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God in Planescape (Please don't light me on fire)

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God in Planescape (Please don't light me on fire)

Does Yahweh exist in Planescape? If so, does he (HE in the most abstract of the sense) cling to any particular religion, or is he a mix of Christian/Jewish/Islamic views, or is he separate from these views and some kind of other idea? I always believed he would be worshiped in sects. What's his divine rank, if any? Is he perhaps an overpower, maybe an overpower of overpowers? Where plane does he reside in, if it's at all in this multiverse. Alignment? Philosophies? Dogma? Who are his proxies? Does he even have need for them?

On a crunchier note, what would his domains be? Can he have Favored Souls?

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'Otogi' wrote:
Does Yahweh exist in Planescape? If so, does he (HE in the most abstract of the sense) cling to any particular religion, or is he a mix of Christian/Jewish/Islamic views, or is he separate from these views and some kind of other idea? I always believed he would be worshiped in sects. What's his divine rank, if any? Is he perhaps an overpower, maybe an overpower of overpowers? Where plane does he reside in, if it's at all in this multiverse. Alignment? Philosophies? Dogma? Who are his proxies? Does he even have need for them?

On a crunchier note, what would his domains be? Can he have Favored Souls?

For purposes of enjoying the game, the God of the Abrahamic Tradition hasn't been canonically treated in Planescape. The closest place we've seen a parallel is the Overgod A.O. and the High God of Dragonlance. Given A.O. seems to stand for "Alpha and the Omega" while The High God was artistically intended to be the God of Israel (as keeping with the authors RL faiths), it would seem that YVHS probably is an Overpower in Planescape.

However, a strong argument could be made that the "Great Unknown" of the Athar is, ironically, also a statement on monotheism as opposed to just being the atheists/agnostics faction (Which is a really weird idea when you get down to it: Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Jews, Christians, and Followers of Islam get together in Sigil to discuss philosophy). Strangely, for a God whose undefinable, the Greater Unknown seems to be an explicitly LG Deity.

That's certainly the alignment of all of his priests in Planescape.

This is keeping with the interpretations of how God is supposed to be by most RL scholars (though I've seen plenty of "Jesus was Neutral Good" alignment threads).

If you wanted to reduce YVHS to the status of pantheon Head. I would make the character very similar to Destiny from Sandman in some respects or In Nomine's Yves. YVHS being a LG Greater God that is the only god of a Pantheon that is served by extraordinarily powerful Archangels that have equal power to the Demon Princes. He is a dire enemy of Asmodeus and dwells on Mount Celestia. This nicely bookending the Christian theme of the Plane and Archons without getting too religiony.

Jewish Lore incorporated. YVHS's proxies would be the Prophets of Israel with a special emphasis on Moses and Elijah as the most explicitly "these folk have the power of God behind them."

In D&D terms, you could make a strong case of Jesus being an avatar.

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I've always thought of God in PS as the creator of all of the multiverse where he watches it from the 7th layer of Mt. Celestia. The gods mortals know as "powers" are powerful spirits that God allows to take a more proactive role in dealing with mortals. My theory, obviously, is a lot more complicated than what I've put down, but I don't want to bore anyone with a long theological argument. At the moment, I don't deal with any Jewish/Christian/Islamic views, although I tend to lean a little toward the Catholic Christian ideas. God in my campaigns would transcend alignment and philosophy and avoids playing any active visible role in the multiverse, instead letting the powers handle that.

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One viewpoint I've seen is that some may perceive the various Good (and maybe some of the Neutral) deities in D&D to be simply different aspects of the One True God.

I will point out one thing, though.
Gary Gygax's multiverse is really built around the concept of metaphysical Balance (even though G.G. is a Christian himself). Neither Good nor Evil is dominant in this multiverse. If, say, an LG overgod were running the show, it would completely throw off the Balance aspect of the cosmology.

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Does Yahweh exist in Planescape?

I rule that whenever a person moves from fearing and worshiping deities and start worshiping the idea of Good, Yahweh is their god.

Yahweh can only enter world and have his faith spread when a truely good person is born, such as Jesus or Moses, and from that point he can begin to banish all other gods and good gods willingly become his servants on that world, becoming his angels in a way, just as many angels from the Bible and Koran were once gods.

He would not live on, but be, the Higher Planes.

His domains are: Creation, Glory, Knowledge, Healing and Good

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'Charles Phipps' wrote:
Strangely, for a God whose undefinable, the Greater Unknown seems to be an explicitly LG Deity.

That's certainly the alignment of all of his priests in Planescape.

I know Factol Terrance is, but are there other examples where GU priests are LG?

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'Zimrazim' wrote:
'Charles Phipps' wrote:
Strangely, for a God whose undefinable, the Greater Unknown seems to be an explicitly LG Deity.

That's certainly the alignment of all of his priests in Planescape.

I know Factol Terrance is, but are there other examples where GU priests are LG?

In the Guide to the Astral, I think there were a few dozen LG priests at the Athar place.

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Not to start some religious flame-war here, but canonically, the Yahweh God (we're talking Old Testament, right?) is about as far away from Lawful Good as you can get.

Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Neutral strikes me as much more appropriate.

Edit: In fact, some early Christian gnostic cults would have been quite happy to point out to you that Yahweh was Chaotic Evil, and Jesus was Lawful Good and totally kicked his ass. But yeah--Yahweh? Definitely not a Lawful Good kind of guy.

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Ah, but in the D&D universe, the concept of Good is an objectively verifiable game mechanic. Eye-wink Adherents of a particular religion generally believe that their chosen deity (deities) is (are) good.

I suppose it simply depends on what a particular DM wants for his/her campaign.

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[moderator]As a note: Given the potentially sensitive nature of this topic, I would like all participants in this thread to keep in mind that we're all friends here. Keep it above the waist and civil so's I don't have to use my 'mommy voice'. [/moderator]

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'The Great Hippo' wrote:
Not to start some religious flame-war here, but canonically, the Yahweh God (we're talking Old Testament, right?) is about as far away from Lawful Good as you can get.

Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Neutral strikes me as much more appropriate.

Edit: In fact, some early Christian gnostic cults would have been quite happy to point out to you that Yahweh was Chaotic Evil, and Jesus was Lawful Good and totally kicked his ass. But yeah--Yahweh? Definitely not a Lawful Good kind of guy.

Actually, better to say that early worshipers would put any natural or even man made desaster on God's shoulders as proof of his existance. He's teachings, well, whoever wrote them at the time for the particular religion, was Chaotic Good at best, but even Jesus had his more "human" moments. I'd say that God as of now is a Lawful Neutral character who favours Lawful Good people.

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Oy, veh!

Here we go again! I don't think we got anywhere the LAST time this subject was broached, but here's my two cents. I'd make YHVH a Lawful Neutral Greater Power with Clerics of ANY Lawful alignment (Torqumada and other "Grand Inquisitor" types were DEFINITELY Lawful Evil, yet clearly served the Judeo/Christian God, whereas such individuals as Francis of Assisi were obviously Lawful Good, and a lot fell somewhere inbetween...) If you assume Christ to be true, then He and the Holy Spirit are considered part of the same God with YHVH and follow the same rules (even if they AREN'T real, Clerics of them still get spells because of their faith!) Helel the Lightbringer (aka Satan) should be Chaotic Neutral (not, as commonly assumed, EVIL... just in opposition to YHVH's rule); his Clerics would be any Chaotic alignment, including Good or Evil (thus explaining why he's thought of as Evil; he's just getting bad publicity because of the actions of his CE servants!)

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[Yeah, edited this post out.]

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This thread

Why do I have a feeling that this thread is not long for this world?

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[mod]Links, historical context, and other forms of philosophical debate are perfectly legit, so long as it stays firmly specifically *game* oriented and respectful of the human being on the other side of your keyboard.

You guys have pulled off being good in these discussions before, so I tend to wait and see if you can pull it off again. Smiling [/mod]

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'The Great Hippo' wrote:
Not to start some religious flame-war here, but canonically, the Yahweh God (we're talking Old Testament, right?) is about as far away from Lawful Good as you can get.

Well, canonically, we're dealing with a game where it's not evil to kill people. In which case, all of God's "Wrath of Fire" judgments are actually taken in the context that the Bible puts them in (i.e. the idea that they're just and good). That's not bringing in Rabbi Joshua Ben Joseph's (Jesus) reformist perspective on the matter.

Now, RL morality aside, the IMAGE of God that the religion is SUPPOSED to convey is that of a Divine and Just Lawgiver. It's why Zeus is Chaotic Good, in that he was still supposed to be a benevolent figure despite his rather whimsical behaviors.

See what I mean?

Frankly, for the sake of the argument I would like to request to my fellow posters to keep to the following views.

* Restrict this to the discussion of YVHS in a D&D context.

* The possible use for YVHS in a D&D game.

* No evangelizing (i.e. bringing distaste for RL tragedies or need to defend one's faith)

* Whether it's a good idea or not.

* What sort of characteristics would you so describe to the being.

In my case, I'd definitely go with the Paladine of Krynn Lawful Good stern Patriarch view with Jesus as an incarnation meant to invoke better feelings. I'd also stick with the LE View of Satan and explicitly stick with Asmodeus as that figure (though one might be tempted to go with the original Ed Greenwood story that Asmodeus overthrew Satan).

One should bear in mind that even in the stories of YVHS in the Old Testament, he was never a whimsical God. Chaotic Neutral is entirely inappropriate for him because his frequent divine wrath was always directly focused at people who broke the Covenant. Lawful Neutral might be an appropriate reaction, though I believe it respects the Mythological meaning more.

But yes, there have been numerous other religious views as well. A Gnostic YVHS is entirely irreconcilable with one that would be the God of Islam/Judaism/Christianity, however.

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Now, RL morality aside, the IMAGE of God that the religion is SUPPOSED to convey is that of a Divine and Just Lawgiver. It's why Zeus is Chaotic Good, in that he was still supposed to be a benevolent figure despite his rather whimsical behaviors.

I was never comfortable with Zeus being Chaotic Good, honestly. Chaotic Neutral would better suit my tastes.

Context is a problem, but there are more than a few instances where God's actions and commandments aren't framed in any simple 'This-Is-Just' context; in fact, there are a few instances where it's pretty much implied that God was just being a jerk. And it's really, *really* hard to justify an act of genocide in *any* context as a good deed.

I think Yahweh really works as a Lawful Neutral deity. I mean, come on--St. Cuthbert! It just makes a lot more sense than the image of benevolence (Yahweh is not benevolent--*Jesus* is benevolent, but Yahweh sure as heck isn't).

Depending on how you pan this out, Jesus can either come around and dethrone Yahweh with his message of Good-Vibes, reform Yahweh ("Yo! Tone it down, Dad!"), or have been part of Yahweh's master plan all along. Or hey, maybe he's the uppity rebellious priest who leads an uprising against Yahweh and ends up accidentally taking his place.

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One should bear in mind that even in the stories of YVHS in the Old Testament, he was never a whimsical God.

Wheh-wheeeh? It's admittedly been a long, long while since I've stroked my Bible nerdbeard, but I think I recall several instances of Yahweh being whimsical and even going back on his word. It really depends on your interpretation, but you can't just flat-out deny that possibility.

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God in Planescape (Please don't light me on fire)

YVHS
Greater God

Alignment: Lawful Good
Portfolio: Christians, Creation, Jews, Muslims, Law
Domains: Creation, Law, Good, Healing
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

YHVS is one of the most powerful gods on the Prime Material Plane world of Earth and worshipped by entire continents as the only deity of their faith. Most of them do not even acknowledge that any others exist and his devotees are often quite shocked to find out that this not the case when they visit other realms.

