The Common Commoner - Page 21


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  1. #201
    My own take on the evil god matter is it's an alignment/focus matter that determines if they can rank a formal church in a good or neutral community--generally, churches that can produce priests who will fit into the community will have them. Those that can't generally won't...

    Let me give you a quick example, using the PHB gods...

    HEXTOR will often have a church in an area. Many of these will be LN churches that attempt to sell him as a sort of uber-disciplined war god, while the others will be vile-tempered LE churches which basically demand that people pay Hextor tribute, or else... Relationships with other, more-hardline churches and priests of Hextor are going to depend on hierarchy and philosophy--for example, the Order of the Iron Fist is a largely LN organisation that sees itself as a monastic tradition training hard warriors to face a grim world. It does not get along with the LE Orthodox Church of Hextor, which is largely backed by the Empire of Asir, a gigantic, partially theocratic dictatorship. The Order sees the Church as giving into worldly politics and losing sight of Hextor's spiritual significance--the Church sees the Order as air-headed fools whose philosophing has obscured Hextor's practical message, which is of course, the Church of Hextor running the show. Still, they can manage an uneasy coexistance, while neither of them can get along with various NE cult leaders who, gathering followers together, proclaim themselves the 'Chosen of Hextor' and proceed to either cut a bloody swath through the land until some hero stops them, or plot in secret to unleash ancient evils/free devils/kick puppies, etc...

    NERULL might have a LE church in the area, one that will claim to have given up all the human sacrifice and undead creation parts of the religion, and that is probably lying, though you won't catch them at it. It's quite possible that they have come to some formal relationship with the city government, allowing them to worship their grim god and yet still be functioning members of the community-- serving as executioners for criminals, to give an example. Most of their worship is in the form of 'Please Lord Nerull, don't kill my spouse', 'Oh, mighty Reaper, don't let my children come back as zombies', and the occasional, half-guilty 'Oh Lord of Bones--if Hew the Milner could drop dead--of natural causes, I'd be ever so thankful...' The church is probably willing to shelter less social members of the religion, as long as they don't start any trouble, and move out quickly. It should be pointed out that Nerull's cult has a rival in Wee Jas, and so they aren't always going to have a church.

    VECNA will have LE or NE churches that attempt to set themselves up as information brokers, possessers of mystical secrets, and sellers of magical items. They also claim to have given up the human sacrifice and undeath stuff, and some of them might be telling the truth, because these guys are aiming at bigger game. Your local church of Vecna will try to put on a friendly front as they make themselves indispensable to the residents and government--and gather blackmail material. They are very likely to try to come to arrangement with the local criminal element, and meddle frequently in local politics. Naturally, the church is always in danger of being raided by the local authorities, forcibly disbanded or arrested, so they spend a lot of time greasing wheels, and making sure they have allies. They're perfectly willing to channel support to the more extreme members of the religion, but like the Nerullites, don't want them around sullying their home turf. And once again, rivalries and problems with the local authorities mean you're not always going to have a church.

    ERYNTHUL usually does not have a local church, since his priesthood are basically serial killers. Usually, his faith is represented by secretive cult cells meeting in basements and sewers, and scheming to kill people. Erynthul is the sort of god that your more civilized sort doesn't like to talk about, or even give money to. I mean, the other evil gods have--some variety. Some ambivelance. Hextor is lord of Force, as well as Tyranny, Nerull is god of Death in general, not just Undead Things That Will Not Rest in the Earth, and Vecna's Secrets don't have to be Vile Secrets That Man Was Not Meant To Know. You can do your business with them and come out unsullied. Erynthul's God of Murder and Slaughter. You maybe toss out a quick prayer to him in fear and anger every once and while, but you don't worship him. It just leaves you feeling--dirty. It takes a special something to get involved in Erynthul's church, a sort of cold disregard for other people that many people lack, at least in the quantities needed to join the church. The closest thing you're going to find to an accepted Erynthul worship in a neutral community is the Chaotic Neutral raiders who call on Erynthul to let their enemies blood flow like wine, and that's hardly an organized religion...

