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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Divine Moods and Personalities

Someone brought up Gods, Demigods, and Heroes on the OD&D forums, wanting to talk about who has actually used it and how. For myself, I like the monsters, hero, and artifact entries. But the gods?

Let’s start with the kind of gods I want in my game:

  1. Ambiguous desires, plans, and even existence.
  2. Ambiguous source of “divine” displays of power.
  3. Enigmatic miracles and manifestations.
  4. Both player and GM-created religions.

These guidelines are based on two principles:

Create as much as possible through play rather than before play.

Keep the players front in center, not NPCs (including gods, the ultimate NPCs.)

So what kind of “god mechanics” would work for me?

No monster stats for gods. They may or may not be real. Any monster may be a divine incarnation, sending, minion, or hoax.

Start with a zone of divine control, what some versions of the game might call a Sphere. If using a god from mythology, this is the common interpretation of what that god is the “god” of (war, sky, death, life.)

Add a second unrelated zone of control, possibly a narrower one.

Add a profession or social role, if one isn’t obvious. Less likely professions or roles will be more evocative.

Add at least one object or behavior associated with the god. This can be turned into a myth about the god (summarize a story in one or two sentences.)


  • Tut-Tut, the Warrior-Smith of the Coast, cries as he creates turtle-shell armor and shields in a sea-cave forge on the western shores. (Summary: War, Coastal Areas, Smithing, Turtles, Tears)
  • Lyraine, the Huntress of the Celestial Choir, leads her chorus in battle-songs as she rides a parrot across the night sky. (Summary: Hunting, Stars, Music, Parrot.)

The first time during an adventure where the PCs do anything on grounds sacred to a god, or in the presence of a priest of that god, or involving one of the keywords that “define” the god, make a reaction roll for the god. Only do this once per adventure.

  • Shift Results Down one step (Bad becomes Very Bad) if PCs harm a priest, defile a temple, or otherwise unwittingly “offend” the god.
  • Shift Results Up one step (Good becomes Very Good) if performing rituals or otherwise serving the god.

On a Very Bad result (2 on 2d6) or a Very Good result (12 on 2d6), it seems as if the god is “paying attention”. This might mean the god is real, it might mean someone who worships the god noticed and is acting on the god’s behalf, or it might be the PC’s unconscious guilt or confidence. If the first result roll indicates no divine interest, this will not change for the rest of the adventure.

For the rest of the adventure, track the PCs on the Divine Mood table below, starting at (Dis)favor unless the adjusted roll is 1 or 13, in which case jump to Bad/Good Omen.

Bad / Good Mood Effects
(Dis) Favor Flip near miss or hit
Cursed / Blessed +/-2 on rolls
Doomed / Chosen Next result becomes critical or fumble. Reset.
Enemy / Ally Extra wandering monster roll, seeks vengeance on/alliance with PCs. Reset.
(Bad) Omen Minor spell (half dungeon level) cast against/for PCs. Reset.
(Evil) Sending Wandering monster magically appears to attack/serve PCs. Reset.
Judgment / Miracle Major spell (twice dungeon level) cast against/for PCs. Reset.
(Wrathful) Avatar Monster representing the god magically appears to attack/serve PCs. Reset.

Favors, Blessings, Disfavor, and Curses stay in effect for the rest of the adventure or until the next time the PCs “interact” with the god in some way (break a taboo, perform a ritual, help or harm a divine servant, trigger one of the other key words.) Everything else happens once.

In either case, roll 2d6 and consult the Divine Mood Reset Table. If the result is anything below Cursed/Blessed, delay the new effect until the next interaction with the god.

2d6 Divine Mood Reset Effect
2 Flip Mood (bad to good or vice versa)
3-5 Mood Wanes (shift up one line)
6-8 Reset to (Dis)Favor
9-11 Mood Strengthens (shift down one line)
12 Extreme Shift (down two lines)
13+ Flip Bad Mood to Good, otherwise shift down two lines)

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks!

      I'm not considering it the last word on the subject, just the starting place. So expect to see other versions of this much further down the road.