Gods or Immortals?

Discuss B/X rules, BECMI rules, Rules Cyclopedia, and the crunchy bits from the gazetteers here.
The Book-House: Find Classic D&D (BECMI) products.

Moderator: Blacky the Blackball

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:12 am

Big Mac wrote:Please could you tell me where I can find a book that actually has both Immortals and deities in it. I was under the impression that Immortals only existed in the Mystara campaign setting and that Mystara does not have deities.
It's... complicated!

Basically, and you probably already know this, no-one ever actually sat down and "invented" Mystara from scratch. It slowly evolved as more and more products were published.

As far as religion, Gods and Immortals; go here's a list I put together a while ago when I discussed the issue with Frank Mentzer. If this is too long for you, just skip to the bottom where I summarise it)...
  • 1978 - B1 (In Search of the Unknown) - Contains a worship area with a horned, evil-looking, idol (surrounded by runes and glyphs and with a sacrificial pit in front of it) as a "token gesture to the gods"
  • 1979 - B2 (Keep on the Borderlands) - The keep has a chapel, although no details of the worship there are given; and the Caves of Chaos contain an evil temple that appears to be run by demon worshippers.
  • 1981 - Moldvay Basic - Clerics are described as having "dedicated themselves to the service of a god or goddess". They are "granted" spells when they have "proven their devotion to their god or goddess" - it doesn't directly say that the god or goddess grants the spells, but that is the implication. There is no mention of religious structure, although clerics have level titles that mirror real-world religious titles. At this point there is no setting for the game.
  • 1981 - Marsh/Cook Expert - Refers to clerics being punished by their god for behaving in a way that displeases the god, and refers to churches, temples and religious structures. It provides The Grand Duchy Of Karameikos as a "sample wilderness", but provides little to no detail of the area, in terms of culture and religion. When clerics build strongholds, half the cost is "miraculously provided by their deity" (assuming they've been faithful).
  • 1981 - X1 (Isle of Dread) - Contains a lost temple, but no details of the religion involved. Also contains a map of the area around the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, with the names of countries and a paragraph about the culture of each one. Nothing about the religions of the countries is mentioned.
  • 1982 - B4 (The Lost City) - Mentions that the Cynidiceans used to worship three "gods", but now mostly worship a strange monster called Zargon (which appears to be based on Lin Carter's Cthulhu Mythos creation "Zoth Ommog").
  • 1982 - B5 (Horror on the Hill) - Mentions a monastary with statues of "long lost pagan gods".
  • 1982 - X3 (Curse of Xanathon) - Set in Vestland (a place on the X1 map). Refers to three religions, two of which worship "gods".
  • 1983 - X4-5 (Curse of the Desert Nomads & Temple of Death) - Set in the "great waste to the west of the republic"; the maps of which fit nicely onto the west of the X1 map (which makes "the republic" the Republic of Darokin). Includes a temple to a scorpion-man deity, and an abbey with generic symbols and references to "deities of law". Also includes a country run by holy men (worshipping unnamed "chaotic gods") and a "higher being" of some unnamed kind.
  • 1984 - Mentzer Basic - All mention of religion is dropped completely. Clerics are now mentioned as being "dedicated to serving a great and worthy cause. This cause is usually the cleric’s Alignment; for example, a cleric may be dedicated to spreading law and order." They are said to get their spells merely from the "strength of the cleric’s beliefs", and churches and gods are no longer mentioned. Clerics now simply belong to "orders" of likeminded individuals. In fact, the game goes out of its way to stress that there is no religion involved, saying "In D&D games, as in real life, people have ethical and theological beliefs. This game does not deal with those beliefs. All characters are assumed to have them, and they do not affect the game." However, the level titles of clerics appear to have slipped through the no-religion mandate and still mirror real-world religious titles. The DM's book, however, suggests that the DM might want to add the presence of gods/religion to their campaign, but advises that if they do so then the gods should be strictly non-interventionist.
  • 1984 - Mentzer Expert - Clerics are no longer threatened with punishment for behaving in a way that displeases their god. They are now threatened with being punished for going against their alignment or beliefs - and the punishment comes from their "church" (which is a bit of a slip, since the Basic book took pains to describe it as an "order" rather than a "church"!) However, there is a teasing reference to their punishment possibly coming from an unspecified "higher power". The "sample wilderness" is provided again, but with no more cultural detail - although this time a second map shows a wider area (the traditional "known world") although there's no description of any of the places on the map at all.
  • 1984 - B7 (Rahasia) - Despite being set in a temple, the temple has no holy symbols or statues of gods or anything at all to indicate what sort of religion the temple's worshippers have.
  • 1984 - B8 (Journey to the Rock) - Refers to its location in relation to the 1984 Expert set. No religion mentioned at all.
  • 1984 - Mentzer Companion - Stronghold rules are brought up again, and the cleric is now assumed to be under the control of either a church official or a political ruler; and there is mention of the cleric rising through the ranks of the theocracy of their church; so it looks like the "no religion" is crumbling a bit. Clerics are clearly still religious figures despite the 1984 Basic set going out of its way to make them appear as secular as possible. Immortals are also mentioned for the first time, with players being told of the four paths to immortality, and a couple of spells (Contact Other Plane and Gate) dealing with Immortals. No information is given about what Immortals are, other than that they are the rulers of outer planes and they would be displeased with mortals trying to extend their life indefinitely. A map of a larger area of the Known World is provided (looking suspiciously like a distorted North America), with no countries marked on but with with unexplained shaded areas (although if you've got some of the various X and C modules, you can probably deduce that the areas are showing where the maps for those modules fit in relation to each other).
  • 1985 - B9 (Castle Caldwell and Beyond) - Mentions the "Church of the Holy Sanctuary" without giving any details. Refers to a "being" called "Narmyats" which refers to itself as "the only true god" and a "monster" called "Leptar".
  • 1985 - X9 (The Savage Coast) - Refers to its map in relation to the 1984 Expert set rather than to X1. The good clerics have no gods described, merely being described as being "Clerics of the Brotherhood of Light". There is a temple, but it has absolutely no description of what religion used it.
  • 1985 - Mentzer Master - Immortals are mentioned in more detail, with a note that mortals "may think them to be gods". They are described as having all been once mortal. A map of the complete "Known World" is provided, but it is little more than the outlines of continents with only the names of major empires on it. It is also clearly based on Earth 135-150 million years ago.
  • 1986 - Mentzer Immortals - Immortals are described in much more detail, as is to be expected. In fact, some of the material from the 1985 Master set is updated because the Immortal rules were still under development when that set was printed and they have changed. There is no mention of religion and how Immortals fit in with it, except that there are implications that beyond the Immortals there are Old Ones - who are multidimensional entities that may have made the Prime Plane. The "Known World" is stated as actually being our Earth in the past (unless the DM prefers it not to be). There is a large amount of cosmological explanation, but all from a purely physical point of view. Some "demons" are listed (including a female Demogorgon!) but are referred to as mortals who gained immortality in the Sphere of Entropy and who now prefer to use monstrous bodies, rather than coming from any kind of Hell or being connected to any kind of afterlife. There is mention that many of the "gods" (the book puts quotes round the term) of real-life mythology are actually Immortals which are much more powerful than their mythic counterparts.
  • 1987 - 1991 - GAZ1 - GAZ14 - Each details the history and culture of an area of the "Known World", including details of various Immortals who have been important in that history and details of the local religions (which usually) include worship of those Immortals.
  • 1987 - B1-9 (In Search of Adventure) - A condensed and updated reprint of B1 - B9. The update of B9 replaces the nebulous "Church of the Holy Sanctuary" with the "Church of Karameikos" and the "Traldaran Religion" (both from GAZ1). It also renames "Narmyats" to "Chardastes", and says that Chardastes and "Leptar" are both Immortals. Additionally, it introduces an Immortal called "Thendara" to its updated B3. It also refers to the three entities worshipped in B4 as "Immortals" rather than "gods".
  • 1991 - Rules Cyclopedia - Clerics are now people who are "dedicated to serving a great and worthy cause. This cause can be an Immortal being dedicated to a specific goal or attribute; sometimes the cleric is serving only his alignment, and has no interest in immortal beings." The no-religion disclaimer is still there, but is reduced to "The D&D game does not deal with the ethical and theological beliefs of the characters in the game." Clerics are still referred to as joining "clerical orders" rather than churches, although the description of the getting their spells from the power of their belief has been dropped. Clerics still get half of their stronghold paid for, but now the language has been cleaned up and it is their "order" who pay for half, not their "church". Punishment is now referred to as being "either by his order or by the powers that grant him his spells", which is a return to the Moldvay Basic terminology of spells being "granted" rather than acquired through the strength of belief. There's still no mention of gods, though. The black and white map of the "Known World" from the previous Expert sets is reproduced, as is a set of full colour hex-maps of the area; and a full colour version of the outline world map found in the Master set (although this one only labels geographical features, not empires). There is also a full colour map of the "Hollow World", and a mention that the name of the planet containing the Known World and the Hollow World is "Mystara". Although the map still looks like Earth 135-150mya, there is no longer any mention of this.
  • 1992 - Wrath of the Immortals - Immortals are described in detail again, and many of the Immortals mentioned in the various modules and gazeteers are described (including those previously described as "gods", such as those from B3). Each of them is given a small bonus that the clerics who follow them receive. Immortals have more miscellanous powers than in the Mentzer set, and one of these is the ability to spend a few points of temporary power in order to hear the prayers that their worshippers have made to them. A couple of ways are detailed in which the Immortals can be in a position where they are no longer able to grant spells to their clerics; and it is mentioned that Immortals who go for a whole year without a single worshipper will fade away and sort-of die. The complex multidimensional cosmology of the 1986 Immortals set has gone, but the Old Ones are still mentioned as possibly creating the world and the first Immortals. All Immortals are assumed to have been previously mortal.







