Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jharat Part 2: Cultures and Deities

There are many different cultures on Jharat, perhaps a thousand or more. But there are five that particularly stand out and formed empires. Their pantheons include the deities that are most commonly worshipped around Jharat. All of the civilizations and cultures below became part of the Eternians Empire, their independence was crushed but they were allowed to keep their respective cultures as long as they did not damage the Empire or interfere with Imperial requirements. 

The Eternians
Eternians are like medieval or early renaissance Europeans They follow the Greyhawk pantheon in general, but other deities from outside the Greyhawk Pantheon are also followed by a few people (including deities of the Forgotten Realms and Ansalon). The Eternian Empire included many demihumans (elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings). The Eternians are known for their knights in shining armour, gothic churches and cathedrals, grand feudal castles and their painting and sculpture that had just began to develop when the Summoning struck. A lot of administration and scholarship was carried out by priests and clerics rather than educated laymen.
Unlike the other cultures described below, the Eternian culture has spread out across the globe of Jharat as the Eternian empire has conquered the world. In many places Eternian culture has not completely replaced the native culture but exists along side it or else mixed in with it.
The most important deities of the Eternians include:

  • Boccob, God of Magic and Knowledge (TN)
  • Ehlonna, Goddess of Rangers and Forests (NG)
  • Erythnul, God of Slaughter and Panic (CE)
  • Fharlanghn, God of Earthly Travel (TN)
  • Heironeous, God of Valor and Honour (LG)
  • Hextor, God of War and Destruction (LE)
  • Kord, God of Beasts, Strength and Sports (CG)
  • Nerull, God of Death and Undeath (NE)
  • Obad-Hai, God of Nature and Druids (TN)
  • Olidammara, God of Rogues and Bards (CN)
  • Pelor, God of Sunlight and Strength (NG)
  • St Cuthbert, God of Common Sense and Discipline (LN)
  • Vecna, God of Secrets and Evil Magic (NE)
  • Wee Jas, Goddess of Death and Magic (LN)

The Millenians
The Millenians are a mix of the republican Rome and ancient Greek civilization. They worship the Greek pantheon. Unlike the Eternians, the Millenians are quite open and matter-of-fact about slavery - about a quarter of the population of the Millenian culture were slaves, until the summoning. The Millenians were also famous for their disciplined armies of both phalanxes (pikemen in bronze armour) and legions (heavy infantry armed with shortswords and javelins). They were notorious for their gladiatorial combats but also respected for their philosophy and development of drama and plays.
The principle deities of the Millenians include

  • Zeus, Ruler of the Gods, God of Lightning and the Skies (CG)
  • Hera, Queen of the Gods, Goddess of Wives and Jealousy (TN)
  • Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty (CG)
  • Ares, God of War and Slaughter (CE)
  • Apollo, God of Prophesy and Music (CG)
  • Hermes, God of Messengers and Thieves (CN)
  • Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Skill and Battle (LG)
  • Demeter, Goddess of Crops and Agriculture (NG)
  • Hades, God of the Underworld and Death (NE)
  • Poseidon, God of the Seas and Earthquakes (CN)
  • Hecate, Goddess of Magic and the Moon (CE)

The Nythians
The Nythians are primarily like the Egyptians of Earth, and their pantheon is the Egyptian pantheon. They also include elements of both Arabic/early Muslim culture and also Sumerian and Assyrian civilizations. Their culture sprang up around the mighty Nythis river, and it still plays a major part of their culture and a vital source of water for their agriculture. The Nythians are very mindful and respectful (some would say obsessive) about the dead and the afterlife. Their tombs to their dead kings are massive pyramids, while even their smaller tombs are impressive pieces of architecture. Beyond the river Nythis, there is the desert, and many Nythians are nomadic camel-riders, moving from oasis to oasis.
The principle deities of the Nythians include
  • Ra, God of the Sun and kingship (LN)
  • Osiris, God of Crops and Protector of the Dead (LG)
  • Isis, Goddess of Marriage and Motherhood (LG)
  • Set, God of Destruction and Darkness (LE)
  • Geb, God of the Earth (TN)
  • Shu, God of the Air (LG)
  • Nephthys, Goddess of Wealth and Tombs (CG)
  • Thoth, God of Knowledge and Magic (TN)
  • Horus, God of Revenge, Justice and War (LN)
  • Bast, Goddess of Cats and Pleasure (CG)
  • Anubis, God of the Dead and Planar Travel (TN)

The Tolteckix
The Tolteckix civilization are a mix of Aztec, Incan and Mayan. They follow the Aztec pantheon. Their homeland is jungle, but they have constructed vast cities and built great temples. Their most notorious aspect is the human sacrifices they sometimes perform - reduced in number since the Eternians conquered them but not completely stopped.
The main deities of the Tolteckix have not been adopted by many outside of the homeland, partly because they are often considered bloody and demanding, and also their names are difficult to pronounce. The most notable members of the pantheon are:

  • Huitzilopochtli, God of the Tolteckix people, War and Lightning (NE)
  • Quetzalcoatl, God of Air and Wisdom (CG)
  • Mictlantecuhtli, God of Death (TN)
  • Tezcatlipoca, God of Deception and Thieves (CE)
  • Tlaloc, God of Rivers, Rain and Drowning (LE)

The Wazumi
The Wazumi civilization are primarily based on Feudal Japan, but also borrow elements from both Chinese and Korean culture. They worship the Chinese pantheon. The Wazumi were ruled by a Shogun in the name of the Emperor, who governed with a large bureaucracy combined with feudal warlords. The noble warriors are the Samurai, the spies and assassins are ninja, the gangsters are Yakuza and the wizards are Wu-Jen. Monks are particularly at home here - indeed, it is believed the monkish tradition of meditation and self-discipline without direct connection to a deity originated here. There are priests here, including both Sohei and Shukenja and western-style clerics, and the deities they follow include:

  • Shang-ti, God of Rulership and Creation (LN)
  • Kuan-ti, God of War and Divination (NG)
  • Yen-Wang-Yeh, God of Death (LN)
  • Fu Hsing, God of Happiness (CG)
  • Chung Kuel, God of Ugliness, Testing and Truth (LG)
  • Liu, God of Crops and Food (TN)
  • Lu Hsing, God of Just Rewards and Salaries (LN)
  • Shou Hsing, God of Long Life (CN)
  • Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Childbirth (LG)
  • Chih-Nii, Goddess of Spinners and Weavers (CG)
  • Lei Kung, God of Thunder and Vengeance (LE)
  • Sung Chiang, God of Thievery (NE)

Then there are the "barbarian" cultures that were subjugated by the Eternian Empire many years before its own downfall. These cultures were coherent but not quite civilized. Because these cultures had fewer hive cities, they were hit slightly less hard than the more settled and complacent civilizations. Furthermore, characters with an affinity to the wilderness (such as rangers, druids and barbarians) are more likely to come from these cultures.

The Fyordfolk are based on Vikings and follow the Norse pantheon. They had a strained relationship with the Eternians. There are many dwarves who consider themselves part of the Fyordfolk.

The Keltoi are based on classical Celtic culture (especially when they were fighting Rome) and follow the Celtic pantheon. They are neighbours and often slaves to the Millenians. The Keltoi include several elven tribes.

The Ubuntu are based on both Zulu and east African cultures such as the Masai. They are neighbours to the Nythians. Their pantheon is uncertain and may not involve conventional deities but animism and nature spirits.

The White Eagle Nation are based on native North Americans, and share borders with the Tolteckix though not usually on good terms.

The Iron Horde are similar to the Huns, the Mongols and the Scythians. They have no pantheon of their own but sometimes adopt other peoples religions. They neighbor and occasionally raid the Wazumi.

Beyond these there are many "minor" cultures that may number up to half a million survivors. These are left up to the DM to fit in. Demihumans in particular may either fit into one of the above cultures or else form their own.

Design Notes:
This is basically my rationale for including stuff based on real world historical cultures. Stuff from conventional quasi-medieval fantasy can fit into the Eternian culture. Part of my reason for including these was wanting to use the deities from the old "Deities and Demigods" book (I'm thinking of the 1st Ed AD&D one with the Erol Otus cover).
The idea behind assigning the Greyhawk pantheon to Eternia was part laziness (I didn't want to create a whole pantheon from scratch), part fitting in stuff from Greyhawk adventures and sourcebooks and part was admiration for the pantheon, which I think is pretty cool. The "core" pantheon from 3rd Ed PHB drew most of its deities from Greyhawk. Although the Greyhawk pantheon covers most situations, I decided to leave the catch-all of "and other deities" so that the DM can include his own deities or those from other sources. 
You might have noticed that the Nythians and Millenians were borrowed from Mystara - their names were, but a lot of the other stuff about them comes from their historical source (Ancient Egypt and Classical Greece/Rome respectively), rather than from their Mystaran namesakes.


  1. Great ideas, John! I can't wait to see what else you come up with. Have you read the "ARIA: Canticle of the Monomyth" books? I think you might find them useful for working on Jharat. I read all of your posts thus far, and enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent names for the Gods. I had fun creating names for my cat Champions in a series I wrote. All anagrams, really. Check it out if you like.

  3. Thanks Kevin, but I really can't take credit for the names - they are the real names, at least according to both AD&D 2nd Ed Legends and Lore (which I found useful as reference) and Wikipedia, based on actual mythology.
    The only names which aren't from actual mythology are the Greyhawk/Eternian deities, which are the Greyhawk deities adapted for use in the 3rd Ed PHB.