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The gods of this particular work may be greater
, but who does what among them?
When inventing a Fantasy Pantheon
, there are a number of god archetypes that seem unavoidable. Maybe because their role is convenient for the story, easily understandable due to familiarity with Real Life
mythologies, or simply that there are only so many domains a god can have and still be taken seriously.
Note that when a work directly adapts a mythology, there is a high risk of Flanderisation
. Not only Sadly Mythtaken
is at work, but non-fictional gods tend to have multiple domains whose relations may be hard to grasp
, though there is generally a good amount of Fridge Brilliance
The more common ones are:
- A Top God, that allows the combination of a Fantasy Pantheon with the presence of a monotheistic god Expy. Chances are, he (and it's almost always "he") will come in two flavors:
- A God of Evil, typically the Bigger Bad of a setting. May be an Omnicidal Maniac, eager to Take Over the World, in it For the Evulz, or a combination of those elements. Chances are, this character will be a stand in for Satan. Similarly to the above, he is either physical or abstract as:
- A God of Balance Between Good and Evil, is repeatedly a mediator of some sort.
- A God of Good, that is, more human than the other gods. May be a Messianic Archetype (Perhaps literally), or simply the Token Good Teammate among Jerkass Gods. Common forms include:
- Nature Gods, often associated with Elemental Powers. Sometimes, they're not true deities, but simply "rulers" of this particular aspect of nature, or of Elemental Embodiments. A personification of Earth (the world, not the element), or of nature in general, is popular. In this case, beware her (And it's almost always "her") Vengeance.
- A War God. May be good, evil or neutral, but almost always highly chaotic and naturally, violent. Authority Equals Asskicking is probably at full effect here, making him (or her, which in this case is a literal Lady of War) one of the most Badass characters in the setting. If there is a Proud Warrior Race somewhere, they generally have this god as their patron, or at least pay him due respect.
- A Love Goddess (or Love God, but the former is more common, when it isn't a Gender Bender or of Ambiguous Gender). If portrayed positively, may be The Chick among the gods and the embodiment of The Power of Love. If portrayed negatively, may represent Lust and be the Dark Chick and The Corrupter.
- A Cool God, that is, cool to hang around with. Generally has less flashy powers than the other divinities, or at least a more down to earth attitude. May be the only one of them treating mortals seriously. Likely to be a Cool Old Guy, a Sentimental Drunk, or The Stoner if male, a Cool Old Lady or Apron Matron if female. Dionysos is a common model.
- A God of Knowledge. Basically The Smart Guy with divine powers, and as such, can express a wide variety of flavors : Can be a god of magic in general (and in this case, likely The Archmage), of science, of cunning, or some combination of the three. If there are two versions of this god in the same setting, one of them tied to magic and the other to science, expect them to be rivals. Probably thanks to divinities such as Athena or Isis, the role is largely gender equal, in spite of Mother Nature, Father Science.
- A God of Death. Can have the function to go to search for the dead (as The Grim Reaper), leading them to the afterlife (as a Psychopomp, judging them, or ruling the setting version of the afterlife if it is distinct from Heaven and Hell. If it's only the latter, expect this god to have underlings to do the former. Death being such a fearsome thing, and the popular imagery of this ''other'' ruler of the underwold, it is no wonder than this god may likely be portrayed as evil (see Everybody Hates Hades), or at least not a very fun guy. But subversions exist, portraying the personification of death as a good or at least neutral figure (see Don't Fear the Reaper), or giving it some Perky Goth tendencies.
- A Great Gazoo, a being of immense power that is either a Mad God, childish, or simply highly eccentric. If this god is the Top God, he's King of All Cosmos. May be harmless, benevolent in his special way, or a Psychopathic Manchild.
- A Trickster God, that may overlap with Great Gazoo or God of Knowledge. An almost universal figure, this guy is very much the god of Magnificent Bastard. Probably too much of a Wild Card to be entirely trusted, he's still often indispensable to other gods or mortal heroes.