Putting all this together, there are four basic periods:
[b]Period[/b]|[b]Setting Name[/b]|[b]Gods?[/b]|[b]Immortals?[/b]|[b]Religion?[/b]|[b]Notes[/b] Early modules and B/X|Unnamed|Yes|No|Yes|Clerics worship Gods and belong to Churches. Early sets in the BECMI series (B & E) and the modules released after them|Unnamed|No|No|No|Clerics belong to secular Orders and follow "causes", not religions. Later sets in the BECMI series (C, M & I)|Known World|No|Yes|No|Immortals are apparently sometimes mistaken for Gods. Clerical Orders are occasionally referred to a Churches. RC and WotI, Gazetterrs, and collected reprints of earlier modules|Mystara|No|Yes|Yes|Beings formerly described as "Gods" are now ret-conned as having been Immortals all along. Clerics worship Immortals and may belong to either Churches or Orders.

So does Mystara have Gods and Immortals? Yes, but not necessarily at the same time. The easiest way to reconcile all this - and this doesn't actually fit with the intent of any of the authors, but instead merges their different ideas - is to simply assume that Gods and Immortals are the same thing.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 25252
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:10 am

MPA wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
MPA wrote:As I said before, even in some campaigns, Immortals were shown to be subservient to gods.
I've been trying to work out how to use OD&D material with AD&D material.

Please could you tell me where I can find a book that actually has both Immortals and deities in it. I was under the impression that Immortals only existed in the Mystara campaign setting and that Mystara does not have deities. If that is the case, comparison between Immortals and deities would fall into the "this is how I would do it in my campaign" category. And things that fall in that category are just subjective*.

* = An example of this sort of subjective thing is that I subscribe to the "One Prime Material Plane" model for Spelljammer and Planescape. And I'd like to fit any other campaign settings into that model, so that I could include them in any Spelljammer games I want to run. But it is a model used by a certain group of players, rather than something I can "prove" applies to all campaign worlds.

But you say "campaigns" (plural). Do you mean campaign settings? Or do you mean some Mystara campaigns? :?

I think that if I absorbed Mystara into my own game, I'd probably just use Immortals and gods as different names for the same thing, as they seem to be identical (in game effect) to me. But if there are products that provide D&D rules for integrating both Immortals and gods into one campaign, I'd love to know more about them, as maybe that will make me want to do things a different way. What D&D products include these rules?
I believe that was in Midnight or Dawnforge campaigns. Let me get back to you on the specific sets?
Do you mean this Midnight and this Dawnforge? :?

I must be barking up the wrong tree, if you do.

I don't have either of those settings, but Dawnforge is one of the settings that was up against Eberron for WotC's setting search, so I'd love to improve my knowledge about it.

But I'm not sure how those Fantasy Flight Games settings could be tied smoothly into TSR books written for earlier rules, as stuff like IP rights is going to make the new books change some of the details. A FFG Immortal might be something different to a TSR Immortal. Maybe FFG is using the word "Immortal" to be something similar to an avatar. :?

