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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    So, most D&D gods seem to work in the way that you do what they want, act the right way, and in exchange, they give you boons.

    I'm thinking I want the opposite for my next campaign. The Gods are for the most part chaotic, dangerous forces, that are placated by ritual and sacrifice, so they don't destroy your village/city/army/family/ship.

    As an example, you'd have a god of sea and the storms, and before embarking on a journey, you'd make a fitting sacrifice (say, drowning a medium sized farm animal), so that he will spare your ship.

    Clerics, then, are respected especially if they serve the most evil gods, because they provide a valuable community service. Everyone is thankful for the cleric of death, plague and famine, because if they don't slaugther a ram every month and burn the tenth part of every harvest, everyone will die.

    Now, that brings up one immediate problem, to me: player clerics. Why do clerics get magical powers in this setting? What for? Why would the gods do this? Is it just a side effect?

    Ideas welcome.

    Also, I need some more ideas for dangerously vengeful gods. Storm, agriculture (famine), death (undeath), fire maybe?
    "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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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Perhaps the God of the Seas may require a sacrifice for safe passage, but grants spells to prevent the God of Storms from killing a loyal servant along that journey. All these Gods have rivalries with each other, and likely undermine each other at every turn.

    Its also possible that as they practice this form of worship, they slowly draw more of a connection with their patron. At first this manifests as minor powers, but over time the Gods invest more and more divine energies to ready the cleric as a vessel. Those few that reach a critical threshold become avatars to their deity, as the God finally walks in the mortal realm.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Personally, I like the above rival god explanation. It’s simple and works. But here’s another.

    Well, if the gods demand sacrifice then it stands to reason the sacrifice does something the gods want. What if the sacrifice gives them power? But they’re still as powerful as they are because when they don’t get their sacrifices they still have enough stored up power to wreck everyone to make certain they’ll sacrifice more next time.

    The clerics know this. Over centuries of following these sacrifices and the exact preparations for them, the modern crop of clerics have figured out how it all works. And now they too get a little bit of power when they make their morning sacrifices. Not leeching enough to upset the god. But enough to gain some spells.

    The gods of course know this, and while there is some debate about wiping the current crop of clerics from existence and starting over, that will likely result in fewer sacrifices for generations. Besides it’s not like the pitiful amount of power these clerics are gaining from the sacrifice is ever enough for them to become a threat.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    lacco36's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    First of all: nice! I love this.

    We discussed something like this with a friend and part-time GM. We re-created a slavic pantheon in a game, where anyone could ask gods for favours, but you had to get a good standing with them.

    Idea #1: clerics are actually able to communicate with the gods and discuss (beg/bribe/coerce/argue with) them *where* to focus their attention instead of just "general surroundings".

    Anyone can pray & sacrifice, but your average hero will only be able to pray for general effects. Clerics - not so much.

    Reminds me of King of the Dragon Pass.

    Spoiler: Example
    Show

    Fighter: "Let's sacrifice 10 cows to the god of War!"
    GM: Okay, the god of war feels generous and smiles upon you. You will draw more blood than the enemy.
    Fighter's player: "What bonus do we get?"
    GM: You'll draw more blood than the enemy.
    Cleric: "Okay, I'll lead the prayers and sacrifice 50 cattle to the lightning god. I want to pray for him to smite and blind our enemies with mighty lightning."
    GM: "You see black clouds rolling down from the North. There is a storm gathering above your enemy's camp. Also, they'll get -2 to hit."


    There could also be "formalized" prayers & rituals. As in DnD - so you actually know what you'll get when you do certain rituals & sacrifices.

    For this to work I think the cleric should be able to "talk" to any god within the local pantheon - the cleric should have their "favourite" or "main" deity, but they should be able to address all gods.

    Idea #2: Gods. Most of them should pull double shifts (have multiple domains). Often overarching. Most of them should be focused on what's important for the people. What do they pray for?

    Death god. Someone you want to appease when burying people, to make sure they get to the right paradise. Could also work as god decay (protection from decay?), sickness or healing.

    You definitely need a trickster (thief) god. Someone who makes mischief his specialty. You pray to him when you wish to protect your property or reputation from the many tricksters around you.

    Gods of animals, healing and prosperity. Godess of hearth, family, seduction & matrimony (could be two separate godesses, one for matrimony, one for seduction... which one's the fertility godess?).

    God of thunder & lightning is a must. Combine with war or justice. Or drinking?

    God of secrets, snakes and knowledge?

    God of memory, past and night?

    Idea #3: Why do clerics get powers? They are actually chosen. Gods need people in this world, they need prayers and faith. It's their food, which, in turn, gives them power to make miracles. When people ward off storm, they actually power up the god of storms - and he'll remember. So storms come again. But they need someone to tell them where it's safe to send the storm - wouldn't want to destroy the little folks down there, even though you can barely see them.

    So they choose those who can hear them and don't go mad - and are able to narrow gods' focus so the people pray more.

    So much for first brain dump. Will think about this a bit more.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtâl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Hm. I like all of these, but Iacco's first paragraph is very interesting...

    The spells a cleric casts is them bribing their god to look elsewhere. To heal, you bribe the god of death not to take your friend today. To curse an enemy, you smear their name in the eyes of the gods.

    As for gods with multiple aspects... I've done that before as well. Making aspects cultural is often very interesting. For example, in one setting, I had a Goddess who in one region was a Goddess of Agriculture and the Earth, but in a vaguely Egypt-inspired river civilization was actually the Goddess of floods and fertility.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2020-09-08 at 10:43 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.
    "

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Okay...

    First questions are why do gods want sacrifices?

    Power is the classic answer...but power to do what? Does more power increase their ability to create more of their own portfolio? is their a competition between the dieties to become the supreme all-powerful divine power? Are they food?

