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Building a Dualistic Pantheon

   
Building a Dualistic Pantheon

Hey I'm putting together a dualistic pantheon for a campaign setting I'm building for a 3.5 E6 game I want to run someday.

Wanted to get some community input on the lore and some of the mechanics I've got for it so far.

Dualistic Religion

Sun Goddess "Solara"Moon God "Lunarus"

Creation Mythos In the beginning there was nothing until two divine beings came into existence from the nothingness. The world knows them now as the Sun and the Moon, or by their names Solara and Lunarus. The divine feminine and masculine, light and dark, life and death, balance in all things. Great was and is their love, and from their love all of creation and life was made. The world, all the races and creatures, all of it.

It is said that in times before time, the Sun and the Moon walked together, but that the Moon became jealous of the Sun, and the love that the people had for the Sun, and so he fought and quarreled with her, until they could be together no more. However, his love for her had changed him regardless, and it is said that even on the darkest of nights, the light that reflects from the Moon to the world is the influence for Good that the Sun had on the Moon and that even though they are no forever apart, he loves her still and shines what light he can so that her children are never completely without light.

Good and Evil are real and tangible things in the world, despite being mostly mortal made constructs. A Cleric of the Moon isn't necessarily evil, nor is a Cleric of the Sun necessarily Good. It all depends on the individual, and their application of their tenets of their understanding of the world. Often religion is used to justify the aims of the wielder, placating or inciting the masses as needed.

It is even possible for two Clerics of the same deity to be opposed philosophically, as they interpret the god's will and portfolio differently, e.g., one Cleric of the Moon wishes to bring the world into a cacophony of darkness and despair, while the other believes that it is the responsibility of the Moon to protect the people of the Sun from things that go bump in the Night. It is all relative.

As far as the legitimacy of the divine beings in this world, they certainly don't walk the world among the mortals (at least that anyone knows of) but Clerics and other divine agents are able to cast spells and that must come from somewhere (or does it, Wizards and Sorcerer's cast magic too?) and Paladins are a shining beacon for good and truth in a world oft beset by danger and evil and that sort of divine inspiration must surely come from the God and Goddess.

The most ancient texts of almost all peoples speak of similar creation myths of the Sun and the Moon, so much so that almost all people in the world acknowledge the likely existence of these deities. Often, the different races will imagine the deities in their image (and this has been the cause of many a war or conflict on its own) but the general consensus is that it was the Sun and the Moon that made the world and everything in it.

Clerics may select any two domains that they wish, and this selection generally speaks to the values of their local community or strongly held personal beliefs more than anything. It is even possible for a Cleric of the Moon to take the Sun domain, as many believe the Moon reflects the Sun as a token of their long ago love. It also sometimes happens that Clerics take a more spiritual or agnostic approach, believing in the natural magic of things as Druids and their ilk do, and with strong enough conviction even these types are able to cast divine magic.

Hmm. My first question is: why are Good and Evil “real and tangible things” in this world? To me at least, that doesn’t seem to proceed naturally from the myth. I really like the myth (a lot), but Lunarus is not at all obviously capital-E Eeevil even without Solara’s influence, although he’s clearly a less positive figure from a mortal perspective than Solara. (But not totally - I imagine that people die of heatstroke in this world. The Sun can be conceived of as dangerous in myth: Phaethon, for instance.)

It reads to me like a myth in which people would deal with the “bad things happening to good people” problem by attributing much of it to the conflict between the two divine forces disrupting a harmonious original order, a Golden Age when everything was a lot better, which was lost thanks to Lunarus’ jealousy.

So it’s Lunarus’ fault, but that’s not quite the same as making him a cosmic force of evil.

And is it even Lunarus’ fault? Myth tends to find ways in which mortals are at least partially to blame for their own plight, and this myth lends itself to that interpretation. It moves from “balance in all things” to one god becoming angry because mortals ignored that balance and devoted themselves to one god more than the other. Isn’t the message really that mortals disrupted the balance?

Obviously, dualistic set-ups are generally the best ones for cosmic Good vs. cosmic Evil, but this particular one seems to me to be better suited to a sort of yin and yang perspective than one in which either god is identified with Good or Evil.

So when I talked about Good & Evil being tangible concepts, I meant in the sense that Good and Evil exist as magical concepts for spell domains, alignment, etc but they aren't necessarily derived from the gods (or are they?)

I'm going for a it must be real because of divine magic but no one really hears from the gods directly sort of vibe with religion in this setting, so on the mortal side, there are mortal factions of the religions that have different takes on the religion. Some are evil Sun worshippers, some of are evil Moon worshippers, etc.

Ah, that makes more sense. I might suggest making Evil literally (whether or not people know it) the consequence of the conflict between the gods, rippling out across creation. Evil would be a force of disharmony that causes true conflict (as distinct from benign and positive apparent “conflict” between things that actually are complementary — a distinction of some importance to thinkers in this world).

Obviously, PCs are going to engage in conflict all the time, but it would give an interesting flavor to a world if standard fantasy heroics were something that people generally agreed were necessary, but also a sign that mortals live in a world permanently(?) disfigured and “wrong.”

Next thought. If you want to go with the standard D&D exclusive monolatry, in which everybody picks a god and devotes themselves to that god exclusively, this is, for once, a setting in which that actually makes sense. Because the two gods have fallen out, they are (especially Lunarus) jealous about “their” mortals. But this would be an aspect of the “wrongness” of the world - it’s how things are, but it’s not how things should be.

I would wonder if one sort of religious dispute would be about whether that wrongness is permanent, or if it is possible to restore the pre-conflict golden age, either in whole, or certain aspects of it. Classic things like prophecies of a messianic figure who will be able to win the favor of both gods and be a Sun- and Moon-cleric simultaneously.

Yeah, that's an interesting thought. I actually had some more thoughts on this while driving home yesterday and I'm gonna get that draft up later today for your perusal. Had some ideas on how it'd be tangibly reflected in the world.








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