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  • #61
    Originally posted by Crying View Post
    So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad of an idea would trying to seperate the Shen by dynasty be?

    Because I know that they're kind of just a bunch of different mythologies that all got thrown together, so seperating them wouldn't exactly be accurate, but I also know that it would take so much effort that it's ridiculous.
    Well, I think you're imagining the changes in Chinese religion over time as a bit too monumental. Deities from pre-imperial times are still being worshipped - it's not like each dynasty would bring a completely new set of family deities or anything. Quite the contrary, actually. The imperial Chinese ruling class, in fact, tried to distance itself from religion as much as possible, at least in theory. Confucianism, the traditional religion of elites, was largely agnostic, and Buddhist, Daoist, and folk deities were often derided as superstitious nonsense by the ruling class. Thus, records of the actual religious practices of the Chinese people are sketchy for a long time: It isn't until the ruling class opens up to folk religion, and the invention of printing and wider literacy increase the records that we can really grasp the broadth of the Chinese pantheon. That would be the Song Dynasty, with the relevant period starting around the 11th century. That's like the last quarter of Chinese history. So from that point on, those dynasty pantheons you're suggesting would be pretty similar, and before that, they would be pretty hard to do at all. It would be possible to do an "Ancient Chinese" pantheon with just figures like Nüwa and Huang Di, but it's not like those figures became completely irrelevant later, and frankly, I don't see the fun in half a pantheon.

    No, I don't think division by dynasty would work, but you could, in theory, divide the pantheon by creed. Some nuance would be lost, as there is a lot of syncretism and cross-over between those beliefs, but it's not as bad as in Japan (we don't properly explain that in the write-up for the Kami as it is now, because it will be a sidebar, but Buddhism and Shinto were historically one religion, the split there is fairly recent; in China, however, there has always been an awareness, at least among intellectuals, that there were several religions to choose from - although the common people still mixed them). I did consider doing that for some time when I began research, but I found that it would represent Chinese society badly, and would lose a lot of fun. But in theory, it's possible and makes a certain amount of sense. The five major sources for Chinese religion and mythology I'd name are ancient traditions, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and folk religion. An ancient pantheon would include members like Nüwa, Huang Di, and possibly Xi Wang Mu, though I can't really make a guess for a PSP for that one. A Confucian pantheon is a bad idea, since, as I mentioned, Confucianism is pretty much agnostic-atheistic, and depicting Confucius and his students as deities would probably be considered quite disrespectful. A Daoist pantheon would be hard to do just for the enormous amount of highly complicated sources that religion produced, but it would then include figures like the Jade Emperor, the Three Pure Ones, the Azure Lad of Heaven, and could also contain Xi Wang Mu; the Daoist PSP would be about everything being unified in the flow of the Dao, about natural chaos triumphing over order, and about achieving absolute immortality (when we last talked about it, Daoism was probable as the main source for our Shen PSP, but nothing is certain at the moment). A Chinese Buddhist pantheon would be a bit of a strange choice (Watcher already mentioned how it's hard to separate Buddhist deities from the cultures they were adapted to), but it could still be centred around what makes these adaptations of the Buddhist deties uniquely Chinese, such as Guanyin's femininity; its PSP would be the usual Buddhist things, rebirth, incarnation, enlightenment, overcoming illusion, all that. A folk pantheon would again be a bit hard to separate from the Daoists (especially because it would need the Jade Emperor to function), but it would certainly be the most fun, with hordes of deified mortals acting as colourful, very fallible gods like Guan Yu, Mazu, Wenchang, and Sun Wukong; again, I would be a bit hard-pressed for a unique PSP to give that one. So, as I said, dividing the Chinese pantheon wouldn't be my choice, but it would be possible, and I would encourage you to do it, just because I'd be interested in seeing how you do it. But we'll do it differently. That'll mean about 15 major gods, and a literal armada of minor gods, not to mention months of reading and research, and probably even more typing than for the Kami. It'll be a hell of a lot of work and it'll take forever, but I'm pretty sure it will be grand.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by Watcher View Post

      But, for the Buddhas themselves. We have not spent a large amount of time on this, but we are thinking Titans. They are just so monumentally powerful in-universe that they don't work as Legend 12 Deities (such as when the Buddha intercedes when SunWukong has single handedly fought the Shen), so, Titanhood seems to be a good spot for them. We are not totally sold on it though, it's a bit of a toss up. We want to respect their overwhelming power and understanding, which the best way to do is make them Titans. They have never shown up at our table though.
      Gautama Buddha, former Scion of Vishnu and current Avatar of Nirvana, Titanrealm of Nothingness?

