Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Erol Otus Pantheon

If you were introduced to Dungeons & Dragons during the early 1980s, as I was, then you've undoubtedly seen a great deal of artwork by Erol Otus. He produced cover paintings and interior art for Deities and Demigods as well as adventure modules in the Slavers, Against the Drow, and "S" series (particularly the heavily-illustrated module S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks). His work is highly stylized, and often downright bizarre, but he's always been one of my favorite D&D artists, and definitely the one who makes me most nostalgic for my early years in the hobby.

His work on Deities and Demigods included the cover and title page illustrations, almost the entire Cthulhu Mythos chapter (which was cut from later printings), and a dozen or so other pieces scattered throughout the book. The entities on the cover and title page appear to be of Otus's own creation, as they do not obviously match any of the pantheons detailed within the book, This lack of information has inspired a number of D&D fans to devise their own versions of the "Erol Otus Pantheon." In a recent post on his blog "The Other Side," Timothy Brannon has shared links to Chris Kutalik's and Trey Causey's posts about their own pantheons based on these gods.

(Images borrowed from Chris Kutalik's blog, "Hill Cantons." Deities and Demigods Copyright 1980 TSR Games.)
Back in those 1st Edition days, I also created my own Otus pantheon, but unlike Kutalik, I no longer have any of my notes about it. That won't stop me from brainstorming one now, of course! Causey has already provided a pantheon for 5th Edition, so I will give them a Pathfinder treatment here.

Gods of Good

KYPNERA, Serpent Goddess (Lawful Good)
Kypnera was the first couatl, and appears as an immense member of that race. She is revered by couatls, good dragons and nagas, and paladins.
Domains: Air, Animal, Good, Knowledge, Law
Favored Weapon: Longsword
Symbol: Couatl

MAHAR, Lord of Light (Lawful Good)
Mahar, the King of Solars, appears as a shining, winged man armored in a breastplate and winged helm. His staff combines the powers of a holy avenger and a rod of lordly might.
Domains: Glory, Good, Law, Nobility, Sun
Favored Weapon: Longspear
Symbol: Crescent moon and sun

LORIPHIS the Firebird (Neutral Good)
Loriphis is the primal phoenix, goddess of fire, healing, and resurrection.
Domains: Fire, Glory, Good, Healing, Sun
Favored Weapon: Longbow
Symbol: Phoenix

RAVARA, Mistress of Magic (Chaotic Good)
Ravara appears as a beautiful human or elven woman with long hair and a billowing cloak. She bears no weapons beyond her spells. She is popular among arcane spellcasters, elves, and fey.
Domains: Artifice, Knowledge, Magic, Protection, Rune
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Symbol: A star within a star

YLMIR, God of Battles (Neutral Good)
Ylmir appears as a heavily muscled, bare-chested man dressed in a kilt and cloak. He is skilled with all weapons, but frequently fights unarmed, disarming his foes them grappling them into submission. He is worshiped by warriors of all races, but primarily humans and dwarves.
Domains: Destruction, Earth, Liberation, Strength, War
Favored Weapon: Unarmed strike
Symbol: A pair of fists

Gods of Neutrality

ECARA, Goddess of Night and Dreams (Chaotic Neutral)
Daughter of Ireur and twin to Synir, Ecara works throughout the night to craft dreams for mortals. Because of these visions she sends, she is worshiped as a goddess of both illusions and prophecy.
Domains: Chaos, Charm, Darkness, Liberation, Luck
Favored Weapon: Net
Symbol: Silver net

IREUR, Master of Time (Lawful Neutral)
Ireur's priests teach that he was the first god, the one who created the many gods and planes of the multiverse. He is the god of order, embodied within the eternal cycles of the heavens.
Domains: Community, Knowledge, Law, Repose, Travel
Favored Weapon: Warhammer
Symbol: A man's face with stars for eyes

SYNIR, God of Dusk and Sleep (Neutral)
Son of Ireur and twin to Ecara, Synir brings darkness and rest at the end of each day--though in some moods, he also brings the darkness of storm clouds. Those who work under cover of darkness worship him, as do those who wish a peaceful night's sleep.
Domains: Darkness, Luck, Protection, Trickery, Weather
Favored Weapon: Starknife
Symbol: Violet cloud

Gods of Evil

BAZZALTH, Lord of Hell (Lawful Evil)
Bazzalth was a pit fiend who fought and schemed his way to full archdevil status so long enough ago that his predecessor's name has been forgotten (or more likely, successfully suppressed).
Domains: Evil, Fire, Law, Strength, War
Favored Weapon: Halberd
Symbol: Devil's head

GHIZUL the Blight, Lord of Envy and Filth (Chaotic Evil)
Ghizul is a disgusting worm-like creature with eyestalks and a beard of tentacles. It attacks by spewing infectious acidic slime upon its enemies.
Domains: Chaos, Earth, Evil, Plant, Water
Favored Weapon: Bolas
Symbol: Worm

NYROTH the Devourer, Queen of Dragons (Chaotic Evil)
The mother of evil dragonkind appears as either a green dragon, or as a naga with arms and wings. In the latter form, she wields a double-ended halberd-like weapon; as a result, her humanoid worshipers have a penchant for exotic weapons.
Domains: Destruction, Magic, Scalykind*, Strength, War
Favored Weapon: One double weapon, which varies by race
Symbol: Dragon's eye

THAALKAK the Eternal, God of Death and Undeath (Neutral Evil)
Thaalkak was the first necromancer, then became the first lich, and is forever experimenting with new undead horrors. He bears Uzug, a sentient bone staff that qualifies as a minor demigod in its own right (or may be the undead remnant of one).
Domains: Darkness, Death, Evil, Knowledge, Magic
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Symbol: Horned skull

XEOL the Wyrm, Queen of Vermin (Neutral Evil)
Xeol has a long, many-legged body, like a caterpillar or centipede. Her head is vaguely humanoid, with a long forked tongue.
Domains: Animal, Darkness, Evil, Travel, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Spiked chain
Symbol: Human-headed centipede

YAGROZTU, Great Old One (Chaotic Evil)
Yagroztu dwells in the Far Realm, and is only listed as part of this pantheon because his cult has started to infiltrate this world. Yagroztu's form is malleable, but most of his idols have large eyes, tentacles, and extra arms.
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Madness, Void*
Favored Weapon: Whip
Symbol: Image of the god

(The Fantasy Name Generators website was used to generate suitable names.)

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