Dungeon Mastering Divine Beings
















In AD&D, when the deities deign to notice or interfere with the lives of
mortal men, it is the DM who must assume their roles. DMing
a divinity presents a far greater challenge than playing the role of a
merchant, a sage, or an orc. Players will quite naturally pay special attention
to the words and deeds of the gods, so the DM must make a special
effort to understand how to present them.

First and foremost, deities and divine beings are not merely super-powerful humans.
They have powers, abilities, and qualities totally unavailable
to the mortal-born. (See Explanatory Notes.) Even if a human should,
through some ultra-potent magic, have his or her abilities raised into the
20's (unlikely and inadvisable), that person would not gain those powers
reserved for the gods. The source of a deity's godhead is in some way
connected to his or her earthly worshipers, though in what monner the
gods derive this power is a mystery totally beyond mortal (or immortal)
comprehension. However, it is true that a god's power often increases or
decreases as the number of his worshipers varies. Thus deities, and clerics
as their agents, constantly try to increase the quantity and quality of their
worshipers.

The statistics given in this book can be of great aid to DMs, but they do not
tell how a deity should be played. The gods are not lists of armor classes,
hit points and attack forms; treating them as such reduces them to the role
of mere monsters. They are, rather, beings whose very presence profoundly
affects the course of events. Many of them represent elemental or
natural forcs that man can barely influence, let alone conquer.
Introduction of a deity into active play in a game is a step that cannot be
taken lightly. Players must understand who they are deoling with, and that
improper behavior toward a god can bring swift and dire consequences.

Gods generally have egos proportionate with their power and importance.
Most deities simply will not stand for mere mortals behaving beyond their
station, e.g., treating gods a equals, or not showing proper respect in
other ways. Attempting to coerce or intimidate a god in some way will
nearly always result in divine punishment. Mortals who meddle with the
gods are usually dealt with harshly in order to provide examples for others
who may contemplote such actions.

Most gods enjoy flattery, but any god with a wisdom score above 15 will
know it for what it is,and will generally not allow his or her opinion of the
flatterer to be altered by the flattery. Deities will usually be able to guess
at the flatterer's motives.

In any encounter between characters and a divine being, there are several
things that the DM must continually keep in mind. The first is the divine
awe (or horror) inspired in mortals by most deities' extraordinary
charisma. Even if characters are of sufficient level to avoid the direct
results, the deity's pronouncements should carry great weight. The second
thing to remember is that most gods' intelligence and wisdom far exceed
that of mortals. They can rarely (if ever) be fooled or tricked by mere
humans. Their great wisdom usually enables them to tell when a mortal is
lying. In fact, os DM, you can usually assume that if you know why a character
is saying or doing something, the deity would know it as well. This
should help to simulate the deity's superior intellect and wisdom, and impress
the characters. Gods with intelligence scores above 20 can often tell
what kind of action a mortal is about to attempt just from a few preparatory
motions, and knowing this, a god (with his or her superior dexterity)
can often react to the action before it is completed!

If a god enters combat (willingly or unwillingly), he or she will always attempt
to avoid any situation where the god can be physically defeated. A
little reflection will show that the idea of a deity fighting mortals "to the
death" is absurd. The easiest avoidance of combat is the god's innate teleport <link: teleport without error>
ability, which enables him or her to leave combat entirely, or ''blink"
away to a convenient distance and resume combat in a manner of the
god's choosing (spells, special abilities, etc.). This teleport ability takes no
time or concentration during battle -- the divinity just wills it to happen.

If engaged in combat, deities will almost always call upon whotever aid
they can. Some gods hove specific aids or attendants listed in the text.
Those who do not hove creatures listed can still usually summon a retinue
of appropriate beings from the Prime Material or the god's plane of origin.
After summoning aid, many gods will depart the field, leaving their
retinue to do the fighting for them. (That is, after all, their function -- gods
hove better things to do than fight with mortals.) This summoning of aid
takes no more time or effort than the teleport ability.

Unless they have a history of mutual antipathy, deities will always be unwilling
to fight other deities. They will back off from confrontation situations
whenever possible, preferring to work through underlings or chosen
champions. For example, if a meddling party of characters accidentally
summoned on evil god, they might wish to attempt to gate in a good god
to protect them. They are almost sure to be disappointed. In all probability,
the most aid they will receive through the gate is one (or more) of the
god's servants, or a quick teleport to a safe location.

In fact, gate spells in general are more likely to result in the appearance of
one of the gods followers, rother than the deity itself. A gate spell cannot
compel a deityís appearance - a god will come only if he or she chooses.

The gods are not unwilling to aid their worshipers.
The fact is, gods have so many worshipers that they prefer to give aid of a less specific and more general nature -- subtle aid that will help their worshipers as a whole.
This type of aid usually goes unnoticed in the short run (except by high level clerics, who know what to expect).
Specific aid to individuals is extremely rare, despite the fact that this is the kind of aid deities are most frequently requested to supply.
If the supernatural powers of the various Outer Planes could and would continually and constantly involve themselves in the affairs of the millions upon the Prime Material Plane,
they would not only be so busy os to get neither rest nor relaxation, but these deities would be virtually handling all of their own affairs and confronting each other regularly and often.
If on entreaty for aid were heard one time in 100, surely eoch and every deity would be as busy as a switchboard operator during some sort of natural disaster.
Even if each deity had a nominal number of servants whose purpose is to supply aid to desperate adventurers, the situation would be frenzied at best.
It if obvious that intervention by a deity is no trifling matter, and it is not to be allowed on a whim, even if characters are in extremis!

