Creation myth - Critique wanted

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I am in the process of slowly building a homebrew world, and have started work on the creation of the world, and am looking for advice/suggestions on where to go.

I want to move away from a pantheon of humanoid creatures towards a pantheon that is built up of aspects of the 4 elements (air, earth, fire, water). For example, a dwarven smith might pray to aspects of earth and fire for success. Here is what I have so far:

[INDENT]In the beginning, there was the seed, and only the seed.

After a time, the seed tried to grow, however as it was the only thing there was, it had no room. So, out of a need for room, the void was born. The seed, sensing it had room to grow, tried to grow, and found nothing in which to grow. Thus, a need once again was discovered, and earth was born. The seed grew, and found the earth, and was happy. The seed grew, as seeds are wont to do. The seed then found it needed room for its leaves to spread. Once again, a need was discovered, and air was born. The air gave the seed room to grow, and room to stretch out. However, the seed was confused, and did not know which direction to grow, for all was dark. A need once again was expressed, and light was born. The light gave the seed a direction to grow, and the seedling grew happily for a while. The seedling grew, and then found itself tired, and needing to rest. The continual light however, provided it with no opportunity to rest. Thus, a need was once again felt, and darkness was born. The darkness allowed the seed to rest until it was once again ready to grow. However, the seed soon found that all this growing was hard work, and it experienced a sensation new to it. It was thirsty, and needed to drink. Thus need once again provided, and water was born. Water brought with it the quenching of the thirst. The seedling grew into a tree and, as trees were wont to do, dropped seeds. These seeds themselves grew and dropped seeds.

After some time had passed, the Seed, which was now a towering tree, felt crowded. There were many trees taking all the room, leaving no room for new trees to grow. The tree pondered this. Many of the larger trees were now tired, and needed a much longer rest than the brief cycle of darkness provided. Thus the seed thought. This was difficult, as it was not a need that the Tree itself felt. After an age of thinking, a need was discovered and fire arrived. The fire burned down some of the trees, allowing the larger trees a long rest, and providing the smaller trees space to grow.

After several more ages, the Tree itself grew tired, and needed to rest, and so went to sleep. After only a short while, the tree found itself being woken up, as, without the need of the Tree for guidance, fire was out of control. Once again, need arose. Thus, a seed was formed, larger than others before it, and fell to the ground. It rapidly grew and split in a burst of fire. Thus was born Felkor, god of fire. The Tree, satisfied, attempted to sleep once more. However, it was once again woken before it was completely rested, this time, by Felkor.

"As you have made me out of need, I ask that you also create others. For try as I might, I cannot move the water, air or earth from places where they no longer are needed to places where they are required."

The tree thought, and a need was once again detected. The first to split did so in a splash of water, signaling the birth of Sharha, goddess of water. The next split into a clod of dirt, which then fell apart to reveal Angkor, god of the earth. The last to split did so in with a gust of wind. Thus was Vonlam, goddess of the air born. Felkor, Sharha, Angkor and Vonlam looked at each other and, in the unspoken language that they somehow instinctively knew, communicated with each other and separated to go their own ways.

For an age, all was well. However, Angkor and Vonlam found themselves bored, for trees are not particularly interesting, being that they are trees. They called the other two over and communicated their boredom. Felkor and Sharha agreed. After an age of discussion, the decision was made to not bother the tree, but to attempt to do something themselves. They all took parts of themselves and combined them. Angkor gave it shape, Sharha and Felkor combined to give it flexibility and durability, while Vonlam gave it the breath of life. Thus was the first creature created.

The creature so created wandered amongst the trees for an age. However, it soon grew old. However, no-one knew what to do. For this creature was not a tree. Thus, a need was communicated and the tree was awoken. The tree awoke and was immediately struck by the new desire it felt. The strength and tone of the desire was unlike any desire that it had experienced before. The Tree commanded the creature to be brought beneath it's limbs. All four took their turns carrying the creature, for it had wandered far from the Tree. Eventually, it came beneath the Tree and was laid down gently. The Tree considered things, and a need was discovered, and a seed fell.

