Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pantheons in Hero's Journey: Who's Who in the World of the Divine

So you all know that Hero's Journey will be a game in which your characters receive the favor of various gods, which is exciting (and possibly terrifying) but leaves everyone with a lot of questions. The most common question so far coming into our box is a request to know what gods you can choose as your divine patrons, and whether or not that will expand in the future. Does your divine patron have any effect on your character mechanically, or just storywise? Can you be the representative of any god, or are only certain gods available for play?

So we're here to talk a little bit today about how divine patrons will work and who you can choose as your godly boss. As one of the God-Touched, your character is a person chosen by a god to do their work in the world of mortals, and that will indeed affect your character's creation, powers and options as they begin to take on more and more of the mantle of divine power throughout the game.

So who can be your divine patron? The answer is technically any deity you can think of, but realistically we are limited by the constraints of game rules to starting small and expanding from there.

Hero's Journey will start with four distinct pantheons of gods available as divine patrons for players: the gods of Egypt, Greece, India and Scandinavia. Let us jump in and talk about the responses we can even now hear bubbling up behind your keyboards!

Why these pantheons in particular? All the polytheistic pantheons in the world have uniquely interesting gods, religious practices and myths, so trying to choose any limited number of them to include in the initial game was beyond challenging. Arguments were shouted to the sky; bitter tears were shed. In the end, we had to try to determine which four pantheons players would have the most interest in playing, and be the most eager to begin exploring the minute the game is released.

  • The gods of Greece are possibly the most instantly recognizable and well-known in the western world. They influenced many other cultures' religions in the Mediterranean area and even into Africa and Europe, and were later further celebrated in European art and culture until many of them are ubiquitous symbols of various concepts in the world. We have found that the largest portion of players, when asked to choose a polytheistic god patron, gravitate toward choosing one of the Greek gods first, or at least consider them seriously.
  • The gods of India are, in the real world where we are writing this game, the deities of the largest and most wildly popular polytheistic religion in the world, with an estimated billion worshipers across Asia, Oceania and in various communities farther west as well. Their myths formed the basis for many of the later religions that formed in Asia and Europe, and their vibrant pantheon and religion make them obvious choices for both awesome gameplay and popular player choice.
  • The gods of Egypt are one of the oldest and most widely-studied pantheons in the world, and have sparked the imagination of people across the centuries with their ancient powers and mighty myths, preserving and creating new stories about them in print, film and retold tales centuries after they ceased to be worshiped in their homeland. Their influence at the height of their power was undeniable, and we think they're an inescapable power in Africa that should be represented from the beginning.
  • The gods of Scandinavia - specifically the Aesir and Vanir of Norse/Germanic myth - are perennially popular subjects for stories and research, and have been for centuries as their sagas are retold and recorded and their rollicking adventure stories repeated in modern media. They are probably the second most popular response, behind the Greek gods, when a potential player is asked to choose a patron deity, and their tales are quintessential heroic stories in the style of the game.

What about -insert other pantheon here-? We would love to put other pantheons in the game immediately. In fact, we would love to put every pantheon that exists in the game, even though that would take years of dedicated work. We have had to put pantheons whose deities and mythology we absolutely love on the proverbial back burner, and trust us when we say that if you're disappointed that your favorite isn't represented yet, so are we. We can only say that we will be adding more pantheons as quickly as possible, and that those you wish were here hopefully will be in the not-so-distant future.

Why do we only get four pantheons to begin with? Unfortunately, this is just a reality of trying to have a basic, playable game ready from the get-go. If we delayed until we could have eight or ten or twenty pantheons ready to go, this game would be months or even years further in the future, and nobody would get to play anything. Four is our realistic number for a quick and awesome beginning, and then we can expand infinitely from there.

So, when will there be more pantheons? The answer is as quickly as we can possibly write and release them. The initial four are already well on track to come out with Hero's Journey's beginning release, and one of our big goals is to release new content regularly and quickly once it's out. What all of you can do, should you want to participate, is tell us on the forums what other pantheons and gods you would be interested in seeing. That's how we'll know what you guys are looking for and what would make the game more exciting for you.

So have at it, and we'll keep updating you on what the game's about and what you can expect to see in it!