Divine Trappings: Exploring Divine Realms

Day 24, ‘X Day’, is always a challenge because there are so few words in English starting with ‘X’. As usual, I’m hedging a little by using a word starting with ‘EX’.

The deity template and the domain template both have entries related to special locations associated with a deity or domain. Just as a deity’s temples might reflect the domain choices of the deity, the deity’s realm — where the deity actually resides — probably does so even more.

Really, this topic leans into another book I have in the works (Planar Trappings) so I won’t go too deep into it… but I’ll touch on it.

In the Great Wheel Cosmology, deities (almost all) live on the outer planes. The outer planes are divided by alignment (17 in total, one for each alignment and then one ‘halfway between’ every adjacent pair of not-true-neutral alignments), and deities mostly live on the planes that best match their alignments.

Not my preferred cosmology, but it worked well enough for the time it was created.

I’m quite okay with deities have their homes on outer planes, but I prefer something a little less connected. The original Godshome shattered, after all, and each pantheon has its own realm. This realm might be a single plane, or multiple connected planes (such as nine worlds joined by Yggdrasil, the World Tree).

Let’s take a simpler case first, though: a planar realm of a single deity. How might a deity’s domains affect the nature of their planar realm?

  • Air: windy, cloudy, absolutely still, gusty
  • Animal: many kinds of animals coexisting (Garden of Eden), savage wildland (predators and prey), anthropomorphic animals (as with Usagi Yojimbo)
  • Artifice: clockwork (either many clockwork machines, or literally a clockwork plane such as Mechanus), many crafting places
  • Chaos: unpredictable, constantly changing
  • Charm: friendly, many arts
  • Community: a planar metropolis (Sigil!), network of settlements, friendly (or possibly xenophobic — insular societies)
  • Darkness: little or no natural light
  • … and so on

A deity’s planar realm might reflect elements of their domains, influenced by their personality and interests.

What do with we do with a pantheon, though? If all the domains are represented, wouldn’t that eventually make the pantheon realms pretty much the same?

Not really, I think I can see a couple ways of handling it.

Simplest, the plane as a whole might be pretty consistent (shared baseline), but individual deity realms within the plane could exhibit different traits. A deity of Sun and Water might live on a tropical island (digs surfing), while a deity of Community, Darkness, and Artifice might live in a city that no longer sees the sun because of the amount of smoke in the air from the foundries.

Perhaps not as simple, or maybe it’s how the baseline for the pantheon realm is defined, look at the domain weights to see what is important to the pantheon (and/or its supporting culture) as a whole. In King of the Gods I suggested a dwarven pantheon with venerate the Artifice, Earth, War, Law, Rune, and Community domains. As such, this pantheon realm probably draws primarily from these domains. Individual deities in the pantheon might then have their own realms within (or connected to) this one, that have different traits.

A variation or combination of the two, if there are different factions in the pantheon, each faction might have its own realm… and the deities each have their own, still.

… yes, I think this will work. Planar Trappings will expand on the content significantly, but I’m confident even the abbreviated forms here can cover a lot of ground. As it were.

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