longetalos writes "Listen to the sage Reaccus Sowodnen explain how the deities of Oerth interact with their followers and the rest of the population.
Lecture 1: The nature of Deities
“Welcome to your first lecture in Religion
for the Enlightened. My name is Reaccus Sowodnen and I will be your professor
for this course. I see that you come from many cultural backgrounds and thus
have all been raised with a specific idea of what the gods are. Because of
this, the first thing you all must do, in order to get the most out of my
class, is to assume that everything you know is incorrect. The only thing that
is correct is what I tell you is correct. If someone who is not me has given
you different information, that person is wrong. I know that many of you are
thinking that I am not the first, nor probably the last, person to tell you
something of this sort concerning the gods. But let me make this very clear; I
am always right."
"The Grey college is the most renown
teaching institute in the Flanaess and I have been teaching this class for the
last 60 years. In my time as professor I have taught kings, emperors, mages,
great warriors, and professors from other colleges. Every important individual
anywhere in the Flanaess has been influenced by my teachings! When you stand in
front of these people later on in your life, be assured that they will think as
I told them to. Do you really want to look foolish and try to tell them
otherwise? No? Good, let's get down to work then."
"The first question that comes to mind
when thinking of deities is 'where do they come from'. There are many possible
answers to this question. Some say that the deities always existed. Others say
there were some original deities that always existed and the original few created
the rest of the deities. Another popular concept is that the deities are
mortals that transcended to godhood via their efforts on the mortal planes. All
of these are correct, in a way. Some of the younger deities are ascended
mortals that existed between the age of the Suel Imperium and today. Most of
these have taken the easier path to immortality by linking their fortunes with
those of an existing deity that facilitated the mortal's ascendance. A very
select few were able to find a raw source of power that only they could control
and tapped into in order to ascend. As an interesting note, if a deity opposes the
ascendance of a mortal it becomes almost impossible for him to attain godhood -
he must find another deity as a patron that does not fear a religious
"The older deities existed before the
Suel Imperium and very little is known of how they gained their powers. Many
philosophers theorize that in the distant past there were many sources of
untapped power for mortals to grasp. As more and more deities ascended, less
sources remained for other mortals to utilize. Eventually the situation reached
its current state with only a few difficult to access sources remaining for
today's mortals to find."
"The deities have been classified by
mortal beings in different levels of power or influence. Some have argued that
the level of power of a deity denotes his status among them and his ability to
control the other deities. This line of thought is garbage. The levels of power
given to the deities come from our mortal interpretation of their sphere of
influence. If you have decided that Beory, the goddess of nature, is more
powerful than Delleb, the god of knowledge, then this arrogant mentality will
lead you into trouble. Each god is absolute within his sphere of influence and
can grant their followers the ability to invoke miracles in their name. The
power of the miracle granted is solely dependant on the faith of the priest and
not on the perceived power level of the deity."
"In my treatise on deities, available
in the library, I have linked the source of power to the sphere of influence of
the deity. This link, besides providing the deity with power over their sphere,
also influences the mentality or outlook the deity has towards different mortal
behaviors. Continuing with the example of Beory, we can assume that she has
existed for a very long time, as one of the easiest sources of power to tap
would have been the force of nature. By tapping into that source to achieve
godhood, she has "limited" herself to making certain that the force
of nature continues to grow. Otherwise her source of power would stagnate or shrink."
"Now, having dispelled this common
myth of mortal ratings indicating deity's powers, I will describe the standard
levels of influence that mortals have given to the deities. The highest level
of power is that of a Greater Deity. These deities are the oldest known and
have usually tapped into the most obvious source of power. These sources
include that of nature, the sun, death, disease, etc. The second level is that
of intermediate deity. These deities are a further refining subset of the
greater deities - such as war being a subset of death and light being a subset
of the sun. The 3rd and final level of true deities is that of Lesser Deity.