    Of course, this is all opinion, I freely admit, and if any wish to dispute me--please do! I enjoy a good discussion!

 

  • #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fieari
    I wish people would stop chiming in with "D&D rules aren't SUPPOSED to make sense!"

    It's been said. All you who believe this, you are welcome to it, please be on your way.
    Yes it's been said before, but people seem to keep forgetting it - and I will NOT go away.

    Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that there is no use to this thread. It's wonderfully useful and a fun exercise. I tend to play devil's advocate though, and they ARE rules for roleplaying, not for worldbuilding and that's why certain extrapolations just kinda bug me.

    Take the random town generation tables in the DMG. People put a LOT of stock into those tables - but why? They're not MEANT for reverse engineering an entire campaign worlds demographics. That first sentence of the town generation section says, "When the PC's come into a town and you need to generate facts about the town quickly you can use the following material." While it does quite well at laying out a working demographic model it doesn't pretend to be the last word. Nor should it. The ENTIRE section on world building is a paltry 8.5 pages.

    World building is an art; not a science whose formulae can be derived from three pages of impromptu data generation and text.

    Of course, that's just my opinion. But be careful about telling too many people that their opinion isn't wanted. It is by constant, endless defense of ideas against detractors, or newer (and potentially better) views, that we avoid stagnation and regression.
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    Take the random town generation tables in the DMG. People put a LOT of stock into those tables - but why? They're not MEANT for reverse engineering an entire campaign worlds demographics.
    All true, but they've proved quite useful here.......seems like even if they weren't meant for it, some world-building thought went into 'em. And they make for a surprisngly coherent world.

    They're not the final word. For instance, a lot of people didn't accept the 2 attacks/day idea, and instead decided that plague and disease was the great threat. But they are quite suggested by the rules.....

    Now applying an economy to this might be a further exercize in futility. But I've never felt a need for that. Feeling out what the baseline, everyday life is in a D&D world is a worthy use of the extrapolation, I feel.

    More on the Evil Cults:
    I think it's more common than that -- the D&D gods work together to define the forces that govern the world, and it's ignorant folly to ignore these forces, even when they aren't particularly pleasant ones. I find myself reaching back to Greece a lot to compare....a creature like Dionyssus isn't exactly *constructive* for society, with revelry, excess, gender-bending and whatnot....but he was still honored and respected with the rest of the gods, and in some cases more so (because it dealt with the forces he had control over).

    Similarly, Erythnul *is* violence. Violence is part of everyday life. You don't just sacrifice to him to encourage violence, you also sacrifice to him to prevent it...a happy god doesn't come down hard on you, after all.

    So in most communities, there will be festivals, sacrifices, and common prayers to Erythnul. He could be muttered in the same prayer as Heironeous: "Let Heironious infuse our allies with honor, and let Erthynul take the enemy." Every June 20th, the feast of Slaughtersday is held, and a sacrifice of animals and captured enemies is made to placate the god (people are doused in the blood). It is common to dedicate the bodies of those killed in hostile action to Erythnul by chopping them into a fine paste. These aren't weird or frightening. Indeed, NOT doing these things (and thus incurring the god's wrath) could get one punished by the law, because the god could take out his anger on the entire town that sheltered such an individual. And what would you rather have, one person punished, or an entire town slaughtered?

