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The Common Commoner

Rhialto

First Post
My own take on the evil god matter is it's an alignment/focus matter that determines if they can rank a formal church in a good or neutral community--generally, churches that can produce priests who will fit into the community will have them. Those that can't generally won't...

Let me give you a quick example, using the PHB gods...

HEXTOR will often have a church in an area. Many of these will be LN churches that attempt to sell him as a sort of uber-disciplined war god, while the others will be vile-tempered LE churches which basically demand that people pay Hextor tribute, or else... Relationships with other, more-hardline churches and priests of Hextor are going to depend on hierarchy and philosophy--for example, the Order of the Iron Fist is a largely LN organisation that sees itself as a monastic tradition training hard warriors to face a grim world. It does not get along with the LE Orthodox Church of Hextor, which is largely backed by the Empire of Asir, a gigantic, partially theocratic dictatorship. The Order sees the Church as giving into worldly politics and losing sight of Hextor's spiritual significance--the Church sees the Order as air-headed fools whose philosophing has obscured Hextor's practical message, which is of course, the Church of Hextor running the show. Still, they can manage an uneasy coexistance, while neither of them can get along with various NE cult leaders who, gathering followers together, proclaim themselves the 'Chosen of Hextor' and proceed to either cut a bloody swath through the land until some hero stops them, or plot in secret to unleash ancient evils/free devils/kick puppies, etc...

NERULL might have a LE church in the area, one that will claim to have given up all the human sacrifice and undead creation parts of the religion, and that is probably lying, though you won't catch them at it. It's quite possible that they have come to some formal relationship with the city government, allowing them to worship their grim god and yet still be functioning members of the community-- serving as executioners for criminals, to give an example. Most of their worship is in the form of 'Please Lord Nerull, don't kill my spouse', 'Oh, mighty Reaper, don't let my children come back as zombies', and the occasional, half-guilty 'Oh Lord of Bones--if Hew the Milner could drop dead--of natural causes, I'd be ever so thankful...' The church is probably willing to shelter less social members of the religion, as long as they don't start any trouble, and move out quickly. It should be pointed out that Nerull's cult has a rival in Wee Jas, and so they aren't always going to have a church.

VECNA will have LE or NE churches that attempt to set themselves up as information brokers, possessers of mystical secrets, and sellers of magical items. They also claim to have given up the human sacrifice and undeath stuff, and some of them might be telling the truth, because these guys are aiming at bigger game. Your local church of Vecna will try to put on a friendly front as they make themselves indispensable to the residents and government--and gather blackmail material. They are very likely to try to come to arrangement with the local criminal element, and meddle frequently in local politics. Naturally, the church is always in danger of being raided by the local authorities, forcibly disbanded or arrested, so they spend a lot of time greasing wheels, and making sure they have allies. They're perfectly willing to channel support to the more extreme members of the religion, but like the Nerullites, don't want them around sullying their home turf. And once again, rivalries and problems with the local authorities mean you're not always going to have a church.

ERYNTHUL usually does not have a local church, since his priesthood are basically serial killers. Usually, his faith is represented by secretive cult cells meeting in basements and sewers, and scheming to kill people. Erynthul is the sort of god that your more civilized sort doesn't like to talk about, or even give money to. I mean, the other evil gods have--some variety. Some ambivelance. Hextor is lord of Force, as well as Tyranny, Nerull is god of Death in general, not just Undead Things That Will Not Rest in the Earth, and Vecna's Secrets don't have to be Vile Secrets That Man Was Not Meant To Know. You can do your business with them and come out unsullied. Erynthul's God of Murder and Slaughter. You maybe toss out a quick prayer to him in fear and anger every once and while, but you don't worship him. It just leaves you feeling--dirty. It takes a special something to get involved in Erynthul's church, a sort of cold disregard for other people that many people lack, at least in the quantities needed to join the church. The closest thing you're going to find to an accepted Erynthul worship in a neutral community is the Chaotic Neutral raiders who call on Erynthul to let their enemies blood flow like wine, and that's hardly an organized religion...

Of course, this is all opinion, I freely admit, and if any wish to dispute me--please do! I enjoy a good discussion!
 

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D+1

First Post
Fieari said:
I wish people would stop chiming in with "D&D rules aren't SUPPOSED to make sense!"

It's been said. All you who believe this, you are welcome to it, please be on your way.
Yes it's been said before, but people seem to keep forgetting it - and I will NOT go away.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that there is no use to this thread. It's wonderfully useful and a fun exercise. I tend to play devil's advocate though, and they ARE rules for roleplaying, not for worldbuilding and that's why certain extrapolations just kinda bug me.

Take the random town generation tables in the DMG. People put a LOT of stock into those tables - but why? They're not MEANT for reverse engineering an entire campaign worlds demographics. That first sentence of the town generation section says, "When the PC's come into a town and you need to generate facts about the town quickly you can use the following material." While it does quite well at laying out a working demographic model it doesn't pretend to be the last word. Nor should it. The ENTIRE section on world building is a paltry 8.5 pages.

World building is an art; not a science whose formulae can be derived from three pages of impromptu data generation and text.

Of course, that's just my opinion. But be careful about telling too many people that their opinion isn't wanted. It is by constant, endless defense of ideas against detractors, or newer (and potentially better) views, that we avoid stagnation and regression.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Take the random town generation tables in the DMG. People put a LOT of stock into those tables - but why? They're not MEANT for reverse engineering an entire campaign worlds demographics.
All true, but they've proved quite useful here.......seems like even if they weren't meant for it, some world-building thought went into 'em. And they make for a surprisngly coherent world. :)

They're not the final word. For instance, a lot of people didn't accept the 2 attacks/day idea, and instead decided that plague and disease was the great threat. But they are quite suggested by the rules.....

Now applying an economy to this might be a further exercize in futility. ;) But I've never felt a need for that. Feeling out what the baseline, everyday life is in a D&D world is a worthy use of the extrapolation, I feel. :)

More on the Evil Cults:
I think it's more common than that -- the D&D gods work together to define the forces that govern the world, and it's ignorant folly to ignore these forces, even when they aren't particularly pleasant ones. I find myself reaching back to Greece a lot to compare....a creature like Dionyssus isn't exactly *constructive* for society, with revelry, excess, gender-bending and whatnot....but he was still honored and respected with the rest of the gods, and in some cases more so (because it dealt with the forces he had control over).

Similarly, Erythnul *is* violence. Violence is part of everyday life. You don't just sacrifice to him to encourage violence, you also sacrifice to him to prevent it...a happy god doesn't come down hard on you, after all.

So in most communities, there will be festivals, sacrifices, and common prayers to Erythnul. He could be muttered in the same prayer as Heironeous: "Let Heironious infuse our allies with honor, and let Erthynul take the enemy." Every June 20th, the feast of Slaughtersday is held, and a sacrifice of animals and captured enemies is made to placate the god (people are doused in the blood). It is common to dedicate the bodies of those killed in hostile action to Erythnul by chopping them into a fine paste. These aren't weird or frightening. Indeed, NOT doing these things (and thus incurring the god's wrath) could get one punished by the law, because the god could take out his anger on the entire town that sheltered such an individual. And what would you rather have, one person punished, or an entire town slaughtered?

Who is a priest of Erythnul will vary with the town...in some small communities, adepts or experts will serve that role, and there is no adpet oath. ;) In larger communities, where there is a cleric, they won't nessecarily be serial killers -- though they would undoubtedly *like* serial killers. Because in addition to the private, violent, unpleasant face of Erythnul, there is also the socially accepted side. The everday side. And it is just as extreme to dedicate one's life to needless slaughter as it is to ignore it completely. Though that's why other gods exist -- as checks and balances on the power of others. If a cleric of Erythnul gets to be a serial killer, Erythnul will love him -- but Pelor? Heironeous? They're going to work against him, bring him to justice, etc.
 

Rhialto

First Post
What everyday side is there to mass murder? Erynthul isn't the god of simple violence--hell, Hextor, Hieroneus, St. Cuthbert and Kord could be said to have that under their portfolios as well--he's the god of Slaughter. Of killing because you like it. Most societies are not going to feel comfortable with them hanging around. (I mean, Olidammara's bad enough, but at least you don't have to check for missing persons once his holy days passed...) What's more I'd say some gods really are persona non gratas in their little pantheons--Seth comes to mind--and while a person may mention them in prayers and oaths, they aren't going to worship them directly. Erynthul strikes me as a Devil sort of god--you don't pray to him, you don't talk about him, you don't do anything to attract his interest, because he's evil, nasty, and unpredictable. You don't try to get his favor, because when you've got his attention on you, you don't know if you can keep his favor.

