As with all my recent posts, I'm not going to beat around the bush. Let's lay some ground-rules, then we'll build some Gods of our own.
1. Gods don't need you
Gods don't need worship in the same way that Humans don't need friendship, art or philosophy. Worship and union with mortals makes Gods actually enjoy their immortal lives, in the same way friends, religion and worship make humans enjoy theirs.
2. Religion is a pact between God and Man
Religion is an attempt to understand the Gods, who they are, and what they might want. Heaven, the Hells, Sheol and other places might not actually exist as actual physical places, but be clever metaphors to describe what it's like after death. Similarly, just as "Angel" and "Demon" are titles, "God" is a title as well, given to transcendent beings interested in what goes on our little mudball.
For more information, see below.
3. Gods are immortal
If you end up fighting a God, it doesn't matter if you shoot, stab, or bludgeon them. Gods are immortal. Strike them down and they'll just come back after a while (see below).
4. Irreligion and Atheism are about allegiance, not lack of belief
If you don't worship the Gods, it's probably not because you doubt their existence, but because you don't feel they are worthy of worship. In my settings, atheists are more like Plato than Christopher Hitchens.
5. Gods are to Outsiders as Humans are to Apes
Gods and Outsiders do share some similarities, but don't think they're the same. The strongest Outsider can rival the weakest God, and not all Gods are powerful, but that doesn't make them anywhere in the same league. Even the weakest God is immortal.
6. God lists are a waste of Time
Every time I've had a player who wants to be a Cleric, they have always refused my God lists, and asked to worship any number of other things, from the God of Thieves to Dionysus from Greek mythology. As such, I am not going to define all the myriad pantheons in Nukaria, partly because I want the world to be glutted with petty Gods and the like, but also because it is a waste of time. As such, I will not be coming up with the entire list of known divine entities, and will instead only detail a few of the key Gods from each pantheon that do exist.
7. All Gods have an address
Gods live in Heaven, wander the Earth, or live in their temples
In the first case, Heaven is a real place that you can see from a high building on a clear day, and you can go there, though you're likely to be quickly found and evicted. Alternatively, you may also be invited there, at least for a short time. Heaven isn't for mortals.
In the second case, your best bet is to pray to the God or find a Prophet who bears one of their Voices to try and get in contact with them. Alternatively, just try wandering out. Gods can sense when people are thinking or talking about them (as in prayer) but also in casual conversation. So if you set out to find a God, even if that God doesn't have one particular location or ethnic group they hang around, you'll probably run into them eventually.
In the third case, you can just go to their Temple. You'll probably have to settle for talking to one of the God's priests though, as odds are, you are unworthy to enter the Holy presence of a God.
8. Morality is above the Gods
Gods may offer moral instruction, but generally it is understood that the Gods are not the authors of morality. Everyone is essentially working off the same, poorly understood moral framework, with small variations. For example, Yakul the Many-Mouthed may offer especially harsh punishments for thieves and forbid the wearing of the color blue on certain days of the week, while Yono-Gazai, Mother of Legions might order adulterers crucified and demand everyone in her cities party on the Night of the New Moon, under penalty of being forced to cross-dress and be dragged into a farce-marriage with an oxen.
However, despite the small difference in local religious law, all sensible, moral people generally believe that some things are wrong. For example, unless you are in the lowest cavern of Sheol, murder, rape and theft will still be wrong. All agree on this moral code, even if certain exceptions are tolerated in some places, but not others. For example, in Quarrian society, it is totally lawful for a Father to kill his own child, if that child has sullied the Clan's name with adultery. However, in Human lands, to kill one's own child is an abomination, and it is said that anyone who does it will be consumed with fire.
This is not the same as alignment, by the way.
Now, let's build our own deity!
base Deity statblock
SHP X AC Y Atk Varies
Mor 10 Saves 7+X
Damage Threshold X: All Deities have a Damage Threshold. They only take damage from a source if the amount of damage equals or exceeds their Damage Threshold. If a source of damage cannot equal or exceed the Threshold, instead ignore it, as if it did no damage. To determine the Deities' Damage Threshold, consult the table labeled "How strong are they" below.
Divine Vision: All Deities have permanent Sight Beyond Sight. They can see through illusions, see Invisible things, and see the true nature of all things they look at.
Shape-changer: Deities can change their shape and appearance at will, though their stats remain the same, no matter how they look.
Gate-Master: All Deities can open doorways to other places in space as a free action. These portals remain open for 1 round, so if you wish, you may dive through after the Deity. The Deity knows this, however, and so may choose to teleport to a place mortals cannot survive for long, such as atop a distant mountaintop, near an active volcano, or to a similarly dangerous location.
Voice of God: All Deities have a number of the Secret Names of God, and when they speak them, they can warp and twist reality as their Secret Names permit them. You can find the Secret Names of God listed here. And as Deities, they do not have to bear the drawbacks or make sacrifices to use their own Names.
Immortal: Deities are immortal. Unless you meet their Specific Death condition see the table labeled "How can they be killed?" below, a Deity that is reduced to zero SHP will return to life in 1d20-X days, where X is their Damage Threshold.
- Speak and Be heard
- Run if in danger
- Don't fight seriously until you've taken some damage
What do they look like?
1- A teenager in colorful pajamas, possibly with wings.
2- Something hideous and scary looking, roll here.
3- Something strange and alien looking, roll here.
4- A mix of a humanoid and something nightmarish. For an example, see almost any Mayan or Aztec deity.
5- Like something off a Metal Album Cover.
6- Like something from that one reoccurring dream the Referee keeps having, where his mother chases him through the woods wielding a whip made of knotted penises. (Be Creative!)
What is/are their Domain(s)?
