D&D General Which Gods/Pantheons do you use in your D&D setting?

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
When I started my 5E campaigns in 2019/20, I decided to not set them in my old homebrew. I had already gone through a lot of work to tweak 3E to fit the world I started at the advent of 2E, and while I had no plans to run 3E ever again, converting to 5E just felt like too much. Rather than a traditional top-down homebrew world, I went for more of a coalescing points of light approach using Ghosts of Saltmarsh as a basis to start from. As such, I adopted a very open and loosey-goosey approach to gods. Basically, any god a player wanted to introduce was fine as long as they understood two things about gods in the new homebrew setting:

1. Clerics of any god could be of any alignment. Could a CE cleric of a healing god be going around using healing to manipulate people to evil ends? Yes. Could a cleric of the evil god of the dead be NG and trying to keep people from dying? Yes. The gods are aloof and mortals are free to interpret any signs or scripture or events anyway they want.

2. Many gods were actually just different names for other gods. Ancestor worship exists along side polytheism as distant past relatives can become kind of like patron saints depending on what they did in life, and that in time could come to be seen as representations of specific gods with something related in their portfolio. Thus the great aunt who was known for rescuing cats and respected in the community for her wealth and kindness, could start off as part of a family pantheon of sorts, but later be considered a manifestation of Bast in mortal form once a few generations have passed.

An unforeseen consequence of this approach was that religion in general became no where near as important to the setting (at least from a player perspective) as it had been in the previous homebrew setting where there were set pantheons in each region and a general limit to the number of gods, and they all were what they seemed, as were their followings. Though, I wonder if it might just be that my current in-person group is just not that into gods and religion as a game theme.

I kind of regret this approach and wish I had instead gone the other direction and introduced a single focused pantheon of about 12 gods (which could have different name or avatars in different places). It would have been easier to create factions around them and figure out their agendas and approaches, I think.

So my question here (which is open ended, so thus no poll), how do you handle which gods are available in your game? Esp. if you are a homebrewer. Do you pick a single pantheon? Do you pick a pantheon for each kind of people (elves, humans, dwarves)? Do you pick pantheons for regions? Do you use real-world pantheons, D&D setting ones, or totally homebrewed ones? Does this only matter if there are cleric PCs? Anything else you think is relavant?

I have a set of 12 gods (might make it 13) I plan to use as the only gods when I start a new campaign - even if it is in the same setting. I will just ret-con or something.
 

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ezo

Where is that Singe?
So my question here (which is open ended, so thus no poll), how do you handle which gods are available in your game? Esp. if you are a homebrewer. Do you pick a single pantheon? Do you pick a pantheon for each kind of people (elves, humans, dwarves)? Do you pick pantheons for regions? Do you use real-world pantheons, D&D setting ones, or totally homebrewed ones? Does this only matter if there are cleric PCs? Anything else you think is relavant?
Our human pantheon has nine gods (well, sort of 10). Each god roughly corresponds to the nine alignments, the neutral "god" is a pair of "twin gods". Clerics do not need to have the same alignment, but must partially have it. So, Orlanthus is the god of War and is Lawful Neutral. His clerics must be either lawful (good, neutral, evil) or Neutral (Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic). This pantheon is "world-wide" and the gods at times have taken active rolls in the history.

For other kinds of people, I mostly use the ones estabilshed in 1E.
 

grimmgoose

Adventurer
I use a mixture of Faerun, Pathfinder, and homebrew gods.

Basically, there's an event in my world called "the Godfall"; my version of Vecna never wanted to become a god - instead, he witnessed the devastating impact of the Divine Scourge (a holy war between the Upper Planes and the Nine Hells, which mostly took place on the Material Plane). Seeing that, he believed that godhood was an evil, and the world would be better off without gods in it.

Meaning, prior to the Godfall, most of the gods in my world were the Faerun pantheon. Most of these were brutally murdered by Vecna. Post-Godfall, the Pathfinder gods took over the mantle of godhood, with a sprinkle of my own homebrew.

Obviously, it being a homebrew campaign world, it's mostly the names and "general idea" of the gods that remain, but most have a bunch of small tweaks to make it fit within my madness.
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I made a pantheon of 18-ish gods, most of whom were vaguely based on characters from Marvel in original concept (though there have been additions and drift since then). They don't generally go by proper names, only titles. Thus you have the Shield, the Hero, the Despot, etc. In my origin myth, these gods overthrew their Primordial predecessors that would otherwise have destroyed the world in their carelessness. Since then belief in them under various names has spread. A couple surviving Primordials also maintain cults in isolated areas or in secret.

Some heritages have their own belief systems as well. Elves revere the nature spirits native to the Feywild from which they came, or Gaea (one of the remaining Primordials). Dwarves worship their ancestors, and honor the ancient aliens that created them. And so on.
 




Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So my question here (which is open ended, so thus no poll), how do you handle which gods are available in your game? Esp. if you are a homebrewer. Do you pick a single pantheon?
No, there's lots of them.
Do you pick a pantheon for each kind of people (elves, humans, dwarves)? Do you pick pantheons for regions?
Yes and yes. Humans are cultural/regional* and there's lots of different pantheons, while each non-Human species has their own pantheon that usually applies everywhere (including across worlds/campaigns). Some specific deities tend to more than one species, e.g. my main deity of Frost Giants also draws considerable support from Humans and others who live in cold places.

* - the drawback of this as DM is that every time a party spends any significant amount of time in a new Human culture I have to design a new pantheon for it. Oh well... :)
Do you use real-world pantheons, D&D setting ones, or totally homebrewed ones?
Yes, partly, and yes. I also mix and match, e.g. my Dwarvish pantheon is sourced both from D&D material and homebrew. For real-world pantheons I tend toward pop-culture interpretations over actual historical ones, e.g. my Greek deities are very Xena-Hercules based, mostly because the pop-culture ones are both easier to grok and generally more entertaining.

I also have a few independent deities, i.e. ones not tied to or part of any specific pantheon, who support Clerics etc.
Does this only matter if there are cleric PCs? Anything else you think is relavant?
The key thing in my divine system is that the whole thing rests on a universal underlying framework where there's exactly 21 true deities. All the hundreds of deities people worship are in fact more-or-less disguised aspects of these 21, sometimes to the players' (and PCs') considerable shock if-when they ever find out who they've really been worshipping! For example: Corellon (Elvish) had had more Cleric PCs in my game than any other deity, and it's not even close. Imagine their surprise when two of these Clerics (and their players) learned firsthand that "Corellon" is in fact just the Elf-facing aspect of he who people more commonly know as the Gnomish deity Baerovan, who is one of the true 21.

The advantage of this framework system is that having designed it once I can use it forever, no matter what I run.
 

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