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Level Up (A5E) Sins of the Scorpion Age: Deities, Gods, and Religion

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
So an important thing about the core narrative of the Deities:

They don't -really- fight. The War of Transgression was a big smosh across the world that the gods -did- get involved in, of course. And at it's end the Flower martyred herself for mortalkind. But the Eight Divines haven't been running around and fighting since then. They've been the remote deities that may or may not "Really" Exist, like Crom in his Mountain. Maybe he's there, laughing at Conan for daring to say "To hell with you". Maybe he helped him by sending Valeria. Maybe Valeria fled Valhalla and Crom to help Conan as she swore to do.

It's kind of meant to be up in the air with them, while the Fallen Gods and Demigods are more likely to be interacted with.

So let's aim more for the local Forest God, and less "Flower kicked Serpent's butt" style mythology. Definitely material to work with, here.
 

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This example, one of the earliest of the Conan Tales and without question one of the most famous, establishes some core things:

1) "Gods" in Conan are not omniscient and omnipresent by default. Crom could be (If he even exists), but not all are.
2) They're often flawed beings that can be weakened, blinded, and trapped by mortals.
3) They can be killed by a simple Cimmerian with a Sword.
4) Even dead, they continue on in new manners.

This gives us a -ton- of leeway in what is or isn't a God for game-design and storytelling purposes.
This is why I really like the warlock more than the cleric. ANYTHING can be a warlock patron, but "god" is essentially a specific genus of supernatural being in default DnD cosmology. Primordials, devils, gods; they all get distinct silos.

I'm thinking about a Spelljammer campaign and one early reveal is the the entire solar system and sun are machines built by a wizard from somewhere else. The world thought he was a god, but he was just some guy who built himself a summer home. If everyone believes he's a god and an entire civilization is built around his cult, does it matter if he is or not?
 


Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Deities writing format.

Gods and Religion:
Gods and Religion Overview, expressing the Transgression and the discontent of the gods with the world, possibly hatred. Outline the idea of the curses, and generally try to contain the overview to 2 pages.

DEITY IMAGE top 1/2 of the page.
Deity Name
1/4 page Deity Information Block containing:
  • Deity's Concern/Domain
  • Deity's Curse Outline
  • Typical Offerings
  • Powers Never Granted
\Column Break
1/4 page Prose description of the Deity
\Page Break
Names and identities in the Eight Regions. Each taking 1/8th page.
\Page Break
Legends of the Deity, some full some referential summaries.
\Page Break

Next Deity

After the Deities, a Religion Segment.
Religions Overview, containing the basic precept that heretical beliefs exist and none truly know what the Gods actually -want-.
Religion Name
Deity or Deities involved
Core beliefs
Active Regions


Next Religion
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Deities writing format.

Gods and Religion:
Gods and Religion Overview, expressing the Transgression and the discontent of the gods with the world, possibly hatred. Outline the idea of the curses, and generally try to contain the overview to 2 pages.

DEITY IMAGE top 1/2 of the page.
Deity Name
1/4 page Deity Information Block containing:
  • Deity's Concern/Domain
  • Deity's Curse Outline
  • Typical Offerings
  • Powers Never Granted
\Column Break
1/4 page Prose description of the Deity
\Page Break
Names and identities in the Eight Regions. Each taking 1/8th page.
\Page Break
Legends of the Deity, some full some referential summaries.
\Page Break

Next Deity

After the Deities, a Religion Segment.
Religions Overview, containing the basic precept that heretical beliefs exist and none truly know what the Gods actually -want-.
Religion Name
Deity or Deities involved
Core beliefs
Active Regions


Next Religion

Can I suggest custom cleric and warlock (and Herald?) ''extra spells'' lists for each god?

Like if I wanted to play a Tempest Cleric of the Mountain, or a Fey-warlock of the Weaver, or Life cleric of the Dweller or whatever but did not find the standard spell list reflecting my vision of the God.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Can I suggest custom cleric and warlock (and Herald?) ''extra spells'' lists for each god?

Like if I wanted to play a Tempest Cleric of the Mountain, or a Fey-warlock of the Weaver, or Life cleric of the Dweller or whatever but did not find the standard spell list reflecting my vision of the God.
S'not a bad idea... might make the the bulk of the "Sorcery and Spellcraft" portion of the book to outline magical changes and the like. Things like expressing why Bard Music is different than Divine or Arcane magic...
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yup. I prefer my archetypes to be ''how'' and let domains/pact/oath to be the ''what'' alongside it.

Like a Light cleric of the Flower, bringing the blessed light in the darkened heart of the city dwellers would be very different than a Light cleric of the Tempest, being all about drought, scorching sandstorm and the burning winds that turns every man and aspiration into dust eventually (Ozymandias style).

A Light cleric of the Mountain could be about dawn on the horizon, and the thawing of the mountain glaciers that brings fresh waters, more renewal and endurance.

A Light cleric of the Witch could be the about revelation of the mysteries, dispelling illusions.

