D&D General The Role and Purpose of Evil Gods

Chaosmancer

Legend
The Core is setting agnostic.

So far, nearly all of the published adventures have taken plane in the Realms. Thus making it the default setting for adventures.

But that isn't what he said. He said the realms was the default setting for the core, which is supposedly setting agnostic.

Depends on the setting. In the Realms (judging by what I've read on the wiki), gods seem to fight each other for portfolios or at least kill each other and take the dead god's portfolio.

Have you ever read or played the In Nomine RPG? If not, the basic concept is that demons and angels are fighting for the hearts and minds of humanity, and the primary way they do that is by taking Words, each of which represent a theme in the cosmic Sympathy. By taking these Words, they can give them a more good or evil "feel" among humanity, and thus influence humanity to one side or another. The Words held by the archangels and demon princes are extremely broad and powerful. But under them, the lower-ranked celestials (a term used for both angels and demons) may have Words that represent minor aspects of of the greater Word. The game likes to use the following as an example: there's Saminga, Demon Prince of Death. Somewhere under him, there's the demon with the Word of Choking to Death. And under that demon, there's one with the Word of Choking to Death on Chicken Bones. All three exist, even though Saminga's Word contains the other two.

Extrapolate that to what Maxperson said. In the Realms, you have Istishia, greater god of elemental water. It won't actually increase his power or give him any other benefits if he kills Umberlee, intermediate goddess of the oceans, or Eldath, lesser goddess of pools and waterfalls, and takes their portfolio.

"Depends on the Setting" but the thing I'm being told is that all settings are homebrew, and thus we should only be discussing the core. Which immediately makes no sense, if we have to start looking at settings.

I could see that sort of system working for FR, but that isn't how the DnD portfolios are generally conceived to my knowledge. Also, since the gods are fighting and killing for portfolios, it doesn't make sense that general portfolio's like "wisdom" or "truth" or be just floating around without owners. Those are far more than "choking to death on chicken bones"

The Realms seems to have a rule where each portfolio can only be held by one god. Greyhawk doesn't have that rule.

Also, Wee Jas is the god of death and magic (extrapolation: necromancy spells), Boccob is the god of magical knowledge and foresight (extrapolation: divination spells), and Vecna is the god of evil secrets (and probably only grants Magic and Knowledge because he is/was a lich). There's no actual overlap here.

Evil and dangerous secrets. That has always been understood to include evil and dangerous secrets about magic, which overlaps with magical knowledge and magical knowledge about death.

If you only look at the last three parts of Cuthbert's portfolio, it does look like Heironeous'. Which is why you have to look at Cuthbert's entire portfolio, which very clearly makes the two gods very different. Cuthbert is not a knight in shining armor. If anything, he's the old guy who tells you important info and then smacks you over the head with his cudgel when you don't listen to him.

I never said that they were the same god, I was pointing out that there is a lot of overlap.

Which, again, for both of these Maxperson's claim was that the Cosmic Order isn't being disrupted by these ascending gods, because they are taking portfolios from the cosmic order that were unclaimed. But, since those aspects of their portfolio's clearly overlap with other gods, then that seems incredibly bizarre to claim.

Heironous is the God of Paladins, so he clearly cared about Honesty before St. Cuthbert ascended and took that Portfolio. so wouldn't that have disrupted the cosmic order? I'm not saying the two were the same, but clearly the cosmic order changed when St. Cuthbert ascended.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
Then fine, you win: they're redundant.

Now what?

How do you plan on taking that bit of info and using it to change or improve the game?

I already did what I wanted to do in my setting. The discussion would be over, and maybe we'd decide to start talking about our homebrews or maybe not. I have seen a few ideas that would be rather neat, but that don't serve the types of stories and themes that I have set-up in my worlds. Though, I am also in the process of redoing one of my worlds, so maybe I'd look into that.

If you want to discuss homebrew stuff, we totally can, either here or in PMs, I'd just be aggravated because inevitably our discussion would be used by others to try and prove points on how I'm doing "core DnD" wrong.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But that isn't what he said. He said the realms was the default setting for the core, which is supposedly setting agnostic.
What he actually said very clearly was that it was both. ;)

They SAY the Realms is the default, but nothing in the core actually is. Just picking out Elves, this is what it says under Wood Elf.

