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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    So an idea that's been bouncing around my head recently is the idea of reinterpreting some of the demon lords from D&D as the deities of a dwarven pantheon, while still trying to keep their general themes and motifs intact and the dwarves recognisable as dwarves.

    I've been thinking primarily of Dagon, Baphomet, Orcus, Graz'zt and Pazuzu, but I'd love to hear peoples ideas for any demon lord in this context.

    The dwarves

    I envision the dwarves as still being a primarily subterranean race, with outlying villages on the surface providing food and other supplies to the larger fortified cities that sit half submerged in the mountains, their realms periodically assailed by other races as per usual.

    But these dwarves are more akin to classical cultures like the ancient greeks or romans in their morals, indulging in bloodsports, slavery, and the worship of morally questionable gods while still maintaining a cohesive society. Conflict within society is formally handled by legal debates and settled with blood sports if the former fails to reach a conclusion both parties will accept, though informal methods like murder aren't unheard of they aren't especially common, slaves are few in number due to the issues with keeping them fed in the moutains and are mostly used to show status, as personal servants or as sacrifices. The gods are worshipped through various different rites and observances, but all demand some form of sacrifice periodically and in exchange for their favour. Offering food or wealth is common, with sacrifices of livestock or slaves being more rare due to the expense involved.

    The dwarves believe that if they can dig deep enough and defeat the races between them and the deepest darkest parts of the underground where normal reality starts to warp with strange energies, as well as the geological hazards and other issues with digging so deep, they can tunnel into the Abyss itself and join their society with their demonic lords directly.

    Dagon

    Since Dagon is commonly associated with ancient and often forgotten secrets, I've come to think of him as the confessional deity of a dark pantheon. A god to whom you whisper your darkest secrets in hopes he'll keep them in his domain as forever, never again to be spoken by mortal lips, with his temples serving as places for communal shedding of guilt or fear of discovery. In addition to this he would also be the god of most magical arts and be associated with water. I imagine his iconography being dwarves with tentacles incorporated into their beards and hair, and some icthyous qualities.

    Baphomet

    Baphomet is of course the lord of beasts and mazes, which naturally led me to think of him as a being dwarves could associate with fortifications, war beasts and martial might, taking up the role of a war god. Dwarven walls engraved with bull heads, cannons shaped like screaming beasts, dwarven warriors wearing armour that evokes wild ferocity in it's aesthetic. Sacrifices of livestock and blood duels prior to battle or to sanctify newly built fortifications being major parts of worship.

    Orcus

    Orcus is an obvious pick for a generic afterlife deity. A Hel like steward of the dead and lord of ancestors. All who die without devotion to a specific deity going to him. Human sacrifice being a more common component of his worship than any other god and it being common for his adherents to indulge in various macabre practices, such as stitching goat heads onto preserved dwarven corpses for use as idols or bringing back important members of their faith as potent undead in times of need.

    Due to his previous attempts to become a god, his nature as the first undead demon and so on I also think there's an easy worldbuilding out to his followers causing an undead apocalypse. Most, though not all, his undead worshippers eventually try to find their way to the deep parts of the world in the hopes of reaching his realm themselves. A sort of unholy pilgrimage.

    Graz'zt

    With his themes of debauchery Graz'zt makes sense as someone to whom works of artistry in any field could be dedicated to, be it lavish feasts, gilded pillars or trailing silken robes. His intrigue and treachery meanwhile make him well suited to being worshipped by merchants and nobility, with them currying favour with the god through displays of wealth and decadence and plotting against their rivals for temporal power as well as spiritual favour. This would more or less place him as the god of the wealthier levels of dwarven society, of trade and politics and excess.

    Pazuzu

    Demon Lord of flying creatures and corruption, an obvious patron for those who dwell outside the fortress cities in my opinion. To those who live in the open air and tend farms or engage in logging the ability to corrupt local surface dwellers would be vital, and the training of messenger birds to communicate over long distances even more so. I envision Pazuzu as a god worshipped mostly by the peasantry as a sort of guardian of remote communities and outcast dwarves, encouraging his faithful to interact with non-dwarves in the hopes of leading them to worship him and his brethren. He would probably be the least unpleasant deity, with his worshippers being among the poorer members of society and his interests in seeming benevolent to outsiders. I imagine a strong focus on offerings of food to birds, practices of sky burial and the creation of fascimiles of Pazuzu's own form, though twisted into a more dwarven variant. Sacrifice through hanging beings from nooses, crucifixion or in gibbets where they are left to rot and be consumed by birds being the most unsavory aspect of his worship.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    This is a really enjoyable and creative reinterpretation!

    Orcus might be well-served as some kind of ancestral worship; consider mausoleums of dwarves preserved for future generations to reanimate when needed to serve as a protective army, for example.