As for his priests--these guys aren't standing around discussing the ramifications of murder--well, not all the time anyway--they're going out to commit murder. An Erynthul worship ceremony isn't meeting in a hall and reciting a liturgy--it's knifing a man in a back alley and then muttering a short prayer to Erynthul over the body. Then its on their way, because people aren't going to kill themselves, you know. At least not in the numbers to keep Erynthul happy.

Now I'm not saying that Erynthul won't have organized temples in some evil and dark neutrality dominated lands, and these might operate under the rationale you mentioned. But Erynthul's speciality is not only anti-social, it's actively destructive. You don't pray to Erynthul to protect you from violence--you pray to Pelor to protect you from Erynthul.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
What everyday side is there to mass murder? Erynthul isn't the god of simple violence--hell, Hextor, Hieroneus, St. Cuthbert and Kord could be said to have that under their portfolios as well--he's the god of Slaughter. Of killing because you like it. Most societies are not going to feel comfortable with them hanging around. (I mean, Olidammara's bad enough, but at least you don't have to check for missing persons once his holy days passed...) What's more I'd say some gods really are persona non gratas in their little pantheons--Seth comes to mind--and while a person may mention them in prayers and oaths, they aren't going to worship them directly. Erynthul strikes me as a Devil sort of god--you don't pray to him, you don't talk about him, you don't do anything to attract his interest, because he's evil, nasty, and unpredictable. You don't try to get his favor, because when you've got his attention on you, you don't know if you can keep his favor.
Well, the possible 'flaw' with this agrument (which is really just a differnece of opinion -- there's nothing WRONG with your idea. ;)) is that you're thinking of it as Monotheism, not Polytheism. Erythnul may be evil, but in the everyday lives of most people, there is evil. It's not something you ignore and pretend doesn't exist, because it's illogical to pretend violence, slaughter, etc. doesn't exist. You do pray to him -- to avoid slaughter, or to wish it on your enemies. He's evil, nasty, and unpredictable, but so was Dionysus, for instance. ;) Yet people payed him homage in the right circumstances.

Same thing with Set. He's evil and destructive, but he ws an everyday part of the world, and you had to pray to him if you wanted to avoid that destruction, just as if you wanted to inflict it on your enemies. Because unlike in most Monotheisms, Good doesn't include Everything. There are things that exist that aren't good at all. But they still exist, and gods still have power over them, and they are still a part of everyday life, even if they aren't particularly desirable elements of it.

As for his priests--these guys aren't standing around discussing the ramifications of murder--well, not all the time anyway--they're going out to commit murder. An Erynthul worship ceremony isn't meeting in a hall and reciting a liturgy--it's knifing a man in a back alley and then muttering a short prayer to Erynthul over the body. Then its on their way, because people aren't going to kill themselves, you know. At least not in the numbers to keep Erynthul happy.
There are a few ways to go about this.

#1: They kill people, but who cares? If they kill the evil witch, or the greedy, lonely miser, or the diseased who will succumb to the plague anyway, they're nearly doing society a service.

#2: They don't need to kill people, they just need to advocate it. According to the PHB, the only thing a cleric of Erythnul has to do to get spells is pray to him once per day and be Chaotic Evil. Someone who wants slaughter, even if they never actually involve themselves, is probably Chaotic Evil, right? So Erythnul likes him for advocating his philosophy, even if he doesn't live as a personification of the god. Indeed, emulating the deity by enacting mass slaughters could be hubristic. Know your place, mortal. ;)

#3: They kill people, but society accepts it. They turn a blind eye to the occasional murder in the street and death of a member, because if they don't, they'll get it worse in the end. Eradicating the church doesn't solve this problem, because the churches in other cities would destroy you, or Erythnul would send monsters to destroy you. Instead, you allow the sacrifice of the individual to preserve the function of society. Most people are Neutral after all, and this doesn't make the church-members nessecarily above the law. Those who commit the murders can still be brought to justice. It just means that the practice is not likely to stop. It's likely to continue, as long as both sides accept the continuing cycle.

Now I'm not saying that Erynthul won't have organized temples in some evil and dark neutrality dominated lands, and these might operate under the rationale you mentioned. But Erynthul's speciality is not only anti-social, it's actively destructive. You don't pray to Erynthul to protect you from violence--you pray to Pelor to protect you from Erynthul.
Why can't you do both?

In polytheism, generally speaking, each god has a sphere of life it has control over, and it has no power beyond that sphere. And there is also an uncrossable gap between the gods and the mortals. Erythnul is the god of slaughter. That's what he does, that's all he does. He is defined and absorbed in this practice. You can't possibly live a full life *just* praying to Erythnul. Living life like Erythnul would like you to would mean turning a blind eye to the moderation required for life - you would never heal, you would never raise a family, you would just kill, mindlessly, for eternity, just like Erythnul does, and you would be killed when you do, because people aren't supposed to live like the gods do. Even a devoted Chaotic Evil cleric of Erythnul would pull back and raise a family. He's not a madman -- he just loves bloodshed. He doesn't have to live his life as a constant whirlwind of terror, and no one would expect him to, and he would meet an untimely end if he did. Instead, he's supposed to live as a functional member of society, and serve as the intermediary between Erythnul and mortal life, being as much like the god as any mortal can. Erythnul has power over a definate aspect of life, one that any logical mind can realize is part and parcel of life. And whenever that aspect of life is encountered, Pelor has no power to help you -- only Erythnul can, as unpleasant as that prospect is. Pelor has 0 power over slaughter and violence. Neither does Heironeous. Or Hextor. Or Wee Jas. If you are dealing with savage, bloody violence, Erythnul is the only creature in existence that can aid you, either by summoning it up, or by dismissing it. Erythnul may be evil, but the aspect of life he has control over doesn't only happen to evil people. Slaughter is a daily fear for many, and only by making sure Erythnul isn't irked at you can you avoid it. If Erythnul is irked at you, Pelor can't save you. Pelor can help you heal in the aftermath, maybe. But Erythnul's domain is slaughter, and there's nothing Pelor can do to stop him in his dominion.

In comparison, in Christianity, you can live without the Devil. Because the One God is All, you don't need a force of evil with control, and you don't need to placate the force of evil to get it to relent, because Good has power over Evil. Good trumps Evil. So if you just pray to Good, Good will give you good things, and save you from Evil, all at the same time.

In polytheism, though, Good doesn't trump Evil. Good doesn't control Evil. Good exists. Evil exists. To protect yourself from Evil, you need to make both Good and Evil happy. Because if you don't make Evil happy, there's no garuntee Good will win against it....indeed, Good is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Evil has power has over.

Of course, the reverse is true, too. To get Good things to happen, you have to make both Good and Evil happy, because if you don't make Good happy, there's no garuntee it will overpower the Evil...indeed, Evil is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Good has power over.

So you want to protect yourself from a hobgoblin army? You pray to all the gods. You say "Pelor heal the wounded," and you pray to the sun. You say "Kord give our warriors Strength," and you hit your chest. You say "Heironeous give our leaders courage," and you raise your right fist. You say "Hextor give our leaders power," and you raise your left. You say "Erythnul, take my blood instead of our heroes'," and you pour a bit of your blood on the ground. You say "Nerull, may our fear keep us strong," and you spread some earth aronud. You say "Vecna, keep our tactics silent," and you burn a book.

Because if you don't, your tactics will be blabbed, your blood will be taken, your leaders will be weak, cowardly, or too gentle, and your wounded will die. Because to deny a god it's rightful honors is to affront it, and is to attract it's attention -- for better, or for worse.
 

Creamsteak

First Post
If your the most common commoner, more common than any other commoner... the most common...

Would that make you less common?

Stupid question...
 


Rhialto

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
Well, the possible 'flaw' with this agrument (which is really just a differnece of opinion -- there's nothing WRONG with your idea. ;)) is that you're thinking of it as Monotheism, not Polytheism. Erythnul may be evil, but in the everyday lives of most people, there is evil. It's not something you ignore and pretend doesn't exist, because it's illogical to pretend violence, slaughter, etc. doesn't exist. You do pray to him -- to avoid slaughter, or to wish it on your enemies. He's evil, nasty, and unpredictable, but so was Dionysus, for instance. ;) Yet people payed him homage in the right circumstances.