    Who is a priest of Erythnul will vary with the town...in some small communities, adepts or experts will serve that role, and there is no adpet oath. In larger communities, where there is a cleric, they won't nessecarily be serial killers -- though they would undoubtedly *like* serial killers. Because in addition to the private, violent, unpleasant face of Erythnul, there is also the socially accepted side. The everday side. And it is just as extreme to dedicate one's life to needless slaughter as it is to ignore it completely. Though that's why other gods exist -- as checks and balances on the power of others. If a cleric of Erythnul gets to be a serial killer, Erythnul will love him -- but Pelor? Heironeous? They're going to work against him, bring him to justice, etc.
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  • #204
    What everyday side is there to mass murder? Erynthul isn't the god of simple violence--hell, Hextor, Hieroneus, St. Cuthbert and Kord could be said to have that under their portfolios as well--he's the god of Slaughter. Of killing because you like it. Most societies are not going to feel comfortable with them hanging around. (I mean, Olidammara's bad enough, but at least you don't have to check for missing persons once his holy days passed...) What's more I'd say some gods really are persona non gratas in their little pantheons--Seth comes to mind--and while a person may mention them in prayers and oaths, they aren't going to worship them directly. Erynthul strikes me as a Devil sort of god--you don't pray to him, you don't talk about him, you don't do anything to attract his interest, because he's evil, nasty, and unpredictable. You don't try to get his favor, because when you've got his attention on you, you don't know if you can keep his favor.

    As for his priests--these guys aren't standing around discussing the ramifications of murder--well, not all the time anyway--they're going out to commit murder. An Erynthul worship ceremony isn't meeting in a hall and reciting a liturgy--it's knifing a man in a back alley and then muttering a short prayer to Erynthul over the body. Then its on their way, because people aren't going to kill themselves, you know. At least not in the numbers to keep Erynthul happy.

    Now I'm not saying that Erynthul won't have organized temples in some evil and dark neutrality dominated lands, and these might operate under the rationale you mentioned. But Erynthul's speciality is not only anti-social, it's actively destructive. You don't pray to Erynthul to protect you from violence--you pray to Pelor to protect you from Erynthul.

  • #205
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    What everyday side is there to mass murder? Erynthul isn't the god of simple violence--hell, Hextor, Hieroneus, St. Cuthbert and Kord could be said to have that under their portfolios as well--he's the god of Slaughter. Of killing because you like it. Most societies are not going to feel comfortable with them hanging around. (I mean, Olidammara's bad enough, but at least you don't have to check for missing persons once his holy days passed...) What's more I'd say some gods really are persona non gratas in their little pantheons--Seth comes to mind--and while a person may mention them in prayers and oaths, they aren't going to worship them directly. Erynthul strikes me as a Devil sort of god--you don't pray to him, you don't talk about him, you don't do anything to attract his interest, because he's evil, nasty, and unpredictable. You don't try to get his favor, because when you've got his attention on you, you don't know if you can keep his favor.
    Well, the possible 'flaw' with this agrument (which is really just a differnece of opinion -- there's nothing WRONG with your idea. ) is that you're thinking of it as Monotheism, not Polytheism. Erythnul may be evil, but in the everyday lives of most people, there is evil. It's not something you ignore and pretend doesn't exist, because it's illogical to pretend violence, slaughter, etc. doesn't exist. You do pray to him -- to avoid slaughter, or to wish it on your enemies. He's evil, nasty, and unpredictable, but so was Dionysus, for instance. Yet people payed him homage in the right circumstances.

    Same thing with Set. He's evil and destructive, but he ws an everyday part of the world, and you had to pray to him if you wanted to avoid that destruction, just as if you wanted to inflict it on your enemies. Because unlike in most Monotheisms, Good doesn't include Everything. There are things that exist that aren't good at all. But they still exist, and gods still have power over them, and they are still a part of everyday life, even if they aren't particularly desirable elements of it.

    As for his priests--these guys aren't standing around discussing the ramifications of murder--well, not all the time anyway--they're going out to commit murder. An Erynthul worship ceremony isn't meeting in a hall and reciting a liturgy--it's knifing a man in a back alley and then muttering a short prayer to Erynthul over the body. Then its on their way, because people aren't going to kill themselves, you know. At least not in the numbers to keep Erynthul happy.
    There are a few ways to go about this.

