Friday, May 12, 2017

Campaign History, Legends and Mythology

One thing I always liked about the old Al-Qadim campaign setting for D&D was that many of the supplements contained stories that were part of the setting's tradition, ones that helped explain certain aspects of the world or that set up a particular adventure. Inspired by that idea, I'm trying my hand at developing a mythological background for a space fantasy campaign setting. With that in mind, here's one such story.


Campaign History, Legends and Mythology
This article explores ideas for developing the large-scale, cosmological background for an RPG campaign. Consider, for example, this story from the Sol System; it takes a mythological perspective, and tries to explain the dichotomy of good and evil in a way that provides a genesis story and incorporates the deities inspired by observation of the natural world, along with two taken from real Earth history.

The Tale of Ptah, Sol, Gaea, Lamashtu and the Void
“Once, when the Universe was new, Ptah looked out and decided to start filling it with living beings. To do that, he set out to create two beings, one male and one female. What Ptah did not expect is that each creation actually produced two beings, twins. The male progeny were Sol, who would inhabit the Sun, and the entity known as the Void. The female offspring were Gaea, the Earth Mother, and Lamashtu, Mother of Monsters. Whereas the prior manifested the Earth's potential to provide for all of its children in abundance, the latter embodied the wild nature of living things, survival of the fittest, and thus an evil outlook on life.

“Recognizing the danger that his two unintended offspring represented, Ptah made a difficult decision. He created a star for Sol, so that this deity could be a shining beacon of virtue in the Universe, and also made a planet for Gaea to inhabit. Through the interaction of the two deities, the Earth came to be populated with all manner of plants, animals and other living things. Even so, the situation was not an idyllic one. While the Void absconded to the farthest, darkest reaches of Space, Lamashtu was jealous of her sister and thus took up residence on Earth. There she began to spawn offspring of her own, including many of the monsters that now exist, corrupted versions of the ones that Gaea and Sol created.

“This, then, is the origin of good and evil in the Universe, and thus the source of all conflicts that have plagued Homeworld—along with the rest of the galaxy—since time immemorial.”

Refer to page 43 of the Pathfinder core rulebook to find details about Lamashtu and her domains for clerics.

The Elven Addendum
The elves, of course, maintain an alternate version of this story, one that supports their worship of the goddess Luna.

The Origin of Luna
“What many humans forget is that the Creator had three female offspring, not two. The third was Luna, who embodied qualities of both Sol and Gaea. For that reason she was given dominion over the moon, a dwelling that illuminates the night sky in the same way as the sun, and that is a companion for the Earth in dark times. She provides light for those who travel in the night, those who explore the Earth but choose to do so without submitting themselves to the dominion of the sun.”

This belief among the elves sometimes creates conflict between them and the priesthood of Sol, since they do not believe that the sun god is the source of all illumination in the universe. Followers of Sol, for their part, maintain that Luna only reflects the sun god's light, and that she does not create illumination of her own.

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