What are the defining traits of a god?

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Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The defining trait of a god is that...

When someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes!

Korean Kodiak a...
Korean Kodiak aka Evil Eli aka The Vile One's picture
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I think Ghostbusters gets quoted more often then Monty Python these days.

 “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!”

 “Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!”

 “The dead rising from the grave!”

“Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!”

Sounds Like an adventure to me

Opiyel
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I like to have a lot of options in my settings for religions and belief systems. In it, I have totems which are a spirit animal, plant, or concept that protects a clan or a tribe. You have your family's totem, your tribe's totem, and can have your own personal one that reflects something that happened to you. Maybe a wolf sparred you while out in the wilderness and now the wolf is your totem. 

There's also tonali, which are spirit animals tied to the deities in my setting. Each deity has a month and each month has a tonali (except the last five days of the year). So the month you are born in gives you your tonali. Though for divine casters like clerics, this can be ursurped by your patron god's tonali. So if you were born in the month of the caracara, but you worship and serve Tezcatlipoca as your patron god, then your tonali is the jaguar. The high chief's tonali is interesting, as it begets a cult that reveres their tonali as a powerful god of their nation. Even the main deities have tonali, which are revered by practitioners of tonal.

Then there are local gods called zemi. Spirits that are petitioned by shamans for wisdom, magic, and guidance. Every household, location, and city has a zemi that guards them. And then there are hero cults for different chiefdom's histories. Founder's myths, great military leaders, all can be worshipped though more commonly they are respected and evoked in times of great need. There's also ancestor worship, where people can evoke their ancestors for guidance. Some ancestors can even be a family's totem.

Finally, there are the gods. Everyone prays to all of the gods, even the "evil ones". The gods themselves are above alignment, but some do tend towards more benevolent or malevolent attitudes (like the goddess of healing vs the god of slaughter). Many of the more malevolent gods are prayed to by people out of fear, beseeching them to spare their city or loved ones from their wrath. Although many of the malevolent gods also hold sway of some everyday dominion. The goddess of murder, for example, is also the goddess of secrets and many pray to her to keep their skeletons in their closets. The god of tyranny and darkness is also the god of wealth, with everyone praying to him for great wealth and fortune. So there are no banned gods, just banned antisocial cults that disrupt the stability of a city. It keeps it more "real" for me that all the gods would be prayed to. 

 People can also pick their patron god. This is rare amongst the common folk and more seen with servants of the gods, like clerics and priests. High chiefs will pick the patron god that they feel best reflects their people, or shares the same tonali as them, solidifying their divine right as ruler.

For me, there are some non-negotiables when it comes to the big deities. Unlike the previous local gods and hero gods, these are cosmic forces. So, they don't die from old age and in terms of deicide, are hard to kill. So most can be imprisoned for eternity. Gods can be killed, but one killing the other would ignite a terrible cosmic war that would probably end with the destruction of most, if not all of their work. And all of the gods like the universe they built, even the more malevolent ones. Plus, it's a taboo, like killing your kin. That's why the gods act through worshipers, champions, and servitors. When a local god or spirit guardian is killed, it's not a big deal (cosmically, that is). When a big deity dies, a fundamental aspect of the universe changes or disappears completely. That's up to the being that does the killing. 

I also have it that gods do not need worship to remain powerful. I always found it weird that gods create races and whole galaxies, but need the power of belief to exist. Instead, worshipers provide them with souls in their realm. These souls can be made into servitors, guardians, and champions that can act on the god's behalf. I haven't figured out what sacrifices do yet, but I do know I want people that are sacrificed against their will to be less beneficial to a deity than those who are willing and wish to be sacrificed.

Roll that all in with numerology, vitalism, astrology, reincarnation, and you've got how varying religion is for my setting. That also doesn't cover the growing philosophies and the other religion, a monotheistic religion inspired by gnosticism. I really like religion and enjoy the great varieties of worship one can have.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I like your cosmology! Were you inspired by any particular real-world religions? Aztec? "Zemi" and "tonali" sound like something real.

Opiyel
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Joined: 2016-02-03 16:03

My game setting is loosely based on pre Columbian peoples of Central America and the Caribbean. There is a lot based on Taino and Carib mythology as well as the Aztecs and their predecessors. A lot of the religions have been based on real world counterparts with my own twists on them. Like combining Roman imperial cults with the idea of the Mesoamerican tonali, or hero cults and expanding on the Hero Twins motif we see. In particular, I was really fascinated with astrology and numerology and its place in the Mesoamerican religions. And there's other inspirations in there for more pagan, syncretic beliefs, like Vodou and Santaria, or more monotheistic religions, which in this setting comes from the colonists and is inspired a lot by Gnosticism. 

