I built my campaign’s religious foundation on Magic the Gathering’s color theory. I took the available cleric domains in 5e and divided them as evenly as possible among five potential deities. Why five? There aren’t enough gods to have “teams” of good and evil gods. Each entity would have to account for multiple interpretations of their domains, and that means potential plot hooks for gaming in the form of schisms and cults. If you put them all on the points of a star, each god has something in common with the ones to their left and right and is opposed to elements of the gods opposite them.
Finally, I had to look at each one in the worst possible light. Once every one of them was a bastard, I pronounced them ready for the table.
Things People Worship But Maybe Shouldn’t
This pantheon of five gods covers all the various cleric domains. Most people will have heard of these entities, although specifics of worship vary (sometimes violently) between sects and cults.
Nature, Life, Tempest. Oft can She been seen stretching across the sky, Her great eye watching over all things, loving all life, judging nothing.
Nature eats babies all the time.
Trickery, Tempest, Light. The Autarchitect of Change. They are the joy of screaming no at someone bigger than you. Freedom cannot exist in the presence of safety.
Nof is a sociopath.
Knowledge, War, Trickery. Goddess of Magic, Keeper of All Secrets. Knowledge is power and power corrupts. Only in devotion to Ursul will you remain fit to wield that power.
Benevolent tyranny is still tyranny.
Death, Light, Knowledge. The Faceless Judge. There is only one commandment: the guilty must be punished.
Determining guilt is left as an exercise for the reader.
Life, Nature, War. He is the welcoming campfire on a long journey. He is the drink offered to family. He is the plow, the wall, and the shield. In toil you will find the strength to keep what you have earned.
He is a cheap pocket watch and retirement cake. He is the fear of others taking what little you have left.
The Dead Gods
Old things worshipped in ages past lie below the earth, dead, dreaming, or waiting. You will see a great hand rising from a hillock, first and last fingers upraised in Ursul’s holy sign. A three-story-high face looks out from a cliff, its stone eyes slumbering. A massive catatonic beast curled around itself sleeps in the heart of a mountain. Dwarves mine its regenerating flesh for sustenance and pray that it never wakes. The sorcerer-kings and witch-queens of Saffranj build their tombs (should they ever die) in these ancient beings’ image.
The Small Gods
Noone knows what these are, but their terrifying presence prompts piety from those whom they heedlessly trample.
The Slow Lord
Seen through distant mists in Patinia, its green bulk replenishes plants where it trods. Oases in Saffranj owe their existence to this great thing’s wanderings and many druids consider themselves its apostles.
Those that live below worship their own crawling things, the ever-hungry, squeezing forms of what should not be.
Gravlaxx the Envenomator
She’s a dragon. Most people know not to worship dragons, but not everyone is people. She’s gathered something of a cult following among kobolds and a few suggestible dragonborn.