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War God
aka: War Goddess

Pomena loves the orchard. And Liber loves the vine. And Pales loves the straw built shed warm with the breath of kine; And Venus loves the whispers of plighted youth and maid, in April's ivory moonlight. Beneath the chessnut shade.
But thy father loves the clashing of broadsword and of shield: He loves to drink the steam that reeks from the fresh battlefield: He smiles a smile more dreadful Than his own dreadful frown, When he sees the thick black cloud of smoke Go up from the conquered town.
—Sir Thomas Macaulay Lays of Ancient Rome

If you were looking for the book series or the video game, see The War Gods and God of War respectively.

A character regarded as a deity or manifestation of war (or battle, murder, conflict, etc.). They're most likely a member of the setting's ruling pantheon, but could be any character (including a mortal) who is regarded by other characters as a god(dess) of war. The War God in question often exemplifies either the physical or strategic aspects of war, although they can embody both.

War Gods are of course nearly all very Badass, possibly also a Four-Star Badass. The less moral ones also have a tendency to be Blood Knights, and in fact are often the only god that Blood Knights would bother to worship, if they don't want to fight them themselves.

There's also a tendency in various works of fiction to pair one with a Love Goddess in something of an Opposites Attract manner, either as unlikely friends or romantic partners. Considering Ares and Aphrodite were lovers, this makes this aspect Older Than Feudalism. Also, some of these figures (usually goddesses) were gods of both fertility/love and war.

A War God is frequently involved in some form of Divine Conflict.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel has several of these:
  • From DC, we have Orion of the New Gods. However he is an interesting play on the trope, Orion's mental state, having to constantly battalion his own bloodlust makes Orion represent the psychological scar of war that never goes away. Edit: His portfolio also includes being the god of the fight. Which seriously screws over the DC as a whole when Darkseid has him assassinated to kick off Final Crisis, making all the heroes unable to stop it.
    • Wonder Woman has a reoccurring foe in Ares who often combines the Blood Knight aspects of Ares with the tactics of Mars. Whether or not the two are one in the same or details of his history with Wonder Woman depend on which continuity.

    Fanfiction 

    Literature 
  • A more benevolent example would be Guan Yu from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, who was often referred to as 'The God of War' due to his nigh-inhuman courage and combat-skills. It gets mentioned a lot in the Dynasty Warriors games as well. (Amusingly, he's still worshipped as a god in parts of China today... a God of Wealth and Commerce, that is, due to his equally-legendary frugality and wisdom).
  • Good Omens features the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including War, a Fiery Redhead who works as a television war correspondent (who starts wars so she can cover them).
  • In Discworld, War married a Valkyrie and has become a Henpecked Husband who doesn't want to ride out when Death comes for him.
  • Bananach from Wicked Lovely.
  • Tulkas from The Silmarillion, though he's more of a Boisterous Bruiser who delights in all forms of physical contest, violent or otherwise. The earliest drafts had two others, the siblings Makar and Measse, who were barbaric and destructive, but they were removed as the mythology developed and the Valar became more purely good; Morgoth ended up taking over the brutality and violence of war.
  • Mars in the Incarnations of Immortality series since he has complete control over all matters related to war and various magical abilities related to war. He alone controls the Doomsday Clock.
  • Tomanak from The War Gods. Considered not only a god of war but also justice. Krashnark serves the martial ambitions for the Dark Gods and is also noted as the only one of the Dark Gods that Tomanak respects because while still brutal, Krashnark does follow a code of martial honour and is the only Dark God that can actually be trusted to keep his word.
  • Mars appears in Tom Holt's Ye Gods! Notable in that, since he is still expected to ride in the front of battle in bronze armour, regardless of technological advances, and since "the best definition of an immortal is someone who hasn't died yet", the device on his shield is now a CND logo.
  • Mars also features as a major character in Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords. He's a Jerkass, but also kind of a Jerkass Woobie at the very end. He's also one of only two of the gods we ever see even attempt to answer the petition of his followers. Yes, that petition was evil, but still.
  • Dragonlance has two, one for the Gods of Light and one for the Gods of Darkness. The former is Kiri-Jolith, god of Just Cause, usually depicted as a man with a bison's head, and the latter is Sargonnas, god of conquest and vengeance, usually a traditional minotaur (both, not incidentally, are popular gods among the minotaurs, the setting's most prominent Proud Warrior Race). Paladine and Takhisis, the heads of both pantheons, also have martial aspects, though they do a lot of other things too.
  • In the New Jedi Order, the Yuuzhan Vong pantheon has one of these, Yun-Yammka the Slayer. As the Vong are a particularly bloodthirsty Proud Warrior Race, he's considered one of the highest deities in the pantheon, with only Yun-Yuuzhan the Creator above him.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians has Ares, who is the god Percy likes the least. He treats his children even worse than the other gods and would do anything to start a war.
    • There is also Athena, who is the most logical of the Olympians. Percy notes that she would be a worse enemy than Ares, or possibly even Poseidon - if she wants you to die, you will die, no matter how long it takes for her to accomplish it.
    • The Heroes of Olympus introduces Mars, who is more reasonable than his Greek counterpart. He also treats his children a lot better, almost looking like a Doting Parent compared to Ares, and seems quite amused at Percy talking back to him.

