So in my previous article about clerics and non-traditional religions (found here), I address when playing in a homebrew setting or even in an establish setting, if a cleric seeks to embody the principles/doctrines of their religious order instead of their deity, there comes with it a bit of abstract thought. A cleric that wishes to embody “justice” as its champion may be more vindictive, or merciful, or pensive, or inquisitive. In the article, I addressed that such a cleric typically ends up being very unique and that often no two clerics are ever the same.
But what about players or DMs that wish to create their own deity or pantheons? How would they address these ideas and thoughts? I have my own homebrew (check it out, it’s on the top of the blog) pantheon, there are some similarity to other settings and some of them are unique on their own right. But moving on with that thought, there are some important things to always consider if a DM wishes to create their own pantheon instead of using the existing pantheons.
Creating the creators – God-crafting
There are some key elements/thoughts to keep in mind when creating a pantheon:
- How were the gods created?
- Were they the first? Or where there others before them?
- How did the gods create the world?
- What sort of struggle would eventually cause a schism between them? Good vs. evil, or chaos vs. law, or something else?
- In the pantheon, is it asymmetrical or symmetrical? In other words, is there a balance in the number of deities (good vs. evil, law vs. chaos) or is there more evil deities than good deities (representing the constant struggle of the moral need for good)
- Is there a hierarchy? In some settings there are greater gods, intermediate powers, and lesser deities. Sometimes these are important in regards to the ranking and social interactions between deities.
- Do the deities interact often with mortals or do they seldom interact with them? For example, for the Ancient Greeks, the gods interacted with humanity quite often while in settings like the Forgotten Realms, the deities cannot openly interact with mortals due to edicts set forth by the overgod Ao.
- When creating a pantheon, keep in mind of deities encapsulating certain archetypes, like a deity for tyranny, for justice, for destiny, for love. The number of such archetypes, and which ones are to be represented is entirely up to the player/DM. But these archetypes generally encompass the facets of the mortal experience.
Creating and setting up a pantheon can often be a tedious and grueling task, sometimes it’s more practical to create a singular deity as a unique entity in an established pantheon.
Creating a god
To create a new deity, you often want to visualize what sort of role the deity serves or embodies. Of course there are fringe deities that only seek to exist and acquire followers or power. Such entities can either cruel, abstract, or a new archetype from an existing deity.
So here are a few things to keep in mind for players/DMs:
- What sort of role or purpose does the deity possess? If none, why is the entity a deity?
- How did the entity become a god?
- What is the deity’s personality like?
- What sort of history does the deity have with other gods?
- Any unique features?
- How do followers of this deity worship and how active are they in the world?
- Does your deity serve as an archetypes? If so, which one? Does the deity embody it, or does it use it?
- What sort of impact does this deity have on the world?
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