Thursday 29 December 2022

The Duty of Good

This excerpt from the Demon Slayer movie “Mugen Train” is a discussion between a demon-slayer in training and his mother. Mostly it is the mother talking except for the part in italics. Her explanation of her son’s duty is a neat encapsulation of what Good in AD&D is about:

Do you know why it is you were born with greater strength than so many others?

Uh… no, ma’am, I don’t.

It is so that you can protect the weak.

Those who are born blessed with more bountiful gifts than others are obligated to use those gifts for the sake of the world, for all of our fellow brothers and sisters.

You must never use that God-given strength to bring harm to mankind or for your own selfish desires.

It is the duty of those born strong to help those who may be less fortunate, a responsibility you must carry onward with due purpose.

Be sure you never forget that.

Good and Evil in AD&D is framed in the context of the strong and the weak. This can be missed but references to strength and weakness appear in the summaries for Chaotic Evil, Neutral Evil, and Lawful Evil. The Good alignments are not described in these terms but more by what the outcomes should be - “bringing life, happiness, and prosperity to all deserving creature” and similar. But the implications inherent in being the opposite of Evil are clear enough.

We could perhaps imagine a demon mother advising her child:

Do you know why it is you were born with greater strength than so many others?

Uh… no, ma’am, I don’t.

It is so that you can prevent the weak and undeserving from usurping what is rightfully yours.

Those who are born with fewer gifts than others are obligated to use what little they have for the sake of their betters, for the strong.

You must never believe that there is anything wrong with using your God-given strength to bring "harm" to weaklings or for your own desires.

It is the duty of those born strong to keep those who may be less fortunate in their places, a responsibility you must carry onward with due purpose.

Be sure you never forget that.

I think when looked at in these terms, the question of whether Lawful Good is “more Good” than Chaotic Good is shown to be the non-sequeter that it is. The paladin and the CG thief are clear on what Good is trying to do. They differ, essentially, on political grounds about how to achieve that goal.

Saturday 15 October 2022

D&DG Worshippers 8: Finns

Finnish Worshippers

Men! Amiritegirls?

Another pantheon without gods for thieves, but plenty of support for bards so possibly best to use that column. Finnish monks probably just don't exist.

Encounter Cleric Druid Fighter Ranger Paladin Magic-user Illusionist Thief Assassin Monk Bard
Ahto 1-6   1-20     1-9 1-10       1-10
Hiisi 7-15   21-44       11-19   1-38   11-26
Ilmatar 16-22 1-17     1-33 10-22         27-35
Kiputytto 23-30 18-35 45-51     23-31 20-29        
Louhi 31-36 36-48       32-41 30-36        
Loviatar 37-43 49-64 52-59     42-47 37-45   39-63   36-46
Mielikki 44-51 65-82   1-40   48-55 46-53       47-58
Surma 52-59 83-100   41-100   56-62 54-61   64-100    
Tuonetar 60-68         63-75 62-74       59-64
Tuono 69-80   60-84     76-84 75-84       65-74
Ukko 81-91       34-100 85-100         75-90
Untamo 92-100   85-100       85-100       91-100

Saturday 17 September 2022

More IV

I still love method IV and the little webpage I mention in that other article has had some success/praise and quite a lot of usage from other people who like a bit of ivy. I thought I'd move the utility up to this site instead of running it at home. So here it is, complete with a new feature: you can ask for sets that qualify by race instead of class. Enjoy and let me know if there's any bugs

Update 2024: Geoffrey McKinney asked if I could add an option to not filter out scores which don't qualify for any class (or race if using that). So here it is. If you select "two 15s" it will still make sure the results have two 15s or better, but the character may still not qualify for anything due to a very low score or two.

Note that I still use the OD&D order for ability scores.

Qualify by: Race
Two 15s:
Raw scores:

Saturday 11 June 2022

D&DG Worshippers 7: Egyptians

Thoth and Set. Or is it?
Art: Inonibird@tumblr
Egyptian Worshippers

The first of three biggies this week: The Egyptian pantheon, which will be followed by Finnish and then Greek. Between them they probably cover about two thirds of non-homespun pantheons in use by AD&D DMs, with Norse covering most of the remainder.

