There are gods who go all out in terms of publicity. Temples, priests, miracles, anything to secure belief. Others do not need to bother. The nature of people ensures that at any given time, there are enough creatures out there worshipping them, engaged with the deity’s focus, so there is no risk for them to ever run out. Struggle and strife is one such field, including the organised kind. Whether you’re bored, think it will end warfare, or have your own nefarious reasons – let’s kill the Goddess of War.
This is part of a series of articles examinging ways to remove certain deities from the cosmos in roleplaying game settings. You can find the introduction and all other articles here – this is the second installment.
- What is the Goddess of War?
- How to Win a War against War
- Overview of the Plan
- Weapons not Infused but Seasoned
- Find some Fabled Generals
- Tournament of War
- Create a Master of War
- Defeat the Focal Point
- Aftermath – World without War
- Optional: Conquer your Power
- Struggeling for Feedback
What is the Goddess of War?
As much as conflict is part of existence for every creature since the beginning of time, there is something to be said for planned, structured destruction wielded by an organized group. That something is War. The Goddess of War does not thrive on destruction alone, and neither does it revel in plans and strategems. Instead, it is the combination of both that gives it spiritual sustenance. As such, it came into existence naturally along those lines of conquest.
The Wrong Way – Cause Peace
Divinity is an additive game to play. While the Goddess of War derives worship from wars planned and waged, a lack thereof does not actively weaken them. Just like the Goddess of Agriculture does not wane during the winter months, even widespread and lasting peace will not significantly weaken War. While world peace is nice, it is not helpful for this undertaking.
How to Win a War against War
The Goddess of War rarely takes an active role in conflict, rather relying on greed, envy, and vengeance to fuel conflicts all over the world, and thus her worship. What piques their interest are accomplished warriors that both command and fight in equal measure. In order to destroy that focal point, they need to be pulled towards an irresistable vessel.
Overview of the Plan
The plan to undo the Goddess of War revolves around creating a Master of War, a mortal person so invested with the art and craft of warfare that the focal point shifts all its attentions to it, thus making it vulnerable. The key to doing this are ancient weapons.
How many Ancient Weapon are required?
Before you even know what ancient weapons are, you should know that this plan requires at least one, and at best between two and five. Each one beyond the first one serves to make things easier in the endgame, but obtaining them might be tricky and time-consuming.
How hard you make this step is a good dial to turn if you want to modify the length of this endeavour. Having these items already in the hands of renowned warriors can help to cut down on the time required to set this plan into motion.
Weapons not Infused but Seasoned
Unlike with some other deities (like the Goddess of Agriculture), there were no primal objects, no implements that took part in the initial formation of the focal point of War. But there are items that have been used in warfare repeatedly, and acquired kind of a taste for it. They have not gained sentience, but anything related to war flows more easily through them. They are also harder to damage or destroy than other weapons.
The definition of war as a mixture of command and combat excludes the kind of general that puts their own safety above all else, because their weapons will never see actual use on the battlefield. And through a process more akin to natural selection, it also weeds out those who are too brash, fighting at the front lines but without the tactical prowess to survive that habit for long.
This plan requires at least one if not a few of these weapons in the hands of skilled wielders. It is perfectly okay if there already are a couple of fabled generals in your world using these implements they inherited. In that case, feel free to skip ahead to “Find some Fabled Generals” below. But it is also an option to hunt for a few of these weapons first, then hand them over to appropriate users to kick of the final phase of this plan.
The Ancient Weapons
In this table you will find a selection of weapons and atributes. You can recombine them as you see fit or use them as provided in the table. Just keep in mind that some combinations might make less sense than others. Then again, making sense that they are famous for. Also, feel free to give them an over-the-top name, because branding is everything.
|12||glowing meteor hammer|
Roll twice and combine atributes for something more random.
Passing on – to a point
A number of these ancient weapons is in existence at all times, and few are ever truly destroyed. Some will be in the hands of skilled and sometimes fabled generals (which comes in handy below and allows you to skip the tomb part). Others have been buried with their last wielders who has done a legendary feat with it. Most likely, they ended a long-lasting war. The peace they brought allows for the weapon to be laid to rest with them.
Optional: Tombs of Ancient Warriors
A tomb can be the easiest way to obtain an ancient weapon – or the hardest. A tomb can be as simple as a hole in the ground, and taking the weapon as easy as reaching for it. Then again, a tomb might be part of a large underground dungeons filled with traps and, over time, other denizens who do not take kindly to intruders. Here is really a good spot to shorten the adventure – or blow it up.
|d8||Tombs of Ancient Warriors|
|1||in a well-kept Mausoleum in their home town|
|2||in an unmarked grave on their last battlefield|
|3||under a revered pillar at an important crossing|
|4||in a tethered boat next to a harbor|
|5||in a shrine in front of the ruler’s palace|
|6||in a dusty niche in the traditional burial catacombs|
|7||in an antechamber to a holy order’s sanctuary|
|8||in a beautiful box of bones in their family home|
Roll twice and pick atributes for something more random.
Optional: Weaken the Weapons
Since fairness is not an objective in the final phase of this plan, sabotaging the weapons in order to speed up the process is an option, albeit a risky one. If the weapon fails too quickly, it will most likely be replaced by another one that is still up for the task. If it does not fail, there is no point in weakening it in the first place.
I only recommend adding this step if it makes sense for one or more characters to attempt this. Most likely, that means that the character(s) will try working on the weapons themselves, or with an NPC they are close to.
