Showing posts with label OMG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OMG. Show all posts

Thursday, June 30, 2022

One Man's God: Castles & Crusades Gods & Legends

Castles & Crusades Gods & Legends
A couple weeks back I posted a One Man's God using the AD&D 2nd Edition Legends & Lore.  I mentioned at the time that this falls outside of the scope of the original concept of my OMG posts; that is can I take creatures from the Deities & Demigods and re-classify them as AD&D 1st Edition demons. Not historical demons, not mythological demons, but 1st Edition demons.

Since I have spent this week discussing Castles & Crusades I have often talked about how this game is the spiritual successor to AD&D.  Do their books on gods also follow?  Or to be more precise, can I do a One Man's God post on the C&C god books?

When it comes to discussing gods, demigods, and heroes Castles & Crusades is really second to none here. There Codex series, written by Brian Young, is some of the best-researched material for an RPG ever produced.   

Gods and Demons in Castles & Crusades

You are not going to find stats for gods in C&C.  They are not meant to be fought. There are however plenty of gods to encounter. I covered many of these in the various Codex books by Brian Young.

There is also the Gods & Legends book which I'll cover here and use as my basis for this One Man's God.  

Demons are well covered in the Tome of the Unclean from Troll Lords.  Tome of the Unclean follows pretty close to the AD&D standard demon with what I often refer to as "the Usual Suspects," so all the "Type" demons and succubi.  So while I could more properly compare the C&C gods to the proper C&C demons, I think everything is close enough that I can continue with my original purpose of comparing these gods to the AD&D demons.  If there are any differences they are so minor as not to be an issue.  Besides. These are gods and demons we are talking about, there will always be exceptions to the rules.

Gods & Legends

For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG. 

PDF. 144 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. Bookmarked and hyperlinked.  Written by Davis Chenault with contributions by Steven Chenault, Brian Young, Jason Vey, and Todd Gray.

This book largely replaces the Of Gods & Monsters book from a few years back, though it is smaller in size, 144 pages vs 162. I say replaces, but this is a new set of work. The original Of Gods and Monsters was written by James Ward of Deities & Demigods fame.  There are similar gods in both books but this new version is a rewrite of the older work with new entires to work better with the Codex series.

This book is divided into three(ish) large sections.

The Anvil of the Gods

This section covers how gods work in a Castles & Crusades game, how the Castle Keeper can play them, and how the characters can relate to them. This section also gives advice on designing a pantheon. Unlike the original Deities & Demigods that seemed to want to shy away from religion, this book acknowledges it and all the myriad combinations (within the space of this book) religions can take.  The focus here though is not a religious academic text (and Troll Lords has at least two people, Young and Vey, on staff with graduate degrees in religious studies, literature, and history) but more on how these manifest and work in an RPG, and in Castles & Crusades in particular. To this end there is advice on how to run and play gods and how they should interact with the PCs. 

Common deific abilities are defined with Greater, Lesser, and Demi-god statuses. Details are given to how the gods relate to the clerics and paladin classes, alignments, and other archetypes.  Holy symbols and characters with divine traits are also covered. Divine traits include the healing touch.

Of the Gods

This is the largest section of the book, detail-wise. This covers what could properly be called the Gods of Aihrde, the Castles & Crusades campaign world.  A brief overview of the basic deity characteristics is first. Up first are the human gods of Aihrde. This is the section that is most like the older Of Gods and Monsters book.

Gods of Aihrde

Some sections are the same as in the older book, many do look to be rewritten.  The art is used from the older text but I do not see an issue with that. Many gods here get more text as well.  Many of the Aihrde gods take cues and ideas from Earth gods. This is also not a big deal and in fact no different than the gods of the Forgotten Realms. In fact I am going to go out on a limb here and say the process to create these gods (from the Chenault home games no doubt) was very similar to what Ed himself did when he created the Forgotten Realms Gods.  Maybe one day I need to go through this pantheon and the Forgotten Realms ones and see what gods they have in common.  The obvious "Earth" gods are the All Father (Odin), The moon sisters (Diana, Artemis), Frafnog (Fáfnir, Midgard Serpent), Tefnut, Toth, Unklar (Chernbog), and Wenafar (Titania).  Again, I like seeing this stuff. It immediately gives me a hook.  If Frafnog is the god of dragons and there is a Fáfnir connection beyond the surface then there is a great reason why dwarves hate dragons more than just the Hobbit connection (which is of course drawn from the story of Fáfnir and The Ring of the Nibelung). There is deep religious animosity here. Is this what the Chenaults do in their home game? No idea, but this is what is happening in mine.

Following humans, we get the gods of the Dwarves, Elves, Halflings (LOVE the art of the halfling gods!), Gnomes, and then the humanoids (bugbears, gnolls, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, lizardmen, giants, ogres, and trolls) there are even dragon deities, fey deities, and gods of mermen and sahuagin.  It is a wide variety and shows some original ideas beyond what we typically think of in the Deities and Demigods, but not quite the level of detail as found in the very focused Forgotten Realms Demihuman Deities book.

All the Other Gods

This "section" is actually many sections, but they are mostly the same format. They cover the various gods and pantheons found in our world and are covered in detail by the Codex series.  Where the Codecies give us a lot of details on the myths and stories of those pantheons, this section just covers game based stats. No stats as in hp and AC, but alignments, worshipers, granted attributes, preferred weapons and the like.  No details on the gods themselves, for that you will need the Codies.

Covered are the gods of the Celts, Greeks, Egyptians, Germans, Norse, and Slavs.

Who should buy this book?  Anyone playing Castles & Crusades and wants to go deep into the mythologies of Aihrde.  Also, anyone that owns the Codies and wants more game content. 

I also say this is a good book for the AD&D (first or second eds.) player/game master that wants a bit more detail on the gods in their Deities & Demigods/Legends & Lore books. Or who just want a different set of or more gods than they currently have.  Indeed the title of the book, Gods & Legends, seems to state that it is a book with the AD&D books in mind.

One Man's God - The Demons of Aihrde

As I mentioned the Demons of Aihrde are already the Demons of AD&D.  But what about the monsters and gods here in Gods & Legends?  Let's see what we have here.

The obvious choices will be the Lesser Gods and the Demigods in terms of the power level near that of the Demon Princes. But I am not going to ignore the odd Greater God if they fit.

For the Aihrde human gods, Frafnog might fit the bill, though he is really powerful. Onduhl is the god of evil beings and has a strong Lucifer or Loki vibe to him.  Unklar looks like a demon and has the Chernobog connection I mentioned above, but he seems more devil-like than demon-like. 

The gods of the Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes do not have anyone.  The Elves have Talahnatilia but that is something other than a demon or devil really. 

It is not really to we get to the gods of the humanoids that we find good candidates.

Jarga the Bloodless is worshiped by many humanoid types (gnolls, kobolds, orcs). He is a lesser god and chaotic evil. He is a god of blood and battle. He might or might not be a demon, but he will certainly has their hatred of life. His plane is listed as The Wretched Plains, one of only three gods to claim this plane. 

Bugbear gods here are Chaotic Evil. Hobgoblin gods are mostly Lawful Evil.  This detail tracks with my own personal use of them. Bugbears are goblins with demonic ancestry and Hobgoblins are goblins with diabolic ancestry. So. If I am searching for demons I am going to look towards the Bugbears first. The bugbear gods are both greater gods and don't really fit the AD&D notion of demons. Same is true for the hobgoblins.

Gnolls have been long associated with demons in AD&D through Yeenoghu. Most of these gods are either too powerful (Greater) and/or Lawful Evil.  Here is one of the issues of trying to apply the "rules" of one game on to another. They don't have to follow the same logic or premises. 

Among the Goblins, Beerkzurd could be a demon, a powerful on to be sure. He is Lawful Evil, but he feels more Chaotic Evil really.  He is also one of those gods people pray to not so much to get boons from him, but in order for him to leave you alone.