These deities have further increased the subset already begun by the
intermediate deities. Typical deities include the subset of swords from war and
flame from light. Below this level are several types of unformed deities
including quasi-deities, hero-deities, and demi-deities. Each one has
particular qualities that will be examined in depth later on in this course."
Lesson 2 - Sharing Powers
"I see that some of you are still
around for this second class on religion. When we left off last, I had finished
explaining how the different deities have tapped into various sources of power.
If you missed last class, please leave now and return next month when I will
begin teaching these classes again. I do not have the patience to bring you up
to the level of knowledge that the rest of the class has."
At these words, several of the students
packed their scrolls and worked their way out of the classroom.
"Yes, thank you for leaving. Don't
disturb the rest of the students on your way out. Now we can commence the class
without any unruly elements. Today's lecture is entitled "Sharing
Power". In this lecture I will attempt to make you understand how and why
the different deities share these sources of power."
“As some of you are sure to have noticed
many deities have similar if not identical spheres of influence. The most well-known
example of this is the twin brothers Hextor and Heironeous. Both of these
deities share the sphere of War among the Oeridian people. How this came to
be had many different myths. Some scholars postulate that the two deities were
actually mortal twins that ascended to godhood and shared the source of power.
Others speculate that they are the twin children of one or more older deities.
These minor details are best left for other
courses later on in your studies, if you choose to pursue them."
"What is known, is that when two
deities share the same source of power a conflict will occur. This conflict may
take centuries to manifest itself, but it WILL happen. There are many reasons
why the conflict may be delayed. One of the possible reasons for this lack of conflict
is onsignificance of the interloper deity. Suppose that a newly arisen deity
becomes the spirit-god of a particular grove of trees. This deity would
immediately come into conflict with Beory - goddess of all nature. Considering
that Beory's influence spans multiple planes of existnce it would come as no
surprise if the minor drain on her power source caused by the spirit-god were
to go unnoticed by Beory for a long time."
"Another possible reason for the lack
of immediate conflict between deities is synergy. A good example of this are
the deities Lendor and Cyndor who share the sphere of influence of Time.
Originally, Lendor's followers on Oerth were predominantly Suel and they were
the only ones contributing to the increase of the power source that he was
tapping into. Lendor became aware of Cyndor, a new deity tapping into his
source of power. Lendor approached Cyndor and threatened to destroy him for his
arrogance. Cyndor responded by showing that he had influence among the non-Suel
tribes - people that Lendor has not in any position to convert. Therefore, they
agreed to share the source of power and with each deity seeking to increase the
overall size of the source by means of their respective followers. This
arrangement benefits both deities as their source of power has
become larger and allows them to repel other deities. Similar synergies could
have been achieved between Rao - a Flan deity - and Delleb - an Oeridian one."
"Yet another possible reason for lack
of immediate conflict between deities is fear. If a deity is in a precarious situation
and a new deity begins to tap into its source of power it is possible that the
older deity does not react immediately as the interloper may have a powerful cult
following, strong alliances with other alliances, or otherwise be able
to inflict severe damage upon the older deity's form or faithful. Fear of this
threat prevents the deity from acting against the interloper until it has
properly prepared itself and its faithful or found an alternative solution to
"The last possibility we will discuss
in today's lecture is pre-occupation. If the older deity is already involved
with other critical issues, it might not have the opportunity or resources to
deal with the interloper. This is an extrmely rare situation as most deities
are nearly omnipotent and omniscient in their domains. As such, new deities
must move quickly to establish themselves in their domains as older deities
will attempt to destroy them at the first oppurtunity."
"This concludes today's lecture. In
our next lecture, I will instruct you on the intricasies of deities
vying for sources of power and what happens when a deity loses. If any of you
have questions or comments you may leave a scroll in my office under the name
of Reaccus Sowodnen. The college will ensure that I am made aware of your
Lecture 3: Vying for power
"Good day class, today's topic is entitled
"Vying for Power" and will explain how the different deities contest
for sources of power and the disadvantages of losing the conflict."
