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General What would a deity feel when followers pray to it?

In the D&D realms, what would a deity feel when its followers pray to it? Can it distinguish individual prayers? Does it gain extra power from each prayer (does prayer act as a fuel to its divine powers)?

I realize that a lot is not described in the books. Just looking to what you think.

Background: I need to understand the difference in how a deity would approach a PC with or without prayers - e.g. through commune, noting that this won't affect the outcome (i.e. game mechanics), only the flavoring. In our campaign, flavoring is quite important though.
 

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MarkB

Legend
It's very setting-dependent. Some have the God Needs Prayer Badly trope, others don't.

In some settings / religions, deities may have their angelic followers set up as a secretarial service, fielding 'calls' on their behalf, and only escalating those that require their personal attention.
 



jasper

Rotten DM
In the D&D realms, what would a deity feel when its followers pray to it? Can it distinguish individual prayers? Does it gain extra power from each prayer (does prayer act as a fuel to its divine powers)?

...
It depends on the DM. Do prayers = batteries? So the more worshippers the more powerful gawd? Or gawds don't need worshippers but they are fun to have.
I go with fun to have. Yes it knows who is calling. No prayers are not fuel.
 

ardoughter

Adventurer
Supporter
My take would be god need belief and prayer, ceremonies, rituals, sacrifices and festivals are things that reinforce belief and bond communities of believers together. They are important but indirectly.
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
In the D&D realms, what would a deity feel when its followers pray to it? Can it distinguish individual prayers? Does it gain extra power from each prayer (does prayer act as a fuel to its divine powers)?
Divine power fully resets on a daily basis for mortals (with character classes), which points to deities getting power from daily prayer, or an allotment from the sun-god. However, unless that daily reset has ever failed to happen, it could be that divine power is either unlimited, or there's more than enough prayer going around. But I've rarely heard a PC say "I pray for my spells" . . .

The D&D gods have a Greek/Roman similarity to me, so I'd say that they're most likely to hear prayer when followers pray near them, like on a mountaintop. Or failing that, at a consecrated shrine. The feeling would be the same as hearing something, and the reaction (joy, annoyance) depends on the deity. It follows that distinguishing individual prayers depends on how many are praying on that mountaintop at the same time.
 

MarkB

Legend
The D&D gods have a Greek/Roman similarity to me, so I'd say that they're most likely to hear prayer when followers pray near them, like on a mountaintop. Or failing that, at a consecrated shrine. The feeling would be the same as hearing something, and the reaction (joy, annoyance) depends on the deity. It follows that distinguishing individual prayers depends on how many are praying on that mountaintop at the same time.
That explains hermits. They're the ones who survived the mountaintop scrum for first dibs on their direct line to divinity.
 

univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
American Gods or Niel Gaiman's work in general often tackles this subject. Gods could derive power from their worshipers and likewise fade away or disappear from their being little to no reverence for them.

On the other hand there is the Malazaan approach where the gods are mostly indifferent to mortals and are concerned only with the struggle for dominance between one another and mortals are mostly tools.

If the Gods are representative of only aspects of objective reality then their existence may not require mortals. Mortals could be outside their purview anyway. A God of Time could possibly care less that mortals exist, for time exists without mortals anyway. Thus communing with the God of Time my not get you any more answers as a worshiper than non worshipers because the God is indifferent to mortals mere existence.

If Gods command the realm of the conceptual, (or as a duality a conceptual and objective truth) like Law, or Love or Patience, they may need mortals to exist and also command aspects that pervade in all mortals lives. Thus a mortal who does not worship the God of Judgment is still bound to that Gods domain of judgment, judgment being a concept that exists in the life or all mortals but only exists as a moral construct. A God of Judgement may see all mortals as its subjects but worshipers may gain favor by being agents of judgement in the material plane.

A conversation with a God could easily come down to "What have you done for me lately?" which could be fun in role play, where a character now has to do a particular task for the God, despite not being a worshiper.

Scenario:

The Elf Cleric of the God of Judgment wants to ask the God of Nature a question about whether these particular Treants attacking the villagers are truly evil or being manipulated by an outside force. God of Nature says sure I will answer this question but for the rest of the week, you may not step on flowers again, doing so will incur my wrath. The next day the Elf Cleric gets his coin purse snatched, the thief is identified but is running away through a field of tulips.
 

MarkB

Legend
American Gods or Niel Gaiman's work in general often tackles this subject. Gods could derive power from their worshipers and likewise fade away or disappear from their being little to no reverence for them.
See also Terry Pratchett's Small Gods - which also deals with the reverse issue, of a religion becoming so ubiquitous and institutional that what people end up really believing in is the institution, rather than the deity.
 

univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
See also Terry Pratchett's Small Gods - which also deals with the reverse issue, of a religion becoming so ubiquitous and institutional that what people end up really believing in is the institution, rather than the deity.
Sort of sounds like the Grand Inquisitor in Brothers Karamazov type situation.
 

aco175

Hero
There is very little communing with gods in my games for whatever reason. I would think they go about their days doing god things and not caring about mortals until they need to. When they do need to interfere, they need to do it on the side or the other gods will start to take a more hands on approach. This is how the last great cataclysm happened in most games. An active role for most gods involves dealing with the top ten NPCs in the world or showing the way out of a maze with jumping frogs or glowing snakes or such. Sometimes people need to look for the signs.