The Orc gods are quite war-like and many are Lawful Evil. They mostly seem like larger, more powerful versions of orcs. Which I guess can be said about most gods. They are just larger more powerful versions of the people that worship them.

Vasser of Lizardmen is another good choice. Lesser God, chaotic evil, looks like a demon. The same is all true for Grudznar of the Kobolds and Barg of the Trolls. In fact, all three do feel very demon-like. The lack of proper stats are really the only thing keeping me from deciding a definitive yes or no.  Barg though is such an interesting being in a demented sort of way. I wish I had knew of him during my Troll Week a while back.

I am not considering the Dragon gods. They are really their own thing and many listed here do not fit the idea of a demon well. Yeah...I know I have both Tiâmat and Leviathan as eodemons. Plus I mentioned Frafnog above as a potential demon.

Same with the Fey. They are really their own thing. Though in my personal campaign the Fey do war against the demons. So it could be possible a "fallen fey" is a demon (fits what history did to them in our world).  Not an evil fey. A "good" faerie still has more in common with an evil faerie than they do a demon.

Flathin of the Sahuagin also is a good choice as a demon. If we take the myths of Flathin and his sister Trimon it could be that Flathin was "cast down" as the patron of mermen and now is the patron of their evil counterparts, the Sahuagin. He is a chaotic evil lesser god and looks like a giant octopus with 10 tentacles (a decapus?). He grants little to his followers, save for what they get at their religious/war ceremonies.  

Again. I might be extending my One Man's God to the point of breaking.  Let this be a lesson in how scope creep or extending your theories beyond your testable hypotheses is a bad thing.

Other gods from Earth mythologies have been covered in previous postings of One Man's God.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

One Man's God: Legends & Lore, 2nd Edition

AD&D 2nd Ed Legends & Lore
For this post, I am moving further outside of my original purpose of One Man's God but certainly still within the spirit of why I was doing it.  In truth one of the seeds of what would lead me to do One Man's God to start with was planted while flipping through the AD&D 2nd Edition Legends & Lore and my complaints about it. 

A brief recap. My series, One Man's God, dealt with going through the original Deities & Demigods book and working out how various gods, monsters and/or heroes would work in the cosmology of AD&D 1st Edition demons.  I took each myth/pantheon and looked at them through the lens of AD&D demons. Not Christian demons, though that can inform my view, and not Ars Goetia demons, or any other sort. Just AD&D ones.  I went through the book and took on some ancillary topics as well like Syncretism and how to build my own myths

AD&D 2nd Edition though is a different sort of creature.  For starters, we didn't even have demons or devils at the start. Secondly, the cosmology of the Outer Planes or the "Great Wheel" became something of its own setting in Planescape later on. So a lot of assumptions going into One Man's God are called into question in this new cosmological viewpoint. 

Though I think I could make the argument that I can take the Legends & Lore book and look at it independently of later developments and certainly Planescape and still apply the rules I was using for OMG.  I am going to cover a lot of ground in this one, but it is very familiar ground.  Sometimes very, very familiar.  But before I do that maybe an overview/review of Legends & Lore is in order.

Legends & Lore, AD&D 2nd Edition

For this review, I am considering the hardcover book published in 1990 and the files from DriveThruRPG. 192 pages. Color cover and inserts, black & white and blue interior art. 

My history with Legends & Lore is a complicated one. Deities & Demigods was my very first AD&D hardcover purchase.  I was playing a Cleric in D&D B/X at the time and wanted to expand his role in the game. I thought a book of gods would be a great in. Plus it was mythology that got me into D&D to begin with, so it was a natural choice for me. 

Like many at the time I also, rather immaturely, chaffed under the name change of "Deities & Demigods" to "Legends & Lore" feeling that TSR was bowing to the smallest, but loudest, contingent of people criticizing the game. But I would later buy a copy so my collection of AD&D hardbacks would be complete.  Fast forward a couple of years and now AD&D 2nd Ed is the new game on the block and there is a new Legends & Lore out.  This time I did not mind the name, maybe because I was now in college and saw that it fit the content better. I recall sitting in the apartment of my old High School DM and his cousin was there (he lived in the apartment below) and we were discussing the new L&L book. I can't say the discussion was very favorable towards the new book.

Gods, circa 1990

Before I delve into that, let's look at the book and I'll bring up that discussion as it pertains.

Legends & Lore was written by James M. Ward (who gave us Gods, Demi-gods, and Heroes and Deities & Demigods) and Troy Denning. This book has the advantage of being the one that is most in common with three different versions of the D&D game.  The book is called revised and updated, and it is certainly that, but there are plenty of similarities between this book and the 1st Edition one.

This book contains 11 different mythologies, down from the 17/15 of the previous edition.  This was one of my first points of contention with the book back in 1990.  Where were the Babylonia and Summerian? The Finnish or the Non-humans? One could have easily combined (and made a good argument for it) the Babylonian and Sumerian myths.  Combined they still were not as long as the Egyptian myths cover. 

My second point of contention, and even then I knew this was a very weak leg to stand on, is that the stats were gone.  Oh sure there were brand new stat blocks for worshipers and what the gods can do and there were the stats for their "Earthly" avatars, but the long, and let me just say it, Monster Manual-like stats were gone. Yes. These are not supposed to beings you can, or even should, hunt down to kill.  

My last complaint, and again this one is weak, is that so much of the art was reused for this edition.

Granted sometimes the older art was used to great effect.

Otus art

Other times, less so.

That's not Cú Chulainn

Thelb K'aarna art for Cú Chulainn? Nope. Not buying it. They would have been better using Moonglum.

The book does though do a very good job to laying out the powers of Greater, Intermediate (new to this edition), Lesser,  and Demi- Gods. Power common to all gods are discussed and powers they grant to their clerics, in general, are discussed, with the details of each god.  Ok. So this means each god takes up more space. That explains some of the loss.  

There is a solid human focus here and that is by the design of the book since they are drawing more from history. 

Each of the pantheon/myths is presented in more or less of the same format. We get a covering of the myths and an explanation on where they come from.  There are some new spells listed and some new magic items.  We follow with the Gods, usually the most powerful first working our way down to demi-gods and ascended heroes.  Where appropriate there are also monsters and sometimes maps/plans of centers of worship. Pyramids for the Aztecs and Egyptians, temples, and so on.

Also included with each god are the duties of the priesthood and what their requirements are. These will include alignment, ability score minimums, Weapons the priests are allowed to use, armor restrictions, what spheres of clerical magic they will have access, what other powers might be granted, and whether or not they can turn or command undead or even have no effect on them at all. This is the forerunner of 3rd Edition's Channel Divinity power for Clerics. 

The myths include American Indian, Arthurian Legends, Aztec, Celtic, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Newhwon, and Norse.

One Man's God

Now I want to look at each of these and see how they would fare using the lens of One Man's God. Or, to put it easier. Are there any demons here?

American Indian

Covers some similar ground (as all the myths do) as the original Deities & Demigods. No monsters here, but a lot of heroes.

Arthurian Legends

No gods at all here, despite how important Christian mythology, especially around the Holy Grail, is to these tales.  Only a note that "Authur's deity remains distant and unapproachable."  The Grail is mentioned as a magical relic, but not much more about it. There are only two monsters here, The White Hart and The Questing Beast.

Aztec

Aztec myths are full of demons and demon-like creatures. What does 2ne ed give us?  A paragraph about how the mythology is lacking in fantastic creatures. Sorry, not buying that one. 

Celtic

Now Celtic myths have monsters, and I have talked about many of them before, but only a very few could be considered demons in the AD&D sense of the term. Here we get a lot of gods and only one hero, Cú Chulainn.

Chinese

Again China has tons of creatures that could be called demons in the AD&D sense. The Neglected Ancestral Spirit could be considered demonic. But are they AD&D demons? I am going with no. 

