Forums: Helping Hand > Avatar power imbalances

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In 2nd edition, Faiths & Avatars introduced and made good use of rules to take avatars up to 40th level, as did its companion volumes Powers & Pantheons and Demihuman Deities. Realms and Core sources that appeared earlier on the other hand usually restricted avatars to 20th level and lower, leading to a large power gap. I believe I even read a Dragon editor's comment against using the newer high level rules, though I can no longer find it.

Now there might be all kinds of in-universe explanations for that change in avatar ability, but I can't recall ever seeing one in print. Or were there? And should we in the wiki comment on this in the respective articles in any way? Thanks for opinions and discussion!

Daranios (talk) 19:30, September 26, 2018 (UTC)
Hello Daranios,

I am frankly not sure whether it is what you are asking for, but Monster Mythology page 128 has a small section where it says that FR-versions of avatars are generally overpowered, so in conflict use those in the Monster Mythology to maintain power balance. Albeit, this is a book that came out before Faiths & Avatars was written.

Regarding of an in-universe reason for the giant power discrepancies, the following is purely my speculation. On Hallowed Ground page 41 has a passage where it says that gods create only avatars that are weak enough to be killed by powerful mortals. Now, the FR-campaign setting is one that is extremely high-level compared to others, see the Chosen of Mystra and etc., so the gods might have said to themselves "if what runs under "powerful mortal" is level 29th (Elminster Aumar) than it doesn't hurt to create level 25+ avatars". Again, this is just my speculation and perhaps the thought process regarding the power level behind writing Faiths & Avatars and its companion books.

I hope it helped.

Best Regards

Saya222 (talk) 20:04, September 26, 2018 (UTC)
Ah, good to know, I did not remeber that section from Monster Mythology. It refers back to Dwarves Deep and The Drow of the Underdark, where there is a power difference, but a much smaller one that in Faiths & Avatars and following works.

Interesting speculation! That beautifully explains any differences between Core and Realms sources. There would remain the question what happended between older and younger 2nd edition Realms sources.
My personal speculation here would be, that following the Time of Troubles (traumatic for some deities, I suppose), deities started to invest more power into their avatars - on the one hand to improve their chances should such an event ever reccur, and on the other because they were forced by Ao to pay more attention to their followers on Toril. This cannot happen immediately after the Avatar Crisis, as this would be the shift from 1st to 2nd edition, but gradually within 2nd edition (1358 DR to 1371 DR). As some deities created more powerful avatars, others followed, not to be outdone. This would mean for such gods where we have only Core (lower power) stats, that the either the later elevated avatar levels are not known, or these deities decided not to take part in this "avatar arms race".
Aside from having a fascinating discussion about this topic, I guess I wanted to know opinions, if we should include any kind of footnote or something for deities, where there are low-powered stats, which are unusual for the Realms. To inform readers who might wonder about this discrepancy, which, in the end, is based on real-world editorial decisions.

Daranios (talk) 20:07, September 28, 2018 (UTC)
Hello Daranios,

thank you for the reply and my apologies for my late reply.

About your idea with the "avatar arm race". Wow, that's indeed good explanation. I'll add here some ideas of mine. Now, Toril's deities are mostly those who are worshiped only on Toril. This means when they die, they are dead, while gods from Monster Mythology who are worshiped on basically every world their race is found on, would lose only the aspect of the world they "die" on. So the idea is that Toril's gods got really scared of dying and entered an arm race as did pantheons with only-Toril members (those in Demihuman Deities) or pantheons who felt pressured from the Faerûnian pantheon like the Mulhorandi pantheon. The reasons can differ, I can imagine that in the Seldarine, gods like Rillifane Rallathil or Shevarash (the members only worshiped on Toril) entering the arm race and the others entering it out of solidarity, while in the Dark Seldarine, Eilistraee and Selvetarm (the members only worshiped on Toril) entered the arm race and the others entered it only to not be outdone by the two. The explanation why the other gods from Monster Mythology did not enter the arm race could be because Toril is an unimportant backwater plane and their gods small fishes in interplanar politics according to On Hallowed Ground. They could have said to themselves that the effort was not worth it.

To your third point, I'm sorry for having effectively ignored it. My answer to the problem would be to expand the avatar page and fill it with information, search for more information that might support the theory, writing the speculation down, and then link it to the avatar-tag in the deity-infobox like the favored animal-tag is linked to the favored animal-page. Though I think that would be something that should be discussed with one of the admins.

I hope it helped.

Best Regards

Saya222 (talk) 20:47, September 29, 2018 (UTC)

Hello Saya222,

what you suggest for lower power avatars for most multi-sphere monstrous deities fits very well with my earlier thoughts, thanks!

I also think it is a good idea to put a note about the power-differences into the (yet very short) avatar article and link it from the deity template. I guess I would only include your first idea for the time being, as it can be indirectly sourced with On Hallowed Ground. As interesting as the rest we discussed is, it remains speculation.

Best Regards

Daranios (talk) 19:33, September 30, 2018 (UTC)

So, I have tried to include what I can reasonably source within the avatar article together with a note about the power difference between earlier and later books, and have linked that article from Template:Deity.
Daranios (talk) 19:35, October 5, 2018 (UTC)
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