"This portion of the course is one
that is hardest for students to learn as well as the hardest subject for me to
teach. Explaining how deities fight among themselves is similar to trying to
explain the casting of magic to a peasant. You can explain the outcome of the
spell, the material components used, and the gestures involved but none of that
really imparts the true use of magic. Therefore, pay close attention to what I say
and try to expand your intellect to encompass the realm of the deities. I will
be using a cloud similitude to link what really occurs with what can be
comprehended by mortals."
"When a deity takes control of a
source of power, he extends tendrils throughout the source. The source can be
imagined as a cloud. These tendrils can be imagined as roots that funnel the
power into the deity and can be manipulated by his will. As a deity gains more experience,
he can increase the size of his tendrils and control more of the cloud. This
takes time and concentration on the part of the deity. But once the tendrils
are in place it becomes extremely difficult to remove them against the deity's
wishes. With this concept in mind, I will explain the conflicts that occur between
"The first kind of conflict is one
where two deities compete for the same source of power. A deity controls a
fixed volume of the cloud that expands and contracts based on the actions of
their followers and the power the deity expends. Regardless of the power
differences between the two deities, there are only three options for them to
use as a means of resolving this kind of conflict."
"The first option is to split the
cloud into two distinct parts. This is a difficult and dangerous process with
severe disadvantages. Some of the volume of the cloud is destroyed in the process
of splitting and this can weaken both deities. The amount of destruction varies
and cannot be predicted which leads to a hesitancy to use exercise this option.
If both deities work together to split the source of power the amount of
destruction is reduced. When a source is unilaterally split, the backlash of
destruction can greatly exceed the volume of the acting deity. Perhaps an example
is in order. Suppose that one deity's share of the cloud is worth 200 coppers.
The second deity's portion is worth 30 coppers. If both deities work together
to split the cloud it might cost the more powerful deity 20 coppers and the
weaker deity 5 coppers. If the weaker deity decides to unilaterally split the
source, it might cost the weaker deity his full 30 coppers but cost the more
powerful deity 80 coppers or even, in the case of a severe backlash, the full
200 coppers. This will completely eliminate the weaker deity as well as causing
a large amount of damage to the more powerful deity. Alternatively, the effect
of a unilateral split can be that the weaker deity loses 2 coppers and the more
powerful deity loses 10 coppers. Thus, this is an unpredictable option. This
unpredictability is a concern that has caused some powerful deities to
voluntarily split off a portion of their source of power to a weaker deity even
though they could have won a prolonged conflict."
"The second option is to burn up a portion
of the cloud under the deity's control and strike at his opponent with that
power. The opponent must use up an equivalent amount of the cloud under his
control to counter this attack. Eventually one of the two deities run out of
power and fades away. To use this option, the attacking deity must act quickly
and decisively so as to prevent his opponent the time to resort to the first
option and unilaterally split the cloud. The interesting factor in this option
is that the attacking deity does not always know the exact power of his opponent.
Therefore, it is possible that he burns up more power than required to destroy his
opponent. Alternatively, if he doesn't burn up enough power for the first
strike his opponent might gain enough time to resort to a unilateral
"Their third option is to start a war
on the mortal planes, hoping that by eliminating their opponent's followers it
will limit that deity from expanding his share of the source. Once that is
accomplished, the winning deity can then expand only his portion of the source
of power using the techniques discussed in the second lecture. In addition, the
losing deity's volume of control will slowly decrease as he uses power from his
share of the source to remain alive. At one point the winning deity will decide
that he has amassed enough volume so that he can eliminate his opponent and
still survive. Hextor and Heironeous are presumably in this process at this
"The second kind of conflict is one
between deities of different sources of power. This will be discussed after a
"I am happy to note that at least some
of you returned after the break. I guess those that are not here are wasting
their time at the festival on the streets of Clerksburg. According to the
calendar, Brewfest only lasts for one week. Why the city officials allow you
young hooligans to start celebrating early is beyond me. It must be due to the
libertarian policies of that new mayor Nerof."
