Friday, April 21, 2023

'Crom Laughs At Your Four Winds' - OSR Commentary Using Castles & Crusades Gods & Legends For a Castles & Crusades Sword & Sorcery Campaign

 "Though the gods dwell beyond the mortal realm, it is often their desire to force their will upon it. Channeling the divine will lies upon the shoulders of the cleric and paladin, the skald and druid. They turn to the gods through prayer, ritual, sacrifice and devotion, all in hopes of bringing that power into and through themselves, to unleash it upon the world at large" 


"Within Gods and Legends there are hundreds of deities for both your characters and monsters; dwarves, elves, gnomes, orcs, gnolls and more besides. Each deity comes complete with information you will need from when to sacrifice to what kinds of temples they prefer. It also includes short stats for the gods of the Celts, ancient Germans, Norse, Romans and Greeks, Egyptians and the Slavic Gods."

"More than that Gods and Legends comes with guidelines on how to run deities and the characters that worship them."

So I've been up since about four A.M. and apologize if I'm a bit late with this blog entry but work has been incredibly busy. So to answer if Gods & Legends replaces the earlier 'Of Gods and Monsters' I turn to Tim Brannan's review of the 'Otherside Blog;"
This book largely replaces the Of Gods & Monsters book from a few years back, though it is smaller in size, 144 pages vs 162. I say replaces, but this is a new set of work. The original Of Gods and Monsters was written by James Ward of Deities & Demigods fame. There are similar gods in both books but this new version is a rewrite of the older work with new entires to work better with the Codex series. " 

Does 'Gods & Legends' really replace the earlier book of James Ward & the Mythological Codexes?! No not really instead this book adds a fair bit with regard to the nature, works, worship, & more. While the Gods & Legends  focus is on the C&C campaign world of  Aihrde. There's more then enough here for a DM with a bit of finess to add these dieties to a Sword & Sorcery  dark version of Earth. 

This combination of mythology & detail to the place of religions in fantasy worlds is one of the highlights for me as a DM. A DM whose going to be needing dieties, and non human spiritual entities coming up.  And this is one of the high points for me as both player & DM.  
 Gods & Legends shifts the focus of worship into a divine force to be wreckoned with. And this is something we see over and over again through out the book. The idea that the divine is a part of both the fantastical & everyday life. And this goes deeply into using these dieties within a Sword & Sorcery campaign. How well one of the ways is the fact that, "Each deity comes complete with information you will need from when to sacrifice to what kinds of temples they prefer." This means that organized religion plays a very significant part within a Sword & Socery campaign for both benefit and bane. 

“I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
― Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague De Camp, Queen of the Black Coast

And all of this goes back to the fact that 
 Gods & Legends is both an antagonist & protagonist NPC book. The gods play havoc with the lives of men & monsters in equal measure. And it's by these turns that the engine of Sword & Sorcery turns. even with a strong magical system such as we find in Castles & Crusades. It's easy to see the role of the divine within a Sword & Sorcery campaign where mere survival is the order of the day. And the sheer weight of dungeon exploration's lethality would generate a focus on the divine in all men, beasts, and monsters. 

This divine focus means that the players with knights, paladins, etc. who have thier sights on the divine & the gods are going to be working closely with thier own order's clerics. Unless they are on the opposing team. We see the role of the divine within the fact that conflict within and without the dungeon is a fact of life of those who are subject to the whims of the entities found within  Gods & Legends

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