evil deities in society


Advice


I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate evil deities in society, how to explain how and why they fit in. the good aligned gods are the main gods that are openly worshiped but there are people who discreetly worship the dark gods.

so far society is structured in a classic feudal empire with a strong focus on the military. I;m having trouble thinking of a convincing way to explain how and why people are worshiping the dark. The way I want it to fit is that people aren't inherently good or evil (average person registers as neutral with detect spells). People have real motivations for what they do so no stereotypical worshiping the dark gods because they are all twisted and evil.

How do you all incorporate dark and less savory gods?


Appeasement is the classic way to do it. No one actually likes Rovagug (among the normal members of society anyway) but giving them the odd prayer or sacrifice might keep them from destroying your farm/city or sending you to hell or to send the goblins raiding your farm somewhere else.

Otherwise its mostly about the dark gods having some portfolio not covered by someone else. You can't go to Sarenrae to help you get a leg up on the latest political intrigue but that's easily in Norgorber's wheelhouse.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Also, even if covered by a more 'decent' Gods portfolio, someone might feel they would get a better 'deal' from a less popular deity. Everyone goes to the good churches after all, so you are competing for attention, an unpopular evil god might result in more personal attention from the clergy.

And there is always just covering all the bases.


Ah okay, that makes sense; people turning to the dark gods in order to get a better deal or something that the temple of light cant or wont provide.

What are your thoughts about religious freedom laws? Would central governments make worship of dark gods illegal?


That's something only you can really answer and depends how hands on the divinity ultimately is. If petitioning Lamashtu routinely results in demons and other things raising a ruckus then virtually everyone's going to outlaw their worship with it getting more acceptable (if still frowned on) the more subtle (or even nonexistent) their influence appears.

Naturally culture also counts a ton with a place populated by Machiavellian nobles will be more open to any advantage compared to a noble-bright nation.


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It really depends on the setting, cultures and gods in question.
To use Mystara (of course) as a source of examples.

The empire of Thyatis is your typical late Roman/Byzantine knock-off, and one of its nearest neighbors is the superior empire of Alphatia. Thyatis really doesn't like Alphatia. Alphaks is an evil Immortal whose raison d'être is to destroy Alphatia. While worship of Alphaks is not legal in Thyatis, he has a fairly strong presence there as many feel that any god dedicated to destroying your hated enemy can't be all bad.

Vanya is the patroness of war and conquest. Think a super competitive by-the-books wargamer. While not actually evil as such, anyone dedicated to mass conquest is not good. She attracts the sort of fascist might makes right type of character you unfortunately always find. Part of the accepted Immortals of Thyatis and very popular, perhaps the most popular. People attracted to a sense of accomplishment, brotherhood and belonging, and building up the empire tend to be attracted to Vanya. Note that conquest doesn't need to involve bloodshed.

Thanatos simply wants to kill all life. An immensely old and powerful Immortal, he is patient and focused. His sects are illegal in Thyatis, but some people still flock to him. The resentful who want revenge on everyone, the power hungry who are willing to accept any deal to advance their goals, the mad, (and probably the disaffected youth who think it sounds cool and edgy). Conquered people who want revenge on Thyatis could easily turn to Thanatos in hopes of destabilizing the empire.

Nyx has no real presence in Thyatis, nor is she particularly evil, she is merely incompatible with most living morals. She is a creature of darkness and undeath, and she wants to darken the world and turn the living undead. She wants this because she values the beauty of darkness and undeath rather than from any hatred towards light or the living. in fact, she considers the living akin to children that can grow up to beautiful undead some day. In short, the ultimate goth god.
Anyone who needs the protection of the night or wants to have extra help to ward off undead may well send a prayer or offering her way.
Side note: one of Nyx's closest friends is her bitter rival in divine politics: Ixion likes light and hates undead. Despite this, the two get along well as long as they don't talk shop.