Umm, no I'm not. Even in polytheistic religions there were "gods" that pretty much amounted to the boogeyman--"gods" that maybe you set out a loaf of bread for on dark nights, "gods" that the other gods were seeing as holding in check.

Same thing with Set. He's evil and destructive, but he ws an everyday part of the world, and you had to pray to him if you wanted to avoid that destruction, just as if you wanted to inflict it on your enemies. Because unlike in most Monotheisms, Good doesn't include Everything. There are things that exist that aren't good at all. But they still exist, and gods still have power over them, and they are still a part of everyday life, even if they aren't particularly desirable elements of it.

Prior to the Hyskos, maybe, but after that, Set was little more than a devil. His name was erased, his statues were destroyed. After that--no priests of Set. No prayers to Set.

Or to give another example--Anupis the Serpent. By D&D standards, Anupis qualifies as a god. But it is a negative god--a god that is not worshiped, but for whom the other gods are worshiped for defeating. The argument I'm making is that Erythnul's place, and philosophy--he's Chaotic Evil, which is essentially like having a large sign placed on your head that says 'does not work well with others'.

There are a few ways to go about this.

#1: They kill people, but who cares? If they kill the evil witch, or the greedy, lonely miser, or the diseased who will succumb to the plague anyway, they're nearly doing society a service.

And this goes fine until they kill the wealthy merchant, the mayor's young daughter, or the beloved old philanthropist.

#2: They don't need to kill people, they just need to advocate it. According to the PHB, the only thing a cleric of Erythnul has to do to get spells is pray to him once per day and be Chaotic Evil. Someone who wants slaughter, even if they never actually involve themselves, is probably Chaotic Evil, right? So Erythnul likes him for advocating his philosophy, even if he doesn't live as a personification of the god. Indeed, emulating the deity by enacting mass slaughters could be hubristic. Know your place, mortal. ;)

No, it's hubris if they start saying 'Why, I'm better at mass murder than Erythnul!' Prior to that they are being good worshipers, killing in his name. And please tell me--what keeps your Chaotic Evil priest advocating murder but not committing murder? I'd like to know.

#3: They kill people, but society accepts it. They turn a blind eye to the occasional murder in the street and death of a member, because if they don't, they'll get it worse in the end. Eradicating the church doesn't solve this problem, because the churches in other cities would destroy you, or Erythnul would send monsters to destroy you. Instead, you allow the sacrifice of the individual to preserve the function of society. Most people are Neutral after all, and this doesn't make the church-members nessecarily above the law. Those who commit the murders can still be brought to justice. It just means that the practice is not likely to stop. It's likely to continue, as long as both sides accept the continuing cycle.

Yes, but most people don't want to get murdered themselves, and most authorities are going to want the people under them to feel safe, because that's how they stay the authorities, so letting the Holy Temple of Cruel Slaughter operate legally is probably not going to go over very well.

People may use those rationalizations to "accept" the underground chapters of the cult, the same way some people "accept" drug dealers and serial killers. But that doesn't mean they'll like it...


In polytheism, generally speaking, each god has a sphere of life it has control over, and it has no power beyond that sphere.

But in the Greek model, we have Athena, Ares, Zeus, and Apollo all with direct power over battles. In the Egyptian, multiple dieties claim to be creators of the world, with battles and intrigues between the priesthoods. Among the Hindus, we see multiple gods of everything, including sun and battle. Some people pray to all of them, but many more pray to a few of them, or even one of them.

And there is also an uncrossable gap between the gods and the mortals. Erythnul is the god of slaughter. That's what he does, that's all he does. He is defined and absorbed in this practice. You can't possibly live a full life *just* praying to Erythnul. Living life like Erythnul would like you to would mean turning a blind eye to the moderation required for life - you would never heal, you would never raise a family, you would just kill, mindlessly, for eternity, just like Erythnul does, and you would be killed when you do, because people aren't supposed to live like the gods do.

The cult of Hercules would disagree with you there--they lived their ascetic lives in a direct imitation of his. (And would go on to inspire the philosophical school of Cynicism.) And for many polytheists, an act of worship meant doing as the gods do--that's the origin of the Dionysian rites you mentioned earlier.

Now, let's just take a look at Erythnul's church, shall we? Mostly Chaotic Evil. Hmmm--well, the Evil would be the entire 'murder is good' angle, but what does that 'Chaotic' mean. Strongly individualistic--unlikely to conform to society's rules--contemptuous of organization and regimentation... I'd say we're looking at an antisocial ascetic group here, with little in the way of formal discipline... Basically, a mix of yogis and serial killers... Heh... I see them now...

Wandering the land, following by the holy precepts of Erythnul (forever may He kill), seeking to bring as many as possible into His Bloody Hand, until they are at last brought to it themselves, living lives dedicated to the glories of murder. They frown on possessions, and keep only what they can carry, and while they are not prohibited from enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, they are contemptuous of them, for has not Erythnul said that the purpose of flesh is to kill, or be killing. Oh, your priest of Erythnul knows he can not be killing all the time--that he must sleep, and eat on occasion--but it is a fact he seeks to suppress, a fact he loathes, and tries regularly to prove his superiority to. Yea, their tales resound with such heroic figures as Black Chul, whom never did congress with a woman without slaying her afterwards, Carn the Ragged, whom ate either filth or that which he had killed with his own hands and nothing else, and Kyl Burntloaves who would not rest for the day until he had killed an old man, a young man, a child, and a mother. Meeting under gallows and in cemeteries, they speak of their deeds, and draw their morning stars, each seeking to kill his fellows. To begin their training, many acolytes go under the tutelage of an older priest, who teaches them the ways. If they prove weak, they are killed--if they prove strong, they kill their masters.

Some speak of more settled priests in lands of darkness, whom have sacrifices taken to them--who build churches, and council monarchs. "But fie on them!" shouts the dedicated priest of Erythnul. "This is the life that Erythnul has chosen for me--my hand against all others, and all others hand against mine!" And with weapon raised high, he continues on the bloody path of Erythnul.

Even a devoted Chaotic Evil cleric of Erythnul would pull back and raise a family. He's not a madman -- he just loves bloodshed. He doesn't have to live his life as a constant whirlwind of terror, and no one would expect him to, and he would meet an untimely end if he did.

Some would argue that doing so would be the greatest act of faith that the priest could show. :D


Instead, he's supposed to live as a functional member of society, and serve as the intermediary between Erythnul and mortal life, being as much like the god as any mortal can.

But being as much like Erythnul as he can is going to make him a dysfunctional member of society, unless said society is pretty dysfunctional itself. Now, seeing that Erythnul and his priest are both antisocial, and figuring that in the battle between god and society, god will when, society is going to take a fairly dim view of the priests of Erythnul, and the priests of Erythnul will take a likewise dim view of society.

Erythnul has power over a definate aspect of life, one that any logical mind can realize is part and parcel of life. And whenever that aspect of life is encountered, Pelor has no power to help you -- only Erythnul can, as unpleasant as that prospect is. Pelor has 0 power over slaughter and violence.

Sure he does. He helps you withstand it.

Neither does Heironeous. Or Hextor.

Right. That whole 'war' aspect of their powers--no help whatsoever.

Or Wee Jas.

A god of death can be no help in--preventing death.

If you are dealing with savage, bloody violence, Erythnul is the only creature in existence that can aid you, either by summoning it up, or by dismissing it. Erythnul may be evil, but the aspect of life he has control over doesn't only happen to evil people. Slaughter is a daily fear for many, and only by making sure Erythnul isn't irked at you can you avoid it.

The thing is Erythnul is irked at everyone. You don't make him unirked. You pray to him for protection, he sends a horde of rampaging gnolls to your village. You pray to every other god in your pantheon to make sure Erythnul doesn't notice you, and that if he does, they'll protect you. Because the other gods do have some power for or against violence and with their help, you might get out of it alive.

If Erythnul is irked at you, Pelor can't save you. Pelor can help you heal in the aftermath, maybe. But Erythnul's domain is slaughter, and there's nothing Pelor can do to stop him in his dominion.

Except that one of Pelor's specialities is... strength. Being strong against the attacks of evil.

