Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 17:32:09 -0700
From: Russ Taylor
Reply-To: The GREYtalk Discussion List
On 7/12/99 8:39 AM, Nathanael D. Wentz (ndwentz@TELEBOT.NET) wrote
>I find the idea that any amount of isolation, cultural shift, or physical change could actually cause the rise and fall of the immortal gods. The gods exist independently of the dwarves, or anyone else. Even if every last human, dwarf, elf, etc., died, leaving the oerth to be inherited by 27' tall
>rubber intelligent pogo-sticks with teeth in their hair and 74 fingers per arm, non of which are the same length, the gods would not change. I object to the hubris exhibited by the concept that the dwarves have their own gods, or the humans have their own gods, etc. We do not have gods. The gods have
I use a different system, myself. The majority of gods derive their reality from belief, either in their or in the concepts they embody. I have (at the moment) five categories of gods:
Primal powers: older than humanity, Lovecraftian in nature. Tharizdun, Pazuzu, the EEG, etc.
Conceptual Powers: fueled by belief in an aspect of life. They may grow and fade as other powers encroach upon that area, but they have no direct dependence upon worshippers. Examples include Boccob (magic), Lendor (time), Nerull (death), and Beory (Oerth). They tend towards Greater Power status. Many of them are cross-planar in nature (worshipped on more than one prime). A conceptual power can literally be created out of nothing.
Worshipped Powers: these gods are superficially similar to conceptual powers, but are almost always weaker. They derive their power from direct belief and worship -- if they fade out of worship/belief, their power fade as well. Some are worshipped on more than one prime. Examples include Pholtus, Obad-Hai, and Norebo. Worshipped powers are created out of myth and belief, although in many cases they were not created by the belief of those on Oerth.
Ascended Powers: Ascended powers are similar to worshipped powers, but were once mortal. Their powers are much more limited in scope than worshipped or conceptual powers, even when their raw power level is the same -- although immortal, they never gain the same understanding of the multiverse that a true divinity can attain. Ascended powers gain in power through both worship and belief. Examples include Iuz, Wastri, Saint Cuthbert, Hextor, and Heironeous. Ascended powers are almost never known beyond their home plane.
Presumptive Powers: Similar to ascended powers in nature. Presumptive powers are planar beings who tap into Faith in the manner of the Worshipped and Ascended Powers. The most obvious example are demons and devils, although they may be from any plane. They tend to be slightly better at wielding power than ascended powers, but their overall power level is usually far more limited. They only gain power from worship and sacrifice -- a demon lord with no worshippers can gain no power through being a presumptive power, even if he is known throughout all the planes. Nearly all presumptive powers are worshipped on multiple planes. Presumptive powers are not true divinities.
I let power levels vary from plane to plane -- the stronger the worship of a god on a given plane, the more power they have on that plane. Because of this, the Olman gods are very weak in my version of Greyhawk, even though they have fear-striking powers on other planes. Further, powers that are worshipped on multiple planes often have different aspects: for example, under my rules, here are a few identities:
Nerull: Hades, Hel, Nergal
Incabulous: Yutrus (of the orcs)
The personalities of each Aspect of an immortal are indeed unique -- a native from a plane that knows Hades will only see Nerull in that Aspect, with that personality, a native from Oerth will see him as the dread Nerull. A native from a world with a different death god is actually not able to interact with Nerull at all (and vice versa). In case you're curious, it's not as simple as just disbelieving -- the ability of a god (or demon, or ascended power) is directly tied to the power of that god on the mortal's home plane. A mortal on the outer planes can only interact with the spirits and divinities that are known, even peripherally, in his existance. A bit odd, but it works for me. Gods can get imported to a new plane through the actions of visionaries, planar travellers, or the insane, all of whom have potential to contact new deities, and spread their worship amonst the infinite primes.
Russ Taylor (http://www.cmc.net/~rtaylor/)
CMC Tech Support Manager
"I'm a reasonable man." -- Evil, Time Bandits