a colorful closeup of a larakeet

This is a larakeet. Read on to find out why this picture (and headline pun) exists.

Don’t let the headline fool you. I actually enjoy editing.

But sometimes this stage of refinement seems more like an obstacle to progress than actual advancement. At least, that is how I’ve been feeling lately about The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd, which I had hoped to release this month.

Instead, I’m greaves-deep in creating the third draft of my first tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG), implementing substantial edits that include:

  • Reverting all player characters’ levels back to 1 (instead of starting at 3)
  • Rebalancing enemies’ and allies’ stats
  • Further streamlining combat
  • Redoubling my attempts to make this a game suitable for first-time gamers
  • Steering into the weird

While there isn’t a magical—or even mathematical—formula for editing, there are a few commonalities between revising drafts of traditional fiction (like short stories and novels) and interactive fiction (like TTRPGs): you add what’s missing, multiply what’s working well, and subtract what doesn’t need to be there.

That last part can be a considerable problem for us writers. We want the world to know all of our (allegedly) wonderful ideas. Even though authors should know more about our subjects, stories, and characters than the reader ever needs to, the temptation to include as much as we can is strong—often to the detriment of pacing and clarity.

One such example is the content that follows. I had wanted to give gamemasters (GMs) a peek at the prime pantheon that governs Mezzo-Earth, the fantasy setting of The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd. Well, it ended up being more like a ponderous plunge than a passing glimpse.

So rather than bog down my game with more background before the adventure or another appendix at the end, I have elected to extract the descriptions of these nine gods from my book and include them as “bonus content” here in my blog.

Because in addition to enjoying editing, I’m also a big fan of repurposing!

The Gods of Good


Lawful Good

Also called the Patron of All Paragons, Gallant serves as exemplar for mortals who wish to become the best versions of themselves. While this may sound like a selfish approach to life, Gallant’s followers believe that putting others’ needs before their own is both a prize and a penance for any pride they may be harboring. And woe to anyone whose ambition takes advantage of those weaker than themselves!

Many humans and members of a few other races revere Gallant as a powerful force of good in the world, making donations and offerings to his churches while trying to live up to his lofty standards. The most devout followers become priests who care for the needy in the community, judges who impose justice tempered with mercy, and paragons who use Gallant’s divine gifts to fight evil.

When Gallant walks among mortals, he adopts the form of a knight clad in golden armor with a modest-looking longsword dubbed the Bane of Iniquity. His countenance is always covered by a visor not only to shield onlookers from the god’s radiant glory, but also to demonstrate the humility he encourages in his worshipers.


Neutral Good

Maestro ranks among the oldest in Mezzo-Earth’s pantheon, though his secrets have endured for many millennia. One might infer a playful irony in this, since among Maestro’s many aliases is Truthteller. Because this deity champions the pursuit of knowledge, he is wont to weave factual details in superficial songs, ambiguous poetry, and outright riddles. Supporter of the arts and scholarship, Maestro is sometimes called Heaven’s Bard or the Conductor of Creation.

No single race claims Maestro as its own. Rather, artists and academics from across Mezzo-Earth pay homage to this elusive god. A painter who reveres Maestro might plant hidden symbols in his masterpiece, while a nomadic collector of knowledge may share what she gleaned on her travels with everyone she encounters. Some institutes of learning or the arts pledge their efforts to Maestro, but no true churches for this enigmatic god exist. Strangely, Maestro is the only god ever referenced the ancestor-worshiping elves’ ceremony and tradition, though his inclusion is more of an aloof acknowledgement than true veneration.

Maestro rarely visits Mezzo-Earth, and when he does, he seldom reveals his divine nature to mortals. However, those who claim to have been visited by Maestro say the god takes the form of a silver-haired traveler wearing colorful, if road-worn, garb and carrying a beautifully carved lute. His invariable elvish appearance may lend credence to the rumor that Maestro’s music created not only Mezzo-Earth, but also its first people.

Lady Larakeet

Chaotic Good

The essence of Lady Larakeet can be captured by a single word: flighty. Whereas the whims of other capricious deities can lead mortals to lamentation, Lady Larakeet’s larks always bring about good fortune for those whose paths she crosses—albeit unintentionally at times. Sometimes called the Good Luck Goddess, Lady Larakeet is often thanked when an unexpected windfall or other surprising gift of providence befalls a mortal.

