Cimmeria and Syncretism

Syncretism noun syn•cre•tism: the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.

My campaign world, Cimmeria, uses the Hellenic pantheon but Cimmeria is not Greece, it’s Cimmeria. The Greek gods get pretty active in Cimmeria, but why Cimmeria instead of Greece where they’re supposed to be getting up to all their shenanigans?

The meta/out-of-game answer is that I wanted creative freedom for geography and historical events. Tying myself to a real world location would’ve restricted those choices. I still needed Greece around to draw on the myths of the Greek gods, but I didn’t need my campaign to physically be in Greece or the Aegean.

The in-game answer is that the Greek gods wanted a fresh start after the Trojan War. They moved away from Greece, only occasionally interacting with their followers in that region. Cimmeria became the new playbox for the Olympians.

But what does this move from Greece to Cimmeria have to do with syncretism?

Well, do you suppose there might have been gods living and being worshiped in Cimmeria before the Hellenic pantheon showed up?

If you said yes you win the prize!

There are multiple pantheons within my campaign world outside of the region of Cimmeria.

Other pantheons include the Egyptian, Norse, Sumerian, Abrhamic (more of a monotheon, but whatever), and a few other minor deities that could be represented by the Greyhawk/Faerun pantheon.

Prior to the arrival of the Olympians in Cimmeria a pantheon of Goblin deities ruled the region.

The Olympians engaged these gods in some sort of battle for the region and emerged victorious. The old Goblin religion has all but disappeared.

Each of these different religions contain their own rules about the underworld and the realm of the gods. How can all these pantheons have different underworlds? How does that make sense?

The ancients had an idea called syncretism. That’s when one god is equal to another god in a different religion. Zeus = Thor is a fairly obvious one.

Another one people did was Dionysus = Osiris, because both of them came back from the dead by being sewed together. The problem with that one is it means Dionysus must also be Hades because Osiris is the ruler of the underworld. But Osiris is also the father of Horus who would be Zeus or Helios in the Greek pantheon. Does that mean Dionysus/Hades is also Cronos, the father of Zeus? Or even Hyperion, father of Helios?

Dionysus Osiris Syncretism
All answers to this test must be written in cursive.

It’s my belief that the ancients didn’t really have rules for this. I think that when they contemplated this issue with syncretism they just said something like, “Who can understand the immortal gods?” or more rarely, they expressed a monotheistic belief where every god was simply a reflection of a singular deity. Thus, I believe that even the people who actually practiced these religions in their original forms would’ve found syncretism confusing.

Are there rules for how syncretism works in Cimmeria? Nope, sorry. I went with what I thought worked best in each situation.

There are occasional instances of syncretism, but for the most part each pantheon exists separately from other pantheons. Each rules over its particular worshipers and regions without interfering in the other regions unless some large event precipitates such interference.

What does this decision mean for the cosmology? First, it means that most of the Goblin deities were absorbed by the Olympians through syncretism.

It also means that a character’s access to other planes besides the Material and closely connected planes (Astral, Ethereal, Shadow) is heavily limited.

A Hellenist cannot travel to the Pharaonic afterlife. It simply isn’t possible unless the Hellenist travels with a Pharaonist or is somehow cursed to go to the wrong afterlife.

Another effect is the weakening of divine magic when within another pantheon’s realm. Clerics find their spellcasting powers diminished to those of a cleric half their level when not in their pantheon’s region. This means that Greek priests are weaker than their Cimmerian counterparts, as the Greek pantheon abandoned Greece for a new region, Cimmeria.

That hopefully answers a few questions about how different pantheons work in the world around Cimmeria and provides some background for the move of the Greek pantheon from Greece to Cimmeria (and later on Rome).

-GoCorral

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Satronwook

Satronwook

Satronwook is the party capital of the world. It’s like a festival there every day of the month. Pigs, goats, sheep, and sometimes other people are torn apart by the citizens in Bacchanal rites and eaten. If you ever wanted to reckless fun without a thought for tomorrow this is the place.

Even with such a wild reputation Satronwook isn’t without a police force, albeit an untraditional one. Instead of a trained militia of humans the town is policed by a large pack of blink dogs that take their orders directly from Panda Traks. The dogs make their living through the confiscation of criminal property and either selling or using it. They were brought along with Dionysus’ entourage when Pan founded the city and were abandoned when the drunken pair left. Satronwook has no army or police force besides the dogs making them an integral and needed part of the city.

Satronwook has a population of about 34,000 and is inhabited mostly by Wild Elves, Humans, and Halflings. Most of the other races have moral codes that prohibit the kind of behavior that goes on in the city. Fey also walk openly here making up a significant minority of the population.

The star attraction of Satronwook is the fountain in the center of the city. It was built by Dionysus’s good buddy, Pan, when he first came to Satronwook. The fountain spurts out alcohol of some kind, but the specific substance coming out changes randomly each day. It can be anything from wine coolers to rubbing alcohol, but whatever it is there’s always somebody drinking it. The alcohol disappears if it is put into any container, so if one wants to get some of it you must do so directly from the source.

The Inn of Lost Souls is the biggest tavern in the whole city. It’s front door is right outside of the fountain and the alcohol of the day is entirely free. The annual drinking contest, Baradera, is held there. The spirits in the inn are sold at a reduced cost compared to the rest of the city because, Edgar, the owner, also owns his own vineyard, winery, barley fields, and brewery.

The leadership of Satronwook has been using the same system since Pan blessed the city. The goat-footed god started the Baradera at the Inn of Lost Souls. The winner is named ruler and Panda of the city, for Pan and for the animal which lives nearby. The Panda wears the Crown of the Panda which gives them the skills and knowledge of how to work the government system and make profitable agreements with other cities and countries if necessary. The crown also gives the wearer the form of a panda and lets him speak the animal’s language. The crown is worn for a year and then falls off. Any past Pandas retain their new form and a golden band of fur is still seen around their foreheads where the crown was placed. The golden band is seen as a sign of honor, but any past Pandas may no longer participate in the Baradera. Some go back to their old lives while some live in the Panda Garden inside the city with animal pandas and past Pandas.

The Panda also gets an administrative power that they use once during their inauguration. They can add or subtract one law from the city’s legal code. The most often law to flip-flop is prostitution, but some things such as littering and eating lotus plants have also changed frequently. The cardinal laws such as stealing, murder, and rape have stayed the same since their creation. Alcohol was only outlawed once, but it was assumed to be a joke even by the Panda who did so. The current Panda of Satronwook is Panda Traks. His story is typical of past Pandas, a Dwarven Drunken Master who won through his skill and fortitude. His rule change was to disallow prostitution again. The blink dogs enforce his decrees just as they have done for all of the Pandas in the past.

The city does export commodities, but the government of it does not. Given how the leadership of Satronwook is acquired and the culture of freedom, the government stays out of the affairs of the citizens with the exception of foreign affairs and controlling crime. The city exports are the many varieties of fruits grown there and the huge amount of booze. The city imports animals, animal products, metals, and stone.

-GoCorral