I wish I had the books, so I could turn to the pages concerned and see what was going on.
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Big Mac wrote:BTW: Does anything like God-isles exist for dead Immortals?
No, not really. Dead Immortals just cease to exist.
So, there is no way for them to ever come back (like the gods of Forgotten Realms come back)?
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Please could you tell me where I can find a book that actually has both Immortals and deities in it. I was under the impression that Immortals only existed in the Mystara campaign setting and that Mystara does not have deities.
It's... complicated!

<snip - complicated stuff explained very well>

Putting all this together, there are four basic periods:
[b]Period[/b]|[b]Setting Name[/b]|[b]Gods?[/b]|[b]Immortals?[/b]|[b]Religion?[/b]|[b]Notes[/b] Early modules and B/X|Unnamed|Yes|No|Yes|Clerics worship Gods and belong to Churches. Early sets in the BECMI series (B & E) and the modules released after them|Unnamed|No|No|No|Clerics belong to secular Orders and follow "causes", not religions. Later sets in the BECMI series (C, M & I)|Known World|No|Yes|No|Immortals are apparently sometimes mistaken for Gods. Clerical Orders are occasionally referred to a Churches. RC and WotI, Gazetterrs, and collected reprints of earlier modules|Mystara|No|Yes|Yes|Beings formerly described as "Gods" are now ret-conned as having been Immortals all along. Clerics worship Immortals and may belong to either Churches or Orders.

So does Mystara have Gods and Immortals? Yes, but not necessarily at the same time. The easiest way to reconcile all this - and this doesn't actually fit with the intent of any of the authors, but instead merges their different ideas - is to simply assume that Gods and Immortals are the same thing.
I suppose that would be the easiest way to get older and newer products to work together.

But maybe some people would want to convert products to having gods or having Immortals, to make things work better for them. I'm guessing that retro-converting the Known World/Mystara back to using gods, might make it a bit easier to connect it to other campaign settings, in a multi-setting environment. (I don't know if that would be the "best" way, but it might be the "easiest" way.) :?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:18 am

Big Mac wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Big Mac wrote:BTW: Does anything like God-isles exist for dead Immortals?
No, not really. Dead Immortals just cease to exist.
So, there is no way for them to ever come back (like the gods of Forgotten Realms come back)?
Nope. Dead is dead, when you're an Immortal (at least according to WotI - I'm at work so I can't look up the Gold Box rule for it).

That sounds harsh, but actually killing an Immortal is pretty hard to do, even for another Immortal. It's not as simple as just hitting them with a big enough sword until they fall over, and no Immortal is ever going to be die by accident or be killed on a whim. Merely having your physical form destroyed isn't going to kill you - just inconvenience you while you make yourself a new one.

Immortals can be killed. It just takes careful planning and manipulation to get them into a vulnerable position from which they can't escape and then a strike with overwhelming force at just the right time.
Big Mac wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:The easiest way to reconcile all this - and this doesn't actually fit with the intent of any of the authors, but instead merges their different ideas - is to simply assume that Gods and Immortals are the same thing.
I suppose that would be the easiest way to get older and newer products to work together.

But maybe some people would want to convert products to having gods or having Immortals, to make things work better for them. I'm guessing that retro-converting the Known World/Mystara back to using gods, might make it a bit easier to connect it to other campaign settings, in a multi-setting environment. (I don't know if that would be the "best" way, but it might be the "easiest" way.) :?
The easiest way would depend on your edition of choice.

Playing in Mystara using AD&D rules or later? Convert the Mystaran Immortals to use your edition's rules for Gods, but have people still refer to them as "Immortals" in-character.

Playing in Forgotten Realms (or Greyhawk, or wherever) using BECMI/RC rules? Convert your setting's Gods to use your edition's rules for Immortals, but have people still refer to them as "Gods" in-character.

The important thing to remember is that which rule set they use is independent of which nomenclature you use. Having a multi-setting environment doesn't change this. Pick your edition and use that edition's rules for everyone regardless of what the locals call them.

The only time it would get difficult is if you're using a multi-setting environment and trying to somehow use the rules of each setting locally and convert everything (including monsters and characters) as people move from region to region. If you're doing that then you're already making a rod for your own back, to be honest, so you'll have to have some "meta-rules" for converting everything and you'll need to extend those meta-rules to include conversion from Gods to Immortals and vice versa.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7690
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by agathokles » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:36 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Please could you tell me where I can find a book that actually has both Immortals and deities in it. I was under the impression that Immortals only existed in the Mystara campaign setting and that Mystara does not have deities.
It's... complicated!

...

So does Mystara have Gods and Immortals? Yes, but not necessarily at the same time. The easiest way to reconcile all this - and this doesn't actually fit with the intent of any of the authors, but instead merges their different ideas - is to simply assume that Gods and Immortals are the same thing.
More precisely, Immortals as a game element (character class, monster, etc.) only exist in BECMI/RC. Mystara just happens to be the only setting with roots in BECMI/RC.

AD&D 2e Mystara uses gods, because that's what is available in AD&D.The only difference is that they are called Immortals in the setting -- but any stats are provided in the standard format for AD&D 2e gods, AFAIK (see Warriors of Heaven, Table 11).

G.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:13 am

agathokles wrote:More precisely, Immortals as a game element (character class, monster, etc.) only exist in BECMI/RC. Mystara just happens to be the only setting with roots in BECMI/RC.

AD&D 2e Mystara uses gods, because that's what is available in AD&D.The only difference is that they are called Immortals in the setting -- but any stats are provided in the standard format for AD&D 2e gods, AFAIK (see Warriors of Heaven, Table 11).
True. I was only going through the development from the unnamed setting that first appeared in B1 to the final Mystara products of the RC/WotI line. I hadn't included the AD&D 2e Mystara material - mainly because I don't have any of that material.

It sounds like AD&D 2e's way of handling the issue is the same as the one I just suggested in my previous post (unsurprisingly because it's the most obvious way to do it): separate out the mechanical differences between editions from the naming differences between settings, so you can use one with the other.

It all boils down to "Immortals" and "Gods" being simply different names used in different settings for the same type of entity, and every different edition having its own rules for that type of entity regardless of setting.