In comparison, in Christianity, you can live without the Devil. Because the One God is All, you don't need a force of evil with control, and you don't need to placate the force of evil to get it to relent, because Good has power over Evil. Good trumps Evil. So if you just pray to Good, Good will give you good things, and save you from Evil, all at the same time.

In polytheism, though, Good doesn't trump Evil. Good doesn't control Evil. Good exists. Evil exists. To protect yourself from Evil, you need to make both Good and Evil happy. Because if you don't make Evil happy, there's no garuntee Good will win against it....indeed, Good is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Evil has power has over.

Of course, the reverse is true, too. To get Good things to happen, you have to make both Good and Evil happy, because if you don't make Good happy, there's no garuntee it will overpower the Evil...indeed, Evil is almost garunteed to fail, because it has no power over those things that Good has power over.

So you want to protect yourself from a hobgoblin army? You pray to all the gods. You say "Pelor heal the wounded," and you pray to the sun. You say "Kord give our warriors Strength," and you hit your chest. You say "Heironeous give our leaders courage," and you raise your right fist. You say "Hextor give our leaders power," and you raise your left. You say "Erythnul, take my blood instead of our heroes'," and you pour a bit of your blood on the ground. You say "Nerull, may our fear keep us strong," and you spread some earth aronud. You say "Vecna, keep our tactics silent," and you burn a book.

Because if you don't, your tactics will be blabbed, your blood will be taken, your leaders will be weak, cowardly, or too gentle, and your wounded will die. Because to deny a god it's rightful honors is to affront it, and is to attract it's attention -- for better, or for worse.

The problem I have is that your analogy is false--even in polytheism there is the belief that Good spirits protect you from Evil ones. Quite prominently, actually. But the thing is, no matter who you pray to you're going to die someday, so the idea takes root that Good spirits have limitations--that even they can't protect you from everything. And so, if things are bad, you give the bad spirits an offering to placate them, and then go back to not mentioning them.

Now, I'd say, looking at the other gods, that Erythnul is not the god of Violence in General--he's the god of a particular sort of violence. People who think that sort of violence is what they need seek him out--others don't. His violence does not trump anyone else's violence, and neither does theirs, so you are basically free to worship or ignore him as you see fit. Good societies, preferring war gods who don't demand that you slaughter all your prisoners to them, generally ignore him. Erythnul may not like that, and treat them badly as a result, but he treats everyone badly, so it's really not a big deal. Your Neutral general may give a little offering like you said, but even he stops short of letting the priests settle down, because while you can kid yourself that you can cut deals with Erythnul, the priests are there, and you find yourself dealing with guys that kill your shopkeepers, and set fire to the granaries. At best you set up a little shrine for them to pray at as they're travelling, and maybe leave a little food there for them--and even then you keep a tight eye on that shrine, and make sure that people who visit it don't stay in the neighborhood too long. Because that's the thing about Erythnul's followers--they don't take to rules very well. Just killing.
 
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kigmatzomat

First Post
I think this is getting more into world-specifics than something applicable in all settings.

Here's a good common commoner question: what consists of a typical commoners diet? In winter? On the half-dozen holidays?
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
Rhialto said:
Now, let's just take a look at Erythnul's church, shall we? Mostly Chaotic Evil. Hmmm--well, the Evil would be the entire 'murder is good' angle, but what does that 'Chaotic' mean. Strongly individualistic--unlikely to conform to society's rules--contemptuous of organization and regimentation... I'd say we're looking at an antisocial ascetic group here, with little in the way of formal discipline... Basically, a mix of yogis and serial killers... Heh... I see them now...

Wandering the land, following by the holy precepts of Erythnul (forever may He kill), seeking to bring as many as possible into His Bloody Hand, until they are at last brought to it themselves, living lives dedicated to the glories of murder. They frown on possessions, and keep only what they can carry, and while they are not prohibited from enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, they are contemptuous of them, for has not Erythnul said that the purpose of flesh is to kill, or be killing. Oh, your priest of Erythnul knows he can not be killing all the time--that he must sleep, and eat on occasion--but it is a fact he seeks to suppress, a fact he loathes, and tries regularly to prove his superiority to. Yea, their tales resound with such heroic figures as Black Chul, whom never did congress with a woman without slaying her afterwards, Carn the Ragged, whom ate either filth or that which he had killed with his own hands and nothing else, and Kyl Burntloaves who would not rest for the day until he had killed an old man, a young man, a child, and a mother. Meeting under gallows and in cemeteries, they speak of their deeds, and draw their morning stars, each seeking to kill his fellows. To begin their training, many acolytes go under the tutelage of an older priest, who teaches them the ways. If they prove weak, they are killed--if they prove strong, they kill their masters.

Some speak of more settled priests in lands of darkness, whom have sacrifices taken to them--who build churches, and council monarchs. "But fie on them!" shouts the dedicated priest of Erythnul. "This is the life that Erythnul has chosen for me--my hand against all others, and all others hand against mine!" And with weapon raised high, he continues on the bloody path of Erythnul.

That's one possible interpretation. On the other hand, Erythnul can give his power to chaotic neutral clerics. It would be quite possible to have an area where the official cult of Erythnul in the temples sacrificed a slave or a prisoner or even a group of them at regular intervals to wish the depredations of the Many upon their enemies. There might well be a secret sect--quite possibly hereditary--that went out and actively murdered on a regular basis. However, there is no guarantee that a society wouldn't tolerate them. Indian societies tolerated Thugee for quite a long time before it was eliminated. I could easily imagine the worship of Erythnul being something like that.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Typical commoner diet would vary by culture, but would. by and large consist of mostly heavy beers or diluted wines, breads, cheeses, fruits & veggies (fresh if in season, dried if not), fresh meat when they could buy/catch/poach it, but usually dried instead. The last estimate I saw on the daily caloric intake was about 6000/day- a lot of that in liquid form. Of course, they also expended a lot of calories in doing manual labor and maintaining body core temperature.

When I took a tour of the Cistercian Monestaries of Europe, I found out that during periods of fasting, certain special beers were consumed. These special beers, the forerunners of today's dark beers, were so thick with grains they were jokingly called "meals in a glass," and could have somewhere around 1000 calories per serving.
 

Rhialto

First Post
Elder-Basilisk said:
That's one possible interpretation. On the other hand, Erythnul can give his power to chaotic neutral clerics. It would be quite possible to have an area where the official cult of Erythnul in the temples sacrificed a slave or a prisoner or even a group of them at regular intervals to wish the depredations of the Many upon their enemies. There might well be a secret sect--quite possibly hereditary--that went out and actively murdered on a regular basis. However, there is no guarantee that a society wouldn't tolerate them. Indian societies tolerated Thugee for quite a long time before it was eliminated. I could easily imagine the worship of Erythnul being something like that.

Except the Thugs weren't tolerated. (Or rather, they only escaped assault because of a strong organization and bribery--and in the end that didn't help them.) Also, Kali isn't simply a god of violence and destruction--which you could say is what Erythnul's problem boils down to...
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Slaughter, Everyday

Or to give another example--Anupis the Serpent. By D&D standards, Anupis qualifies as a god. But it is a negative god--a god that is not worshiped, but for whom the other gods are worshiped for defeating. The argument I'm making is that Erythnul's place, and philosophy--he's Chaotic Evil, which is essentially like having a large sign placed on your head that says 'does not work well with others'.
I would argue that a god that you do not worship is not really a god. Anupis was more a monster than a deity....an epic-level monster, capable of destroying the world, but a monster nonetheless.

Gods are worshiped. If you're not worshiped, your not a god. Admittedly, that's drawing on a bit of religios theory, but I feel confident ruling as such. Gods have clerics, adepts, favored souls, druids, rangers, paladins, etc....if you don't have worshipers, you're not a deity, though you may be as powerful, if not more powerful than one. The Fenris Wolf, for instance, or the Midgard Serpent. Heck, even Satan in a certain sense.

And this goes fine until they kill the wealthy merchant, the mayor's young daughter, or the beloved old philanthropist.
Yes, but that would be stupid. ;) Eythnul may advocate slaughter, but the clerics are not uniformly idiots just beacuse they're bloodthirsty. :)

No, it's hubris if they start saying 'Why, I'm better at mass murder than Erythnul!' Prior to that they are being good worshipers, killing in his name. And please tell me--what keeps your Chaotic Evil priest advocating murder but not committing murder? I'd like to know.
Saying that you are like a god is pretty hubristic. And what keeps your CE priest from murdering is the simple fact that he wants to survive to see the slaughter of the next day. Being Chaotic Evil doesn't mean you're a creature of pure, dumb instinct. Would he kill if he got the chance? Definately. But he's not going to spend his life nessecarily dedicated to murder himself...he can spend it protecting other murderers, serving as a mouthpeice to the deity, encouraging others to give into their rage. Just because you worship a bestial god does not mean you have to be bestial yourself.

