Gods and Deities in the Wilderlands

From the just rule of Mitra to the coiling evil of Set; from the River Goddess Modron who walks the streets of her town to the evil sea god of Viridistan, Armadad Bog; from the strange and monotheistic Mycretians to the barbarian god Odin, deities and their followers play a key role in the Wilderlands. This chapter details many of the deities of the setting as well as several new domains and powers affiliated with several of those deities.


There are many deities in the Wilderlands—so many, in fact, that they cannot all be detailed here. The following listing of gods is not comprehensive or exhaustive but reflects many of the important faiths within the Wilderlands.


Though many are not detailed here, gods from most traditional pantheons are present in the Wilderlands. Sages believe the multiplicity of deities is due to the Wilderlands intersecting with so many other planes of existence and alternate Primes. Some gods, prominent on other worlds, are of lesser power in the Wilderlands and conversely some lesser deities of a pantheon, such as Manannan, are of great importance in the Wilderlands.


The Babylonian gods Anu, Anshar, Dahak, Drauga, Ishtar, Marduk, Nergal and Ramman are commonly worshiped, mostly in Tarantis or in the Ghinnor Successor States of Lenap and Tlan.


The Celtic deities Dagda, Arawn, Brigit, Diancecht, Dunatis, Goibhnie, Lugh, Math, Morrigan, Nuada, Oghma and Silvanus are commonly worshiped by Tharbrians. The Celtic god Manannan is worshiped in the City State and is detailed below.


Even the Central American deities Quetzalcoatl, Camazotz, Huhueteotl, Tlaloc and others are worshiped, though rarely.


The Chinese deities Shang-Ti (worshiped as Shang Ta in Viridistan), Chao Kung Ming, Chih Sung-Tzu, Huan Ti, Kuan Yin, No Cha and others are worshipped in the Wilderlands, mostly in or around Viridistan.


The Egyptian deities of the Pharaonic Pantheon, including the gods Ra, Anhur, Anubis, Bast, Horus, Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, Ptah, Seker and Shu as detailed in Deities and Demigods and other volumes, are worshiped in the Desert Lands and other regions of the Wilderlands. Several Egyptian deities are widely worshiped—Thoth and Set, both of which are detailed below.


The Finnish mythos, including the gods Ahto, Ilmatar, Louhi, Mielikki, Surma, Tuoni and Ukko are worshiped, but they have few temples and are generally only worshiped individually.


The Greek mythos are widespread in the Wilderlands, including the gods Zeus, Aphrodite, Appolo, Ares, Artemis, Athena (who is very prominent in the Wilderlands and is worshiped in several incarnations), Demeter, Hades, Hecate (also prominent in the Wilderlands), Haphaestus, Hera and Poseidon. These gods, while prominent throughout the Wilderlands, are more common in parts of Altanis and the many islands throughout the Wilderlands than in the largest city states.


The Indian mythos, including the gods Indra (known as Kara), Agni, Kali, Karttikeya, Lakshmi, Ratri, Rudra, Surya, Tvashtri, Ushas, Varana, Vishnu and Yama, are uncommon and are normally worshipped only by members of the far-off Kingdom of Karak, where these gods are dominant.


The Japanese deities are strangely absent from the Wilderlands, though they are more common in several adjoining Alternate Primes.


The Norse gods, including all those detailed in Deities and Demigods such as Odin, Aegir, Balder, Bragi, Fenris Wolf, Frey, Freya, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel (who, like Hecate, is of greater importance in the Wilderlands than is normal in her pantheon), Loki, Magni, Sif, Surtur, Thor (very popular in the Wilderlands), Thrym, Tyr, Uller and Vidar, are very prevalent in the Wilderlands and are heavily worshiped by all races, but in particular by Skandiks and Tharbrians.


The gods of the Sumerian mythos, such as Enlil, Enki, Inanna, Ki, Nanna-Sin, Nin-Hursag and Utu, are worshiped primarily in the southern lands such as the Ament Tundra and Ghinor.


Most of the denizens of the Wilderlands are polytheistic, believing in many gods and spirits, with a few notable exceptions such as the Mycretians who follow the god Mycr (monotheistic) and the worshipers of the foreign gods of Pegana (a pantheon of multiple gods that allows for no other gods). Because of the sparse population of the Wilderlands there are few truly large and organized religions, except perhaps for Armadad Bog whose worship has spread due to the influence of Viridistan. Even Mitra, a lawful good god who is widely worshiped, does not have an overarching organization of his clergy over more than one region of the Wilderlands. Thus, worshipers of the various gods—once away from their temple hierarchies—have great leeway in enforcing the will of the deities.