The table has some interesting aspects. If you meet an Egyptian paladin there is a surprising number of possible patron deities s/he may be following, but a ranger on the other hand is always a follower of Osiris. Thieves are all devoted to Bes. There's also a wide range of options for illusionists, although dominated by Set and Thoth, which is a very Conanesque rivalry.

The lack of clerics for certain deities is a little surprising too - Horus in particular. This is something we've seen before in other pantheons using this method, but in the case of Horus we can at least imagine that the paladins of Horus serve that purpose and perhaps the DM could make a slightly expanded paladin variant which has more extensive clerical spell casting abilities. Alternatively, multi-classing could be allowed even for humans providing one class is cleric for a deity not listed.

Encounter Cleric Druid Fighter Ranger Paladin Magic-user Illusionist Thief Assassin Monk Bard
Ra 1-10   1-11     1-8          
Anhur     12-24     9-11 1-6   1-40 1-100  
Anubis 11-21       1-21 12-20          
Apshai     25-34                
Bast 22-29   35-41     21-26 7-18        
Bes     42-47     27-32 19-29 1-100     1-35
Geb     48-59     33-38          
Horus         22-53 39-45          
Isis 30-39 1-43 60-65     46-53 30-45        
Nephthys 40-47   66-71     54-60          
Osiris 48-58 44-72   1-100             36-100
Ptah 59-68   72-80     61-71          
Seker 69-75 73-100     54-79 72-76 46-54        
Set 76-83   81-91       55-77   41-100    
Shu 84-91       80-100 77-82          
Tefnut 92-100   92-97     83-88          
Thoth     98-100     89-100 78-100        

Saturday 4 June 2022

A Lorry-Load of Sand

Filling the Sandbox
Hex-shaped sandbox:
the gag writes itself

Whether starting a new campaign or simply needing to expand the "known world" to reflect the players' expanding range of operations, or because you dropped them through a hatch to China, a decent wilderness map is a necessity which is sometimes needed quickly.

By "decent" I mean: gives the DM ideas and information which can be fed to the players as scenarios, plots, and NPC motivations, and is able to support play when the players decide to ignore everything and wander off into the wilds to see what they find.

Arneson recommended setting four "adventures" per 100 square miles (i.e., 10 x 10 miles; Arneson seems to have been a bit reluctant to use hexes in the early days, perhaps because of a lack of suppliers of hexpaper). Gygax, in the DMG (p47) modulates encounter frequency by population density and terrain. This post combines these two facets of wilderness into an interactive cavalcade of numbers to get your map off the ground quickly. The calculation assumes that Arneson's number is based on forest (6 checks per day in Gygax's table) and wilderness (1 in 10 chance in DMG). It also allows for 25% of encounters in non-wild areas being patrols, which are not lairs. The chance of a lair being a fortress is left to the encounter tables proper.

The function below takes various parameters which you can manipulate to suit. The output is a long list of hexes and the number of lairs in each hex generated with a random poisson distribution based on the average number of encounters based on the above factors. I've amalgamated Gygax's population levels so that each hex shows the number of lairs if it is wilderness, sparsely populated, or densely populated. Similarly, each hex is listed for each terrain type since clearly I don't know what the terrain is on your individual map.

You can also choose between a simple list of "give me 100 hexes" or an area coverage with hexes numbered in the classic Judges Guild method of 3212 being the 32nd column of the map, and hex 12 of that column. The defaults for the area option are set to match the Judges Guild Wilderness maps's layout of 52 columns and 34 hexes per column (you need to set 5-mile hex size manually if actually using the JG mapping system). If you are a freak that has hexes oriented with the points up the page, you'll have to adjust to fit.

So, as an example, if I'm looking at CISO Map 1 at the Plain of Cairns, I could generate 15 hexes, selecting only "plain" and "hills" but, since the village of Dorn in in there, keeping all three levels of civilisation active. If, for example, I get this result:

# Encounters by Terrain

Starting in hex 3629 (wild, hills) I have two lairs (I rolled hobgoblins and werewolves on DMG tables). South one hex (wild and split between hills and plain, so I would usually take the higher number), we have nothing rolled for wild. Since each civilisation level is diced for independently it is possible for a hex to be, like this, free of monsters on wilderness but populated on sparse or dense. Beware of fudging the result to be "more interesting" as the tendency is to over-egg the pudding.