    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Aztec Mythology: Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca.
  • Norse Mythology: Odin, Tyr, Freya and you can make a case for several of the others. There is also the Valkyries Hild, Thrima and Gun which literally mean battle, fight and war.
  • Greek Mythology: Ares, Athena, Enyo, and again, you can make a case for several others.
    • Athena is the goddess of Strategy, because she is the goddess of science and crafts. Ares is the god of fury and bloodshed. So they sort of divide up aspects of war.
      • Not to mention that many versions of Ares have him handicapped in someway; often with a wounded leg. This symbolized the danger of an imbalanced warrior.
      • Though Ares was THE god of war, he was rendered somewhat redundant by Athena. While Athena was not as bloodthirsty, she more than made up for it with tactics and cunning (expected from the goddess of intelligence).
    • Enyo, was, almost literally, the goddess of war crimes, charged with orchestrating the sacking of cities to make them as horrible as possible. Her job was literally to create Obligatory War Crime Scenes. She was an even bigger Blood Knight than Ares himself!
    • Mars, Minerva, Bellona, and possibly the others' alternative names in their Roman versions.
      • While Minerva & Athena and Bellona & Enyo are pretty much interchangeable, Mars was modified to be more similar to Athena; Mars was a tactical warrior, a symbol of masculine power, as well as an agricultural god in the beginning. Ares, by contrast, was a bloodthirsty bully and much more brutal than Mars.
  • Hindu Mythology: Indra and Kartikkeya are almost always this. Shiva, Durga; Krishna on occasion.
    • Kali, who is in charge of death, naturally has an interest in war. The Gurkhas' Battle Cry means "Blood for Kali, the Gurkhas are coming." However the notch where the blade meets the hilt of a Kukri is a dedication to Shiva.
  • Then there's War of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse fame in biblical mythology, and in his many adaptions.
  • Here's a list of war god/dessess for ya: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/godsmyth/a/102110-War-Gods-And-Goddesses.htm.
  • In The Bible one of the titles of God is Lord of Hosts.
    • God is believed by some scholars to be a Composite Character of the Top God El of Canaanite religion, and the actual Semitic War God Yahweh(though other scholers say they were one and the same to begin with). This may explain some of his more... Morally ambiguous acts, though Anat and Tanit (AKA Tank) were the more popular war goddesses to most Semites.
    • While he is decisively not a god, Archangel Michael is officially the Archistrategos of the Heavenly Host, patron saint of soldiers and all military people, and an all-round badass. In some versions, he personally defeated Satan in single combat.
  • In Egyptian Mythology there was Neith, Sekhmet, Set, Horus, and a slew of lesser-known gods associated with war, due to different gods being worshiped from town to town.
  • Armenian mythology had Vahagn, a dragon-slaying god, and Aray, or "Ara the Handsome". Anahit, usually a fertility and beauty goddess, could also be a war goddess.
  • In Celtic Mythology there was Lugh, the Morrighan, and quite a slew of others.
  • The Babylonian Ishtar (also known as Astarte) was a goddess of love and war. Cynics might argue that those aren't all that inappropriate together, though; and as would Shakespeare and a number of others say, "All's fair in love and war."
  • Japanese Mythology, has Hachiman and Bishamon. The first is somewhat like the Roman Mars being a patron of warriors, protector of Japan and a god of agriculture and fishermen. The second was a Buddhist deity culturally changed to being more of a war god.
  • Chinese Mythology has Guan Yu, hero of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and deified mortal. Aside from being a god of war and protector of China he is also the patron of bean curd.
  • Hawaiian mythology has Ku. He kind of looks like Beavis.