Egyptian

Not sure I am liking that blonde-haired, green-eyed version of Isis here. It is likely that our first concept of demons came from Egyptians. Well.,, I would argue they came from the Sumerians who would then influence the Egyptians. Also, Egyptians have a ton of gods, so no monsters at all in this section. Not even Apep and Ammit. 

Greek

Many of the primordial titans of Greek myth would get new life in Roman myths and then get ported over to Christian mythology. Geryon is one notable example. As far as Greek myths go this one has the gods a bit better organized.  The Furies or Erinyes are now "Lesser Gods" which tracks with some myths and here their alignment is Neutral. Among the monsters are Cerberus (NE) and the Gigantes (CE) which are bit like the primordial versions of the giants. These work great for my Hüne which are bit like demons. 

Indian

One of Kali's great powers is her ability to scare away demons. It's why she is put at the head of armies. Does this book give us any?  Sadly no monsters are mentioned here.

Japanese

This one feels a bit more research than the original D&DG. While no demons, the god Amatsu-Mikaboshi would make for a reasonable devil or some other type of fiend; a unique, Prince level one. He is a rebel god and would not submit to the other gods, so there is a bit of Lucifer in him. That and the fact he is called the "Dread Star of Heaven."

Nehwon

Our odd one out since it is not a world myth but rather the creation of Fritz Leiber.  Again Tyaa could pass for a demonic queen in many settings along with the Birds of Tyaa. 

Norse

The Norse gave us fire and frost giants and many of those primordial giants are quite demon-like. Lots of heroes here, as to be expected, and some monsters. Garm and Fenris Wolf could both be considered to be like demons as well.

In the end this book represented a paradigm shift that was not just part of AD&D 2nd Edition but happened along with it. Even future books that dealt with gods handled them a little different than this, but along the same paths of evolution. 

What was the outcome of my story about talking with my friends about this book?  Well if you see the image of the cover I used, well that is my own book. I didn't buy it right away, in fact it was many years later before I picked up a copy of Legends & Lore.  Strange that a book that was really one of my first purchases for AD&D would in the very next edition become one of my last.


Friday, March 18, 2022

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium

Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium
Today I present the last (so far) of the Castles & Crusades mythological Codices.   This one takes away from Europe and back further in time to antiquity.   It was also one I was really, really looking forward to and I am not disappointed.  

Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium

Nothing gets people excited quite like Egypt.  A kingdom that began at least in 3,100 BC to the time of the Romans, it has missing time where "nothing really happened" (according to one Prof. used to joke) that lasts longer than the entire history of the United States. It is an impressively long amount of time and even one that seems incalculable. There is the old saying. "Man fears time, but Time fears the Pyramids." 

This codex takes on the "newer" Codex format.  This is one makes the new format a little clearer. The "Chapters" covers history and mythology with some game material while the "Appendicies" are game material proper. 

For this review I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover edition.  Again our author and designer is Brian Young.  Color covers, and black and white interior art. 

Chapter 1 The Black Land Arose (Geography and Worlds)

This chapter begins with a basic map of the lands around the Nile and even up to the Mediterranean Sea and out East to the Fertile Crescent.  This chapter covers the geography of these lands and a bit on the people. To call it brief is a massive understatement.  We are talking about nearly 3,500 years of history and people and change.  While the Egyptians were notoriously resistant to change and very xenophobic, there is still a glossing over of history here.  Of course, this is again a gamebook and not a history text.  No problem then, there is more to come. 

Chapter 2 From Early Darkness (History and Mythic Background)

This covers the history, real and mythical, of the lands. This covers the stone age (Paleolithic) to all the Dynasties up to the Fall of Rome in terms of real-world history.  The remaining covers the mythical history of Egyptian creation and gods. 

Chapter 3 Presided over by the Divine (Gods, Goddesses and Supernatural Figures)

This chapter opens up with some spiritual concepts like priests, mummification, souls, and the afterlife.  For the Egyptians, the afterlife WAS life. Everything they worked for the afterlife.  The gods and their place in the afterlife is also discussed.

Chapter 4 Rife with Charms and Spells ( Magic in Egypt)

As with many ancient societies, magic was not "Supernatural" but a part of nature and that has never been more true than with Egypt. Various words of power are discussed and listed. Descriptions of the Egyptian "wizards." 

Chapter 5 Neter and Netert - The Divine

Egypt is the land of Gods.  Lots and lots of Gods. Here only some of the Gods are detailed. Since Egyptian history is so long that even the gods changed.  There are 40 pages of gods here.  Some are listed more than once as their roles changed over the centuries. Young has a Sisyphean task here, trying to catalog all the gods that Egpyt has had.  Even if it not complete it is the most complete one I have seen in a game.

Chapter 6 Using Egyptian Mythology In Airhde

For the first time the Codex covers the Troll Lords' homeworld of Aihrde.  Parallels are drawn between the gods of Aihrde and the gods of Egyptian.   The advantage here, beyond the page, gives a nice mixing pot (Aihrde) that all the other Codices can be mixed. 

Appendix A Names This covers names for all sorts of people, PCs, NPCs, Gods and more.

Appendix B Social Classes The various classes in ancient Egypt.  Note that social class was ironclad; you didn't move around between them. 

Appendix C Defended by Fierce Warriors (The Military and Soldiers) Covers the different sort of warriors.  None are different from the Fighter game-wise, but there are a lot roleplaying ideas here.

Appendix D Chariots The high tech of the ancient world. It could not be understated that this was the implementate of war for the time. 

Appendix E The Sphynx A little bit of background on the creature.

Appendix F Where Monsters And Demons Dwell The creatures of ancient Egypt. 25+ creatures here and each one is more interesting than the last to be honest.  I am hesitant to say this is the best chapter, but it is really fun.

At the end is a really nice bonus map.  The map is included with the PDF.

Map of of the Universe

While there is a lot of information in this book, it still makes me want more.  I have a feeling that to do this topic justice we would need a 500+ page book. I can't even begin to imagine what Young had to do to pare it down this much. 

Eygpt is just so damn interesting.  There is so much here to play with that my cup runneth over with ideas. I honestly don't even know where to even start to be honest.

With all of these Codecies, one would be tempted to combine them all.  Build something akin to Lands of Adventure or Man, Myth, & Magic.  While I could see this working somehow in Aihrde or a homebrew campaign, I would avoid it for a purely mythic Earth where I feel this would work best. 

For my money and time, play these various codices in their own times and their own places.  For me, that would be the best way to really get the feel for them. Nicely they are written in such a way to allow pretty much anything. 

I understand that Dr. Young is working more of these.  I am really looking forward to them! 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum, 2nd Printing

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum, 2nd Printing
If there was any doubt where Dr. Brian Young's true love lies in this series, the new second printing of the Codex Celtarum should dissolve those.   This new book brings the original Codex in line with the other codies in terms of style and feel.  This new book is also expanded to 256 pages, up from the previous 178 pages.  It is without a doubt also my favorite of the codies. 

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum, 2nd Printing

For this review, I am considering both he PDF and hardcover copies.  256 pages with color covers and black & white interior art. 

The Codex Celtarum is written by Brian Young.  He is a gamer and an academic in Celtic history and languages and an all-around nice guy.  Honestly, he is the kind of person I want writing this sort of thing.  You talk to him and get the feeling that he could immediately tell you a story from the Mabinogion and it would roll off his tongue like the bards of old.  This is the guy you want working on your Celtic game.

Introduction

The first thing I noticed in his introduction was his acknowledgement of the differences in legend and in history and where he was putting his cards.  For me, as someone that has had to have the same tug of war, the value of this book went up several degrees.   

Before moving on to the book itself I spent a lot of time with Castles & Crusades again, this time from the point of view of a Celtic-themed game.  Like the others in this series, it could be used with any D&D-like game.  Now at this point it should be noted that the design of this book is to play in a Faery realm, so it is something you can drop into any game world.  There are some game-based assumptions made, but nothing to keep you from making this your own.

This section also talks a bit about the changes from the 1st to 2nd printing.