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      • #63
        Originally posted by Crying View Post

        Gautama Buddha, former Scion of Vishnu and current Avatar of Nirvana, Titanrealm of Nothingness?
        I probably wouldn't ever explain any parentage or anything. Actually, well, no. I treat every religious system as 100% true internally, even when this makes zero sense or is contradictory to other stated things (in which case I have two things that are both 100% true even if they disagree). So, Gautama Buddha would be a Prince, nothing more. I would not say he was a Scion, I would simply say that he is exactly who is is internally.

        Now, externally, other Pantheons may argue this. The Deva may, or, well, actually. Sac would know this better, but I think the Kami may even claim him, since I believe there was a very odd movement at one point tying into the Japanese Exceptionalism where they claimed to be the source of Buddhism. But, I would treat this as nothing but rhetoric, with The Truth being the Buddhist conception of things.

        But, what Titanrealm he would be bound to, I have no idea. I have been moving away from the ideas of Titanrealms in my revisions really. I don't like the idea specific Titanrealms are picking on specific Pantheons, I run it more insular. Balor (War Titan), Bres (Justice Titan), and Cethlenn (Prophecy Titan) would wage war to try to conquer or subjugate Ireland. Balor would be rather uninterested in the Shen however, and wouldn't get involved unless dragged in by politics. So, if I wrote up the Buddhists, I might not have the Buddhas bound to specific Titanrealms. So far, I have only been noting the Major Power each Titan is linked to by making the Power in Bold. (For example, Atlas has Epic Strength in bold, and Izanami has Death in bold)

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Watcher View Post

          I probably wouldn't ever explain any parentage or anything. Actually, well, no. I treat every religious system as 100% true internally, even when this makes zero sense or is contradictory to other stated things (in which case I have two things that are both 100% true even if they disagree). So, Gautama Buddha would be a Prince, nothing more. I would not say he was a Scion, I would simply say that he is exactly who is is internally.

          Now, externally, other Pantheons may argue this. The Deva may, or, well, actually. Sac would know this better, but I think the Kami may even claim him, since I believe there was a very odd movement at one point tying into the Japanese Exceptionalism where they claimed to be the source of Buddhism. But, I would treat this as nothing but rhetoric, with The Truth being the Buddhist conception of things.
          Shrug Your choice man, the idea just struck me and I thought it was worth suggesting.

          But, what Titanrealm he would be bound to, I have no idea. I have been moving away from the ideas of Titanrealms in my revisions really. I don't like the idea specific Titanrealms are picking on specific Pantheons, I run it more insular. Balor (War Titan), Bres (Justice Titan), and Cethlenn (Prophecy Titan) would wage war to try to conquer or subjugate Ireland. Balor would be rather uninterested in the Shen however, and wouldn't get involved unless dragged in by politics. So, if I wrote up the Buddhists, I might not have the Buddhas bound to specific Titanrealms. So far, I have only been noting the Major Power each Titan is linked to by making the Power in Bold. (For example, Atlas has Epic Strength in bold, and Izanami has Death in bold)
          Yeah, I saw that actually. I'm rather fond of the Titanrealms, but that's not a bad way of doing things. I even contemplated it myself at one point, but I just like the Titanrealms too much to get rid of them. At most I'd just get rid of the idea of a dominant Avatar.

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          • #65
            Oh yeah, no worries! I'm just musing on how I would manage all of it myself. I totally get tracking paths of Divinity, moving from Pantheon to Pantheon with origins of ideas, having an order to the divergent systems. I hold nothing against people who do it otherwise. The revisions I do tend to be reflections of how I run and order cosmologies, which is why I shape them around my 'rules' of existence. I welcome people to do otherwise, use stuff I have written, and reinterpret it. I don't mind at all.

            The Titanrealms are a really nice system, they give locations for God level Stories, and really help provide structure to a part of the game that is exceptionally structureless otherwise (God Tier). I am, however, an absolute lunatic. The biggest killing point of it for me was some Titans (Atlas, Izanami, Typhon, Raijin + Fujin) being bound (or 'bound' in the case of the Storm Oni) in specific, non-Titanrealm locals. So, I have ended up breaking the Titanrealms down, and having each Titan bound (or 'bound', I like a lot of figurative Bindings. Lir bound by his sorrow, Raijin by conversion, Kagutsuchi being broken into different Kami) specifically where they are noted to be.

