What is better, Immortals or Deities?



May 07, 2004 15:57:12
I’m starting this thread on three relevant boards: Mystara, OPP, and Deities and Demigods. I’m wanting to get people’s opinions about what is better, Immortals or Deities? I am mainly an OD&D gamer, and one of my greatest disappointments with the newer versions is their lack of support for Immortal characters.

I much prefer Immortal characters to deities. Certainly Immortals aren’t as powerful. I’m sure even the highest ranking Immortal from an OD&D campaign would be no match for a deity in 3E. But here is why I prefer Immortals:

From the perspective of mortal PCs, a campaign dominated by Immortals is fairly similar to one dominated by deities. Instead of deities, Immortals are worshipped as gods. So I don’t believe using Immortals instead of deities is much different from the perspective of the mortal realm.

Unlike deities, mortals can become Immortal. Okay, I don’t own the Deities and Demigods book. But by flicking through it at the gaming store I was surprised to learn that there are only a couple of pages of notes about how a character might become a deity. In the OD&D system (the old master set), there were several complex and difficult sets of tasks a character could undertake to become Immortal. I really don’t want to prompt a debate about which gaming edition is better, but I do much prefer the idea that PCs can earn Immortality after many trials and tribulations.

As an Immortal character, players were given an entire plane of existence on which they could create planets, stars, even entire galaxies. And on which they could cultivate their on mortal life forms to serve them. This really was a fascinating part of the game, and players could be much more creative than they had in the past. For example, a player might work with the DM to create races of angelic beings to serve their characters and aid them in their goals.

After playing as a mortal character for 2 or 3 years, journeying to the outer planes and encountering Immortal beings, it was extremely fulfilling to be able to transcend the realm of mortality and involve yourself in Immortal politics. Players could take an active role in the maintenance and development of the multiverse.

I’m sure there are lots of other reasons as to why I prefer Immortals over deities, but I would like to get other peoples opinions.

I thought the Immortal accessorys to the old rules were definitely the greatest gaming idea in the history of D&D (just my opinion), and I really can’t understand why WotC does not produce an accessory which explains how DMs can incorporate Immortal characters into their campaigns. A 3E Immortal accessory would have to explain rules for playing Immortal characters, how mortals can become Immortal, and rules for maintaining and developing the home plane.

Why has WotC dumped the Immortal rules? Do they feel there would not be enough support for this type of gaming experience? Should WotC create a 3E accessory to explain how to play Immortal characters? And which is better, Immortals or deities?

I’m hoping this thread won’t turn into a flame war, or an attempt to put down WotC. But I’m very interested in getting other people’s opinions about these questions.


May 09, 2004 15:13:07
The way I see it, Deities is a more generic term including both Gods and Immortals. Immortals are just as powerful as Gods, even if they were once mortal.

As to which I prefer, that is hard to say. Immortals is one of the things that make Mystara unique, so that is a good thing.

However, the way Immortals usually come off as superheroes or annoying "Q"-like figures, means that they earn less respect from players than Gods. I like comparing Immortals to Saints, rather than superheroes, but books like WotI suggests the opposite...



May 09, 2004 16:17:57
Well, this might sound a bit ultra-serious but what the hell:

I think there is something deeply Humanistic in the concept of immortals. They are just another station in the route of human progression - not another entity altogether. Everything lies in the hands of human beings.

It's part of what makes Mystara more political and less naive than other setting. Sometimes even cynical. No meta-narrative to give sense and order to existence. No gods to do that either.


May 10, 2004 23:31:07
In general, I'll use whatever fits the campaign world. The way the gods or immortals interact with a world is part of a setting, so I'll usually keep the default. If the setting is one where I don't like the way the gods or whatever fit in, then I probably wouldn't run it.

Oddly enough, I've always considered Immortals to be more powerful than gods. Now, I haven't seen the new Deities book, but from what I've heard it sounds like PCs can eventually (using epic rules) get to the point where they would more or less be equal to gods, and be a challenge for them.

Whereas, at least in the gold box Immortals set (and I'm pretty sure that this also carried over to Wrath), no normal PC could ever challenge an Immortal, no matter how high level they were. Immortals were completely immune to normal magic, and took only a few points from enchanted weapons. They're quite literally another form of being- sure, it's one to which mortals can aspire, but not one that they can match on their own.

It'd probably depend a lot on your players, but IMC it seemed like the Immortals got more respect from the PCs once all this was explained. Not only could they never hope to defeat even a low-level Immortal on their own, but the only way they'd ever have that hope was to get accepted by the Immortals themselves.

Incidentally, I've never actually had a campaign go long enough for the PCs to quest for Immortality, has anyone ever run those?


May 11, 2004 5:39:50
When I played I did. None of my own campaigns I DM'ed ever got that far. Pretty close though.


May 13, 2004 18:56:41
I usually just lurk on these boards, but I really loved the immortals rules so I thought I'd chime in. Here is my opinion.

I thought the immortals rules were fun and interesting, and I miss them a lot. When WOTC purchased D&D I thought they would use some of the great ideas they used in 'The Primal Order' and add them to the Immortals rules. I was very dissapointed.

With the Deities and Demigods book, it is VERY hard to make even zero level gods playable with other characters.

With the Immortals rules you could create an immortal character and keep track of his plane and plots, but you could also assume he divided his power over several bodies. So an immortal could adventure with a 5th level cover identity and you could still have low level adventuring fun and also the epic multiverse spanning stories. I guess you could do this with the Dieties and Demigods too, but you'd have to adapt the rules quite a bit.