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- Probably the granddaddy of them all (besides actual myth), Tolkien's Legendarium gives us Tolkien's Pantheon, linked to the Valar. Tolkien being Tolkien, however, he has some variation:
- Top God: In this case, the absolute Top God is Eru Ilúvatar, a God of Gods who is probably supposed to be, well, God. The Christian God, to be exact.
- Nature Gods: Most of the Valar fall under this category.
- Manwë: Deputy Top God/"King of the Gods", but mostly King of Air and the Sky.
- Varda: Manwë's wife, Queen of the Stars.
- Ulmo: King of Water.
- Aulë: King of Earth in the sense of rock and particularly mineral wealth; smith of the gods.
- Yavanna: Queen of Earth in the sense of dirt, plants, and animals.
- Oromë: King of forests and the hunt.
- Vána: Queen of blossoming flowers, spring, and youth/growth.
- Nessa: Not quite. A dancer, deer follow her around.
- God of Good: A few of these:
- Estë the healer.
- Nienna, the Lady of Mercy. She supported releasing Morgoth after his first imprisonment, incapable of seeing his evil.
- God of Knowledge: The closest is Lórien, the giver of visions. A few of the Maiar, minor gods/angels may qualify, particularly Olórin, better known as Gandalf—who is also a bit of a Trickster and a Cool God, as well.
- God of Death
- Mandos, keeper of fate and lord of the dead.
- Vairë, his wife, the weaver, who records the history of the world in the halls of the dead.
- War God: Tulkas, plain and simple.
- God of Evil: Melkor/Morgoth.
- The Sundering has the seven Shapers. Note that this is a Deconstruction of Tolkienist fantasy.
- God: Uru-Alat, who created the Shapers by dying.
- Top God / God of Knowledge: Haomane, Lord of Thought; Shaper of the sun and thought, creator of the Ellylon. His gift is intelligence.
- Love Goddess: Arahila the Fair; Shaper of the moon and love, creator of humans. Her gift is love.
- Love God: Satoris the Sower, the Sunderer, Banewreaker. His gift is lust / sexual desire / reproduction. Did not create a race directly, but is the indirect creator of all the subsequent generations of the races except those of the Ellylon. Also the antagonist of the other Shapers, and considered a God of Evil despite not being all that evil.
- Nature Gods
- Neheris-of-the-Leaping-Waters, Shaper of the mountains and rivers, creator of the Fjelltroll.
- Meronin, Shaper of the seas and oceans, creator of a marine race.
- Yrinna of the Fruits, Shaper of plants, creator of the Dwarves.
- God of Death: Oronin, creator of the Were.
- The Sun Sword and related works have a pantheon whose members fit many of these roles (with some overlap) and are about as active as their separation from the mortal plane allows:
- God of Good: Most of the pantheon, particularly Cormalis, Reymalis, and the Mother (who between them are also generally considered Top Gods); Bredan, god of oaths and contracts, also fits here somewhat, though he's more of a God of Law.
- God of Evil: Allasakar, Lord of the Hells
- God of Knowledge: Teos is god of knowledge; Reymalis is god of the closely related wisdom
- War God: Cormalis is god of justice, including just war; violence for its own sake appears to fall more strongly under Allasakar's dominion.
- Love Goddess: The Mother, albeit more of a goddess of familial rather than romantic or sexual love.
- God of Death: Mandaros, though as this is a setting where reincarnation is in play he merely receives, judges, and sends onward the souls of the dead rather than actually ruling them.
- Nature God: Bredan wasn't one originally, but became one after his covenant with the Breodani people turned him into the Hunter God in addition to his usual role as god of oaths.
