going to be fine. What are the odds of this being what kills us? Do you really think this is anything compared to what we've already been through? After three thousand years of plagues, pogroms, wars, enslavement, earthquakes, famines, floods, droughts, and genocide... The gnomes... are still... HERE!"
    • The Valiant: Gnomes are going to keep fighting against the darkness and they're going to win. Why? Because a gnome is never defeated. A gnome either wins or he retreats to regroup and plan a counterattack. A gnome can lose a battle on the day, but the war continues tomorrow and every day brings a new chance for victory. Gnomish triumph is inevitable because the gnomish spirit is indestructable.
    Last edited by Xuc Xac; 2012-09-16 at 05:00 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm ready to start going through the religions in specific detail. I'll go through them one at a time, and I'd like suggestions and feedback.

    The Fae'ri Tradition:

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    The Fae'rin Confederacy had no official religion, but rather left its member races' governments free to establish religions for their own races. Fae'rin did decree Threefold Worship, however. Each individual was supposed to have three gods that they worshiped above all others. The first was a principle or chief deity worshiped by the entire member race; the second, a family or clan god, and the third, a god chosen from the racial pantheon by the individual. In actuality, most religions underwent cosmetic changes to create a threadbare facade of compliance, while the substance of the faith remained unchanged, and the rule was honored more in the breach than in the practice. However, Threefold Worship to this day is the baseline from which most faiths deviate (even those that were only under the social influence of Fae'rin, rather than its direct rule), and is in a sense the norm for worship.


    The Way of Inner Light

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    The Way of Inner Light is principally a path to enlightenment, emphasizing strength of character, meditation, personal potential, the commonality of the soul, tapping into creativity, and self-improvement. Though mostly a dwarven religion (the Common word for "dwarf" actually derives from "Inner Light" translated into dwarven, "Du Warv") it is open to all races.

    Central to the Way is the Inner Light itself, which is the spark of divinity, potential, and higher self residing within every soul. Beginning at puberty, a Traveler of the Way makes frequent inward Journeys through meditation to make contact with his or her Inner Light. Some of these Journeys are ritual, marking important milestones in the Traveler's life, but most Travelers make them a matter of daily routine.

    The Light itself is a singular force or element, but is present separately in each soul, and the part found in each person's soul is a unique, characteristic, and essential part of the person. The Inner Light is not a god in any sense, but it is a divine force, and practitioners of the Way who utilize divine magic do so by tapping into the divine element within themselves. Those who are most in connection with their Inner Light are seen as more prone to creative inspiration, wisdom, and goodly acts.

    The Way speaks of a final Journey after death, in which the Traveler journeys to become one with the Light itself. The more a Traveler has explored the Way in life, the easier, more familiar, and less perilous the ultimate Journey is in death. If one stumbles on this final Journey, they may have to begin again in another life, and in extreme cases may even have further to travel the next time around.

    The practices of the religion are laid out by the seven Teachers, who guided and instructed early Travelers in the Way. Their Teachings form the principle guide to the Way for a new adherent, and longtime Travelers who reexamine the Teachings often see them in a new light and garner new insights from them. The Teachers are seen as teaching different Ways to the same destination. They are not competitors or opponents, but simply different approaches to the same problem. While the Teachers do not present themselves as gods and are not regarded as such by the Travelers, from a game-mechanical sense they are deities of considerable power. However, they do not inhabit any of the Outer Planes and do not bend their wills to altering the material planes. Their primary concern is the enlightenment of Travelers, and assisting in a soul's final Journey to become one with the Light.

    In addition to their regard for the Inner Light, most Travelers typically focus on two Teachers above others. The first is the Teacher their parents used to introduce them to their faith, and the second is a different Teacher that the Traveler chooses upon emerging from puberty. Tradition holds that the childhood Teacher is the one that the Traveler always hears first and foremost in the heart, but adult Teacher is the first that the Travelers truly hear and understand, and these will be the Teachings in which Travelers train their own children. Though all Teachers are theoretically equal, a ruler will often favor the Teacher he or she has chosen, with the result that some Schools are more materially blessed (and thus more prolific and wide-spread) than others from land to land.

    The symbol for the Inner Light is a disc of white, surrounded by border of green. Larger or more detailed symbols often included multicolored, jagged lines from the border to the center, representing the manifold Way to the Light. For uncolored symbols, as might be cast out of metal or carved from wood, the central disc is smooth and polished to a gleam, while the outer border is rough and heavilly etched.