Then, going now to the hex southwest of Dorn (plain, patrolled) I have a lair (merchants are rolled but they don't lair, so a re-roll gives wild boar). The hex south of that (plain, wild), is clear, and the final hex in that column (3730 on the map) is again empty (the 1 indicated being for patrolled, not wilderness). 

Hex #6 equates to Dorn itself and we have a lair in the same hex - a halfling village.

And so on. Alternatively, I could have generated the lairs for the entire map and walked down the columns in a similar way, making notes as I go.

Here's the tool:

[Update: I've added a seed option. Basically, if you supply the same (numerical) seed the results will be the same for the same other options (number and size of hexes), so you can effectively bookmark a result and come back to it later].

Hex width (miles):
Base rate (encounters per 100sqm):
Population levels:  
# Hexes:

Saturday 28 May 2022

D&DG Worshippers 6: Cultists

Cthulhu Mythos Worshippers

This is a tricky one. Deities and Demigods treats the various beings of the Mythos as monsters. Very few of them have specific class levels, which means that the method of using those levels to assign a probability that someone of that class worships a specific deity is a little questionable. However, the classes which are not represented are: Rangers, Paladins, Thieves, Monks, and Bards. Of these the only two that seem problematic are Monk and Thief; no one was expecting a Paladin to worship any of thise lot anyway!

Thieves can be rationalised, I think, in that they simply do not see anything very positive for themselves in the long-term goals of Cthulhu and Co. The end of all things is not very appealing to the person who loves shiney stuff.

Monks are harder. I personally absolutely can see Evil monk cultists but AD&D's decicision that monks must be Lawful rules out this most Chaotic of pantheons. One way around this might be Nyarlathotep masquerading as the head of some LE order who are unaware of the true nature of their "Master". Anyway, here's the table:

Encounter Cleric Druid Fighter Magic-user Illusionist Assassin
Cthulhu     1-13 1-20    
Azathoth     14-27      
Cthuga 1-55 1-71 28-40 21-50 1-38  
Hastur     41-53 51-72 39-68  
Ithaqua 56-78   54-63   69-83  
Nyarlathotep 79-100 72-100 64-73 73-85 84-100 1-100
Shub-Niggurath     74-87      
Yog-Sothoth     88-100 86-100    

I thought I'd also throw in the pivoted table for Nyarlathotep showing the chance that a worshiper of that being is any given class, since he is the being most likely to be incountered in a non-combat situation:

Class d%
Cleric 1-15
Druid 16-30
Fighter 31-49
Magic-user 50-65
Illusionist 66-81
Assassin 82-100

Sunday 8 May 2022

Levels Distribution

Simulating, but simulating what?

I’ve mentioned before that D&D has a problem in deciding what it is simulating, but that happens at the table too. Many DMs have a simulationist streak but it is sometimes hard to decide whether we’re simulating some sort of extrapolated reality based on the world as experienced personally by the PCs, or something more literary.

One topic where this plays out is in the realm of classed NPCs. When making broad-brush strokes about a campaign, for example, the numbers of high-level NPCs in the countries around the starting location, it’s handy to have a quick way of generating those numbers. But what method to use?

Basic Assumptions: Demographics

Two basic assumptions carry through both methods: firstly that classed characters are 1% of the human population. Secondly, that the age demographics are something like the Coale-Demeny West table at level 4. This basically means that half the population is old enough to have or have started training in a class, and that 60 is a reasonable expectation for characters.

A. Simulating PCs

One approach I have used is a complete simulation based on entrance requirements for the classes, age demographics, and an assumed rate of experience point accumulation.

Without going into too much detail, what you find with this approach is that there are relatively few 1st level characters, especially thieves, because it takes so little experience to pass through the low levels, resulting in a sort of bulge at mid-levels. Exactly where depends on how much xp per month you figure in, how many active months in a year you assume etc.

For fighters this gives an output something like this for 1000 fighters:

Level #Fighters
1 33
2 42
3 59
4 107
5 205
6 209
7 273
8 70
9 2

The shape of the bulge varies depending on how exactly you see the rate of xp gain working over time, but you get the idea. Mid- to high-levels dominate over the lower levels.

B. Simulating Fiction & The Implied Reality

The above doesn’t fit most people’s expectations of the world which are taken from fiction and/or the Monster Manual’s listings for “Men”. The implied world is one where low-level characters are outnumbered by 0-level normal people, and low level characters greatly outnumber name-level characters.