DIVINE QUALITIES


The word “deity” covers a broad range of beings—true greater “gods” with the power of creation, lesser gods, demigods, animal spirits, forgotten gods, alien gods, god-priests and living gods that wander the world and are worshiped. All deities, however, by definition, deal in divine magic. “Deity,” meaning a source of divine power, should be distinguished from a “god,” meaning a thing or object that is worshiped. Anything that is worshiped can be a god, regardless of whether there is any divine force behind it.


Besides commonly acknowledged “gods,” many spirits live near or within objects, geological features, fauna, flora, artifacts, winds, and buildings. Rare is the natural feature that does not have a corresponding minor deity that is worshiped by the local populace. Some have even achieved some degree of importance, such as the Toad-god of the Mermist Swamp. Minor gods with less than one hundred worshipers are not listed, unless they provide some notable curiosity such as Morkalla. One advantage of the multiplicity of deities is that Judges can easily import their favorite deities from any setting into the Wilderlands.


NATURE OF DIVINITY


Unlimited: There are an unlimited number of deities in the Wilderlands and the universal total of divine power is also unlimited. As mentioned above, there are hundreds and even thousands of lesser household gods as well as many gods of each divine rank.


Obtaining Divinity: While the “divine spark” shared by all deities seems to be of the same mystical nature, there is no single way the divine spark is obtained. It may be innate to the deity, such as the divine spark possessed by the greater gods Odin and others. It may be earned by a deserving mortal or perhaps by the continued worship of a false god. It may be stolen by a mortal, a hero or a lesser god. It may even be imparted, such as by the ascension of Morg, the once-mortal follower of Thoth as a gift from Thoth himself. Some deities have even been known to surrender their divinity. Some, known as the forgotten gods, have lost the divine spark. Generally, if a character achieves 20th level and has a patron deity, that deity normally offers that character the chance to ascend as a lesser deity in his or her court.


Dependent Deities: Except perhaps for the mysterious Mycr, all the deities of the Wilderlands are powered by the worship of their followers. Loss of worship can lead a deity to lose the divine spark. Worship can also create a deity where none previously existed, such as in the case of the worship of an idol without a deity that overtime grows so widespread that the worship itself actually creates a new deity. Greater Gods, however, have an inherent spark of divinity and cannot ever truly lose their status as a deity, though their divine rank may decrease from lack of worship. The reason for this inherent divinity is unknown and may be a result of their divine presence on multiple planes of existence and multiverses.


Behavior of Deities: The gods of the Wilderlands come in all types—benevolent, indifferent, hostile, active and distant. Many desire only the love of their worshipers, while others desire their blood and souls. Some behave as truly greater beings endowed with infinite wisdom, others behave as average adults on their good days and spoiled children on their bad days. Some pretend to be omniscient when they are not, others pretend not to be omniscient when they are. Most bicker, quarrel, connive, plot, love, hate and make war against each other, which spills over to their followers. There are very few that seem to remain (at least to their worshipers) above the divine fray. While many of the actions of the gods may seem to be driven by humanlike emotions such as love and hate, the actual motives of the gods are a mystery even to their followers.


False Gods: There are many gods, such as false gods and idols, which are not truly “deities,” in that there is no true divine power behind them. They have no divine rank. These false gods may be widely worshiped and may even have a hierarchy, a temple and an organized religion. Sometimes, such religions are led by wizards using arcane power or by persons possessing magic items, or sometimes there is no magic behind the “god” at all, only the social convention of worship. Such false gods are usually the creation of an individual or group seeking personal power, though over time though those persons may have died and the custom of worship has lived on. Strangely, due to the power of worship, even these false gods can gain divine power, and in effect become gods. This is, of course, why so many liches and evil wizards prop themselves up as gods over unwitting populations. Sometimes a false god may draw the attention of a deity who will provide divine power to what is otherwise an empty religion.


BENEFIT OF DEITIES


The obvious benefit of the deities is the divine power and abilities they impart on their mortal priests and followers. These powers are not limited to clerics. Because the gods are so present in the Wilderlands, many non-clerics have patron deities and can even become champions. Clerics and non-clerics alike can even try to ask for divine intervention by the deity themselves.


Gaining A Patron: Some deities allow anyone to select them as their patron deity. Other deities require those who would have them as a patron to be devout followers, though not themselves clerics or adepts, providing proper worship and living in a manner generally consistent with the teachings of the deity. Still others ignore those who select them as a patron. Generally, a person may not have more than one patron deity at a time unless the Judge allows otherwise.


Invocation Of A Patron: A person who has a patron deity can invoke the name of that patron deity up to once per week, normally in times of crisis or under other circumstances important to the deity’s goals and domains, and thereby seek to gain the aid of the patron deity. If, in the opinion of the Judge, the person invoking the patron meets the deity’s requirements to obtain a patron and if the action attempted for which the person is requesting aid meets the goals of the deity and falls within the deity’s portfolio of interests, the deity will grant a +1 or -1 divine bonus to the person in that situation, at the discretion of the Judge. On rare instances, in the discretion of the Judge, a deity may grant a bonus of up to +2, though never higher. If the Judge is unsure of whether the deity will aid the person, the Judge may require an ability check at DC 10 based on whatever ability is most relevant to the deity, such as Wisdom for a god of knowledge, Strength for a war god or Charisma for a god of song.