    Dagon: Also note that cave life (ex. eyeless fish) is naturally very strongly connected to Dagon; I'd expect less squid and more monstrous worms to be associated with him.

    Pazuzu is honestly kinda weak for the dwarves, since he's so associated with the sky and dwarves live underground; he's certainly not a mainline cult (as you mention); I might expect him to take some kind of alternate aspect related to bats.
    My one piece of homebrew: The Shaman. A Druid replacement with more powerlevel control.
    The bargain bin- malfunctioning, missing, and broken magic items.
    Spirit Barbarian: The Barbarian, with heavy elements from the Shaman. Complete up to level 17.
    The Priest: A cleric reword which ran out of steam. Still a fun prestige class suitable for E6.
    The Coward: Not every hero can fight.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    What is interesting to me is how much Graz'zt has changed over the editions. Planescape did portray him more as a patron of art than as a seducer. Though of course twisted, corrupt, sickening art, as a demon. I'll have to go find the description. But one thing I remember being mentioned is that he preferred stark, unadorned, white clothing, which really made him stand out among the demon lords.

    Another idea for Dagon: Lord of the deep. Dagon rules over deep natural caves, subterranean lakes and abonded mining tunnels. His wrath brings one of the miner's greatest fears, water. Slowly seeping into tunnels, or in sudden floods. He is also the lord of secrets and forbidden knowledge, which plays nicely into his role as a confessional deity. You pray to him before Delving Too Deep (tm).

    Pazuzu: since you mentioned Sky Burial, I could imagine a role as Psychopomp for him. Which creates an interesting dichotomy, though: if the dwarves believe their gods are underground, why bury in the sky, instead of sending the dead to the deepest depths? I could see two ways out for this. First, perhaps the dwarves sacrifice criminals to him via crucifixion, as you mentioned, followed by sky burial. This, quite literally, denies them access to the Earth, where the gods live. Their spirits are cast out into the sky. This could give Pazuzu an aspect of justice and retribution.
    Alternatively, focus more on the protector aspect. Pazuzu protects from the Dangers Above, all the evil things that come from the world outside the mountains. And he needs an army of spirits, like the Einherjar. And so, brave dwarven warriors sacrifice themselves to sky burial to serve in his armies, eternally fighting the outside dangers so that the holds are safe, instead of rejoining the gods in the Earth below.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2019-11-11 at 04:18 AM.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Just going through Wikipedia's exhaustive lists of all demon pricnes ever mentioned, a few interesting standouts that sound like they could have dwarvish divine aspects:

    Eblis of the Unbended Knee: Lord of those who refuse to surrender and fight to the death.
    Gresil, Custodian of Records: Lord of Abyssal Lore. Could maybe get an aspect of runic magic.
    Nekir, the Black Guardian of Paradise: smuggles souls into the afterlifes of other gods.
    Pale Night, Mother of Demons: a hidden goddess, whose face drives those who see it insane. Because every pantheon needs a mother goddess.
    Siragle, the Ineffable: lord of secretly sworn oaths and conspiracies. A god of contracts? Or blood oaths?
    Volisupula, the Flensed Marquesse: goddess of ceremony and ostentation.
    Vucarik, Consort of Chains: lord of slaves and torture

    Several of these are from Planescape sources that I should have at home. I can look into them if you want.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2019-11-11 at 06:18 AM.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Quote Originally Posted by aimlessPolymath View Post
    -Snipped for length-
    Glad you like the idea. :)

    For Orcus I kind of want to avoid there being lots of undead at any given time, it feels rather un-dwarven to me. A handful of them is fine, but an army's worth feels off to me. Though you have given me an idea for extending the ancestor worship vibes. Maybe the mausoleums of the wealthy hold their own Orcus icons fashioned from notable family members the same way as the temples do, so stitched together cadavers with goat heads where the original head should be as a sort of symbolic tomb guardian. So it might have the arm from the greatest warrior of the family, the hands of the best craftsman, the heart of a poet, the stomach of a gourmet and so on.

    I do like the eyeless fish angle for Dagon, perhaps his priests are ritually blinded in some manner before they preside over sermons and confessions? They could wear masks or blindfolds or even poison themselves to temporarily lose their sight. I could see a lot of dagon imagery based off eyeless cave bugs, fish and amphibians like cave salamanders. Antennae, external gill like designs, sunken sockets covered in skin, pallid colours.