I think the disconnect comes where someone looks at differences in the rules between different editions and reads those as if they were mechanical differences between two different types of entity within the same edition - which they're not. The "Gods" of pre-BECMI OD&D became "Immortals" under the BECMI rules, and the "Immortals" of BECMI became "Gods" under the AD&D rules. The mechanics (and therefore their specific capabilities as defined by those mechanics) changed, but the entities remained the same.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3477
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:01 pm

TSR tried very hard to establish that Immortals aren't gods. From the Companion Set, my recollection is that PCs weren't supposed to even know what an Immortal is until they achieve high levels. In contrast to the national and international faiths dedicated to Immortals in the later Gazetteer series, initially they were supposed to be esoteric beings known only to the mightiest heroes and the wisest sages, keeping themselves scrupulously out of common knowledge for fear of accidentally interfering with mortal development. While chance encounters with Immortals in the distant past, possibly when they were still mortal heroes, may have inspired mortal myths and religions, these are things the Immortals were careful not to have anything to do with, and as a result had more in commonwith cargo cults and the superstitious veneration of uncaring extraterrestials than true religions. Anything low-level characters thought they knew about the 'gods' was almost guaranteed to be wildly incorrect, as Immortals were not only disinclined to correct mortal misapprehensions, but forbidden to do so. The plot of IM2 is that a group of rogue Immortals were falsely posing as gods and this was the greatest violation of the most sacrosanct of Immortal oaths. In IM3, Mazikeen also poses as a deity on various planes under his control, but he's the module's antagonist, someone for the PCs to stop.

This changed as the Gazetteer series progressed. In the early gazetteers, religions were carefully portrayed as purely philosophical and independent of Immortal patronage, but later gazetteers began making Immortals the focus of religious orders with the Immortals' full participation and knowledge. For a while mortals were even said to worship the Immortals, but the TSR staff, aware that Immortals were becoming gods in all but name, softened this to 'honor' and 'looks to.' Even so, the conversion guides advised that AD&D gods were the closest equivalents of D&D Immortals.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:34 pm

The two periods you mention - Companion era with secretive Immortals but no religion, and later Gazeteer era with Immortals worshipped as Gods - are both in my table above, but they're not the whole story.

In pre-BECMI (i.e. OD&D and B/X) publications the same entities that were listed in those later publications as being Immortals were listed as being Gods - and there definitely was organised religion based on their worship.

So the idea of "Immortals aren't Gods and there's no organised religion around them" wasn't any kind of "original intent". It was a ret-con and fudge of earlier stuff just as much as the AD&D's "Immortals are just Gods under a different name" was.

As with a lot of things TSR, you had different writers with different ideas of how things should work writing at different times (or sometimes even writing at the same time)!
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
Posts: 1543
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm
Gender: male
Location: My Nowhere Land

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Yaztromo » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:46 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Please could you tell me where I can find a book that actually has both Immortals and deities in it. I was under the impression that Immortals only existed in the Mystara campaign setting and that Mystara does not have deities.
It's... complicated!

....

So does Mystara have Gods and Immortals? Yes, but not necessarily at the same time. The easiest way to reconcile all this - and this doesn't actually fit with the intent of any of the authors, but instead merges their different ideas - is to simply assume that Gods and Immortals are the same thing.
Blacky, your summary is and awesome job, really impressive!
Thanks!
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3477
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:58 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:The two periods you mention - Companion era with secretive Immortals but no religion, and later Gazeteer era with Immortals worshipped as Gods - are both in my table above, but they're not the whole story.
Of course. My intent was only to elaborate on the changing definition of "Immortal," not to challenge any other part of your history of religion in D&D. Why would I bother to rewrite the "whole story" when you've already done a bang-up job in doing so? Believe me, if the day comes when I actually disagree with you about something, I'll make it clear in no uncertain terms. Unless I don't feel like it or think it isn't that important. But if I bother to argue with you, there will definitely be something there that actually contradicts something you said, rather than just being a long screed that's completely harmonious with everything you said and ignores all the parts I disagree with.
So the idea of "Immortals aren't Gods and there's no organised religion around them" wasn't any kind of "original intent".
Agreed, which is why you'll note that I never used the words "original intent." Watch your use of quotes; in that context, they imply you were quoting something, which might mislead the careless reader.

The meaning I was trying to convey was this: there was a period in TSR's history in which they tried very hard to establish that Immortals did not fit most definitions of 'gods' by noting that Immortals not only eschewed worship, but even popular awareness of their existence. That's something that you didn't say explicitly, and I thought it deserved to be said in order to give a complete picture of just how radical the change was between the Mentzer rules, where Immortals progress by adventuring and fighting each other in the Olympics and don't strictly need mortals for anything but as a pool of potential new recruits, and their later portrayal in Wrath of the Immortals, where maintaining a mortal following is necessary for an Immortal's continued existence. That doesn't have any bearing on what TSR staff and freelancers were trying to do before the concept of 'Immortals,' as such, were invented. In that period, there wasn't any particular attempt to convince us that the 'gods' weren't intended to be seen as gods (though there was a distinction between Zargon, a monster who was worshiped as a god, and the 'ancient gods' Gorm, Usamigaras, and Madarua). Other entities, such as St. Cuthbert and St. Carmichael from B1, were left ambiguous; in Gary Gygax's own campaign, St. Cuthbert was a god, but it isn't clear in the module itself if he's intended to be seen as a true deity or a sainted mortal martyr.

I was wrong, though, about which book had said it. I see no mention of how common awareness of the Immortals is in the Companion Set, but the Master DM's Book notes: "As characters approach the ultimate 36th level, they will become aware of powers even mightier than they, powers beyond mortal ken..." implying they weren't aware of them before. I say this not to argue with you (again, I will make it clear when I'm arguing with you), but to correct myself.

One other thing I wanted to add (not to contradict anything or to claim this is the only relevant point in the history of religion in D&D, but only because I think it's a relevant point to add) was that the Player's Guide to the Immortals explicitly put a limit on an Immortal's ability to create life. "New life forms may be created by magical and other means. Magical creations do not have the ability to reproduce, but may be useful in short-term goals. They must, however, be duplicates of creatures that exist elsewhere. Or an Immortal may alter existing creatures already found in the Home Plane... Such creatures may have any characteristics, and need not duplicate life forms elsewhere..." That seems to be a deliberate attempt to prevent Immortals from becoming gods in the sense that readers of the Book of Genesis or even other creation stories such as the myth of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Deucalion would recognize: no creation ex nihilo (or abiogenesis) of entire races. I'm unsure if that's contradicted by future myths in Mystara's background: did the creation of the elves by Ordana, the dwarves by Kagyar, the gnomes by Garal Glitterlode, the beastmen by Hel, the gremlins by an unknown Immortal of Entropy, or the faenare by their unknown mistress contradict this, or were all of these creations simply alterations of previous life?

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Great Discussions!

Post by MPA » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:20 pm

Now this is what I like to see. Some real honest deep discussions. I will only say to becareful that 2nd AD&D Mystara did not have immortals. They did and continued to use them and talk about their Churches. However, it appear that the removed the worhsip requirement from the Immortals. Moreover, many of the campaign rules specifically stated over and over that they were not gods, and even then only spoke of gods in ambiguous terms (eg referring to Odin as taking the name of an extra-dimensional god etc.).

