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D&D General The Role and Purpose of Evil Gods

Doug McCrae

Legend
Again, I'm not proposing turning demons and devils into gods. I'm going for more of a Judeo-Christian "God vs the Devil" feel, rather than D&D's usual polytheistic approach.
One potential problem is that in Christianity, God is much more powerful than the Devil. D&D otoh presents a dualistic world where either the forces of good and evil -- terrestrial and cosmic -- are evenly matched or evil has the advantage. Admittedly, within Christianity there have been varying perceptions of the extent of Satan's power and influence on earth. 2 Corinthians 4:4 describes the Devil as "the god of this world."

In a world where Christianity is the true religion polytheistic faiths could still exist. Their worshippers might be deceived by demons, as Christians have claimed.
 
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Why did Greece have Ares? There was no need for multiple gods of war, as Athena covered that space quite nicely and was definitely better-liked than Ares. He has no other major qualifications for relevance, other than having been born earlier than Athena was. The other gods, even his own father, openly dislike him, with Zeus even openly telling him in the Illiad that if he were the son of some other god, he would've been punted from Olympus long ago. The only deity shown to have positive relations with him is Aphrodite, and the exposure of their affair resulted in ridicule for both of them, so i doubt that lasted. He's the god of bloodlust, slaughter, needless violence, and indiscriminate killing on the battlefield. He's pretty much as close as you can get to an actually "evil" deity in Greek myth, portrayed with effectively zero redeeming qualities until he was syncretized with the FAR more dignified and diverse Roman equivalent, Mars, who was an agricultural deity and not NEARLY as closely linked to mindless slaughter.

But we don't even need to go that far from ancient Greece to find another real-world "god of evil." Just a short ways to the east, in Asia Minor, you have the Avestan/Zoroastrian tradition, which is specifically near-dualist (depending on time and place; sometimes Angra Mainyu is presented as almost but not quite Ahura Mazda's equal-and-opposite, other times Ahura Mazda is objectively superior in all ways and Angra Mainyu is foolishly wasting his time trying to win an impossible battle.) You also have the once quite widespread but now defunct Manichaeism, which is expressly dualist, with an eternal World of Light led by a good ultimate deity and an eternal World of Darkness led by an eternal evil one, with all of creation being just a byproduct of the constant wars of aggression perpetrated by the Dark against the Light.

So...sometimes, yes, you really can have actual deities that most people despise or fear, that are "on the prayer roll" to some extent and which are recognized for their power even if not for any positive qualities they might have. D&D definitely makes a lot more "evil god" type entities than is typical for most real-world religions. However, it also makes those gods very personable and often literally actually human beings who ascended to godhood, rather than demigods by birth who shed their mortality or gods who forgot their status and regained it, which is similarly unprecedented in mythology. So, given that the nature and process of godhood is already quite a bit different from how ancient peoples understood the divine, I don't really know that this particular divergence stands out as needing change, unless you're proposing to heavily rewrite how divinity works in a D&D context (as, for example, Rich Baker did with Eberron's deities.)
 

pukunui

Legend
I don't really know that this particular divergence stands out as needing change, unless you're proposing to heavily rewrite how divinity works in a D&D context (as, for example, Rich Baker did with Eberron's deities.)
Yes, I have already stated that I am taking the Eberron route and making it so no one knows if the gods are real or not -- it's entirely a matter of faith. I will probably make it so no one really knows if the archfiends exist either. Not sure yet.
 

Yes, I have already stated that I am taking the Eberron route and making it so no one knows if the gods are real or not -- it's entirely a matter of faith. I will probably make it so no one really knows if the archfiends exist either. Not sure yet.
In that case: your "evil gods" become Ares-equivalents, or something like the Aztec view of why blood and heart sacrifices were necessary. That is, the world itself is a Lovecraftian horror of the "that is not dead which can forever lie" variety, and blood sacrifices keep it completely asleep so it doesn't start randomly eating people. And then the Sun is literally running away from the Moon because if it gets completely eaten by the Moon, the world will end, and the best fuel for keeping the Sun going is human hearts because they are precious and powerful.

