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    Canonfire :: View topic - Origins of the Oerth Deities
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    Origins of the Oerth Deities
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 01, 2021 3:59 pm  
    Origins of the Oerth Deities

    Anyone know of a thorough treatment regarding the origins of the Oerth deities? That is, which god/desses are/were human-ish beings that ascended to godhood, which are "powers" in the universe that were adopted by Oerthlings, or which had other origins? For instance, was Kord of the Suel at one time an actual Suel human fighter that went through apotheosis? Or is he some "being" that "offered his services" to the Suel people? If they are powerful (non-human-ish) entities, what is their initial nature? Were they angelic beings like Solar(s), that became (or can act as) deities?

    Thanks much.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Fri Oct 01, 2021 5:01 pm  
    Re: Origins of the Oerth Deities

    Syzygyst wrote:
    Anyone know of a thorough treatment regarding the origins of the Oerth deities? That is, which god/desses are/were human-ish beings that ascended to godhood, which are "powers" in the universe that were adopted by Oerthlings, or which had other origins? For instance, was Kord of the Suel at one time an actual Suel human fighter that went through apotheosis? Or is he some "being" that "offered his services" to the Suel people? If they are powerful (non-human-ish) entities, what is their initial nature? Were they angelic beings like Solar(s), that became (or can act as) deities?

    Thanks much.


    A lot of this is vague in canon. For example, we don't really know for sure if Boccob was a mortal mage or a primordial being who predated the creation of the world. He could be either (I prefer the latter explanation). There isn't a single unified creation myth for Oerth.

    I see that as a strength, though, not a weakness. Make Oerth your own, and create a creation myth to suit your own preferences. Or, more interestingly, create multiple contradictory ones.

    Kord, specifically, is the son of Syrul and Phaulkon, and Syrul and Phaulkon are children of Lendor. Lendor is called both the mother and father of the Suel pantheon, and most of the Suel gods are his children or grandchildren. It's safe to say that at least as far as the Suel people know, they were always gods. Possible exceptions are newer gods added to the Suel pantheon by other authors: Dalt, Vatun, and Nazarn (a hero-god sponsored by Kord). Dalt and Vatun in particular were probably mortals at the time of the Rain of Colorless Fire, if they're not even younger than that (though some prefer to think that Vatun is Odin from the Norse pantheon).

    It's possible that the Suel myths are just myths, however, and all the Suel gods are former mortals who hide their origins from their worshipers. It's whatever you want it to be! But the Suel believe their gods to have always been gods.

    Rao is said, in scriptures read by NPCs in the adventure "Hopeful Dawn" in Dungeon #41, to have created the sun and moons and humanity. Again, this is just what people in Veluna believe, and you can decide if it's correct or not for your own campaign.

    Some gods are definitely former mortals. Everyone seems to agree that St. Cuthbert was mortal once, though nobody's sure when exactly he lived, or if he's originally from Oerth. Al'Akbar was mortal, and Zuoken. There are stories of Rudd as a mortal, though Dragon #265 hints that Norebo might be her father. Mayaheine was mortal. Ye'Cind was mortal. Zagyg was mortal. Wastri was mortal. Iuz was a mortal cambion, of course. Raxivort was either a mortal xvart or, if you use his 5th edition origin in Volo's Guide to Monsters, a servant of Graz'zt who created the xvarts in his image.

    But there's very little information on the origins of most deities. We have some family relationships: Zilchus and Kurell are brothers, the Oeridian wind gods are children of Procan (or of Velnius). Heironeous and Hextor are said to be brothers, both sons of the goddess Alia and unknown fathers. Celestian and Fharlanghn are brothers. Vatun and Dalt are said to be brothers. Allitur and Rao are sometimes said to be brothers. Merikka is said to be a cousin of the Oeridian wind gods. Perhaps some or all of these were mortal at some point, perhaps not.

    My instinct is to say that gods who represent basic forces and concepts, like Pelor, Nerull, Myrhiss, Beory, Procan, Incabulos, Lendor, Boccob, Istus, Tharizdun, and so on, were always gods, but I don't think there's anything to prove this and if you prefer them as ancient heroes and villains who ascended to their current roles, perhaps taking the place of earlier deities, that's just as valid. Or they could be nature spirits who slowly gained in power.

    There's no indication in canon that any of the current gods were originally solars, as Sarenrae was in the Pathfinder setting, but no proof they weren't. Pelor, Rao, and Pholtus seem the most likely candidates. If so, I assume they would have been servants of earlier gods who are no longer remembered, perhaps before humans existed. Allitur and Zodal could conceivably have been solars in service to Rao before being promoted to full divine status. Though most people think of Kelanen as a human who ascended to the status of hero-god, the idea that he was some sort of semi-fallen angel (to neutrality, not evil) is an intriguing alternative.