    For Pazuzu I was mostly thinking mountain ravens as his main animal of importance. Tips a nod to The Hobbit and they would make sense as messenger birds, are large and somewhat intimidating and are carrion birds which ties into concepts like sky burial.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    -snipped for length-
    I do kinda like that older idea of Graz'zt being unadorned himself. Perhaps while his congregation is lavish and decadent his priesthood are unadorned and ascetic as a nod to that? All their wordly goods and pleasures being given over to Graz'zt as a symbol of devotion and loyalty.

    Good idea there for Dagon, water is a major feature of underground peril I hadn't thought about while being entirely in his wheelhouse. Well, his and Demogorgon's, but I haven't though of any good roles for Demogorgon beyond being some kind of vague king of the gods.

    I do like the idea of Pazuzu being a psychopomp but he's also sort of a messenger god in this portrayal. So he's sort of a rough equivalent to Hermes more or less. Ferrying dwarves buried traditionally underground down through the earth into the first layer of the Abyss while those among his own faithful who are given sky burial are meant to live on as creatures of the air that keep an eye out for mortal dangers to the dwarven lands and serve as messengers for the mortals. Presumably he'd also be the god most inclined to deliver messages to the living, in various omens and bird/sky related portents.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Just going through Wikipedia's exhaustive lists of all demon pricnes ever mentioned, a few interesting standouts that sound like they could have dwarvish divine aspects:

    Eblis of the Unbended Knee: Lord of those who refuse to surrender and fight to the death.
    Gresil, Custodian of Records: Lord of Abyssal Lore. Could maybe get an aspect of runic magic.
    Nekir, the Black Guardian of Paradise: smuggles souls into the afterlifes of other gods.
    Pale Night, Mother of Demons: a hidden goddess, whose face drives those who see it insane. Because every pantheon needs a mother goddess.
    Siragle, the Ineffable: lord of secretly sworn oaths and conspiracies. A god of contracts? Or blood oaths?
    Volisupula, the Flensed Marquesse: goddess of ceremony and ostentation.
    Vucarik, Consort of Chains: lord of slaves and torture

    Several of these are from Planescape sources that I should have at home. I can look into them if you want.
    I would love any ideas for more members of the pantheon if you're willing to spare the time. Eblis, Gresil, Volisupula especially sound perfect for dwarves, and Pale Night would be a great figure to incorporate into the pantheon, especially with her being the mother of Graz'zt.


    On a side note, I'm unsure if it's worth trying to add very racially specific demon lords like Yeenoghu and Lolth to the pantheon, or if they're better left as beings outside it.

    EDIT: Actually now that I think about it Yeenoghu at least has a spot as an antagonistic god, sort of like Set from Egyptian myth. Since he's a god of hunger and destruction he'd be a great figure for the dwarves to attribute as the god of their enemies and the lands beyond civilisation. Anyone who attacks the dwarven lands or is insufficiently civilised by dwarven standards is clearly a worshipper of Yeenoghu, a base savage barely worthy of consideration.
    Last edited by Grim Portent; 2019-11-11 at 12:48 PM.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    By the way, if you need more information on specific demon lords, ask AfroAkuma. He probably knows more than me, even if I have my books open. But let's see.

    Eblis of the Unbended Knee is given the Monster Manual II as his only source, with no edition. I can't see him in MM2 for third edition, though, and I don't have one for first or second. I've found an article claiming that he's in the Fiendish Codex too, but he doesn't seem to be in the list of demons there. Sorry. There seems to be basically nothing about him except the name on a few lists. I think that's an invitation to make him up.

    Gresil: from an old dragon magazine. What I can find there and on other articles is that he is a tempter, who appears as a withered or diseased human. His powers include hypnosis and ice. One thing that seems interested about him is that he is respected by other demon lords, which is basically unheard of. Mostly because he is said to know a lot of their secrets. Many also know him favours and he can, if really threatened, cast gate to call up even other demon princes.

    His library is used as a neutral ground for ambassadors in the eternal wars of the Abyss. HE rules over a race of librarian-demons with the heads of stags, who continuously copy his tomes. They radiate silence and have an aura that extinguishes all fires and lights nearby to protect the books.

    Volisupula: From Planescape's Planes of Chaos. THere, only really mentioned as part of a short adventure synopsis in a list of possible ideas for DMs to build on.
    The idea is that Volisupula has been, unusually for a being of such power, allowed into Sigil, where she's basically on holiday. While there, part of her power is stolen by a rogue Githzerai, who has the brilliant idea to steal her layer of the Abyss while she's away and become its prince.
    Sadly, there's not much more on her.
    Her domain is called Skin-shedder. It is covered in bloody flesh and gore of skinned victims. Anyone going there is automatically turned evil. Her aspect is ostentation and unnecessary ceremony.
    One nice thing I found about her in one short article is that she doesn't just flay people, she wears their skins as a disguise. And she sometimes offers skins to her followers, which basically permanently shapeshifts them into another creature, usually a beautiful one.

