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5E Are "evil gods" necessary?

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
With all of this talk happening about the various peoples of D&D and whether they are inherently evil and is it due to their gods they worship and so on... it made me take a look at the gods themselves. And I realized that having a pantheon that includes "evil" gods seems to intrude and trod upon unnecessarily the path of devils, demons and other outer planar archenemies.

We have entities such as Asmodeus, Orcus and all their archdevil and archdemon fraternity/sororities... whose domains and what they find important and control seem to often get superceded by gods that control or influence the same thing. And because of the fact the game is built around the Cleric as one of the four primary classes... gods always tend to have a much more prominent place in any campaign. The archfey, archdevils, and archdemons get a bit of play now due toe warlock pacts... but even still... the god pantheon of any setting seems to usurp and stand above those entities.

It makes me wonder if perhaps having gods with morality attached to them ends up just superceding the domains of devils and demons and are not really a good add to the game? If we have a Demon Lord of the Undead... do we need a god in the setting's pantheon that rules over the same thing? If we have a demon of fury like Yeenoghu, does having a god of fury as well like Gruumsh gain us anything?

I know some people will say that more enemies allows for more stories... but at the same time I do wonder if we've been giving the archdevils and archdemons short shrift because invariably we use cultists of evil gods more than we do demon and devil worshippers. And as a result it has given us things like the "all orcs are evil because they worship an evil god as their patron deity" kind of thing. Maybe the solution is to keep gods above and beyond the kin of mortal thinking and not attribute them the morality that we humanoids have by actually assigning them alignments? They have their domains, but there's no moral decision as to whether what they control is good or evil? Just a thought.
 

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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
So, instead of assigning mortal morality to gods we want to assign them to devils and demons? What is the point? To that point if you have good and evil gods, you don't need devils and demons really do you? (Maybe as minions of the deities they serve?)

FWIW, gods rarely influence anything in my games. Devils and demons, and other outer planar beings, more directly impact my game world. Cultists worship them as well as the gods. The "gods" in my world are beyond them and everything else that is not a god.

As I said in the other thread: the concepts of good and evil are not universal. Each culture throughout history (and I would think any species in my game world) has different views of what those are. Many overlap, certainly, but not absolutely. What one culture might see as evil, another culture sees as good. Take greed for example. Many view greed as an evil, but a culture that values wealth sees its accumulation as a good thing: it provides for your family and people, offers security, etc.

Finally, I for one, am all for orcs being evil, etc. I certainly have exceptions and the parties in my games will encounter "evil" races that have good members, just as they will encounter evil high elves, mountain dwarves, and forest gnomes. I have no issue with attributing an overall alignment to a general species (folk, race, whatever the f' you want to call it...), knowing that like good and evil, just generalities do not mean they are universally true.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Given that the thin distinction between how warlocks and clerics gains their powers, in a setting on which the Gods are a proven thing, I think they are redundant, even more if the power level between them is less variable than in previous editions.

To differentiate them a little more, I personally make the alignment of the gods a more flexible (ala Greek/Norse gods), while the planar Powers are dealing in absolutes.

But, yeah...they could be removed or merged without losing much.

My favorite take is having them all be Powers, and their types vary depending on their Plane of residence.

Abyss -> Demons -> Grummsh, Lolth, Demogorgon, Juiblex, Auril, Talos
Hell -> Devil -> Bane, Asmodeus, Tiamat, etc
Arvandor -> Archfey -> Corellon, Sehanine, Arvoreen, Titania
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In my campaign setting there's really not much difference between an evil god and a fiend that has worshippers. Loki is a Jotun (fiend in my campaign) but is considered a god. The only real difference is scale. If enough people worship a being it's a god.

In other fiction, gods can create while fiends can only twist and subvert. Gruumsh created orcs, Lollth adopted the drow after they were rejected.
 

Reynard

Legend
The alignment system in D&D has some strange impacts on D&D settings and the existence of good and evil gods is one of the weirdest. I don't think gods should have alignments because their portfolios are their alignments. In the Greek pantheon, just by way of example, you would be hard pressed to find any god that was consistently good or evil.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
One thing that always left me perplexed about evil gods in most D&D settings. If you are a faithful worshiper on one of them, you are guaranteed an afterlife of eternal torment. Doesn't sound too enticing. Their priests must have incredible marketing skills...
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
IMC, gods are beyond good and evil. Some people may view them as good/evil, but that's a perception rather than the reality. The gods are living embodiments of concepts. For there to be a good or evil god, they would need to be the embodiment of good/evil (and no such deity exists in my world).

For example, the stand-in I use IMC for Gruumsh is Tchernobog. His ideal is freedom through strength. One of his tenants is "Take what you desire; destroy what you hate". One can easily see how this can be used to justify all manner of evil acts.

However, there are orcs IMC who desire a better world and despise cruelty, and they are a force for good, in spite of the fact that they are faithful to Tchernobog. The 'good' and 'evil' orcs hate each other, but Tchernobog recognizes them both equally.
 

Ath-kethin

Adventurer
I've always been a bigger fan of the Al-Qadim (and later Eberron) approach to gods. You have a god of, say, the ocean. Some of its followers are good, some are evil. There's no definitive proof that such a god is an existing being one way or the other, so people make their choices and live with them.

