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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

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Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  00:47:36  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I'm curious to see what others think about "fragments" of deity power which are granted to, stolen by, or obtained by mortals in some way.

We're all familiar with the Chosen, of course, and my question to all of you isn't so much about if or how it can happen, but rather what might be required in order to maintain the fragment in a mortal.

Does the mortal require an influx of prayer energy, or belief in the deity from which the fragment came? It seems to me that there have been a few examples where a mortal was given or took on a piece of a deity's power but didn't necessarily require the deity to still be alive (e.g. Mask after he was 'killed' by Shar).

Would it be possible, for example, to have a mortal slay an ancient and forgotten deity's last avatar, and gain near-demigod powers? Or have a mortal come across such an avatar, and the avatar "gives over" the deity energy willingly?

And if it is possible, what is necessary to maintain the power? My feeling is "nothing" because we've seen examples (haven't we?) of dead deities floating around in the astral where their power resides in the form until someone or something comes along to eat or absorb it.

All of this is related to an idea I have for an epic level campaign, really from lvl 1 to lvl 20+, where in the final chapter the party meets a dead/forgotten god's avatar and it offers them the power for its final release.

Possible? Not possible? Good or Bad Idea? How might the currently living deities react, or would they even care, given the number of other epic characters and beings walking around?

Would love to hear your thoughts, thanks!


"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

sfdragon
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Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  01:14:13  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
both are possible.
cant say if it is a good idea or not.
as for the deities react.... well your group's characters might end up as powers for their deities that they each worship, but then at that point you likely wont have enough divinity to become a fledgling power.. so..

the only thing I would not recommend going to sigil though. her Painship will end them.

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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Eltheron
Senior Scribe

740 Posts

Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  01:51:27  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

both are possible.
cant say if it is a good idea or not.
as for the deities react.... well your group's characters might end up as powers for their deities that they each worship, but then at that point you likely wont have enough divinity to become a fledgling power.. so..

the only thing I would not recommend going to sigil though. her Painship will end them.


That's true, it may not be a good idea. I don't anticipate using Planescape, but that is an interesting thought.

Also, I should probably say that this "transfer" isn't intended to make the mortal an actual divinity, or transfer any portfolios. It might be a step toward demigod-hood, or not, as the original deity in question has been very long dead and forgotten.

In part I'm basing this (the general idea, not the specific story) on the mortal rise to power of Bane, Bhaal and Myrkul. Apparently, they slew several minor powers, took parts of their power for themselves (perhaps gaining special abilities for doing so), but didn't actually become true deities until the incident with Jergal.


"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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Zeromaru X
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Colombia
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Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  02:42:00  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I guess it depends if you're using Ao in your campaign.

But even with Ao, I can see such as godslayer gaining Chosen-like powers from stolen divine shards.

Instead of seeking change, you prefer a void, merciless abyss of a world...
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sfdragon
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Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  03:11:22  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
if the avatar gives up it's shards the shards are not stolen.
rise to power... like the dark 3 slaying the primordials/lesser deities/whatever they get called next time they are ever mentioned by name in 5e....

yeah it would still come off on how much power said forgotten avatar had left.

all you could get is:
spell resistance of however much you want to give them.
bonus damage against opposing alignment
bonus to throws from opposing alignment

you'd need to slay along of forgotten avatars to get enough power to start the path to demigod...

funny thing is, said avatar doesnt have to really come from a dead power, it could come from a forgotten avatar of a active deity.

ie: Je'rak the Twistedly Vile, a long forgotten and ignored avatar of Bane that has since moved to it's own sentience ....( note said avatar is not canon)

Je'rak
male avatar avariel Elf appearance
alignment LN ( formerlly LE)
stats
str 17
con 17
dex 20
int 20
wis 20
cha 20

Je'rak spending centuries on hos own and grown tired of his existence and knowing that should he be killed or die, his essence returns to Bane. Seeking revenged against his creator and his followers for forgetting/abandoning him offers PCs his shards.
after surrendering his divine shards,


afaik there is no rules that an avatar cannot become its own being so...
nothing stating it cant give up its power and become a mortal being either. In je'rak's case he becomes a mortal avariel and leaves after giving up his shards and leaves for the nearest temple of ilmater

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234

Edited by - sfdragon on 08 Sep 2017 03:27:41
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Eltheron
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740 Posts

Posted - 08 Sep 2017 :  03:44:18  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To answer some questions, in my Realms there isn't an AO or overdeity. So the rest doesn't have to be canon, although we stick pretty close to the flavor of 2E Realms (with some changes).

