Making Gods & Pantheons > Worldbuilding Abstract

In this blog you’ll make gods and pantheons for your world. Get excited, this will be the first tangible bricks used in the building of your world. But first…

Making-Gods-And-Pantheons

Congratulations!

If you’ve been working alongside me you have completed the conception stage of your new world. Now we move to the abstract stage. This stage will be slower as we begin working out the details of the universe where your world lives.

The first step is exploring the gods and major religions. Remember the first golden rule.

Golden Rule: Only Prep What You Need

Unless you have that one of a kind player who is all-in on playing a devout character (lucky!) you won’t need to prep much. Fabricate a few gods, some religious holidays, a myth about what happens after death, and call it a day.

Seriously, go flip through the PHB pages and see how much time WOTC spent on the actual structure and nuances of religion.

Warning!

Religions are dense, complicated social constructs. There’s a lot to unpack. Try to keep in mind I’m one person focusing on one small part of worldbuilding. I’m going to provide you a lot of meaty goodness, but this isn’t a master class in religious construction.

If you need more, I don’t know, try reading some L. Ron Hubbard novels.

How Many Religions?

How many major religions should be present in your world? You definitely want to avoid the creating a mono culture by creating just one, true religion. Modern Earth has five major religions. That’s a good place to start. The important thing is this won’t be all the religions, just the major ones. You should also include smaller folk religions, superstitions, and provincial mutations. You could also roll the number of major religions using 2d4.

How Many Gods Should There Be?

There’s no one answer. Below are the most common types of pantheons from human history. You can pick which you like or roll 2d6.

2. Non-Deity Philosophy (Buddhism, Humanism, Taoism)
3. Monotheism (Abrahamic religions)
4. Dualism: Balance and Conflict (Wicca, Zoroastrianism)
5-9. Small Pantheon (Norse Pantheon, 1d6+2 Gods)
10-11. Large Pantheon (Most Classical Pantheons, 4d6 Gods)
12. Ancestor Worship with/without Animism (Shinto, traditional Chinese religion)

Did you end up with multiples of the same type? Consider using a schism to explain the similar religions. The religions could use the same or similar pantheon with a few, notable variations in belief.

Nothing has provoked more conflict and violence in the world than religious differences. It can be a gold mine of conflict and drama for your games.

God Aspects

You have your pantheons and your number of gods, but how is each portrayed? What do they look like? Find out using a combination of features (1d8) and sex (2d6).

Features (1d8)
1. Beast
2. Monster
3-7. Humanoid (Reflective of racial majority)
8. Chimera (Part person, part beast)

Sex (1d8)
1. Hyper Feminine
2-3. Female
4-5. Asexual, M/F at different times, Non-Binary
6-7. Male
8. Hyper Masculine

Spheres

At this point you should have your pantheon, your gods, and the gods’ aspects worked out. The next part is to figure out what the gods’ spheres of influence. Don’t be afraid to have many gods pick the same domain. A good way to assess how important one of the spheres is to a religion is how many gods they have for it.

I advise giving each god 1d4 spheres. For each god in a pantheon who has the same sphere assign each one of the subdomains. I assume a god with fewer domains is more potent in that domain than one with more.

Ex.
God 1 Domains
– Darkness>Absence of Light
God 2 Domains
– Darkness>Gloom/Obscurement
– Wilds>Nature

God 1 only has one domain and would be the primary god of Darkness.

Sphere Types

  1. Darkness
    1. Absence of Light
    2. Eclipse/Shadow
    3. Gloom/Obscurement
    4. Ignorance/Stupidity
  2. Death
    1. Annihilation/Extinction
    2. Decay/Entropy
    3. Mortality/Murder
    4. Undeath
  3. Knowledge
    1. Arcana
    2. City/Civilization
    3. Forge/Craft
    4. Mysteries/Secrets/Trickster
  4. Life
    1. Birth/Fertility
    2. Growth/Medicine
    3. Harvest
    4. Grave
  5. Love
    1. Charity (Love for All)
    2. Devotion/Duty
    3. Familial/Parental
    4. Friendship
    5. Pride/Narcissism (Self Love)
    6. Romance
  6. Sea
    1. Fish/Sea Life
    2. Seafaring/Voyages
    3. Tides
    4. Trade
  7. Sky
    1. Moon/Night
    2. Navigation/Stars
    3. Storms
    4. Sun (Light)
  8. War
    1. Chivalry
    2. Defense/Protection
    3. Competition/Duels
    4. Victory
  9. Weather
    1. Monsoon (Must have monsoons)
    2. Precipitation
    3. Seasons
    4. Storms
    5. Temperature
    6. Winds
  10. Wilds
    1. Earth
    2. Hunt
    3. Nature
    4. Monsters

The final step for this blog is fleshing out and naming your gods. This is the fun bit. Find the connections between your gods’ different aspects to determine this.

My Results

I rolled two major pantheons. Since I only rolled two major religions I decided not to use a schism.

Pantheon 1

Small Pantheon: 7 Gods
1. She Beast of…
– Decay/Entropy
– Harvest
– Moon/Night
– Earth
2. Hyper Female Humanoid of…
– Love
– Fish/Sealife
– Defense/Protection
3. Asexual Beast of
– Ignorance/Stupidity
– Monsters
4. Hyper Male Monster of…
– Undeath
– Arcana
– Competition/Duels
5. Female Humanoid of…
– Grave
– Seafaring/Voyages
– Weather
6. Hyper Female Monster of…
– Absence of Light
– Annihiliation/Exctinction
– Tides
– Navigation/Stars
7. M/F at different times Humanoid of…
– Forge/Craft

Pantheon 2

Small Pantheon: 8 Gods
1. Non-binary humanoid of…
– Absence of Light
– Decay/Entropy
– Competition/Duels
– Precipitation
2. Asexual Humanoid of…
– Mortality/Murder
– Forge/Craft
– Tides
– Moon/Night
3. Hyper Female Monster of…
– Growth/Medicine
4. Asexual Humanoid of…
– Mysteries/Secrets/Trickster
– Trade
– Chivalry
5. Non-Binary Humanoid of…
– Gloom/Obscurement
– Charity (Love for all)
– Monsters
6. Hyper Male Monster of…
– Undeath
– Romance
– Sun/Light
– Seasons
7. Hyper Female Humanoid of…
– Earth
8. Female Humanoid of…
– Harvest
– Fish/Sea Life
– Storms

That’s it for now. Next time we’ll use the pantheons and gods to flesh out their respective religions in your world. In the meantime your homework assignment is to spend some time with your minted gods. Develop their names, descriptions, and personas.

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