God pretending to be another god

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If you're playing one of my campaigns, look away now.

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I'm having a crisis of faith, so to speak.

My game is in the Planescape setting. It's widely known that gods get their power from the belief of their followers. The more followers they have, the more powerful they become.

There are also plenty of dead gods in the setting, drifting around the Astral Plane. Now, say one living god wanted to make people believe a dead god came back to life, thereby reviving his worship. Only, the living god wants to channel the power of that worship to himself, so he basically needs to pretend he is that dead god. How would a god pretend to be another god, and gain power from that god's followers?

More details
The dead god in question here is Aoskar, former lord of portals. He was gaining power in Sigil, the City of Doors, because the people there worshipped him as the god of portals (which play a huge part in every Sigil life). But the city's omnipotent ruler, the Lady of Pain, did not want this to happen, so she killed him and cast his corpse out of Sigil. This was a pretty public event, and to this day nobody dares to worship Aoskar in fear of the Lady's retribution.

Now Vecna, he knows this story. He also wants to have Sigil for himself. His plan is to resurrect the faith of Aoskar by making the people of Sigil (and beyond) believe Aoskar has come back to life. He thinks that, if the faith picks up, it will eventually grant the god enough power to return to Sigil. And the key to Vecna's plan is that he will pretend to be Aoskar, thereby gaining the additional power from the worshippers so he can enter the city and defeat the Lady of Pain.

Like I said, my problem is this: how does a god like Vecna pretend to be Aoskar, and how will he gain the power from the worshippers? Belief shapes the planes, and Vecna doesn't want to run the risk of people believing in Aoskar's resurrection so badly the dead god actually comes back to life.

I hope my question is somewhat clear. Please don't hesitate to ask if you need to know more.
Love Planescape, and love your set up. I don't think this would work with most deities, but with Vecna it kind of makes sense since he is the god of secrets and "that which is not meant to be known."

I would play it not as a scam but rather as a genuine splintering of Vecna's portfolio from "undeath/necromancy/secrets" to "secrets/portals/the unknown". Make it ambiguous whether this is the god's intention or the result of a schism among the faithfu (ambiguous is good with Vecna).

IIRC  the symbol of Aoskar was a Janus-like two-faced head, which would be displayed over portal arches. I'd have some Aoskarites find a portal with such a symbol, only tinged by death (a grinning/frowning skull for example) and gain great treasure/secrets thru that portal. Have more and more of this twin-faced skull portals begin to pop up and have the Aoskarites hunt them, maybe hoping to find the entrance to the Maze where Aoskar's corpse floats (or perhaps he *is* the Maze).
If the direct belief might ressurect the god, have Vecna use a fake name for the god instead. There are plenty of legends of gods being resurrected as different but similar deities, no reason an existing one couldn't use this to increase their faith. A few special acts or a miracle here and there is a small price to pay for power after all.

Happy Gaming
All I have time for right now are two words:

Copyright infringement.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The god of secrets doesn't need to tell you how he gets away with such things Tongue Out
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Heh, true Laughing
I should have said "Trademark infringement."

The way gods work in your setting is exactly how corporations work in the real world: the more people use their products, the more powerful they become. And the more people use their name, the more people use their products. As a consequence of this arrangement, Apple can't allow another company to call itself Apple, or Apples, or The Apple, or Da Apple, or 4pple or even Epple, as that could very easily degrade their customer base and reputation or whatever.

Same with gods, but more so. If you don't say a prayer quite right, or you mispronounce a god's name, it's less likely that the prayer will be heard or accepted if it is heard. If a prayer or tradition is done incorrectly enough times, it weakens their intended god, and might even create a powerbase for another god to exploit.

So, all Vecna has to do is set up something that's close enough to the original god that the old followers worship it, but different enough so that the power goes into this new front (and then to Vecna).

"I though his name was Aoskar."
"I did too, but no it says, right here on this flier I picked up at The Web: 'I'm Oaskar, That Calms.'"

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Apple Records you mean? What, there is some new-fangled computer company with a similar name?
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I think this could be pulled off pretty easily with some deceptive tactics. One way I would have gone about this is God #1 just impersonates God #2 but looking like him (Or, if he is not well known, looking very similar to God #1) and going around advertising himself as alive and well. Kind of similar toe the trademark infringement posted above. When people pray to God #2, they will envision God #1. This could leave the interpretation that God #1 gets God #2 prayers and powers.
I think this could be pulled off pretty easily with some deceptive tactics. One way I would have gone about this is God #1 just impersonates God #2 but looking like him (Or, if he is not well known, looking very similar to God #1) and going around advertising himself as alive and well. Kind of similar toe the trademark infringement posted above. When people pray to God #2, they will envision God #1. This could leave the interpretation that God #1 gets God #2 prayers and powers.



