Issues Mar Otherwise Interesting Lore Of The Gods
  • Issues Mar Otherwise Interesting Lore Of The Gods

    It's not every day that you find a Pathfinder supplement written with both players and GMs in mind. Lore of the Gods, a divinity-focused supplement from Dragon Wing Games, strikes that balance admirably, but the flavor bursting from the seams is marred somewhat by the inconsistency of style and substance throughout the book.

    First and foremost, credit where credit is due. What little I do know of Egyptian, Norse, Greek, and Mesopotamian cosmologies do make me thankful of the time and effort Dragon Wing Games put in to representing these multifaceted cultures.

    What really stood out to me was the way the book describes the Egyptian gods being merged or held in different esteem based on location of worship. It made me hopeful for how the other non-Western pantheons would be represented, and for the most part their descriptions lived up to my expectations.

    Unfortunately, this excellent kind of representation did not always extend to the art. While the art depicting the Egyptian gods is excellent, even more so as black-and-white art, the quality of the art in other chapters varies wildly in quality. Some of the artistic choices are questionable at best and downright disgusting at worst. Art that that so unabashedly objectifies and sexualizes its subjects, especially when the accompanying text does not support a theme of sexuality but rather a theme of violence and competence, has no business being in a TTRPG product in this day and age.

    On to the meaty mechanics! Once again, we find strange incongruity between even thematically similar sections. The rules covering the "Devout Path" are quite interesting: an alternate or additional version of a paladin's code of honor, with similar boons granted as a reward for such strict adherence to the faith.

    In practice, however, the implementation is scattershot. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to which gods give what kind of powers. Greater deities can give paltry bonuses, while devotees of a lesser deity can sometimes be granted such coveted boons as ability score increases or bonuses to initiative. To make matters worse, the initial description of the Devout bonuses is awkwardly placed in the middle of the rules for deific avatars and ascension.

    It's also clear from a look at the prestige class options presented in Lore of the Gods that this is a supplement for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5E first and Pathfinder a distant second. For example, the problem with the prestige classes are largely twofold: they fail to compete with even the base classes' advancement and options in the Pathfinder Core Rules, or they are so comically overpowered one wonders how much playtest they really received.

    On one end of the spectrum is the Sister of Selket prestige class, the art for which is one of the worst offenders when it comes to disgusting objectification. While the flavor text for the Sister of Selket describes wizards and sorcerers as typical aspirants, the class offers no additional advancement for spellcasting – a huge mark against it for primary casters. At the other end of the spectrum is the Sisterhood of the Valkyrie prestige class (another contender for least necessary sexualization in art) which at third level earns access to a +3 intelligent weapon!

    There is quite a lot of good material to be gleaned from Lore of the Gods. It is clear that some members of the Dragon Wing Games team put an laudable amount of work into this book, and they should be recognized for that effort. Slipshod execution mars the product as a whole, though, and it is sadly a product stuck in its time.

    contributed by Ben Reece
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