Today (well, by the time this post is published, yesterday) I asked a question of the nerd hive mind. To summarize, the basic question was this: Has anyone ever conducted combats between the various pantheons from the 1st Edition AD&D (“1e”) Deities & Demigods to see which pantheon was the most powerful?
Here’s the full post:
I wonder what would happen if we held a combat tournament of the pantheons in the 1st Edition AD&D Deities and Demigods. Who would win? Maybe have a randomly-paired, single elimination tournament leading to a round-robin final four where each battled the other three. That way, the final four at least would minimize the effect of a particularly poor match up for a specific pantheon. Or maybe do it like the soccer World Cup where the round-robin occurs at the beginning of the tournament, and then it’s single elimination from there on out. I don’t like that as much because you couldn’t get a fair sense of who’s really second best. Ideally, it would be far more complicated, but I’d be surprised if anyone would be willing to play all that out (or design software to handle it).
Has anyone here ever done that for even two pantheons? I’m just curious which pantheon would have the last man standing.
EDIT: Another related question is whether the monstrous entities would be involved even if not summoned by a god. If not, the entire Cthulhu mythos and gods for nonhumans might be disqualified. 🙂 There’s certainly have to be some sort of criteria to make the whole thing reasonably fair.
The most colorful response was, “Dude you need to get laid,” to which I responded, “True, but irrelevant.”
This coming from a member of the self-professed “official” 1e group on Facebook. My answer was a serious one, but I should probably say more; hence this post.
My question springs from a general sentiment in our gaming community, but voiced as well as anyone by the author of the 1e Deities & Demigods, James Ward:
DDG (for short) may resemble MONSTER MANUAL, and in fact does include some monsters. However, the purpose of this book is not to provide adversaries for the players’ characters. The information listed herein is primarily for the Dungeon Master’s use in creating, intensifying, or expanding his or her campaign.1e Deities & Demigods, page 5.
Yes, there are a lot of quotes in this post.
Anyway, given James’ explanation, he still isn’t giving a good reason as to why there are stat blocks at all. If the PCs aren’t expected to fight them because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so, then who is? Well, how about the gods fighting each other? It would be an interesting experiment, but without software designed to simulate combats in 1e, that would be a lot of work just to satisfy one’s curiosity.
But it would be cool. I’m curious as to what bias James had in creating these characters. He obviously tried to stay true to the general nature of the gods, and to an admitted lesser extent, their legends.
While DEITIES & DEMIGODS is ideally suited to the task of working deities into an AD&D campaign format, everything has not been covered in the book. In the 6,000-year plus span of this work mankind has spent a lot of that time adding to the myths dealt with herein. We did not try to encompass everything, and it is silly to assume that the five years or so of research that created DEITIES & DEMIGODS could suffice.1e Deities & Demigods, page 4.
In our research and compilation of this book, we ourselves hove altered many facts, either for reasons of game balance and consistency or because sources conflict. DEITIES & DEMIGODS is not a scholarly work or reference – it is a game accessory.1e Deities & Demigods, page 5.
Of course, even Fight Club has to have rules. Do we include monsters? If so, then doesn’t that completely remove the Cthulhu and nonhuman pantheons? Can’t do that, so maybe there’d be an exception for those two pantheons. We’d also have to assume that the nonhuman gods cooperated, which usually makes no sense, but doesn’t always make sense with gods. I can live with that nonsense; this is all nonsense. Besides, the monsters from other pantheons could still play a role to the extent that the gods would choose to summon them if they have summoning powers, or if those monsters are actually more powerful than gods. Why does the latter matter? (Tee-hee.) Someone pointed out that the Greek pantheon had to win simply because there were so many gods (damn titans always screw up everything). The Norse pantheon is a distant second.
To balance that, we’d want to give each side the same number of combatants, but we’d first have to determine which gods from each pantheon would make the cut. They should be the most powerful among them, so I guess we’d have to first have internal fights for each pantheon.
And, of course, if we could somehow develop software to run these simulations, we’d want to run 1,001 simulations for each fight so that we minimize the effects of rolls on either end of the bell curve.
It appears that some pantheons have no chance of competing (e.g., Arthurian). For example, the Greek and Norse pantheons lean towards greater gods, so whatever number of gods we assign to fight, they have an advantage. On the other hand, it looks like the Babylonian and Nehwon pantheons cap our gods-only battle at only 8 gods, and because the Egyptian pantheon has seven greater gods, they’re at no disadvantage despite being slightly lesser-god-heavy. In fact, such a hard cap leaves many pantheons relying on greater gods for the most part. Of course, all of this assumes that lesser gods, demigods, and monsters are weaker in combat than greater gods, but I have no idea if this is true. That’s what this experiment would be about.
Someone on MeWe raised the issue of terrain. My knee-jerk reaction was a blank battlemap with no terrain, but under the assumption that the lack of terrain shouldn’t restrict the use of any ability or spell that a god has. For example, the web spell should work even thought there aren’t any walls. I’m not asking the question of which pantheon is more powerful in, let’s say, the desert. You just have to handwave a bit of in-game logic to make sure the stat blocks are being tested for something akin to an average level of power across all combinations of obstacles, terrains, and weather.
Further Basis for My Curiosity
Besides the fact that I’ve started running 1e for the first time in decades, there’s another inspiration for the question. As a mythology nut, but also an MCU nut, I really want the MCU to expand on the pantheons. They made a Disney+ series I really wanted to see, Moon Knight, and made the Egyptian Pantheon part of that show. This continued (modestly) in Thor: Love and Thunder, and will continue to some yet-unknown extent in Wakanda Forever. We also got to scratch the surface of eastern mythology and folklore in Shang Chi. Speaking of Wakanda Forever, I was also thrilled to find out that Namor is being played by a Mexican-American so that they can expand on a central American pantheon. (I’ve never read comics, so I don’t give a rat’s ass about canon.) I want to see this expansion, so naturally my brain is always looking for an excuse to think about issues like this one.
So, you see, I absolutely need to get laid (or at least choose more appropriate photos), but since that’s not in my immediate future, I’m thinking about this.
In any event, this interesting experiment would finally give us a good use for the stat blocks.
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