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    Default Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    That the created pantheons in D&D are rubbish is hardly surprising, but they continue to be annoying, especially when dealing with the demi-human races. The influence of religion on society is well known, but nothing seems to have trickled through to roleplaying. So, to start fixing that:

    Religion and social norms:
    The starting point, especially for the head of a pantheon, is establishing and protecting social norms: what it means to *be* a member of that society. Thus dwarves and dour combat monsters: so why, exactly do dwarven gods have elemental Domains? Those domains have a special ability dependant on *charisma*, the least dwarven stat.
    Meanwhile, even dwarven NPC classes, the Warrior and Aristocrat, have access to the Dwarven Waraxe and Urgrosh. Why are dwarven clerics running around with hammers and handaxes? The bleat "play balance" doesn't cut it - that's a metagame reason. These gods don't (and can't) give a stuff about play balance, they want their race to prosper. Play balance is a design question that can be dealt with later (especially given Dwarven clerics are already nobbled by their poorer ablity to Turn). There should be two Dwarven war gods with the War domain, one specializing in each weapon. Similarly there should be a Gnomish war god for the gnome hooked hammer. (Artifice should also be a standard Dwarven & Gnomish Domain, adding to their Craft skills).
    Halflings are slightly more interesting: "what it means to be a Halfling" is basically "I am very, very good at throwing rocks". That puts 3 Domains up as interesting: Earth, Fire and War. All provide spells (Fire Seeds, Magic Stone, Produce Flame, possibly Spiritual Weapon) that benefit from the Halfling racial bonuses.

    Counter-culture:
    Characters who reject social norms though also need a social position. Dwarves are non-magical lawful goods, to their Adversary deity is logically CE with the Magic Domain. More interestingly, elves are magical chaotic archers - making the Monk class as far from standard as imaginable. However, LN characters consider themselves part of society, and are loyal to it: so the Adversary for the elves would insist that he is CG, because elves are CG; and strive to ensure that spontaneity is appropriately planned for and lightheartedness rigidly enforced. Such an Adversary would probably claim the title of Patron of Festivals, and seek to push elves to celebrate anniversaries regularly and so forth. His Cleric and Monk followers would have the Perform skill of course, "we're elves!"

    Teaching/compensating for weakness:
    Humans are incredibly deadly sex maniacs, which is why our most successful religions teach peacefulness and fidelity. We don't need religion to teach us how to be violent or lustful; but unless we can control our impulses society collapses. Other races would have similar needs:
    Dwarves are lawful (few bards) and have a charisma hit, making diplomacy difficult. As such they need a specific diplomacy deity, providing the Knowledge and Trickery Domains (to gain the synergy bonuses from Knowledge(Nobility and royalty) and Bluff respectively) and the Charm, Community & Mind Domains.
    Elves are longlived with a Constitution hit: making injury/death a big deal. Healing and Protection are major issues.
    Halflings are weaklings who live underground, making the ability to shift rubble vital: Strength Domain.
    Nothing to see here, citizen...