The problem with that is that they will be praying to the god they think they're praying to, not the fake one.

I think the idea of "God X is secretly alive, worship him as Ancev the Hidden" or something along those lines will probably work.

But becoming a god or getting a new portfolio is very hard in D&D cosmology. Guys like Asmodeus have been trying since forever. You need things like the FR Times of Troubles to mess things up. Orchestrating an event like that is much more likely to get results I think.

I do like the idea though.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

I think this could be pulled off pretty easily with some deceptive tactics. One way I would have gone about this is God #1 just impersonates God #2 but looking like him (Or, if he is not well known, looking very similar to God #1) and going around advertising himself as alive and well. Kind of similar toe the trademark infringement posted above. When people pray to God #2, they will envision God #1. This could leave the interpretation that God #1 gets God #2 prayers and powers.



The problem with that is that they will be praying to the god they think they're praying to, not the fake one.



It would definitely take some loose interpretation to make it work no doubt. I just kind of picture it that if you have seen the god for yourself, heard his voice, touched him etc, you are going to pray to that rather than the religious belief and ideals that support that god.

Portals are secrets. Where do they come from? How do they work? Some of the greatest secrets on the planes. I'd run with that... Have "old documents" get unearthed revealing how important that metaphor was in Aoskar's holy texts...whether it is real or fabricated by Vecna is up to you.

The route I would go is..."wait, it's been Vecna *all along*!" So the faithful are getting duped into believing Aoskar was an aspect of Vecna, but that since Vecna is alive, with enough faith they can bring back the aspect Aoskar (and maybe a few hope to make Vecna less evil in the process). 

What would be fun is if this has unexpected results for Vecna. 
There has often been in 'real life', as it were, examples of gods who come along and say "BOB the handsome? No, I am STEVE the handsome, you have actually been worshiping me all along. Here, lets just make a few adjustments to the prayer books, and don't tell the peasants"
Thanks very much for the ideas people. You provided awesome answers to my question. 

This is what I'm thinking of doing.

Show
The plan
Vecna is going to set up a "puppet Aoskar", which is secretly an aspect of himself. The puppet god's name is Skaaro, a cool-sounding anagram of Aoskar. His goal is to get the people of Sigil and beyond to start worshipping Aoskar/Skaaro again, especially when they do anything related to portals. That worship will be aimed at Skaaro, but since it's an aspect of Vecna, in the end he will receive the power that comes with it. 

He will go about it the following way: he will spread a fabricated story about the real truth behind the death of Aoskar. The key point is that the Lady of Pain not only killed the god, but to prevent his resurrection she also secretly enacted a ritual that changed all memory and mention in the planes of the god's true name (Skaaro) to Aoskar. Skaaro was a benevolent god who knew the secrets of the portals, and all who worshipped him found portals that led them to great riches and fortune. 

This should be enough to get the average Sigilian interested in Skaaro. His existence will be "proven" by some minor deceptions with known portals, like someone finding a Janus-faced portal that leads to a lost treasure (which servants of Vecna put there). Enough miracles like that, along with some clever propaganda, should get the word out on the streets. 

The players
Now, how the players will be involved: one of them is a Deva Invoker that's lost her god and doesn't know who she serves. Her god was actually Aoskar (Vecna knows this, or can find out pretty easily), but she's been led to believe by servants of Vecna that her god is Ioun. The party will soon receive a prophecy that informs them that one of them has been deceived, and that they need to find the Lost to bring back that which is no longer alive (something like that). 

As you may or may not know, the Lost (the Athar, one of the factions in Sigil) are housed in the Shattered Temple, the former temple of Aoskar. When the Invoker steps into the temple, she will be overwhelmed by a powerful feeling of recognition and a sense of belonging. This should induce the party to find out more about Aoskar. The best source of info on him is the dabus Fel, a tattoo-artist that once was a high priest of Aoskar (and who inadvertently caused his downfall by turning away from the Lady). 

This is of course all part of Vecna's plan. The prophecy is given by a servant of Vecna, and he's kidnapped Fel and replaced him with a Rakshasa servant of his own. The fake Fel will tell the players the story about Aoskar/Skaaro, show them a (fabricated) Skaaro portal miracle, and eventually lead them to the Astral Plane where the near-dead body of Skaaro floats so they can free him from the Lady's prison of blades. This is also a fabrication of Vecna, all meant to convince a powerful and well connected group of adventurers (who thwarted him before, damn it!) to start spreading the word about Skaaro. 