I'm picturing this long-forgotten avatar to have been trapped for at least 1000 years or perhaps more, during which time the deity died and even the name was forgotten. The trapped avatar would roughly have the power of a demigod, or perhaps just slightly less. Being trapped and powerless for so long, and having no worshipers, it long ago tired of existence and wants to give up its power to another so it can finally die. It would consider that a rescue of sorts, and a release.

Ultimately, the goal behind all of this is to perhaps launch a secondary "immortals" style adventure, as the PCs travel the Realms and learn a lot about the creator races, forgotten history, and the nature of divinity and power (at least, how it is in my campaign) and they'll come up against a number of Faerun's gods (Bane, Bhaal, Myrkul, Shar, and perhaps even some of the good ones). I don't think I actually will have them become deities, even lesser ones, but rather just amazingly epic and powerful.


"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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CorellonsDevout
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USA
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Posted - 14 Sep 2017 :  03:24:12  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From my understanding, if a deity passes on its power, it passes on its life, too, and that mortal becomes the deity, with memories and all (like Midnight/Mystra, and, more recently, Riven/Mask). Their personalities could change a bit, but the deity and mortal are now "one".

However, what you're proposing sounds a bit different. It sounds more like the mortal would become a powerful Chosen (somewhat like the Sisters). But I don't know if the deity can do this and then "rest", because being a Chosen of a forgotten god means that god is no longer forgotten. Even one follower ensures the god's survival (like when Finder started out).

Sweet water and light laughter
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sfdragon
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Posted - 14 Sep 2017 :  08:03:22  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
not the deity its long forgotten avatar, a mere vestige of itself.

think of Bslfur's gate 2 in the underground temple of amuanator...his avatar there and some of his followers there...

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 14 Sep 2017 :  18:15:31  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Never played that game, so maybe I am missing something, but wouldn't the deity have to be around in order for its avatar to still exist? Unless it merely exists as an avatar?

Sweet water and light laughter
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Gyor
Master of Realmslore

1580 Posts

Posted - 14 Sep 2017 :  22:10:08  Show Profile Send Gyor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Smaller fragments, Favoured Soul class, and the spark gets more powerful the same way the magic sparks gets more powerful for any other sorceror.
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Gyor
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 14 Sep 2017 :  22:11:15  Show Profile Send Gyor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

Never played that game, so maybe I am missing something, but wouldn't the deity have to be around in order for its avatar to still exist? Unless it merely exists as an avatar?



It was more like the Gods ghost/echo.
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DarkExcalibur42
Acolyte

USA
12 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  17:50:09  Show Profile Send DarkExcalibur42 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

not the deity its long forgotten avatar, a mere vestige of itself.



I'm super amused you used that specific word. VESTIGE. If you have access to the Tome of Magic, the first class in there is called a Binder. They deal in something called Pact Magic, wherein they strike bargains with remnants (called vestiges) of legendary heroes, demons, gods. Things that were so totally slain or destroyed, they don't exist on any plane or in any after-life but echoes of them exist in the void outside reality where they're driven a bit insane by their non-existence.

The class itself is pretty terrible IMHO, but I often read through the list of vestiges for inspiration on other story arcs.

"I excused myself by saying that I had set down nothing which was not strictly true, and he replied to the effect that therein lay my fault."
--Sir Henry Rider Haggard
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Eltheron
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740 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  17:08:21  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

From my understanding, if a deity passes on its power, it passes on its life, too, and that mortal becomes the deity, with memories and all (like Midnight/Mystra, and, more recently, Riven/Mask). Their personalities could change a bit, but the deity and mortal are now "one".

However, what you're proposing sounds a bit different. It sounds more like the mortal would become a powerful Chosen (somewhat like the Sisters). But I don't know if the deity can do this and then "rest", because being a Chosen of a forgotten god means that god is no longer forgotten. Even one follower ensures the god's survival (like when Finder started out).


You've got the idea. The deity is so old/dead it hasn't had worshipers in hundreds of years, and maybe only one or two long-dead sages wrote tidbits in a historical work about it. Definitely no followers, not even new ones who've only read the historical works. The idea is that it has divine energy that it can "pass on" to another being, but in so doing I don't want the accepting mortal to become a demigod or revive the original.

quote:
Originally posted by DarkExcalibur42

quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

not the deity its long forgotten avatar, a mere vestige of itself.



