In Deus Ex Machinas And The Plot Implications Of Divinity I talked about the relationship between divine beings and a campaign’s structure and narrative, and how a big-picture perspective on the role divine power plays within a campaign can make or break the plausibility of the campaign. At the end of that article, I suggested that at some future point I would examine the ‘big picture’ answers to some thorny questions from the standpoint of my different campaigns.
With this article, I begin the process of making good on that promise by examining the Theology of Fumanor and how it has influenced and shaped the campaigns that I have run in that game world, those that. I am still running, and the ‘big finish’ epic campaign that is still in the formative stages for after the current campaigns reach their conclusions.
Since the first campaign began, twelve years ago, the Players have learned a lot about the Theology of Fumanor, finding that it was both simpler and vastly more complicated than they originally expected. I can’t give you the full story here – there is nowhere near enough time – so I’m just going to hit the high points.
The Campaign Background Pack
To start with, I did something original with the campaign background – I built an offline website, breaking the narrative up into smaller sections, some just a single line or paragraph long. These were then threaded to present the narrative as “The Campaign Background As Known To” – One thread was for ordinary people, one for Elves, one for Mages and Priests, one for Historians and Sages, and one for the GM only. Each of those four groups had parts of the history missing, or misinterpreted, or had even invented as an explanation for real world events that bore little or no resemblance to the truth. Prejudices and Racial myopia were also factored in. The story was then rendered in a “Holy Book” style – similar to the style that I used recently in presenting the tale of the Loss Of Paradise (The Shared Kingdoms: A Premise from the Shards Of Divinity campaign).
As in our history, there was a time when the only group keeping written records was the clergy, and their version of the origin story therefore became canonical. If you looked at it too closely, there were a number of things not said and some internal contradictions – subtle ones – but, superficially, each of the named threads told a story that held together and explained the origins and history of the universe as that group understands it.
The Metaphysics Of Creation
So what’s the real story, stripped of all the pseudo-religious trappings (and wrapped in pseudo-scientific trappings instead)? What is the origin story of this game universe?
The players don’t know. They’ve received hints of it, again viewed from a pseudo-religious perspective, but since their characters lack the scientific grounding to understand it, I’ve never bothered to tell them the ‘real story’. I’m presenting it here for the first time:
The Chaos Powers
Before the world existed, there was only “The Void” and the Chaos Powers. There was nothing of permanence, no structures or reality. According to doctrine, the Void cast out the Chaos Powers; the reality was something more complicated, and is still barely understood by the players. The problem with this beginning of the origin story is that it doesn’t explain where the Chaos Powers came from.
The solution lies in Chaos Theory. “The Void” was something akin to the universe before the big bang, an infinitely-concentrated energy field occupying a single point of infinite size, a singularity. When everything is random, anything becomes possible, and inevitably – sooner or later – random chance will produce a coherent, stable, structure of space-time. Like a crystal forming about a seed in a supersaturated solution, entropy condenses into space-time around that stable coherence. Anything within the singularity that can exist within the resulting space becomes part of it; and anything that can’t, by definition, must be outside of the resulting universe. In effect, the act of becoming a structured universe with space and time censors the contents of the universe to only those things that belong there.
The circuitry within a television set isn’t necessary to receive a picture on that set; all the circuitry does is manipulate the energy carried by the circuits in the appropriate ways to translate a coded signal (the transmission) into a visual image on the screen. If you could manipulate the energy fields directly, the circuitry is completely unnecessary. By analogy, the biological structures of the brain are no more necessary for sentience than are a pincushion or a piñata; they simply make it easier for the property of sentience to arise and to create more of itself. If anything is possible within the infinite singularity, then random chance also permits – mandates? – that parts of it will be sentient by pure chance. A peculiarly anarchic and disordered sentience, with no particular means of interacting with or even perceiving its environment, perhaps – disembodied minds with no frame of reference for ‘reality’. These minds could be considered analogous to an infant within the womb, and that’s what the singularity was to them.
Quantum Mechanics tells us that nothing can be observed without the act of observance changing that which is observed, however minutely. Generalizing “observed” to the (more accurate) term, “interacted with” and it becomes clear that the creation of space-time not only gives form and structure to “the void”, the interaction of that space-time rejecting that which cannot exist within it because it does not observe the same natural laws as the resulting universe must change that with which it has interacted. The creation of the universe gives those sentiences within the Void something to become aware of, and those parts of the nature of the universe that were not contradicted by the natural laws of the sentience would be imprinted on that sentience. The analogous situation is that childbirth – a painful and traumatic experience for the child, however necessary and natural it might be.
And that’s the Chaos Powers. Sentiences who were self-aware but aware of nothing else but their own existence in an environment perfectly suited to their existence (by definition) suddenly being subjected to a change in themselves and their environment. Since the only direction of change possible from perfection is in the direction of imperfection, the creation of the universe is a traumatic event experienced by the chaos powers, a rejection, if you will, an expulsion into a less-than-perfect (and hence – by comparison – infinitely torturous) existence. They would want nothing more than to restore the universe to the condition they once enjoyed.
It would take time for them to evolve in accordance with those elements of natural law that were consistent with their natures, developing sensory awarenesses and discovering that they were not alone. They would naturally both band together for their mutual advantage and at the same time hate each other’s very existence. In time, they might find that they can project their awareness into the space-time that had rejected them because they are only partially incompatible with it; and might even find ways to draw on the incompatibility to disrupt the natural laws within the universe. But they would not stand unopposed.
