What is the hierarchy of power in 4E?

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I am trying to design a campaign and I want uber powerful beings pulling strings, but I don't quite get their relationship to one another.

I assume Gods are the most powerful beings in reality, but where do demons, archdemons, primordials, archfey, etc fall in?

Is there some kind of hierarchy of power and influence among all of these beings? Is there any place where I can see the power structure of the D&D cosmos?

Thanks.
There is none really. Some of these beings frequently one up the others based on story elements, be they hidden or interacted with. A demon lord could defeat a god and vice versa with the right means.

For all of these beings though, it is best to assume that being reduced to 0 HP is not enough to kill them for good.
It is exactly what you want it to be.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
the Manual of the Planes is full of info on how to integrate cosmological concepts into the game world, and in the process gives plenty of glimpses into the underlying power structure.  If you can get hold of a copy it is a good place to start.  

Dragon articles also go into some details when they give the background lore or history of priesthoods, cults, races and fantastic regions.  Most of the "facts" are left vague enough so you can use them as plot hooks or adventure springboards and set up the organizational charts however you want, but there are plenty of details just waiting to be explored and expounded.

INSIDE SCOOP, GAMERS: In the new version of D&D, it will no longer be "Edition Wars." It will be "Edition Lair Assault." - dungeonbastard

Yeah, I have heard Manual of the Planes has all kinds of stuff in there, but I am currently overseas and cannot seem to find a copy.
It is exactly what you want it to be.



Yeah, one of the awesome things about D&D, but for my purposes, I kind of want to look at a "canon" hierarchy to see how much I want to keep and change.

It is exactly what you want it to be.



Yeah, one of the awesome things about D&D, but for my purposes, I kind of want to look at a "canon" hierarchy to see how much I want to keep and change.




I hate to advocate for finding PDFs, but if you don't have the ability to buy a legal copy (and especially if you are planning on trying to pick up a legal copy) you can find a pdf of any of the books without much difficulty.

There is a lot of canon material, but then again there are so many exceptions that it is really hard to keep it all straight.

Generally speaking you have a few tiers of power levels that stay, roughly, the same throughout.  Here is what I use:

T1
Greater Gods and Primordials - These are the Uber big dogs and they control the entire play ground.  There is a long standing conflict between Gods and Primordials, but they are still the strongest mothers around.

T2
Lesser Gods, Empowered Lower Ranks - These are the guys that are getting close, but for whatever reason haven't really made it to the big leagues.  Or they have made it but have been ripped out of power.  One of the primary people of this bracket is Asmodeus.  Another is Orcus.  They keep trying to make it, but their plans are foiled in one way or another.

T3
Angels and God-servants - These are the Angels and Avatars of the different gods.  They can be extremely powerful, but are also subservient to the T1 and T2 entities.  Remember in 4e Angels are not all good, they are neutral.  They are servants of different gods rather than just servants of good gods.  Asmodeus, while not being a god, also has angels under his control.

T4
Powerful Outsiders - These can be a whole mess of different things.  Ascended Mortals, Demons, Powerful Elementals, Far Realm entities.  While some Far Realm things might make it into T1-3 most of the ones being active creatures fall into this bracket.  Basically these creatures are as strong as the T3 creatures in some cases but don't often have the resources of the portfolio the T3s have.

T5
Outsiders and "cheating" creatures - Lesser Demons, Liches, Elementals, Empowered Mortals, Sentient God-spells fall into this category.  Basically anything that is normally mortal and is reaching outside their domain, or normally not mortal but made mortal (god-spells made living, lesser demons being beat down to the low ranks).

T6
Everyone else-  There can be some potent things in here, but everyone down here that wants to be a pusher or mover isn't really considered one unless they have a shot at making it to a higher tier.
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Could you describe your campaign idea a bit more? When it comes to "powerful beings pulling strings", the hierarchy of personal power usually doesn't matter. How deft something is at manipulating others, how likely they are to do so, and even where it's happening are all liable to be more significant factors.

The upper tiers are also more likely to have constraints on their use of power, either inherently or because of pacts or agreements with other forces. (The Primal Pact bars the gods from tampering with the mortal world too much, but other beings generally aren't bound by it, for example.)

T1
Greater Gods and Primordials - These are the Uber big dogs and they control the entire play ground.  There is a long standing conflict between Gods and Primordials, but they are still the strongest mothers around.

T2
Lesser Gods, Empowered Lower Ranks - These are the guys that are getting close, but for whatever reason haven't really made it to the big leagues.  Or they have made it but have been ripped out of power.  One of the primary people of this bracket is Asmodeus.  Another is Orcus.  They keep trying to make it, but their plans are foiled in one way or another.




I could've sworn that Asmodeus qualified as a Greater God in all settings now (except maybe Eberron, but Eberron is weird about gods anyways).  He's listed as a Greater God in the DMG, and IIRC consuming Azuth pushed him there in FR as well.  Am I wrong about that?

