Friday, February 27, 2009

um... fear my wrath, puny mortals?

Like most respectable gaming rags Dungeoneer Journal #24 (December 1980) has an article full of new monsters. I love rules variants and DMing advice and all that sort of crap, but for me personally a decent game magazine has to include nuts & bolts stuff like monsters, magic items, spells, spaceships, etc. that I can drop right into my own games. Or even better, ready-to-rock adventures.

Anyhoo, I've shared crazy critters from other installments of the 'Monster Matrix' column a couple times before. Issue 24's Matrix brings us stats for what is in all likelihood the whimpiest god to ever to appear in D&D. Or possibly any other game. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

Here's the entry for this dude in its entirety:

Fire God by Scott Zeppa
No. Appearing...1
Hit Dice...3+1
Fire God can only be hit by magical weapons. Attacker(s) must withdraw after four melee rounds for one round unless the attacker takes [a] Potion of Fire Resistance or wields a Sword of Cold. If not, the attacker must wait the one round before he/she may return to combat. The Fire God has a pet Hell Hound.

I feel pretty confident that Mr. Zeppa didn't own Gods, Demigods & Heroes when he wrote up stats for this guy, otherwise Fire God probably wouldn't be so weak. A three hit dice god kinda suggests that maybe he ran his campaign with only the Holmes Basic rulebook. Maybe all his deities are three hit dice and PCs who made third level in Zeppa's campaign were considered semi-divine. Holmes put quite a few badass monsters in his edit of the rules, so the gods themselves would have to be pretty careful! (On the other hand, the lack of any attack/damage info suggests pre-Greyhawk OD&D. You're just supposed to know that Fire God does one attack for d6 damage (presumably fire) because almost everyone does d6 damage.)
If you use Fire God with the rules in Deities & DemiGods he could actually still be a pretty bad threat. Even as a mere demigod he would gain sweet saving throws (2 or higher on all saves) and a bunch of at will abilities: command (no save), comprehend languages (including speaking and writing), detect alignment, gate, geas (9"), quest (9", no save), teleport without error, true seeing. The gate ability only applies to members of your own pantheon, so in this case I guess that means Fire God would be able to gate in his dog.
Under the DDG this dude would also get the ability to grant cleric spells up to 5th level. So you could set up this awesome scenario where Fire God hangs out at his sweet-ass temple, living the high life. The High Priest of the faith thinks his deity is a total douchebag and he KNOWS he could take Fire God in a fight, but if the god is slain the EHP loses his best spells, forever. The challenge for a low level party (incapable of a direct confrontation) would be to somehow provoke the EHP to strike in anger. If the priest wins the cult of the Fire God is totally hosed. If Fire God prevails at least the world has one less EHP in it.


  1. The concept of a 3HD deity is actually quite awesome. I'm totally using this guy in our next game.

    I’d almost go with a Small Gods take a lá Terry Pratchett. The Fire God used to be big business for Humans, who were reliant on him for warmth and protection against the elements. Now sadly, he’s been taken for granted, for the Humans have mastered Flame and can create it on their own rather than waiting for a thunderbolt to incinerate a hapless tree. So no one purposefully prays to Fire God anymore, and prayer is where all the Gods derive their strength. Weak and justifiably bitter, his only prayers echo on the lips of villagers who’s loved ones are trapped inside burning buildings, his only sacrifices the occasional moth who spirals into a campfire. He’s still immortal though, unless every flame everywhere is completely extinguished, and even then, it only takes a spark and some kindling to return him to life. Every wise adventurer who paid the few silver for flint and tinder in the event of Trolls owes him a lot more gratitude than he typically receives.

  2. What to you expect from a diety who apparently spends all their time dancing and singing along to disco? He might be doing YMCA in the pic.

  3. Or maybe disco inferno

  4. In Judges Guild's "The Unknown Gods" there were slews of gods with 75 or fewer hit points and low-level abilities (they were classified with "magic ability" and "fighting ability" as levels). They're perfect for the small gods concept, although I admit that Fire God is a little smaller than those, even.

  5. Yeah, I've got Unknown Gods and it is frickin' awesome. It's basically the Fiend Folio of deity books.

  6. Kirby Dots make me err on the side of caution.

  7. Anonymous3:07 PM

    I have that magazine! How did I ever miss that god?

    I am so totally in favor of weak gods. This excels even the Unknown Gods. Thanks for pointing him out, Jeff!

  8. Weak gods is a fantastic idea for a more swords-and-sorcery feel. Maybe they have a couple use-at-will unique abilities, but are otherwise ordinary. Combine that with the idea of clerics getting their spells from faith instead of from the god directly, and you you have a great set-up: if the priest of the Fire God looks a little too closely at the one he serves, he might realize how weak his master really is, and lose faith, which means he loses his spells. The priest's number one priority becomes "protect my weak god at all costs, and don't let his weakness be revealed!"

  9. I'm thinking that "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" probably played a role in all this.

  10. Dude, you know how fucked up the typos were in Judges Guild products. That's a 13+9 HD and 200 HP.

  11. Yeesh!

    This one issue of the DJ - I had bought it back in the day and I recently re-bought it in a collection of Judge's Guild magazines.

    It's like a microcosm of all that was good & bad about those days - the ultra-cheesy dungeon with the demon that explodes if you hit too hard (and everyone is "covered in demon guts"), the decidedly odd magic items ("Potion Ugliness" [sic], the earthworm drilling machine, the "Magic handsel" that duplicates anything left next to it that's named with any synonym for "rabbit"), the list of rumors (some of which are quite good), the article on war robots in D&D, and the "solo dungeon" computer program (I typed the whole thing in... and it didn't work! Pfuagh). Oh, and the Snark and the Boojum. See why I had to buy it again all these years later?