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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
5987 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2015 :  15:50:40  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is my personal take, so take it with a grain of salt. I'd like to see them return as a contested pantheon. However, I'd like to see them import several lesser deities from the Faerunian pantheon to become multi-pantheon deities. In doing so, they give these lesser deities more of a chance to survive and the ability to expand their influence. Why lesser deities? Because then they can kick them back out if they don't comply or seek to work against the Mulan gods. What deities am I talking about? Siamorphe as a goddess of "the divine right to rule" seems a perfect goddess to import. Other deities would be Valkur the mighty, Gwaeron Windstrom, the red knight, and possibly the nature deities Nobanion and Lurue.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3507 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2015 :  18:45:45  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Of course those lesser deities were more than likely meant to fail. The ogb mentions that minor deities rise and fall with great frequency in the realms. If however they could get enough worshippers in the old empires then why not migrate.

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see
Learned Scribe

190 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  03:08:31  Show Profile Send see a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

After all, the ancient real world had clearly distinct and separate pantheons, which served them in terms of stories, morals and religious beliefs specific to their cultures.


Sure. And none of these deities actually existed, so there was no actual problem with everybody having their own, because deities that don't exist don't have any actual attributes, so whatever their supposed areas of authority, they cannot actually come into conflict over them. If none of the deities of FR have actual existence in the setting itself, then there similarly isn't any problem. But when you start dealing with beings that supposedly actually exist and supposedly exercise authority, you get to a basic conflict.

There cannot be a different "President of the United States" for each cultural group on Earth. There can be a different president for each country, and there can be cases like the Swiss that have a plural executive, and such - but there's only one President of the United States able to discharge the power and authority of that particular office, and anyone who believes there's a President of the United States other than Barack Obama is objectively wrong. There are also five members of the Swiss council, and the membership of that council does not differ depending on your culture or politics or belief or what nation you're standing in, and anyone who believes in only one of the five is also wrong.

Similarly, there can be one Goddess of the Moon with actual power over the one moon, or there can be a committee of multiple goddesses of the moon exercising collective authority over the one moon, or there can be no goddesses with actual power over the one moon. If the first is true, there's only that one, and anyone who believes another is the goddess of the moon is objectively wrong. If the second is true, anyone who worships only one of them as "the" goddess of the moon is objectively wrong. And if the third is true, then the moon is just a theme or mascot, not a portfolio of responsibility and power; a "moon goddess" is just a goddess with certain trappings, like a Detroit Lion just has a lion on his helmet. (And that last, yes, I find ridiculous. I grant others might not, but I do.)

By race or geography can make sense in some cases; you can have a "goddess of human love in Faerun", if you like. But then she's still the "goddess of human love in Faerun" no matter what race you are or what location you're in. A hengeyokai in Kara-Tur might not pay much attention to her, but it would be for the same reason people in Anauroch don't pay much attention to Umberlee; it's not a "pantheon" thing, it's that her power deals only with things far away. If she really was "the goddess of all love everywhere", and a hengeyokai in Kara-Tur ignores her because she's a "human Faerunian goddess", he's an idiot. And if she's only the "goddess of human love in Faerun", and someone worships her as "the goddess of all love everywhere", he's also an idiot.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2722 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  03:46:56  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

or there can be a committee of multiple goddesses of the moon exercising collective authority over the one moon If the second is true, anyone who worships only one of them as "the" goddess of the moon is objectively wrong.


To me, this seems to be the case in FR (Selune and Sehanine, Hanali and Sune and so on point to that. In 4e WotC went with the ''aspect'' thing, but that doesn't really make sense, as Sehanine and Hanali are inteloper deities. Currently, their mind seems to have changed again). There are also racial deities of some concepts, like love, reflecting their race's idea of that.

quote:
By race or geography can make sense in some cases; you can have a "goddess of human love in Faerun", if you like. But then she's still the "goddess of human love in Faerun" no matter what race you are or what location you're in. A hengeyokai in Kara-Tur might not pay much attention to her, but it would be for the same reason people in Anauroch don't pay much attention to Umberlee; it's not a "pantheon" thing, it's that her power deals only with things far away. If she really was "the goddess of all love everywhere", and a hengeyokai in Kara-Tur ignores her because she's a "human Faerunian goddess", he's an idiot. And if she's only the "goddess of human love in Faerun", and someone worships her as "the goddess of all love everywhere", he's also an idiot.


Torilian people worship deities from their in-world perspective, and they do not know what we know about deities. Someone who worships Selune may know very little about Sehanine, and vice-versa. Then there are deities who are related to a given thing, but are also about other different concepts (Selune and Sehanine are still examples). That's why there are different ''pantheons''. Even Ed said that pantheons are ''a purely mortal frame of reference, or way of classifying and speaking of divine beings they can never wholly understand.''

quote:
And if the third is true, then the moon is just a theme or mascot, not a portfolio of responsibility and power; a "moon goddess" is just a goddess with certain trappings, like a Detroit Lion just has a lion on his helmet. (And that last, yes, I find ridiculous. I grant others might not, but I do.)


Eilistraee is an example of this. Her followers associate her with the moon, because she usually appears by night, when the drow do not suffer the daylight, uses moonlight based magic and so on. However, as created by Ed, she is not herself a goddess of the moon. I don't see why this is ridiculous.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 14 Sep 2015 03:52:57
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

738 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  04:41:07  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

After all, the ancient real world had clearly distinct and separate pantheons, which served them in terms of stories, morals and religious beliefs specific to their cultures.


Sure. And none of these deities actually existed, so there was no actual problem with everybody having their own, because deities that don't exist don't have any actual attributes, so whatever their supposed areas of authority, they cannot actually come into conflict over them. If none of the deities of FR have actual existence in the setting itself, then there similarly isn't any problem. But when you start dealing with beings that supposedly actually exist and supposedly exercise authority, you get to a basic conflict.

Are you sure they don't or didn't exist? I wasn't aware of any way to verify the existence of deities.

But whether or not you personally believe is actually irrelevant. Those people from those cultures believed in them. And they did have attributes and defining characteristics. And they did often clash with other faiths, in so far as the peoples with different faiths clashed (or merged).

I grant that the Realms deities are verifiable (to a point). They grant spells, they sometimes send omens, dreams, visions, and so on. But if you play them in the way that Ed Greenwood plays them, it's not always the case that the faithful have everything right about their deities. Sometimes a priest will formally ask a question, and the divine response is unclear or challenges what the priest believed - sometimes what the entire faithful flock believes.

In any case, we know that for the Realms, cultures that work together may have different deities for Love or War, and those different deities work together or just don't clash. Other times, the cultures clash and two War gods might fight each other until one is killed. My point it: it's not so black and white as you're suggesting, even when the gods in the Realms are objectively real (but only to a point, unless you hang out with them in person, which is rare most of the time unless you're epic like Elminster).