The consequences
If it all goes as planned, at some point Vecna will be powerful enough to actually control the portals themselves and step through one into Sigil, dethroning the Lady of Pain and taking the Hub for himself. And we'll see what the players do then.
But becoming a god or getting a new portfolio is very hard in D&D cosmology. Guys like Asmodeus have been trying since forever. You need things like the FR Times of Troubles to mess things up. Orchestrating an event like that is much more likely to get results I think.

I do like the idea though.


Thanks. I hear you, but would it make sense to say that the Portals portfolio is now unclaimed, so it's easier for a true god to pick up if he got enough people dedicating them to his name?
I don't consider the Lady a god. Actually, in my game I thought of the following explanation for her existence: 

Show
She is the living manifestation of all the portals in Sigil. The portals are not alive, but they do channel a lot of planar energy. In a place like Sigil where all this energy converges, the power has gained a sentience. It chose to manifest itself in the shape of the Lady of Pain, which in turn took the dabus race under her wing.

In her younger years, the Lady of Pain was protective of Sigil, but allowed other Powers to visit the city. Aoskar, whose world had been destroyed, liked what he saw and wanted to stay in the Cage. His faith soon gained traction, and the people of Sigil started to attribute the power of the portals to him. This in turn started to weaken the Lady of Pain. She was afraid of becoming supplanted by Aoskar, so she decided to destroy the Power and eject his body into the Astral Plane. Here it still drifts, surrounded by a barrier of razorsharp blades.


I would play it not as a scam but rather as a genuine splintering of Vecna's portfolio from "undeath/necromancy/secrets" to "secrets/portals/the unknown". Make it ambiguous whether this is the god's intention or the result of a schism among the faithful (ambiguous is good with Vecna).


The route I would go is..."wait, it's been Vecna *all along*!" So the faithful are getting duped into believing Aoskar was an aspect of Vecna, but that since Vecna is alive, with enough faith they can bring back the aspect Aoskar (and maybe a few hope to make Vecna less evil in the process). 


This is clever, but I'm not sure I'm clever enough to make this whole deceptive set-up work, or succesfully build it and communicate it to my players. If you read my post above this one, how would you set this up?
I hope your players aren't Dr Who fans...

You literally just created the Cult of Skaaro... 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I knew that name sounded familiar! But a quick Google search yesterday didn't turn up anything. Probably because the Dr Who cult is only with one "A". 

Anyway, some of them are fans, and I'm sure they'll appreciate the nod Wink
I would pull a bit of a Clark Kent/Superman, but instead of glasses it is an eye.

"That can't be Vecna. This god has TWO eyes."
Could you take it rather literally?

For instance, Vecna has already managed to infiltrate the field of blades around the dead god to constantly cut away sections of the dead god's flesh which are secreted away for Vecna to consume. Or indeed, turned into idols and given to worshippers. With aid from fragments of the dead god, combined with his powers over death, Vecna inspires true worship in the god of portals as "The dead god of portals". This wouldn't be enough to reanimate him, but enough to increase the potency of his flesh, while also strengthening Vecna. With enough worship he will have farmed enough flesh to tip the balance and become the god of portals himself.
As for how he does it, just have him use some artifact or relic.  Don't explain how it works, only that it DOES work, and it lets a deity siphon power from another deity.  In fact then you can tie the artifact into your plot as well.  I don't know your players, but mine would not really nuke out how exactly it works.

Side bar:
I had a game once where the PCs were all dieties trapped in mortal bodies with none of their memories.  The Pantheon was:

1 big god who made all the others and bounced to another multiverse leaving these guys in charge:
3 medium dieties who ran stuff and delegated to:
12 minor dieties, think Greek pantheon. (the PCs)

When the big go rolled out eventually one of the 3 killed another of the trium, and convinced the PCs that it was the 3rd, and they imprisoned her.  Then he trapped the others in mortal bodies to be re-incarneted over and over while his church hunted for them to kill them.  He also outlawed arcance magic to make it easier to find them.  Afterwards he posed as a different of the gods and eventually people forgot that he had even existed.

So the whole game was about solving this mystery and reclaiming thier place.  I can safely say it was the best game I have run.  Anyway, the thread title brought it all back lol.
To read about my playtest sessions click here: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/29995793/?sdb=1&pg=last#533677003


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As for how he does it, just have him use some artifact or relic.  Don't explain how it works, only that it DOES work, and it lets a deity siphon power from another deity.



"This artifact lets me drain power from another god ... it was created by an ancient race of mystics called the Plaht."
"Oh, it's a Plaht Device?"
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