The seed did fall, and did so directly upon the creature. The creature shattered into countless numbers of shards, some large, some small. These shards contained in themselves, bits of all of the elements, and thus were themselves alive.[/INDENT]



Where I would like to go next is the following:

[INDENT]However, this was not the only seed that fell. While considering the need of the creature, it also considered the need of the creatures what were to be created and the hubris of the elements. Was the Tree mad, furious, at this independence of the elements, of their nerve to play at Creation as the Tree had done before? After an eternity of an instant, the Great Tree decided that only it could give Life. These juvenile Elements would not be allowed such power. Another moment passed. The Great Tree decided how it would proceed: one more of its Seeds would fall to the ground, delivering its divine message. This next seed fell amongst the four elements who had gathered around their own creations in adoration. This one Seed shattered as well into a number of shards, which passed through the self-important elements, tearing them assunder. Each shard took with it a small part of the essence of each element, stealing its powers, in order to prevent the elements from creating such a creature from being again.

The Tree, in destroying the first creature, and then in acting against the Elements, acted so against its nature to create that corruption was introduced into the core of the Tree. The tree noted that if the corruption was allowed to remain, that it would eventually corrupt the tree and result in the destruction of the tree, and thus, the universe. The tree ejected the corruption in a burst of splinters. Some of the splinters passed near various pieces of the elements and, as is the nature of corruption to spread, those aspects were themselves corrupted.[/INDENT]



But it seems too forced and stilted. Any suggestions?? I am still uncertain as to how paladins/clerics will work with this. Given a choice, I would rather not, but I can see the possibility of some generaic human god, dwarven god, god of magic being required.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I'm not typically much of a creative type, but here's a couple angles you might consider:

If you want to have a humanoid pantheon for Clerics/Paladins to receive powers from - the seed shards that rent the elemental deities asunder could touch or embed themselves in a few of the mortals that were created.

This could either give the new seeds (if there merely touch both an elemental and a mortal) divinity from having touched the elementals, OR if they embed themselves in those mortals the seeds themselves might carry divinity (this would allow the Tree to later be something sought after by those who would become immortal or divine).

To avoid the topic of a direct pantheon, as the Tree split its creations asunder they were turned into elementals (and other planar creatures) - some of whom would retain the madness, anger, and hurt of the Elements that were destroyed (while others would retain the kinder aspects of the Tree - giving elemental creatures a variety of personae and possibly filling the roles of demons and angels).

While it could possibly use a little polish, I don't think it sounds forced so far, and in fact, I'm looking forward to seeing what more you do with it.
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If you wanted to avoid the (demi)human pantheons, you could extend the tree metaphors and have different trees be the gods or patron powers of the setting. You could either appoint two or three trees to be patrons of each race (like pine or another evergreen for elves, ironwood for dwarves, etc) or you could assign qualities and characteristics to different species of tree and have divinely bent characters pick their patron tree. The whole setting could develop a (D&Dish) druidic bent.

The creatures could be expelled from the realm of the tree (feywild, if you plan to use) and set upon the greatest of all the seeds, i.e. the world. A seed whose germination is basically the apocalypse. Perhaps the first tree departed the Realm of the Tree and returned to seed form, creating the world, and the return of the first tree is the end of the world.

The only other critique I have is that you have set up fire as the destroyer or being of death with it's clearing of the trees. Not sure how it could be fixed, but the tone is there.
I'm not typically much of a creative type, but here's a couple angles you might consider:

If you want to have a humanoid pantheon for Clerics/Paladins to receive powers from - the seed shards that rent the elemental deities asunder could touch or embed themselves in a few of the mortals that were created.

This could either give the new seeds (if there merely touch both an elemental and a mortal) divinity from having touched the elementals, OR if they embed themselves in those mortals the seeds themselves might carry divinity (this would allow the Tree to later be something sought after by those who would become immortal or divine).

:headsmack:

That is simple and elegant. I don't know why I didn't think of it, and it just inspired me for something for my world.

The seeds that passed through the various elements might result in some eternal creatures. (Think Belgarath or Polgara). Their brief exposure to the most basic of elemental powers has imbued them with eternal life. Over time, they will have picked up various skills and the ability to access their powers. Depending on the element that they passed through, they would end up in various roles. Fire would alway choose to attack, very straight forward, seeking to destroy as quickly as possible. Earth would be calm and patient, letting the enemy come to them and wear themselves down. Air would be sneaky and use guile and deceit. Water would be more patient than fire, but not as patient as earth. They would continually attack, but always with an eye on defending themselves and awaiting the right moment to strike.

