Do Gods literally talk to their followers? God communication questions

Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Hi Pathfinder,

I am going to be putting a game together and was wondering to what degree the Gods communicate with the players as far as official rules are concerned?

I know a few will communicate through symbology, like Desna and dreams vs the goddess of pirates who literally sails around and physically pillages the oceans. In general, will gods physically talk to the players? If a point must be given across, if a cleric or paladin prays for guidance, what do they hear or feel back? Do gods physically manafest through avatars? Speak through dreams? Celestials?Is it words or pure symbology?

This probably is very different god to god, but I am curious as to what a good thing to respond with from a dm to a player who says they pray, and what they should expect back as feedback.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

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Different GM's do it differently, and it all has to do with what you want the feel of deities to be in your campaign.

An ephemeral concept that people follow without really believing in a down to earth personification? Or a do your versions of the gods literally have people do their handiwork.

Is there a non-intervention treaty between the gods so that they only communicate through dreams/ symbols etc? Do any of them break it anyway?

There are those whose outlook, connection to thier followers and compassion might make them more prone to direct communication, like Cayden or Shelyn. Others may do so only in an altered form like Erastil appearing as a majestic stag in the woods, or a butterfly swarm leading a follower of Desna to a safe place to sleep or a healing pool.

Others like Iomedae are likely to follow the rules as closely as can be, their contact coming through an altered missive from a commanding officer, or in the case of one like Asmodeus, something that follows the letter of such an agreement while violating t's spirit.

The way they interact with their followers and the world in general is the opportunity to define their personalities, their churches and in large part, the world in general.

Direct contact may be a mark of special accomplishment among the ranks of Paladins, a sign that one is somewhat removed from the human condition. Perhaps an Oracle's blindness curse stems from actually seeing her god in the flesh, the moment her gifts began.

Run with it. Use it to build the world around your players and make those that draw on divine power really feel like they're a part of something bigger.

Or they could just be simple people's way of explaining the world around them. Up to you.

Shadow Lodge

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It happens in Wrath of the Righteous. Eristal has also been known to on occasion.

Traditionally speaking, though, it was around the time that a Cleric received 4th level spells that the actual deity or a direct avatar would begin to respond to them. Prior to that, it was another agent of the deity, but once a Cleric got that powerful within their face, they became a sort of command interest, regardless of their position within the church.

This obviously wouldn't apply to Oracles too much. It might in some individual cases, but as a general rule, not really.

Paladins, not sure. Back in the day, Paladins used to be incredibly rare. So, in that sense, I'd group them similarly to Clerics. But in the d20 system, Paladins are extremely common, and I'd say more around 10th - 15th level would be more appropriate. Similarly with Inquisitors, in my opinion.

I have a god talk directly to a follower in one of my games. It is slowly eroding her health, and takes a lot out of her. However she is that gods lover, so it's worth it.
In another game, the gods have spoken to the party through an oracle. It was very much like the Steven universe episode where

Garnet discovered gems were being forced to fuse and sapphire and Ruby were talking to each other while still in one body as garnet

In another game, asmodeus talks to his follower through aervitor devils who look exactly like him with numbers on their chest indicating they aren't him.

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Whether the deities directly communicate, in person, in dreams, or in avatars, depends a lot on the deity itself and the location. For example, all of the Starstone ascended will communicate directly and in person, up to and including setting foot on Golarion as not only were they mortal, they simply aren't that powerful or disruptive. Plus they can easily get away with violating the divine intervention laws (if they choose) as they're so young and new in comparison to other deities as to be completely unknown and unwatched.

Deities like Pharasma, Asmodeus, Apsu or Desna (and similar ones), all enormously powerful and very very very old and important almost never speak to any but the absolute most powerful of their followers... and the only reason Golarion has anyone that triggers that response is because it's also the Prison, so they pay attention to it... despite the fact there's no one on Golarion nearly powerful enough to deserve their direct attention. These are deities who's spheres of influence encompass an infinite material plane with worshippers who can only be counted via scientific notation, and even with power letting nearly be omniscient, they still have a limit to being in a few billion places at once, let alone the 1.45 x 10^34 worshippers they might have (random number pulled out of my butt and probably still too small for the material plane).

