Reality Makes the Best Fantasy: A Deity’s Gotta Eat

Peaches, a symbol of longevity and immortality in Chinese culture.
Peaches, a symbol of longevity and immortality in Chinese culture.

Eating. We do it every day. I just ate some ice cream while I did some research and started writing this article. I had a nice salad for lunch while I worked on some RPG stuff. I made a nice lunch of rice, spinach and leftover bulgogi for my daughter to take to school so she could have the energy to run around. Regardless of your relationship with food, food is the fuel we as humans partake of to give us the energy to get things done. Whether that’s sit in front of a computer and type out as many words as you can, as fast as you can, or work in field from sunup to sundown, tending to plants and animals, mowing, picking, planting or something in between those two, doing stuff takes energy and we get that energy from the food we eat.

What if the stuff you did was keep the sun from falling from the sky? Watched over all merchants? Sew seeds of discord among humans? Preside over every childbirth in the land? Know everything, see everything? Reign in all these people and keep them in their domains? It would probably take a hell of a lot more than a bowl of cereal and some coffee in the morning to get that done. Deities perform the kind of tasks only deities do, residing over the natural order, inspiring, protecting, making war, rewarding and punishing on epic scales man can try to approach…but will probably fail at. It’s only natural they partake of some divine sustenance.

Some deities partake of special substances, reserved only for them to maintain their divine power. Ambrosia and nectar are the first that comes to my mind, food of the Greek pantheon. Amrita is the Hindu equivalent, a substance consumed by their deities in order to maintain their immortality. Thetis rubbed ambrosia over her infant son, Achilles’ body in an effort to make him immortal. Psyche was given ambrosia to make her immortal once Aphrodite has put her through the ringer. In China, peaches are a sign of longevity, immortality, their ultimate form being the Peaches of Immortality, a tree that takes thousands of years to flower and fruit.

In addition to the foods deities take and make for themselves, there are also the foods and substances given to them by humans, in the form of dedications, sacrifices and oblations. Cultures across the globe require certain items, certain types of animals or plants to be offered at certain times. Some deities have a taste for cigars or bananas. Some prefer speckled goats and fresh barley. Some want the first fruits of your field. Others prefer the blood of humans. The bigger the request, the bigger the sacrifice. The powers that be can be persuaded or even aided in their endeavors by the offerings of humans. No energy put in and the results can be catastrophic.

If the divine is a part of your game, what do the members of your pantheon feed upon? What type of fuel does it take for them to keep things moving and how do humans participate in this great feeding of the divine? Are they the maitre ds? Or…on the menu?

For GMs

  • Who are the various deities at play in the world? What do they preside over? Does this affect the types of sacrifices they accept and prefer?
  • Is there a food or substance that is consumed only by the deities? Why do they alone eat it? What types of powers does it grant them? What is it like?
  • How often must sacrifices be made to deities? How are these sacrifices sent forth? Offered on altars? Burned? Submerged in water? Do the people offering them get to/have to partake of the items offered?
  • Who makes the sacrifices? Who deems the sacrifices good or not?
  • What types of things make the best sacrifices? What is forbidden to be sacrificed and why?
  • Are the foods of the deities naturally occurring or must they be prepared in a certain way?
  • What would befall any mortal who partakes of food for the divine?