Religious freedom laws are a knotty issue. Unlike real world issues, D&D gods really do exist and their cults really do have power beyond politics, and ethics, in most settings, really is a fundamental component to the multiverse instead of mere social construct. Do you allow any religion, including horrible ones, or do you allow just the ones that say what you want them to say? Is there a matter of multiversal balance that needs maintaining (e.g. Dragonlance) or is it basically an all out war where one side can potentially win (most other settings)?
Will outlawing certain gods make them more likely to harm you or less?
As a general rule, you can bet that any religion that threatens the rulers is bound to be made illegal, or at least very unwelcome. There wil also be the odd super jealous god who demands complete attention, like a super-powered whiny spoiled brat. There is unlikely to be an idea of freedom of worship that must be preserved. Gods whose ultimate aims actively work against the long-term interests of its worshippers (Tharizdun, GOOs, this Rovagug fellow, etc.) are likely to be universally banned.

Mystara has pretty much every conceivable variation on religious laws.
Glantri has outlawed all religion. The cynical will say it's because they have enough to do with their own plotting that to add a ton of new dimensions and factions to the eternal intrigue is too much even for them. The other Immortals will say it's because Rad (the Immortal who secretly runs the place) doesn't want people messing with his experiements.

You have monolatrist nations, like Hule, a theocratic hell-hole. The nations of the shadow elves, orcs and Azcans corrupted by Atzanteotl accept no other patron (amusingly enough, these groups have little to no contact with each other and would probably kill each other on sight if they did, even knowing they worshipped the same Immortal). In all these cases only the one Immortal is allowed in their respective nations.

Uncorrupted shadow elves have only one god because he's the only one that bothered to help them in need, so they don't need to enforce rules about religion. The dwarves of Rockhome and its colonies were created by Kagyar and are probably entirely devoted to him, but don't prevent the rare visitors from worshipping their own gods.

You have an actual monotheistic nation (totally-not-Arabia, with totally-not-Islam and totally-not-Muhammed) that is more 'golden age' Islam than IS, but still non-Eternal Truth religions are at best tolerated, at worst attacked on sight.

Thyatis is open to most religions that aren't actively disruptive or harmful to social order. Thyatis once had a thriving cult to the aforementioned Ixion, who is generally considered to be a decent sort, but it got politically troublesome and quite disruptive, and was banished. Most Immortals are allowed, but it has a set of very popular ones that people in general worship. Some Immortals are illegal, as mentioned, usually on the basis of being too disruptive.


This is a hard one. In most polytheistic pantheons the god of death is represented as evil. But death is also an inevitability for all mortals. Prayers and offerings to the God of death for the safe passage of loved ones will be normal and acceptable in nearly all societies. So the temple to the god will be acceptable.

I think Game of thrones did a reasonable job of representing an acceptable evil death god with the faceless men and their church, which Arya trained in.

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Hugo Rune wrote:

This is a hard one. In most polytheistic pantheons the god of death is represented as evil. But death is also an inevitability for all mortals. Prayers and offerings to the God of death for the safe passage of loved ones will be normal and acceptable in nearly all societies. So the temple to the god will be acceptable.

I think Game of thrones did a reasonable job of representing an acceptable evil death god with the faceless men and their church, which Arya trained in.

I've always liked non-evil (or preferably good) death deities. Possibly influenced by Gaiman's Death. :)

When deities are actually real entities, independent of human opinions on the topic, they can have roles that aren't influenced by our fears.

Pharasma makes a good non-evil death deity. The abhorrence for undead makes a good hook.


To be honest, I don't incorporate evil gods in my campaigns and don't really support people playing evil characters. There is enough hurt in the world that I don't really want to deal with it in my recreational time.

But if I were to, I would draw inspiration from the Church of Satan. The vast majority don't literally worship Satan, he's a symbol or figurehead. The religion is couched in relatively neutral terms - ones that, if said anonymously, would be widely agreed with.

"If it comes down to them or me, I choose me."

"I am in control of my own destiny."

Etc.

Good- and evil-aligned characters should be able to play in a campaign together, and they should take the same actions a non-zero percent of the time. Good characters may slay a dragon to prevent it from killing people; evil characters may slay a dragon to prevent it from killing themselves.

In that context, I would put evil churches on a spectrum of "a little nuts but as long as they don't hurt anyone they're tolerated" to "they protect the village, we like them."

Some evil churches - even if there is a core cult of true believers within - may even openly hand-wave their deity. "Rovagug is a figment of peoples' imaginations, a way for people to blame the external. Sarenrae let all these bad things happen, and didn't want the blame, so she made up all these evil deities to cover for her weakness."

