Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Expanded Thoughts On Kuntz & Ward's Gods, Demi - Gods, & Heroes for original Dungeons & Dragons

So I'm working on my friend DM Steve's Godbound rpg campaign. For which I'm getting paid.  I've been scanning through Ward & Kuntz's Gods, Demigods, & Heroes for original Dungeons & Dragons.

 Some of the reviews of the book were less then warm but one that caught my came from the wiki entry; "Glen Taylor reviewed Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes in The Space Gamer No. 9.[3] He states that as "the fourth and purportedly last supplement to Dungeons and Dragons" it "might be expected from such a 'last bow,' as it were, this newest supplement is different from all three of the previous ones, in a major way. [...] This is by no means 'standard' D&Dmaterial."[3] He commented that "I'm no scholar of ancient (and modern!) legends, but it seems to me the authors have given a view of the various mythological concepts which is both panoramic and scrutinously details, and as complete as possible within the space limitations imposed [...] Kuntz and Ward have taken material which has come down to us in a sometimes distorted and almost always nebulous form, and clarified it into a solid material which would fit in well with any fantasy game."[3] Taylor concludes his review by saying that Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes is worth the price "for the mere pleasure of reading it. For students of ancient legends it's a Type I treasure. It should much lived up any D&D campaign in which it is used"" 

The material on the Eastern mythological figures from China, & Japan are a real mixed bag of gods, goddesses, & spirits.  But its the introduction to the Eastern mythologies in Gods, Demigods, & Heroes that got me thinking; "
The mythology of the Far East is varied and colorful. In dealing with it, the concepts of Yin and Yang must be defined. These are the Chinese equivalents of bad and good. These opposites are almost beings in themselves and move all Gods and creatures in a war for supremacy. In using eastern Gods one should always think of them as not lawful or chaotic, but having good Yang or bad Yin" The introduction got me thinking about what if these deities were in a war for supremacy & perhaps survival.  These deities function on waves of bureaucracy & govern the very existence of the human soul & its position on the Great Wheel. 

The artwork
depicts the deity Jade Emperor.

Part of the transhumanistic mythological background of Godbound is the idea that humanity stormed the gates of Heaven. They took control of the machinery of Heaven. Things didn't go well for the gods or Humanity. But what happens if the power vacuum left behind by 'The divine', others came to take its place? What happens if the various families of gods are vying for humanity's faith & worship? The hodge podge of Eastern gods of Gods, Demi Gods, & Heroes are the survivors of the terrible wars that were caused by the storming of Heaven. Its not about killing the gods but serving one of the factions of Humanity's mythological gods. What if in storming Heaven humanity released something far worse unto itself?
"David M. Ewalt, in his book Of Dice and Men, commented that "Even though Swords and Spells is numbered 'Supplement V' on its cover, it's really supplement IV that puts the final touches on Dungeons & Dragons. Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (co-authored by TSR's Rob Kuntz and James M. Ward, a gamer and junior high teacher from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin) introduces mythology to the game and describes deities in the same manner earlier supplements described men and monsters."[7] Ewalt continues: "At its heart, Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes represents another attempt to exert control over D&D players. Kask's foreword drips with disdain for Dungeon Masters who allow their players to advance to high levels and explains that the supplement aims to correct their misguided actions"." Which I find ironic considering I'm writing a campaign about the player's PC's being literal demigods out to save or doom humanity.
I spoke about using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Monster Manual which got some snorts of retort from some of Steve's players. Fortunately I know a few local dungeon masters who had some suggestions. One of these is a very Clark Ashton Smith monster we've known as the Gorgon. Now for years I've been itching to use this creature on a one to one basis. These bastards make excellent antagonist monsters for demi god heroes or those using Godwalkers. The wiki entry has the low down on these things abilities;" 
A gorgon can breathe out a cone of vapor that turns creatures to stone. They are very aggressive creatures that attack intruders on sight, attempting to trample, gore, or petrify them. There is no way to calm these furious creatures, and they are impossible to domesticate.

Gorgon by LadyofHats 

A gorgon is not very intelligent, and therefore always neutral in alignment. They usually live in temperate plains, in small packs of 3–4, or larger herds." Not one or two but herds of these monsters just itching to destroy a party of 'johnny come lately' demi gods.
"The gorgon was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), where they were described as bull-like monsters with a breath capable of turning creatures to stone.[2] They were also detailed in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement" This makes this beast perfect for really taking down higher tier adventurers. 

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