I'm super amused you used that specific word. VESTIGE. If you have access to the Tome of Magic, the first class in there is called a Binder. They deal in something called Pact Magic, wherein they strike bargains with remnants (called vestiges) of legendary heroes, demons, gods. Things that were so totally slain or destroyed, they don't exist on any plane or in any after-life but echoes of them exist in the void outside reality where they're driven a bit insane by their non-existence.

The class itself is pretty terrible IMHO, but I often read through the list of vestiges for inspiration on other story arcs.


That's interesting, vestiges. I have that book somewhere, or rather my mom does, so I'll have to get it and read up on these. It sounds really intriguing. Thanks for mentioning it!

quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

not the deity its long forgotten avatar, a mere vestige of itself.

think of Bslfur's gate 2 in the underground temple of amuanator...his avatar there and some of his followers there...


Yes, this is very much part of the inspiration for the idea: Amaunator's forgotten avatar in Baldur's Gate 2. Of course, that was all done at a time when Amaunator wasn't retconned into formerly having been a "phase" of Lathander.

Mainly for my purposes, I want the source deity to truly be gone. This fragment avatar hanging around is a very weak entity. And perhaps even the original source deity it was from has merged into another deity and has been wholly subsumed (long ago) as it was forgotten by mortals.

I guess my big question is this: for this spark of divine power to remain at its power level, does faith/worship have to keep feeding it? Or is this transferred power something that will eventually and slowly bleed away over time?

Ultimately I'm wondering about the nature of deity power generally and how it works. Does ongoing faithful worship get turned into power which is then used up by parsing it back out as priest spells? A deity loses something when it loses followers, because it will die without them. But is faith more of a food to a deity, or more like electricity which can be stored and re-directed (to priests, or avatars, etc)?

Deities in the Realms almost seem like "shells" or overlays, which then contain power and memories. If one deity kills and absorbs another, the "shell" may change a bit and it can even be changed quite a lot by incorporation of the newly merged memories or personality.

Yet in other cases, it seems that a newly rising god can simply take the power of the absorbed deity and wholly reject the memories and personalities of the absorbed god. It's all interesting, but also confusing!

"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 23 Sep 2017 17:13:42
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Ayrik
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Canada
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  18:42:14  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
According to the FR Wiki: "Mystra's [Midnight's] secret was that she was more powerful than any god, save for Lord Ao, but therein lay the secret. Roughly half of her power lay in her Chosen and in the lesser power Azuth, as planned by Ao so that Mystra did not rule all Realmspace." (Uncited source, however.)

It makes sense that each Chosen is a significant investment of divine power. And Mystra has many Chosen while other deities have none or one or perhaps two. I note that avatars are also a significant investment, they each take a lot of time and power to form (or replace), and only deities of great stature can maintain many avatars while lesser deities have few and least deities may have none at all.

I recall some mention in AD&D Realmslore (circa late 1E or early 2E, perhaps in the Avatar novels) of 1E-Mystra having the foresight to store "shards" of her power within worthy mortals and perhaps other receptacles. The wording suggested the power was reserved for other uses, mainly as an insurance against future emergencies, safely "deposited" but no longer accessible until/unless it was later "withdrawn". Mystra's replacement, Midnight, possessed one of these "shards".

If any of this is true, each fraction of a deity's power possessed (granted, stolen, claimed) by a mortal will diminish and distribute (and dilute?) the power actually held by the deity proper. At the maximum extreme, a mortal can hold enough of the deity's power to actually ascend to deity status, becoming an "aspect" or lesser deity, becoming the new owner of some of the sponsor-/parent-deity's powers and portfolios. Azuth is one example.

A deity's power is not infinite. And not intrinsically self-replenishing. It is based on living faith, it's like a "body" which needs to be "fed" on a constant basis if it is to remain large and strong and if it is to grow larger and stronger. Faith is the sustenance of the gods, "dead" gods are lost forever if their faiths are forgotten - or they miraculously "revive" when their faiths regain power.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 23 Sep 2017 20:29:19
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DarkExcalibur42
Acolyte

USA
12 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  18:56:24  Show Profile Send DarkExcalibur42 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron
Yes, this is very much part of the inspiration for the idea: Amaunator's forgotten avatar in Baldur's Gate 2. Of course, that was all done at a time when Amaunator wasn't retconned into formerly having been a "phase" of Lathander.


That was such a cool quest! To be fair, though, it's still entirely possible that the bit about Lathander is true even with the weird fragment of Amaunator thing happening. Gods are weird, many-faceted things built out of belief.

quote:
I guess my big question is this: for this spark of divine power to remain at its power level, does faith/worship have to keep feeding it? Or is this transferred power something that will eventually and slowly bleed away over time?


