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History of the Neathar Pantheon

by Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 19

[Image: Assembly of the Gods]


The goal of this article is to provide a history of the evolution of the Neathar pantheon from its origin to the modern times, employing information that is known from the canonical corpus (e.g., the Hollow World and Wrath of the Immortals) as the starting point, but filling the gaps in a coherent way that mimics what is known about similar pantheons in the real world -- i.e., the Indo-European ones.

To this end, we will adapt an existing model of the Indo-European religions, the trifunctional hypothesis proposed by Georges Dumézil in the 1920s and 1930s. A summary of this theory can be found in several of his books, such as "Les Dieux indo-européens"1.

For the purposes of this work, it is sufficient to note that Dumézil essentially recognises three main divine "functions", corresponding to the three social classes: priests/magicians/rulers; warriors; and producers of wealth, in several Indo-European religions. He relates these three social classes to the "three estates" -- oratores, bellatores et laboratores of Carolingian Europe. While the extent of this match is debatable, and likely influenced by Dumézil's own political views, its accuracy with respect to the real world is luckily irrelevant for this discussion -- as we are dealing with a fictional world, we can reverse the process and create Mystara's reality from the model.

To clarify the structure of the trifunctional hypothesis, Table 1 shows a grouping of portfolios along these lines. The contents of the table are somewhat simplified with respect to the trifunctional hypothesis as stated in Dumézil's work, in order to fit with the needs of Mystara. In particular, each function is clearly subdivided into two sub-functions (a) and (b). This is only partially present in the original model, since most Indo-European religions, for example, only have one main god representing the second function, and gods of the third function, while appearing in pairs, are generally very similar (either twins or a male/female pair). The division does, however, hold in the case of the first function.

[Table 1: The Three Functions]

In Dumézil's work, figures like Odin, Tyr, Zeus, Varuna and Mithra fall into the first function. More precisely, Odin would cover function 1a while Tyr would cover function 1b. Thor and Indra would cover the second function, and Frey and Freyja, Njordr and the Dioskouroi would fall into the third.

[Image: Odin]

In the rest of this article, the basic hypothesis is that the Neathar pantheons closely match the common features of the Indo-European religions, as described according to the trifunctional hypothesis and simplified as per Table 1.

A Trifunctional Model for the Neathar People

Having set our model, we now need to collect the existing data from the canonical corpus, and see how well the data matches the model.

The main, better known people of True Neathar origin are: the Ranax of Robrenn; the Eusdrians; the Heldanners and Antalians; the Thyatians and Ispan peoples; and the Traladarans and Milenians. However, the Traladaran pantheon is too recent, as all the named Immortals date back to the Beastman War of 1500 BC. Therefore, it provides little insight on the Neathar religion, and we need to discard it from our analysis.

Tables 2 and 3 show the main Immortals in those pantheons, by function. We first discuss the Ranax, Eusdrians, Heldanners and Antalians, leaving Thyatians and Ispans, with their more complex history, to a second stage.

The Antalian Pantheons

[Table 2: Pantheons: Eusdrian, Antalian and Robrenn]

The Antalians and their direct descendants are based on the real-world Scandinavian, Germanic, and Celtic peoples. As such, they follow the model quite closely.

We can easily see that Odin, Thor, and Frey and Freyja feature quite prominently as 1a, 2b, and 3a respectively. This is even more evident when we remove external influences, such as the elven and dwarven Immortals present in the Eusdrian and Robrenn pantheons (likely as a result of the presence of large numbers of dwarves and elves in those nations). Elven and dwarven Immortals are marked in italic in the table.

[Image: Thor]

Other Immortals must be recent additions, simply because they are relatively young themselves -- in particular Zirchev (present as Leug in the Robrenn pantheon).

Some noteworthy elements are the lack of a dominant power in the 1b function (the "Lawgiver", so to say) and the presence of Odin in the second function (as the "Strategist", although this role is sometimes taken by Thor instead).

