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    Canonfire :: View topic - Vatun and Dalt: Brothers or Bros?
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    Vatun and Dalt: Brothers or Bros?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:30 pm  
    Vatun and Dalt: Brothers or Bros?

    In the "Slavs of Greyhawk?" thread Vatun and Dalt got a mention. As per usual with anything to do with deities in Greyhawk my mind went wandering and I started looking into the two deities and their relationship.

    Both deities seem a much later addition to the Suel pantheon and I question whether or not they are actual Suel deities or deities of a different origin accepted into the Suel pantheon.

    The earliest reference I can see for either is regarding Dalt in "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" in 1984 where he is mentioned in the description for a lesser artifact called the Silver Key of Portals and where he is referred to as a forgotten CG lesser god of portals and enclosures.

    I can't find his name in any source book list of deities until the Player's Guide published 14 years later!

    Vatun is even more elusive. I assumed he was referred to by name in "Five Shall be One" and "Howl from the North" but unless I got text blind (which is likely) I could only find reference to the Great God of the the Suel Barbarians. In the 1998 Player's Guide the name Vatun appears but from what source did that name come from?

    I checked the issues of Dragon I had with details of the Suel pantheon but they aren't mentioned.

    In the "Scarlet Brotherhood" sourcebook a year later in 1999, both gods are detailed as part of the Suel pantheon and Dalt is said to be the 'supposed brother of Vatun', although this doesn't sound like it is a known fact. Hence the title - are the two gods actual divine kin or just 'bros'.

    What was the author's decision for making them brothers and adding Dalt's search for Vatun into the pot?

    I'm aware that there are some issues of Dragon regarding updates to "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" that I don't have access to. Is the connection established there? From what I can gather the details make Dalt sound Oeridian (olive skin, a possible Fharlanghn connection) but suggest a demonic link too. Interestingly, Dalt's artifact, the Silver Key, has a kind of Lovecraftian association too in it's name.

    If anyone can shed some light on any of this for me I'd appreciate it!
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:20 pm  

    You are correct -- Vatun is not mentioned by name in either Howl From the North or Five Shall Be One. Some time ago I searched through both modules trying to find the name Vatun and it doesn't exist.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:31 pm  

    Take this information for what it's worth. Len Lakofka will tell you that Dalt and Vatun are not Suel deities. They certainly weren't part of his original pantheon. We can work with that, making them later additions in-game as well. Perhaps the early Thillonrian Suel discovered a "lost" Great God of the North and began to propitiate him alongside Kord, Llerg, and Norebo. As to Dalt, he's the literary creation of Rob Kuntz. Rob hinted once that Dalt's supposed alignment of C/Good is false, as he is in truth a Nyarlathotep-like figure, helping man unlock doors that should remain locked. Evil Grin
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:25 pm  

    Entries about these two Powers in Living Greyhawk Gazeteer will support DMPrata's comments. Both seem to be 'add ons' and largely forgotten with respect to most Suel followers.

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:30 pm  
    Re: Vatun and Dalt: Brothers or Bros?

    Wolfling wrote:
    I can't find his name in any source book list of deities until the Player's Guide published 14 years later!


    Yeah, the Player's Guide was the first source to round up a lot of obscure deities (and personages who were just names) that had been mentioned in various modules and never consolidated in a single sourcebook. A lot of that came from Jay Hafner's obsessive list-making in the 1990s, which was prominent for Greyhawk fans at the time. See also Al'Akbar, Vecna, Ye'Cind, Johydee, Kyuss, Osprem, and Alia, none of whom had been mentioned in the World of Greyhawk boxed set, Greyhawk Adventures, or From the Ashes deity charts. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer added Merikka and the brand-new deity Mouqol.

    Quote:
    Vatun is even more elusive. I assumed he was referred to by name in "Five Shall be One" and "Howl from the North" but unless I got text blind (which is likely) I could only find reference to the Great God of the the Suel Barbarians. In the 1998 Player's Guide the name Vatun appears but from what source did that name come from?


