Showing posts with label D&DGII. Show all posts
Showing posts with label D&DGII. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Next Month: RPG Blog Carnival - Horrors, Gods, and Monsters

RPG Blog Carnival
I have been kinda quiet lately because I have a few projects I am working on. One will be ready for next month.

In addition to all the other stuff I do, I will have my Horror Movie Challenge as normal, this year hosted by the Halls of the Nephilim.  I am also hosting the RPG Blog Carnival

My theme for this year is Horrors, Gods, and Monsters.  

I am going to post my usual batch of horror related topics, but I am also going to present my take on the Deities & Demigods II concept I have been working on.

While I have been doing a bit of work, I think the one I am ready to share is my Roman-Norse Pantheon.  

I have gods, and yes, monsters to share for this project, and hoping that October will be my month to bring it all to light.

If you want to participate in the RPG Blog Carnival on this topic, just post what you want (that concerns this topic) and share your link below. Or share it on social media with the #RPGBlogCarnival hashtag, and feel free to tag me.  I'll do a round-up of all the posts in November.

To bring all my topics together, I am looking to do monsters on Mondays. Currently thinking about new versions of the Alp, Earth Troll, and Trow. Need two more. I am also looking for good horror movies that could have taken place in the Black Forest during 7th Century Europe, or conform to those basic themes. I can think of a few that fit right now, but they are ones I have already seen.

In any case I hope to have some great material for you next month!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Deities & Demigods II: Part 1, Hecate

Let's kick off this inaugural Deities & Demigods II post by trying to figure out what should be in the standard stat block for these gods. Let me begin with some assumptions.

The Triple Hecate, 1795. William Blake
The Triple Hecate, 1795. William Blake

  1. I will favor AD&D 1st Edition. This is the system I have used the most. This is also the system that was the genesis of my original One Man's God feature. So I would like as much overlap as I can.
  2. I will pull in material from any other edition or variation of D&D as I see fit. In particular, some of the Avatar details from AD&D2 and D&D3 as well as any other material that might fit the bill.
  3. I am working under the assumption that these stat blocks ARE NOT designed as super-powerful monsters to kill. In already borrowing from AD&D2, and a house rule we used in the 80s, these stat blocks represent their avatars or mortal manifestations on/in the Prime Material. Their true forms on their own plane are at least 10x more powerful. Likely more.

Now these assumptions are working under a much larger assumption of how my Deities & Demigods II posts will be like moving forward.

Today I want to focus on the stat block. I am not detailing anything about this god, yet nor am I even defining things like standard divine abilities or power levels. Let's go with AD&D 1st Ed standard until I have reason to do otherwise and see where this goes.

I am going to start with the example of Hecate from Greek Mythology. After this, I will use her and this example to develop a new pantheon of gods. I spent a lot of time with her yesterday in preparation for this post. 

Let's look at how Hecate is presented in the various D&D books.

Hecate across the Editions

Deities & Demigods: AD&D 1st Edition

For this I want to break down the AD&D 1st Ed Deities stat block.

Roslof Hecate sketch
HECATE (goddess of magic)
Lesser goddess

MOVE: 12"

SIZE: M (51⁄4')
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: Any being working with magic
SYMBOL: Setting moon
PLANE: Nine Hells

CLERIC/DRUID: 14th level druid
S: 12 1:25 W: 9 D: 20 C: 22 CH:25

I separated the sections with hard returns. I would use color, but that gives some screen readers for the visually impaired issues. So instead, I will go with the sections.

The first section starting with AC is very combat-focused. The number of attacks, damage per attack, special attacks, and more.

The second section starting with size is personal information and worshiper's information. This one is great for expansion.

The last section starting with classes is somewhat combat-focused and somewhat personal. For Hecate here, we expect she has some spellcasting ability but maybe not a lot of fighting.  Though as a personal note, I disagree with her Wisdom being so low.

After this follows her description. 

Ok. One of the most common complaints about the presentation in the D&DG is that this is too much like a monster. I high-level monster, but a monster all the same. It has AC and HP, so it must be able to be attacked and killed.  This is not what we want or need. We have nothing here about her Clerics (save for those that use magic), holy days, or anything a worshiper might need/want.

There is a table in back that is actually much more useful than anything in the stat-block above.

Deities & Demigods Tables

This includes their name, Sphere of Control, Clerics [M,F,N-H], Rainment [head, body], Colors, Holy Days, Sacrifice [Frequency, Form], and Place of Worship.

For Hecate, these are: Magic, Hell Hound, yes, yes, no, bare head, tunic, blue-white, fall equinox, monthly on the full moon, ox, and mountain glen. 

This is good material. 

Legends & Lore: AD&D 2nd Edition

I don't need to go into as much detail here since the entries for all gods are typically shorter. But let's have a look at what we have anyway.

Here we get into the concept that the stats are not the God, but their avatars on the Mortal plane.

Hecate's Avatar

Ok, so you can't fight the god, but their avatar instead. A little better I guess.

There is mention here of the duties of the priesthood, what spell domains they gain, what Weapon and Non-Weapon prophecies they have access to, and so on. Though nothing about holy days, animals, colors or the like. Each pantheon/mythos does have some new spells and artifacts listed so that is also nice. 

So the avatar and details on the priest characters are a good takeaways from this one.

