D&D General The Greyhawk Pantheon: How Greyhawk Approaches Deities (& Demigods)


Another interesting aspect of Greyhawk gods in Greyhawk is how divorced they are from the religious nations and how this changes over time.

You have the Caliphate of Ekbir, the See of Medegia, The Prelacy of Almor, The Theocracy of the Pale, The Archclericy of Veluna, The Horned Society, and Iuz.

In the original 1980 folio there are no listed gods with the sole exception of Iuz being identified as a Demi-God. Deviltry is identified as the religion of the Horned Society. Which gods are venerated in places such as the Prelacy of Almor though is not defined.

In the 1983 boxed set there are listed gods, but again it is not defined who the religious countries venerate other than Iuz and the society. The Theocracy of the Pale makes no mention of Pholtus of the Blinding Light, that is left for other sources to define and hints about religious intolerance.

In 2e we start to have some references in the core setting books, but not many. In From the Ashes Pholtus is mentioned in the Pale's Entry but nothing for Ekbir. Medegia and Almor were wiped out in the Greyhawk Wars. The Church of Hextor is shown to be huge in the Great Kingdom remnants.

In 3e we have some more mentions like the sidebar in the D&D Gazeteer on Al'Akbar mentioning his faith dominates the culture of the Western Nations and that the Pale "is ruled by a clerical hierarchy in the name of the god, Pholtus."

Of note Al'Akbar did not even merit a mention in the reduced list of deities in the 2e From the Ashes box but is in the WotC late 2e Greyhawk Player's Guide as a Demigod.

In the 3e Living Greyhawk Gazetteer it lists commonly worshipped gods in each Kingdom as part of their gazetteer entry. Also you can see that the Caliph of Ebir is a cleric of Al'Akbar, the canon of Veluna is a cleric of Rao, etc.
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Snarf, what's your problem with Nudizrath, anyway? It's not like the thing's obsessive, and it's aim isn't the best. Besides you didn't start entertaining adventurers thinking it was a safe job, did you?



Crown-Forester (he/him)

Thank you! Seriously.

I wrote a lot (a LOT) about Greyhawk in my earlier essays. And over time, all that writing about why Greyhawk was so awesome and why we needed to have it back really changed the way I thought about Greyhawk.

Over time, I realized that what made Greyhawk so awesome for me wasn't the way it had certain elements of "old school" play, or sword & sorcery, or "muscular neutrality," or ... a lot of the things that I assumed were hard-baked into the setting at the time.

It was that Greyhawk was so open-ended. That it was a campaign setting that people really made their own. That it was evocative (filled with empty spaces, and areas "off the map," and ancient destroyed civilizations) but not prescriptive.*

And that's what I want for everyone else. Don't play Greyhawk like I did. Make the Greyhawk that you want! If you find some of this stuff (like the pantheons, and the blurred like with divinity) helpful ... cool! If not, I know that you'll have something that you will find equally amazing and magical.

*As a reminder, the WoG 1983 boxed set was written by an "unreliable narrator." Which means that even though it is mostly rumors and adventure hooks, even the things within it can't be taken as absolutely true.
This is very interesting, because it's essentially the same philosophy as PoLand / Nerath / Nentir Vale campaigns – take the rough sketches and make it completely your own. They divorced it from Greyhawk but included classic modules in the game world depicted on the map from Conquest of Nerath because they wanted it to be truly flexible in mining D&D's past without being beholden to any sort of a "canon history of Oerth, Castle Greyhawk, and the surrounding lands and Great Powers." Same thing with the Dawn War Pantheon - they wanted to break the wheel of assumptions.

I think people try to say the same thing about making the Realms your own thing, but when the content keeps getting churned out that advances the plane based on "living Forgotten Realms" Adventurer's League modules, then it doesn't feel like your own. This was the problem with Greyhawk in 3e - it was "Living Greyhawk."

D&D works best when you can take the campaign and modules and make them your own rather than being part of a larger universe, you just don't know it yet.

Voidrunner's Codex

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