- Trickster: The nameless god, possibly; we don't know much about him (her? it?) but he's certainly extremely mysterious and plays a very long game; recurring mentor and chessmaster Evayne the Seeress is his emissary and daughter.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Greyhawk (default 3rd edition campaign setting):
- God of Balance: Boccob, Obad-Hai
- God of Nature: Ehlonna, Obad-Hai
- God of War: The brothers Heironeous (good) and Hextor (evil), as well as the god of slaughter Erythnul.
- God of Knowledge: Boccob, Vecna
- God of Death: Nerull, Wee Jas
- Trickster: Garl Glittergold (also patron of the gnomes), Olidammara.
- Many races have their own complete pantheons of gods as well.
- God of good: Most of the Sovereign Host.
- God of Evil: The Dark Six
- God of Balance: Aureon
- God of Nature: Balinor, The Devourer
- War God: Dol Arrah (lawful good), Dol Dorn (chaotic good), The Mockery (neutral evil).
- God of Knowledge: Aureon, The Shadow.
- God of Death: The Keeper.
- Trickster: The Traveler.
- By Tyr's right buttock, the Forgotten Realms setting has such a huge pantheon we gave it its own page. Shown above are just five out of over a hundred.
- Warhammer 40,000 has several pantheons:
- God of Good: The God-Emperor of Mankind, stretching the definition of "good". In any other setting he'd be a God of Evil, with billions dead as a result of his direct actions, never mind those of his agents and worshipers. Did we mention 40k is GRIMDARK yet?
- God of Knowledge: The Omnissiah, the supreme machine-spirit worshiped by the the Adeptus Mechanicus who depending on the source either is or isn't an aspect of the Emperor (or possibly the Void Dragon).
- Chaos Gods (All of them double as God of Evil):
- War God: Khorne, who comprises psychopathic bloodlust. Sometimes also depicted as the god of honor and martial prowess.
- God of Knowledge, Great Gazoo and Trickster Archetype God: Tzeentch, the god of plotters, who is required to have at least two mutually conflicting plans in progress at any given time.
- Cool God: Nurgle, of a sort.
- Love Goddess: Slaanesh, who comprises love and desire in all its forms (although the psychotic hypersexualized hedonism form has largely displaced the others).
- And there's also Malice, a sort of Mad God who stands for the self-destructive side of Chaos.
- Eldar Gods:
- The orks just have a pair of War Gods, Gork and Mork. They represent brutal cunning and cunning brutality, and given half a chance the orks will go into full scale wars over which is which. Unlike the other deities of the setting it's fairly unlikely that they're real, though with 40k you never know.
- Most commonly, Mork is brutally cunning, while Gork is cunningly brutal.
- Warhammer Fantasy has the following:
- The Old World Gods (human)
- Verena - Goddess of Balance and Goddess of Wisdom (esp. Justice)
- Morr - God of Death (also Dreams)
- Manaan - God of the Sea (a Poseidon / Neptune type god)
- Taal - God of Nature (esp. hunting)
- Rhya - Goddess of Nature (esp. vegetation)
- Ranald - Trickster God
- Ulric - War God (covers brute force, strength and courage. Also does Wolves and Winter)
- Myrmidia - War Goddess (covers strategy, tactics and the art of war)
- Shallya - Goddess of Healing and Mercy (God of Good)
- Khaine - in the older background he was the human God of Evil
- Solkan - god of Law (not neccesariy justice) and Vengeance
(In addition to these the men of the Empire worship their deified founder Sigmar (who combines aspects of War God and God of Good), while the Bretonnians worship the Lady of the Lake (who combines aspects of Nature Goddess and Goddess of Good)
- The Elf Gods (these are the Sky-gods of the Cadai. They have evil counterparts in the Cthonic gods of the Cytharai):
- Asuryan - Top God (creator, also God of Balance and to some extent God of Good, though all the Cadai are somewaht that)
- Khaine - War God
- Hoeth - God of Wisdom
- Loec - Trickster Go
- Kurnous - Nature God (esp. Hunting)
- Isha - Nature Goddess (mother)
- Morai-Heg - Goddess of Fate (crone)
- Lilaeth - Goddess of Magic and the Moon (maiden)
- Vaul - Smith God
- Mathlann - Sea God
- Ladrielle - Goddess of travellers and lost things
- Ereth Khial - Goddess of the Dead and Goddess of Evil (exiled Cadai goddess, leader of the Cytharai)
- The Chaos Gods
- Khorne - War God
- Tzeentch - God of Wisdom and Trickster God (devoted to change, scheming and upsetting the status quo)
- Nurgle - God of Plague and Pestilence (in many ways a dark Nature God, since he adores new life, especially bacteria...)
