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D&D General When did D&D gods first rely on their worshipers?

Pratchett was working without the benefit of the World Wide Web in 1992, so he was essentially prisoner to whatever theologians he could get to answer his questions by phone.
Seriously, I dunno is @Charlaquin is ancient enough to remember, but the amount of questionable ideas one got because one had to ask humans or read whatever books/magazines were available, pre-internet, particularly Wikipedia, was preeeeeeetty huge. As an ancient myself at 43, I still sometimes find ideas from that era which are just... nonsense... but someone earnestly explained them to me back then.
 

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You need to read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. :)
I'd argue that Discworld might be the fantasy series with the most material to offer DMs, whether it's thinking through the consequences of elements of the world or just a cast of stock characters to pull from for home games. (I'm sure there are a few DMs who have a recurring street vendor NPC in their games who aren't Discworld readers, but Pratchett shows off why you should have one, or a similar recurring bottom feeder urban NPC, if you don't.)
 


I'm pretty sure Pratchett just made his theology up for Discworld. If he hadn't come across the basic idea elsewhere it was a pretty logical extrapolation for post D&D fantasy.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Seriously, I dunno is @Charlaquin is ancient enough to remember, but the amount of questionable ideas one got because one had to ask humans or read whatever books/magazines were available, pre-internet, particularly Wikipedia, was preeeeeeetty huge. As an ancient myself at 43, I still sometimes find ideas from that era which are just... nonsense... but someone earnestly explained them to me back then.
I am, but barely. There were like some school projects I had to actually go to a library to research, but by like... 6th grade search engines were good enough you could largely do it online.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Seriously, I dunno is @Charlaquin is ancient enough to remember, but the amount of questionable ideas one got because one had to ask humans or read whatever books/magazines were available, pre-internet, particularly Wikipedia, was preeeeeeetty huge. As an ancient myself at 43, I still sometimes find ideas from that era which are just... nonsense... but someone earnestly explained them to me back then.
Man, that still happens now, just faster.
 

see

Pedantic Grognard
Actually its more complicated then that for Gods in FR. Worshippers we needed post ToT, but not before,
No, not true. It is absolutely stated in pre-Avatar Trilogy materials that the gods need worship (1981's "Down-to-Earth Divinity" and the 1e FRCS, for example, both written long before Ao was invented). Similarly, later works such as Faiths & Avatars establish that gods would decline and die from lack of worship before the Time of Troubles, most famously in the case of Amaunator.

It is true that in the novel Waterdeep (the third book of the Avatar Trilogy), the speech Ao gives includes the declaration that he's imposing the need for worship as a new punishment for the gods. This is a continuity screw-up by the author and editors of that book, and should be ignored given the consistent evidence, both pre- and post-Avatar publication, that the worship reliance existed pre-ToT.
 

Faolyn

Hero
You need to read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. :)

Although I'm not fond of treating gods this way. I tend to prefer an approach where gods gain power by seizing hold of some particular archetypal conduit and holding onto it - a bit like the Malazan book of the Fallen.

So you can kill the god of death, but before too long a new god of death will arise because there's a vacant throne that needs to be filled (although if the last god of death was a massive naughty word then it may be a considerable improvement).

From time to time, if mortal society changes a new throne may appear waiting to be filled - this makes for a good campaign hook.
That's basically the In Nomine approach. The broader and more applicable a celestial's Word is in that game, the more powerful the celestial is. Which is why the demon of Death is a demon prince (even if he's an idiot), while the demon of Choking to Death on Chicken Bones is pretty minor. Although still more powerful than a demon with no Word whatsoever.

Of course, that does mean that various celestials--or deities, in D&D's case--frequently battle over the Word/archetypal conduit a lot. But I'd consider that to be a decent enough price to pay if you want to avoid the Needs Prayer Badly trope.
 


It's before that in D&D.

Deities & Demigods (1980)- "The source of a deity's godheads is in some way connected to his or her earthly worshipers, though in what manner the gods derive this power is a mystery totally beyond mortal (or immortal) comprehension. However, it is true that a god's power often increases or decreases as the number of his worshipers varies. Thus deities, and clerics as their agents, constantly try to increase the quantity and quality of their worshipers." (p. 8)
:cool:
 

No, not true. It is absolutely stated in pre-Avatar Trilogy materials that the gods need worship (1981's "Down-to-Earth Divinity" and the 1e FRCS, for example, both written long before Ao was invented). Similarly, later works such as Faiths & Avatars establish that gods would decline and die from lack of worship before the Time of Troubles, most famously in the case of Amaunator.

It is true that in the novel Waterdeep (the third book of the Avatar Trilogy), the speech Ao gives includes the declaration that he's imposing the need for worship as a new punishment for the gods. This is a continuity screw-up by the author and editors of that book, and should be ignored given the consistent evidence, both pre- and post-Avatar publication, that the worship reliance existed pre-ToT.


I was aware of the continuity issues at least partially, but its all trumped by the fact that Gods like Selune and Shar and others predate their worshippers by possiblity thousands or more years, they predate Toril.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
He explicitly says it's from the Gnostic Heresy and says it's a universal across worlds the moment worshipers get up off their knees. He seems to believe he got it from somewhere else.
He may have gotten it from modern gnostic inspired groups, 19th century Occultists and such: not much to do with Classical Gnosticism, which is a whole other kettle of fish havign to do with anti-material Dualism.
 