    Vatun is named in Greyhawk Wars! (Adventurer's Book, page 7). "He called himself Vatun, Great God of the North..."

    Quote:
    I checked the issues of Dragon I had with details of the Suel pantheon but they aren't mentioned.


    Right. They were added to the pantheon by Sean K. Reynolds in 1999.

    For what it's worth, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer explicitly says that Vatun was never worshiped by the Suel Imperium (on page 185). However, the Scarlet Brotherhood worships him as part of the pantheon, which would be odd if he had no relationship to the other Suel gods. While Vatun is mostly venerated in the Thillonrian Peninsula, Dalt is mostly worshiped in the southeast, which suggests to me that if they're brothers their common origin is the original home of the Suel people. If they were both originally deities of the Thillonrian region, Dalt would probably still be worshiped there rather than being adopted by a distantly related people many hundreds of miles to the south.

    Probably the most straightforward interpretation is that Vatun and Dalt are related to the other Suel gods but considered too petty and insignificant to be much noticed until after the Great Migrations. Like I said in the other thread, though, I'd prefer to ignore the bit about Vatun not being worshiped among the ancient Suel and simply assume he had a different portfolio then. The Suel don't have a proper god of war, and he nicely fills in the gap.

    Another possibility is that they were originally half-divine sons of Kord. Since Kord canonically has many sons with many different women, he could have fathered them both in the years following the Great Rain of Fire in widely separated regions, with different mothers. Perhaps Dalt's mother was Oeridian.

    Quote:
    In the "Scarlet Brotherhood" sourcebook a year later in 1999, both gods are detailed as part of the Suel pantheon and Dalt is said to be the 'supposed brother of Vatun', although this doesn't sound like it is a known fact.


    The quote is "Said to be the brother of imprisoned Vatun, Dalt searches for the means to open the mystical barrier that keeps the North God bound in enchanted slumber." I don't really see myths as being right or wrong; if there's a myth that says two gods are brothers, the two gods are brothers in that myth. There are probably also contradictory myths, but that's fine. Gods embody multitudes; they don't have singular, objective histories like mortals do. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer says "Dalt was forgotten for many years while he sought to free his brother Vatun" without any qualification, which suggests it's a fact as much as anything regarding the gods can be an objective fact.

    Quote:
    What was the author's decision for making them brothers and adding Dalt's search for Vatun into the pot?


    Vatun is imprisoned. Dalt is the god of locks and keys. They seem like complements in that respect. Dalt may have become the god of keys specifically in order to free his brother.

    Quote:
    I'm aware that there are some issues of Dragon regarding updates to "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" that I don't have access to.


    That would be Dungeon Magazine, actually. The Maure Castle articles were in Dungeon #112, Dungeon #124, Dungeon #139, and Oerth Journal #23. Rob Kuntz mentions Dalt heavily in Dungeon #139, which is where the description of him with olive skin and association with Fharlanghn and Fraz-Urb'luu come from. It's clear that Rob Kuntz had some very different ideas of Dalt's origin than Sean K. Reynolds (who wrote Dalt's description in The Scarlet Brotherhood and Living Greyhawk Gazetteer).

    Quote:
    Is the connection established there?


    No. Those issues of Dungeon Magazine all postdate The Scarlet Brotherhood and Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.

    DMPrata wrote:
    Rob hinted once that Dalt's supposed alignment of C/Good is false, as he is in truth a Nyarlathotep-like figure, helping man unlock doors that should remain locked. Evil Grin


    That's more like Yog-Sothoth.


    Last edited by rasgon on Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Paladin

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    Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:31 am  
    Re: Vatun and Dalt: Brothers or Bros?

    rasgon wrote:

    The Suel don't have a proper god of war, and he nicely fills in the gap.

    rasgon wrote:

    I don't really see myths as being right or wrong; if there's a myth that says two gods are brothers, the two gods are brothers in that myth. There are probably also contradictory myths, but that's fine. Gods embody multitudes; they don't have singular, objective histories like mortals do. .