            This does create a bunch of difficulties really, and I would say it is a lot of trouble, and effort. I totally acknowledge that this really is just me being a glutton for punishment, and giving myself a huge amount of work to explain things such as "Why has no one seen Atlas when he's supposed to be just right over there" or, "Why have Scientists not noticed Typhon sealed under a mountain."

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            • #66
              Originally posted by Crying View Post

              Gautama Buddha, former Scion of Vishnu and current Avatar of Nirvana, Titanrealm of Nothingness?
              Well, the really tricky thing here is, as Watcher alludes to, that in Buddhist cosmology, the Buddha known as Siddharta Gautama (in the following I'll refer to him as Shakyamuni, another one of his titles) is neither the first nor the last Buddha. Depending on the source, there's a whole of seven, 21, or even hundreds of Buddhas. "Buddha" is not a person, but a stage and class of being. In every age (and these ages each are millennia long), a Buddha descends from heaven in human form to teach the ignorant people of that age the Law of Buddhism; after his death, people first practice his teaching, then start to forget it, then descend into ignorance again (according to most authorities, we've been in this stage for some centuries now) until they have fully forgotten the Law. Thus, sooner or later, a new Buddha will have to descend and start over.

              Among the most important of the Buddhas beside Shakyamuni are Vairochana, the esoteric "Sun Buddha" of the very first age, supposed to have existed before the universe and being the source and underlying true nature of everything that exists (under the name "Dainichi" he's very important to Japanese religion; that's one of the points where, as Watcher pointed out, the medieval Japanese tried to find the origin of Buddhism in their own country: They associated Dainichi with Amaterasu and thus claimed that Dainichi, the cosmos, and Buddhist Law had all been born on Japanese soil); Amitabha, the "Merciful Buddha", who made 21 oaths to aid in the enlightenment of all sentient beings, thus creating the Pure Land souls can be reborn into to easily achieve enlightenment there (Avalokiteshvara, as the being you might know from Japan, China and Tibet respectively as Kannon, Guanyin and Chenrezig, is the main agent of Amitabha); and Maitreya, the "Buddha of the Future" who will enlighten the next age, but who can aid us now already as a Bodhisattva.

              Altogether, the Buddhas are all extremely wise and powerful, in fact literally more powerful than gods (who are, in Buddhist cosmology, actually among the lowest classes of heavenly beings), yet they are detached, they act in the world only through intermediaries (the Bodhisattvas, mainly, enlightened beings who have chosen to help other beings, and who won't achieve Nirvana themselves before all other beings are enlightened as well), because part of enlightenment is cutting all ties with the material world. Thus, they are in a way absolutely exemplary Titans or Primordials (at least when one ignores the antagonism suggested by 1e). Assigning them to Titanrealms, however, is more problematic. First, characterising Nirvana only as "Nothingness" falls a bit flat of the complicated philosophical history of that concept. After all, if achieving Nirvana simply meant disappearing into nothingness, it would make no sense for Buddhas to still appear and act in myths all over Asia, as they certainly do. What exactly the Nirvana is has been discussed for millennia now, and I'm certainly not fit to depict that discussion. In any case, however, you could probably procure enough Buddhas to fill a whole Titanrealm with them alone.

              In fact, a Buddhist pantheon would be totally feasible, with the Buddhas as a group of benevolent Titans at the top, and figures like Bodhisattvas, Arhats and Wisdom Kings in place of the usual gods (as I mentioned, "gods" (Devas) as such are too low in Buddhist cosmology to usually figure into such a depiction); they have cosmology, antagonists (Mara) and everything. We have, however, decided against doing something like that (at least for now), because it would, on the one hand, erase the local uniqueness the Buddhist pantheon itself took on from culture to culture (like how Avalokiteshvara is gender-ambigious in Japan, female in China, and male in Tibet), and, by removing them from the individual Asian pantheons, create a lot of loose ends within them - without Jigoku, Japan would have no functional underworld, the Seven Lucky Gods without their Buddhicised members would just be Ebisu talking to six imaginary friends, the whole culture and religion of the country would be impossible to explain without its Buddhist foundations. So I'm always very much for including Buddhist elements in the depictions of Asian pantheons - though you could still do an "original" Buddhist pantheon based on Indian scripture with Shakyamuni, Vairochana, Avalokiteshvara, Kshitigarbha, and so on in addition to the other Asian ones. I can't say whether Scion 2.0 will ever do this, as with the other Asian pantheons, Buddhism isn't exactly underrepresented, and there are still lots of other regions of the world to do, but even if, it's probably pretty far away.