Some people may secretly worship evil deities and pretend the powers gained are from their own work. They may rationalize their bargains by saying they are going to aim for the greater good - "Yes, my soul is bound to devils when I die, but at least my family won't starve" or "Lamashtu is bad but she's the only one who can prevent us from getting overrun by goblins."

Again, you can draw a lot of inspiration from real life, but that's exactly why I choose not to do it, it's too depressing.


Drogan Tome wrote:
What are your thoughts about religious freedom laws? Would central governments make worship of dark gods illegal?

It really depends on the alignment of the society in question. Banning the worship of certain religions is a very Lawful idea. Not so much good or evil. You might have a CG tribe of elves who would never tell you who you can or can't worship because that would impede your personal growth. But if you threaten the tribe they will cut you down. The actions you take carry far more weight than your beliefs do.

On the flip side LG and especially LE societies probably have lots of rules about who you can and can't worship. In a LG city you might get fined or even imprisoned for walking around openly wearing the symbol of Cayden Cailean. After all he promotes dangerous ideas like drinking and acting impulsively. Things that "lead to evil". A LE society might let you worship whoever you want, but such worship must be registered and taxed accordingly.

The idea of dark gods existing in polite society doesn't really seem strange at all to me. It all depends on who is in charge and has power. Who the king worships doesn't matter so much if no one who has a problem with it has the power and/or authority to do anything about it. Especially when you consider that like minded individuals are more likely to be promoted by said king to positions of authority. It holds true regardless if the king is LG or CE.


LordKailas wrote:
Drogan Tome wrote:
What are your thoughts about religious freedom laws? Would central governments make worship of dark gods illegal?

It really depends on the alignment of the society in question. Banning the worship of certain religions is a very Lawful idea. Not so much good or evil. You might have a CG tribe of elves who would never tell you who you can or can't worship because that would impede your personal growth. But if you threaten the tribe they will cut you down. The actions you take carry far more weight than your beliefs do.

On the flip side LG and especially LE societies probably have lots of rules about who you can and can't worship. In a LG city you might get fined or even imprisoned for walking around openly wearing the symbol of Cayden Cailean. After all he promotes dangerous ideas like drinking and acting impulsively. Things that "lead to evil". A LE society might let you worship whoever you want, but such worship must be registered and taxed accordingly.

The idea of dark gods existing in polite society doesn't really seem strange at all to me. It all depends on who is in charge and has power. Who the king worships doesn't matter so much if no one who has a problem with it has the power and/or authority to do anything about it. Especially when you consider that like minded individuals are more likely to be promoted by said king to positions of authority. It holds true regardless if the king is LG or CE.

Even the Chaotic Good elves might have limits for those cults worship leads pretty directly to threats.

Lamashtu maybe?


LordKailas wrote:


It really depends on the alignment of the society in question. Banning the worship of certain religions is a very Lawful idea. Not so much good or evil. You might have a CG tribe of elves who would never tell you who you can or can't worship because that would impede your personal growth. But if you threaten the tribe they will cut you down. The actions you take carry far more weight than your beliefs do.

On the flip side LG and especially LE societies probably have lots of rules about who you can and can't worship. In a LG city you might get fined or even imprisoned for walking around openly wearing the symbol of Cayden Cailean. After all he promotes dangerous ideas like drinking and acting impulsively. Things that "lead to evil". A LE society might let you worship whoever you want, but such worship must be registered and taxed accordingly.

Even the Chaotic Good elves might have limits for those cults worship leads pretty directly to threats.

Lamashtu maybe?


thejeff wrote:

Even the Chaotic Good elves might have limits for those cults worship leads pretty directly to threats.

Lamashtu maybe?

meh, it's just a phase that every elf goes through. They'll grow out of it in a few centuries and its better if they learn first hand. I mean obviously we'll step in if things start to get out of hand....


What I have developed for my game so far are main gods: one of darkness and one of light. These two gods are served by saints who represent the diversity in influence and domains. this is modeled after gods from the Iron Kingdoms setting and Elder Scrolls. These deities operate along the good evil access. these gods are beholden to their faithful and draw a measure of their power from worship.