AH! Philosophical and fictional metaphysics! A debate I can enter feeling prepared. I think that for most deities there is some minimal, raw, lower limit that they can fall to. A point at which the only thing sustaining them is half-forgotten legends, faint memories, and dream stuff. In fantasy worlds like this, where belief makes gods and the mind and soul really do have separate existences, I think ideas like the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_unconscious]collective unconscious[/url] play a role. There must be some fragments or bits of barely remembered belief lumped into the racial memory of humanity (or other species) tapped into through this shared unconscious, giving just enough energy for a god to avoid total dissolution.

I think you could argue this memory of a god could last for however long it takes for worshipers to remember it. However, if you want or need a time pressure on it? Then you should apply one.

quote:
Ultimately I'm wondering about the nature of deity power generally and how it works. Does ongoing faithful worship get turned into power which is then used up by parsing it back out as priest spells? A deity loses something when it loses followers, because it will die without them. But is faith more of a food to a deity, or more like electricity which can be stored and re-directed (to priests, or avatars, etc)?


If I recall correctly, they didn't used to be so limited by the faith of their followers. That was something Ao did after the Time of Troubles, wasn't it?

I think Faith is almost a limitless power source to a deity, and I get that idea by way of my partial read-through of Deities & Demigods and Faiths & Pantheons (FR source book). The Divine Rank stat is as close to a representation of how much worship a deity receives as I think we're going to get. But Divine Rank isn't something you spend that recharges, it's a measure of "this is all the stuff you can do". So the power they get from worship is sort of inexhaustible, but the feats they can perform with it increase in strength as the amount of worship does.

quote:
Deities in the Realms almost seem like "shells" or overlays, which then contain power and memories. If one deity kills and absorbs another, the "shell" may change a bit and it can even be changed quite a lot by incorporation of the newly merged memories or personality.

Yet in other cases, it seems that a newly rising god can simply take the power of the absorbed deity and wholly reject the memories and personalities of the absorbed god. It's all interesting, but also confusing!



I'd say so too! Because I'm a little confused on all of what you just said there...

Like Midnight became the goddess of magic, Mystra. When she did, she gained much of the former goddess's knowledge and memories (probably because she'd been entrusted with a fragment of the goddess), but it wasn't her absorbing another god and merging with it. Just sort of downloading the memories.

Cyric didn't gain any of that. He killed his way to the top. Nor did Kelemvor when he lead a coup in the underworld, seizing the title from Cyric. He relied on Jergal for the knowledge of past gods of death.

What examples would you want to share on this one?

"I excused myself by saying that I had set down nothing which was not strictly true, and he replied to the effect that therein lay my fault."
--Sir Henry Rider Haggard
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Ayrik
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Canada
7497 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  20:45:36  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mystra the "goddess of magic" is something of an anomaly. Deities of other things (the sun, moon, agriculture, justice, beauty, war, death, etc) have "smaller" domains; their portfolios don't have as much reach as magic, they each might touch everyone's lives at some point but one can generally get away from them if desired strongly enough, they are comparatively "easy" to elude.
But magic permeates all and pervades all in the Realms, it saturates the background, it's part of the terrain, it's involved as a tool wielded (even by other gods) within each of the other domains, it can (and it does) amplify or reshape events enough to overrule any one of them at any time.

It would be like having an equivalent pantheon on our world - all the usual deities of the sun, moon, agriculture, justice, beauty, war, death, etc - along with one big all-encompassing "god of science". Mechra, the god of science, whose portfolio includes ... well, anything and everything ever involved with science, lol. Served by Aztech, the engineer (although Aztech is known to some as Azmov, the dreamer, less concerned about the workings of things-that-are-made as the possibilities of things-yet-to-be-made). Along with a bunch of Chosen - Aristotle, Newton, Tesla, Einstein, Hawkings, Wozniak, etc.
Kinda ridicuous. "Science" (and even "technology" or "progress") are just too vague and generalized, too much involved in every aspect of our lives. To be sure the Realms has (or had) a few subset deities like Leira (goddess of illusions) and Deneir (god of mystical glyphs) - just as we might have Shiva (goddess of nukes) and Godel (god of certain uncertainties) - but they don't detract from the central theme of one great omniscient/omnipotent/omnipresent umbrella deity of magic (or science). It's an entirely greater order of power, all the other gods are defined/limited into sitting at the kiddie table.

