Thursday, November 4, 2010

Open Call: Petty Gods

Inspired by this post over at Planet Algol (and with Blair's permission to pursue this), I've decided, likely foolishly, to put together a book with the help of anyone who's willing to donate their time, energy, and creativity to it. The working title is Petty Gods and it's intended as an homage to Judges Guild's awesome Unknown Gods, which presented 83 minor gods -- complete with stats -- for use in your D&D adventures and campaigns.

And when I say "minor gods," I mean it: we're talking deities like the goddess of dancing girls, the god of summer storms, and the goddess of deep water fish, among others. That's the vibe I'm aiming for with this project too. If anything, I'd prefer that the divinities in Petty Gods be even more minor, esoteric, and obscure than those in Unknown Gods -- the kinds of beings worshiped only by a handful of devoted (and probably crazed) followers and whose power is limited enough that they could conceivably be offed by a party of appropriately bloody-minded PCs. In short, this is a "Monster Manual" for swords-and-sorcery in the manner of Elric.

So, here's the plan. If you're interested in participating in this project, send a description of the minor god(s) to me at with the tag [Petty Gods] in the subject line, using the format presented below. There's no limit to the number of words per submission as such but each deity should have no more than a paragraph or two of descriptive text; the idea here is to be evocative and inspirational rather than exhaustive. If possible, stats should be as compatible with Labyrinth Lord as possible, since that's my go-to game for "generic" old school D&D, but I can make adjustments as necessary, if you make a submission using OSRIC or Swords & Wizardry or whatever.

I'd also love to get some artwork for this project. Unknown Gods includes an illustration for every deity, such as Paul Jaquays's portrait of Tangadorn above. That's probably too much to expect in this case, but a guy can dream, can't he? So, if you're an artist with lots of spare time and a willingness to do some pro bono illustrating, I'd be in your debt if you'd drop me a line too. I won't know how many illustrations I'll need until after I get all the submissions in -- which reminds me: the deadline for submission is December 31, 2010, though I reserve the right to extend it a little beyond that date if I deem it useful to do so. But, if you're at all interested in contributing, I recommend doing your best to get your stuff to me before the end of the year.

This is a volunteer project without any compensation beyond a free PDF of the final product, so I don't begrudge anyone who prefers to devote their creativity to other, more lucrative projects. I'll also make the book available through at cost, since I know there are many folks, such as myself, who prefer physical books to electronic ones. My goal isn't to make any money off this, but simply to put together a cool collaborative project that fills a niche no one else has yet filled. This is the kind of thing at which the old school community excels, so I have little doubt I'll get great submissions.

Here's the format I'd like to see for the submissions:
Armor Class:
Hit Points (Hit Dice):
Hoard Class:
Each entry should also include a specialized Reaction Table to represent how the minor god reacts to any who encounter him. The standard Reaction Table uses a 2D6 roll, modified by Charisma, but, these being gods, and petty ones at that, their tables could just as easily use 1D20, 2D12, 3D6, or whatever and be modified by other ability scores. Use your imagination. The important thing is that each petty god make an interesting potential enemy or ally of PCs in a swords-and-sorcery style fantasy campaign. Go wild!

I'll post a sample petty god on my blog Saturday, in case anyone is unclear about what I'm asking for here. Thanks in advance to everyone who submits. This is going to be fun.


  1. I loved Unknown Gods back in the day. Never could understand why I never saw any of those deities in any JG modules.

    If anyone is looking for inspiration, ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had Gods and spirits for just about everything; rust mold on grain, boundary stones, removing weeds...

    1. Actually, Thanatos was used in Caverns of Thracia. Beyond that, though, I don't recall seeing any of them used.

  2. This sounds awesome and believe it or not, I (he who dislikes D&D and hasn't used a 'Reaction Table' in over 25 years) would love to participate.

    I can certainly do artwork but I may have a little trouble with the rules section of the task. Could you point out a product or site (or post of yours) that shows a Reaction Table. When I say I haven't used one I mean I just don't even remember what they look like or are for to be honest.

  3. BA,

    If you go to the following link, you can get a copy of Labyrinth Lord that includes all the rules you'll need:

    I'd also be happy to help you with the stats if you're having trouble, as I'm sure lots of other people would. I'm frankly amazed at how much interest this project has already generated. I have a feeling it's going to be even better than I'd anticipated.

  4. @ Joseph,

    In fact, I have a dictionary of Roman gods. Good suggestion. For literary inspiration, Liavek had some great minor gods.

  5. Oh, I can climb onboard for this. I'll chime in for both submissions and art monkey. I'm not pro, but I'm okay.


  6. I'm not pro, but I'm okay.

    This isn't a pro project, so you're in good company. Welcome aboard!

  7. It'll probably become clear when you post the example god, but, in the meantime could you clarify a little about the "specialized" reaction table for the gods? Do you mean modifiers to the regular reaction table, or whole new entries?

