Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

[Labyrinth Lord] Worldbuilding: The Gods of Bithynia

Hommage des dieux à Zeus

Isn't it a bit cramped in this pantheon?

Influences

What always struck me as one of the best parts of Das Schwarze Auge was the wonderful way religion was handled in the background, especially in the early editions. Now, there are a lot of things to say about the way this religion seems old and contrived and clearly based on the classic pantheon, but in my opinion that is actually one of the best parts of it. All the Twelve Gods of Aventuria (which later got supplemented by a plethora of half-gods, antagonists, and other quasi-divine beings) have clear responsibilities and characters. They are stock characters that can easily be used in any given situation. Everyone can think how Rondra, goddess of war and honor is like (especially if her symbol is the lion), anyone can think what Ingerimm, god of fire, metalworking and dwarves would be like.

The interesting thing is that they are clearly derived from the classical archetypes, just stripped down to their bare essentials and mixed up a bit (e.g. the sun god as the lawful good ruling god instead of a completely Zeus-like figure). And then outfitted with something that amounted to a medieval church structure where appropriate:an Inquisition for the sungod, orders of knights for the goddess of war, centers of learning for the goddess of wisdom, etc… it all works surprisingly well in context and mostly because the basic assumption is that there is no petty strife between different gods. Some arguments maybe, but there is a general consensus on what’s right and what’s wrong.

Of course that is low fantasy Aventuria, and I am trying to worldbuild for D&D here. So we need strife, we need action  between the gods, we need pettiness and arguments, and actually, I don’t want knightly orders, I don’t want devils,  and all those medieval trappings. Let’s go back to when gods took their matters in their own hands… the 1960s, with all those wonderful Sword and Sandal movies…

Or alternatively the ancient world of the Greeks.

Planning

For my own campaign I don’t want big ecclesiastical structures, I want something more along the lines of worship in the ancient pre-classical world. The pantheon should be free-wheeling,with a few generally agreed-on gods, but rather open to outside gods able to break into the local ‘market’, which of course  believers might first try to fit into the already known pantheon, like Zeus and Jupiter were connected with each other when the Romans slowly gained power.

This also leaves the whole thing open for local cults of minor relevance that will not be discounted just because nobody has ever heard about their deity. It also will leave some open space (and I should add something like that in somehow) for deified heroes, similar to Heracles and Theseus, to give a clear indication of what might be possible farther down the campaign.

In other words: pretty close to your normal D&D pantheon, just with more internal logic.

Sources

The names of the pantheon are mostly variations on gods in the Greek/Roman pantheon which most people will not catch.

For Hestia I could not  just find another name for, Tyche seems obscure enough (and I like Pratchett’s notion of calling her ‘The Lady’ anyway, so her name should not come up too much), Vejovis was a new one even to me, but he was an actual Roman god. He was generally considered  to be Aesculapios (who would be one of these deified heroes) but his character is much more twisty than that: he slowly moved from being the god of marshes, snakes, and criminals to become the god of medicine and healing. Some speculate that heoriginally was a much darker being that had slowly succumbed to the light side over time. Which would be a nice change variation on a far too well-known trope.

Oh, and then there is Anantios, who is not really part of the Greek world, but  I wanted a trickster and a spider god in there, and why should that one be so dark when we already have the god of wine and the one of death being the same.

The Gods of Bithynia
 Name - Symbol - Area of Influence 
 Kasios the Mighty ('The old lecher')    Lightning Bolt         sky, thunder, rulership
 Basíleia the Kindly                     Diadem                 women, marriage, family
 Dawon from the Deep                     Trident                sea, horses
 Kidaria the Plentiful                   Grain                  fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons
 Itonia the Wise                         Helmet                 wisdom, handicrafts, defence and strategic warfare
 Adon/Chthon* the Nightly One            Grapes/Key             wine, celebrations and ecstasy, theatre
                                                                 /underworld, dead and the riches under the Earth
 Loxias the Enlightened                  Lyre                   light, knowledge, music, poetry, dreams, prophecy and archery
 Kynthia the Huntress                    Bow and Arrow          hunt, virginity, childbirth, archery, animals, the moon
 Enyal the Warrior                       Sword                  war, violence and bloodshed
 Kypris the Beautiful                    Rose                   love, beauty, desire, sex
 Chalkeús the Mute                       Fire                   fire and forge
 Enodios the Quick                       Tortoise               commerce, thieves, and messengers
 Hestia the Friendly/Welcoming           Hearth                 hearth, domesticity, family
 Vejovis the Scaled                      Serpent                marshland and earthquakes, medicine, healing.
 Triodia the Arcane                      Crossroads             magic, magic users, and crossroads
 Nomios the Wild                         Flute                  wild, shepherds and flocks, sex, nature, hunting and rustic music
 Anantios (Anancy) the Sly               Spider web             spiders, trickster, knowledge
 Tyche ('Luck','The Lady'**)             Coin                   luck, gambling
* one god who personifies two different aspects, this is a widely-known mystery of his cults
**'the One-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-(no!-the-other-one)', general consensus is that if you call to her she will go away
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