    Just to toss out alternatives what if the sacrifices are what give them identity? And like someone with borderline personality issues even the slightest idea of not validating their identity sends them into a rage (but will also love bomb you if you do exactly as they say)?

    Or what if the gods present themselves (or are) maintaining the world? it is the lack of divine attention that make storms, earthquakes, etc? Life shouldn't exist and will fall back into chaos the moment the divinities stop paying attention. So there can be lots of Demons, Kytons, Stuff from Limbo etc regularly breaking through. It is when the god of storms doesn't bless you that you'll get a storm. This could also just be a different way of looking at the same set up...which could be an interesting cultural difference....it is still a "Nice ship you have there, shame is something would happen to happen to it" (replace ship with farm field/trade caravan/house/whatever as per the divinity)

    As for clerics...a few options.
    Firstly having divine casters could be a useful form of fine control for the divines. They can basically delegate small fry stuff to their priests, they have a budget (in spell slots) this way they could focus on each other etc...sure big sacrifices etc still get their attention etc but

    Secondly casters could be a way to gain faith and sacrifice efficiency. The divine casters connect to their patron could make it so that sacrifices that they perform reach the patron better. Less potentially divine energy is wasted etc. The prayer circles led by the priest are easier for the patron to tap using their connection to the cleric.

    Socondly-part two casters could just be an easier way to enact their will mystically. Just as the connection between caster and patron could allow them to gain power more efficiently it could be that the dieties could express power through them easier as well. The death diety can create a spirit of death/undead where-ever they wish but it costs them less divine energy to channel it through a cleric for example. so to have lots of options clerics are bribed with divine spellcasting ability.

    Third...who would teach proper sacrifice technique, and get this whole bunch of people to do what the god wants without effort?
    Spellcasting ability keeps the lay people in line and shows what are the divine approved ideas vs a bunch or cheats

    as for other gods....what about something along the line of
    A) kingship/tribal identity? something where a lack of sacrifice leads to social strife?
    B) family and or hearth. you want healthy kids? an even semi-stable marriage or chance at a decent match? not to have the pantry infected with vermin? avoiding food poisoning? and house fires? better make sure this divinity is on your side.
    C) oh look your magic spell went haywire! and hey the local knights hold had all their see invisibility rods go kaput just as an invisible assasin was sneaking in! Why is raining frogs with acid for blood?! The great god of the arcane sure seems annoyed and why didn't you sacrifice a black goat to them on the new moon? what do you mean I was supposed to?! No this frog rain is your fault.....
    D) Poisonous mushrooms, lots of wolves attacking crops, poor hunting, forest fires, wood smoke turning food poisonous, all or signs of the displeasure of the great forest green man. to be appeased with sacrifices of blood and the occasional wicker man.
    E) war....he likes you you win more...he doesn't then those he does get let to your doorstep...and he likes POWs
    Last edited by sktarq; 2020-09-08 at 01:35 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    lacco36's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Hm. I like all of these, but Iacco's first paragraph is very interesting...

    The spells a cleric casts is them bribing their god to look elsewhere. To heal, you bribe the god of death not to take your friend today. To curse an enemy, you smear their name in the eyes of the gods.

    As for gods with multiple aspects... I've done that before as well. Making aspects cultural is often very interesting. For example, in one setting, I had a Goddess who in one region was a Goddess of Agriculture and the Earth, but in a vaguely Egypt-inspired river civilization was actually the Goddess of floods and fertility.
    The god of death has a quota to fulfill. Balancing the books, so to say. So to heal your friend, you have to sacrifice an enemy. Or three goats. Or send someone to a deadly fight.

    The godess of herds and pastures wants to see growth. To make her happy, you cut down some of the forest, to enlarge the pasture.

    The god of forests just saw what you did. And you are on his personal "to crush" list now, unless you find a way to appease him. You sacrifice some of your herd, burning them and spreading the ashes to four forests to make sure they grow.

    The godess of herds and pastures is displeased. You need to enlarge your pastures and herd to appease her, so you plan to attack your neighbors. You ask god of death for help - in return for many deaths, sacrifice some shiny baubles to the god of thunder and war for luck and go on a big raid.

    The enemy is defeated, their lands claimed, their cattle yours and what remains of their tribe joins yours. Everybody's happy now! With the exception of the god of rain and rivers, who was worshipped by them, and now plans to destroy your harvest.

    At least that was how it worked in the minefield of a world which we played the two sessions in

    EDIT:
    Idea #4: the world is an enemy on its own. There are constant storms, terrible wind, floods, firestorms, earthquakes. You have to appease the gods of the world or you get all these things.

    Luckily, they are bad at aiming unless someone guides their hands/tentacles.
    Last edited by lacco36; 2020-09-09 at 03:35 AM.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtâl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
    Formerly GMing: Riddle of Steel: Soldiers of Fortune

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gods to be Placated - Help me Develop This

    Keep in mind all the stuff about spellcasting is fluff. You can just as easily use the fluff from another spellcasting classes or make up something new. You can have clerics born with magic potential like sorcerors, or they can study how to cast spells like wizards, etc... In this regard the cleric class is just a set of abilities, being a priest of particular god is more like a character's background. So maybe it's actually the Bard who is the priest and performs the rituals/sacrifices for a specific god.

    In terms of other gods, you'd for sure still want a war god. There can also be gods focused on terrain/environment such as Winter, or Desert/Sun. Even a large forest might just happen to be the home to a particular god so anyone living in/near that forest would regularly make sacrifices so that the god just doesn't show up and take whatever they want. So for example a God based on Revelery like Bacchus who is a super powerful Satyr like being lives in a particular forest, if people living in the forest don't appease him through sacrifices he kidnaps them forcing them to join his never ending party where they can never leave.

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