"This category includes wild elves(Grugach) of Greyhawk and the Kagonesti of Dragonlance, as well as the races called wood elves in Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. In Faerun, wood elves(also called wild elves, green elves, or forest elves) are reclusive and distrusting of non-elves."

Notice how we have three different settings called out for that one subrace. This is common in the PHB. Core is pretty darned generic despite the claims of WotC.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Then fine, you win: they're redundant.

Now what?

How do you plan on taking that bit of info and using it to change or improve the game?
They're redundant in exactly the same way that fighters, rangers and paladins are redundant, and how wizards, sorcerers and warlocks are redundant. I wonder if he's going to tackle that "problem" next.
 

They're redundant in exactly the same way that fighters, rangers and paladins are redundant, and how wizards, sorcerers and warlocks are redundant. I wonder if he's going to tackle that "problem" next.
Where some see redundancy, I see variations. But hey! We are not the same and do not share the same points of view with everyone. Thank god(s) for that!

But I too am starting to wonder what problem will be perceived next...
 

Mirtek

Hero
What makes you say that?
What make them any different? Some of the best known primordials were just deities before 4e came up with the concept and upon saying "these guys are now totally primordials and always have been" absolutely nothing changed for them. Not their churches, not their clerics, nothing.

Kossuth is the greater deity ruling the elemental plane of fire vs. Kossuth is the most powerful primordial ruling the plane of fire.

Not even the areas of influence are as clear cut as initialy indicated. (deities = cultural concepts, primordial = elemental base matter).

Torog slew a primordial of imprissonment and torture and we still have deities of elemental concepts like sea or storms, etc.

And while we're at it, just throw the primal spirits into the same pot. Another group of deities under a different name. And I still say they were the worst of the three in 4e
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Where some see redundancy, I see variations. But hey! We are not the same and do not share the same points of view with everyone. Thank god(s) for that!

But I too am starting to wonder what problem will be perceived next...
Personally, if I did imagine redundancy between demons and gods, I wouldn't get rid of either one. I'd simply make demon lords and archdevils more generic. Big bad rulers of their planar layers, not the Archdevil of Tyranny or the Demon Lord of the Undead. Sure Asmodeus might be tyrannical, but only because he's LE. Orcus might love undead, but just because he's into them. Only the gods would rule over aspects of the multiverse
 

And? Just because it can be discussed by everyone doesn't mean it isn't a setting detail. Heck, everyone can discuss Draconians from the 5e PHB too, does that make them setting agnostic?
A mention does not make it core. But it can make it as core as the DM wants it too be. An example is just that. An example.


And, Sigil was specfically mentioned and described in the PHB section you were talking about, but it is also very specifically the key set-piece for Planescape, a DnD setting. It didn't exist before then.

But was it fully described? The planes are briefly described in the PHB and in the DMG. From these a lot can be infer, but for all the rest, that is in the hands of each individual DMs out there.


Just pointing out that the only place they were used officially was in the realms. But, additionally, co-opting a real world religion doesn't make it "core dnd"
Nope, they were referenced is quite a few places. Notably OD&D. Even the Olympians are mentionned (in some immortal adventures). There are even adventures in AD&D where you have to please quite a few gods of different pantheons. Tales of the Outer Plane is that book called. So nope, they're not mentioned only in the realm but in many other books. Dungeon Magazine is also in there.


I'm not assuming you have anything. I'm telling you that your assertion that "all settings are homebrew and thus we should only talk about the core" falls apart when you realize that pretty much everything in the core is settings. In fact, the things that are supposedly universal are either real world things you take (which would be equivalent to saying that London is Core DnD because you can use it) and things they were fairly similiar between Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms.
There is a big difference between being mentionned and being core. Of course a company like WotC will mention their other products. They would be fools not to. But the simple fact that so many settings are mentionned makes the Core Books pretty darn generic.

I mean the only core Deities you can point to that aren't IRL are the racial deities created for Greyhawk and co-opted into the Forgotten Realms. Still all homebrew, according to you.
Of course. Examples are just that. Examples. What do you not understand. The core books are meant for both veterans and beginners. It would be stupid not to give some real life examples of gods for the new DMs/players out there. After that, it is to each individual tables to chose what they will make of these examples.


It still doesn't provide the things you said it provided.
That is your opinion.