              To come back to your original suggestion at last, treating Shakyamuni as a Scion of Vishnu would of course bring certain cotradictions with it, because Vishnu is basically non-existent within Buddhist religion itself. The relationships between Hinduism and Buddhism as a whole are historically quite complicated. One important fact is that what we would call Hinduism today is in fact ca. 1,500 years younger than Buddhism - although pinpointing that exactly is hard, because Vedic religion is root to both traditions, and that again is at least 700 years older than Buddhism. In any case, Hinduism for a long time saw Buddhism as a heretic off-shoot of their own religion; thus, Hindu clerics claimed that the Buddha Shakyamuni was in fact the ninth Avatar of Vishnu, incarnated to delude all the weak-minded with false teachings and thus rightfully damn them. This was integrated into the myths about the gods' strategies against demons: The reason demons could so often become dangerous opponents to the gods was that they would accumulate supernatural power through piety and religious rites - by teaching them religion and rites that were essentially wrong and worthless, Vishnu made the demons powerless. As you can easily see, that's a very unflattering way of depicting another religion, and thus we don't really want to have that influence our depiction of Buddhism, but to be fair, opinion became more positive over time, although not unanimously so. Buddhism was then sometimes seen as something of a worthy alternative, a brother even, to Hinduism, and Vishnu's incarnation as Shakyamuni came to be seen more as a gift to world (this coincides with Buddhism beginning to influence Hindu teaching much more strongly; the hell of Naraka, for example, has little foundation in older Hindu scripture and is pretty much an adaptation of a purely Buddhist idea). Thus, there are some Hindus today who'd say that other religious founders like Jesus and Mohammed were avatars of Vishnu as well (Vishnu, after all, has thousands of avatars; the ten everyone knows are just his purest incarnations). You can do with that info what you like, but for this project, we prefer to stick to what a religion says about itself mainly.

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              • #67
                As a big fan of the Kami, I just wanted to thank you for all the hard work you put into this. It's a great read and I could already see potential characters forming in my head just reading through your God list.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Mysteris View Post
                  As a big fan of the Kami, I just wanted to thank you for all the hard work you put into this. It's a great read and I could already see potential characters forming in my head just reading through your God list.
                  Glad you enjoyed it! Just knowing that someone's enjoyed reading it makes writing it totally worth it. If you've got any questions on it, or want any extra information, just let us know.

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                  • #69
                    I also found your remake quite interesting, Watcher! I never knew that Susano-o was not a Storm God and that Hachiman actually isn't much of a fighter, and all those insights into the intricacies of Japanese culture during the Kami's heyday was just fascinating to read.

                    ​Keep up the good work! Any ideas which Pantheon you're thinking about working on next? If you're even planning to do any next?


                    "We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
                    Captain Malcolm Reynolds

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by unnatural1 View Post
                      I also found your remake quite interesting, Watcher! I never knew that Susano-o was not a Storm God and that Hachiman actually isn't much of a fighter, and all those insights into the intricacies of Japanese culture during the Kami's heyday was just fascinating to read.

                      ​Keep up the good work! Any ideas which Pantheon you're thinking about working on next? If you're even planning to do any next?
                      Susanoo's storm associations are a difficult topic, and I just wrote a beautiful, long explanation about that, but then I accidentally refreshed the page (because when I'm not explaining mythology, I'm actually an idiot), so you get the trimmed down version. There'll be a sidebar as well when this goes up on the site proper. Basically, it is a very, very old scholarly reconstruction that is, however, still often repeated even in academic works. The assumption is based on a number of points: To form a proper triad with Amaterasu (sun) and Tsukuyomi (moon), the scholar supposed Susanoo had to represent a heavenly element as well - combined with the lordship over the sea, that apparently looked like storms to our scholar (the sea actually ties in far better with his afterlife associations, as e.g. Tokoyo should prove); also, his bad temper and dragon-slaying seem quite typical of a storm god. The obvious problem with this nice idea is that Susanoo never actually does thunder-wind-and-lightening-stuff, nor is he called a storm god in texts, nor worshipped as such. And he is worshipped as a great many things, being one of the most flexible Kami association-wise: He is a culture hero and divine smith in Izumo, a pestilence and death god at Gion Shrine in Kyoto, a mountain god at Kumano Shrine, a sword and war spirit at Atsuta Shrine, and so on.