I then have a number of unaffiliated divine entities much like the Daedric princes of elder scrolls, that operate along the law chaos axis. they are not however, beholden to mortal worshipers for power. they represent physical and philosophical forces and mostly see mortals as play things and tools (much like the Dedra).

I am building these different divines to have a more human appeal. Much like the greek gods of old these deities have flaws and virtues and motives. I do make sure to demonstrate the grey areas of life as opposed to starkly black and white.


LordKailas wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Even the Chaotic Good elves might have limits for those cults worship leads pretty directly to threats.

Lamashtu maybe?

meh, it's just a phase that every elf goes through. They'll grow out of it in a few centuries and its better if they learn first hand. I mean obviously we'll step in if things start to get out of hand....

The problem is with groups that routinely get out of hand.


The Golarion setting has several examples of evil gods being worshiped openly even in "civilized" regions. The two most notorious examples--Asmodeus and Zon-Kuthon--have even become the primary state religions in certain lands due to pacts made by the ruling class (of Cheliax and Nidal, respectively). Nidal is every bit as cruelly oppressive as you would expect, given its patron god. Cheliax's diabolical pact, on the other hand, has the demonstrable effect of actually upholding the rule of law and order in the empire--but let's not talk too loudly about the price paid for it, shall we? In 1st ed. Pathfinder, Asmodeus can have non-evil clerics and followers, and such Asmodeans are even accepted in the Pathfinder Society. (I understand that 2E has thoroughly nixed this loophole.)

To give another example that I'm much more conversant about, take Green Ronin's Freeport. It's a former pirate haven that has gone semi-legit, and the existence of cults to evil gods is a recurring plague there. No overtly evil god has a public shrine there, but some of its favored gods (most notably the CN gods of pirates and war) attract their fair share of evil followers. The presence and acceptability of the cults of the evil gods varies:

* Due to the number of fiendish cults who operated in Freeport over the years since its founding, demon or devil worship is one of the few capital crimes here. That doesn't seem to do much to dissuade these cults from operating here; it just means that the successful ones are more circumspect. (And some have been VERY successful, infiltrating the highest ranks of political and religious hierarchies. That's why they are suppressed so bloodily when they are exposed.)
* The god of thieves has numerous adherents, who by their own criminal nature, can't operate openly. (Some see this god as a darker aspect of another, more welcome god, such as that of pirates or commerce.)
* The city has a large population of orcs, imported under a previous regime as cheap labor. Their god, Krom (CN or CE, depending on who you ask), is still revered by many of these humanoids, but has no organized worship.
* The death god's small priesthood is not popular, but they are essential for sanitation: they collect and cremate the bodies of the dead. (IIRC, earlier sourcebooks pegged this god as N, but he's currently LE in canon.)


Drogan Tome wrote:

What I have developed for my game so far are main gods: one of darkness and one of light. These two gods are served by saints who represent the diversity in influence and domains. this is modeled after gods from the Iron Kingdoms setting and Elder Scrolls. These deities operate along the good evil access. these gods are beholden to their faithful and draw a measure of their power from worship.

I think a decent amount of your problem comes from your deities being to vague. Basing a deity around being a paragon of an alignment doesn't really give you any idea of what they, or their worshipers would do.

Deities that are based around having an area of concern are a lot easier to imagine. God of farmers, god of the ocean, god of the winds, sun god, god of celebration, god of disease, god of gambling, god of contracts, god of prosperity. When you see each of these names you can start to imagine what the god is like, and what their followers care about. More than likely if you have a lot of very limited gods most people will spend time worshiping a lot of them, instead of focusing on one.

Who worships the God of Disease? People with diseases, or ill loved ones. Or those that want to curse their enemies. Even some insane people that had a traumatic event involving a disease.

Gods can have multiple concerns. Pathfinder's deities generally have 3 domains. So having 3 different aspects or areas of concern seems natural for all pathfinder related deities. The aspects don't all need to be related. A real world example is Posidon. Sure he is the god of seas, storms and horses. Horses?!? Why? Because somehow sea foam looks like horses. Real world deities are just like that. If you look into Thor's stories he is the God of Thunder, but he also did a lot of drinking, was a very angry guy, fooled some enemies, and at one point cross dressed.