Chapter 1: In Lands Far Away

This covers the lands of the Celts and how the Castles & Crusades player can drop their game into this world.  The advantage here is this 2nd Edition does talk about how you can use the Codex Germanica along with this.  This covers not just the expected British Isles, but all (mostly all) Celtic Europe. 

Chapter 2: Mythical Locations

This brief chapter discusses mythical locations like Hyberborea and the Hercynian Forest.  These lands were assumed to be real just "over there."

Chapter 3: Once Upon A Time 

This chapter covers the history of the Celtic real-world universe including the various wars that happened at the dawn of time and various involved countries/lands in Europe.  

Chapter 4: Otherworldly History

This is the "myth" part of the mytho-historical background of the Celts.  It overlays the stories of the gods and other powerful beings on top of the history of the Celts.  This chapter is rich in storytelling and follows a tale very familiar to me, but there are always new things to read and learn.

Splitting Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 into two separate and distinct chapters is good since for most books on the topic they are intertwined so much that it is hard to tease out the "myth" and the "history" from the mytho-historic events. Certainly one has had a profound effect on the other and I think Young demonstrates this well.  

Also while I am 100% behind his enthusiasm here (and I share it) we have yet to see anything game-related and we are 75 pages in.

Chapter 5: The Otherworld of Faery

This chapter covers the various "otherworlds" (yes plural) of the lands of Faery. Usually tied to a physical location in the real world.  It reads like an unreal Gazeteer of Europe to be honest, a mist-shrouded tour into a land that is similar but still very different. The faery lands don't have the same rules of nature as the mortal realms. So there are some tables about the odd passage of time or the nature of the land.  

Chapter 6: There Lived a People 

ALmost everything you want to know about the Faery races.  This includes traits faeries can have and their weaknesses.  This also includes a list of the giants of Wales.

Chapter 7: Great of Magic and Power 

This details, what else, magic.  If human wizards study magic and human priests pray for it then the Fae ARE magic. The distinction is not a subtle one.  The magical powers here are listed as spells. So they can be used by the fae as if they were spells, but that robs them of what makes them so interesting. Instead, go with the suggestion in the book that each member of the fae gets a number of special powers based on their intelligence.  And there are plenty of powers here!  If you are anything like me and love magic, spells, or powers for characters then this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  

It is one of the largest chapters so far and has the most "game" material.

Chapter 8: With Great Gods and Lords 

This covers the gods, demigods, and named faeries of the lands. There are no stats for these gods or heroes.  Why? That is easy. They are not meant to be killed or even interacted with.  They are the legends of this land. If you have any familiarity with the gods of Celtic myth and legend you can find them here. 

Appendix A: The Druidic Order This covers the druid classes for Castles & Crusades within the Celtic world. There is the Druid (Wisdom), the Celtic Bard (Charisma), and the Druidic Seer (Wisdom).

Appendix B: The Secrets of the Druids This appendix covers the Ogham writing and runes.

Appendix C: Druidic Spells What is says, the spells the various druid classes can use. 

At this point, I wonder if all three could not have been combined into one Appendix. 

Appendix D: The Enchanted of Faerie Here we get a nice discussion on Faery Metals and how they can be used.  There is a list of divine items (artifacts in other games) listed by the owner; that's right the Gáe Bulga is not just lying around waiting for you to find it. No this +8 spear (!) is well in the hands of Cú Chulainn.

Appendix E: The Severed Head discusses the importance of taking the head of your enemy.

Appendix F: The Feast Hall details the Celtic hero's feast.

Appendix G: The Celtic Chariot. what it says on the tin.

Appendix H: The Celtic Warrior Society. Gives us a very brief overview of the importance of warriors and how they were organized.  I wish this one had been much longer. 

Appendix I: Accoutrements of War. Deals with the arms and armor of the celtic warrior. 

Appendix J: Strong Feats and Deeds. Covers the tales of the heroes of the Celtic myths and legends. 

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
Honestly, Appendices E to J should be combined into a chapter on Celtic Warriors. This is what the other Codices have done. 

Appendix K: Holidays & their Customs.

Appendix L Celtic Themed Adventures.

Appendix M: Monsters

Also, this should have been a chapter. There are 30 pages of monsters here. Many are very familiar to me, but again are closer to their "roots."

Ok. So what can say here?

The book is fantastic and I loved every bit of it.  BUT, I find the new organization of the 2nd Printing to be inferior to that of the 1st Printing.  I felt some of the material could have been organized and combined a bit better. I still find it a delight to read, but is that due to this book or the subject matter?

Again, there is no doubt that Brian Young is not only an expert in this field, he also loves it.  That enthusiasm shows and I am sure he could have written a book twice this size.  I do love the expanded history and the raised importance of the continental Celts over the typically well-trodden lands of the Irish and British Celts.  Looking over my review of the First Printing this is exactly one of the things I thought was missing from that version. Though some of the material from the first edition (some classes) are missing from this edition.  I guess I should keep both on hand.


Still, if you are a fan of Celtic myth, Faery lore, or Castles & Crusades then I highly recommend this book.  Even if you don't play C&C, I would get this book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Slavorum

Castles & Crusades Codex Slavorum
Coming up on some myths I know the least about and maybe the most excited to read.  There is a lot of great stories I have read and watched over the years.  What I like, so far, is that these are mostly new stories to me.  Well. Not entirely new. I have been using Baba Yaga for years and my first published Ghosts of Albion adventure deals with Chernbog (Czernobog in this book).  

So let's instead say I am less familiar with all of these.

Castles & Crusades Codex Slavorum

For this review, I am considering the PDF and hardcover book.  The book is 94 pages. Color covers, black & white art. Written once again by Brian Young.  He doesn't say it in the books, but it is Brian N. Young, Ph.D.  He worked hard and earned his degree and it should be recognized.  

Chapter 1: In Bygone Years

Like the previous volumes, this chapter covers both the real-world history and the myths of the area.  The area in question surrounds the Black Sea in Eastern Europe.  

We get some pre-history, but the people we call the Slavs will get their start in this volume with Byzantine Empire.  The time period here is parallel to both the Germanica and Nodica books.

The myths of the area are all new to me and while Young (the author) does a good job in his summary, it leaves me wanting to seek out more.  I suppose that is the point right?

Chapter 2: The Whole World & That Which is Beyond

This goes into detail about the lands of the Slavs and these myths.  I have now gone through five of these Codecies and I am thinking that a Castles & Crusades game in Mythic Earth is a great idea.  There is a nice map of the Slavic Kingdoms.  

The second half of this covers the mythic lands of the Slavs; the three worlds.  Like the Norse, these are placed on the World Tree, the Drugi Svet. Young even mentions that combination is possible but does not (correctly) tell you how since it would depend on YOUR world.  The three worlds are Parv (or Iriy or Vyrjy), the realms of light, the lands of summer, and the home of the Gods. Lav (or Yav) is the middle realm of men, and Nav the Underworld.  Here Czernobog becomes the Devil-like figure.  Indeed it might be hard to tease out what is Czernobog and what is "Lucifer" in modern depictions of "the Devil."  Svarog is our creator deity of light. 

In a case of supporting my "One Man's God" series, there is Peklo, the Abyss, which is the home of various demons.  Demons it seems very much in the AD&D mindset.

There are more lands and frankly, the more I read the more I want to use all of this in a game. 

Chapter 3: Did Dwell Many Peoples

Our monster chapter.  Monsters are "false creations" (my words, not so much Young's) of Czernobog.  And there are some GREAT monsters here. Nearly 50 monsters here. Some are familiar to any D&D players, but many are new to *D&D games or at least in this form.  

There are a couple new "races" that characters can be.  The Zmajevit, or the "Dragon born" are humans with dragon blood in them. The Zduhac, or the Elemenatal ones, are elemental influenced humans. 

There is also a new class here, the Vampirdzhija or the Vampire Hunter. This is a Wisdom-based class. Essentially the Vampire Slayer of the Slavic cultures. 

