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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:06 pm  
    Common Gods

    Why are the Common Deities not part of a cultural group? Who do they belong to? Are they themselves linked together as are the Suel Gods, a pantheon? Where do they come from with regards to the great migrations?

    I have to admit, I have always been uncomfortable with the large number of Greyhawk Gods. I'd prefer a more Olympian pantheon design with clear power structures. Greyhawk Gods do not seem to be restricted by geographic or political boundaries, but this seems just odd to me. Norse gods and Greek gods existed in the same world but were separated by such boundaries.

    How do you manage this in your campaigns?

    Thank you all for any clarity and input you offer.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:41 pm  
    Re: Common Gods

    Skech wrote:
    Why are the Common Deities not part of a cultural group? Who do they belong to? Are they themselves linked together as are the Suel Gods, a pantheon? Where do they come from with regards to the great migrations?

    I have to admit, I have always been uncomfortable with the large number of Greyhawk Gods. I'd prefer a more Olympian pantheon design with clear power structures. Greyhawk Gods do not seem to be restricted by geographic or political boundaries, but this seems just odd to me. Norse gods and Greek gods existed in the same world but were separated by such boundaries.

    How do you manage this in your campaigns?

    Thank you all for any clarity and input you offer.


    I use the pantheons from deities and demigods (as im a 1st ed DM) and alter and name change to fit my idea of Greyhawk. I take the current named Greyhawk deities and fit them into these altered pantheons ether as additions or replacement - and whiz bang - sensible Greyhawk pantheons.
    GreySage

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    Sun Nov 24, 2019 5:07 pm  
    Re: Common Gods

    Skech wrote:
    Why are the Common Deities not part of a cultural group? Who do they belong to?


    Common means "common in most areas," while those gods who aren't common will be revered only in regions populated by a specific ethnicity.

    So, for example, Beltar isn't a common god, so she's going to be worshiped only in areas with Suel heritage (or various monstrous groups that worship her).

    Common gods are part of multiple pantheons and cultural groups. Not necessarily all of them—the Suel don't have much use for Boccob, since they have Wee Jas—but for example, the Baklunish and Oeridians and Flan all recognize Boccob as part of their pantheons, sometimes under other names.

    So Boccob is as much a Baklunish god (under his Baklunish name, al-Zarad) as Istus and Xan Yae, but unlike them he's also a Flan god, an Oeridian god, and a god of various nonhuman groups that could use a major god of magic.

    Or, for example, Ehlonna is part of the elven pantheon, the Seldarine, and also part of the Flan, halfling, and Oeridian pantheons (the Suel have Phyton, so they're less likely to need her).

    Quote:
    Where do they come from with regards to the great migrations?


    In some cases, they're younger than the Great Migrations. St. Cuthbert, for example, was likely not born yet when the Migrations happened.

    In other cases they might have been worshiped by a number of different peoples, sometimes under different names. It's conceivable that in some cases separate gods might have merged into singular deities when their worshipers mingled, or perhaps they were always known under different names and aspects in wildly separate areas.

    Quote:
    Greyhawk Gods do not seem to be restricted by geographic or political boundaries, but this seems just odd to me.


    I mean, they're gods, mortal borders don't mean a lot to them, but many gods are only worshiped in specific areas. For example, the Olman gods are mostly only worshiped in Olman lands, the Touv gods are worshiped only in Touv lands, the Suel gods are generally only worshiped in areas settled by the Suel.

    Quote:
    I have to admit, I have always been uncomfortable with the large number of Greyhawk Gods.


    In some cases, gods in separate pantheons are similar enough that they might actually be the same god under different names and aspects. For example, Fortubo, Moradin, Bleredd, and the gnomish god Flandal Steelskin are all similar gods of the forge, and might conceivably be the same deity. And Berei, Berronar Truesilver, Cyrrollalee, and Merikka could be a single goddess of hearth and home. There are many other examples, depending on how much you'd like to consolidate. Are Rao, Pelor, Lendor, Labelas Enoreth, Chronepsis, and Pholtus all different aspects of the same god of order, light, and time? They could be!
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    Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:00 am  
    Re: Common Gods

    Skech wrote:
    Why are the Common Deities not part of a cultural group? Who do they belong to? Are they themselves linked together as are the Suel Gods, a pantheon? Where do they come from with regards to the great migrations?