For more intermediate deities it really depends on the individual, their power, and their personality. For example Nethys... he really wouldn't interact directly with almost any mortals except for the most magically powerful or magically inventive/innovative simply because he's probably too busy doing magical research himself. Irori however might interact with promising 'students' (I like to think that's how he dubs his worshippers) because he wants to see them succeed like any martial arts master does for their disciplined students. Deities like Calistria would be capricious in their attention. She might ignore a lvl 20 cleric of hers for it's entire life, then dote on one particularly handsome 80 y/o elf for it's entire life, up to and including laying with them repeatedly just because she likes how good he might be with his hands or something.

Shadow Lodge

That's probably not true as Clerics are literally the mouthpieces of the deity within the world. That is to say because there is an unwritten divine law that keep deities from acting too directly in affairs, they instead do it through their agents. And while not all agents need be Clerics, or even priests, Clerics are much more than mere priests, and that's kind of their entire job. Unlike Oracles that pretend they hear the divine, or are perhaps cursed once in their past that allows them to draw power from the divine, Clerics, and similarly Paladins are their emissaries and right hands in the world.

And while it is true that the Golarion deities do have worshippers all over, on different planets, planes, and possibly more, we really don't have any real idea just how numerous those followers really are. Could be hundreds, could be thousands, or could be trillions. We don't know. However, a good portion of them are going to be Outsiders or Petitioners. We really don't have any idea, out of game, just how big "Golarionspace" is, but we do know that there are links to other universes that do not have any of the Golarion deities at all, that some of them have come from those places, and that across different cultures there are different representations of the same deities.

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Definitely variable by game.

In my own games, it tends to be as follows:

-The normal method a deity has for communicating with characters is a Guidance. A Paladin, for example, might feel a tugging on their sword leading them in a certain direction, or perhaps an animal sacred to the deity would appear, stare at the character, and then run towards something. In terms of "what do characters feel back when they pray", OP, you could respond with things like "You feel the warmth of knowing your god is watching, and are encouraged to remember their teachings".

-If something more complex needs to be conveyed, there are several methods. Characters might receive a visit from an angel serving the deity, or for events of great importance, the deity's Herald. I've also had players get a full-on manifestation early in Wrath of the Righteous, when the characters go mythic - helping to explain the how and why of getting their powers.

In most cases, though, characters are expected to understand their faith, and generally ask "What would my deity think about this?". Deity-to-Follower communication only tends to happen when there's something characters and players don't know about - basically, it's a tool for plot advancement. I try to avoid major communication happening too often - it feels like frequent, direct talks would sort of cheapen something that's meant to be extremely important.

Well one of the reasons I have deities in my game do direct contact semi-occasionally is because the mystique of a god that doesn't actually talk to your followers... well it just smacks of what an Earth religion, where there is no evidence of divine existence, thinks it is.

In Golarion, where gods are very real, very tangible, and very explainable, deities that interact with their followers directly, assuming they have the power/time to do so via semi-omnipresence, simply would get more followers allowing for more intervention for their own goals (as w/e the laws/rules that prevent them going for what they want directly with their own power makes worshippers all that much more valuable). With worshippers in short supply compared to the myriad of deities out there, well it doesn't make sense that the deities would remain aloof if they have designs on Golarion (which most do because it's Rovagug's prison and the Starstone is super important).