This is not to dictate that deities will never come to characters.
The mighty evil gods, demons, and devils are prone to appear when their name is spoken - provided they stand the possibility of gaining converts to their cause.
The forces of good might send some powerful creature of like alignment to aid charocters on a mission in their behalf (e.g., a ki-rin, couatl, or good dragon).
Certainly in the case of some contest between opposing deities all sorts of intervention will take place --
but always so as not to cause the deities themselves to be forced into direct confrontation!
Otherwise, the accumulation of hit points and the ever-greater abilities and better saving throws of characters represents the aid supplied by supernatural forces.
This is particulariy true when characters advance to high level and become prominent.
Deities often regard such characters as important among their mortal worshipers, and the characters themselves may be asked to (or be given no choice but to) take part in the maneuverings of the godsí forces upon earth.
Charocters are usually totally without knowledge of the part they play.
In these cases, rather than being requesters of divine intervention, characters may actually become part of the intervention itself!
 
 


Divine
Intervention











As DM, you will have to determine the amount of involvement of deities as you develop your campaign.
Spur of the moment intervention can be handled as follows:
If the character beseeching help has been exemplary in faithfulness,
then allow a straight 10% chance that some creature will be sent to his or her aid if this is the first time the character has asked for (not received) help.
If 00 is rolled, there is a percentage chance equal to the character's level of experience that the deity itself will come, and this chance is modified as follows:
 
Each previous intervention on behalf of the character -5%
Alignment behavior only average -5%
Alignment behavior borderline -10%
Direct confrontation with another deity required by the situation -10%
Character opposing forces of diametrically opposed alignment +1%
Character serving deity proximately (through direct instructions or by means of some intermediary) +25%

<ddg>

The above only applies to activities on the PMP.
Deities will not intervene on the planes which are the habitations of other deities,
i.e., the Outer Planes.
They will neither venture to involve themselves in the Positive or Negative Material Planes.
Intervention on the Elemental Planes is subject to DM option,
based upon the population he or she has placed there.
(If there are elemental gods,
the deities from Outer Planes will NOT go there.)
Intervention occurs only on the Prime Material in most cases,
with occasional intervention in the Astral && Ethereal Planes.

Question: I am having a romance with a god, but he wonít
have anything to do with me until I divorce my present hus-
band. How do I go about divorcing my husband?

Answer: I was kidding when I told my mom I was going to be the
Dear Abby of D&D players. Oh, little did I realize . . .
A divorce is hard to get. It is almost unheard of except for royalty.
Also, you donít really want to be married to a god (or goddess, for that
matter, guys). He will take you to the heavens and lock you away in his
castle where he can keep you out of harmís way. It has to be this way. If
it isnít, then you would become too powerful a character. You would
have a god at your beck and call and that would unbalance the game.


Even if a human should, through some ultra-potent magic, have his or abilities raised into the 20's (unlikely and unadvisable), that person would not gain those powers reserved for the gods.

Most gods enjoy flattery, but any god with a WIS score above 15 will know it for what it is, and will generally not allow his or opinion of the flatterer to be affected by flattery.

Gods with intelligence scores above 20 can often tell what kind of action a mortal is about to attempt just from a few prepatory motions, and knowing this, a god (with his superior dexterity), can often react to an action before it is completed!

The easiest avoidance of combat is the god's innate teleport ability, which enables him or her to leave combat entirely, or "blink" away to a convenient distance and resume combat in a manner of the god's choosing (spells, special abilities, etc.). This teleport ability takes no time or concentration during battle -- the divinity just wills it to happen.

The summoning of aid takes no more time or effort than the teleport ability.

For example, if a meddling party of characters accidentally summoned an evil god, they might wish to attempt to gate in a good god to protect them.
In all probability, the most aid they will receive through the gate is one (or more) of the god's servants, or a quick teleport to a safe location.

In fact, gate spells are more likely to result in the appearance of one of the god's followers, rather than the deity itself.
A gate spell cannot compel a deity's appearance -- a god will come only if he or she chooses.

If an entreaty for aid were heard one time in 100, surely each and every deity would be as busy as a switchboard operator during some sort of natural disaster.