As a simple example, an encounter with 200 bandits will consist of 200 0-level bandits, 6 second-level fighters, 10 third-level fighters, 7 fourth-level fighters, 5 fifth-level fighters, 4 sixth-level fighters, one seventh-level fighter, and a tenth-level fighter. The MM seldom places first-level characters, although Berserkers do have them at a ratio of 1:10 compared to 0-level types.

Another area where the game departs from the “simulated PCs” method is in the incidence of the individual classes. Rather than depending on the odds of qualifying for each class, and some factor for how desirable the classes are, we can just use the numbers from DMG p35 (which assumes that the distribution of prospective henchmen in a town or city is the same as the general distribution of classes everywhere).

For the purposes of quickly determining what’s happening in a specific country, or in a town, we quickly boil the assumptions down to this:

Class Divisor
Cleric 1200
Druid 6000
Fighter 561
Paladin 4545
Ranger 4545
Magic-user 1200
Illusionist 6000
Thief 1600
Assassin 8000
Monk 200000

So, a location with a population of 300,000 will have on average 535 fighters, 2 monks (I’m rounding up at .5), and 38 assassins (300000 divided by 561, 200000, and 8000 respectively). Here’s the full table:

Class Divisor #
Cleric 1200 250
Druid 6000 50
Fighter 561 535
Paladin 4545 66
Ranger 4545 66
Magic-user 1200 250
Illusionist 6000 50
Thief 1600 188
Assassin 8000 38
Monk 200000 2

But what levels are these guys?

Last week's post was really just a bit of Javascript which tries to generate higher levels based on how hard they are to reach as an absolute number.

What the method boils down to is that the ratio of 1st level clerics to 2nd level clerics is the ratio 1500:3000 (the maximum number of xp in first and second level), so basically 2:1. This is a fairly complicated calculation so I’ve done tables up to high levels below.

Aside: An obvious alternative is to take the ratio of the mid-points of the various levels rather than the maximum values. This leads to a normal ratio of 1:3 at lower levels, and since this is compounded the numbers appearing of even 4th level and upward are insignificant. So, if this method gives too many mid-level characters, you could try adjusting that.

How it works is to set a maximum possible level, then assume that all the NPCs are distributed across those levels in inverse proportion to the amount of xp needed to reach each level. The tables are normalised so the values add up to one.

Here’s the tables.

