Friday, September 6, 2013

Thirty Days of D&D, Day 6: Favorite Deity

Favorite deity? There are many quantifiers one could and should put on to these topics. Following the theme of the last few posts, I'm going to limit this to the Realms.

My favorite Realms deity is Helm, the watcher, god of guardians. He makes for a great player character patron deity because his portfolio clicks with what most players do, whether the goodly paladin on a righteous quest or just an honest guard looking to do his job. The most likely "adventurer" deity in the Realms is probably Tymora, goddess of luck with her happy-go-lucky ne'er doer followers. While Tymora has the slackers covered, Helm provides a more pragmatic alternative to those not of the lovable roguish persuasion.

As a lawful neutral deity, he's not as limited in his scope as the good or evil deities. When followers of these other deities, especially good ones, start to reinterpret their divine teachings in malleable ways we're headed into heresy territory or outright corruption. Helm's followers can be both and that's just a normal day for them.

In aiming for a grittier darker points-of-light setting for 4E Realms, I was surprised WotC decided to kill of Helm. Here was this grim grey god who's ethos was to hold these flickering points-of-light at all costs. This perfectly supports lawful badasses in a life & death struggle against the grim-dark. This guy is pure anti-hero fuel.
Demon, you have too many arms.
Here, allow me to fix that for you.

It gets harder and harder to make excuses for the odd 4E Realms changes. A case can be made to trim the pantheon down sure, but offing one of the deities that most embodies the tone you're trying to establish is quite ridiculous. Instead of choosing deities that simply overlap, it wouldn't have been too much effort to go through the list and strike off entities of far more limited reach and exposure.

Or why kill gods to begin with? Why not shuffle the ones you feel redundant off into the sidelines for an edition. See if people just forget about them. I understand deicide if there was some epic metaplot to be accomplished (at least Mystra 2.0's death had that going for it), but Helm died at the hands of Tyr over a misunderstanding over Tymora. All this amounted to an awkward not-quite-love-triangle that one might find in an uninspired afternoon soap opera plot (cause some inspired soap operas plots will give the X-Men a run for their money). There's character flaws and then there's just stupid. There's classical tragedy and then there's plain silly. Guess which one this development falls under.

This all quickly became meaningless as the event sullied Tyr's name (in the eyes of fans) to the point where during the the 4E transition activity, the designers actually listened to the hordes of WotC forum goers and decided to kill Tyr as well. The net utility of this sound and fury (oh, we're killing gods left and right, tremble!) was zilch.

Hi, my name is Kalen
and I'm a Helmite.
Hi, I'm Kleef.
I too am a Helmite.
Not all is lost, however. Some of the authors know where the potential is at. Erik Scott de Bie has two or three FR novels out centered on his protagonist Kalen Dren, a paladin of Helm, known as Shadowbane. How is someone worshiping and empowered by a dead god? Well, death hasn't really stopped deities before.

To transition us from 4E Realms to Next Realms (5E), Troy Denning's contribution to The Sundering series, The Sentinel, features Kleef Kenric, an embittered paladin of Helm. You know, the dead god who's not really that dead seeing as how his worship base probably eclipses most major deities if novel characters are a representative sample. If they're not, well just goes to show all the interesting stuff is happening with his clergy (paladins can be considered clergy, right?).

Goes to show, can't keep a good god down.

Or in this case, lawful neutral with good tendencies. Except for that conquistador thing down in Maztica, but they Spellplagued that away to Abeir (or otherwise blew it up, who knows) so no need to make a big fuss about it.

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