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Moar gods ? [risk of major PoE1 Spoilers]


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#1
Hynkel

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[disclaimer] here I'm talking about the gods from a writing point of view, this isn't a topic about how priests should have more deity options [/disclaimer]

 

Most of us here are used to the Forgotten Realms RPG setting ; because of that, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only who noticed how small the PoE pantheon is. 

 

Obviously, I'm not expecting Obsidian to create the equivalent of a world that has been developped through hundreds of novels and rulebooks. That's beside the point. What bugs me is how the known pantheon, with all its dead and not-so-dead gods, is described as comprehensive, and leaves no room for minor/regional/racial deities.

 

I think it's an issue because of how the opposition of cultures is a big theme in PoE, and will probably be in Deadfire. 

 

Take the Glanfathan : most of them worship Galawain, god of the hunt. Some of them worship Hylea or Wael. Galawain is worshipped by hunters everywhere and Wael has a big library-temple inside Defiance Bay. So that means Glanfathans and Aedyrans, or Dyrwoodans, share the same gods. They also share the same language, or at least aedyran is easily spoken by everyone in Twin Elms. So why exactly does everyone thinks Glanfathan culture is so weird and foreign ? There's this ruin protection things, but that's actually Woedica's policy, not Galawain's...

 

For all these reasons I think the dyrwoodan-glanfathan opposition rings a bit hollow. There just isn't enough material for people to divide the world into "Us" and "Them". In comparison, the whole thing with Readcerans and the purges worked much better, even though Readcerans and Dyrwoodans are supposed to be closer in culture.

 

Deadfire will probably develop the opposition between the natives and the Vailian and Rautai settlers. I want to feel how different their cultures are, not just accept it as a fact because the writers said so. Religion might sound like a simplistic solution, but it's a solution that works.



#2
blotter

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What bugs me is how the known pantheon, with all its dead and not-so-dead gods, is described as comprehensive, and leaves no room for minor/regional/racial deities.

 

What it does leave room for, however, is minor/regional/racial aspects of deities, which can accomplish much the same thing - I believe that the Huana have already been stated to revere Ondra under a differ name/likeness, though I can't recall the actual name right now. Conversely, it also isn't inconceivable that a given culture would see distinct deities as aspects of the same divinity (e.g., Gaun, Berath, and Rymrgand is a singular death god that goes through seasonal phases or is seen through different aspects based on the life that one has led), which can have significant impacts on how such deities are approached and interpreted.

 

 

Take the Glanfathan : most of them worship Galawain, god of the hunt. Some of them worship Hylea or Wael. Galawain is worshipped by hunters everywhere and Wael has a big library-temple inside Defiance Bay. So that means Glanfathans and Aedyrans, or Dyrwoodans, share the same gods.

 

So what if they worship the same gods? That obviously doesn't equate to considering each other to be part of some happy extended religious family - nor should it, given how few of these deities mandate harmonious coexistence. There can be significant differences in interpretations of the faith/dogma or even the origins/nature of the deity in question (consider the Eothas vs Gaun and the tensions that the developers have mentioned as likely to occur between Eder and Xoti in regards to disagreements about their shared deity). Even where such differences do not exist or are less significant, conflict can arise through competition for the gods' favor or it may simply be the deities' will that these nations clash with each other.

 

 

They also share the same language, or at least aedyran is easily spoken by everyone in Twin Elms. So why exactly does everyone thinks Glanfathan culture is so weird and foreign ?

 

The fact that they can speak Aedyran is likely a consequence of Aedyr's colonization efforts as opposed to them sharing languages from the start. As for why there would still be such estrangement between the Dyrwoodan and the Glanfathans, I don't see how that's hard to understand given generations of conflict and resentment between them. The Dyrwoodan sense that Glanfathans are strange would have more to with aspects of Glanfathan culture, such as tribal organization, the fact that humans are a minority among them if there are any Glanfathan Folk at all (there are, I just forgot), the fact that they're semi-nomadic in contrast with the Dyrwoodan emphasis on agriculture, and a divergence in centuries to milennia old beliefs and traditions that a couple of new gods would hardly be a replacement or necessary explanation for.

 

 

There's this ruin protection things, but that's actually Woedica's policy, not Galawain's...

 

Not really. Woedica favors Aedyr, and Aedyr has always been about pillaging the Glanfathan ruins for all they're worth. Woedica doesn't want people mucking about with animancy, but that doesn't mean she has a problem with the nation she prefers benefiting from Engwithan artifacts that were created through animancy (or that she's against her agents actively practicing animancy to vilify animancy for that matter) - she reserves the right to practice her double standards and play favorites as the rightful queen of everything.

