Divine Trappings: God, Goddess, or Something Else?

When I wrote Polyhedral Pantheons I wanted to avoid gender assumptions: any particular deity of Healing might be male or female, or… maybe neither, or both.

It worked out well, and I’ll apply the same technique here.

The deity genders were assigned randomly. No table, but not quite a coin flip.

Instead, I rolled two dice of the same size but different colors. If the black die was higher value than the white die, the deity was male, and if the white die was higher value than the black die, the deity was female.

If the dice were the same value, I had some fun.

Shu-Shi Pantheon

The Shu-shi are a halfling culture modeled after a fantastic medieval China. They share the western halfling desire for orderly lives. For the most part they wish to live their lives in peaceful serenity.

Most of their gods reflect this attitude and desire.

There are twenty-two Shu-shi deities, two of which are non-binary.

  • Shouwei, LG deity (Protection, Law, Good, Trickery, Weather) is so devoted to protecting the Shu-shi that many basic needs and desires are no longer relevant. Shouwei is always polite and gracious, and is fair of face and temperament, but has severed most ties to others. Shouwei is now more or less asexual, and is close only to Jingcai as mentor and student. Shouwei manifests as a beautiful androgynous Shu-shi. Souwei wears flowing silks, cut to not inhibit movement in battle, and wields a sansetsukon.
  • Pianju, CN deity (Trickery, Chaos, Protection, Knowledge) chooses to be a confusing entity and delights in confounding everyone. Beyond this perversity, Pianju loves to learn secrets. No one knows what Pianju does with them. Pianju manifests in whatever form seems likely to be useful or fun. Male or female, Shu-shi or other, this deity has so many shapes that none know what the true one is, if it even still exists.

Goblin Pantheon

The goblin culture is heavily fractured. Despite sharing their deities, there are several tribes with deep cultural divides and differences in values.

Their deities reflect these divisions and exhibit very different attitudes toward their followers. Goblins tend to propitiate their deities to avoid their displeasure, rather than celebrate them. Only the vorubec deities are relatively benign, the jhesiri and kouzelnik deities are almost as dangerous to their tribes as they are to outsiders.

There are twenty-two goblin deities, four of which are non-binary.

  • Mazany, CN deity (Trickery, Chaos, Luck, Weather) is the enigmatic sibling of Stetsi and Kapalin, and represents the fickle nature of life. Some gods of trickery are malicious, and others are pranksters. Mazany is a force of the universe related to unpredictable and unavoidable events. Mazany manifests in many ways, never repeating a manifestation, and always doing something strange. Whatever Mazany does works somehow, for coincidental reasons no one sane could have predicted. Sometimes the best thing you can do is follow along.
  • Zinicit, CE deity (Destruction, Chaos, Evil, Travel, Weather, War) is believed to have been female to start, but none know for sure. Zinicit tears her aspects from her body at need, so the composition of her body changes over time. There is literally no way to know who, or what, is in Zinicit’s pants. Zinicit most often manifests in the form of one of the deity’s aspects. Her own form appears as a multi-headed jhesiri. The number and identity of the heads depend on what aspects are present.
  • Vydirani, NE deity (Evil, Destruction, Air, Death, Knowledge) has never been observed well enough to discover the deity’s sex. This deity rarely takes physical form. Instead, Vydirani manifests as an unwelcome whisper of a secret the hearer does not want shared. This deity might also manifest as a message written in sand or water that blows away or dries up.
  • Osada, N deity (Community, Rune, Travel, Madness) is another of the mad deities of the kouzelnik, caught between the need to settle and build a community, and the need to travel. This deity seems confused about sexual identity as well, switching back and forth on an irregular basis. Osada manifests as a colorfully-dressed kouzelnik (male or female varying by day). Osada often wears a frustrated look caused by unresolved dichotomies.

Elemental Tetratheon

The elemental tetratheon is a pantheon of twenty-eight deities. They are split into four subpantheons of seven deities each, each subpantheon focused on one element.

Of the twenty-eight deities, two are non-binary.

  • Syvetlos, LN deity (Knowledge, Fire, Law, Artifice, Healing, Rune) is always looking for means to learn more. Syvetlos most often manifests as a smooth-faced youth of indeterminate sex, always asking questions.
  • Staratel, NG deity (Protection, Glory, War, Community, Water, Good) is a guardian deity working to improve the relationship between land dwellers and the shallow-sea locathah, for the betterment of both. Just as locathah exhibit sequential hermaphroditism (i.e. switch back and forth between male and female), Staratel may be male or female, or in-between, at any given time.
  • Putovanja, CE deity (Travel, Liberation, Darkness, Madness) is a cloud of darkness that breaks people from the doldrums of a secure life. This deity delights in disruption and the breaking of social contracts. Putovanja manifests as a cloud of darkness, full of smoke and the ashes of petitions received.

Closing Comments

The assignments were entirely random. The Trickery domain was a convenient coincidence because it gave me a simple explanation, and I tried to not lean on that.

It is awkward that the non-binary goblin deities come across generally negatively, but in my defense almost all the goblin deities are written pretty negatively. The vorubec are the least objectionable, and their primary thing is to be left alone or else.

The dice gave me an easy means of avoiding the stereotyped gender assignments, and I think the inclusion of non-binary deities gave me some interesting texture and variation to the pantheons.

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