D&D General Deities in D&D: Gods as Tulpas versus Gods as Progenitors

Fifinjir

Explorer
Gods as tulpas works in a world we’re tulpic beings are around, but if they’re the only ones it feels too “zero to a hundred” to me.
 

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Li Shenron

Legend
Great article!

I would claim that in most fantasy settings deities have been largely #2 plus a smattering of #3.

Personally I largely prefer #4, which allows me to actually do whatever I want with all the others and be still free to change my mind later.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One setting wherein there is a certain degree of mortal influence on the gods is my Islands World setting, wherein the gods are the things they represent, down to manifesting through mortals in moments where those mortals really embody the nature of a god, such as when a blacksmith is really zoned in on their work and creating a masterwork, and Moradin is with them, because Moradin is those moments of truly inspired creation.

The way mortals influence the gods in this world, is that the greatest smith of a generation’s story becomes a story of Moradin, and the addition of new stories about these gods can cause the gods to change in small ways over time.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Another thing that only occasionally seems to happen is deities being worshipped under different names. While there are some instances of this in the Forgotten Realms (Talos being an aspect of Gruumsh, as an example), it's not as widespread as one might suppose in a given setting.*

This can happen for a number of reasons, as faith in a popular deity can spread far beyond the culture that originated it. For example, Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte/Tanit/Ashtoreth are all basically the same goddess, who eventually morphed into Aphrodite.

*I feel I should mention Amaunator/Lathander or Tyche/Tymora/Beshaba, though it's not quite the same thing.

Across settings, of course, this is more common, with the Realms (again) having a wide array of deities that come from other places (including our earth, such as various Finnish, Norse, Egyptian, and Sumerian deities, among others), plus things like Bahamut/Paladine or Tiamat/Takhisis, Lolth/Lloth, etc..

The Realms is also home to the only triune deity I can think of in D&D, Angharradh, while our own world had quite a few (although Angharradh is a hot mess of retcons).

I realize I could have saved a lot of typing by saying "The Forgotten Realms is weird", though not really- Egyptian mythology has examples of gods fusing together like characters from Dragon Ball, and you'll find many gods with different aspects in South Asia.
Should I ever play 4e Zeitgeist, this kind of "ecumenical" attitude is what my character would take. Though a dragonborn, his parents came to Risur before his birth, so he is a native citizen; he served in the war and earned distinction (naturally, only barely recognized, because racism.) He's developed a syncretic faith inspired by the stories of his parents and his knowledge of what happened to the Elves. Treachery, greed, and disorder are an active and corrosive force in the world. Every lie you tell, every cruelty you inflict, every con you pull, it strengthens this force, tightens its grip. But protection, hope, and justice are also an active, constructive force in the world. Every smile you offer, every victim you defend, every life you save, empowers this force. And when that force is powerful enough, it will be divine.

It is the war of Bahamut and Tiamat. And with enough hearts aligned, enough souls yearning for justice and mercy and hope as the drowning man yearns for air and the starving child yearns for food, Justice will be divine. It is not just "as above, so below." It is also "as below, so above." We are not cosmic playthings. We forge the world through our actions, great and small.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
My current setting is, I guess #3, but it is a celestial race of immortals that has members become gods by seizing the powers of creation (which incidentally turned the tide in the great war between the upper and lower planes).

The gods themselves do not require worship, they did create some races (specifically dwarves who are a relatively young race compared with some others), only this celestial race can ascend to godhood, mortals remain mortal and even fiends who seek godhood are unable to ascend, though they may not realise this.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
One of the ideas that I wanted to mention in the original post, but didn't think quite fit in with the rest of it, was having a "Gods as Tulpas" world where Humans existed first, created the gods, and then the gods created the other races to fit their specific pantheons (probably through warping/corrupting humans). For example, the Human War-God could be Gruumsh or Bane/Maglubiyet, and then the new god would have created their servant race (Orcs or Hobgoblins) to embody their warlike nature even more than humans.

So the gods would be Progenitors for the inhuman races, but also "Tulpas/Egregores" of human creation. It would also explain why the other races are so similar to humans and why they can interbreed, because they come from the same ancestral species fairly recently on the tree of life.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
One of the ideas that I wanted to mention in the original post, but didn't think quite fit in with the rest of it, was having a "Gods as Tulpas" world where Humans existed first, created the gods, and then the gods created the other races to fit their specific pantheons (probably through warping/corrupting humans). For example, the Human War-God could be Gruumsh or Bane/Maglubiyet, and then the new god would have created their servant race (Orcs or Hobgoblins) to embody their warlike nature even more than humans.

So the gods would be Progenitors for the inhuman races, but also "Tulpas/Egregores" of human creation. It would also explain why the other races are so similar to humans and why they can interbreed, because they come from the same ancestral species fairly recently on the tree of life.
I have a friend whose campaign is somewhat based on this idea; the Elves and the Dwarves claim to be older races, but in reality it's all a lie. It doesn't help that Humans have lost much of their history and culture, and even their lands, as when the big undead army showed up to attack, the other races didn't lift a finger to help.

Of course, now that said army is on their doorstep, they have no problems with drafting the remaining humans into the war to fight against it...
 

On the point of mantling from the Elder Scrolls, I never understood why someone would want to do that. Sure, you get the powers of a god for awhile, but your personality is eventually more or less completely consumed by the god's identity, as shown with Sheogorath in Skyrim. Which is basically the same thing as dying.

Sheogorath is different. He was already a parasitic alternate personality to begin with IIRC
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
One of the ideas that I wanted to mention in the original post, but didn't think quite fit in with the rest of it, was having a "Gods as Tulpas" world where Humans existed first, created the gods, and then the gods created the other races to fit their specific pantheons (probably through warping/corrupting humans). For example, the Human War-God could be Gruumsh or Bane/Maglubiyet, and then the new god would have created their servant race (Orcs or Hobgoblins) to embody their warlike nature even more than humans.

So the gods would be Progenitors for the inhuman races, but also "Tulpas/Egregores" of human creation. It would also explain why the other races are so similar to humans and why they can interbreed, because they come from the same ancestral species fairly recently on the tree of life.

That's kinda who one of my settings works.

The original humans where created by the Progenitors. However they were closer to planetouched genasi in order to survive on the raw Material plane. Then those protohmans created War and Peace, Arcana and Trickery. And their growing civilization birthed the Tulpa races, who then either created new race or morphed existing protohumans into new races.

Basically one protohuman kingdom declared war on other protohman kingdom. This birthed the war gods, the Conqueror, the General, the Warrior. Then when the war ended, the Conquerer morphed some fey into goblins and the Warrior created orcs to keep the fighting going.

The protohumans birthed Master Smith. Then the Master Smith transformed the protodwarves into the modern dwarves.
 

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