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    Canonfire :: View topic - Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk
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    Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:01 pm  
    Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk

    Having not used Greyhawk as a setting as much as some of you fine folks, I have a few questions since one of the players in the online game I dm for wants to have a religious character.

    Are the pantheons that the Suel, Baklunish, Flan and Oeridian humans worship really centralized to certain countries or is there a generalized pantheon for almost all humans and then the minor human deities more localized?

    Any references you can direct me to would be great, thanks in advance.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:48 am  

    The short answer is, it varies greatly. You can look up all of the Greyhawk deities here: http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=List_of_Greyhawk_deities

    Many of the entries list the areas where each god is popularly worshiped (usually in the Worshipers and Temples sections).
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    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:18 am  
    Re: Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk

    Barantor wrote:
    Having not used Greyhawk as a setting as much as some of you fine folks, I have a few questions since one of the players in the online game I dm for wants to have a religious character.

    Are the pantheons that the Suel, Baklunish, Flan and Oeridian humans worship really centralized to certain countries or is there a generalized pantheon for almost all humans and then the minor human deities more localized?

    Any references you can direct me to would be great, thanks in advance.


    There are a few different ways of answering this.

    0. Published Greyhawk began as a world that was deliberately thinly described so that DMs could make it their own. Do it however you prefer. If you want to say that nations in the Keoish sphere of influence worship the Suel pantheon, nations in the Aerdi sphere of influence worship the Oeridian pantheon, the Baklunish nations worship the Baklunish pantheon, and the Flan pantheon is worshiped in the north (for example) then you can.

    1. However, the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set did label certain gods as "common," meaning they were worshiped in most areas, and certain gods were not designated common, implying they were worshiped only in areas that matched their ethnic origin.

    Common deities: Beory, Boccob, Incabulos, Nerull, Pelor, Procan, Rao, Ulaa, Zilchus, Cyndor, Allitur, Atroa, Berei, Bleredd, Bralm, Celestian, Ehlonna, Erythnul, Fharlanghn, Geshtai, Heironeous, Hextor, Joramy, Lirr, Lydia, Myhriss, Obad-hai, Olidammara, Pholtus, Ralishaz, St. Cuthbert, Sotillion, Telchur, Wenta, Xan Yae, Zodal, Iuz, Rudd, Zagyg, Zuoken

    Uncommon deities: Istus, Kord, Lendor, Tharizdun, Wee Jas, Beltar, Delleb, Fortubo, Kurell, Llerg, Norebo, Phaulkon, Phyton, Pyremius, Raxivort, Syrul, Velnius, Xerbo, Wastri

    Notice that the Suel pantheon is almost entirely made up of uncommon deities—the only exceptions are Bralm and Lydia. The Oeridian and Flan gods are all common, with the exception of the Oeridian gods Delleb, Kurell, and Velnius. The Baklunish gods are common except for Istus.

    There are a few gods who were invented later (like Mouqol, Mayaheine, and Vatun) or who originated in obscure modules (like Merikka, Alia, Ranet, and the Olman pantheon) not on the above list. Osprem was left off it too, though she appeared in Dragon Magazine's articles on the Suel pantheon.

    2. Another way of answering this is to look at the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Each nation in that book has a list of major gods commonly worshiped there. These lists aren't necessarily exhaustive, but give an idea of who most of the population looks to.

    As you'll see, these lists don't necessarily correspond neatly to any one pantheon. Usually there'll be a mix in every country.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:14 am  

    Thanks guys, I will look up some more and let my player know my decision.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:03 am  
    Re: Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk

    rasgon wrote:
    However, the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set did label certain gods as "common," meaning they were worshiped in most areas, and certain gods were not designated common, implying they were worshiped only in areas that matched their ethnic origin.



    While it's not canon, it's worth noting that some sources have indicated that even some of the "common" deities are known by culture-specific alternate names in certain regions.

    For example, according to the Oerth Journal, the Bakluni call Nerull "Tharoth the Reaper".

    The same gods wearing multiple masks certainly helps create distinct pantheons without having to detail hundreds of different deities.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:27 pm  
    Re: Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk

    Armitage wrote:

    While it's not canon, it's worth noting that some sources have indicated that even some of the "common" deities are known by culture-specific alternate names in certain regions.

    For example, according to the Oerth Journal, the Bakluni call Nerull "Tharoth the Reaper".

    The same gods wearing multiple masks certainly helps create distinct pantheons without having to detail hundreds of different deities.


