Divine Trappings: Building a Pantheon

One of the more visited topics on my site has to do with Polyhedral Pantheons, a book I wrote a few years ago that provides a simple process for building a pantheon… at least as far as the “assign domains, alignments, and favored weapons to deities” stage.

Divine Trappings is something of a sequel to that book, and is more about how to flesh out the deities in more detail. I’ve described the Anatomy of a God and the Aspects of a Domain yesterday, here I start building a new pantheon to demonstrate the rest of the process.

Polyhedral Pantheon

Often when people devise a pantheon for their campaign, they have some idea of what sorts of deities they way.

I don’t, except that I want to use almost all the core domains from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. There are 34 in total, and an icosahedron has 32 faces and points, so that’s a pretty good fit.

After that, let’s start with a more or less random domain assignment. I shuffled the cards (literally; I made a deck of cards to help with this) and after a couple of tweaks (described below) ended up with the following assignments.

NodeDeity NameAlignmentPrimarySecondary Domains (and Subdomains)
1Chaotic NeutralSunChaos, Weather, Repose
2WarCommunity, Luck, Knowledge
3Chaotic NeutralMagicChaos, Trickery, Water
4PlantArtifice, Liberation, Knowledge
5TravelWeather, Artifice, Community
6Neutral GoodDarknessTrickery, Liberation, Good
7Chaotic EvilEvilChaos, Weather, Destruction
8Neutral GoodProtectionWater, Luck, Good
9MadnessRepose, Trickery, Liberation
10DeathDestruction, Water, Luck
11HealingRepose, Artifice, Liberation
12StrengthDestruction, Community, Luck
13VoidWeather, Repose, Artifice
14Neutral GoodNobilityLiberation, Good, Knowledge
15RuneWeather, Destruction, Community
16Neutral GoodAnimalTrickery, Water, Good
17EarthCharm, Destruction, Water
18GloryArtifice, Community, Knowledge
19FireCharm, Repose, Trickery
20Neutral GoodAirLuck, Good, Knowledge
AChaotic EvilChaosSun, Magic, Evil, Earth, Fire
BNeutral EvilWeatherSun, Travel, Evil, Void, Rune
CReposeSun, Madness, Healing, Void, Fire
DNeutral EvilDestructionEvil, Death, Strength, Rune, Earth
ETrickeryMagic, Darkness, Madness, Animal, Fire
FWaterMagic, Protection, Death, Animal, Earth
GArtificePlant, Travel, Healing, Void, Glory
HCommunityWar, Travel, Strength, Rune, Glory
ILiberationPlant, Darkness, Madness, Healing, Nobility
JLuckWar, Protection, Death, Strength, Air
KCestellineNeutral GoodGoodDarkness (Moon), Protection, Nobility, Animal, Air
LKnowledgeWar, Plant, Nobility, Glory, Air

I made two adjustments to the assignments.

  • Air and Law were not present. While I like the idea of a Lawless pantheon (having Chaos but not Law suggests a wilder society), I wanted to make sure I had all the elements. I swapped out Charm for Air.
  • I wanted to make sure I had a place for Cestelline, so I swapped a couple of domains to make sure I had Good, Darkness, and Protection together. This means Cestelline has also Nobility, Animal, and Air, and I don’t see why that can’t work.

There are some funky combinations above, and they’re combinations I never would have thought of.

That is totally okay. I can see some shape to them…

  • (Nobility, Liberation, Good, Knowledge) says something about heroic vigilante students… so romantic!
  • (Trickery, Magic, Darkness, Madness, Animal, Fire)… I don’t know exactly what it means, but I have images of skin-clad followers performing wild ceremonies around bonfires. I can work with this.
  • (Destruction, Evil, Death, Strength, Rune, Earth) is, at least for the first three or four, a cliché. It might help ground people who find the rest are a bit out there, though, so I’ll leave it for now.
  • (Air, Luck, Good, Knowledge) feels like something that should be workable.

And so on. In almost every set I see above, there are usually two or three domains that fit well together, and even if the rest don’t exactly fit, they are not so contradictory that they can’t be lesser aspects of the deity.

Speaking of aspects, I expect to find that as I build my library of domain aspects that I’ll be able to put together something that works.

Closing Comments

With the sole exception of Cestelline, I had no specific plans for the pantheon, and even with Cesteilline I know only that I wanted her to have Darkness (for the Moon subdomain), Protection, and probably Good.

Only twelve of the thirty-two deities are aligned, or at least have alignment domains: Six NG, two NE, two CE, two CN. This could get interesting.

As for the other domain assignments, they mostly look like something I can make sense of… and I’m interested and excited to see what I come up with for the ones that I don’t yet have ideas for.

Later posts will update the information in the table as I flesh things out

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