View Full Version : (Campaign Help) Plot twists about Gods

2012-07-08, 12:49 AM
In my campaign, the major villain is a priest who once was just and kind, but has now gone insane. The reason for his madness? I'm not sure yet. I was hoping you guys could help me out.

Basically, I'm trying to think of the revelation or discovery that would be the most devastating to a devout priest. Something so shocking it would drive him to attempt to destroy the entire world.

My ideas right now are A): Priest learns that there are no gods. This, while shocking, is not very creative; and B): Priest learns that he and everyone in the universe is not real and only a character in a roleplaying game. This option, unless I handled it really well, would be too goofy to take seriously, I think.

TL;DR: What's the most shocking discovery a priest could make about his gods?

2012-07-08, 01:07 AM
Adapted from my setting:

The gods are a race of sufficiently advanced aliens that didn't make the universe, don't think of themselves as gods, and in fact regard worshippers as something like a hamster: cute for kids ("immature" gods), but ultimately pointless. All the power he and other priests have been getting from worship and meditation is actually the overflow from a damaged communications device that the gods sent to tell mortals to knock it off. The inspirational dreams and visions that some people get are fragments of the device's message, trying to get them to quit with the blind worship, already--but unfortunately garbled from when the device crashed. The high priest has recently excavated the device, read the hard copy of the message that was enclosed with it, and gone mad because his god essentially told him to buzz off.

2012-07-08, 01:49 PM
1) The "Good" gods are really Evil. The "Evil" gods are really Good. The "Good" gods had successfully garbled the Message to gain power since more beings would worship the "Good".

2) There are no gods. The Churches are from an ancient cabal set up to gain power after successfully siphoning off "divine" magic from the arcane weave. The priest discovered this after starting his inquiry on why wizards and clerics can cast some of the same spells.

3) Tharizdun escaped but only got as far as inhabiting the priest. One final ritual is needed for true freedom. Binding magic is suspected.

2012-07-08, 02:37 PM
A sort of combination of a couple above me that I've wanted to do:

The gods as people know them that have been ruling for the past centuries are actually just powerful evil beings masquerading as gods while the REAL gods are away somewhere. When the real gods start returning, they are painted as ancient evils that must be destroyed, when really all they're doing is trying to find out what the heck happened to the world they created.

2012-07-08, 02:52 PM
1. God is leaving. What we think of as heaven is actually a prison. When the gods have acquired enough mana from their worshippers, they will break out of their bonds and abandon their followers forever, taking all divine magic with them. Better to destroy the world and doom the gods forever than let them do that to the faithful.

2. God is dead. A demon or elder god or profane nasty killed this god years ago. Divine magic bestowed on his followers is just a residual effect that will last as long as the thing that killed the god continues to feast on his corpse. Better to destroy the world (and possibly the god-killer) than let the faithful realize what has happened.

3. God is the matrix. This god is actually trapped in a diminished and/or unconscious state, and if/when he wakes the world will simply fade away. Better to let this false world pass into oblivion than let the god be less than everything he can be.

Frenth Alunril
2012-07-08, 03:05 PM
The priest was somehow failed by their god, a close friend died as a result.

Another god, or a demon has hijacked the priests faith and understandings of the faith and now the priest is acting out to gain favor of this new god.

A few more casual ideas are the simple things that happen in the real world, hate, bigotry, and murder in the name of god through the devaluation of non believers.

2012-07-08, 05:13 PM
I have a few that i have used:

1) It is a divine secret that a person can worship an Ideal and gain cleric powers rather than worship a God. If people discovered this they would no longer need the gods so they kept it covered up. The preist discovered a thousand year old conspiracy and it drove him insane. When I did this campaign a group of mindflayers had used a device to give him this revelation that drove him insane. The mind flayers were trying to make people revolt against the churches to create unrest before a massive invasion.

2)The Gods have gifted the mortals magic to make them technologically stagnant. This prevents them from ever gaining enough power to challenge the Gods. The gods in this setting also turned out to be mind flayer aliens who would harvest all of the sentient beings on the planet every few years to maintain their race...

3) The homebrew Gods of the world's good religion were actually trapping humans on the material plane and feeding off their suffering. They inserted things like age, disease and strife to keep themselves well satiated. The demon and devil lords were actually the archangels who opposed the gluttony of those in heaven. The players wound up joining Demogorgon's war and invading the upper planes. I invented this campaign because one of my players complained he never fought good outsiders, and other members of my group enjoyed playing good characters who would never do such a thing

2012-07-08, 07:01 PM
Thanks, everyone. I like these ideas a lot, and I'd love to hear more.