Returning to the principle of quantum mechanics cited above, it should also become clear that the distinctiveness of the chaos powers – their property of sentience – would also change the universe in the process of interaction. Since such interaction, by necessity, can only occur at the interface boundary between finite space-time and infinite no-space-no-time, where reality itself is ‘crystallizing’ out of chaos, the property of sentience would become imprinted on parts of the newly-formed universe. Since these, by definition, are part of the universe and wholly within the scope of the natural laws it contains, they are fully at home here. But there is also a connection to the chaotic, again by virtue of the ‘imprint’ of the chaos powers left on the dimensional boundary between what is-and-can-be and what-is-and-cannot-be. The resulting beings can learn, in time, to transition a portion of the reality around them into another stable configuration that is consistent with the natural laws of the universe. They can learn, in other words, to manipulate reality by breaking natural laws – so long as they put them back together again when they are finished.
The very act of ‘rejecting’ the chaos powers created the Gods. Again, at this point in their existences, they are only potentially self-aware, and only potentially capable of awareness of the universe around them. Both attributes will come to them in time, even as the universe develops structured realities through the interaction of energy and its collapse into matter over time.
Another element of this origin story that deserves a mention, because it was definitely part of my thought process, is that of the Titans of Greek Mythology. The Greeks had come up with various Deities, but needed an origin for them. To answer the question “Where did the Gods come from?”, the Titans entered Greek theology. The ancient Greeks didn’t seem to realize at first that this only moved the problem without answering it – the question then became “Where did the titans come from?”. To answer this, they created “Gaia”, “Uranus”, and “Pontus” – (Earth, Heaven, and the Sea, respectively) as the progenitors of the Titans – but that’s where they seemed to run out of answers. So Pontus’ origin was attributed to a spontaneous pregnancy by Gaia with no father involved. Uranus was also supposedly the son of Gaia, with some sources suggesting that this was another spontaneous pregnancy while others name Aether (“Light”) as the father. Both origins are unsatisfactory, as neither Aether nor Gaia have origins, and spontaneous pregnancies are question-begging at best.
Certainly, at the time, an unwed mother-to-be might have claimed union with a God or even a completely spontaneous pregnancy (resulting in a virgin birth) to avoid social stigma, so the Greeks may have found these origins satisfactory, even though they seem to be at odds with the fundamental Greek philosophy. But Gaia was also known as “The mother of all” and the personification of everything that existed before the Titans, who in turn gave rise to both other generations of Titan and to the Gods. So, in a way, the entire origin story of the Greek Mythos can be viewed as a metaphor for the origin story described in preceding sections of this article – with the Chaos Powers as the Titans, the Gods as the Gods, and Gaia as the entirety of the universe, or even the ‘seed’ of space-time, and that’s because I had the Greek mythology in mind when creating this origin story.
Nihilistic Chaos vs. Life-affirming Order
So, ultimately, here’s the situation we end up with: The Chaos Powers, who oppose the sterility and predictability of the universe, and want to see it destroyed utterly, reduced to the state of infinite possibility that it once possessed, and the Gods, who being a part of the (super-)natural order, oppose the Chaos Powers. The fundamental divide of reality is not good vs evil but order vs chaos.
It’s worth spending a few moments at this point in contemplation of the psychology of the Chaos Powers. They were complete and self-sufficient, their every need met by the chaos around them; they had no higher awareness because they had no need for one. All that was traumatically taken away from them, leaving them with an unquenchable need to make themselves whole again. Their nature is not an ideological difference of opinion with the Gods of Fumanor, its a fundamental difference of realities. They do not particularly value their intellects, rather they seem them as tools at best and symptoms at worst. They don’t employ strategy, they use cunning. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” is always a valid defense.
If the Gods were omnipotent, there would be no contest; it would only be a matter of time before they devised a plan without flaws, and executed that plan to perfection.
If the Chaos powers could just be patient, eventually entropy will iron out completely, and the universe will dissolve back into the infinite no-space no-time that spawned it.
Fortunately, from the perspective of a GM creating a framework within which interesting adventures can take place, neither the Gods nor the Chaos Powers are omnipotent. The Gods are imperfect and have executed imperfect strategies in the past, the consequences of which they continue to struggle against. The Chaos Powers are quick to discover and exploit any flaw, loophole, or opportunity. But at the same time, the Chaos Powers are driven by this need which is utterly insatiable by anything but total victory (and possibly not even then, but that’s getting ahead of myself); eternal patience is not possible for them, they have to continually attempt to upset the status quo. The history of the world is a continual struggle between these two antagonistic forces.
Mortals & The Chaotic Diaspora
The story goes that the Gods created Men, Elves, Goblins, etc etc etc. The story also goes that the Chaos Powers “inspired” this act of creation as a means of formenting anarchy amongst the Gods. No-one knows which version of the story is correct, or even if both are, or neither, not even the protagonists concerned. Both are human mythology; the Elves have a different take on the whole question, which has yet to be revealed to and explored by the Players, so I’m not going to go into it here.
However it happened, the Gods discovered that Mortals, while individually weak, could collectively decide the conflict between the two primal antagonists, and so sought to indoctrinate these mortals into an army of supporters. They also found that the power of this belief could be harnessed by them in various ways.
The Chaos Powers also saw mortals as tools that could be used to undermine the Gods, and some of the Chaos Powers transformed themselves into the evils that tempt mortals into foolish acts – Greed, Envy, Sloth, and so on. Anything that spreads anarchy or uncertainty empowers the Chaos Powers. Asking who began to spread their influence over mortals first is an unanswerable question; both sides saw an opportunity and sought to exploit it. The official human theology states that the Gods created mortals because the act of creation itself promotes Order, that the Chaos Powers corrupted them, and the Gods created the institutions of worship and religion and government to combat these corruptive influences.
