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GM Tips: Small Town God

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

"Angel" by Bob Greyvenstein

This is Part Three in an ongoing series on Deities and Worldbuilding. You can catch up by reading Part One HERE and Part Two HERE.

When it comes to Gods, you have the big guns and the erm small guns? The other guys. I’m not talking demi-gods or heroes I’m talking about the oddballs. The God of Pizza and the God of Doors. Everyone’s got a Sun God, but only a few have a God of Tobacco.

As you travel down the Godly hierarchy, the Pantheons tend to vary much more between cultures. Here you have what I call the more ‘culture-specific deities’.

Creating these smaller Gods gives your World so much more depth.

We like the cool Gods, we all know the War Gods, Death Gods, Thunder Gods and Sea Men - I mean - Gods (My mistake, though there are a lot of fluids involved in creation stories). These Gods are at the top of the family trees, the main characters of the creation stories and they are still relevant today. We know the Sun Gods because there’s still a big burning Sun in the sky. It’s a talking point.

We talk about the Fear in my post ‘Cultural Lore Soup’. Fear is universal across all societies on our planet. Fear of dying. Fear of the horrors of war. Fear of the weather turning on you, doing a crazy light show and making a hella-racket. Fear of drowning and of flooding. There’s usually some kind of Trickster God (looking at you Loki) who represents the uncertainty of life and general chaos. We blame him for all your odd socks.

Quick Aside

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So what does this mean and how is it helpful?

Oddly specific Gods tell us more about the area we’re visiting. Let me set the scene, your party is travelling down a path on the edge of a desert. They come across a town where there are alters and pictures of the ‘Snake God Scer’.

Historically the area has a load of snakes. The snakes are probably super deadly or super helpful, maybe even both. You find out that the snakes are venomous and the snakes eat the mice. Mice eat the crops and are a big nuisance.

Too many snakes and you get a lot of deadly snake bites. Too few snakes and the town gets overrun with mice and the people starve.

If you are bitten and survive then you prove yourself very strong. You must be in Scer’s favour. Snakes should be worshipped and respected.

When you add Scer to your creation story, you need to think about where he fits. Maybe the Scer saw his brother had made Dragons. All the other Gods were so impressed that Scer got jealous. He says he could make a deadlier creature without fire, wings or claws. His brother laughs and says he should try and make a deadlier creature without fire, wings, claws or legs. And so Scer made the Snake. That makes the Snake God a symbol of innovation. He's much more interesting than just 'Snake God'.

Stories like this can be found on scraps of paper or lose scrolls. Your NPCs should know them if they live in the area. Famous bards and ballets tell your players about Gods. It’s a cool way of introducing them and it makes finding lore fun. Without doing a whole lot, you make your world so much richer. Your Gods become so much more meaningful.

Have you made a cool God? Tell us about them in the comments!

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