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    Canonfire :: View topic - Is There an Oeridian God of Death?
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    Is There an Oeridian God of Death?
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    CF Admin

    Joined: Jan 09, 2004
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    From: Stansbury Park, Utah

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    Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:56 am  
    Is There an Oeridian God of Death?

    I've been so out of touch the last few years, that I cannot recall if the Oeridians have or had a god of death or after life. Is there such a personality for the Oeridians?

    Do the Oeridians "share" Wee Jas or Nerull or adopt them to understand concepts of death and the after life? Or, have Wee Jas or Nerull always been the ubiquitous personalities over death Flanaess wide?

    And, of course, does the Raven Queen figure into any of you Greyhawk understandings relative to the Oeridians?
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    Don (Greyson)
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    Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:24 am  

    I would say the Oeridians probably HAD a god of death, but that his/her portfolio was absorbed by Nerull when Nerull moved from being a Flan God to a "Common" god.

    Wee Jas may have survived a similar fate by diversifying her portfolio into so many other areas.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:26 pm  

    Interesting that the oeridians have no death god- as if GH needs more deities.

    Between Nerull and Wee Jas; I would choose Nerull as Wee Jas would be more identified with the rival suloise.

    As for the Raven Queen - Don't know enough about the back story...
    GreySage

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    Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:05 pm  

    I think Celestian would have functioned as the Oeridian psychopomp, ferrying souls across the Astral Plane on their way to the afterlife. They don't really need anything else, but after they settled in the Flanaess and blended with other peoples there, I'm sure they accept Nerull in their faiths. Nerull is a common deity, after all. The original ethnic origin of a deity is much less important in the modern age, since a lot of blending will have taken place over the intervening millennium.

    I don't think the deities with death or the dead in their portfolio are the only deities with responsibilities over the dead in the afterlife. Celestian would be very important, as god of the Astral Plane and planar navigation, and I think the Flan might revere Allitur as the judge of souls in the afterlife, separating the righteous from the unrighteous in order to determine whether they are given to Nerull, Pelor, or Beory (or perhaps Rao or Asmodeus, in some areas). To the Baklunish, Istus is the weaver of destiny who cuts the thread of a person's life when they come to the end of the days she's measured out for them, and determines their fate in the world to come.

    There's one wrinkle to that. The Oeridians recognized Pelor even very early in the migrations, calling him Sol. If they recognized Pelor under an alternate name, they might well have recognized Nerull as well. Elsewhere, I've suggested that they called him Null. The book Greyspace for Spelljammer says that many myths tell of a second sun that existed long ago, but which was destroyed. See the "Theft of the Lights" myth I wrote here to see my suggestion of how Nerull/Null might have figured into Oeridian mythology.

    No, the Raven Queen doesn't figure into my understanding of anything, since she's very new and not invented for Greyhawk. In her 4th edition backstory she was Nerull's consort until Nerull died, though. Since Nerull is still alive in the Greyhawk campaign, presumedly she'd still be Nerull's consort, a powerful but less than divine sorceress called Nera. The Greyhawk gods most similar to the Raven Queen are Istus (Baklunish goddess of fate) and Wee Jas (Suel goddess of death and magic). Since the Raven Queen is also the goddess of winter, the Oeridian god Telchur is also a legitimate comparison. I suppose you could tie the Oeridian seasonal gods into their conception of the afterlife.

    Relevant Mortellan comics:
    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/wogcomic/title/wogstrip225a.htm
    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/wogcomic/title/wogstrip226a.htm
    Forum Moderator

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    Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:29 am  

    Hee, I always like it when my comics are referenced for serious discussion! ;P

    The Raven Queen usurping Nerull is a tricky propostion when put in the context of Greyhawk since Wee Jas is surely in line for that job already, consort or not. But in the best case scenario you would have TWO female death gods vying for souls on Oerth and that'd be a hoot. Theoretically one could make the RQ Oeridian thus solving the OP's question.