People may use those rationalizations to "accept" the underground chapters of the cult, the same way some people "accept" drug dealers and serial killers. But that doesn't mean they'll like it...
Certainly it means some people like it. And the rest aren't affected enough to try and destroy it.

But in the Greek model, we have Athena, Ares, Zeus, and Apollo all with direct power over battles. In the Egyptian, multiple dieties claim to be creators of the world, with battles and intrigues between the priesthoods. Among the Hindus, we see multiple gods of everything, including sun and battle. Some people pray to all of them, but many more pray to a few of them, or even one of them.
In the Greek case, don't you think you're oversimplifying "battle"? They have direct power over battles, but over different aspects -- Athena was the glory of battle, Ares was the violence of battle, Zeus was victory and strength in battle, and Apollo was archery and beauty. Apollo couldn't preside over bloodshed and violence. Zeus is a bit of an exception, because he's the trump card, but D&D religion has no such trump card.

In the Egyptian and Hindu case, you run into locally developed deities with conflicting ideologies. People chose gods based on their location, their caste, their own personal culture. Not on belief. Comparatively in D&D, you have several creator gods -- Gruumsh, Corellon Larethian, Moradin, Garl Glittergold -- probably all with conflicting myths. Which one you believe in is dictated probably by your race...no one who believed Re created the world would believe that Amun did it, fer'instance. But these in D&D are basically addendums to the core pantheon, not defining them. D&D has three gods of arcane magic -- Vecna, Wee Jas, and Boccob. But they're gods of different aspects of magic -- Vecna governs the secrets and unknown, Wee Jas governs organization, death, and enchantment, and Boccob governs pure knowledge and magical power. When casting a divination, you pray to Boccob. When casting an illusion, Vecna. When using necromancy, Wee Jas.

Wandering the land, following by the holy precepts of Erythnul (forever may He kill), seeking to bring as many as possible into His Bloody Hand, until they are at last brought to it themselves, living lives dedicated to the glories of murder. They frown on possessions, and keep only what they can carry, and while they are not prohibited from enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, they are contemptuous of them, for has not Erythnul said that the purpose of flesh is to kill, or be killing. Oh, your priest of Erythnul knows he can not be killing all the time--that he must sleep, and eat on occasion--but it is a fact he seeks to suppress, a fact he loathes, and tries regularly to prove his superiority to. Yea, their tales resound with such heroic figures as Black Chul, whom never did congress with a woman without slaying her afterwards, Carn the Ragged, whom ate either filth or that which he had killed with his own hands and nothing else, and Kyl Burntloaves who would not rest for the day until he had killed an old man, a young man, a child, and a mother. Meeting under gallows and in cemeteries, they speak of their deeds, and draw their morning stars, each seeking to kill his fellows. To begin their training, many acolytes go under the tutelage of an older priest, who teaches them the ways. If they prove weak, they are killed--if they prove strong, they kill their masters.

Some speak of more settled priests in lands of darkness, whom have sacrifices taken to them--who build churches, and council monarchs. "But fie on them!" shouts the dedicated priest of Erythnul. "This is the life that Erythnul has chosen for me--my hand against all others, and all others hand against mine!" And with weapon raised high, he continues on the bloody path of Erythnul.
Obviously there's nothing wrong with this view. I like it a lot. :) But I prefer my gods to be everyday parts of the PC's lives...so I see it
more that the priests of Erythnul, Chaotic and Evil as they are, do not wish to be exterminated. If they lived lives of murder and bloodshed constantly, it's insanity, it's psychopathy. Most clerics of Erythnul, Chaotic Evil as they are, are not psychopaths....though certainly they don't look down on such creatures.

So they live in a temple at the fringe of society. They are feared and respected, but essential in the operation of life. Most of them live life from day to day encouraging murder, maybe sacrificing an animal or seven, praying to their deity for strength, rage, and gore.

Eyrthnul grants it in the form of goblin raids on the city. They have been more harsh as of late, and more people in the town have succumbed to them. Why? Why have the goblins increased in slaughter? Why must they succumb to this violence? Obviously, some deity must be offended...who? Talk to the Adept...he uses some magic (or at least pretends to, more likely using his Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (local) skill), determining that the got of Slaughter is to blame for the slaughter. So the mayor sends a small contingent to the temple to ask what the god demands, in exchange for renewed safety. The cleric there sees an opportunity for bloodshed, and so demands a sacrifice. The people of the town lead some boars (sacred to Erythnul) to the temple, where there are killed, and a small feast is held in Eyrhtnul's name, with the entire town praying that the god of slaughter spare them.

Of course, since the cleric was making it up (he had paid the adept to say so, after all, just as he has paid the goblins to attack the village), the goblin raids do not stop...they in fact increase in violence and power, as people show up dead in the night, and the cleric's services become more and more required. The Gods are unhappy, he says. Erythnul is not appeased by the blood of mere beasts. Living, thinking, sentient blood must be spilled, for the transgressions. Who has transgressed? Who is to blame for this? It is the Mayor, whose recent Law of Sanctuary means that this town is a haven for those refugees from the frontiers. As a result, Pelor is becoming too popular in the city. Erythnul demans human sacrifice, from the ruling family, and a repealing of the law...this is not a shocking thing. Five years ago, he wanted the same, and the ruling family happily paid -- to not do so is to
doom the entire town.

The mayor has a long, hard talk with his family -- one of them must die, so that the rest of the town may live. After much deliberation, they select one of his daughters, the eldest one, unlikely to marry since she was disfigured ten years ago when the worgs struck, and her hips were shattered. Clerics could heal her wounds, but the family could not afford to taker her into the city to regenerate her bones. The day before the sacrifice, she is treated like a queen. A great feast is held in her honor, and Erythnul's. Most of the common people are happy she is dying -- it will mean that they will live, after all. True, next time it could be them...but until that time comes, no sense in worrying about it. Each one has their idea of what they will do -- cut and run at the last minute (CE, CN), refuse, and sacrifice yourself instead trying to take as many goblins with you as you can (CG, though Erythnul's cleric will be happy), gladly sacrifice yourself for the good of your town (LG, LN), or get all the gifts from the sacrifice, and then attempt to argue that someone else should be sacrificed (LE). Or 1,001 variations on these ideas. Either way, accepting the death of someone else so that you may live isn't hard for most people (NN) to do. Even if it's someone you care about -- it is the lesser of two evils. Anyway, the daughter is lavished with gifts, riches, finery, a great feast of boar's meat (all the rangers in the town could hunt), and then sacrificed on the steps of the temple.

The Cleric now has had his slaughter. He wants more, but he sees the sad look in the villagers' eyes, notices the look of outright rage that the mayor's son is giving him (Sense Motive!). He knows if there is no effect after this, that his acolyte may accuse *him* of being the problem, rather than the authority figures. So the cleric sends word to a hoboblin tribe to the south that the goblins to the east (the ones attacking the town) are distracted and ripe for the picking. More slaughter. More chaos. And regardless of who wins, he can try it again later, or have his acolyte do the same, when years have passed and this loss fades into obscurity, people can take another one.

That's a clever CE. That's someone with wisdom. :) A mindless killing machine may glorify Erythnul, but most people don't want to be that kind of a martyr. So they think of ways around it...in this guy's case, he encourages overall slaughter (he killed villagers with the goblins, increased doubt of the mayor's policies with his words, and now he's killed goblins with hobgoblins...so much blood....), without ever really risking his own neck. He's Evil. Why would he stick his own hide out, even for a god?