Plot Hooks

  • An ancient manuscript is found by the PCs, containing a recipe which if brewed and offered in a certain location will awaken an older pantheon of deities. While some think the recipe is just nonsense, others think there is more to it. Some believe it’s a sure ticket to a new age, with new rules and a new divine order. Some see it as blasphemy, something which should be forgotten. Others see it as allegory while still others think it’s a code hinting at a real elixir of immortality for humans. The PCs must decide what to do with this recipe. What do they think it is? What deities will it unleash upon the land? Are the ingredients hard to find? Who thinks what about the possibilities it contains? Can the recipe be destroyed? Who hid it in the first place and why?
  • When a plant whose fruit is reserved only for the deities is discovered to have medicinal properties that can save lives in another region, the locals are angered when ambassadors come demanding the fruit for the good of their people; according to the tradition of where the trees are from, if the fruit is eaten by mortals, it will bring destruction to the land. How do the ambassadors enter the land? How was the fruit discovered to have been such beneficial medicine? Who is protecting these trees? What is the nature of the illness the fruit supposedly cures? Which deity is the fruit for specifically?
  • When a group of woodcutters’ family members all fall terribly ill, no reason behind the mysterious illness can be found: until they are questioned by the PCs. Years ago they came upon a strange copse of trees that exuded a sweet, fragrant substance when felled. Finding the sap to be delicious, they ate it and continued their work, leaving the trees to return to later for the sticky sap. However, further events proved the woodcutters impervious to injury or illness, stronger than before and aging slowly. The only thing they have in common is the sap. They urge the PCs to find the copse of trees and acquire some sap for their families before it is too late for their loved ones, unable to go as they fear leaving their sides. What do the PCs find at the copse? What is the sap? Is the copse connected to the illnesses of the woodcutters’ families? Do the PCs partake of the sap themselves?
  • When a powerful individual finds out flower buds have started to form on a tree whose fruit will grant immortality, the PCs are send on the arduous task of retrieving it. The fruit only forms once every 100 generations and lasts for one day, with many supernatural obstacles in their way. The PCs however are indebted in some way where saying no is not an option. What is the fruit? What can they expect to encounter on their journey? Do other people know of the fruit’s forthcoming? Why are they compelled to perform such a task and how can their employer ensure they won’t mess it up and be sure they don’t steal it for themselves?
  • When an invading force takes hold of the region, they forbid certain types of sacrifices, deeming them barbaric. When natural disasters take hold of the land, the indigenous people insist it is because of the lack of sacrifices and the invaders must decide what to do. What are the sacrifices being withheld? How different is the religion of the native people from the invaders? Are the sacrifices being done in secret? Is there a link between the change in sacrifices and the natural disasters? What do the people think will happen if the sacrifices do not resume?

For PCs

  • Are you a religious person? Do you follow a particular deity?
  • What sacrifices do they require and what do they promise in return if they are offered?
  • What is most precious to you? Would you sacrifice it if you thought it would help yourself? Your loved ones? A friend? A stranger?
  • If someone offered you the ‘food of the divine,’ would you eat it?

What say you? Can you whet the appetites of the divine?

The Gods of Aruneus – available today!

The latest Aruneus PDF has hit the streets! The Gods of Aruneus is available as of today, for $1.00 at Drive Thru RPG.

Aruneus is a source book for the Pathfinder Role Playing Game detailing the world, politics, and lives of those living in a high fantasy world one hundred years after a cataclysmic zombie apocalypse.

Aruneus is a new world for use with the Pathfinder Role Playing Game system. 100 years past, Aruneus experienced an apocalyptic event. Starting in a small village, a family infected by a strange sickness died, only to rise again several days later. Within weeks hordes of undead were roaming the Human empires, ravaging any warm blooded creature that fell in to their grasp. Aruneus was devastated – losing in a few years over 10 million sentient beings.

After 100 years of fending off a complete collapse, the sentient races are rebuilding their societies and for the first time there is hope that the undead menace can be destroyed and life given a chance to flourish again.

The Gods of Aruneus gives the divine backdrop in which the zombie apocalypse was formed. Have the gods abandoned this world?

  • Six gods
  • Six new Domains
  • A new threat for the world of Aruneus

You’ll find 10 pages of new material for use in your Aruneus campaign, or in any Pathfinder or d20/OGL game. You’ll also find a new, tougher class of zombie which not only turns humans, but other races as well!

The State of Aruneus

Hello again!  It’s been a little while since I’ve sat down and talked Aruneus, zombies and where I am in the production of this source book.  I’m a bit overdue.

The long and short of it is, I took a two month hiatus from the project, for a variety of reasons I’ll get in to in just a little bit. But before I get in to all of that, let’s start of with the good news (there really isn’t any bad news either!) When last I talked about the Aruneus universe, Mirkmoot’s second magical item compendium had just been launched and Mirkmoot had been officially added to the Aruneus book.  He’s out and about, doing his thing and you can find him right here.  Next up:

( Click any of the pictures to make them larger and more formidable.) At long last, the next installment in the Aruneus PDFs is just about ready for publication!  The Herbology of Aruneus will be arriving in a day or two.  It features a new type of magical item, the Elixir, as well as a study of six magical plants with a variety of interesting properties that can by use by, for and against your party of adventurers.  The Herbology features artwork by our youngest contributor, Hayley, who was 13 at the time she created the watercolors for this PDF.

Now, on to why I took the hiatus, and what’s going on with the rest of Aruneus.

It wasn’t really planned, but a number of things lined up to make me want to take a break.  First, I was weary!  The day job had taken over much more of my life, and as the dude writing down all this stuff, I needed a change of pace.  When a completely unrelated idea (you can read more about that here) popped in to my head of its own accord, I decided to take a few weeks and work on that. This was just the kind of break I needed. I was still feeling creative but wasn’t creating a broken, barren, undead dominated world.