    And since I had Planes of Chaos open anyway:

    Graz'zt: Graz'zt sees himself as an artist and is always working on some project. He also sponsors artists. To delight him, a work must be both shocking and disgusting and show some kind of contrast. Most noted examples describe something pure and beautiful alone in a room of horrors. His palace has themed rooms, such as the blood room, the storm room or the shadow room. He is black skinned, green eyed and only clothes himself in pure white and silver.
    When a servant disappoints him, they are never killed or exiled, as other princes might. Instead, they are mutilated and then returned to service. Graz'zt refers to this as mercy. He seems to find it amusing that being mutilated only makes their duties harder.

    Pazuzu: here "Pazrael". His most notable characteristic is his temper. He is, apparently at random, sometimes incredibly calm, sometimes blindly raging. He has a private guard of cambions he has fathered himself, all half-harpy, half-demon.
    Pazrael has no palace and carries all his possessions on him, while his nomadic court travels the plane. His preferred weapon is a set of six lightning javelins. His favoured magic item is a golden claw that turns anyone who touches it into a Vrock.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Plug.

    I sort of stole your idea, I hope you don't mind.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Plug.

    I sort of stole your idea, I hope you don't mind.
    I don't mind at all. Rather flattered really.


    Thanks for the information on the other demons btw.

    Eblis I think would have to be a god of dwarven defiance against outsiders and perhaps another war god to accompany Baphomet.

    Gresil has some thematic overlap with Dagon it seems, but multiple gods of magic/knowledge isn't altogether unusual for a pantheon. Just need to work out a specific place for him, but that can come with defining relationships within the dwarven interpretation of the pantheon.

    Volisupula I'm not sure about, but also the most inspired by. She seems the most overtly gory demon lord so far, which is a bit hard to fit with dwarves. But needless ceremony as a domain makes me think about celebrations to do with birth and ageing. Maybe she's the goddess associated with childbirth and the passage to adulthood? Can tie into the ancestor themes Orcus has by incorporating the skins of deceased clan members into some kind of ritual attire, akin to the idea of blankets added to by each new mother and used to swaddle the children of the family after birth. When a family matriarch passes away a patch of their skin is incorporated into a dwarf skin and fabric wrap used to swaddle newborns, while patriarchs donate a patch of skin to a ceremonial vestment for adulthood rituals perhaps. Newborns are symbolically embraced by generations of mothers and generations of fathers embrace the children during their transition to adults.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    What I find interesting reading over it again is that we have a lot of half humanoid, half animal creatures mentioned. Orcus with the ram's or goat's skull, Pazuzu with wings, the librarian demons with hart skulls.

    Perhaps there could be a general symbology of ancestors with animal heads? A bit Egyptian-inspired?
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Demogorgon is duality. He represents the safety of the mountain, but also the need to go outside of it to trade its riches for needs. His priests dedicate themselves to one of the heads, and give advice based on that. But they wont tell you, or each other which one, and they all dress the same. So a dwarf might ask is it a good time to travel to the human kingdom for trade, and will get two different answers depending on which part of Demogorgon the priest is channeling.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2019-11-12 at 11:10 AM.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    These are some great ideas. My dwarves were actually only the first to begin worshiping demons, because the demons, in their ascent to the surface, came across the dwarven cities before anyone else. This is why, over the years, dwarven cities have been built closer and closer to the surface.

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Do your dwarves still have the association with being masterful smiths/creators of magical items? If yes, Abraxas the Unfathomable, a demon lord associated with talismans, magical objects and secrecy could be your patron of smiths and artisans.

    By the way, the logical consequence of this thread and the one with the Lords of Hell is "The Hebdomad as Orcish Deities". Did anybody do that yet?
    Last edited by Tzardok; 2019-11-15 at 04:09 AM.
    Ich erträum' mir ein Gefieder.
    Dieser Zauber hat Bestand.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    Demogorgon is duality. He represents the safety of the mountain, but also the need to go outside of it to trade its riches for needs. His priests dedicate themselves to one of the heads, and give advice based on that. But they wont tell you, or each other which one, and they all dress the same. So a dwarf might ask is it a good time to travel to the human kingdom for trade, and will get two different answers depending on which part of Demogorgon the priest is channeling.
    I quite like this idea, but perhaps Demogorgon could be the god of all forms of duality and contrast. Male and female, progress and stagnation, light and dark, life and death. The arch-deity who encompasses all that is real and all that can be imagined. Rational and frenzied at the same time, Demogorgon constantly struggles to progress their goals even as they tear down their own efforts. Maybe the dwarves interpret, rightly or wrongly, Demogorgon as a creator deity? It sort of keeps him in his spot as Prince of Demons.

