Jump to content

Gods of Law and Chaos


Recommended Posts

So as part of my continuous mental exercise to develop a campaign I dusted off my old Star Crown Empire book from ICE. I have described how I will change the size of the continent, where some cities are, now I come to religion. Now I don't know if I will give my priests spells or powers (probably) but religion will play a role.
To this end they describe ten gods.. But some are a ..... problem. they doesn't fit.

Gods of Law
Order and Commerce
Justice
Wealth (already in the commerce, I feel this is redundant)
Skies (male)
Night skies (female)


Gods of Chaos
Luck
Storms
War
Fire
Filth and disease (seriously)

See I like most of it because there is no good or evil here , except for that last one.

So I come to the venerable sages of the forum. Can you propose a replacement for Wealth and for Filth and Disease?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not coming up with much.  maybe Entropy to replace Filth.

 

But even the others you are keeping are not that appealing, to me anyway.  Skies and Night Skies?  Exactly what do they entail? Wouldn't Storms be a part of the Sky?

 

Anyway, good luck 👍

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice to see someone using the old Shadow World stuff. I always liked it, probably because it was in a bit different and very high-powered. Are you updating it to 6E?

 

I suspect "wealth" in this case is synonymous with prosperity, plenty, fertility, abundance, blessing. That is different from "commerce," which I see as more of a systemic thing. Commerce would run as a well-oiled system, all things in finely tuned balance.

 

You could also view wealth as greed and could move it into the chaos category. In that case I would see the chaos aspect as imbalance, or rather a complete disregard for balance. Not unlike war which takes what it wants without regard for others, or luck which just doesn't care.

 

Filth and disease to me is simply the concept of entropy and decay, but presented in a way that's meaningful to a common unscientific person. And of course entropy is simply the tendency of all things to move towards disorder. Disease (entropy) is there for the natural opposite of commerce (order).

 

Storms seems to overlap with both luck (misfortune) and war (disaster). It's not easy to pigeonhole these concepts or to treat them as orthogonal to one another. Maybe these "gods" are not comprehensive but rather the subset of things that ordinary people care about, that impact their lives. If they are perceived as beneficial they are lawful and if they are perceived as threatening then they are chaotic.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mythology has plenty of examples. Instead of Wealth you could have such classics as Agriculture, Fertility, Hearth/Home and protection thereof, Love/Romance. Filth and Disease could be replaced with chaotic activities such as archetypal mythic Tricksters play, e.g. Theft and/or Lies/Deception. Or Disease could be subsumed into general Decay, or Disaster/Destruction along with fires, earthquakes, floods, locusts etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well the God of Wealth is described as "Not wanting much, just half, of everything!"

43 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Mythology has plenty of examples. Instead of Wealth you could have such classics as Agriculture, Fertility, Hearth/Home and protection thereof, Love/Romance. Filth and Disease could be replaced with chaotic activities such as archetypal mythic Tricksters play, e.g. Theft and/or Lies/Deception. Or Disease could be subsumed into general Decay, or Disaster/Destruction along with fires, earthquakes, floods, locusts etc.

I like the Agriculture one as the setting is very agriculture centered.

 

And trickster sounds too much like luck.  But I could be wrong!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm of a mind to agree with the suggestions replacing Wealth with Agriculture or Nature. The "sky" deity is a long enduring mythological archetype and having an earth based deity to balance it out is equally as common.

 

If I were going religion as a theme, I would just delete the last chaos deity entirely and make a show of there being a missing deity. When the players make that connection (after throwing a truck load of clue-by-fours at them) and ask about it, I would smile and say "Huh, interesting, I wonder why that is." When they damn well know I planned it all out. Then I would let the players do my work for me and figure out what deity it was over the course of the game. Maybe trying to stop someone from unleashing a locked away deity or some such.

 

There is also a book of petty gods out there. I think it's on drivethru free or pwyw.

 

Just my thoughts.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mr. R said:

So as part of my continuous mental exercise to develop a campaign I dusted off my old Star Crown Empire book from ICE. I have described how I will change the size of the continent, where some cities are, now I come to religion. Now I don't know if I will give my priests spells or powers (probably) but religion will play a role.
To this end they describe ten gods.. But some are a ..... problem. they doesn't fit.

Gods of Law
Order and Commerce
Justice
Wealth (already in the commerce, I feel this is redundant)
Skies (male)
Night skies (female)


Gods of Chaos
Luck
Storms
War
Fire
Filth and disease (seriously)

See I like most of it because there is no good or evil here , except for that last one.

So I come to the venerable sages of the forum. Can you propose a replacement for Wealth and for Filth and Disease?