 

If the Dyrwood vs Glanfath dispute regarding the Engwithan ruins has a religious dimension at all, then it is tied to the Glanfathan's reverence of the Builders and not the decrees of any god in particular. Which brings us to another point: for weird culture-specific faiths, you don't need gods at all. Faith is the source of priests' powers and their faith can as easily be linked to ancestor worship, Animistic beliefs and rituals (not to be mistaken for Animancy, which could easily spark a transcendentalist faith of its own centered around casting off the yoke of mortality, unlocking latent powers/knowledge from past lives, etc.), nationalistic religions tied to shared origins and destinies based on cultural identity, the worship of god-kings or queens, or even self-worship for the wildly narcissistic misfits out there. 

 

 

want to feel how different their cultures are, not just accept it as a fact because the writers said so.

 

I actually agree with this. I just don't agree that inventing new gods for different areas/peoples comes anywhere near cutting it or is even a particularly valuable way to approach the cultural differentiation process.


Edited by blotter, 09 March 2017 - 03:55 PM.


#3
Heijoushin

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Yeah, true. They've covered quite a range of themes (crafting, death, redemption, fire, war, water, violent rebellion, secrets, law etc.) but at the same time, its hardly an exhaustive list.

That being said, I'm sure the writers could add in more gods or regional variants if they really wanted to.

 

As for dyrwoodan-glanfathan religious conflict... I don't know. I suppose it could have been there. They could have given the two groups different Gods to squabble over. But there was already the whole Eothas/Waidwen plotline and the Animancers/Science vs. the Gods plotline, so any more religious conflict might have been overdoing it.


Edited by Heijoushin, 09 March 2017 - 11:51 PM.


#4
Pinsalinj

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Well, considering the gods were fabricated by an ancient civilization with some powerful magic that was since lost, I don't see how other gods would have appeared.


Edited by Pinsalinj, 10 March 2017 - 01:51 PM.

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#5
IamNOOB

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The PoE pantheon is NOT small, it is just full enough ... And the Gods here are kind of unusual, so they are interesting. I just wish priests could have more god-related skills. And I wish I could play a Rymrgand priest who freezes people.


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#6
Messier-31

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I get your point, OP.

 

So you enter this abandoned for centuries and almost legendary dwarven fortress, Durgans Battery, lo and behold the wonders inside, some interesting dwarven deity must have been worshipped there by them mountain folk... NOPE, just good old Abydon.

 

So you set sail to the Deadfire Archipelago, a vast area of small volcaninc island with many different cultures that are so exotic, and... NOPE, just good old Ondra.

 

So you venture to the Living Lands, famous for their... NOPE, just good old Galawain.

 

So you go to... NOPE, just good old Magran.


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#7
Heijoushin

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I get your point, OP.

 

So you enter this abandoned for centuries and almost legendary dwarven fortress, Durgans Battery, lo and behold the wonders inside, some interesting dwarven deity must have been worshipped there by them mountain folk... NOPE, just good old Abydon.

 

So you set sail to the Deadfire Archipelago, a vast area of small volcaninc island with many different cultures that are so exotic, and... NOPE, just good old Ondra.

 

So you venture to the Living Lands, famous for their... NOPE, just good old Galawain.

 

So you go to... NOPE, just good old Magran.

 

Your analysis made me chuckle.

 

But you know, our world has lots of religions because we can't really prove that any of them are "right". On the other hand, in a world where the Gods interact with mortals, and grant divine powers, it makes sense that people stick with religions that "work". Thus, a smaller pool of them.

 

There's still lots of space to make monk philosophies though!


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#8
FlintlockJazz

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Personally, I think its not that the PoE pantheon is small, it's that the Forgotten Realms pantheon is stupidly huge.  It has many redundant gods, many of which could be subsumed into one another as different aspects or servants of others and makes the individual gods less defining.  Sure, have more than one pantheon, but I like the smaller number but more defined gods in Eora.  People worshipping different aspects of a god rather than having a different one for every different little change makes sense to me, and they can have specific regional 'gods' for when they want something a little different, it would make them stand out more and be more "what the eff" more.  Like an old insular town that instead of worshipping the traditional gods worships an outsider being that is dead but cannot die, and whose fish-like servants breed with the townsfolk as it lies for strange aeons...

 

Actually, let me put it another way: Star Trek has tons of aliens.  So many, that most of them are actually irrelevant, and even the main ones get mixed up a fair few times.  Reducing the number, especially the redundant ones, would make the existing ones stand out more.  Then again, I'm one of those strange ones who thinks aliens that are just humans with head mold on their heads should just be genetically modified humans adapted for other planets/roles and that actual aliens should be reserved for the truly bizarre and alienesque, with the meeting of them a Big Deal and often confusing if not Cthulhuesque.


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#9
Regggler

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I think it makes sense for there to be the same gods in different places, just with slightly different interpretations. In D&D cosmology, belief forms the gods / the powers. If you get enough people to believe in Banjo the Clown, God of Puppets, he will spring into existence. Hence, a massive number of gods results, since every culture and their mom "create" their own pantheon on the fly, and every pantheon is subject to continuous change.