What? No, Loki is not "core DnD" he is a Norse Trickster god we can trace back to at least 1000 CE. Just because DnD uses him, much like dozens of other brands, doesn't mean he is "core". Additionally, "as core as you want" makes no sense. You put forth that the core is the core, but now the core is whatever I decide it is? That is nonsensical.
??????????????????
Again Loki is as core as the DM wants him to be. He is given as an example. It means nothing more than that.

Sure, he is an example, but that doesn't make him core any more than Artemis Entreri who is also used as an example in the PHB.
Artemis is referenced for ease of understanding for those who know him. For those who does not, they will have to make their research. A nice way for WotC to promote Drizzt novels don't you think. Loki on the other hand, is well known (if not universally but that would be another debate). So no research is truly necessary to incorporate him. Which makes him as core as a DM wants him to be.

You seem to have a difficulty with options, examples and core.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
But that isn't what he said. He said the realms was the default setting for the core, which is supposedly setting agnostic.
See, here you are doing that "Aha! You said something that I think is contradictory, so you're wrong!" thing that I told you about.

"Depends on the Setting" but the thing I'm being told is that all settings are homebrew, and thus we should only be discussing the core. Which immediately makes no sense, if we have to start looking at settings.

I could see that sort of system working for FR, but that isn't how the DnD portfolios are generally conceived to my knowledge. Also, since the gods are fighting and killing for portfolios, it doesn't make sense that general portfolio's like "wisdom" or "truth" or be just floating around without owners. Those are far more than "choking to death on chicken bones"
Why doesn't it make sense? Which gods of the FR pantheon do you think would want to fight or kill for the portfolios of Wisdom or Truth?

Evil and dangerous secrets. That has always been understood to include evil and dangerous secrets about magic, which overlaps with magical knowledge and magical knowledge about death.
Or not. "It's always been understood" could just be a misunderstanding of his portfolio. A misunderstanding Vecna surely likes, since it means that the truth is obfuscated,.

I never said that they were the same god, I was pointing out that there is a lot of overlap.
Neither did I. I pointed out that even with the overlap, they are very different deities.

Which, again, for both of these Maxperson's claim was that the Cosmic Order isn't being disrupted by these ascending gods, because they are taking portfolios from the cosmic order that were unclaimed. But, since those aspects of their portfolio's clearly overlap with other gods, then that seems incredibly bizarre to claim.
Except that they don't. Multiple gods may have "honesty" as part of their portfolio, but that doesn't mean their entire portfolio overlaps or that they are redundant with each other. Both Chauntea and Silvanus have "growing things" as part of their portfolios, but agriculture and wild nature are very different things.

Heironous is the God of Paladins, so he clearly cared about Honesty before St. Cuthbert ascended and took that Portfolio. so wouldn't that have disrupted the cosmic order? I'm not saying the two were the same, but clearly the cosmic order changed when St. Cuthbert ascended.
No, why would it? St. Cuthbert isn't the god of paladins (who notoriously lack common sense) while Heironeous explicitly is the god of paladins. They're similar, yes, but different. According to Wikipedia, when they were first introduced in the 1980 Folio, Cuthbert represented forthrightness and Heironeous represented chivalry. In the '83 book, Cuthbert was considered "widely worshiped" while Heironeous was specifically an Oeridian (human) god, not part of the pantheon worshiped by the Suel, Bakluni, or Flannae. So that's another difference between them.

Now, you could decide that those are actually the same god. Which is cool. I've frequently wanted to go through all of the gods and combine the ones that are similar into a single deity. Like, Maglubiyet, Tiamat, Bane, and Hextor would be combined into a single god. Annam, Moradin, and Io. Hlal and Tymora. Combine their dogmas and lore until you get something really interesting. I started it once, but got distracted so never really finished it.

I already did what I wanted to do in my setting. The discussion would be over,
So, wait. Because you did what you wanted to do in your setting, everyone else should stop discussing the idea of evil gods and arch-fiends? Everyone should decide that since you're right, there's no reason to discuss evil gods in the main game? Are you saying that everyone should just do what you want them to do?

and maybe we'd decide to start talking about our homebrews or maybe not. I have seen a few ideas that would be rather neat, but that don't serve the types of stories and themes that I have set-up in my worlds. Though, I am also in the process of redoing one of my worlds, so maybe I'd look into that.