    Honestly there are huge gaps in Greyhawk's pantheons, implying earlier generations of gods we know nothing about. Who were Celestian and Fharlanghn's parents? Did they even have any, or were they born from the raw elements or primal chaos? Who were Heironeous and Hextor's fathers? Who were Zilchus and Kurell's parents? Did the Oeridian wind gods have mothers, or just a father? If Merikka is their cousin, who were her parents? You get to decide, or just leave it unknown: perhaps the gods themselves no longer remember where they came from.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 01, 2021 5:28 pm  

    Thanks very much, Rasgon. Damn impressive that you churned that thorough answer out so quickly. Not surprised, really...

    Follow up Q: so is there anywhere in any sort of D&D canon, like even for another "D&D"-based world like the Forgotten Realms or Golarion, where the nature of the gods is elucidated? Like what are the beings that can act as "gods," if it's not usually Solars or Demonic Lords and such? Something like the Celestials from Marvel comics comes to mind. ??

    Basically, i'm doing as you suggest, making up my own origins-stories (already have), as i'm about to run a campaign where the nature of the deties of Oerth is of prime importance. Just wondering how far afield my take is from any sort of established "system" that already exists. Partially out of curiosity and partially to find out if the players might have some other origin story already implanted in their heads.

    Thanks for any further insight. If not, no problem -- your first reply was plenty informative.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Fri Oct 01, 2021 6:48 pm  

    Syzygyst wrote:
    Follow up Q: so is there anywhere in any sort of D&D canon, like even for another "D&D"-based world like the Forgotten Realms or Golarion, where the nature of the gods is elucidated? Like what are the beings that can act as "gods," if it's not usually Solars or Demonic Lords and such? Something like the Celestials from Marvel comics comes to mind. ??


    The Planescape sourcebook On Hallowed Ground discussed this somewhat, beginning on page 34. It didn't try to be 100% definitive, since it had to discuss the pantheons of many worlds and campaign settings so any concrete "this is what a god is in every campaign" wouldn't have worked. But it gives two major theories:

    1. The gods were spirits born from mortal belief, who gained in power as more people worshiped them and continued to be shaped by the beliefs of their worshipers.

    2. The gods have always been, and they're the ones who created mortals.

    On Hallowed Ground uses the term "near-powers" to describe beings who are similar to gods, but not quite gods. The category includes Abyssal lords, the Animal Lords of the Beastlands (the Cat Lord, etc.), the Lords of the Nine (archdevils), Apomps (creator of the demodands), Primus, the slaad lords. the Lady of Pain, half-divine children of the gods, the githyanki lich-queen, the paraelemental rulers, and the elemental princes of evil.

    Other campaign settings have other explanations.

    In Dragonlance, the Highgod brought the oldest gods to Krynn from the Beyond, while others are children of those oldest gods and Gilean may or may not have been mortal.

    In the Forgotten Realms, Realmspace was created by Ao, and the oldest gods, Shar and Selune, coalesced from the Astral Plane, while other gods formed from their primordial battles or were summoned from other worlds and planes.

    4th edition canon has the first gods coalescing from the "Astral Sea" at the beginning of time, as opposites of the "primordials" born from the "Elemental Chaos"—elemental princes and so forth, some of which were corrupted into demon lords (devils are fallen angels).

    Golarion has a very detailed history of the divine. Book of the Damned: Princes of Darkness gave us probably the most complete creation myth, where originally there was nothingness, and then something called "the seal" appeared, which illuminated the primal darkness and allowed for possibilities to exist. Two motes of light were sparked from it, and over eons they learned to move. Other, smaller, motes appeared, and the eldest consumed some of these so that they could grow, but eventually there were too many motes for them to consume. As further eons passed, the motes of light grew in size and complexity. eventually evolving emotions and becoming sentient. These eventually became the first gods, and together they shaped reality.

    Pathfinder 1st edition uses the word "demigods" where Planescape used "near-powers," describing powerful planar beings who are not quite gods. These include Ahriman (lord of the divs, who are corrupted genies), the archdevils, the ranas of the asuras, demon lords, the Eldest (who rule the world of the fey), the elemental lords, the Empyreal lords (archangels and such), the Four Horsemen (who rule the daemons), the kyton demogogues, the primal inevitables, the protean lords (lords of Chaos), the psychopomp ushers, and the rakshasa immortals. There are also the Outer Gods inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's writings: Azathoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth, etc.

    There are other sorts of gods and godlike beings in other editions: the Lovecraft-inspired Elder Evils, worshiped by the aboleths and other alien creatures; the primal spirits, who are keepers of the natural order in 4th edition; archfey, who rule faeriekind; the sinister star-gods who sometimes make pacts with warlocks, and more.

    Other planar rulers include the Oinoloth and other "altraloth" rulers of the yugoloths: Bubonix, Charon, Cholerix, Anthraxus, Typhus, Taba, Xengahra, etc; the eladrin Court of Stars (Morwel, Faerinaal, and Gwynharwyf); Talisid and the Five Companions, who rule the guardinals; and the Celestial Hebdomad, who are the throne archons who rule the Seven Heavens. And then there are the titans, many of which are trapped in Tartarus/Carceri.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 01, 2021 7:21 pm  

    Thanks very much, Rasgon. More than i could have hoped for.

    Cheers.
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