    Tabletop Games 
  • With so many settings, Magic: The Gathering has had several, mostly aligned with the colour Red (emotions and chaos) or White (order and morality).
  • Dungeons & Dragons has quite a few:
    • Gruumsh, the patron deity of the Orcs in the default pantheon, also doubles as their god of war, unsurprisingly. His son, Bahgtru, is the god of strength and combat (and incidentally dumber than a sac of Mjölnirs), while his lieutenant Ilneval is the god of warfare and leadership.
      • Other pantheons in the default setting have their own war gods. Drow have Selvetarm, god of war and bloodshed. Elves have Corellon Larethian, who has warfare among his many fields of influence as the leader of the elvish gods. Dwarves have Clangeddin Silverbeard, The Father of Battles (as well as a few other, lesser gods). Gnomes have Gaerdal Ironhand, the god of defenders and warriors. Even the normally peaceful Halflings have Arvoreen, god of protection, vigilance and war. Although rarely mentioned from 3.0 onwards, goblins and hobgoblins have... pretty much all of their gods, except the one with diplomacy as his portfolio (and even then his role is chiefly to get goblinoids to cooperate together to wage war on anyone else).
    • The Forgotten Realms setting has Tempus, the God of War and Lord of Battles. Most of his worshipers are exactly as Ax-Crazy as you would expect.
      • Tempus himself, however, while listed as Chaotic Neutral, generally respects the rules of war and firmly believes that war for its own sake is pointless; the only thing that gives it meaning is the peace that follows.
      • Tempus also has three subordinate deities that specialize in specific aspects of war. The Red Knight is the demigoddess of strategy and tactics, Valkur specializes in naval warfare, and Garagos is the demigod of bloodlust and destruction (only avoiding a Chaotic Evil alignment in 3E because he's a virtually nonsentient personification of rage). Interestingly, while The Red Knight and Valkur are mortals that ascended with Tempus' aid, Garagos used to be the god of war in the Netherese pantheon under the name Targus. He was somewhat less rage-filled back then, but was usurped by the newcomer Tempus in the aftermath of the fall of Netheril, and had to re-invent himself in a lesser niche. Faiths and Pantheons states point-blank that Tempus could stomp him flat if he wanted, but he isn't interested in taking on that section of the portfolio of war.
      • Meanwhile, the Mulhorandi pantheon has Anhur, an interesting example in that he is Chaotic Good and fights only against evil. He's also a deity of storms.
    • The main war gods of the 3.5 default setting are half-brothers Heironeous (Lawful Good) and Hextor (Lawful Evil), as well as Kord (Chaotic Good) and Erythnul (Chaotic Evil).
    • D&D actually provides the page image for this one; that's Bane (no relation to his Forgotten Realms namesake, alledgedly), the god of war in the Points Of Light campaign. He's Lawful Evil, with several good and neutral followers due to the order his church imposes. His greatest enemy is the aforementioned Gruumsh, who's waged war against him for thousands of years all for the title of God of War.
  • In Traveller Sword Worlds, the Aeserist (neo-Norse paganism) religion interprets Tyr as the god of chivalry in an interesting variation.
  • Both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have Khorne, the Blood God. His opposite deity is Slaanesh, the Chaos god of excess (usually flanderized as a god of lust). Khorne is also possibly the single most powerful divinity in both of those settings, barring the God Emperor of Mankind (although whether he is a god is up to debate) and possibly Tzeentch.
    • Warhammer Fantasy also has Ulric and Myrmidia, first being the Generic Barbarian war god, and the other an Expy of Athena.
    • Khorne himself is also a Barbarian War God and sort of the evil (and far more powerful) counterpart to Ulric in Warhammer Fantasy. As Khorne is worshiped by the setting's evil Vikings.
    • Both settings have Khaine, the war god of the Elves and the Eldar.
      • Technically speaking, he's actually the god of murder. War is just murder on an industrial scale, after all.
    • To say nothing of Gork and Mork, Orcish/Orky gods of brutal cunning and cunning brutality (one hits you when you're not looking, the other hits you really hard when you are). Arguing over which is which is yet another excuse to fight each other.
  • Pathfinder has several deities associated with war. The first is Gorum, the actual god of war and battle. He's Chaotic Neutral and cares nothing for the causes that people fight for; as long as there is war, Gorum will be there to aid the good and the evil alike. He is chiefly concerned with the physical aspects of battle, and is worshipped by frontline soldiers in particular. Torag is the Dwarven god of strategy; where Gorum is the footsoldiers' god, Torag is the generals' god. Iomedae, militaristic goddess of honour and justice is often worshipped as the patron of just wars, though she herself would prefer to lose that title. Moloch, archdevil of war, fires, and obedience is the general in charge of The Legions of Hell, and is concerned with the regimented nature of the army itself, while Demon Lord Nurgal governs senseless wars that should not have been fought in the first place. Finally, there is Szuriel, archdaemon, and Horseman of War. Essentially what happens when a divinity adopts the mentality of a Psycho for Hire, Szuriel represents war's most negative aspects—societal breakdown, war crimes, rape and looting, and genocide. Essentially the personification of War Is Hell, her few followers are inevitably Sociopathic Soldiers, General Rippers, or fellow Psychos For Hire. Also, Ragathiel Empyreal Lord and General of Vengeance and general smiting of evil.
  • In the Mutant Chronicles universe, Algeroth is the Dark Apostle of War and Technology.
  • Exalted has six major war gods, one for each compass direction and the centre (each of which also covers a particular variety or aspect of warfare (such as Tachi-Kun, god of heroic warfare, and Siakal, goddess of slaughter in warfare), all presided over by a general Goddess of War. Some of these war gods also cover separate but related purviews (Siakal is goddess of sharks because they're related to her domain, while Ahlat started out as god of cattle and was promoted to Southern war god after his promotion of cattle raid warfare produced large numbers of fine warriors). There are also a few related and superior gods, such as Mars, the Maiden of Battles, and the Unconquered Sun is regarded as the highest war god in Heaven. Besides these, there are innumerable lesser war gods.