The more 'human' your deities are, the more real they seem. Every deity needs at least one legend you can tell players. And every deity should have some appeal to them. Even Rovagug the Destroyer is a champion for his created races.


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In a pantheistic society normal people don’t worship a single deity. They pay tribute to all deities depending on their needs. If you are going off to war than making an offering to the god of war makes sense. On the other hand if you are making a long trip on a ship you are going to want to appease the god of oceans. If someone in your family just died honoring the god of the dead is the appropriate action. This also means very few if any deities are actually banned.

Most evil deities come in one of two varieties. The first is those that have useful portfolios. These deities often preside over multiple things some of which may not be directly related to evil. A society may accept them for the benefit they provide while overlooking the harm they do. Think of someone with a lot of wealth, but is suspected of having ties to organized crime donating to charity. Most of the time the charity accepts the money and ignores where the money came from.

The second type of evil deity is one who represents something people do not want. No sane person wants to get a disease, or suffer a famine. These deities are accepted because people hope that by honoring them they will not be affected by what the deity represents. You sacrifice to the deity of disease so that you don’t get a disease. Basically these types of deities are a divine protection racket.

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thejeff wrote:

I've always liked non-evil (or preferably good) death deities. Possibly influenced by Gaiman's Death. :)

When deities are actually real entities, independent of human opinions on the topic, they can have roles that aren't influenced by our fears.

Pharasma makes a good non-evil death deity. The abhorrence for undead makes a good hook.

Between the Hades of myth (who was not a Disney villain) or foe to the other gods, most of whom were really no more 'good' than he was, and gaming gods of death like Wee Jas in Greyhawk, Kelemvore in the Realms or Nemorga in Sharn, non-evil death gods are kind of the default setting, which is very cool. (There are also some downright evil ones, like Nerull and Myrkul and Urgathoa, to scratch that itch as well.)

Propitiation seems to be the key, for some. About to give birth? Burn a candle to Shelyn for a beautiful child, but mutter a prayer to Lamashtu to avert her gaze as well. Myth and legend is full of stories of folk who got cursed for neglecting a relevant god, such as suffering a shipwreck for refusing to make a sacrifice to Poseidon before a ship voyage. Following that, it might make some sense to burn some incense or set out a nice meal for Urgathoa at a time of plague, in hopes that it will pass your family by, even if you don't worship her, because it's just not sensible to actively piss her off...

Others might focus on the 'less evil' aspects of an evil faith. A Kuthite might focus on a 'that which does not kill us, makes us stronger' tenet, and inflict pain and tribulation on themselves to carve away weakness and leave only the strongest parts of themselves behind. Someone into political intrigue and espionage, or alchemical research, might consider Norgorber her patron, and have zero interest in the motley-clad prancing fools of the Skinsaw cult. They'd be the 'Cafeteria Catholics' of the setting, and some gods (and churches) would put up with that sort of thing (considering people who like the gluttony aspect of their Urgathoa worship to be on a slippery slope of embracing her darker aspects), while others might frown on that sort of thing.


Drogan Tome wrote:
I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate evil deities in society, how to explain how and why they fit in. the good aligned gods are the main gods that are openly worshiped but there are people who discreetly worship the dark gods.

That might be a problem right there. Most fantasy games are medieval European fantasy (when medieval Europe was dominated by one religion) but have multiple religions. The mix just doesn't work.

I usually use Ancient China and Japan as examples. (Ancient Rome might have been a good example, but what I know about Ancient Roman religion could fill a few index cards, at best.)

In the two Asian countries listed above, there were multiple religions. In China, people were commonly Buddhist, Taoist, or Confucian (and some other philosophies). In fiction written in that time period, magic users were always Taoist. They supposedly had various taboos, such as not eating meat, and I think they're the genesis behind the Wu Jen class in Oriental Adventures. Sometimes members of one religion depicted followers of the other religion as evil. In Journey to the West (a Buddhist book) many of the antagonists were Taoists, although they were not portrayed as universally evil. Often they were just the target of pranks. In Bandits of the Marsh only a couple of the main characters were portrayed as Taoists, but were depicted as good guys (and at least one played pranks on a non-Taoist character who routinely disrespected his religion). There were also some decidedly un-Buddhist Buddhist monks (almost literally people who put on robes and pretended, but didn't stop acting coarsely, drinking, fighting, etc). There was at least one bad guy spellcaster who was a Taoist, so it certainly wasn't a pro-Taoist publication.