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He explicitly says it's from the Gnostic Heresy and says it's a universal across worlds the moment worshipers get up off their knees. He seems to believe he got it from somewhere else.
By 'made it up' I didn't mean he wasn't inspired by other things in his general reading or knowledge- I just meant that he probably didn't take it from any particular source elsewhere in fantasy or in D&D.

There is no reason why there should be a single point this idea entered into modern fantasy writing.
 

The origin and absolute reliance on worshippers is an approach that I'm not terribly fond of myself. I prefer the "default" Greyhawk option from 3e Deities & Demigods.

Basically, as I recall, they don't need worshippers for their existence or some minimal level of power, but in some way do benefit it. I also like the idea that gods (either individually or as a pantheon/world) can choose by how much to tie themselves to their worshippers to some extent.

Of course, Planescape goes full speed ahead on the idea that gods are fully dependent on worshippers, but Planescape is also fully into the idea that most things aren't clear and people choose what to believe. In my Planescape, it is still the most commonly held belief (based on deific corpses on the Astral, the propaganda (er, I mean 'account') of Aoskar and the "Definitely not a deity" Lady of Pain, and other evidence), but it may not actually be true. It's not like anyone has actually seen a god die from lack of worshippers, so order of causation has had to be inferred.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I -vibrate- with the urge to explain the fullness of the Gnostic Heresies, but the banhammer would probably drop because while it's a matter of history, it's also obviously incredibly religious. I'll instead hit you with this much:

The Gnostics were Philosophers, rather than actual religious individuals. They tried to explain all of the things in the world based on philosophical understanding and greater learning. They even got close to what we'd consider the "Truth" in the theory of Monads. Essentially Atomic particles that are functionally indivisible, the smallest things that could exist.

When confronted by Religion, which they often were, they did their best to explain Deities in the same sort of terms, but specifically in the sense that belief in an idea, collective knowledge and focus, could be what makes it "True", inasmuch as anything could be considered true.

But they also had their own mythological figures, like Apollonius of Tyana. He was a guy from Cappodacia (Modern Turkey) who supposedly went around teaching Gnostic ideas and philosophies in the first century. He also Healed the Sick, Cast out Demons, and Returned from the Dead after the Romans killed him.

Sounds... familiar. There's even suggestions that they're the same person in history being viewed through two different storytellers!

(They also believed that Jesus was of God, but only Seemed to have a mortal form when he was, in fact, only a spirit. Docetism was a thing)

But yeah. The Gnostics were like "If gods exist it's because we believed them into existence".
 

It's not like anyone has actually seen a god die from lack of worshippers, so order of causation has had to be inferred.
OK, that right there is a great thing to add to a planar campaign:

The player characters become aware that the planar villains they're battling have a mysterious source of power and materials, far beyond what they should have.

They eventually track the source back to Tartarus. They break into the complex, assuming it's some sort of infernal machine and, instead, it's a deity and their last worshipers, trapped in a divine prison, overseen by cruel scholars who are monitoring what happens to the god as they kill off the last of its worshipers. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, they've agreed to sell the byproducts from their experiment to the main group of villains, but their goals are entirely focused on deicide and applying what they've learned on a much, much bigger scale.

When the heroes presumably bust up the operation, not only do they deprive their original opponents of a potent source of power and resources, but they also have the gratitude of an incredibly weak deity, one who is only a handful of frail worshipers away from death.

Now the players have yet another antagonist group to deal with -- ones that are potentially far more dangerous than the first group -- and the incredibly complicated question of what to do with this practically helpless deity.
 
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I -vibrate- with the urge to explain the fullness of the Gnostic Heresies
:LOL:
When confronted by Religion, which they often were, they did their best to explain Deities in the same sort of terms, but specifically in the sense that belief in an idea, collective knowledge and focus, could be what makes it "True", inasmuch as anything could be considered true.

But yeah. The Gnostics were like "If gods exist it's because we believed them into existence".
Thank you, this is a great and succinct explanation.
 

Iry

Hero
Actually its more complicated then that for Gods in FR. Worshippers we needed post ToT, but not before, as punishment by AO, but worshippers were not the only source of a Gods power in FR, just a needed one. Another would be the success of their "portifilio" we don't even know in 5e if Worshippers are still needed. FR Gods are not Theros' Gods, many FR Gods predate the world itself and mortal Toril races, and many exist on other worlds entirely. Again the whole needing worshipper then at least in FR was punishment to the Gods for Neglecting their faithful by AO. This blew up in AO's face and the Gods got too invovled in their worshippers lives, hence post Sundering restrictions on a Gods ability to get invovled in their worshippers lives.
The FR divinity situation feels like a satire on bad management, where AO is the VP, the gods are middle-management, etc.
Including the ToT firing gods and having to train up some new employees.
 

see

Pedantic Grognard
I was aware of the continuity issues at least partially, but its all trumped by the fact that Gods like Selune and Shar and others predate their worshippers by possiblity thousands or more years, they predate Toril.
Only if you assume "Sisters of Light and Darkness" is actual setting history rather than an accounting of an in-setting myth.

But even if there was a time long ago when the gods of Toril didn't depend on worship, that time was long gone well before the Time of Troubles. There are lots of Realms gods that were weakened or killed by lack of worship prior to the Time of Troubles (Auppenser, Garagos, Merrshaulk, Moander, the entire Yuir pantheon, etc.), and there's the Talona-Kiputytto battle in -33 DR where both goddesses sent plagues to Asram in order to try to get power from worship.
 


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