    Video Games 
  • Along with the examples from Greek Mythology, there's Kratos, the occasional God of War.
  • Tales of Symphonia: The other Kratos receives the title War God when he reaches Level 100.
  • War in Darksiders.
  • In Fall from Heaven, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse also make an appearance, including Buboes, the Horseman of War and Stephanos, the Horseman of Conquest... and, on top of them, the Avatar of Wrath, a colossal manifestation of concentrated anger and bloodlust. The overall god of war (and chaos), when armageddon isn't happening, is Camulos.
  • There's Uesugi Kenshin from the Warring States Period of feudal Japan. Both historically and in the Samurai Warriors series, he's often referred to as 'Bishamonten', an earthly incarnation of the God of War.
  • Uesugi Kenshin also appears in the Sengoku Basara games and their anime adaptation. He's not directly referred to as Bishamonten in these, but he is known as "the War God of Echigo."
  • RuneScape has Bandos, the Big Bad of the Cave Goblin storyline. The goblins call him the "Big High War God".
  • There's a whole pantheon of them in the form of The Second Circle from Lusternia. They range from noble combat aesthetes like Terentia the Even-Bladed, who glory in the poetry of warfare, to bloodthirsty hunters like Shikari the Predator, who is described as fond of "playing with his prey".
  • Age of Wonders lets you build a shrine of war and worship the Spirit of War, portrayed as an empty red helmet with red skeleton arms. He sends you on missions about killing and destroying.
  • In Princess Maker 2, Olive can fight the war god. If she beats him, she gets his sword, which is rather useless (No defense bonus in a game where defense optimization rules, and you've already killed everything hard at this point).
  • There's a web browser game on Facebook called Castle Age. A character from there, called Malekus, would qualify.
  • Nethack features Death, Famine, and Pestilence in its endgame, leading one to question where exactly War is. It's the player.
  • Balthazar in Guild Wars.
  • In SoulCalibur 3's Chronicles of the Sword mode, one chapter begins with the player character musing about how they heard someone call them War God(dess) once (Which is not an unreasonable claim).
  • Morrighan of the Mabinogi universe is the Goddess of War and Vengeance.
  • Pillars of Eternity has Magran, the goddess of war and fire. Her priests frequently wield firearms.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the Tarka believe in the war god Sardo Kal. He is also their pantheon's Trickster Archetype. This, in many ways, says a lot about the way the Tarka view combat.
  • There's multiple in Tears To Tiara 2. Melqart the God of War. Ashtarte and Tanit, both the Goddesses of War and Harvest and the same person.

    Webcomics 


Top GodGod TropesWhat If God Was One of Us?
Spiritual SportsTropes of the Divine    
Victory Through IntimidationCombat TropesWarfare Regression
Virtue/Vice CodificationReligion TropesWarrior Monk
Vampires Are RichImageSource/Tabletop GamesWilling Channeler
Veteran InstructorMilitary and Warfare TropesWar Hawk

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