- Slaanesh - God of Vice, Sensation, Lust and Excess (doesn't really qualify as any classic type).
- The Orc Gods
- Gork - War God (brutal, but cunning!)
- Mork - Also a War God (cunning, but brutal!)
- The Dwarf Ancestor Gods
- Grungni - Smith God
- Grimnir - War God
- Valaya - Goddess of Hearth and Home (mother goddess)
The other races tend to have either one racial god (the Skaven Horned Rat, the Ogres' Great Maw) or a pantheon whose characteristics have not been terribly well defined (The Lizardmen's ideas on the Old Ones, the gods of ancient Nehekhara etc).
- Top God: Jas, being the creator of the world. Zaros wants to be this.
- God of Evil: Zamorak
- God of Balance Between Good and Evil: Guthix, maybe Zaros
- God of Good: Saradomin and Armadyl
- Nature Gods: Seren. Guthix also qualifies.
- War God: Bandos
- God of Knowledge: Saradomin
- God of Death: Harold Death Esquire
- Great Gazoo: Brassica_Prime
- From the Menaphite Pantheon
- Top God: Tumeken
- Nature God: Elidinis
- God of Evil: Amascut
- Cool God: Icthlarin and Apmeken
- God of Death: Icthlarin helps the dead reach the afterlife.
- God of Knowledge: Het and Scabaras
- The Elder Scrolls universe has a pantheon containing the following:
- Top God: Akatosh (filling the "King of Gods" niche). The "Godhead theory" posits there's also a God of Gods, namely the Sleeping Godhead who hallucinates everything in the Mundus. Talos possibly became top god after his ascension.
- God of Evil: Sithis, the remnant of Padomay, currently an Eldritch Abomination embodying nonexistence. However, Sithis doesn't act directly; this is for lesser Padomaic beings, namely some of the more evil Daedra. In practice, it's usually Mehrunes Dagon or Molag Bal who fill the "God of Evil" niche. Sithis is frequently interpreted as a god of evil by the Dark Brotherhood, though that may not be true. The Argonians don't necessarily see him as such, and Lorkhan (see "Cool God" below) is believed to be an aspect of Sithis. All that can be known for sure is that Sithis represents chaos and change, in contrast to Anuiel's order and stasis, and whether Sithis is good or evil depends on one's point of view on Order Versus Chaos.
- Nature Gods: Kynareth fills the niche.
- Love Goddess: there are two. Mara represents the platonic love and compassion, and Dibella the erotic love.
- Cool God: Lorkhan, the trickster god and champion of humanity, and his kinda successor / kinda avatar / kinda whatever Talos.
- God of Knowledge: Julianos is the nice god of knowledge. Hermaeus Mora is the nasty one, specializing in eldritch lore.
- God of Death: Arkay, and you shouldn't fear this reaper. His opposite number is Mannimarco, God of Worms, the self-proclaimed god of undeath.
- Great Gazoo/Trickster: Sheogorath, of course. There's a reason they call him the Madgod: he's not just insane, he's literally the god of insanity. He's also a patron of the arts, though this is largely ignored.
- Pillars of Eternity's pantheon is quite large according to Obsidian but only four deities are currently known.
- God of Good: Eothas, god of light and redemption.
- War God: Magran, goddess of fire and war, whose priests frequently employ firearms.
- God of Death: Berath, god of cycles, doors, and death.