    #1: They kill people, but who cares? If they kill the evil witch, or the greedy, lonely miser, or the diseased who will succumb to the plague anyway, they're nearly doing society a service.

    #2: They don't need to kill people, they just need to advocate it. According to the PHB, the only thing a cleric of Erythnul has to do to get spells is pray to him once per day and be Chaotic Evil. Someone who wants slaughter, even if they never actually involve themselves, is probably Chaotic Evil, right? So Erythnul likes him for advocating his philosophy, even if he doesn't live as a personification of the god. Indeed, emulating the deity by enacting mass slaughters could be hubristic. Know your place, mortal.

    #3: They kill people, but society accepts it. They turn a blind eye to the occasional murder in the street and death of a member, because if they don't, they'll get it worse in the end. Eradicating the church doesn't solve this problem, because the churches in other cities would destroy you, or Erythnul would send monsters to destroy you. Instead, you allow the sacrifice of the individual to preserve the function of society. Most people are Neutral after all, and this doesn't make the church-members nessecarily above the law. Those who commit the murders can still be brought to justice. It just means that the practice is not likely to stop. It's likely to continue, as long as both sides accept the continuing cycle.

    Now I'm not saying that Erynthul won't have organized temples in some evil and dark neutrality dominated lands, and these might operate under the rationale you mentioned. But Erynthul's speciality is not only anti-social, it's actively destructive. You don't pray to Erynthul to protect you from violence--you pray to Pelor to protect you from Erynthul.
    Why can't you do both?

    In polytheism, generally speaking, each god has a sphere of life it has control over, and it has no power beyond that sphere. And there is also an uncrossable gap between the gods and the mortals. Erythnul is the god of slaughter. That's what he does, that's all he does. He is defined and absorbed in this practice. You can't possibly live a full life *just* praying to Erythnul. Living life like Erythnul would like you to would mean turning a blind eye to the moderation required for life - you would never heal, you would never raise a family, you would just kill, mindlessly, for eternity, just like Erythnul does, and you would be killed when you do, because people aren't supposed to live like the gods do. Even a devoted Chaotic Evil cleric of Erythnul would pull back and raise a family. He's not a madman -- he just loves bloodshed. He doesn't have to live his life as a constant whirlwind of terror, and no one would expect him to, and he would meet an untimely end if he did. Instead, he's supposed to live as a functional member of society, and serve as the intermediary between Erythnul and mortal life, being as much like the god as any mortal can. Erythnul has power over a definate aspect of life, one that any logical mind can realize is part and parcel of life. And whenever that aspect of life is encountered, Pelor has no power to help you -- only Erythnul can, as unpleasant as that prospect is. Pelor has 0 power over slaughter and violence. Neither does Heironeous. Or Hextor. Or Wee Jas. If you are dealing with savage, bloody violence, Erythnul is the only creature in existence that can aid you, either by summoning it up, or by dismissing it. Erythnul may be evil, but the aspect of life he has control over doesn't only happen to evil people. Slaughter is a daily fear for many, and only by making sure Erythnul isn't irked at you can you avoid it. If Erythnul is irked at you, Pelor can't save you. Pelor can help you heal in the aftermath, maybe. But Erythnul's domain is slaughter, and there's nothing Pelor can do to stop him in his dominion.

    In comparison, in Christianity, you can live without the Devil. Because the One God is All, you don't need a force of evil with control, and you don't need to placate the force of evil to get it to relent, because Good has power over Evil. Good trumps Evil. So if you just pray to Good, Good will give you good things, and save you from Evil, all at the same time.

    In polytheism, though, Good doesn't trump Evil. Good doesn't control Evil. Good exists. Evil exists. To protect yourself from Evil, you need to make both Good and Evil happy. Because if you don't make Evil happy, there's no garuntee Good will win against it....indeed, Good is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Evil has power has over.

