When you look at the Brutal Races: Book of Conflict, you’ll see dozens of deities and entities that can be used as deities. Just these sections alone take up a significant portion of the book.

But was it really necessary to have so many deities? What’s the use of having so many?

How much we use religion in any setting, game, or single session doesn’t directly give us an idea about this. In the longest game I DM’d, there were three players: one was a cleric of Heironeous, another was a paladin of the same deity, and the last character was a half-angel wizard. This game lasted nearly 2 years in real-time and about 10 years in-game time and went from level 1 to 21 (during the 3.5 edition era). In such a game, there were different factions within the same religion and sects that had long since vanished but were attempting to revive. Ultimately, the focus of this party and game was a specific religion. Yet, in countless other games we played, religion had no importance at all. There have been several games where the name of any deity was never mentioned or their clerics never encountered.

If that’s the case, is the abundance of deities still a significant advantage?

Incorporating deities into your setting offers incredible diversity for both the DM and the players. In polytheistic religions, different deities provide very distinct ideological and philosophical perspectives. You could have multiple war gods: one might love war itself, another views war as a tactical game, and another might be keen on the spoils or lands captured after a war. Meanwhile, a deity fighting to protect the innocent or a deity of professional mercenaries can also exist. Even from a single concept, numerous deities can emerge.

In the game, a deity automatically means a multitude of NPCs following a certain doctrine. These NPCs bring with them their living places, the churches they work in, their internal hierarchies and communications, enemies, special equipment they use, history, financial resources, political supporters, local influences, specific units, classes, and many more details unique to them.

Moreover, the specific deity comes with its artifacts, personal history, friends and enemies, special days or rituals, and other thematic or practical information. A single deity can give you a vast setting to build upon, or it could mean a small background story or a character the players encounter and have a short chat with along the way.

For players, especially if they don’t have a clear character concept in mind, deities are an excellent guide. Let’s consider Brutal Races specifically. If you’re going to be a hobgoblin wizard but don’t have much idea about what a hobgoblin wizard’s mindset would be like, you might look at Fireborn Belfuun, a war mage among hobgoblin deities. At this point, you don’t necessarily have to copy Belfuun or even be a follower; Belfuun gives you a starting point and main idea for your character. This type of example can be multiplied. At every point where you’re stuck, deities will give you many different ideas. For players seeking deeper and more detailed role-playing options, deities are an invaluable resource.

Let’s look at any orc deity. Lemertel was the goddess of benevolent and nomadic orc tribes. A player reading about Lemertel might want to be a ranger who actively fights against the savage followers of malevolent orc deities, serving Lemertel in that direction. This adds a different perspective to the belief in that deity. In the Kobold religion, the seldom-seen Ej-der-iya is a powerful deity who doesn’t interfere much in events. Some of its clerics might temporarily interfere in events or act as mediators or arbitrators in some matters. A player might want to add a dimension to the faith in Ej-der-iya, becoming a member of a strange cult aiming to actively detach all kobolds from all divine powers gained by good or evil kobold gods and make them beloved servants of Ej-der-iya. The book might not mention such a cult, but there are no limits to the imagination of a player or a DM.

In a DM’s created setting, the material plane might be invaded by demons, and the lawful evil hobgoblin deities known as Gheru-bareg, the four deities, could be the last protectors of the surviving material plane. Perhaps they are still lawful evil, but they do everything they can to prevent demons from destroying the material plane. In another setting, Baimrhi, a powerful outsider worshipped by gnolls, might have truly become a deity. In another, the God of Poisonous Word, the lizardfolk deity Weschar Blacktail, might have become one of the most dangerous malevolent deities in the setting, with many human followers.

Because of all these perspectives and limitless possibilities, we wanted the book to have a large number of gods. Especially DMs and players struggling with the main idea will find many new ideas when they carefully read about the deities.

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