Monday, May 14, 2012

Custom Pantheon 4: Probably Not Final Thoughts

After I "finished" the new pantheon, I had one god for each alignment, with two exceptions: I had no Chaotic Neutral, because it's the dumbest alignment known to man and screw you if you want to be CN or worship a CN god; and I had two NEs, because of Inglip.

Inglip was problematic. I didn't want to just merge him with Mirk, because then the Mind Flayers and Aboleths would be worshipping the same thing. I didn't want to just make Inglip more of a monstrous aberration, as that would start treading more upon the schtick of the Burning Hate. I didn't want to make Inglip more mysterious, as that would infringe upon the schtick of the Exciting Mystery God.

Then, after some hemming and hawing, I decided upon a solution: Inglip can be the Chaotic Neutral god. To wit: I adapted some of the actual teachings of the church of Inglip, in particular the bit about interpreting cryptic messages in captchas things like candle wax, tea leaves, and fire ashes. I'm aiming for a bit of ambiguity between "not actually meaningful", "meaningful but with no long-term plan", and "meaningful and with a long-term plan which is incomprehensible to mortals".

Side note: I've never been entirely clear how to map Blue and Orange Morality onto the D&D alignments. Depends on how you do the blue and orange morality, I suppose. Could be just about anywhere. Even Good: imagine a hypothetical celestial who simply has no comprehension that something so terrible as killing is even possible. It draws a spectrum of morality between the ultimate good of standing there swaying slightly to the music of the spheres, and the ultimate evil of, say, jaywalking. Clearly good (depending on what it thinks the proper punishment for jaywalkers is. "Killing jaywalkers" is pretty evil, but if it has no comprehension of killing, then the proper punishment for jaywalkers is probably something like "more jaywalking").

Anyhow, Inglip's morality is Blue and Orange, and his plan is not knowable to mortals. The best a mortal can do is interpret each individual edict to the best of his ability, which winds up with inconsistent and probably occasionally psychopathic behaviour. If Inglip tells you "overthrow toronto", you overthrow Toronto. If Inglip tells you "watch Pony", you watch My Little Pony. There's a balance between good and evil, is what I'm saying. (Yes, yes, obvious joke that "kill bieber" is an even more Good thing to do than "watch Pony". But I try not to advocate killing real people, even in jest.) The Chronic Backstabbing Disorder this gives you is the kind of thing that earlier editions called True Neutral, but that's one reason we don't play earlier editions. And yes, an argument can be made that following Inglip's commands to the letter is Lawful, but when those commands are so Chaotic and lead to such gibberish behaviour, I think it's at best Neutral.


Also, Magg and Mirk start with the same letter and have the same number of letters and syllables. That's no good, no player will be able to keep them straight. It's as confusing as Ehlonna and Erythnul, or Vecna and Valkur, or Sauron and Saruman, or Tywin and Tyrion, or Asha and Osha, or Jesus, Judas, James, and John, or Eli, Elijah and Elisha, or... you get the idea.

Despite the fact that there are so many aversions in so many well-respected works of fiction, this is actually a really good rule to pay attention to. Never have two characters with similar names, or even names which start with the same letter, if you can help it.

So, let's rename one of them. I kind of like Mirk, and I'm okay with Magg losing touch with its acronym origins entirely. As I was walking home from D&D just before writing this bit, I turned over a bunch of variations in my head. Not Kromagg. Robot-Magg? No, though that just gave me the brilliant idea that maybe he's a Construct, not an Outsider. (Numiel and the Burning Hate are Dragons; Mirk is Undead; the others are pretty much Outsiders. Construct is pretty weak, though; their main selling point is their laundry list of immunities, which mostly overlaps with the immunities that deities get by virtue of having divine rank. Oh well.) Then I was rolling something like Earth-Magg around in my head, and came upon Urmagg. Even though "ur-" indicates something original or prototypical, and this god's one of the newer ones. Hm. It's still missing some touch. Urmaggr? Yes, there we go, I think I like Urmaggr.


Also, the domains were all crazy. Some gods had like seven domains and some had like thirty. I evened them out so every god has the same number of domains. 26 is probably definitely kind of a lot for one deity, but there are a lot of domains and I want to cover all of them. I guess if a player really wants a combination of domains not offered, they can just be a cleric of the entire pantheon, so I could have trimmed each list even more, but meh, whatever.

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