for example, might also be patron of magic and
prophecy, while the god of Light could be the sun god
and the god of time.
A SAMPLE PANTHEON
The pantheon of the Dawn War is an example of a
pantheon assembled from mostly preexisting elements
to suit the needs of a particular campaign. This is
the default pantheon in the fourth edition Player's
Handbook (2008). The pantheon is summarized in the
Dawn War Deities table.
This pantheon draws in several nonhuman deities
and establishes them as universal gods. These gods
include Bahamut, Corellon, Gruumsh, Lolth, Moradin,
Sehanine, and Tiamat. Humans worship Moradin and
Corell on as gods of their respective portfolios, rather
than as racial deities. The pantheon also includes the
archdevil Asmodeus as god of domination and tyranny.
Several of the gods are drawn from other pantheons,
sometimes with new names for the gods. Bane comes
from the Forgotten Realms. From Greyhawk come
Kord, Pelor, Tharizdun, and Vecna. From the Greek
pantheon come Athena (renamed Era this) and Tyche
(renamed Avandra), though both are altered. Set
(renamed Zehir) comes from the Egyptian pantheon.
The Raven Queen is akin to the Norse pantheon's He!
and Greyhawk's Weejas. That leaves three gods created
from scratch: Ioun, Melora, and Torog:
OTHER RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS
In your campaign, you can create pantheons of gods
who are closely linked in a single religion, monotheistic
religions (worship of a single deity), dualistic systems
(centered on two opposing deities or forces), mystery
cults (involving personal devotion to a single deity,
usually as part of a pantheon system), anjmistic
religions (revering the spirits inherent in nature), or
even forces and philosophies that don't center on deities.
In contrast to a loose pantheon, a tight pantheon focuses
on a single religion whose teachings and edicts embrace
a small group of deities. Followers of a tight pantheon
might favor one of its member deities over another,
but they respect all the deities and honor them with
sacrifices and prayer as appropriate.
The key trait to a tight pantheon is that its worshipers
embrace a single ethos or dogma that includes all the
deities. The gods of the tight pantheon work as one to
protect and guide their followers. You can think of a
tight pantheon as similar to a family. One or two deities
who lead the pantheon serve as parent figures, with
the rest serving as patrons of important aspects of the
culture that worships the pantheon. A single temple
honors all members of the pantheon.
Most tight pantheons have one or more aberrant
gods-deities whose worship isn't sanctioned by the
priests of the pantheon as a whole. These are usually
evil deities and enemies of the pantheon, such as the
Greek Titans. These deities have cults of their own,
attracting social outcasts and villains to their worship.
These cults resemble mystery cults, their members
strictly devoted to their single god, though even
members of aberrant cults pay lip service in the temples
of the tight pantheon.
The Norse deities serve as an example of a tight
pantheon. Odin is the pantheon's leader and father
figure. Deities such as Thor, Tyr, and Freya embody
important aspects of Norse culture. Meanwhile, Loki
and his devotees lurk in the shadows, sometimes aiding
the other deities, and sometimes working against them
with the pantheon's enemies.
A mystery cult is a secretive religious organization
based on a ritual of initiation, in which the initiate is
mystically identified with a god, or a handful of related
gods. Mystery cults are intensely personal, concerned
with the initiate's relationship with the divine.
Sometimes a mystery cult is a type of worship within
a pantheon. It acknowledges the myths and rituals of
the pantheon, but presents its own myths and rites as
primary. For instance, a secretive order of monks might
immerse themselves in a mystical relationship to a god
who is part of a broadly worshiped pantheon.
A mystery cult emphasizes the history of its god,
which is symbolically reenacted in its initiation ritual.
The foundation myth of a mystery cult is usually simple
and often involves a god's death and rising, or a journey
to the underworld and a return. Mystery cults often
revere sun and moon deities and agricultural deities-
gods whose portfolios reflect the cycles of nature.
The divine beings of the multiverse are often categorized
according to their cosmic power. Some gods are worshiped
on multiple worlds and have a different rank on each world,
depending on their influence there.
Greater deities are beyond mortal understanding. They
can't be summoned, and they are almost always removed
from direct involvement in mortal affairs. On very rare
occasions they manifest avatars similar to lesser deities, but
slaying a greater god's avatar has no effect on the god itself.
Lesser deities are embodied somewhere in the planes.
Some lesser deities live in the Material Plane, as does the
unicorn-goddess Lurue of the Forgotten Realms and the
titanic shark-god Sekolah revered by the sahuagin. Others
live on the Outer Planes, as Lolth does in the Abyss. Such
deities can be encountered by mortals.
Quasi-deities have a divine origin, but they don't hear or
answer prayers, grant spells to clerics, or control aspects of
mortal life. They are still immensely powerful beings, and in
theory they could ascend to godhood if they amassed enough
worshipers. Quasi-deities fall into three subcategories:
demigods, titans, and vestiges.
Demigods are born from the union of a deity and a mortal
being. They have some divine attributes, but their mortal
parentage makes them the weakest quasi-deities.
Titans are the divine creations of deities. They might be
birthed from the union of two deities, manufactured on
a divine forge, born from the blood spilled by a god, or
otherwise brought about through divine will or substance.
Vestiges are deities who have lost nearly all their worshipers
and are considered dead, from a mortal perspective. Esoteric
rituals can sometimes contact these beings and draw on
their latent power.
CHAPTER 1 I A WORLD OF YOUR OWN TI