30 September 2013

The Might of Gods Cannot Be Quantified by Mortals

As much as I prize my mint condition copy of Deities & Demigods (with the Cthulhu and Melnibonéan Mythos intact), and as much as I enjoy the illustrations, I find its gaming content mostly useless. I do not endorse the treatment of gods as mere monsters (unless it is a monster being worshipped as a god), nor do I approve of describing them with statblocks, especially if they purport to quantify their attributes on the same scale as player characters. No god in any world of mine will deign to be compared to mortals. Any mortals in my campaigns will either be unaware that they have encountered a god (for it is said they walk amongst us in disguise when it suits them) or they will be awestruck. Watch Jason and the Argonauts (1963) for a lesson in how to handle such encounters.

Nonetheless, it is interesting and informative to know how the attributes of gods compare with one another on their own scale without tempting players to see them as potential experience point awards. To this end, I recommend describing their attributes in Fudge terms. Fudge uses adjectives instead of hard numbers to compare traits (attributes, skills, and sometimes powers). Traditionally, it uses the following progression:

Superb
Great
Good
Fair
Mediocre
Poor
Terrible

Scale is used with Mass, Strength, and Speed to further differentiate beings. A pixie, for instance, is on an entirely different scale than a human being, but their attributes would still range from Terrible to Superb in comparison to one another. By that same logic, gods within a pantheon may vary in strength, wisdom, charisma, etc., but the weakest of them will still be capable of crushing the strongest mortal like an ant.

To illustrate the possibilities, here are four Greek gods and their basic attributes (all of which are Scale: Divine).

Athena

Strength: Fair
Intelligence: Superb
Wisdom: Superb
Dexterity: Good
Constitution: Good
Charisma: Superb

Aphrodite

Strength: Mediocre
Intelligence: Fair
Wisdom: Mediocre
Dexterity: Good
Constitution: Good
Charisma: Superb

Ares

Strength: Great
Intelligence: Mediocre
Wisdom: Poor
Dexterity: Great
Constitution: Great
Charisma: Great

Hephaestus

Strength: Superb
Intelligence: Superb
Wisdom: Good
Dexterity: Great (manual dexterity); Terrible (agility)
Constitution: Good
Charisma: Poor

Role-playing the interaction of gods with one another can be accomplished by using the basic Fudge rules, which can be obtained for free at Fudgery.net (my own Fudge site) or FudgeRPG.com.

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