Chapter 4: Filled with Great Magic

Another favorite section this one covers magic and new magic-using classes.   The Kolduny is a new type of wizard that is Wisdom-based.   The Molfar is the Slavic shaman, also Wisdom-based.

There are a few names mentioned for other types of spell casters. These are just names for other types, but do not have their own class per se. 

Chapter 5: Of Mighty Gods and Spirits

This chapter takes the myths and reshapes them into something that can be used with Castles & Crusades but of course any other game.  And there are a lot of gods here! Some are familiar to me, but most are brand new.  

There is some text on the pagan religions of the Slavs and their practices. 

Chapter 6: Battle Strong and Heroic

This is typically the "fighters" chapter. This one covers the weapons used by the Slavs and mentions of the heroes and groups of heroes of their tales. 

Chapter 7: Castle Keeper Info

This is the GM's or Castle Keeper's information on running a game using these rules. Like the others in this series, this includes names and the various laws of the lands. 

More so than the other books this one left me wanting more.  This is a good thing and not a fault of the book. It is due to my own unfamiliarity with these myths and stories.  It would work well with the Germanic and Nordic books for greater world-building.  Now I want books like this for all the big myths of the world. 

Codex Europa

Maybe one for Spain and Al-Andalus should be next?  What do you think Dr. Young?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Germania

Castles & Crusades Codex Germania
Today I am going further south and a little more back in time.   Related to the Nordic myths and tales are the older Germanic ones.  Given the connections between the two, I am going to have to point out the differences and commonalities. 

Castles & Crusades Codex Germania

For this book, I am reviewing the PDF and hardcover edition of this book.  This book has 110 pages, so slightly smaller than the other codices.  Like a lot of Castles & Crusades books, the art here is from Peter Bradley.  Once again Brian Young is our author and designer.  Young also spends some time comparing the Germanic and Nordic myths and tales.  

These myths come from central Europe and begin as early as the 1st century BCE right on up to the time of the Vikings.  

Chapter 1: In Ancient Tales

Like the previous books, this chapter covers the history of the Germanic peoples as well as a brief bit on their legends and stories.  Like the Nordic (or to the point the Nordic myths are like these) we get an origin story about Giants and three Gods.  Young takes pains to differentiate these myths from the Norse and talks about the shortcomings of the source material.  Here we see the first comparisons between Woden and Odin.

Chapter 2: Of Germania & Beyond

This chapter covers the Germanic lands.  Now to assume there is only one Germany is a huge mistake and one that Young deftly avoids. There are lots of lands here and lots of peoples dating back to the height of the Roman Empire to it's fall.  It is helpful to consult the map or hit up various maps online.  

Germanic Tribes migration

Chapter 3: Magical Beings & Monsters Dwelled

Once again we have a chapter on monsters and it is a real collection of gems.  Here are 40+ monsters. All are a little bit familiar to any D&D players, but these harken back to their "original" forms so great for players that have "seen everything."  

The monsters are of course enough on their own, but there is a nice section here on the complexities of the Germanic dragons.  Essentially if you ever have read about the dragon Fafnir, then you have an idea of what this is about.   Honestly, this is something that all dragons should have or at least the really interesting ones.  Speaking of the interesting dragons, there are also tables to determine what a unique dragon's name would be.  

Halirúna
Chapter 4: In Wizardry & Enchantments

Here we get some new magic-using classes.  There is the Halirúna, or the Dark Witch (Intelligence-based) which I absolutely love, the Erilaz, or the Rune Master (Wisdom-based) which also has runic magic (like the Nordic book), and the Gudja. or People of the Gods, the clerics for this setting. 

Magic is not a "supernatural" force here, but rather a natural one; THE natural one to be honest.  This chapter uses magic as a means of connecting the people to the gods. Which are coming up next.

Chapter 5: To Serve the Gods

This chapter covers the gods and discusses the overlap between these cultures and the Nordic.  Young points out that due to the Roman Empire the gods and myths of the Germanic pagans are a bit better documented than that of the neighboring Celts. Among these gods it is likely that Woden (Odin) and Þūnor (Thor).  Again there are no stats for gods here (as it should be).  

The chapter also details Germanic pagan beliefs and practices. 

Chapter 6: Skilled in Battlecraft

Warriors are still one of the highest castes in the life of the Germanic peoples.  This chapter gives us information on arms and armor used. How retainers were used and honored, and other topics on warcraft, including special unique weapons. 

The new class, the Drachentöten (lit. "Dragon Killer") is a Dexterity-based class. 

Chapter 7: Castle Keeper Info

Like the other codices, this covers running a Castles & Crusades game with this worldview.   The importance of the king and lawgivers are established and explained. 

The common folk are not forgotten and details like the importance of names (and many tables of names) are detailed. 

Chapter 8: Sample Adventure Module

The sample adventure, "The Monster of the Fens," is given.  It reminds me, naturally enough, of Beowulf.  The adventure takes place in East Anglia so Young states that it can be integrated with the Codex Celtarum.  The adventure is for 2 to 4 characters of 3rd to 4th level. 

It is a fun little adventure and reminds GM/Castle Keepers that even a "simple" monster like a Troll would be a menace to the folks of pagan Germanic lands. Indeed, much like Beowulf shows.

The temptation is great to compare this to the Codex Nordica and also to find it lacking.  This temptation must be avoided!  The Codex Germanica is its own thing. While the myths and stories will feel familiar to the more popular Norse myths, they are their own, situated within their own time and place.   These myths feel older and darker in many respects.  In many ways, I like these myths and tales a little more than those of the Norse. 

Again, this book is light on actual rules details, save for the classes, so it is an excellent resource for any RPG.  Converting it over to AD&D, D&D 5, or your favorite OSR-Clone would be trivial at worst. Of course it is designed for Castles & Crusades which is fantastic in it's own right.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica

Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica
The Castles & Crusades Codecies series are great books to add some flavor and history to your game.  While overtly for the Castles & Crusades game they can be used by nearly any game.  The Codex Nordica is another I was looking forward to getting and it did not disappoint.  Norse myths are among my favorites, right behind the Greek and Celtic myths. 

Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica

For this book, I am reviewing the PDF and hardcover edition of this book.

The book is 146 pages with color covers and black & white interiors.  The art is up to the high standards you should expect from Troll Lords with plenty of evocative art from Peter Bradley.   Like the other books in this series, this one was written by Brian Young, who has the educational background to tackle these books.

Norse myths are some of my favorites and rarely have they been more in vogue.  Young makes it clear that this book is a game guide to myths, legends, and history of the Swedish, Danes, Norse, and the other peoples of Scandinavia and not a full recounting of history, myths, and/or legends.

Chapter 1: History & Cosmology

This chapter gives us both the real-world historical background of the lands and the people of the area.  This also covers the basic myths. It will not replace a history text or a book on Norse Mythology, but it is a great overview for a gamebook. This book is likely better researched than most game accessories you will find. 

Chapter 2: The Nine Worlds

This takes the material from the previous chapter and some more to build on a game world of the Nine Worlds of Norse myths and how they could work in Castles & Crusades.  Each world is covered, in as much detail as can be provided, which also includes what random creatures can be found.  My favorite bits are the two maps that include the Viking colonies and migrations across Europe. 

Chapter 3: Magical Beings & Monsters

I would be tempted to say that this chapter is worth the price of the book alone, but while this is true there is a lot of great stuff in this book. But seriously this chapter is a lot of fun. There are nearly 40 creatures of varying degrees of familiarity to D&D/C&C players. Some are new enough to be quite fun.   Since the format is for Castles & Crusades they can be easily converted to AD&D, D&D5, or any OSR game of your choice. 

Chapter 4: Wizardry & Enchantments

This chapter is the most "Norse" of all of the ones in the book if I may be so forward.  It covers magic in its Nordic version or Seiðr.   Since war is the realm of men, magic belongs to women. There are two new character classes, the Seiðkona, an Intelligence-based sorceress or more accurately, a "Magic-user" and the Völva or Vǫlva, a Charisma-based prophetess who is quite similar to the notions of a "Witch." 

