Saturday, May 14, 2011

Godmodding: Things I Find Creepy About D&D

Like prostitutes and Eskimos, D&D has some things you just don't want to get in it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Everybody likes sex, but most of the time it is best kept to C://Users/Ettin/Documents/CleverHiddenFolder/DinosaurSmut like everyone else.

A while ago I slapped together Valen, a love goddess, because I happened to need one for a few bit parts. Not long afterward it came up in a game of mine, and this happened:

Player: What's she a cleric of?
Me: Valen. She's the local goddess of love and beauty
Player: So she's a sex goddess.
Me: ... No, she's just a goddess of
Player: Sex.
Me: ...
Player: (Strokes flourishing neckbeard sagely)

Sex and D&D are somewhat intertwined, but in a behind-the-scenes way, like the way your spleen is part of your body but you don't take it out and show it to everyone. Whenever I read something like Ed Greenwood's orgy adventure, or this real post someone actually made on the Internet:

Now we have given our NPC a present, lets give them a past. To complete the picture of any NPC, I give them a sexuality. This fleshes out the character, as any living creature has some sort of sex life. Following the example, Drazar's fetish is Gay. I remember to note that nosy players poking around at night in the smithy will hear him quietly massaging his prostate with the handle of his +1 Hammer of returning. This acutally came up in an IRC game I ran- once the Rogue found out what Drazar was doing, he felt that he should respect the character and not steal a weapon that was steeped in history out of respect of its owner. I wager that he would have thought nothing about killing the smith and taking his belongings otherwise

It's acutally an epic DM secret- when creating any hero or villain, think to yourself "How are their sexual appetite's satisfied?". This instantly adds a layer of depth to the character with little effort. One recent villain I created was a druid who controlled wurms. I chose it because I thought wurms were cool, but could not justify his use of such creatures when he had more powerful entities at his disposal. In a masterstroke I realised while looking at the image for the Century wurm (Fiend folio) that I could justify his actions by implying that they appealed to a primal sexual festish- cock vore. Once the players found his diary and why he had attacked them using such creatures they were all to happy to desecreate his grove and corpse. The paladin almost fell due his treatment of Balthazar the Wurm king, but I let it slide *Sweatdrop*.


I get really, really uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, most of my games are online these days, which means one of my players could very well end up being the sort of lad who openly wants to play a "drow shota" or roleplay an intense desire to be spanked with a frying pan. So if I want a goddess of love, we're going to have to divorce it from that kind of love.

At least in public.

So!

Developing Valen

Valen started as a fairly standard love deity. I have yet to see one which wasn't eerily similar to a lot of the others, and probably red-haired too. Unfortunately one of her original inspirations was Sune (or was it Sharess? I always got those confused), which I have since realised is vaguely connected to Ed Greenwood, so now we're going to redo that shit.

What else can you do with a love goddess? Well, she was a goddess of love and beauty, so there's that. There are more beautiful things in life than bodies, like sunsets and Eskimos, or art and music. So to protect her from neckbeards, she's the bard goddess.

She has come up in a few more recent games. A player of mine is a bard who worships her and associates with the Hopesingers, a group of bards and other classes with ranks in Perform who are trying to change the world through song and benefit concerts. She has had a few paladins as well, which is pretty neat. There's also been Polyquet, a ghaele follower who once described something as "like, totally mondo", which tells you everything you need to know about her.

What else can we do? Let's look up real-life love gods!

  • Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexuality. Kind of a bitch. Seems to be designed to give neckbeards erections. Damn it. Relationship with a war god is pretty interesting though. So is spawning from another deity's balls, but not for the same reasons.
  • Venus, who like most Roman gods is a Greek one with the serial numbers filed off. Not very related though. Possibly related to Friday, which was a song I actually thought was decently mediocre. Ceasar claimed to be related to her. Definitely probably lying.
  • Through my brief research I found out there was a Roman goddess called Cloacina. This is the most unfortunate-sounding goddess I know of. I must make a note of this.
  • The Norse had Freyja, a goddess of love, beauty, fertility, some kind of crazy Norse magic, war and death. She rides a chariot drawn by two cats, because she is allergic to horses. May be connected to valkyries. Will probably be killed by a giant wolf or something.
  • The Babylonians had Ishtar. Love, war, et cetera. Possibly a bitch. Her cult had prostitutes. Let's avoid that part.

For some reason I am now imagining bards as war reporters.

Putting this stuff together...

Valen!

During the early ages of man, when the first great cities had formed, the god of civilisation looked upon the work of Man and remarked thusly: "Though I am duly impressed by your efforts, I am Wary; for the work of Man yet pales compared to that of the Gods." The ancient city of Bragropolis heard his words, and replied in kind: "Oh yeah? Watch this."

The bards and artists of Bragropolis banded together and laboured for four hundred nights, and painted the god a daughter. As a song breathed life into her, Valen stepped forth from the canvas.

She was happily taken in as a daughter, though Bragropolis was warned to stop being such smartarses. Since then, Valen has inherited the portfolios of love, beauty and creativity.

Valen appreciates lovers, good art, good music, good food... actually, there isn't much she doesn't appreciate. Her followers see her as a muse, or a heroine, or a lover if they're a little weird. In older times, she was seen as a goddess of war (and the art of war, ha ha) as well, but after a phase a couple centuries ago where her followers started telling people to make love instead and stick flowers on people's crossbows other war gods become more popular. She still retains a few war-minded followers, though, particularly in bards who seek out great battles to compose songs and stories about them, and though she is not martially-minded she stresses that this doesn't make her an idiot. Her followers, particularly her paladins, are free to punch evil in the face.

Valen is most popular in human lands, but was quickly adopted by the elves once they encountered humans and has since risen to prominence in their pantheon, though they tend to associate her with flowers. She has a slightly higher proportion of non-human races than most human deities, as she can easily appreciate the beauty in, say, an orc, or a goblin, or an Eskimo.

Valen is considered a friend to almost every good- and neutral-aligned deity, and even the evil ones have to admit she's sort of nice. Her greatest enemy is Malcanthet, the Queen of the Succubi who has hated Valen since they accidentally showed up to a failed attempt at a pact between the gods and the demon lords wearing the same dress.

She also has several "daughters", the most prominent of which is Seokore, but as she has yet to form any long-lasting relationships of that sort it is likely she created them from art and music.

The details vary, but Valen is usually depicted as a beautiful young maiden of any race or ethnicity (usually human) with a long mane of brown or red hair and emerald or heterochromic eyes. She wears flowers in her hair, expensive jewellery and loose, bright clothing. She is usually carrying one or more symbols of creativity - musical instrument, a theatre mask, or a paintbrush and palette. Sometimes, though, she has a rapier.

Bam!

Since I have yet to run a long-lasting 4E game despite my fear that sticking to 3.5 would make me a grognard, Valen has the Charm, Good, Luck and Protection domains, and of course I'll allow any other arts-themed domains. War might be possible, depending on how the cleric worships her.

And now I must go! Next time: More gods, or possibly complaining about a few things that have been bugging me. Who knows!

1 comment:

Ettin said...

Things that occured to me after posting:

- When I was working on Valen a while ago someone also pointed out Shelyn, the Pathfinder goddess. I borrowed a couple of ideas from her as well, because I am sure the Pathfinder devs of all people are fine with copying other people's work. (OH SNAP! EDITION WAR SLAMWICH!)
- On the topic of ancient religions and hookers: Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts.
- I typoed "good food" as "good foot" up there. Draw your own conclusions about the deity.