Followers of the goddess commit random acts of kindness, never taking credit for their mischievous good deeds. Benevolent practical jokers of any race tend to flock to Lady Larakeet, and at least one church has been founded for the Feathered Benefactor of Good Fortune, though its tenants are as ever-shifting as the clouds above. Wishing wells are often dedicated to Lady Larakeet and painted in bright blues, greens, oranges, and reds.

When Lady Larakeet strolls through Mezzo-Earth, she takes on a wide variety of guises. Depending on her mood, she might appear as a wealthy noblewoman in a showy gown or a dirty pauper who doubles any donation bequeathed to the would-be beggar. Some (especially folks who spend a lot of time in their cups) claim to have seen Lady Larakeet adopt a half-humanoid, half-avian form—a rainbow-hued angel flying wherever the winds take her.

The Gods of Neutrality


Lawful Neutral

“Rules were made to be brokered” is an adage commonly attributed to Bureaucrates, whose obsession with fairness and predictability has earned him the alias Rules Lawyer. The god believes everything has its purpose and that cause and effect should be as consistent as clockwork. As such, he has inspired his followers to pen copious tomes detailing nuanced edicts, statutes, and decrees for how mortals should live their lives—from judiciary systems to commerce to cooking.

Bureaucrates’ devotees follow the god’s proclamations to the letter of the law. Zealots who prize order above all else are attracted to the many administrative positions Bureaucrates’ systems promote. From civil leadership to banks to courts to colleges—whatever the sector, worshipers of Bureacrates bring with them rubber stamps, red tape, and an unwavering belief in stability. While some might view their strict adherence to rules as needlessly restrictive, Bureaucrates teaches that such laws are required for peace, prosperity, and progress.

Dwarves revere Bureacrates above all other deities, and so when the god holds court among mortals, he almost always takes the form of a stoic dwarf wearing impeccably tailored clothes. He is never without a hammer, which can be used as a gavel, a smith’s tool, a mallet, or a sledgehammer, depending on what the situation requires.


True Neutral

Although many minotaurs revere Caht-Tel as the Goddess of the Stampede, there are many more facets to this deity than the embodiment of a chieftain driving her warriors forward. For example, humans sometimes call her the Wellspring of Will, while the dwarves—who typically value community over individuality—paint Caht-Tel as the Shortcut Queen, Bureaucrates’ unpredictable consort. However, one thing all of her incarnations have in common is this: Caht-Tel is a fierce proponent of free will who stomps out oppression wherever it is found.

Caht-Tel is more likely to have champions than priests. Those who follow her most devoutly earn her favor by rising above those around them and distinguishing themselves as the best in their arena, whether that happens to be a farm, a forge, or an actual arena. Human communities that were settled by one of Caht-Tel’s champions erect statues of the goddess, and small sects of dwarves worship her above Bureaucrates, but she is best loved by minotaurs, whose war cries venerate her name.

It is believed by every clan that Caht-Tel is the mother of all minotaurs and, therefore, her natural form is that of a white-furred minotaur with red eyes and massive horns. Warriors claim to see their goddess charging into battle beside them, her monstrously large battleaxe, Castrator, in hand. Those who are bold enough to challenge the minotaurs’ assertions claim Caht-Tel is wont to take the form of any race, though she is always albino.


Chaotic Neutral

Some say the only constant is change. Quinlehar embodies that notion, sweeping through the lives of mortals like a whirlwind, leaving confusion and, often, collateral damage in her wake. Though she is best known as the Divine Fool—a capricious goddess who toys with mortals for a laugh—Quinlehar cares as much about flux as she does fun. Because she abhors stagnation and boredom, she routinely disrupts the status quo, to the delight of some and the detriment of others.

Quinlehar lends her power to a motley fellowship, from acrobats and other performing artists to thieves and assassins to the overlooked or downtrodden people in a community. Indeed, she is sometimes called the Mad Matron, a title that is certainly subject to interpretation. Statues of the Jester Goddess grace communities of all races, not as a tribute, but for protection against the mischievous deity’s unpredictable antics. At least one network of spies calls Quinlehar their sovereign, and the Hallowed Disorder’s only goal is to remain apolitical by sabotaging all vestiges of governance.