But being as much like Erythnul as he can is going to make him a dysfunctional member of society, unless said society is pretty dysfunctional itself. Now, seeing that Erythnul and his priest are both antisocial, and figuring that in the battle between god and society, god will when, society is going to take a fairly dim view of the priests of Erythnul, and the priests of Erythnul will take a likewise dim view of society.
I disagree. Evil is a part of society, a part of life, and, IMHO, should be reflected every day in the lives of those who live in the world. Slaughter is not something you can, in the world, compartamentalize and push away as simply the acts of madmen or sociopaths. Sure, they are epitomes of slaughter. But they are far from the only way to go about it, and I would argue that they are the rarer way, the more destructive way, the way that most clerics do not take, because they are selfish, they are evil, and they are interested in slaughter on as grand a scale as possible, not just within their own paws. And Chaos likewise is something that goes hand in hand with slaughter. Being Chaotic Evil is not being bestial, being insane, being a savage barbarian. It's something very near at hand to every sentient being...it's not a bogeyman, it's not something in the closet...it's out of the closet and in the soul of everything that happens.

For a modern-esque take on how this could happen, take a look at Dark Shamans by Neil Whitehead. It's a book on the everyday real-life violence of an Amazonian tribe, and it makes a good case for it not being isloated. Violence, IMHO, is not isolated from society, it's part and parcel of it, *especially* in a world where you could get attacked twice per day. ;)

Right. That whole 'war' aspect of their powers--no help whatsoever.
That's way to general, in my opinion. Not every war is under the dominion of a god with the War domain. They all focus on certain parts of war...Heironeous on the valor and honor, Hextor on the obedient selfishness and cruel rule. Kord on strength and power. Outisde of this, they have no power over war...the slaughter of war is solidly in Erythnul's camp. "War" is far too multifaceted to boil it down to an "all or nothing" approach. Depending on the culture, even "The Valor and Honor of War" may be too multifacted. Heck, for the Greeks, "The Storm" was so multifaceted that it became all-powerful.

The thing is Erythnul is irked at everyone. You don't make him unirked. You pray to him for protection, he sends a horde of rampaging gnolls to your village. You pray to every other god in your pantheon to make sure Erythnul doesn't notice you, and that if he does, they'll protect you. Because the other gods do have some power for or against violence and with their help, you might get out of it alive.
I disagree. Erythnul = Slaughter. No god can save you from it, except the god itself. You don't pray to Erythnul for protection ("Erythnul protect me!"? Naaah), but if you don't pray to him when his attention is on you, you're screwed (if he sees you refusing to honor him, is he going to be cool with that?). Erythnul isn't something that's Out There, Somewhere, Waiting To Get Us. He's something sudden, immediate, every day, every year, part and parcel of the human condition in this world.

People who think that sort of violence is what they need seek him out--others don't.
I would say the case is more that that sort of violence is unaviodable in the D&D world. If you don't seek him out, he finds you and crushes you. To ignore that slaughter exists is like denying that storms exist, that gnomes exist, that the ground exists. To avoid slaughter is like avoiding love. You can't. You will be crushed for trying. Because the god is part of the world, NOT an independant lunatic. If he was an independant lunatic, he would be weak, distant, nothing to worry about every day. But I prefer to think of my gods as immediate, sudden, abrupt, in your face, part of the world, worshiped popularly, and THAT is why they are powerful. If the aspect they control is just for 'someone else,' the god, IMHO, is weak. It's like bringing a goddess of Athenian Democracy to Celtic England....the what the goddess represents has no power in their lives.

Erythnul, I prefer to believe, *has* a power over every life.

The role of the wacky sociopath? That's great. But I prefer fiendish lords for that...Orcus is only part and parcel of the lives of the most fractured individuals, for instance...Erythnul is part and parcel of the lives of everyone. :)

Again, not that your way is bad, I just think it's an interesting discussion. :)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Food

It's interesting to contemplate the deit of your average villager....on the one hand, they'll eat pretty much what anyone else would eat: grains, fruits, some herd animal meat, veggies.......but then, you add in the fantasy dimension, and add in various 'magical plants' and what kind of plants would evolve in such a land...leads to some interesting conclusions.

Fer'instance, in an area where they are popular, various magical beasts could be considered the feasts of kings (taking the place of things like fatted calves today). Certain nomadic tribes may care for anything from herds of bison to wandering treants to plant monsters to other fantastic beasts.

And with some of those two encounters/day being from hostile animals and magical beasts, they probably eat a good portion of them, too (or, at least, those who belong to the militia do...)
 

Rhialto

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
I would argue that a god that you do not worship is not really a god. Anupis was more a monster than a deity....an epic-level monster, capable of destroying the world, but a monster nonetheless.

Gods are worshiped. If you're not worshiped, your not a god. Admittedly, that's drawing on a bit of religios theory, but I feel confident ruling as such. Gods have clerics, adepts, favored souls, druids, rangers, paladins, etc....if you don't have worshipers, you're not a deity, though you may be as powerful, if not more powerful than one. The Fenris Wolf, for instance, or the Midgard Serpent. Heck, even Satan in a certain sense.

Or Loki, and yet, in D&D there he is, a god. In fact, D&D is full of divine beings that wouldn't normally be gods, and yet there they are...

I'd say this comes out of the need for adversaries for the good guys.

Yes, but that would be stupid. ;) Eythnul may advocate slaughter, but the clerics are not uniformly idiots just beacuse they're bloodthirsty. :)

But without an element of randomness, it isn't slaughter. (Which, given Erythnul's alignment, I'm taking to mean 'to kill in great numbers, indiscriminately'.) Sure your priest of Erythnul can spend his time killing drunks, poor people, and the castoffs of society, but eventually, Erythnul's going to get peeved because his priest is showing more concern about his safety then Erythnul's glory.

Saying that you are like a god is pretty hubristic.

Only without proper context. Saying you seek to imitate the holy example of your god is being a good worshiper. Classically, hubris comes when a man tries to deny or supplant the gods. If the high priest of Erythnul starts having his followers kill in his name instead of Erythnul--hubris. But Erythnul expects his priests to follow his example.

And what keeps your CE priest from murdering is the simple fact that he wants to survive to see the slaughter of the next day. Being Chaotic Evil doesn't mean you're a creature of pure, dumb instinct. Would he kill if he got the chance? Definately. But he's not going to spend his life nessecarily dedicated to murder himself...he can spend it protecting other murderers, serving as a mouthpeice to the deity, encouraging others to give into their rage. Just because you worship a bestial god does not mean you have to be bestial yourself.

But my problem with this is it destroys any individuality Erythnul's priesthood might have. They are now simply another evil priesthood, like every other priesthood. At this point the difference between Erythnul and Nerull becomes a simple matter of "Nerull's temple has more zombies". Erythnul's priest should, on the whole, be a reflection of Erythnul just as Pelor's priest is a reflectio of Pelor. That's not to say they won't be individualistic, but we must assume that they all have some reason

Furthermore, while I don't think all of Erythnul's worshippers are going to act like that, I'm talking about his priests. They are supposed to be just a tad


In the Greek case, don't you think you're oversimplifying "battle"? They have direct power over battles, but over different aspects -- Athena was the glory of battle, Ares was the violence of battle, Zeus was victory and strength in battle, and Apollo was archery and beauty. Apollo couldn't preside over bloodshed and violence. Zeus is a bit of an exception, because he's the trump card, but D&D religion has no such trump card.

Actually, no, it was largely a regional matter, but I have yet to find a single Greek reference delineating these deities different responsibilities.

Also, the Spartans would be interested in knowing Apollo had no power over bloodshed and violence. All that money to the Delphic Oracle--wasted...

In the Egyptian and Hindu case, you run into locally developed deities with conflicting ideologies. People chose gods based on their location, their caste, their own personal culture. Not on belief. Comparatively in D&D, you have several creator gods -- Gruumsh, Corellon Larethian, Moradin, Garl Glittergold -- probably all with conflicting myths. Which one you believe in is dictated probably by your race...no one who believed Re created the world would believe that Amun did it, fer'instance. But these in D&D are basically addendums to the core pantheon, not defining them. D&D has three gods of arcane magic -- Vecna, Wee Jas, and Boccob. But they're gods of different aspects of magic -- Vecna governs the secrets and unknown, Wee Jas governs organization, death, and enchantment, and Boccob governs pure knowledge and magical power. When casting a divination, you pray to Boccob. When casting an illusion, Vecna. When using necromancy, Wee Jas.

...Or some wizards might pray to Boccob on all spells as 'the lord of All Magic.' And some might feel that Wee Jas or Vecna trump him.


Obviously there's nothing wrong with this view. I like it a lot. :)

Well, thank you. I thought it was a nice bit of work myself.