In the various fictions, characters might dislike each other due to varying religions, or like each other despite their religions. There are often stereotypes associated with followers of each religion, such as certain jobs only ever get filled by followers of a certain religion, but those aren't important, as you're interested in a fantasy setting.

There was no "pope" for any of the religions. Rather, each temple was responsible for an area, and did not have the power to eliminate rivals.

In Japan, there are two main religions, Shinto and Buddhism. They have had conflicts, but also friendships; there are literally Shinto shrines within Buddhist temples. While there were military conflicts a very long time ago, the more recent conflicts (during the "samurai era") were over influence. The local lord (the daimyo) could be a member of one religion, the other, or often both! All locals were expected to be members of the daimyo's religion, although there was nothing preventing the local from being a member of the other religion as well. If the daimyo was Shinto (as an example) and then decided to embrace Buddhism as well, now they need to split their donations. This wouldn't be happy news for the Shinto priests. Naturally there would be social conflicts behind the scenes in an effort to influence the daimyo.

My suggestion would be to eliminate the concept of a national religion. At best, there's a religion that the current king or queen promotes. They have a confessor, an important court position, and the monarch forces the lower ranking nobles to "tithe" to this church. But this confessor's position is not based on the nation's identity, but the monarch's personality. Which means that if the monarch dies, their replacement might follow a different religion entirely, and so the position of confessor, and the tithes, go to a different church.

The local rulers would have different religions, and people might say "we don't trust the Umbers, they worship a dark god". However, the Umbers maintain local support because they're not being too terrible to their own followers. When they sacrifice people, they sacrifice those that their neighbors didn't like, or visitors, or people they kidnapped, etc.

I imagine such a setting would have dynasties based on religion. So the Uthred dynasties were Thorians, but the previous Arthurian dynasty were Celestines, etc. This still leaves room for conflict. King Uhtred VII married Queen Gwen I... a Celestine, for political reasons. Uhtred didn't bother raising his child, and Gwen raised him as a Celestine. The confessor kept complaining about this and kept clashing with the queen's Celestine faction. Now the future Uhtred VIII has reached his majority, and the realm fears what will happen when Uhtred VII dies. Will Uhtred VIII have to come to an accomadation with the powerful Thorian church? Will there be a civil war, as the Thorians whip up their followers to drop lightning on the Celestines, while the Celestines whip up their followers to drop flame strikes on the Thorians?

While entirely fictional, I saw this example in the Deverry Cycle. Later on in this series of novels, we are introduced to a powerful spirit (not a god, however) called Alshandra. She was worshiped by some Horsekin and some humans. She was later killed in a spirit battle, but people continued to worship her.

The Horsekin were basically mutant Dothraki, and were split into primitive and civilized peoples. The majority of the primitives worshiped Alshandra, and the city-dwellers maintained their old religion. The Alshanda-worshipers infiltrated the seven cities and eventually converted enough people in each city to take over, expelling or murdering the members of the old religion.

A big part of the last three books are a broad war, between humans and Horsekin on one side (who worship Alshandra) and a coalition of humans, elves, dwarves and civilized Horsekin on the other side. A key part of the conflict was... you could not tell who a human or Horsekin worshiped just by asking, so spying was a constant threat. At one point, an Alshandra-worshiping human wanted to know what was the big deal if he worshiped Alshandra, making no real effort to hide this. He wasn't executed, tortured, exiled, or otherwise punished, because... he was just a bloke. Probably the sort to feed information to his fellow worshipers, but warning them of an incoming crusade isn't really a crime.

The followers of Alshandra were typically depicted as either evil or deluded. It wasn't a "kill the goblins" scenario.


Something important things to mention about Japanese religion: A large portion of it is ancestor worship. Previous generations of the family receive gifts and prayers, with the expectation that the ancestors will watch over the family and continue to support them.

