The Wild Coast
How Do Gods Look Upon Mortals?
The gods of Oerth rarely intercede directly in the affairs of Oerth. They expect their servants to be their right (and left) hands in the world. Clerics, priests, paladins, and less exalted but still valued souls are the agents of Gods, however minor their deeds may be. The gods have an implicit understanding that if one of them should act too directly, others will act in concert to oppose the meddler, for if all acted in such a manner, Oerth would be destroyed by them.
This helps us understand why the demigod Iuz has been able to effect so much evil in the Flanaess. The Prime Material is his home plane, and therefore, he has a direct involvement in its affairs that other gods do not. The servants must oppose Iuz, not the gods themselves. One partial exception to this is St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel. Other gods allow St. Cuthbert to act in limited ways to oppose Iuz. Why they do this, and how far St. Cuthbert is allowed to act, is a matter known only to the gods.
In other respects, the gods regard mortals as they do in almost all worlds. Mortals give reverence and their clerics and priests receive spells. The Gods watch with varying degrees of involvement. Greater gods tend to have less involvement than lesser gods, because greater gods are more absorbed in the affairs of many worlds and transcendent events that are far beyond the affairs of mortals.
How Do Mortals Regard the Gods?
The gods and powers of the Flanaess are an often-confusing mix of deities from a handful of cultures, representing natural powers and human attributes, virtues (and vices), and mental and emotional states. In such an environment, the powers and attributes of some gods overlap. Certain others, generally demi-gods or quasi-deities, are once-mortal heroes (or villains) who have attained godlike powers. Most humans and demihumans worship one or two primary gods, but their worship is by no means exclusionist. The people of the Flanaess are pragmatists, and they willingly embrace as many gods as necessary to make their lives run more smoothly. While a farmer may worship the old Flan goddess Beory as the Oerth Mother, he may also offer money or tribute to the Suel god Phyton to bring fertility to his fields. More than this, whenever the farmer strays into non-agricultural endeavours, he may very well offer tribute to the god or gods appropriate to whatever he is doing. For instance, if he travels to the City of Greyhawk to sell his products in the market there, he may at different times during his trip offer tribute to Fharlanghn (god of roads), St. Cuthbert (god of honesty), Velnius (god of weather) and Zilchus (god of money). A lot of this “worship” will look perfunctory, like tossing coins into a fountain for luck, but it will be no less genuine for that. The people of the Flanaess feel their gods are real and can take concrete action on the material plane. This feeling isn’t changed by the fact that the most powerful gods rarely involve themselves directly with happenings on Oerth, St. Cuthbert being an occasional exception to this.
Gods of Humankind
Deities are divided into four groups: greater, intermediate, lesser, and demipowers. The basis of this broad distinction is as follows:
Greater Gods: These are distant gods, far removed from most mortal affairs. Some may be held to be among the Creator Gods of the multiverse or of Oerth. They typically have many spheres of concern, or are absolute masters of just one sphere.
Intermediate Gods: While lacking the great creative force of greater gods, they are still very powerful and hold major sway over one or two spheres of concern. In some nations, they may be held as patron gods, even above a greater god.
Lesser Gods: A lesser power may serve greater ones as a messenger or aide, may be a cast-out or solitary power, or may hold sway over a very narrow sphere of concern. Some lesser gods may be declining from exalted status or may be ascending to greater force.
Demi-Gods: These are the least powerful and in many ways are similar to the Lesser Gods. Some may be mortals who have undergone divine ascension (Zagig and Mayaheine an being prime examples). Some may even be referred to as Hero Gods.