I now have an idea about explaining something that one of my players would find important, and she’s helped me work out the cosmology of this setting. This is also leading me to additional answers about how things were created, which, after all, is an important job for the gods to have done. There’s still the lingering question of why there should be so many different races, but now that we know who these gods are we can think about why there might be such variety.
In Green Ronin’s Hamunaptra setting, the reason there are seven primary player races is that these races are the particularly favored children of different major gods–halflings for Osiris, gnomes for Set, and so on (they also replaced half-orcs with jackal-headed gnolls). Humans are so different and so adaptable because all of the gods had a hand in creating them, so they weren’t favored by any one in particular. I rather like this idea–it’s downright Tolkien-esque when you consider how the Dwarves of Middle-earth came into being–so we’re going to use each sapient race as a divine creation as an explanation for all of these different races.
This opens up my creation myth and starts answering my questions about Primideus. In looking back to my pantheon, it’s easy to think they’ll fight with one another. What if one of their major fights at the beginning of creation was about which race should be dominant? And what if true sapience is only provided by a divine “spark,” and none of the gods were willing to empower their own creations for fear that the others would take advantage of them weakening themselves? The reason Primideus is the “first god” is that he was the only one who cared enough about these lifeless creations to sacrifice his divine power for them. All of the sapient creatures of the world have him to thank for their existence.
Now I have a creation myth and an explanation for my player’s god and the status of his church in the world. Most people would rather pay homage to their racial deity, and those don’t preach nearly as much about self-sacrifice. This sounds pretty good, but I can go further in figuring out which god wanted what to be created. In fact, I already have a number of gods roughly equal to the number of player races; maybe I just need to match them up to one another in some way. Clothamar makes sense as the dvergaric god, considering they live underground, are quite smart, and have metallurgical secrets, while this also provides a bit of a twist in making them distinct from “Lawful Good followers of fatherly Moradin.” Prudenta would work well as an elven goddess of the moon. Clarumar the Shining One might be seen like Bahamut to the dragonborn–a shining sun dragon. Bel could be like Gruumsh, a cruel and powerful lord who sees the orcs as his chosen people.
But past that, it’s quickly apparent that this won’t do. I still have at least beastfolk (and that’s lumping centaurs and minotaurs together), humans, gnomes, and halflings,* but that makes the numbers not quite work, as I only have 3 deities remaining–Sangua, Mara, and Nothura. Sangua probably works for beastfolk, although so would Nothura, but Mara doesn’t fit very well with the others remaining and the others don’t particularly fit with whichever goddess is left over between our nature goddesses. Mortu would not have created any of the races on his own (he’s different), and Primideus can’t favor any one in particular, so there are too many. That also doesn’t account for all of the other sapient creatures–goblins, kobolds, lizardfolk, and so on. I have to find some explanation for them and all of this diversity.
If it was something that would never come up or that players could never answer, it might not matter. For me, though, this is pretty important to figure out for my own satisfaction and continued world-building. There’s no real reason behind it, and the numbers don’t line up with the creation myth that I actually like. Maybe there’s a way I can group them together. After all, if I can reduce the number of “races,” I can get to something where each one has an associated racial patron, and I can also use that as a starting point for building racial / cultural pantheons if I need them later. What might some of these groups have in common?
I start comparing different sapient fantasy creatures, especially those designed for PCs (or were in older editions), and I come to a useful realization. I actually do have some similarities between certain ones, and I can make a weird statement about my world now.
And just for fun, here’s the creation myth we’re now using for this world.
As the Seven rule all things, so they also have favored children among the sapient races. The oldest Druskan creation myth tells of the gods’ council after the world’s creation. They wanted worshipers who would serve them in the mortal world and beyond, mortals with a spark of the divine, but all disagreed on what kind of creatures to have. Bel favored a strong and robust people, full of martial knowledge and stern purpose. His consort Sangua desired that these people instead emulate the beasts of the earth, while their sister Mara wanted a people to rule both sea and soil. Clarumar designed a people whose skin would reflect the shining sun, and Clothamar shaped a people suited to digging in the earth, hiding their secrets in the deepest places. Prudenta favored the gift of magic for these worshipers, and Nothura last of all hoped for a fertile people in whom the spark of life would never be extinguished.
Each created examples of their race in secret, but none would back down from their designs for the world. Seeking to resolve this deadlock, they asked the only two gods who had remained silent to involve themselves in the discussion. Mortu deferred immediately, claiming that all souls would be his regardless of their mortal form. Primideus, however, offered to settle the issue by agreeing with all: all of these creatures were worthy of a place in this world.
At this suggestion conflict erupted again. None of the gods were willing to risk their own essence to empower a people who would compete with other races. As the Seven squabbled, Primideus took their creations one by one, placing each within the newly shaped world. After arranging them all, he sacrificed his blood to ensoul each of the Seven Races, giving of himself to ensure that these creatures would all find their place. Broken by his wounds, he returned to the council and told them of his work.
Next: Size really does matter–and provides a nice way to condense them.
* Tieflings aren’t really a problem because they’re probably an offshoot of humanity, and adding them in just exacerbates the problem I had.