Deities & Demigods: D&D 3rd Edition

Lastly, let's look at 3rd Edition, even if it is very different than the first two.

Ok I did pick this for a reason. There is a lot of information here for the players of the Clerics of these gods, which also gives us a Rosetta Stone of how to talk about the gods of other editions. That Rosetta Stone is the D&D Patheon, which at this time was primarily the Greyhawk one. Other editions use a similar set of gods and talk about what their priests can, can't, and could do.  BUT that is all for another time. Let's get back to Hecate.

Hecate 3e

We get Domains, Divine Rank, her Alignment, favored weapons (which can be used by her priests) and Portfolio.  All good information.

Unfortunately, 3.x goes on to embrace the worse parts of the 1st and 2nd Ed's books and then makes a bunch of their own. 

Hecate 3e

I mean yeah, there is lot of information here, but is any of it needed by her clergy? Ok the sections on Dogma and Clergy and Temples is good. But do I *really* need to know or care how many Feats she has. No. Not unless she is going into combat. Which she shouldn't do.

There is an "Avatar of Hecate" on the next page that is reminiscent of the AD&D 2nd Ed one, but still, not exactly something we need.

What, if anything, can I get from all of this?

Well. Sadly the default presentation for the first 25 years of D&D appears to be "God as High-level Monster," which is not at all helpful.

I broke down these stat-blocks WAY back in 2010 when I was detailing a new cult, the Church of Lolth Ascendant, for the Drow Goddess Araushnee. There I captured the stats that seemed most valuable to the clerics (and players of the clerics) of that particular Goddess.

This has me wondering.

What should the format of a "Deities & Demigods II" be? What is the purpose of a book of gods for a D&D-like game?

Given what I have worked through here and in previous posts, I can see two different but related projects.

First, I can see a need/desire/want for a continuation of the format of the 1st Ed AD&D Deities & Demigods, monster-like stats, and all. 

Secondly, I also see a need for a book of gods, demi-gods, and heroes, along with all the above-identified positive things like duties of the priesthood, holy days, and more. I would add new divine spells that are only available to those priesthoods. That's a much larger and more exciting project to be sure.

Deities & Demigods II is something I can do here, with some work.  The other project, the so far unnamed one, that will be something that will take longer. 

I think for the next post, I should first figure out what would be needed for a D&D-game god write-up.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: The Three Faces of Hecate

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2023, May 8). Hecate. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Hecate. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Trying out a few things today.

First, I wanted to play-test a Sorcerer character, which is the Wasted Lands equivalent of the Witch from NIGHT SHIFT.  In particular, I wanted to try out Hecate since I had already done Ereshkigal, even though I knew they shared certain similarities. 

Secondly, I wanted to do Hecate because she is the first focal point of my new series on the Deities & Demigods II project/feature here.

Thirdly, and related to both points above I wanted to work out how my Heka (the Hecate of my Grecco-Egyptian myths) and Helga (the Hecate of my Roman-Norse myths) would work out.

And lastly, I wanted to try out the Divine Touchstones feature of this game. As it turns out, this feature makes all the difference in the world. 

The Character: Hecate

For my second (and third and fourth) character, I am choosing Hecate, the goddess of witches, magic, the crossroads, and ghosts. She has been a favorite for a long time.  She will also be the first Goddess I cover for my D&DGII project.

Hecate is a Sorceress in the Wasted Lands, no doubt. Well...some doubt. While her main deal is magic, she also has that aspect of Ghosts. In the end, I stuck with Sorceress and found a nice way to add the spooky stuff I wanted.


Class: Sorceress (Persona Aspect)
Level: 7
Species: Human

Alignment: Dark Neutral

Strength: 12 (0)
Agility: 14 (+1)
Toughness: 16 (+2) N +1
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N +1
Wits: 13 (+1)
Persona: 17 (+2) A +2

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 5 (d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0
Ranged Bonus: +1
Saves: +4 to Magic based

Special Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers

- Unnatural Parlor

Divine Touchstones
1st: Sense Ghosts
2nd: First Level Spell: Nightvision
3rd: Summon Hellhound
4th: Class level: Necromancer (1 level)

Necromancer (Divine Touchstone 4th)
Channel the Dead 22%
See Dead People
Summon the Dead 15%
Command (Spirits)
Protection from Undead
Turn Undead 20%

1st: Mystical Senses, Create/Extinguish Light, Sense Death
2nd: Animal Summoning, Eternal Flame
3rd: Fly

Arcane Powers
1st: Beguile
4th: Shadow Walking
7th: Exorcist

Divine Notes: Magic, Witchcraft, Crossroads, Ghosts
Background: Priestess

Dagger: 1d4

This version of Hecate is the Greek Goddess of magic, witches, ghosts and the crossroads. I leaned into the last two to give her powers over spirits and undead. She gains her Divine Touchstones as part of significant aspects in her adventuring career. Sense Ghosts would be something that came to her naturally along with Nightvision, she is also the Goddess of the Night. Giving her a level for her 4th Divine touchstone was really what sold me on the touchstones. If she wants another level then she will need a higher-level touchstone to get it.

This is really what sets Wasted Lands apart from other gritty Swords & Sorcery games. 

It is also what helps set one character apart from another.

Heka and Helga are by definition just other versions of Hecate with something a little different. What is that something? Well here it is the arcane powers they get, but mostly it is the Divine Touchstones they earn.