Again, according to human theology, other Chaos powers transformed themselves into Devils and Demons, while some sought to send extensions of themselves into the world – extensions to which mortals gave names such as Cthulhu and Yog-Soggoth and He Who Must Not Be Named. And still others became the creatures who infest the outer planes like Beholders and Efreet and Illithid. And lastly, a few became the sources of Wild Magic, the originators of all that is arcane. The greatest of the Gods then sacrificed himself to create an orderly structure to confine the practice of Magic.
The Role Of Alignment
In part 3 of my series on Alignment back in 2009 (An Unnecessary Evil? – Focusing On Alignment Part 3 of 5), I showed how redefining the labels used to identify axes of morality within the alignment system could transform it from a characterization straightjacket enforcing PC and NPC behavior into a tool for greater and more subtle characterization. A lot of my thinking on that subject stemmed from the way Alignment is used within the Fumanor Campaign.
Alignment and morality are largely humanoid concepts. The Gods represent extremes of Order, and the Chaos Powers extremes of Chaos. The more strongly one supports the Gods in this ongoing war, who operate from a ‘struggle now, reward later’ perspective in which anything that brings victory closer is not only moral, it is mandated, the more strongly aligned with Order the character is. Piety, in other words, is a direct reflection of the strength of the alignment of Order. Chaos, in comparison, denies that the Gods are doing anything constructive for the world. By opposing Dogma and supporting innovation and originality, one is aligning his or her moral compass more closely with the “Anarchy” of chaos. From a metaphysical perspective, the laws of chance favor Chaos and an eternal, unreachable perfection with no room for individualism is the ultimate goal of the Gods. There is even a neutral perspective in the centre which holds that neither of these are the driving force between societal and social growth, but rather the betterment of human existence stems from the tension and interplay between the two.
That leaves the “Good vs Evil” axis. “Evil” is defined as the desire for immediate self-gratification and the rights of the individual over those of any collective society; “Good” means placing the general welfare of society over the personal needs and desires of the individual. Various “Neutral” philosophies are possible, such as the view that society collectively is made up of discrete individuals and the concept of a “collective good” is a fiction.
And that produces an interesting dichotomy: The Chaos Powers, by definition, are various shades of Chaotic Evil. At best, they can be Chaotic Neutral, working to achieve the overall goals of the “Race” because of what it will gain them as individuals. The Gods, in comparison, are Lawful-to-neutral by definition, but can occupy any position on the Good vs. Evil axis. This diversity produces friction and occasional disunity amongst the Gods, and that is a vulnerability that the Chaos Powers have been able to exploit time after time.
The Limitations Of Divinity
Of course, Gods form “familial groups” as implied by the Greek Gods. In fact, to one tribe or another, each of the pantheons in the original Deities & Demigods was “their” Pantheon. Now, humans are an inventive lot, and prone to making stuff up because it sounds like a good story. Unbeknownst to the Gods, the “connection to chaos” that enabled them to work their miracles – a key component of what made them Deities in the first place – responded not just to their wills but to the beliefs of aligned beings. This was the unexpected price that had to be paid for their accessing the greater power of Worship: whatever their subjects believed about them became part of their makeup. Zeus found himself unexpectedly eyeing attractive geese, and the occasional cow, not to mention anything in a skirt that happened to pass by. Hodur found his eyesight fading. Balder became invulnerable – except for his heel. It didn’t matter whether or not they wanted to express their divine abilities in this fashion – the priests had said this was the way it was, and so it came to be.
In an attempt to recapture some of their independence, the Gods started spreading different stories of their own to distant tribes. If there were three different interpretations out there of who and what they were, they could pick and choose between them as necessary. The Chaos Powers also muddied the waters with their own stories, seeking to undermine the sense of purpose of the Gods..
This was just one of several conflicts between them in the game history. The revolt of the Shadow Gods for example, when Loki, Coyote, and several other “Evil” Gods were tempted into revolt. But in terms of a deeper understanding of the Theology, they are unimportant.
The United Pantheon
I’ve described in past blogs the story of that first Campaign, Fumanor: The Last Deity. Probably the most succinct summary is in Grokking The Message: Naming Places & Campaigns about 80% of the way through the article, in the section on Naming Campaigns.
So, just who is in the united Pantheon that the PCs put together?
Athena and the Wild Hunt
Greater Goddess “The Hunter”, (more correctly “The Huntress”)
- Predator animals
- Rangers, trackers and bounty hunters
- Hunting and tracking
- Judgment & Insight
- Judge of the dead
Athena was goddess of wisdom and battle in the Zues Pantheon prior to the Godwar. She blamed herself for not seeing it coming and has lost the few soft edges that she had previously. She would have engaged in an orgy of self-destructive recrimination and angst, but as most senior of the surviving deities, she found herself too busy rebuilding from the ashes and planning to grant herself the luxury. Once her tasks are complete and the replacement for Olympus secured, she can take the time to grieve; until then, her personality is somewhat on the erratic side, but characterized by a ruthless determination to overcome the difficulties set before her. She now stalks the Planes like a predator, seeking absolution that no-one else can grant her. Her wits and insights have not deserted her; it was Athena who decided that the only way to unify the survivors into a new pantheon was to place the entire issue into mortal hands; without direction from one who could truly Believe in the new pantheon as a whole, the disparate origins of the Gods would have produced at best an empty shell which could never have withstood the next onslaught of the Chaos Powers. Only a True Believer could mould and shape the perceptions of the mortal population.