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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by whitelaughter View Post
    Religion and social norms:
    The starting point, especially for the head of a pantheon, is establishing and protecting social norms: what it means to *be* a member of that society. Thus dwarves and dour combat monsters: so why, exactly do dwarven gods have elemental Domains? Those domains have a special ability dependant on *charisma*, the least dwarven stat.
    This is likely because dwarves believe that their gods made them out of metal or stone, and thus they have an affinity for those elements as well as the element of fire that allows them to shape metal and the element of air for the thunder and lightning that supposedly tie in with their status as the "Norse" race in D&D.
    Meanwhile, even dwarven NPC classes, the Warrior and Aristocrat, have access to the Dwarven Waraxe and Urgrosh. Why are dwarven clerics running around with hammers and handaxes? The bleat "play balance" doesn't cut it - that's a metagame reason. These gods don't (and can't) give a stuff about play balance, they want their race to prosper. Play balance is a design question that can be dealt with later (especially given Dwarven clerics are already nobbled by their poorer ablity to Turn). There should be two Dwarven war gods with the War domain, one specializing in each weapon.
    Again, the reason for hammers is because the dwarves are viewed simultaneously as a race of smiths and a race of Vikings. So the hammer is used by their priests because that's what the gods used to make them, and it is the weapon Thor (or his equivalent) uses to make the thunder roar. It's not about play balance, it's about flavor. You're right that the gods don't give a whoop about balance, but play balance isn't what the pantheons are designed around. And the weaker ability to turn because of low Charisma is another reason. Should we assume that dwarves simply CAN'T be priests because they're not as persuasive as other races? No. That's not why any race takes the cleric class. They do it because they are a devout servant of their god. The bit with the flashy lights that make undead burn are just a bonus. This seems less like an argument for altering the pantheon to be a more realistic religion and more about making religion conform to the racial bonuses, which isn't very efficient. Yes, there should be a reason for dwarves to have what they have, but you don't need to shoehorn two war gods into their pantheon just so their clerics can use the weapons that dwarves get as martial weapons. The whole reason clerics don't get martial weapons to begin with is because they don't train for combat as often or with as many diverse weapons as a fighter or paladin. They spend time in prayer and contemplation, channeling their god's will.
    Similarly there should be a Gnomish war god for the gnome hooked hammer. (Artifice should also be a standard Dwarven & Gnomish Domain, adding to their Craft skills).
    This runs into the same problem as I spoke of with the dwarves. The pantheon doesn't need to conform to the racial bonuses. The gnomes have a mythology, and while the hooked hammer is a weapon that is unmistakeably gnomic, not all gnomes wield it.
    Halflings are slightly more interesting: "what it means to be a Halfling" is basically "I am very, very good at throwing rocks". That puts 3 Domains up as interesting: Earth, Fire and War. All provide spells (Fire Seeds, Magic Stone, Produce Flame, possibly Spiritual Weapon) that benefit from the Halfling racial bonuses.
    "I am very good at chucking rocks" is not the sole reason for the existence of halflings. They are the cunning and small race, that you don't notice until they make off with your wallet. They show monumental courage despite their small frame. They don't seem to have a mean bone in their body, but they'll have you begging for mercy if you think you can pick on them. You're mistaking racial bonuses, which are something that a race has a knack for, for indelible elements of their society.
    Counter-culture:
    Characters who reject social norms though also need a social position. Dwarves are non-magical lawful goods, to their Adversary deity is logically CE with the Magic Domain.
    Not all religions have a monolithic adverserial figure. Take the Greek pantheon, for example. The gods bickered amongst themselves sometimes and allied at others, but there was no singular god responsible for everything wrong and evil in ancient Greek culture. And the dwarven resistance to magic doesn't mean they hate it. It could mean to them that it represents the immutability of the elements from which they came, a mark of pride that shows once again how tough dwarvenkind are. It could be a natural byproduct of their evolution. Furthermore, dwarves do employ magic of their own, mainly concerned with the creation of magical items. Like I said, they're considered a race of smiths, and thus they'd know that a magical blade will be even better than the best one forged by mundane means.
    More interestingly, elves are magical chaotic archers - making the Monk class as far from standard as imaginable. However, LN characters consider themselves part of society, and are loyal to it: so the Adversary for the elves would insist that he is CG, because elves are CG; and strive to ensure that spontaneity is appropriately planned for and lightheartedness rigidly enforced. Such an Adversary would probably claim the title of Patron of Festivals, and seek to push elves to celebrate anniversaries regularly and so forth. His Cleric and Monk followers would have the Perform skill of course, "we're elves!"
    The elves already have an adverserial figure in their mythology though, the orcs. The orc god, if we're going by Greyhawk's pantheon, has always been the rival and enemy of the chief elven god because he seeks to destroy and conquer the pristine lands and innocent peoples the elves consider themselves protectors of. They also have the drow and their goddess, who was once an elf goddess herself before her corruption. Being counter-culture does not mean being the exact opposite of prevailing opinions. An elf who rejects traditional elven standards might prefer to live in the city instead of the forest, or one who advocates negotiation with the traditional elven enemies instead of shooting them on sight.
    Teaching/compensating for weakness:
    Humans are incredibly deadly sex maniacs, which is why our most successful religions teach peacefulness and fidelity. We don't need religion to teach us how to be violent or lustful; but unless we can control our impulses society collapses. Other races would have similar needs:
    Impulse control is a vital part of society, but we seem to do it just fine without mystical corrections for it. Free will is a potent thing.
    Dwarves are lawful (few bards) and have a charisma hit, making diplomacy difficult. As such they need a specific diplomacy deity, providing the Knowledge and Trickery Domains (to gain the synergy bonuses from Knowledge(Nobility and royalty) and Bluff respectively) and the Charm, Community & Mind Domains.
    Do dwarves necessarily need something like this? They don't LIKE dealing with other races, and prefer to be left alone. The only domain that seems necessarily dwarven is Community, as dwarves place a high value on clan and kin.
    Elves are longlived with a Constitution hit: making injury/death a big deal. Healing and Protection are major issues.
    Except in the culture we see in the books, Elves generally have a respect and love for life in general, not just their own. They aren't afraid of dying from wounds and such. They feel it's natural and there are more important things to focus on.
    Halflings are weaklings who live underground, making the ability to shift rubble vital: Strength Domain.
    Not in D&D. They're more like the Roma (Gypsies), travelling from town to town in painted carts.