Level Bard Cleric Druid Monk
1 4.706451e-01 5.045307e-01 4.587672e-01 5.254946e-01
2 2.353225e-01 2.522653e-01 2.293836e-01 2.489185e-01
3 1.176613e-01 1.261327e-01 1.223379e-01 1.182363e-01
4 5.883064e-02 5.821508e-02 7.340276e-02 5.254946e-02
5 3.765161e-02 2.751985e-02 4.587672e-02 2.489185e-02
6 2.353225e-02 1.375993e-02 2.621527e-02 1.206493e-02
7 1.568817e-02 6.879964e-03 1.529224e-02 5.911814e-03
8 1.107400e-02 3.363538e-03 1.019483e-02 3.378179e-03
9 8.557183e-03 1.681769e-03 7.340276e-03 2.364725e-03
10 6.275268e-03 1.121179e-03 4.587672e-03 1.689090e-03
11 4.706451e-03 8.408845e-04 3.058448e-03 1.244592e-03
12 2.353225e-03 6.727076e-04 1.223379e-03 9.458902e-04
13 1.568817e-03 5.605896e-04 6.116896e-04 6.756359e-04
14 1.176613e-03 4.805054e-04 2.621527e-04 5.254946e-04
15 9.412902e-04 4.204422e-04 2.293836e-04 4.299501e-04
16 7.844085e-04 3.737264e-04 2.038965e-04 3.638039e-04
17 6.723501e-04 3.363538e-04 1.835069e-04 3.152967e-04
18 5.883064e-04 3.057762e-04 1.668244e-04  
19 5.229390e-04 2.802948e-04 1.529224e-04  
20 4.706451e-04 2.587337e-04 1.411591e-04  
21 4.278592e-04 2.400907e-04 1.310764e-04  
22 3.137634e-04 2.240847e-04 1.223379e-04  
23 2.353225e-04 2.100794e-04 1.146918e-04  
Level Fighter Paladin Ranger
1 5.029507e-01 5.064549e-01 4.894399e-01
2 2.514753e-01 2.532274e-01 2.447199e-01
3 1.257377e-01 1.160626e-01 1.223600e-01
4 5.588341e-02 5.803129e-02 5.438221e-02
5 2.874004e-02 3.095002e-02 3.058999e-02
6 1.437002e-02 1.466054e-02 2.039333e-02
7 8.047211e-03 7.958577e-03 1.359555e-02
8 4.023606e-03 3.979288e-03 9.063702e-03
9 2.011803e-03 1.989644e-03 4.894399e-03
10 1.341202e-03 1.326429e-03 3.262933e-03
11 1.005901e-03 9.948221e-04 1.748000e-03
12 8.047211e-04 7.958577e-04 1.193756e-03
13 6.706009e-04 6.632147e-04 9.063702e-04
14 5.748008e-04 5.684698e-04 7.305073e-04
15 5.029507e-04 4.974110e-04 6.117999e-04
16 4.470673e-04 4.421432e-04 5.262795e-04
17 4.023606e-04 3.979288e-04 4.617357e-04
18 3.657823e-04 3.617535e-04 4.112940e-04
19 3.353005e-04 3.316074e-04 3.707878e-04
20 3.095081e-04 3.060991e-04 3.375448e-04
Level Magic-user Illusionist
1 4.897863e-01 4.883469e-01
2 2.448932e-01 2.441735e-01
3 1.224466e-01 1.220867e-01
4 5.442070e-02 6.104337e-02
5 3.061165e-02 3.139373e-02
6 2.040776e-02 1.831301e-02
7 1.360518e-02 1.156611e-02
8 9.070117e-03 7.577797e-03
9 4.897863e-03 4.994457e-03
10 3.265242e-03 2.497229e-03
11 1.632621e-03 1.664819e-03
12 1.088414e-03 1.248614e-03
13 8.163106e-04 9.988915e-04
14 6.530485e-04 8.324095e-04
15 5.442070e-04 7.134939e-04
16 4.664632e-04 6.243072e-04
17 4.081553e-04 5.549397e-04
18 3.628047e-04 4.994457e-04
19 3.265242e-04 4.540416e-04
20 2.968402e-04 4.162048e-04
Lv Thief Assassin
1 4.947792e-01 4.984702e-01
2 2.473896e-01 2.492351e-01
3 1.236948e-01 1.246175e-01
4 6.184740e-02 6.230877e-02
5 3.092370e-02 2.990821e-02
6 1.455233e-02 1.495411e-02
7 8.835343e-03 7.477053e-03
8 5.622491e-03 3.738526e-03
9 3.865463e-03 2.492351e-03
10 2.811246e-03 1.759306e-03
11 1.405623e-03 1.300357e-03
12 9.370819e-04 9.969403e-04
13 7.028114e-04 7.477053e-04
14 5.622491e-04 4.984702e-04
15 4.685409e-04 3.742724e-04
16 4.016065e-04  
17 3.514057e-04  
18 3.123606e-04  
19 2.811246e-04  
20 2.555678e-04  

One way to use these tables is just to find the number of clerics, say, in a town using table 1, then you can multiply that number by the value given for 1st level clerics on the table below to find how many Acolytes there are; then multiply the total number of clerics again by the value given for second level clerics to find the number of Adepts, and so on.

For example, Say you have a large town with 12,000 inhabitants. Table 1 tells you that there will be 12,000 divided by 1200 = 10 clerics in the town. Multiplying by 10 all the way down the cleric table gives this:

Level # Clerics
1 5.041905
2 2.520952
3 1.260476
4 0.581758
5 0.275013
6 0.137506
7 0.068753
8 0.033613
9 0.016806
10 0.011204
11 0.008403
12 0.006723
13 0.005602
14 0.004802
15 0.004202
16 0.003735
17 0.003361
18 0.003056
19 0.002801
20 0.002586
21 0.002401
22 0.002241
23 0.002101

What I normally do is actually feed the values into a poisson-distribution random number generator so that I get a spread of values who’s mean is the number given, which is what last week's program does (I've added the source code at the end here).

