Polyhedral Pantheons: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

In Polyhedral Pantheons I described a process where you assign a domain to each face and each point of a polyhedron, then use adjacent sites to define deities based on those domain assignments.

For instance, in the Shu-Shi pantheon (worksheet shown below) the ‘1’ face has the Nobility domain assigned, and the neighboring points (A, B, C, G) have Community, Law, Earth, and Good respectively. This deity has Nobility as the primary domain, and the others as secondary domains.

Polyhedral Pantheons Shu-Shi Adjacent

This gave me the basis for a pantheon I’m still quite fond of. The application of domains to the sitesof a polyhedron, then grouping them by adjacency, gives a good mix of domain that shows some coherency. There are random elements to it, but they’re not completely random, there is some coherence that makes them easy to write about.

I’ve wondered a few times what it might look like if I instead grouped neighboring sites instead of adjacent sites. That is, instead of using a face and the points that define it as the base of a deity, or a point and the faces that touch it, I use faces that are next to each other (crossing an edge) or points joined by edges.

I decided to give it a try, and created a new version of the workbook (available in the Polyhedral Pantheons title at DriveThruRPG) to implement it. Here is a pantheon constructed using the same domain assignments, but grouped by neighboring sites rather than adjacent.

I see I’ve got the same number of each alignment, but the assignments are quite a bit different (the deity on face 1, which in the Shu-Shi pantheon is the Empress of Heaven, leader of the auspicious deities) is true neutral, and very different in the domain assignments.

In fact, let’s look at the deities with the Nobility domain, just to see how things change.

Primary DomainAlignmentSecondary Domains
NobilityLGCommunity, Law, Earth, Good
CommunityNNobility, Luck, Repose, Healing, Knowledge
LawNNobility, Protection, Knowledge
EarthNNobility, Rune, Healing
Shu-Shi Pantheon, Deities of Nobility

Even though only one deity in the group is aligned, these still look like a pretty favorable bunch (and in fact, three of the four are part of the Jixiang Shen, the auspicious deities).

The neighboring assignments, though… how does that break down?

Primary DomainAlignmentSecondary Domains
NobilityNRune, Protection, Healing, Knowledge
RuneNNobility, Protection, Healing, Strength
ProtectionCNNobility, Chaos, Rune, Knowledge
HealingNNobility, Luck, Rune, Strength
KnowledgeCNNobility, Chaos, Repose, Protection
Neighboring Pantheon, Deities of Nobility

This has a very different feel than the Shu-Shi pantheon. They look like a good set of deities, and a set of decent deities come to that (even both Chaos deities have Knowledge and Protection)…

In fact, that seems like it could a significant difference here. The regular (adjacent assignment) pantheons tend to have deities that share two domains, these ones share more. For instance, Chengshi and Zhongli (Shu-shi deities of Community and Law) both have the Nobility and Knowledge domains, Chengshi and Piao Li (deity of Earth) have both the Nobility and Healing domains.

The neighboring deities, though, I see larger subsets. The deity of Nobility has Rune, Protection, and Healing, while the deity of Runes has Nobility, Protection, and Healing. The two deities each have five domains and overlap on four. Similarly, the deity of nobility has Rune, Protection, and Knowledge, while the deity of Protection has Nobility, Run, and Knowledge… again they overlap on four of five domains. The deity of Healing overlaps with Nobility on Nobility, Rune, and Healing (three domains), and the deity of Knowledge overlaps on Nobility, Protection, and Knowledge (three again).

This is quite a difference from the original. Yes, of course the different domain groupings will result in deities that should be interpreted differently, but I feel like this will change the nature of the pantheon. I think the increase in shared domains will result in a pantheon that feels even more homogeneous. This is probably a good thing, for those situations where a tight-knit pantheon is the goal. I can easily imagine a dwarven pantheon built this way that has strong interconnections on crafting (Artifice), War, Rune, and Law.

… I might need to try drafting that.

Closing Comments

I didn’t quite expect the results I got, but I’m not unhappy. I think Polyhedral Pantheons works great for world building, and this variation gives me an easy way to get greater coherence and cohesion within a pantheon.

While revising the workbook to support neighboring groups instead of adjacent groups, I noticed several things.

  • Each pantheon will be split into two sets by domain groupings. No face deity will have a point domain, and vice versa, which greatly reduces the variation in domain assignments.
    • I’m not convinced this is a bad thing. I often (almost always) divide pantheons into multiple subgroups anyway, and these domain groupings make a clear division.
  • The polyhedron chosen makes a big difference in the viability of the pantheon.
    • The d4 becomes two sets of four deities, each set having all the same domains.
    • The d6 and d8 (which are duals of each other) are almost as tight: in a d6 neighboring pantheon, face deities can share four out of five domains (and each domain is associated with five of the six face domains), while point deities can share two of four domains (and each point domain is associated with four of the eight point deities).
    • The d10 is pretty workable still (as shown above), if you want greater coherence.
    • The d12 and d20 do also. I mapped the Elemental Tetratheon to the d12 (as with the original). The point deities share pairs of domains (two domains of four), but the face deities share four of six domains.

I think this will make a nice addition to my toolbox. It seems slightly less elegant to me than the original, in that there is less variation between the deities… but being able to build even tighter, more coherent pantheons (with a hefty split down the middle, because the domains aren’t shared between points and faces) strikes me as a potentially useful thing.

Now, about that dwarven pantheon…

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