There's no real reason, really, why two or more gods couldn't have exactly the same domains (and there were rules for that, btw). It's just that in the Realms, the "rule" of AO is that you can't have two deities in the same pantheon with the same portfolio. Deities from different pantheons can absolutely have similar/identical portfolios - which leads to deities sometimes clashing or learning to work as allies.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer
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see
Learned Scribe

190 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  06:58:39  Show Profile Send see a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by see
or there can be a committee of multiple goddesses of the moon exercising collective authority over the one moon If the second is true, anyone who worships only one of them as "the" goddess of the moon is objectively wrong.


To me, this seems to be the case in FR


Well, sure, because it became the only coherent explanation available after TSR started willy-nilly dumping multiple moon goddesses into a setting where it was established that gods have real power over their portfolios.

But the problem is that, if this is the objective reality of the setting, where is the anybody who actually behaves as if this is the case? If you need the moon to do/not do something, it's downright silly not to pray to/placate all the very real deities with power over the one, very real moon.

Ignorance? It's established that it's in the interest of every god get you to pray to or placate them; it's silly for a god to simultaneously want worshipers and tolerate entire continents being ignorant of his existence and his power over a given aspect of reality. It only makes sense if there's something more powerful enforcing that ignorance, stopping the moon goddess of Zakhara from sending visions to potential clerics in Faerun and Kara-Tur and among the gnomes.

Which then brought us to the post-hoc folderol about Ao enforcing the existence of pantheons along artificial borders and between races, that being the only way to make the "pantheon" concept make any sense in a world where the gods are real, have actual power over their portfolios, and want mortal worship/service.

And the problem with that is not particularly that it was actually written down in explicit detail. The underlying problem is not actually fixed by saying "The gods are mysterious". The underlying problem is the existence of pantheons at all. TSR screwed up when they added them to FR.

quote:
quote:
And if the third is true, then the moon is just a theme or mascot, not a portfolio of responsibility and power; a "moon goddess" is just a goddess with certain trappings, like a Detroit Lion just has a lion on his helmet. (And that last, yes, I find ridiculous. I grant others might not, but I do.)


Eilistraee is an example of this. Her followers associate her with the moon, because she usually appears by night, when the drow do not suffer the daylight, uses moonlight based magic and so on. However, as created by Ed, she is not herself a goddess of the moon. I don't see why this is ridiculous.



I'll get to this in my response to Eltheron. But, fundamentally, I don't object to Eilistraee; I object to any resolution of the conflict among portfolios that make Eilistraee as much a moon goddess as any other goddess and more than most.
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see
Learned Scribe

190 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  07:30:38  Show Profile Send see a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

But whether or not you personally believe is actually irrelevant. Those people from those cultures believed in them. And they did have attributes and defining characteristics. And they did often clash with other faiths, in so far as the peoples with different faiths clashed (or merged).


I didn't write anything about the followers clashing, I wrote about the gods clashing. If Phoebus Apollo decided to have the Sun not shine at all starting ten minutes from now, while Ra decided to have it shine three-quarters as bright as normal, how bright would it be observed on Earth twenty minutes from now?

(I would suggest that the most obvious reason you didn't understand what I wrote about gods in rival pantheons clashing is because you know with such absolute assurance that they're fictional you couldn't even conceive of taking me literally. If you really thought the ancient pantheons were full of potentially real gods with real power over the real Sun, you wouldn't have automatically assumed that when I talked of gods clashing, I meant a conflict among humans.)

That's the problem with pantheons. You can have Aumanator be the actual god of the Realmspace sun, or you can have Horus-Re be the actual god of the sun, without much problem beyond one being a liar. But if they somehow both are, there's a real issue if they disagree about how hot the Realmspace sun should be.

Unless, of course, neither of them actually has any power over the sun, but both are just a couple really powerful superheroes with sun-themed powers. Then, sure, you can have as many superteams of them running around as you like without any problem, and the only reason you can't have two sun-themed superheroes in the Faerunian Avengers at the same time (while one in the Faerunian Avengers and one in the Mulhorandi Justice League is fine) is that there's someone enforcing a one-per-team limit. But such a trivialization of the term "god", I find ridiculous.
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

738 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  08:45:58  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

But whether or not you personally believe is actually irrelevant. Those people from those cultures believed in them. And they did have attributes and defining characteristics. And they did often clash with other faiths, in so far as the peoples with different faiths clashed (or merged).


I didn't write anything about the followers clashing, I wrote about the gods clashing. If Phoebus Apollo decided to have the Sun not shine at all starting ten minutes from now, while Ra decided to have it shine three-quarters as bright as normal, how bright would it be observed on Earth twenty minutes from now?

(I would suggest that the most obvious reason you didn't understand what I wrote about gods in rival pantheons clashing is because you know with such absolute assurance that they're fictional you couldn't even conceive of taking me literally. If you really thought the ancient pantheons were full of potentially real gods with real power over the real Sun, you wouldn't have automatically assumed that when I talked of gods clashing, I meant a conflict among humans.)

That's the problem with pantheons. You can have Aumanator be the actual god of the Realmspace sun, or you can have Horus-Re be the actual god of the sun, without much problem beyond one being a liar. But if they somehow both are, there's a real issue if they disagree about how hot the Realmspace sun should be.

Unless, of course, neither of them actually has any power over the sun, but both are just a couple really powerful superheroes with sun-themed powers. Then, sure, you can have as many superteams of them running around as you like without any problem, and the only reason you can't have two sun-themed superheroes in the Faerunian Avengers at the same time (while one in the Faerunian Avengers and one in the Mulhorandi Justice League is fine) is that there's someone enforcing a one-per-team limit. But such a trivialization of the term "god", I find ridiculous.


Well, I don't think you actually understood anything that I wrote, but that's ok.

I will say that you seem deeply committed to this idea that to be a god, one must absolutely control or have total power over what they're associated with.

That seems, to me, to be a rather monotheistic way of looking at things, when really here we are talking about polytheistic deities. Omnipotence, even over just one aspect of life or the universe, isn't something that always fits well with polytheistic deities

I also disagree with the notion that just because a god doesn't have total control over something doesn't make them just some kind of superhero or leveled-up epic mortal. In fact, most polytheistic gods weren't viewed as omnipotent, all controlling, over their associated phenomena. Yet they are still gods.

You're also tending to view the world as, well, a singular thing. For example, since a planet in your view is just a big orb, and there's only one sun, you can only have one "real" Earth deity and one "real" Sun deity. Limited thinking, IMO. If Re is angry and turns up the heat of the Sun in Mulhorand, it doesn't necessarily mean that the Sun heats up everywhere in a uniform fashion, or that Amaunator has to give Re the "keys" to the Sun.

Divinity is mysterious, and humans can't always know all the rules of the cosmos. Being focused on control of an absolute nature, you ignore the possibility that both Re and Amaunator are in charge of the Sun. Separate, not sharing, but both in charge.

Also, with polytheistic gods, control and "power over" isn't always the point. Can Aphrodite actually deny Love to someone? Can Odin deny someone Wisdom? Or is more of their nature to foster those things - perhaps favoring some mortals over others, but not actually "controlling" those things in the manner you suggest.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2722 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  12:33:50  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by see
or there can be a committee of multiple goddesses of the moon exercising collective authority over the one moon If the second is true, anyone who worships only one of them as "the" goddess of the moon is objectively wrong.