    What you seem to be suggesting is that a race's religion should synergize with the races strengths and shore up its weaknesses with magic. I don't think that's the way to view it. Elves and dwarves and halflings have myths that define who they are as a people, but that doesn't mean all elves and dwarves and halfings decided to use magic to make themselves equal and needed specific gods to help facilitate this. The weaknesses of a race are just as important as the strengths in defining them. It's what spurs them to work together with each other towards common goals. A halfling can't clear rubble? He gets his dwarf neighbor to help. An elf needs to get a festival going? She asks a human acquaintance to help organize it. They don't even need the gods to help them do it.

    I may be wrong, but your issue seems to be less with the way the pantheons are portrayed and more with how the racial bonuses and penalties of various races doesn't necessarily correlate with the flavor text about them.
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2011-08-23 at 01:53 AM.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    This runs into the same problem as I spoke of with the dwarves. The pantheon doesn't need to conform to the racial bonuses. The gnomes have a mythology, and while the hooked hammer is a weapon that is unmistakeably gnomic, not all gnomes wield it.
    The racial bonuses are part of the world. Dwarves are meant to get CON bonuses because their short, stocky and tough--therefore, due to their self-awareness that they are tough and short and stocky, their culture would reflect this.

    There is the question, of course, of whether DnD cultures make their own gods, or whether their gods made them...
    In the former case, it means Dwarves would have gods that suited what they liked, and if they wanted a deity of everything they disliked to put blame on they'd make one--if they didn't want any bad deities, they wouldn't have any.
    For the latter example, it would mean reverse-engineering dwarves to work out what their gods are like. Stuff like assuming the gods would make dwarves similar to themselves, so the deities shouldn't be tall, slender, beautiful charismatic types like elves. From then on, it relies heavily on understanding dwarven culture, then coming to conclusions as to what philosophical reason the dwarves are like this here, and how it stems from their pantheon. -- Remember of course, that people don't always follow their religious faith properly. There're plenty of examples in the Bible and other religions of people making their God or gods mad, sometimes continually (so, maybe dwarves are meant to not drink, but they drink all the time..).


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    "I am very good at chucking rocks" is not the sole reason for the existence of halflings. They are the cunning and small race, that you don't notice until they make off with your wallet. They show monumental courage despite their small frame. They don't seem to have a mean bone in their body, but they'll have you begging for mercy if you think you can pick on them. You're mistaking racial bonuses, which are something that a race has a knack for, for indelible elements of their society.
    Of course, it would still make sense for the deities to reflect this affinity for throwing things (via reverse-engineering or the creation of the halfling people).


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Not all religions have a monolithic adverserial figure. Take the Greek pantheon, for example. The gods bickered amongst themselves sometimes and allied at others, but there was no singular god responsible for everything wrong and evil in ancient Greek culture. And the dwarven resistance to magic doesn't mean they hate it. It could mean to them that it represents the immutability of the elements from which they came, a mark of pride that shows once again how tough dwarvenkind are. It could be a natural byproduct of their evolution. Furthermore, dwarves do employ magic of their own, mainly concerned with the creation of magical items. Like I said, they're considered a race of smiths, and thus they'd know that a magical blade will be even better than the best one forged by mundane means.
    Also depends highly on how the DnD gods come about, as I say. If the Culture makes them, it's based on if the culture WANTS an adversarial figure. If the DnD deities made the dwarves, it's a matter of working out whether it makes sense for the dwarves to have a disliked deity based on their culture.

