Tartrat’s Epic Fail

“Tartrat’s first resurrection was a very pleasant experience. That is to say–she much preferred life to death. One’s first inclination is to not to repeat the experience but most do not take it to such an extremity. Then again, most return to life sane.

“Even after achieving immortality as a lich, Tartrat did not feel secure. She had made too many enemies in her lifetime (and her after-lifetime) to rest easily. They were coming for her. But mortal threats paled compared to what she was about to attempt. The last true threat, the gods themsleves, were about to be removed. She could not kill one, much less all of them, but she could cut them off. She would prevent them from touching her world ever again.

Tartrat is destroyed by a party of heroes, but the primordial weapon/ritual manages to fire off anyway. For 100 years, this unnamed world will be void of divinity.

What does that do to a D&D setting?

What happens when Tartrat’s barrier begins to fail and the gods return to the earth?

Within the world.

The loss of divine power is nothing new to D&D. Clerics & paladins have been subject to losing their powers since the game began. Dark Sun is an entire setting where divine magic does not exist, though to be fair I believe that it never did exist there.  (Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?)

Theocracies and individuals who rule by divine right suddenly become politically vulnerable. Benevolent rulers may retain the people’s faith in their ability to govern, but forces from within and without may take this as an opportunity to seize power. Less wise or less capable rulers may find themselves immediately beset without the protect that their faith (and the faith of their opposition) may have provided.

Military units that relied upon divine magic for healing may find themselves at a disadvantage. You have to be more careful without the support of a cleric or paladin.

Exclusively divine rituals will fail. For some effects, there may never be a replacement. Worse, forgotten rituals put in place by adventurers past and present to imprison or banish evil will fade away.

Adventurers suffer greatly (“What’s radiant damage?”). Holy implements and other divine items lose all magical properties, including there bonus magical bonus to hit and damage. Divine powers no longer function as expected, if at all! Divine Heroes will need to retrain in an new class (presumably of the same role) in order to continue their adventures. They can pick up the basics pretty quick, when the new powers align closely with the old.

Re-Introducing Divinity

I assume that when you prevent the gods from influencing events in the world, that they will be very interested in investigating when that barrier comes down. Will they walk the earth? New champions need to be chosen, the faithful need to be gathered, and the temples restored.

Depending up the average lifespan of mortals in your game, it will likely have been 3-5 generations before the 100 years is up and divine magic returns to the world. Political struggles began by the power vacuum are still a recent memory. Any hint of the return of divine magic could provoke action from any number of directions. The faithful will literally flock to support the divinely inspired, some blindly and others requiring proofs. There are those who will see the return of divine influence as a threat to their positions or prosperity.

Those who are inspired by the legends of the gods and divine heroes of the past, particularly children, may spontaneously manifest divine abilities. Others may happen upon a god in disguise who grants them a boon or bestows a curse.


There are plenty of potential hooks to jump in at any point within 100 years and start playing with the idea. The loss of divine magic to a a world used to its presence can be just short of cataclysmic. The return of the gods to the world can be equally disruptive or it may seep in like a rising tide.

For my part, my first idea was an escort mission. A young son or daughter is discovered to have the power to lay on hands and heal this sick, just like the Paladin hero of the same name who was said to be born in that same village over 100 years before. The PCs are asked to bring him on a pilgrimage to the old temple where a few clerics still keep the faith of old. Perhaps they will understand the meaning of this miracle.

  • Along the way, there are several potential obstacle.
  • A peddler selling ‘cures’ who fears that he will lose business to the boy.
  • A corrupt official or ruler who seeks to prove the boy a fake, using torture.
  • A zealot who seeks to ‘protect’ the boy by raising in seclusion on the ‘true faith’.
  • A rival god sends an agent to assassinate the boy.

Other heroic tier adventures may include:

  • Recovering items, relics, and artifacts that were said to once be blessed.
  • Investigating rumors of other divinely powered peoples, a disproportionate number of which are evil or insane.
  • Providing security to a temple.

At the Paragon tier, I would expect divine characters to get organized and start making waves in the world about the. By epic tier, the hunt is on for the Tartrat’s mountain palace and the secret to the barrier that she erected.


~ by Hunter Rose on June 17, 2011.

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