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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 Roleplaying Games.)

    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.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    what i've had fun doing with my campaign's mythology is to never give a 100% objective account. everything is slanted heavily by the views of the culture or individual relaying the information whether it be in a book or from a Grand Green Wyrm with really awful diplomacy. :D Not entirely sure if that's helpful to you, or if your PC's will be delving really deeply into your mythos, but as in real life they should take the stories with a grain of salt.

    perhaps a really trusted source only knows some fairy tale with %20 fact, and that premise is bought wholeheartedly, but a villain, or less trusted source provides the remaining huge chunk of truth. ("Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father") That will generate such massive catharsis that your players will be floored and quite possibly all shook up.

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

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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:
    • 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.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zap Dynamic'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 first thing that jumped into my head when you said "meditative journey" was Buddhism. What if you had a god for every little thing (Hindu-esque pantheism), but they were all nothing more than ascended mortals? They aren't worshipped so much as they are deeply respected for their spiritual accomplishments.

    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. 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.
    Haha, cool idea! Have you read Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Your ideas made me think of Nietzsche, and it might put an interesting spin on the idea of levity. Even if the gnomes are pranksters--and even if they approach it with a light heart--maybe they are deadly-serious about being lighthearted. Maybe being dour and gloomy is the only way to offend a gnome, and maybe there's the old saying "Happy gnomes and their pranks are harmless. Unhappy gnomes and their pranks are deadly."

    To be fair, I didn't read the rest of these, but I like what I've read!
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    I'd give the dwarves a deity of perfection, not Buddha-like perfection or angels-perfection, but perfection in work and crafts. And then they'd strive for that perfection.

    I'd prefer to hear more about elves. The ideas for the gnomes made me laugh.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    For the Dwarves, I'd say look to this Inner Earth as a Mother Deity. Perhaps great forces of evil, or some leak between planes tainted and corrupted the Inner Earth so much that the Dwarves were forced to dig their way out, all the way to your world. And hey, maybe now they try and make sure none of that darkness from their home can follow them back, keeping them in the mountains. Either way though I think a Mother Earth sort of divinity is a cool fun spin that may work for you.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    What if the dwarfs don't have gods, and believe in freeing themselves from their earthly bodies to become one with the inner light they strive for in meditation. (Possible include some form of reincarnation, the sins of life make the soul heavy, and thus the inner light pushes it away, back to the material plane, until the soul is freed from its sins and made weightless so the inner light cannot push it away.)

    It would lend some variety to the setting if not all races worshiped gods. And you could still have the dwarves revere the ancestors who's souls have made it to the inner light.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    Thought: Don't give anyone any proper gods except humans. Make gods a uniquely human thing and give the other races an entirely different outlook on the spiritual aspects of life





    Dwarves: ..... I'm utterly flumoxed about what sort of gods to give them
    In a word don't. Give them great philosophers, teachers and wise men. Call their doctrine "the pilgrims of the inner light". Through suffering we become both more and less than we are.

    I think that the human gods need to be a rough admixture of defiant resistance/military leaders (think Joan of Arc or Churchill), megalomaniacle conquerors (Caesar, Alexander and Napoleon) and racist genocidal lunatics (whose name need not be listed here). These are the kinds of figures that humans under these conditions would exult.

    Halflings: ... trouble-making gods representing the ideal. No clue at all who these gods are, though.
    What kind of trouble makers are we talking about here?

    The Joker?Or the Joker?

    In the case of the latter then a good place to look for inspiration is in works like "a clock work orange" or any of the Taranteno films (I can just envisage reservoir dogs with halflings). One thought is instead of gods give the halfling boogeymen; Uniquely horrific unkillable post-humaniod monsters that are part urban myth and part real.

    The bloody reaper: A being of darkness that possesses mens' shadows and drives them to become bloodthirsty knife wielding murderers that prey on women.

    The unseen horror: a figure that hides in people vision and can jump from person to person when they make eye contact. It slowly gets closer to you until you notice it then it hides and seeks a new victim. If it gets to you then it will seal your sight. Look it directly in the eyes however and it will take your life or your mind

    The Graloon: A hideously burned halfling with grotesque elongated limbs and boneless joints. It drags people into water and drowns them. If someone kills it then they are fated to become it.

    The innocence thief: A fiend that take the guise a charming and handsome or beautiful halfling. It shows up where an "innocent" halfling has been lynched. It first befriends and then steals the children of the perpetrators who are never seen again.

    As for elves beyond their emperor I could well imagining them adhering to something akin to Confucianism, its either that or to raise the fine art of narcissism to religious proportions.


    I think that something derived from taoism would suit gnomes. The idea being that there spirits everywhere, you must live in harmony and balance with the natural forces/ order of things and that your attitude can affect that harmony to your net advantage or disadvantage.


    For goblins instead of gods give them fables and fairy tales. Stories of how foolish, stupid, cruel or otherwise vice ridden people receive some truly horrific and disproportionate retribution in the form of an ironic punishment inflicted by gobliniods. The original moral being "don't do things like X" has become twisted into "Inflict ironic horrors on people like X; for example..." You could also say that they are driven to reenact these tales again and again.
    Last edited by Blightedmarsh; 2012-10-14 at 03:25 PM.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    If I were you, I'd make so that the non-humans brought their gods with them when they came to the world. Well most of them anyway. Most of their legends had already ascended the weight of karma with the strength and grace provided by those who revere them.

    Likewise, while these pantheons should have a 'theme' based on the various cultral lenses (which may vary between lands) they should run a gambit. People remember Mother Tersa and Nicola Tesla as well as Alexander the Great and Stalin.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me craft a mythos!

    This is a good idea.

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