This final result is much more like a literary setting where the central characters (the PCs) are much less likely to encounter high level NPCs than low level ones. However, there is an issue with high levels.

Once the xp totals reach name level (for most classes) the amount of xp needed increases at a constant rate. This means that the ratio from, say, 12th level to 13th level, to 14th is gradually falling rather than increasing. The practical result is that the representation of very high level characters in the population reaches a plateau and 22nd level clerics are not really any rarer than 21st level ones, as you can see in the above table.

You might want to tinker with this for your campaign.

I've stuck the code up onto GitHub but I would warn you that I'm not a Javascript programmer and this is the first real program I've written in the language so the code is not great (I've done lots of glue-code in it of course, AJAX and stuff, but that's mostly calling other programs and just updating displays rather than being a complete application). The program was originally in Perl but I wanted to post it on the blog so I converted it. Consequently, the JS is currently the more up-to-date version but if I make further change it's more likely to be to the Perl version since that version's output is suitable for reading into Emacs' org-mode where I can further format and manipulate it.

Anyway, with the code on your local machine you can fiddle with assumptions such as half the population being too young to be classed, or perhaps add features such as generating ages for the npcs. Or whatever!

Monday 2 May 2022

What's the highest level cleric in this town?

Or: D&D meets Javascript

Without any further explanation (which will come in the next post), here's a bit of javascript which generates NPC levels based on an input (total) population:

Max level:

Click "Go"

Although I said that the explanation will come next time, here's a little bit of info. The numbers of characters are based on the NPC henchman class frequency (although I took ½% off fighter and thief to give to bards), with a poisson distribution around that mean, and the levels are based on the relative amount of xp needed to attain the given level, and also randomised using a poisson distribution.

Also note that population is expected to be the full population including the aged and children amounting to 50% of the total and who are assumed to not be of interest.

Wednesday 6 April 2022

D&DG Worshippers 5: Chinese

Shang-Ti, crusher of tortoises

Chinese Worshippers

So we arrive at a mythos I knew nothing about when I got GD&H, but thanks to that and the later D&DG I have developed... well, no real knowledge of the gods involved since then.

I probably picked up more from watching Monkey - that the Eastern pantheon (as it was known in GD&H) is basically a bureaucracy mirroring that of the Imperial Chinese court in the days before the Mongols arrived to teach the emperor a few unpleasant lessons. I have at least read the Penguin Classics translation of The Journey West (which is truly terrible) and Cowboy Bebop sent me off on a bit of a dig into Feng-Shui (nuts but fun) and that's about the extent of it.

The introduction to the mythos lists a few magical items, including a reference to the I-Ching as a tool for controlling matter and motion, and what I think is supposed to be Monkey's staff (all 7t 16cwt 88lbs of it). It also introduces the idea that the head of a church might be simply "gifted" with the powers of a high priest, presumably in the case that the emperor is more of a military man than a holy one.

The method I'm using here to generate the tables based on the deity's own class abilities throws up something new as well: gods without either clerical or druidical worshippers. In all cases except one - Huan-Ti, god of war - the gods in question are in fact demi-gods and we can perhaps handwave this, especially if we assume "demigod" to have the literal Greek sense of having one mortal parent.

In the case of Huan-Ti, I guess we just have to assume that the god of war is not interested in spell-casting and simply does not take on clerics in the normal sense. It seems that the deity is based on the mythological emperor of the same name who supposedly became an immortal after death. If so, it is strange that he is said to wear red +3 platemail as Huan-Ti is the "Yellow Emperor" and strongly associated with the colour (according to Google).

One very notable omission is Monkey himself - Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, Great Sage Equal to All Heaven.

Encounter Cleric Druid Fighter Ranger Paladin Magic-user Illusionist Thief Assassin Monk Bard
Shang-ti 1-9       1-100 1-13 1-17       1-30
Chang Kung Ming       1-17         1-18 1-11  
Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya     1-21             12-28 31-50
Chih Sung-Tzu 10-22   22-36     14-26          
Chung Kuel 23-36 1-21   18-36   27-36 18-30   19-45 29-44 51-70
Fei Lien       37-46       1-17   45-52  
Feng Po       47-56       18-34   53-61  
Huan-Ti       57-75         46-73 62-80  
Kuan Yin 37-53 22-42       37-49         71-100
Lei Kung   43-58 37-52     50-58 31-42        
Lu Yueh 54-66   53-69     59-70 43-59 35-66      
No Cha   59-73 70-83       60-73 67-100      
Shan Hai Ching 67-73   84-100     71-77 74-82        
Tou Mu 74-86     76-90   78-81 83-87        
Wen Chun       91-100   82-90 88-100        
Yen-Wang-Yeh 87-100 74-100       91-100     74-100 81-100  

