Poll

What is a good number of gods for a setting?

1
2 (11.8%)
2
0 (0%)
3+
9 (52.9%)
Unlimited
6 (35.3%)

Total Members Voted: 17

Author Topic: What is a good number of gods for a setting?  (Read 3704 times)

Offline brujon

  • Legendary Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2412
  • Insufferable Fool
  • Respect: +40
    • View Profile
    • My Blog (in PT-BR)
What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Topic Start: December 05, 2014, 06:49:25 PM »
I've always wanted to make my very own campaign setting. However, i can never seem to decide on how i want to tackle the issue of Gods.

A world where there's only one god can still be a very fun and interesting place, and there's many ways of going about it...

The Yin Yang or Good vs. Evil approach of having two gods is also very interesting, as is the prospect of having multiple deities, or even an infinite amount of deities that individually aren't very powerful.

What's your take on this?
"All the pride and pleasure of the world, mirrored in the dull consciousness of a fool, are poor indeed compared with the imagination of Cervantes writing his Don Quixote in a miserable prison" - Schopenhauer, Aphorisms: The Wisdom of Life

Offline ketaro

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 3188
  • I'm always new!
  • Respect: +18
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #1: December 05, 2014, 07:10:35 PM »
Let the players make up their own gods to follow.
Let those gods not actually exist.
Let the players start up churches and convert people to their imaginary religion.
Profit.

Offline brujon

  • Legendary Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2412
  • Insufferable Fool
  • Respect: +40
    • View Profile
    • My Blog (in PT-BR)
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #2: December 05, 2014, 07:46:06 PM »
Let the players make up their own gods to follow.
Let those gods not actually exist.
Let the players start up churches and convert people to their imaginary religion.
Profit.

Should've made 0 an option...
"All the pride and pleasure of the world, mirrored in the dull consciousness of a fool, are poor indeed compared with the imagination of Cervantes writing his Don Quixote in a miserable prison" - Schopenhauer, Aphorisms: The Wisdom of Life

Offline Raineh Daze

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 8618
  • Always Angry, All the Time
  • Respect: +70
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #3: December 05, 2014, 07:50:24 PM »
It depends on the setting.
Warning: Abrasiveness Likely

Offline Baad Speeler

  • Lurker
  • *
  • Posts: 48
  • Kant Speel
  • Respect: +2
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #4: December 05, 2014, 10:09:56 PM »
+1
There are three ways to treat gods in your game, and the number of gods can be determined by which one you choose.

1.) Henotheism: This is standard D&D. You believe in many gods, but only worship one of them. Not much can be said about this one that you don't already know from standard D&D. If you choose to go with this one, all you need to do is figure out how many gods you want. The PHP is a nice starting off point.

2.) Monotheistim: This is your Jedeo Christian standard. There is only one true god. If you choose to go with this one, then there is by definition only one god. To make things interesting, you can have people worship various aspects of Him/Her. (Father/Son/Holy Spirit or Maiden/Matron/Crone)

3.) Polytheism: This is the Standard of ancient cultures. There are many gods, and all of them are the patron of a different thing. All gods are woshipped simultaneously by most people. You would have a farmer who is normally a good person giving an offering to the god of evil, simply so that his crops won't be cursed. This one is a really fun one to play with, and I have a list of gods I drew up for use under this paradigm that I'll spoiler at the bottom of my post. You can essentially have a single god for each domain.

At the end of the day, the only person who knows which of these three will work better for you/your group/your setting is you.

Another thing to think about though, is the more work you put into the gods, the more of a central feature you want them to be in your game. You could spend months building a group of gods, and if none of your players play a Cleric, and there aren't any penalties for NOT worshipping a god, then all that work is a little pointless.

Something I have toyed around with in the past, is imposing some sort of penalty/bonus system for being on bad/good terms with your god/the god in charge of your current task. That way, your god has more importance than just a thing that you wrote on your charater sheet.

Slight disclaimer, I used latin as place holders for a great number of them. Feel free to rename them, reflavor them, not use them entirely, or just tell me i'm retarded. Whatever you feel the situation warrents.
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 10:14:00 PM by Baad Speeler »
Get your physics out of my five foot square

Offline bhu

  • Uncle Kittie
  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 13134
  • Fnord bitches
  • Respect: +135
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #5: December 06, 2014, 02:50:13 AM »
I'll have to find the book it's in, but there's an old short story by one of lovecrafts contemporaries in which a group of mages get together to solve a common problem, and you learn one is basically an odd cleric. Most of the worlds gods (and there are thousands and thousands of them) come in the form of little stone totems.  Individually they cant accomplish much, but if collected together and worshiped properly they give their owner a nice bit of power.  Always thought that would've been nice to give a try.