Simply put, evil deities become targets of propitiation rather than worship per se. Stalwart Hades and Dread Persephone were not so much "worshipped" as "deeply feared" and "referred to by epithets because if you say their names they might notice you." Poseidon presents something of a middle-of-the-road deity, where people who only needed to travel by sea would often offer propitiative sacrifices to him (because the sea is vast and scary), while people who sailed or fished for a living would outright worship him as their patron.
 

Interesting thoughts. But I want evil gods in my game, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I may be suffering from severe grognarditis, but evil gods is part of the D&D cosmology that I know and love since I started playing in the early eighties. Evil gods feed divine power to evil high priests leading evil cults.

Secondly, in real life I'm an atheist filled to the brim with poststructuralism and social constructivism, where everything is subjective perspectives, moral grays and evaluations. In D&D good and evil, law and chaos are real - those and other philosophical concepts can and will manifest in tangible forms, as gods and creatures. That is a big part of why I enjoy D&D.

Now, I have great fun playing other games too, with different perspectives on gods, or no gods at all. But for D&D I want my evil gods!
 

Nevertheless, I feel my point stands: even if D&D has had archangels / angelic princes in the past, they are virtually unheard of today. They don't play a big part in the grand scheme of the multiverse, like the demon princes and archdevils (and even the princes of elemental evil) do.
The reason we don't hear about them is 5e has so far not chosen to present the races they are the "arch"s of. We have the LE devils with their Lords of the Nine and other archdevils, the CE demons with their various Princes, and the NE Yugoloths with a tiny bit mentioned about some of their high-ups. We also have the LN modrons with Primus, and the CN slaadi with someone whose name escapes me but is statted up in 5e somewhere.

What we don't have are the 6 or 7 varieties of LG archons of Mount Celestia to be ruled by the 7 or so individual arch-archons, the 7 or so varieties of NG guardinals of Elysium to be guided by the 7 individual arch-guardinals, or the 7 varieties of CG eladrin (not to be confused with the eladrin of 4e and 5e--these eladrin were the celestial "angelic" equivalent to demons, not a type of fey or elf) to be led by their individual arch-eladrin (might only have been 3 of those).

So, yeah, it does stand out, because they chose to leave out that cool and interesting depth that could bring more sense to it, and now there is a weird hole. (To be fair, they were running out of space in the MM and had to add more pages than intended or even more (including modrons) wouldn't have made the cut. Also to be fair, it's been a long time and they still haven't done it. Too bad more people aren't talking about it so they can see demand.)
 
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MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Sorry for the digression, but:

Traditionally one of the big pushes for more celestials is that they were summonable. While it is true there is a conjure celestial spell, it stops at CR 5, so there isn't a big reason to build up intricate hierarchies of celestials (much to my disappointment). Part of that is that celestials are good for utility as much as combat, which makes it harder to fit more combat centered celestials like archons and pre-4e eladrins into the mix (why spend a 9th level spell slot on summoning a CR 5 critter with little extra utility built in? At least unicorns are legendary....).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Interesting thoughts. But I want evil gods in my game, for a couple of reasons.

You don't need to justify it. I understand.

cM83jsa.gif


Everyone reads Inferno, but who bothers with Paradiso?

Who is the protagonist of Paradise Lost?

Do you watch Jaws because of the scenic New England setting (okay, it's supposedly a fictional town in NY, but we know the Vineyard when we see it) ... NO. Give me the shark.

Good is boring; evil ... is fun.
 

Minigiant

Legend
One thing I was toying with in the divine realm of my setting is it's time of the day deities. Basically the god of the Sun would have 6 sons, 5 with the goddess of Change and 1 with the goddess of the Moon. They would become the main elf and orc male gods.

Midnight
Dawn
Morning
Noon
Dusk
Night
(Solar) Eclipse

Midnight and Night would be evil as evil darkness gods, unable to control the sun. Dusk is the good darkness god.. Midnight would take evil orcs under his wing and bless them with darkvision. Dusk and Night would fight over drow, Dusk taking good drow and Night evil drow.

The main conflict between the brothers, their wives, and their children is control of the Sun. They all wish to become the new sun deity as the Sun (as well and the Moon and Earth) have gone into deep slumber. They all struggle for control over the Sun's body.