To me, this seems to be the case in FR


Well, sure, because it became the only coherent explanation available after TSR started willy-nilly dumping multiple moon goddesses into a setting where it was established that gods have real power over their portfolios.

But the problem is that, if this is the objective reality of the setting, where is the anybody who actually behaves as if this is the case? If you need the moon to do/not do something, it's downright silly not to pray to/placate all the very real deities with power over the one, very real moon.

Ignorance? It's established that it's in the interest of every god get you to pray to or placate them; it's silly for a god to simultaneously want worshipers and tolerate entire continents being ignorant of his existence and his power over a given aspect of reality. It only makes sense if there's something more powerful enforcing that ignorance, stopping the moon goddess of Zakhara from sending visions to potential clerics in Faerun and Kara-Tur and among the gnomes.

Which then brought us to the post-hoc folderol about Ao enforcing the existence of pantheons along artificial borders and between races, that being the only way to make the "pantheon" concept make any sense in a world where the gods are real, have actual power over their portfolios, and want mortal worship/service.

And the problem with that is not particularly that it was actually written down in explicit detail. The underlying problem is not actually fixed by saying "The gods are mysterious". The underlying problem is the existence of pantheons at all. TSR screwed up when they added them to FR.


I'll agree with Etheron. Being a deity of something means having real power over that, but that isn't the same as absolute, and doesn't prevent other entities from having influence over that. They could clash, or come to an agreement and cooperate.

Then, as I've already said, there's also the fact that many deities aren't just about a single aspect of reality. They embody multiple of such aspects, and are worshiped for those as well.

As for why -say- Sehanine wouldn't be worshipped, or have her priests ''spread her word'', among other races. Perhaps they do (and, while surely there are non elves who follow her, this doesn't automatically make it so that everyone, or even a considerable number of people, becomes aware of what she is about), but Sehanine is a goddess that reflects elven culture, other races have gods that are closer to their culture and to them. Because of that, because of their education/tradition and so on, I don't picture many of them having any pressing reason to include Sehanine in their prayers.

Pantheons are a concept made up by mortals because of this.

quote:
quote:



Eilistraee is an example of this. Her followers associate her with the moon, because she usually appears by night, when the drow do not suffer the daylight, uses moonlight based magic and so on. However, as created by Ed, she is not herself a goddess of the moon. I don't see why this is ridiculous.



I'll get to this in my response to Eltheron. But, fundamentally, I don't object to Eilistraee; I object to any resolution of the conflict among portfolios that make Eilistraee as much a moon goddess as any other goddess and more than most.



Technically, Eilistraee is related to moonlight, not the moon itself, but what I meant to say is that, due to her habits, her followers associate her with the moon. It basically is their doing, not Eilistraee's, and that could happen with other deities as well.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

738 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  18:47:10  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan


Then, as I've already said, there's also the fact that many deities aren't just about a single aspect of reality. They embody multiple of such aspects, and are worshiped for those as well.

Excellent point. Odin, for example, isn't just the god of Wisdom, but also Magic, writing (runes), mysteries, and a number of other things. He shares the Magic "portfolio" with the goddess Freya (in his own pantheon!). And yeah, sometimes they get into a little god-god conflict over it, which actually makes them more interesting IMO.

Athena, for the Romans, was prayed to for a huge number of different things, not just Wisdom.

Unlike monotheists, you just don't see polytheistic pantheons with the "omnipotent" label, or even the "omnipotent for my demesne" label either - partly because other gods (sometimes in their own pantheon) shared 'rulership' over that phenomena, and partly because (for the Norse, at least), primordial-like Jotnar (giants, of a sort) also held a great deal of power over various phenomena.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer

Edited by - Eltheron on 14 Sep 2015 18:49:02
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Korginard
Learned Scribe

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  19:10:09  Show Profile  Visit Korginard's Homepage Send Korginard a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First to answer to poll question, Yes to Mulhorand and no to Unther. I like the way the loss of Unther's Pantheon was handled. Most were killed long ago during the Orc Gate Wars for example, that left Gilgamesh. The idea that Gilgamesh was so harsh that the people were starting to look to Tiamat for salvation.. I like how twisted that is!
As for the rest, it's a bit complicated, and I like it that way :)
You have numerous pantheons serving different cultures. In most cases there is no overlap. Selune is the Human Goddess of the Moon, Sehanine is the Elven goddess of the moon. Both are legitimate and both are the "true" goddess for their specific culture.
The complicated part comes when a god from one culture wants to expand their influence into another culture. It seems to me that they can't just hop over a border on a map and start gathering worshipers. Thoth can't appear in Waterdeep and demand that everyone drop Mystra and follow him. Well just call it "Rude" and accept that it doesn't work that way. A few folks may choose to switch, but the majority won't and Mystra won't be amused with Thoth's rude behavior. That sort of thing just isn't done.
Now, it CAN be done, the god just has to be clever about it. In the case of Sharess, Bast wasn't really trying to intrude into the other culture, her transition was subtle and the new Divine persona of Sharess appeared and spread outside of her own culture. Tiamat is not being as subtle, but her attempts to infiltrate the Cult of the Dragon have won her influence beyond Unther. Set to me is the prime example of a god who's doing it brilliantly. He's convinced a group of Yuan-Ti to betray their own god and worship him instead. Not only does this expand his influence among Yuan-Ti, but also opens the door to spreading Yuan-Ti controlled snake cults in humans.
I like this kind of intrigue with the Pantheons. Of course I also didn't mind the Time of Troubles shake ups as much as some people did. To each thier own :)
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3507 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2015 :  19:41:29  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The way I see it is that tens of thousands of years ago the elves had different pantheons, and the dwarves, and the gnomes. These pantheons were split along geographic lines and were different between the various kingdoms and continents, etc.

Even the Sarrukh had different gods in the different areas (look at the writeup on Isstossessifil and Okoth.

Eventually over time, the movement of people and various wars and trade etc unified the various gods into a single pantheon (except for the sarrukh, their empires were short lived and separated by large distances and ended before they ever unified). The unification of the elves probably followed the Crown Wars when various regions became contested as the Ilythiiri and Arvandaar empires invaded other regions.

So what we are witnessing with the fall of the Untheric pantheon is the last remaining geographic pantheon for the humans, the Mulhorandi (and its really small). As it stands the Mulhorandi pantheon has absolutely no chance of surviving the next few centuries. It's empires are dwindling and decadent and are constantly being invaded by trade and migration from the Faerunian pantheon. Thay has already fallen to the Faerunian pantheon and Chessenta is contested.

Once the Mulhorandi pantheon fails we have a racial pantheon for humans on Toril.

Now I dislike unifying concepts so I reinvigorated the Mulhorandi pantheon by merging the dying remnants of the Untheric pantheon with it, using the invasion of Unther by Mulhorand as a starting point. With the larger Mulhorantheric pantheon now representing the people of Mulhorand and Unther it is better able to resist the depredations of the Faerunian pantheon. It makes them more able to contest Chessenta and even begin to contest Thay (Thay only hated the Mulhorandi gods, not Untheric).