Offline Agita

  • He Who Lurks
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2587
  • *stare*
  • Respect: +37
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #6: December 06, 2014, 06:32:59 AM »
I'll have to find the book it's in, but there's an old short story by one of lovecrafts contemporaries in which a group of mages get together to solve a common problem, and you learn one is basically an odd cleric. Most of the worlds gods (and there are thousands and thousands of them) come in the form of little stone totems.  Individually they cant accomplish much, but if collected together and worshiped properly they give their owner a nice bit of power.  Always thought that would've been nice to give a try.
This sounds pretty interesting. Any idea what the author's name is?

For the OP question, I would say it depends entirely on what you want to portray within the setting, if you have a specific feel or theme you want to go for, or what you think is coolest. If your god or gods aren't too active in promoting their own worship, you can, to a degree, also have your cake and eat it too by having religions take different interpretations: For example, in a setting with one true god you can still have animists who worship spirits and may or may not acknowledge the one god as the greatest of them, or a polytheist religion that thinks of the one god's various aspects as different entities altogether, or a monotheist religion that also incorporates elements of ancestor, hero, or martyr veneration like Catholicism does, or a combination of a philosophy and the monotheist religion in the manner of Christian Buddhists.

Dualistic religions in the real world, to my knowledge, tend to come in one of two forms: They may be equal and opposite, but fundamentally neutral forces, as in Taoism, or represent a cosmic struggle between good and evil, as in Zoroastrianism. The latter is very popular in epic fantasy, of course, and suits objective alignment systems like D&D's well. The idea of a balance between good and evil is more a fabrication of fantasy fiction than a trait of real-world dualist religions, which more often predict an ultimate victory of good over evil. Taoist-style dualism tends to treat its opposing forces as more impersonal (there's no god of Yang), but in theory, nothing stops you from representing them as gods.

Three-god setups could take the form of an expanded version of dualism, with one god representing balance between the other two (this is where the old balance between good and evil may come in, or perhaps balance between order and chaos), or they may sit at three extremes of their own instead, such as sky, sea, and earth. Certain theories of psychology may be interesting to use as bases for the gods, as several postulate psychological archetypes that come in groups of three (or sometimes four). To toot my own horn with an example, an idea I've had on the backburner for a while now involved three deity-figures in mutual opposition: A wise, grandiose, and demanding queen represented by the sun, a mad, byronic king represented by the moon, and a decentralized, scheming and ambitious vizier represented by the stars.

Special mention for a set of four gods: This is conceivable as a combination of two axes of a dualistic setup (such as law-chaos and good-evil, as in D&D). Alternatively, it could represent a set of four fundamental forces again, such as the classical elements. Often, these can be thought of as two axes as well, as the Greeks did, or as gradated combinations of a given two, as with Great and Lesser Yin and Yang in Taoism. It's also easy to scale up beyond four but still keep the number finite, as with the five Wu Xing elements or by including Quintessence/Aether/Akasha/Void/whatever as a fifth element, or Light and Dark/Life and Death/another opposed axis as fifth and sixth elements, or by combining and gradating the axes further as with Taoism's eight trigrams (which are then combined into 64 hexagrams in the Yi Ching). In the last case, you quickly approach a theoretically unlimited (but possibly finite in practice) number of gods.

Finally, shout-out to the Dodekatheon: The Greeks (and Romans) had a lot of gods, and didn't really set an upper cap, but generally considered the twelve Olympians the most important of them. Which twelve are in this group varied a bit by author, as I understand it. Then there was a whole genealogy of gods that resided on Olympus but weren't counted among the main twelve (and Hades/Pluto, who lived in the underworld and thus wasn't Olympian but was a big enough deal to be counted as one by some).
A side note on this last: Many D&D-derived fantasy settings go with the idea of distinct local pantheons. A possible alternative to this is taking the syncretic interpretation the Romans took, who interpreted other peoples' gods as aspects or interpretations of their own, identifying Odin with Mercury/Hermes and Thor with Jupiter/Zeus (which incidentally goes to show what shifty sorts those northerners were, making the trickster the head of their pantheon).
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 06:48:02 AM by Agita »
Please send private messages regarding board matters to Forum Staff instead.

Offline Unbeliever

  • Legendary Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2288
  • gentleman gamer
  • Respect: +85
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #7: December 06, 2014, 11:33:59 AM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

Offline bhu

  • Uncle Kittie
  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 13134
  • Fnord bitches
  • Respect: +135
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #8: December 06, 2014, 04:58:08 PM »

This sounds pretty interesting. Any idea what the author's name is?



I wanna say Lin Carter.  Probably the Twelve Wizards of Ong, but I'm still not finding the book et (I has many books).
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 05:08:58 PM by bhu »

Offline CaptRory

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 535
  • Could Get Lost in a Straight Hallway
  • Respect: +17
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #9: December 06, 2014, 09:23:34 PM »
I usually shoot for dozens of deities arranged in different pantheons with options to worship one god, all the gods in a given pantheon, or to come up with your own thing. Some gods are in multiple pantheons like the gods of war or magic and each race has its own pantheon... it gets rather complicated.

