Divine Trappings: Flirting with Disaster

The last few posts have mentioned how a deity’s domains could interact with each other, changing the interpretation of the deity.

Let’s see how that works, looking at the Destruction domain. This is unrehearsed and live, so I can’t predict how it will end up.

From the worksheet in Building a Pantheon, we can see there are six deities with the Destruction domain:

  • Deity 7: Evil, secondary domains Chaos, Weather, Destruction
  • Deity 10: Death, secondary domains Destruction, Water, Luck
  • Deity 12: Strength, secondary domains Destruction, Community, Luck
  • Deity 15: Rune, secondary domains Weather, Destruction, Community
  • Deity 17: Earth, secondary domains Charm, Destruction, Water
  • Deity D: Destruction, secondary domains Evil, Death, Strength, Rune, Earth

Okay. Some of these look like pretty reasonable sets (Destruction, Evil, Death)… yeah, sure, those can go together pretty naturally.

Some of these seem a little less likely. (Strength, Destruction, Community, Luck) might be a challenge to explain. (Rune, Weather, Destruction, Community) could be as challenging.

Challenge accepted.

Examining the Deities

I’m going to examine each of the deities to look for some initial thoughts. This usually works best for me if I treat it lightly, working on first impressions. I can think about them harder when I go deeper, to flesh things out to make them work, but for now I want to get a sense of what they are.

Deity 7: Evil (CE)

The deity of Evil also has Chaos, Weather, and Destruction. I picture tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather sweeping the land unpredictable, except that it’s actually malicious. Is the land cursed? Is there some reason the deity has a hate on for this land?

I don’t see a lot of subtlety in this evil. I do imagine something of a wasteland.

Come to that, even inasmuch as the weather could be extreme, there could be elements of it that are unnatural: rains of acid or fire, or that change the landscape or whatever is caught in it… I’m suddenly reminded of the Changewinds stories by Jack L. Chalker.

What does Weather look like? (Weather, Sun, Magic, Evil, Void, Rune). Weather is NE… that’s not going to be pleasant. Sun is CN, Magic is CN, Evil is CE, Void is N, Rune is N. This is setting, or least where this pantheon holds sway, is likely to be a wild ride.

Deity 10: Death (N)

The deity of Death also has Destruction, Water, and Luck. I’m guessing ‘accidental drowning’ is a common fate.

If the domain were Repose instead of Death it might be that the dead are consigned to the sea, or otherwise travel to the afterworld via boat, like in Steven Brust’s Dragaera setting. It doesn’t really speak much to Destruction, but that could be a lesser aspect of this deity.

Or… I imagine a swampish land, where survival could be a matter of good fortune (or bad… sometimes surviving is the lesser option). Not malicious like the deity above, who actually is trying to destroy mortals, but a place that is inherently dangerous. Sufficient skill, foresight, knowledge, and blind chance could keep you alive, but it’s certainly not a safe place.

Yes, that might be it. This deity personifies the dangers of the place. Not malicious, but possibly uncaring or even entertained. The people likely don’t worship this deity, but take satisfaction from outwitting the deity. The deity doesn’t mind, it knows that luck runs out and skill eventually fails, and the deity is in no rush.

Deity 12: Strength (N)

The deity of Strength also has Destruction, Community, and Luck.

I’m getting vibes of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

… I just reread the story. I’m really getting vibes of The Lottery. I’m going to have to let this percolate a little, the original idea is awfully bleak.

But I think this could be a viable way to go, if not so far.

There could be other things, but first impressions? First impressions involve some event involving competition or luck within or between communities, and the destruction of… winner? loser?

Huh. Perhaps a competition between communities, with the losing community being broken up, possibly absorbed by others, because they obviously need support. Or maybe the winning community splitting up and joining the others, in a higher position?

Okay, feeling better. It doesn’t need to be as bleak as The Lottery, but can still reflect on it.

Deity 15: Rune (N)

The deity of Rune also has Weather, Destruction, and Community.

I’ll come back to this one…

… and now, having written the two below, I have an idea.

This deity is the one responsible for confining the deity of Destruction, which calls heavily on the power of the runes. This deity also has Destruction…. Perhaps this deity agreed to the duty to protect civilization (hence Community domain), and learned to bend the Weather domain to destructive purposes in order to fight the titan hard enough to bind that deity in the earth.

The words are awkward, but I begin to get a sense of this deity. Good enough for tonight.

Deity 17: Earth (N)

The deity of Earth also has Charm, Destruction, and Water.

“The mudpack will make you look mahvelous dahling, you’ll devastate them at the ball…”

That’s just a little bit silly, to be sure.

(Earth, Water, Destruction) says something to me about the Netherlands, lowlands where the sea is kept at bay by… persuasion? dikes?

Oh my. ‘BEAUTIFUL LESBIANS!’ was an unfortunate next step.

And yet… inspiration comes from odd directions.

The others deities are still pretty nebulous, but this one I am pretty sure will be an earth goddess, goddess of the lowlands whose propitiation encourages her to keep the sea at bay. This sounds like a protector, though, and we’re looking for destruction.

Neutral, not good. Goddess of the land, but she holds the keys to the sea and can use it for or against the people. She is not fickle, at least not the point of being chaotic, but may be quite demanding.

Deity D: Destruction (NE)

The deity of Destruction also has Evil, Death, Strength, Rune, and Earth.

I see ‘destroyer’ here… actually, I start to see _Titan_ here. (Destruction, Evil, Death) are good reasons to want this deity Not Her Thank You. I see a hugely powerful figure bound in stone by runes.

In fact, I can see this being a major campaign element, the imprisoned titan struggling to get free. Earthquakes are becoming more common and more damaging, as the deity thrashes against its bonds. There are some who would see this deity released, many others would prefer this deity stays confined, there’s a good chance the normal person does not even truly believe this deity still exists.

Closing Comments

This is far from finished, but I’m starting to like where it’s going. Even with as little as I’ve finished, I’m getting a sense of what each deity is about, and they’re starting to become distinct in my mind.

They will almost certainly change as I start working on the other deities, but I don’t want to ever smooth things out too much. If everything fits together well, it doesn’t feel right. A few oddities and rough edges add credibility to the whole, I find.

This is what, six out of thirty-two deities that I have some sense of? Almost 20% done the first pass!

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