  8. Re: Reaction Table

    In standard LL, the lower you roll on 2D6, with high Charisma providing bonuses to help you achieve that, the more friendly and enthusiastic the reaction from the creature in question. What I'm thinking is that each petty god's reactions would be determined by a different table, with each entry tailored to explain just what say "Friendly" means in the case of the god of toothaches or what "Hostile" means in the case of the goddess of bookbinding. And of course, petty gods are still gods, however minor, so they might not be affected by mortal Charisma but by other ability scores, like the god of arm wrestling who is impressed by high Strength or the goddess of grammar who likes high Intelligence types.

    Clearer now?

  9. @ Barking Alien: Just download Labyrinth Lord -- there's a Reaction Table in there. I had to locate my copy to find out what a Hoard Class was and whether it differed from the alphabetic Treasure Tables of my youth.

    I consider myself fairly good at pen & ink, James; I wouldn't mind lending my skills.

  10. Clearer now?

    Yes, very much so. Thank you.

  11. This promises to be an awesome book, James. Most of my creative energy is going into my projects with LotFP, but I hope to be able to submit to you some petty gods.

  12. Haha, the post title reminds me of one of my favorite exchanges from one of my favorite books.

    "You seem somewhat petty for a God,"

    "I am a petty God at the moment. You will find me more lordly and benign when I achieve the position of a greater God."

    Props if one can name that novel, it is not too obscure.

  13. Cool project...I'm totally in.
    : )

  14. My rule-fu is weak, but I would be very happy to contribute as many drawings as you need.

  15. I'd love an example (or three) of a complete entry. Just so I can fit the style and format.

  16. Sweet, I'd like to contribute both art and a few gods. I will have to get comfortable stating out a godling...

  17. Though I'll wait for your example, I'd love to contribute, having already started thinking up stuff like this for the Lankhmar-inspired supernatural mentors in my mini-setting. I will see what I can come up with. I can probably slap together an almost-half-decent illustration, too.

    (I recently bought The Unknown Gods and came away mostly unimpressed, and so gave it to my DM. I will see this as a challenge to outdo it!)

  18. I'll echo others' sentiment that I'd love to contribute but need to see an example first.

  19. In case anyone needs an inspirational nudge, try

    I got: "Zou, God of Neutering and Botched Suicides".

    This is gonna be too easy :)

  20. What a fun project. I'm sure I can come up with 2 or 3 entries for it along with some art.

  21. I sent you an entry. I gave the god an unusual way of interacting with the party rather than a specialized reaction table. If that's not cool, I'm sure I can come up with a table as well.

  22. This is a fun idea. I'll definitely submit something.

  23. I like this. Kinda like The Lives of the Saints for D&D!

  24. I will try to get something together for this as well. Crazy obscure, crazy and obscure . . . Much to ponder.

  25. Outstanding idea! I've actually got an extremely-minor goddess I already used for one adventure in my current campaign that I will put together in LL rules format and send your way!

    word verification: tricey (adj.) used to describe an act that would, under most conditions, be considered trivial (not to mention quick), but which in the current situation could be life-or-death.

  26. Sounds awesome, I'll send you a few also!

  27. I think that I will send some in as well. Here is a first stab at one that I've already come up with:

  28. I consider myself fairly good at pen & ink, James; I wouldn't mind lending my skills.

    Just drop me an email so I can add your name to the list of artists to contact once I'm ready to do so.

  29. "I am a petty God at the moment. You will find me more lordly and benign when I achieve the position of a greater God."

    Sounds like something from Moorcock, though I can't quite place it at the moment.

  30. My rule-fu is weak, but I would be very happy to contribute as many drawings as you need.

    That'd be great. Drop me an email, so I can add you to the list.

  31. Sweet, I'd like to contribute both art and a few gods.

    When you submit something, let me know that you're willing to do art as well, so I can add you to the list.

  32. Regarding similar entries, if that is in regard to two deities of swords or fire, I'd say use both of them if they're good...weirdo, petty gods have no monopolies!

    That's more or less the conclusion I came to as well.

  33. Hey, I could do a couple illos for the book. Drop me a line at umlauthuth at gmail. Sooner is better, though, since I'm not really occupied at the moment.

  34. -Sounds like something from Moorcock, though I can't quite place it at the moment.

    Of course, I knew you would get it. From the Swords Trilogy, when Corum is first encountering the sorcerer Shool, whome Arioch allows to for his own purposes.

  35. From the Swords Trilogy, when Corum is first encountering the sorcerer Shool, whome Arioch allows to for his own purposes.

    The Corum books are the Moorcock stories I've read that I least remember for some reason. Good to see that, despite that, I could still remember something about them :)

  36. I don't see an email link at the moment. Anyways, I may be able to a piece of art or two. Claytonian at the gmails.