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WeeJas Dissected Part II
Posted on Mon, March 28, 2005 by Dongul
gvdammerung writes "Okay, canon fans. Back for more? Here it is. Wee Jas Dissected Part II! Brought to you by E. Gary Gygax, Len Lakofka, Carl Sargent, Sean K. Reynolds, Sean Reynolds again, and finally the various authors of 3rd Ed. Deities and Demigods. An All-Star cast, with cameo appearences from a number of other Greyhawk sources and SIX, count'em, SIX versions of Wee Jas! And no two are alike!
Make sense to you? Read Wee Jas Dissected Parts I and II and then tell me it makes sense. Then, read Wee Jas Resurrected to see how WeeJas should be handled. Wee Jas is not just a pretty face. She's gonna kick your . . . assuming that's the worst she does, you're lucky. Very lucky.


WeeJas Dissected Part II
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Wee Jas in Living Greyhawk

The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer straddles the rules divide between 2nd Ed. and 3.x Ed. It is the product of Internet Greyhawk fans Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Fred Weining and the previously heard from Sean K. Reynolds. By popular understanding, Reynolds is back in the LGG to describe Wee Jas on page 187. His description is notably inconsistent in significant measure with his own prior description of Wee Jas in The Scarlet Brotherhood. In pertinent part, he describes Wee Jas, now changing divine status for the fourth time, back to an intermediate goddess:

“[Wee Jas] promotes the utilization of spells and magic items (though many of her Suel followers insist she favors the creation of such things). She gained her death aspect when the survivors of the Rain of Colorless Fire looked to their goddess of magic for assurance that the dead were being escorted to the afterworld… Her clerics must get her permission before restoring a weak or chaotic being to life.”

Wee Jas has been demoted in pure divine status. She is now less than even a divine magical craftsperson, as she now is just a goddess of magical “utilization.” She is again concerned with the fate of the dead and not death, per se. She is then significantly subordinated to both Boccob and Nerull, simultaneously, for the first time. Wee Jas is at her lowest ebb. Sargent’s limitations in From the Ashes, Reynolds’ limitations from The Scarlet Brotherhood and even Lakofka’s “consultation” requirement all appear together, exacerbated by the aforementioned further diminution of her relationship to the magic domain.

The only upside to this low watermark is the bizarre manner in which it has been arrived at. Four significantly distinguishable versions of Wee Jas, who has at the same time gone from greater goddess to intermediate goddess to greater goddess and back to intermediate goddess. There can be no logic to such a parade of incarnations. Indeed, all the changes made to diminish Wee Jas are never explained, with the possible exception of Wee Jas, described in the LGG, with respect to the death domain, but even that appears out of whole cloth. And that is most damning. In each instance noted, facts about Wee Jas were just made up with more or less disregard for what had gone before. The overall effect of diminishing Wee Jas as compared to Boccob and Nerull under these circumstances raises an all but obvious question - what is going on here?

Obviously, Wee Jas is being diminished by fits and starts. Why? The inconsistency of the attempts to define and redefine Wee Jas, coupled with the consistent downward spiral is more than suspicious. It is damning. There can be no “logical” explanation under these circumstances. The only explanation is the most obvious. There is a desire, evident over multiple products and years, to see Wee Jas subordinated to Boccob and Nerull, also deities of magic and death, who, respectively, have seen nothing like the gyrations Wee Jas has been put through. Gygax’s description of Wee Jas, substantially supported by Lakofka’s work, has been found wanting and has been systematically chipped away until we are left with the Wee Jas of the LGG, a shadow of the Wee Jas described by Gygax and Lakofka.

That Sargent was influenced by the Gord the Rogue books is obvious from a reading of his Greyhawk products. It seems likely then (though not a certainty) a false premise that Boccob and Nerull enjoy a pride of place over Wee Jas has been erroneously drawn from the Gord novels, as described in the beginning of this article. The result has been the systematic attempts to “put Wee Jas in her place” - subordinate to both Nerull and Boccob. Reynolds’ works have largely either followed suit or simply ignored consistency, the descriptions of Wee Jas in just Reynolds’ works not even agreeing.

