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Old 04-18-2020, 01:43 PM   #1
b-dog
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Default Henotheism in the Nordland world

I am thinking about how to have other gods in the Nordland world but I don’t want Zeus and Odin to be the same god. My idea is that there is a Divine and then the gods are a sort of intermediary to the Divine which is based on the culture of the people they interact with. Thus Odin serves the Norse people while Zeus serves the Greek people. They are attached to the people they serve and can fight against other gods even though thy ultimately serve the Divine. So if the Greeks attack the Norse people then Odin will help defend against the Greeks and Zeus.

The pantheons of each culture are also intermediaries and they are protective of the cultures that they serve too so pantheons can also wage war against other pantheons even though they all serve the Divine.

Last edited by b-dog; 04-18-2020 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:22 PM   #2
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

This seems like a valid approach and one that I may take as well. With Greek and Norse gods, it feels quite appropriate too. Already the pantheons are basically families of squabbling deities. Now there are just other squabbling families in the neighborhood. I can see them forming intrafamily alliances to battle each other (Greeks vs. Norse, as you suggested) or forming interfamily alliances to defend the world itself against True Evil.

One of my favorite books for the third edition of GURPS was GURPS Religion (still available as a PDF). Its chapter on Deities covers some of this territory, especially the section on Relationships, pp. 34-37. The Traditions chapter also has a section on Polytheism (pp. 131-132) that is pertinent.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

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Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
This seems like a valid approach and one that I may take as well. With Greek and Norse gods, it feels quite appropriate too. Already the pantheons are basically families of squabbling deities. Now there are just other squabbling families in the neighborhood. I can see them forming intrafamily alliances to battle each other (Greeks vs. Norse, as you suggested) or forming interfamily alliances to defend the world itself against True Evil.

One of my favorite books for the third edition of GURPS was GURPS Religion (still available as a PDF). Its chapter on Deities covers some of this territory, especially the section on Relationships, pp. 34-37. The Traditions chapter also has a section on Polytheism (pp. 131-132) that is pertinent.
I agree GURPS Religion is a good book. For me I like the idea that different societies can fight or get along but still be good and Divine. Having Odin just be Zeus makes it hard to roll play their clerics if there is war between the Norse and the Greeks. I would think that a priest of Odin going to a temple of Zeus and saying they are the same god does not sit well with me either. I prefer the gods to be unique and have their own way and style of worship. Plus some gods do not match well onto other gods of other pantheons.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

I would think there would be three types of clerical magic items. One would be specific to the god in question like Odin, Thor, or Zeus etc. Only a cleric of that particular god could use that item. The second type would be a clerical item of the pantheon that could be used by the worshipper of a god in a pantheon. A cleric of say Odin could use any magic item usable by clerics of the Norse pantheon. Then the final type is a Divine item which is usable by any good cleric. These would include items imbued with the force of good that are not specific to any one god or pantheon.
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Old 04-20-2020, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

I could see a fourth type: an item filled with the power of the storm god might be usable by any storm-god cleric regardless of pantheon.

So items could be limited by deity, pantheon, or portfolio.
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Old 04-20-2020, 08:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

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I could see a fourth type: an item filled with the power of the storm god might be usable by any storm-god cleric regardless of pantheon.

So items could be limited by deity, pantheon, or portfolio.
And maybe there is a way to reconsecrate an item for one god to another god, especially if they are part of the same sphere of influence like both are sea gods.

Maybe on a critical failure of reconsecration the original god that the item was made for becomes enraged and sends Divine servitors to attack the people doing so.
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Old 04-20-2020, 11:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

The reconsecration idea reminds me of my fascination with "forgotten" gods whose powers have faded to almost nothing. This could happen after a conquest when a new god with a similar portfolio replaces the old one. Or after a calamity destroys a particular deity's people (a god of Atlantis, for example). Or perhaps a god just becomes unpopular (perhaps rightfully so) and is eventually replaced with more popular upstarts.

Finding an artifact to the old god could be an interesting story in a campaign. Perhaps the item can be reconsecrated to a new god. Or, it might awaken the old god, who may or may not be pleased (but may not have the power to directly intervene, even with servants). I've used elements of this in a number of campaigns in the past.

Last edited by Dalin; 04-21-2020 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 04-20-2020, 11:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

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Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
The reconsecration idea reminds me of my fascination with "forgotten" gods whose power has faded to almost nothing. This could happen after a conquest when a new god with a similar portfolio replaces the old one. Or after a calamity destroys a particular deity's people (a god of Atlantis, for example). Or perhaps a god just becomes unpopular (perhaps rightfully so) and is eventually replaced with more popular upstarts.

Finding an artifact to the old god could be an interesting story in a campaign. Perhaps the item can be reconsecrated to a new god. Or, it might awaken the old god, who may or may not be pleased (but may not have the power to directly intervene, even with servants). I've used elements of this in a number of campaigns in the past.
I agree that the old forgotten gods are a really cool idea. Maybe the god is resentful of mortals not showing reverance but maybe the god is not capital E evil. Or maybe the god has embraced the dark side and wants revenge on mortals. There are a lot of interesting ideas in the forgotten god concept. Maybe the PCs explore a ruin that has a temple to the forgotten god?
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Old 04-29-2020, 07:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

The Romans were the masters of syncreticism - "Jupiter is Zeus is Thor is Horus is...," etc. - but a lot of that was political rather than religious, permitting the natives of regions they conquered to continue worshipping their own gods because those gods were the same with different names. (Roman scholars equated the Germanic Woden (Odin by another name) with Mercury, being a god of wisdom rather than sky/thunder gods.)

Note that the Romans do not have to be correct in your world! It's often more fun if they're wrong.
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Old 04-30-2020, 06:22 AM   #10
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Default Re: Henotheism in the Nordland world

I think the Wodan/Mercury correspondence was also based on both being psychopomps. Thor was equated with Hercules, because they both have hammers/clubs and fight monsters (they are probably both reflexes of the proto-Indo-European god Perkunas).
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