For these next two characters I am keeping the base stats all the same. Human, 7th level Sorceress. But the differences now come from the spells, Arcane powers, the Divine Touchstones. One note since Sorcerers can choose their Aspect between Intelligence, Wits, and Persona, I picked different ones for each. 

The Character: Heka

Heka is the Hecate of the Greeco-Egyptian mythology.  While she is not a goddess that research into the Ptolemaic dynasty existed and would have worshiped (like Serapis or even later Hermes Trismegistus), she could have been in a D&D-like world. 

In this mythology, Heka is more focused on the learning aspect of magic and is the goddess of Dark Secrets. Her relationship with Isis is the same as that of Ishtar with Ereshkigal.  Dark and Light sisters. So for this, I switched her Aspect to Intelligence.

Like Hecate, Isis is connected to the underworld, so Heka would also be an underworld guardian and more of a protector of occult secrets.  While this could lead to "Wisdom" and "Wits" I felt intelligence was the better choice. I have also always felt that Isis was one of the more intelligent gods in any myth.


Class: Sorceress (Intelligence Aspect)
Level: 7
Species: Human

Alignment: Neutral

Strength: 12 (0)
Agility: 14 (+1)
Toughness: 16 (+2) N +1
Intelligence: 17 (+2) A +2
Wits: 13 (+1)
Persona: 15 (+1) N +1

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 5 (d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0
Ranged Bonus: +1
Saves: +4 to Magic based

Special Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers

- Uncomfortable Aura

Divine Touchstones
1st: First Level Spell: Read Languages
2nd: Enhanced Senses
3rd: Class level: Sage (1 level)
4th: 1 level of Necromancer

Sage (Divine Touchstone 3rd)
Lore: 27%
Mesmerize Others: 10%
Spells: 1st Level: Prestidigitation

1st: Beast Speech, Command, Protection from Undead
2nd: Beguile Person, Extra Sensory Perception
3rd: Clairvoyance

Arcane Powers
1st: Detect Thoughts
4th: Telepathic Transmission 
7th: Polymath

Divine Notes: Magic, Witchcraft, the Dead, Occultism
Background: Priestess

Dagger: 1d4

This version of Hecate combines part of the concept of Isis. So her connections to magic and the underworld are the same. As I said I consider Isis one of the most intelligent gods, so Heka reflects this. By combining that with magic, witchcraft, and the underworld she becomes a figure of Occult knowledge. Much like her fellow syncretized god, Hermes Trismegistus. Indeed, if Hermes Trismegistus is the "patron" of the various Hermtic Orders, then Heka would be the patroness of various Occult orders. Maybe even laying claim to secrets from that great temple of learning from the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Library of Alexandria. It certainly ties into the lesser-known Roman Goddess Cardea, the Goddess of Doors, and access to knowledge that has been conflated with Hecate before. 

I deal with the Roman Hecate below.

The Character: Helga

Helga is the Hecate of my Roman-Norse mythology. She combines aspects of Hecate, Hel, Hades, and Frau Holt. She also has connections to Frigga and Freya and would be the patroness of seers and seiðr. For this reason and the Frau Holt connection, I see her as more of a Crone-like figure. 

I also gave her the Wits Aspect for her connection to wisdom. 


Class: Sorceress (Wits Aspect)
Level: 7
Species: Human

Alignment: Dark Neutral

Strength: 12 (0)
Agility: 14 (+1)
Toughness: 16 (+2) N +1
Intelligence: 15 (+1)
Wits: 17 (+2) A +2
Persona: 13 (+1)  N +1

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 5 (d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0
Ranged Bonus: +1
Saves: +4 to Magic based

Special Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers

- Unnatural Parlor

Divine Touchstones

1st: Empathy
2nd: First Level Spell: Sense Death
3rd: Class level: Psychic (1 level)
4th: Spirit Guide: Hound

Psychic (Divine Touchstone 3rd)
Psychic Power: Temporal Sense
Supernatural Attack
Sixth Sense
Supernatural Power: Precognition

1st: Command, Glamour, Predict Weather
2nd: Invisibility, Invoke Fear
3rd: Fly

Arcane Powers
1st: Enhanced Senses
4th: Beguile
7th: Wild Form

Divine Notes: Magic, Witchcraft, Seer
Background: Priestess

Dagger: 1d4

This version of Hecate leans more into the dark side as befitting a Goddess of Magic, Ghosts, and Witchcraft that was syncretized with the Goddess of the Underworld and Goddess of Magic and Witches. 

In many ways Helga feels like a better fit to me. Maybe because my whole idea of a Roman-Norse pantheon stretches back to a time when I was first reading myths and had a book that had both of them (along with Beowulf), which was the same time I was learning to play D&D.

Helga is the darker side of Witchcraft. while she has "good" figures in her mix like Freya, Frigga, and Frau Holt, she has Hel as well. 

Taking the base "Hecate" stats wand moving forward I emphasized her connection to the psychic world and her Seer powers. This gives her the Divine Touchstone of Psychic to gain some of those powers and a few more spells and powers.

Three Faces of Hecate


I am EXTREMELY pleased with these characters. Not just as characters but as a means to work out my ideas on who these Gods should be.  The Divine Touchstones are a great way to help build what later could be called divine abilities. I also see all three of these goddesses as being active as goddesses in a NIGHT SHIFT game. 