In short, each of the other deites has a weakness or an opposite, some thing or some condition which limits their power. Mystra does not. (Nor does Mechra!)

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 23 Sep 2017 21:13:25
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Wooly Rupert
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Death, which happens to every living thing, is smaller than magic, which can only be used by intelligent beings and not even by a majority of them? All of nature is smaller than magic?

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Eltheron
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  21:56:25  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DarkExcalibur42

That was such a cool quest! To be fair, though, it's still entirely possible that the bit about Lathander is true even with the weird fragment of Amaunator thing happening. Gods are weird, many-faceted things built out of belief.

Indeed! Great game, excellent quest, and really inspiring as a DM too.

quote:
AH! Philosophical and fictional metaphysics! A debate I can enter feeling prepared. I think that for most deities there is some minimal, raw, lower limit that they can fall to. A point at which the only thing sustaining them is half-forgotten legends, faint memories, and dream stuff. In fantasy worlds like this, where belief makes gods and the mind and soul really do have separate existences, I think ideas like the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_unconscious]collective unconscious[/url] play a role. There must be some fragments or bits of barely remembered belief lumped into the racial memory of humanity (or other species) tapped into through this shared unconscious, giving just enough energy for a god to avoid total dissolution.

I think you could argue this memory of a god could last for however long it takes for worshipers to remember it. However, if you want or need a time pressure on it? Then you should apply one.

I love these kinds of world-building ideas too, and going back and forth figuring them out. I say world-building because it will eventually impact the way my particular version of the Realms will work on a cosmic level. I hope I can do what I want without it being too much of a giveaway for my players, as it's never good for them to know the nuts & bolts of a setting, kinda spoils the fantasy fun in some ways for them.

I love the idea that bits of recorded history and half-forgotten legends could be a kind of faith that sustains a dying deity. It also makes me think about when societies transform or come into conflict with others, how gods can be killed, merged, or re-imagined having a new role in whatever new system emerges for that culture. Personally, I prefer it in fantasy when the world's own history, what the people do and believe, are more important. D&D tends to have fairly active deities that show up sometimes asking for dinner, though, which gives a lot of agency to the deity itself.

quote:
If I recall correctly, they didn't used to be so limited by the faith of their followers. That was something Ao did after the Time of Troubles, wasn't it?

I think Faith is almost a limitless power source to a deity, and I get that idea by way of my partial read-through of Deities & Demigods and Faiths & Pantheons (FR source book). The Divine Rank stat is as close to a representation of how much worship a deity receives as I think we're going to get. But Divine Rank isn't something you spend that recharges, it's a measure of "this is all the stuff you can do". So the power they get from worship is sort of inexhaustible, but the feats they can perform with it increase in strength as the amount of worship does.

Yes, I think I did read somewhere that AO made them much more dependent on faith from followers, taking down all of their power by a notch or two. Divine rank bothers me a little, in that I'd kind of prefer a system where a god might not have a ton of worshipers but still remain quite powerful, but I think D&D designers wanted deity power to be a bit more driven by numbers (I guess so it'd make sense when players want to attack a deity or its avatar).

quote:
I'd say so too! Because I'm a little confused on all of what you just said there...

Like Midnight became the goddess of magic, Mystra. When she did, she gained much of the former goddess's knowledge and memories (probably because she'd been entrusted with a fragment of the goddess), but it wasn't her absorbing another god and merging with it. Just sort of downloading the memories.

Cyric didn't gain any of that. He killed his way to the top. Nor did Kelemvor when he lead a coup in the underworld, seizing the title from Cyric. He relied on Jergal for the knowledge of past gods of death.

What examples would you want to share on this one?


Oh sorry, by having a kind of "shell" I was avoiding the words "persona" or "skin" for a god. For example, in the Piers Anthony series about the gods, you'll have mortals step in and take the place of a previous mortal who held the "office" of a god, and they're literally moving a new person into the same body or shell that has existed forever.

In the Realms, as you said, new gods like Kelemvor or Cyric can take the power of previous gods, and somehow reject all of the memories of that former deity. I think Finder did something similar, rejecting practically everything about Moander except the power (and curiously, I think, holding a new portfolio that challenges Milil, both existing in the primary pantheon with much the same function).