But I prefer my gods to be everyday parts of the PC's lives...so I see it
more that the priests of Erythnul, Chaotic and Evil as they are, do not wish to be exterminated. If they lived lives of murder and bloodshed constantly, it's insanity, it's psychopathy. Most clerics of Erythnul, Chaotic Evil as they are, are not psychopaths....though certainly they don't look down on such creatures.

But once again, the priests of Erythnul become a Generic Evil Priesthood this way. To my mind, each of the gods should have a unique priesthood. Hextor's the one for evil theocracies and inquisitions, Vecna's got the scheming politicos who are trying to build up a power base, Nerull's priesthood spans from the creepy guys in black robes with the onyx temple at the edge of town to the crazy family living in the woods with an army of zombies.

So they live in a temple at the fringe of society. They are feared and respected, but essential in the operation of life. Most of them live life from day to day encouraging murder, maybe sacrificing an animal or seven, praying to their deity for strength, rage, and gore.

Eyrthnul grants it in the form of goblin raids on the city. They have been more harsh as of late, and more people in the town have succumbed to them. Why? Why have the goblins increased in slaughter? Why must they succumb to this violence? Obviously, some deity must be offended...who? Talk to the Adept...he uses some magic (or at least pretends to, more likely using his Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (local) skill), determining that the got of Slaughter is to blame for the slaughter. So the mayor sends a small contingent to the temple to ask what the god demands, in exchange for renewed safety. The cleric there sees an opportunity for bloodshed, and so demands a sacrifice. The people of the town lead some boars (sacred to Erythnul) to the temple, where there are killed, and a small feast is held in Eyrhtnul's name, with the entire town praying that the god of slaughter spare them.

Of course, since the cleric was making it up (he had paid the adept to say so, after all, just as he has paid the goblins to attack the village), the goblin raids do not stop...they in fact increase in violence and power, as people show up dead in the night, and the cleric's services become more and more required. The Gods are unhappy, he says. Erythnul is not appeased by the blood of mere beasts. Living, thinking, sentient blood must be spilled, for the transgressions. Who has transgressed? Who is to blame for this? It is the Mayor, whose recent Law of Sanctuary means that this town is a haven for those refugees from the frontiers. As a result, Pelor is becoming too popular in the city. Erythnul demans human sacrifice, from the ruling family, and a repealing of the law...this is not a shocking thing. Five years ago, he wanted the same, and the ruling family happily paid -- to not do so is to
doom the entire town.

The mayor has a long, hard talk with his family -- one of them must die, so that the rest of the town may live. After much deliberation, they select one of his daughters, the eldest one, unlikely to marry since she was disfigured ten years ago when the worgs struck, and her hips were shattered. Clerics could heal her wounds, but the family could not afford to taker her into the city to regenerate her bones. The day before the sacrifice, she is treated like a queen. A great feast is held in her honor, and Erythnul's. Most of the common people are happy she is dying -- it will mean that they will live, after all. True, next time it could be them...but until that time comes, no sense in worrying about it. Each one has their idea of what they will do -- cut and run at the last minute (CE, CN), refuse, and sacrifice yourself instead trying to take as many goblins with you as you can (CG, though Erythnul's cleric will be happy), gladly sacrifice yourself for the good of your town (LG, LN), or get all the gifts from the sacrifice, and then attempt to argue that someone else should be sacrificed (LE). Or 1,001 variations on these ideas. Either way, accepting the death of someone else so that you may live isn't hard for most people (NN) to do. Even if it's someone you care about -- it is the lesser of two evils. Anyway, the daughter is lavished with gifts, riches, finery, a great feast of boar's meat (all the rangers in the town could hunt), and then sacrificed on the steps of the temple.

The Cleric now has had his slaughter. He wants more, but he sees the sad look in the villagers' eyes, notices the look of outright rage that the mayor's son is giving him (Sense Motive!). He knows if there is no effect after this, that his acolyte may accuse *him* of being the problem, rather than the authority figures. So the cleric sends word to a hoboblin tribe to the south that the goblins to the east (the ones attacking the town) are distracted and ripe for the picking. More slaughter. More chaos. And regardless of who wins, he can try it again later, or have his acolyte do the same, when years have passed and this loss fades into obscurity, people can take another one.

That's a clever CE. That's someone with wisdom. :) A mindless killing machine may glorify Erythnul, but most people don't want to be that kind of a martyr. So they think of ways around it...in this guy's case, he encourages overall slaughter (he killed villagers with the goblins, increased doubt of the mayor's policies with his words, and now he's killed goblins with hobgoblins...so much blood....), without ever really risking his own neck. He's Evil. Why would he stick his own hide out, even for a god?

Because he's a priest. Not a Chaotic Evil fighter who prays to Erythnul for guidance now and then. And my problem with your little scenario is not only a villain who is too smart facing opponents who are too stupid, but that this scheme could be given to a priest of Nerull and play out the same way. (Also, I'd say this is Neutral Evil myself.) Will a Chaotic Evil priest of Erythnul wish to encourage as many killings as possible? Naturally, but he'll also want to do as many as possible himself, because that way he's guaranteeing it'll get done. Because as a Chaotic, he trusts himself above others, the individual over the group. That's not to say he's necessarily going to be obvious about it--though unless he hiding his alignment, he's going to show up horribly clear on a detect evil spell--but it does hint at a certain philosophy.

I disagree. Evil is a part of society, a part of life, and, IMHO, should be reflected every day in the lives of those who live in the world. Slaughter is not something you can, in the world, compartamentalize and push away as simply the acts of madmen or sociopaths.

...

Okay, I'm hoping your sticking with D&D here, because I'm this close to a philosophical speech.

Sure, they are epitomes of slaughter.

And shouldn't a priest of slaughter be an epitome of slaughter?

But they are far from the only way to go about it, and I would argue that they are the rarer way, the more destructive way, the way that most clerics do not take, because they are selfish, they are evil, and they are interested in slaughter on as grand a scale as possible, not just within their own paws.

The average worshiper, I grant you--but we're talking about the priests. These should be people with a little something--something that makes them seek to follow the ways of Erythnul. That's why they're clerics, and not fighters and rogues. They've got that something extra that makes them see Erythnul as more than the god you call out to as you rush out to face the steel legions of your foes--they see him as a way of life.

Because otherwise you just reduce gods and clerics to what amounts to divine bureucrats, fiddling with the scales so that everything is even.

And Chaos likewise is something that goes hand in hand with slaughter. Being Chaotic Evil is not being bestial, being insane, being a savage barbarian. It's something very near at hand to every sentient being...it's not a bogeyman, it's not something in the closet...it's out of the closet and in the soul of everything that happens.

For a modern-esque take on how this could happen, take a look at Dark Shamans by Neil Whitehead. It's a book on the everyday real-life violence of an Amazonian tribe, and it makes a good case for it not being isloated. Violence, IMHO, is not isolated from society, it's part and parcel of it, *especially* in a world where you could get attacked twice per day. ;)

But that doesn't mean everyone is going to bow down to the temple of Erythnul. I'm not saying he won't show up in vows, and that your neutral townspeople might just leave a goat out in the shrine out in the woods when things get bad. But that still is a way to go from letting his priests run a temple in the middle (or even the outskirts) of town. To my mind, the worship of Erythnul is something that people would try to marginilize or forget. He's a guy you generally hope ignores you, and when he isn't ignoring you, you either hope your friends have the power to protect you, or you give him something in hopes he'll go away.

That's way to general, in my opinion. Not every war is under the dominion of a god with the War domain. They all focus on certain parts of war...Heironeous on the valor and honor, Hextor on the obedient selfishness and cruel rule. Kord on strength and power. Outisde of this, they have no power over war...the slaughter of war is solidly in Erythnul's camp. "War" is far too multifaceted to boil it down to an "all or nothing" approach. Depending on the culture, even "The Valor and Honor of War" may be too multifacted. Heck, for the Greeks, "The Storm" was so multifaceted that it became all-powerful.

So does Herioneous's power cease the moment the first blow is landed? Does Hextor loose his sway the moment troops break formation? When you wade into the fray, does Kord's strength leave your body? I don't think that during the course of the battle one god suddenly gains power over the others depending on the conditions--I thinks it more they can all influence the battle to the same degree, and it all really boils down to the strength and power of their followers. (Actually, I rather think the gods have some sort of detente set up--'you limit your powers, and I limit mine'. Also, if nobody prays to them, they generally aren't interested in the battle...)

They are different philosophies, I'll grant you. And some people might try to appease them all. But for most, I think it will come down to calling on the ones who fit your mindset.


