Monday, June 8, 2015

The Power of a Lesser God

The cat’s out of the bag, so I may as well let it all out. Apparently one of my players was reading through Gods and Demons and noticed Pemblin. Actually another one of them had read through it earlier and for whatever reason thought I just liked the name and reused it. Yeah, I didn’t. After reading it and rereading it, he got it - the NPC who had attached himself to the party was actually a god. A really low powered one, but a god.

I got the idea from Swords and Ice Magic - at one time the last of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books. In it, the two adventurers wind up meeting Odin and Loki, but the gods are past their prime and starting to fade. That story had a huge effect on me and the way I portray divinities in Legend Quest. I liked the idea of putting in a god who had some magic left to him, but wasn’t really at the “miracle production” level.

So what could Pemblin do (as a god)? Well, on a scale of 1-10, he’s a 1. That means he’s really only about as powerful as a journeyman spell caster. He did have both spell singing and illusionary magics, but only at a (mortal measure) power level of 3. Admittedly, he typically had some pretty decent chances to succeed on his spells, but it wasn’t the sure thing that the players have now accused me of. There were some clues. He never slept. He did concern himself with things they couldn’t have known about. He knew every bit of trivia about every god (and there were a lot of missions for the gods in this campaign). OK - not huge clues, but I had hoped it would prove enough to make them suspicious.

While they never knew it - the campaign was caused by another minor god. So where Pemblin was the kind of god that gold farmers want, Kemple Tukk is not, but he proved to have far more impact on the world. Kemple Tukk is also a “1” on the divine scale. He is the spirit of items lost to the sea, a junk collector of everything that hits the bottom of the ocean. Sounds useless, right? But what is his motivation? He wants there to be more stuff that hits the bottom of the ocean. These things then become part of his “realm”, stuff he can control, actually sacrifices. So how does he get more of this stuff without pissing off every god who can squish him like a bug?

One of the things that had found its way into Kemple Tukk’s grasp was an ancient book of summoning spells from an aquatic race mostly forgotten by the surface dwellers. The last spell of this book was a way to summon the spirit of the leviathans (gigantic barracudas - 125’ long barracudas). His plan was simple - create a situation in which a group of surface dwellers would find the book, be able to translate it, and be foolish enough to summon this monster, preferably within the port of a major city. You see, he prepared a version of the book that left out what the proper sacrifices were to appease Neachoah (the spirit of the leviathans) when you summoned him, so Kemple Tukk knew that Neachoah was going to go berserk.

Yes - Kemple Tukk enlisted the aid of some other spirits, including some who were more powerful than he is, but the plan was his. The execution was mainly his. He hoped the blame would be spread around if anyone got too angry over what he had done. He sort of got lucky; one of his allied divinities convinced Marina goddess of the seas that the surface dwellers weren’t showing her the proper respect and this would be a great time for her to remind them that they needed to pray to her a little harder if they wanted to avoid having Godzilla’s little sister swim into their port and eat most of it.

Is there a point? Is there a moral to this story? Yes - Just because a divine creature is “lesser” or otherwise of minimal divine power, they are still viable influencers. They can have an impact on the world. Also, they all have different motivations. Few gods would have thought that tricking humans into summoning Neachoah into the port of Scaret would benefit them, but Kemple Tukk showed a half dozen or so of them that it was a good idea, but best of all for him. Motivations - they need to be diverse, but even though they have no impact on your damage rolls, they are vitally important for a good fantasy role-playing game.

This blog is not intended to simply be an advertisement for Board Enterprises products, but all of these divinities can be found detailed in Gods and Demons. If you’re looking for 200 divine creatures (gods, spirits, angels, demons and minions), this is great place to get ideas. There is also a full set of rules for using divinities in a FRPG that we think really supports the power of the gods without giving the player characters control over the gods.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely set up background plot there. Sound like a great campaign.