Divine Trappings: King of the Gods

Deities in Dungeons & Dragons have, for decades, come in four grades: demi-god, lesser, intermediate, and greater. These are a measure of the relative power of the deities, and of their position in the pantheon.

Is there a way to build this into developing a new pantheon?

If the pantheon is modeled after a real-world pantheon we can of course assign the grades and positions so they are similar to the base pantheon. A pantheon to support a Viking-like society will likely have deities reminiscent of the Norse deities in similar roles.

This doesn’t work for me here, though, because I’m not trying to reflect a real-world pantheon. I need a way to come up with my own rankings.

I could look at the number of domains each deity has. Using Polyhedral Pantheons, all but the tetrahedral (d4) template has deities with at least two different numbers of pantheons. An icosahedral (d20) or dodecahedral (d12) pantheon has twenty deities with four domains and twelve deities with six domains. This could work as a basic split, with the four-domain deities being lower grade than the six-domain deities. This gives a way to get two grades, but the regular model has four.

It’s a small step to give domains different weights. A dwarven domain might put additional weight on the Artifice, Earth, War, Law, Rune, and Community domains. Combine that with the number of domains being weighted, then the deities with the highest weight have the highest grade. If I go back to the pantheon I started building last week, I see

  • Deities 1..20 start with 0 points (4 domains)
    • Deity 2 (War, Community, Luck, Knowledge) is worth 3 points (0 +1 for War, +1 for Community, +1 more for having War as the primary domain)
    • Deity 4 (Plant, Artifice, Liberation, Knowledge) is worth 1 point (0 +1 for Artifice)
    • Deity 5 (Travel, Weather, Artifice, Community) is worth 2 points (0 +1 for Artifice, +1 for Community)
    • Deity 11 (Healing, Repose, Artifice, Liberation) is worth 1 point (0 +1 for Artifice)
    • Deity 12 (Strength, Destruction, Community, Luck) is worth 1 point (0 +1 for Community)
    • Deity 13 (Void, Weather, Repose, Artifice) 1 point (0 +1 for Artifice)
    • Deity 15 (Rune, Weather, Destruction, Community) is worth 3 points (0 +1 for Rune, +1 for Community, +1 for Rune as primary domain)
    • Deity 17 (Earth, Charm, Destruction, Water) is worth 2 points (0 +1 for Earth, +1 for Earth as primary domain)
    • Deity 18 (Glory, Artifice, Community, Knowledge) is worth 2 points (0 +1 for Artifice, +1 for Community)
  • Deities A..L start with 1 point (6 domains)
    • Deity A (Chaos, Sun, Magic, Evil, Earth, Fire) is worth 2 points (1 +1 for Earth)
    • Deity B (Weather, Sun, Travel, Evil, Void, Rune) is worth 2 points (1 +1 for Rune)
    • Deity D (Destruction, Evil, Death, Strength, Rune, Earth) is worth 3 points (1 +1 for Earth, +1 for Rune)
    • Deity F (Water, Magic, Protection, Death, Animal, Earth) is worth 2 points (1 +1 for Earth)
    • Deity G (Artifice, Plant, Travel, Healing, Void, Glory) is worth 3 points (1 +1 for Artifice, +1 for Artifice as primary domain)
    • Deity H (Community, War, Travel, Strength, Rune, Glory) is worth 5 points (1 + 1 for Community, +1 for War, +1 for Rune)
    • Deity J (Luck, War, Protection, Death, Strength, Air) is worth 2 points (1 +1 for War)
    • Deity L (Knowledge, War, Plant, Nobility, Glory, Air) is worth 2 points (1 +1 for War)

This gives the following ranks:

  • One deity with 5 points.
  • Four deities with 3 points.
  • Eight deities with 2 points.
  • Eight deities with 1 point.
  • Eleven deities with 0 points.

This could result in:

  • Deity H (5 points: greater deity, probably leader)
  • Deities 2, 15, D, G (3 points: greater deity but not leader, or intermediate)
  • Deities 5, 17, 18, A, B, F, J, L (2 points: probably intermediate, but maybe lesser)
  • Deities 4, 11, 12, 13, C, E, I, K (1 point: probably lesser, but maybe demi-god)
  • Deities 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16, 19, 20 (0 points: demi-god)

I have five point totals but four grades, so I have some flexibility in how I apply them. I could have five greater deities, seven intermediate deities, eight lesser deities, and twelve demi-gods… but I could instead of a single greater deity, four intermediate deities, seven lesser deities, and twenty demi-gods.

Another thing I could do, though, is change the weightings. I was surprised to see the deity of Destruction show up near the top, in a pantheon where this is likely contradictory to the culture. ‘Destruction’ sounds like it could make a good nemesis to the pantheon, though. If I increase the value of Destruction by 1…

  • Deities 1..20 (0 point base)
    • Deity 2 (War, Community, Luck, Knowledge) 3 points
    • Deity 4 (Plant, Artifice, Liberation, Knowledge) 1 point
    • Deity 5 (Travel, Weather, Artifice, Community) 2 points
    • Deity 7 (Evil, Chaos, Weather, Destruction) 1 point
    • Deity 10 (Death, Destruction, Water, Luck) 1 point
    • Deity 11 (Healing, Repose, Artifice, Liberation) 1 point
    • Deity 12 (Strength, Destruction, Community, Luck) 2 points
    • Deity 13 (Void, Weather, Repose, Artifice) 1 point
    • Deity 15 (Rune, Weather, Destruction, Community) 4 points
    • Deity 17 (Earth, Charm, Destruction, Water) 3 points
    • Deity 18 (Glory, Artifice, Community, Knowledge) 2 points
  • Deities A..L (1 point base)
    • Deity B (Chaos, Sun, Magic, Evil, Earth, Fire) 2 points
    • Deity D (Destruction, Evil, Death, Strength, Rune, Earth) 5 points
    • Deity F (Water, Magic, Protection, Death, Animal, Earth) 2 points
    • Deity G (Artifice, Plant, Travel, Healing, Void, Glory) 3 points
    • Deity H (Community, War, Travel, Strength, Rune, Glory) 5 points
    • Deity J (Luck, War, Protection, Death, Strength, Air) 2 point
    • Deity L (Knowledge, War, Plant, Nobility, Glory, Air) 2 points

This gives me

  • Two deities with 5 points (could be allies, could be enemies… split the difference and call them married?)
  • One deity with 4 points
  • Three deities with 3 points
  • Seven deities with 2 points
  • Ten deities with 1 point
  • Nine deities with 0 points

It seems like I’d go with the two five- and one four-point deities as greater deities, the three three- and seven two-point deities as intermediate, the ten one-point deities as lesser, and the remaining nine as demi-gods.

I also see a split in the pantheon I didn’t realize… Deity D is probably the nemesis of the core pantheon (most dwarves would not want to worship a deity of Destruction, Evil, and Death… but the presence of Rune and Earth could sway at least some) and will draw some of the intermediate (possibly deities 12, 17) and lesser (possibly deities 7, 10) to that side.

Closing Comments

I chose to make this a dwarven pantheon simply because it gave me an easy way of weighting the domains. I don’t expect to actually use this as a dwarven pantheon. In fact, I didn’t even check to see that the domains would line up well at all… but the weightings applied give me a pantheon that looks like it could work nonetheless.

Let’s take another look at it, though…

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