Divine Worldbuilding: Bandisal Deities

The PCs in the AGE of Rediscovery campaign are, at this point, all from Bandisal. Considering that they will likely be discovering lost temples to strange gods, I should probably have some idea of what ‘normal gods’ look like to them.

Seekers of Lore

The Bandisal culture came out of the Age of Upheaval, where things were in turmoil. They have a strong and vested interest in stability and civilization… there’s probably a focus on Law and Community domains. I’m going to build on the culture calcifying, though: they are so focused on keeping things under control and resisting change that they are not advancing as they should. Their practice of exiling those who don’t fit in robs them of the societal leavening that would let them grow. With their focus on Law and Chaos, I’m going to say they don’t have much attention left for Good and Evil.

Okay, I’ve got enough to start a polyhedral pantheon. I’m going to map out 20 deities, or at least, 20 sets of domains. However, because the culture so actively rejects so much, I’m only going to keep the eight that have at least one of the Community and Law domains.

Initial Polyhedron

I put together a polyhedron — d20 version — with twelve domains I thought relevant.

Deity #Domain Domain Domain
1LawCommunityProtection
2GloryKnowledgeChaos
3LawReposeAnimal
4RuneMagicChaos
5CommunityRuneGlory
6ReposeMagicTravel
7LawCommunityPlant
8AnimalKnowledgeTravel
9ProtectionReposeMagic
10PlantAnimalKnowledge
11ProtectionRuneMagic
12PlantGloryKnowledge
13CommunityProtectionRune
14MagicTravelChaos
15CommunityPlantGlory
16ReposeAnimalTravel
17LawPlantAnimal
18RuneGloryChaos
19LawProtectionRepose
20KnowledgeTravelChaos

Looking specifically at the eight that have one or both of the Law and Community domains, I see the set below.

Deity #Domain Domain Domain
1LawCommunityProtection
3LawReposeAnimal
5CommunityRuneGlory
7LawCommunityPlant
13CommunityProtectionRune
15CommunityPlantGlory
17LawPlantAnimal
19LawProtectionRepose

This is a very imbalanced pantheon. Of course, that’s rather the point — by rejecting so much and focusing on homogeneity, they are going to miss out on many things.

Now, let’s flip this over and see what they rejected.

Deity #Domain Domain Domain
2GloryKnowledgeChaos
4RuneMagicChaos
6ReposeMagicTravel
8AnimalKnowledgeTravel
9ProtectionReposeMagic
10PlantAnimalKnowledge
11ProtectionRuneMagic
12PlantGloryKnowledge
14MagicTravelChaos
16ReposeAnimalTravel
18RuneGloryChaos
20KnowledgeTravelChaos

This is still a pretty constrained list, but it does show more room for growth. Knowledge is strongly associated with Glory, which actually fits the setting well. I think this section of the pantheon is much more suited to supporting adventurers than the former.

Closing Comments

I will want to flesh out the deities somewhat more, assigning names and more specific portfolios and the like, but I have enough to start. I suspect that in Bandisal the temples are about as homogeneous as the deities represented here. There likely a small temple, at least, in each town, and probably shrines or the like in the villages.

In the borderlands, though, things are probably a bit more diverse. The individual deities differ more and likely have separate temples. They also have all the deities with the Travel domain, so I imagine there are a fair number of itinerant priests.

The borderlands almost certainly have temples to found deities, both the formerly-lost temples and newer shrines and temples in the towns and villages. Probably more certain, such temples and shrines will not be found in Bandisal proper.

The expectations placed on Bandisal, and on the Borderlands where adventures happen, entirely drove the design of this pantheon.

Divine Worldbuilding in the AGE of Rediscovery

The setting of the AGE of Rediscovery campaign is entirely rooted in divine worldbuilding. Literally so, in fact.

Seekers of Lore

The gods all got together to build the prime plane as a place to hide from amorphia, the realm of seething chaos that their own haphazardly-built realm was constructed in. An amorphic storm swept their realm and disrupted their project, and they were forced from the prime plane.

In the process, the world changed and much was lost. Many things were destroyed, others were changed or just moved elsewhere… which is where the adventurers come in. Misfits of their home society, they find their way to the borderlands where things are not wholly explored and seek out the things that were lost.