3- Pregnancy and Childbirth
6- The Sky
12- Secrets and Conspiracies
13- Words, Language, and/or Books
20- Death and Decay
21- Art and Music
24- Love and Pleasure
25- Doors and Choices
27- The Harvest
33- Hearth and Household
38- Beggars, the Poor and the Impoverished
39- Kings and Aristocrats
41- The Sea
42- The Underworld
43- The Sun
What is their Alignment?
1- Lawful. Gods of Law belong to a strict hierarchy. They work with a collaborate with other Law Gods (at least, in theory) and they work to uphold law. They believe in hierarchy, obedience to authority, working for the collective good, paying taxes, and other things. They are the guardians of civilization.
2- Chaotic. Gods of Chaos believe in Freedom. "Do as Thou wilt," that is the law of Chaos. They want to smash civil government and most of the institutions that uphold society, set the captives free, and return to Nature. They despise everything the Gods of Law support, such as taxes, shoes, bread, the division of labor, gender roles, slavery, money, hierarchy and calendars.
3- Neutral. Neutral Deities are generally pragmatic. They understand that mortals are not always obedient to authority, but that some hierarchy is necessary. They install civil government to dissuade evil-doers, and scold those who cling to the law like it is some kind of God. They do what is necessary.
How strong are they?
1- Damage Threshold 9. This God has 1 Domain and 1 Secret Name. It's AC is 16 and its Saving throws are "16 or less is a success".
2- Damage Threshold 10. This God has 2 Domains and 2 Secret Names. It's AC is 15 and its saving throws are "17 or less is a success".
3- Damage Threshold 11. This God has 3 Domains and 3 Secret Names. It's AC is 14 and its saving throws are "18 or less is a success".
4- Damage Threshold 12. This God has three Domains and 4 Secret Names. It's AC is 12 and its saving throws are "19 or less is a success".
What are their Secret Names?
How do they fight?
1- They fight with their bare hands. They have a STR and DEX of 18(+3), and they can make two fist attacks that each do 1d6+3. They add +3 to any attack rolls. Their enormous strength, along with High Damage Threshold means this should feel like fighting Superman.
2- They have some ridiculously powerful divine weapon, such as Zeus' Thunderbolts, Odin's Spear or The Warhammer of Zillyhoo. This weapon counts as magic and does 1d12 damage on a hit, and the God adds the attack and damage bonuses of a level 1d4+5 Fighting Man to any rolls they make using this weapon. The God may make two attacks per round with this weapon, or only 1 if the players are already losing.
3- They blast rays of energy from their eyes, hands or weapons. They can fire up to two rays per combat. Each ray does 1d8 damage and ignores non-magical armor. These rays can do anything from cut, burn, freeze, melt, disintegrate or turn to stone. However, if the effect is too strong, please grant a saving throw, as most Gods are quite magnanimous.
4- They transform into various dangerous forms and engage in melee combat such as a panther or a giant snake. In these animal forms, they do damage as that creature would normally do, but maintain their Damage Threshold and Secret Names, which they can still speak in this form. For example: as a Panther- Claw 1d6 + Bite 1d8; Giant Snake- Bite 2d6 + venom.
5- They rely exclusively on the power of their Secret Names. They avoid conventional combat because it is beneath their dignity.
6- They don't. If you attack them, they'll flee. This may be done out of cowardice, but could just as likely be done out of pity for you, as the Deity may feel that anyone foolish enough to attack them is too stupid to kill in good conscience.
How can they be killed?
1- They must be killed on a specific day or days.
2- They can only be killed with a specific weapon.
3- They can only die either a heroic or a just death. For the former, if they sacrifice themselves or die in the midst of a heroic act, they will remain dead. For the latter, if they become corrupt and are slain, they will remain dead.
4- They can only be killed by a specific person or by that person's heir.
5- Only an enemy who completes a series of challenges can kill them.
6- Only a person who fits a series of criteria can kill them. For example, "No man of woman borne can kill MacBeth."
Religion in Nukaria
As Arnold K put it, "Religion is where you live. It's your skin color." Mortals know or believe that all Gods deserve worship. Even if they didn't though, try telling that to the Deity in your backyard. So Religion is decided by the Deity closest to you, your ethnic group, your allegiance, or all three. If you live in the city of Grandfather-count-the-days, you probably will worship him, out of self-interest if for no other reason.
Essentially, religion in Nukaria is like religion in Centerra before the Church came.
Religion in Those who Know
"And when I say God I mean the Uncreated Creator, the Unmoved Mover who created and sustains the entire universe. If Thor was real others might call him God but I would not worship him, for while more powerful than me, he is just another created being."
- Missing the Mark, on YouTube
Their are powerful, glorious beings in Those who Know, who surpass even the mighty Dragons and the fell Outsiders. These creatures desire worship and glory and call themselves "Gods". Most of these entities are asleep or in stasis, deep in the Astral Plane, out of sync with our reality. This is for the best. When Gods arrive, they usually cause nothing but problems for everyone in the Company and the world.
It is of utmost importance to the Company that Deities be dissuaded from openly flexing their divine muscles as they did in the past. These days, if Jesus of Nazareth were wandering around, healing people and preaching about the kingdom of Heaven, the Pharisees would have just called the Company and had the Nazarene dragged into a windowless van.
Thus, most of the Gods who do enter our reality work in secret, manipulating events from behind the scenes, slowly building up a base of worshipers and accumulating loyalty through miracles and manipulation. Some are okay with this, as immortality has led them to become quite patient. Some even skip this step and adopt disguises, living as normal citizens that seem only slightly odd from the outside, but secretly possess literal Godlike power.
So be careful when dealing with a powerful spiritual entity. It could just be a powerful Outsider or a Ghost fattened on the blood of a thousand murders, but it could be something far stronger.
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