Continued from an earlier post.

– For the sake of simplicity, and because the setting takes place during an older age than most classical mythology, there are far fewer recognized gods in the pantheon. While your average commoner or priest will be familiar with many, many gods, their exploits, and their cults (think of their cults like sports teams), there are only five major gods worshiped across most of the Greek world: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. The story goes that following the Titanomachy, the gods settled into fairly open-ended roles as paragons for the humanoid races, with Poseidon being the only god to assert anything resembling “kingliness” or divine leadership. Zeus played his classic role in the war (starting the whole thing) but is wandering the world having adventures while his brothers and sisters run things.

– The Five Gods, as they are commonly referred to when talking about them as a group, correspond roughly to the following Fourth Edition gods: Hestia (Erathis), Demeter (Pelor), Hera (Avandra), Hades (The Raven Queen), and Poseidon (Melora). Zeus corresponds to the god Kord, but isn’t widely recognized yet. He does have cults throughout the Greek world (as do many of the other gods, like Artemis and Apollo and such), but the prayers of their followers are received mostly by The Five. “The Olympians” haven’t been formed as a pantheon yet, and the gods pay more attention to their side-projects than the mortal world, having seen their job as mostly done since overthrowing the Titans. Things have begun to change since the Third Trojan War, however.

– One of the single major defining moments in the world in the last ten years was “the Third Trojan War,” a conflict that simultaneously united every Greek state against a common enemy, and devastated them at the same time. News is quickly spreading around the Aegean that Odysseus, one of the commanders in the conflict, has just returned home and reclaimed his kingdom after being lost for almost ten years. The world is recovering, but the news has caused resentment over the war to resurface, and reopen old wounds. The world could be considered a post-apocalyptic society, if indeed it could be considered to have had much civilization before the war.

– Every major settlement has a shrine to Hestia, though many have a full-blown temple. Most cities grow up from colonies formed by her cults. Hestia is the goddess of civilization, justice, and creation. Her cults operate the ancient equivalent of hospitals and hotels, with an emphasis on sheltering travelers, protecting people from harm, and healing the injured. Primitive laws and court systems will most likely be devised and enforced by her followers. Her symbol is a torch, which represents that hearth she tends.

– Every coastal town or city has a shrine or temple to Poseidon, as do any that boast a full royal family (generally a king, a queen, and a dozen or so princes and princesses), since Poseidon is the god of kings. His domains include life, the sea, and wild places — which includes most of the world, actually. He’s known as the earth-shaker, and he includes horses as one of his symbols. Mortals fear Poseidon more than they revere him, unless they’re royalty, in which case they both fear AND revere him.

– Crossroads are sacred to Hera, and while her temples are few, her shrines are many, and can be found everywhere. Worship of Hera is more widespread than any of the other gods or goddesses. She’s the “cute young thing” god, and she’s the pantheon’s equivalent of “lady luck.” She includes freedom and change among her domains, and she has no real enemies, though she is at odds with her brother Hades at times, since she sees him as heartless and oppressive. She is the patron of travelers.

– Demeter is the goddess of the people. Her domains include the sun, life (which she shares with Poseidon), and hope. Though Hestia is her elder, Demeter serves as a “mother figure” to mortals, if Poseidon is to be seen as their “father.” She brings the harvest and is the goddess of marriage and childbirth and happiness, and her shrines are often no more than farms and prospering villages. Anyone who eats the fruits of the earth, laughs, or enjoys the warmth of the sun gives praise to Demeter.

– No one builds shrines to Hades, but his temples are second only to Hestia. Hades is the eldest of the three brothers but defers to Poseidon in terms of rulership of the gods and the world because Hades cannot abide the chaos of daily living. He prefers the cold and dark recesses of the Underworld, where he maintains order and solidarity. His domains include those of fate, death, and winter in addition to all the wealth the earth holds. Hades is a generous god, and his every temple is a treasury.