    While I agree with the idea of culture-specific alternate names for deities, I have to say… "Tharoth the Reaper" does not sound like a Baklunish name to me at all.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 18, 2015 2:58 pm  
    Re: Pantheon and Gods of Greyhawk

    rasgon wrote:
    1. However, the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set did label certain gods as "common," meaning they were worshiped in most areas, and certain gods were not designated common, implying they were worshiped only in areas that matched their ethnic origin.


    Not quite.

    The Guide (p. 62) says that the COSFBU indicators refer to the "racial origin of the deity". It doesn't necessarily refer to where they are worshiped now. For instance, Istus is listed as B (Baklunish), although it is well-established that her worship goes far beyond the Baklunish lands.

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    GreySage

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    Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:43 pm  

    Well, that's why I said "implying" rather than outright stating. Good point about Istus, though. Her centers of worship are said to include Dyvers, Greyhawk, Rauxes, Rel Mord, and Stoink, none of which are particularly Baklunish.

    But she's still not listed as a common deity, which to me implies that there are many areas in which she is not worshiped, while the rest of the Baklunish pantheon (at least, those included in the 1983 boxed set) is more widely represented.

    That said, I don't think any subsequent authors really interpreted the list that way, not least because the results often come across as counterintuitive. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer certainly doesn't place the lesser Baklunish gods as commonly worshiped in most nations, and neither would I.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:18 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    That said, I don't think any subsequent authors really interpreted the list that way, not least because the results often come across as counterintuitive.


    On that we agree. There are a lot of little nuances and bits and pieces in the original Gygaxian works that were misinterpreted over the years (I'm looking at you, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil). I put it down to Gygax having something in mind when he wrote the material that wasn't implicitly stated, but only comes to light when you put together a bunch of subtle mentions that taken together lead to something that is only evident on reflection.

    Joe / GG
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:26 am  

    My problem with making all the Baklunish gods worshiped throughout the Flanaess (or even just the lesser ones) is that it's hard to see the point of having a Baklunish pantheon at all if it doesn't serve to help make the Baklunish people distinctive. If the PCs travel to the distant Baklunish west only to see the same familiar gods they often see in temples at home, the culture shock is going to be less than it would be otherwise. Even if the gods are worshiped differently or under different names and visual depictions, essentially it's the same pantheon the PCs are familiar with, so why speak of them as if they're separate?

    In this case, we do have a little more of a clue about Gygax's original intentions. From Paul Stormberg's interview with Gygax, included in Oerth Journal #12:

    Quote:
    Q: In the 1983 boxed set you list the leader of Ket, Beygraf Zoltan (dual-classed cleric/fighter), as the Shield of the “True Faith” and his nation’s dominant alignment as Neutral. What “True Faith” would that be?

    A: One that I never had the opportunity to elucidate. That was to come, but... in short, the deities for the folk there were to be other than those enumerated by me.

    Q: Also in the 1983 boxed set, the religion in the Caliphate of Ekbir is even more curious. There the leader is Caliph Xargun (cleric) and the dominant alignment is LG and NG. This is quite a departure from normal Baklunish neutrality. What deity do these people worship? Some have suggested Heironeous as the best fit. Did you intend it that way?

    A: As noted above, I had planned a different pantheon for the Baklunish, but I never got around to detailing it. Should the majority be satisfied with the deities as presented, then indeed I would agree that Heironeous is a logical choice for the chief deity of the Caliphate of Ekbir.

    The reason I wished to include another pantheon is, of course, obvious, for lacking even the common ground of a shared pantheon, the friction would be greater between these peoples and the east.


    With the knowledge that there was to be a number of other Baklunish gods not known to the Flanaess, the decision to list Geshtai, Xan Yae, and Zuoken as "common" gods and to place centers of Istus's worship in a number of major eastern cities makes more sense. A little overlap between the gods of the east and the gods of the west is perhaps to be expected, but 100% overlap is another story.

    Given that Gygax never got the chance to create new Baklunish deities, and only a few other Baklunish deities have since been introduced by other writers (Daoud, Al'Akbar, Azor'alq, and Mouqol), it might make more sense to do as the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer did and tone down their presence in the east. I could still see temples to Baklunish gods in major cities where a considerable number of Baklunish immigrants and merchants have settled or commonly visit, but it's unlikely they've been widely accepted by people of other ethnic backgrounds.


    Last edited by rasgon on Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:59 am  

    Thanks Rasgon, that is what I was kinda expecting tbh.

    If the different pantheons had 100% overlap I think it would make some gods obsolete in time.