    Priests of Demogorgon could make good arbiters of justice in a sense, symbolically representing both sides of an issue simultaneously as they render judgement.



    Quote Originally Posted by Tzardok View Post
    Do your dwarves still have the association with being masterful smiths/creators of magical items? If yes, Abraxas the Unfathomable, a demon lord associated with talismans, magical objects and secrecy could be your patron of smiths and artisans.

    By the way, the logical consequence of this thread and the one with the Lords of Hell is "The Hebdomad as Orcish Deities". Did anybody do that yet?
    I'd like to keep them as conventionally dwarven as possible for the purposes of the thread so magic items, and Abraxas by extension, are good fits.

    His domain of secrets and magic do make him have some overlap with Dagon and with Gresil, but that does open the possibility of having a triumvirate of magically focused deities. Focusing on different kinds of magic, or maybe specific schools in the same way Orcus is the lord of necromancy.

    Or maybe I could have some demon lords join Yeenoghu as a pantheon of malevolent beings opposed to the benevolent-ish ones worshipped by mainstream dwarves. Indeed such an arrangement could be a good place to put any demons that are closely associated with more un-dwarven concepts. A sort of Aesir/Vanir, Olympians/Titans type of thing. A rival group without having to include deities that are unambiguously more benevolent than the demons.
    Last edited by Grim Portent; 2019-11-15 at 05:20 PM.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    I quite like this idea, but perhaps Demogorgon could be the god of all forms of duality and contrast. Male and female, progress and stagnation, light and dark, life and death. The arch-deity who encompasses all that is real and all that can be imagined. Rational and frenzied at the same time, Demogorgon constantly struggles to progress their goals even as they tear down their own efforts. Maybe the dwarves interpret, rightly or wrongly, Demogorgon as a creator deity? It sort of keeps him in his spot as Prince of Demons.

    Priests of Demogorgon could make good arbiters of justice in a sense, symbolically representing both sides of an issue simultaneously as they render judgement.
    "Oh great Demogorgon,
    you who are the Heights and the Depths,
    the Land and the Sea,
    who unifies the Opposites
    and balances the Scales,
    teach us to bring together
    the Mind and the Heart,
    the Body and the Soul
    that we may be guided
    but not ruled by our Urges,
    that our Desires may be Tools
    to free us and not Chains
    to pull us down..."

    Traditional dwarven prayer to Demogorgon, always spoken in first person plural.


    I'd like to keep them as conventionally dwarven as possible for the purposes of the thread so magic items, and Abraxas by extension, are good fits.

    His domain of secrets and magic do make him have some overlap with Dagon and with Gresil, but that does open the possibility of having a triumvirate of magically focused deities. Focusing on different kinds of magic, or maybe specific schools in the same way Orcus is the lord of necromancy.
    How about: Dagon rules over wild and uncontrolled magic, Gresil over studied magic and Abraxas over bound and measured magic; in other words, Dagon is the unknown, Gresil is on the cutting edge and Abraxas is about the things that are understood and controlled. (On the other hand, if I look at Gresil's description, maybe he and Abraxas should be switched around...)
    Last edited by Tzardok; 2019-11-16 at 11:14 AM.
    Ich erträum' mir ein Gefieder.
    Dieser Zauber hat Bestand.
    Und so flieg' ich immer wieder
    Wie der Nachtwind über's Land.

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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    So I had an idea for a Baphomet themed celebration for the Dwarves lately.

    Provisionally just thinking of it as the Feast of the Horned King, but I do like the idea of calling it the Mantling of Lions or something along those lines. Feast of Lambs is also a name I quite like because it invokes a lot of imagery associated with real world religions and myths.

    Basic idea is simple, D&D Baphomet is a figure associated with the relationship of hunter and prey as part of his general portfolio. So a feast based around hunting animals makes sense. He's also a war god for our purposes, so it can double as a military celebration. So a celebration in which soldiers kill and consume things in Baphomet's name, preferably predators because it's more impressive. So on with the actual details.


    During the Feast of Lambs each platoon of warriors faithful to the Horned King elect a representative to engage in a ritual hunt for the honour of the platoon. The chosen warriors are each given a lamb to use as bait and sent into the mountains and hills to hunt a lion. Allowing your lamb to die in the hunt is considered shameful, and an omen that your platoon will suffer many casualties. Failing to kill a lion is a sign that the platoon will achieve no glory in future battles.

    Warriors who kill a lion are expected to skin the beast and wear it's pelt upon their return to their city, and to bring as much of it's meat as they can to share with their platoon so that they can imbibe the beast's strength. It is customary for a warrior to eat nothing but raw lion flesh during their journey home if possible. At a set date following the chosen warriors being sent out all those who have returned successful by this time are honoured with pride of place in a military parade, each chosen leading their platoon in a glorious procession, still garbed in their lion pelt, accompanied by their lamb if it still lives. Those who returned empty handed are not permitted to participate, and those who return late receive considerably less praise.

