I Want Some New Gods: GreyKnight thoughts

I like having GreyKnight around. He’s good at making sense of weird ideas (including one time devising a god for whom afternoon tea is a sacred ritual when I commented that the idea of a steam domain didn’t do much for me). After I split the new gods into eight groups, he spammed me in IRC with some ideas.

IRC Conversation

I’ll break these down by groups he discusses, in the order he presented them. I’ve embedded some commentary outside the conversation (indented).

Group 2

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
TN Earth Weather, Darkness, Destruction

<GreyKnight> Oh, I also have a vague sort of idea of the Group 2 cultists worshipping this perpetual elemental storm thingy that slowly travels the world obliterating things.  It’s not communicative (and anyone who approaches the eye of the storm is never seen again) but they have decided it’s a deity anyway

<kjdavies> “never seen again” is always good

<GreyKnight> in fact, scratch that, one guy passed through the eye and survived to found the cult based on a revelation he had.  Anyone who tries to repeat the feat comes down with a bad case of sudden and gratuitous complete existence failure

<GreyKnight> *implied* that they are obliterated, but who knows? :-)

<kjdavies> “you only say we won’t survive because no one ever has”

<GreyKnight> for bonus points, a splinter cult has decided that doing this is actually the route to a paradise dimension and is arguing vehemently with the original cult over it.  The latter won’t let them near it to try

Group 6

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
NE Weather Evil, Earth, Alchemy, Liberation
CG Prophecy Good, Liberation, Chaos, Alchemy

<GreyKnight> for Group 6 I have this recurring image of two opposing groups of monks (the western kind) waging a secret war, alchemically

<GreyKnight> the Chaos bit kind of throws me off-step there but shush let’s just hide that behind this curtain and nobody will notice

I’m totally cool with the idea of chaos-monks. It all depends on how you frame ‘Lawful’ and ‘Chaotic’. I believe it is quite possible to have a self-disciplined chaotic creature.

Group 8

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
LG Hunting Law, Charm, Good, Knowledge
LN Plant Law, Animal, Charm, Void
NG Fire Good, Death, Glory, Repose
NG Good Hunting, Nobility, Travel

<GreyKnight> Group 8 sound like a somewhat barbaric culture while also being the most goodly.  Perhaps they think living in cities taints you with evil

<GreyKnight> Heck, perhaps it *does*

“Noble savages”, hmm?

Group 1

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
LE Healing Evil, Law, Repose, Death
NG Destruction Good, Glory, Liberation, Earth
TN Water Trickery, Nobility, War
TN Void Strength, Luck, Plant
TN Knowledge Strength, Hunting, Travel
TN Glory Fire, Darkness, Destruction

<GreyKnight> The evil god of healing in Group 1 is interesting.  He has a sideline in death I see.

<GreyKnight> A sinister surgeon?

I was thinking something more along the lines of vengeance and retribution — Evil and Law strike me as something you might find in an avenger who is, let us say, thorough in his work and enjoys the punishment aspect… and has Healing and Repose to ensure the focus of his attention will be around for the full treatment so richly deserved. And possibly for the victims who deserve to be healed.

I am reminded of a line from the Discworld books regarding Granny Weatherwax, something to the effect of “if you plan to throw yourself on her mercy, you’d better be sure you deserve to bounce”… and that she sometimes resents having to be the good one.

<GreyKnight> The goodly god of destruction in the same culture, plus Destruction seems to be a theme for those guys…

<GreyKnight> This culture don’t use “potions” the way other folk do.  They bake the magical reagents into hollow clay figurines, which you smash to gain the “potion” effect

Group 5

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
CE Trickery Chaos, Madness, Evil, Water
CN Luck Chaos, Transformation, Void, Animal
TN Madness Trickery, Nobility, Travel
CN Chaos Prophecy, Air, Artifice
TN Death Fire, Healing, Community

<GreyKnight> Group 5 I imagine to be not so much a “culture” in the usual sense, but the result of a virulently contagious compulsion spell


<GreyKnight> It was originally created as an attempt by one of the other cultures to pacify their slaves magically, but things went awry.  The spell mutates as it is transmitted from person to person, so its original instructions are hopelessly garbled.

<GreyKnight> The infectees are compulsively trying to build a “city” in the wastelands where they’ve been quarantined.  Gods of madness and chaos are delighted with the whole thing (and may have had a hand in it) and have adopted the mess as their own “culture”

This has some possibilities. I am reminded of the city below the ziggurat in B4 The Lost City.