If a PC cast something to talk with a god I would think that he is enough level to be on the radar of someone up there. You may not get a god, but you may get a deva or something to notice. There may be some sort of filter that blocks all the request for cash and fame and such, but lets through the real ones like helping me defeat your foes. Like the cell phone analogy, you can also block the sender if he gets too annoying as well.
 


neogod22

Explorer
Have you ever played thr gane Black and White? I think that would be the best representation of what a god gets from their worshipers.

For those who haven't played. There were 3 manor factors on how you the player (who is a god) influenced the world. You had a sphere of influence, this sphere expanded the more worshipers you had, and where they were. In other words when you converted towns and cities to your religion, you were able to use your powers there, how you made that happen would be up to you. You had your avatar, which was your physical representative of you, who could travel outside your sphere of influence and interact with the world, and you had your worshipers. You gained magic point when they worshiped you. The more of them you had, the faster your power grew. If you were the evil type, you would get a big boost sacrificing them, and if really evil, a lot more power if the sacrifices were children.

Most gods don't care if you love or hate them, they only care that you worship. If you speak theur name, they can instantly see and hear everything going on around them. For the most part they vidw mortals as we would view ants. Most mortals lead small insignificant lives that they may stop and gaze at for a few minutes before moving on to more important things. Do gods take interest in individual mortals? Sure, if you are remarkable enough to gain their interest. (Rules wise, my persona opinion is if you are over level 11, there's a chance a god will become interested in you if for whatever reason you enter their view a.k.a., help further or hinder their agenda). Clerics and paladins on the other hand has a special relationship with their gods. If above level 11, a god will know their name and actually hear their prayers. Level 6 and above spells are given by the god consciously whereas 5 and below are automatic. A god will feel if one of these people die, because it will actually be a blow to their power on that plane. And I said on the plane fir a reason, remember when a worshiper dies, the god can claim the soul of that worshiper if they choose to. Usually with clerics, paladins and devout followers, it's a given. Also they may claim the souls of powerful followers that might not have been as devout (aka Lloth has made Drizzt D'Urden her champion and will claim his soul when he dies even though he hates her and want nothing to do with her). This is pretty long, but these are my thoughts on the matter. I hope it helps.
 

nevin

Explorer
I prefer toi run gods as per Greek or most ancient religions and similar to 1st edition. They know what they are paying attention too, they don't have all the answers so things like find the path, or commune aren't always a gaurranteed spell. I tend to have the deities pay more attention the higher the spells get. Clerics have prayer books or holy books that they use to prepare up to level 4. 5 thru 7 the diety has intermediaries communicating with the clerics granting spells, 8 and 9th the God grants them directly. At that point your talking earthquake and Miracle. That kind of request needs to be noticed. Now if the cleric is following the gods ethos and sticking too alignment they may never have a direct encounter with thier god. I have only twice in many years refused to grant certain spells because of misbehavior by clerics. Once a cleric of a healing god lost all ability to cast anything but healing spells, because he got a bit bloodthirsty. Once a High cleric of Zeus called on him for a minor request and Zeus, greatly annoyed at being treated like service repair man, told him not to ask for spells until given permission. (those Greek gods suck LOL) Some fun roleplaying insued as he told his followers they were being tested and they had to provide all the magic without his help.

I really do think most DM's hurt themselves by thinking of Thier Gods in a Christian, Muslim, Bhudist, all powerful all knowing way. the god of the sky could know a lot, he probably won't know anything about stuff underground. The god of the Oceans will know about the towns and geography on his domains edges but he probably won't care much about inland areas.

Now if you have player worshipping a lesser god or a demi-power. They'll probably get a lot more attention if the power is trying to gain a higher place in the pantheon., or they may just not have many worshippers and get really bored so they watch thier follower like a TV show.

I also like to use gods as incredibly powerful in thier own area of godhood but not in others. So if your god is the god of combat or war he/she may have a deal with the Goddess of healing to allow thier followers to use high level healing spells, or not. A miracle from the Goddess of healing isn't going to involve the death or destruction of your enemy. A miracle from a trickster god could be as scary as the problem you are trying to solve.

If I ever start a new campaign I've decided I want to run Gods like the Chinese Gods in legends of the Monkey King. Powerful but living on the world and definitely not all knowing. If there is going to be an all knowing power I doubt they'll interfere much at all. If the gods and mortal blow up the world he/she can always start over.
 

nevin

Explorer
Also your gods are more fun if they have different personalities and goals. Some will be narcissists who do care what everyone thinks. some Won't even care what the other gods think and there will be every variation in between. Make sure if you plan to use them that they have goals , interconnecting stories. this god may hate that goddes or this demigod may have fooled around with another Gods love interest or wife. Getting the notice of the Gods means you are also getting tied up in thier personal world. If the god of healing hates your god you may not get any healing spells. If the God of death is not an ally resserections could require an epic quest to get his help. Aggravate the goddess of the Earth and just like in the Greek myths, she turns off everything and the world is in perpetual winter till you can make her happy again.
 

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