    I have to admit, I have always been uncomfortable with the large number of Greyhawk Gods. I'd prefer a more Olympian pantheon design with clear power structures. Greyhawk Gods do not seem to be restricted by geographic or political boundaries, but this seems just odd to me. Norse gods and Greek gods existed in the same world but were separated by such boundaries.

    How do you manage this in your campaigns?

    Thank you all for any clarity and input you offer.


    Were those families of pagan gods really separated, though?
    The Greeks and Romans saw their gods among the gods of other peoples, called by different names.

    As far as numbers of WoG gods go, I'd say that Oerth could use more The list in the 83 box is described in that source as a list of gods worshiped in the central Flanaess and a roster that leaves out some (unnamed) greater deities.
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    Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:21 pm  

    Is there a canon origin to St. Cuthbert? I tried backdating a potential origin date based on the deathdate of the real St. Cuthbert, 687 AD, and the dates given in City Beyond the Date*, which gives me an "arrival" date of c. -15,000 CY — a nice, round number. Razz

    *While the adventure tried to suggest that 1 day ("London") = 1 month ("AD&D universe"), it also gives a default date of June 1, 1985 AD, mentions that the "London" gate was established in 1932 AD, and says the "AD&D universe" gate was established "over 640 years" prior; it seems more appropriate to me to say that 1 year ("London") = 12 years ("AD&D universe").
    GreySage

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    Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:31 pm  

    Amesang wrote:
    Is there a canon origin to St. Cuthbert?


    Not really. SMillan did a rundown of different accounts in his article The Origin of Saint Cuthbert and his Cult here on Canonfire.

    Quote:
    I tried backdating a potential origin date based on the deathdate of the real St. Cuthbert, 687 AD, and the dates given in City Beyond the Date*, which gives me an "arrival" date of c. -15,000 CY — a nice, round number. Razz*While the adventure tried to suggest that 1 day ("London") = 1 month ("AD&D universe"), it also gives a default date of June 1, 1985 AD, mentions that the "London" gate was established in 1932 AD, and says the "AD&D universe" gate was established "over 640 years" prior; it seems more appropriate to me to say that 1 year ("London") = 12 years ("AD&D universe").


    That adventure said that Cuthbert had hidden away his mace "long before the Sainted Cuthbert rose to his exalted station," which made me think he was still a mortal.

    So I subtracted 640 years from 576 CY, and determined that Cuthbert, still a mortal, must have traveled to Earth to hide away his mace 65 years before the Common Year calendar. And that therefore he's been a god for less than 640 years.

    There's some evidence that St. Cuthbert's faith in the Flanaess is fairly recent. In Treasures of Greyhawk, in the adventure "All for a Hat," we're told of Herkluth, the priest who originally spread the faith of St. Cuthbert to the Duchy of Urnst. Herkluth was buried 500 years ago, which means the faith of He of the Cudgel must not be much older than that in the Duchy.

    The 3rd edition splatbook Races of Destiny also suggests a relatively recent apotheosis for Cuthbert. Page 12: "It’s significant that the two gods who have ascended to divinity within living memory, Vecna and St. Cuthbert, were once both human..." Then page 20 clarifies they mean the living memory of dragons. "For humans, relatively recent historical events function as myths and legends. Human children might quiver at the story of St. Cuthbert and the dragon, for example, and pass it to their offspring in turn. A young human fighter might be inspired by a tale of the Lost Legion’s Crusade. But in the D&D world, there are elves and dwarves for whom the Lost Legion’s Crusade isn’t a legend—it’s a vivid memory from their own lifetimes. Some older dragons have firsthand knowledge of St. Cuthbert’s battle against the dragon..."

    I don't think there's much evidence that the Greyhawk god St. Cuthbert is the same person as the historical St. Cuthbert. They seem to have nothing in common other than their name. I mean, you could go that way if you wanted, but then you end up with a Christian saint setting himself up as a god in his own right in a polytheistic parallel world which seems... heretical? What exactly made the Bishop of Lindisfarne reject his Christian faith and get really into hitting people on the head? I think it's more likely he's a namesake of the original St. Cuthbert, or a version of him from a parallel world where Christianity never took hold, like Gygax's Ærth.
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    Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:02 am  

    I've got a copy of Epic of Ærth and have always wanted to run a game set in it, so a connection there would be interesting.