Background: YVHS is a deity on Mount Celestia's Seventh Level and a fairly distant and removed one. Unlike most deities, YVHS refuses to be anthormorphized and instead communicates primarilly through his Archangel Proxies that ferry his will down to Solar Devas and so on down. When YHVS does appear to his worshippers, it's often through Communion spells with his priests or vast omens that grant the experience a powerful mystical feel.

YVHS choice to remain as distantly removed from his worshippers as he has is something that causes some clerics to be a bit confused about his nature. YVHS is a powerful Lawful force and believes this to be the ultimate way to achieve goodness within the Prime Material Plane. Curiously, there's some indication that the deity might be changing or decided to make a powerful statement against the Lawful excesses of his faith. One sect of his faith believes powerfully that a Neutral Good berk was an incarnation of his deity. This seems awfully peery to more traditional members of his clergy.

Overall, some things that are known about this faith are that it has a deep distaste for the Nine Hells. That's no surprise but it seems to take Asmodeus and his ilk more personally than any other group of Fiends in the cosmos. Clerics and Paladins of YVHS are expected to hunt down and destroy Devils above any other type of fiend in the cosmos. This extends to their worshippers and quite a few overzealous types have gone Harmonium on a bunch of innocent sods as a result.

Simultaneously, the Lords of the Nine have their own bone to pick with the Lawgiver. Dispater, Mammon, Belial, Baalzebul, and Asmodeus himself are all known to give large rewards to those who end up destroying the morality of his people or faithful. A favorite tactic of the Lords of the Nine is also to screw with THE LAW and the people's interpretation of it. This seems to honk off the Lawgiver more than anything since so much of his faith is based on prizing its immutability. Tell a YVHS worshipper something was lost in the translation and he'll probably stare at you blankly.

Portfolio: YVHS claims to have created the planet Earth and it's just possible he might have. His focus seems to be primarilly on the Law that he's created, the stewardship of the Earth, and the various peoples that he calls his own. Unlike most deities, he doesn't seem to have much of an agenda beyond promoting the moral fiber of his initiates. Because of the heavy emphasis on Law and his status as a removed god, a great number of sects within the religion. This, combined with a great deal of misunderstanding that has built up over the years, has made spellcasters to be fairly rare of the faith.

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What about Mohamed? What's his role in this, as he is his prophet?

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Context is a problem, but there are more than a few instances where God's actions and commandments aren't framed in any simple 'This-Is-Just' context; in fact, there are a few instances where it's pretty much implied that God was just being a jerk. And it's really, *really* hard to justify an act of genocide in *any* context as a good deed.

Maybe, on the other hand, I've always felt it was important to keep the perspective of modernity out of it. I'm a pacifist in Real life but D&D is very much a war game and it's difficult for me to see war as anything but a Chaotic Evil activity. Nevertheless, I'd be deranged if I didn't think that there were Lawful Good soldiers in WW2.

(Despite the fact they both civilians)

Morality changes.

Plus, when dealing with RL faiths, we also have to move past the fact that there's no one giving us a Holy Sign that "Miko the Paladin has Fallen! Don't trust her!"

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I think Yahweh really works as a Lawful Neutral deity. I mean, come on--St. Cuthbert! It just makes a lot more sense than the image of benevolence (Yahweh is not benevolent--*Jesus* is benevolent, but Yahweh sure as heck isn't).

Perhaps, there's varying schools of thought. I think most people are assuming that this is a "Mish-Mash" YHVS of Modern Scholastic thinking. I.e. that YHVS is the God of not only Jews but also Christians and Muslims.

While you could make an argument that Jesus and God were seperate incarnations in some manner, Allah is explicitly a God of Charity and Mercy as depicted. Certainly, in the context of the day he was a liberal entity despite being very clear on the legalities of what was expected of followers.

You could even argue he's the Middle Ground between Jesus' reformation prinicples and Yawhew's heavy handedness.

Quote:
Wheh-wheeeh? It's admittedly been a long, long while since I've stroked my Bible nerdbeard, but I think I recall several instances of Yahweh being whimsical and even going back on his word. It really depends on your interpretation, but you can't just flat-out deny that possibility.

I've only read the book a couple of times but I'm pretty damn sure even the Ancient Jews were pretty damn clear on issues God never being particularly chaotic. The only time he ever threatened to break the Covenant, it was considered a *huge* deal.

A lot of the issue is perception, note I'm not necessarilly disagreeing with a great deal of God's commands being brutal.

Morality being distinctly different in today's society than from way back when.

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'Otogi' wrote:
What about Mohamed? What's his role in this, as he is his prophet?

I'd argue that, dissenters aside, Muhammed was in fact a Prophet of God ("Proxy")

With probably a Prestige Class like Speaker of Gabriel given his special relationship with the Archangel.

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'Otogi' wrote:
What about Mohamed? What's his role in this, as he is his prophet?

I'd either divide Allah up into a separate niche or just claim that the monotheistic God never really seems to directly speak to masses, just individual prophets (Jesus, Muhammed, so on), and those prophets sometimes seem to have contradictory issues.

The vagueness could create an interesting enigma behind it all, especially when even the contradictory prophets are still getting priest spells.

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We're not talking about RL morality, we're talking about Planescape morality. Even in Planescape morality, I'm pretty sure that wanton genocide is very hard to justify as a good deed outside of very specific circumstances. And this was not genocide under very specific circumstances--this was "They Have Stuff You Want, Kill Them And All Their Children".

I insist on the separation between Jesus and Yahweh because they are fundamentally different people, and I just think it'd be much more interesting in Planescape to do it that way. I don't think trying to reconcile all of the monotheistic religions into one single over-deity provides as much interesting mythical substance to play with as actually making them real people (although, like I suggested before, there might be something interesting to play with as far as making the monotheistic deity *unknowable*).

As for God being Chaotic Neutral--I'm really not talking about the Covenant so much as Yahweh's day-to-day activities. There are a few times he'd say one thing then do something completely different. And the fact that he threatens to break the Covenant, well, that right *there* pretty much screams "Chaotic" (or at least Neutral).