    Distinct regions where the god of death is Wee Jas instead of Nerull makes more sense to me and I wish there was some sort of demographic map of Flanaess.

    I always figured Greyhawk and other free cities would have more of a melting pot as would coastal areas open to a diverse influx of cultures, but an isolated country would have a very distinct religious feel.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:07 am  

    Barantor wrote:
    I wish there was some sort of demographic map of Flanaess.


    Well, there's the migrations map.



    The dotted line should be labeled "Oeridians," but for some reason isn't in this version.

    The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer describes the ethnic makeup of each nation, too. This information is also in the Guide in the 1983 boxed set, pages 13-14.

    Plus there's a regional alignments map on page 44, which is also relevant, since obviously evil deities will be more prominent in evil areas, chaotic deities more prominent in chaotic areas, good deities in good areas, and so on.

    Dragon #88 tells us that "Wee Jas is worshiped in highly lawful and civilized communities including Lo Reltarma, the Scarlet Brotherhood, and the Theocracy of the Pale." The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer lists Wee Jas as a major deity in Ahlissa, the Lordship of the Isles, Rel Astra, and the Scarlet Brotherhood.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:45 pm  

    It is labelled, just under where it says Baklunish and kinda buried in the mountains so it is hard to see.

    Thanks for this and I'll read that information, but I wonder how mixed the Suloise and Oeridian pantheons are mixed in areas like Nyrond where the migration routes overlapped?
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:58 pm  

    Barantor wrote:
    Thanks for this and I'll read that information, but I wonder how mixed the Suloise and Oeridian pantheons are mixed in areas like Nyrond where the migration routes overlapped?


    Well, the LGG names Nyrond's major deities as Heironeous, Beory, Rao, Pelor, Zilchus, Norebo, Pholtus, Ralishaz, Boccob, Delleb, and Celestian, and of those gods only Norebo is Suel. But it's still a mix. The Marklands mentions the other deities, but not Norebo or any other Suel divinity.

    A Guide to the World of Greyhawk and the LGG both say Nyrond's ethnic mix is Os, which means mostly Oeridian with only a weak strain of Suel blood, so that makes sense. Although the Suel traveled through Nyrond, for the most part they were driven either to the south or the north by the Oeridians and didn't stay. Ivid the Undying lists reasons that the Suel were mostly defeated by the Oeridians when they came to blows.

    A more thoroughly blended country is Keoland (SOf, which means primarily Suel with a strong Oeridian strain and a weak Flan mix). The Suel and Oeridians blended peacefully into one people in that nation. Keoland's major gods are said to include Heironeous, Phaulkon, St. Cuthbert, Zilchus, Kord, Xerbo, Norebo, Olidammara, the elf pantheon, and Trithereon, so as you can see there's a much more even blend of Suloise and Oeridian deities there. Heironeous and Zilchus are Oeridian, Kord, Xerbo, and Norebo are Suel, and Olidammara, St. Cuthbert, and Trithereon are common deities not linked to any single pantheon (or perhaps that means they're linked to multiple pantheons). The elf pantheon is separate and probably worshiped only by Keoland's elven population.

    The Suel gods were originally created for Len Lakofka's Lendore Isle campaign, so they weren't part of Gary Gygax's original campaign. That might explain why Gygax made them mostly uncommon.

    South Province/Ahlissa has more Suel heritage than Nyrond, since the Suloise House Zelrad founded a minor kingdom there after being driven from Keoland by the rival houses of Rhola and Neheli. Although the kingdom was eventually conquered by the Aerdi, there remains a strong Suel bloodline in the region. The LGG mentions the Suel deities Kord, Xerbo, Norebo, Wee Jas, and Syrul as major gods in Ahlissa, along with the Oeridian gods Zilchus, Hextor, Velnius, Atroa, Telchur, Wenta, Sotillion, Procan, Kurell, Fharlanghn, Delleb, and Rudd and the common deities Olidammara, Ralishaz, and Boccob.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:47 pm  

    Judging by the nation data in the gazetteer section of the LGG, Norebo is one of the most widely worshiped gods, if not the widest. You can see the appeal a god of luck and fortune would have to populace, whatever their cultural origin, especially if he's filling a void in that culture's pantheon. I play him more like the Roman goddess Fortuna, but that's just me.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:23 pm  

    Regarding the map posted by Rasgon above:

    I noticed that Perrenland isn't covered in hashmarks like the other heavily flan regions of the Flanaess (Geoff, Tehn, Rovers of the Barrens) and I wondered about that. I always thought of Perrenland as a flan stronghold.