This game, the WASTED LANDS, is going to be really great and I am looking forward to seeing the final versions in print.  Please sign up for Kickstarter if you can

This also gives me a LOT of ideas for my new Deities & Demigods II feature. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 5, Chariots of the Gods and Alien Gods

One of the great bits of synchronicity of my education back in the late 70s early 80s was my discovery of two very different authors.  The first was Erich von Däniken who had a lot of ideas that appealed to my young self, a self that was fed a steady diet of mythology, astronomy, UFOs, and new-age ideas.  For me, at age 9 to 10, this seemed like great stuff.  It all seemed to fit so well.  Then I discovered the second author, Carl Sagan.  I had seen the various episodes of "In Search Of..." and all the episodes of "Cosmos." So at age 10 there seemed to be a worldview that *could* include both.  I mean, the fringes of science were the fringes, after all. Sagan told me that in black holes, the laws of physics break down.  Maybe there were other places/things/times like this?

Chariots of the Gods
"Chariot of the Gods"

It is no stretch of the imagination that Carl Sagan and Cosmos utterly changed my life.  I always had wanted to be an astronomer, and Sagan was the model I wanted to follow.  Too bad I get to a point in Calculus where I stop understanding it.  Thankfully it was enough to help me out in statistics.

And I read, with abject horror and then absolute delight, Sagan's masterful takedown of von Däniken (and Velikovsky). He so utterly destroyed everything von Däniken had said and claimed.  The evidence and case were overwhelming for me; Erich von Däniken was a fraud, and Sagan was the true visionary.  At the age of 10, I tossed out, mentally speaking, all the things that were spiritual or pseudoscientific.  I relegated all my "magical thought" to my new obsession, D&D. 

But I never really let the ideas go away. Even Sagan himself entertained the possibility of ancient aliens, but as always, he met it with his famous standard, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

One of those ideas was about ancient aliens visiting Earth and being interpreted as gods or angels. 

Von Däniken was not the only one to have these ideas. There was Zecharia Sitchin, who gave us, among other things, the 12th Planet and Nibiru.  But the biggest one was Immanuel Velikovsky.  There are more, but this is not a post on pseudohistory or pseudoscience.  This is a post about gods.  I'll try to recover from my self-inflicted irony wound here later. 

The Aliens

I would like to reconstruct the "Ancient Alien" idea with some major changes.  First, since this is a One Man's God post, these are not aliens but actual gods. I am going to present them as such. They can be "Alien Gods" to be sure, but these are Gods in the D&D/FRPG sense of the word.

I will do it, though in such a way as to leave enough doubt in the readers' minds. That "doubt" is really just my wiggle room so I can use them as "gods" in my various D&D campaigns or as aliens in my various modern games like NIGHT SHIFT.

I want to build something that feels like it came right out of the occult-infused 70s.  

Given all of this, it should not be a huge surprise that I will be drawing on many of the same research and literature reviews I did for my April A to Z of Conspiracy Theories.  I am going to include and draw on the following posts (many of which were originally written for an earlier version of this very post):

I would take a lot of this material and put them together as a group of gods. I have PLENTY of examples. 

Case in point: The Norse Gods and the Nordics.  Take the "alien race," the Nordics, for example. Called such because, well, they are tall and blond. In my take here, the aliens become the Norse Pantheon, essentially what you see in the Marvel Movies with the Asgardians.  

Case in point 2: The entire plot behind the Stargate movie and TV series.

Mine will not be so neat and certainly not so benevolent as those. 

Also, I want to avoid some well-documented racist tropes inherent in the Ancient Aliens as Gods theories. This can best be summarized as "white people couldn't figure it out, so therefore Aliens!" Even in the 70s, I saw this. 

Union of the Snake

The academic work on this is known as the Ophiolatreia: Rites and Mysteries of Serpent Worship. This covers many religions and practices. But it also plays a little loose with the definition of "Serpent." 

Let's try something simpler. There are 1000s of Gods, and there is no way I am going through all of them to find "interloper" gods or ones that don't quite fit with the rest. But I can start with the same resource I have been using this whole time, the Deities & Demigods.

I will work it this way. I'll take all the Gods in D&DG and find the ones that don't fit, and for the most part, I will focus on the reptilian or snake-like gods. I will add a couple more because they fit well with my ideas. 

The Flock

Given the fixation on snakes and reptiles, there needs to be a good representation of those sorts of gods in this new pantheon.  Also, many of these gods will be "sky" gods. While there are archetypes all gods fall into, I am not going to necessarily follow that here like I did in the Roman-Norse Pantheon.   

While the people here are reasonably "Good" aligned, I can't say the same for the gods.  In fact, I am going to have this pantheon of gods be primarily evil.  Their design here is to enslave humans and make them build these giant temples for whatever reason. Conquest? Food? I'll see as I build them.  The humans here are doing what they can to appease these powerful beings in the only ways they know how given their times and tools at hand. This is what makes the process more "Stargate" and less "Marvel's Thor."

So who are these people? This has to be Bronze Age or long before; the Neolithic sounds better. 5,000 BCE feels right.  This also allows me to use some Proto-Indo-European notions of gods.  Indeed I might even reconstruct my own versions of the PIE Gods, not unlike what I did with the Roman-Norse Pantheon.  OR, and here is an idea, the PIE Gods existed, and these "Alien Gods" were the ones they warred with.  This tracks with the common element in many PIE myths of the Hero/God slaying the Dragon/Serpent.  Could the Dragon/Serpent be these Alien Gods?  This is the Chaoskampf of many myths.