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Thinking about it, God could be Lawful Evil. He creates tons of laws to control his people, but he can break them as needed.
Also, the whole Tower of Babel thing, what was that all about God? Sad

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I know and there's no way to reconcile that unless you say that said people needed to be destroyed for whatever reason, that Yawhew was a LN deity who became LG, or that the issue wasn't actually his will to slaughter them to the last man but it was a bit of historical revisionism by mortals.

Nevertheless, in our world of distant deities, claiming the element of God as a genocidal berk as his fundamental nature is a bit of a stretch.

Quote:
I insist on the separation between Jesus and Yahweh because they are fundamentally different people, and I just think it'd be much more interesting in Planescape to do it that way.

I know, but it's untrue to the Mythology. You could say that Zeus was secretly replaced by Athena when the Greeks raised him up as the God of Lawful Judgement. However, that's just making a new story up to suit one's own needs.

And when you do that, you can really do anything with it.

Quote:
As for God being Chaotic Neutral--I'm really not talking about the Covenant so much as Yahweh's day-to-day activities. There are a few times he'd say one thing then do something completely different. And the fact that he threatens to break the Covenant, well, that right *there* pretty much screams "Chaotic" (or at least Neutral).

Actually, it strikes me as Lawful Good. Literally, it would strike me as Lawful Neutral if God continued to serve the Covenant when one side was continuing to break it. The whole point of the Breaking was the fact that the Children of Abraham had not lived up to their end of the bargain. Continuing to honor it would, arguably, be an evil act.

Of course, it's also important to remember that God didn't break the Covenant either.

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'TheSky' wrote:
Thinking about it, God could be Lawful Evil. He creates tons of laws to control his people, but he can break them as needed. Also, the whole Tower of Babel thing, what was that all about God? Sad

A rightful and just punishment?

The whole idea behind the Tower of Babel is the gross arrogance of mankind. People attempting to set themselves above the Gods. Are we going to suggest that Yertle the Turtle gets an unfair wrap now?

I think the major issue we're going to have to deal with is the fact that any RL religion is going to have major elements that are culturally related but don't fit our comfy Modern Day Morality. It's like unilaterally declaring the Aztec, Carthagian, and Maya Gods evil.

Oh well.

Personally, I'd rather like to get away from the "God's Alignment" discussion. Instead, I'd like to discuss the possibilities of Story use for the deity in Planescape. How it might be interesting to treat him as just a Greater God rather than Overpower or fitting him into the Planescape cosmology. Especially with all the Angelic and Demonic myth that coats Planescape already.

I think that'd be a more satisfying conversation topic for us all.

You're welcome to use whatever alignment fits your perception for said discussion. Though for me, I'm sticking with Heavens and Hells meaning said places.

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If we're bringing God into Planescape, we can't judge him by his own context. He has to be judged by Planescape's context. Re-interpreting his actions in the Bible to make them Planescape friendly ("We'll just pretend this entire indigeneous society here is completely evil, from the adults right down to the children!") just so we can maintain the 'spirit' of the work (God as a Righteous Law-Giver) is--well, you can do that, it just seems like a really weird way to approach it. I mean, there's precedence for lawful neutral organizations committing genocide; check out the Harmonium and Orthos. Really, the Lawful Neutral Yahweh who commits genocide fits remarkably well into the moral system we have in place here. Hell, St. Cuthbert--who, again, is LAWFUL Neutral--is perceived as a 'Righteous Law-Giver'. The Lawful Neutral interpretation of Yahweh really does fit like a metaphysical glove.

As for splitting Jesus and Yahweh apart--it's not untrue to mythology at all. I'm not sure where you're getting that. I mean, it's not like I'm just pulling this out of my rear. The Catholic Church separates Jesus from God (admittedly, in a roundabout way that gives any theologian a massive migraine), several gnostic cults believed that Jesus and God were completely separate (and, in fact, Jesus kicked the evil God's ass and dethroned him and took his place), and even today, we empathize much more with Jesus than the Old Testament God.

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'Charles Phipps' wrote:
Instead, I'd like to discuss the possibilities of Story use for the deity in Planescape. How it might be interesting to treat him as just a Greater God rather than Overpower or fitting him into the Planescape cosmology. Especially with all the Angelic and Demonic myth that coats Planescape already.

I really like the notion that he was a somewhat tyrannical Lawful Neutral deity toppled by one of his very own priests who pretty much took his place and became a Lawful Good/Neutral Good Deity. That can be seen as a little inflammatory, however; but I just like the essence of that story--it has a lot of vast potential (and it makes for interesting conversations, especially if your PCs know the Athar).

There's also an absolutely fascinating potential to make God the Convenant itself. Imagine--not so much a 'deity' as far as Planescape acknowledges deities, but a metaphysical being who manifests only as a deal made with a certain people, providing for them so long as they honor the rules of this Covenant.

That could get really wacky, though (but hey! I like wacky!).

Edit: In a way, I'd say think of the Covenant like an agreement with the Multiverse itself; something like a group of Fraternity members entering in a contract with existence (although an argument can be made that it's merely a face put on top of existence by the strength of their belief). That has a lot of really weird potential to it, and I'm not sure where it would go but it might be somewhere very interesting.

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If we're bringing God into Planescape, we can't judge him by his own context. He has to be judged by Planescape's context. Re-interpreting his actions in the Bible to make them Planescape friendly ("We'll just pretend this entire indigeneous society here is completely evil, from the adults right down to the children!") just so we can maintain the 'spirit' of the work (God as a Righteous Law-Giver) is--well, you can do that, it just seems like a really weird way to approach it.

What you do is raise a good point, but, that's actually how I thought PLANESCAPE approached it. Smiling

At least, or how I thought Dungeons and Dragons/Planescape setting handled the RL gods in its midst. Marduk, Zeus, Thor, the Aztec Gods, Loki, Hades, and so many others are basically either white washed or cast into villain roles as the setting demands.