So if a deity has a goal, that goal can only be accomplished via proxy (worshippers), and the deity knows it can get more proxies by being more active and showing a bigger interest in said proxies, up to and including speaking with them, why would they not? I mean... would you worship the god who only ever gives you cryptic signs in animal sightings (Erastil), or the god who literally shows up and says "Hey, I wanna get drunk, know any good taverns in this town and wanna join me?" (Cayden Cailean). It's a god, yes, they're busy. But at the same time, some of them are also NOT busy a lot of the time or they literally can't pursue their portfolio. Cayden, Calistria, Shelyn... these are great examples. Is Calistria ONLY going to sample divine/super strong outsiders sexual prowess, or is she going to also spend time sampling among her own followers? Remember she can bang thousands at once by virtue of simply being in multiple places at the same time. Sure, it's probably the greatest of honors for a Calistrian to get to lay with her, but look at it from her point of view... If she only slept with the ones who were 'honored' then she wouldn't really be a goddess of lust because she wouldn't be sleeping around enough to qualify for it. And Cayden is similar, but with going out and partying and drinking. Shelyn would go painting people, places, things of all walks of life. Gorum isn't going to turn a good battle just because the warring sides are two ~200 population tribes in the middle of a jungle, it's still a battle and if you ask he'd probably be all up in that shizz.

This might be sounding as though it personifies the gods too much, but it really depends on the god IMO. Asmodeus? Yeah you're pretty much never going to talk to him directly. You're just not important enough and he is very busy with ruling Hell and other things. Pharasma? Sure, you'll get to talk to her once. When you die and she sends you to your plane. Lamashtu? Well... If you don't mind impregnating/being impregnated by her then I'm sure you could wrangle an audience if you're into that kind of thing.

But it all depends on how you want the god's mystique to really play in. I tend to go with an almost Olympian approach where many of the Olympian gods, especially Zeus, Athena and Aphrodite, mingled with normal greeks very frequently. And often didn't hide their nature doing it.

To each his own.

Shadow Lodge

I think the major aspect there is that a lot of real world religions do emphasize faith over certainty, (in the sense of being able to prove to others), and that some people DO at least claim to hear/see/feel direct and indirect communication, but again, there is no way to prove/disprove it to anyone else not also involved.

That major component of religion is nonexistent in Golarion or most settings except in cases of false deities/religions, wh8ch, outside of the game then does become a factual element. We all know that Aroden is gone, and has no true Clerics. Period. All those that claim it are, again, outside game/character, wrong. Mistaken, lying, it doesnt matter. Similarly, Razmir, we know for a fact, is not a real deity. Fee in the setting do, though.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM Beckett wrote:
It happens in Wrath of the Righteous.

It's also called out as being something that's singularly not routine.

Read up diety entries in Inner Sea Gods. Dieties generally do not communicate directly with their followers... not even their clerics. They make their wishes known through portents, or in extreme cases, intermediaries.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

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In a game I'm in Cayden carried the party warpriestess to her room in the tavern and tucked her in after she had a little too much while drinking with him at the bar....then vanished.

Mark Thomas 66 wrote:
In a game I'm in Cayden carried the party warpriestess to her room in the tavern and tucked her in after she had a little too much while drinking with him at the bar....then vanished.


Asmodeus probably has a whole list of rules and regulations you have to follow in order to speak with him, wich includes bribing other devils.

Cayden would probably offer a lot of suggestions and almost never command his followers. He is the god of freedom after all.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
hjgz89 wrote:

Asmodeus probably has a whole list of rules and regulations you have to follow in order to speak with him, wich includes bribing other devils.

It is important to note in such circumstances that *bribery* itself is unethical and illegal and contrary to the good workings of a bureaucracy. Therefore, if one does seek to influence other entities within said hierarchy, one should be quite circumspect in one's dealings and make sure one's paperwork is in order at all times, while still managing a comparative calm... after all, obsessing about paperwork would be detrimental to actually meeting such a noteworthy individual.

Shadow Lodge

I think you do it on a case by case basis. My cleric of Groteus claims his god never goes away.

I also like divine possesion, ala a lot of rw Shamanistic traditions and might rp things that way with some divination spells.

Random, unexpected encounters are good. There's a ball, a Lady asks a pc to dance. Mid way though he realises this Lady is Sheyln. They have a conversation. She walks away and vanishes. No one else notices. Put the same scene a rural harvest festival and its both Sheyln and Erastil who show up as a couple, and only one or two pcs notice.

Basically, be suprising and a bit unexpected and don't stand on levels, class, or whatever.

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