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Help me name the fantasy-historical pantheons

I’ll just point out that some of the names suggested thus far are just a problematic as the names being avoided. Don’t like “Geek Pantheon” because Greece doesn’t exist in your game world? “Olympian” has the same issue- Olympus, the home of the Greek gods, was on Mount Olympus, a particular mountain in Greece.

My advice is to ditch the RW names as completely as you can, and substitute references to the game world. You might even use a language translator like Word Hippo or Bing Translate to make things sound a bit better. So “Olympus” might become “Theopolis”, and the the inhabitants, “Theopolitans”.

Or perhaps the gods’ city is on a mountain in your campaign world- let’s call it Mount Eskan. The deities who live there might be called “Eskanian”; their city, “Eskanopolis”.
Olympus is also in Arborea on the Great Wheel, so according to Planescape, it is available to all settings.
 
Thanks all! This is quite useful.

Let me clarify part of the premise though: I'm looking for universal terms that work within the D&D multiverse. I'm not world-building.

So, for some silly reason they decided that the Sumerian Pantheon and Babylonian Pantheon split into two separate pantheons. Planescape says they actually literally were once one pantheon and certain deities separated into different versions of themselves (like Istar/Innana), while others they just assigned to one pantheon or another. I don't like that decision, but I'm sticking with it because I'm preserving the lore for my multiverse. So I actually do need different terms for each of those pantheons

Olympian works within the multiverse, because Mount Olympus has been re-envisioned as an important planar location, rather than an earthly mountain.

Now, it's not really reasonable for me to expect everyone to have a PhD in obscure D&D lore ("I'll take layers of Arborea for $500"), so please keep the suggestions coming! Just wanted to point out for those who are familiar with the lore particulars, that I am trying to stick with them.
 

gyor

Adventurer
Thanks all! This is quite useful.

Let me clarify part of the premise though: I'm looking for universal terms that work within the D&D multiverse. I'm not world-building.

So, for some silly reason they decided that the Sumerian Pantheon and Babylonian Pantheon split into two separate pantheons. Planescape says they actually literally were once one pantheon and certain deities separated into different versions of themselves (like Istar/Innana), while others they just assigned to one pantheon or another. I don't like that decision, but I'm sticking with it because I'm preserving the lore for my multiverse. So I actually do need different terms for each of those pantheons

Olympian works within the multiverse, because Mount Olympus has been re-envisioned as an important planar location, rather than an earthly mountain.

Now, it's not really reasonable for me to expect everyone to have a PhD in obscure D&D lore ("I'll take layers of Arborea for $500"), so please keep the suggestions coming! Just wanted to point out for those who are familiar with the lore particulars, that I am trying to stick with them.
Olympian still doesn't work because not every god that lives in Mount Olympus is an Olympain, it's just the ruling council of Gods that are Olympians.

Mesopotium Gods should include Babylonian Gods, Summerian Gods, Assyrian Gods, and more. The lines between Pantheons is messy.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
Olympian still doesn't work because not every god that lives in Mount Olympus is an Olympain, it's just the ruling council of Gods that are Olympians.
Neither all Norse Gods were Asguardians; Loki, Frey and Freya, to name a few, were not.

Same for the Celtic Pantheon. IIRC, some were Fomorians, some were Firbolgs, the Tuatha de Danann were a tribe that eventually got chased away by the present (at that time in the mythology) inhabitants of Ireland, and thus pushed into mythology, etc..

Still, these names are evocative to most of us; they mean something recognizable. Inaccuracies can be fixed by giving these pantheons completely fictional names, but at that point, you might as well use completely fictional gods (well, you know what I mean...) If one wants to use Zeus and Mars and Athena and all the others, "Olympian" has the virtue of being recognizable and tied to a place rather than a culture/nation. Same goes with Asguardian.

So you are right, they are not accurate, but I don't think this automatically disqualify them as names for real-world mythology-inspired pantheons.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You do realize that:
A) America (and Canada) comprise of a lot more terrain types/regions than the plains.
B) Assorted tribes lived in all of them. And still do.
Yes. Simply put - the Native Americans are not a single culture with a unified pantheon. There are several different traditions and belief systems among them.

Neither all Norse Gods were Asguardians; Loki, Frey and Freya, to name a few, were not.

...

So you are right, they are not accurate, but I don't think this automatically disqualify them as names for real-world mythology-inspired pantheons.
Not equivalent. Yes, among the Norse gods there were Aesir and Vanir and other groups. But all of those characters spent time in Asgard, interacted, and knew each others names, and appear in the same stories. The collection of gods at least wound up as the pantheon of what we can (at least roughly) call one religious tradition. Call him Odin, Wotan, Grimnir, or one of several other names, there's a period where most of the Norse people recognized the same basic entity, with fairly similar stories and religious traditions relating to him across a largish area.

The same is *not* true for "Native American". It isn't one culture or religious tradition. Doing this to the Native American traditions would be rather like lumping the Celtic, Norse, and Greek gods all into one group, and calling it the "European Pantheon", lumping the Chinese and Japanese together into an "Asian" pantheon, and so on.

There are at least five different cultural groups of Native Americans in the USA alone - roughly the American Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast that have mythological differences between them comparable to the difference between, say, the "Celtic" and "Norse" gods. The number of groups gets larger as you include Canada and Meso-America and South America.
 
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Laurefindel

Explorer
The same is *not* true for "Native American". It isn't one culture or religious tradition. Doing this to the Native American traditions would be rather like lumping the Celtic, Norse, and Greek gods all into one group, and calling it the "European Pantheon", lumping the Chinese and Japanese together into an "Asian" pantheon, and so on.
Sorry, I didn't mean to give anyone the impression that I was defending a single native American pantheon/religion - that part wasn't in my post.