 

In Pillars, this doesn't work. In a sense, the gods are much more tangible, because they were created "as is". While they can change, they do so in a way much more like regular people when compared to D&D. As @Pinsalinj said, there won't be any new gods without a major rediscovery of Engwithan technology and magic either. Hence, if Abydon pops over to the Deadfire, he'll still be the crafter.


Edited by Regggler, 14 March 2017 - 03:07 AM.


#10
IamNOOB

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I get your point, OP.

 

So you enter this abandoned for centuries and almost legendary dwarven fortress, Durgans Battery, lo and behold the wonders inside, some interesting dwarven deity must have been worshipped there by them mountain folk... NOPE, just good old Abydon.

 

So you set sail to the Deadfire Archipelago, a vast area of small volcaninc island with many different cultures that are so exotic, and... NOPE, just good old Ondra.

 

So you venture to the Living Lands, famous for their... NOPE, just good old Galawain.

 

So you go to... NOPE, just good old Magran.

What you say might be true but why is it negative in you eyes ?? The same Gods in different regions unifies the world and makes in more lore- friendly. You cant expect to have 39 gods who just have names no one cares about in other places.  The Gods are in fact a coordination tool in the world of the game, if you look at the script you will see it. I really had the feeling that they are stitching some of the story together, so it does not fall apart. Same thing was in Mass Effect where everywhere you encounter indoctrination and reaper presence - indirect or direct.


Edited by IamNOOB, 14 March 2017 - 06:34 AM.


#11
Messier-31

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What you say might be true but why is it negative in you eyes ?? 

 

I didn't say that's a negative. I said that I get what OP tries to say.



#12
Harry Easter

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Well, there is a simple solution to this: Eora is all about Souls and the engwithan gods are supersouls, that just burn with more intensity than the others. But maybe there is a god with a doghead, Kith sacrifeced him and believed that his corpse became a holy relict (there are stupider examples in our history) and then the soul of the dog stayed and his people connected with him trough believing in him.

 

They empowered this soul, until it became a "god" similiar to the big pantheon, but not as powerful as Woedica and Co. (I mean, they got a big powerboost right from the beginning and he got maybe six clerics every year).

 

Result: God created, a lot of oppurtunities exist, as long as we don't forget, that the Enwithans mastered the art of supergods. 


Edited by Harry Easter, 28 March 2017 - 09:37 AM.

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#13
Androoh

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I think it would give the world more depth if you show areas where there might have different intepretations of a faith or god.

I like the fact that Xoti is more devoted to an aspect of Eothas in the form of Gaun for instance.

But yeah, if for instance there were pockets within the Dyrwood of groups having more paganistic/animistic/ancestor worship styled faiths, perhaps showing how widespread worship of Engwithan faiths has seen these die or largely dwindle would be interesting.

Galawain might have been taken up by indigenous druidic sects for instance who initially revered nature and it's forces, but then adopted worship of Galawain given his ties to beasts and the natural world for instance via influence of Engwithan missionaries.

You could show this with the Huana in the new game. Perhaps they're clinging on to their old faiths, or they've a unique take on the worship of Ondra? Call her by a different name?

In Icewind Dale Heart of Winter, your party of adventurers is sent to treat with a group of Uthgardt barbarians. During the proceedings, you can mention that the barbarians and the town you're representing have the worship of the god, Tempus in common.

However, the barbarian chieftain mentions that they worship Tempos not Tempus and they're not that similar after all.

Something simple as that is good writing and shows the diversity and depth to how religion has affected a game world.


Edited by Androoh, 24 March 2017 - 06:45 AM.


#14
Inertio

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I personally think the gods of Eora comprise an elegant, well-balanced system.

 

To me at least I this system is, in a sense, "philosophically complete". Besides, this is a world in which the existence of deities is clearly manifest, so it is feasible that different cultures would worship the same gods with their own individual flare. I guess this can be compared to science and technology in the real world. There is Western Medicine, Chinese medicine, Indian medicine; but it’s all basically about the human body.

 

I would definitely prefer a few well fleshed out deities to a slew of superficial and derivative one’s after the fashion of the FR, despite all my love for that setting (I mean, Kelemvor, Helm, etc. are cool, but are we really married to Horus-Re?).

 

That said, I would like all deities to be selectable as patrons for priests. I am also partial to the enticing entropy of Rymrgand.


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#15
Katarack21

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To me at least I this system is, in a sense, "philosophically complete". Besides, this is a world in which the existence of deities is clearly manifest

Indeed, in the setting *that's the point of the gods*. There used to be lots of different gods, but the Engwithans *created* the current set--literally made them as soul constructs--and then went on a worldwide Inquisition to destroy all the other forms of worship, intentionally to wipe out all the other religions so as to unify the world and remove what they saw as the "chaos" of random god worship.

The setting precludes other gods existing; the worship of other gods has already been removed.


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