    Come to think of it, with their magical weapons, aren't they normally made by non-wizard dwarves? Just thinking of the Drizzt Do'Urden books where the dwarf made a magical hammer for his son-in-law a human barbarian (Wolfgar)--he was definitely no wizard. That was a novel, even if it was an official DnD-setting novel, of course, so the writer may've just taken a liberty. However, having dwarves who aren't wimpy wizards making magical weaponry does seem more in line with Norse mythology.


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    The elves already have an adverserial figure in their mythology though, the orcs. The orc god, if we're going by Greyhawk's pantheon, has always been the rival and enemy of the chief elven god because he seeks to destroy and conquer the pristine lands and innocent peoples the elves consider themselves protectors of. They also have the drow and their goddess, who was once an elf goddess herself before her corruption. Being counter-culture does not mean being the exact opposite of prevailing opinions. An elf who rejects traditional elven standards might prefer to live in the city instead of the forest, or one who advocates negotiation with the traditional elven enemies instead of shooting them on sight.
    Interesting point, that the evil figure doesn't need to be your enemy. It could be like a typical Politician, where they aren't exactly your enemy, but they are corrupting your society and leading your people into dangerous waters.


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Impulse control is a vital part of society, but we seem to do it just fine without mystical corrections for it. Free will is a potent thing.
    Remember that lack of impulse control doesn't mean destruction, you two... Look at Philadelphia, there's tons of murders. There's also a lot of rape in Africa. Neither of them have blown up, despite their lack of control (free will seems to usually be potent in the bad direction).


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Do dwarves necessarily need something like this? They don't LIKE dealing with other races, and prefer to be left alone. The only domain that seems necessarily dwarven is Community, as dwarves place a high value on clan and kin.
    Yes, this is a definite point. Generally, if they HAD a deity of Diplomacy, that'd be a sign that the dwarves WERE diplomatic (people who like to party worship gods of partying, not gods of modesty--and if they do, they'll probably ignore their religious teachings).

    Of course, in the example of the cultures making their own gods, it would make sense for the dwarves in charge - if they have enough sense and self-awareness - to try and popularize a deity or religion that encourages something dwarves lack, which they the leaders want their dwarves NOT to lack.
    In layman's terms: The dwarven leaders see dwarves have low CHR. That isn't very handy. So, they make an idol of High CHR, which they encourage their dwarves to worship. Worshipping that idol gives you +2 CHR.


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Except in the culture we see in the books, Elves generally have a respect and love for life in general, not just their own. They aren't afraid of dying from wounds and such. They feel it's natural and there are more important things to focus on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Not in D&D. They're more like the Roma (Gypsies), travelling from town to town in painted carts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    What you seem to be suggesting is that a race's religion should synergize with the races strengths and shore up its weaknesses with magic. I don't think that's the way to view it. Elves and dwarves and halflings have myths that define who they are as a people, but that doesn't mean all elves and dwarves and halfings decided to use magic to make themselves equal and needed specific gods to help facilitate this. The weaknesses of a race are just as important as the strengths in defining them. It's what spurs them to work together with each other towards common goals. A halfling can't clear rubble? He gets his dwarf neighbor to help. An elf needs to get a festival going? She asks a human acquaintance to help organize it. They don't even need the gods to help them do it.
    I always figured elves, dwarves, halflings and humans would be more racist/speciesist than that. If they get along that well, you'd probably see a lot of towns with a large mixture of races--putting into consideration different breeding rates and life-spans, of course.

    There's also the point that they mightn't be as badly off as you think--and even if they are, they'll probably manage a least as well as the Philadelphians and Africans.
    Halfling can't shift rubble? Find an easier place to dig, or become a gypsy.
    An elf needs to organize a festival? They can just do it anyway, even if it turns out a total mess.

    Further on the point, if the races couldn't see to their own basic survival needs, you would be looking at a high chance of extinction or slavery--unless its a setting where Humans, Elves, Halfling, Dwarves and etc. have always been together in a mixed culture, or at least soon enough that the elves didn't die out form lack of ability to organize.

    Whether the races need their deities to help them do stuff is really up to the fluff. Generally, I dislike the idea of the deities going out of their way to help their own people all the time--people would be way more lazy/careless/etc. if that were the case. However, you could have a setting where a race is weak militarily and they need their deity/deities to give them lots of magic to overcome their weakness, or something similar.


