Icosahedral Pantheons

A-Z 2015 "I"Time to start talking about the characteristics of various polyhedra when applying the polyhedral pantheons methods.

Since the entire thing was prompted by the use in the Rose of the Prophet trilogy of an icosahedron to describe and define the deities, and since it is “I Day” in the April A-Z Blog Challenge, and I need to write this section for the book, here’s a draft describing the ‘d20 pantheon’ and how it might be used.

d20 Pantheon (Icosahedron)

The icosahedron (d20) has twenty faces and twelve points, for a total of thirty-two sites.

This is a very good die to start with if you want to quickly put together a pantheon using almost all of the domains in the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook™. The book contains thirty-three domains, this die has thirty-two sites, so as long as you can find one you can live without this can be a great die to pick. You’ll end up with twenty deities each with four domains, twelve deities each with six domains, and every pairing of domains present is present in exactly two deities. Each deity that has those two domains will have two or four other domains that are different, without overlap between the two deities.

Rose of the Prophet Style Pantheon

You could also do as they did in the Rose of the Prophet trilogy and assign only twelve domains, six opposing pairs, to the twelve points of the d20 and none to the faces. This uses only twelve domains and results in twenty deities with three domains each. These are ‘smaller’ deities with only three domains, and each deity is quite similar to each of its neighbors because the deities will differ only in one domain. That is, a deity with (Good, Fire, Healing) will share (Good, Fire) with a deity having (Good, Fire, Law), share (Good, Healing) with a deity having (Good, Healing, Water), and share (Fire, Healing) with a deity having (Fire, Healing, Chaos).

This actually has some value, because it makes each pair of neighboring deities more similar. The differences between them as you move your focus around the d20 are smaller, so there is a feeling of gradual change rather than big jumps.

This is part of why the Rose of the Prophet pantheon works so well, there is a clear set of ‘Good’ deities (those on the faces surrounding the ‘Good’ point, each of which has two other generally positive elements such as Charity or Healing), a clear set of ‘Evil’ deities (those on the faces surrounding the ‘Evil’ point, each of which has two other generally negative elements), and ten neutral deities that are not close to either the Good or the Evil point, and has a mix of generally positive and generally negative elements.

The values in Rose of the Prophet do not have direct matches in the domains, but you could probably do something interesting using some of the following pairs on opposing points.

  • Good and Evil
  • Law and Chaos
  • Healing (Life) and Repose
  • Fire and Water
  • Earth and Air
  • Destruction and Artifice
  • Sun and Darkness
  • Glory and Death
  • Travel and Community
  • Trickery and Nobility

I tried to stick to thematic opposition in the list above. However, apart from the alignment domains none of them are truly contradictions, and over the years I have seen or used many of them paired together.

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  1. Pingback: Z-A Challenge 2015 Index | In My Campaign - Thoughts on RPG design and play

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