I disagree. Erythnul = Slaughter. No god can save you from it, except the god itself. You don't pray to Erythnul for protection ("Erythnul protect me!"? Naaah), but if you don't pray to him when his attention is on you, you're screwed (if he sees you refusing to honor him, is he going to be cool with that?).

So why the bleeding heck do gods have the freakin' sphere of protection in the first place? I'm sorry, but your tenent falls apart when you look at it closely--so Pelor, the light against darkness is powerless when darkness strikes? Heironeous and St. Cuthbert are shouting about justice and honor but when the horde of goblins strike, you're on your own? I don't think the moment Slaughter rears its head, every other god is suddenly powerless to stop it. If anything, I see the divine situation as a sort detente--all of them try not to use their powers to the fullest because if they did a large chunk of the pantheon would unite to put them down.



Erythnul isn't something that's Out There, Somewhere, Waiting To Get Us. He's something sudden, immediate, every day, every year, part and parcel of the human condition in this world.

And? So's Gruumsh. I don't see everybody going to worship him the moment Orcs arrive. Hell, so's Olidammara, and I'm betting that the average farmer isn't going to be visiting his temple--assuming he has one--anytime soon.

And--well, the whole two attacks a day paradigm has so many problems with it that I won't get into it--but let me put it this way--the goblins don't raid the town every day. Erythnul can't slaughter everyone. He is something that happens Every So Seldom. To say simply because he's a god he's going to smite everyone who isn't his worshipper makes no sense because then all the other gods will just smite all his worshippers.

Like I said--detente. You don't go out of your way to get my flock, I don't go out of my way to get yours. Oh, my priests are another matter--can't blame my boys for following my example, after all--but I personally, will keep out of it.

I would say the case is more that that sort of violence is unaviodable in the D&D world. If you don't seek him out, he finds you and crushes you. To ignore that slaughter exists is like denying that storms exist, that gnomes exist, that the ground exists. To avoid slaughter is like avoiding love.
You can't. You will be crushed for trying.

A man can believe in love without honoring love, without feeling love to be worthy of worship, and without being in love himself. Likewise, not worshiping Erythnul is not a matter of not believing in slaughter--it's a matter of not thinking slaughter to be worthy of worship. Yes, some people will try to hedge their bets. But some won't.

Because the god is part of the world, NOT an independant lunatic. If he was an independant lunatic, he would be weak, distant, nothing to worry about every day.

Tell that to anyone who's ever suffered at the hands of an independent lunatic. They'll set you straight.



But I prefer to think of my gods as immediate, sudden, abrupt, in your face, part of the world, worshiped popularly, and THAT is why they are powerful. If the aspect they control is just for 'someone else,' the god, IMHO, is weak. It's like bringing a goddess of Athenian Democracy to Celtic England....the what the goddess represents has no power in their lives.

Erythnul, I prefer to believe, *has* a power over every life.

The role of the wacky sociopath? That's great. But I prefer fiendish lords for that...Orcus is only part and parcel of the lives of the most fractured individuals, for instance...Erythnul is part and parcel of the lives of everyone. :)

Again, not that your way is bad, I just think it's an interesting discussion. :)

Well, this is largely a flavor discussion. But personally I find the society you describe as a shade too unpleasant...
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Well, this is largely a flavor discussion. But personally I find the society you describe as a shade too unpleasant...
Fair 'nuff. And I personally find your description to be a shade too unrealistic. Prolly just an agree to disagree situation, since it *is* largely a flavor discussion. You're happy with your "big evil lurking in the fringes and slaughtering purely for slaughter's sake," I'm happy with my "everyday evil lurking right next door that you have to deal with, like it or not." From my research of religious customs of the world, this fits the typical devotion of an unpleasant deity, though I admit I'm focusing a bit more on a Mesoamerican/South American philosophy (and these folks are infamously into human sacrifice and ritualized warfare, so there ya go. ;)).

As far as my world-building is concerned, clerics have about the same ability to be evil, good, lawful, or chaotic as any other member of society, so gods of healing and sun and peace aren't nessecarily more common than gods of corruption, warfare, slaughter, disease, and death. Clerics devote themselves to specific deities, but Adepts serve the gods and spirits in general, without that special connection.
 

Rhialto

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
Fair 'nuff. And I personally find your description to be a shade too unrealistic. Prolly just an agree to disagree situation, since it *is* largely a flavor discussion. You're happy with your "big evil lurking in the fringes and slaughtering purely for slaughter's sake," I'm happy with my "everyday evil lurking right next door that you have to deal with, like it or not." From my research of religious customs of the world, this fits the typical devotion of an unpleasant deity, though I admit I'm focusing a bit more on a Mesoamerican/South American philosophy (and these folks are infamously into human sacrifice and ritualized warfare, so there ya go. ;)).

As far as my world-building is concerned, clerics have about the same ability to be evil, good, lawful, or chaotic as any other member of society, so gods of healing and sun and peace aren't nessecarily more common than gods of corruption, warfare, slaughter, disease, and death. Clerics devote themselves to specific deities, but Adepts serve the gods and spirits in general, without that special connection.

Hey, I've got nothing wrong with 'the everyday evil lurking next door'. I just don't see Erythnul as an example of that evil. Vecna, sure. Nerull, fine. Hextor--these guys might actually be the police in the area you live in. But Erythnul should be something special.
 

Ukyo the undead

First Post
Wow...

This discussion about gods is the best I have seen in a long time...

Thanks, Kamikaze Midget, Rhialto and Elder Basilisc.

Edit: Bump :p
 
Last edited:

Imagicka

First Post
World Altering Spells - Low Level

Greetings...

Brother MacLaren said:
Now, a related question for you all - which low-level spells would have the greatest effect on a world like ours? That is, which ones can do things that technology cannot yet do?

I'd say Comprehend Languages is something technology can't do (Linear B, for example) but it wouldn't be all that world-changing. Detect Lie (or whatever it's called now) is another one that technology can't do (polygraph is more like a +4 bonus to Sense Motive, because unlike Detect Lie a skill check can give false positives), but it does allow a save. Cure Disease is probably the top low-level spell in this regard - imagine being able to cure any ailment even once per day.
Without a second thought... Curse Disease. Why? Well, first of all, there wouldn't be an lepers to frolick with. The first sign of any life threatening disease, the clerics/druids would be right in there frolicking away. You don't need a potientally deadly disease spreading around the community.

Now, in a medieval fantasy D&D world, of course you don't have anti-biotics, antisepsis, and knowledge of germs like we have today. Hell! They have something better! Cure Disease.

Infection, Gangreen, Dysentery (the bloody flux), Ergotism (St. Anthony's fire, holy fire, devil's fire), Gonorrhea, Influenza, Leprosy, Malaria, Measles, Puerperal Fever, Chicken Pox, Small Pox, Typhoid Fever, Cholera, and Plague (Black Death) all eliminated with one simple little spell, which effectively foolproof and 100% effective.

Do the commoners of our D&D world think that diseases are punishment from the gods? Would they have all these fear-based superstitions based around disease? Probably not. Not when they are pious people (and how could you not be pious when there is physical evidence of the existance of gods is staring you in the face almost every single day?) who can just go frolicking down to the local clergy and hopefully get a quick cure before dinnertime.

Also, the economic reasonings for D&D I think are seriously flawed, along with what constitutes for 'commoner' and 'average level of commoners'. But more on that later after I've read the rest of these posts and written a ridiculously huge reply...
 

kigmatzomat

First Post
I have one comment on religion at the lowest level and that's the existence and role of pantheists. IMC, most adepts are followers of an entire pantheon, calling on Erynull for attacks, Yolanda for healing, Correlon for protection, Boccob for divinations, etc. Clerics are god-specific or serve a purpose (Good for it's own good, if you will). Adepts have contact with many gods and that dilute connection explains why they cannot control undead without magic; they have no particular "polarity" for positive/negative energy.

Small communities may have a single temple dedicated to a particular god and then a shrine that addresses the rest staffed by an adept. The adept can generally serve the needs of everyone but has less top-end power, in contrast with the more powerful but also more single-minded clerics. Imagine a half-orc getting last rites from a priest of Correlon; not going to happen.

IIRC, pantheists were fairly common in greek, rome, and egypt where the gods were intertwined. Most D&D is similar so I would expect a number of pantheists and the adept is the best candidate.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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