The Seiðkona uses Intelligence as her primary ability and casts the same spells and magic as the Wizard does.  If she had used Charisma, I would naturally compare her to the Sorcerer of D&D3/5.   Though given her role, Intelligence (or maybe even Wisdom) is the proper choice here.  This is a class that is very much part of the mythology of the world she is in. She has access to the Wizard's spell list in C&C. 

There is also the Völva, which is the clerical counterpart to the Seiðkona.  This class also serves the role of a priestess and uses a distaff.  Her gift is divination and prophecy.  So by means of a rough comparison, she is more similar to the Oracle class in Pathfinder.  She uses the Cleric's spell list until 5th level and then can split between Divine and Arcane magic. 

Also, this chapter covers the runic magic system from this world.  The runes are used along with the traditional magic powers (aka Spells). 

Odin
Chapter 5: The Gods and Giants

This chapter covers the gods of the Nordic lands as well their primary adversaries the Giants.  Here are names that will be familiar to nearly everyone who has ever played D&D or even watched a "Thor" movie or A&E's/AAmazon's "Vikings."  There are similarities with the names found in the Deities & Demigods, but enough differences that readers should be sure to attend to the details.  

Here the tale is more on the side of myth and legend rather than history.  We learn of the Æsir and the Vanir; the gods and goddesses of the Nordic people.   Also covered here in more detail than other gamebooks are the Giants and "other evil beings" spelling out the role Giants have in this mythology.  They are more akin to the Titans of Greek or even the demons of other myths.   You will not find stat blocks here though.  Gods are not "epic-level monsters" to be fought; least of all by the likes of player characters. 

Chapter 6: Warriors & Battlecraft

Magic and gods are great, but the world is made of warriors.  This chapter covers the various warrior types and additions to the basic fighter of Castles & Crusades.  The "upgraded" fighter includes basic warriors, elite warriors, and shield maidens.  New classes include the Berserker, who is a Charisma-based fighter, and the Giant Killers (more traditionally Strength-based).

There are some details on fighting styles and weapons unique to this area as well.

Chapter 7: Castle Keeper Info

This chapter details running a Castles & Crusades game in the Nordic lands during the time of these myths and stories; aka the Viking Age. Here you can learn about society, laws, and the people that make it work.  Of course, sea voyages are covered and various types of boats were used.

There is a section on poets and Kennings.  It makes me wish they had included more for Bards here other than a brief mention that Skalds are Bards. But I guess this works.  Names and their importance is covered with examples. 

Most importantly there is a section on the Eddas (Prose and Poetic) and how they can be adapted to a game. 

Sons of ĺvaldi
Chapter 8: The Precious Works

"The dwarves of lore made mighty spells," Tolkien told us in The Hobbit, but the dwarves he was thinking about likely were the Sons of ĺvaldi rather than the Children of Durin.   Here we learn of the great magical artifacts of the Nordic myths including Gundnir, Skidbladnir, Draupnir, and Mjölnir.

Save for monsters and classes, the vast majority of this book is fairly neutral in terms of game rules.  What does that mean? It means that you could easily use this book with AD&D, D&D 3 or 5, or an OSR game of choice.  Of course, it works the best with Castles & Crusades, but the book is such a good resource I would hate to see it missed by people that do not play C&C.

Brian Young has a unique combination of Ph.D. level research and game design and writing credit to bring a series like this to life and make you want to play exclusively in the world he describes.  Many have tried over the years, but I feel he has achieved the rare success of balancing the needs of mythological research and game design. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone that wants to add a little bit of Norse myth to their games. And really who wouldn't?  

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Castles & Crusades Codex Week

I have been reading a lot of history over the last couple of years.  Mostly for my own enjoyment and education and partly to provide better Witch Tradition books and One Man's God posts.  So it has been with great enjoyment that I have been reading Brian Young's Codex series for Castles & Crusades.

Castles & Crusades Codex

While they are overtly Castles & Crusades books I have found they are usable and have useful information for just about every game; especially original D&D/AD&D games and the OSR clones they are based on (of which C&C is one of the biggest). 

Castles & Crusades Codex
I have been meaning to do a review of them forever, or at least since 2016.  With the release of the Codex Egyptium and the second printing of the Codex Celtarum, I thought what better time than now.

You can read my reviews of the first printing of the Codex Celtarum and the Codex Classicum.  Having already spent some time with them all I can say that Brian Young brings his Ph.D. level skills to the task of uncovering these myths, legends, and history and brings them to your game table.  That's not hyperbole by the way.  Dr. Brian Young does have a Ph.D. and he is working on a second one if I recall right.

On tap for this week are:

I am also going to give these a bit of One Man's God.  Or more to point I'll at least look at them through the same lens of my One Man's God posts.

Should be a fun romp through the history of our world.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

One Man's God: Gods, Demigods, and Heroes

If you pardon the play on words here, the book Gods, Demigods, and Heroes holds a place of strange honor in the pantheon of D&D books.  It was the last of the Original D&D Supplements, Supplement IV. The next thing to come out would bring the split in the D&D product line, the Holmes Basic would continue OD&D in a strange OD&D/AD&D hybrid and the Monster Manual would start the AD&D product line.   In many ways, my personal "Ur-D&D" is a combination of Holmes Basic, the Monster Manual, Eldritch Wizardry, and GD&H.  My copy is the 7th Printing from 1976 so it at least mentions all the above books on the back page. 

Gods, Demigods, Heroes, Legends and Lore

The book was certainly making the rounds in my schools' various D&D groups and it was used EXACTLY as Mr. Kask told everyone not to use it as; a high-powered Monster Manual.  I have a distinct memory of hearing a conversation in my 8th grade D&D club about how someone's character was now the head of the Greek Gods because he had killed Zeus with Stormbringer.  It was a different time.

But I am not here today to comment on the various merits of the GD&H book.  I am here to talk about what it has to offer in terms of a One Man's God feature.

To do that I first need to at least see what Gods, Demigods & Heroes has in common with Deities & Demigods.  

The Gods, Demigods, and Heroes

I am going to compare my original Gods, Demigods, & Heroes to my original Deities & Demigods.  Both books would later have various mythos removed.

The books have the following pantheons/mythos in common (in order of appearance from GD&H):

Egyptian, India, Greek, Celtic, Norse (the largest), Finnish, Melnibone, Central American, "Eastern Mythos" (Chinese)

And the only Mythos unique to GD&H: Howard's Hyborea.

If you grab the PDF or POD versions of GD&H now there are no Melnibone or Hybora sections.

In many cases, there are more entries for various gods, heroes, and monsters in GD&H than in the D&DG.  Largely this is due to the much smaller statblocks and the lack of any art.  I could spend a lot of time going over the various differences, but I am sure that has already been done elsewhere online.  There are people that live for that sort of in depth D&D scholarship.

This is a One Man's God post, so to stay on topic I am looking for demons.

Deities, Demigods, & Demons

This will be a bit harder to tease out since many of the entries do not have an alignment listed.   Yes you read that correctly one of the oldest D&D books does not even use alignment for gods or monsters.

Also, the aim of One Man's God is to cast various creatures in terms of AD&D Demons.  AD&D only existed in Gary's head at this point. Though the demons did get a jump start in Eldritch Wizardry.  So for this posting, I am going to see what monsters here could be classified as Eldritch Wizardry demons.  This is appropriate since so many of the entries here have psionic abilities.

Egypt, Greek, Celtic, Melnibone, Central American, Chinese: No new creatures.

India: The section on India gives us three fantastic choices.  The Rakshasas will later go on to appear in the Monster Manual and Lawful Evil.  The related Yakshas, called "The weaker demons" and two other possible ones in the Naga (also in the MM) and the Maruts, or the Wind Spirits. Maruts are likely to be good-aligned. 