The Wild Hunt were part of the pantheon worshipped by the Celtic Men, whose homelands were lost during the Godwar. They enter the material plane at a random location once a night, seek out the greatest evil in the vicinity, and attempt to destroy it. When their master fell in the Godwar, Athena proved the only deity able to subdue them, and certainly the only one willing to make the attempt. The pack now gather only rarely, and only when great evil is perceived; instead they roam the planes and serve as Athena’s eyes and Ears. It is rumored that like most of the Gods, the new divisions within the Celestial Sphere have bequeathed them with even more fearsome powers, and with a new mission – to seek and destroy the worshippers of the Chaos Powers, the pawns who give them eyes and ears and hands with which to further their vile ambitions.
One of Athena’s responsibilities is to judge the spirits of the dead who are brought before her. Many are sentenced to an existence of pain and torture, until given a new opportunity to prove themselves worthy by Yama; a few are found worthy of a place in Elysium; and a handful are recruited to act as the agents of the Gods, foreswearing the heaven for the glory and honor of being chosen to serve the gods.
Greater Goddess “Beloved Lady Of Life”
- Birth and fertility
- Domesticated animals
- Patron Deity of Gnomes, Pixies and Halflings
- Agriculture and the harvest
- Love and friendship
- Protection and preservation
Freya was the goddess of Love and Fertility and leader of the Valkyries in Odin’s Pantheon. Although a powerful deity in times of peace, her power tended to wane in more turbulent periods, and was never as strong as many others when it came to direct confrontation. She was sorely wounded in the early stages of the Godwar, and was close to death, as was Loviatar. In desperation, Frey merged the two together, binding them into a single being with his own life. But three into one won’t go, and eventually Freya and Loviatar healed sufficiently to divide themselves from their joined existence. They had, in the meantime, experienced life as a unique and distinct being, partaking of the attributes of both, and when the Goddesses re-divided, those experiences remained, producing a new being – Freya-Loviatar – given life through the self-sacrifice of Frey.
Freya was changed by the experience; her horizons broadened to include many aspects and attributes of domestic tranquility. She is now the mother-figure of the pantheon, the matriarch who rules behind the scenes. Kind hearted, generous, and merciful, she is beloved by all and is the unifying figure of the new Pantheon.
Half of Freya’s original body is buried within the rubble of Mount Olympus.
- Snow, ice and cold
- Patron Deity of Storm & Snow Giants
- Pain & the alleviation of pain
- Obsession, Determination & Implacability
- Concentration & Focus
- Leadership & Inspiration
- Bailiff Of The Dead
Loviatar was a minor member of the Kalevatha Pantheon, a mortal woman who became a Demigod, whose portfolio was pain, desire, cruelty, and cold. Almost killed during the Godwar, she was markedly changed by her survival (the tale of which is given in the entry for Freya, above). She was one deity who displayed extraordinary personal growth through the experience, going from a minor entity to one of the most powerful of the Gods, and seeking to rise beyond her natural inclinations to meet the challenges before her. When the battle looked lost, it was the combined Freya-Loviatar who gave the Gods renewed focus, inspiration, and determination, and afterwards, she selflessly attempted any task that needed doing, no matter how unlike her inclinations she saw them – from healing the injured to granting peace to the desolate and courage to the fearful. When the combined being, Freya-Loviatar, re-divided, Loviatar retained many of the attributes that the combined being had displayed. She transcended mere beauty to achieve Charisma and Leadership, and many Warriors believe that she protects and strengthens them in battle.
Nevertheless, she is as much feared as revered; Mercurial of temperament, she is capable of following gestures of great kindness and sympathy with acts of total fury and violence, particularly when baulked. Loviatar has a strong ruthless streak and very much practices what she preaches. Armed and fortified by her weapon, Mjolnir, formerly the weapon of the Thunder God, Thor, and the repository of remnants of both his power and that of Zeus. She also retains her icicle dagger which grants her immunity to magic. Loviatar is now the next best thing to unstoppable.
Just as Loviatar can inspire the single-mindedness and obsessive behavior that can be needed to extract revenge, she can also withhold the emotional fire, leaving the victim in the grip of fear or despair; despite her more terrifying aspects, she remains a deity whose goodwill is to be cultivated. Note that she is not interested in Justice, and issues of good vs. evil, and other lofty philosophies; Loviatar is all about Retribution, her philosophy is “us vs. them” – which clears away all the baggage and gets right to the heart of the matter. Her power waxes and wanes through the course of a year; in hotter climes, she as at her strongest in Summer, while in cooler climates, Winter is her time. In moderate climatic areas, she is consistently stronger in Winter, but is capable of sudden peaks of power in Summer that surpass this level of power – for a short time (a few hours, no more). It is said that ducks fear her, which is why they fly south for the winter – and north for the summer. This is considered sensible of the ducks.
Loviatar is an extremely beautiful woman of refined features and seductive red lips save when in a vengeful rage, when her features reflect the pain of the acts for which she is pursuing vengeance. She rarely takes the lead in planning, preferring the simplicity of simply doing, but when she does she commands the respect of the other Gods, all of whom would willingly follow her into battle. At the same time, it is far from unusual for Loviatar to be conducting some specific mission on behalf of one of her fellow Gods when encountered.
Loviatar is untrusting when it comes to Drow, always ready to believe the worst of them. This produces a strange love-hate relationship amongst the Drow, whose stiff-necked nature lends them to committing acts of revenge as casually as breathing. It takes a lot of effort for a Drow to gain her assistance (though she will rarely oppose them without cause), but it is when she does choose to act on their behalf that Drow are to be most feared.