    Now RQ aside, I abide with all the previous posts. The Celestian angle is quite interesting and makes me wonder if Fharlanghn could be in a similar role for the souls that still wander the world? I will note that the pantheon origin structure is iffy at best. The Suel and Flan had death gods sure, but neither had blatant war gods on the other hand (nor did the Baklunish). Yet the relatively younger Oerids seem to be the most warlike race, with Hextor, Heironeous, Erythnul for starters.
    Site Theocrat

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    Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:08 pm  
    Cosmopolitian

    Hi all -
    I also think that while there were separation of many gods and racial aspects in the early days of the Current Year or prior, but with the Oerids conquering so much of the area and a blending of racial and cultural aspects, it seems that racially motivated gods would soon be too specific to mandate their areas of concern. Of course there are and will be exceptions, such as the Scarlet Brotherhood, but for your normal citizen it seems that they'd worship whatever god their forefathers had, or whatever church is prevalent in the region. I believe that its in the LGG that most human racial aspects are no longer really noticeable (with the exception of the Rhennee and SB) due to the blending of so many families.
    The one thing that we should be getting away from is the term racial gods for humans, as they're all one race - the human race, but have cultural differences - and the best culture is that of the Theocracy of the Pale!

    Be Well. Be Well Cultured.
    Theocrat Issak
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    Theocrat Issak
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    Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:19 pm  

    I like Rasgon's thoughts on how various deities also play out their role in a mortal's existence in Greyhawk. This of course begs the question of just what is a death god in D&D?

    Doesn't Nerull always end up being more a deity of undeath rather than death? (Adventures just need those undead opponents.) Perhaps the question we might ask is whether there is an Oeridian deity of the undead?

    Maybe for deities of the undead, the Ur-Flan, and Nerull, simply got there first?
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:37 pm  

    IMC, the Oeridians do not have a death god, though they do recognize the common deities. Nerull in particular is seen as a sort of generic evil guy associated with dying and undeath.

    The reasons for this are that I do not view the Oeridians as being the type of people who place too much emphasis on death. Rather, they view people as making or earning their own fates, and life is valued far more than its opposite. Self-reliance is also a big factor in Oeridian culture, and so they assume their deities handle taking people to the afterlife they've earned in their own special ways.

    Needless to say, I don't subscribe to the idea that there should be a deity for every facet of life. Rather, (generally speaking) each culture chooses its deities based on its own cultural values, and the portfolios to which those deities attach themselves are reflections of each deity's own values and interests rather than "spheres" over which they have control. For example, Boccob is the god of magic not because he exercises any particular control over magic but because he is intensely interested in it. Similarly, Wee Jas is a goddess of magic and death because she is drawn toward those subjects by her own peculiar personality. She exercises no special control over either area.

    Concerning the Raven Queen, I don't currently accept her as any part of Greyhawk, since she wasn't written for that world and has nothing to do with it. Of course, if you want to add her to the mix I wouldn't argue with it. In terms of Greyhawk canon, though, I would keep her as Nerull's consort. At best she'd be a demigod or something similar.

    But then, I also tend to adhere to the Gygaxian concept that Nerull is merely an avatar of the daemon lord Infestix and not a true, independent deity at all. I suspect those who share similar views would likely want to limit the Raven Queen's status and powers accordingly.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:26 pm  

    mortellan wrote:
    I will note that the pantheon origin structure is iffy at best. The Suel and Flan had death gods sure, but neither had blatant war gods on the other hand (nor did the Baklunish). Yet the relatively younger Oerids seem to be the most warlike race, with Hextor, Heironeous, Erythnul for starters.


    Like Bubbagump, I don't think every pantheon needed to have every kind of god. Soldiers presumedly prayed to someone in every culture, but it wasn't necessarily a deity who was specifically the god of war. Just as gods who don't have "death" in their portfolios nonetheless may play a role in the fate of souls in the afterworld, gods without war or battle in the portfolios may nonetheless become popular among soldiers. In the real world, Mithras, Jesus, and Odin weren't specifically war gods, but soldiers nonetheless found it encouraging to pray to them at various times and places.