    Of course, the reverse is true, too. To get Good things to happen, you have to make both Good and Evil happy, because if you don't make Good happy, there's no garuntee it will overpower the Evil...indeed, Evil is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Good has power over.

    So you want to protect yourself from a hobgoblin army? You pray to all the gods. You say "Pelor heal the wounded," and you pray to the sun. You say "Kord give our warriors Strength," and you hit your chest. You say "Heironeous give our leaders courage," and you raise your right fist. You say "Hextor give our leaders power," and you raise your left. You say "Erythnul, take my blood instead of our heroes'," and you pour a bit of your blood on the ground. You say "Nerull, may our fear keep us strong," and you spread some earth aronud. You say "Vecna, keep our tactics silent," and you burn a book.

    Because if you don't, your tactics will be blabbed, your blood will be taken, your leaders will be weak, cowardly, or too gentle, and your wounded will die. Because to deny a god it's rightful honors is to affront it, and is to attract it's attention -- for better, or for worse.
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    Would that make you less common?

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  • #208
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget
    Well, the possible 'flaw' with this agrument (which is really just a differnece of opinion -- there's nothing WRONG with your idea. ) is that you're thinking of it as Monotheism, not Polytheism. Erythnul may be evil, but in the everyday lives of most people, there is evil. It's not something you ignore and pretend doesn't exist, because it's illogical to pretend violence, slaughter, etc. doesn't exist. You do pray to him -- to avoid slaughter, or to wish it on your enemies. He's evil, nasty, and unpredictable, but so was Dionysus, for instance. Yet people payed him homage in the right circumstances.

    Umm, no I'm not. Even in polytheistic religions there were "gods" that pretty much amounted to the boogeyman--"gods" that maybe you set out a loaf of bread for on dark nights, "gods" that the other gods were seeing as holding in check.

    Same thing with Set. He's evil and destructive, but he ws an everyday part of the world, and you had to pray to him if you wanted to avoid that destruction, just as if you wanted to inflict it on your enemies. Because unlike in most Monotheisms, Good doesn't include Everything. There are things that exist that aren't good at all. But they still exist, and gods still have power over them, and they are still a part of everyday life, even if they aren't particularly desirable elements of it.
    Prior to the Hyskos, maybe, but after that, Set was little more than a devil. His name was erased, his statues were destroyed. After that--no priests of Set. No prayers to Set.

    Or to give another example--Anupis the Serpent. By D&D standards, Anupis qualifies as a god. But it is a negative god--a god that is not worshiped, but for whom the other gods are worshiped for defeating. The argument I'm making is that Erythnul's place, and philosophy--he's Chaotic Evil, which is essentially like having a large sign placed on your head that says 'does not work well with others'.

    There are a few ways to go about this.

    #1: They kill people, but who cares? If they kill the evil witch, or the greedy, lonely miser, or the diseased who will succumb to the plague anyway, they're nearly doing society a service.
    And this goes fine until they kill the wealthy merchant, the mayor's young daughter, or the beloved old philanthropist.

    #2: They don't need to kill people, they just need to advocate it. According to the PHB, the only thing a cleric of Erythnul has to do to get spells is pray to him once per day and be Chaotic Evil. Someone who wants slaughter, even if they never actually involve themselves, is probably Chaotic Evil, right? So Erythnul likes him for advocating his philosophy, even if he doesn't live as a personification of the god. Indeed, emulating the deity by enacting mass slaughters could be hubristic. Know your place, mortal.
    No, it's hubris if they start saying 'Why, I'm better at mass murder than Erythnul!' Prior to that they are being good worshipers, killing in his name. And please tell me--what keeps your Chaotic Evil priest advocating murder but not committing murder? I'd like to know.

