By Beth McCoy
So, you've got a group of players who rival the Knights of the Dinner Table (tm) for their love of hack&slay -- they want a campaign, you want something that won't bore you to tears. They want interventionist gods, you want a pantheon that's at least a little different than the last fifty kill-the-orc games you've run for your bloodthirsty little crowd. (Or maybe you all want a change of pace from heavy roleplaying, with a touch of humor...)
Look no further, pilgrim; here is a ready-made pantheon of good and evil gods for your gaming pleasure, with an in-joke and secret decoder ring included at the end.
In the beginning, there was a creation myth, probably involving one or more leaders of the two pantheons who then turned against each other (so we can have Good gods and Evil gods), or else some One Creator who either retired or sacrificed itself so that it could have pantheons.
You're good, you can come up with something here. Don't forget a few "incestuous" relationships to get that Greek feel.
Likewise, no names are given -- you'll want to customize those to your campaign world. If you have different races or cultures, spread these guys out a little; some are worshipped some areas, others in others.
The Good Gods
God of Beasts: Every pantheon needs someone to watch over the animals that will feed and carry the PCs. Pray to this god if you're a veterinarian or just trying to keep your sheep free of terminal mange. It doesn't hurt to engrave his symbol on your horses' bridles or horseshoes, either. However, be careful hunting -- get too wasteful or cruel to your prey, and maybe he considers that bear more devout than you! He'd be a good god for elves to revere -- and maybe lycanthropes. (Perhaps his priests are rumored to shapeshift...) Alignment: Orderly Feral.
God of Champions: The patron of those who fight alone and turn into heroes, with a war-like priesthood. (Priestesses also accepted.) Very popular with PCs. Undoubtedly a human god (but see the dark gods, below, for an equivalent to give to orcs). Alignment: Chaotic Violent.
God of Inspiration: Eureka! The patron of engineers, who build and design and invent. His priests advocate education, education, and more education, and can often be found playing truant officer to any stray children in the vicinity. They're a little obsessed with testing new devices to see if they work before they put them into use, though, so don't expect them to build a death-trap out of chewing gum and bamboo -- unless they really have to. He'd be a candidate for dwarven worship, as well as human; he might also appeal to GURPS Fantasy goblins. Alignment: Orderly Intellectual.
God of Merchants: If you're buying, selling, or transporting the goods, this is the one you want on your side. He's not too picky, either, about whether you're on the right side of the law or not -- fences will pray to him for a good deal. His priesthood is known to be bankers and moneylenders. Another god likely to garner a multi-racial following, if only because merchants must ship goods all over. Alignment: Orderly Rich.
God(dess) of Law: Everybody needs the God of No Fun, and here he (or she) is. Patron of judges, investigators, and anyone else who hands down judgments upon others -- like rambunctious PCs. Served by a somber lot of clerics who are often called in to, you guessed it, lay down the law. A pretty humano-centric deity, but giving him/her to some other race could produce an interesting view of their culture. Alignment: Lawful. Period.
God(dess) of Life: This deity -- patron of mothers, fathers, and anything else living and about to create new life -- manifests as either gender, and is a fairly popular and powerful god/dess to worship, with temple prostitutes of both genders. The temples also serve as orphanages. Another deity likely to be multi-racial in his/her followers. (Woo! Elven temple prostitutes!) Alignment: Chaotic Fun.
Goddess of Plants: Mother Nature and the patron of farmers. Her priestesses (and priests) are fond of fertility rituals -- it's a good party if the fields are bountiful afterwards. Also peaceful, but don't underestimate the stopping power of a tree -- or a well-aimed zucchini. Definitely a candidate for elven worship, as well as any short, pudgey agrarian races. Alignment: Orderly Floral.
Goddess of Prophecy: Just don't sneer at "women's intuition" -- the followers of the patron of prophets believe that the future is written in a lady's hand. They're found star-gazing, crystal-gazing, or staring into the hearts of fires, waiting for that moment of inspiration when they get to speak in tongues. Definitely a fun one for non-human followers. Alignment: Chaotic Mystic.