Group 7

Name Alignment Primary Domain Secondary Domains
LN Law Rune, Hunting, Nobility, Plant, War
NE Evil Weather, Sun, Darkness, Healing, Artifice
LE Sun Evil, Protection, Law, Apocalypse
NE Darkness Evil, Repose, Earth, Glory
CE Artifice Evil, Alchemy, Protection, Chaos
LG Community Good, Apocalypse, Death, Law
TN Animal Rune, Luck, Plant
TN Liberation Weather, Prophecy, Destruction
TN Repose Fire, Darkness, Healing
TN Alchemy Weather, Prophecy, Artifice

<GreyKnight> Group 7’s evil gods of artifice might be related to Group 8’s idea (possibly well-founded) of cities as evil places.

<GreyKnight> 7’s evil sun god, with his interest in the apocalypse, might be the spur behind Group 4’s preservation project which I really must draw if only to get it out of my head. Although I notice he has a domain of Protection himself, perhaps he is offering a different, darker, solution to the coming doom…

<GreyKnight> </stream-of-consciousness>

<GreyKnight> I need to go to sleep anyway, work tomorrow and it’s 02:00

<GreyKnight> I hope at least one thing from the above waffle inspires you :-)

Closing Comments

I think GreyKnight’s ideas do inspire me. Some align nicely with thoughts I’d already had, some go in directions I hadn’t considered… which I think is a very valuable thing.

I will have to consider some of these carefully. There are some very good ideas up there.


  1. Ah good, this saves me trying to reformat that mess into something that would fit in a comment!

    The “sinister surgeon” idea came out of me noticing that Healing was his primary domain. I seem to recall a splatbook (possibly the BoVD?) had a concept of demonic limb/organ grafts which would fit in great here. “So you’ve lost an arm but can’t afford to have regeneration cast? No problem! If you take part in our new experimental surgery we can fix your arm and we’ll pay you! Just er keep it away from holy items and you should be good as new.”

    The idea for Group 5 probably arose because I was working with HeLa stuff in work recently and it’s cool enough that it sticks in your mind. :-)

    I just noticed that Group 7 has another evil god of protection and artifice, and a third evil god (his primary domain is Evil, even) with Artifice and Healing. Yes, I think these guys are up to something regarding “We’ll save you from the Apocalypse!”. What their plans are I don’t know. There is a darkness theme here: perhaps they are offering to shift any cities who will worship them into a pocket dimension when the disaster comes. What they don’t want people to know is that the pocket dimension in question is a place of darkness and horror.

    The Lawful Good deity of community and apocalypse presumably opposes this plot and tries to tell people not to fall for it. But, his/her instructions regarding the apocalypse are that people should just accept it and meet their fate calmly; so that doesn’t make him/her too popular, and hence the warnings go unheeded much of the time.

    The linkage between the Rune domain and “savage” domains like Plant/Animal/Hunting in this group is interesting. I wonder what that sub-faction are up to?

    Which ideas were the ones in directions you hadn’t considered, out of interest?

    • Now that you mention it, the sinister surgeon reminds me of the Doctor from Team Fortress 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36lSzUMBJnc) — a disciplined mad scientist more interested in what the results are than in the well-being of his patients (“what happens if I do this instead? … oh, he dies messily… and evidently painfully.” makes notes).

      There evidently is something going on, yes.

      I like how it appears possible to infer relationships and links between the various groups here. I am developing the feeling that there really is an actual culture of sorts behind each group, and that they interact. I never really got that from, say, the Forgotten Realms gods or the Greyhawk gods. We get told that there are relationships, but we never really seem to see what they are beyond things like “these guys oppose each other” or “these guys are allied”. At least, nothing that has stuck with me suggests such relationships.

      As for which directions I hadn’t considered, honestly it’s mostly because things were still pretty nebulous in my mind. I haven’t had an opportunity to really sit down and think about these much, but I recognize that you are headed in directions that I probably would not have, simply because we think differently.

      I believe that’s a great thing.

  2. Incidentally, is this project related to the worldbuilding question earlier? You mentioned that you were doing this because you “have a need of a new pantheon” so I assume you have something specific in mind.

    Group 1 could use something along the lines of the famous Greek plate-smashing cultural oddity. With a good-aligned god of destruction I imagine their cultural relationship with wrecking things will be quite unusual.

    I just noticed that Group 3 has a marvellous little sub-faction within it combining Runes, Evil, Ley-Lines, and Transformation. This makes me suppose that they have a plot to add, remove, and alter ley-lines until the worldwide pattern creates a single planet-sized rune of some kind. I wonder what sort of transformation effect would be wrought by activating said rune…. O_O

    • It is not deliberately related to the worldbuilding question, that was kind of more general philosophical question. However, I am starting a bit of a worldbuilding exercise right now which did prompt this.

      This is a combination of making monsters more Teratic, I needed some context to work with, and a campaign I am thinking of running.