Now that being said, I have not review all of the books that I have, so it is possible at some point they probably did start calling them gods. I know in at least two instances "Night of the Vampire"? and "Heavenly Warriors", Rad is converted to an intermediate power.

In one of the 3rd or 4th editions, the immortals are also mentioned, but I can't remember the reason. It may have had something to do with a monster. I don't know if WOTC had conceded to the possibility that Immortals now exist in the new D&D world, if they didn't then why mention them by name, instead of saying "other powers"?
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7690
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: Great Discussions!

Post by agathokles » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:29 pm

MPA wrote: I will only say to becareful that 2nd AD&D Mystara did not have immortals. They did and continued to use them and talk about their Churches.
If so, there should be specific lines in specific books where this happens. Can you provide the appropriate references? I mean, references to instances where Immortals are distinguished from gods/powers by giving them different stats or powers.
As far as I know, Havard's quote from K:KoA is the only case where the difference between Immortals and gods is referred to, it is part of an in-character discussion, and the result is essentially that they are essentially the same.
Now that being said, I have not review all of the books that I have, so it is possible at some point they probably did start calling them gods. I know in at least two instances "Night of the Vampire"? and "Heavenly Warriors", Rad is converted to an intermediate power.
Then up to now, the only references we have are to Immortals-as-gods/powers (Night of the Vampire, as you say, and Warriors of Heaven, which, as I said in my previous post, has god/power stats for all non-evil Mystaran Immortals).
There is still no reference to Immortals as anything different from gods/powers, and most certainly no AD&D 2e Immortal class or other stats.
In one of the 3rd or 4th editions, the immortals are also mentioned, but I can't remember the reason. It may have had something to do with a monster. I don't know if WOTC had conceded to the possibility that Immortals now exist in the new D&D world, if they didn't then why mention them by name, instead of saying "other powers"?
Once more, that's pretty difficult to ascertain, without clear references. You know, 3rd edition produced a pretty vast literature, and 4e isn't that small itself.

G.

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4381
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:00 pm

That's a pretty cool summary, Blacky. One thing I can think of that you might want to add, if only to perhaps give a bit of out-of-game context to things, would be the period of time when TSR was combatting bad press, particularly the "Mothers Against Demons" group that led to, among other things, the change in the Type 1-VI Demons and Devils from 1E to the Tanar'ri/Baatezu of 2E (eventually; they were initially excised from 2E altogether). I don't recall if it was ever explicitly stated anywhere, but the general gist was that this was a big part of the reasoning behind stepping back from the gods/religion aspect of clerical worship in BECMI and D&D in general (and thus the rise of terms like "honoring" vs. "worship").

Of course, Bruce would be much better to speak on about all that than me.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:25 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:That's a pretty cool summary, Blacky. One thing I can think of that you might want to add, if only to perhaps give a bit of out-of-game context to things, would be the period of time when TSR was combatting bad press, particularly the "Mothers Against Demons" group that led to, among other things, the change in the Type 1-VI Demons and Devils from 1E to the Tanar'ri/Baatezu of 2E (eventually; they were initially excised from 2E altogether). I don't recall if it was ever explicitly stated anywhere, but the general gist was that this was a big part of the reasoning behind stepping back from the gods/religion aspect of clerical worship in BECMI and D&D in general (and thus the rise of terms like "honoring" vs. "worship").

Of course, Bruce would be much better to speak on about all that than me.
That's actually an interesting issue that I've spoken to Frank Mentzer about. The time when Gods and religion were taken out of the game was the time of publication of his BECMI books - after Bruce Heard had joined TSR but before he had that much involvement in the Known World/Mystara. Frank said that his removal of religion was more motivated by his basic set needing to be simple for kids, rather than what people like BADD (who had only just started to become active by then) thought.

The time you're talking about, when AD&D had its removal of demons and devils in its second edition, was later. At that point religion had already crept back into Known World products (although since Immortals were established as part of the Known World setting by then, they were used as the focus of religion rather than Gods). Although it may explain, for example, why Wrath of the Immortals calls its monsters "Fiends" rather than "Demons".
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4381
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:37 pm

Ah, I was wondering if I'd gotten the timing of things mixed around a bit or not. It's been a while, admittedly.

I do recall that at least a couple of things- like changing the early Gazetteer-era skills Worship (Immortal) to Honor (Immortal), or swapping out Witch Doctor for Wiccan for Wokan, for instance- came later in the Gazetteer era, but now I'm not sure whether there was a causal relation with the BADD people or not. (And thanks for pointing out the correct acronym, which I knew I'd gotten wrong, but could only think of MADD- Mothers Against Drunk Driving- to use in its place. :P )

(The Wicca one was explicitly pointed out by Bruce Heard in one of his Known World Grimoires as stepping away from real world religions, although I'd have to go back and see exactly which issue that was in.)
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3477
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:22 pm

This was explained by Bruce Heard in the Princess Ark letters column in Dragon #171:
Bruce Heard wrote:Note: I observed that GAZ4 and many D&D game players commonly use the terms “religion” and “worship.” In order to avoid difficulties with certain people, it was recently decided these terms would no longer be used in D&D game products. Instead, we prefer such terms as “‘philosophy,” “precepts,” “patrons,” “guides,” “disciples,” “and “followers.” Of course, “gods” and “deities” are right out. You will notice this especially in upcoming products for the D&D game. As you may also recall, we changed the term “wicca” to “wokan/wokani” in the HOLLOW WORLD setting.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by MPA » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:07 am

Now I remember the D&D 3+ edition that mentions the immortals. It was the Epic Level Handbook. It spoke about the Blackball being possible messengers/assasins of the Old Ones. In this case, they refer to the Old Ones as the gods who were before the present gods.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by MPA » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:46 am

Getting back to game terms.

I will use the definition of gods as explained from my Literature teacher: gods are personifications of inanimate objects or concepts concepts, who have superhuman powers.

Whereas Immortals are simply mortals who have attained superhuman powers.

The power of gods in TSR/WOTC is challenging because the concept has changed many times. What has not changed is that they have limits to their spell castings, and those castings are also limited depending on what character class that they can cast from. They have went from being killable to unkillable to only Greater gods being unkillable and then back to killable.

They were called gods, then powers and then back to being gods again.

In mythology, all gods except the Olympians can be killed, some can be killed by mortals. This is true even when it shows that gods can could bring down a rain of comets, thunder bolts or earthquakes on a entire country side.