One of Loviatar’s more noteworthy tasks is Bailiff Of The Dead, who actively conveys the souls judged by Athena to their punishment or reward. The Dead half of Loviatar’s original body is buried at the Crossroads of heaven, where the fields of Elysium contact the Underworld, preventing the passage of souls from one afterlife to the other.
- Moon and the night
- The dead, Ruler Of The Afterlife
- Duty and loyalty
- Nightmares & Conscience
- Patron of Legal Advocates and any who labor through the sunset hours
When Freya and Loviatar were strong enough to withdraw from the composite being they had become to save their lives, a spark remained (see Freya, above). There were those aspects of their former lives that they chose to leave behind, and other aspects of the shared existence which had arisen. With the life-force bequeathed to the combination by Frey, that remnant became a new being, Freya-Loviatar. Her personality is a blending of those of her “sisters”, both stern and compassionate, ruthless but honorable, and loyal. As her own identity grows and becomes more unique, it is anticipated that she will choose a new name.
Timid and diffident when confronted by her more experienced Brethren, F-L has tremendous power at her disposal when she brings it to bear. It is her task to reward the good and punish the evil, as directed by Athena, until Yama grants the latter a parole to attempt to better their lot. Although she keenly feels her relative youth, which is reflected in her chosen appearance, F-L retains the experience and memories of both Freya and Loviatar, and as such her mood and appearance waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon; at times she is shy and withdrawn, at other times she is bright and forthright. She can be, by turns, kindly and cruel. In other words, a typical teenage girl with an overblown sense of responsibility.
Duty is paramount to F-L, and she is rarely encountered outside of her Castle, which sits astride the boundary of Elysium and the Underworld. The only occurrences that regularly bring her out into the world is the breaking of an oath made in her name, something she takes very personally. However, she can frequently be found in places of great beauty. Rarely worshipped on the worshipper’s behalf, prayers to F-L are a part of any marriage, and any funeral; and she is often invoked when an oath of great seriousness is sworn. Although she can currently be characterized as a Lesser Goddess, that is more because F-L rarely displays her full powers, which are by no means inferior.
F-L is of a serious demeanor; flightiness and trivialities and disobedience irritate her. She often punishes those she deems disrespectful to the attributes she embodies with visitations by nightmares and poor sleep; and all aspects of conscience are given over to her. Undead, and those who traffic in their creation, are abhorrent to her, and she reserves the very worst punishments she can dream up for Necromancers. It is only at such times that her legacy from Loviatar achieves full expression, and her full power revealed. To some extent, this is due to necessity; F-L knows that those who have escaped from her realm once are bound less-strongly to it’s embrace even when returned to it, and require constant vigilance. To endure the suffering and pain of the Underworld is a duty, and those who refuse to abide it are hurtful and shameful to F-L; it is her responsibility to keep the dead in their place, and every Undead represents a failure on her part. However, undead – when risen from their graves – are no longer subject to her power and authority, and hence she must appeal to others to return them to her domain. There is a tentative relationship evolving between F-L and Ushas, who cannot bear to see her upset; she has only to quiver her chin and assume a mournful and teary expression, and she goes up in flames. She thus spends a great deal of time and effort opposing Necromancy on F-L’s behalf.
- Trade and bargaining
- Production, productivity and entrepreneurs
- Cities, construction and civilization
- Patron Deity of Orcs and Goblins (as they become more civilized), Mercenaries, and of all Women betrayed by Men
- Generosity and Charity
Nephthys served as the protector of good souls after the death of their mortal bodies in the Pantheon of Ra. The burial practices of the Ra pantheon’s clergy required her to guard also the wealth of the departed, for their use in the Pantheon’s afterlife, as well as the physical tombs used as their resting places. Following the Godwar, it was a natural extension for Nepthys to add the wealth of the living and the construction of their residences and dwellings and communities. She soon found that this kept her so busy that her traditional portfolio was being serviced inadequately, and so she gave up the protection of the dead to Freya-Loviatar when that merged deity became divided from its constituent deities. With Trade, Wealth, Cities and Construction all within her purview, bargaining was a natural addition; and from that came Diplomacy and Civilization in general. Nephthys often serves as an intermediary between mortals and the other deities; any donation to a temple or church is assessed by her in respect to the givers ability to give. She thus gained Generosity and Charity, rounding out a balanced portfolio. Businessmen will often seek to invoke Nepthys’ favor before entering into a bargain or a negotiation, often with a donation to charity or to the needy. She takes a wry amusement from the irony that her favor is sought by the giving away of the object of her powers.
Once married to Set, Nephthys left him when that deity turned to evil. With his destruction during the Godwar, she is a Widow reveling in her new-found freedom. She is one of the more demanding gods, whose favor can never be taken for granted. Something of a power-broker and a matchmaker, she is often perceived as subordinate to the more confrontational deities; but behind the scenes, it is her favor that often dictates the outcomes of struggles for supremacy, for it is her gifts that enable one side to better equip themselves than their enemies.
Nephthys is still fascinated by the details of her new authority and considers no point of an agreement to small. She favors both the bold and the painstaking, though the bold soon lose her favor if they take her for granted. She is remarkable for her capacity for gossip, rumor-mongering, and idle chatter, but is all business when its called for.