God of Rock: ...and metals, and gems... Patron of miners, blacksmiths, and jewelers. Not considered the brightest mind among the gods, but steady and patient. His priests (and a few priestesses) tend to be tightly-knit groups who go into a wilderness and civilize it. They're also fond of ordeals to prove they can withstand their spartan lifestyle. Good for dwarves! Alignment: Orderly Macho.
Goddess of Sleep: Governing the realm of peaceful dreams and gentle hopes, this is one of the more boring of the Good pantheon. Still, she has her place as a healer -- especially of mental trauma. Got someone ready for the loony bin? Talk to these priests. Just to keep away from the elvish "peaceful treehugger" stereotype, make her an almost exclusively human goddess. Alignment: Orderly Peaceful.
God of Soldiers: This fellow is the protector of soldiers, the town watch, and anybody else who's a combat-trained cog in a greater wheel. Unlike his associated God of Champions, this deity watches over those who work together in groups. His priests (and some priestesses) also work in groups. Well-armed groups, too. He's a humano-centric kind of god. Alignment: Orderly Dutiful
God of Thought: A mystic and philosopher, who makes a good "wise old man" to run the pantheon. His priests are more reclusive than those of the god of Inspiration, prone to sitting on mountain tops and pondering the meaning of life. A lot of them are intimidatingly powerful mages, too. Urk. Popular among humans and elves, probably, as well as the occasional Yrth goblin.. Alignment: Orderly Enigmatic.
God of the Weather: Weathermen aren't noted for a lot of accuracy, but these wandering priests do a pretty good job. They also get to perform minor weather-related miracles. Don't get them upset unless you want to get sent "over the rainbow" (and your little dog, too!). Good for humans and nature-oriented races (though not dwarves -- not much weather underground). Alignment: Chaotic. Period.
The Evil Gods
Goddess of Chaos: Have fun, live fast, die young, leave a blazing fireball behind. A real party goddess, with a taste for seducing anything that moves. (It doesn't tend to move so well afterward, but hey.) Great for all races! Alignment: Chaotic Exhausting.
God of Death: Every pantheon needs one. The nasty fellow who wants human sacrifice every night, and twice on Sundays. Not too smart, but who needs smarts when your minions can raise zombie armies to do your will? Most of his followers are likely to be human, orcs, or some other short-lived race, and various undead (liches, vampires, etc.). Alignment: Chaotic Rotting.
God of Destruction: If the universe has gunpowder, he's got the bombs. Pray to him if you want your enemies trashed, His priests are not appreciated by those who mind the destruction they spread in their wake. Definitely popular with orcs. Alignment: Chaotic Violent.
God of Devouring: ...feasts or your enemies, whichever. His priests aren't so bad most of the time -- but they certainly do practice cannibalism... (Or other-species dining, which is probably just as annoying.) Good for all races, particularly orcs, ogres, hobgoblins... Alignment: Chaotic Hungry.
God of Entropy: He who drags mortals down to dust -- his worshippers tend to be of the breed who figure, "Give him enough victims, and we die last." They are often dark mages, too. They're not into property damage -- just crushing the hopes and dreams of everyone else. Nice for humans and dark elves, and would probably be popular with anti-social undead. Alignment: Orderly Implacable.
God of Fighters: What's this guy doing on the dark side of the spectrum, you ask? Simple -- he's the one who likes to have a little human sacrifice before a battle, doesn't know the meaning of the term "mercy," and his priests aren't interested in anything but the battle and the kill, though he does have a twisted sense of honor, and respect for a vicious warrior. He's prayed to by ninja, assassins, bounty hunters of the less cleanly kind, and mercenaries who fight for the highest bidder regardless of the politics. Good for the "nasty, brutish, and short" races in your campaign. Alignment: Orderly Violent.
God of Mad Science: Or mad alchemy, or Dark Magics That Go Boom, or whatever group has the most intellectuals who care nothing for the results of their pursuits of knowledge. Not only will these priests build death-traps of gum and bamboo, they'll set them up without telling anyone so they can see what happens. Good for crazy elves, dwarves, Yrth goblins, humans... Alignment: Chaotic Irresponsible.