    Admittedly a lot of my basis was on the theory that a mortal St. Cuthbert came from an unknown branch of humanity, hence thinking he was an alternate, Earth/Ærth-based St. Cuthbert transplanted to Oerth (of course it doesn't help that 3e's Deities and Demigods stats him out like a normal deity, unlike Vecna, Herakles, or Imhotep). Ah, well…

    (I still think the adventure's time conversion is screwy, though. Razz )
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    Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:12 pm  

    While I imagine Gygax was aware of the real Saint Cuthbert's existence, I seriously doubt any actual connection was intended.
    Probably, he just thought 'Cuthbert' was a fun name.


    On the topic of names that match up, I wonder if Gygax thought twice about including a game version of Asmodeus in the Monster Manual. Hardly obscure, that one, as he's the villain of one of the books of the Holy Bible! The Satanic Panic...
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:49 pm  

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    While I imagine Gygax was aware of the real Saint Cuthbert's existence, I seriously doubt any actual connection was intended.
    Probably, he just thought 'Cuthbert' was a fun name.


    On the topic of names that match up, I wonder if Gygax thought twice about including a game version of Asmodeus in the Monster Manual. Hardly obscure, that one, as he's the villain of one of the books of the Holy Bible! The Satanic Panic...


    Most of the Demons and Devils in MM1 and 2 are the names of Earthly demons and devils. I do think Cuthbert is just a saint name that Gygax took a fancy to and used without any real world connection.
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    Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:49 am  

    JasonZavoda wrote:
    NorkerMedic wrote:
    While I imagine Gygax was aware of the real Saint Cuthbert's existence, I seriously doubt any actual connection was intended.
    Probably, he just thought 'Cuthbert' was a fun name.


    On the topic of names that match up, I wonder if Gygax thought twice about including a game version of Asmodeus in the Monster Manual. Hardly obscure, that one, as he's the villain of one of the books of the Holy Bible! The Satanic Panic...


    Most of the Demons and Devils in MM1 and 2 are the names of Earthly demons and devils. I do think Cuthbert is just a saint name that Gygax took a fancy to and used without any real world connection.


    I agree about MM2 but disagree about the MM.

    I'm referring principally to named individuals, just to be clear.


    Looking at MM (1):

    Asmodeus: Yes, as noted above.

    Baalzebul: One letter off from -bub, but the same 'Lord of the Flies' title...I agree that this one counts.

    Dispater: Not really. The name is a pagan god's name and not a Jewish or Christian demon, even allowing for some overlap between those categoires.Dante used Dis as the name of an infernal city, but Dispater as such does not appear in the Divine Comedy (which is a work of fiction and not scripture, a theological text, or a goetic book).

    Geryon: a Greek mythological monster re-imagined as an inhabitant of Hell by Dante. Not named in any theological or demonological text of which I am aware. I'm not an expert, but it seems to me he can't be counted as a devil/fallen angel from the real world tradition unless we broaden the category of tradition to include works of fiction. And even then, I'm not sure Dante meant for his Geryon to be a fallen angel rather than a monster.



    But looking at demon princes and lords, what do we have?
    Juiblex: made up for the game
    Orcus: not a demon, but a pagan god. Milton uses him, but again, that's literary fiction and not a holy book or a text on demonology.
    Yeenoghu: made-up
    Demogorgon: see above about Milton and Paradise Lost. Also, the name may be the result of a copyist's error. Classical/Pagan origin. Not a Christian fallen angel in any case.

    If one includes works of poetry and fiction that combine pagan/Classical elements with Christian elements, then some of the ones I don't think count should count. But I'm using a tighter definition.

    MM2 certainly uses a long list of proper names mined from demonology (both devils and demons, as the game classifies them). I totally agree with you about this book, just not so much about the MM.
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    Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:21 pm  

    On the topic:

    Whenever I have run GH I've used, or at least assumed the existence of, all the gods, demigods, and heroes listed in the WoG boxed set plus whatever other deities and special characters I feel like adding from other sources of my own home-brew notes.


