This is still a draft tutorial-- spelling errors and all.

If you think I should add something, have a suggestion, or see a mistake, please comment of PM me.

Thanks,
IcyWolfling

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Once upon a time, in a forum far, far, away, someone asked a question...
Yoshi-Miso
What i would like to know is more about how to create gods for your world yet still have them be original but also realistic and serious. Nothing like God ofwedgies or stuff like that.

Thus, His Majestic Yanker, Aao!, God of Wedgies, was born! Srssly. and His name is spelled with an exclamation point. Aao! will smite you if you forget. [/joke]
Yoshi-Miso's question got answered eventually. However, it seems to me that his was a common problem. So my answer has been polished up and expanded. And here it is.

Almost all religions have a god. Many have more than one. In fact, according to one source, only the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) are monotheistic. The source, however, went on to prove his idiocy beyond a reasonable doubt, so don't take his word for it. The fact remains however, that the majority of the religions I have examined are either truly polytheistic or have one god that shows a variety of different personae.

World religions are very confusing.



Types of Religion:

Monotheistic: One, all-powerful god. Examples: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

Polytheistic: Many gods, each with limited powers in specific areas. Usually, some are more powerful than others, and there is a 'boss god' Examples: The Greek and Roman Pantheons, Shinto.

There are types of religion that have no god figures at all, but since this is about making gods, we don't really care about them right now. That discussion belongs in an article on creating religions.

Sometimes the lines between the types blur. Christianity is classified as monotheistic, but the god is triune, three-in-one. It can look like three gods: The Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost). Similarly, the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu are manifestations of the one god, Brahman, rather than gods in their own right. However, Hinduism is classified as polytheistic.


In the real world, nothing but Latin is tidy. Try to make your religion slightly irregular. Blend ideas.

(As a heads-up, I'm going to be using "god" and "goddess" more or less interchangeably. Don't let it confuse you.



Pantheons

Dig up your worldbuilding notes. You should have your culture loosely sketched in. Basicly, you need to know about your people's lifestyle and what they care about because if the people care about it, so will their gods.

Let's say you have a bunch of farmers. What's important to them? Their farms. They'd probably have a god of fertility to make sure the crops grow. They might have a rain goddess. The rain goddess might have a foul temper, or be emotionally unstable-- an explanation for sudden downpours and floods. A sun god... it might be one and the same with the god of fertility. Sun makes the plants grow just as much as phosphorus and nitrogen good soil does.

What if they are sailors or fishermen? Likely a ocean god of some sort; again, she's likely to be capricious. Someone to be responsible for the wind? Or keeping the seamonsters in order?

The culture suggests gods, whose tasks and realm of responsibility suggest their temperament and gender, but not necessarily their age and appearance.

Usually, the pantheons have a head god and goddess (or some other ridiculously powerful figures, like the Greek Titans) that are the progenitors of the rest.

And important jobs usually have their patron gods. Of course, this means that you won't have a god of philosophy until your culture is advance enough to have time to sit around melting their brains with silly questions.



Keep those suckers happy

God bribes Offerings are designed to appeal to the gods they are offered to. Most of the time, the gifts are in-kind or exotics, things that the god couldn't get for himself. Also, he offering needs to be accessible to the god. At best, he won't get it, and will get grouchy. At worst, he'll be able to tell that his goodie, and thusly, he, got forgotten in your garden shed, become royally ticked, and kill your cow. Or your kids. Or level the town.

Use our imagination! Be inventive with your divine death, destruction, and chaos.

Often, gods of the fields were given sacrifices—life was returned to the earth in exchange for the life taken (the grain/ veggies/ whatever). Gods that live underground? The offering goes into a pit. (Think about Hades and Persephone- cthonic Greek gods of the underworld) What if your god of fertility lives in the earth of the fields? Your farmers might plow a measure of grain back into the earth in the autumn as the god’s share of the bounty. And add an apple or so. And then water the whole works with a pint of beer.

Can you sort of see how I’m thinking?

(And why would anyone worship wedgies? Just curious. On second thought—don’t answer that.)

And I’ve been using ‘god’ and ‘goddess’ pretty much interchangeably. Decide gender the same way you decide personality—what fits? smile

Types of gods and relation to domains, gender, personality, and appearance
when which types are appropriate
what they like (offerings)
What happens when they Don't Like You

Random Bits

Examples: The Greek pantheon is a family of independent divine beings.

Just about the only place you would run into Aao!, the aforementioned God of Wedgies, would be in a middle school. However, Aao!'s brother Haioo!, God of Depantsing, would be found in elementary, middle, and high schools.
You don't get gods of philosophy until your culture is fairly established.