The splinters that embedded themselves in people (and creatures??) would bestow upon them divinity. Maybe only one or two per race. The other shards would be out there. I fone were to find one, and undergo the right ritual, they could become divine themselves, or provide it to an already divine creature to increase its power.


To avoid the topic of a direct pantheon, as the Tree split its creations asunder they were turned into elementals (and other planar creatures) - some of whom would retain the madness, anger, and hurt of the Elements that were destroyed (while others would retain the kinder aspects of the Tree - giving elemental creatures a variety of personae and possibly filling the roles of demons and angels).

I am not sure that I want to go the route of giving the elements good and evil roles. For example, if you look at fire, fire was introduced by The Tree to kill the trees that had fallen. Thus, I was planning on have one of its aspects be worshipped as death. However, you could worship in several ways. One is the reverential burning of the corpse to speed it to the next world (whatever that is), the other is forcibly putting a town to the torch to worship death.

While it could possibly use a little polish, I don't think it sounds forced so far, and in fact, I'm looking forward to seeing what more you do with it.

Thanks!!
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
If you wanted to avoid the (demi)human pantheons, you could extend the tree metaphors and have different trees be the gods or patron powers of the setting. You could either appoint two or three trees to be patrons of each race (like pine or another evergreen for elves, ironwood for dwarves, etc)

OOOOOO!!!! I like. Consider the idea stolen!!!

or you could assign qualities and characteristics to different species of tree and have divinely bent characters pick their patron tree. The whole setting could develop a (D&Dish) druidic bent.

Right now I am leaning toward having druids *not* be available as PCs in my world. Druids we be very neutral, more subtle tools of The Tree.

The creatures could be expelled from the realm of the tree (feywild, if you plan to use) and set upon the greatest of all the seeds, i.e. the world. A seed whose germination is basically the apocalypse. Perhaps the first tree departed the Realm of the Tree and returned to seed form, creating the world, and the return of the first tree is the end of the world.

Perhaps, with the expelling of the corrupted part of the tree, it ended up destroying itself, also expelling another seed. If the seed is found and planted in the hole, the planter gains control of the tree, and thus of the world...

The only other critique I have is that you have set up fire as the destroyer or being of death with it's clearing of the trees. Not sure how it could be fixed, but the tone is there.

That is sortof the tone I was going for. Fire will be worshipped both as the bringer of death, but also as required for the introduction of new life. It will be very much an agent of change. Fires will be a big part of death ceremonies, as well as the celebrations of births.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
OOOOOO!!!! I like. Consider the idea stolen!!!

I don't know a lot about trees, but tipping a hat to the (theoretical) stereotypes, assuming you're using 4e races...

Humans would likely be (metaphorically) represented by fruit trees, or by something fast growing like pines.

Elves would either be evergreens (cedar?), or by very long-lived trees (redwoods). Eladrin would probably follow a similar vein, or be represented by a tree with some sort of supernatural connection (witch hazel).

Halflings would be represented by trees with connections to moist soils, like weeping willows, or if you feel snarky, by short trees like dogwoods.

Dwarves would be represented by either mighty hardwoods (oak) or by trees that represent the metaphor of the dwarven people (the aforementioned ironwood).

Gets a bit tougher here on out.

Tieflings may not have a patron tree if they came later, as their basic fluff suggests. If they are an offshoot of humans, perhaps they are represented by a tree with inedible fruit. I'm at a loss to pick one out.. Also, they could be represented by trees with edible nuts, showing a need to get beyond their hard exterior.

Dragonborn. Um.. Er.... I'm not familiar enough with the Dragonborn fluff to pick something out....
For the tieflings, how about Locust? It's a variety of thorny, twisted, noxious tree here in the northwest. Hard to kill, crowds out other plants. Nothing better for tieflings.

For the dragonborn, how about rowan? The fluff suggests that they are good-aligned mercenaries, and I seem to recall that rowan was used as staffs for killing some evil creatures in real-world mythology.

