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    Canonfire :: View topic - Conflict between the Ethnic Pantheons
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    Conflict between the Ethnic Pantheons
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:28 pm  
    Conflict between the Ethnic Pantheons

    Does anyone use the racial/pantheon groupings in their campaign as a basis for conflict? Based on this, Good and Evil deities of the same pantheon would cooperate w/ each other, while opposing deities of other pantheons despite alignment. As a racial grouping, the Baklunish seem to be the most cohesive, and their pantheon does as well. The themes I've seen in Greyhawk seem to discourage this type of conflict, but I see this as making the ethnic groupings make more sense, rather than as background detail. Religous conflicts play more convincingly in this context in my opinion.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:16 pm  

    Well, I don't have fighting between the pantheons as a specific theme... I mostly have a Gods vs Demons theme in that regards, with the different pantheons reluctant allies in that. But I do play up the importance of the pantheons and regional religion.

    I have more than just four pantheons, though.

    The Old Faith (Beory led with Pelor, Nerull, Obad Hai, and Berei)

    The Raoan Pantheon (Rao led, with St. Cuthbert, Allitur, Zodal.. Myhriss borrowed in).

    The Elvish Pantheon (Ehlonna, Lirr, Myhriss..Phaulkon borrowed in).

    Eastern Oeridian (usual suspects led by Pholtus)

    Western Oeridian (usual suspects led by Velnius)

    Imperial Suel (led by Wee Jas)

    Northern Barbarian (Vatun, Dalt, Kord, Llerg, minor use of other Suel deities)

    Dwarf/Gnome: Ulaa and Bleredd with Fortubo, Jascar, Bralm, and a few others imported.

    Baklunish: Al'Akbar is the prophet of Istus... and Xan Yae, Zuoken, Geshtai (Beory?) under her, with Pelor, Incabulous, Nerull, Zilchus, Boccob, and a few others under other names.

    The Olman I've completely rewritten, as I don't like the concept of borrowing real world gods wholesale. They are half Old Faith variant and half 'demons as gods'.

    Haven't had any reason to think about the Touv particularly.


    There are also other minor variations, of course. For instance, Fharlanghn and Celestian were the tribal patrons of the Keogh, so they are much more important there than in other Oeridian communities.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:10 pm  

    This has kind of been an issue for me in Greyhawk for a while. A very minor issue, granted, but an issue.

    There is precious little cohesiveness in the pantheons.

    A big part of this is that there really isn't any canon mythology for the pantheons. We understand the GrecoRoman, the Norse, and the Egyptian pantheons so well because of the established mythos. The Greyahawk pantheons lack that, and really suffer for it.

    Kinda wish I had a simple answer for it.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:12 am  

    Well, dunno if the answer is simple.... but its pretty obvious: make it up. That's what I did, which is how I ended up with the groupings that I have.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:05 am  

    Itís hard for me to imagine a conflict between the various ethnic pantheons in the Flanaess, since I feel that the original ethnic pantheons no longer exist. The listed gods should be considered a new pantheon, or pantheons, in the making, a mixing of the old gods that managed to remain in favor with a few new ones tossed in. For the most part the original list of gods only included the gods currently worshipped in the central Flanaess, and wasnít meant to be considered a complete listing of the racial groupsí original pantheons. It should be assumed that that each racial group had a more complete, cohesive pantheon prior to the migrations, but the post-cataclysm chaos and the extensive mingling of the various groups has caused major changes. New environments and needs would cause the various groups to find new gods to fit their new needs. What appeal would the pantheon of the southern climate, civilized, magic-heavy old Suloise Empire have for the Suel barbarians? Sure, some of the old gods stayed in favor, but the barbarians would certainly look to new gods that better served their current needs. And the same thing would have occurred in different places with the various groups.
    This also explains the lack of cohesiveness, but itís what should be expected given the circumstances.

    Scott
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:36 am  

    Yes, the general Greyhawk tendency in the Gygax era was always 'we have cool races and actual pantheons, but...uhh... they don't matter and everyone gets along just fine'. I never particularly cared for that aspect. The migrations are a long time ago, but they aren't /that/ long a time ago if you look at ethnicity and religion in real world context.

    I'd rather they didn't bother and just go with the undifferentiated mass of cultureless gods like the FR than set them up properly and then say "but don't use them that way".
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:56 am  

    It's an interesting FYI, but I agree, in most instances the racial indicator should just be disregarded.

