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Dungeons & Dragons: Powers of the Planes
In the last entry I talked about cosmology, who actually rules the cosmos?
This one will be about explaining these guys, who make up the top and god- tiers of D&D.
no tl;dr this time since this whole entry is a tl;dr of a much larger explanation.
Lets start with Deities, AKA Gods.
Most commonly, the masters of the Multiverse are the gods.
Gods are on another level of existence from mortals. They even have their own level system based on the concept of 'divine ranks'(DR) that goes from 0 to 21 and above.
Gods have domains of influence in the cosmos, also known as portfolios, and these often determine how high they rank on the ladder.
This ranking system divided the gods to these categories in the 3rd edition:
This was changed in 4th edition, as 4e core setting just had 'gods', without attributing a ranking system at all. but 4e is weird and nobody likes it so specific settings adopted their own systems.
- Overdeities (DR 21 and up)
- Greater Deities (DR 16-20)
- Intermediate Deities (DR 11-115)
- Lesser Deities (DR 6-10)
- Demigods (DR 1-5)
- Quasi-deities (DR 0)
For example, Forgotten Realms switched to this system:
Basically, Gods= intermediate and lesser deities lobbed into one group, and Exarchs became a term to represent all divine servants of a god, be it a demigod or a quasi-god.
- Greater Gods
It's important to note that the power of each rank isn't uniform across settings
Now for a brief explanation of each rank:
Overgods: These are the top dogs of their settings, and generally the ones that created it.
These gods neither require nor want mortal worship and are so powerful that they are described as gods of gods. The only confirmed Overgod in primary canon that I'm aware of is Lord Ao, the overgod of forgotten realms. Although the High God of Dragonlance also fits the bill, he just hasn't been named as such.
Examples from Myth: that's a tough one actually, possibly Brahman of Hindu myth can be considered an Overgod
Greater Gods: The great powers of the multiverse are often the masters of important portfolios and have millions of worshipers. They often have entire planes of existence as their realms.
Examples from Myth: Zeus, Ra, Amaterasu, Odin, Thor and other prominent gods
(Lesser) Gods: Not quite as powerful as the stronger ones, but still gods in their own right. They control pocket dimension realms within other planes and sometimes answer to a greater power (sometimes they are independent however).
Examples from Myth: Aphrodite, Hermes, Thoth, Heimdall
Exarchs/Demigods: Lesser divinities with limited portfolios. Although in D&D they are still full on gods, just weak ones. They are often ascended mortals or the spawn of greater gods.
Examples from myth: Hercules (post-ascension), deified Pharaohs/Emperors , various local gods
Quasi-deities: Beings with a divine rank of 0. They don't have a portfolio and thus no divine powers, but are still powerful immortal beings. They generally serve the gods.
Examples from myth: Nymphs, Valkyries, Norse giants
Hero Deities: These are actually the mortal spawn of a god. they aren't immortal, but are exceptional for their kind. Often become heroes and sometimes ascend to divinity.
Examples from Myth: Hercules (per-ascension), Perseus, and many other offsprings of zeus, Gilgamesh
Chosen: not deities, these are mortals that have been gifted various powers by a god to serve as a representative of said god on Earth. Sometimes Chosen are turned into quasi-deities, but they are almost always epic level characters/creatures.
Now moving to Non-Deity Powers, these come in many shapes, but are generally the most powerful members of various Elemental/Outsider races.
Primordials: a relatively new addition, primordials are ancient enemies of the gods formed from the multiverse itself that fought them for control. Some primordials are even revered as gods and have a divine rank. They do not need worship to fuel their powers, unlike the gods.
Archfiends: The rulers of the lower planes, divided into three principle races based on alignment:
Celestial Paragons: lords of the good aligned outsiders
- Demons: hail from the Abyss, they represent chaotic evil.
Their rulers are the Demon lords, also known as Demon Princes.
- Devils: hail from Hell, AKA Baator, they represent lawful evil.
Their rulers are the Archdevils of the nine hells.
- Yugoloths: neutral evil fiends, neither demon nor devil. Their rulers are the Yugoloth lords.
nobody really cares about them
Angels can be of any good alignment depending of what god they serve, they don't have paragons (at least not in primary canon).
- The Celestial Hebdomad: the mightiest of Archons, lawful good aligned celestials.
- Queen Morwel and the Court of Stars: monarchs of the Eladrin, chaotic good celestials
(From 4th edition and onwards the Eladrin are re-classified as Fey, therefore these guys are now Archfey)
- Talisid and his champions: lords of the guardinals, neutral-good celestials
Archfey: especially powerful fey creatures who serve as the lords of the Feywild (although the court of stars resides in Arborea, or at least used to). The main two factions of Fey are known as the Seelie court led by the Summer Queen Titania and the Unseelie court led by the Queen of Air and Darkness. Other Archfey include Satyr lords and especially powerful hags.
Archomentals: also known as the Elemental Princes, these are powerful elemental entities that usually come in pairs of good and evil (for the main four elements at least). Elemental princes also exist for the Quasi-elemental demi-planes such as ice, smoke or ooze. They are not to confused with the Elemental Lords who are Gods/Primordials and the actual rulers of the elemental planes (and also much stronger).
Slaad Lords: unique powerful Slaadi, they are formed from the birthing stone in Limbo to serve an unknown purpose. Very few are known by name, but regardless they are very powerful.
Primus: the prime Modron, this is the mechanical ruler of Mechanus the true Lawful plane.
There is only ever one, and in the event that he would die a Secundus Modron is immidietly elevated to replace him. It is said that while in Mechanus Primus possess power comparable to a god.
The Dark Powers: these entities rule over pocket dimensions within the Shadowfel known as the Domains of Dread, and are all kinds of evil. They cannot escape from their domains but are otherwise in full control of them. The most well known of the Dark Powers is count Strahd von Zarovich, the first vampire (at least after the retcon...).
Elder Evils: a very heterogeneous group of ancient evil beings that vary from fallen demon-lords to eldritch beasts from the far realm to undead planets.
Abstract Entities: Not much is known of them, except that they are ancient and far more powerful than gods (outside of overgods of course). The most known ones of this group are the Lady of Pain and the Serpent.
and...that's pretty much it.
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