As for expanding into contested regions. For my own take on it, gods do nothing as always. Thoth doesn't hop over to Waterdeep and contest the region. It is the worshippers that cause the contestation.

If a region contains only worshippers of a certain pantheon then that region is part of that pantheon. If a region contains worshippers that venerate deities in multiple pantheons then that region is contested, but the numbers are important.

Take Chessenta for instance. Chessenta is a contested region because people worship Tempus and Anhur/Ramman, thus the two war gods are contesting the portfolio of war (and Anhur is also contesting a number of other portfolios like lightning, etc). Mystra will be contesting portfolios of magic with Isis/Ishtar.

Whereas in Thay the region is not believed to be contested because religion is discriminated against and the worship of Mulhorandi gods is practically outlawed (however I reckon the majority of common Mulan and Rashemi actually secretly worship Mulhorandi and Untheric gods in a pidgin fashion making the region secretly contested).

While there is no clear majority of worshippers from one pantheon (say 80%) in a region that means that by default any acts by mortals represented by a particular portfolio do not automatically go to the god of that portfolio. Instead the worship energy from those acts go to whichever god or pantheon the particular individual performing the act venerates (most people do not worship a single god and only pay lip service to a pantheon). Thus it is in a deity/church interest to try and expand and out compete rivals in contested regions because it means all acts send energy to their deity by default if they have the majority worship.

So the Church of Thoth sends some worshippers to Waterdeep and it has absolutely no effect. Mulhorand gets wiped out by a catastrophe and tens of thousands of Mulan migrate to Waterdeep and you suddenly have a contested region and Mystra's church will begin aggressive conversions quite quickly.

Or at least that's how I play it. No god nonsense, just plain old demographics and common sense (applied to imaginary and meta physical concepts).

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
5987 Posts

Posted - 15 Sep 2015 :  02:13:46  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

After all, the ancient real world had clearly distinct and separate pantheons, which served them in terms of stories, morals and religious beliefs specific to their cultures.


Sure. And none of these deities actually existed, so there was no actual problem with everybody having their own, because deities that don't exist don't have any actual attributes, so whatever their supposed areas of authority, they cannot actually come into conflict over them. If none of the deities of FR have actual existence in the setting itself, then there similarly isn't any problem. But when you start dealing with beings that supposedly actually exist and supposedly exercise authority, you get to a basic conflict.

There cannot be a different "President of the United States" for each cultural group on Earth. There can be a different president for each country, and there can be cases like the Swiss that have a plural executive, and such - but there's only one President of the United States able to discharge the power and authority of that particular office, and anyone who believes there's a President of the United States other than Barack Obama is objectively wrong. There are also five members of the Swiss council, and the membership of that council does not differ depending on your culture or politics or belief or what nation you're standing in, and anyone who believes in only one of the five is also wrong.

Similarly, there can be one Goddess of the Moon with actual power over the one moon, or there can be a committee of multiple goddesses of the moon exercising collective authority over the one moon, or there can be no goddesses with actual power over the one moon. If the first is true, there's only that one, and anyone who believes another is the goddess of the moon is objectively wrong. If the second is true, anyone who worships only one of them as "the" goddess of the moon is objectively wrong. And if the third is true, then the moon is just a theme or mascot, not a portfolio of responsibility and power; a "moon goddess" is just a goddess with certain trappings, like a Detroit Lion just has a lion on his helmet. (And that last, yes, I find ridiculous. I grant others might not, but I do.)

By race or geography can make sense in some cases; you can have a "goddess of human love in Faerun", if you like. But then she's still the "goddess of human love in Faerun" no matter what race you are or what location you're in. A hengeyokai in Kara-Tur might not pay much attention to her, but it would be for the same reason people in Anauroch don't pay much attention to Umberlee; it's not a "pantheon" thing, it's that her power deals only with things far away. If she really was "the goddess of all love everywhere", and a hengeyokai in Kara-Tur ignores her because she's a "human Faerunian goddess", he's an idiot. And if she's only the "goddess of human love in Faerun", and someone worships her as "the goddess of all love everywhere", he's also an idiot.




I was with you until you went to the love part. You are absolutely true on the part where there can only be one moon goddess if there is one moon. There can only be one sun god if there's one sun (now there can be gods of things that are aspects of the sun, like a god of light, or a god of the rebirth that dawn represents, etc....). However, when it comes to things like love, war, fire, etc.... within a pantheon.... I don't see a problem with multiple gods having a hand in that pie, because I don't see the gods as CONTROLLING their portfolios so much as having "a lot of power and influence" within their portfolio.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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see
Learned Scribe

190 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  00:36:33  Show Profile Send see a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

You're also tending to view the world as, well, a singular thing. For example, since a planet in your view is just a big orb, and there's only one sun, you can only have one "real" Earth deity and one "real" Sun deity.


Well, yes. Because, in the Realms, it is long-established canon that Toril is a sphere of a specific diameter in space, and that the sun and the moon are actual, singular, discrete objects in space. You can even go and travel from Toril to them with a spelljammer.

So, if you're actually standing on Toril's moon, and there's a big moonquake, which goddess is the one making things shake, and so is whom you should pray spares your life?

One specific goddess is in control of the moon? Then that's the moon goddess, and all the others are fakes.

Many in a committee? Then you should pray to the whole committee. (Certainly, if you're a lizardman from Greyspace, it's not like you've got a designated representative on the committee.)

Differing based on culture/race? Excuse me, how exactly does that work? A human from Mulhorand should be able to walk along unshaken while a human from Waterdeep is knocked off his feet?

The quake just happened on its own, and it doesn't matter which you pray to as long as you pray to one that has the power to save you? Then any wizard with an appropriate spell of adequate power has a claim to godhood.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2722 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  00:51:32  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see
Many in a committee? Then you should pray to the whole committee. (Certainly, if you're a lizardman from Greyspace, it's not like you've got a designated representative on the committee.)


If people are familiar with all of the goddesses of the committee, then yes, they would probably pray to them all. Or they might just pray to the one who is the culturally closest to them (but I think that if lives were at stake, people would pray to every god they ever heard about ). ''Racial'' or ''regional'' deities could be part of the committee, and receive prayers mainly (but not exclusively) by the members of their race/area.

quote:
The quake just happened on its own, and it doesn't matter which you pray to as long as you pray to one that has the power to save you? Then any wizard with an appropriate spell of adequate power has a claim to godhood.



Mortals have ascended to godhood in FR, it's not something new. If you meant that every wizard with enough power could become a god: divinity is not just a matter of power, god(desse)s embody multiple concepts, they are worshiped and seen as such. But if you count Ao in, a wizard with enough followers could claim a divine portfolio, if Ao sanctioned that.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 16 Sep 2015 00:53:04
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

738 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  01:01:31  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by see

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

You're also tending to view the world as, well, a singular thing. For example, since a planet in your view is just a big orb, and there's only one sun, you can only have one "real" Earth deity and one "real" Sun deity.