Norse: While I commented in the past that the giants of Norse myth take the place of other myths demons, there are some creatures that could be considered more demon-like.  Garm the guard dog of the Gate of Hel is literally a Hel-Hound. The Fenris Wolf and Jormungandr are both either demi-gods or demons.  But these last two do not meet all the requirements I set out to be AD&D demons.

Finnish: The Finnish myths get a lot of expansion here and if anyone is a fan of these tales then DG&H is a superior take than D&DG. Likely to due space reasons.

Hyborea

This one is getting special attention as it is "new" and tales from Robert E. Howard really shaped the look and feel of D&D.  Interestingly enough, these gods have no psionic powers.

There are few creatures here named demons; Demon of the Black Hands, Brylukas (neither man, nor beast, nor demon but a little of all three), Thaug the Demon, Khosatral Khel the Demon, the Octopus Demon, and Yag-Kosha.

This section is really written for people who already know all of these stories as there is not a lot of description given for anything.  I know some of these stories but I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination. 

For this, I would need to defer to the expert on Conan and how to use REH in OD&D, Jason Vey.  He has done enough about this to secure his place even the official accounts of the DG&H write-ups.



Forbidden LoreAge of ConanSecrets of Acheron



And with this epilog I wrap up the original purpose of One Man's God.  
I have a couple of posts on Syncretism still to do and maybe a couple of other side quests.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 3, the Roman-Norse Pantheon

Thor as King of the Gods
Let's partake in a thought experiment.  I am going to take the Gods as written from The Deities & Demigods and take them on a little trip.

This thought experiment, or Gedankenexperiment, as Einstien was fond of saying, was designed to cover a thought I had going back to my first reading of Norse Myths.   That thought was what if the Norse Gods and Greek Gods were the same groups of gods represented in different parts of the world?

Roman-Norse Pantheon 

Imagine if you will some Roman Pagans, say circa 300-500 CE.  While Christianity is becoming the official religion of the Empire, not everyone is taking up the Christian Gods. There is still a mix of Pagan Roman gods, Greek Gods, local gods and spirits, house gods, and more.  The further you are from Rome (and later also Constantinople) the more likely you are to still hold on to your local gods.

Now, far to the North, there are the Nordic-Germanic tribes.  They are the "barbarians" of Roman lore, they want Rome's treasures, its power.  But most of these people just want to find new lands to grow food on.  While the Viking raids to England and Ireland are so stamped into our collective subconscious (and for many of us, our DNA) there were other forrays into other lands.  Some we know went South.  But the bulk of these did not happen till 800s CE when most of Europe was firmly Christianized.  We do know that the Romans had interactions with the Norse and made connections between their respective sets of Gods. Romans were rather practical when came to religion.   

We also know that the Norse, when confronted with Christianity adopted a uniquely Viking view of Jesus, recasting him as a great and powerful chieftain or king

So let's imagine a time. Sometime after 300 CE but maybe before 900 CE.  The Northmen are not all Viking raiders and the Romans are not all Christian.  I joke that there is a time when this would be all true, likely for about 6 hours on a Thursday in June 634 CE, but go with me on this trip anyway.  We have a group of Roman pagans moving north, a group of Northmen heading south.  They both drift west a bit and end up in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany.  Here they meet and instead of going to war, they build a community.  Here their beliefs find common ground and since both groups are polytheists, they accept each other's Gods.  Soon. The gods, like the people, become one.  

First conceit: Since they did not go to war when first meeting their war gods on both sides will seem more "reasonable" than their antecedents.   

Now keep in mind that at this time there were versions of the "Norse" gods in these Germanic areas. We know that Wotan and Woden would change and become Odin of the Norse.  So bringing these gods "back down" is almost an unnecessary step. They were already here in a different form.  Bu this allows me to focus on the names they have in the D&DG.  Plus if I need to "smooth things out" I can use the Germanic versions.

Second conceit: While here this group of pagans will speak a version of Old German. Both groups picked it up "along the way."

While I want to focus on the names in the Deities and Demigods, I am going to allow myself to step outside of that to make for a better pantheon.  Of course, life, especially when it comes to the Gods and syncretism, is never so ordered.  But as we have seen with the D&D pantheons in the past, such order is often implied or imposed.

Some of this flows from some reading I was doing around the same time I discovered D&D.  I had found this book of world myths. It had the familiar Greek, but it also introduced me to the Norse myths for the first time.  This book also had the tale of Beowulf in the back. I began to think there was a continuity between these three separate, but not entirely separate really, groups of tales. 

I should also note that these gods have similarities to each other not just because they were all invented by people that had similar experiences, but they all draw their inspiration from the same roots of an earlier Proto Indo-European pantheon of gods.  I am not trying to recreate these PIE gods here, but I will lean heavily on that research to inform my choices.  For this reason I am also including Celtic gods in this mix for now BUT I am not explaining that connection just yet.  Though we do know that the Celtic Hallstatt culture and was in this area at this time and this grew out of the La Tène culture from earlier.  Likely though the gods were not using the names in D&DG. I am so everyone here knows what I am talking about. I do like that there are three mythoi involved here.

Who's In Charge?

Let's start with who is the leader of this combined pantheon.  We know from historical records that it was Thor, or more to the point, Thunor or Donar, and not Odin, that was the chief god of the Germanic peoples. Odin/Wotan would come along much later (8th to 9th centuries).  This is good since already there was a lot of conflating of Thor/Thunor with Zeus/Jupiter. Thursday for example is both Thor's day and sacred to Jupiter.  From this notion, we can move on in thought experiments to make other associations.  

Now I am fully aware I am taking a historical god to make a precedent for game gods.  This would be academic dishonestly since I have made no claim, nor provided support why it is ok for me to do this.  Save for one.  This is not an academic treatise.  I am building something for a game, and for AD&D 1st Edition as it appears in the Deities & Demigods in particular. The Thor/Thunor/Jupiter connection is only the pin I am hanging everything else on. 

The Gods

I am going to use the abbreviated "stat block" I used in One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 2 when I described the pantheon of  Greco-Egyptian Gods.   Also considering that I am having this all happen somewhere in Germany I am going to give these gods German names.  They are modern German names to be sure, I am not going to try to deconstruct 7th Century German when I have enough trouble remembering how to speak 20th (yes I know what I said) Century German.

While they have gods they are syncretized from they take on their own personalities.  Thor could be a bit slow at times but was never cruel (unless you were a giant) and Zeus could be a loving father, but a terrible husband with a mean streak and a temper. 

Unser Vater
Greater God
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any Good (all)
Domains: Thunder, Lightning, Sky (including storms and rains), Warriors
Symbol: A Thunderbolt
Greek/Roman: Zeus/Jupiter
Norse: Thor, with a dash of Odin
Celtic: The Dagda
PIE: Dyēws

Unser Vater, "our father," is the chieftain of the gods. He rules because he is strong and powerful.  He keeps Der Hüne at bay and protects those who pay him homage. He tries to be good and just but he has a temper that can rage out of control.  He can usually be calmed by his wife Herde Oberin.

Other Gods follow.

Hüne Vater
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Worshipper Alignment: Any evil
Domains: Creation, destruction
Symbol: Fire
Greek/Roman: Chronos/Saturn
Norse: Surtr
PIE: Archdemon

Hüne Vater is the father of the current generation of the Gods. He killed his father and we in turn defeated by his own son. He is the leader of Die Hüne. Before his defeat he cursed the gods and all humankind with death. In Proto-Indo-European myths, he is the Archdemon.  He sits imprisoned in exile. 

Großvater & Großmutter
Lesser God
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (Evil)
Worshipper Alignment: Any 
Domains: Father of Die Hüne (the Titans/Jötunn), Chaos
Symbol: The night sky
Greek/Roman: Caelus/Uranus 
Norse: Ymir
Others: Tiamat

Großvater/Großmutter is the name given to the quasi-anthropomorphic manifestation of the father/mother of the Die Hüne (the Titans/Jötunn).  He was destroyed by his son Vater Hüne to make the night sky.