    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I may be wrong, but your issue seems to be less with the way the pantheons are portrayed and more with how the racial bonuses and penalties of various races doesn't necessarily correlate with the flavor text about them.
    Whether the deities created the races, or the races created their own religions, it only makes sense for their religious history to explain why they are how they are. Of course, this relates highly to how the races see themselves. Goblins who are ugly might think themselves more beautiful than elves, and have their religious history explaining why they are so beautiful.

    You need to consider falsehoods from either the creators of the religion of the deities in charge, due to this--where it might be that the Elven god created the Goblins for target practice, but the goblin deity snatched them away then told them how he was their deity who had made them because of this and that, and the reason he designed them to be such good targets for elven archers is "so-and-so".

    Of course, there could always be a third option, that it just isn't explained. The reasoning behind such might be that the deities who created the given race, don't like to give information to them. At the same time, they don't allow their race to make up their own stories and explanations for why they are how they are (people tend to do this). Or, you could have an odd culture, where no one is interested in working out why they are how they are.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    I don't think the first post is how alignment is supposed to work.
    Even when you stick strictly to how they are written in the 3.5e PHB (which really has some doubious aspects).
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Alignment doesn't really work, in general.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    It can work quite well under certain conditions. It's just that the many writers do not have a consistent concept and always contradict each other, usually without having really thought it through themselves.
    But even then, the resulting implications are not suitable for every campaign or setting. Some work better without it, while in others it really enhances things.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Mostly, the only campaign settings it works with, are the ones where there are the good guys, and the bad guys, and the guys who stay out of it--add in a few heel-face turns, maybe the bad guy going from LE to CE, and you've reached the limit.

    It's mostly a clunky, unnecessary, argumentative way of labelling a character's moral worth. The PCs can ignore any moral ambiguity with a Detect Evil spell.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Nonevil undead detect as evil.
    Nonevil fiends detect as evil.
    Nonevil clerics of evil deities detect as evil.

    The spell really isn't that much help when it comes to "ignoring moral ambiguity".
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    What it means to be a halfling:
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Nonevil undead detect as evil.
    Nonevil fiends detect as evil.
    Nonevil clerics of evil deities detect as evil.

    The spell really isn't that much help when it comes to "ignoring moral ambiguity".
    .... Non-evil fiends? That's almost an oxymoron.
    Also, how can the cleric still be under an evil deity without being evil? Surely, they'd need to use the evil version of he Repentance spell so as to reconcile themselves with their deity.

    Regardless, that does give three options for some kind of moral ambiguity..... A cultist, a demon, and a ghost... I don't think anyone would give a d**n if you killed them anyway.


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    Last edited by Conners; 2011-08-23 at 08:27 AM.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    .... Non-evil fiends?
    Like, say, a succubus paladin. Beeps in both Detect Evil and Detect Good radars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Also, how can the cleric still be under an evil deity without being evil?
    The same way you can worship a good deity without being good. Clerics have to be within one step of their deity.

    For example, of the Greyhawk cosmology, Hextor has quite a few non-evil clerics.

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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    There's also the possibility of characters who are evil, but "do not deserve to be attacked by adventurers" mentioned in Eberron Campaign Setting.

    In places like Sigil, you'll find fiends and celestials arguing on street corners.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Like, say, a succubus paladin. Beeps in both Detect Evil and Detect Good radars.

    The same way you can worship a good deity without being good. Clerics have to be within one step of their deity.

    For example, of the Greyhawk cosmology, Hextor has quite a few non-evil clerics.
    That sounds patently ridiculous. Unless of course, you use this variety of demons.

    Oh, right, one step... that also seems silly ("my deity believes in being passive and only fighting to defend yourself, because he is true neutral. However, Chaotic Evil is one step away from that, so I just go about murdering everyone with his powers." "Hey! I worship him too. It's handy, that spell he gives. I'm Lawful Good, you see, and am on a holy crusade to save everyone and interfere in everyone's business. Ain't True-Neutral deities great?").
    Why would a deity give those shmucks magical power...?


    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    There's also the possibility of characters who are evil, but "do not deserve to be attacked by adventurers" mentioned in Eberron Campaign Setting.

    In places like Sigil, you'll find fiends and celestials arguing on street corners.
    If they don't deserve to get attacked, they are Neutral.