For some reason, GMs think all gods should be unstoppable or even infinite in power, despite that the fact that they are not represented that way in the Myths.

Even in Marvel Comics gods are killable despite having enough power to destroy entire cities or planets.

So how can we define immortals? An immortal can simply be a mortal who has attained infinite or near infinite youth or life expectancy. They may or may not be able to be killed by normal means of death, illness, diseases or environmental factors (ie vacuum of space, freezing etc.).

Or they can be that and also have superhuman powers equivalent to that or superassing that of gods.

Some examples are that in Marvel Comics such as the Silver Surfer, The Stranger, Eternity etc.

Either that can be killed, but it is next to impossible to gather enough energy to make it permanent or that it cannot be done at all.

Under Frank's version Immortals were nearly impossible to be killed, because you had to drain them to zero power points. While not much of a problem with intiates and Temporals, it became nearly impossible when they reached Celestial and above.

The immortals also could cast any spell from any character class at the hit dice of the immortal and an effect at twice that HD. The only limit had to do with with what sphere of power they were trying to cast from. Not to mention their innate powers of flight, power and aura attacks. Making even low level Immortals pikers something to be respected from high level characters.

Under Aaron, Immortals could only be killed in their home plane. Which means, they could die any place else, but once they reform to their home plane they are stuck and can be killed. According to the rules they are stuck there, after their Manifestation form is killed for a number of days equal to their normal HP's. That could mean a few months to a few years. Of course the Immortal keep teleporting around his plane until that time is up, to keep from getting permanently killed, since there is no D&D spell to track teleported creatures.

Finally, under Aaron Immortals can cast spells from any character class with no limitations. Immune to mortal spells and take minimum damage from mortal weapons of at least +5. So unless they have an artifact, these Immortals could waltz through any number of mortal or mortal monsters without out a care.

However, under Aaron, Immortals had to have worship in order to stay relevant otherwise they lose their powers after 10 years. The bar however, is pretty low, just so as long as some mortal shows an interest in the immortal is sufficient.

Later Mystara products removed the worshiping criteria and replaced it with philosophy etc.

In my opinion, as a DM. Orcus and Demogorgon should never be true immortals. In fact no monster should ever be a true immortal. They should be very powerful demigod like characters or Exalted (per WoTI). Just like the Elemental rulers.

Why? My reasoning is that humans unlike other character have an unlimited ability to attain the highest levels of that character class. Not dwarves, elves or halflings.

I personally believe that only humans can be true immortals, while monsters and non-human classes could be Exalted beings or demigods.

If you ever run out of monster ideas for your Immortal characters, there is always the Epic Level Handbook.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:34 pm

MPA wrote:I will use the definition of gods as explained from my Literature teacher: gods are personifications of inanimate objects or concepts concepts, who have superhuman powers.

Whereas Immortals are simply mortals who have attained superhuman powers.
You seem to be drawing an artificial distinction there on what is actually a continuous range.

What about the various gods who were once mortal - there are lots of them in both real-world and game mythology? What about immortals who have attuned themselves in some way (even if only through Frank Mentzer's "spheres" system) with concepts? What about the immortals who have never been mortal (this is heavily implied for the oldest immortals of Mystara)?

I'm not convinced (but feel free to try to convince me) that there is any functional distinction between a "god" and an "immortal". It's just a case of different terminology being used for the same general type of entity.
Under Frank's version Immortals were nearly impossible to be killed, because you had to drain them to zero power points. While not much of a problem with intiates and Temporals, it became nearly impossible when they reached Celestial and above.

Under Aaron, Immortals could only be killed in their home plane. Which means, they could die any place else, but once they reform to their home plane they are stuck and can be killed. According to the rules they are stuck there, after their Manifestation form is killed for a number of days equal to their normal HP's. That could mean a few months to a few years. Of course the Immortal keep teleporting around his plane until that time is up, to keep from getting permanently killed, since there is no D&D spell to track teleported creatures.
You're making this out to be a much bigger difference than it sounds, in terms of power level. It's actually harder to kill WotI Immortals than Gold Box Immortals. Also, you're skipping some details and are wrong on others.

Both sets of rules give immortals three forms:
  1. A solid form that the gold box calls "Physical Form" and WotI calls "Manifestation Form".
  2. An incorporeal form.
  3. A mortal form.
Let's go through the differences of how these interact...

Gold Box Immortals
  • Cannot be on the Prime Material (assuming that's their plane of origin) in any form other than their Mortal Form, but can be in any form on other planes.
  • They can have more than one Physical Form, and have to pay (in XP) to create them.
  • Their Physical Form takes reduced damage from things, and has anti-magic, but is only immune to mortal attacks and mortal magic on their home plane.
  • If the Physical Form is killed, the immortal is unharmed and can repair the form. If the Physical Form is destroyed (e.g. via a Disintegrate spell) they must create it once more (spending more XP) if they want to use it again.
  • Their Incorporeal Form is immune to everything except Power Attacks from other immortals. Power Attacks drain temporary power, but can also be used to trap, paralyse, and blind the Immortal to prevent their escape.
  • Once an immortal has run out of power points, further Power Attacks damage its Physical Form or, if it is not in Physical Form, sent it to its home plane. If it is not in a Physical Form and it is already on its home plane then it dies.
  • An immortal can create one or more Avatars - lesser Physical Forms that contain only a portion of its life force. These are permanently created, and if one of these is killed, that portion of the immortal's life force (i.e. xp) is gone forever. When not being used these "spare bodies" must be carefully stored on the immortal's home plane.
WotI Immortals
  • Can be in any form on any plane.
  • Can have more than one Physical Form, and have to pay (in XP) to create them.
  • Their Physical Form takes reduced damage from things, and has anti-magic, and in addition is immune to mortal attacks with less than a +5 weapon (and takes minimum damage from mortal attacks with a +5 weapon), mortal level poisons, and mortal magic wherever it is.
  • If the Physical Form is killed, the immortal survives, but the form always disappears and must be re-created once more (spending more XP) if they want to use it again. Additionally, the immortal is sent to its home plane for a number of days during which it can only leave in incorporeal form. The Physical Form is effectively 6 levels higher on its home plane, but if killed there the immortal is dead.
  • Their Incorporeal Form is immune to everything except Power Attacks from other immortals. Power Attacks only drain temporary power.
  • Running out of power points does nothing to an immortal other than mean they have no more to spend. Further Power Attacks on an immortal with no power left are simply a waste of time.
  • An immortal can create one or more Avatars - lesser Physical Forms that contain only a portion of its temporary power points (and when those temporary points are spent the Avatar fades). If one of these is killed, the immortal suffers no effect.
As you can see, they're actually pretty similar.

