Thursday, March 16, 2023

Mythic Exalted: The Gods


I wanted to continue the thought process from this post by looking as the gods of the Exalted universe. It's interesting, because the theogony and cosmogony have echoes in Greek myth, but in it's "final form" as interacted with by the players, it has some features of Chinese traditional religion.

The earliest gods or god-like beings are the Primordials who arose in chaos and then created the world from it. Their group name and function recalls the Greek Primordial deities (Gaia even shows up in both groups), but few are well described and there are hints that they are monstrous (like the Mesopotamian primordial deity Tiamat) or aloof and alien (like Lovecraft's Outer Gods, particularly as referenced in the Dreamlands stories) or both. 

The Primordials create the lesser gods to run Creation for them. Chief among these are the Celestials or Celestial Incarnae who are based on the classical planets--the seven moving astronomical objects visible to the naked eye. They are largely just given the modern names for these celestial objects borrowed from Greek myth, which I think is sort of mistake, in that those names have connotations that may mislead as much as illuminate. They don't really have the roles or portfolios of the Olympians, at least.

While Apollo and Artemis are solar and lunar deities, respectively, the Unconquered Sun and Luna resemble more the gods that were the personifications of those Celestial objects, Helios/Sol and Selene/Luna or those sorts of deities in other cultures. Along those lines, I think it's better to think of the Five Maidens not as the goddesses of war, serenity, endings, etc., but as the deities of fortune and destiny related to those areas like the Greek Fates or the Norns of Germanic myth. It's a subtle distinction, but one worth making because it makes the Celestials less gods more personified cosmic forces--but more relatable and understandable ones than there Primordial creators.

They would be at the top of the Celestial Bureaucracy like the gods of Heaven China traditional belief. Beneath them were the various gods that might get more direct worship and serve as the analogs for traditional fantasy rpg deities. 

All of this works pretty much as is, I think. The Celestial Bureaucracy might be viewed as working against a Sword & Sorcery or ancient (European/Near East) feel, but I don't view it as a problem. Incorporating some ancient Chinsese elements is fine with me. The names of the Five Maidens bug me, so I might change those, but do know to what right off hand. Maybe substitute the names of the Olympian Spirits?


Unknown said...

I am liking this new take on a system I like, but would it not make more sense for the celestial court not to be more akin to the heavens as seen in Love and Thunder, which would give it more of a mythical feel.

Trey said...

I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean the various Pantheons getting together in one place?

Unknown said...

Yes like a grand council of gods