Remember, I am not putting together a Master's Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation here. I am building something for the D&D, NIGHT SHIFT, and WASTED LANDS RPGs. I get to bend the rules of proper academic research as much as I like.

I will use these ideas to expand my monsters, Ophidians, and Saurians.

The Gods

Here are some gods that look like they fit my criteria of a snake/reptile/non-human god in a pantheon of human gods. Eastern religions, or, more to the point, non-European ones, have far more variety in their gods. Note: I am also going to get into the subject of Good vs. Evil here. Some, like Queztequotal (Aztec) and Shāhmārān (Turkey) are objectively good figures. Others are not.

While I will focus mostly on the myths as presented in the DDG, there are far, far more. I am going to avoid monsters for the most part, but some will sneak in.  Though I will add more gods that I know as appropriate.

American Indian Mythos

  • Snake-Man

Babylonian, Sumerian, and Akkadian Mythos

  • Apsu
  • Aži Dahāka / Dahak
  • Inshushinak
  • Ištaran
  • Nirah
  • Tiamat
  • Tishpak

Celtic Mythos

  • Caoránach
  • Oilliphéist

Central American Mythos

  • Kukulkan / Queztequotal
  • Huhueteotl
  • Tlaloc

Chinese Mythos

  • Ma Yuan

I talk a lot about Ma Yuan and Ma Yüan-shuai in my discussion of the Chinese myths, I think I might keep him "as is" for this.

Egyptian Mythos

  • Apep
  • Flame Snake (monster and enemy of the Gods)
  • Mehen
  • Nehebkau
  • Set (to a degree)
  • Syöjätär (a monster, but that is the closest thing they have)

Greek Mythos

  • Enceladus
  • Gorgons
  • Hydra
  • Ophion
  • Ophiuchus

Indian Mythos

  • Bhenswara
  • Nagas
  • And dozens more

Japanese Mythos

  • Ugajin
  • Yamata no Orochi

Norse Mythos

  • Jormungandr

This could be a pantheon all on its own. Several of these have their own "portfolios."  And there are so many more.

While I am considering this as something to use with NIGHT SHIFT as "Ancient Aliens." In the WASTED LANDS, they could be heroes (still aliens of a sort) that become gods. Though in at least one case, Jormungandr is another name for Yig.

I could revisit these as part of my Deities & Demigods II since this might be my last Syncretism post for a bit while I spend some more time on my Deities & Demigods II ones.

One Man's God Special: Syncretism

Thursday, June 8, 2023

One Man's God Special: Deities and Demigods II

D&D Gods
I have spent much time with the classic AD&D Deities and Demigods. And a fair amount of time with it's prequel, Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes, its AD&D 2nd Ed counterpart Legends & Lore, the 3rd Edition D&D version, Deities & Demigods.  I thought I was running out of things to say about this, with maybe one or two more posts.

Doing the playtesting for WASTED LANDS has made me think a lot about gods again and how many there are out there.

To recap here are mythos covered in the AD&D 1st Edition Deities and Demigod/Legends and Lore. 

There are also other categories of myths and legends.

Good coverage, but not everything, to be sure. More Norse gods are listed in the GD&H book and later get a huge feature in Dragon magazine.  There are more Finnish Gods too. The Howard/Hyborea gods of Conan also get a listing in GD&H. Though if you grab the PDF or POD versions of GD&H now there are no Melniboné or Hybora sections.

But what is missing?

Despite their coverage in Dragon, we don't get any of the gods of the World of Greyhawk. Same with the WoG Suel Gods. The Roman gods are not covered really. There are all the demi-human gods in the Unearthed Arcana. Then we have more in Dragon and that is not counting what we can get from Castles & Crusades.

We have enough for another volume really. A Deities & Demigods II.

Deities & Demigods II

Collecting all the above material and trying not to do too much duplication here is a proposed Deities & Demigods II for AD&D 1st Ed.

  • Demihuman Deities (from Unearthed Arcana)
  • Germanic (from C&C)
  • Roman
  • Slavic (from C&C)
  • Suel (from Dragon)
Then going deeper into the Dragon Magazines (and combining my "This Old Dragon" features) we have:

  • African
  • Australian
  • More Aztec
  • More Babylonian
  • Canaanite
  • More Celtic
  • Dragons
  • Eastern European
  • More Japanese
  • Mesopotamian
  • Persian
  • Polynesian
  • More Sumerian
  • More Greyhawk gods than I know what to do with

That is a lot. 

And that is not counting the ones I also made myself, my Greco-Egyptian Gods, and my Roman-Norse ones.

This could get quickly out of hand.

I have been looking for something to replace my "One Man's God" Feature. Maybe this is it. 

I'll need to think this one over. 

What would you like to see? D&DG format? Later formats? Gods as monsters with HP or Gods as...well Gods?  I think Gods as Monsters really runs counter to the idea the original designers wanted but despite that they gave us stat blocks for them and that is what people know. 

Lots of different ways to depict the gods. I suppose I'll just have to figure out what works.