    #3: They kill people, but society accepts it. They turn a blind eye to the occasional murder in the street and death of a member, because if they don't, they'll get it worse in the end. Eradicating the church doesn't solve this problem, because the churches in other cities would destroy you, or Erythnul would send monsters to destroy you. Instead, you allow the sacrifice of the individual to preserve the function of society. Most people are Neutral after all, and this doesn't make the church-members nessecarily above the law. Those who commit the murders can still be brought to justice. It just means that the practice is not likely to stop. It's likely to continue, as long as both sides accept the continuing cycle.
    Yes, but most people don't want to get murdered themselves, and most authorities are going to want the people under them to feel safe, because that's how they stay the authorities, so letting the Holy Temple of Cruel Slaughter operate legally is probably not going to go over very well.

    People may use those rationalizations to "accept" the underground chapters of the cult, the same way some people "accept" drug dealers and serial killers. But that doesn't mean they'll like it...


    In polytheism, generally speaking, each god has a sphere of life it has control over, and it has no power beyond that sphere.
    But in the Greek model, we have Athena, Ares, Zeus, and Apollo all with direct power over battles. In the Egyptian, multiple dieties claim to be creators of the world, with battles and intrigues between the priesthoods. Among the Hindus, we see multiple gods of everything, including sun and battle. Some people pray to all of them, but many more pray to a few of them, or even one of them.

    And there is also an uncrossable gap between the gods and the mortals. Erythnul is the god of slaughter. That's what he does, that's all he does. He is defined and absorbed in this practice. You can't possibly live a full life *just* praying to Erythnul. Living life like Erythnul would like you to would mean turning a blind eye to the moderation required for life - you would never heal, you would never raise a family, you would just kill, mindlessly, for eternity, just like Erythnul does, and you would be killed when you do, because people aren't supposed to live like the gods do.
    The cult of Hercules would disagree with you there--they lived their ascetic lives in a direct imitation of his. (And would go on to inspire the philosophical school of Cynicism.) And for many polytheists, an act of worship meant doing as the gods do--that's the origin of the Dionysian rites you mentioned earlier.

    Now, let's just take a look at Erythnul's church, shall we? Mostly Chaotic Evil. Hmmm--well, the Evil would be the entire 'murder is good' angle, but what does that 'Chaotic' mean. Strongly individualistic--unlikely to conform to society's rules--contemptuous of organization and regimentation... I'd say we're looking at an antisocial ascetic group here, with little in the way of formal discipline... Basically, a mix of yogis and serial killers... Heh... I see them now...

    Wandering the land, following by the holy precepts of Erythnul (forever may He kill), seeking to bring as many as possible into His Bloody Hand, until they are at last brought to it themselves, living lives dedicated to the glories of murder. They frown on possessions, and keep only what they can carry, and while they are not prohibited from enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, they are contemptuous of them, for has not Erythnul said that the purpose of flesh is to kill, or be killing. Oh, your priest of Erythnul knows he can not be killing all the time--that he must sleep, and eat on occasion--but it is a fact he seeks to suppress, a fact he loathes, and tries regularly to prove his superiority to. Yea, their tales resound with such heroic figures as Black Chul, whom never did congress with a woman without slaying her afterwards, Carn the Ragged, whom ate either filth or that which he had killed with his own hands and nothing else, and Kyl Burntloaves who would not rest for the day until he had killed an old man, a young man, a child, and a mother. Meeting under gallows and in cemeteries, they speak of their deeds, and draw their morning stars, each seeking to kill his fellows. To begin their training, many acolytes go under the tutelage of an older priest, who teaches them the ways. If they prove weak, they are killed--if they prove strong, they kill their masters.

    Some speak of more settled priests in lands of darkness, whom have sacrifices taken to them--who build churches, and council monarchs. "But fie on them!" shouts the dedicated priest of Erythnul. "This is the life that Erythnul has chosen for me--my hand against all others, and all others hand against mine!" And with weapon raised high, he continues on the bloody path of Erythnul.

