World-Building, Part 7: Chosen Peoples

What if each of these gods created a “type” of creature as they would reckon it, but as mortals their creations classified themselves differently based on size? What if, by the reckoning of deities, they’re really the same “people”?


Disclaimer at the beginning: This is a very rough post. To be sure, I’d really prefer to share the finished product with you, and you may leave this post confused or frustrated with how incomplete it feels. However, the idea behind these entries is to show you the process, and sometimes world-building gets messy. Trust that I do eventually answer most of these questions and have these things settled (and tune in for the next update!).

Last time, I settled on a creation myth that explains a lot about the deities of my world and how they view their creations. (It also makes my player’s chosen deity of Primideus pretty cool, if you’re into self-sacrifice and all of that.) While I gave you the end result of that creation myth, which might have suggested how I answer the questions in this post, I still need to work out the specifics.

But as written, it doesn’t really work. I have far more than 7 sapient races that need to be considered in this creation myth, and only 7 deities to do this. I have to figure out some way to group them–let’s just start again with a list of the most basic creatures I need for a generic D&D approach.

  • Humans
  • Elves
  • Dvergar
  • Halflings
  • Gnomes
  • Tieflings
  • Orcs
  • Beastfolk (centaurs and minotaurs)
  • Ogres
  • Dragonborn
  • Goblins
  • Kobolds

And the list continues. Okay, let’s see if there are any similarities–looking at this list, I can see that dvergar and gnomes feel pretty similar, as do orcs and goblins and dragonborn and kobolds.

Wait: what if each of these gods created a “type” of creature as they would reckon it, but as mortals their creations classified themselves differently based on size? Each of these pairs has a Medium race and a Small race–what if, by the reckoning of deities, they’re really the same “people”? Elves and halflings might go together, our current beastfolk might have a smaller version that includes gnolls–this seems to make a lot of sense.

However, we can make this even more orderly: a number of sapient races would be Large size (or at least larger than others in that “kind”), so we can even add ogres or trolls to one line and goliaths from Elemental Evil to our dvergaric type. This makes it more symmetrical and gives me even more room to account for sapient races. If I establish this as a truth about our world, we can work out who goes where according to our cosmological scheme. Let’s see the deities again and where we can assign different races.

  • Clarumar – kobolds, dragonborn, ???
  • Bel – goblins and orcs? ogres?
  • Prudenta – halflings, elves, ???
  • Mara – something sea-related?
  • Nothura – humans?
  • Clothamar – gnomes, dwarves, goliaths
  • Sangua – beastfolk (gnolls, centaurs, minotaurs)

It’s rough, but this sort of works? Certainly there are gaps, depending on what I want to put where, but that also provides opportunities for further world-building. Let’s at least settle the Medium size races for each deity before we move along.

I go back and forth for ages on Bel and Nothura. I like the idea of Bel as Gruumsh the orc god, but I also think the Druskans would feel better with Bel as their king. Perhaps they’ve merely adopted the worship, but I’m not entirely satisfied with that answer. Nothura as queen of goblin-kind also likely makes them less peaceful and patriarchal, but that might deviate too much. It doesn’t help that I think of Sangua as Bel’s consort due to their similar temperaments, and goblinoids feel closer to beastfolk than humans, not that it should matter. We could make Sangua the patron of goblinoids and Nothura the patron of beastfolk, but ultimately I couldn’t have the Lady of Beasts not have beastfolk in her domain.

You may be asking where hobgoblins are, and the answer is that orcs are pretty goblinoid already and I see no reason to have two of essentially the same creature. (If it makes you feel better, I’ll eventually include a nod to them elsewhere.) Similarly, do bugbears exist? I don’t know–my players haven’t encountered one yet, but if they did then genetically speaking it would be the same as an orc.

Mara would have a lot of options, I suppose–merrow, sahuagin, aquatic elves (or even something more exotic like Darfellan or Hadozee)–but I don’t want anything too exotic. Lizardfolk would be interesting, but I already have the sobekhi as dragonborn. You know what? Maybe they’re not that anymore. Dragonborn are going to be their own thing, while the lizardfolk will make up another of the Seven Races.

Here’s what we have, then:

  • Clarumar – kobolds, dragonborn, Large dragon-like race
  • Bel – ???, humans, ???
  • Prudenta – halflings, elves, ???
  • Mara – ???, lizardfolk, ???
  • Nothura – goblins, orcs, ogres?
  • Clothamar – gnomes, dwarves, goliaths
  • Sangua – ???, gnolls, centaurs and minotaurs?

There’s progress, but it still looks pretty rough. I don’t have Small or Large races for most of my deities, though the Medium ones have been worked out. With all of these missing pieces, I might have abandoned this approach, except looking at Clothamar’s line reminds me that this idea will work. There’s a pleasant symmetry there, so if I can just get the pieces in place for the others, this will make sense.

I know that I still don’t have explanations for some things, like dragons and fey and so on, but they’re a bit beyond the realm of “mortals,” and I don’t really need answers to those questions right away. We can surmise that they’re creations under a different time scale or with different purposes, and my players might never encounter anything along those lines.

Question for readers: who do you think works better as the patron of our humans and our orcs? As constructed, we must have Bel for one and Nothura for another–both have some advantages and both fit awkwardly in another sense.

Next: back-filling our scheme to include other races, Large and Small.

Author: lpivellius

I am a gamer of all kinds. Sometimes I write about them.

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