Goddess of the Night: ...and all the things that go bump in it. Pray to her if you want to visit nightmares upon your enemies, or other terrors in darkness. Not a nice lady; her clergy go robed and veiled, and are rumored to practice scarification. Either a human goddess, or assigned to the culture where she'll have the most shock value. Alignment: Chaotic Scary.
God(dess) of Pleasure: ...generally spelled S-E-X. This is the guy/gal to worship if you like orgies and dark tantric rituals by the dark of the moon. Mind, if he wants a virgin sacrifice (and his priests have been known to conduct such), his minions will have to go far afield to find one -- none of them qualify -- and they're not too picky about consent. Definitely a human sort of deity, unless you have a thing for elven orgies. (I don't want to think of dwarven orgies, thanks, and s/he's a little more civilized a deity than most orcs would go for.) Alignment: Chaotic Sybaritic.
God of Propaganda: Pray to him when you're revising the history books, or writing a play to please the ruling monarchs. Mostly in the dark side because he doesn't care about truth -- though he does approve of a good story. Just file the serial numbers off an old classic and recast it as you need... Human or Yrth goblin oriented. Alignment: Chaotic Deceptive.
God of Ridicule: The trickster. Watch out for what he does to those who harm his priests (who are all infuriating practical jokers and biting pundits)... Another one for the humans and Yrth goblins -- though making him a dwarven god would really go against stereotype! (Give them little jester's caps and maces.) Alignment: Chaotic Sadistic.
God of Rules: (Or maybe of Rules Lawyers...) Bitter enemy of the God of Law, he's the patron of corrupt judges, monarchs, and anybody else who turns the letter of the law to their own devices. (Or simply breaks or makes up laws to suit himself.) Human, unless you have a race of bureaucrats. Alignment: Orderly Corrupt.
God of Solitude: We're all alone in life, and shouldn't try to pretend otherwise. All must be sundered into single parts, till all beings are alone and the world can return to solitary darkness. Not a fun guy at parties, and his priests have a hard time recruiting, but they'll try to get converts from all races. Alignment: Chaotic Misanthropic.
God of Thieves: Another trickster, but more likely to be prayed to by PCs. Big on style, kind of iffy on concepts of charity. He prefers cat burglars, pickpockets, and con men, but he'll deign to smile on muggers, too. Another one of those multi-racial gods. Alignment: Chaotic Exciting.
The In-Joke and Decoder Ring
All of these were drawn from the In Nomine Superiors, dragged kicking and screaming out to get their serial numbers filed off. Some of them kept all their attributes, while others focussed on only one aspect of their In Nomine roles.
Okay, so you've got this background you can use to steal ideas from, if you want. You can do one of a few things:
You can use them as-is. This option is best if you don't want to pick up the main In Nomine book. Have fun.
You can get the main book and mine it for ideas, possibly adding in the Choirs (of angels) and Bands (of demons) as supernatural minions. Let your priestly sorts summon appropriate minions of their god, or send said minions against the party if they tick off one of these gods (such as by looting temples, killing priests, or other player-character hobbies). Also, you can use the rivalries listed in the main In Nomine book -- including the same-side hostilities. (What, you never wanted a "good" pantheon squabbling amongst itself?)
You can pick up the Superiors books and mine them for ideas. (Okay, I admit right now I helped write one of those and edited another. Admire my honesty and buy a book...) Good for lists of supernatural powers for the priests, or even just favored devout worshippers. Bribe your PCs to go to church!
You can figure out a way to explain that this is an alternate universe where the In Nomine background is true, but something happened such that you've got a lot of "divine cults" (and infernal ones) instead of monotheistic religions. This might let you do some "morality" plots -- though that's a long-shot, if you're reading this to add color to a hack&slash world.
You can use them as-is and go over the top whenever the player characters interact with a grand high mucky-muck of any of the religious factions -- or with the deity himself! (Of course you want to play the God of Death as a drooling moron, right?) Best if your players are taking a hack&slay vacation and are in on the joke -- or figured it out without being told! Be sure to get really wild with whichever Superior a player's In Nomine character serves!
Have fun! (And may the hack be with you.)
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