Midnight and Night both encourage their priests and cults to do "block the sun" rituals. This is technically under Eclipse's purview. To use his power the other darkness deities contrort their religions to the protection of lycantropes and shifters, Eclipse's favored races.

This is before you get to Eclipse's sisters the 8 phases of the moon. All but New Moon is okay with the evil Night and Midnight and their plan for endless night as they would become the principle light deities then. The moon goddesses are very cozy with Night and Midnight (Night's wife, the Sin demon of Lust, doesn't mind) So many humans see them as evil.

Then you have (Lunar) Eclipse, the "union" of the Moon and Mother Earth. That jerk is like "why do we need light at all?" and "Oh you think darkness is your ally". Earth and Moon got drunk and spawned this nutcase who is like "Seeing things is for LOSERS!" and "Yall live in the Underdark anyway!". So he and his sister Underdark want the surface to be pitch black and are attempting to gaslight the Fungus Lord and the Jellyfish Nonbinary Leadership Figure into pacts with them for underground bioluminescence.

All and all, the evil sun, moon, and earth gods serve to display the day and night cycle and put the diurnal and nocturnal races in conflict.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Hi all,

I've been doing some preliminary work on converting an older edition adventure to 5e. I am planning on setting it in a homebrew world of my own devising, which has religions / spiritual traditions borrowed from such sources as Game of Thrones and Dragon Age, both of which borrow from real world traditions, of course.

While in the process of doing some of this work, I came across an evil NPC who is written up as a cleric of Erythnul, the Greyhawk god of "hate, envy, malice, panic, ugliness, and slaughter" (to quote one source Google found for me).

That got me thinking: what is the purpose / role of evil gods in D&D? Why do we have gods of (un)death, murder, strife, disease, tyranny, slaughter, etc? Especially when you consider that D&D also has demons, devils and other foul entities that embody and promote all of those things. Why the overlap?

Looking at the real world pantheons included in the 5e PHB, the evil gods are primarily gods of trickery, gods of magic (which, in the real world, has historically had sinister connotations), gods of war/battle, gods of predators like crocodiles and serpents, gods of the elements like storms and the sea (which can be viewed as "uncaring to the point of cruelty"), and gods who serve as judges of the dead/keepers of the underworld. These gods all make sense to me in one way or another.

What doesn't make sense is having gods who fulfill basically the same function as demons and devils and Lovecraftian Far Realm entities. Why have a god of tyranny like Bane, when you also have archdevils like Asmodeus and Levistus who promote tyranny? What does Bane have to offer someone that Asmodeus et al can't also offer? Why have a god of chaos and murder like Bhaal when you've got demons that are all about that sort of thing? Why have a god of death/undeath like Myrkul when you've got a "demon prince of undeath" in the form of Orcus? What sets Tharizdun apart from Cthulhu and Hadar and their ilk?

Haven't read the rest of the thread yet, but this subject has come up a few times, and the reasons are generally pretty simple, though I find them incredibly uncompelling.

1) People assume that Demons and Devils must be weaker than gods. This is the biggie, in all honesty, and I can see where the mixing of traditions led to this, but it has a serious problem if all the gods are good or neutral and the Lords of Evil are weaker than the Gods of Good. Which is the classic problem of evil, "why does evil still exist if it is weak"

And many of the traditional answers to that question don't work in DnD. Because they rely on conceits that many multi-theisitic mythologies and structures don't have. So, they made Evil Gods, beings just as powerful but malevolent.


I think though where this goes wrong is that the "problem of evil" doesn't exist in many mythological frameworks, because Demons/Devils ect AREN'T weaker than the gods. I'm probably oversimplifying, but look at the variety of "enemies of the gods". In Greek Mythology the major enemy of the Gods are the The Titans, and they are most assuredly not weaker than the Olympians. In Norse Mythology the Aesir fought and then aligned with the Vanir, but then both were fighting the Jotunns, who again were not "weaker" than the Gods. If you go into a more Shinto tradition with Yokai (very roughly "evil spirits") and Kami (Very badly misunderstood as "gods") you'll find not only are they not more powerful than each other, but at certain points in history, they were considered the same type of being, just one was more malevolent and dangerous than the other.