    Those warriors who returned with both a pelt and their lamb still alive receive further honour. Upon the parade reaching the grounds of the royal palace, military headquarters or Temple of Baphomet each warrior and their lamb is marked with the sign of Baphomet, warriors are proclaimed as Lionhearts and the lambs are taken into the care of the god's cult, to be raised as sacred animals.

    Following the culmination of the ceremonial aspects of the celebration there is typically a lavish feast for soldier and civilian alike, with the Lionhearts given pride of place above even kings and high priests at the greatest table. Participating in the main feast is quite exclusive due to limited space, but generally every street or district will hold their own feast during the holy day.

    The sacred lambs are raised to provide wool used in the vestments of Baphomet's faithful and are offered as sacrifices during religious services.
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Demon Lords as Dwarven Deities

    This is all very cool stuff. Well done everyone!
    I have more of a question that I'd like to understand but might help others brainstorm:
    Are the demons still seen as forces of chaos? They're clearly evil, but how does their nature affect Dwarvish society? What's the political structure like?

    Traditionally, Dwarves are pretty Lawful monarchists supported by a strong faith. Is this still the case when they worship demons?
    I notice you've kept the "wanton destruction" ones like Yeenoghu to the outskirts of the pantheon, which could mean that some chaotic acts are not accepted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lestrange View Post
    This is all very cool stuff. Well done everyone!
    I have more of a question that I'd like to understand but might help others brainstorm:
    Are the demons still seen as forces of chaos? They're clearly evil, but how does their nature affect Dwarvish society? What's the political structure like?

    Traditionally, Dwarves are pretty Lawful monarchists supported by a strong faith. Is this still the case when they worship demons?
    I notice you've kept the "wanton destruction" ones like Yeenoghu to the outskirts of the pantheon, which could mean that some chaotic acts are not accepted.
    I envision the dwarves as still being broadly the same in generalities, more divergent in specifics. Probably going to ramble a bit as this will be rather train of thought based.


    Society is ruled by a monarch who is considered to be a representation of the will of the gods, chosen from among the ruling family upon the death of the previous monarch. Notionally chosen by the gods, in practice chosen by powerful nobles, merchants and the priests of powerful religious factions based on who they like the most or think will be most easily manipulated.

    The monarch is the highest legal official in the land, but generally makes judgements based on whim and personal taste rather than legal precedent. Indeed legal precedent isn't much of a thing, the legal system primarily being subject to the whims of priests, particularly those of Demogorgon, and other influential people. Punishment tends to be harsh if you aren't allied with someone who can pull strings for you, bodily mutilation, such as the loss of a hand or branding, being preferred to imprisonment because it's cheap and practical from the perspective of the judiciary. Trial by combat is quite a common way to resolve disputes.

    The nobility and the merchant class blend together. The nobility serve as temporal administrators, not tied to specific pieces of land but rather to the duty entrusted to them by the monarch. Powerful merchants can buy their way into titles and official duties and nobles who fall from favour can have theirs stripped from them. Nobles often use their positions to increase their personal wealth, leveraging unfair fees on rivals or abusing the judicial system to their own ends.

    The military is composed of assigned nobles and volunteer soldiers and grows and wanes in power over time as the military shifts in political favour. A skilled commander may wind up with barely anyone under their command while an incompetent who puts on a good parade commands legions. Some military appointees are given the job to remove them from the royal court, an up and coming noble may find themselves assigned to a remote military outpost as a result of their rivals machinations, or someone who offends the king may find themselves leading a front line unit as a field commander. A rare few commoner dwarves rise to nobility as a result of good service in the army. The army is closely tied with the clergy of Baphomet, clergymen often joining the army itself or fielding their own units of zealots separate from the military command structure.

    The common folk make up the bulk of the population and usually associate in some manner with a faction of society. Some gravitate to the cult of a specific deity to curry favour with the priesthood or join the army to gain protection from their superiors, but most pay dues to a merchant who controls much of the trade in their profession on the understanding that the resulting 'guild' will look out for them. Entire districts of a city can become ghettos dominated by a faction loyal to a specific god, army commander, merchant or noble, with those not in the faction being maligned by their neighbours. Open conflict between rival factions sometimes breaks out, which can result in years of low scale violence and the occasional full blown gang war.

    Cultural unity is largely achieved by demonising the outside world. Elves, orcs, men and so on are uncivilised barbarians who can't be trusted to honour deals, have strange languages and savage customs. The world is full of creatures that want to lay the city to waste and massacre the dwarven people.