From this analysis, we can derive an Antalian and Dunharian pantheon, composed of:

  1. Odin

  2. Thor

  3. Frey and Freyja

However, this pantheon cannot date back to the Blackmoorian age simply because of these, only the Immortal Odin existed at that time. We need, therefore, to look further in our quest for the Neathar pantheon.

The Thyatian Pantheons

[Table 3: Pantheons: Ispan and Thyatian]

When we look at the Thyatian pantheon, in Table 3, we can see that there are many Immortals involved in the three functions. This may lead us to think that Thyatis is not a good match for our model, but a look at the history of the Thyatian religion provides a rather different picture.
Indeed, many Thyatian Immortals are relative newcomers, brought around by the Thyatian Empire's expansion in Ochalea, Traladara, the Pearl Islands, and the northern coast of Davania. Once more, these "spurious" Immortals are marked in italic in the table. Comparing what remains with the Ispan pantheon of the Savage Baronies gives us an insight into the "native" Thyatian pantheon:

  1. (a) Ixion, (b) Tarastia

  2. (a) Vanya, (b) Thor

  3. (a) Valerias, (b) Asterius, Protius

However, Vanya and Tarastia are certainly recent additions, as both were probably added to the pantheon after the Nithian age. Also, Ixion is almost certainly not a native Neathar Immortal -- he is not in the Dunharian or Antalian pantheons.
We need, therefore, to have a look at these Immortals in greater detail.

Tarastia and Khoronus

Tarastia fills a 1b slot (a "Lawgiver"), and is certainly a recent addition -- she appeared as an Immortal after the formation of the Empire itself. An interesting option is that Tarastia replaced, in Thyatis, an earlier Immortal that had been part of the pre-Blackmoorian pantheon (the Skandaharian one), but did not take on the same role in the other pantheons (Antalian and Dunharian).

[Image: Khoronus]

Verthandi is a good candidate for this role. It can be supposed that Verthandi was the 1b Immortal in the Skandaharian pantheon, and when she left, Khoronus was not strong enough to take over all of her portfolio -- he limited himself to the "Time" aspect, and his place in the pantheon was taken by others.


Vanya is another young Immortal, dating back to circa 500 BC. Note that in many Antalian pantheons, Odin covers both the 1a and 2a roles. It can be supposed that he originally covered 2a in proto-Thyatian pantheons as well. Then Vanya took over, as she was very active -- she still seemed intent on a campaign against the Norse pantheon as can be seen by her sponsorship of the Heldannic Knights colonization (and conversion) of the Heldann Freeholds first, and of Norwold later.

Ixion, Asterius, and Valerias

Ixion has a Milenian name, and Milenians could certainly have inherited his worship from Traldar, who got it from the Nithians, who in turn were half-Oltec. It is therefore likely that the Milenians then transmitted Ixion's cult to the Thyatians. Ixion already had powerful allies in the pantheon (Valerias, and perhaps Asterius), so it was not too difficult for him to take over, in time, the 1a function from Odin (also, Odin was probably more interested in other nations).

Regarding Asterius, if he was worshipped in Taymora, and the Neathar in what is now Thyatis, he must have been in contact with the Taymoran priest-merchants of Asterius. Then, Asterius took over part of the 3b portfolio, and helped pave the way for Ixion.

[Image: Valerias]

Valerias, on the other hand, might have been a very ancient member of the pantheon -- she is not a patron of the Oltecs or Tanagoro, but she is an ancient Hierarch. She also has a good reason for not appearing in the modern Antalian/Dunharian pantheons -- Odin probably tossed her out when she helped Ixion's takeover in Thyatis.

Thor, Frey, and Freyja

These Antalian Immortals were probably allied with Odin, who brought them in the Antalian pantheon to strengthen his position when he saw that Verthandi's heir, Khoronus, was not yet strong enough to defend his portfolio.