For my setting, I am taking the same approach as Eberron and making it so no one knows for sure if the gods and god-like beings exist. I am now also considering getting rid of any gods that overlap with the demon princes and archdevils and Great Old Ones and the like. Instead of a cleric of Erythnul, I might make the aforementioned NPC a fiend-pact warlock.

In my setting, I might also make it so the gods are all about salvation -- that is, saving their followers from the damnation that comes with selling their souls to the fiends and other evil entities. Instead of good gods/entities vs evil gods/entities, the spiritual conflict of the setting would be gods vs fiends. Evil is seductive, so the fiends can be like "The gods are the ones who want to enslave you; we just want to give you your freedom -- the freedom to do whatever you want, without having to obey some stuffy god's rules". Plenty of room for nuance still. There just wouldn't be any clerics of death and murder and that sort of thing. They'd all be cultists, and if any of them have magic, it would most likely be of the warlock pact variety (with the more fighter-ish types being paladins of conquest).

Thoughts?

2) And this is the other big thing. This removal of evil clerics, because we think that the Demons and Devils can't have clerics. And people want evil clerics. However, this line is way blurrier than a lot of people make it out to be. We've had clerics of Orcus in older versions of the game, and the Cultist Fanatic in the MM NPC section is clearly using clerical spells.

Since we have celestial warlocks, I'm fine letting Demon Lords and Archdevils have clerics. We have to remember that in real world sources, many of the beings we consider to be "powerful demons" like Baal and Beelzebul were actually gods of competing religions. So, in terms of the "source material" having clerics and priests of those beings is exactly what you would see.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
You can ask the same questions about Good and Neutral Gods. They exist in the settings and tend to represent negative aspects of the world.

I don't think you can ask the same question though, because there is not a major third party of "extremely powerful good beings". The closest you can get are the Celestials, you could have "Sa'Dew, Archangel of Light and Healing" but the celestials and angels specifically serve the gods, so you'd expect this being to be a right-hand of the god/goddess of light and healing.

the Demon Lords and Archdevils don't serve the Evil Gods. In fact, they fight each other, and the evil gods have angels in some editions, and demons and devils in others, which is even MORE bizarre to have Devils who have sworn allegiance to Asmodeus serving Bane, God of Tyranny.

If we had a major good faction that wasn't associated with the Gods, it could make more sense, but since we don't, the incongruity of having two major evil factions plus the GOO is odd.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
while Deities in D&D have more or less been on a "Made-God-Through-Worship" basis. Demons and Devils exist whether or not you believe they do. If you don't believe in a Demon, it's still going exist, and it's still going to murder you and everyone you love. Gods, on the other hand, work differently. Gods in D&D need prayers badly. If they don't have worshippers, they're not gods, and if they have more worshippers than other gods, they're more powerful because of it. Asmodeus will exist as the Lord of Nessus whether or not you believe or worship in him. His divinity, on the other hand, does rely on mortal worshippers, and that's where Archfiends and Deities diverge in-world in Dungeons and Dragons.

Just a note on the historical aspect, this has not always been true, and it is not true in all settings.

It would be an interesting thought experiment though. Fiends arise no matter what, but the celestials that oppose them are "worshipper made" which is a distinctly dark and creepy underpinning to the world, that the natural state is one of darkness and fear and savagery. Unless there IS a naturally occurring force for immortal good, but DnD doesn't have something like that.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
If a major demon or devil (e.g. Asmodeus) fills the role of a deity (and thus, gets promoted to deity status) then the lessers beneath him are his minions, much like valkyries are the minions of some Norse deities and angels are the minions of a Judeo-Christian-style god. No problem there.
This brings up a point that I personally have never really liked in most of the default ways D&D and tables in general have appeared to run the game... the idea that demons and devils can get "promoted" to become deities.

What exactly is so important about beings "gods" that make it the highest level of immortal being out in the cosmos? And why is every other extraplanar being considered "less than"? Who made this decision? Who gets to decide that this is the case? Who is the ones that actually "promotes" anyone in the first place?