- Untamed animals
- Patron Deity of Sylvan creatures & most Giants (see also Ushas and Loviatar), musicians, composers, poets, playwrights, dancers, jesters, vintners and barmen
- Passion and lust
- Music, song, dance, and creative performance
- Instinct and impulse
- Seduction & Flattery
Pan is the deity whose portfolio has changed the least, but he is not unhappy – even if it was his nature to be morose. On the contrary, he has held several wild celebrations to commemorate his victory over his brother Apollo about who was the “real” God of Music.
This is not to say that there have been no changes. Pan’s natural animal magnetism, his sheer charisma, have both gone through the roof, and he has also acquired much of the responsibilities of his deceased brother Dionysius. All passion is now within his province, as are the responsibilities of instinct and impulse. But, in exchange, he has foregone his weather attributes and much of his control over nature. Only those creatures which live by instinct, or try to, are still within his sphere of influence.
Pan is, at best, a capricious deity – not to say, irresponsible – incapable of keeping his mind on any given track for any length of time, to whom seriousness, solemnity, and reflection are anathema. He becomes frustrated beyond measure by the angst-ridden meditations and recriminations of Athena; his philosophy is to live for the moment, for once passed, it is gone forever. What’s more, he delights in the fruits of creativity applied to entertainment, which he considers to be a party whose positive aspects endure beyond the celebration. (He also believes that if one is enough, two is better!) Pan prides himself on being the archetypical Party Animal. At the same time, his lack of regard for the consequences makes him brutally honest.
Pan is, however, the god of Silver Linings. Not of hope, but of Optimism. No matter how dim the circumstances, he can always find something to celebrate, and his simple joy de vieve can penetrate even the blackest of moods – even Athena’s.
It’s not entirely unfair to accuse Pan of intermittent and interminable affairs with all the goddess’ of the Pantheon. (Most of them feel that life with Pan is too much for anyone to take for very long, anyway, and they are happier to take him in small doses!) As a result, Pan’s relationships with the other deities are more complex than is usually the case between members of the same Pantheon. In general, he finds them too stuffy to put up with for very long – but great fun for the occasional dalliance or diversion. It is commonly perceived that Pan shows up in disguise at all the best parties; and often suggested that he thinks his presence is what makes them the best parties.
Greater Goddess “The Holy Crusader”, “Bane Of The Undead”, “Dawn’s Mother”, “Goddess Of The Dawn”
- The sun and day
- Patron Deity of Ogres, Fire Giants, Paladins, Knights, Explorers and Pathfinders, and Judges
- Life and healing
- Creation and new beginnings
- Holy Crusader
The Dawn Goddess of the Hindu Pantheon continues her war against darkness in the new Pantheon, now responsible not only for the more overt phenomena associated with the Dawn but with many of the more symbolic aspects as well. Other attributes have fallen to Ushas because of her crusading attitude, and still others because she ranges beyond the bounds of the known world. At the same time, Ushas is one of the more spiritual of the deities. Ushas is rarely incarnated in tangible form, splitting herself and her attentions into the spirit of discovery and adventure; while rarely participating directly, she frequently embodies the chance encounter who advises travelers where trouble, and treasure, may be found, the expert who appears out of nowhere with timely advice. Although not strictly the patron of adventurers, it is a rare party who will set forth into the wilderness without seeking the blessings and guidance of Ushas.
Ushas has been affected the least by the Godwar in terms of outlook, emotions, and personality. She is a little more responsible, and a little more willing to act as a team player instead of a lone crusader – when its necessary – but in general, her attitude is, “it’s past – move on”.
However, Ushas tends to be very “right now” – direct and not all that interested in the long term. “Day always ends, but the Dawn always comes again” is central to her philosophy. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” might well be a direct quote. Hair-triggered and hot-tempered, she can be extremely prickly, and even her worshippers grow nervous when she is nearby.
Ushas has one final responsibility; when Yama decrees that a soul has expiated the sins of their last life, it is Ushas who brings the spirit before him to be born into a new body for another attempt at life. It has been said that Ushas and Freya are Godmothers to all mortal races – and disputing it within Ushas’ hearing is not conducive to a long and happy life. When Freya blesses a woman with the conception of a child, it is Ushas who watches over that child at the moment of Birth, acting as spiritual midwife.
Much Necromancy involves perversions of the rituals of Ushas, one reason why she hates it so; but see also the entry for Freya-Loviatar, above.
- Death & Dying
- Rebirth and reincarnation
- Philosophy & Self-Discovery
- Time and the seasons
- Inevitability and Destiny
- Intellectual Curiosity
Yama is a deity who likes to keep busy. Before the Godwar, he acted as Judge and Executioner of mortals within the Hindu Pantheon, moonlighting as a Buddhist philosopher and the King of the Seventh Hell of the Chinese. His responsibilities in the latter department may have been foregone with the destruction of the Chinese Hells in the Godwar, but his other areas of interest have expanded, if anything. He not only personally captures the souls of every dead sentient and conveys them to judgment, he is death itself, separating spirit and flesh at the instant of ultimate mortality. He is also involved in the release of souls from the afterlife when it is time for them to be reborn into a new body for another turn of the cycle of mortal existence. Only with his direct antecedence with Athena is resurrection possible.
Such a broad involvement in key moments of existence could not help but turn a thinking being to a philosophical bent. Yama is the most cerebral of the Gods, a trait the Gods find useful in preparing newly-deceased souls to judgment in the proper frame of mind.
Yama is the very definition of impartiality and equality. When it is time, it’s time. This makes him the ideal instrument for the protection of balance – of all varieties – including the stately and inevitable progression of the seasons. Other deities may handle the weather, Yama looks after the climate. He is also intimately connected with the passage of time and with the concepts of inevitability and destiny, by his very nature.