Herde Oberin
Greater Goddess
Alignment: Lawful Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any good 
Domains: Home, hearth, women, childbirth
Symbol: Distaff
Greek/Roman: Hera/Juno, Hestia 
Norse: Frigg
PIE: Diwōnā

Herde Oberin is the wife of Unser Vater and one of a trinity of Goddess.  She represents the Mother aspect of the trinity and is the protector of home and hearth and the family.  She is responsible for all things that happen within the home.  Unser Vater may be the chieftain of the gods, but in the home her word is law. 

Mutter Natur
Greater Goddess
Alignment: Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: All
Domains: Nature, the wild
Symbol: Tree or a sheath of grain
Greek/Roman: Demeter/Ceres
Norse: Frigg with bits of Odin
Celtic: Danu
PIE: Dhéǵhōm

Mutter Natur is the mother goddess of all of nature.  She is sister to Vater Hüne and aunt (and maybe mother) to Unser Vater. She is an old Goddess who provides and destroys at her own times of choosing. Newer religions believe they control or tame her, but the people of the forest know better. 

Note: I am undecided on whether or not Herde Oberin and Mutter Natur are not aspects of the same goddess. Often times you see gods and goddesses getting reduced as the pantheons age.  BUT also you see gods and goddesses splitting off.  In this case, I am keeping them separate for now.

Ôstara (Geliebte)
Lesser (Intermediate) Goddess
Alignment: Neutral Good
Worshipper Alignment: All
Domains: Spring, Rebirth, the Dawn
Symbol: Half-risen sun or an Egg
Greek/Roman: Persephone/Proserpina with aspects of Dionysus / Bacchus
Norse: Ēostre and bits of Baldur.
Celtic: Brigit and Ceridwen
PIE: Hausos

Ôstara is the daughter of Mutter Natur and one that has retained her old name.  She is the goddess of the Spring, the Dawn, and rebirth.   Her title is "Geliebte" which means "beloved."   Persephone/Proserpina and Baldur are both loved by the gods and their "deaths" greatly affect all involved.

Liebhaberin
Lesser (Intermediate) Goddess
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any good, lovers
Domains: Love, sex, sexuality, conception
Symbol: hand mirror or fire
Greek/Roman: Aphrodite/Venus 
Norse: Freya
Celtic: Brigit and Áine

Liebhaberin is the forever young patroness of love and sex. She serves as the Maiden in the trinity of Goddesses.  She is the spring maiden that stirs the blood and brings the world back to life. She is the patroness of nymphs and dryads. 

Note:  Again, I am unsure whether or not Ôstara and Liebhaberin are just different aspects of the same goddess.  

Helga
Lesser (Intermediate) Goddess
Alignment: Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any, witches
Domains: Death, magic, underworld
Symbol: woman's face in a hood
Greek/Roman: Hecate, Hades
Norse: Hel, Frau Holt, Heiðr
Others: Isis
Celtic: The Triple Goddess* (reconstruction)

Helga is the Witch Goddess, the Ghost Queen, and the Crone of the trinity.  She knows all secrets since they are whispered to her by the dead.  Thus she knows all the secrets of magic.

Hüter
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: None
Domains: Death
Symbol: Skull
Greek/Roman: Hades/Pluto, Hermes/Mercury
Norse: Njord, Odin
Celtic: Arawn
Others: Osiris

Hüter is the dispassionate lord of the dead.  He is neither good nor is he evil. His role is to make sure the dead stay dead. Therefore undead are blasphemous to him. He controls the underground realm and thus all riches that come from the ground are his.

Betrüger
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any
Domains: Trickery
Symbol: Fox
Greek/Roman: Hermes/Mercury
Norse: Loki/Hermod
Others: Reynard the Fox (though this is about 900 years too early for Reynard)

Betrüger is the trickster of the gods.  He often appears in the form of a talking fox. His jokes can be somewhat dangerous, but he is rarely cruel.

Kriegskönig
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any, warriors
Domains: War, Battle
Symbol: Sword
Greek/Roman: Ares/Mars
Norse: Tyr/Vidar
Celtic: Nuada

Kriegskönig, the War Lord, is the general of Unser Vater's armies. He commands legions to fight against Der Hüne.  He lives for war and when he is not involved in a war he is looking to create new wars. 

Note: Because my two sets of travelers did not immediately go to war with each other when they met this tempers the way the ward god is looked at.  He is not a warmongering asshole like Ares nor even the god of justice that is Tyr.  War is unfortunately a reality of life and one that must be respected or it quickly gets out of hand.

Jäger
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any, hunters
Domains: the sun, hunting, poetry
Symbol: Sun
Greek/Roman: Apollo
Norse: Freyr/Bragi/Uller
Celtic: Nuada 
PIE: Sehaul

Jägerin
Lesser (Intermediate) God
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any, women, hunters
Domains: Hunting, women, gathering Die Kriegerin
Symbol: Cresent Moon
Greek/Roman: Artemis/Diana and bits of Athena/Minerva
Norse: Freya / Skaði
Celtic: The Morrigan
PIE: Mehanot

Jäger and Jägerin are the twin god and goddess of the sun and moon respectively. They are also the god and goddess of the hunt since hunting in this area is important. They are based on both sets of twins Apollo and Artemis/Diana from the Greco-Roman and Freyr and Freya from the Norse.  If there were elves in German at this time then they are the gods of them as well. 

When needed Jägerin can don the armor of war and gather Die Kriegerin, the Goddesses of war (much like the Valkeries).  When the moon eclipses the sun it is said that Jägerin has put up her shield to protect her and her brother in battle. 

Others include, 

Schmied (Hephaestus/Vulcan and Wayland and Goibhnie) the God of Smiths.  I really should give him more detail. 

Vater Meeren (Poseidon/Neptune and Njord, Ægir, and Rán and Manannan Mac Lir) the God of the Sea (lesser importance here). 

Verwildert (Pan/Faunus and Freyr/Óðr/Vættir and Péhausōn) the God of Wild Nature and protector of wild places (greater importance now). 

Magni Stärke (Heracles and Magni) and Muthi (Iphicles and Modi) are the twin demi-gods of Strength and Courage respectively. Bits of Romulus and Remus and Hengist and Horsa are also here. 

Siege (Nike/Victory and Sigyn) and Glücke (Tyche/Fortuna and Hamingja) are the twin lesser goddesses of Victory and Luck respectively.

Fata Norne (The Fates and The Norns) are the three Fates. Even the gods have to answer to the Fates.

Die Hüne are the Titans and the Giants of both myths.  Primordial beings of great power that the gods defeated but still trouble them.  In this myth, the Gods fought Die Hüne and brought order out of chaos. These are not just giants and titans, these creatures are the demons of this mythology.  

Jäger and Jägerin are twins.  Magni and Muthi are twin brothers. Nike and Tyche are twin sisters. These sets are all examples of the Divine Twins we see in many, many myths. Something I like to include in many of the myths I create. 

I like it. It combines a lot of things that I have scattered notes on here and there. This also explains why this one has taken me a few months to write (it was Part 1 of this series at one point). I have notes dating back to the late 80s on a wholly new pantheon I was creating.  This is not that pantheon, but it is a good approximation to what I wanted there.  It's not the same, but it fits in the same sized hole.

Right now it is a little too "clean" and ordered.  There is no drama with these gods. Granted this is the same as what you could read in the Deities & Demigods, but we know the stories are much messier. 

I might need to come back to this one sometime. It would work well in my games to be honest and I even have some ideas on how to incorporate the ideas of Sol Invictus into this to set up one of my favorite themes, the battles of Monotheism vs Pagan Polytheism.  

If I write more and can come up with a stat block I like I might release it under Creative Commons or the OGL so others can add to it.  I hope to do more than just randomly recreate the PIE gods with new names.