@ Matyr - That is an amazing list; I copy-pasted it for future DMing notes, thankz!

@ OP, I think Matyr’s list is more what you where looking for as an answer; but as it has been pointed out by others, there are always (and the DnD world usually often) exceptions to the rules.


I break down the DnD cosmos into three camps; Gods/Primordials/Far Realm beings; each has servants and each fall on perspective tiers (but each camp has members in all of them)


My only addition is that geography plays a role as well; as some places will be more attune to one camp or the other (or a fourth unaligned) and some might belong to one tier then another.


Examples-



  • Lesser Demons holding a cretin area in a rebellion against  the higher demons

  • A holy temple might be so attune to an individual God that the other Gods and Primordials are blind and powerless within it.

  • The world’s most ancient forest might be so attune to the Primordial forces the gods can even see into it.

  • Any area corrupted by Far Realm power or close to a Far Realm portal can’t be seen or interfered with by the Gods or Primordials.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)


T1
Greater Gods and Primordials - These are the Uber big dogs and they control the entire play ground.  There is a long standing conflict between Gods and Primordials, but they are still the strongest mothers around.

T2
Lesser Gods, Empowered Lower Ranks - These are the guys that are getting close, but for whatever reason haven't really made it to the big leagues.  Or they have made it but have been ripped out of power.  One of the primary people of this bracket is Asmodeus.  Another is Orcus.  They keep trying to make it, but their plans are foiled in one way or another.




I could've sworn that Asmodeus qualified as a Greater God in all settings now (except maybe Eberron, but Eberron is weird about gods anyways).  He's listed as a Greater God in the DMG, and IIRC consuming Azuth pushed him there in FR as well.  Am I wrong about that?



Again everything differs depending on what you are looking at.  There is a lot of conflicting information, assumptions from other editions and other sorts of things.  It says he is a god in the DMG but I've always put him a little lower than the others due to how he became a god and what his weaknesses are (and that there is someone constantly trying to dethrone him).  But YMMV.  The list was designed to be a bit of blunt instrument anyway.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
It is exactly what you want it to be.



Yeah, one of the awesome things about D&D, but for my purposes, I kind of want to look at a "canon" hierarchy to see how much I want to keep and change.




I hate to advocate for finding PDFs, but if you don't have the ability to buy a legal copy (and especially if you are planning on trying to pick up a legal copy) you can find a pdf of any of the books without much difficulty.

There is a lot of canon material, but then again there are so many exceptions that it is really hard to keep it all straight.

Generally speaking you have a few tiers of power levels that stay, roughly, the same throughout.  Here is what I use:

T1
Greater Gods and Primordials - These are the Uber big dogs and they control the entire play ground.  There is a long standing conflict between Gods and Primordials, but they are still the strongest mothers around.

T2
Lesser Gods, Empowered Lower Ranks - These are the guys that are getting close, but for whatever reason haven't really made it to the big leagues.  Or they have made it but have been ripped out of power.  One of the primary people of this bracket is Asmodeus.  Another is Orcus.  They keep trying to make it, but their plans are foiled in one way or another.

T3
Angels and God-servants - These are the Angels and Avatars of the different gods.  They can be extremely powerful, but are also subservient to the T1 and T2 entities.  Remember in 4e Angels are not all good, they are neutral.  They are servants of different gods rather than just servants of good gods.  Asmodeus, while not being a god, also has angels under his control.

T4
Powerful Outsiders - These can be a whole mess of different things.  Ascended Mortals, Demons, Powerful Elementals, Far Realm entities.  While some Far Realm things might make it into T1-3 most of the ones being active creatures fall into this bracket.  Basically these creatures are as strong as the T3 creatures in some cases but don't often have the resources of the portfolio the T3s have.

T5
Outsiders and "cheating" creatures - Lesser Demons, Liches, Elementals, Empowered Mortals, Sentient God-spells fall into this category.  Basically anything that is normally mortal and is reaching outside their domain, or normally not mortal but made mortal (god-spells made living, lesser demons being beat down to the low ranks).

T6
Everyone else-  There can be some potent things in here, but everyone down here that wants to be a pusher or mover isn't really considered one unless they have a shot at making it to a higher tier.



Awesome list! Thank you. Where would the Courts of the Fey fall?

As for more notes about my campaign, the loose outline is that some of the "evil" gods are forming a coalition to bring to the mortal realm some evil of unspeakable power. The good and unaligned gods are kind of out to lunch and underestimating the threat, so some of the uber powerful but less powerful than god beings are starting to pool their resources to marshal against the threat, since they cannot challenge the gods directly. I am thinking archfey and that level of power. Alignment doesn't matter. Basically the lower tier beings are trying to band together and do what they can.

