The Ostwalden Campaign
Gods, and Their Hierarchy
There are countless divine beings that operate (or are believed to operate) on Lurra, many with portfolios that overlap with or completely contain the portfolios of others. The most common deities to be worshiped in Ostwald are those whose pantheon includes Pelor, Corellon, et al. They are, however, far from being the only deities worshiped there. While some nations have strict laws regarding which gods may be worshiped, Ostwald is fairly permissive, only outlawing worship of those gods whose tenets are actively against the nation’s interest (though even some of these are often worshiped in secret).
Demigods are not actually divine, but they are closer than other mortals. There are two ways they can come into being, but the end results are virtually identical: demigods are beings that are much more powerful than mortals, but still not nearly as powerful as actual gods. They can be either mortals that are approaching godhood or the spawn of gods and mortals. All known demigods that were born of a god and a mortal have a deity as their divine parent. The other types of gods, it seems, either do not – or can not – produce offspring with mortals. Most demigods are not known to be such – they typically merely seem to be particularly gifted people or legendary heroes.
Primordials are considered by many to be merely theoretical, though most trained theologians agree on their existing. While they are usually considered the least powerful of the true gods, this is not entirely accurate. They are merely the least obviously active. Primordials are concepts given form and power. No known primordials have actual personalities or emotion – Fire is not quick to anger nor is it hungry, it is merely Fire. While cults occasionally pop up devoted to promordials, they rarely last very long, as the vast majority of primordials don’t grant any boons. The exceptions to this are cults devoted to Nature (who often consider everything to be a boon from their god) and cults of Magic. The only primordial with proper clerics is Magic (though there is some disagreement as to whether or not it actually grants them their spells, or if they come from another god that for some reason prefers to remain anonymous), along with some sorcerous worshipers that claim their power comes from their god.
The most common of the gods are deities and all known mortals that have attained godhood have done so by becoming deities. Deities are also the only gods known to carry out affairs with mortals and, in doing so, produce offspring. Having mostly (if not universally) begun their existence as mortals, deities are the most like mortals both in form and demeanor. When most mortals think of gods, they are thinking of deities, and as such they have more worshipers and organized churches than any other type of god. This is of a benefit to both mortals and themselves – deities provide spells and other boons to their worshipers, while they retain their power via being worshiped. It does not take a great number of worshipers for a deity to maintain their status, however, so there are hundreds of deities worshiped in Ostwald alone. Many of these might have only one or two temples to their name, several of them only worshiped in a single city or town. How, exactly, a mortal becomes a deity is not fully known, but it is certain that one needs a great deal of personal power and skill as well as the reverence of other mortals. It has also be theorized that some gods are not native to Lurra – having arrived via magic or similar means. There is also a theory, not entirely uncommon, that each group of gods that seem particularly similar to each other are in fact roles being played by more powerful beings. each of whom takes on multiple different appearances and personalities for reasons that are their own. If this theory holds truth, then mortals do not become deities so much as they become an additional role for these overgods to play.
More powerful, though far less plentiful, are the overgods. While some of them enjoy the worship of mortals, they do not require it (as deities do), nor do they (to anyone’s knowledge) directly grant boons to their worshipers. A handful of larger cities have temples devoted to overgods, and there are diverse cults worshiping them, but these often bear more resemblance to academies than churches, as no overgods are known to have true clerics and those devoted to them tend to pursue knowledge of them in study more than in prayer. Some believe that all divine power flows through deities from the overgods, but this is naught but speculation. While deities generally have clearly defined portfolios comprised of fairly few domains, overgods tend to hold power over wide swathes of creation. It is not known how overgods are formed, nor if it is at all possible for a deity (and thus, ultimately, a mortal) to ascend to their ranks.
It is believed by some that above even the overgods, there is a single all-powerful supreme god. Some of these also believe that not only are multiple deities actually roles played by individual overgods, but also that the overgods themselves are merely roles being played by this one omnipotent being. There is no common term for this being – it is known variously by such titles as the Maker, the One-Above-All, the Source, the Architect, the Director, and the Watcher; generally, the name used reflects the belief of the person using it regarding this being’s role in the universe. There are also those who believe that the god which holds power over all others is in fact a primordial, a concept given form that is so great that is outshines even the overgods – these tend to give it names such as Fate and Inevitability.
While the wide variety of pantheons being worshiped results, by necessity, a wide variety of beliefs when it comes to the cosmology of the universe, there are some aspects of reality that are relatively often accepted.
The world in which mortals live out their lives, and which contains Lurra, is the Prime Material plane, and is generally considered to be at the “center” of the cosmos. The elemental planes touch upon the Prime Material, as do certain planes which are similar to the Prime Material in some ways, such as the ancestral homeland of fey creatures.
Touching upon these are the planes that are the destinations of the dead. This is where there is the greatest variance between beliefs. The number of such planes varies by belief structure, but there are usually believed to be at least one for each of the alignment extremes, as well as some number that overlap with these and at least one that lies outside of alignment. In some cases, each god’s followers have their own final destination, with travel between the planes of like-minded gods permitted or at least possible (though in some systems of belief, the dead can travel freely between all afterlives).
Beyond these lie the realm(s) of the gods themselves, in those cases where the gods do not fraternize with their deceased followers. Whether this is one plane or several (or, indeed, several hundred) is rarely agreed upon between faiths.
Outside the plane(s) of the gods is the Wall, which protects the reality in which Lurra finds itself from other realities. The Wall is often treated as sentient – either as a being unto itself, or as being composed of multiple separate beings (whether they be minor gods, faithless mortals, or some other sort of creature). This wall can be breached (or, in cases where it is sentient, petitioned for passage), but such occurrences are rare.
Woven between all of these planes, reaching from the Prime Material to the Wall (and, according to some, beyond) are the Astral planes.