A light cleric of the Dweller could be to guide the lost souls into the depth to show that the Dweller isnt a figure to be afraid off.

etc

They all could use the Light Cleric archetypes, but the spell list could be tweeked, maybe something like:

''If you would gain extra spells from your class's archetype you can change some or all of them by one of the following list at each level you would gain a new extra spell''
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Gods and Religions.png
 



GuyBoy

Adventurer
For three days, with his water reduced to just sips, Seteshkar had tracked the sidewinder tracks in the sands. They had begun, as if from thin air, in the lee of the great dune, where Seteshkar had found the sad remains of his friend Ashep’nor.
Sidewinding, a serpent, a need to avenge, a hunting, a reckoning.
Rounding a crumbling dune, the sibilant tracks descended towards a group of ruined adobe buildings by a dry wadi. Descended....and changed....the serpentine markings ceased and were replaced by thin, but recognisably humanoid, footprints marking a passage towards the ruins.
Seteshkar hefted his khopesh. Serpent or man or man-serpent? No matter, blood must be shed.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I'm currently writing about Nnamic architecture and came back to this thread to specifically call out the "Beehive Mud Huts" of Il'sha-ah from Guyboy's post when I came across the Sarga discussion, again...

Should Magical Healing be less overt by and large?

In Sword and Sorcery stories it's often a big shock when magic is used to heal someone, not a common effect at all, but something... big. Important.

Should Cure Wounds and Healing Word be recontextualized into Bolstering effects or otherwise improving someone's fortitude without actually mending their injuries and wounds... and then spells like Heal, Prayer of Healing, Regeneration, and effects like Lay On Hands be actual -healing- magic?

That could be interesting... but it might also be too much Refluffing. Particularly for players who want to play the "Healer" Archetypal role of RPGs.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Should Cure Wounds and Healing Word be recontextualized into Bolstering effects or otherwise improving someone's fortitude without actually mending their injuries and wounds... and then spells like Heal, Prayer of Healing, Regeneration, and effects like Lay On Hands be actual -healing- magic?

I would probably remove Healing Word but let the Cure Wounds line in there, with a consumed component of your choice (holy incense, mystic leaf, waters of X, etc).
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
The architectural bit was a rip-off of a REH technique, that I use a fair bit, to convey the presence of another, usually more ancient culture, in an adventure. Hence Teerka noticing the beehive huts, albeit from local stones. I am honoured that you are using it.

Moving to healing, I like the S&S vibe of healing being more plant/actual medicine based, because it makes wounds, infections and the like more threatening. That said, 5e is built with magical healing as a given, so it’s tough to re-tool.
I’d suggest use of sarga plants, healing muds, special fountains etc, with magical healing being very rare, but I’d probably do it by a recommendation in the book that it’s covered in session 0 as part of the role play immersion of the setting. That way, groups that don’t want to give up their “healing on tap” don’t have to, but groups that want a bit more buy-in to the setting and atmosphere can do so.

Personally, I’d rather look for sarga flowers when my character is scratched by a bantaur, or seek out the famous healer, Shazaress, in the souk of Musarra.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Oh, that's not what I mean, @vincegetorix @GuyBoy.

I mean still having the spell provide 1d8+Wis healing, or 1d4+Wis Healing, and just -calling- it something different with the narrative understanding that it's not healing wounds, specifically, but abstract healthing.

You get stabbed, you're stabbed 'til a healer fixes it with sutures and ungeunts or a powerful Heal or Regenerate spell or some Herald lays on hands...

But someone can still cast "Bolster Ally" and give you back 1d8+Wis Hit Points so you can keep fighting even though you're still bleeding.
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
Mea Culpa, misunderstood.
I get your point now and really like the solution you propose. The bolster is a shortish term fix to keep you going. Longer term you need a healer to sort. Maybe a long rest helps a bit if you have to travel to the healer?
 

Faolyn

Hero
I think nerfing healing spells is less important than changing how many hp you get at the end of a long rest. With healing spells, you're trading a resource for healing, so that's OK.

For my Ravenloft game, I go with one of the grittier options: you don't get back hp after a long rest; you have to spend Hit Dice. But I'm a big softie so I continue with the 8-hour long rests.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I think nerfing healing spells is less important than changing how many hp you get at the end of a long rest. With healing spells, you're trading a resource for healing, so that's OK.

For my Ravenloft game, I go with one of the grittier options: you don't get back hp after a long rest; you have to spend Hit Dice. But I'm a big softie so I continue with the 8-hour long rests.
Again, Cure Wounds still provides 1d8+Wis healing magic... It's just narratively different. I'm not talking about nerfing the spell, just changing it's concept from "Close Wounds" to "Adrenaline Rush" or "Encouraging Words".
 

Faolyn

Hero
Again, Cure Wounds still provides 1d8+Wis healing magic... It's just narratively different. I'm not talking about nerfing the spell, just changing it's concept from "Close Wounds" to "Adrenaline Rush" or "Encouraging Words".
Then here I'd think you'd be better served by not going over every individual spell but having a section on how spells (perhaps grouped) are changed for the setting. Think of the way Curse of Strahd suggests that spells are altered for Ravenloft.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
IIRC, Dragon Age had a line of healing spells that is more about slowish health regeneration, I'll try to find the names.

AH! Found it!

Cure Wounds -> Rejuvenate
Healing Word -> Invigorate

Could go a bit darker, with something like ''Leech the Pain'' or ''Mystic Vigor''.

Went back to check the terms used by Pillars of Eternity. I modified them a bit and here's what I have.
  • Oaken Vigor
  • Burst of Summer's Life
  • Nature's Balm
  • Restore the Sacred Breath
  • Dispel Agony
  • Pain Block
  • Infuse the Vital Essence

all of those restore health in some ways, but do not heal the actual wound
 
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