This is bad Greyhawk scholarship and worse game material. But the story does not end with but Wee Jas’ 1 through 4.

Third Edition

Any discussion of 3rd Ed. Greyhawk is problematic. Living Greyhawk is a unique creature of the RPGA and is intended to function for the RPGA. Greyhawk, more generally, is the “core” or “default” setting for 3rd Ed., however, the efforts of 3rd Ed. designers to use Greyhawk as more than a source of names is inconsistent, depending on the author and the product.

Wee Jas has been significantly developed in 3rd Ed., as distinct from Living Greyhawk, but the question remains whether this should be considered the Wee Jas of Greyhawk or simply a deity with the same name. This article will finesse the question, looking at the basic description of Wee Jas in 3rd Ed., but avoiding discussion of subsequent 3rd Ed. developments of Wee Jas where her statistics are not specifically set out. A list of these sources will, however, be provided.

While Wee Jas is described in both 3rd Ed. Player’s Handbooks, that description is very abbreviated. Wee Jas is first described at any length in 3rd Ed. in the Deities and Demigods book at pages 96-97. In pertinent part, it is said of Wee Jas that she is an intermediate deity and that:

“Wee Jas promotes using spells and magic items (though many of her followers insist she favors the creation of such things).”

This description obviously echoes that found in The Scarlet Brotherhood, except that there, Wee Jas was a greater goddess. This description also echoes that of the LGG, except that the restrictions regarding her death portfolio are not repeated. There is thus yet another Wee Jas variation.

In addition to the 3rd Ed. Deities and Demigods description, Wee Jas is described in the following 3rd Ed. books in some detail but without game statistics:

Manual of the Planes at pg. 127 (description of Cabal Macabre, focus on death and magic)

Complete Divine at pg. 119 (focus on death and magic), pgs. 100-101 (description of Wee Jas’ relics ruby blade and scrolls of uncertain provenance, focus on undead and connection between life and death).

Complete Arcane at pg. 188 (comparison of Boccob and Wee Jas, noting Wee Jas as a “darker” deity, but no power comparison).

Beyond these entries, there are a number of lesser 3rd Ed. sources of information on Wee Jas that will not be discussed because they, much like the entries in Zavoda’s Index, are minor.

What then, at the end of the day, are we left with?

Wee Jas, Goddess of Many Aspects

What follows is a tabular look at each version of Wee Jas that allows for a quick comparison.

Wee Jas (The Original) - WJ1
Authored By - E. Gary Gygax
Deity Status - Greater Goddess
Alignment - LN
Domains/Portfolio - Magic and Death
Restrictions on Magic Domain - None
Restrictions on Death Domain - None

Wee Jas (Dragon #88) - WJ2
Authored By - Len Lakofka
Deity Status - Greater Goddess
Alignment - LN
Domains/Portfolio - Magic and Death
Restrictions on Magic Domain - None
Restrictions on Death Domain - Minor

Wee Jas (From the Ashes) - WJ3
Authored By - Carl Sargent
Deity Status - Intermediate Goddess
Alignment – LN (LE)
Domain/Portfolio - Magic and Death
Restrictions on Magic Domain - None
Restrictions on Death Domain - Major

Wee Jas (The Scarlet Brotherhood) - WJ4
Authored By Sean K. Reynolds
Deity Status - Greater Goddess
Alignment – LN (LE)
Domain/Portfolio - Magic, Death, Vanity, Law (Witches)
Restrictions on Magic Domain - Major
Restrictions on Death Domain - None