    Like some others here, I use the published setting notes on where the various races or humanity settled and how they intermingled as a guide to where the powers belonging to the 'ethnic pantheons' would be worshiped.
    I also use the material on the gods from Dragon magazine.

    Much of the time, the deity's portfolio will make sense for one region and not another. A sea-god probably isn't much worshiped inland, unless he possesses some other important aspect.

    I also like using several of the boxed set gods as patrons for demihumans and humanoids; Ehlonna, Ulaa, Erythnul, etc.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:28 pm  

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    While I imagine Gygax was aware of the real Saint Cuthbert's existence, I seriously doubt any actual connection was intended.
    Probably, he just thought 'Cuthbert' was a fun name.


    On the topic of names that match up, I wonder if Gygax thought twice about including a game version of Asmodeus in the Monster Manual. Hardly obscure, that one, as he's the villain of one of the books of the Holy Bible! The Satanic Panic...


    I was justr rereading Gygax's letter in Alarums&Excursions #2 from July 1975 and this statement I believe shows that Cuthbert (in his home campaign) was the historical Cuthbert.

    "I recall that I told Bob Sacks that in Greyhawk we do not have existing religions included, for this is a touchy area. We have such groups as "The Church of the Latter Day Great Old Ones," Church of Crom, Scientist", "Brethren of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgle", and so on. Gods sometimes intervene"
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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:47 pm  

    That quotation seems to show just the opposite.
    Isn't Gygax clearly stating that he did not use real world religions in the Greyhawk campaign?
    That means there's no connection with the real Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, just the name.

    Am I missing something?
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:19 pm  

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    That quotation seems to show just the opposite.
    Isn't Gygax clearly stating that he did not use real world religions in the Greyhawk campaign?
    That means there's no connection with the real Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, just the name.

    Am I missing something?


    I read it as Gygax saying real religions were out of bounds, but parodies of real faiths were okay. "Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel" was meant as a joke reference in the same vein as the others.
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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:52 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    NorkerMedic wrote:
    That quotation seems to show just the opposite.
    Isn't Gygax clearly stating that he did not use real world religions in the Greyhawk campaign?
    That means there's no connection with the real Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, just the name.

    Am I missing something?


    I read it as Gygax saying real religions were out of bounds, but parodies of real faiths were okay. "Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel" was meant as a joke reference in the same vein as the others.


    Parodies in the sense of names that were plays on real names, yes, but I doubt the similarities between the game cults and any real world faiths or traditions extended far or that any in-game linkage was intended.
    My impression, and I could be wrong, was that few or none of these cults and churches in the campaign received a lot of 'serious' development and that religion was largely played for laughs, ignored, or treated as a fairly simple alignment conflict (Law versus Chaos, Good versus Evil) in Gygax's campaign. Ditto a lot of early D&D stuff.

    I could have all this wrong. I'm no Gygaxian scholar. I have haunted the halls o' Dragonsfoot, though.
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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:54 pm  

    Wasn't there some link between Pholtus and the (comedy group) the Firesign Theater?
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:07 pm  

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    rasgon wrote:
    NorkerMedic wrote:
    That quotation seems to show just the opposite.
    Isn't Gygax clearly stating that he did not use real world religions in the Greyhawk campaign?
    That means there's no connection with the real Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, just the name.

    Am I missing something?


    I read it as Gygax saying real religions were out of bounds, but parodies of real faiths were okay. "Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel" was meant as a joke reference in the same vein as the others.


    Parodies in the sense of names that were plays on real names, yes, but I doubt the similarities between the game cults and any real world faiths or traditions extended far or that any in-game linkage was intended.
    My impression, and I could be wrong, was that few or none of these cults and churches in the campaign received a lot of 'serious' development and that religion was largely played for laughs, ignored, or treated as a fairly simple alignment conflict (Law versus Chaos, Good versus Evil) in Gygax's campaign. Ditto a lot of early D&D stuff.

    I could have all this wrong. I'm no Gygaxian scholar. I have haunted the halls o' Dragonsfoot, though.