If you want to discuss homebrew stuff, we totally can, either here or in PMs, I'd just be aggravated because inevitably our discussion would be used by others to try and prove points on how I'm doing "core DnD" wrong.
OK. Now that you've won, how does that address the actual thread, which is evil gods in D&D?

Ignore the setting books. The PHB lists multiple pantheons in the back. Some of those are from D&D settings; some of those are from real-world mythologies. There are evil gods in the lists. Now fix the redundancies you see.
 

Personally, if I did imagine redundancy between demons and gods, I wouldn't get rid of either one. I'd simply make demon lords and archdevils more generic. Big bad rulers of their planar layers, not the Archdevil of Tyranny or the Demon Lord of the Undead. Sure Asmodeus might be tyrannical, but only because he's LE. Orcus might love undead, but just because he's into them. Only the gods would rule over aspects of the multiverse
That is my stance too.
I see variations and competitions. Afterall, if you use many pantheons in your campaign, you are doomed to have "many" gods of death, life, trickery and whatever else is possible. So having demons and devils competing with the gods for the same portfolio is just an other option for good, neutrality and evil. This allows us to make more than wars between good and evil but also law vs chaos and pantheons vs pantheons. Imagine if Greyhawk Deities wanted to get a foothold on Krynn!
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Personally, if I did imagine redundancy between demons and gods, I wouldn't get rid of either one. I'd simply make demon lords and archdevils more generic. Big bad rulers of their planar layers, not the Archdevil of Tyranny or the Demon Lord of the Undead. Sure Asmodeus might be tyrannical, but only because he's LE. Orcus might love undead, but just because he's into them. Only the gods would rule over aspects of the multiverse
In real world mythology, especially in Goetic demonology, lots of demons are the demons of something, but often because they're credited of having taught humans how to do that something (which is actually really funny to read at times, because you have demons who taught humans how to make cosmetics--demon prince of lipstick, I guess).

So I see no problem with Orcus being the "demon lord of the undead" because he's the one who initially developed the animate/create undead and similar spells (gods don't have to cast spells to do things). But as you say, he wouldn't actually rule over the aspect of the multiverse that is undeath or undead. It's a perfectly fine distinction between the arch-things and gods.

And it would work well to explain warlocks versus clerics, because the arch-things are actually just giving the warlocks copies of the spells that they made, instead of gods who are actually imbuing magical power into their clerics.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In real world mythology, especially in Goetic demonology, lots of demons are the demons of something, but often because they're credited of having taught humans how to do that something (which is actually really funny to read at times, because you have demons who taught humans how to make cosmetics--demon prince of lipstick, I guess).
ROFL That's fantastic.
So I see no problem with Orcus being the "demon lord of the undead" because he's the one who initially developed the animate/create undead and similar spells (gods don't have to cast spells to do things). But as you say, he wouldn't actually rule over the aspect of the multiverse that is undeath or undead. It's a perfectly fine distinction between the arch-things and gods.
To be clear. I don't see any redundancy. That was only if I imagined that there was. I see it like you just laid out. Orcus is the Demon Prince of Undead, because he loves undead and created a bunch of new ones, and maybe some of the spells. He doesn't have the same interest in undeath that a god of undeath would. To Orcus it's a passion. To the god it's an aspect of the universe(setting) to be cultivated and overseen.
And it would work well to explain warlocks versus clerics, because the arch-things are actually just giving the warlocks copies of the spells that they made, instead of gods who are actually imbuing magical power into their clerics.
That's a good way to look at it.
 

pemerton

Legend
The same section of the 1e Deities & Demigods which says that the Demon Lords and Archdevils are lesser gods also says that Bahamut and Tiamat are lesser gods.
I know. It says the same about Slaad Lords too. I'm not sure what your point is.

EDIT: In the original MM, Tiamat is a powerful unique dragon who "rules the first plane of the Nine Hells where she spawns all of evil dragonkind" (p 32).

Then in the original DDG we are told to treat her as a lesser god who "very rarely has human worshippers", like (inter alia) the archdevils. Also, in the entry on the Babylonian god Marduk we are told "His battles with Tiamat are legendary" (p 24). Marduk is a greater god with 350 hp and is a 19th level fighter, 16th level MU and 15th level bard.