Well, yes. Because, in the Realms, it is long-established canon that Toril is a sphere of a specific diameter in space, and that the sun and the moon are actual, singular, discrete objects in space. You can even go and travel from Toril to them with a spelljammer.

So, if you're actually standing on Toril's moon, and there's a big moonquake, which goddess is the one making things shake, and so is whom you should pray spares your life?

One specific goddess is in control of the moon? Then that's the moon goddess, and all the others are fakes.

Many in a committee? Then you should pray to the whole committee. (Certainly, if you're a lizardman from Greyspace, it's not like you've got a designated representative on the committee.)

Differing based on culture/race? Excuse me, how exactly does that work? A human from Mulhorand should be able to walk along unshaken while a human from Waterdeep is knocked off his feet?

The quake just happened on its own, and it doesn't matter which you pray to as long as you pray to one that has the power to save you? Then any wizard with an appropriate spell of adequate power has a claim to godhood.


Problem: name one instance where Selūne -literally- controlled the moon in the fashion you're suggesting. Selūne is the goddess of the moon, but AFAIK she has never controlled the moon (and to do what, exactly?).

Selūne is the goddess of the stars, but does she control stars?

Mortals associate Selūne with a lot of different things, partly based on her interest in being a creator-goddess, but that doesn't mean she outright controls them.

I think you're taking the "god of" or "goddess of" way, way too literally and assuming control where there's really just an association of power.

Again, it seems that a lot of this assumption of control derives from a monotheistic perspective - for example, many Christian writers (in a much later period) attributed control aspects to various pagan deities. But many ancient pagan goddesses, while being associated with the moon, didn't actually control the moon in that way.

Many goddesses of the moon, for instance, are associated with lunar cycles because, well, women tended to ovulate in patterns that were similar. Women's mysteries associated with this eventually broadened to "blood moons" and eclipses, among other things. Creation, and creativity in general, is associated with birth. In that way, it may have been believed that a lunar goddess aided in conception, etc.

A great deal of these associations didn't necessarily imply a clear idea that a god or goddess had control. Influence, yes. Power associated with a given phenomena, yes.

Again, I'm not saying you're wrong for playing your own games' gods and goddesses in the manner you want. Not at all. If you want to view gods that way, that's your right and you should. It's your game, after all. But it does seem a rather limited perspective and not quite in line with the way many polytheistic gods were actually worshiped, or the beliefs about them.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2722 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  01:18:24  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron
But many ancient pagan goddesses, while being associated with the moon, didn't actually control the moon in that way.

Many goddesses of the moon, for instance, are associated with lunar cycles because, well, women tended to ovulate in patterns that were similar. Women's mysteries associated with this eventually broadened to "blood moons" and eclipses, among other things. Creation, and creativity in general, is associated with birth. In that way, it may have been believed that a lunar goddess aided in conception, etc.




Yes, there's this too. For example, Greek Mythology has a goddess for each phase of the moon: Artemis, Selene, Hecate. Each is associated with other concepts beside the moon: hunt, wilderness, childbirt for Artemis; motherhood and fertility for Selene; magic and necromancy for Hecate.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 16 Sep 2015 01:18:37
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  18:39:44  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
see -

I agree with what you're saying as a premise, though I think you're understanding of how the deities in the Realms work is incorrect.

As far as I am aware, the only deity that is directly linked (as in the deity IS this thing) with their portfolio is Mystra. Even in this case, she is only linked with the Weave aspect of her portfolio. Non-Weave magic continues to function normally in her absence.

If Selune were to die, for example, the Moon would not suddenly cease to exist. If Chauntea were to die, things would continue to grow, and the land and farmers would continue to exist.

The only situation in which I can think that is in anyway comparable is the death of Bhaal during the Time of Troubles which coincided with the death of all assassins. However, this was because Myrkul used a ritual that sacrificed all the assassins--murder and death continued to happen in Bhaal's absence.

There was also some tomfoolery that happened during the whole Cyric to Kelemvor transition with the souls of the dead... but that was an administrative problem.

In short, when you say, "...if the third is true, then the moon is just a theme or mascot, not a portfolio of responsibility and power; a "moon goddess" is just a goddess with certain trappings, like a Detroit Lion just has a lion on his helmet." This is more or less the truth in the Realms.

However, I think it ignores a fundamental aspect of how things work, and one of the reasons deities need worshipers. Now, I don't think this is stated explicitly in canon, though I think there are lots of things that hint at it being true, but basically the deities of the Realms operate off of Planescape rules. In other words, what mortals believe to be true is important. What this means is that you have two deities: Horus-Re and Amaunator. Both lay claim to the Sun as their portfolio. Therefore, both are in contention for power over the Sun. They both have varying degrees of control over the Sun, but they are not -THE SUN- itself (in the same way Mystra is -THE WEAVE- itself). Their share of power and control over this element of their portfolio grows in direct proportion to how many beings in the Realms BELIEVE that they are -THE GOD- of the Sun.

This is the reason when pantheons of deities start to have overlapping worshipers there is a conflict. There can only be one deity above the level of demigod with the same portfolio. What this essentially means is that over time, as globalization in the Realms continues to occur, there is going to be a single unified pantheon that encompasses the entire Realms, and those deities above the rank of demigod will exercise complete control over the things in their portfolios.

In other words, Selune and Sehanine cannot co-exist so long as both are goddesses of the Moon. So long as they remain in separate pantheons, they are fine, but as Elves merge into human society or humans into Elven society and the cultures co-mingle conflict is inevitable. One of them has to die off, they have to merge together, or there has to be some other event that somehow throws things in the favor of one goddess over another.

This is where heresies among mortals come into play, and one of the reasons deities promote them. It's my belief--and this is speculation on my part, but it is how I play it in my Realms--is that the deities are in many ways bound to mortal beliefs. They are not fully independent beings. This is one of the reasons powerful fiends have historically rejected ascension to divinity. The moment you become a deity you are in some ways a slave to mortal beliefs. If mortals begin to see you differently, you will literally begin to change to reflect that belief. Thus, if Tempus begins to be seen not only as the deity of war but a deity of plunder and pillaging, and believers begin to see him accordingly his personality will change to reflect that reality. Similarly, if believers begin to believe something happened in the past of a deity that didn't actually happen, the deity will start to believe that it did happen and that it is true. A deity, therefore, is a reflection of mortal belief. They are shaped, re-shaped, and destroyed by it.

All of this gives the deities an impetus to really care about their worshipers and what is going on in the mortal world. It gives them the desire to manipulate events to unfold in ways that are favorable to them, and that will further their own goals and agenda... this allows them to exercise some degree of control over their own identity and sense of self, rather than leaving it to the fate of other deities (both rivals and allies) and ignorant mortals.