Just my take on it.

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I mean, there's precedence for lawful neutral organizations committing genocide; check out the Harmonium and Orthos.

My take on the Harmonium was always that the genocide of the Elves and Pixies was sort of their moment of shame, not a reflection of the Harmonium ideal as a whole.

The Harmonium strives for lawful GOOD not lawful lawful.

It just frequently fails.

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As for splitting Jesus and Yahweh apart--it's not untrue to mythology at all. I'm not sure where you're getting that. I mean, it's not like I'm just pulling this out of my rear. The Catholic Church separates Jesus from God (admittedly, in a roundabout way that gives any theologian a massive migraine), several gnostic cults believed that Jesus and God were completely separate (and, in fact, Jesus kicked the evil God's ass and dethroned him and took his place), and even today, we empathize much more with Jesus than the Old Testament God.

I'm not arguing it's not entirely without precedent, I'm just pointing out that as a Catholic, Jesus is treated as a face of God. I'm not disputing he's been treated seperately even in Milton's Paradise Lost where he's a replacement for Lucifer.

Honestly, I sort of like the idea of YVHS as a God embodying Harmonium ideals. The idea that his followers are frequently a source of people trying to make the world as perfect as Mount Celestia but frequently failing or falling hard.

Yet, nevertheless okay berks at heart.

Of course, I've already toyed with this by inserting a one-scene joke in our games. A PC from Urban-Arcana Earth accidentally got transported to Sigil in our games. It was a one-time thing and meant to be humorous rather than a serious take on mythology.

PC: Wow, this is so amazing. So many gods, I mean, we only have one back on Earth kinda....

Sigilite: Sounds very lonely.

PC: Well he has lots of Angels serving him. Michael, Gabriel, and so on....but I guess he doesn't exist if all this...

Sigilite: Michael? Oh, you mean YVHS! The guy on Mount Celestia!

PC: *twitch*

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First off, please don't light me on fire. This is just another interpretation of YVHS. The way I see it, we're all assuming that YVHS would be as powerful in Planescape as we percive him to be here. But there a lot of other gods in Planescape, and the whole "I am the only God" thing might not make them too happy. Anyway, here's another quick writeup, just to compare to the other one.

YVHS
Intermediate Diety

Alignment: Lawful Good (Feel free to argue this one away)
Portfolio: Christians, Creation, Jews, Muslims, Law
Domains: Creation, Law, Good, Healing
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

YHVS is one of the most powerful gods on the Prime Material Plane world of Earth and worshipped by entire continents as the only deity of their faith. Most of them do not even acknowledge that any others exist, indeed forsaking other gods is one of the major tenements of their religion.

This one issue has probably done the most to prevent YHVS from becoming more popular in the planes. While many other clerics share a healthy respect for everything YHVS belives in, they are unwilling to forsake their own gods just to worship YHVS. Compounding this problem is that clerics of YHVS often refuse to accept other gods or their priests, occasionally even going so far as to lead crusades against these 'false' religions.

Another reason YHVS has not become as powerful as he should be is that many different prime worlds worship the same god in different ways. Some worlds were exposed to a being named Jesus, others to a being named Muhammed, other exposed to a being named Arriad, and so on. In each place, different ideas about YHVS have sprung up (New Testament, Old Testament, Koran, ect). These various ideas usually clash with one another, proclaiming each other a follower of the false gods they are forbidden to worship.

Background: After spending a lot of time interacting with his followers and performing grand miracles, YVHS suddenly decided to establish a more distant relationship with his followers. Nobody knows why he suddenly choose to distance himself, though a few berks think it has something to do with the other gods. YVHS is now rarely seen in person, communicating through angels instead.

There is one exception to this rule. YVHS will almost always take personal action whenever a devil or other demonic being visits one of the prime worlds that he is worshipped on. Seems that he had a bit of an argument with Asmodeus (something about an apple apparently) and now will hunt down any demon who dares get too close. That said, there is a rumour of a particularly powerful demonic lord who had been hiding out on these demon-free worlds, slowly building power in secret.

Portfolio: Most worlds either are either full of or devoid of followers of YVHS. The Prime worlds are usually the places where he is found to be worshipped, while his influence has yet to spread to the outer planes (probably due to the whole false god, worship no other thing). As such, his influence on the outer planes is limited, while he has an incredible amount of influence on many prime worlds.

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I feel as though a discussion like this could blow up easily, and no amount of discussion is going to impact canon. In the final analysis, the topic is potentially inflammatory and not very interesting, except as an intellectual exercise.

If the question was, "in the canon of Planescape, does Yahweh exist?" then the strictest answer is: maybe, but he's not directly discussed.

Rather than debate what level deity the God of Jacob and Isaac would be, and what domains God would have, can we just agree that God may exist in your Planescape game if you choose? Because ultimately, we'd have to discuss and debate all the unpleasant sides of the Judeo-Christian history of worship-- and trust me, no one wants that.

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'extropymine' wrote:
Because ultimately, we'd have to discuss and debate all the unpleasant sides of the Judeo-Christian history of worship-- and trust me, no one wants that.

Except, we don't do that with Zeus. I want to talk about YVHS as the D&D figure that might exist as an Archetype to add Dash to the Upper Planes that feels rather empty with Asmodeus on one side but no one allowed to put a Christian God figure there.

I don't even mind using another name for him or another Deity in his place. Asmodeus, for example, is Satan in everything but change. Do you think we should have a "blanketly renamed substitute" for YHVS? I think that would work out well.

Bahamut/Paladine was used in Kyrn and he's named Eli by the Elves. Which, again is blanketly a name for God.

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Quote:
First off, please don't light me on fire. This is just another interpretation of YVHS. The way I see it, we're all assuming that YVHS would be as powerful in Planescape as we percive him to be here. But there a lot of other gods in Planescape, and the whole "I am the only God" thing might not make them too happy. Anyway, here's another quick writeup, just to compare to the other one.