An actual cleric or druid (or other divine class) of a particular deity may make a number of invocations per week equal to his or her Wisdom bonus and does not need to make an ability check. Abusing this invocation ability should be met with the god’s displeasure, either by the deity withholding aid in the future or dispatching a divine messenger or portent to deliver a stern warning to the person.


Calling Upon A Patron Deity: Worshipers may also call upon their god for divine intervention. Divine intervention is always at the discretion of the Judge. Some deities are more prone to answer such calls than others. Some respond with divine aid or divine servants. Others respond by physically manifesting their avatar on the material plane. Generally, the chance for a deity to answer a call for intervention is 1% plus 1/2% for each cleric level the caller has. Many things influence this general guideline. Deities cannot manifest outside of their normal area of influence. Calling upon Modron to manifest and aid you in Viridistan will be met with nearly no chance of success, while calling upon her in her own city of Modron will yield greater than average success. Such calls should be reserved for truly catastrophic situations, as most deities feel that the power they provide their priests should be sufficient to meet their needs. In fact, many stern and lawful gods will refuse such requests, though many evil gods will appear even more frequently if it serves their evil goals. Again, divine intervention is always at the discretion of the Judge. It should also be noted that divine aid will not necessarily come in the form requested by the caller, but rather will come in whatever form is desired by the deity in keeping with the principles of the deity. A deity is never required to intervene. Abusing this ability will be met with even greater wrath than abusing the invocation ability.


Champions: Some persons offer such service to their patron deity that they are designated as champions of that deity. Whether selected as a favored mortal by a fickle goddess of beauty, rewarded for some exemplary service by a god of law, chosen for their devout lifestyle by a pious god or graced by being an embodiment of the ideals of the deity on earth by a god of good, a champion receives some tangible benefit determined by the Judge. Normally, a champion gains one of the following boons for as long as the person remains a champion: +1 to +3 divine bonus to a relevant attribute of the choice of the deity, an ability normally reserved for clerics of the deity, divine protection equal to a divine bonus from +1 to +3 to the champion’s AC, the ability to use a certain spell once per day (normally less than 5th level), a bonus feat he or she otherwise would not have access to, a greater chance of calling on the deity for divine intervention, or in the most extreme case access to a divine feat or ability. Generally, a deity does not select a champion of less than 8th level. Note that clerics do not normally become champions except in extreme circumstances, as deities feel that the abilities they provide their priests are reward enough. The drawback to being a champion, of course, is that opponents of your patron deity will seek you out to thwart, discredit or kill you even more so than they would an average priest of your deity. A deity must have a divine rank of 6 or higher to have a champion and may have 1 additional champion for each 5 divine ranks above 6 (i.e.: 2 at divine rank 11, 3 at rank 16).


Worshipers: Deities are worshiped by the faithful, which is not limited only to clerics or druids. So long as a leader is charismatic and faithful (sometimes not even faithful), that leader can found a temple or church. It is a mistake to presume that all heads of religions are clerics or druids. Sometimes churches and temples are headed and run by fighters dedicated to a god, or by a powerful wizard who has chosen to honor his vile god or by expert merchants. Religious hierarchies can be political appointments or rewards. It is entirely possible to have a church without a single cleric worshiping a deity. Worshipers need only faith, not a specific class. The religions and temples of the Wilderlands reflect this reality.


COSMOLOGY


The simplest way to handle the cosmology of the Wilderlands is to adopt the default order of the planes as traditionally done in the various Third Edition rulebooks, with Astral and Ethereal and Inner and Outer planes, etc. This is certainly a workable way to handle the order of the universe.


However, the Wilderlands was created before the First Edition Player’s Handbook and thus was not designed with that particular cosmology. Instead, unlike the planes of other official fantasy settings, which seem so well-traveled, the planes in the Wilderlands should be mysterious and new. They should defy a firm categorization, since they are fluid and undefined and each overlaps the other to a great degree. The early fantasy works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock definitely influenced the cosmology of the Wilderlands, and the planes reflect it. The planes are not commonly visited by mortals, though the Wilderlands are filled with ancient gates to the other planes from a time when older, more advanced civilizations traveled the planes extensively. It is more common that creatures from the planes visit the Wilderlands than the other way around. The following “planes” exist in the classic Wilderlands setting.