Deities of the AGE of Rediscovery

The AGE of Rediscovery campaign will be a ‘points of light’ setting, where there are safe havens some distance apart, with danger and mystery in between. I expect that over the course of the campaign, new locations can be found and made into safe havens.

Cultures and Civilizations

Some of these will be associated with cultures other than that of the Kingdom of Bandisal. These cultures will almost certainly have different religions, different deities, than the Bandisal.

Come to that, Bandisal does not have a religion defined yet! I’ll have to create one… no worries, I know how to do that.I imagine their pantheon will be largely centered on community and law.

This sounds like the basis of the Shu-Shi pantheon. The Shu-Shi are fantasy medieval Chinese halflings, and don’t fit what I know of the Bandisal culture. I think I’ll still need a new pantheon for Bandisal.

On the other hand, the goblins of this setting will almost certainly use the goblin pantheon. The vorubec are relatively civilized… a bit standoffish, almost xenophobic, but are unlikely to go out of their way to hurt anyone unless threatened. The jhesiri are stereotypical goblins, willing to destroy or eat anything they think they can get away with. The kouzelnik are mad goblins, traveling in search of jatemst (they don’t know what it is, but trust that they’ll know it when they find it).

The cultures of the Elemental Tetratheon, four cultures, each with its own element-associated pantheon, could be dropped in more or less anywhere that fit.

Lost Temples and Forgotten Gods

What would a setting like this be without temples lost deep in the wilderness, dedicated to deities that haven’t been known mortal memory in generations?

Even apart from finding actual cultures with different religions and deities, their temples could be found almost anywhere. Some might have degenerate descendants of the original worshipers, or have been abandoned and other taken over. These could be great locations for cultists.

I’ll probably want to devise some pantheons that aren’t actually connected to anyone known in the setting, simply to have them be the patrons of these lost temples. I could of course make them standalone temples of arbitrary deities, but I think things without connections are curiosities only, while things with connections are likely to be more interesting.

Closing Comments

I think this will do as a start. There are many things I can work on, none of them particularly difficult, to start fleshing things out.

AGE of Rediscovery: 1.1 – The Kingdom of Bandisal

Seekers of Lore

Seekers of Lore

AGE of Rediscovery is a ‘points of light’ setting. This post describes the kingdom of Bandisal, the supposed center of a point of light and nominal homeland of the PCs.

Kingdom of Bandisal

Role

  • Theme: settled lands, fairly regulated and peaceful, where ‘normal people’ live.
  • Goals: grow and prosper for the population.
  • Threats.
    • Threatened by: disruptive elements to social structure (misfits, troublemakers, outcasts).
    • Threatened by: incursion by foreigners, such as gebbling raids.
    • Threatens: societies beyond the borderland, as they are ‘discovered’ and pacified to be brought into the kingdom.
  • Rewards:
    • For those able and willing to abide by the rules, a safe (and unexciting) place to live and grow.
    • For those less able to do so, possibly the chance to gain position and status by claiming new land for the kingdom.

Relationships

  • Allies/positive.
    • Lords of the Border Marches. The demesnes in the borderlands are usually not ready for full incorporation into the kingdom for at least a generation after settlement, but they do generally come to the fold.
    • Dwarven Mountains of Thraz-Dul. The dwarves are pretty insular and do not integrate with the kingdom, but relations are generally positive.
  • Enemies/negative.
    • Gebbling Tribes. Most often the gebblings invade the northern-most of the border marches, but they recognize the border marches as part of the kingdom rather than as a separate group.
  • Conflicted/neutral.
    • Elven Forests of Tirebanil. Where the dwarves are pretty insular, the elves are almost xenophobic… but content to leave well enough alone. They would rather ignore those outside than attack them, unless provoked.
    • Kingdom of du’Chade. Mercantile nation across the water. Relations vary from trading partner to trade wars.