But then other gods die or have their power absorbed, and the person or other god absorbing that power seems to be totally overwhelmed with and becomes swamped with the memories and personality of the dead god (the former "shell" if you will), and they either merge personalities or the dead god will overwhelm them. Mystryl becoming Mystra might be a good example, but also I think here about Lolth totally swamping new mortals that she absorbs (they become an avatar form) and Bane completely subsuming his son as part of his rebirth. Then we have weird stuff like Lathander and Amaunator (and perhaps another "dusk god" form) who seem to evolve into their other personas at need.

I'm almost beginning to wonder if different rules apply for different gods, sometimes. :)


"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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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  21:56:49  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DarkExcalibur42

quote:
Ultimately I'm wondering about the nature of deity power generally and how it works. Does ongoing faithful worship get turned into power which is then used up by parsing it back out as priest spells? A deity loses something when it loses followers, because it will die without them. But is faith more of a food to a deity, or more like electricity which can be stored and re-directed (to priests, or avatars, etc)?


If I recall correctly, they didn't used to be so limited by the faith of their followers. That was something Ao did after the Time of Troubles, wasn't it?

I think Faith is almost a limitless power source to a deity, and I get that idea by way of my partial read-through of Deities & Demigods and Faiths & Pantheons (FR source book). The Divine Rank stat is as close to a representation of how much worship a deity receives as I think we're going to get. But Divine Rank isn't something you spend that recharges, it's a measure of "this is all the stuff you can do". So the power they get from worship is sort of inexhaustible, but the feats they can perform with it increase in strength as the amount of worship does.




Worship played a role, but yes, after ToT, it became more "essential", if you will. For example, creator deities (those who created races), obviously didn't need followers in order to grant them power, as they existed before said followers. However, I think once the race is made, I think there is some "caveat", in which the deity now has to "take care of" it's followers (this will vary depending on the deity). Again, though, worship wasn't only one element in a deity's power pre-ToT.

I agree that the amount of power they receive (once they receive it) is inexhaustible. A deity can "lend" its power to a priest/cleric with no consequences to the deity. It will be the mortal who can only handle so much, as the mortal coil isn't meant for so much divine power (Chosen have a larger threshold).

Sweet water and light laughter
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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  22:02:52  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eltheron


I love these kinds of world-building ideas too, and going back and forth figuring them out. I say world-building because it will eventually impact the way my particular version of the Realms will work on a cosmic level. I hope I can do what I want without it being too much of a giveaway for my players, as it's never good for them to know the nuts & bolts of a setting, kinda spoils the fantasy fun in some ways for them.

I love the idea that bits of recorded history and half-forgotten legends could be a kind of faith that sustains a dying deity. It also makes me think about when societies transform or come into conflict with others, how gods can be killed, merged, or re-imagined having a new role in whatever new system emerges for that culture. Personally, I prefer it in fantasy when the world's own history, what the people do and believe, are more important. D&D tends to have fairly active deities that show up sometimes asking for dinner, though, which gives a lot of agency to the deity itself.



One aspect I like about the Realms is that the gods are very real and active. I will agree that sometimes they are too active (such as sitting down to dinner with a mortal), but I like the involvement, even if it is to take a more indirect approach (like dreams and signs).

Having the records of a forgotten deity could very well be a form of "faith", as it is keeping the deity alive. I seem to remember that, to truly kill a god, you would have to erase all mention of it. If the only mentions of a deity were in some dusty tome, it would explain why only a weak "ghost" of it remains, but why it hasn't completely faded.

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 23 Sep 2017 22:03:46
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Eltheron
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  22:18:10  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

One aspect I like about the Realms is that the gods are very real and active. I will agree that sometimes they are too active (such as sitting down to dinner with a mortal), but I like the involvement, even if it is to take a more indirect approach (like dreams and signs).

Having the records of a forgotten deity could very well be a form of "faith", as it is keeping the deity alive. I seem to remember that, to truly kill a god, you would have to erase all mention of it. If the only mentions of a deity were in some dusty tome, it would explain why only a weak "ghost" of it remains, but why it hasn't completely faded.


Here's the weird thing for me, and frankly, I can't even explain my own feelings about it very well.

I do like in the Realms that gods can sometimes just show up in person. It reminds me of the Hercules and Xena television shows, where gods wander around screwing with people. But it can get pretty camp as well.

In Xena and Hercules, I like that campy quality. But for the Realms I really intensely dislike it - and I really don't know why! It's not really that unusual, after all the Romans and Greeks sometimes believed that happened. So why do I dislike the idea so much in the Realms? In novels, when Mystra literally showed up at Storm's house for dinner I really disliked it. And when I read long ago about the goddess Selūne working as a tavern wench it really bothered me.