WotI Immortals are more flexible about which forms they can use, and their physical forms are tougher (not just as mentioned above in terms of immunity to mortal level effects, but also in terms of hit points and so forth). To counter this, WotI Immortals have a bigger penalty when their physical forms are killed - being stuck on their home plane and only able to leave in incorporeal form for a while if it happens outside their home plane; or being destroyed if it happens on their home plane.

On the other hand, when in incorporeal form, gold box Immortals are more vulnerable. WotI Immortals simply can't be restrained or hurt at all, at the most being drained of power; but gold box Immortals can stunned, blinded, paralysed, prevented from using magic or escaping, and even killed if they're attacked on their home plane.

The difference this makes in play is as follows:
  • Gold Box Immortals have more fragile (but more expendable) physical forms. However, they can be sent home, trapped and killed - but only by other Immortals - even when in their incorporeal form. Most fights between Immortals are therefore "Power Attack" fights, which are just as deadly as physical fights but which use a different combat system and use power points instead of hit points. These fights are just as viable in incorporeal form as in physical form. A gold-box Immortal is never truly safe, as they can always be attacked by other Immortals on their home plane - and given the effects of power attacks they can be prevented from escaping and killed.
  • WotI Immortals have sturdier (but less expendable) physical forms. Their physical forms are much less likely to be destroyed by non-Immortal foes, and are also less likely to be destroyed by Immortal foes. However, if you do manage to destroy their physical form on their home plane you kill them. On the other hand, their Incorporeal forms are completely unassailable. Unless an Immortal is truly outmanoeuvred and killed in a surprise attack (which is very unlikely given their toughness), they can turn incorporeal and always be safe. If a WotI Immortal is truly paranoid, they can remain in incorporeal form permanently and only ever make physical avatars rather than manifesting in their full physical form. Doing this limits their power somewhat, but makes them literally impossible to kill.
The immortals also could cast any spell from any character class at the hit dice of the immortal and an effect at twice that HD. The only limit had to do with with what sphere of power they were trying to cast from. Not to mention their innate powers of flight, power and aura attacks. Making even low level Immortals pikers something to be respected from high level characters.
Finally, under Aaron Immortals can cast spells from any character class with no limitations. Immune to mortal spells and take minimum damage from mortal weapons of at least +5. So unless they have an artifact, these Immortals could waltz through any number of mortal or mortal monsters without out a care.
Again, you're missing out details.

In the Gold Box rules, all spells (and some non-spell powers such as turning undead) are given a sphere. Immortals can use any of these abilities by spending temporary power on a use-by-use basis, with the cost depending on the sphere. They also have, as you say, flight and power and aura attacks.

Under WotI rules, Immortals no longer spend temporary power on spells on a use-by-use basis. Instead they spend temporary power to gain the use of spells as a member of a spellcasting class (of a level depending on how much power they spend), or more temporary power to gain the use of any spell at will. It's a bigger power outlay, but they only have to do it once per day, and you don't have to worry about which spell is from which sphere. WotI Immortals also have the same flight, power and aura attacks as Gold Box Immortals.

Additionally, WotI has a number of non-spell powers (far more than the list available to Gold Box immortals) ranging from thief abilities to dragon breath to turning undead and more. When a WotI Immortal first creates a physical form it gives that form a number of these abilities. Most of them can be used at will, but a few have an "x per day" or "costs Y temporary power" limitation.

Finally, Gold Box Immortals have a set of rules for moving planes very slowly. WotI Immortals can move planes around too (in a much quicker manner), and can also create and alter planes and create and move astronomical bodies.
However, under Aaron, Immortals had to have worship in order to stay relevant otherwise they lose their powers after 10 years. The bar however, is pretty low, just so as long as some mortal shows an interest in the immortal is sufficient.
True. On the other hand, WotI Immortals can also grant power to clerics, which is an important political tool.
Later Mystara products removed the worshiping criteria and replaced it with philosophy etc.
As we've seen above, that came and went. It wasn't as simple as the sort of unidirectional move you're implying.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Thanks Blacky but...

Post by MPA » Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:21 am

I wasn't trying to write a thesis contrasting/comparing writings between Frank and Aaron, which is why I didn't go into complete detail. Not many people care about that. The point was to illustrate my opinion on the differences between gods and immortals, not to debate either issue.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
Sock Puppet
Troll
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:02 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Sock Puppet » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:56 am

So far, classic D&D has referenced immortals, gods, and philosphies as objects of veneration by clerics (and laity), though not all at the same time. Specifically, no single classic D&D product has ever referred to gods and immortals.

The 3e Epic Level Handbook does have the umbral dot (aka blackball). I don't have it to hand, but I'll take your word for it that it is calls it a tool of the old ones (as does the gold box set). I'll also take your word that it calls the old ones "the gods who were before the present gods". Since the gold box explicitly states the procedure by which an immortal becomes an old one, this usage in the ELH is just further evidence that TSR/WotC considered the two terms to be interchangeable.

That still doesn't prove the existence of Mystaran "gods" as distinct from "immortals". The term "immortal" is out of favour in 3e, and "god" and "immortal" were effectively interchangeable in classic D&D.

I have yet to see any convincing evidence that gods and immortals were supposed to be two distinct groupings in Mystara specifically, or classic D&D generally.
I am Ashtagon's sock puppet account.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by MPA » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:42 pm

Sock Puppet wrote:I have yet to see any convincing evidence that gods and immortals were supposed to be two distinct groupings in Mystara specifically, or classic D&D generally.
Oh they are very distinct. Among other things is the very nature of Immortals as all being mortals previously, not born from Primordial beings at the beginning of the universe.

When Mystara was converted to AD&D the writer(s) played around with the idea that Odin could be the actual god from a far off dimension or just an imposter who stole the name.

Another example was one of Frank's Immortal campaigns where some Immortals were attacked by the Sphere of Entrophy for calling themselves Olympian god and demanding worship.

Gods are like gods in Marvel Comics and Immortals are like the cosmic types in the same production line.

This is all just my opinion on how I interpret them.
Last edited by MPA on Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by MPA » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:52 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
MPA wrote:I will use the definition of gods as explained from my Literature teacher: gods are personifications of inanimate objects or concepts concepts, who have superhuman powers.

Whereas Immortals are simply mortals who have attained superhuman powers.
You seem to be drawing an artificial distinction there on what is actually a continuous range.