                      This points to one of the main things to realise about the Kami: In spite of Japanese religion having some animist elements, it's mostly no use looking for big elemental associations for each god - their role as family ancestors and patrons is much more important. Many Kami, even important ones, actually have no "powers" at all, simply being the patron of family XYZ. And then, sometimes, they just pick up stuff associated with that family. Hachiman is actually the best example of that: He was originally a deity kinda artificially added to the Imperial family pantheon for political reasons, no war associations whatsoever. But due to lineage and inheritance, he became the family deity of the Minamoto clan, who in turn became the most succesful warriors of their time. Thus, Hachiman came to be seen as a granter of victory and protector of samurai (although still a peaceful Buddhist deity himself and not a war god like e.g. Ares).

                      And that, I personally think, is the key to understanding Susanoo as well. I'd see him, originally, not as the god of anything in particular, but as the patron of the ruling families of the Izumo region. We have to remember that, before being unified in remote antiquity by the conquests of the kingdom of Yamato, Japan consisted of many separate kingdoms with separate traditions. Izumo was amongst the last to be brought into the fold, and their power is attested to by Susanoo, who probably was their original patron, joining the imperial pantheon and his adventures being given disproportionate attention in the imperial myth cycle. Thus, he picked up associations from what people thought of Izumo over time: First he stood for the cultural innovations brought to Japan from Korea via that Western province, then for chaos and rebellion as Izumo stood against the Yamato state, then for the death and magic Izumo came to be known for in popular superstition, and so on.

                      Regarding future projects, I can, as already mentioned in previous posts, make no promises. Watcher is working on a Wyandot pantheon, and we both started looking into the Shen, although both of those projects have fallen victim to us being busy for now. I'm also accumulating info on the Egyptian, Indian, Yoruba, Polynesian, and Ancient Near Eastern religions, so we'll see when I manage to push those So for the moment, for you as much as for us, it's wait and see.

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by unnatural1 View Post
                        I also found your remake quite interesting, Watcher! I never knew that Susano-o was not a Storm God and that Hachiman actually isn't much of a fighter, and all those insights into the intricacies of Japanese culture during the Kami's heyday was just fascinating to read.

                        ​Keep up the good work! Any ideas which Pantheon you're thinking about working on next? If you're even planning to do any next?
                        Susano-O and Hachiman are really interesting for those reasons. Susano-O is a great example of when a small misconception has huge ramifications. One Victorian (or Edwardian? Can't remember) academic misunderstood a text, made a judgement call, and resulted in a misconception growing colossal in size. Susano-O as a Storm God is somewhat an entrenched idea in Western perceptions, all because of one slight mistake more than a century ago.

                        Hachiman is also a ton of fun since he's a God of Warriors, not a Warrior God, or God of War. That slight variation in wording causes such a huge shift. Hachiman is one of the more interesting Divine Parent options in my mind because of this, rather unique among the Deities with the War Purview I have encountered so far.

                        And, as for what's next, Sacerdos hit the nail on the head pretty much. I've got one essay left this semester, and I need to send in an application to graduate school. The moment winter break hits, I'll probably decide what's next on my plate. I have some tentative work done on the Wyandot (named the Huron by the Europeans), reading several collections of myth, and folklore from them. I am slightly reticent to try to write them up however, I am not entirely sure I could do them justice with the resources I have at the moment. I would be concerned that I would misrepresent them somehow due to the sources I have.

                        The Shen are interesting, and they might get a focus next for revisions. I am at a slight crossroads at the moment however. With Scion 2e coming out, I am torn between waiting to work on some fan stuff for that, or keep working on 1e. I research and write these to relax however, so I will probably work on something over the winter break. A small part of me wants to do the Welsh, but the more I look at them, the more I see a gnarled mess which I don't think I can pierce without a very concerted effort.

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