Now yes... the true answer to these questions of course is "the designers of Dungeons & Dragons". The people who write these books and create the fiction we read are the ones who have perpetuated this idea that "gods" are more important than everything else. So I'm not going to argue that... that answer is the answer and there's nothing I can do about it.

But in terms of in-game fiction... "generic" D&D doesn't really have an overbeing such as Ao (from the FR) that is the true tippy-top entity in the cosmos that is the one that determines levels, ranks, power etc of the extraplanar beings that exert influence over the Prime Material Plane. The kind of entity that would decide that "deities" are the highest rank a creature could be, and then could "promote" a demon or devil to "deity-status". Because without that... I just bounce off the idea that gods are more powerful than demons and devils as a matter of course, and thus it behooves the game to have "evil" gods to give evil characters someone to pray to. As others have said... I see no reason why "clerics" couldn't just pray to Mephistopheles or Baphomet to get their divine powers. (Excluding of course the default baseline out-of-game that the "designers of Dungeons & Dragons" have written it down that Clerics get spells only from deities and Warlocks get spells from everything else-- which again, I can't argue with and thus won't.)

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter because people end up just making up what they want for their pantheons anyway. I know that... so this is all just peeing into the wind. ;) I just know that my preference would be that it was ONLY the non-deity extraplanar beings that had actual alignments... Archangels and archons all fell more or less within the Lawful Good sphere (with some variance for individuals here and there)... most Archfey and fey fell within the Chaotic Good sphere (again, with some moving outside of it, like the Queen of Air and Darkness)... Archdevils and lesser devils were mostly Lawful Evil... and Archdemons and their ilk were Chaotic Evil more or less. And then... over all of these creatures were the True Gods... and NONE of them had alignments whatsoever... because they are above all human understanding and trying to put a morality onto their actions would be ridiculous and folly. The ocean is not "evil" just like the sun is not "good". Everything in the world has its positives and negatives, so the deities that personify these aspects of the world should not be defined in that way. And that way people of all types and moralities can worship and pray and gets spells from whichever gods they darn well please. :)

Just my preference.
 
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grimslade

Doddering Old Git
One potential problem is that in Christianity, God is much more powerful than the Devil. D&D otoh presents a dualistic world where either the forces of good and evil -- terrestrial and cosmic -- are evenly matched or evil has the advantage. Admittedly, within Christianity there have been varying perceptions of the extent of Satan's power and influence on earth. 2 Corinthians 4:4 describes the Devil as "the god of this world."

In a world where Christianity is the true religion polytheistic faiths could still exist. Their worshippers might be deceived by demons, as Christians have claimed.
The blending of Lucifer, the Devil, and Satan the Adversary in Christianity is complex, millennia of myth and religion absorbing other cultures and reacting to the march of time. The Satan of the Book of Job is different from the snake in Genesis is different from the Devil's temptation of Jesus in the desert is different from the Fallen Angel Lucifer punished to roast the lake of fire.

Evil gods have their place in D&D beyond being mirror copies of good and neutral deities. Erythnul is a personification of savagery in battle, the worst of mortal impulses. He is worshipped whenever mortals commit slaughter. That dark creative energy can be siphoned back by the clerics of Erythnul in the form of spells. Erythnul might get as much power from a rabid animal indiscriminately killing smaller animals as from a rampaging mercenary band eradicating a village. Since his power is more about the action than the worshipper his form is nebulous. He is the red-toothed maw of the wolf as the blade of the murderer.
Racial gods are formed more by the worshiper. Malglubiyet is worshipped by hobgoblins and their war actions are attributed to him. The worshipper basically believes their action is due to their god and they direct its energy to the deity. This belief fuels the god, but it also constrains him. He takes on hobgoblin characteristics and appearance. If hobgoblin culture shifts he shifts as well. The deities and their worshippers are entwined this way. Multiple versions of deities of the same domain are due to worshipper cultural divergence.
Demon and Devil cults are a way of short-circuiting this power exchange. The cults purposefully divert their actions to their patrons. They might slaughter indiscriminately, but the whole time they are thinking, "This is for you Farzz-Urb -Lu!", so the divine energy meant for Erythnul is stolen and goes to Frazz-Urb-Lu. Ironically, it is Erythnul that grants the spells to the cultists for their acts of slaughter. Cults really upset deities.
 

aco175

Legend
Have you thought about having them be the same being all along? You want an Eberron-like setting with nobody really being sure, so maybe Asmodeos and Bane are the same figure and for some reason he likes to act through the devil name to get more done. This way he can deny doing evil when at the god conference. If the good gods have their proxies, maybe the evil gods want more direct control instead of having generals with free control. this way they know all the plans, but may explain how they always seem to lose.
 

