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Gods of Nehwon

The Gods and the Twain

Death, above all other gods, has played the most central role in the twains’ adventures. For a time, Death considered Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to be two of his best servants. But there comes a time when even the most useful players in Death’s games must die, and Death targeted them in The Sadness of the Executioner. However, there may be powers even more powerful than Death, and the two survived the attempt on their lives. No less than three more times did Death try to directly take them.

Other key players among the gods in the lives of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser include the gods that the twain had worshiped for a space. Kos and Issek of the Jug have been worshiped by Fafhrd, whereas Mog had been by the Gray Mouser. Late in the twains’ careers, the two trans-located gods Odin and Loki washed up on the Nehwon shores of Rime Isle and tried to use the two to bring their own doom upon Rime Isle and greater Nehwon.

Rules of the Nehwon Gods

The Gods of Nehwon may have great power over the lives of the peoples of Nehwon, but they are not all-powerful. They must abide by certain rules.

  • A God must be true to his nature.
  • To hear what man says and hold him to it.
  • To speak truth to man about what’s going on in distant places.
  • To prophecy honestly-though he may try to trick man with his words.
  • A god can only hear man’s words, not his thoughts.

The Powers of Nehwon

In addition to the gods, there are The Powers. The Powers are essentially behind the scenes running Nehwon. The Powers do have to, however, obey the commands of even the least god.

The Powers are The Lords of Necessity, Chance, and Death.

Path of the Nehwon Gods

Not including the gods of other cities and cultures, the gods in Lankhmar are numerous. It is said that they–“must be as numberless as the grains of sand in the Great Eastern Desert.” They start out chiefly–“as men, or more strictly the memories of men who led ascetic, vision-haunted lives and died painful, messy deaths.” The proto-goddesses are–“generally maidens reputed to have been enslaved for decades by sadistic magicians and ravished by whole tribes of Mingols.” Generally they travel a cruel gauntlet of hardship and tortures at the hands of eastern brigands and Mingol unbelievers before arriving at the Marsh Gate of Lankhmar.

In Lean Times in Lankhmar we learn about Lankhmar’s Street of the Gods, which serves as a further testing ground for proto-gods who have made it Lankhmar. Once in Lankhmar, it’s priest or apostle arrives on the Street of the Gods through the Marsh Gate. It will then make its way up the street either renting a temple here and there or by occupying a few yards of cobbled pavement until it reaches it’s proper level. Essentially, the more popular the god, the further it makes it up the street. Very few make it to the region adjoining the Citadel where they can join the aristocracy of the gods. Even this is transient. Any god who declines in popularity will travel back down the street until it finally leaves Lankhmar through the Marsh Gate from which it came. The only gods who are permanent in Lankhmar are the Gods of Lankhmar as oppose to the Gods in Lankhmar. They occupy a squat black temple at the very end of the street which no one enters.

With a few exceptions, the gods live in Godsland near the Life-Pole opposite of the Death-Pole wherein lies the Shadowlands, residence of Death. Godsland is a crowded place, but otherwise paradisial.

In Under the Thumbs of the Gods we learn that…

Under the Thumbs of the Gods . . . the gods have very sharp ears for boasts, or for declarations of happiness and self-satisfaction, or for assertions of a firm intention to do this or that, or for statements that this or that must surely happen, or any other words hinting that a man is in the slightest control of his own destiny. And the gods are jealous, easily angered, perverse, and swift to thwart.

If ever a god should lose all or most his believers, he will die or be forced into exile .

The Nehwon Pantheon

Aarth

Stories: Ill Met in Lankhmar The Seven Black Priests Lean Times in Lankhmar Their Mistress, The Sea Swords of Lankhmar

Aarth is known as the All-Listener, and up to the time of the story Lean Times in Lankhmar, as one of the most ancient and powerful gods in Lankhmar. His temple was the furthest up the Street of the Gods towards the Citadel end, excepting of course the temple of the Gods of Lankhmar. However, in the events leading up to the prominence of Issek of the Jug, the treasurer of the Temple of Aarth was in financial hot-water. It is hinted at that Aarth may have lost this temple to Issek of the Jug.

Aarth apparently has assassins in Sarheenmar, although this may have been a deceit on the part of the Gray Mouser.

Chance

Stories: The Jewels in the Forest The Sadness of the Executioner

Chance is one of the Powers. It is not known whether it an equal to the Lords of Necessity or even if it outranks them. Chance can sometimes work counter to Necessity and Death.

The Cults of the Thirteen

Stories: Swords of Lankhmar

For every animal there are thirteen of the species who exemplify the greatest qualities of that species and govern over the rest.

The Dead Master Thieves

Stories: Thieves' House

The Dead Master Thieves reside in a secret sub-cellar below Thieves’ House. They are the ancient gem decorated bones of former great thieves of the Thieves’ Guild. They have been forgotten about in modern times until the story Thieves’ House.

They killed the then guild-master, Slevyas for his blasphemy. Ever since, it is rumored that the guild-thieves hold secret services beneath the house during full moons, and give part of their take to the Dead Master Thieves in tribute.

Death

Stories: The Price of Pain-Ease The Sadness of the Executioner Beauty and the Beasts Trapped in the Shadowland The Bait

Death is one of the Powers and lives in a castle in the Shadowlands. He is, naturally, responsible for the deaths of everyone in Nehwon and must fill regular quotas from the Lords of Necessity.