    Even a devoted Chaotic Evil cleric of Erythnul would pull back and raise a family. He's not a madman -- he just loves bloodshed. He doesn't have to live his life as a constant whirlwind of terror, and no one would expect him to, and he would meet an untimely end if he did.
    Some would argue that doing so would be the greatest act of faith that the priest could show.


    Instead, he's supposed to live as a functional member of society, and serve as the intermediary between Erythnul and mortal life, being as much like the god as any mortal can.
    But being as much like Erythnul as he can is going to make him a dysfunctional member of society, unless said society is pretty dysfunctional itself. Now, seeing that Erythnul and his priest are both antisocial, and figuring that in the battle between god and society, god will when, society is going to take a fairly dim view of the priests of Erythnul, and the priests of Erythnul will take a likewise dim view of society.

    Erythnul has power over a definate aspect of life, one that any logical mind can realize is part and parcel of life. And whenever that aspect of life is encountered, Pelor has no power to help you -- only Erythnul can, as unpleasant as that prospect is. Pelor has 0 power over slaughter and violence.
    Sure he does. He helps you withstand it.

    Neither does Heironeous. Or Hextor.
    Right. That whole 'war' aspect of their powers--no help whatsoever.

    Or Wee Jas.
    A god of death can be no help in--preventing death.

    If you are dealing with savage, bloody violence, Erythnul is the only creature in existence that can aid you, either by summoning it up, or by dismissing it. Erythnul may be evil, but the aspect of life he has control over doesn't only happen to evil people. Slaughter is a daily fear for many, and only by making sure Erythnul isn't irked at you can you avoid it.
    The thing is Erythnul is irked at everyone. You don't make him unirked. You pray to him for protection, he sends a horde of rampaging gnolls to your village. You pray to every other god in your pantheon to make sure Erythnul doesn't notice you, and that if he does, they'll protect you. Because the other gods do have some power for or against violence and with their help, you might get out of it alive.

    If Erythnul is irked at you, Pelor can't save you. Pelor can help you heal in the aftermath, maybe. But Erythnul's domain is slaughter, and there's nothing Pelor can do to stop him in his dominion.
    Except that one of Pelor's specialities is... strength. Being strong against the attacks of evil.

    In comparison, in Christianity, you can live without the Devil. Because the One God is All, you don't need a force of evil with control, and you don't need to placate the force of evil to get it to relent, because Good has power over Evil. Good trumps Evil. So if you just pray to Good, Good will give you good things, and save you from Evil, all at the same time.

    In polytheism, though, Good doesn't trump Evil. Good doesn't control Evil. Good exists. Evil exists. To protect yourself from Evil, you need to make both Good and Evil happy. Because if you don't make Evil happy, there's no garuntee Good will win against it....indeed, Good is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Evil has power has over.

    Of course, the reverse is true, too. To get Good things to happen, you have to make both Good and Evil happy, because if you don't make Good happy, there's no garuntee it will overpower the Evil...indeed, Evil is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Good has power over.

    So you want to protect yourself from a hobgoblin army? You pray to all the gods. You say "Pelor heal the wounded," and you pray to the sun. You say "Kord give our warriors Strength," and you hit your chest. You say "Heironeous give our leaders courage," and you raise your right fist. You say "Hextor give our leaders power," and you raise your left. You say "Erythnul, take my blood instead of our heroes'," and you pour a bit of your blood on the ground. You say "Nerull, may our fear keep us strong," and you spread some earth aronud. You say "Vecna, keep our tactics silent," and you burn a book.

    Because if you don't, your tactics will be blabbed, your blood will be taken, your leaders will be weak, cowardly, or too gentle, and your wounded will die. Because to deny a god it's rightful honors is to affront it, and is to attract it's attention -- for better, or for worse.
    The problem I have is that your analogy is false--even in polytheism there is the belief that Good spirits protect you from Evil ones. Quite prominently, actually. But the thing is, no matter who you pray to you're going to die someday, so the idea takes root that Good spirits have limitations--that even they can't protect you from everything. And so, if things are bad, you give the bad spirits an offering to placate them, and then go back to not mentioning them.