But yeah, lots of inspiration from the Tainos, Aztecs, and Mayans. Zemis in particular are nature spirits from the Tainos of the Caribbean that live amongst the rainforests on the islands. I need to pick up the ACKs Player's Guide so I can run Shamans in my game, since they'd really make more sense in the setting :)

Capheind
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Sort of the Vecna approach, fake it till you make it. 

Lord Crimson
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You've especially gotta watch out for those Basket-Weaving gods. They are dogmatic and spiteful creatures. Why, the great stick-vs.-grass crusades were a terror over three continents!

:D

Capheind
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That gives me an idea for representing heavily institutionalized religions. Imagine a small country where there was a widespread belief that a little turtle man could be prayed to for bountiful rivers, during a few droughts the widespread devotion to the idea actually causes the almighty tortuga to pop into existance. Being that Tortuga enjoys existing he begins appearing to villiages all along his most sacred river, minting all the clerics and paladins he can, and sends visions to every holy man he can find. As things begin to build up he realizes that the places with the most organized dedication provide the most stable spiritual energy so he sends along a prophet to establish a great church. Over the years he focuses more and more on the stability, heigharchy, and structure of the church until one day he tries to god it up and realizes... he can't. The institution itself has become a sort of mindless imbicile god granting powers based on the established rules and genuine devotion to Tortuga is so low he can barely manage to summon up a hot cup of tea....

James K
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You mean like this?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I feel really sad for Tortuga. 

However, you've also just explained Christianity's rise during the era when Judaism was dominated by the Pharisees, as well as the Protestant Reformation at the height of Catholicism. Because what would Tortuga do? He'd send out a prophet to topple the whole thing and restore the true faith of Tortuga!

I think you just solved world religion here at the ACKS forums.

koewn
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You mean like this?


-James K

I think we've completed this thread; I'd quoted a passage from Small Gods on page 1 ;)

 

koewn
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A living creature sustains its soul through the biological processes of its living form. It bleeds off excess divine power each day equal to 6% of its XP value. Casters use some of this to fuel their spells but the rest is dissipated or bequeathed to a god through worship. A cleric that leads a congregant in worship collects about 10% while the god collects the rest – which is why 50 0-level congregants (worth 5xp each) generate (5 x 50 x 6% x 10% x 7) 10gp worth of divine power for their cleric.


-Alex

By this, then, one would expect that a congregant who is higher level - the cleric's own henchmen, for example, would produce more divine power per week for the cleric. A cleric henchman of 3rd level, for example, is worth 65 XP, and as such produces (65 x 6% x 10% x 7 = 2.73) ~3 gp of DP each week. The domain ruler whom the cleric services would be a good source of DP, for that matter.

Given that expectation, one then could extrapolate that a combination of congregant size modulated by the Demographics of Leveled Characters may tend to produce more DP over time, as there will be some higher HD congregants included because demographics, at least, demands it, and it'd be a poor priest indeed who actually exclusively services the needs of the weakest. Just plain ahistoric, really.

Hold my beer, see if I did this math right:

A congregation of 400 0-levels produces 80gp per week of DP; or, on 30 day months, 343 DP. The cleric pays 400gp per month to maintain that congregation. In any case, the cleric pays about ~116.6% of the DP value to maintain the source.

A population of 400 includes 20 1HD, 8 2HD, 3 3HD, and 1 4HD persons.

The average XP value of those 32 people, if we account for the ones that may themselves be clerics or mages, is about 669 XP, and the remaining 368 0 level folks are worth 1840XP.

That's 2,509XP worth of congregants, who then produce ... 105 DP per week. If the cleric is still paying by congregant irregardless of HD, the ratio of DP/GP drops to 88% - he's paying 400gp for ~451DP. That ratio seems like it starts to bottom out in the low 80%s for increasingly improbable congregation sizes, say, 12,800 individual congregants producing 15,601 DP per month.

If instead he pays for DP at the standard rate of 116%, the 451DP costs him 526gp.

It could be said then, on average and taking the stance that the cost should remain the same for a given return of power (i.e. assuming we pay more to maintain higher level congregants), that investing in a source of "generic power" for purposes of magical research should cost about 180GP per resultant GP value per week (1000/5.5, the avg 1d10 result), with a continued investment of 1.16 gp per month (or 1 gp, 2 sp -> 6gp per 5 power points) in maintaining that source.

 

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