[HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

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Big Mac
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[HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by Big Mac » Thu May 17, 2018 3:00 pm

Willpell said this in a reply to a topic I made on the Ghostwalk forum:
willpell wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 8:29 pm
One curious thing to consider - in the real world, "Orcus" is the name of some minor Roman deity. D&D's Orcus is a demon who aspires to be a god; if he took over the True Afterlife, perhaps he could set himself up as a god, keeping all actual gods out.
I'm not so sure that applies to Ghostwalk (I've covered that in my topic there), but I would like to talk about Orcus and how he might interact with HR5 The Glory of Rome.

Wikipedia says that Orcus was a god of the Underworld.

How does the real-world Orcus compare to the D&D one?

Would the Roman Orcus need to be a different thing to the D&D Orcus?

If Orcus can be a deity in the Ghostwalk setting, could he also be a deity in the Gothic Earth/HR5, but a demon in other parts of the D&D multiverse?
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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by thorr-kan » Thu May 17, 2018 3:27 pm

Really? You went there? I'm eager to see what this conversation turns up. :D

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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by Knightfall » Thu May 17, 2018 7:27 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 3:00 pm
Wikipedia says that Orcus was a god of the Underworld.

How does the real-world Orcus compare to the D&D one?
Well, from reading the wikipedia page, it seems Orcus was a rural deity that wasn't worshiped in cities. So, he wouldn't be a major factor in Rome itself. The god is also connected to medieval times and the wild man festivals, which have continued to modern times. That to me, brings to mind the idea of bringing Orcus into d20 Modern. It could also connect HR5 to d20 Modern for a historic Dark Matter campaign. Hmm, maybe time travel. :?:

The god is mixed in with other underworld gods, so maybe the Orcus deity is just Pluto/Hades in disguise. The wiki entry also mentions the Roman god Dīs Pater, which was likely the inspiration for D&D's Dispater Arch-Devil. The Wikipedia page for Pluto notes that Dīs Pater is the Roman equivalent to Pluto.
Would the Roman Orcus need to be a different thing to the D&D Orcus?
You could always use the name of the Greek daemon Horkos as an alternate version of Orcus that is tied to both Greek and Roman culture. He could be a pretender trying to usurp the D&D Orcus.
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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by Havard » Fri May 18, 2018 8:16 pm

Interesting topic! I guess D&D expanded alot on the RW concept, but I'm not quite clear what Orcus would look like without the D&D expansions to his concept.

Maybe it would just be easier to use the D&D version?

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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat May 19, 2018 1:30 am

If you assume that "Earth" is part of the D&D multiverse (the "Great Wheel" cosmology), then the standard D&D Orcus probably knows of it and involves himself in its cults, as does the standard D&D archdevil Dispater and other demon princes and archfiends. If he's not the same entity as the Etruscan deity Orcus then he probably, at least, poses as him in an attempt to poach his worshipers.

If you assume that the Olympian Twelve rule the cosmos and are known by different names in different cultures, then Orcus is surely just the name the Etruscans knew Pluto/Hades by and can be considered to be essentially the same deity. This may be true even if other pantheons exist on your fantasy version of Earth. For example, perhaps the Norse/Germanic deities are completely separate from the Olympian pantheon, but the Etruscan deities are simply the Roman deities under different names. The demon prince Orcus may still attempt to poach Pluto's worshipers.
Big Mac wrote:If Orcus can be a deity in the Ghostwalk setting, could he also be a deity in the Gothic Earth/HR5, but a demon in other parts of the D&D multiverse?
The simple answer is yes. A god may have a different divine rank on different worlds (for example, Tyr is considered to be a greater deity on Toril but an intermediate deity on most other worlds) and a god might even be dead to one world and alive to another (Zinzerena is dead on Toril but alive on Oerth, for example).

Note that Orcus was considered to be both a deity and a demon in 2nd edition; the two categories aren't mutually exclusive. Lolth is both.

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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by Lord Zack » Sat May 19, 2018 3:24 pm

I think I've read somewhere that it is common practice for demon lords and dukes of hell to take the names of various deities. Nergal, for instance and the multiple Dagons.

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Re: [HRef][HR5] Orcus and The Glory of Rome

Post by timemrick » Sun May 20, 2018 5:15 am

Lord Zack wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 3:24 pm
I think I've read somewhere that it is common practice for demon lords and dukes of hell to take the names of various deities. Nergal, for instance and the multiple Dagons.
In the real world, the reason why so many demons share names with ancient gods is because later religions incorporated older cultures' gods into their own theology as false gods, therefore--literally--demonizing them. There are hints of this in Greek mythology (where the older generation of gods, the Titans, were ousted and imprisoned by the Olympians) and Celtic mythology (where the Tuatha de Danaan displaced the Fomorians), and the Old Testament has several stories of "false gods" (like Dagon) being overthrown.

But Christianity was probably the "greediest" in this respect, especially when you get to the Renaissance, when knowledge of Classical mythology becomes widespread again (and an expected part of any proper education). All those pagan gods have to be explained in terms of orthodox Christian theology, so they get lumped in with the other demons. Dante's Divine Comedy is probably the best-known example of this borrowing-by-demotion. The Inferno (Hell) holds the Titans, the Furies, Cerberus, Dis (Pluto), and innumerable other monsters from the Classical underworld, while the more benign Olympians, if mentioned at all, are rendered subservient to the Christian god's cosmic order. For example, Dante invokes the Muses (as all epic poets must), and Purgatory is full of carved scenes from Classical myths that illustrate the seven deadly sins.
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