Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Scripture and Deities & Demigods

For many years now, I have pointed out that D&D's explicit rendering of the various gods of pagan pantheons into creatures and monsters by giving them hit points and other stats in Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes as well as the various editions of Deities and Demigods mirrors the Christian world-view. Up to this point, however, I have largely used inferences and implications based on the pre-suppositions of Orthodox Christianity. Recently, I have been reading The Religion of the Apostles: Orthodox Christianity in the First Century by Fr. Stephen De Young, a book I highly recommend to anyone, especially non-Orthodox and non-Christian. 

I can now express my opinion of Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes and Deities and Demigods with Scripture.

Before we get to quoting the Good Book, however, we need to take a look at the opening lines of what is known as The Baal Cycle — an Ugaritic cycle of stories about the Canaanite god BaĘżal that is approximately contemporaneous to events of the Old Testament:
Now Mighty Baal, son of Dagon, desired the kingship of the Gods. He contended with Prince Yam-Nahar, the Son of El. But Kindly El, Father Shunem, decided the case in favour of His son; He gave the kingship to Prince Yam. He gave the power to Judge Nahar.
Note that there are three characters here: Baal, who wants to be king over the gods, El (the Father), who has the power to grant this kingship, and his son Prince Yam-Nahar who is made king by El. 

Note also the meaning of the three names: 
  • El is a generic term for god in the Semitic languages, including Hebrew. The root of Elohim is El- and the various angelic names, such as Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, etc., all end in -el because they are named after an attribute of god — Michael means "Who is like unto God," for example. 
  • Yam-Nahar means "Judge of the River" and is an 'ilhm, or son of El or simply "god." It is the root of the second part of the name Elohim pluralized. In other words, the name Elohim can be translated as "God-gods" — one of the ways God has revealed Himself as a Trinity. 
  • Baal means "lord" and is a title and honorific of local pagan gods, especially the fertility god Hadad. 
This all parallels with Deuteronomy:
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. — 32:8
In other words, El — the Most High God — divided humanity into nations and set up 'ilhm to watch over each nation. These sons of God, however, rebelled and took upon themselves the worship due only to the Most High God:
God stood in the assembly of gods; He judges in the midst of gods saying, "How long will you judge unjustly, and favor the persons of sinners?" — Psalm 82 (81 LXX)
The one who is given kingship and who judges is El's Son:
The court was in session, and the books were opened...and behold, One like the Son of Man was coming with the clouds of heaven, until He came to the Ancient of Days and approached Him. Then dominion, honor, and the kingdom were given to Him — Daniel 7:10, 13-14.
The title Son of Man is the one Christ most often uses to refer to Himself. Thus, Scripture acknowledges the existence of these pagan gods who are part of a divine council overseen by Christ in a position granted by the Father. These pagan gods, however, are mere creatures who rebelled against God the Father and turned their back on their original mission of watching over the nations. 

Now we come to the crux of this whole argument. Psalm 82(81) declares to these gods their fate:
I say, "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince."
There you have it. The pagan gods are not only creatures, but doomed to die like any man. Thus, in terms of D&D, they have hit points and stats like any other monster. To put it another way, PCs are free to try to be the instruments of Christ's judgement and kill the gods.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Skylin (Dogfolk) Race-as-Class for BX

Icon of St. Christopher with the head of a dog


Prime Requisite: CON
Requirements: DEX 9
Hit Dice: d8
Maximum Level: 12

It is said that during one of the great beastmen incursions, there was a cleric whose face was so disfugured that he was often mistaken for a beastman himself. He took it as a sign that he should proselytize the faith to the beastmen. Despite the seeming foolishness of the endeavor, he did mange to convert a large number of what are derogatorily known as dogfolk. They call themselves Skylin, which means "loyal ones" in their own language (a dialect of gnollish). The name is apt, since Skylin are loyal to a fault. To this day, they honor the disfigured cleric as Theophoros — "The one who carries God."

  • Combat: Skylin may use any armor, shield, and weapon and use the combat and saving throw tables of fighters
  • Bite: Skylin are always considered to be armed and can bite for 1d4 damage
  • Dark Vision: Skylin have 60 ft. of infravison
  • Tracking: Skylin are gifted trackers and have a 4 in 6 chance of tracking a quarry by scent
  • Dog-like Appearance: Due to their beastman origins, Skylin have a hard time recruiting human henchman — all attempts are made at -1 reaction and human henchmen will have a -1 morale penalty
  • Loyalty: Skylin characters must pledge themselves to a cause, nation, or leader before they can advance to 3rd level. Once chosen, the Skylin will never waiver from that pledge, even if it means death
  • Languages: Skylin can speak common and gnollish
  • Stonghold: Upon reaching 9th level, a Skylin may build a stronghold and attempt to establish a Skylin clan. The stronghold may be above or below ground.
XP Progression:
Level 2: 1,800
Level 3: 3,600
Level 4: 7,200
Level 5: 14,400
Level 6: 28,800
Level 7: 57,600
Level 8: 108,000
Level 9: 228,000
Level 10:348,000
Level 11: 468,000
Level 12: 588,000