So, I’ve been wondering lately about the mechanics for handling deities. Just going from memory, the only things I can think of are the deity traits in the Religion chapter of MagBu and the mechanics on Black/Grey/White shade in the Monster Burner. How do players handle gods in their games? Specifically, I’m wondering about:
How do you play Gods? (not the narrative, but the mechanics)
I want to play a guy who wants to became a god. He is planning to start by doing some necromantic shit. (If he can return the dead to life perhaps he can find the secret of eternal life.) But with magic, maybe he can go one step further. How about becoming corrupt, and walking the path to divinity? I think Faith is a good way too, but I like Corruption more. When his Corruption reaches 10 he will not be a man now, but something else. (Not a PC anymore, but a new force of nature for the setting, and a new antagonist -or ally- for new protagonists.)
Obviously, I want to play Sauron or something like that.
Long ago I want to play an adventure or campaign in which at least one player plays a god who has lost his powers (in the style of Thor) and it must retrieve one by one nine magic items (pieces of his divine armor and weapon) to regain his powers.
I think once you escalate past demigods (and really, shouldn’t elves with enough lifepaths count as these?), they sort of expand beyond the scope of most any game. Becoming a god sounds like the end of a campaign, not the premise.
Of course, if you can think of enemies powerful enough to threaten these player-gods, I take it all back.
I could see an interesting campaign where each character is allowed to white-shade exactly one stat for free and otherwise follows the rules. Such a character would have myriad weaknesses, just one way in which she is practically unstoppable.
It’s really a question of what god means. Greek-style gods are really just guys with high stats, maybe mostly gray if you’re generous. Tough mortals can and do beat them physically and mentally. A Judeo-Christian God? Not so much. That’s unplayable; you’re talking about an ineffable, omnipotent entity. You Say Yes to everything He wants to do. (Actually, He Says Yes, and then sees that it is good.)
So narratively, Ares is just a tough guy who lives on Mount Olympus most of the time and is pretty good with weapons. He’s got pride, he’s got skill, but he’s not beyond the scope of the base rules or recognizably basic narration (see: The Iliad). YHWH is entirely a narrative device. Pick where you want to be in between, and run appropriately. Killing gods can likewise range from stabbing them a lot to stabbing them with magic/sacred/blasphemous weapons to carrying out terrible rituals to impossible.
If your players want to become gods, you’re looking at a whole fascinating campaign right there. There’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as it’s interesting. (Although I have a terrible urge to giggle and Say Yes. “Okay, you are deity now. Moving right along…”)
it’s such a staple of Old D&D play that it’s got two boxed sets covering it, and one 3.x D&D rulebook.
And, when one uses Greco-Roman or Asatru style deities, they are powerful, and don’t die of age, but are just as limited in personality as the humans who worshiped them. And still very playable in a non-combat-focused campaign.
And Wayfarer isn’t off base in saying the greek-style gods are guys with high stats — he’s wrong in saying they’re just that, tho’ — there is more than just that, but they are, fundamentally, still both killable and emotionally near-human. They are near-humans with shorter tempers, and huge magic abilities, who age incredibly slowly (and never die of age), and can travel by force of will at magical speeds, and who can’t be killed by mere mortals without use of magical weapons. Most have some magical abilities, as well.
Can they all do all of those things? Our understanding is complicated by condensing centuries of Greek legend, myth, and liturgy over a number of different and conflicting states into a single hodgepodge whole. Sometimes gods can do things, and sometimes they can’t. But if they can all travel so well, why does Hermes get his sandals and why do so many take chariots? They are probably unkillable, but Diomedes does a creditable job in wiping the floor with Ares in the Iliad. Sometimes they have magical powers, like Athena turning Arachne into a spider or Zeus’s many, many transformations, but sometimes they don’t.
What they do have is access to a lot of magical stuff on Mount Olympus. The horns that produce nectar and ambrosia, Zeus’s bucket of thunderbolts and aegis, Hermes’s winged sandals, Athena gorgon shield, or and Aphrodite’s breast-band/girdle of super-seduction (in the Iliad! Really!), and the list goes on. Hephaestus made a lot of them.
I gues what I’m getting at is that you can have recognizable Greek gods just be giving fairly ordinary characters flying chariots and a tendency to have sex with everyone.