Very good write up. I only chose Greater God because he's still considered a Major God and worshiped by a lot of Berks, even if they can't get along. Plus, all that worship energy goes to YVHS as opposed to divided amongst a larger pantheon.

I like a lot of your choices there. Especially the flippant tone regarding Asmodeus and demons.

Ultimately, I think GG fits YHVS better than Overpower because the themes of Planescape are deliberately anti-monotheistic.

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'Charles Phipps' wrote:
Do you think we should have a "blanketly renamed substitute" for YHVS? I think that would work out well.
If you're honestly asking me, then no-- I don't think we should do that. What I think is that we shouldn't try to include Yahweh at all in the Planescape canon.

However, for people's individual games and settings? Absolutely, that's a solution that can work. As long as we do not eventually still have to say, "so for our purposes, will represent God."

Is Asmodeus just Satan? It says he's an infernal deity of all things bad. I mean, is he Satan in all but name? Cause if so, Jack Chick was right-- we are Satan worshipers. So I think it's more than just a matter of vocabulary that kept "Satan" out of D&D and allowed "Asmodeus" to exist.

So, maybe Yahweh already exists somewhere in Deities & Demigods? Look for a god whose description reads "a celestial deity of creation."

Anyway, I wasn't meaning to start an argument or anything. I'm just saying that discussing creating a Planescape deity whose "portfolio" includes Jews, Christians and Muslims is really tricky and possibly a bad idea.

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If you're honestly asking me, then no-- I don't think we should do that. What I think is that we shouldn't try to include Yahweh at all in the Planescape canon.

Gotcha. We agree to disagree.

Well, with all due respect, this is a thread about people's interest in the Abrahamic God and his uses in Planescape. You've made your point that you don't think that he should ever see the light of day in any official material (unlikely to be a problem given the only material that's official is the Not-For-Profit stuff here)

However, I don't think that you need to reiterate it. Suffice to say, I disagree. I'm not interested in discussing the controversial element as a impediment to discussing YVHS' role in the setting, any further objections would have to be on pure story elements alone.

I'm able to divorce all RL elements from the character. If you're not, then I don't see how we could possibly reconcile our points further. However, I'm going to continue discussing his role in the Planescape Cosmology.

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Please do not dismiss me like that.

Looking past the first line of my post, my second paragraph supported your idea for using a Yahweh figure in their own games and campaigns.

Those interested in the idea may want to check out Green Ronin's Testament, a d20 sourcebook for roleplaying in the Biblical Era. The sourcebook assigns classes and levels to Biblical figures and outlines new spells that fit the theme. It also deals with Yahweh (called simply, "The Deity") and faith, though I do not know how specifically. It might give you some ideas to build off.

Good luck with the thread.

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'extropymine' wrote:
Please do not dismiss me like that.

I'm not dismissing you, I'm just saying that I don't agree.

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Looking past the first line of my post, my second paragraph supported your idea for using a Yahweh figure in their own games and campaigns.

I know, I would actually like to see a YVHS like figure in Planescape canon for places like the Seven Heavens to counterbalance the Abyssal Lords.

I liked Book of Exalted Deeds but they lacked some of the Mythological Oomph that the ones with Asmodeus and Belial had.

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It might give you some ideas to build off.

Good luck with the thread.

I've read it. Frankly it didn't have anything on Divine Ranks, Roles of Archangels (being an Old Testament subject), or dealing with other deities. It wasn't very helpful for a question like this.

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I treat this subject like the Federal Government would — separation of church and fiction. Otherwise, it ties me in so many metaphysical knots that I would rather not deal with. Heck, I don't like C.S. Lewis for making Jesus a character in a work of fiction — because how can Jesus be real and fictional at the same time? Metaphysical knots.

Real-life faith is often plagued with uncertainty and doubt. When I play D&D, I don't need to ask why evil exists in the world. I know the answer with absolute certainty — so we can kill it and get XP! :mrgreen:

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Is Asmodeus just Satan? It says he's an infernal deity of all things bad.

So are Vecna, Nerull, Erythnul, etc. In 3E, Asmodeus isn't a deity at all.

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I mean, is he Satan in all but name? Cause if so, Jack Chick was right-- we are Satan worshipers.

What, are you saying players worship Asmodeus in real life? No, they don't, and neither do any good-aligned characters they play.

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So I think it's more than just a matter of vocabulary that kept "Satan" out of D&D and allowed "Asmodeus" to exist.

Well, clearly, you've never read Dragon #22. :mrgreen:

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So are Vecna, Nerull, Erythnul, etc. In 3E, Asmodeus isn't a deity at all.

Yes, he's a Fallen Angel in D&D.

Smiling

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Just a quick reminder that: peace is good, flaming is bad, and that Magus Emporium is having a sale on Detect Poision charms just in time for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I think that going the Crystal Dragon Jesus route (Renaming YVHS to something less controversial like Azael) would be a terrible idea. The way I see it, there are three different ways going this route could end up.

a) We only change the name, but keep everything else the same. YVHS is Azael, the end. It becomes painfully obvious that we're just trying not to offend anyone. Honestly, what would we say, that there happened to be a prophet / priest / proxy / son / [enter own belief] of Azael who just happened to be crucified and resurected? It's a cheap cover up and it shows. Badly.

b) We change the name, and a few key facts so it isn't a complete carbon copy. The prophet / priest / ect. of Azael was burned alive, but he still was resurected. Problem comes in, what do we change and what do we keep? Wouldn't changing key details of Jesus's life offend some people more that just refering to him by name?

c) We change the name and a lot of facts. Problem is, we end up no longer talking about YVHS, but about a completly new god who we loosly based on YVHS. And this thread is about YVHS.

Instead, I suggest that we keep the name and continue refering to YVHS as YHVS. We make sure that we keep a nice civil tone (*cough cough*), because insulting Azael would still make a lot of people angry. We add a disclaimer multiple times that we are strictly talking in a theoretical sense, that nothing we say here is canon, and that any and all people who might find offense at this thread might want to find another thread to read.

