Saturday, February 6, 2010
Deities: Known by many names
One of the things I liked with the Mystara setting was how different Immortals (as the deities there are known) will have one name that they are called by one culture, but will go by another name in another culture. Comparing Real World mythologies we find that many concepts occur in multiple mythologies. Many cultures have a Trickster, a King of Gods, a God of War, Fertility etc etc.This has led some to speculate whether there could be some truth behind these mythologies or whether they could hide some secrets of the deeper nature of humanity. I'm not so concerned with such speculations however.
From a gaming perspective, stating that the Elven God of War and the Human God of War is the same guy does have its advantages. KenzerCo's wonderful Kingdoms of Kalamar setting used this model extensively. It allowed them to have a shorter list of Deities which could then be applied to all cultures, with modifications. In a world where gods are real, doesn't it make sense that a god will have tried to gain followers among more than one culture?
Looking at the D20 Campaign Guide for Blackmoor, I found that many of the deities there were quite similar to one another. I asked myself what I would loose if I assumed that these were simply multiple identities of the same deity? For instance, Elgath, Faunus, Ordana, Terra and Sylvain are all Gods of nature. I can see the reason for having more than one God of nature, but five seems high. I decided for my campaign that Elgath, Faunus and Sylvain are the same guy, known to different followers by different names.The most controversial decision I made was probably to make Odir, Hak, Aeros, Charis and Dhummon the same entity. These five arent exactly identical, but do have many shared traits. The campaign sourcebook seems to suggest that Odir is actually followed by that name in multiple cultures, but I preferred to have different names for him depending on which culture you ask.
For the complete condensed list of deities, click here.