Although he appears in several pantheons, Protius seems to be another relatively recent addition. He appears only in a minor role in Vestland, as Spooming Nooga, and in Thyatis (but not in the Ispan pantheon). Protius is not very interested in land-dwellers, so it is likely that he only recently (but still before 1AC) took interest in the Thyatians and/or the Antalians. It can be supposed that he appeared in the times immediately after the fall of Taymora, perhaps in the Nithian pantheon, and then in the Antalian and Traldar pantheons. The Thyatians then received him from their contacts with Nithians and Milenians.


Probably, in the old pantheon, only Valerias, Odin and Verthandi were present, each covering one entire function. It was Odin's idea to create sub-functions for less powerful Immortals to hold, thus strengthening his overall control over the pantheon. Since Odin also covers part of the second function, Valerias only appears as a third function Immortal, and Verthandi was certainly a first function Immortal, we can hypothesize that the original pantheon had Odin covering the role of war-leader. He then took over Verthandi's function, by adding to his portfolio the areas of knowledge, rulership and wisdom. This might be described in some myth, like Odin's acquisition of magic, wisdom and knowledge by self-hanging and by trading one eye in exchange for wisdom in the real-world Norse myths.

[Image: The Skandaharian Pantheon]

Based on the above discussion, I would guess the original Neathar pantheon included the following Immortals:

  1. Verthandi, patron of time, law, rulership, and perhaps also magic (especially divination);

  2. Odin, patron of war, strategy and lightning;

  3. Valerias (probably as Frigga), patroness of fertility and defender of the common people (a portfolio she keeps to the modern day in Thyatis).



[Image: Assembly of the Gods]

Jacopo Zucchi, The Assembly of the Gods, 1575-1576 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Odin]

Ferdinand Leeka, Brunilde knelt at his feet, 1905 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Thor]

Mårten Eskil Winge, Tor's Fight with the Giants, 1872 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Valerias]

Pietro da Cortona, Venus as Huntress Appears to Aeneas, 1631 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Khoronus]

Francois Lemoyne, Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, 1737 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Tarastia]

Paolo Veronese, Justice, 16th century [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: The Skandaharian Pantheon]

Johannes Gehrts, Ragnarok, before 1921 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons


[Table 1: The Three Functions]


Subfunction (a)

Subfunction (b)

1. Knowledge, Rulership

Kingship, Wisdom, Wizardry (and Trickery)

Law, Order, Justice, Kin/Race

2. Fighters, War

Strategy, Battles, Lightning

Combat, Duelling, Thunder

3. Protection, Service

Healing, Growth, Birth, Protection

Wealth, Crafts, Trade

[Table 2: Pantheons: Eusdrian, Antalian and Robrenn]






Viuden (Odin), Eirys (Eiryndul)


Leug (Zirchev)


Tiuz (Ilsundal)

Forsetta (Forseti)

Breig (Ordana)


Fredar (Frey), Fredara (Freyja)


Taranos (Odin)


Donar (Thor)

Thor, Skuld

Tuatis (Thor), Arduínna (Diulanna)


Eirys (Eiryndul), Fredar (Frey), Fredara (Freyja)

Frey, Freyja, Spooming Nooga (Protius)

Belnos (Asterius), Cernuínn (Faunus), Breig (Ordana)



Volund (Wayland)

Belsamas (Kagyar), Belnos (Asterius)

Table 3: Pantheons: Espa and Thyatian






Ixion, Odin, maybe Khoronus


Inquisitor (Vanya), Judge (Tarastia)



Inquisitor (Vanya), General (Thor)

Vanya, Halav, Korotiku


General (Thor), Milan (Mealiden)

Thor, Diulanna


Valerias, Milan (Mealiden)

Valerias, Koryis


Ambassador (Masauwu), Ixion

Asterius, Kagyar, Protius

1Unfortunately, few of Dumézil's works have been translated into English. It is however possible to find recent translations of several of his books in Italian, Spanish and German, besides the original French editions.