    Variant/Heresy: Pilgrims of the Inner Sun

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    An exclusively dwarven faith, the Pilgrims of the Inner Sun believe that the physical world is hollow, and that an Inner World with an Inner Sun exists deep within. They teach that the dwarven race originally come from this inner world, which is a sacred land, and a pilgrimage to return to it and look upon the Inner Sun is obligatory once in each dwarf's life. As the tunnels to this ancient land became overrun by dark monsters and deadly hazards, this pilgrimage is now typically undertaken near the end of life, or as a quest to regain lost honor and remove a pariah status. Hardly anyone ever returns from this Pilgrimage, and those who do are somewhat suspected of simply having hidden in the upper tunnels for a few weeks rather than seriously attempting a descent. The faithful who intended to undertake a Pilgrimage but died before being able to are thought to undertake the journey in death as a restless ghost.

    The Inner Sun is a more conventional god, and receives worship in a traditional sense. The sun that shines on the surface world, and other celestial light sources (the moon, stars, and planets), are seen as flawed and impure echoes of the Inner Sun, to be at once shunned for their imperfections and yet honored for what they represent. The earth and deep caverns are sacred for their proximity to the Inner Sun. That said, the Inner Sun is in many ways an analog for the Inner Light, both in what it represents to a Pilgrim (goodness, wisdom, inspiration, enlightenment), in the rewards for seeking it, and in one's unification with it in death. The same religious symbols are used for both.

    The Pilgrims are vastly outnumbered by Travelers. It is an extremely old sect, thought by Travelers to predate understanding of the Way, or to be an immature or only-partially-developed understanding of the Way. The Pilgrims counter that as the Pilgrimage became more hazardous, the cowardly abandoned the true faith and created the lie of an inward Pilgrimage which could suffice. Religious warfare between the two sects was commonplace for centuries. Though some violence is still present, it's largely fallen by the wayside, and sectarian relations are more likely to be a matter of frosty ostracism and insults than naked aggression.


    Variant/Heresy: Students of the Dark

    Spoiler
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    Some Travelers of the Way reason that a proper Journey is less a matter of following the true Way, and more about avoiding false paths and perils. Though not an official feature of any of the Teachings, an Outward Dark is seen as a logical consequence of an Inner Light, with all of the opposite properties. Some Travelers devote themselves to studying the Outward Dark so as to be better able to avoid it, fight it, and warn others about it. These Students of the Dark are often regarded with fear and because the subjects of their study make others uncomfortable, but are not seen as an outright heresy or evil practice and are felt to have something valuable to contribute to the Way. Fundamentally, the religion is about stripping all things unnecessary to enlightenment, or with the potential to distract from enlightenment, out of life, and Students tend to pursue austere and ascetic existences.

    There are many tales of Students who became so fascinated with what they studied as to fall in love with it. They became evil and actively opposed enlightenment, seeking to put obstacles to the Way in front of Travelers. Thus the Study is seen as a dangerous path, and the Students hide their methods and knowledge (save for approved lessons and warnings) from the general public for fear of the danger to the uninitiated. Only the most closed-lipped, intense, and self-disciplined candidates are chosen for induction, and in their initial years they are monitored very closely for signs of deviation. The Students' symbol is a absorptive black ring with an empty hole in the middle.


    I feel fairly solid on the Way, the Pilgrims, and the Students. What I'd like is suggestions for the Teachings and Teachers. They should represent different paths to the same objective -- less opposing ideologies and more different approaches. Also, I think the Pilgrims need a few weird rituals or traditions that set them even further apart from the Way, and the Students some dark-seeming rituals that are easily misinterpreted as evil by the uneducated. Any ideas?
    Alstroemeria in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.
    GM of A Thin Blue Line.

    Me: How crazy it gets depends on how much expertise, adroitness, and finesse you navigate the current craziness. Stick the landing and the whole thing could be wrapped up in a bow tomorrow.
    Player: In other words... we're pretty much doomed, right?
    Me: You're not entirely doomed yet. Now I'll just be sitting back in the corner here, cackling at your next few decisions.

    I'm not an evil GM! Honest!

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Quote Originally Posted by THEChanger View Post
    I'm noticing that duality and the number two are showing up a lot in these mythos. The Twins, the Two Faces of the Halflings, the Inner Sun/Inner Light of the Dwarves, and the possibility of the Spirits of Nature/Dark Thing of the Gnomes.

    I wonder how else duality can be incorporated into the other pantheons. The Elves and the Goblins are the two who don't really have a connection to it yet.
    With the idea that the elves worship the noble sponsor of their ship, it could be expanded that they worship the matriarch/patriarch of the noble family that sponsored them.

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