I guess I don't like that much camp in my Realms? On some level, if I'm playing a high-minded, noble and serious priest of Selūne I think I'd be highly disappointed to learn about the wench avatar. I don't know. On a DM level, I think gods are supposed to be a little capricious now and then. But having an avatar literally work as a tavern wench for years? Why? What does that gain the goddess, other than regular pinch-bruises on her butt and drunks groping her goods?

"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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CorellonsDevout
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  22:34:11  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can see why that would bother you, and it does me too, a bit. For me, it depends on the type of involvement. I agree that Mystra appearing for dinner can be a bit...cheap, I guess. It makes her seem...normal. Then again, maybe that's what she was going for. She was trying to understand her mortal followers.

Eilistraee appearing before her followers and dancing with them is fine, and retains the mystery of the goddess while still allowing interaction. I'm also fine with an avatar appearing before a follower and giving them direction on what they need to do (whether they speak in riddles or give it to them straight). I'll agree that sometimes the gods become -too- involved and steal the spotlight, but nearly all RW myths and legends are filled with gods interacting with mortals, so it can be fun, too.

As I've said in other threads, I'm fine with a balance (because there should be one). I think we should lessen the amount of times a deity comes to tea, but don't make them so distant they might as well not be there. They are a huge part of the setting, whether they are active in the sense they visit their followers "in the flesh", or send them signs and visions. But some of my favorite stories in the Realms involved the gods.

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 23 Sep 2017 22:36:01
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Ayrik
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  23:05:45  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Death, which happens to every living thing, is smaller than magic, which can only be used by intelligent beings and not even by a majority of them? All of nature is smaller than magic?

Death happens to *almost* every living thing. Not those who use magic to cheat or escape death indefinitely. Elixirs and potions, wishes, clones, lich phylacteries, many other magical methods to restore or sustain youth. Also raising and resurrection and reincarnation, and several other magical methods to reverse death, to reclaim a dead soul which would normally belong to a god of death. Larloch and Elminster were "deathless" long before explicit explanations about Chosen appeared.

Nature as a whole is arguably as powerful as magic. But weather can be changed. Species can be changed. The "natural order" of all living and unliving things can be changed. Permanently. Through magic.
Multiple deities of nature represent various aspects of nature, each a subset or segment of the whole. While "magic" is treated as an unbreakable monolithic thing, one goddess to rule them all and one goddess to bind them, etc. Perhaps nature always prevails, nature always finds a way ... but until it does, various wild-magic spellstorms tear the world (worlds) apart ... it's happened before, it can happen again, nothing nature can do about it.

The fact that magic can only be used by some beings (instead of all beings) doesn't seem relevant. These are the same beings whose faith can sustain gods. It actually seems to me that if only a minority of these beings can use magic, yet magic still has powerfully profound impact on everything else, then it only underscores how overpowered magic is in comparison.

[/Ayrik]
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sleyvas
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  23:49:23  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Mystra the "goddess of magic" is something of an anomaly. Deities of other things (the sun, moon, agriculture, justice, beauty, war, death, etc) have "smaller" domains; their portfolios don't have as much reach as magic, they each might touch everyone's lives at some point but one can generally get away from them if desired strongly enough, they are comparatively "easy" to elude.
But magic permeates all and pervades all in the Realms, it saturates the background, it's part of the terrain, it's involved as a tool wielded (even by other gods) within each of the other domains, it can (and it does) amplify or reshape events enough to overrule any one of them at any time.

It would be like having an equivalent pantheon on our world - all the usual deities of the sun, moon, agriculture, justice, beauty, war, death, etc - along with one big all-encompassing "god of science". Mechra, the god of science, whose portfolio includes ... well, anything and everything ever involved with science, lol. Served by Aztech, the engineer (although Aztech is known to some as Azmov, the dreamer, less concerned about the workings of things-that-are-made as the possibilities of things-yet-to-be-made). Along with a bunch of Chosen - Aristotle, Newton, Tesla, Einstein, Hawkings, Wozniak, etc.
Kinda ridicuous. "Science" (and even "technology" or "progress") are just too vague and generalized, too much involved in every aspect of our lives. To be sure the Realms has (or had) a few subset deities like Leira (goddess of illusions) and Deneir (god of mystical glyphs) - just as we might have Shiva (goddess of nukes) and Godel (god of certain uncertainties) - but they don't detract from the central theme of one great omniscient/omnipotent/omnipresent umbrella deity of magic (or science). It's an entirely greater order of power, all the other gods are defined/limited into sitting at the kiddie table.