  In the Nentir Vale/World Axis cosmology this is unlikely to happen, and even less likely to succeed, for a number of reasons.

  While gods (and other beings) have alignments, they don't (unlike the Wheel cosmology of Greyhawk) relate to one another on the basis of those alignments, or even much care about alignments in general. "We're evil, so let's get together and do something evil!" isn't on their agenda.

  An individual god might scheme to do something like this (Tharizdun more or less did at one time), but only to extent that doing so furthers their own view about the proper ordering (or disordering) of the cosmos, not because "I like evil!". Since none of them agree on what that proper ordering/disordering should be, they're unlikely to cooperate on such a project.

  While the gods do disagree with one another, they're also bound by a compact between them, and that has more importance to them than their individual power plays, because if it breaks down, other forces WILL take advantage. The gods are only at the top (in the sense of being the most powerful force) because they stand together against potential challengers.

  Doing something like this would also be a direct and flagrant violation of the primal ban, which would be a Big Freaking Deal even in absence of any likelihood of interdeific strife. The primal ban is in place for a good reason, and all of the gods ultimately accepted that limitation out of recognition of what would happen if they didn't. Not only are the primal spirits powerful enough to pose a problem (the gods all working together might overcome the primal spirits, but even then it would be devastating), but anything that heads in this direction is going to draw the attention of the entire pantheon in a hurry (and a smite-down for whomever is behind it).


  Other forces probably wouldn't care, except to the extent that they could exploit it. Demons would certainly want to use the opportunity to wreak more havoc in the mortal world; elemental beings probably don't give a hoot (unless it somehow lets them release one of their primordial masters), archfey would care to the extent that it might have repercussions in the feywild (and even then would all have their own ideas about what to do about it - some might think it sounded like fun), and nothing much happens in the Astral Sea without at least a passive by-your-leave from the gods, so if the gods aren't acting on the issue then it's unlikely anything else would. (Angels and most other divine servants aren't capable of acting as a force independent of their gods - the Nine Hells are an example of what happens in the unlikely event that one tries.)


  If one of the gods were to try something like this, it would need to be carried out mostly by their mortal agents and similar proxies; other forces would have to oppose them in a similar fashion. That said, there'd better be some point to the plan beyond "Mwahahaha!" mustache-twisting, because evil isn't an end in itself for the NV gods.  (The primal spirits would also be free to act against anything that threatened to rip the world asunder even if the ban wasn't being violated - the mortal world is their cosmological turf.)
Thanks for that. Right now, I have played the first 2 sessions and the plan is being forwarded by the mortal servants/cults of Maglubiyet and Gruumsh. And these mortal followers have agreed to work together. No actual communication between the gods themselves. Meanwhile, the Winter Court has sent a champion to investigate the goings on. Basically, I have brought 2 gods and the Prince of Frost into the story through the actions of their agents.

I have no plans of any actual gods or other beings fighting each other, I do have plans for their mortal agents to create alliances and other agents of other powers to start investigating for various reasons. Is this more workable?
@Neutronium_Dragon

That's good and all for offical cannon, but I think it would just hinder the OP to the point he wouldn't be able to use his idea.
That's the beauty though of DnD; OP I'd just take note that is how it is set up, but then for you'r game just erase all the binding pacts and other such constrants
Say the gods and other forces havent done something like this because they just are not ready to yet
Or that stuff like this is going on often, and the world is use to the Gods and other forces being in constant conflict.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

Tier 1: Kobolds
























Everything else is down here somewhere. 
Here's a link to the Points of Light wiki that lists five types of immortal entities vying for dominance in the universe.

community.wizards.com/wiki/Points_of_Lig...
I am trying to design a campaign and I want uber powerful beings pulling strings, but I don't quite get their relationship to one another.

I assume Gods are the most powerful beings in reality, but where do demons, archdemons, primordials, archfey, etc fall in?

Is there some kind of hierarchy of power and influence among all of these beings? Is there any place where I can see the power structure of the D&D cosmos?

Thanks.


I say make up your own hierarchy for your own setting. Dark Sun has no gods, but has sorcerer-kings that wield most of the overarching power. In the Tales of Symphonia setting, the most powerful being that was pulling all the string behind TWO worlds at once... was a half-elf. In my setting, the gods that everyone worships are actually myths (based on actual beings, but those beings have no interest in mortal affairs and do not lend divine power or guidance).

It's whatever arangement is appropriate for your setting. 
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4e goes into less detail in terms of any kind of "hierarchy" than previous editions, but it does divide beings into various categories. The main ones are mundane, divine, primordial, primal/spirits, abberations, and fey. Within primordial are basic elemental primordials and demons. Divine includes gods, angels, and devils (and some other subtypes, such as Coatl, Modrons, etc). There are some subtypes within primordial/elemental as well, including Slaadi, djinns/efreeti/dao/marids, archons, etc.