In the 3E MotP Tiamat is once again presented as a powerful unique dragon. Then in Bastion of Broken Souls she has a human cleric and is described as a deity. In the 3E DDG she is a deity.

In 4e default cosmology, she is a god.

This all drives home the point that the D&D texts have not, historically, marked any clear contrast between "archfiends" and evil gods.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
One could potentially try and make that argument, but "universal" is more "tied to the real world" in the case of real-life pantheons. I don't think that really should count as "core DnD"
Why ever not?

In 1e, Deities and Demigods was put out as a setting-agnostic set of pantheons for all. For the deities in that book, along with some others, I've stayed with the setting-agnostic-ness throughout that DD provided.
And, again, since the claim is that every single setting is homebrew, well, "gruumsh" is tied to settings. Which makes him homebrew. Specifically he is tied to Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realsm, he doesn't really exist outside of those, and as Max pointed out, the core books seem to assume a lot of Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk as the "default" of the core. Which makes them homebrew under the argument, which again I am saying is just highly extreme.

Edit: After all, let us say that those dieties are non-setting specific and therefore not homebrew. What do we know about them? Well, that depends on the setting. Where do they live? That references the settings. You have to then make those things non-setting specific, and at that point, you are basically just making whichever settings story you want to go with the core, which makes it non-homebrew, which then defeats the argument that I am saying is not a good argument.
Or, flip side, it's all homebrew after the names. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is bonkers. People can use whatever fiction they like!
Of course they can. But there's still an underlying default which remains if not overwritten or altered.
I had worlds with Orcs in them before I ever encountered Roger E Moore's Orcish gods.
I just used whatever was in 1e's DD to start with, then expanded on that on my own.

I've still never encountered Roger E. Moore's Orcish gods as I've never read a word he wrote. :)
 



Him???????

Artemis has been female since forever...
Well... The thought of the goddess of the Hunt did not even crossed my mind for a second... But as Maxperson pointed out. We were talking about Entreri. This back and forth argumentation can be baffling at times.
 

In real world mythology, especially in Goetic demonology, lots of demons are the demons of something, but often because they're credited of having taught humans how to do that something (which is actually really funny to read at times, because you have demons who taught humans how to make cosmetics--demon prince of lipstick, I guess).

So I see no problem with Orcus being the "demon lord of the undead" because he's the one who initially developed the animate/create undead and similar spells (gods don't have to cast spells to do things). But as you say, he wouldn't actually rule over the aspect of the multiverse that is undeath or undead. It's a perfectly fine distinction between the arch-things and gods.

And it would work well to explain warlocks versus clerics, because the arch-things are actually just giving the warlocks copies of the spells that they made, instead of gods who are actually imbuing magical power into their clerics.
I think it was 2e that had the notion that the demon lords were getting power from the Abyss to make other parts of the universe easier to absorb into the Abyss (and if that wasn't how things worked in 4e, it really should have been). Of course that was a long time ago, and I don't have the encyclopedic memory of some other commentators so don't hold me to it, but that would fit your idea pretty well.

If the Abyss is putting a dollar in Orcus' bank account every time somebody animates a zombie, regardless of whether the animator is doing it for Orcus or not, then Orcus has a lot of incentive to make sure that animate dead spells are widely available. [Of course, if Orcus gets $100 for every soul he convinces to become CE, that LG necromancer with a zombie army might be targeted with a lot of temptation; Orcus has a lot of expenses and can't afford to turn down a little extra loot].
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
What he actually said very clearly was that it was both. ;)

They SAY the Realms is the default, but nothing in the core actually is. Just picking out Elves, this is what it says under Wood Elf.

"This category includes wild elves(Grugach) of Greyhawk and the Kagonesti of Dragonlance, as well as the races called wood elves in Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. In Faerun, wood elves(also called wild elves, green elves, or forest elves) are reclusive and distrusting of non-elves."

Notice how we have three different settings called out for that one subrace. This is common in the PHB. Core is pretty darned generic despite the claims of WotC.

So, if I take the point that all settings are homebrew then that reads:

"This category includes [homebrew] and [homebrew], as well as the races [homebrew] and [homebrew]. In [homebrew]."

So, again, going forth that we cannot discuss anything that is tied to a setting, because all settings are homebrew is an extreme position that I find unhelpful in the discussion.
 

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