Wee Jas (Living Greyhawk Gazetteer) - WJ5
Authored By - Sean K. Reynolds
Deity Status - Intermediate Goddess
Alignment – LN (LE)
Domain/Portfolio - Magic, Death, Vanity, Law (Witches)
Restrictions on Magic Domain - Major
Restrictions on Death Domain - Major

Wee Jas (Deities & Demigods 3rd Ed.) - WJ6
Authored By - Rich Redman, Skip Williams, James Wyatt
Deity Status - Intermediate Goddess
Alignment - LN
Domain/Portfolio - Magic, Death, Vanity, Law (Witches)
Restrictions on Magic Domain - Major
Restrictions on Death Domain - None

There are six versions of Wee Jas. No two are alike when deity status and restrictions on Wee Jas’ chief domains of magic and death are compared.

What other figure in Greyhawk has seen so many inconsistent variations? None. The question is obvious, made more so by the sheer number of variations, if nothing else. Why Wee Jas? The answer is just as obvious by a look at the roster of major Greyhawk Deities – Wee Jas has the combined portfolios of both Boccob and Nerull and she is a goddess of the Suel, a more than significant people in Greyhawk’s history. She simply cannot be ignored. Why then the restrictions? The answer again is obvious.

Put benignly, there has been felt a need to distinguish Wee Jas from Boccob and Nerull. But that begs the question. Why tinker with Wee Jas, while Boccob and Nerull are left undisturbed? Why should restrictions be placed on Wee Jas and her divine status lowered, while nothing comparable is done to Boccob and Nerull? The answer would seem to be that Wee Jas is more amenable to such modifications because she is not as important or central to Greyhawk as Boccob and Nerull. Again, the question is begged, how is that conclusion reached?

The Gord the Rogue novels are the only Greyhawk material that might lead one to the conclusion that Wee Jas is not as important or central to Greyhawk as Boccob and Nerull because Wee Jas does not appear in the novels and Boccob and Nerull do. Yet, arriving at this conclusion from the Gord novels is erroneous, sloppy thinking.

As has been noted, the Gord novels told a story to which Wee Jas, being a Suel goddess, was not central. That Boccob and Nerull appeared speaks to the needs of the story, not the Greyhawk setting in general. To draw conclusions of the importance of Greyhawk deities based on the Gord the Rogue novels (1) would be to use them for a purpose they were never intended to serve; (2) would ignore the difference between writing fiction and writing game material and; (3) would have extreme consequences for the World of Greyhawk if this faulty logic were applied to other than just Wee Jas. Reasoning from the Gord the Rogue novels to attempt to justify what has been done to Wee Jas is transparent, garbage reasoning that demonstrates at best a willful ignorance of the faults of such reasoning.

But, being charitable, if the Gord the Rogue hypothesis does not explain the origin of Wee Jas’ treatment, what does? The various authors who have addressed Wee Jas just did not do their homework or did not care? Possibly. But given the sheer number of times Wee Jas has been “defined” unlike any other deity, this seems far fetched.

So, if it is not the Gord hypothesis and its not poor authoring, then what is the explanation? And there must be an explanation because the number of incidents is so great. This is not a case of one, two or three variations, but six! Explain it! Not Gord? Okay. Not poor authorship? Okay. Then what?

Well, if we look at the Gygax roster of gods in the 1983 boxed set and compare that listing to the roster of gods in From the Ashes (Powers of Greyhawk Reference Card) a funny thing appears. From the Ashes demoted every greater deity of Suel extraction to intermediate status. In From the Ashes, there are no Suel greater deities. Wow. Ever noticed that before? So, maybe that explains Wee Jas’ treatment, at least in From the Ashes, although it does not explain her later, continued treatment.

But, let us consider this: does the demotion of every Suel god or goddess of greater status, per Gygax to intermediate status, per Sargent, make any sense? I think the answer is clearly, very clearly, “No.” The Suel, as described as an ancient people and as described as a people post-Migration, are clearly not so insignificant or so absorbed or extinguished or degenerate that all of their deities are intermediate deities at best. There is nothing to support this kind of a radical reevaluation of the Suel.

