Wednesday, February 17, 2010

World Building, One Map at a Time, Developing Gods

For me, having a good map to start with is critical. I need a map with personality. I like big continents because I'm not much for high seas adventure and I like sprawling lands that are cut up by swamps, deserts, mountains and rivers. I like a lot of unexplored land where I can hide all that nasty things I want. Plus, I know when I play, I like the feel of unexplored territory. The unknown. And the idea if I can conquer these wilds this land will be mine. Wouldn't a fortress and a town look swell over there kinda thing.

A good map starts everything for me. It helps me determine the culture traits and what gods they worship. If I have a culture set in a mass swamp they will be much different than a nomadic desert culture and the gods the worship would be different. The only thing I shy away from, just because it just too nuts for me to keep track of, is the same god having different names in different cultures. I try to put a twist on the way they view their god's teachings, but Norman the God of Mediocrity, will be known as Norman where ever the players go. But there will be different views on what is mediocre.

I tend to shy away from canned gods from known mythologies. I enjoy developing a divine storyline. Those gods are always so dramatic. If any of you have read The Points of Light books by Robert Conley, he borrowed the names of my gods and melded them with his own mythology. He used the names of gods from the original Judges Guild line and needed alternatives. Rob asked if he could use the names I said of course, for a million dollars. We bargained for a while and I got a nice lunch at McDonalds. But I digress.

I have run campaigns where I've used a monotheistic religion and campaigns with an entire platoon of gods to grovel to. You would have to ask my players, but I think I've run both successfully. Especially one campaign where I used a pseudo Christian mythology. I kept enough elements to allow the players to make it familiar but twisted it enough to keep them from 'knowing' everything.

My current roster of gods is ten. But one of them is dead. For some reason I have a thing for killing off a god or two. Since the campaign I've developed is sorta like a points of light concept many of the gods center around battle or war. I try not to assign aspects to my gods. There is no God of War or Goddess of Love. There are three gods that are warriors. The reason for the three gods of war is the different cultures have different philosophies of war. And since war is such a large part of their lives there is plenty of room for three of them.

As I've said above there are three different gods of war, are they good or are they evil, well it depends on which side you are standing on at the time. I don't like alignments in my campaign, they tend to simplify things too much such as "Hey you are neutral good, I'm neutral good, we can hang." Two cultures with the same goal, but with different approaches to that goal can be fierce enemies. Even though they agree on the end result they will fight to the death that their way of reaching the goal is the only way. To try to obtain the goal any other way would corrupt it.

Part 2 tomorrow will be about developing evil religions and maybe more.