Offline Raineh Daze

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 8618
  • Always Angry, All the Time
  • Respect: +70
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #10: December 06, 2014, 09:24:23 PM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

I like the proliferation of deities because it's like a divine buffet.
Warning: Abrasiveness Likely

Offline SolEiji

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2982
  • I am 120% Eiji.
  • Respect: +84
    • View Profile
    • D&D Wiki.org, not .com
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #11: December 06, 2014, 09:26:21 PM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

I like the proliferation of deities because it's like a divine buffet.

I want to eat the all-you-can-eat chaos gods.  A new flavor with every bite.
Mudada.

Offline CaptRory

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 535
  • Could Get Lost in a Straight Hallway
  • Respect: +17
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #12: December 06, 2014, 09:27:03 PM »
The everlasting god-stopper?

Offline Raineh Daze

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 8618
  • Always Angry, All the Time
  • Respect: +70
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #13: December 06, 2014, 09:27:09 PM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

I like the proliferation of deities because it's like a divine buffet.

I want to eat the all-you-can-eat chaos gods.  A new flavor with every bite.

Sadly, there's only four flavours. Unless you get the lesser-known fantasy version! :O
Warning: Abrasiveness Likely

Offline SolEiji

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2982
  • I am 120% Eiji.
  • Respect: +84
    • View Profile
    • D&D Wiki.org, not .com
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #14: December 06, 2014, 10:01:54 PM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

I like the proliferation of deities because it's like a divine buffet.

I want to eat the all-you-can-eat chaos gods.  A new flavor with every bite.

Sadly, there's only four flavours. Unless you get the lesser-known fantasy version! :O

And all of the flavors are giant frog.

But the COLORS!
Mudada.

Offline Raineh Daze

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 8618
  • Always Angry, All the Time
  • Respect: +70
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #15: December 06, 2014, 10:05:03 PM »
Whatever you do, pick a manageable number.  I hated the Forgotten Realms for its proliferation of deities.  It was just too much to take in, so inevitably dozens of them fell by the wayside or it didn't become an important part of the game.

I like the proliferation of deities because it's like a divine buffet.

I want to eat the all-you-can-eat chaos gods.  A new flavor with every bite.

Sadly, there's only four flavours. Unless you get the lesser-known fantasy version! :O

And all of the flavors are giant frog.

But the COLORS!

Out of the four, I think one would be SPICIEST CHILLI, one would be giant frog, one would be something completely bizarre, and the other would be your favourite food.
Warning: Abrasiveness Likely

Offline bhu

  • Uncle Kittie
  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 13134
  • Fnord bitches
  • Respect: +135
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #16: December 07, 2014, 05:06:50 AM »
You could always go the Japanese route and have a Kami (God) for everything you can propitiate for favors.

"I need you to kill Lord Toyoshi."

"Yeeeah..I can't do that..."

"But you are a God."

"Yeah I'm the God of Frogs, what do you want from me?"

Offline SolEiji

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2982
  • I am 120% Eiji.
  • Respect: +84
    • View Profile
    • D&D Wiki.org, not .com
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #17: December 07, 2014, 05:09:07 AM »
You could always go the Japanese route and have a Kami (God) for everything you can propitiate for favors.

"I need you to kill Lord Toyoshi."

"Yeeeah..I can't do that..."

"But you are a God."

"Yeah I'm the God of Frogs, what do you want from me?"

*Abruptly the God of Frogs is picked up and thrown into a pot with the SPICIEST CHILI, Eiji, and Eiji's favorite food.*

It's dinnertime!
Mudada.

Offline bluephenix

  • Lurker
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • Respect: 0
    • View Profile
Re: What is a good number of gods for a setting?
« Reply #18: April 07, 2015, 07:28:09 AM »
It depends on the setting.
True, a single god cenario always invokes thoughts of inquisitory / very religious society  kind of atmosphere. whereas the jap approach comes of as more casual.

Personally I prefer a mix where there is one really powerful deity that created everything and has alot of the portfolios / domains represented in his worship. but isn't particularly interested in taking anything like action himself ever.

and then ontop of that, allow middlish level demons able to grant spells  and prayers to something like half of their HD, i.e. Succubae. With bonus spells of their patron being spells directly on the succubae's spell list
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/demon/succubus
Then you don't have to really think up ultra unique options of whom to follow and why. When someone reaches the level limit of what spells they can grasp, could be a cool mechanic to have to find a new patron of similar alignment, and run a quest to find said new patron while avoiding the murderous rage from the previous at your betrayal,  yada yada.

Or conversely have the quest to be to find artifacts or magic to power up your patron. / help him, her or it kill its own master and assume greater power for itself, granting you access to higher level spells.

Might've gone on a weird creative rant there... but  there you have it.

Offline TC X0 Lt 0X

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ***
  • Posts: 668
  • The TC Storywriter
  • Respect: +11
    • View Profile
There are a lot of factors.

Are the Gods or their religions going to be relevant to the plot of the campaign?
How diverse is the populations of the world?
Are there many powerful beings in the world that have the potential to ascend?
etc, etc.

EDIT
Oh damn this thread is old didnt even realize =P
Im really bad at what I do.
A+