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Well, let's try it anyway.

Yannah
The Transcendent One
Greater God

Alignment: Lawful Good
Portfolio: Creation, Law, Purification, Redemption
Domains: Creation, Law, Good, Healing
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

Yannah is a deity that rests at the top of Mount Celestia and doesn't have much day to day contact with human worshipers. Frankly, he's a distant and removed god that most consider more akin to a Seven Heavens version of Asmodeus or Primus. Don't let any of the Solar Devas or Celestial Paragons let you hear anything like that.

The Transcendence tends to de-emphasize human human elements of his being and prefers appearing as signs, portents, and disembodied voices. He prefers working through intermediaries as opposed to sending his avatar directly forth. It's been rumored that several important Prime Material religious figures were actually avatars of Yannah but many individuals have found that difficult to believe.

History/Relationships: Yannah is believed to be one of the original deities that emerged from the Chaos during the early days of the Multiverse. One of many deities, he was a proponent of bringing forth Law out of the Chaos and supported the conflicts that lead to the eventual foundation of the Blood War.

Yannah was deeply injured by the conflict and the Seven Heavens were sundered by the resulting battles. This resulted in the division of the original realm into Mount Celestia, Elysium, and Arborea. It is also believed to have divided Yannah's nature with his other aspects going on to form other deities. It was during this conflict that the Serpent, otherwise known as Asmodeus, convinced Baalzebul to rebel against him and further damaged the ancient battle. Yannah's ancient ally of Bahamut managed to drive out the renegade Tome Archon but it further divided Mount Celestia into seven regions.

Yannah is deeply interested in the promotion of Law and Goodness in the Prime Material and Outer Planes but the devastating consequences of the Blood War followed by his battles with his own former servants have left the deity preferring to act with minimal interference in the mortal plane. Yannah ignores the vast majority of clerics who pray to him and only appoints them extremely rarely.

Instead, Yannah's influence can be felt through the use of Archons throughout the realms. The ancient deity runs a vast bureaucracy that promotes them encouraging mortals to good, leading them to artifacts to fight evil, and quietly disposing of Fiends that attempt to enter the Prime Material before heroes are needed to repulse them. Yannah is not without his worshippers but they have effective free reign to interpret his will where other deities would proceed to smack down those acting in their name. Some gods have criticized this distant and removed policy as only slightly better than the Lady of Pain.

Yannah remains allied with Bahamut whom has first and foremost ability to command any and all of the Transcendent One's countless forces. Other gods known to be allied with Yannah are Lathander and Saint Cuthbert. Both deities have attempted to influence Yannah's worshipers in ways drastically different from the patriarch's original wishes in the name of promoting their own interpretation of the best path to goodness.

Dogma: Yannah's Dogma is rather peery to a lot of mortals as it emphasizes transcendence of one's existing state of being and the troubled state of mortal flesh. The deity, furthermore, emphasizes that one should follow laws extremely rigidly but adds in that mercy and tolerance are likewise to be expected. The contradictions in this might be resolved with the belief that Lathander and Saint Cuthbert have been having fun with his canon but it may simply be that it's a faith that one is meant to strive for rather than actually achieve.

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YHVH

I just don't see this issue being resolved to everyone's satisfaction; a lot of you berks seem to think Jehovah is Lawful Good, while I just can't give a Power that commits genocide a Good alignment (don't even get me started on eternal Hell for all non-believers!) And then there's that Great Flood that killed everybody on Earth except for eight lucky sods... Now, in fairness to Jehovah/YHVH, He does give a lot of good commandments like "Take care of orphans and widows", etc... so I think giving Him a Lawful Neutral alignment takes both these into account (If He were Lawful Evil, presumably all of His commandment would be bad, which ain't the case.) Now, since the Flood story has also been attributed to Zeus, maybe Zeus should lose his Good alignment! If you assume that the Bible is canon for Jehovah's actions the way you assume mythology is canon for Zeus's activities, then He did some pretty bad things as well as some good things... making Him Lawful Good ignores the bad things!

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[mod] Please keep topics focused firmly on the *game*, and refrain from using namecalling in your posts. [/mod]

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I just don't see this issue being resolved to everyone's satisfaction; a lot of you berks seem to think Jehovah is Lawful Good, while I just can't give a Power that commits genocide a Good alignment (don't even get me started on eternal Hell for all non-believers!)

Actually, quite a few people don't accept the Calvinist Doctrine of Salvation by Faith alone. In fact, I certainly don't and neither does the Catholic Church or most liberal churches that Hell is a punishment for nonbelievers. That's strictly a viewpoint of a portion of Christianity rather than the whole.

As for the issues of genocide, I take them in the context of the storylines that all of those slain were meant to be evil or that it was necessary for the protection of the world. Ironically, the issue of the Myth is that the storytellers all agree that the world was THAT bad and the only way to save the human race was to decimate it.

Of course, not all Christian sects take the Bible as absolute 100% truth of God's will either since the irony of Jesus was that he pointed out several times that the Law of Moses wasn't necessarilly the law of God (one reason that Orthodox Jews reject Jesus as a Prophet).

The Myth of the Flood and is such a a common device in Ancient Storytelling that you'd have to condemn the entirety of the Greek Pantheon, The Babylonian Pantheon, YVHS, and the Aztecs.

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'Charles Phipps' wrote:
Actually, quite a few people don't accept the Calvinist Doctrine of Salvation by Faith alone.

Calvinists don't believe in salvation by faith alone. Your salvation has nothing to do with your faith; you get saved based on God's Will. You basically just hope and pray you were chosen by God (he made the decision of who would be saved at the beginning of Creation).

Lutheranism made the salvation-by-faith-alone doctrine famous, and it directly rejects Calvinism (and vice-versa).