The Three Faces of Hecate

Though I suppose most readers here would want something akin to the AD&D 1st Ed presentation.

 Have to mull this one over.

I suppose I could just play-test these gods in WASTED LANDS and see how they all come out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Church of Lolth Ascendant

In the "Anything worth doing is worth doing in excess" category:  Some fluff for the D&D game.

There is a growing cult found among the elves of the world. Whispered in ears and it’s writings forbidden it is yet still gaining strong standing among elves, surface and drow alike, a simple, but heretical belief.

Lolth was betrayed.

The members of the Church of Lolth Ascendant firmly believe that Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders and Goddess of the Drow was in fact Araushnee, the Elven Goddess of Fate and Destiny. This is not in dispute. What is disputed however, are the events that lead Araushnee to become Lolth and what happened after.

Araushnee was born the same time as all the Elven Gods in the time just After Dawn. She was the most beautiful of all the Seldarine, her ebon skin glistened in the moonlight and looked like carved wood in the sun. Corellon said she was made out of piece of pure midnight and her hair reflected the light of the stars above. For this he gave her domain over the stars and secrets they keep. They say that the other Gods were jealous of her, but she did not see this, for Araushnee was born with the Sight. She could see the complicated strands of fate, understand the webs they could weave and make predictions.
It was these predictions that lead to her downfall.

Araushnee predicted that the peace of the elves would end in violent wars where elf battled “fearsome beasts” (orcs were not yet created), dwarfs and other elves. She was laughed at, but she knew her predictions were true. When the orcs were created and threatened elf territories the others still did not listen to her.

She saw the future Elf/Orc war and tried to warn Corellon. But he ignored her advice and was too busy dallying with the three goddess Sehanine Moonbow, Hanali Celanil and Aerdrie Faenya.

When the elves finally did respond Araushnee had another vision. She saw Corellon defeat Grummush and destroy the all of the orcs. But genocide was not enough for the victorious and bloodthirsty god. He attacked the dwarves and destroyed them, and then the gnomes, Halflings and finally humans. Araushnee saw a world in which only the Elves would remain and Corellon ruled all as a bloody tyrant. Arushnee loved Corellon, giving him two children, but did not want him to become a monster. She knew she had to stop him.

She turned to Sehanine Moonbow, the Goddess of Artisans, who she felt was a sister (despite her infidelity with her husband), to ask her for guidance. But Sehanine was jealous of Araushnee and her dominion of the night sky and of her place at Corellon’s side. She told Araushnee that the only way to protect the elves was to let the orcs know of their surprise raid. Araushnee agreed and left alone for Grummush’s lair. Sheanine remained behind in Arushnee’s home to wait out the battle.

Araushnee went to Grummush and told him of the surprise attack to happen and the strength of the elven forces. He commanded that she remain with him, she said no that it was her fate to die in the battle in the elvish fortress. This she had seen.

Araushnee returned saddened, but knowing that she had prevented Corellon from becoming an even greater monster than Grummush. She stood in readiness for battle with her kin and her children. She did not even notice that Sehanine was not with them. When the battle began the elvish forces were nearly overwhelmed. While they did fight the orcs back and achieve a victory, it was not the slaughter that Corellon was wanting. Orcs still lived, Grummush, wounded, still lived. Corellon raged, demanding to know who had betrayed them. Araushnee said nothing, still in shock over not dying in battle and wondering if her visions had been wrong. Then Sehanine returned, claiming she had been imprisoned by Araushnee, that she had discovered the Drow Queen’s plans to warn and join with Grummush.

Corellon confronted her asking if these claims were true. She admitted to telling Grummush, and that is all Corellon had heard. He went to strike her down but their son Vhaeraun stood in between them. Corellon struck him down instead. Now Araushnee grew enraged. She had sacrificed everything so that the elves could live and Corellon would remain a just ruler, but she was still the mother of this boy and no one, not even the First of the Seldarine, dared touch him in anger. Using all her own power she attacked her former lover. She knew his every move and was able to counteract his every attack and land her own instead. She would have succeeded in killing him had it not been for the lesser goddesses Sehanine Moonbow, Hanali Celanil and Aerdrie Faenya combining their power into one deity to defeat her.

With Araushnee defeated, broken and beyond everything else, despairing over the path Fate had lead her down. Corellon angered, cursed her, her form and her name. Cast her into the Abyss with her son and condemned all drow. He gave her powers to Sehanine Moonbow. He also cast out Eilistraee even though she had stood with her father.

Lolth, as she was now known, hid herself deep in the Abyss and wept.

The Worshippers of Araushnee

The lay worshipper of Araushnee is typically elven, though her voice finds an ear among half-elves and some humans. Her flock is typically younger than other new cults. It is believed that this is due to the fact that drow, once a feared nearly mythical boogeyman 20 years ago, are now more common of a sight. Even good Drow have been known to exist.

Tenants of Faith

Araushnee, now known as Lolth, was a member of the Elvish pantheon.
• She was unjustly banished and imprisoned in the Abyss.
• She wished for nothing more than to be reunited with her fellow elves. She forgives Corellon and even the goddesses Sehanine Moonbow, Hanali Celanil and Aerdrie Faenya. She wants them to welcome her back.
• The Drow are evil, but their evil is one that began with a lie and has been perpetuated by the Drow matriarchy.
• To achieve Arushnee’s reunification with the Seldarine, elven worshipers must achieve reunification with the Drow.
• Evils done in Lolth’s name are often the work of the evil Drow matriarchy, other demons, or even the Seldraine themselves.

