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God Games (NOT D&D)

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
Hey, you guys ever play any RPGs where you play as a god or demigod or some kind of autonomous divine entity? (The angels in In Nomine would not count.)

Which are your favorite TTRPG "god games" and why? Tell me a little bit about them.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Fleshed out and brainstormed several campaigns in systems like The Primal Order, HERO, and Scion, but never actually played in or ran one.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
A very long time ago I played in an Amber Diceless game. For any practical purpose our characters were demigods.
I didn't like the rules & the mix of players/GM wasn't quite right, so I didn't really enjoy the game. Fortunately it didn't last very long & then we were off to systems better suited for that group.
 
Do you count Epic Tier 4e? If so, yes (one PC is a god, another a demigod, another an emergent prioridal). If not, no.
 

muppetmuppet

Explorer
I played in a game where we were gods at the start of creation. The game was diceless and the GM was very experienced at the style of game it was, as were most of the other players. It was pretty new idea to me and I enjoyed the game. We had a creation phase where we created the universe and a planet, a creation phase specifically involving the planet and a civilisation phase where the planet evolved.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Hey, you guys ever play any RPGs where you play as a god or demigod or some kind of autonomous divine entity? (The angels in In Nomine would not count.)

Which are your favorite TTRPG "god games" and why? Tell me a little bit about them.
Nobilis is a game in which you play the the personification of a concept/aspect of reality. You may be the Noble of Time, for example. Or Doors. Or Christmas. Within your sphere, your power is great, outside it... not so much.

I think Wikipedia does a better job than I could at giving an overview of the system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobilis
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
A very long time ago I played in an Amber Diceless game. For any practical purpose our characters were demigods.
I didn't like the rules & the mix of players/GM wasn't quite right, so I didn't really enjoy the game. Fortunately it didn't last very long & then we were off to systems better suited for that group.
We played Amber in the early 90s (I am a HUGE Zelazny fan ... although the Second Chronicles of Amber left me a bit cold).

It was ... good. I mean, especially for the time.

I don't know that it ever got a revision? I think it went out of print a long time ago.

(I've also read the Immortal Set, as in the I in BECMI, but I never had any interest in playing that ... just ... you know, things in D&D break after a certain point)
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
City Of Mist touches upon this in a lot of ways. The characters are not necessarily divine beings, but they are mortals who have some kind of supernatural aspect, and they're torn between their mortal and immortal aspects. I've sadly only played a couple of times, but it's a really good game.
 

uzirath

Explorer
Many years ago, a friend of mine who was a Greco-Roman scholar ran a game where each PC was a god in a Greek-style pantheon. She started it with D&D (2nd or 3rd edition?) and it was a dud. Character classes and whatnot just didn't work that well for what she wanted to do.

She then jumped to GURPS (which I had just started experimenting with) which provided better mechanics for character flaws and weaknesses, more easily customizable abilities, and a wider array of scalable conflict mechanics (especially social conflicts). She used the the 3rd edition GURPS Supers which was an imperfect book. Ultimately, the games were fun, but the campaign never fully gelled. Now that I'm writing this, it would be fun to track her down and convince her to reboot the game using the much-more-coherent 4th edition Supers and Powers books.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
A few years ago my group played a campaign in which the PCs were gods who had been defeated and imprisoned by a rival pantheon. The first adventure was escaping from our extra-planar prison, then we returned to the regular world where we had some mundane adventures while we tried to gain worshipers, which would restore our divine powers.

We used Pathfinder rules. Our characters had "divine power" feats which drew from a pool of power points. This worked well for gods who were relatively weak and trying to regain their powers.

The campaign only ran for a few months and never came to a conclusion, but it was pretty cool.
 
I think it would be fun. I'm eventually planning on putting something like that in my system. What I don't like in the sorts of implementations I've seen so far is that they usually want to water things down. You can't just straight up be a god. You have to be a human with a god's soul or some nonsense like that. Just let the players do the thing. Whatever the thing is that the game is about, let them do it.

At the same time, the goal might be to be some sorts of more or less authentic feeling demigods that are living in the modern world, rather than cosmic creators. (That's actually the way I'd be focusing it.) How do you make something like that work without watering it down? (An actual non-rhetorical question meant to provoke ideas.)
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
I played a lv 18 Druid in 3e, he travelled as a whirlwind and could throw lightning storms from a mile away
How’s is that not a god?
 

uzirath

Explorer
Just let the players do the thing. Whatever the thing is that the game is about, let them do it.
This is important. If you're merely a mortal with a few powerful spells, well that's not very different from standard RPG fare. At the same time, PCs can't be truly omnipotent, or there would be no meaningful challenges. There must be a happy medium between powerful mortals and truly omnipotent creators-of-universes.

