By: Arjan Wardekker
The Elfstone Campaign Setting has many deities, with various backgrounds, tasks, portfolios and affiliations (see Religion & Pantheon). It is common belief (and a correct one) that the Elfstone universe began with some powerful deity who created the Upper Pantheon. Hardly anything is known about this god, usually called The Creator, as he (she? it?) does not interfere with the world. The common creation story is that The Creator made the world, created the other gods (or at least the Upper Pantheon) to take care of his work, and then left to create other universes. Many other theories exist, all seeking to explain the mystery of his absence. However, contrary to the common assumption of mortals and many deities as well, The Creator is not a sentient entity at all, but rather a type of proto-elemental force, and is far from absent. Only the greater deities are fully aware of what he truly is.
The Creator "created" the universe and the world of Alcarin through a process of partial reflection: one or more lesser states emerged, reflecting certain aspects of the higher state. At some point, part of The Creator was concretised into raw magical and mundane forces and energies, collectively known as K'zarr. K'zarr is one of the Elfstone Setting's seven elements. The concretisation in turn provoked a realisation into six forces, forming the remainder of the elements: positive energy, negative energy, air, water, fire, earth. With the realisation of the elements, a process of materialisation took place. Each of the elements materialised into a creative focal point, an Elfstone (see The Elfstones), and spread from there. In the interaction with the other elements, the material universe and world emerged.
Parallel with this, the divine world emerged, creating a personification of each element in the form of a greater deity and one deity that personified the interaction of the elements: the Upper Pantheon. The latter deity functions as a moderator and binder for the other deities. He is often referred to as the "Chief God", but is on equal level with the other greater deities and by no means a ruler. When the world was young, the greater deities had a relatively easy task in caring for the planet and the creatures that had evolved on it. However, not long after sentient life evolved, the complexity and workload for the deities increased, and they created intermediate gods to assist them in their work. They in turn created lesser deities and demigods, to assist them in their work or reward loyal followers.
The creation of the various creatures and races took place in various ways. Many beings simply evolved from the interaction of elements and magical forces. Others were created by deities or powerful mortals (e.g. wizardly experimentation). The stories of creation as told by different religions and cultures differ along the same lines, although they do not necessarily coincide with the actual events. Personal agendas of deities, rulers, traditions and demographic conditions have in many cases influenced the tales.
Wings and Schools of Deities
The deities of the Elfstone Setting are connected to the seven elements (k'zarr, positive and negative energy, air, water, fire, earth). See the figure below. Sole exception is the Chief God, Levi. With other deities of the same element, they form a "Wing" of gods with similar views on their role and influence in the world. These wings are most pronounced among the Lower Pantheon (intermediate and lesser gods) and demigods. The greater gods view the world in more abstract terms and have more affinity with each other than with the lower deities.
Roughly two schools can be distinguished (see figure): the dynamic elements and the static elements. These are schools in terms of the deities and in terms of the elemental force they are tied to. The four static elements (air, water, fire, earth) are forces that "are" and their main view is that they should be strongly represented in the world. Consequently, the influences of the static elements (force and deities) have resulted in four large and powerful corresponding realms on the world of Alcarin (see the History of Seven Realms). The dynamic elements seek to influence the state and affairs of the world and the static elements. While they certainly have a desire to "be", they express themselves preferably through other elements and are more power oriented than material oriented. Consequently, their presence in the world is less overtly than that of the static elements. Their "realms" are generally more associated with power groups and influential beings than large physical kingdoms (exceptions exist). The Wing of K'zarr has a separate position. K'zarr is associated with power, magic and divinity, being the direct reflection of The Creator. While it has an enormous effect on the world, it's influence is implicit. No single view or goal can be distinguished; if present at all, it varies per situation. The dealings of the K'zarr deities are facilitating for the affairs of other elements.
Creation of New Deities
As noted above, deities sometimes create new deities to assist them in their work or to reward loyal (and usually already powerful) followers. The process of creating a new deity requires the Elfstone of K'zarr: the "Stone of Divinity" (see The Elfstones). By means of this artifact, the user may create a new, less powerful being that is a partial reflection of itself (it must reflect one or more aspects of the creator in some way). This being may be entirely new or may be created from an existing being, allowing it to ascend. The process follows the same lines as the creation of the universe as explained above. Levels of power in this respect are: greater deity, intermediate deity, lesser deity, demigod, immortal (e.g. celestials, demons), intelligent mortal (e.g. humans), lesser mortal (e.g. animals and certain kinds of demi-intelligent monsters). Unintelligent immortal creatures such as zombies and some constructs count as intelligent mortals with respect to their level of power. The process of creation takes one week and requires the creator to channel part of its energy into the Stone of Divinity, which acts as a lens, creating a partial image/reflection of the creator. Such a task is very demanding. The creation of a new deity results in the creator's influence on the world to wane for the duration of a year. The extent of the waning depends on the difference in power level between creator and creation. The resulting fluctuation in the power balance of the world may have significant effects for its power structures (e.g. the rise and fall of kingdoms). Creation of lesser beings (less than demigod) results in a waning for the duration of one month. Greater deities cannot be created using the Stone of Divinity, as they are the most powerful sentient entities in the Elfstone cosmology. However, should a greater deity for some reason cease to exist, a new one may emerge from The Creator and the elemental energies to take its place. Depending on the situation, this can be a new or an ascended being.
In principle, lesser beings can use the Stone as well, to create even lesser beings. One may create a being of up to half one's power (in terms of level, challenge rating, etc.) and none of its attributes (intelligence, strength, etc.) may exceed the creator's. The process takes two weeks and results in two negative levels for the duration of two months. These negative levels cannot be removed by any mundane or magical means.
New deities may also enter the Elfstone cosmology from other cosmologies or dimensions. While it is near impossible to enter on one's own accord, a deity can use the Stone of Divinity to transfer another being of up to its own power level. The exact requirements, mechanisms, and costs of such a transition depend on the entering deity's origin. As this use of the Stone may severely upset the balance of power, it is rarely used.
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