 

You could try mirroring.

 

Under Order there would be Trade (whether having a trade or making equitable trades)

Under Chaos there would be Greed (whether fraud or outright theft)

 

Under Order there would be Healing (whether mystical, doctors, first aid, nurturing, mid-wiving, etc.)

Under Chaos there would be Pestilence (disease, famine, infestations, etc.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

   I’m gonna go with what I’m good at....Filth & Disease!
   It strikes me that in all religions fake or not, your praying to, for or about something you either want or want to emulate.  But nobody “wants” filth & disease.  (From this point on I’m just going to refer to them as “F&D”)  If you want a substitute for a God of Evil in your campaign you need to think what such a being brings to/for the worshipper. 

   You could possibly have a Culthulu type who does the same things. “Great Scary Goober in the sky, I know you’re going to come and reign down death and destruction upon the whole world, but in the meantime can I have a job? “And if you could turn my cousin Bob into a newt that would be really great too, Amen”

 You could make the Priests of Goober a scary bunch just by referencing all that Call of Culthulu type stuff that’s already out there.  I may be sounding too flip to be taken seriously, but I really mean that you have access to a wonderful assortment of terrifying source material at your fingertips so don’t beat yourself up trying to reinvent the wheel.   Best of luck on your game.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The God of Filth and Disease. 

 

I would cut out the "filth" part, but in a superstitious time, diseases might be thought of as being caused/cursed/punished by the God's for some transgression, and this "god" might be the one the other God's send to inflict the disease upon someone. So it might be a minor God or "messenger" God, but people might still pray to him/it to try and win his favor and not give them a disease, or bribe him with offering or sacrifices, especially if they feel guilty over something they have done that think might cause one of the other God's to want to punish them with a disease. 

 

For example, a farmer might have slept with his neighbors wife, which goes against the God of Law's commandments, and now he is worried that the God of Law is going to punish him with a disease, so he begins sacrificing some of his livestock to the God of Disease as an attempt to bribe him into not giving him the disease. 

 

Could be a good plot hook/clue in an adventure if the Player come across someone praying to or sacrificing something to the Disease God, because it probably means they feel guilty about something they have done. 

 

And, of course, Evil NPC's might try and bribe and pray to the disease God to have them give a disease to an innocent person. 

 

Like other people have mentioned the God of Wealth can be different from Commerce as the God of Commerce might be like a God of the Deal, Barter or Fair Trade, or safe trade routes, etc... While the God of Wealth might be more like greed or family money, etc... money not earned, but gained through luck, inheritance, etc...

 

If you add different hierarchies of the Gods, then maybe The God of Wealth is a the "top of his tier", with the God's of Commerce  & Luck just below him on the "power scale", as people use Commerce and Luck to try and get to (the end goal of) Wealth. In this set up, maybe the Gods of Commerce and Luck are the sons and/or daughters of the God of Wealth.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mr. R said:

Well the God of Wealth is described as "Not wanting much, just half, of everything!"

I like the Agriculture one as the setting is very agriculture centered.

 

And trickster sounds too much like luck.  But I could be wrong!

 

It depends on what someone is comfortable with, but there are differences. Luck can be good or bad, beneficial or harmful. But mythic Tricksters like Loki or Coyote deliberately stir up mischief to give people grief.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apollo and Artemis were the Greek gods of disease. A god of disease would be a punisher of impiety, whether disrespect to the gods or against nature. Overweening pride, wastefulness, sloth, insults, breaches of customs and hospitality, and other obnoxious behavior would be sins.

 

The Greek god of wealth was Plutus, who represented wealth as plenty. The cornucopia was a symbol. This god would smile on commerce, agricultural planning, generosity, and thrift. The Romans honored Mercury, who was a patron of wealth, thieves, trickery, sciences, and all sorts of cunning, intelligence, and gain.

Link to post
Share on other sites

World mythology gives lots of examples of gods/demons of disease, so I don't see that as intrinsically strange for a Fantasy setting.

 

The real question I'm left with is: What is meant by Law and Chaos? Looking at the list of divine purviews, my guess would be that Law consists of stability, predictability and control, while Chaos receives phenomena that are disruptive. The "upper sky" (sun, moon, stars) is stable. The "lower sky" of weather is changeable, with storms as big disruptors of mortal life. (Though that still leaves some redundenacy, perhaps, between Commerce and Wealth. Not the same concepts, but sufficiently entangled that if you're keeping a limited roster of gods it seems a little confining to have separate gods for them.)

 

Stay away from concepts such as "Entropy," unless you really like scientific concepts that most people misunderstand.