    ....There might be a very good answer as to why that is. I'm not sure I'm willing to ask, "why", all the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    .... Non-evil fiends? That's almost an oxymoron.
    "Evil celestials" is also a possibility.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarco_Phage View Post
    "Evil celestials" is also a possibility.
    Wouldn't they be like, fallen angels? Altered Biblical stuff is fairly common in fiction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Wouldn't they be like, fallen angels? Altered Biblical stuff is fairly common in fiction.
    That's the point. If angels can fall, then devils can rise. It's just going to be so rare as to be unlikely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    ....There might be a very good answer as to why that is. I'm not sure I'm willing to ask, "why", all the same.
    Simple answer, there are myriad ways of "hurting" and "oppressing" people- on a very small scale, without ever actually breaking the law.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    If they don't deserve to get attacked, they are Neutral.

    ....There might be a very good answer as to why that is. I'm not sure I'm willing to ask, "why", all the same.
    No, they could well be petty evil. Unless you're suggesting that every thief should be slain by adventurers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Oh, right, one step... that also seems silly ("my deity believes in being passive and only fighting to defend yourself, because he is true neutral. However, Chaotic Evil is one step away from that, so I just go about murdering everyone with his powers." "Hey! I worship him too. It's handy, that spell he gives. I'm Lawful Good, you see, and am on a holy crusade to save everyone and interfere in everyone's business. Ain't True-Neutral deities great?").
    Why would a deity give those shmucks magical power...?
    Actually, each side of the alignment axis counts as one step: it doesn't include "diagonals" on the chart. So a cleric of a true neutral deity can be chaotic neutral or neutral evil, but not chaotic evil. To me, at least, that seems pretty reasonable.

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    Some deities have special rules though.

    Gond, deity of invention in Faerun, while TN, allows all alignments in his clerics.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Oh, right, one step... that also seems silly ("my deity believes in being passive and only fighting to defend yourself, because he is true neutral. However, Chaotic Evil is one step away from that, so I just go about murdering everyone with his powers." "Hey! I worship him too. It's handy, that spell he gives. I'm Lawful Good, you see, and am on a holy crusade to save everyone and interfere in everyone's business. Ain't True-Neutral deities great?").
    Why would a deity give those shmucks magical power...?
    Aside from you misinterpreting the one-step rule, what's wrong with that?

    Think about, say, a deity of magic: they care about magic, not whether you'd use it for Good or Evil (or Law or Chaos). If there was a true Neutral deity of non-involvement, why should it have a problem with it's followers being good or evil, as long as they follow the tenets of non-involvement. If they don't, well, that's not an alignment issue.
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    And you could have a NE cleric and NG cleric of such a deity, agreeing on many things about the importance of spreading The Word of their deity, but disagreeing only on some of the methods to use.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    I'm confused as to where the alignment facet of this discussion came from. It seems more along the lines that the OP feels the fluff of races, particularly in terms of faith, doesn't correspond to their racial features.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Getting back to the OP, he has a point about how religions, and specifically the roles and personalities of gods within polytheistic pantheons, have several social purposes:

    1) Explaining the natural world, including creation, life, and death
    2) Explaining society - both what it accepts, different roles within it, and what it considers unacceptable or taboo

    The first one remains very important in fictional worlds like D&D where things like "Moradin created iron and taught dwarves to smelt steel" and "our souls go deep into the stone to reside with Dwarf!Hades after we die" may be provable historical/scientific fact.

    Forget game mechanics for a second (shock! horror!). If we were to design pantheons from the ground up, each should answer three basic questions, and branch out into details from there:

    1) How and why were we and everything else created/born?
    2) Why do we die, and what happens afterward?
    3) What should we do in between and why?

    (This was originally formulated as what I call the Adams Triumvirate: "Why are we born? Why do we die? And why do we spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?)

    The basic components needed to answer these things are:

    1) One or more creators.
    2) One or more ideas of the afterlife and how one gets there
    3) One or more moral and ethical exemplars - the more stratified a society, the more roles need representation in either patron deities or social laws
    4) One or more moral and ethical Enemies or Destroyers to contrast with the exemplars (optional, but people tend to insert these somehow, even if it's just declaring an eternal temporal oppponent, like Elves vs. Orcs or Dwarves vs. Everything.)