Spur of the moment intervention can be handled as follows: If the character beseeching help has been exemplary in faithfulness, then allow a straight 10% chance that some creature will be sent to his or her aid if this is the first time the character has asked for (not received) help.
If 00 is rolled, there is a percentage chance equal to the character's level of experience that the deity itself will come, and this chance is modified as follows:
 
Each previous intervention on behalf of the character -5%
Alignment behavior only average -5%
Alignment behavior borderline -10%
Direct confrontation with another deity required by the situation -10%
Character opposing forces of diametrically opposed alignment +1%
Character serving deity proximately (through direct instructions or by means of some intermediary) +25%


Quote:
Originally posted by ScottGLXIX
Thought Iíd join in on the interrogation. Iím curious about this quote from the DMG, ďIn my own Greyhawk Campaign there have been 9 demigods, 3 demon lords, and a handful of Norse and other gods involved in the course of many years of play. Once or twice there has been divine intervention--and twice the powers of the infernal region have come at the mention of a certain name....Ē. The 9 demigods would be the famous 9 that Robilar released, one of the demon lords is Frazz-Urb Luu, I know Zeus made a cameo during the same encounter, but he chose to ignore the Unnamedís plea for help and left him to the demon lordís tender mercies. Were Lolth or Zuggtmoy included here? I heard a story of a young Robilar being saved by ďdivine interventionĒ when he was about to meet his end at the hands of two wights. Iím guessing one of the powers of the infernal regionmay have been Asmodeous when Eracís Cousin made his pact. Could you provide any more information on who the powers mentioned above may have been? The demon lords and the powers of the infernal region are the ones Iím most curious about.
Ciao,
Scott
Scott, are you sure your laundry list is complete? Bah! (and LOL)

The 9 demigods/gods are indeed those released by robilar.

Frazz-Urb Luu was freed by Erac's Cousin and a paladin, heh-heh-heh.
I intend to tell that little tale in a DRAGON zne column.
Yes, Zeus made a brief appearance than and left with a shrug, none there honoring him.

Lolth never made any appearances, but Zuggtmoy did.
When Robilar freed her (yes, he again loossed another deital figure) she was grateful, took him off to her layer of the Abyss to be one of her favored servants...
Robilar, and he was a veteran adventurer at this time, was not a happy camper then.

I don't recall the tale of Robilar's rescue from the wights, but I can relate something more amusing.

In one tournament session at a Autumn Revel, as I recall, a team managed to bring Asmodeus to their location.
In desperation, one of their number called for a diety opposed to that devil to come to them.
Being a kindly DM, I had ORcus arrive instanter.
Oddly, the party were not in the least happy that I allowed such "divine intervention."
I suppose it is because the two Evil beings took stock of the situation, saw no reason to fight amongst themselves, and simply divided up the "spoils" between them and left...

As has been noted often, being careful what one wishes for, pleads for in the above case, is a good idea.

Cheers,
Gary
 


Quote:
Originally Posted by airwalkrr
A neverending stream of questions this thread be, arg! (that's pirate-talk for those of sufficient sophistication to miss my silly reference) Anyway, since immortals and deities have been brought up, I am interested to know your take, Gary, on how mortals should interact with immortals. In the original incarnation of the game, did you and your group think mortals should ever be capable of rising to the power of immortals/gods or being capable of surviving against them on the field of battle should such an event take place? At least with some of the deities in legends and lore and deities and demigods, it seems like a well-built party of 20th level characters could hold their own against a deity, at least for a little while (as long the DM was competent of course).

Hey, I get paid for consulting work 

The boxed D&D game was Frank's baby, AD&D my purview.

As for mortals in conflict with true deities, I'd say they have the same chance a fly has against a fly swatter 

Cheers,
Gary


Quote:
Originally Posted by airwalkrr
LOL So I guess no one ever tangled with deities in your campaigns. Did you know of anyone that did? What exactly do you see the role of deities in a fantasy RPG being? Are they plot elements? Supporting characters? Ambience?


Only plot emelemts as are the gods in Greek epics. They are necessary for ecclesiastics, excellent arch-villians and ultimate rescuers.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRTroy
Why end D3/Q1 with that goal then? Lolth was worshiped by most of the drow, so I'd assume she was a demonic deity. Zuggtmoy as well.

And even though Gord was a series of novels and not a game campaign I saw that as a pretty cool archetypical 1st edition campaign going from 1st level to the ultimate end of a campaign, eh? He did say "a deity", not a pantheon.

Is this a perspective you've changed with over time? While I hate the "cool, we can kill all the gods" mentality, I also dislike the alternate "gods can NEVER have stats and are totally beyond mortal ken" approach either.


JRT My good Friend...

You must concentrate on reading the actual content of a message, and then understand its meaning.

A campaign where the PCs are meant to slay <font> a deity is, as I said, utter hogwash, unless it is a superhero RPG with truly super supoerheros.

I have said repeatedly in print that the D3 module was Dave Sutherland's interpretation of Lolth, and most certainly not mine.
In truth I thoroguhly disapproved of the work but Brian Blume had it produced.
Steam power indeed 

As for the Temple of Elemental Evil, Zuggtmoy is unkillable.
she can be set free or sent back to the Abyss, but the PCs can not destroy her. <>

Gord the Rogue is a demi-deity when he is dealing with similar figures, something that no reasonable AD&D campaign is able to emulate based on the AD&D rules.
the {material} is not gaming but fiction novels.

I stand foresquare behind what I posted prior to this 

Cheers,
Gary

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