 

The overall structure of dividing gods into Law and Chaos suggests a system of directly opposing gods as Archer suggests: equitable, contractual Trade vs. disruptive, predatory Greed; predictable Sky vs. unpredictable, sometimes destructive Weather/Storms; legalistic Justice and Government vs. the chances of War; perhaps a god of Destiny vs. a god of Luck and Chance.

 

And like Lord Liaden, I find some of the omissions peculiar. But pick out the concepts you mean to be important for your world. Bonus points if you can work those concepts into the world's ongoing conflicts and plotlines.

 

One more thing: Are Law and Chaos meant to be stand-ins for Good and Evil? That's usually how it falls out in second-rate Fantasy, but it doesn't have to be so. Like, the forces of Law could be tyrannical, while Chaos stands for freedom. Or they both have good and bad aspects, which the gods do not care about: It's up to mortals to decide how to implement the concepts.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites

The first place I remember seeing Law and Chaos as defining divine factions in fantasy was in Michael Moorcock's stories of Elric, Corum, etc. In those the Lords of Chaos, by the way they were presented, were clearly Evil. We rarely got to see Lords of Order in his novels, but they were implied to be Good, as with Lord Donblas the Justice-Maker.

 

That concept definitely influenced subsequent novels, comics, and role-playing games. Of course Dean's writing, inspired by William Blake, goes well beyond the concept's simplicity. ;)

 

2 hours ago, pawsplay said:

The Greek god of wealth was Plutus, who represented wealth as plenty. The cornucopia was a symbol. This god would smile on commerce, agricultural planning, generosity, and thrift. The Romans honored Mercury, who was a patron of wealth, thieves, trickery, sciences, and all sorts of cunning, intelligence, and gain.

 

That's the first I heard about Plutus, and that's really interesting to me, as the Roman Pluto was considered the god of wealth as well as the Underworld. The reason for that is widely held to be that as a god of the realms beneath the Earth, Pluto had charge of all the mineral riches within the Earth.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, DShomshak said:

 

 

One more thing: Are Law and Chaos meant to be stand-ins for Good and Evil? That's usually how it falls out in second-rate Fantasy, but it doesn't have to be so. Like, the forces of Law could be tyrannical, while Chaos stands for freedom. Or they both have good and bad aspects, which the gods do not care about: It's up to mortals to decide how to implement the concepts.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

I prefer the idea of good and bad aspects.  Example, sky is order and nice after a storm, but too much sky ie no rain is bad.  The storms are needed to water the fields.  Wealth is good when everyone has a chance at the apple, evil when suptuary laws placed to keep people from buying certain goods or services.  Law can be evil and stagnating, and chaos can be freeing and empowering (look at slavery)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Moorcock has some stories in which Chaos is clearly evil and Order is clearly good. But there are examples of malign powers of Order as well, things so powerful they just don't consider individual humans that important. Notably Corum and Elric are champions of Balance; Corum comes from a society of Order that fell into weakness and acts as a bulwark against Chaos, Elric comes from a society of Chaos but rebels against it and the cruel embrace of power and chaotic demons. In general, Order is "good" but you don't want too much of it, Chaos can mean "evil" but is also the font of creativity, magic, and organic life, and it was from Chaos that something came out of nothing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Mr. R said:

Gods of Law
Order and Commerce
Justice
Wealth (already in the commerce, I feel this is redundant)
Skies (male)
Night skies (female)


Gods of Chaos
Luck
Storms
War
Fire
Filth and disease (seriously)

 

Commerce has nothing to do with Order. Scrap that connection, and the God of Wealth is fine.

 

Scrap the "Filth and" part from the God of Disease and you are fine. People have already explained why.

 

Personally though, these lists don't really work for me, but that's another story.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, DShomshak said:

One more thing: Are Law and Chaos meant to be stand-ins for Good and Evil? That's usually how it falls out in second-rate Fantasy, but it doesn't have to be so. Like, the forces of Law could be tyrannical, while Chaos stands for freedom. Or they both have good and bad aspects, which the gods do not care about: It's up to mortals to decide how to implement the concepts.

 

I've been noodling around with some of these concepts as well. So far I've come up with splitting Law into Structure (positive) and Force (negative). Chaos breaks down into Freedom and Narcissism (although I'm not satisfied with that last term). 

