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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Dec 2010

    Default Universal Deities

    I'm presently working on the setting for a 3.5 campaign I'm going to be running irregularly for who knows how long, and probably the setting I'm going to be using for a majority of my 3.5 campaigns. One of the things I'm trying to do is get away from the 'universal pantheon' that standard D&D settings go for (I realize the thread title seems anachronistic at the moment), so instead I'm creating different cultural and religious groups that all have their own religious traditions, pantheons, and so forth, with all the associated sharing of religious and cultural tradition that tends to happen between neighbours in the real world. There ARE actually Gods in this setting, but with a single major exception, they refuse to interact with the human world except in times of extreme need and instead leave them to speculate. This divine non-interference dogma is what allows culture to continue to question the nature of the divine, if you will.

    But what I'm asking isn't directly tied in to my setting. I'm asking about universal TYPES of deities - the sorts you should see cropping up in most pantheons in some form or another unless there are other circumstances (like, say, a monotheism). What do you think these universal portfolios are?

    The ones I've got so far are:

    Farming/the Harvest/specific important crops (Maize, Wheat, Rice, etc.)
    Solar deities (Sun and Moon, Night and Day, etc.)
    Seasonal deities (perhaps less universal and could be a subset of the above, but)

    I'd also argue that family and fertility are probably also common spheres, but I dunno that they're actually universal.

    What do you think? What else should show up unless there's an explanation to the contrary?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    Trickery

    War (however it's a lot more fun to break this down into aspects, since wars always has at least two conflicting sides)

    Craft/Creation

    Elemental (Air/Sky, Water, Fire, Earth)


    I cannot say if there is a universal Death or Destruction deity, but that fits well as a balance to Fertility and Life.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Zaydos's Avatar

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    • Sky
    • Fertility
    • Death
    • Ingenuity/Craftsmanship
    • Sun
    • Moon
    • Arts
    • War
    • Sea
    • Law


    These all are universal to my knowledge. Sometimes they're put together in one deity and there will usually be multiple Fertility gods and War gods (and often these two are not mutually exclusive, especially for goddesses), if not multiples for many of these portfolios. I'd say if you can get your hands on it, leaf through the 2e Legends and Lore they showed their work at least with the ones I'm familiar with.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2014-08-29 at 06:41 PM.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Malexia's Avatar

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    Cycles, balance, and duality are common themes in many cultures. Life opposing Death, War opposing Peace, Fire opposing Water, etc. Dual-faced gods and goddesses, balance of good and evil, that sort of thing.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    Those mentioned above are the ones I most often hear about in the rather classical pantheons. But then, if you want diverse pantheons of gods for people with different religions, I would think about some other divine beings, rather than gods representing something.
    I would like to point out there are some other concepts that get deified (is that even a word?). Primal forces such as time and chaos (sometimes creating the actual gods by clashing - think Chaos and Gaia). The "reborn son" gets a role often too (think Mithras, Jesus, Osiris). In a lot of modern day spiritualities there are people almost worshipping the Self, Humanity, Harmony, mindfulness. And then of course there are the animals (Raven, Dragons, Quetzalcoatl).
    And especially if the gods don't intervene too much, I wouldn't be surprised if there would be a large group of non-believers; atheism is almost as universal as the classic pantheons.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Tzevaot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    Here some more:

    -Healing
    -Purification
    -Sex
    -Marriage
    -Animals
    -Magic
    -Desert
    -Justice
    -Thunder
    -Sky
    -Animal gods (The rat god, the snake god and so on)
    -Death
    -Day
    -Nigth
    -Darkness
    -Life
    -Undeath
    -Knowledge
    -Agriculture
    -Love
    -Freedom
    -Slavement
    -Slavery
    -Law
    -Chaos

    Hope that helped.
    Speak not the Watchers,
    Draw not the Watchers,
    Write not the Watchers,
    Sculpt not the Watchers,
    Sing not the Watchers,
    Call not the Watchers' name.
    The commandments of the Cult.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Cdr.Fallout's Avatar

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    Quote Originally Posted by Mith View Post
    Trickery

    War (however it's a lot more fun to break this down into aspects, since wars always has at least two conflicting sides)

    Craft/Creation

    Elemental (Air/Sky, Water, Fire, Earth)

    I cannot say if there is a universal Death or Destruction deity, but that fits well as a balance to Fertility and Life.
    I'd argue that the classical elements aren't really a universal constant when it comes to deities. Even in Greece, where the idea flourished the most, they didn't have gods specifically of water, air, fire, and earth. Rather, they had a god of the sea, of the sky, of the forge (and by extension, hearth), and no real god of the Earth, because the Earth itself was a living being and itself the mother of all things. While its conceivable that there could be gods of the elements, they would probably not be universal, or they would fall under the purview of an instantly recognizable aspect of nature. Addendum: the ocean is not a universal aspect of nature, there could be a great many tribes of people who live far from the sea, and would thus have no concept of seemingly unending bodies of water.

    I do agree that Trickery is a very common trope however, some examples being the Coyote in Native American Myth, the Raven of the Pacific, Anansi the Spider in Africa, and, of course, Loki. Many would also consider Hermes to be a trickster god, alongside Eris, the goddess of chaos. One very interesting thing to take away is that the trickster is usually male, and usually works to the benefit of mortals, rather than just themselves.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    I will admit I mistyped when I had elemental deities. I was thinking in terms of what they controlled, such as the seas, volcanoes, and the heavens.

    And although the trickster is usually male, I think that is a tie over from a male dominant society. Tricksters also have an interesting ability in that they usually can change their gender at will.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Serpentine's Avatar

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    Default Re: Universal Deities

    I used this same concept in my campaign world. Keeping in mind that I was restricting myself to 9 of them, the ones I settled on (and some of the concepts they incorporated) were:

    - Father: creation, protection, strength, masculinity, solar
    - Mother: creation, protection, birth, fertility, femininity, lunar
    - Time: death, endings, beginnings, renewal, the afterlife, cycles
    - Trickster: anarchy, change, underhandedness, deception
    - Nature: earth, fecundity, animals, plants, health, agriculture
    - Knowledge: information, intellect, magic, secrets, science
    - Love: romance, sex, friendship, jealousy, obsession, beauty
    - Creativity: technology, art, music, literature, invention, progress
    - Violence: war, murder, destruction, bloodlust, insanity

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