    Now, I'd say, looking at the other gods, that Erythnul is not the god of Violence in General--he's the god of a particular sort of violence. People who think that sort of violence is what they need seek him out--others don't. His violence does not trump anyone else's violence, and neither does theirs, so you are basically free to worship or ignore him as you see fit. Good societies, preferring war gods who don't demand that you slaughter all your prisoners to them, generally ignore him. Erythnul may not like that, and treat them badly as a result, but he treats everyone badly, so it's really not a big deal. Your Neutral general may give a little offering like you said, but even he stops short of letting the priests settle down, because while you can kid yourself that you can cut deals with Erythnul, the priests are there, and you find yourself dealing with guys that kill your shopkeepers, and set fire to the granaries. At best you set up a little shrine for them to pray at as they're travelling, and maybe leave a little food there for them--and even then you keep a tight eye on that shrine, and make sure that people who visit it don't stay in the neighborhood too long. Because that's the thing about Erythnul's followers--they don't take to rules very well. Just killing.
    Last edited by Rhialto; Wednesday, 25th August, 2004 at 06:11 PM.

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    I think this is getting more into world-specifics than something applicable in all settings.

    Here's a good common commoner question: what consists of a typical commoners diet? In winter? On the half-dozen holidays?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhialto
    Now, let's just take a look at Erythnul's church, shall we? Mostly Chaotic Evil. Hmmm--well, the Evil would be the entire 'murder is good' angle, but what does that 'Chaotic' mean. Strongly individualistic--unlikely to conform to society's rules--contemptuous of organization and regimentation... I'd say we're looking at an antisocial ascetic group here, with little in the way of formal discipline... Basically, a mix of yogis and serial killers... Heh... I see them now...

    Wandering the land, following by the holy precepts of Erythnul (forever may He kill), seeking to bring as many as possible into His Bloody Hand, until they are at last brought to it themselves, living lives dedicated to the glories of murder. They frown on possessions, and keep only what they can carry, and while they are not prohibited from enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, they are contemptuous of them, for has not Erythnul said that the purpose of flesh is to kill, or be killing. Oh, your priest of Erythnul knows he can not be killing all the time--that he must sleep, and eat on occasion--but it is a fact he seeks to suppress, a fact he loathes, and tries regularly to prove his superiority to. Yea, their tales resound with such heroic figures as Black Chul, whom never did congress with a woman without slaying her afterwards, Carn the Ragged, whom ate either filth or that which he had killed with his own hands and nothing else, and Kyl Burntloaves who would not rest for the day until he had killed an old man, a young man, a child, and a mother. Meeting under gallows and in cemeteries, they speak of their deeds, and draw their morning stars, each seeking to kill his fellows. To begin their training, many acolytes go under the tutelage of an older priest, who teaches them the ways. If they prove weak, they are killed--if they prove strong, they kill their masters.

    Some speak of more settled priests in lands of darkness, whom have sacrifices taken to them--who build churches, and council monarchs. "But fie on them!" shouts the dedicated priest of Erythnul. "This is the life that Erythnul has chosen for me--my hand against all others, and all others hand against mine!" And with weapon raised high, he continues on the bloody path of Erythnul.
    That's one possible interpretation. On the other hand, Erythnul can give his power to chaotic neutral clerics. It would be quite possible to have an area where the official cult of Erythnul in the temples sacrificed a slave or a prisoner or even a group of them at regular intervals to wish the depredations of the Many upon their enemies. There might well be a secret sect--quite possibly hereditary--that went out and actively murdered on a regular basis. However, there is no guarantee that a society wouldn't tolerate them. Indian societies tolerated Thugee for quite a long time before it was eliminated. I could easily imagine the worship of Erythnul being something like that.

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