    I read up on it again in the Greyhawk boxed set and, sure enough, the description claims that all invaders - Baklunish, Oeridian, and Suel alike - were absorbed by the powerful native tribes inhabiting the region.

    My first question is, was the lack of hashmarks denoting Perrenland as a flan-dominated region simply an oversight, or is there some other reason for it not being so noted?

    My second question is, why are Suel invaders listed among the major invaders of Perrenland? The map doesn't note any significant force of Suel moving so far north. That just seems odd to me. (Unless Iggwilv is of Suel decent. In that case, she could count as a major invading force all on her own. Shocked )

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    GreySage

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    Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:32 pm  

    The LGG has Perrenland as OFsb, or an admixture of Oeridian with a strong Flan strain and weak Suel and Baklunish mixes.

    A Guide to the World of Greyhawk (page 13) says that Perrenland is one of the places where unmixed Oeridians are most common (along with Furyondy, the Shield Lands, North Province, Medegia, Onnwal, and Sunndi).

    It looks like most Suloise migrants were turned away by the Oeridians before they reached the Yatils, but apparently some made it through to Perrenland. They remain only a minor part of the population, though; Oeridian and Flan blood are more common there.

    It's also possible some Suloise came from the north, since the Zeai, or Sea Barbarians, dwell in the Blackmoor region.
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    Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:43 am  

    Barantor wrote:
    Distinct regions where the god of death is Wee Jas instead of Nerull makes more sense to me and I wish there was some sort of demographic map of Flanaess.



    Wee Jas and Nerull are different types of death gods too, and could exist in opposition to each other. Nerull is the standard death-dealing reaper, while Wee Jas is more of a guardian of the dead, like Anubis.
    It was established at one point (in Dragon #350?) that she used to just be the goddess of magic, law, and vanity. When huge numbers of Suloise died in the Rain of Colorless Fire, the survivors started praying to her to protect the souls of those who had been killed by the magic, so she found herself becoming a death goddess as well. It's similar to how Ranet was the goddess of fire as a force of purification, creation, and rebirth, but when Pyremius killed her and took her portfolio, he became the god of fire as a destructive force.

    You could easily have the church of Wee Jas and a cult of Nerull at war with each other in an area. Nerull's clerics are murdering people and turning them into undead, in opposition to Wee Jas' doctrine, which allows the creation of undead, but only if the subjects are willing or the corpses are legally obtained.
    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:02 am  

    Armitage, great idea, and well articulated. And thanks for sharing the information from your magazine. Very interesting.

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    Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:37 pm  

    Working along the same lines, I go a little further with the story, stealing from the myth of Persephone, having the souls of those killed in the the Rain of Colorless Fire been consigned to Nerull's realm in the afterlife. The Suloise gods tried to make a bargain with Nerull to rescue those souls but the only thing he wanted was Wee Jas as his bride. She agreed and is now a death goddess, protecting the relatively innocent souls of those that might otherwise fall into the clutches of her "husband." This way she has become worshiped outside of some Suel populations.

    Armitage wrote:
    Wee Jas and Nerull are different types of death gods too, and could exist in opposition to each other. Nerull is the standard death-dealing reaper, while Wee Jas is more of a guardian of the dead, like Anubis.
    It was established at one point (in Dragon #350?) that she used to just be the goddess of magic, law, and vanity. When huge numbers of Suloise died in the Rain of Colorless Fire, the survivors started praying to her to protect the souls of those who had been killed by the magic, so she found herself becoming a death goddess as well. It's similar to how Ranet was the goddess of fire as a force of purification, creation, and rebirth, but when Pyremius killed her and took her portfolio, he became the god of fire as a destructive force.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:03 pm  

    Armitage wrote:


    ...It was established at one point (in Dragon #350?) that she used to just be the goddess of magic, law, and vanity...


    -Just a sideline, I always thought "Vanity" would be the perjoratative way of putting it. Her worshippers would probably think of her as the goddess of "Physical Attraction." Wink
    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:34 pm  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    -Just a sideline, I always thought "Vanity" would be the pejorative way of putting it. Her worshippers would probably think of her as the goddess of "Physical Attraction." Wink


    Or to put it more simply, love. At least, Sean K. Reynolds named her as a goddess of love in Dragon #350. It's probably a vain sort of love.

    Vanity was something added to her portfolio in late second edition; she was simply the goddess of death and magic before. Vanity was more a description of her personality than something she was worshiped for.
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