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D&D General How involved are your gods?


In my campaigns, "gods" are just things that are worshipped, with varying power levels - some have little or no agency, while others are extremely potent and kept at bay by wards that keep them from interfering too directly on the material plane. So some are very directly involved and can be fought and slain, while others are mostly only involved through their servants, or occasionally through an avatar.

And some don't even know that they are "gods." I don't have "god" as a special class of being.
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Follower of the Way
So my next campaign is a homebrew setting where there are Gods of Civilization and Gods of the Wild (with more focus on Law vs Chaos than Good vs Evil), and I wanted to have some moments here and there where the party actually encounters a god or two. Something like what you see in the Percy Jackson books or in the He Who Fights with Monsters LitRPG (if you’re familiar).

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)?
If you strictly accept only proper, formal deities, thus far the campaign has only featured one (the One, to be precise), and only under extremely limited circumstances.

In all other interactions with "the divine," it's been through representatives (read: priests, powerful semi-mortal proxies) or servants (read: powerful supernatural beings who act as agents for another), second-hand. This is very intentional. I wanted a setting where characters were genuinely free to believe what they wish, including to believe in nothing at all. The servants of the One (specifically, a couatl named Tlacalicue) have made clear that the One knows, and is perfectly fine with, the fact that They cannot prove Their divinity beyond any doubt. There is no magic, no science, no tool, no reasoning, genuinely nothing that can conclusively prove nor disprove Their claim. They simply say it is true, and They very intentionally leave it up to mortals to decide what they believe or don't.

There is sacred power in the freedom to choose. This is, according to the servants of the One, precisely by design. The One does not desire herds of passive, unthinking devotees. The One desires a universe filled with new perspectives and thoughts. To impinge in any way on a sapient mind's freedom to choose for itself would thus be fundamentally contrary to the goal of Their (claimed) creation in the first place. It would be irrational for Them to desire the tapestry of existence to be woven with the unique colors and thoughts of each mortal mind, only to then bleach and reweave each thread--the whole point is to get a tapestry of new thoughts, not just endlessly recycle the same old ones.

If, however, you allow a broader range of what counts as "gods," as in beings of great power that receive reverence but aren't strictly divine in context, then there have been several, they just don't tend to be directly involved in the lives of mortals very much. They're rather busy being the sapient (or sometimes only partly-sapient) essence of all the stuff that makes up the world. The World-Serpent, who both guards and shakes the earth and fulfills the cycle of the seasons; the First Oak, from which all forests draw some measure of strength; the Elder Flame, ditto but for fires; etc. Of these, the only two the party has personally interacted with are the World-Serpent and the Spirit of All Winds. The former was a direct conversation. The latter was an indirect calling on the part of our (now-retired) party Druid.

Are there other gods? Not known. No other religions that actually posit distinct gods have been encountered thus far. Most religious traditions other than the Safiqi (who revere the One) are either animist in nature or hierarchical (e.g. the "Celestial Bureaucracy" of Yuxia, the Jade Home, with the "August Jade Emperor" at its apex, whom the Safiqi Priesthood recognizes as a different name for the One.) At least one now-lost culture seems to have used a lot of triune/trefoil/trinity symbolism, but exactly what this means is no longer known.

I think, like most, the gods directly come into play only during special moments like a near-death experience, a last plea for help, or as a quest giver. Their power can be seen everywhere. This is due to the game mechanics stating it. But in-person is rare.


Steeliest of the dragons
The deities of my homebrew, by decree of the king of the gods, are forbidden from directly interfering with Creation. This, of course, is a very serious decree, rife with loopholes.

No. Gods can not manifest on the Prime in their totality/"true godly selves." Period. They've done it. Past generations of divinities have done it. It leads to nothing but utter destruction. That would be the biggest "no way, any deity (other than the ultimate Evil), would dare" break this proclamation.

They can, however, take on lesser forms if they are so inclilned. Many, if not most, gods (including fortunately, the majoirty of the evil ones) find such a "lowering" of their status distasteful (the way many if not most dragons are loathe to assume lesser mortal or animal shape). It is also something that does not come easy or that they can maintain for a large amount of time. The god of trickery and music (patron of bards), is especially prone to be wandering around, soaking up tales and songs and seeking out talent, but if he were ever found out, he'd be summarily "yanked" back to the gods' celestial abode. And those who take a particular interest in a person or happening, might occasionally observe ("up close" rather than scrying from their home plane) as a bird or stray cat, as easily as a non-descript villager or child. But their revelation of their true nature would land them in a LOT of trouble. Bysdan (the divine bard, minstrel of the gods) just enjoys tempting his luck and testing his superiors' patience, so is prone to revealing more of himself - to a point - than most other entities would dare. Fortunately for Bysdan, Astar is a great lover of music and his talents.