    I've thought similar things years ago. Early on there were few "defined" deities (until D&DG came out, and then it was a stretch for some of those to be greyhawk incorporated) Somewhere in the early eighties, Ed Greenwood wrote an article in Dragon on the Divinity, and with in those pages he had a god called Tempus. At the time I had several barbarians in the campaign and needed some detail around Vatun. So merged the two. Similar to Ehlonna / Ehlenestra. Of course after a time, Ed incorporated Tempus into FGR setting.
    With the explosion of "deities", I still left them (and others) consolidated IMC. Leaving Tempus / Vatun as the "God of the North".

    rasgon wrote:

    Quote:
    I'm aware that there are some issues of Dragon regarding updates to "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" that I don't have access to.


    That would be Dungeon Magazine, actually. The Maure Castle articles were in Dungeon #112, Dungeon #124, Dungeon #139, and Oerth Journal #23. Rob Kuntz mentions Dalt heavily in Dungeon #139, which is where the description of him with olive skin and association with Fharlanghn and Fraz-Urb'luu come from.

    Hummm, thanks Ole Great Sage... didn't know of those "associations" have to dig up those Dungeons......
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:44 am  

    Somehow I always imagined Vatun as an ascended mortal. That sometime in the early history of the northern Suel there arose a great leader who eventually underwent apotheosis. This would fit in with the contention that Vatun was not originally part of the Suel pantheon and seems not to be worshipped by any other Suel groups.

    Having said that, however, having Dalt be his brother throws a wrench into my theory. TWO members of the same family becoming gods! It beggars belief. Plus, Dalt doesn't seem to be particularly cherished by the northern Suel.
    GreySage

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    Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:25 am  

    Raphael wrote:
    Having said that, however, having Dalt be his brother throws a wrench into my theory. TWO members of the same family becoming gods! It beggars belief. Plus, Dalt doesn't seem to be particularly cherished by the northern Suel.


    Though it may fit better if Vatun and Dalt were fellow adventurers who both experienced apotheosis, together or separately. They would then likely remain very close 'Bros'. They may have even been from separate post-cataclysmic Suel splinter groups - Vatun from the northern families and Dalt from the southern (SB). Having adventured during the same years, they may have come across each other or, at least, heard of each other. Whether they actually met or not, they would surely have developed a friendly competition regarding fame and heroic accomplishments. Upon becoming gods, their friendship continued.

    SirXaris

    Edited for spelling. SX


    Last edited by SirXaris on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:22 pm  

    I imagined that it was a mortal Vatun who united the three barbarian groups and took the title of Fasstal of all the Suelii. Is "Fasstal" the Ancient Suloise word for "emperor"? Did a Fasstal rule the Suel Imperium?

    The fact that the king of the Ice Barbarians continues to employ this title woudl mean that Vatun was an Ice Barbarian,but through his ecumenism he welded the disparate groups into one nation.

    Upon his ascension he bestowed the title Fasstal of all the Suelii to his (mortal) heir. The empire collapsed upon Vatun's imprisonment.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:55 am  

    Raphael - I don't think that the title Fasstal existed in the Suel Imperium, who were instead led by an Emperor or Imperator (if it was an Imperium as opposed to Empire I guess). Although there is nothing to say that it isn't a Suel word that the ancestors of the Suelii used - perhaps referring back to an old tribal title.

    The Suel had an Empire which by definition tends to mean a group of different ethnicities and cultures under one government. Although the Suelii may be physically of the same stock as other Suel their culture could always have been different.

    Aside from that I think the title of Fasstal was first used in Rhizia when it was bestowed upon them by Vatun the Great God of the North.

    I like your idea of Vatun as an ascended mortal. Perhaps Vatun, as a mortal, led the Suel Barbarians to the Thillonian Peninsula and like Rasgon mentions maybe he was a son of Kord to a mortal woman. I think that I read Lendor tends to limit the power of many of Kord's brood but perhaps Lendor himself saw that the Suelii needed a new god for this icy realm and allowed him to ascend to godhood.