    I will have to read up on the real world Cuthbert but I'd forgotten that Gygax was using him back in '75 or earlier in his home campaign. My thought originally was that the published Greyhawk Cuthbert was just a name. rasgon put it better that the link to the real world Cuthbert was through parody. It is a link though but I didn't see Cuthbert as described in T1-4 matching the historical Cuthbert in any context but name. Now it seems Gygax was probably very aware of the original and maybe just created an opposite version.
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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:18 pm  

    That does make sense.

    I think it is likely enough that he had read of the real Saint Cuthbert, at least in passing.
    Saint Cuthbert is not obscure if you are interested in the history of Medieval Britain, and Gygax was an avid reader of history.

    I just don't think the GH god 'Saint Cuthbert' was ever meant to be an Anglo-Saxon historical figure and Christian saint who made his way to Oerth through a magic portal.
    That wouldn't make much sense, and seems to run directly counter to Gygax's stated policy of avoiding real-world religions.
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    Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:49 pm  
    Dragon 100

    I think Gygax did generally avoid RL stuff but "Dragon Magazine" issue 100 has a non-Gygax adventure to recover the Mace of Cuthbert from Earth of 1985.
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    Sat Dec 14, 2019 11:32 am  
    Re: Common Gods

    Skech wrote:
    Why are the Common Deities not part of a cultural group? Who do they belong to? Are they themselves linked together as are the Suel Gods, a pantheon? Where do they come from with regards to the great migrations?


    It is kind of a mystery. In the WoG Boxed Edition is where we first get a look at the gods with these cultural categories. Common is said to indicate that they are simply common in most areas. It's not like they're just of indeterminate origin, considering there is a U category for deities of unknown or indeterminate origin, although the only members of that category are Wastri and Tharizdun. To add further to the mystery Ulaa is both Unknown and Common, although in FTA the Unknown was dropped.

    Personally, which is about the only way you can make meaning of it, I just take it to mean that they are all U's of indeterminate origin, that with the multiple myths spread through different cultures, no one can really be sure. This is the approach I took in the article I did on St. Cuthbert that rasgon mentions above.

    Skech wrote:
    I have to admit, I have always been uncomfortable with the large number of Greyhawk Gods. I'd prefer a more Olympian pantheon design with clear power structures. Greyhawk Gods do not seem to be restricted by geographic or political boundaries, but this seems just odd to me. Norse gods and Greek gods existed in the same world but were separated by such boundaries.

    How do you manage this in your campaigns?

    Thank you all for any clarity and input you offer.


    I'm the opposite. IMC there is a multiplicity of gods that exist outside of the canon material. Most are minor local gods, small gods, tutelary deities, etc. that reside on Oerth, although most saints and hero-deities live in the realms of the gods they are associated with.

    I do embrace a design with clearer power structures though, while ditching most of the standard D&D cosmology. The Suloise, Oeridian, Dwarven, and Baklunish pantheons reside in their own realms on Mount Celestia, similar to how the the Asgardian live in Asgard, the Vanir live in Vanaheim (for the most part), and the Dwarves reside in Myrkheim. Some gods live in other Outer Plane realms, notably Nerull in the Gray Wastes (where Wee Jas as his estranged wife is still bound to live part of the year). The Elven Gods live in Arborea, which IMC exists within and as part of the Feywild. Or vice versa. It's a mystery. They're elves after all.

    You may notice I didn't include the Flan gods, but that's because for the most part they've been co-opted into the Oeridian pantheon, with Pelor being the best example. IMC he is one of those gods that was worshiped across cultural groups, under different names and being conceived of slightly differently. IMC Oeridian culture has for the most part come to be identified with the culture of the Great Kingdom, and in the early days of the Great Kingdom, Sol, the sun god, who was viewed more as a remote, impersonal, ceremonial deity, whose worship had been displaced by Hextor and Hieroneous among the Oeridians began to be worshiped more by the common people more in the form of the Flan conception of him as Pelor, eventually being identified as Pelor. This was further solidified as the GK spread west, absorbing even more Flan-Oeridian hybridized cultures in the central Flanaess.

    I haven't mapped it all out, and it frequently changes, but most of them time this is for my own entertainment and almost never comes up in the campaign except in a general sense, like when some priest solemnly intones "May he dwell in the house of Pelor in peace on Mount Celestia!" every time the illustrious father of the count the PCs are interacting is mentioned. It's mainly just flavor.
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