Jeff Grubb on the Gods of Krynn

Jeff GrubbEditor’s Note: This article was originally posted to the Dragonlance-L mailing list, and is posted here with the author’s permission. Special thanks to Michael Falconer for sharing Mr. Grubb’s response to his e-mail with the Dragonlance-L mailing list.

The big thing to keep in mind for the Original Toril Gods (Yeah, we took the name of the campaign and glued it onto Forgotten Realms’ planet) is that they were only a base from which the gods of Dragonlance evolved. So you know the time frame we’re talking about, these gods showed up in my campaign when I was using the original ” little pamphlets” of D&D (The wood-grained box, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry), combined with some of the early DRAGON magazines.

Now, the original notes are packed away in my archives (read – storage in the basement), so I can’t access them very easily. This is what I’ve got from memory, so it comes with that caveat – I reserve the right to double back on myself when and if I get my original notes out. Several of the names are biblical in origin, and taken from a book called ” Everyone in the Bible” by the Reverend William P. Barker, who was also the minister of my church when I was growing up (and who thanks Fred Rogers (” Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” ) in the intro). All references are for the original Toril campaign – later development comes from a number of other talented, creative hands.

In my original campaign, I pulled them together in three groups of seven (Good, Neutral, Evil – this was just before Law and Chaos appeared on the axis), because seven was a mystic number. In addition to the gods, there were two ” uber-gods” who represented the ultimate values of good and evil on Toril. The good, original creator god was Torallah Eruidan (Tor-AH-lah eh-ROO-i-Dahn). Paladins in my world flexed their class name into pahl-ee-DAHN and the native language of good (remember alignment languages?) was Edantal. The ultimate evil god was Desmos Ben-Shatain (the last twisted into Sha-tah-EEN). The original conflict between the forces of Good and Evil was the All Saints War. The name of the ASW made it into the DL Universe, but neither Edan nor Desmos made the cross-over (which is good because it made the DL gods to be the supreme beings of their universe). The symbol of the ultimate good was a seven-candled menorah, while the symbol of ultimate evil was the septagram or seven-pointed star.

OK, most of these names have a rhythm to them, either a two-beat (Reorx, Chislev, Kiri-Jolith) or a three-beat (Mishakal, Habbakuk, Majere, Gilead). Most have an attribute or descriptor as well (Mantis of the Rose, the Red Condor, The Bison-Headed Minotaur). Since most of these were presented verbally in play to my dungeon group, the rhythm makes them easy to remember. Also, I often pronounced ” Ch” as a hard ” K” , so Chislev and Chemosh would be pronounced KIZ-lev and KAY-mosh (though Babylonians don’t come after me for slamming Sargon).

Paladine (by whatever name) – Draco Paladin in my campaign, and was the Platinum Dragon as described in the Greyhawk supplement (I think he gained the Bahamut name when he showed up in the first AD&D Monster Manual). When Trace was doing the original forging of Krynn, I tossed him my campaign’s godhead and he easily folded it into his mix. Draco Paladin became Paladine. He was the Paladin’s God in my campaign, and venerated by Fenetar the Paladin, run by Frank Dickos, the player who was the one who convinced me to set down my godhead in the first place.

Majere – The Mantis of the Rose was the Good Monk’s God. Parallel development made it also the family name of Caramon and Raistlin. There was an accent on the last e (mah-JAIR-ee). Created name, likely playing off ” majestic” .

Kiri-Jolith – The Bison-Headed Minotaur. Good fighters, and eventually fighters in general. Partially manufactured (Kiri), partially inspired by Joelah, a son of Jeroham from First Cronicles.

Mishakal – Mishakal the Healer was originally male (the godhead was pretty much an all-boy’s club in its original form – genders and relationships of who was whose child or spouse came with DL). The name comes from the story of the fiery furnace from the Book of Daniel – Meshach, Shadrach, and Obendigo. Mishakel was the Good Cleric’s God.

Habbakuk – The Fisher King. The good nature god. Christian and Authurian allegory aside, he was a Kingfisher, because I liked the bird. Was a counterbalance to the aquatic Zeboim. The only god that my PCs ever saw in the flesh, as it made its lair in a great glacier to the north. Ranger god (rangers first appeared in an issue of The Strategic Review, DRAGON’s predecessor). In the real world, Habakkuk (note the single ” b” and the third ” k” ) was a prophet in the Bible (one of the ” eight minor prophets” ). His book is a collection of oracles delivered against the backdrop of the Babylonian threat to Judah in c.600 B.C. Interestingly enough, the original Habakkuk was a bard, a temple singer. His book was on the subject of why a good god would allow the evil Babylonians to exist and thrive.

Branchala – The Bard King. God of the Elves in my campaign and later on bard PCs. Name was pure invention.

Solinari – One of the three spheres of magics (Sol, Lune, Nuit – Sun, Moon, Night). Also called Solintari in my notes. The Sphere of White Magic. Created by Reorx the Forge, worshipped by Good wizards. Thought of more as power sources then as animated gods, which worked for the whole ” where-does-magic-come-from” idea. Made into moons when they arrived in Krynn.

Gilean – Originally Gilead the Book. As in ” Is there no balm in Gilead?” (Book of Jeremiah). God of Sages. Lean hooded guy with a big book, sort of like the third spirit from the Christmas Carol, or Destiny of the Endless (though the Sandman comic was years later, we were probably pulling from the save sources (and actually, Destiny himself was pulled from a horror collection comic that DC did when I was a kid, so it may well be the same source)).