This step requires either a master craftsperson or someone with the experience to carefully damage a weapon so that it will fail over time and under stress. A good example would be to heat up a blade “wrong” in order to damage the metal’s temper.
Find some Fabled Generals
This plan requires a number of apropriately skilled individuals to meet in one location with the intention of a particular kind of combat. The incentive for this does not matter much. Bragging rights are probably the easiest reason for them to meet and test their mettle. This version would exclude any kind of diplomacy or persuasion on the part of those planning to undo a focal point.
On the other hand, going all out in terms of aforementioned persuasion and diplomacy can lead to some interesting fallout. If two factions currently at war each send one commander to participate, it may be possible to negotiate a wager based on their champions’ performance. This wager can encompass anything from loss of title to complete surrender of one faction to the other.
Optional: Strength as Persuasion
When it comes to convincing a general to take part in what on surface level seems to be a tournament, words are not be the only way to get their attention and participation. While none of the candidates will be brutes in the most basic sense of the word, feats of strength and endurance might work just as well, if not better, than carefully minced phrases and platitudes.
Optional: Distribute Ancient Weapons as needed
If you chose to hunt for ancient weapons separately, this is the time to distribute them stategically among the participating generals who do not yet possess such implements. In doing so, it is important to avoid suspicion. Handing over several items of legend to different generals in the same room might raise the odd eyebrow. Handing them over in different locations and at different times will alleviate that. The same goes for chosing weapons that these generals have a connection to, historically or otherwise.
Optional: The Fabled Generals
Let me be the first to say that the list below is clunky and unwieldy. It does not include any heritage. Nor can it do justice to all the factions and countries in your campaign world. But it can provide a starting point, which is why I left it here. But if you can, use characters already living in your world!
Roll twice or thrice and combine atributes for something more random.
Tournament of War
Not every kind of tournament will yield the desired result. Simple one-against-one combat will do nothing toward that end. Neither will an open free-for-all in a large arena. The event needs to emulate what sets war apart from single-minded combat. The key is a mix of fighting and commanding, and the best way to achieve that is to create a mock battlefield.
Every participant gets a group of soldiers of their chosing to command on this battlefield, with starting conditions preferrably the same for everyone. The area itself should offer plenty of terrain for tactical decisions to be made, and opportunities to hide and ambush. Bloodshed is not a prerequisite, and blunt weapons and a honor-based system to manage defeat can be used. That includes covering up the business ends of ancient weapons – they won’t mind.
Let them fight it out
An important aspect is that none of those planning to undo the focal point of war are allowed to participate in the tournament itself. If they did, chances are that the Goddess of War would learn of their plans, thus warding against the desired outcome. Not to mention the considerable amount of wrath that would follow.
Create a Master of War
As war in the broardest sense takes place on the battlefield, it will attract more and more attention from the Goddess of War, amplified by the presence of ancient weapons. Whenever a participating faction loses and has to leave the arena, this attention gets redistributed among the remaining contestants, until only one group remains.
Their leader, whether they wield an ancient weapon or not, will have the whole sum of attention or energy that the tournament attracted flow through them. Not only does that make them the biggest avatar of war in existence – since this method is the only way to create one. But it will also draw the undivided attention of War’s focal point.
Defeat the Focal Point
War itself is now invested in this champion, and will be for at least a couple of hours. That is the moment to strike, whether covertly or out in the open. Defeating this fabled general turned master of war will unravel the focal point and thus undo the Goddess of War.
As soon as the first blow lands, the deity is aware of what is going on, and, no matter the intention behind the creation of the Master of War, will try to keep the champion alive long enough for the energies to detach again.
The Big one – fight to the death
The most straightforward way to end this is to face the elevated general in combat. At this point, the involvement of troops, an element of commanding them, or even fairness as such is not necessary anymore. It can be expected that War itself will bolster their champion, making them a formidable foe.
The Subtle One – lay down your weapon
Another, more subtle way to undo the focal point of War is to convince the Master of War to lay down their weapons and give up. This surrender will remove the focus from the divine energies forming the Goddess of War as surely as killing them would. The deity will do their best to whisper to their champion to prevent this, but this is not their strong suit. They will certainly use any chance to turn to violence to preserve themself if possible.
Aftermath – World without War
Just like with Agriculture, there will be no directly visible consequences of unfocusing the Goddess of War. There will still be fighting, struggle, and warfare in general. What the focal point did was to channel the destructive energies of the practice called war, and thus prevent suffering to whatever extend it could.
Without a focal point, over time there will be more hardship, more struggle and more pain in the world. There will also be more war in the long term, because part of the influence of the Goddess of War was that wars also come to an end in a timely fashion.
Optional: Conquer your Power
There is usually more behind the plot to undo a focal point than boredom or curiosity. You can find some further ideas and general hooks in this article about the Aftermath of Unfocusing!
In War’s case, the way to temporarily replace the focal point is picking up the weapon wielded by the Master of War and using it to start another war within 24 hours of the unravelling. This will temporarily bind the energies to that person and turn them into the next best thing to a focal point. This is only a fleeting measure, and putting the weapon down can easily unfocus the acquired energies.
Struggeling for Feedback
This article of Let’s Kill a God is only the second of what I hope to be many more. As such, there is a lot of room for improvmement, and this is where I need your help. To make this and the next deity removals even better, I need to hear from you about what you liked, what you disliked, and what you think I could do better next time around. Best way to contact me is @dominicsstuff on Twitter or @Be_Inspired_with_Dominic on Instagram. Thanks a lot in advance!
Thank you for contemplating deicide with me, and as always, remember to Be Inspired!