Deities have phenomenal cosmic powers, but it all comes at a heavy price--the reliance on the belief of mortals.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2722 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  19:08:42  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

In other words, Selune and Sehanine cannot co-exist so long as both are goddesses of the Moon. So long as they remain in separate pantheons, they are fine, but as Elves merge into human society or humans into Elven society and the cultures co-mingle conflict is inevitable. One of them has to die off, they have to merge together, or there has to be some other event that somehow throws things in the favor of one goddess over another.




If Faerun came to have only one giant, mixed culture, people could start believing that both goddesses have influence over the moon, or the goddesses themselves could come to an agreement and let their priest(esse)s ''know'' that they are allied and share influence over the moon (if they knew that one of them were to die, I guess that, being both goddesses of good and allied, they would prefer that to the risk of dying, or even to see the other one die). They would form, as See puts it, a committee. Or the spheres of influence that they don't share (dreams, mysticism) could play a greater role in how mortals see them: this would basically mean that one of them would basically be only seen as associated to the moon, but wouldn't be technically holding the portfolio. There are various possibilities that could lead to both goddesses co-existing within the same pantheon.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 16 Sep 2015 19:10:29
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  20:29:27  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

In other words, Selune and Sehanine cannot co-exist so long as both are goddesses of the Moon. So long as they remain in separate pantheons, they are fine, but as Elves merge into human society or humans into Elven society and the cultures co-mingle conflict is inevitable. One of them has to die off, they have to merge together, or there has to be some other event that somehow throws things in the favor of one goddess over another.




If Faerun came to have only one giant, mixed culture, people could start believing that both goddesses have influence over the moon, or the goddesses themselves could come to an agreement and let their priest(esse)s ''know'' that they are allied and share influence over the moon (if they knew that one of them were to die, I guess that, being both goddesses of good and allied, they would prefer that to the risk of dying, or even to see the other one die). They would form, as See puts it, a committee. Or the spheres of influence that they don't share (dreams, mysticism) could play a greater role in how mortals see them: this would basically mean that one of them would basically be only seen as associated to the moon, but wouldn't be technically holding the portfolio. There are various possibilities that could lead to both goddesses co-existing within the same pantheon.


Yes, one of them could lose the portfolio associated with the conflict. However, a committee is not possible unless the portfolio is divided up (i.e. Goddess of the Blood Moon, Goddess of the Full Moon, etc.). This is because it is explicitly stated that no deity above demigod may hold the same portfolio.

We know that a type of globalized culture could happen that would result in a single world spanning pantheon, as this is how the Faerunian Pantheon formed. It formed out of various human cultural pantheons. As their people migrated across Faerun, they brought their deities with them, and thus we ended up with a single pantheon over all of Faerun--with little pockets where demihuman deities still hold some sway.

This happened in the real world as well. As different cultures intermingled, various deities lost prominence, and new deities representing unified aspects of other deities rose to prominence in their place. Entirely new deities also appeared and rose to cultural significance. Polytheistic religion is not static and not as rigid as monotheistic religion, which tends to lean more toward exclusive rather than inclusive religious beliefs. After all, if you've got one god who rules over everything, you by definition have to find a way to explain away the deity of wine and grapes. Either your one god doesn't have power over wine and grapes, the deity of wine and grapes is not really a deity (and thus is demoted to an angel, demon, or some other similar figure), or that deity is false and an enemy of the religion. However, if you worship a deity of the sun, who claims no sway over wine and grapes, the wine and grapes deity is not a threat to you or your religious beliefs, and in fact you could even worship him as well where relevant. It is a completely different mindset. However, you are still faced with the problem: what happens if you worship a deity of wine and grapes, and there is another deity of wine and grapes from another culture?

The usual answer to that in the real world was to find a way to blend them together. (See: Interpretatio graeca.) In the Realms there is the added complication that the deities are real beings, who actually have a will and desire of their own. This is where the interesting conflict and problems arise, and the deities have to figure out how to handle it.
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

738 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  22:21:51  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

The usual answer to that in the real world was to find a way to blend them together. (See: Interpretatio graeca.) In the Realms there is the added complication that the deities are real beings, who actually have a will and desire of their own. This is where the interesting conflict and problems arise, and the deities have to figure out how to handle it.


I agree with what you're saying here, conceptually, about the real world, but only up to a point.

While the interpretatio graeca and interpretatio romana were indeed popular methods back in ancient times, and even into modernity for many people, their core problem is that they invariably result in a loss of depth and meaning.

Many Greek and Roman translations of various texts, as we know now, are remarkably simplistic and can not only be imprecise but actually modify the original intended meaning of words. The result looks "pretty" in terms of the person making the translation, but doesn't work well in terms of reverse translation when someone from a culture who has been translated steps up to point out the inaccuracy and sometimes radical mistranslation.

This becomes much worse when the translation/synchrony happens with deities. One immediately loses much of the depth, the detail, often even the purpose, of a deity when trying to find synchrony. Germanic scholars in particular point out how the interpretatio germanica resulted in truly terrible understanding of the original Germanic deities. And it's made things very difficult for later scholars who are more dedicated to scientifically reconstructing an accurate picture of ancient polytheistic deities.

Polytheistic deities aren't just representative of things or phenomena. They are beings, often fleshed out in very anthropomorphic ways, with deep stories about their intents, purposes, and actions. Odin and Athena are both associated with Wisdom, but they're far more than that. By the objectives of synchronous analysis, does this mean Odin should be viewed as female, or Athena as male? Or does Odin "relate" better to Zeus simply because he's male and (sort of) a father deity? Which is the most important quality or characteristic of the god? What do you decide to throw away or ignore just so you can obtain synchrony? It's a rather juvenile and error-prone methodology.

Imagine if you did the same with historical figures. Alexander, Solomon, and Napoleon were all Emperors. You can say they were all "the same" if that one characteristic is all that you care about. But you lose their personalities, their individual histories, their relationships, even their goals and purposes as understood by the source culture, and perhaps much more.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  23:13:02  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

The usual answer to that in the real world was to find a way to blend them together. (See: Interpretatio graeca.) In the Realms there is the added complication that the deities are real beings, who actually have a will and desire of their own. This is where the interesting conflict and problems arise, and the deities have to figure out how to handle it.


I agree with what you're saying here, conceptually, about the real world, but only up to a point.

While the interpretatio graeca and interpretatio romana were indeed popular methods back in ancient times, and even into modernity for many people, their core problem is that they invariably result in a loss of depth and meaning.

Many Greek and Roman translations of various texts, as we know now, are remarkably simplistic and can not only be imprecise but actually modify the original intended meaning of words. The result looks "pretty" in terms of the person making the translation, but doesn't work well in terms of reverse translation when someone from a culture who has been translated steps up to point out the inaccuracy and sometimes radical mistranslation.

This becomes much worse when the translation/synchrony happens with deities. One immediately loses much of the depth, the detail, often even the purpose, of a deity when trying to find synchrony. Germanic scholars in particular point out how the interpretatio germanica resulted in truly terrible understanding of the original Germanic deities. And it's made things very difficult for later scholars who are more dedicated to scientifically reconstructing an accurate picture of ancient polytheistic deities.