Sirrion – Sirrion the Flowing Flame, the god of Alchemists. Animated fire in serpentine form. A salamander. The name started with a wizard character in my early campaign named Simon, metamorphed to Simeon (one of the leaders of the twelve tribes of Isreal), then jumped the track entirely when the m turned into a double-r ( and occasionally a single-r as well).

Reorx the Forge – Dwarf god, created many of the artifacts used by other gods. Also fit in with the various weaponsmith and armorer NPC classes floating around at the time. No idea where the original came from.

Chislev – A mostly-forgotten god. Known as the Feathered Cleric. Never really given much form (have to dig out the notes for this, but I think he was always shown as the same species as his worshippers). His servants were based on the Hopi Kachina spirits, but again, that’s not something that translated into DL. Created as a nature god, but eventually worshipped by neutral clerics who were not druids as Zivilyn took over the druidic role (Chislev was my original druid god.). The name Chislev evolved out of Kislev, the name for the ninth month of the Jewish year. Also originally male in my campaign.

Zivilyn – The Tree of Life. Grew in the largest forest in my campaign, was a plant god. Started as a god of forest creatures (centaurs, pixies, and satyrs), became the defacto Druid Deity in my campaign. (Zivilyn and Chislev seemed to go back and forth, depending on the nature of the ” All Neutral Clerics are Druids” discussion of the day). May have been inspired by a real bibical name, but could not tell you at this stage.

Shinare – The Griffon God – With Branchala, one of the younger gods in my pantheon, it was worshipped by Merchants. Sort of Branchala’s sidekick (Like Donkey was to Shrek). Was male in his original incarnation. Accent on the final e, rhymes with Majare. Again, may have been inspired by biblical names, but was likely pure invention.

Lunitari – The grey (originally) sphere of neutral mages and in particular illusionists.

Takhisis – Draco Cerebus in my campaign, the Chromatic Dragon, Tiamat. Draco Cerebus also went by the name Draco Cerebrint in my campaign (I think the name change came about because of the sudden appearance of a short, grey aardvark in the comics). Don’t know where Trace got the name Takhisis (May be Indonesian – Neraka definitely is) but part of his decision to rename was to separate DL’s cosmology from Greyhawk’s. (Another possibility – when I built my mythology (a time when Trace was first playing as well) neither Bahamut nor Tiamat were so named in the game books- so the idea of creating new versions of them unique to DL would not be too far a reach)). Draco-Cerebus may have had the anti-paladin as followers, but that class came and left from my campaign several times.

Sargonnas – The Red Condor – God of evil monks, set up as opposition to the Mantis of the Rose. Ended up including evil fighters as well. Sargon was the King of Babylon in the book of Isiah

Morgion – No attribution I remember. Though now portrayed as a hooded figure with red eyes, in his early incarnation he was a floating red skull, which in turn was inspired an old campfire ghost story told at Boy Scout Camp in Arizona, up on the Mogion Rim, which was the original origin of the name. Morgion is known in my notes as Morgion of the Dark Brotherhood (What the Dark Brotherhood was beats the heck outa me). He had the cowl with glowing eyes before he went to DL, and the Red Skull image became a servant demon. Morgion was a general good choice in my campaign for cultists.

Chemosh – Ram-headed Lord of the Undead. Orcus by any other name, thought I don’t think that was picked up in DL. In the real world the supposed god of the Ammonites in the Bible. In First and Second Kings, Solomon erected an altar to him at Jerusalem, and Josiah destroyed it. (Later note I’ve discovered hooks him up with the biblical Moloch)

Zeboim – The Dragon Turtle. Evil and Destructive Nature. Predates my knowledge of Dave ” Zeb” Cook by many years. Progenitor of all Dragon Turtles, which were the nastiest sea beast in the game at the time. A Sahaguin god (Sahaguin were hot because they were a major creature rolled out with the Blackmoor supplement). Influenced by bliblical names such as Zebidiah and Zebulon.

Hiddukel – The Demon Merchant. Looked like a merchant (in my world merchants wore fur top hats and looked like the Mad Hatter) with the keys to hell hanging off his belt. All the Demons (all six types – there were no devils yet when he first appeared) worked for him. This one’s odd, in that I was sure there was a real-world analog, but I can’t find it. It is a cool name, because it has the same sounds and rhythm as ” Duke of Hell” , but the dukes came later to the D&D party. Hiddukel could be evil merchants, but more likely demons, demonologists and those that make deals with the devil. Its all very Faustian.

Nuitari – The sphere of Black Magic, worshiped by evil mages. From the french word for ” night” .

Almost all my PCs were Good or Neutral, so their gods tended to be tailored to their roles, while the evil gods sort of just existed as opposition. There were no Halfling gods, since the Hobbits of the time were tagging along worshiping the same gods as men. No Gnome gods, because there were no gnome PCs at the time. And definitely no Drow gods, since the Drow were just starting to show up in the G- and D-Series of Modules.

About Jeff Grubb

Jeff Grubb is an award-winning author, game designer, and world-builder with a host of credits. He is much calmer in real life.
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One Comment

  1. There’s a river called Hiddekel in Genesis, so I imagine that’s where Hiddukel got his name.

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