In short, each of the other deites has a weakness or an opposite, some thing or some condition which limits their power. Mystra does not. (Nor does Mechra!)



This is why I would limit Mystra's power through those lesser deities via processes. If she wants to do some big necromancy thing, she has to have Velsharoon's buyoff. If she wants to do some major illusion, contact Leira. Granted, this may be very much like the boss showing up and saying "hey, I want to do X" and the employee is like "ok".... or it might be like "well, I want something in return".

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  23:51:40  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Weather exists where magic doesn't, and even if weather is changed, it's still there. Weather affects everyone, too. You can easily go to a place where magic won't effect you -- but there's still weather there.

And okay, so there's a fraction of a percent of all creatures in existence that have managed to postpone death. That doesn't change the fact that death affects 99.999999% of all creatures, and of the exceptions, they have not permanently escaped death -- it is only held at bay. Take away the magic that sustains them, and death is there, waiting. Death, too, will still exist where magic does not.

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Ayrik
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Posted - 24 Sep 2017 :  01:47:54  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, assuming a (hypothetical) "real" godswar, where deities realistically cannot attack each other's planar domains and centers of power (because it's suicidal!), but they can certainly control their worldly domains and empower their faithful/clergies (to attack the faithful/clergies of other deities) in the Realms ...

The deities of nature could turn nature itself against Mystra. Silvanus and Eldath and Chauntea could deny nature's bounties: breathable air, drinkable water, edible food, fertile soil, pretty flowers, tame beasts. Malar could turn all wild things from the smallest ant to the mighty Tarrasque into feral, hostile, hateful beasts. Umberlee could hurl vengeful oceans. Talos could happily smash lightning onto everything he sees. Auril could bury the land under frozen sheets. Talona could breathe disease into the winds. Moander could rot and corrupt living flesh with his filth. The Elemental Lords could burn and drown and quake and blow down all in their path with primal fury. Every "natural" disaster imaginable.

And the deities of death could turn death itself against Mystra. Kelemvor (or Cyric, Myrkul, Jergal, whomever) could raise fallen legions. Could deploy "grim reaper" agents or engineer "inescapably fated" deaths or perhaps simply snuff the life force of targeted mortals. To be honest I'm not sure exactly what he could do but the God Of Death is not a guy to mess with, lol. And Bhaal (along with his buddy Bane) and Shar and "Null" and Tempus and Velsharoon and many others are quite proficient at dealing death in their own ways.

But how can they do any of these things without magic? They can't. Remember the Time of Troubles, when the gods (their avatars) impotently walked the land. Denied access to their powers, denied access to (stable) magic. Nature didn't run rampant, death didn't stop killing (although both were described as supernaturally "out of sync"). The gods were utterly powerless because their magic was broken, they couldn't even move between planes. The faithful of these gods were equally powerless, and many abandoned their faiths (or all faith whatsoever) as a consequence.

While in such a godswar Mystra could deny her enemies access to magic. Cut off. Or turn their magics against them, reverse intended effects or roll the dice on chaotically dangerous wild-magic. She could simply "deactivate" select sections of the Weave to create dead-magic zones wherever and whenever needed. No more priest spells, no more mage spells, no more magical creatures or constructs, no more functioning magical items (not even functional artifacts) for her enemies, all inert. While her own faithful (and any allies) would retain full magical power, perhaps even have it augmented as Mystra desires. So her enemies would be as impotent as they were during the Avatar Crisis, while she (and her allies) would battle them at full strength.

We already know what happens when the Weave fails. I imagine that defying the "natural order" of nature and life-death and magic are equally catastrophic. Not just years or generations of "healing" the damaged Realms but also disrupting the delicate balance of things which provides essential sustenance for these deities. Deliberately weaponizing your portfolio or your faith might provide short term advantage but it's a permanently costly and bad idea in the long term (as Cyric demonstrated).

This is one goddess vs the collective might of many deities. A ludicrous situation. Win or lose it's definitely overbalanced in her favour, she's overpowered.
Imagine if this were a battle between Mechra (god of science) vs the collective forces of nature and death on our world ... I think in the end we'd lose one science god and have no lasting impact on the world, life (and death) may need to start all over again after the nuclear apocalypse but the Earth keeps spinning long after the god is dead. So again, why is one goddess of magic so overwhelmingly powerful? Especially in a pantheon "balanced" by overgod Ao. It shouldn't be.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 24 Sep 2017 01:59:26
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