While there are various unquantified statements scattered throughout Greyhawk sources that Suel deities, including Wee Jas, are not much worshiped, this would not be sufficient explanation without some greater explanation and quantification. Taking just Wee Jas, her temples are found from the lands of the former Great Kingdom to the City of Greyhawk to Keoland. No exact numbers are ever given, but the sheer numbers of references to Wee Jas’ temples and worship (particularly funerary rites, and Greyhawk sees lots of deaths) is at odds with the notion that she, or any other Suel deity, does not have many worshippers. What is more, there is no certain relationship between a deity’s status and number of worshipers. This has been a hotly debated topic that has seen several variant sets of rules throughout the editions. In short, no help here.

So, summing up, the Gord hypothesis is a nonstarter with more than a cursory examination. The poor author hypothesis seems overly farfetched. The inferior Suel hypothesis also doesn’t seem to hold water. Why has Wee Jas been “redefined” to limit her as compared to Boccob and Nerull, then? We now have an answer - for no good reason. There is no good reason for Wee Jas’ inconsistent and continual redefinitions. What has happened from From the Ashes on is simply unjustified and wrong. Bad Greyhawk scholarship. Bad game design. Bad canon.

Wee Jas should be considered a greater goddess equally powerful with respect to the magic domain as Boccob and with respect to the death domain as Nerull. From the Ashes is so obviously riddled with poor thought with respect to all deities (see Suel hypothesis) and with special respect to Wee Jas (deviating radically from WJ1 and WJ2 with no rationale) that its “canon” in this regard, and all that follows in its footsteps, is so suspect that it must be rejected as founded on no solid footing.

There is no “canon” Wee Jas after From the Ashes. There are merely multiple inconsistent treatments for which there is no reasoned explanation. These inconsistencies are offensive to rational consideration of Greyhawk, in their own way, ever as much as the tales of Estarius Rose, Childsplay or Puppets.

End of story, in my opinion.


"
 
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Re: WeeJas Dissected Part II (Score: 1)
by Phoebus on Tue, March 29, 2005
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I don't think its out of line to say the majority of Suel powers suffered after the destruction of the Suel Empire. Its also been stated that Boccob as the greater deity of magic doesn't rely on number of worshipers for status. I think it only makes sense that Wee Jas should be a lesser deity when compared to Nerull and Boccob. It certainly isn't out of line for her portfolio to change after the destruction of the Suel Imperium if for no other reason than her worshippers can no longer be primarily Suel but come from all the Flanaess. In my opinion she fills a niche as a deity that dabbles with the undead but isn't evil, except when related to the Scarlet Brotherhood of course. Just my thoughts on the subject. Anyone who has read Sargent's books knows that inconsistencies abound and the writers since have done their best to unravel most of them.



Re: WeeJas Dissected Part II (Score: 1)
by cwslyclgh on Tue, March 29, 2005
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Did you ever read the write up on Wee Jas in the planescape book "On hallowed Ground", it might shed some further light on the situation, although I can not remember much about it off the top of my head.



Re: WeeJas Dissected Part II (Score: 1)
by ephealy on Thu, April 20, 2006
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Glenn, Great article! I've enjoyed reading all three, but wanted to come here and comment on the difference between WJ1 and WJ2 (above). For all intents and purposes, WJ2 can be considered the first WJ. Gygax didn't expand on Wee Jas in the '83 box set, simply listing her in the table on page 63 (AFAIK).

There are only two differences between WJ1 and WJ2. As you point out, WJ2 has a minor restriction on her Death domain powers. The other is that WJ1 is LN while WJ2 is listed as LN(E). I thought I'd mention the latter, as your list, above, has WJ2 as LN. It would appear the LN(E) alignment for Wee Jas goes back to Dragon 88.

At any rate, it's a great article. Keep up the good work!




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