    Scott
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:36 am  

    The saying goes "As above, so too below; as below, so too above.". In my (rather heretical) WoG, the races generally don't get along, and neither do their pantheons, and the "common" gods (Boccob, Ehlonna, Ulaa, etc.) are almost non-existant. In areas where there is much mixing of the races, the pantheons are more mixed as well, and the "common" gods are more prevalent. Mankind creates God(s) in his own image. :)
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:00 am  

    gargoyle wrote:
    Mankind creates God(s) in his own image. :)


    I don't go that far but IMC how man views the god(s) has an influence on what the god governs and acts on. The Oeridian Sol became Pelor because the Flan aspect of that god had always been more of a protector/patron of the common folk, unlike the Sol aspect. So when there was a shift in Oeridian culture toward a more agrarian society and the social order became more stratified the primarily Oeridian commoners came to follow Sol in his Pelor aspect until they were actually calling him Pelor and the Oeridian ruling orders (and the god himself) had to follow the popular will.

    I agree with ScottG for the most part. I would disregard the racial indicator as anything more than an origin and general guideline. I also don't have all my Oeridian dominated cultures dressing in plaids and checks and the Suloise in solids either, although that may have some influence on fashion in some places.
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:21 pm  

    I'm somewhere in between, I guess. Some of the gods change very slowly, and will still identify the divine family they've been part of for thousands of years as their kin, while the gods of other families whose worshippers have interbred with their own for the past millennia are still outsiders. The Suel pantheon is especially self-sufficient and distinct; most of its members are redundant in regions where the Oeridian and common gods are revered, and all of them (ignoring Vatun and Dalt for the moment) trace their descent from Lendor where the ancestry of other pantheons may be vague. At the same time, familiarity breeds contempt, and I can't see Wee Jas (for example) siding with long-time foes like Beltar or Phyton against potential allies like Hextor or Allitur. Nor can I see Pelor siding with Nerull against Heironeous, but I can certainly see him siding with Heironeous against Nerull.

    The human side of this will be different from the divine side. Human cultures change very quickly, especially those migrating to new lands as the Suel and Oeridians did during the Migrations, and polytheism tends to inspire religious syncretism. Many humans may still recognize coherent pantheons, but these may not look like the pantheons their ancestors worshipped a thousand years ago.

    So in some cases, like the Suel and Baklunish gods, there still may be enmities along ancient pantheonic lines. A millennium is not so long for a god that something like the Suel-Baklunish wars can be soon forgot, though they may not have approved of those wars at the time. In other cases the gods may never have taken much notice of the political arrangements of their mortal worshippers, and don't care much if a given group worships them together with other gods they don't have much in common with. In those cases, especially where no real familial relationships exist, a "pantheon" may be a purely mortal construct.

    The Flan gods I see as originally a number of mostly unconnected regional pantheons with some common elements. The Tenha pantheon is essentially Pelor, Nerull, Berei, and Allitur, with Allitur's stern priests presiding over the traditions of that very traditional society, seldom worshipped anywhere else. Zodal was the chief patron of the Flan kingdom of Ahlissa and remains the chief god of the Flan of South Province. Rao was known mostly in the Velverdyva valley, and is still strongest there. The Old Faith revered Beory, Obad-hai, Nerull, Pelor, and the goddesses of the moons, with other Flan gods being mostly unimportant to druids. In present times, some things have changed: for example, the hierarchy of Rao recognizes Zodal and Allitur as connected to their deity, though they once had very different regional bases.

    The racial origins are still relevant to some extent and need not be entirely ignored. They help us see the nature of the original human cultures and the history of the gods and what familial relationships might exist between them. They help us guess which gods will typically be worshipped in regions with specific ethnic mixes. It's useful information, but I don't think it's the only relevant factor. A mixed Flan-Oeridian culture might well worship a mixed Flan-Oeridian pantheon, perhaps with new creation myths to explain how they were really all related from the beginning of time. For example, in Veluna they might have myths about how Heironeous and Delleb were created by Rao. And if a war erupts in the Outer Planes between ancient divine clans, new allies and relationships may well alter the shape of that war.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:33 pm  

    I pretty much agree completely,though I don't have exactly the same choices as yours. I've made other changes and interpretations along those lines, however. Wee Jas is the 'leader' of the Suel pantheon now, but she wasn't always. Both Lendor and Beltar were at times past. Some gods have changed pantheons entirely (Fortubo), while others have dual allegiances (Phaulkon, Myhriss).