No, gods are not supposed to directly influence mortal goings on (other than what their chosen champions can get done). However, if a deity with some agency over weather were to generate (or calm) a storn. Or a god of war/blood/battle were to place a thumb on the scales of chance for one side or the other in a great battle/war....that's really, more often than not, overlooked...seen as part of their "job" in their deific duties for their -personal- area(s) of influence.

They are allowed, obviously, to empower their clerics and various champions.

They are allowed to send emissaries/minions/messengers (various celestials/fiends, lesser divine beings/creatures like sphinx or lamassu, maybe even the spirits of past loved ones/friends, etc...). These direct representatives are generally tasked for a single purpose, very stringently kept to their particular task, and (again, generally) do not linger in the physical world, but complete their role and return to their home plane.

The gods can (and some do) deliver messages and visions, themselves (though many would leave this to underlings also), through the Dream Plane, to unconscious mortal minds. Since they are effectively interacting somewhere not the physical world/Prime plane, this is not a breach of Astar's decree.

Interacting with a mortal mind/spirit in the throes of death/dying, a spirit moving along the river of the dead prior to their "final judgement" and assignation of an afterlife by the goddess of death, again they're not in the physical world...so, communication and influence is also not, explicitly, against the rules.

So, while it is not at all a common occurance, there are really more ways for the deities to be or become involved in the world, beyond just trodding upon it. Most of them, honestly, just can't be bothered most of the time. The evil ones, unfortunately, are the ones most prone to try to interfere, directly and otherwise.


Back when I was DM I took the line that 'the gods love a good show'. Engage them, entertain them, and they'll be more receptive.


Dragon Lover
In my current Campaign, the party has had many encounters with both the Gods and Defilers of my world. Due to character's nature as Undecided, meaning those not bound to the web of fate and therefore can affect said web in various ways, the Gods have been both curious and concerned about their actions on the Plane and the Defilers wish to use them for their own nefarious ways. The party themselves has offered their services to the Gods due to having several early interactions with them and becoming targets of three particular Defilers known by the titles of The Ruiner, Hope's Devourer, and Lady Undeath. They have even taken up a name that references their many encounters with the gods, GTA or the "God Touched A-holes", which also uses the first letter of each of their names, Gurtir, Tearian, and Aila.

One of the party members is currently in the process of awakening their divinity after finding out he holds the divine spark of one of the eggs from the last clutch of divine eggs created by the Dragon Progenitor Io before his sacrificial death to protect the World Tree from the Primordial Erek-Hus, the Terror King. His egg along with those of his four unhatched siblings were scattered throughout the multiverse after Io's realm broke apart after his death, landing onto unknown worlds and shattering, the divine essence being absorbed into the reptilian and proto-draconic populations until a time when they would reassemble themselves eons later. Now having returned to the realm where his father's divine essence resides, his draconic nature has been slowly awakening in preparation for his draconic ascension. One of the gods of this realm is his sister from the same divine clutch. He also wants to marry another one of the dragon gods since the first time they met during the second session, which has become a running joke in the campaign long before his own divine nature was revealed (one he encourages I should add, he enjoys hamming it up).

The other two are twins that actually use to be one singular soul, but were violently spilt apart after the space station they were hiding on was sucked through a wormhole to the hidden plane of Salvera and crash landed. They ended up in the Ethereal Plane where each half was partially corrupted, one by Hope's Devourer and the other by The Ruiner, before they and the souls from those that perished in the crash were rescued by some of the Gods, including the God of Life and Death himself. After one of the twins beseeched the God to save the other, he made a pact with said God and both their souls were mended and the newer twin was gifted a body for herself. Now they are touched by both a God and Defiler, and use their pacts with the different Gods they have interacted with to stave off the corruption and grow powerful enough to face off against their corrupters to free themselves from their influence permanently.

It's been a crazy ride so far, but we all are having a blast.

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