Yama is the most powerful of the Deities; it is he who decides between life and death, for only he knows when a mortal’s time has come. He considers himself above emotional considerations and is dispassionate to the extreme. He is also the deity who uses his power the least – largely because he is so busy in so many places at once. It is extremely rare to encounter him unless one is dying, though from time to time he will put in an appearance if it is called for by one of his other responsibilities. Yama never needs to sleep, and millennia of sleep deprivation might explain some of his peculiarities – an issue Yama is more than willing to debate at length.
Yama’s blessing is usually sought through other deities rather than directly, especially Freya in her capacity as Goddess of Mercy and Ushas, as Goddess of Healing and Life – either to end suffering by granting a quick and easy death, or in seeking to avoid the inevitable for a time. Less commonly but hardly rare is seeking the intervention of Kos on behalf of the frail, elderly, wounded, or maimed, that they might be granted a glorious end, a death in battle, one last Big Deal, or whatever.
Yama and Athena are slowly edging toward a relationship, but Athena is too wrapped up in her current duties to consider such a thing and Yama is incapable of an emotional attachment in any event.
Greater God “God Of Dooms”, “The Doomsayer”
- Patron Deity of Dwarves and Dragons, Loremasters, historians, scribes, linguists, teachers, Generals and Warriors
- Battle & War
- Chivalry & Courtesy
The last survivor of the Nehwon Pantheon, Kos is another to whom the aftermath of the Godwar was a chance for personal growth – one which he has capitalized on. In his former role, he was the Barbarian God who destroyed cowards in battle. The reward for courage was survival, and hence his existence encouraged bravery and discouraged cowardice. Fairly simply as honor codes go, but it was a start. Kos’ own honor code was far more delicate, and designed to educate those of wavering courage, giving them an opportunity to grow and change their ways.
From this fairly specious justification, he has claimed all aspects of Battle and War, from the training of warriors through to the conduct of the battle; he then extended that to teaching, languages, & Knowledge in general, claiming Chivalry and Courtesy along the way. Although strictly speaking a Barbarian God still, he always tries to assess his situation and behave accordingly.
The last of his portfolios, Fate, requires a little explanation, in particular the difference between Fate and Destiny, which belongs to Yama. Destiny is about inevitability due to the natural order of events. Fate is about what happens in between, and is about circumstances more than outcomes. A man can be destined to die, but fated to live in poverty. But more than that, Fate is not inevitable, it can be turned from it’s course with sufficient effort. As the God of Fate, Kos is all about the intelligent assessment of circumstances and the divining from them what the fate of an individual is. Of course, the “poverty” example is fairly trivial; as ability to read fate increases, the determinations can grow more subtle, and the probable future of some extraordinary individuals can be discerned to a fine degree.
Kos is not simply about predicting fate – in fact, that is within Yama’s purview, though Kos shares much of his ability in this regard – it is about the attempt to change or make the best of, one’s fate, about the individual rising above his circumstances and trappings to be better than he was forced to be. Which brings us back to his lessons of courage to the meek….
- Patron Deity of Gamblers & Thieves
- Sea travel
- Chance, fortune and fickleness
Bes hasn’t changed much as a result of the Godwar. His portfolio was luck before and it’s still luck. He has added a couple of minor second strings to his responsibilities, but which still reflect the capricious nature of a fickle fortune – the mood and nature of a chance encounter, for example. It is said that fortune favors the brave – but that is more the result of other deities reducing the scope for differences in outcome. Bas considers the foolhardy as arrogant and presumptuous, and in general spurns those who do not assess the odds. No, it is those with foresight, who do what they can to maximize their chances, who do not presume apon his favor but who respect him as he is, who generally win his favor. “Luck favors the prepared” is far more accurate.
Thus it is those who count the cards, who know the odds, who load the dice, that receive the good fortune that he can bestow – for a while. His patience is short-lived – he is fickle – and considers that those who push their luck, by continuing to gamble beyond a reasonable point, are thumbing their noses at him, an impiety of the first order. There is more to luck than simply the turn of the cards or roll of the dice, after all; and while he may hold little sway over those matters if the cards are marked, or the dice weighted, he can control the luck of the other players in discovering the cheating, or of an old enemy arriving unexpectedly.
No matter how grand the gesture, Bes will not remain favorable for long. Smaller gestures in greater frequency appeal to him more. At the same time, he delights in visiting reverses on those who refuse to gamble at all; he is a little vain and insists on the respect and obesience which he considers his due.
In terms of his relationships with the other deities, they are prickly at best. A cordial atmosphere can become heated arguement in the wink of an eye – and his mood can return to sunshine and flowers just as quickly. His closest friendship, and deepest angers, are reserved for Nephthys; though he stands in awe of Loviatar’s achievements in bettering herself. He has become fascinated by the concept of Karma, to which he was introduced by Ushas, and is exploring the implications at the current time; prior to his discovery of the notion, Bes had little understanding of his own nature, but through it he is beginning to perceive a bigger picture, and one which promises to expand his responsibilities and perspective in coming years.
- Patron Deity of Drow
- The fine arts
- Survival and physical endurance
- Land travel & Wanderlust
Of all the survivors of the Godwar, the race hardest hit was that of the Elves. All but wiped out, and all but one of their deities lost to them, Elvish society was slowly reconstituting itself from what little remained as the original campaign began. But the toll of their insular practices and inward focus had also been accumulating, and they stood at a crossroads; either they would choose to forego much of what was once Elvishness, accepting that the mortal blood which flows through their veins had condemned them to fall short of what was, and that they must be a part of the world around them, or they would recede and vanish.