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are going to have a limited amount of gods all of them should represent important aspects.  Just looking at that list I see some really second class gods.  The gods should also represent fundamental aspects of their alignment for lack of a better word.  I would also pair them off so that each deity has a opposing deity.    Off the top of my head I would break it down something like this

 

Gods of Law

Fate

Justice

Creation

Knowledge and learning

Civilization

 

God of Chas

Luck

Trickery

Destruction

Emotion and instinct

Nature

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/22/2021 at 12:54 PM, Mr. R said:

So as part of my continuous mental exercise to develop a campaign I dusted off my old Star Crown Empire book from ICE. I have described how I will change the size of the continent, where some cities are, now I come to religion. Now I don't know if I will give my priests spells or powers (probably) but religion will play a role.
To this end they describe ten gods.. But some are a ..... problem. they doesn't fit.

Gods of Law
Order and Commerce
Justice
Wealth (already in the commerce, I feel this is redundant)
Skies (male)
Night skies (female)


Gods of Chaos
Luck
Storms
War
Fire
Filth and disease (seriously)

See I like most of it because there is no good or evil here , except for that last one.

So I come to the venerable sages of the forum. Can you propose a replacement for Wealth and for Filth and Disease?

Plenty of options above, so I am just going to stick with what you asked.

 

Wealth I would replace with Abundance or Prosperity.

Filth and Disease I would switch to Entropy, or Decay or even just Death.

 

- E

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Ockham's Spoon said:

If you don't like Filth and Disease, how about replacing it with a god of debauchery?  The  bacchanalian god that gets a little too drunk and a little too crazy.  Wild parties are definitely chaotic after all.

 

You could be wild in a very orderly fashion. Maybe take turns.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While I understand that OP is customizing the setting and probably not interested in canonical Shadow World, I wanted to address Law and Chaos in a Shadow World context. It may be helpful and understanding what was intended by the writer of this supplement. (Which I don't know, I can only conjecture.)

 

In my be reading, Law and Chaos don't really seem to exist as concepts in Shadow World, at least not in the "Moorcock" sense. I have found no references to Law whatsoever; and references to Chaos invariably use it as a synonym or descriptor for the Unlife... which in Shadow World is objective Evil.

 

Shadow world has 200,000 years of history--describing ongoing conflict between good and evil. Good and evil are not defined in the D&D sense, and are rarely even named as such. The Lords of Orhan are the good gods, who really don't do much of anything except oppose the Unlife. There is an association of good with morality, but it's a minor theme. But corruption and amorality are strongly identified with Unlife. Avoiding corruption is how you avoid becoming tainted with the unlife or making it stronger, so it's natural that a focus on avoiding corruption is a survival strategy.

 

Since the unlife is the destruction, it's opposite is simply existence. Chaos is identified with unlife and non-existence, therefore law is identified with life and existence.

 

Also since the unlife is an alien entity from outside this universe, and law is the absence of unlife, then if the unlife had never invaded the entire universe would be 100% lawful at all times. That means the universe we live in in the real world would be considered, and Shadow World terms, 100% lawful.

 

So you can see that our ideas of chaos, which include randomness and entropy and things like that, are actually lawful in a Shadow World context, because they are necessary for the continued existence and normal functioning of the universe.

 

Essence is magic but it is also what all matter in the universe is made of, as well as being the source of all life. The unlife is anti-essence, therefore anti-magic. Not in the D&D sense of temporarily dispelling it, but in the antimatter sense of permanently destroying it. That would be the true nature of chaos: uncreation.

 

Moorcock envisions chaos as unordered matter and inconsistent law and pure magic. That would be completely lawful in the shadow world terms, at least as I understand it.

 

Now for interpretation.

 

Since the Law/Chaos gods in question are presented as lesser local gods, the labels of Law and Chaos could be representative of local cultic philosophy. The clear implication is that the chaos gods are aligned with the Unlife, because it seems like everything in Shadow World is defined in its relation to the Unlife. Even if they are not unlife themselves, or consciously aligned with it, they draw their power from it and further its purposes. That is especially clear with the god of disease, since the text notes that that hod is blamed for creating a severe plague at various times in history.

 

The disease known as "The Cralmyk" is an important part of history in this part of the world. Evil gods are sometimes worshiped as a means of placation. The god of corruption could be in this pantheon because they need an altar to sacrifice on to prevent the Cralmyk from coming back, and none of the other gods want to take credit for it.

 

Nobody likes the dragon either and nobody wants to draw its attention... which is precisely why they religiously sacrifice virgins to it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So after comment here and on RPG net I am going with the following

 

Gods of Law
Commerce
Justice
Earth/Agriculture
Skies
Night skies

Gods of Chaos
Luck/Trickery - Opposes Commerce
Storms - Opposes Night Sky
War - Opposes Justice
Fire - Opposes Day Sky
Pestilence - Opposes Earth/Agriculture (You'd started with Filth & Disease, which seem fine to me. Pestilence is a classical framing of those.)
 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...