Another suggestion for the humans: Aspen. They grow in clumps, with each plant having a lot of trunks, but one root system, sort of how humans are numerous and sort of community oriented.
Honestly, the idea of having a tree to worship for each race appears forced to me. While the creation mythos is well designed and 'feels good' all along, the metaphor is somewhat exhausted at this point. Going further with it spoils it in my opinion.

Infusing mortals with the spirits of the elements however would probably lead to the quasi-humanoid pantheons you wanted to avoid.

That is to me the dilemma so far.

Consider the following idea:

After the tree destroyed the elements' creation and took away their power to give life, it went back to rest. The elements however resented the tree now and seeked to temper with its creation in retribution. Vonlam eroded the soil to blow away the nutrients for the trees, Felkor burned out clearings and left other groups of trees on their own to grow unchecked until they couldn't expand anymore, Angkor densed part of the ground to solid rocks which wouldn't allow the roots of trees to grow and Sharha sealed off parts of the land with rivers and lakes preventing growth there.
After an eternity of the elements reshaping the world the tree awakened feeling the dire need of its creation for guidance. It was saddened about what had become of the world and felt guilty of its own jealousy which somehow led to this course of events.
A truce was formed between the elemental forces and the tree. Though it didn't give them back the power to create life, it agreed to remake what it destroyed abiding to the whishes of the four elements.
Felkor wanted creatures with hot anger driven to activity by their desires and thus races like the Orcs and Goblins were created.
Angkor wanted creatures that were enduring and patient like the earth itself and thus races like the Dwarves were created.
Vonlam wanted creatures that were light hearted and subtle and thus races like the Elves were created.
Sharha wanted creatures that were fluid, adaptable and daring and thus races like the Humans and the Halflings were created.
The elements were appeased and the tree returned to an eternity of rest while the four divines enjoyed 'their' new creations.
Unbeknownst to them all however, when the shards of the elementals' power to create sunk into the ground, they glimmed ever after and over the course of millenia, new creatures emerged. From the spark of Felkor prey animals like tigers, wolves and even dragons arose. From the spark of Vonlam sprang birds of all sorts but also fey and angels. The spark of Sharha created aquatic creatures like fish, corals and squids. The spark of Angkor gave birth to badgers, deer and and numerous herbivores.
Soon the creation of the tree was swarming with life of shapes and features manyfold...

The myth leaves you with five divines to worship, the four elemental gods which would probably be worshipped by clerics and paladins and the tree which is likely to be worshipped less by clerics and more by druids. (However as druids are no longer divine, there might be changes.)

If you find it difficult to have paladins and clerics pray to more or less faceless principles, you can make up some saints which were paragons of a distinct element's nature and have your people pray to those instead. The elements would grant them spells anyway because they get worshipped that way, too.
Thanks CountessK!! That is a really interesting way to make the transition. Consider it stolen!!!
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Thanks CountessK!! That is a really interesting way to make the transition. Consider it stolen!!!

I'd say I was voluntarily abandoning ownership of the idea so no stealing ;)
I like it. Here's some general advice:

The creation story is a little longer than it needs to be in places and uses a lot of passive voice. Making it more concise and action oriented might spice it up a bit.
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
Wow. Great Idea. Kudos.
I like it. Here's some general advice:

The creation story is a little longer than it needs to be in places and uses a lot of passive voice. Making it more concise and action oriented might spice it up a bit.

I thought about making it shorter and more action-oriented, but it wouldn't fit with the creation myth. I want the creation myth to be fairly slow, similar to what initiates into a religious order would get.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I thought about making it shorter and more action-oriented, but it wouldn't fit with the creation myth. I want the creation myth to be fairly slow, similar to what initiates into a religious order would get.

That's a good idea, but keep in mind that your players are your true "audience", not actual students of a religious philosophy. You want to "fake it" in a way that still allows your players to grab all important information and run with it.

Try a framing device. A "bullet list that's not a bullet list". The creation story I was given was framed in the span of a "week" with "seven days". Hell, the "ten commandments" are a list.

If you want to be more creative you could have a "prayer thread" with the "X jewels of creation" or something. A physical latch as you tell the story that helps the reader remember and take note of the important facts.
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