Polytheistic deities aren't just representative of things or phenomena. They are beings, often fleshed out in very anthropomorphic ways, with deep stories about their intents, purposes, and actions. Odin and Athena are both associated with Wisdom, but they're far more than that. By the objectives of synchronous analysis, does this mean Odin should be viewed as female, or Athena as male? Or does Odin "relate" better to Zeus simply because he's male and (sort of) a father deity? Which is the most important quality or characteristic of the god? What do you decide to throw away or ignore just so you can obtain synchrony? It's a rather juvenile and error-prone methodology.

Imagine if you did the same with historical figures. Alexander, Solomon, and Napoleon were all Emperors. You can say they were all "the same" if that one characteristic is all that you care about. But you lose their personalities, their individual histories, their relationships, even their goals and purposes as understood by the source culture, and perhaps much more.


I don't disagree with anything you wrote here. However, it is important to relate this back to the Realms... where the exact thing you've outlined happens when deities are merged together--which is why deities would frequently and often resist it. It is also another reason deities would be brought into conflict when they have overlapping portfolios as it would be the natural inclination of mortals to try and "explain" the very problem See outlines.

If an Elven priest of Sehanine and a Human priest of Selune sit down from across the table to discuss their respective deities, how do they justify the fact that both of their deities seem to be goddesses of the moon... but there is only one moon? This is a theological conflict that needs to be solved for them, and the answer they come up with will have an impact on the perceptions of the mortal faithful as well as the deities themselves.

So, you could end up with a situation where Selune is regarded as the moon, and viewed as a matronly mother and guardian of the night. Meanwhile Sehanine is viewed as the glow of the moon, the youthful daughter of Selune. Selune represents wisdom and motherhood. Sehanine represents visions and (good) dreams, and she sends omens and other signs from Selune--being her mother's voice and messenger.

Obviously, this distorts both goddesses. It completely alters them in fact, but if they are to co-exist in the same pantheon then they must be altered. How does Sehanine keep her portfolio over death and not be challenged by Kelemvor?

Over time, can Sehanine maintain her independence, or will she ultimately be fully absorbed or eclipsed by Selune (no pun intended)? It is difficult to say, but this is what happens when pantheons merge together. You have to find a way to explain certain situations and answer theological questions, or simply engage in all out war between the faiths where each side views the other as heretics.
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Eltheron
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738 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2015 :  23:37:46  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

I don't disagree with anything you wrote here. However, it is important to relate this back to the Realms... where the exact thing you've outlined happens when deities are merged together--which is why deities would frequently and often resist it. It is also another reason deities would be brought into conflict when they have overlapping portfolios as it would be the natural inclination of mortals to try and "explain" the very problem See outlines.

This may be a quibble, but to my memory I don't recall actually seeing two deities actually merge. I mean, several mortals have suggested it for really old deities (such as Tempus, who apparently killed quite a few war deities), but is this actually true? The respective cultures of those dead gods are also gone, aren't they? So how do we really know if this "merging" is the truth for the Realms or just speculation?

After all, the OGB says that new minor deities rise and fall with regularity, but couldn't it be the case that no merging has ever taken place at all, ever? Once one becomes a deity, it's theoretically possible for that deity to survive as a vestige or even be brought back from death if their worship somehow is brought back. So I'm not fully buying the "gods have merged" idea.

quote:
If an Elven priest of Sehanine and a Human priest of Selune sit down from across the table to discuss their respective deities, how do they justify the fact that both of their deities seem to be goddesses of the moon... but there is only one moon? This is a theological conflict that needs to be solved for them, and the answer they come up with will have an impact on the perceptions of the mortal faithful as well as the deities themselves.

I don't know that we've ever seen any kind of "conflict" like this. If the two deities are good aligned, they're more likely to eventually integrate and work with each other, where one takes on some aspect of the moon (or other phenomena) while the other takes on a different aspect of the moon.

quote:
So, you could end up with a situation where Selune is regarded as the moon, and viewed as a matronly mother and guardian of the night. Meanwhile Sehanine is viewed as the glow of the moon, the youthful daughter of Selune. Selune represents wisdom and motherhood. Sehanine represents visions and (good) dreams, and she sends omens and other signs from Selune--being her mother's voice and messenger.

Obviously, this distorts both goddesses. It completely alters them in fact, but if they are to co-exist in the same pantheon then they must be altered. How does Sehanine keep her portfolio over death and not be challenged by Kelemvor?

Over time, can Sehanine maintain her independence, or will she ultimately be fully absorbed or eclipsed by Selune (no pun intended)? It is difficult to say, but this is what happens when pantheons merge together. You have to find a way to explain certain situations and answer theological questions, or simply engage in all out war between the faiths where each side views the other as heretics.


Sure, that's all possible of course, but other than the grabby-hands portfolio contest between Bane and Cyric (in which the older deity won), we haven't seen much in the way of contested portfolios for the gods. The Realms gods also don't seem to be entirely molded or shaped by human belief, because it has been shown that the gods can be killed and have their power taken without requiring a merge with the portfolio (e.g. Finder).

I just don't believe that it's quite so simple on a "control over X" type of level, even for the Realms. I don't think we know all the "rules" yet. To put things in a more concrete way, I don't think that when one god kills another that the winner is required to "merge" in any way. They might decide to take on certain aspects of the dead deity, or reject them, as has been seen. Winning a prior god's power doesn't always mean they must merge, or even take the dead god's portfolio. So in the Realms, it seems more complex than just a required merge after cultures or their deities clash. If it was just a matter of the gods being shaped by mortal belief, and their power solely relying on worship, then I'd agree, but neither seems to fully be the case.

The real interesting thing, which I suspect WotC won't address, is if all the gods return - including Myrkul. That, I think, would set up a clear contest for not just power but also portfolios, for several Realms gods.


"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer

Edited by - Eltheron on 16 Sep 2015 23:46:05
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Irennan
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Posted - 17 Sep 2015 :  00:41:28  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron


quote:
If an Elven priest of Sehanine and a Human priest of Selune sit down from across the table to discuss their respective deities, how do they justify the fact that both of their deities seem to be goddesses of the moon... but there is only one moon? This is a theological conflict that needs to be solved for them, and the answer they come up with will have an impact on the perceptions of the mortal faithful as well as the deities themselves.


I don't know that we've ever seen any kind of "conflict" like this. If the two deities are good aligned, they're more likely to eventually integrate and work with each other, where one takes on some aspect of the moon (or other phenomena) while the other takes on a different aspect of the moon.


This seems to be likely to me as well. Gods are surely influenced by mortals (to a degree: as already pointed out, they have their own independence/identity) but, as already said, they too shape mortals' belief. Goddesses of good (and allied at that, like Selune and Sehanine) are likely to find a compromise. They could split their portfolio (or ''share it'', if Ao's decree is no longer valid after the Sundering. It may very well be the case, as he rewrote the tablets), and influence their worshipers by letting their priests know that they are both related to the moon. They don't have to be distorted to coexist: IMO mortals could even not be aware that the portfolio has been ''splitted'', the goddesses could willingly omit said information (if they don't want their image to be changed) and only say that they share their influence over the moon-- i.e. they form a committee (there's also no need to tie Sehanine's influence over dreams/mysticism to Selune). Same goes for Sehanine/Kelemvor (she could retain her influence over the souls of the elven dead).