At the same time, the goal might be to be some sorts of more or less authentic feeling demigods that are living in the modern world, rather than cosmic creators. (That's actually the way I'd be focusing it.) How do you make something like that work without watering it down? (An actual non-rhetorical question meant to provoke ideas.)
In the game I played (referenced a few posts back), it was basically a superhero game in disguise, not unlike the Avengers. Big powers that could change worlds or even the universe, but nobody had all the power. Each god had a portfolio or powers and alliances and relationships with other gods. There was lots of politicking, some mega battles, etc. The gods were effectively invulnerable to most mortals, though we all had weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could be exploited. We were mostly "good" gods, so we spent a lot of time trying to minimize collateral damage to mortals. As far as I can remember, though, there were no mechanical elements to enforce this. (Though it was clear that you couldn't buy off your core disadvantages. If you had a weakness for wine, that was a fundamental part of your divine nature.)

It might be interesting to play around with mechanics behind the scenes. In some RPGs, there's been the idea that you get your power from your worshippers. In a game with that premise, you would want to gain and retain worshippers to maintain your power. Some might do this by being nice and friendly and whatnot. Others might use fear or threats. (I don't know about the psychology of all of that, but within genre, it seems plausible enough.)

I've never thought that the worshipper thing allows for quite enough diversity, especially on the "evil" side of things. Maybe there's a customizable goal for each god that their powers depend on. If you're the evil god of rotting filth, you maintain your power by spreading disease and setting loose fungus hordes and whatnot. Meanwhile, an opposing god of wholesome nature will attempt to block your blight. Crafting these goals in interesting ways could provide motivation for divine-scale adventures. In your premise (demigods in the modern world), the PCs might need to preserve the independence of mortal life and defend against incursions by opposed deities. (Which might end up resembling a Secret Magic / Monster Hunters campaign.)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This is important. If you're merely a mortal with a few powerful spells, well that's not very different from standard RPG fare. At the same time, PCs can't be truly omnipotent, or there would be no meaningful challenges. There must be a happy medium between powerful mortals and truly omnipotent creators-of-universes.
That gods are omnipotent, or the creator of universes, is not really the standard in terms of older mythologies.

Thor's a god. He isn't omnipotent, nor did he create the universe. He is, in many ways, just a really powerful person. His powers and understanding are limited (in fact, Thor's not generally the brightest bulb in the marquee...).
 

uzirath

Explorer
That gods are omnipotent, or the creator of universes, is not really the standard in terms of older mythologies.
Yes, exactly.

Thor's a god. He isn't omnipotent, nor did he create the universe. He is, in many ways, just a really powerful person. His powers and understanding are limited (in fact, Thor's not generally the brightest bulb in the marquee...).
And this makes Thor a much more interesting character to play. Most historical polytheistic pantheons are rich with delicious character options.
 

uzirath

Explorer
Musing aloud... An interesting campaign seed might be to begin in one cultural milieu where the PCs are all gods with particular portfolios. Have some adventures. Get to know their divine opponents. Then throw a major wrench in the gears when they encounter another culture (across the seas or whatever) with another pantheon, some of whom cover the same portfolios. The GM would have to have the metaphysics of the setting figured out in advance, but it would be rather traumatic for the one-and-only Sun God to encounter another Sun God from the next continent. Do they duke it out? Or do they team up to find out what's really going on? How many sun gods could there be?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And this makes Thor a much more interesting character to play. Most historical polytheistic pantheons are rich with delicious character options.
Yes. It is kind of like superheroes - DC vs Marvel. DC heroes are often nigh omnipotent, and that makes them difficult to write interesting stories about.

Of course, then you do have the question - how is the god unlike a high-level D&D character. And I think that's a good question. If you read, say, Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology, it reads rather like any other set of adventure stories, not like, "Hoo, ho! We are gods, all powerful, and can do anything!" So, maybe high level D&D is basically what you're looking at...

Though, thinking about it, maybe high-level D&D has too many fiddly bits to make it run like gods. It is too concerned with *exactly* where things are placed, and exactly how many hit points each thing does, and so on. Maybe a powerful version of a game that isn't quite so granular is in order?

Hm. Now I want to think about Powered by the Apocalypse - Gods.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
I played a lv 18 Druid in 3e, he travelled as a whirlwind and could throw lightning storms from a mile away
How’s is that not a god?
Gods in 3e have worshipers and grant divine powers to their devout followers.
 

uzirath

Explorer
Of course, then you do have the question - how is the god unlike a high-level D&D character. And I think that's a good question.
Most versions of D&D don't, by default, have much emphasis on weaknesses and vulnerabilities beyond those imposed by the basic character class structure. In many mythologies, gods have significant blind spots that define them as characters. Often these elements are exaggerated just like their powers: they have all the qualities of mortals writ large. Dedicated superhero games might handle this better since most heroes have distinct weaknesses. I would also go for a system without XP. As with supers, it doesn't really make sense for gods to "level up." Rather, their powers might wax and wane depending on in-game factors.

Beyond some of the mechanics, though, I would imagine a Living Gods campaign would share elements with epic level D&D. (I wouldn't want as much focus on dozens of specific spells. Broader powers and abilities related to the god's portfolio would make more sense.) But adventures could easily involve fighting other gods, foiling their diabolical plans, jumping to other planes or dimensions, locating obscure artifacts, fulfilling ancient prophecies, and similar tropes.
 

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