    For the ancient Baklunish, Istus is the mistress of all fate, including one's fate in battle. Xan Yae was the deity of choice for those seeking physical and mental perfection and stealth, all good warrior attributes. Al'Asran, the Baklunish manifestation of Pelor, was a god of strength and light. The Baklunish pantheon may well be larger than the official deities we have available (Gygax intended it to be), but I like how distinctive a smaller pantheon helps make the Baklunish culture.

    For the Suloise, Jascar, Phaulkon, and Kord are all renowned as warriors and crusaders. Lendor himself is a warrior, depicted with a mighty sword. Jascar is an ideal god for cavalry (he manifests as a pegasus), and Phaulkon is of course the god of archers. Xerbo is an excellent deity for sailors and marine units. Many of the Suloise also valued stealth and subtlety over glory in open battle, so Pyremius and Syrul were also popular choices. Beltar works well as a Suloise equivalent to savage Erythnul for those who simply sought to satiate their bloodlust. Wee Jas is the deity of choice for combat mages. And, of course, many soldiers will simply pray to Norebo that luck remain at their side.

    For the Flan, Pelor, the god of strength, has always been popular for warriors, just as Nerull is popular among skulking assassins. Militant worshipers of Obad-hai, full of Nature's fury, can be as terrifying as any of Hextor's chosen. Some Flan nations seem to have had local godlings, such as Krovis and Vathris, to lead them into battle. Vecna's soldiers needed no one but Vecna to whisper to while slaking their weapons' thirsts.

    I think the Oeridians had a fundamentally different concept of the afterlife than many other peoples. They were worshipers of the sky, and I think they believed the souls of the dead traveled to the sky to join the constellations rather than believing they went into some gloomy underworld or shadowfell. Celestian would be an ideal guide for souls in this scenario. If gods of different alignments were associated with the various constellations of the zodiac, then the night sky becomes an obvious model for later beliefs in an afterlife shaped like a Great Wheel. The 12 houses of the zodiac and the four stars of the festival weeks add up to 16, the number of aligned outer planes. The 17th outer plane, Concordant Opposition, corresponds to the polar stars.

    The Flan, as believers in a druidic faith, would believe in a form of reincarnation, probably after a purgatory of sorts within Beory's womb (naturally, located beneath the earth). Many peoples in our world believe in multiple souls, though, so the Flan may have believed both in a general life-force which is reincarnated, and a specific ego-soul that may travel to the realms of various gods. Alternatively, they might have believed that reincarnation was the default state, but Nerull was always trying to snatch souls from the cycle of reincarnation to imprison the dead, and various gods may offer succor from this dread possibility.

    The Suel and Baklunish were very planar aware during their empires' heights, and probably knew more about the "true" afterlife than the Oeridians or Flan, though they may not have depicted it in the same wheel-forms as modern sages. There are many possible ways to group the planes, after all.

    The Baklunish may have depicted the multiverse as a great dragon, with the elemental planes its four feet, the Universal Mind its head, and the Abyss as its tail. Other outer planes might be situated along its spine.

    One interesting fact is that Wee Jas wasn't seen as the goddess of death until after the Rain of Colorless Fire, when magic was responsible for more death than ever before, associating the goddess of magic with death forever after. Before then, I think Beltar, goddess of pits, would be a logical ruler of the underworld. As the Suel became more savvy, they may have feared Beltar less, but may never have quite abandoned the idea that the various outer planes are all caverns within a deep and terrible underworld, even as they began to see the underworld as metaphorical rather than literal. Still, I think a Suloise cosmology that depicts the Material Plane on top and the other planes as branching off beneath it is pretty reasonable. On the other hand, the Suloise have many gods of the earth and sky, and Lendor is said to have created the universe with a sword, so probably it would make sense for them to have originally believed in both a lower world and an upper world, divided by Lendor by his sword afterglow at the beginning of time. The Material Plane would be in the center and perhaps the elemental planes would branch out of the sides.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:30 pm  

    You don't even really need gods to escort you into the afterlife. There could be Oeridian valkyries or something similar that do that duty.
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