As a Power, Death must obey the commands of even the least god. Even so, Death is known to be a tricky sort and most gods would prefer to not have anything to do with him.

Death has his own particular code which he follows when dispatching his orders, but will cheat from time to time, especially when it comes to the deaths of heroes which he feels should be departed by highly melodramatic means. Above all, Death is a sportsman.

The Elder Gods

Stories: The Lords of Quarmall Claws from the Night

The existence of Elder gods is only hinted at in the stories. In The Lords of Quarmall, we discover that some of the underground passages of Quarmall are rumored to lead under the sea to caverns of the elder ones. In Claws from the Night, we learn that it is under penalty of death to enter any of the ancient abandoned temples in Lankhmar. It is not mentioned what gods these temples served.

Fate

Stories: The Jewels in the Forest

Fate is one of the powers.

Glaggerk

Stories: The Jewels in the Forest

It is presumed that Glaggerk is a god, as his name was taken in vain along with the name of Kos by Fafhrd the Barbarian during the story The Jewels in the Forest.

The Gods of Lankhmar

Stories: Lean Times in Lankhmar When the Sea-King's Away Swords of Lankhmar

The Gods of Lankhmar reside in a single squat black temple with a tall, square, silent bell tower, at the furthest end of the Street of the Gods on the Citadel side.

Lankhmarts are so afraid of their patron gods, that it can be penalty of death to mention them. One may blaspheme any of the gods in Lankhmar as there are thousands of them, but blasphemy against the Gods of Lankhmar is nearly unheard of.

They have been known to come out in times of trouble to rescue the city, or to come out to kill those who would seek to put another god above them.

The Great God

Stories: The Jewels in the Forest Claws from the Night The Price of Pain-Ease

The Great God is mentioned in several stories, though not much is said about the Great God. According to the thief Stravas, the Great God banished many of the old gods from Lankhmar centuries ago. Their temples are now abandoned and forbidden to enter under pain of death.

He was worshiped by the very pious and believing, Arvlan of Angarngi.

The Hates

Ilala

Stories: Lean Times in Lankhmar

Ilala is known as the Goddess of all Shes. Ilala’s head priestess during the story Lean Time’s in Lankhmar was also named Ilala.

Issek of the Jug

Isseks, other

Stories: Lean Times in Lankhmar

Not to be confused with Issek of the Jug, other Isseks include Issek the Armless, Issek of the Burnt Legs, Flayed Issek, and Jugged Issek. The last of whose claim to immortality lay in his confinement for seventeen years in a not overly roomy earthenware jar.

Kos

Stories: Ill Met in Lankhmar The Jewels in the Forest Thieves' House Claws from the Night Under the Thumbs of the Gods The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars The Mouser Goes Below

Kos is a large flea-infested, brutish barbarian god and is known by his followers as Kos of the Dooms. He wears heavy furs and sweats a lot as Godsland is paradisial. Fafhrd is one of his lapsed followers.

Loki

Stories: Rime Isle The Mouser Goes Below

Loki is cast away from his pantheon and washes up on the shores of Rime Isle where seeks to bring new followers to a new doom.

The Lords of Necessity

Stories: The Sadness of the Executioner

The Lords of Necessity are one of the Powers. They outrank Death and provide him with his quotas.

Mog

Stories: Swords of Lankhmar Under the Thumbs of the Gods The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars The Mouser Goes Below

Mog is known as the Spider God. Mog resembles a four-limbed spider with a handsome, if not entirely human, face. The Mouser worshiped Mog for a time in order to humor his first love, Ivrian.

Oden

Stories: Rime Isle

Oden is cast away from his pantheon and washes up on the shores of Rime Isle where seeks to bring new followers to a new doom.

Pain

Stories: The Mouser Goes Below

Pain is the sister of Death, and also lives in his castle in the Shadowlands. Death finds his sister distasteful, as she walks about the castle unclad.

The Rat God

Stories: The Circle Curse

The Rat God is very popular in Ilthmar with it’s endless repetitions throughout the city in sculptures, murals, and other decor.

The Red God

Stories: The Jewels in the Forest

Fafhrd the Barbarian takes the Red God’s name in vain along with Kos and others during the story, The Jewels in the Forest.

The Shark God

Stories: The Wrong Branch

The Shark God is only briefly mentioned in The Wrong Branch. It is worshiped in the city of Ilthmar.

Skama

Stories:

Skama is known as the Moon Goddess.

Tyaa

Stories: Claws from the Night The Price of Pain-Ease

Tyaa is one of the forbidden gods banished from Lankhmar centuries ago. She is a goddess of birds. The birds of Tyaa fled to the Mountains of Darkness during their banishment.

Atya for time revived the cult of Tyaa in Lankhmar. The cult terrorized the city for three moons, and it was Atya’s intention that Tyaa should be openly worshiped. However, the intervention of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser caused Atya and the birds of Tyaa to fly off to the Mountains of Darkness in exile once again.

Votishal

Stories: Thieves' House

The priests of Votishal stole the skull and bony hands of the Master Thief Ohmphal many centuries ago and kept them in the crypt of their own temple. The lock to the door of the crypt is said to be beyond the cunning of any thief, and the crypt itself is said to be guarded by a ferocious beast.

As to why the priests of Votishal would want to steal the skull of a master thief is unknown. Nothing else is known about Votishal either.