    I had a look into any real world analogies to Vatun's name - turns out 'vatun' is the genitive singular of the Finnish word for 'raspberry' Shocked

    This makes it clear to me - that if he was in fact already a Suel god - he was Vatun - Great God of Berries Wink


    As for Dalt - I've been toying with a theory for my own campaign that breaks from canon a little. Dalt's youthful appearance as a young man with red hair, olive skin and blue eyes actually still sounds as much like a tanned Suel than an Oeridian. Maybe he was the husband of Ranet and when she died he departed the Suel pantheon in grief becoming a forgotten god. Maybe his quest to free Vatun is linked to a goal to restore Ranet? Could there be a fire and ice connection? Maybe Vatun is the best choice to get revenge on Pyremius? In my mind the two gods just don't seem like brothers so I'd like to think of them more as 'brothers in arms'. As to why he isn't popular in Rhizia - the Suelii seem fixated on the legend of the Five Blades - maybe as a matter of honour they don't want the help of Dalt's clerics - it should be one of the Suelii to free their god?
    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:52 am  

    I think Vatun is named after Wotan/Odin. Dalt, a god of lockpickers and thieves, might be an analog of Odin's blood brother Loki. Note that Robilar, a worshiper of Odin according to Rob Kuntz, made something of a habit of freeing imprisoned deities and demons.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:29 am  

    aaahh yeah I'd forgotten I'd read about the Wotan connection on the wiki ... makes more sense than being named after a raspberyy hehe (not that I actually assumed that, just for the record!).

    Although other than the name and being a god of a viking like people Vatun doesn't strike me as being particularly Odin-like. I suppose culturally the Vikings remind me much more of the Oeridians than the Suel.
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    Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:10 pm  

    I find it odd that SKR included Dalt and Vatun in tSB, as A) Vatun is far different from the Suel Imperium in both culture and portfolio (a god of winter in an empire that was most likely subtropical?), and B) tSB states that "Dalt was largely forgotten until the mage, Mordenkainen, discovered one of the god's artifacts. . . ."

    I like to think that perhaps the two were adopted by the Scarlet Brotherhood to help sell their message of racial purity to the Suel barbarians. Neither is much worshiped in the SB proper, but perhaps the SB identifies them with obscure tribal deities supposedly revered by the ancestors of the Barbarians before the rise of the Imperium. Such a connection could be valid--ie, Vatun and Dalt actually are Suel deities whose worship was revived by necessity during the Great Migrations, OR the two are interloper deities whom the Brotherhood (and perhaps other Suel) have mistaken for similar gods.

    I prefer to think of them as interloper gods, weakened aspects of Odin and Loki who fled to the Flanaess to escape their fates at Ragnarock. Whilst Vatun found a land similar to Scandinavia and molded his worshipers into a vikingesque culture, Dalt adapted and sought followers elsewhere.
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    Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:57 am  

    Interesting theory on them being actual norse transplants. If you subscribe to the Great Wheel cosmology, then FR's Tyr has to be a good precedent.
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    Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:20 am  

    I agree, interesting theory Robbastard! It is actually a really cool way to explain how the Suelii adopted a viking like culture seemingly at odds with the rest of the Suloise.

    Dalt being 'long forgotten' I suppose Odin and Loki appearing around the time of the Suel Migrations is long ago enough to fit in with that. Dalt is CG though and Loki definitely comes across as CN at his most benign. How did you explain the alignment shift?

    The Tyr connection is a good one too. I think FR has a few deities like that (Mulhorandi pantheon, Mielikki, I think even Talona is supposed to have a possible Finnish connection). In Greyhawk there are a number of cases of gods from other realms finding a new domain in Oerth (Olman pantheon, Trithereon, Mayaheine spring to mind) so why not Vatun and Dalt.
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    Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:44 pm  

    The Paizo thread @ http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ncjv?And-the-true-name-of-Y-is may prove interesting reading for folks looking into the history of Dalt and the Maures. Rob chimed in there a bit.