The next factor was that two of my go to people, who really help with my creative drive, suddenly found themselves diverted and doing different things – out of necessity, and of no fault of their own.

Add to that my key artist finding himself with a third child (congrats Tim!) and well, there was no new material flowing in to me, and not as many people to bounce my own ideas off of as I was used. to.  So that’s that.  Now I’ve gotten a huge chunk of my other project done, and done to my satisfaction so I’m returning to Aruneus recharged and ready to go!

A work in progress are the two new classes. The Supplicant class is finished (some rough artwork for this featured above) and I’m really excited about them.  What better way to fight the undead than taking the ambient energy of the divine that is enmeshed within the cosmos and using it to kick some undead ass?

Along with the Supplicant class, the Quantamancers are getting started.  I don’t have much more than my notes prepared, but the class is essentially laid out in my head and just needs to make it to paper, where it can be beaten about and broken until it works.

Let’s not forget the Gods of Aruneus now either.  This will feature artwork from Seth Kumpf and will go in to depth about the missing gods of Aruneus, as well as have a few new surprises in the way of divine magic and power.  That’s just a rough of the cover, by the way.  This work is coming along nicely, but there’s still a lot to do.

Lastly, there are the two adventures.  The Haunted Mine sits in a state of near completion. It’s about eighty percent written and 25 percent illustrated.  This is the introductory, 1st level adventure for the World of Aruneus. It’s been played many times now, run by myself and a few others. I’ve gotten a ton of great feedback on it and it’s ready to go, as soon as I get it ready to go that is.

The second adventure has been played twice now, and all of the notes are in place. I’d put it at about 25% done with only about 10% of the artwork there for it, but it’s started!

There will be a few other additions to the final product as well, which won’t make their way in to PDF format before the final release, and which I won’t be talking about much until they’re ready to go.

I was also planning on having an atlas of some sort, with an overview of the world and a few more detailed maps.  At this point I’m not sure if that will be possible. I had, at one point or another, several folks working on this but they all seem to have faded away.

I’ll leave you with a gallery of art for the game, some new, some old.  Enjoy!

 

Aion – the MMO where you start off with godlike powers

Aion looks to be an interesting entry into the world of MMOs.  I’ve been hearing for some time about how the standard MMO model is in need of a major refresh as the fantasy/scifi fight/rest/grind/quest formulae is getting old.

Aion may be that first tangible (i.e. published) step in that direction.  For starters, you can fly.  Also rather than working towards god-like powers you start with them being that you’re a god.  It also looks pretty sweet.  Take a gander here and read the press release plus pre-order beta participation details below.

It’s time to get ready to spread your wings and take flight in this year’s biggest massively multiplayer online game (MMO) release, Aion.

Today, NCsoft, the world’s premier publisher and developer of MMOs, unveiled the official release date for Aion, the highly anticipated game where players take on a key role in a war between divine beings that will determine the fate of the world. Aion launches in North America on September 22, 2009 and makes its official debut in Europe starting September 25, 2009.

In addition to an international retail presence, Aion will also be available as a digital download at NCsoft.com, Direct2Drive and through Steam, a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC games with more than 15 million accounts worldwide.

Unlike any MMO before it, Aion is a uniquely crafted online experience where flight offers much more than just a way to explore the landscape – it is a strategic and integral part of combat, quests, and exploration. Players will dive into battle and plunge through thousands of unique, story-driven quests, all while trying to save a world literally shattered in half from centuries of brutal conflict. Using one of the most flexible and in-depth character customization systems ever featured in an MMO, players will be able to create genuinely distinct characters and explore a visually stunning world of ethereal beauty brimming with otherworldly inhabitants, mysterious enemies, and ancient secrets.

Also, a friendly reminder to take advantage of the special preorder promotion for Aion at participating retailers, including GameStop, Amazon and Best Buy. As part of the Aion preorder promotion, players will receive access to the Aion Closed Beta. Those dates are as follows:

Aion Closed Beta Dates
Friday, June 19th to Monday, June 22nd
Thursday, July 3rd to Monday, July 5th
Friday, July 17th to Monday, July 19th
Friday, July 31st to Monday, August 3rd
Friday, August 14th to Monday, August 16th

For complete Aion preorder program details, visit http://www.aiononline.com/preorder.

For more information about Aion go to http://www.aiononline.com.

[tags]aion, mmo, video games, gods[/tags]

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