Haven't read the rest of the thread yet, but this subject has come up a few times, and the reasons are generally pretty simple, though I find them incredibly uncompelling.

1) People assume that Demons and Devils must be weaker than gods. This is the biggie, in all honesty, and I can see where the mixing of traditions led to this, but it has a serious problem if all the gods are good or neutral and the Lords of Evil are weaker than the Gods of Good. Which is the classic problem of evil, "why does evil still exist if it is weak"

And many of the traditional answers to that question don't work in DnD. Because they rely on conceits that many multi-theisitic mythologies and structures don't have. So, they made Evil Gods, beings just as powerful but malevolent.


I think though where this goes wrong is that the "problem of evil" doesn't exist in many mythological frameworks, because Demons/Devils ect AREN'T weaker than the gods. I'm probably oversimplifying, but look at the variety of "enemies of the gods". In Greek Mythology the major enemy of the Gods are the The Titans, and they are most assuredly not weaker than the Olympians. In Norse Mythology the Aesir fought and then aligned with the Vanir, but then both were fighting the Jotunns, who again were not "weaker" than the Gods. If you go into a more Shinto tradition with Yokai (very roughly "evil spirits") and Kami (Very badly misunderstood as "gods") you'll find not only are they not more powerful than each other, but at certain points in history, they were considered the same type of being, just one was more malevolent and dangerous than the other.

The foes of good are weaker but more numerous, at least that is the trope in many legends around the world. One theme is recuring though. Evil always turn upon itself. And this is the reason that good can stand against evil. Even in the real world this happens. Be it a megalomaniac killing his best general out of the fear that the general will try a putsch or the general killing the megalomaniac to indeed doing a putsch... or all the variation in between. In french we have a nice comic called Iznogood (read each syllable slowly outould) in which the advisor (Iznogood) wants to be the calif instead of the calif. The calif is never the wiser as he is so trusting of his vizir... Satyre to its best, but so true of all evil persons.



2) And this is the other big thing. This removal of evil clerics, because we think that the Demons and Devils can't have clerics. And people want evil clerics. However, this line is way blurrier than a lot of people make it out to be. We've had clerics of Orcus in older versions of the game, and the Cultist Fanatic in the MM NPC section is clearly using clerical spells.

Since we have celestial warlocks, I'm fine letting Demon Lords and Archdevils have clerics. We have to remember that in real world sources, many of the beings we consider to be "powerful demons" like Baal and Beelzebul were actually gods of competing religions. So, in terms of the "source material" having clerics and priests of those beings is exactly what you would see.

Yep, this one I must agree. I prefer 1ed where clerics of demons and devil could not get access to 3rd level spell and higher. 1st and 2nd level spells were simply acquired through faith. 3rd and 4th were given by a Solar, 5th were given by a demi-god (that is why a greater god would look to have a demi-god...) 6th level spells were given by a lesser deity and 7th (the maximum at that time) were given by the greater god themselve.

2nd edition more or less removed that with the need for Banak, the high cleric of Orcus in the Mines of Bloodstones. They needed a high level opponents for high level characters. They should have stated that Banak was an exception. In Bloodstone Lands. In page 45, Banak link to Orcus is put into question as the 20th level cleric of Orcus part has a question mark. (p. 45). So either Banak was pretending to serve Orcus to confuse players as to his real god and was receiving spells through another deity or he was so unique that Orcus, despite "Deific Laws/Dictate" was able through some strange mean to give Banak his full spell allotment...