    Also worth looking into: Rob's article "Advent of the Elder Ones: Mythos vs. Man in the Lake Geneva Original Campaign, 1973-1976" in AFS @ http://hallsoftizunthane.blogspot.com/2012/12/afs-issue-2-is-released.html

    The latter ties together some of Rob's thoughts on the Maures, the Lovecraftian Mythos, and the alien gods from Bottle City. Worth checking out.
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    Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:45 am  

    Thanks for those links grodog! I'll look forward to having a read through those later!
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:58 pm  

    Wolfling wrote:

    Dalt being 'long forgotten' I suppose Odin and Loki appearing around the time of the Suel Migrations is long ago enough to fit in with that. Dalt is CG though and Loki definitely comes across as CN at his most benign. How did you explain the alignment shift?


    It could be explained a number of ways, such as "turning over a new leaf," or one could just think of Dalt as an aspect of Loki, his "better angel"--kind of like the alignment differences between Yondalla & Dallah Thaun.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:39 am  

    grodog wrote:
    The Paizo thread @ http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ncjv?And-the-true-name-of-Y-is may prove interesting reading for folks looking into the history of Dalt and the Maures. Rob chimed in there a bit.


    Finally got around to reading that thread Grodog! I had no idea there was such a mystery surrounding Maure Castle, but then I've not played the adventure or read it through.

    I really like the Elder Gods connection.

    Based mostly on my own thoughts I've been slowly piecing together where I think Dalt fits into my cosmology. I'm thinking of making him the lover of Ranet and after her murder he left behind his Suel followers to undergo a self-imposed exile and period of exploration. Almost to 'find himself'. As a god of portals I'm thinking that I might give him an association with the afterlife and death with the Suloise seeing him as the gatekeeper to the afterlife whilst his wife Ranet guides the departed souls with her flame to the portal. With Ranet's death and Dalt's disappearance Wee Jas took up the mantle of goddess of death during the Twin Cataclysms due to the very real need for a deity concerned with this arena.

    I'm still unsure of Vatun but I'm favouring the idea of him being a son of Kord who led the Suel Barbarians to their new homeland and was ascended to divine status (sponsored by Kord and / or Llerg and approved by Lendor) upon the completion of his quest. I see he and Dalt as blood-brothers rather than direct brothers. Mind you, I still like the idea of making him a Flan deity adopted by the Suel barbarian settlers though and introducing them to customs that attribute their cultural difference to the rest of the Suel peoples. Hmmm.
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    Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:41 am  

    I've been thinking some more on Vatun and the Flan origin is looking stronger for me. My reasoning is as follows;

    - It is said that Vatun was never worshipped in the Suel Imperium. I think that even if he was a minor unpopular deity, someonewould have worshipped him somewhere. This leads me to feel that he was either not a god at the time (a son of Kord as Rasgon suggested perhaps) or he wasn't a Suel god at all.

    - The Suelii language, Fruz, is primarily Ancient Suloise with Flan admixture. That indicates that culturally the early Suelii are likely to have had influence from indigenous Flan peoples, possibly one of the Coltens tribes? Despite the aggresive nature of the Suelii I see this as a fairly peaceful integration. The Suelii were strangers in a very hostile environment. They needed help to survive. I can see them either absorbing the sparse indigenous Flan into their own people or the Flan keeping their bloodlines separate but just slowly dying out. The point is the Suelii had cultural influence from the Flan. This, in my mind explains their very different cultural style compared to other Suel peoples. It could also be possible that the Suelii offered prayers to the Flan's god of this icy land having no gods of winter of their own to call upon.

    - The name Vatun reminds me of the hero-god Vathris. There could be a nice connection there. Both fierce deities involved in raising a rabble into a civilisation.

    Having Vatun as a indigenous Flan god of the north adopted by desperate Suelii settlers feels right to me somehow and explains a few cultural discrepancies I've felt about the Suelii. Rather than Dalt and Vatun being actual brothers I see them as blood-brothers. If I go with my idea of Dalt being the spouse of Ranet then the fire and ice themes surely have a connection that can be worked on nicely. Dalt having need of a god of ice perhaps.
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