    Three and four can even be spread out between deities - rather than creating a socially-good vs. socially-evil dichotomy, this contrast can exist within individual deities, each of them representing both the positives and negatives of some aspect of mortal nature (as the Greek pantheon largely did). This seems less likely in a world where Good and Evil are quantifiable energy sources and a high-level priest can jot off to Olympus to hang out with Good-elementals, but it's by no means impossible.

    You can have one deity comprise all of these things (or at least the first three), or several for each role, depending on the society.
    Last edited by Nerd-o-rama; 2011-08-23 at 03:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Wow. That's simply amazing, Nerd-O-Rama! Can I steal it for when I design my own campaign settings? It'd make creating religions a whole lot easier.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Oh, right, one step... that also seems silly ("my deity believes in being passive and only fighting to defend yourself, because he is true neutral. However, Chaotic Evil is one step away from that, so I just go about murdering everyone with his powers." "Hey! I worship him too. It's handy, that spell he gives. I'm Lawful Good, you see, and am on a holy crusade to save everyone and interfere in everyone's business. Ain't True-Neutral deities great?").
    Why would a deity give those shmucks magical power...?
    They would not. A CE person can successfully act N and eventualy become N, but if he acts CE the prayers won't be answered.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
    If we were to design pantheons from the ground up, each should answer three basic questions, and branch out into details from there:

    1) How and why were we and everything else created/born?
    2) Why do we die, and what happens afterward?
    3) What should we do in between and why?
    That presupposes i) a society that believes in questioning everything, ii) a belief that time is both linear and limited, and 3) the society believes in free will.
    The D&D world is deadly. The questions asked by drunken Greek philosophers won't matter to most species. The basic questions the races need to answer are
    1) how can we destroy our foes, without destroying ourselves, and
    2) how can we understand our foes, without becoming them.

    There will be a swift survival of the fittest competition as D&D races who ignore these vital questions get culled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    .... Non-evil fiends? That's almost an oxymoron.
    http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Evil_Subtype
    "Most creatures that have this subtype also have evil alignments; however, if their alignments change, they still retain the subtype. Any effect that depends on alignment affects a creature with this subtype as if the creature has an evil alignment, no matter what its alignment actually is."
    Last edited by whitelaughter; 2011-08-24 at 10:36 AM.
    Nothing to see here, citizen...

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitelaughter View Post
    There will be a swift survival of the fittest competition as D&D races who ignore these vital questions get culled.
    My counterargument is one word: Kender.
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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    The destruction of the Kender is always worth considering and enoying; especially given that a single 2nd Edition Wizard was able to obliterate their entire world, complete with gods.
    Nothing to see here, citizen...

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    Default Re: Fixing demi-human Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by whitelaughter View Post
    The destruction of the Kender is always worth considering and enoying; especially given that a single 2nd Edition Wizard was able to obliterate their entire world, complete with gods.
    Don't seem to remember that; then again I didn't play much 2nd Edition, unless Baldur's Gate counts. Is this Die Vecna Die?

    In any event they made a 3rd Edition rulebook for it, so I guess Krynn got better. And the kender with them.

    The D&D world is deadly.
    It's only as deadly as the DM lets it become...and I think you are vastly underestimating how deadly ancient Greece was to your typical person. No real knowledge of medicine, constant warfare*, bandits, the largest empire in the world to the east looking to gobble you up, northern barbarians looking to gobble you up, poor farmland, and an up-and-coming city-state to the west on this funny boot-shaped peninsula that's going to destroy Corinth in a few centuries and sell its populace into slavery. And worst of all - no raise dead or like spells! God is a mean DM.

    Yeah...ancient Greece was not a fun place to live. Yet they still found time to philosophisize about things and invent history.

    Put another way; your typical D&D setting presumes that, despite how dangerous the world is, most civilized societies in the region that the campaign takes place in have still mastered the arts of wizardry (which takes a lot of time) and built pseudo-High Middle Ages to early-mid Renaissance-like societies. So clearly this is a world with downtime.

    Also, I want to re-emphasize a point made earlier: not every pantheon of deities necessarily has an Adversary god, and the Greek pantheon, perhaps the most well-known today, is the perfect example of this.

    -------------------------
    *The Greeks believed that war was the natural state of things, and that times of peace were an aberration - the reverse of what we believe today.
    Last edited by Rogue Shadows; 2011-08-24 at 11:21 AM.

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