Also Japan is called the 'Land of 10,000 Gods'. The Japanese people have traditionally been very superstitious (who isn't?), and if a story catches on people will create a shrine towards it and enshrine a deity. If the shrine gets a decent following (enough to support a priest), someone will move in and become the priest for that shrine. Eventually the Shrine will be expanded to become a temple and the priests could try to spread the religion by creating more shrines and temples.

While there are major religious figures in Japanese Mythology, there are far more minor figures that are really only known to the people that live around their shrines.

Also Japanese gods are more focused. Each god is interested in certain activities. If you want good fortune, you pick a deity appropriate to what you want and make an offering. And if you look hard enough you can find a deity to just about anything.


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Hextor, the Greyhawk god of War, Tyranny, and Fitness, deserves some mention in this context. In the Greyhawk setting, he's one of, if not the only, Evil deities that is able to publicly operate in most places.

The 1d4chan entry about him is relatively free of profanity and vitriol, even.

While not specifically about Hextor, Red Fel's Compliance Will Be Rewarded: A Guide to Lawful Evil has something to say that I think is a good starting point. Or, at the very least, reading this thread immediately called them to mind and I felt motivated enough to post. :V

On Respectability as part of What LE is wrote:
[...] Consider this: The Church of Hextor is one of the only canon Evil religions that operates openly. How can it afford to do so? It creates order. It eliminates crime, poverty, and chaos. It promotes a regimen of physical fitness and ethical obligation. In many ways, it makes the lives of those within its iron grip better. [...]
On Loyalty as a motivation for LE characters wrote:
[...] Adequate Lawful Evil characters can stand alone, but truly great Lawful Evil characters stand with others. A leader is defined just as much by his own abilities as by those of the forces at his disposal. Why do you think the Church of Hextor can operate openly? It's because, in a strange way, it lives in symbiosis with the citizens under its thrall - it offers them protection and order, and they in turn provide it with support. [...]

I could draw some parallels with the philosophy of the Hell Knights and with Thomas Hobbes and his view of the social contract.


Set wrote:


Others might focus on the 'less evil' aspects of an evil faith. A Kuthite might focus on a 'that which does not kill us, makes us stronger' tenet, and inflict pain and tribulation on themselves to carve away weakness and leave only the strongest parts of themselves behind. Someone into political intrigue and espionage, or alchemical research, might consider Norgorber her patron, and have zero interest in the motley-clad prancing fools of the Skinsaw cult. They'd be the 'Cafeteria Catholics' of the setting, and some gods (and churches) would put up with that sort of thing (considering people who like the gluttony aspect of...

I find Lamashtu to be very interesting because of this type of outlook. She's a fertility deity and also seems to encourage taking in and sheltering orphans and those who are different and outcast. A deity of madness, power, thieving, corruption, and literally being demonic, but also of social acceptance and (especially parental) care. Her Antipaladin Code reads more like an inspirational speech than a doctrine of abomination. I've been wanting to plan out a Chaotic Neutral follower of Lamashtu for a while.


Bloodrealm wrote:


I find Lamashtu to be very interesting because of this type of outlook. She's a fertility deity and also seems to encourage taking in and sheltering orphans and those who are different and outcast. A deity of madness, power, thieving, corruption, and literally being demonic, but also of social acceptance and (especially parental) care. Her Antipaladin Code reads more like an inspirational speech than a doctrine of abomination. I've been wanting to plan out a Chaotic Neutral follower of Lamashtu for a while.

Barring that bit about bringing madness and blood to the cities and the fact it doesn't take much stretching to figure that Lammy doesn't really care about that seed/womb stuff being consensual anyway.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Bloodrealm wrote:


I find Lamashtu to be very interesting because of this type of outlook. She's a fertility deity and also seems to encourage taking in and sheltering orphans and those who are different and outcast. A deity of madness, power, thieving, corruption, and literally being demonic, but also of social acceptance and (especially parental) care. Her Antipaladin Code reads more like an inspirational speech than a doctrine of abomination. I've been wanting to plan out a Chaotic Neutral follower of Lamashtu for a while.

Barring that bit about bringing madness and blood to the cities and the fact it doesn't take much stretching to figure that Lammy doesn't really care about that seed/womb stuff being consensual anyway.

Hey, I never said she wasn't Chaotic EVIL! The aspects are there, though, and the depth is often what makes things interesting when you're looking into Evil deities.

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