Fourth Edition D&D

Lady of Fate, Banished Goddess, Queen of the Demonweb Pits
Unaligned Greater Goddess

Auaushnee, known to the world as Lolth, sits alone in the Demonweb Pits, the prison constructed for her by her former husband Corellon. She presides over Drow and spiders that mimic her ability to weave the stands of fate. Araushnee never answer summons, but communicates to her true followers in prophetic dreams and omens.

Araushnee does not make many demands on her worshippers, feeling that life is demanding enough. But she does hold all her worshipers to the following:
• Find your own fate and follow it.
• Honor Arsushnee not in words, but in deeds and actions.
• Seek to reunite that which has been sundered.

Worshipers: Drow, Dark and Star Pact Warlocks, Fortune Tellers, Diviners

New Feat: Web of Fate [Divinity]
Prerequisites: Channel Divinity class feature, must worship Araushnee (not Lolth).
Benefit: You can use the power of your deity to use web of fate.

Channel Divinity: Web of Fate Feat Power
The strands of fate play out before you like the silken threads of a spider. You may pluck a strand, altering fate in your favor.
Immediate Interrupt Close burst 10
Trigger: An ally in burst makes an attack roll or skill check
Target: One ally in burst
Effect: The target immediately rerolls the attack roll or skill check he or she just made, but must keep the second result, even if it is worse.
Special: You must take the Web of Fate feat to use this power.

Third Edition D&D 

Lady of Fate, Banished Goddess, Queen of the Demonweb Pits
Intermediate Deity
Symbol: A spider web or a drow woman holding a distaff
Home Plane: Demonweb Pits
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Portfolio: Drow, Fate, Chaos, Night, Stars
Worshipers: Drow, the oppressed, fortune tellers, those that seek redemption, witches
Cleric Alignment: CG, CN, CE
Domains: Fate*, Drow, Chaos, Darkness
Favored Weapon: Distaff (staff)

*Found in Complete Warrior

As the former Lady of Fate, Araushhnee was also responsible for the management of the Weave for elves. It is because of her weaving strands of the Weave into the fate of all elves. This is why Elves are the most magical race and it is something that all elves to this day still feel.

Araushnee rarely sends avatars to consult with worshipers preferring to communicate via prophetic dreams and omens. She does this since she feels as living creatures her worshippers need to choose their own fates.

Araushnee’s followers are guided to find their own fates and follow it. There will be signs for those that can read them and these signs will guide you. In the spirit of reunification the followers are encouraged to make whole things that have been broken apart. A typical tactic is a group of pilgrims from one elven community to another will ask for odd jobs to do fixing things. While the male members will work, the females will stay with the others to speak of another who wishes to mend. Fortune tellers and others that deal with reading the fates for a price also work in the Word for Araushnee.

Clergy and Temples
The Clergy of Araushnee tend to be young, spirited and have an absolute sense that what they are saying is in fact correct. They will often quote passages out of the Elven canon describing Araushnee’s betrayal and even produce so called “lost works” of Elven scholars that have been deemed to heretical for inclusion. While such works are in fact quite old what is lost to time is whether they were not included because they were heretical, or simply not true. Where they are open the Cult of Araushnee will preach their message of reunification with their Drow cousins and speak of “mending old wounds” both among the elves and among their gods. They firmly believe that if they can get enough worshippers the Seladrine will have to allow Araushnee’s return.
The lay worshipper of Araushnee is typically elven, though her voice finds an ear among half-elves and some humans. Her flock is typically younger than other new cults. It is believed that this is due to the fact that drow, once a feared nearly mythical boogeyman 20 years ago, are now more common of a sight. Even good Drow have been known to exist.
Temples are usually temporary affairs since the cult is tolerated at best and hunted at worse. A typical worship center for the Cult of Araushnee is outdoors in a woodland area (for elven sensibility) and usually at night (out of respect of the Goddess they revere). It is considered a good omen if there are spider webs found in a potential spot and a great omen if spiders spin their webs during the worship service. A sign that Araushnee is pleased.

Second Edition AD&D

Intermediate Power of the Abyss

PORTFOLIO: Fate, darkness, chaos, spiders, the drow race
ALIASES: Lolth, Lloth (Menzoberranzan and Uluitur), Megwandir, Moander, Zinzerena
DOMAIN NAME: 66th level/Lolth's Web (the Demonweb Pits)
FOES: Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Gruumsh, Ibrandul (dead), Kiaransaleen, Laduguer, Moander (dead), the Seldarine, Vhaeraun, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
SYMBOL: Female drow holding a distaff or a spider’s web

Specialty Priests
Fate Spinners

PRIME REQ.: Wisdom
MAJOR SPHERES: All, astral, animal, chaos, combat, divination, guardian, healing, protection, summoning, sun (reversed only)
MINOR SPHERES: Charm, creation, wards
REQ. PROFS: Etiquette, weaving
BONUS PROFS: Animal training (spiders), spellcraft