I don't pick Lawful Neutral for Yahweh out of any bitterness towards mainstream Christianity or hatred for its moral clauses; it's just the most fitting choice when you take D&D precedent into account. By D&D's morale compass, Yahweh definitely fits neatly into a Lawful Neutral perspective. There's room for a Chaotic Neutral interpretation too, of course.

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'The Great Hippo' wrote:
Actually, quite a few people don't accept the Calvinist Doctrine of Salvation by Faith alone.

I mispoke. No offense, however, real life religion is oddly irrelevant to God's reflection in D&D.

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I don't pick Lawful Neutral for Yahweh out of any bitterness towards mainstream Christianity or hatred for its moral clauses; it's just the most fitting choice when you take D&D precedent into account. By D&D's morale compass, Yahweh definitely fits neatly into a Lawful Neutral perspective. There's room for a Chaotic Neutral interpretation too, of course.

I disagree. D&D would make him a LG god because he's supposed to be Lawful Good according to the Faith. It's why Jupiter/Zeus is a Good God, he's a figure of Wise Judgment and Benevolence. This despite being a rapist amongst other pleasant traits.

It's why King Arthur is Lawful Good despite the fact he murdered a horde of babies and tried to have his wife burned at the stake.

Edit:

My own real-life religion is hardly orthodox and I can certainly understand the argument. However, the idea of YHVS as Lawful Neutral goes totally against the dynamic that's been set up in D&D. You've got Angels in the Seven Heavens (Dante's Paradise), you've got Devils in the Nine Hells (Dante's Inferno), and you're arguing that God should be located in Mechanus?

Try and see what the problem of cosmology is here.

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The fascinating thing about Calvinism is that, logically speaking, it makes sense. In the case of an omnipotent, omniscient deity, it's perfectly logical that God would know everything; if God knows everything, everything must be set. And that means whether or not you are saved has all ready been determined (because God knows the answer). But then the Calvinists go ahead and assign a number to how many will be saved based on questionable interpretation of scripture.

I digress, however.

God in the Bible is good because God in the Bible is Law. The Law defines what is Good, but there is nothing ontologically 'good' onto itself. This is an important distinction, because I think that the error you're making here (assuming you are making one!) is one of definition. When the Bible says "God is Good", he's good because he is the *Law*, not because he's actually a good guy himself.

I see what you mean about remaking deities so they conform to the standards of D&D's alignment system, but keep in mind that they're being *remade*; are we talking about remaking Yahweh so he fits into D&D, or are we talking about what Yahweh would be like if he was inserted AS IS into D&D? Because I can't pass opinion on a version of Yahweh who's received cosmetic surgery; I can just tell you where Yahweh, as is, fits into D&D. And as is, Yahweh either fits into Lawful Neutral or Chaotic Neutral territory.

The really telling point of this for me is the appearance of Jesus and the complete 180 that happens. Post-Jesus, God *is* Lawful Good. He becomes a source of goodness *unto* himself. But Pre-Jesus, God is definitely in Neutral territory (maybe even Evil, if you're a wacky Gnostic!).

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All very good points.

[I'd rather not debate Calvinism here, though I've had plenty of discussions on the subject with others.)

Then you run into the fact that Jesus (Who I put as NG-The Law is a misinterpretation of THE GOOD) is supposed to have been God all along. Which is the problem of this circle.

So I choose to ignore that line of thinking altogether. Directly adapting any deity to Dungeons and Dragons is a foolish thing. What is important is that you adapt what works in the context of the setting to the enrichment of D&D.

It doesn't matter what God did in the Bible. It honestly doesn't matter what Jesus preaches. Because this is a game. What's important is focusing on what role that Christian Mythology as adapted by TSR/WOTC's role in the game is best suited for the work in question.

Do you see what I'm saying? God of D&D can't be the God of the Bible anymore than Zeus of D&D can be the Zeus of Ancient Greece or Jupiter of Rome (Whose a LG deity if there ever was one)

This is actually the kind of discussion I'd prefer to avoid. For me, I don't really care what alignment God is. So long as he exists at the top of Mount Celestia, is served by a bunch of Archangels, and is opposed to Asmodeus because that's the way the Mythology works.

You could make a strong argument for King Arthur as a LN monarch with a CN Sir Lancelot. What's interesting in terms of D&D isn't really the moral fiber of the characters but their role in a game set in Pseudo-Medieval Ancient Briton.

What I'd like to discuss in this place is adapting Archangels, what role D&D YVHS (Yannah or whoever) would play in the Planescape mythology, or his stats.

Because I think that's more helpful to gamers than the endless runaround about LN or CN or LE or CE or NG. I'm welcome to hear the whole "Jesus overthrew his own god" storylines but I'm more interested really in talking about the power structure of Mount Celestia and what sort of role the progression through the various Heavens would have as related to a Christian Mythological Apex.

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If you're going to dismiss the mythological structure of the deity you're adapting into the game, I don't see any point in bothering with even carrying the name. Just saying "There is a near-omnipotent force of Lawful Good at the top of Mount Celestia" seems enough (and I believe that this has been implied by certain supplements anyway). Most of the infrastructure you're looking for is all ready present.

And as for God doing a 180 after Jesus--this is actually Bible canon. Jesus fulfills the Covenant; all the previous laws and rules God saddled us with are dissolved. His death frees man from the shackles which God set upon him. That's the whole spiritual and mythological point--by dying for our sins, Jesus breaks the system wide open and offers up salvation for everyone. God (and humanity's relationship with him) is transformed by Jesus' death--and that's not a liberal interpretation. There's an enormous amount of metaphorical complexity between these nearly diametrically opposed figures (Old Testament God and New Testament God/Jesus), and throwing it away basically guts the mythology of its very heart.

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[mod]Not to squash conversation, but deeper theological discussions not related to the original posters flurry of questions might wish to move to PM or emails just to avoid thread hijacking. And really, it sounds like it'd be pretty fun for you two to get a chance to discuss without the onus of Planescape and forum-rules slowing you down. Smiling [/mod]

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