My point was that Olympian and Asgardian don't have to be dismissed as names for Greek/Roman and Norse-inspired pantheons just because they are seats of power where only part of the gods/creatures of that mythology live. Calling them Hellenistian, Romanus or Norscan still implies that they are named after a culture, which isn't as neutral (if the intention is to remain generic) as the name of a place tied to that mythology, in these cases, Mount Olympus or Asgard.

In that line of thought, the Celtic pantheon could make reference to the Sidhe (otherworld realms), although we are more accustomed to use that word for the inhabitants of the otherworld (rather than daoine sidhe).

The Egyptian pantheon could make reference to the Duat (underworld) even though the kingdom of land of the dead is essentially the kingdom of Osiris.
 
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Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Sorry, I didn't mean to give anyone the impression that I was defending a single native American pantheon/religion.

My point is that Olympian and Asgardian shouldn't have to be dismissed as names for Greek/Roman and Norse-inspired pantheons because they are seats of power where only part of the gods/creatures of that mythology live. Calling them Hellenistian, Romanus or Norscan still implies that they are named after a culture, which isn't as neutral (if the intention is to remain generic) as the name of a place tied to that mythology, in this case Mount Olympus or Asgard.
The line of reasoning makes sense. Sticking with a place works as it make it clear through our cultural associations what we're talking about. Olympians means the Hellenistic gods of classical Greece. So Zeus, Hades, Aphrodite, and the rest. They don't literally have to reside on Olympus in myth to know what I mean when I say that. Same for Norse myth, Asgard is an important place in the myths and most if not all of them spent a tremendous amount of time there. Remember, Loki was responsible of getting Odin out of a giant's debt for building Valhalla's walls.

In that line of thought, the cletic pantheon could make reference to the Sidhe (otherworld realms), although we are more accustomed to use that word for the inhabitants of the otherworld (rather than daoine sidhe).
Tuatha de Dannan still works, its literally what the Irish Celts called their gods, even if the that specific group doesn't include things like Fomorians specifically.

The Egyptian pantheon could make reference to the Duat (underworld) even though the kingdom of land of the dead is essentially the kingdom of Osiris.
I like the Ennead, which is the principle creator deities of Egyptian myth. It included (according to ye old Wiki) Atum; his children Shu and Tefnut; their children Geb and Nut; and their children Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. This can include Horus as well depending on the source. I like the name its different than other groups, includes enough deities from actual Egyptian myths that it isn't unreasonable to apply the name to the fantasy-historical group of deities as a whole. That's a Latinized word from Greek, meaning "The Nine", original Egyptian probably would have been close to Pesedjet, with the same meaning.

Wikipedia is actually a pretty good source for the names of these groups of deities. It usually has the translations or transliterations of the original names somewhere in the article if you search for "<cultural group> Religion". Some of them I suggested earlier I just happen to know off hand, but Wikipedia got me the Finnish suggestion, the Celtic suggestion, and the Egyptian one.
 
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Here's the follow-up.

It looks like I'm going to go with Jumalas for the Finnish pantheon, and Teotl for the Aztecs. I actually found the correct name for the Vedic deities taken as a whole: the Visvadevas.

Now I basically have everything covered, although I wish I had a better way to differentiate the Sumerian and Babylonian pantheons (required by Planescape cosmology).
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Here's the follow-up.

It looks like I'm going to go with Jumalas for the Finnish pantheon, and Teotl for the Aztecs. I actually found the correct name for the Vedic deities taken as a whole: the Visvadevas.

Now I basically have everything covered, although I wish I had a better way to differentiate the Sumerian and Babylonian pantheons (required by Planescape cosmology).
Babylonian - Enûma Eliš - its an original Babylonian text about their deities
Sumerian - Annunaki - actual name of the deities as a group.

In the end there just isn't a big difference between Sumer and Babylon, and the religion of the two is functionally identical. Its like trying to figure out the religious differences between Athens and Sparta.

Nice one for the Finns.
 

Greenstone.Walker

Registered User
You could go with very generic terms, like "The Fingers", "Those Who Walk", "The Silver Family", or "Brothers on High" (which is a literal translation of Morndinsamman, the name of the Dwarven pantheon).

The pantheon in my TUesday game is just called "The Nine" because there are, no surprise, 9 gods in it. :)
 

Yaarel

Explorer
For the Norse, I would go with the ‘Aesir Clan’. This is literally a family. In D&D 4e terms, they are Primal nature spirits.

The word ‘pantheon’ is Greek and creates misunderstandings.



Note, nature spirits from other clans such Freyja and Loki, are formally members of the Aesir clan, by means of marriage, adoption, and hostage-exchange. In some traditions, Loki is understood as a ‘blood brother’ of Odin, thus formally adopted as a brother.

The sense of extended family is primary.
 
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gyor

Adventurer
Babylonian - Enûma Eliš - its an original Babylonian text about their deities
Sumerian - Annunaki - actual name of the deities as a group.

In the end there just isn't a big difference between Sumer and Babylon, and the religion of the two is functionally identical. Its like trying to figure out the religious differences between Athens and Sparta.

Nice one for the Finns.
There are some religious differences between Sparta and Athens. Spartan Rites tended to be darker for example, like whipping a man on Artemis' Altar till he bled.
 

gyor

Adventurer
I just realized it's important to point out that these "fantasy historical" Pantheons still have many real world worshippers. I myself worship Hephaestus, Flora, Bastet, ect..., and feel their influence/presence/blessings throughout my life. They are very real beings just like me and you. Thankfully they are very forgiving of human story telling, even when it's not always flattering!
 

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