I’ve been asked a few times about the gods and religion in Parsantium, not least by Dave Shepheard at The Piazza, so thought I would write a post explaining a bit more about the deities that Parsantines worship. Of course, I’m expecting many GMs to use Parsantium in their own or a published campaign world. In that case, it should be very easy to swap out any of the gods, for ones already in the GM’s setting.
Since there are four main cultures in Parsantium, there are also four main religions:
Although the Bathurans, Sampurans and Tiangaons each worship their own pantheons of deities, I followed Saladin Ahmed’s lead and went with monotheism for the Aqhrani. It seemed to make sense for these Arab-like people to worship one god rather than a pantheon, so I created a benevolent sky god named Amur who brings the rains to the hot desert lands of the Caliphate. Like most of the book, things in Parsantium: City at the Crossroads have evolved from my own D&D campaigns set in the city (where I’d used the pantheon from Al-Qadim for the Aqhrani). When I came to write the book, I thought long and hard about who the Aqhrani gods would be, reading up on the Babylonian and Sumerian pantheons in the original Deities & Demigods (and later D&D books) to see if they might work, before deciding it would be cool to go with one god. Monotheism isn’t common in D&D settings and I like the contrast this provides with the other religions.
I’d also considered monotheism for the Bathurans – after all, they are inspired by the Romans and the Byzantine Greeks who worshipped the Christian god. In the end, I decided I wanted to provide full pantheon for Bathuran PCs, so their deities include Amphetia the Queen of the Sea, warlike Martek the Great General, Soranus the Lord of the Underworld, and my favourite, the priapic Piagus, King of the Road. Their ruler is the sun god Helion whose faith is the closest thing to a state religion in Parsantium. He has many saints and his image is a frequent subject for the beautifully painted icons used by Bathurans as a focus for their prayers.
The Sampurans worship the gods of Indian myth and legend, familiar to D&D players of long standing like myself (who still have a copy of the original Deities & Demigods with the Cthulhu Mythos in!). This means I get to include Kali and her thuggee servants in Parsantium, as well as Ravana, Lord of the Rakshasas, and Hanuman, the mischievous monkey god. In keeping with their real-world equivalents, Sampurans believe in reincarnation and the concepts of karma and dharma.
I’ve used ancient real-world gods for the Tiangaons too including both Kuan-Ti (god of battle and protection) and Sung Chiang (god of thievery) in the book, and adding in Dahan Lao, the popular god of wealth and the city.
There are no racial gods in Parsantium. Individual dwarves, halflings, elves and the other races generally worship the regional gods that best represent their interests and concerns, so a dwarf from the Sunset Lands might follow Voltan (god of the forge) if he is a smith or Martek if he is a warrior, but a halfling living in the Old Quarter might worship Puchan, the Sampuran god of travellers.
Like the people of Parsantium themselves, all these different religions are generally able to co-exist peacefully with tolerance for other faiths the norm. The exception is a widespread antipathy towards so-called Dark Gods of Bathura, Kali, and other evil deities. Every child is told the story of the tyrant Vrishabha and the city’s dark past when growing up; as a result, Parsantines are afraid of evil gaining a foothold in the city again, driving worship of these gods underground. Of course, this sometimes has the opposite effect: part of the attraction of the Cult of the Black Mother to Bathuran noblewomen is its “forbidden” nature….