The direction I think I want to head now is one where the PCs face a legitimate moral dilemma in stopping the priest. As in, the 'World Domination/Destruction' scenario posed by the priest is not necessarily worse than maintaining the status quo. I especially like the 'Gods lying to their followers' angle that some suggested.

2012-07-08, 07:08 PM
Good won. All Evil has been destroyed. The multiverse is collapsing into the essence of Good, which is oblivion. Mortals, having free will, still commit acts of evil which is why the world hasn't been affected yet but it has started.

1) The priest wants to hasten oblivion.

2) The last vestiges of Evil essence have stored themselves in the priest, trying to turn the priest into a new Evil to prevent oblivion.

3) The priest realizes there needs to be Evil for there to be existence. Oblivion is to be avoided. The priest willfully starts a new Evil.

2012-07-08, 07:08 PM
People who die of old age can't be resurrected because what is actually happening as one ages is that one's soul is falling apart. The only way to make a soul survive death is premature death. So to make sure everyone gets an afterlife, the best thing is to kill everyone before they die of old age.

2012-07-09, 03:32 AM
It sounds like a perfect opportunity to introduce Pelor, the burning Hate (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19558798/Pelor_the_Burning_Hate?no_redir=1).

2012-07-09, 04:59 AM
Good won. All Evil has been destroyed. The multiverse is collapsing into the essence of Good, which is oblivion. Mortals, having free will, still commit acts of evil which is why the world hasn't been affected yet but it has started.

1) The priest wants to hasten oblivion.

2) The last vestiges of Evil essence have stored themselves in the priest, trying to turn the priest into a new Evil to prevent oblivion.

3) The priest realizes there needs to be Evil for there to be existence. Oblivion is to be avoided. The priest willfully starts a new Evil.

That's a bit similar to my idea: which was that the good gods created evil simply so they would have something to give their good contrast. The fact that every single atrocity and gibbering horror was caused simply so that we could appreciate good would be the ultimate hypocrisy, and would very quickly eat at all hope.

A setting idea I had was that all souls, good and evil, would end up being locked into a box for eternity and endless probed for knowledge by the gods, with no escape until they were completely drained of knowledge and self awareness, eventually just being a wisp of existence.

Another idea is that all of reality is just an endless cycle, with no hope of permanent afterlife or reward or death of evil, with just constant revolving relentlessness: sort of like the Hindu/Buddhist idea of reincarnation. Now, take away any ability to cesstiate your existence and end the cycle, unlike in those religions, and watch the madness set in.

Or perhaps you prefer the more meta perspective: namely, that no-one, not even the gods, knows what happens after death and there is no way of finding out.

2012-07-09, 06:01 AM
1) The priest was formerly part of a pogram hunting down the descendants of the God's greatest enemy however since starting his new post he has uncovered undeniable proof that his entire faith betrayed their god and have been hunting down the descendants of the last surviving Angel whom sealed away the rest of his brethren when they turned evil and if they succeed in slaying the last of this Angel's remaining descendants all of the evil he imprisoned at the cost of his own life will be freed and the term hell on earth has nothing on what they will do once free...

2) He has learned that all of his gods are literary inventions from a far older time and that the enemy he's fighting are actually malformed humans who fought for the gods the last time...

3) He has been confronted by the last surviving Angel, the literal Angel of Death who has returned mightily p***ed because his fellows have been murdering the descandants of both his family and those loyal to their God all because the Priest's leadership has sought to steal their place at God's side even though they have no idea why they're so important (see 1)

4) It is actually possible for mortals to become gods through their deeds and the beliefs of the people who believe in them, the Priest has discovered that the true history of a particular god is that of a Serbian Sniper who fought against a particularly nasty and vile Imperial foe at the cost of her family and friends to which she chose to create an organisation to protect her fellow humanity striving to retain lost knowledge and help those who can't help themselves however the priest who is seeking to discredit this particular faith has realised that the enemy she fought still exists and has been eliminating her faithful in preparation for another invasion and he has as a result caused his people's own inevitable defeat and eventual slavery and worse and unable to hide from his own actions has gone quite mad...

5) The Priest has learned that his own God has perished and that he unknowingly had a hand in the deed and unable to cope with this revelation has gone quite mad...

6) The Priest isn't insane, he's the only one who has retained their sanity after an event caused everybody else to go mad. Since he knows this fact he is striving to find a way to either cure the people who keep trying to break in and either kill him or make him as mad as they are or contemplate the fact the world as he knows is gone...

2012-07-09, 06:27 AM
After learning that his people were in great peril from an advancing enemy he sought a vision from his god and learnt...