Tuesday 15 March 2022

D&DG Worshippers 4: Central Americans

Xochipilli (Lombard Museum)

Central American Worshippers

For the first time we come to a pantheon in D&DG in which every PHB class is represented amongst the gods. The idea of a paladin of Quetzalcoatl in authentic Aztec dress and arms certainly appeals, but it does bring up yet another problem with the book's coverage of "pagan" religion - aspects, or the lack thereof.

Quetzalcoatl is listed as lawful neutral, so why would any paladin hold him in high regard, let alone Camaxtli, the neutral god of fire. And as for Chalchiuhtkicue - she's chaotic, for Set's sake!

Many polytheistic deities represent or control an aspect of the world which has the potential for a wide range of effects on the human world. Loki and fire is the classic example, but Chalchiuhtkicue's element of water is another. Even more abstract ideas can have variable levels of desirability depending on how they are applied: law, passion, invention, love etc. can all be positive or negative depending on the degree or the type. Because of this, deities often has aspects which represented these facets of their sphere of control and different forms for each aspect.

In the UK I think we generally associate this with the Hindu pantheon, if we associate it with anything, but it manifests all over the place. If you go to Nashville, Tennessee and look at the statue of Athena you will see a giant snake beside her on the dais. That snake is none other than Athena's father, the great god Zeus from whom we get the words "Deus" and "Deity" itself, in his chthonic (underworld) form*.

*Edit: I may be misremembering this (see comments) but Zeus Ktesios was a widely worshipped form of Zeus as a snake protecting a family or household, which is what I thought he was representing on the Parthenon.

Encounter Cleric Druid Fighter Ranger Paladin Magic-user Illusionist Thief Assassin Monk Bard
Quetzalcoatl 1-13 1-17     1-29 1-10 1-17 1-63     1-29
Camaxtli 14-23       30-46 11-19          
Camazotz 24-30   1-20     20-30 18-34   1-17    
Chalchiuhtkicue 31-40       47-64 31-40         30-51
Huhueteotl 41-48 18-30 21-40     41-47 35-47   18-33 1-31  
Huitzilopochtli 49-54 31-47   1-57   48-52 48-53   34-50 32-63  
Itzamna 55-65       65-83 53-59          
Mictlantecuhtli 66-72 48-66   58-100   60-68 54-69   51-67    
Tezcatlipoca 73-77   41-80     69-76     68-83   52-60
Tlaloc 78-87   81-100     77-86          
Tlazolteotl 88-94 67-84       87-94 70-90   84-100   61-82
Xochipilli 95-100 85-100     84-100 95-100 91-100 64-100   64-100 83-100

So, if we say that a paladin follows or venerates a deity who is not lawful good we need to ask - is there an aspect of this god which fits. In the case of Quetzalcoatl it's a pretty small step from a god of "law giving" to an aspect which uses the law to help the weak. Water, likewise, can be harnessed for such socially positive things as irrigation, turning water-wheels, or even fishing. Xochipilli is a bit more of a challenge as the god of gambling (in D&DG; in real life that was his brother Macuilxóchitl, apparently).

Well, gambling is generally part of a game and games have rules (even "I bet that snail crosses the path faster than that snail" generally includes rules like "you can't pick your snail up and just throw it across the path"), so that's lawful. The Good part is a bit trickier but perhaps we can imagine a paladin of a god which encourages us to enjoy life and be more flexible in the face of changing fortunes. An up-beat paladin would be quite a change, wouldn't?

Anyhow, aspects were a common part of polytheistic religions (and, if you scrape the surface, you can find traces in most monotheistic ones), and are glossed over in D&DG. RuneQuest generally didn't do a great job here, although some of Stafford's writing did include them. But mostly they are an uncharacteristic weakness in RQ's religiousity. Petal Throne, especially with Bob Alberti's wonderful Mitlanyal guide to the gods of Tekumel, did do it a bit better.