• Fate Spinners are allowed to and encouraged to multiclass.
• Fate Spinners are immune to all spider venoms.
• Fate Spinners can communicate with spiders of all kinds, and spiders never harm them in any way.
• At 2nd level, Fate Spinners can cast spider climb (as the 1st-level wizard spell) or spidereyes (as the Ist-level wizard spell found in Wizard's Spell Compendium, Volume 3 or the Ist-level priest spell in The Drow of the Underdark) once per day. If spider climb is cast, it does not prevent spell-casting so long as two limbs grip the surface being climbed, and light objects do not stick to the priest's hands and feet. Spidereyes allows the caster to see through the eyes of a single normal or giant arachnid within 60
yards, but it does not grant any control over the arachnid's movements or direction of gaze.
• At 5th level, Fate Spinners can cast dispel magic (as the 3rd-level priest spell) or web (as the 2nd-level wizard spell) twice per day.
• At 7th level, Fate Spinners can cast summon shadow (as the 5thlevel wizard spell) or spider summoning (as the 5th-level priest spell) twice per day.
• At 10th level, Fate Spinners can cast true seeing (as the 5th-level priest spell, but with twice the normal duration) or spiderform (as the 5th-level priest spell) twice per day.
• At 13th level, fate spinners can cast dream (as the 5th-level wizard spell) once per day.

Fate Spinners are allowed the same spells as are the Arachne if they are drow.

Araushnee in the Campaign

Forgotten Realms
Araushnee has the strongest presence in the Forgotten Realms world of Toril. Her cult, while not wide spread, does have some concentration in the more urban centers of the world where ideas can easily be shared and of course high among the elves. In particular the cult has gained a foothold among the students of the University in Silverymoon and on the streets of Waterdeep. In Silverymoon more humans are found among the cult’s members than anywhere else, though elves still outnumber the human cultists. In Waterdeep, Araushnee’s message is whispered from trader to trader and in the shops and in the fortune tellers’ stalls. A small temple(in truth a small shop) is maintained in the Field Ward. The Temple is in good standing with the city having paid all their dues and strictly adhering to all the laws. So despite complaints the city officials have no cause to throw them out.
It is from these two strongholds of faith that the cult has spread. Recently the cult has been spotted in Baldur’s Gate as Elven travelers have left other parts of the world to come here.

With little surprise the stronghold of faith for the worship of Araushnee lies in the City of Greyhawk itself. Once felt to be a minor esoteric cult grown out of the idle speculation of University students the cult has spread to many lands where there are elves. There are however more Drow in the Araushnee cult on Oerth than on Toril. Why this might be is unknown, but plannular scholars suspect it might be due to the lesser presence of other good-aligned Drow gods such as Eilistraee on Oerth.
Due to city laws there are no standing temples to Araushnee in the city and the members of the Oligarchy have spoken out about it.
Arushnee’s cult has taken longer to establish here than in other worlds since the events of the Temple of Elemental Evil are still within living memory.

D20 Modern – (Urban Arcana, Shadow Chasers, Dark*Matter)
The worship of Araushnee is open and widespread. Considered to be a neo-Pagan Goddess that has been “re-discovered” she is celebrated as a symbol of triumph (in particular female triumph) over adversity (in particular male adversity). She is revered both by humans and elves alike. Her popularity has grown since she was used as the “spokesperson” for the phenomenally successful “Lolth Fair – A Celebration of Women in Music” event of the previous decade.

Drow in power are less likely to follow Araushnee than those living in the streets or slums of the modern world. Though she has also found solid ground with the various feminist movements among the elves, they differ is feeling Araushnee should not have beg for forgiveness, but rather it is the other elven gods that should be asking for hers.

Witches of Arashnee

Given her status as a “rejected” or “outsider” goddess, the priesthoods of Araushnee could best be described as witches in the classical sense. They worship a god felt to be evil by all of those around. They could also be described as witches in the modern sense, worshipers of downtrodden and most misunderstood goddess.

1st and 2nd Edition, Complete Netbook of Witches
My suggestion of course would be to use my own “Complete Netbook of Witches and Warlocks”. It is a free netbook that is all over the internet now. Just Google it.

Witches of Arashnee are of an Eclectic or Faerie Tradition. Typically they will belong to a small coven of eight or less, eight being the primary number of significance for Arashnee’s cult.
The Gypsy Elves in this book are also among her worshipers and are one of the primary means for the spread of her cult.
Arashnee’s Witches have the following Occult Powers:
Lesser: Brew Truth Drug
Minor: Acquire Familiar (Spiders and Arachnids only)
Medial: Immune to Supernatural Fear
Greater: Fascination
Superior: Foretell Future

3rd Edition, Liber Mysterium, the Complete Book of Witches and Warlocks
While there are a number of d20 compatible witches on the market, I also suggest using my “Liber Mysterium” book on witches. Again, it is free and can be found with a Google search, most likely that same search that works above.

Witches of Arashnee are of an Eclectic or Faerie Tradition. Typically they will belong to a small coven of eight or less, eight being the primary number of significance for Arashnee’s cult.
Typically the Witches of Arashnee hail from Eclectic or Faerie (Kuruni) traditions, with most witches being human and elf respectively.
They have the following Occult Powers
Minor (7th Level): Fate’s Luck
Medial (13th Level): Dream, as per the 5th level Wizard spell.
Greater (19th Level): Foretell Future


A cool blog post I found about Lolth and Ereshkigal,
That Wikipedia thingy,
Forgotten Realms wiki,
Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, Lolth is a semi-regular,