    The further you get from the major population centres the less politics matters to the dwarves. Farming and logging communities pay little attention to the rumours of courtly intrigue, content that the gods watch out for them and that the king will send people to protect them if need be. These communities are both more and less mistrusting of outsiders, being less fantastical in their fears but more wary of mundane threats like bandits or thieves trying to take advantage of them.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    baphomet.....

    Okay my first thought on seeing this was.
    I: He is the patron of Labaryniths
    II: so what is the greatest Labarynth in D&D games?
    III: the underdark itself
    IV: this matches "beasts" as the underdark is the source of beasts of monstrous nature.

    So could he also be seen as a God of "the Wild" and the nature and connection to nature (hunting, predator/prey, survival needs) in dwarven society?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    The monarch is the highest legal official in the land, but generally makes judgements based on whim and personal taste rather than legal precedent. Indeed legal precedent isn't much of a thing, the legal system primarily being subject to the whims of priests, particularly those of Demogorgon, and other influential people.
    Even in a society that worships demons and is more relaxed about tradition and hierarchy than the average dwarven society, a largely-arbitrary ruler would probably be very unpopular among both the common people (who like not living at the whims of more powerful people) and the nobles and merchants (who would find it harder to advance their own agendas), and this would likely lead to lots of coup attempts and civil wars and such, which--while probably being something the demon lords themselves would love--doesn't exactly make for a stable society.

    Instead, I'd suggest the opposite: dwarven rulers and judges make all their decisions based on legal precedent, but dwarven law is basically common law writ large. Whereas "civil law" systems are highly detailed, strongly codified, and laid out according to high principles (think the Code of Hammurabi, Roman Law, and the kinds of legal systems that lend themselves to devils making incredibly complex contracts with handy "Well technically..." loopholes), in "common law" systems laws are relatively broad and rely on precedents to clarify their intent and extent, where "precedent" falls into the rough categories of binding precedent (lower authorities in a given jurisdiction have to follow it), persuasive precedent (you don't have to follow it, but should have good reasons for going against it), custom, and specific case law.

    So King Silverbeard IV doesn't just declare by fiat that he wants a twenty-foot-tall statue golden statue of himself installed in his audience hall using funds from the royal treasury, which a lot of people would object to and undermine his authority. Rather, he declares that, pursuant to section seven of the Fourth Decree in the Codex Civis, a ruler has the right to appropriate royal funds to construct one (1) massive statue of himself during each century of his reign.

    To which a representative of the Strongvault merchant clan (long opposed to the Silverbeard dynasty) objects that yes, the Fourth Decree does say that, but the case of Queen Ironarm III v. Royal Treasurer back in 6,736 YD established that using royal funds in that way during wartime is a dereliction of royal duty and is grounds for renegotiation of their clan's weapons supply agreements with the throne at a more favorable tariff percentage.

    To which a priest of Graz'zt's church (a strong supporter of the king, at least at the moment) ripostes that, in fact, according to the Sixth Analect in the Codex Demonis, constructing any art objects composed of at least 60% gold and/or gemstones counts as an act of worship toward Graz'zt and is thus an allowable action for the monarch at any time because seeking divine favor on behalf of the kingdom counts as upholding royal responsibilities.

    To which the Strongvaults object that in this kingdom the Codex Civis has higher precedent than the Codex Demonis, thankyouverymuch, we're not a bunch of fanatics like the Silverpeaks Kingdom up north.

    To which the Royal Scribe (loyal to whoever employs her at the moment) counters that that only applies in the Third Court line of precedence, while the monarchy is subject to the First Court, so the Codex Demonis precedent can be used as desired.

    And so on and so forth.

    Common law can already be tons o' fun to deal with in the real world, and then when you consider that dwarves have thousands of years' worth of customs and case law to deal with, every demon lord's church can be a whole separate jurisdiction for binding precedents, different dwarven cities might hold certain lords' demands as higher precedent than others, and so forth, you end up with a kind of barely-controlled chaos with several major power groups constantly struggling against each other for power and seniority in a relatively non-violent way, which makes a lot of sense for a vaguely Lawful Good society trying to follow the precepts of demon lords.

    Plus, if every faction can bring legal force to bear to advance their agendas as in the example above rather than the monarch's power being absolute, that gives you a lot of openings for PCs to enter the picture and influence things by e.g. blackmailing a judge to overturn a key precedent, go tomb-delving to uncover a lost legal codex whose precedents a certain merchant wants to use, or the like.
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    That's glorious.

    My original thought was that the dwarves basically pick a king according to whoever the prevailing political factions are, leading to the monarchy generally lining up with the masses in basic ideals, but the dwarves live so long those ideals and priorities take decades or centuries to change.