Identification

  • Description.
    • Fertile plains and hills, with sufficient rivers for water. Population is mostly along the waterways, sparser the farther you get from moving water.
    • Bucolic and structured society; everyone knows their place and their duties.
  • Signature.
    • Things are done correctly, in their proper place, time, and means.
    • Tools, gear, and arms and armor are serviceable and well-made, rarely ornamented or striking in appearance: they are what they seem to be.
  • Location.
    • Temperate land, bounded on west and north by the sea, on the east by the Thraz-Dul mountains and on the south by the forest of Tirebanil.
  • Scope.
    • Campaign, obviously, but mostly as a place to have been from than as a place to campaign.

Status

  • Entanglements.
    • Pending marriage between two major houses in Bandisal and du’Chade… a possibility of establishing better peace? or grounds for increased tension?
  • Hooks.
    • None at this time.
  • Events.
    • Established after the Age of Upheaval and grown in the centuries since to occupy their current borders.
    • Made contact with the elves about 260 years ago and eventually agreed on boundaries. Deemed too dangerous to try to force the issue, but act as a buffer zone between the kingdom and whatever is on the other side of the Forest. Might revisit if the kingdom can annex the lands surrounding the Forest.
    • Made contact with the dwarves about 180 years ago and were initially rebuffed, but had learned from the elves and did not push the issue. Moderate amount of trust grown since then, dwarves allow small expeditions through their passes to the border marches beyond.

Mechanics

This campaign uses the Fantasy AGE system, with some changes.

Races

  • Humans are basically as presented. Most people are staid and the culture structured. Undesirable elements are sometimes executed but more often exiled (to foreign trade, to the military, or to the borderlands to become Seekers).
  • Dwarves are basically as presented. Dwarven settlements are even more rules-bound than humans but it is not uncommon that some dwarves find it necessary to adventure before settling down. These dwarves are often encouraged to become Seekers.
  • Halflings are basically as presented. There are halfling villages in Bandisal, many halflings form itinerant groups such as traders and performing troupes.
  • Elves are basically as presented but gain a racial bonus to Accuracy rather than Dexterity. They are very uncommon outside Tirebanil, and any that became Seekers would almost by definition be considered alien by their own people.
  • Gnomes are basically as presented but gain a racial bonus to Perception rather than Dexterity. Largely irrelevant at this time because there are none known in the kingdom.
  • Orcs are basically as presented but largely irrelevant at this time because there are none known in the kingdom.

AGE of Rediscovery: 1.0 – Player Introduction

Seekers of Lore

Seekers of Lore

Long ago, the gods walked this world. Then something happened, and the gods left and the world changed and much was lost.

Gods… knowledge… even places and entire races were lost. In the time since this upheaval, though, some of the things thought destroyed were actually found.

We have relearned some of what we once knew. We have found peoples and places far from where they once were… we found them changed, often reduced or damaged, and yet we did find them.

Civilization is not yet what it was, but it exists, and it continues to grow. The rules for civilization are sometimes strict and unyielding, because we must keep what we have regained.

There is a place for those who… do not fit in so well, who chafe under these rules. They can go to the borderlands, to search for what was lost. To learn what we forgot. To find the places that cannot be reached.

These are… you are… the Seekers of Lore.

AGE of Rediscovery: 0.3 – Amorphic Storm

Seekers of Lore

Seekers of Lore

The greater gods created the seed of Paradise. The lesser gods came out of the waves of amorphia and joined their wills to those of the greater gods to make Paradise greater.

Where did the greater gods come from, though? Amorphic waves only created lesser gods and the greater gods could not know what came before, nor what created them.

While working on their new haven, the gods learned, and learned painfully.

The greater gods came from an amorphic storm, an overwhelming confluence of waves.

An amorphic storm struck. The gods in the haven were wrenched out by their peers in their struggle to survive, to keep Paradise together as it was torn asunder around them.

Greater gods were created by the score, and lesser gods by the legion. Many gods, greater and lesser, were consumed by the storm.

The survivors gathered around the shards of Paradise, scattered now about amorphia and warped by the experience. New alliances formed to replace those destroyed, and the shards of Paradise reformed into smaller, more secure refuges from the Storm.

Even the new haven was affected. The gods would have been gratified that the changes were limited to the sorts of things they themselves did while building it… and even as inconvenienced as the mortals were, many — a small fraction to be sure, but still enough — survived to start rebuilding.