According to myth, Quinlehar delights in confounding mortals by never taking the same form twice, but she is often depicted as a nimble jester clad in black-and-white fabric of every pattern imaginable, haphazardly stitched together. Her presence is heralded by the jingling of unseen bells or a disembodied chuckle.

The Gods of Evil


Lawful Evil

While it would be easy to say Gha’al is Gallant’s opposite in every way, such a declaration would be a gross oversimplification. In fact, some sages have argued that Gha’al and Gallant were once the same deity, a god whose internal struggles split him in twain. Other myths posit that the two gods are twins. Regardless, Gha’al’s tenants feature one major difference from Gallant’s: whereas the Patron of All Paragons puts others before himself, Gha’al preaches that power breeds entitlement. Simply put, might makes right!

Warlords of all races and cultures pledge fealty to Gha’al, whom they call the Conquering King. Rulers who oppress or otherwise exploit their people may be followers of Gha’al’s crooked path, and more than a few minotaur clans have forsaken Caht-Tel for Gha’al’s hotblooded embrace. However, small-thinking highwaymen or a murderer who kills for pleasure or personal profit has no place in Gha’al’s kingdom. For Gha’al’s elite, conquest is more than taking what others possess. No, the mighty subjugate the weak for the commoners’ own good.

When Gha’al deigns to grace mortals with his presence, he adopts the form of a severely handsome warlord adorned with the bones—and sometimes drenched in the blood—of his enemies. In battle, he is said to wield a spear called True Glory and a mace named Temperer. Others claim that Gha’al’s avatar is always an elf as an insult to Maestro and his alleged children.


Neutral Evil

When misfortune assails mortals, Scoundrelle is often blamed—and rightly so! Also known as the Wretched Wench and the Covetess, Scoundrelle delights in the suffering of others. Because she believes the other gods have wronged her by forcing her to share the pantheon with them, she will do whatever it takes to give anyone responsible for a perceived slight their comeuppance, and the punishment almost never suits the crime. Her cruelty is eclipsed only by her subtlety.

Few people of any race openly worship Soundrelle, and those who privately do so pay a high price for the power she grants because the Covetess gives with one hand but always takes a little more with the other. Her typical supplicants are individuals who are willing to sell their soul for a quick win, especially for vengeance. While the goddess’s methods can be vicious and startling, those who revere her come to appreciate the patience required for a gradual poisoning or incremental sabotage against a foe.

Above all the other gods of Mezzo-Earth, Scoundrelle readily appears before her followers, showing off her alluring form, such as a wickedly beautiful elf maiden, a battle-scarred minotaur chieftainess, or a voluptuous dwarf maid with fiery sideburns. Whatever avatar she chooses, Scoundrelle is never without her hoard of jewelry, which all harbor some sinister means of doing harm.


Chaotic Evil

Of all the gods in the pantheon, Disastrex is the least understood and the least liked. Seemingly, no mortal can understand the dark and twisted desires of this deity, and even the other evil gods give Disastrex a wide berth. Perhaps Disastrex can be described as the absence of all beauty, kindness, artistic expression, or reason. While it would be convenient to call Disastrex a nihilistic deity, history has shown that Disastrex wants more than absolute destruction. Instead, the Devouring One wants to replace all that is with itself.

Common belief is that no sane person would willingly follow Disastrex and that any cultists who crop up were tricked into service. Alas, individuals who suffer from mental afflictions have a higher likelihood of falling prey to Disastrex’s inscrutable schemes. Although most scholars speculate that a society devoted to Disastrex is a paradox, others suspect that the humans of the Disorient have made a covenant with the Devouring One.

No one who has ever come face to face with Disastrex has told of the horrors they saw. Never adopting any particular race or gender, most depictions of Disastrex show the god as a mass of roiling storm clouds, a sprawling shadow comprised of grasping hands and jaws, or a fleshy amalgamation of all creatures as a mockery of natural life.

If you want to learn more about The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd, check out these earlier blog posts, and be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss the delayed-but-destined release of my first game!