3.Xed dropped the categories of deities (Greater, lesser and demi) and in this, the game lost a bit of the reasons why deities needs followers. They need followers to maintain their power level and eventually, extend their own powers. It would also give a reason for religious classes to expand their religion. As your god gets more power, you get access to better spells. 5ed would have been perfect to reintroduce this little rule as the spell slots can be used now with lower level spells. You might have access to 9th level spells, but you can still use your 9th level spell slots as you need with spells of lesser level. But I believe that such restriction would be distasteful to some.

And it also made good the reasons why Demons and Devils shifts from not caring about mortals to curiosity and desire. If gods get powers from mortal souls, they should be able to do the same. Souls contain "energy" so Devils and Demons seek to acquire this energy for themselves or at the very least, deprive their enemies from acquiring this energy. If the "faith" energy do not go to gods but goes to us; even if we can't use it. We are winners. If mortals could only access 1-2nd level spells from demons and devils it would make sense for them to become "Warlocks" instead of clerics thus the Warlock class. Am I world building here?
 

Voadam

Legend
2nd edition more or less removed that with the need for Banak, the high cleric of Orcus in the Mines of Bloodstones. They needed a high level opponents for high level characters. They should have stated that Banak was an exception. In Bloodstone Lands. In page 45, Banak link to Orcus is put into question as the 20th level cleric of Orcus part has a question mark. (p. 45). So either Banak was pretending to serve Orcus to confuse players as to his real god and was receiving spells through another deity or he was so unique that Orcus, despite "Deific Laws/Dictate" was able through some strange mean to give Banak his full spell allotment...
Banak was a 23rd level cleric of Orcus in 1e H1 Bloodstone Pass. The 1e H1-4 series predates 2e.

In the 2e book they explain the situation a little more in his page 45 entry:

"Banak retained his 1st through 3rd level spell abilities in full when Orcus fell, and somehow he still manages to use a higher level spell now and then. No one knows whether he found a new god-figure to replace his deposed deity, whether he had a stockpile of scrolls hidden away, or whether some magic item empowers him with the more important spells. His associates never doubted that Banak would find some way to reclaim his lost power."
 

Scribe

Hero
If we had a major good faction that wasn't associated with the Gods, it could make more sense, but since we don't, the incongruity of having two major evil factions plus the GOO is odd.
This is an interesting gap, I guess kind of solved in the creation myths of Devils/Demons, but still food for thought.
I prefer 1ed where clerics of demons and devil could not get access to 3rd level spell and higher. 1st and 2nd level spells were simply acquired through faith. 3rd and 4th were given by a Solar, 5th were given by a demi-god (that is why a greater god would look to have a demi-god...) 6th level spells were given by a lesser deity and 7th (the maximum at that time) were given by the greater god themselve.
The system/structure part of my soul is crying out in joy over this lol. :D
 

Faolyn

Hero
This brings up a point that I personally have never really liked in most of the default ways D&D and tables in general have appeared to run the game... the idea that demons and devils can get "promoted" to become deities.

What exactly is so important about beings "gods" that make it the highest level of immortal being out in the cosmos?
I would say (and this is probably contradicted somewhere in the canon) that gods would be the only ones who can create things from nothingness. Super-powerful fiends, celestials, fey, GOOs, whatever, can transform existing things (or beings) into whatever they want, but they can't create. At least, that's what I would say for my settings.

As for what's so important, I'd think it's the actuality or illusion of safety. There's far fewer things that can kill a god permanently--or maybe even nothing can kill a god permanently (I know that the Realms has gods dying right or left, but I don't run in the Realms and so don't know the specifics). I know I've seen it written that the various statblocks for gods are really for their avatars or aspects or whatever, not for the god itself. But it's possible to actually kill an arch-whatever (Again, this is what I'd say for my settings, even if it's not RAW).

This would explain why it's always the fiends who are desperate to become gods, and rarely the powerful fey or celestials. Fiends are always killing each other--it's what they do. Other entities are generally more political and less violent.

And why is every other extraplanar being considered "less than"? Who made this decision? Who gets to decide that this is the case? Who is the ones that actually "promotes" anyone in the first place?
For this, I'd imagine it's like pokemon or something. When they get enough power, they just naturally "evolve" into a higher rank, and eventually into a god.
 

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