"Anyway, let us continue with our
lecture. As I stated before the break, when two deities share a source of power
they can combat directly. The mortal mind can imagine it as two massive armies,
composed of minions from each side, charging across a landscape and crashing
together in a loud display of combat. This landscape is what mortals routinely
refer to as planes of existence. Unfortunately, when two deities using
different source of power wish to do combat, they do not have a common
landscape or plane to fight on. Therefore, they have three options - to either
combat on each other's plane, to combat on a neutral plane, or to create a
temporary plane to combat on."
"Before going into these three
options, a brief note on the planes of existence is in order. As was stated
previously a source of power can be perceived as a cloud. It can also be
perceived as an infinite flat surface or plane. Both of these concepts are
inaccurate when describing what a source of power actually is but suits our
purposes for teaching. Therefore, when visiting these planes of existence, it
is not a physical location but one that gives the illusion of being physical so
that our mortal minds can understand and function in the plane. Deities are not
bound by this and thus can see the source of power for what it truly is."
"The first option gives the advantage
to the deity whose home plane is used as the war zone. The home deity can
adjust the plane's geography and rules to hinder his opponent. The second
advantage is that the home plane deity can bring to bear his full power whereas
the attacking deity must retain a conduit to his source of power. The conduit
must also be protected so that it is not severed during the combat."
"There are some consequences to the
inhabitants of the plane on which deities battle. The unleashing of that kind
of power will certainly cause a large amount of damage to the plane. This is
what prevents good deities from coming to Oerth to combat the Old One."
"The second option is to combat on a
neutral plane. This removes the advantages of giving one deity their home plane.
Unfortunately, this means both deities must create and protect conduits leading
from their home plane to the neutral plane. In addition, a deity cannot be
fully destroyed on a neutral plane as he must retain a certain amount of power
on his home plane to keep the conduit attached at that end. The benefit this
gives a deity is that they can remove themselves from the conflict at any time
as well as not committing their full power. Unfortunately, the opponent can
follow the retreating or losing deity back to his home plane via the open conduit.
This eliminates some of the penalties for fighting a deity incurs for fighting
on another deity's home plane."
"Much like option one, when two
deities battle on a neutral plane, the unleashing of that kind of power will
cause a large amount of damage to the plane. This can adversely impact any
residents of that plane. For this reason, many deities will actively prevent
other deities from fighting on a plane that they have interests in."
"The final option is to create a
temporary plane to do battle on. This is preferred method of combat for two
deities that do not wish to conduct a complete campaign of destruction on each
other. This allows two deities to meet to settle their differences in a smaller
scale. One or both deities invest some power to create a temporary plane. They
then open up a partial conduit and transfer a fixed amount of power to the
temporary plane. The conduit is then closed. Both deities then resolve the
conflict and limit the affects to the temporary plane. At the end of the conflict
the residual power is lost once the temporary plane ceases to exist. This method
allows each deity to perform a show of force to try and intimidate the other
into surrendering on an issue of importance. Of course, even if a deity loses
this particular encounter he does not need to accede to the request of the
"A particular interesting twist on the
third option of combat is how it was used to defeat the Dark God. The other
gods created a temporary plane as a lure to do battle with the Dark God. In his
vanity, the Dark God sent a substantial amount of power onto the plane to intimidate
his foes. This was exactly as predicted. While a small portion of the opponent
gods' power was used to occupy the Dark God on the temporary plane, a massive
strike was sent against his home plane. The home plane was destroyed and the
Dark God was defeated. Or so it seemed. Some whisper that the Dark God
corrupted the temporary plane and took partial control over it due to the large
amount of power he transferred to the plane. The other gods could not destroy
the Dark God on the temporary plane but were only able to contain him. Without
access to his source of power, the Dark God is slowly weakening."
"This concludes this lecture on Vying for
Power. Next lecture will be on what happens to the losing deities." "