What about the various gods who were once mortal - there are lots of them in both real-world and game mythology? What about immortals who have attuned themselves in some way (even if only through Frank Mentzer's "spheres" system) with concepts? What about the immortals who have never been mortal (this is heavily implied for the oldest immortals of Mystara)?
Interesting concept. I can't think of any myths where mortals have become gods. Also I don't know of any Immortals that have not been mortal or where it was implied that was the case.
Spheres are not a place or thing.

I can easily distinguish the difference between gods and immortals by just associating them with Marvel Comic characters. The Gods are the Marvel Pantheons, while Immortals are the Cosmic types.

All of this is just my opinion.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
Sock Puppet
Troll
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:02 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Sock Puppet » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:21 pm

MPA wrote:
Sock Puppet wrote:I have yet to see any convincing evidence that gods and immortals were supposed to be two distinct groupings in Mystara specifically, or classic D&D generally.
Oh they are very distinct. Among other things is the very nature of Immortals as all being mortals previously, not born from Primordial beings at the beginning of the universe.
Disputed. Thanatos, Khoronus and Ixion spring to mind immediately as immortals who have no known (even to themselves) origin story. It is intentionally left unanswered whether this is because they have forgotten any such origin or because they were begotten not made.
When Mystara was converted to AD&D the writer(s) played around with the idea that Odin could be the actual god from a far off dimension or just an imposter who stole the name.
Again, this doesn't prove either way whether gods and immortals were intended to be different categories. In game mechanics, there was never any difference between 2e Mystara Thor vs. other 2e Mystaran immortals/gods.
Another example was one of Frank's Immortal campaigns where some Immortals were attacked by the Sphere of Entrophy for calling themselves Olympian god and demanding worship.
IM1 The Immortal Storm, I think. It was an adventure in which entropic immortals were posing as "gods" from an "Olympian" pantheon, iirc (don't have books handy to check). Again, I don't see an issue. No game mechanics for "gods" distinct from "immortals" was proposed in the module in question, and "god" was used purely as an in-character word. In character, a BECMI immortal could just as easily be referred to as a higher one, a great one, or whatever, but an in-character word doesn't change the out-of-character game mechanics.
Gods are like gods in Marvel Comics and Immortals are like the cosmic types in the same production line.

This is all just my opinion on how I interpret them.
Since I do not read superhero comics, the comparison is lost on me.
I am Ashtagon's sock puppet account.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by MPA » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:50 pm

Sock Puppet wrote:
MPA wrote:
Sock Puppet wrote: Again, this doesn't prove either way
It doesn't have to, since I have already said this is all my opinion. :D
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
Blacky the Blackball
White Dragon
Posts: 2036
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:47 am
Gender: male
Location: Brighton, UK
Contact:

Re: Gods or Immortals?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:09 pm

MPA wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
MPA wrote:I will use the definition of gods as explained from my Literature teacher: gods are personifications of inanimate objects or concepts concepts, who have superhuman powers.

Whereas Immortals are simply mortals who have attained superhuman powers.
You seem to be drawing an artificial distinction there on what is actually a continuous range.

What about the various gods who were once mortal - there are lots of them in both real-world and game mythology? What about immortals who have attuned themselves in some way (even if only through Frank Mentzer's "spheres" system) with concepts? What about the immortals who have never been mortal (this is heavily implied for the oldest immortals of Mystara)?
Interesting concept. I can't think of any myths where mortals have become gods.
I'm not going to start listing them, because of the site rule about discussing real-life religion (and there are some in still-active religions, not just in all-but-extinct religions of antiquity).

From a game mythology point of view: St Cuthbert, Kuroth, Kyuss, Al'Akbar, Zagyg, Daern and - of course - Vecna of the Greyhawk setting; and The Raven Queen from 4e's default setting all spring immediately to mind. I'm sure there are many others in other settings.
Also I don't know of any Immortals that have not been mortal or where it was implied that was the case.
If Immortals are all previous mortals and need sponsors, where did the first Immortals come from?

WotI describes the most powerful (and oldest) Immortals of each sphere as having no memory of having ever been anything other than an Immortal, and they seem to be the "original" Immortals who have been there since the world came into existence and who sponsored the first generation of previously-mortal ones. As I said, it's implied rather than directly stated.
Spheres are not a place or thing.
They're a concept though (which is what you originally said). There are Immortals of energy and Immortals of entropy for example, becoming personifications of of those concepts to a greater or lesser degree. WotI goes further, with the clerics of different Immortals gaining extra abilities based on their patrons' sphere of influence.
I can easily distinguish the difference between gods and immortals by just associating them with Marvel Comic characters. The Gods are the Marvel Pantheons, while Immortals are the Cosmic types.
And I can easily distinguish them by just associating some of them with apples and some with oranges. It doesn't make either of our associations any less subjective and arbitrary though.
All of this is just my opinion.
That's fair enough. If you want to treat Immortals and Gods as two different types of thing, you're free to do that. I even suggest doing that as one of the options in Dark Dungeons.

But I'm afraid I'm going to have to put my Moderator Hat on now to give you a bit of advice.

This thread has been raising people's hackles and has been flagged up for moderator attention more than once.

What's annoying people is that you don't seem content to simply accept that is is only your opinion. Instead throughout this thread you have given the appearance (whether by accident or design) of trying to convince us that your opinion matches the intent of the TSR authors and that it is somehow a natural conclusion to draw from the rules. But your quotes from TSR authors have mostly turned out to be misquotes and the information you have presented has been selectively picked (and sometimes exaggerated) to match your opinion while you have ignored information that goes against your opinion.

What has particularly annoyed people is that you have done this in a way that seems to be rather rude to the TSR authors in who wrote that material. More specifically, your posts keep giving the impression (again, whether by accident or design) that you much prefer the Gold Box rules to the WotI rules. Again, there's nothing wrong with preferring one edition to another - we all have favourites. However, you keep framing this opinion in overly familiar terms such as "Frank's Immortals" and "Aaron's Immortals" and that framing - especially when combined with your selective quoting of said rules to make them match your bias - makes it personal and comes across as being rather rude to the authors in question.

So please could you make an effort to keep things a bit more objective with respect to editions (we don't want this to turn into an edition war) and a lot less personal with regards to the authors. Please try to refer to the editions themselves rather than their authors when talking about what is in them.
Check out Gurbintroll Games for my free RPGs (including Dark Dungeons and FASERIP)!

(I'm a moderator for "The Orc's Revenge" and its sub-forums. If I need to post anything officially as a mod, rather than just as a user, I'll post it in green.)

Locked

Return to “Classic D&D”