The Prime: The world in which your campaign exists. The prime is more a “universe” than just the single planet on which the Wilderlands is located. There are thousands and thousands of other solar systems and perhaps even other inhabited planets. For those so inclined, space travel could be a real possibility. Some even say that the Wilderlands were settled originally by an Ancient Race of space faring sentient creatures and that the Markrabs themselves are a space faring race. Sages say that the Prime and the universes in it represent the ultimate embodiment of Law.


The Void: The “universe” of the Prime is surrounded by the void, an infinite expanse of complete emptiness. It is said that it is in this void that the elder gods originated, gods of absolute evil and madness. Legends tell of times when creatures from the Void can descend on the Prime. Ancient sorcerers are said to traffic with such alien creatures in an attempt to gain greater power and knowledge. Some say the Markrabs are such creatures. Others who claim to have seen such mind-rending monstrosities claim they are like blots of fetid living blackness, nearly formless. Demons and nightmare creatures reside in the Void. The Void surrounds the prime, but also mingles with it. If a spell calls for astral travel, it means travel to the Void. Sages say that the Void is the ultimate embodiment of Chaos.


Alternate Primes: There are other versions of the main world. Some ahead in time, some behind in time, some diverging as a result of different events. For example, there are alternate primes where the Philosophers, not the Pious, won the war and the world is ruled by logicians and the gods have receded (some would say that might be our world). Other primes might have the Dragon Empire never having fallen, or the First Men never having been beaten back by the early tribes of what became Kelnore. There are an infinite number of alternate primes.


The Planar Membrane: A difficult concept to describe, the Prime and the Void—though infinite—are enveloped in a membrane of sorts that is magical and generally imperceptible. It is easy to pass through the membrane to the Shadowlands or the Netherworld or even the Celestial Realm. But it is difficult to pass from those planes to the Prime, unless one is a natural denizen of the Prime. This, essentially, keeps out creatures from the Shadowlands, Netherworld and Celestial Realm unless magic originating from the Prime brings them to the Prime. Such creatures can, and do, use the many existing gates however to travel to the Prime. The only exception to this rule is that denizens of the Prime may not return to the Prime if they have visited an Alternate Prime without magic from the Prime bringing them back.


The Shadowlands: The Shadowlands is in some respects like the Astral or Ethereal plane in that it is a transitional plane allowing passage into other planes. The Shadowlands is an infinte expanse of shadowy existence mirroring what is occurring on the surrounding planes. Strange and evil creatures inhabit this shadow realm. It is lit from an unknown source with but the dimmest gray light, giving all its stark and mostly barren features as deep ashen gray. If a spell calls for travel to the ethereal plane, it means the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands are sometimes called the Spirit Plane, as this is the first destination of souls after death before they progress to the Netherworld, Celestial Realm or Arborea.


The Netherworld: Unlike the traditional “abyss” and “hell” division along alignment lines, there is no such division in the Wilderlands cosmology. The Netherworld is a vast and multidimensional realm of darkness and death. Some portions are black and dark as night, others are red with infernal flames, others blackened with slime, still others deathly jungles. All the traditional versions of hell and the abyss can be found in the Netherworld, but they are not as distinct, defined and segregated. You might wander through a diseased forest and wind up at a great precipice overlooking a barren plain of obsidian with crevasses filled with fire. Or you might encounter a river of filth guarded by demons leading to an iron castle filled with devils. The Netherworld is the embodiment of evil.


The Celestial Realm: Shrouded from the Shadowlands by a white curtain, the Celestial Realm—like the Netherworld—is not divided into traditional planes of “Heaven” or “Asgard” firmly along alignment lines as in the traditional cosmology. Instead, one may encounter a celestial mountain on which one god has made his home, or a fantastic city where all live in peace and harmony, or a river of gold and a bridge guarded by angelic creatures. The Celestial Realm is the embodiment of good.


The Elemental Planes: Overlapping the Prime are the Elemental Planes. Unlike the other planes, the Elemental Planes have firmer divisions, with the rocks and dirt of the plane of Earth turning to obsidian and lava as they transition to fire, which becomes smoke and ash as it transitions to air, which in turn turns to storms and rain as it becomes water, coming full circle to snow and ice as that plane turns back to earth. The core of these planes are rather monotonous and incredibly hostile in the extreme to travelers from the Prime. It is in the transitional areas that most travel takes place. The elemental planes are a great source of argument. Some say they are the embodiment of Neutrality, yet others argue they are all the alignments in one.


The World Tree: At the cosmic intersection between the Shadowlands, the Netherworld, the Celestial Realm and the Elemental Planes stands the World Tree—growing in the elemental earth, fed from the elemental water, warmed by the elemental flame and expanding in the elemental air. It is said that a version of the World Tree extends into every Prime. Legends tell that it is the flowering of the World Tree that created all the planes. Some sages have said that the World Tree will one day lose its flowers.