In terms of hierarchy its quite simple, you have gods and primordials, all beings beyond level 30. Then you have 'exarchs', major henchmen of divinity-class powers. Exarchs could be themselves 'lesser gods' (not an official category) or less-than-level-30 mortal/immortal beings. Deity class beings also generally can construct 'avatars', less powerful subsets of their own capabilities which they usually employ to project power into the material world. Below this are servitor creatures, generally things like angels, devils, demons, archons, giants, etc.

Note specifically that unlike previous editions of D&D ONLY divine beings are named as gods. Primordials are all specifically primordials, and some demon lords are also corrupted primordials. Spirits are their own thing, but could also be powerful enough to be beyond 30th level (I don't think stats exist for even the great spirts though or any lesser ones either). This also extends to the other types, the powerful arch-fey are NOT gods, though Correlon IS a god. Asmodeus IS a god, other arch-devils are slightly less powerful than gods, with maybe a couple of the most potent (Mephistopheles) being on a par with some gods. Some gods are a bit ambiguous. Tharizdun isn't revealed, but though a god he is presumably completely corrupted by the heart of the Abyss. Lolth is a god in origin, but is now also a demon lord. Apparently anything can become a demon with enough exposure to the abyss, though confusingly enough there are also 'native' demons (created by the abyss), which includes probably at least some demon lords. There is also a category of demon lords which are entirely unique, the Obyriths, which predate the existence of the Multiverse and created the Abyss.

Abberations are a whole other category of things, which may be of godlike power or maybe are even far more powerful than gods when fully manifested. They come from "outside" and are even more icky, weird, and EEEEEVIL than demons (kinda redundant, I know, especially when the lore of the Abyss is that it originited as an intrusion into this Multiverse from another outside dimension/plane/Multiverse, how is that not just like abberations....)?

Practically speaking WotC DOES divide gods into 2 categories. There are the "greater" gods, which they refuse to invent stat blocks for, stating they are not something you can fight, and 'lesser' gods which DO have stat blocks (usually in the level 30-35 range). Most things that aren't actual gods seem to be more like 'lesser god' rank beings, they typical do (or at least could) have stat blocks, and again are generally up to level 35.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Thanks for that. Right now, I have played the first 2 sessions and the plan is being forwarded by the mortal servants/cults of Maglubiyet and Gruumsh. And these mortal followers have agreed to work together. No actual communication between the gods themselves. Meanwhile, the Winter Court has sent a champion to investigate the goings on. Basically, I have brought 2 gods and the Prince of Frost into the story through the actions of their agents.

I have no plans of any actual gods or other beings fighting each other, I do have plans for their mortal agents to create alliances and other agents of other powers to start investigating for various reasons. Is this more workable?





That definitely sounds better, especially if the campaign is still at the heroic tier. IIRC Maglubiyet is an exarch of Bane and their followers don't usually get along too well with those of Gruumsh, but sometimes cults have their own ideas (and Maggy's might well be manipulating Gruumsh's followers, given the overall inclinations of each).

If these events go ahead unchecked, it could reverberate up the hierarchy and produce a paragon and epic arc in which the PCs have to sort things out before things hit the fan on the cosmic level. They might find themselves with some unlikely allies in this case. (Consider Bane getting wind of it and drafting the epic-tier PCs to teach his wayward exarch a lesson...)
Another option is just grab some of the AD&D/3.0/3.5 stuff on Cosmology, ignore any stat blocks, and keep the fluff.  Fluff from editions past can easily be converted over to 4e stuff where applicable. 

Bargle wrote:
This is CharOp. We not only assume block-of-tofu monsters, but also block-of-tofu DMs.
 

Zelink wrote:
You're already refluffing, why not refluff to something that doesn't suck?
Yeah, I have heard Manual of the Planes has all kinds of stuff in there, but I am currently overseas and cannot seem to find a copy.




I bought a cheap copy from Amazon marketplace a couple of weeks ago. Available from an internet near you for dispatch pretty much anywhere I guess  
     Let's see... You need a[or lots of] big bad guy who can whomp the PC [at least until you want to wrap up the campaign.]
    You don't need a good god since they invite the question "why doesn't he smash the evil himself instead of depending on these wimpy PCs?". [Strictly you don't need anything good at all, just something for the PC to fight.]  Of course the biggest, badest guy around is apt to proclaim himself good and a god, and disputing either claim is not conducive to good health.  But your god, tho #1, has rivals he must pay attention to, and thus there are times he needs the help of the PCs.
    You need lesser figures, all the way down to 1st level and lower.  The "good" are to be just strong enough to keep the PCs going.  The bad are to be strong enough to press the party, and rarely much stronger or weaker.  Those that are either stay in the fluff text.