Weis & Hickman's Rose of the Prophet books had another interesting take, where the gods are definitively Good, Evil, Etc. but are not able to interfere directly in mortal affairs. Hence they use their servants (djinn, angels, imps, etc) to interact directly with mortals. Most mortals only even know of one or two gods (out of 21), and even scholars who know of more have a hard time weighing the value or power of gods not directly part of the tiny subset their culture venerates.

Gods as big monsters who periodically just wander the planet and stir up trouble have always just seemed super juvenile to me as a concept. A kindergartener's idea of what a super powerful creature must be.

With all due respect to Dragonlance, of course.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
Drop the evil gods and make the rulers of Hell or the Abyss (or whatever evil planes exist in your world) the evil gods...ala...Elric and other Moorcock stories, and the Lords of Chaos in them. (In some worlds they are revered as gods; in others reviled and feared as demon lords and devils.)

Or make the evil gods the ones that rule Hell, The Abyss, whatever and make the demon lords and devil lords their servants, soldiers, advisors, etc.
 

aco175

Hero
Without trying to talk about Earth gods, I find that having a single god will only place the good/evil onto the mortal followers. So now instead of Orcus trying to do something evil we now have his mortal follower doing it in his place. Same mortal that could be working with another mortal follower of Orcus who is trying to do good in the world on Orcus' behalf. Things now become more distant from the source in that we should get rid of commune spells and rely on vague holy texts to interpret the god's desires.

This can lead to some better roleplay with the vagueness. My games do not tend to have actively speaking with gods so it may not affect me.
 

Remathilis

Legend
"Come quickly! Acolytes of Talos are summoning a terrible storm that threatens the village!"
"Come quickly! Cultists of Orcus are summoning a terrible demon that threatens the village!"

I don't see much difference.
 



There are many different way of using (or not using) gods in a setting, and having them allows for greater diversity among settings. Dragonlance is defined by the conflict between Paladine and Tiamat, and to remove one would make the other meaningless. One notable conflict in Greyhawk is between Hextor and Heroinous, lawful brothers who rival each other in the battle of good vs evil. One of Dark Sun's notable features, the absence of gods, was very novel at the time, creating a completely new view on the game. If everyone had to use the same evil sources (fiends), this would make a lot of setting very vanilla.

One thing that always left me perplexed about evil gods in most D&D settings. If you are a faithful worshiper on one of them, you are guaranteed an afterlife of eternal torment. Doesn't sound too enticing. Their priests must have incredible marketing skills...
The theory behind most is that they're damned anyway. By serving the evil god, they can be turned into a creature that serves the god (such as a fiend), rather than just suffer eternal torment. "Better to be at the devil's side than in his path." This is how I use it, anyway.
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
One thing that always left me perplexed about evil gods in most D&D settings. If you are a faithful worshiper on one of them, you are guaranteed an afterlife of eternal torment. Doesn't sound too enticing. Their priests must have incredible marketing skills...
Uh no you are not. If you follow an evil god your afterlife is whatever the Evil God decided. This can be rewarding or punishing depending on the god.

A follower of Bane does not go suffer in the Nine Hells.
 

dave2008

Legend
With all of this talk happening about the various peoples of D&D and whether they are inherently evil and is it due to their gods they worship and so on... it made me take a look at the gods themselves. And I realized that having a pantheon that includes "evil" gods seems to intrude and trod upon unnecessarily the path of devils, demons and other outer planar archenemies.

We have entities such as Asmodeus, Orcus and all their archdevil and archdemon fraternity/sororities... whose domains and what they find important and control seem to often get superceded by gods that control or influence the same thing. And because of the fact the game is built around the Cleric as one of the four primary classes... gods always tend to have a much more prominent place in any campaign. The archfey, archdevils, and archdemons get a bit of play now due toe warlock pacts... but even still... the god pantheon of any setting seems to usurp and stand above those entities.

It makes me wonder if perhaps having gods with morality attached to them ends up just superceding the domains of devils and demons and are not really a good add to the game? If we have a Demon Lord of the Undead... do we need a god in the setting's pantheon that rules over the same thing? If we have a demon of fury like Yeenoghu, does having a god of fury as well like Gruumsh gain us anything?

I know some people will say that more enemies allows for more stories... but at the same time I do wonder if we've been giving the archdevils and archdemons short shrift because invariably we use cultists of evil gods more than we do demon and devil worshippers. And as a result it has given us things like the "all orcs are evil because they worship an evil god as their patron deity" kind of thing. Maybe the solution is to keep gods above and beyond the kin of mortal thinking and not attribute them the morality that we humanoids have by actually assigning them alignments? They have their domains, but there's no moral decision as to whether what they control is good or evil? Just a thought.
\
Need no, though you would need to raise the power of demon lords and arch devils (which I do anyway) to really fill that void (in traditional D&D). That being said, it is not unusual (though not universal) to have an evil deity or two in RL myth. Sometimes the evil deity is in league with the demons and devils. Heck, in D&D traditionally some gods make the Abyss their home. However, it is not uncommon for demons and devil and such to fill the void of evil. Sometimes the lord of the demons is a god and sometimes not.

Both options work.
 


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