How do you go about involving the gods?


Im always curious about how other DMs use gods in their campaign; not only as personalities, but as story elements.

Myself for example: I plan on having "Note" show up in front of every boss fight to let the players undo a TPK (Note - god of bards and poetry, servant of Ogmah)

I also believe the typical character should be polytheistic, praying to whichever god is appropriate for the immediate circumstance, including the Clerics.

A clerics divine power comes from a single god or a pantheon maybe, but I cant imagen praying to the god of war to bless a solumnly vowed maridge. 

I personally use them very little as possible. They are meant for inspiration based and divine battery source. I typically do visions from their oracles or sign that can be recognized by their followers. I tend to keep the gods from being directly involved. If using a dead gods power some nut job found artifact with power and some good God sending a worshipper capable of the task or find people that get the nut job stopped. In my experience gods directly involved makes the players inadequate or just questioning why they even do in the task.

I also dislike having the gods directly involved, both as a player and as a GM. It happened once in a campaign I was playing and my reaction was to think that it was completely lame and immersion breaking - it was the stand-out worst moment of a good year long campaign for me.

It's akin to when the Battlestar Galactica re-make turned from being some of the best modern sci-fi ever, into "the gods done it". Lame!



In our home campaign (core Pathfinder with all of the stitched-together Lost Lands content) we have tried to give the gods a rich influence upon the world, we see it as an essential part of the “oldschool feel” that this world tries to capture. This includes giving them base personalities (for example, Jamboor has appeared to his followers on the brink of death as a hooded George Costanza offering the unlucky players deals for future unspoken favors to the church). We have also worked to give local gods strong presences in the streets and on festivals days. We felt this was needed within civilization since, at its core, the wilds of The Lost Lands are filled with the seeping corruption of the big evils of the world (Orcus, Tsathogga, and for continuity reasons Hel). We have also incorporated the sub-plot of the return of the Justicars to the world (hinted at in The Tomb of Abysthor and Slumbering Tsar), and as such have been increasing the influence of the wizened religions of Thyr and Muir. At the beginning of our game Thyr and Muir were merely old patrons of crumbling Greco-Roman temples with waning congregations. They were never part of festivals, were never seen preaching in the streets except when stating that judgment was coming for the wicked, and when visited, their temples were mostly empty, with only a few faithful older paladins in attendance. But now that one of our players has taken up the Justicar mantle, the streets are buzzing with rumors about what this means for the future of the lands, and the attendance at the temples is starting to increase. We have also started the crusade to take back the Stoneheart Valley shrines for the church.

To help accomplish this we have invented systems of tracking favor among the gods which is a boon to the faithful, does not affect the agnostic, and can provide temporary story benefits which eventually become mandatory quests for flip-floppers. Those who live by the tenants of their gods get a change of starting disposition towards avatars and priests of their own and of opposing religions. It is a bit of a mess right now with players worshiping Jamboor, Hecate, The Green Father, Muir, and Note, but as player characters die in the world new ones come in, often with different religious views which keeps things interesting.

I rarely, if ever, use the actual deities themselves.  In 30 years of gaming, the few times I've tried have always fallen flat and been viewed as underwhelming or gimmicky to my players.

That said, I utiize priests and temples all of the time.  I'm really hoping we get some additional detials on deities in the campaign setting beyond what we've seen to date but given how MANY deities there are, I suspect that probably won't be the case.  I really want to have some sense of size and influence of certain religions, organization and/or hierarchy, the differences between Lawful & Chaotic faiths, etc.