    But that, that amazing mess of conflicting laws and precedents and priority idea is pretty amazing.
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    I aim to please.

    Another side benefit of that setup is that, if you use the ideas in the other thread in the same campaign, at some point once the PCs have interacted with both cultures you can (read: are absolutely obligated to on your professional honor as a DM) have a Phoenix Wright-style courtroom battle where demon-worshiping dwarf lawyers duke it out with devil-worshiping elf lawyers, drawing on centuries' worth of statutes and legal precedents under two different and totally incompatible legal systems. The arguments, witnesses, OBJECTION!s, and ensuing magical nuclear fallout would be legendary.
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    Dwarves and the Dead


    By convention the bodies of the dead are given over to the priesthood of Orcus that their bodies may rest within his temple as their souls reside in his domain. They are entombed in vast catacombs carved beneath the cities of the dwarves, closer to the depths so that the journey of the soul to the afterlife may be shortened.

    Temples to Orcus are gloomy places. The main temple is circular, kept dimly lit and slowly slopes inwards towards the altar, located at the lowest point of the room, similar to an amphitheatre. The darkness and gradient symbolising the long journey of the soul through the deep to reach Thanatos. The temple is used for sermons, sacrifices and the public funerals of notable members of Orcus' faithful.

    Sermons to Orcus praise him as the ruler of the dead, who dwell in his realm forever in forms that echo those they had in life and extol the virtues of service to him in this life and the next. Offerings of goats and rams is the most common sacrifices offered during services, but each year as the sun sets on the longest night a sapient being, usually a captive enemy of the dwarves though if none are available a member of the congregation is expected to volunteer, will be ritually killed as an offering to the lord of the undead. The bodies of these sacrifices are embalmed and reanimated as zombies, then assigned to patrol the catacombs and walkways of the temple grounds, bearing torches and lanterns to light the way for those living who wish to visit the dead.

    Priests of Orcus prepare the dead for their rest, preserving the body so that it can be visited by it's living family to pray for their advice and guidance. Some bodies are mummified, their flesh dried with heated stones and their cavities filled with warm sand and gravel, some are coated in liquid metal or wax, preserving the form of the body even as the flesh crumbles beneath, a rare few are pickled in pungent alchemical compounds and sealed into sarcophagi caved to resemble the incumbent. It is traditional for one eye to be removed from the corpse and ceremonially offered to the clergy of Pazuzu, a token of reward for his role in ushering the soul onward upon it's arrival in Pazunia towards it's final resting place in Thanatos, the domain of Orcus.

    A rare few dwarves are bestowed with the honour of being incorporated into their family Ogmio*, a totemic symbol representing all their greatest ancestors. The Ogmio is a crude fascimile of Orcus himself, fashioned from the remains of the greatest members of a family and placed such that it watches over the entrance to their family crypt. It may bear the hands of a great smith, the legs of a warrior who spent long hours marching, the preserved heart of a particularly loving matriarch and the stomach or liver of a champion drinker. Invariably they possess the head of a goat or ram stitched to the flesh of the dwarven cadavers. The construction is not animated by any overt magic, but they are occasionally known to move when no one is looking and to speak without moving their lips. It is whispered that any who defile a tomb watched over by one of these guardians will be hunted down and dragged screaming into the deepest places by the Ogmio, taken to face punishment in the world of the dead.

    An Ogmio is considered an important symbol of family and honour. Dwarves are known to swear binding oaths upon it, under the eye of their family and before the god of death himself, placing a strip of parchment bearing the oath into the open palm of the Ogmio. It is considered shameful beyond measure to break an oath sworn in this manner, such a betrayal usually resulting in the expulsion of the oathbreaker from his family and the stripping of their name. Incredibly rarely it is known for the Ogmio to acknowledge such an oath by curling it's hand around the oath paper. Dwarves whose oaths are acknowledged in such a manner cannot rest until their oath is fulfilled, even in death. Their spirits are barred from rest in the afterlife and so their body cannot rest in the crypts, rising from the dead to pursue the fulfilment of their vow.


    There is an uncommonly held belief among the devout servants of Orcus that he is the true ruler of the pantheon, conflicting with the orthodox practices that place Demogorgon as the patriarch of the gods. Such devotees subtly try to usurp the normal roles of the clergy of Demogorgon, seeking to assert the rightful place of their master as the spiritual lord of the dwarven people over that of the Prince of Demons.


    *Named after Ogmios, a gallic god who served as an oathkeeper of sorts and a psychopomp. Seemed appropriate since I couldn't think of anything from D&D to fit the idea, and 'meat scarecrow' feels disrespectful.
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