1) His god sent an Angel millennia ago to establish a bloodline to help his worshippers against such a foe,
2) All that remains of that bloodline was a single adult male and his daughter,
3) He personally arranged the death of said adult male and had his daughter enslaved and thrown into the arms of his faith's greatest enemy,
4) This morning the decapitated heads of the greatest heroes of his land, his faith and anyone he could call for help was dropped on his doorstep,
5) The only surviving member of his God's specially prepared bloodline is leading the enemy forces and she left a note with the heads from 4 letting him know exactly who she is, what he did and why he has absolutely no hope left...
6) Going mad was his only means to deal with the above...

2012-07-09, 06:33 AM
His god died aeons ago and he tried to help them by establishing a bloodline so they would have help when they needed it except because he wanted to avoid them being identified and slain or corrupted he tried to keep their identities a secret.
However his faith decided it would work better if they weeded out those they considered flawed and have been working to wipe out that bloodline such that now they're needed the priest has discovered he was personally responsible for pretty much either killing or doing far worse to the last surviving members of his God's chosen champions and as a result he knows there is no hope for any of them!

2012-07-09, 06:35 AM
He's learned that his religion is actually false and that all of the bad stuff happening to his people is because members of his faith have been experimenting with powers man was not supposed to tamper with since they have no real power otherwise!

2012-07-09, 08:52 AM
How about there is no positive or negative energy plane, just positive and negative energy, it is part of every creature in the multiverse. Positive and Negative energy are finite. They do not expand, increase or whatever.

When a cleric/paladin/whatever, draws on positive energy to heal or fight undead, they are in fact drawing power from existing living creatures. When you heal one creature, you harm another. If you use positive energy to raise the dead, you must use a lot of positive energy and this always results in someone else, somewhere, dying.

When a cleric/blackguard/whatever, drawson negative energy to inflict or create undead etc, they are infact drawing negative energy from existing creatures. This sounds good, but negative energy is the opposite of positive energy, where postive is life force, negative is actually the soul. Therefore, the use of negative energy destroys living creatures souls.

The Gods are actually completely ambivalent to their worshippers, probably don't even know that they exist. Divine Spellcasters think that the Gods are actually gifting them spells, but Clerics really just use a different kind of magic. It isn't divine so much as life and soul force magic.

The cleric is/has gone mad, because he has discovered this terrible secret. As a long time user of positive energy, he is aghast at the harm he may have wreaked.

Dire Panda
2012-07-09, 10:25 AM
It's a common fantasy trope that gods' power levels are influenced by how much worship they receive. What if you were to explore the mechanics of this process? Specifically, why do they draw souls to their particular afterlives... and why can't you resurrect\speak with someone who's been dead for too long? Are the gods using them as fuel?

My last campaign used a variant of this idea - the gods of the present age were essentially parasites on the primal deity, the actual creator of the cosmos and source of all magic. They were once powerful mortal mages who discovered that the original god (who by this point had been asleep for billions of years) had only spawned the universe so that it could devour the souls of whatever sentient life evolved, and had in fact done this to millions of previous universes. They decided to maintain the status quo by feeding it just enough souls to keep it asleep... which necessitated attaching themselves to the sleeping god's spirit. Now they had abilities beyond any mortal (since they were siphoning directly from the source of magic) and could regulate how many souls reached it. The afterlives they created for their worshipers were more or less waiting rooms for consumption, explaining why creatures that have been dead too long couldn't be raised. As you can imagine, the gods spared no effort to keep this a secret.

This sort of setup would mesh nicely with your desire for a moral dilemma. Do you let the soul harvest continue to maintain the status quo, or do you try to find another solution - which would risk letting "That Which is Mother and Devourer" awaken and consume the cosmos? (My players eventually chose the latter and destroyed the primal god with a time paradox... but I made them work for it!)

Man on Fire
2012-07-09, 11:58 AM
Asura's Wrath threw a simple one at the beginign of the game.

At very begining of the game Asura is framed in murdering emperor of demigods and then killed by real murderer, Deus, who takes over with his six allies.

Then game jumps foward 12000 years and tells us a myth that had spreaded on the Earth. In this myth Asura is potrayed as power-hungry, bloodthirsty evil god with three heads, who murdered belevolent emperor and went on murder sphree and seven dieties that betrayed him are potrayed as belevolent gods who descend from the heavens and threw evil god into depths of hell.

Imagine how suprised would be leader of evil cult once he frees god of evil and darkness only to find out that his god isn't evil, doesn't want to bring out the apocalypse and doesn't even have three heads. And imagine the face of good preist once he finds that out what lying jerks his gods really are.