IMO the various conflicts or merging can be avoided. Gods can influence their followers to keep their identity, and are likely to cooperate if they are not all over power and portfolios-grabbing.

quote:
Polytheistic deities aren't just representative of things or phenomena. They are beings, often fleshed out in very anthropomorphic ways, with deep stories about their intents, purposes, and actions. Odin and Athena are both associated with Wisdom, but they're far more than that. By the objectives of synchronous analysis, does this mean Odin should be viewed as female, or Athena as male? Or does Odin "relate" better to Zeus simply because he's male and (sort of) a father deity? Which is the most important quality or characteristic of the god? What do you decide to throw away or ignore just so you can obtain synchrony? It's a rather juvenile and error-prone methodology.

Imagine if you did the same with historical figures. Alexander, Solomon, and Napoleon were all Emperors. You can say they were all "the same" if that one characteristic is all that you care about. But you lose their personalities, their individual histories, their relationships, even their goals and purposes as understood by the source culture, and perhaps much more.


This is pretty much why I am interested in FR gods: they have their own history, goals and personality. All of that is lost with this ''aspect'' or ''merging'' thing.

quote:
The real interesting thing, which I suspect WotC won't address, is if all the gods return - including Myrkul. That, I think, would set up a clear contest for not just power but also portfolios, for several Realms gods.


They've already done that, kind of: Myrkul (who has returned, or so it seems, if we look at the 5e PHB) is the god of death, Kelemvor of the dead.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 17 Sep 2015 00:43:02
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Aldrick
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Posted - 17 Sep 2015 :  01:20:21  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

Quibble, but to my memory I don't recall actually seeing two deities actually merge. I mean, several mortals have suggested it for really old deities (such as Tempus, who apparently killed quite a few war deities), but is this actually true? The respective cultures of those dead gods are also gone, aren't they? So how do we really know if this "merging" is the truth for the Realms or just speculation?

After all, the OGB says that new minor deities rise and fall with regularity, but couldn't it be the case that no merging has ever taken place at all, ever? Once one becomes a deity, it's theoretically possible for that deity to survive as a vestige or even be brought back from death if their worship somehow is brought back. So I'm not fully buying the "gods have merged" idea.


I think a prime example of a merger that is very relevant to this thread would be Horus and Re. Horus used to be the son of Re, who was mortally wounded in the Orcgate Wars. However, before he died he merged with his son. Horus then became Horus-Re, and this not only merged their portfolios, but it also altered Horus personality to be more like his father's.

You are correct that there aren't many explicit examples like that of Horus-Re, and there are more hints of it happening in the lore. You mentioned Tempus, and I would also draw your attention to Talos as another potential example.

We also have explicit examples of deities being divided--one deity becoming two. The obvious example here is Tyche becoming Tymora and Beshaba. If a single deity can be divided, then there is no reason to believe that two deities cannot be combined.

However, in the end it doesn't really matter whether mergers happen or not. Assuming it were impossible, it just increases the stakes of a potential conflict. It means that deities are more likely to be drawn into all out win or die scenarios. Having mergers around is preferable, even if it is a rarely used option, because it is at least another option on the table that does not lead to total war.

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

I don't know that we've ever seen any kind of "conflict" like this. If the two deities are good aligned, they're more likely to eventually integrate and work with each other, where one takes on some aspect of the moon (or other phenomena) while the other takes on a different aspect of the moon.


I think that is a possibility, and I outlined a situation where that happened. However, I don't know why you automatically assume that good aligned deities are more likely to negotiate and work together. It is completely possible that two good aligned deities, especially a chaotic one, would have different goals and motivations that work at cross purposes with another good aligned deity. These cross purposes could put them at odds and draw them into conflict, or at the very least prevent them from working together.

I also think it is important to remember that the real conflict isn't between the deities themselves, but between mortals. So, you not only have the agenda of the deities to contend with, but you also have the agenda of the institutions to which the mortal clergy belong, as well as the individual agendas of the clergy themselves.

I'm not saying they wouldn't work together, but any sort of working together is going to require compromise on both their parts. It's quite possible that compromise won't be possible, as well as the fact that the desire compromise of the goddesses will not appeal to mortals who may go off in a totally different direction.

Even the best scenario that can be imagined runs the potential for heresies and schisms among the mortal faithful. Especially if the changes and compromises are drastic. For example, it is unlikely that Kelemvor would give up the portfolio of death for Sehanine. It is also unlikely that Selune would give up the portfolio of the Moon for Sehanine. This means the most drastic changes will be happening on the part of Sehanine--she will have to give up the portfolios of death and the moon--altering them in a more limiting way. Then she would have to hope that those limits are not challenged by Selune or Kelemvor. (In the same way Talos attempted to become the deity of Wild Magic, but was challenged on that by Mystra.)

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

I just don't believe that it's quite so simple on a "control over X" type of level, even for the Realms. I don't think we know all the "rules" yet.


This is certainly true. The degree to which belief controls the deities is speculation on my part. However, I believe there are some good examples of it in canon, and Power of Faerun gives us the most explicit nod in that direction. Lathander seems to be a larger nod in that direction, as we know from a canonical perspective--unless there has been a retcon--that it isn't possible for him to have been Amaunator. However, you are quite right about the "rules" being somewhat mysterious (and even at times contradictory in canon examples).

The only real thing we can say with any absolute authority is that no deities higher than the rank of demigod can hold the same portfolio in the same pantheon. That has been explicitly stated.

quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron

To put things in a more concrete way, I don't think that when one god kills another that the winner is required to "merge" in any way. They might decide to take on certain aspects of the dead deity, or reject them, as has been seen. Winning a prior god's power doesn't always mean they must merge, or even take the dead god's portfolio. So in the Realms, it seems more complex than just a required merge after cultures or their deities clash.


You are misunderstanding me if you took my statements to mean that when deities defeat one another that they somehow merge. No, I meant merge as a way to AVOID conflict. I would assume that mergers would have to be willful on the part of the deities involved. If a deity is outright defeated in some way (say in a Godwar ToT scenario), then the deity that kills you basically just takes your stuff. (See: Shar killing Ibrandul.) Of course, certain portfolios are likely to change a deity in significant ways. For example, if Bane were somehow able to kill Kelemvor and become the God of Death and the Dead, he would change in a significant way to reflect these new powers.

However, I believe most of the conflict between the deities does not take place in the Godswar type scenarios, but rather between the mortal faithful. It takes place over generations, and through theological conflicts within faiths that sometimes lead to heresies and schisms. The deities just try and nudge things this way or that way through dream visions, omens, and other signs that are often cryptic in nature. This is how things work, on the ground, throughout the Realms, most of the time.

Edited by - Aldrick on 17 Sep 2015 01:27:24
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