Lets Build a World: Part Three: The Pantheon

So far we have established the hooks for our world, or at least the part of it that the action takes place in.

We have an archipelagic region of hundreds or thousands of islands, while the people who live there are balkanised into dozens of minor nations, none larger in size than a city-state, and the place is either on the verge of or plagued by major warfare.

Before delving into the look of the place, the cultures and races and nations, I am instead going to try and figure out why it turned out this way.  And for that I am heading for Chapter Six: History and Mythology.

There is no correct order in using the book so you can skip around the chapters like this, building it as feels best for you.

The first part of the chapter deals with designing the pantheon or pantheons for your setting.

It all starts with figuring out what pantheon type you have.  Is there one universal pantheon for you whole world, or does each major culture have their own one?  If so, do they have contact with the other pantheons, or do they overlap?  In that situation, there is a singular god of war, but he is known by different names in different cultures.

Our dice roll is 32 – One universal pantheon.  In this situation, all deities in the setting belong to a single pantheon, regardless of racial or social divisions.  Several gods may share responsibilities (or squabble over) important portfolios, such as war, leadership or love.

Now that we know the type of pantheon, we need to work out how big it is – small, medium, large or huge.  As we have one universal pantheon, it is larger than usual, so we add 25 to the d100 roll.

Our dice roll is 12 +25 = 37 – a medium pantheon.  This will result in a pantheon that will be smaller than the classical pantheons of Greece, Rome or the Norse, but still a reasonable number of deities.

So time to roll them up.

Our rolls give us 1 greater, 4 intermediate, 5 lesser deities, and 1 demi-god.  The greater god is most likely the head of the whole pantheon, while the sole demi-god gives us some interesting options.  Is he a new comer and the spark of the war?  The result of some illicit affair?  A great hero who has been rewarded for their deeds?

With the numbers of deities worked out, next is to work out how they all fit together. Are they a family, are they aspects of nature or elemental powers.  Perhaps they are merely stewards of the realm for a yet higher power, or a bureaucracy.  Or maybe they are a mix of organisations.

Our roll is a 90 – a mixed organisation.  To find out what exactly it is, I roll a couple more times – 12: familial and 62: natural.

Family pantheons are composed of one extended family, each with roles or portfolios generally related to their position in the traditional family hierarchy.  The Greek pantheon has a strong familial organisation.

Natural pantheons have major aspects of nature represented by the deities of the pantheons.  Portfolios found in this type of pantheon might include animals, plants, mountains, seasons, weather, seas, dawn or sunset, wind or even particular species (a bear-god, a wolf-god, etc).

The gives us a working base for the pantheon – a family of deities linked to the natural elements of the world.  I am still thinking that the demi-god is an outsider in some manner, one that might be at the heart of the troubles, and not of the natural elements of the world.

Our next step is to resolve how involved the pantheon is in the world.  It could range from oblivious, where they are completely unconcerned with the world, to direct, where you wouldn’t be surprised if you bumped into a deity in the local pub.

For out pantheon, we roll a 83 – meddlesome.

Meddlesome powers take interest in even the fairly minor events or situations concerning their followers, and the manipulation of their temples’ fortunes is the primary means of discourse (and field of rivalry) of the deities.  Moderately important followers receive advice and guidance, and the highest-ranking followers are in frequent communication with their patron.  Deities create avatars at will in order to interact with their followers and meddle with mortal affairs.

I’m getting a real Greek mythology vibe here, especially along the lines of the events of the Illiad and the Odyssey.

The last step is to work out the portfolios and alignments of the deities.

But that is for next time.


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