Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:11 am Post subject: A theory on St. Cuthbert
Something that has made me wonder about St. Cuthbert is that he is - arguably - the only neutral deity who is not neutral. He does not allow evil worshipers, so he is not, in fact, neutral at all. He is "neutral light" or "kind of good without being good".
I would argue that if he continues like this for centuries, always rubbing shoulders with the good guys, having his own paladins, fighting evil and so forth... How could he stay neutral?
My theory is that St. Cuthbert changes from "no evil/good allowed" to "no good/evil allowed" every thousand years, and now he is in the good mode. The major problem with this is that even though St. Cuthbert has given indications about this to his clergy, they have been rejected as rumors and tricks from evil gods. St. Cuthbert assumes that his "clear" divine messages have been understood, but they have not been. All divine revelations of the truth have been suppressed and ignored, mainly because no one wants to believe that it's true. Plenty of stupidity, both from St. Cuthbert and from his followers, has been involved.
Now suddenly the change happens... From good-ish neutral St. Cuthbert switches to evil-ish neutral. It all happens overnight.
Joined: Aug 03, 2001 Posts: 2819 Location: Michigan
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:39 am Post subject:
Note that St. Cuthbert's alignment in the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set was lawful good with neutral tendencies. This is also his alignment in 2nd edition and in Dragon #358 (3rd edition era).
His alignment was simplified in the 3rd edition Player's Handbook because "tendencies" aren't really a thing there. I'd still say he's effectively presented as on the borderline between lawful good and lawful neutral—the same alignment as the plane where he dwells, Arcadia. As you pointed out, Cuthbert doesn't allow evil worshipers, which makes it clear he's taken sides in the war between evil and good.
It's also true that the 3rd edition design team already had strong ideas about what kinds of gods they wanted to include in the core rules before management decided the core setting would be Greyhawk, and they took some liberties with the Greyhawk gods in order to fit them into their preconceived ideas. For example, St. Cuthbert was never god of retribution prior to 3rd edition—that's Trithereon. Wee Jas should be lawful neutral with evil tendencies, just as St. Cuthbert is lawful good with neutral tendencies and Garl Glittergold is lawful good with neutral good tendencies. Heironeous's favored weapon should be an axe, not a sword.
The main takeaway is that St. Cuthbert isn't as strongly good as gods like Heironeous and Rao, but he is strongly opposed to evil in all forms, and he's basically a good deity. When he has to choose between law and good, however, he'll choose law first and good second, as long as doing so doesn't benefit evil. St. Cuthbert is a dogmatic hardliner, as opposed to backsliding and doctrinal impurity as he is to "evil." He hates evil, but he hates chaos and incorrect dogma more, so he's closer to neutrality than most other good deities.
Another thing: I doubt St. Cuthbert is over a thousand years old, though there's little in canon about what exactly his age is. Complete Divine said that St. Cuthbert ascended to divinity in living memory, and then later (page 20) clarifies that they mean the living memory of older dragons. "Some older dragons have firsthand knowledge of St. Cuthbert's battle against the dragon." Dragon #100 said that St. Cuthbert hid his mace away in London around 640 years ago (page 54) "long before the Sainted Cuthbert rose to his exalted station" (page 46) so I take that to mean he's been a deity for less than 640 years. We don't know exactly what the "present day" is in Dragon #100, but I think it would work well just prior to the Greyhawk Wars, or during them, or prior to some other significant upcoming rise of chaos or evil (for example, the Age of Worms or Savage Tide), justifying why the PCs are only now being called to return the Mace to the world.
The old box set lists St. Cuthbert as the god of wisdom, dedication, and zeal. As Rasgon points out, he's very much against chaos and considers waffling (i.e. being chaotic) to be just as bad if not worse than being evil. I can easily see his church having a full-bore inquisition rooting out the insufficiently dedicated among the flock and.... vigorously.... bringing them back before executing them 'for the safety of their souls' lest they backslide again.
Joined: Nov 01, 2007 Posts: 613 Location: NOW IN Cape May, NJ! Loving the new digs!
Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:38 pm Post subject: Re: A theory on St. Cuthbert
he is - arguably - the only neutral deity who is not neutral. He does not allow evil worshipers, so he is not, in fact, neutral at all.
My two cents -
The only problem with the part that I quoted here, is that it's a logical fallacy. You're purporting a false dichotomy. You're implying that the only way to disallow evil worshipers is to be good in alignment.
While there are nine categories of alignment, there is much more nuanced variations between them. But, even presuming that we were to allow go by those nine, it still doesn't wok.
Nuetral doesn't mean that one allows good and evil in equal proportion. True, it may be one way to end up with a neutral alignment, by having no truck with any alignment extreme.
It is alo perfectly reasonable to say that one has no truck with evil, and still not be as good as a "good" alignment. One only has to have an alignment within one step of a god to worship them. ... that's pretty much what a paladin of Saint Cuthbert is. While the deity himself is not good, he allows worshipers of them, but, he still has a moral compunction against evil being done.
It may largely be that he is against evil because it has a very strong destabilizing factor in a (non-evil) society, and thus, evil tends to create chaos within that society. That's as clear a reason to not allow evil followers as any. _________________ Gallery of Artwork - take a look at my published illustrations.
Joined: Aug 03, 2001 Posts: 2819 Location: Michigan
Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:18 pm Post subject:
I think of St. Cuthbert primarily as a reformer, Martin Luther style. When the Church of Aerdy was decadent, wealthy beyond all imagining from tithes and church lands and the selling of indulgences, Cuthbert advocated a simpler, humbler path. This made him the enemy of the Aerdi Church centered in Medegia, led at the time by the priesthood of Pholtus who even now, after their exile from the centers of power there, consider themselves to be the true inheritors of the church's legacy.
Of course, the real reason St. Cuthbert and Pholtus don't get along is that they're so much alike. Both are convinced their dogma is the one true one and compromise is anathema to both.
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