At such a vital time, and with his powers at low ebb due to his loss of worshippers in any event, Corellon was forced to focus much of his attention on his existing subjects. At the same time, he needed to accept some non-elven responsibilities, and worshippers, in order to educate his charges, to broaden his power base, and to ensure his own survival. Corellon’s responsibilities are thus less than that of any other deity in the pantheon, and he has been reduced to the role of a Lesser Deity.
Just as his people had one foot on the threshold of greatness and one over the abyss, so too did Corellon in many ways. He had invested much of his passion and love in his people, and should they fall, so will Corellon, at least for a time. The stress of the situation weighed heavily apon him, making him gloomy and unhappy company. While Pan has managed to raise the occasional smile and the recollection of better times (after much effort), Correllon’s bleak, brooding mood soon returned.
Corellon had staked the entire future of his people on the education of Serenity (one of the PCs) in the new principles which he wanted her to bring back to his people. For a time, it seemed she had learned the required lessons, but in the end a lifetime of mental ruts and prejudice proved too much. In desperation, he persuaded his fellow Deities to attempt the salvage of the plan by bestowing apon Auralla (another of the PCs) the task of Serenity, even knowing that the sorceress could not be as effective as an acknowledged Elf would have been. The result is that one elf has seen the light, and given hope to Corellon, but that hope is yet fragile and could easily be crushed by events.
Elvenkind as a group are responding to Corellon’s dark moods by becoming darker in tone themselves, their society evolving in ways that bring them ever closer to their estranged kindred, the Drow. It is Corellon’s hope and plan that this will make reunification easier; but he is no longer the noble spirit that was once the epitome of Elvish Culture. Athena worries that should his desperate bid fail, Corellan will become as Llolth, at best a reluctant ally to the other Gods, and that the current unity in the Celestial Sphere will fail, possibly even sparking to one last Act in the Godwar saga – for should the Drow not turn from their current path, they too will fall.
Ultimately, Aurella achieved a partial success in her mission, revealing that Lolth had not been killed in the Godswar as the Drow Priestesses thought, she had in fact abandoned her worshippers in an all-or-nothing bid to finally achieve Divinity; of all the contenders for the final Divine vacancy, she was convinced that she was the only viable choice. Exposing the subterfuge of the City Mothers (who had been using Arcane Magic to simulate Lolth’s continued presence amongst “her people”), Aurella triggered a revolution amongst the Drow that returned them to the worship of Corellon. But Lolth was a schemer, and always had a backup plan, which she put into effect apon being denied Divinity, subverting the already wavering Elves of the forest. As a result, Elvish culture has experienced a total inversion; the Drow are slowly learning civilized modes of behavior and reforming their society, even while the Elves are being corrupted. One of the primary plot threads of the current Fumanor campaign, The Seeds Of Empire will be the resolution of this situation.
Greater God, former Chaos Power
- The Elements: Fire, Earth, Wind and Air, and Water
- Technology and artifice
- The Individual
Chosen by Aurella’s Chorus to complete the Pantheon and immediately ranked amongst the most powerful of their number.
Arioch was the first (and so far, the only) Chaos Power to recognize that even if his fellows achieved their goal, they could not undo the changes within themselves; victory would not bring the satisfaction and peace they sought, would not fill the need that burned within. The only real solution was to sublimate that need into some other goal that was more achievable. It was this change in philosophy that ultimately persuaded the PCs of the first Fumanor Campaign that he was the right choice from amongst the contenders for the vacant divine position.
Anything that any mortal wants to keep secret is known to Arioch, and while he is bound by the “laws” of Divinity to protect that secret, he can act on his knowledge, or have others do so without explanation. That has made him one of the Prime Movers of subsequent campaigns, and what has emerged is a personality of surprising depth, a sly sense of humor and absolute integrity. The (new campaign) PCs, initially suspicious because of his personal history, have come to see him as good company and the closest thing they have to a friend and ally within the pantheon. The elf in the party worships Corellon, but he is friends with Arioch.
This good relationship has been strained on occasion, because – like any chaos power – Arioch will not let friendship (or anything else) get in the way of accomplishing his mission. He is friendly with the PCs because that serves his purposes. Both sides know it.
Looking to the future
This primer has only scratched the surface. Already within the campaigns, moves and countermoves by the Gods and Chaos Powers have been made, and the PCs are coming to realize that mortals hold the balance of power between the two forces. Lolth is the wild card; she can swing things either way. The players were quite amused by the fact that – having achieved her objective of becoming a Deity, or at the very least, a Demigoddess, she has less freedom of choice and ability to act than she did before; she has traded power for the freedom to use it as she will. They stopped laughing when it transpired that Lolth had been aware of the trade-off and had a plot in hand to remove those constraints – and probably a backup plan should that fail, knowing her. At the same time, they are becoming increasingly aware that the time is coming for another major confrontation between the Gods and the Chaos Powers – one in which the potential exists for an ultimate winner and an ultimate loser. The Chaos Powers have had a couple of major plots fall apart on them and are now on the back foot, with the Gods able to take the offensive for the first time in an Age – but the Chaos Powers are at their most dangerous when painted into a corner. So far, the forces of universal destruction have been able to counter each move by the Gods through some fast thinking and opportunistic craftiness, but there are hints all around that the Gods are preparing some all-or-nothing gamble – and their mortal “supporters” aren’t all that sure they like the odds, or the prospect of being caught between Hammer and Anvil…
The Theology of Fumanor is a central pillar of the campaigns and the plots that are unwinding within them. More than merely a list of deities, the Theology is at the heart of the campaign, and always has been.