      I’ll write more about it as I iron things out, but the gist of it is based on my Campaign Cosmology article. The gods created Paradise as a shelter from amorphia, primal chaos, but it was not perfect. They were building the prime plane as a more-perfect safehold for themselves when a major amorphic storm swept through and disrupted their project and shattered Paradise, thereby creating the outer planes. The nascent Prime Plane was not completed protected and felt some upheaval as well, but by nature of its construction survived a little better… but the inhabitants had their world turned upside-down, sometimes literally.

      As a result, much as been lost. The PCs are among the foolhardy types (hardy fools?) who go out to try to find it again. I have the idea that XP is not gained by killing monsters, nor even by retrieving treasure, quite.

      Instead, XP is gained by finding lost things. Stories of something you’ve seen might be worth something, evidence more, samples more than that, actually recovering for use and mastering the most.

      Find a lost temple, cool, you get XP for returning with the tale (and a map so others can find it). Retrieve evidence (a mystic stone with holy symbols and magic not known to others), more again. Return with usable magic — new spells known — that no one else has, yet more. Return as an ordained priest of a recently-reactivated temple? Much more.

      I am thinking also of a component of spreading the regained knowledge. The more people learn the spells you recovered, the more you are rewarded. As your newly-minted priest of an ancient god takes on acolytes, you gain more rewards as well.

      The heaps of gold and gems? Useful in some, or even many, ways, but ultimately probably not why you’re there.

      Sort of thing. I’m still tooling with the idea.

      • Using followers as an XP source instead of a sink? I like it. I’m fond of high-level fighters leading small armies and so on (ISTR it was basically written to be the default expectation in 0e), so giving players an actual incentive to restore, repopulate, and rearm the ancient Fortress of Stone Eagles is aces with me.

        Related note: I have recently been looking at a vague idea of involving a gemstone as a crucial factor in making any magic item. I don’t want to get into the realm of having “sockets” to swap gems in and out of (a la FFVII) but I do like the idea that each magic item has a big gem/gems which is necessary for the magic to function. It gives something useful to do with the gem collection the players put together. The players recovered Dagnashar, the Sword of Clouds, but it can barely manage to levitate. Perhaps if the right type of gemstone can be found it can be repaired…. I’d also give XP for spending gold on things like the above restoration work.

  3. Having just come back to this after a few months, I tried to gather everything together into a description of various factions/subfactions:

    * A devastating elemental storm slowly wanders the lands; the cult which venerates it follows with their movable temple. Cultist heralds travel ahead along its path to preach to those soon to be visited
    * A gigantic golden sphere is being constructed high in the sky; an ark against the coming apocalypse, it contains a beautiful city with farms and gardens. A globe of divine power at the centre gives light.
    * In the great cities of the west, evil priests offer salvation from the apocalypse; a whole city can be moved into another realm if enough worshippers are found in it (an all-or-nothing proposition). The nature of this realm may not be quite as advertised….
    * The people of the mountains have integrated the local earthquakes into their culture. The common people build temporary structures and celebrate their destruction. This culture has a fearsome navy based at a fortress built inside the cliffs where the mountains reach the sea; originally this was its own kingdom, but the two were unified by a happy marriage of their respective royal families centuries ago. The rulers of the mountain people have fallen to dark ways; a combination of the torture techniques and surgical knowledge lets them keep troublemakers alive in horrific ways.
    * In the wilderness, the outcast slaves from the western cities have formed a mongrel culture. They are suffering from a contagious compulsion spell which drives them to madness and bizarre building projects. Fate and luck seem to be strange in this place too — and to act in favour of the locals.
    * The nomads of the forests have a pretty sophisticated culture and a strong sense of morality. They largely shun the western cities as wretched hives of scum and villainy. They have been on friendly terms with the mountain people in the past, but there has been a falling-out.
    * The southern lands have a tradition of ecstatic prophecy. Madmen are well-treated and looked after in case one of them is revealed as a tool of the gods.
    * Several cities of the southern lands are affected by a ley line which became filled with evil power. Ships operating out of one of these cities engage in periodic battles with the mountain folk’s fleet. The denizens of this faction are prone to magically meddling with ley lines (to an unknown but doubtless unpleasant end). They make military strikes elsewhere to try and seize control of other ley lines, sometimes relinquishing control once they have finished whatever they were up to.
    * The deities of the western cities and of the golden ark have a long-standing feud over the sun. This feud may itself be related to the nature of the apocalypse somehow. Another deity has some knowledge of/involvement in this but doesn’t particularly participate in the feud; instead he simply works against the evil intentions of the city deities (on their home turf).
    * There is a secret war being waged across the lands by two groups of monks. One group is trying to harness the powers of the elemental storm via alchemy and use it to secretly control the world’s rulers. The second group was established thousands of years earlier by ancient prophecies, by means of which they were forewarned of the evil monks. This group uses its alchemical knowledge to undo and undermine the first group’s underhanded undertakings, and to undoctrinate and undomesticate those under their evil thrall (that is, their underlings).

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