    As I mentioned before, different Oeridian tribes have different views of the pantheon and some (the Velondi and, to a lesser extent the Keogh) have a very different collection of gods.

    I've made it so there are commonalities in the divine servants of gods of the same divine families and things like that. On the other hand, plenty of things are dictated by local culture, because I don't believe the gods are micromanaging their priests. The multiple cults of Pholtus don't all get along with each other, but they all seem to get along with Pholtus (as far as anyone can tell.. I don't usually have shiny symbols of divine approval stamped on churches much..).

    Syncretism is an important concept. Its at least as common for groups to say "oh, that god of theirs is really just this god of ours under a different name" as it was for them to say "ewww, their gods are icky, let's wipe them out". That's not unheard of, but its much more a feature of monotheism than polytheism. After all, those guys are gods. Do you really want to piss them off?

    That's why I think that 'evil' gods are more openly worshipped than traditional fantasy RPGs show. Placation is very important...after all, polytheistic gods are not generally 'saving your soul' or the like, not like monotheism promises. Its more of a quid pro quo in this life kind of relationship.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:59 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    I'm somewhere in between, I guess. Some of the gods change very slowly, and will still identify the divine family they've been part of for thousands of years as their kin, while the gods of other families whose worshippers have interbred with their own for the past millennia are still outsiders. The Suel pantheon is especially self-sufficient and distinct; most of its members are redundant in regions where the Oeridian and common gods are revered, and all of them (ignoring Vatun and Dalt for the moment) trace their descent from Lendor where the ancestry of other pantheons may be vague. At the same time, familiarity breeds contempt, and I can't see Wee Jas (for example) siding with long-time foes like Beltar or Phyton against potential allies like Hextor or Allitur. Nor can I see Pelor siding with Nerull against Heironeous, but I can certainly see him siding with Heironeous against Nerull.

    The human side of this will be different from the divine side. Human cultures change very quickly, especially those migrating to new lands as the Suel and Oeridians did during the Migrations, and polytheism tends to inspire religious syncretism. Many humans may still recognize coherent pantheons, but these may not look like the pantheons their ancestors worshipped a thousand years ago.

    So in some cases, like the Suel and Baklunish gods, there still may be enmities along ancient pantheonic lines. A millennium is not so long for a god that something like the Suel-Baklunish wars can be soon forgot, though they may not have approved of those wars at the time. In other cases the gods may never have taken much notice of the political arrangements of their mortal worshippers, and don't care much if a given group worships them together with other gods they don't have much in common with. In those cases, especially where no real familial relationships exist, a "pantheon" may be a purely mortal construct.

    The Flan gods I see as originally a number of mostly unconnected regional pantheons with some common elements. The Tenha pantheon is essentially Pelor, Nerull, Berei, and Allitur, with Allitur's stern priests presiding over the traditions of that very traditional society, seldom worshipped anywhere else. Zodal was the chief patron of the Flan kingdom of Ahlissa and remains the chief god of the Flan of South Province. Rao was known mostly in the Velverdyva valley, and is still strongest there. The Old Faith revered Beory, Obad-hai, Nerull, Pelor, and the goddesses of the moons, with other Flan gods being mostly unimportant to druids. In present times, some things have changed: for example, the hierarchy of Rao recognizes Zodal and Allitur as connected to their deity, though they once had very different regional bases.

    The racial origins are still relevant to some extent and need not be entirely ignored. They help us see the nature of the original human cultures and the history of the gods and what familial relationships might exist between them. They help us guess which gods will typically be worshipped in regions with specific ethnic mixes. It's useful information, but I don't think it's the only relevant factor. A mixed Flan-Oeridian culture might well worship a mixed Flan-Oeridian pantheon, perhaps with new creation myths to explain how they were really all related from the beginning of time. For example, in Veluna they might have myths about how Heironeous and Delleb were created by Rao. And if a war erupts in the Outer Planes between ancient divine clans, new allies and relationships may well alter the shape of that war.


    Well, Iím just generalizing. I agree with most of what you say. There are many instances where I think old traditions would still exist, but for all intents and purposes the old pantheons are things of the past, and new pantheons are emerging from the mingling of the old and the rise of new gods.
    Of course there will still be purist groups like the SB, and others, but they are fringe and not the norm, IMO.

    Scott
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