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D&D General How involved are your gods?

During the high holy day, usually once a year, there is some form of manifestation. Usually some glorification as the clerics and laity perform a ceremony of the god's foundational myth.

When someone dies who is attached to the Green Temple there is nearly always a sign as to which god of the pantheon claims the departed. Lack of a sign usually means they were actually a devotee of the Bright or Hidden temples. Or, you didn't find a body because they faked their death.

There are stories of the gods' divine servitors who occasionally test or tempt mortals. But, what are the chances of that happening to you, really? The major gods don't walk around. Lesser powers just might, especially if you travel to the other planes.

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In D&D, generally hands-off. On the one hand, I don't want the PCs to feel like they can just call an all-powerful being to solve their problems. On the other hand, I also don't want an unstoppable opponent. The deities work through their clerics and worshippers. That is how they influence the world.

In DCC RPG, however, the patrons and deities are very involved. But they all want stuff in return. Everything has a price to be paid.


In my campaign divine magic is not tied to the gods and there are multiple pantheons worshiped throughout the setting along with non-theistic religions and non-theistic divine casting traditions of clerics and druids. It is not clear what beings who are called gods actually are since a cult worshipping a false god gets as much cleric caster power as one worshipping an actual being, and there are hero worship and dragon cults and such which sort of blur the lines along with small god things like dryads and fey and angels and demons. Also there are euhemerism theories in world where one religion calls the gods of another religion just mythologized people and giants of the past and such.

That said I have had "gods" show up in person in games. In my Reign of Winter the party in the feywild saved a gnome prince from a young witch named Baba Yaga, the gnome's name was Garl. He said he and his brothers had pulled a prank on the witch and now she wanted to kill his whole family. Later when one of the PCs died the PC saw himself being dragged off to Norse Hel Garl showed up and sneaked into the scene with a scarecrow that looked like the PC, took the PC's jacket, put it on the scarecrow, and illusioned it up to look exactly like the PC. Hel took the scarecrow while Garl and the PC quietly snuck off. The PC in the mortal world stabilized missing his jacket and it was not entirely clear whether he had died and been saved or just hallucinated the whole scene as an at death's door scene.

In my Iron Gods game the party has fought an AI monster truck demigod and its spellcasting cultists. Half the party in the same game are part of a dragon cult where the dragon might either be a dragon god or a single dragon in a cave somewhere in the world.
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A suffusion of yellow
I've used gods in some campaigns, though generally my gods are minor nature spirits rather than omnipotent cosmic beings. A while back the PCs were sent by their god to recover a relic from the altar of an enemy god and in the course of things learnt that the god of Darkness was seeking seven artefacts needed to open a portal into the world. The PCs were then given the task of gathering those relics first, putting them in competition with the Dark god's cult, the current guardians and a couple of other factions.

The gods generally acted as powerful Quest givers, or sometimes the PCs had to fight an 'avatar*' to test their worthiness. *most such avatars are of minor lesser gods eg a god of lightning rather than the 'true primordial gods'


Mod Squad
Staff member
So anyway, I was wondering if any of you ever run games where the gods are a little more “up close and personal.” Not that they wander the Earth as mortals all the time, but that the appearance of a god in the town square, during a battle, in a temple service, or in response to a fervent prayer is not rare, though still uncommon.

If so, what affect does this have on gameplay or the story (if at all)?

In the past, yes, I have run such games.

In general, I found I didn't like the results - it shifted the matter of the divine from being a matter of faith, into a matter of service. If the gods are too present in the world, they tend to reduce to being merely the most powerful set of lords and masters that people work for. That makes them uninteresting.

Since I came to this realization, the divine forces in my worlds have been distant. Those few times I have used the Great Wheel cosmology, the Outer Planes were not places living mortals could go. And whatever cosmology I was using, mortal souls who came back from the dead did not bring back clear memory of what existence was like after death.

I tend to have rather distant gods - mostly so that there's room for churches, heroes, etc to do the real work of fighting the other side. Too many overly active gods (or high-level npcs) tend to result in questions about why the pcs have to do anything.

But talking to agents is easy - so clerics and warlocks can get communication from their patrons, and can get such messages regularly when they're high level.

Most of the good or neutral gods in my setting have an interest in one or two backgrounds, and sometimes when the trek is taking too long, a kindly NPC, who might be the god, the god's divine servant, or a mortal follower, will give the PC's a ride (I think of it as the Clive Cussler model) with the god (or servant) in question being chosen partly by the PC's backgrounds. Some of the evil gods do as well, but most aren't interested until you are 10th level or higher.

Having the gods running around too freely makes the adventure too much about them, and not enough about the PC's, until about level 17. I refuse to confirm any story about having Lolth become smitten with an extra CN PC that the rest of the party was getting tired of, other than to say if the charisma check had come up better, he wouldn't have gotten eaten.

My players know that the PC's can pick the brains of anything that gets summoned via Planar Ally, and I find that cuts down the desire to deal with gods directly.

For the last two decades or so, my campaigns have pretty much ignored the gods.

But, before that in a homebrew I ran a campaign via play by post where the gods were involved. The characters actually had personal encounters with them (good and bad) as the characters were slated to have the chance to become gods with the next turning of the wheel. It was the major driver of the story. Maybe not in any given plot line, but the overarching campaign.


My players are about to see some, though it will be in a dreamscape rather than in the physical world. And these gods will just be watching….


I have one campaign where I'm trying out a new Resurrection system that I've modeled off Matt Mercer's resurrection rules except you gain bonuses from actions you took while you were alive to earn Piety points with your God, instead of from actions that your party members take after you died. I'm still optimizing the rules (a.k.a. semi- making it up on the fly) and erring on the side of having resurrections be easy to earn, but it triggers some good RP along the way

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