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On pages 46-47 of the 5e DMG, under the section regarding the Astral Plane, it states:

Visitors occasionally stumble across the petrified corpse of a dead god.

Is there any lore about the composition of a dead god and the potential uses for it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I removed the request for homebrew uses for it—that would be too broad, too opinion-based. The Stack Exchange format is poor for idea-generation. But we definitely can tell you whether or not anything official’s ever been offered on the subject. You may want to swap dnd-5e for dungeons-and-dragons though—most of the lore for this kind of thing is probably going to be in 2e. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 26 at 3:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, it’s worth noting that in D&D, Anubis has largely stepped away from his role in the Pharaonic pantheon, and planar politics in general, in order to be the caretaker for the corpses of dead gods in the Astral. He was one of the greatest gods before that, and that is a role of substantial importance—Anubis has some serious, top-tier mojo. He is not someone even gods can cross lightly, which may limit god-stuff’s availability as a material. Why he tolerates Tu’narath, when he has brought colossal power down on others who even get close to a god, is a mystery. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 26 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan perhaps his niece married a githyanki? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 27 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps a miserable pile of dead secrets? \$\endgroup\$ – J. Doe Jan 27 at 15:39
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One example is the morkoth, as described in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

Spawned by a God. Long ago, a deity of greed and strife perished in the battles among the immortals. Its body drifted through the Astral Plane, eventually becoming a petrified husk. This corpse floated up against a pearlescent remnant of celestial matter imbued with life and life-giving magic. The collision shattered both objects and released a storm of chaotic energy. Countless islands of mixed matter spun away into the silvery void. Within some of them, a vein of pearl-like material held a bit of the deity's rejuvenated supernatural vitality, which spontaneously created a habitable environment. On those same islands, bits of the god's petrified flesh came back to life, in the form of tentacled monstrosities brimming with malice and greed. Ever since that time, each morkoth has had an extraplanar island to call home.

Volo's Guide to Monsters, p.177

From this we can gather the following:

  • Given the right catalyst, the matter forming a dead god can become new objects, creatures, or even environments.
  • The aspect of the god (greed in this case) can affect the personality of any life created this way.
  • Events that involve the corpses of gods tend to be extreme. In this case, an entire species of powerful monster was created.
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There's a little bit

Dungeon 100 gives us an adventure to the Lich-Queen's palace in Tu'narath, built on a dead god known only as The One In The Void. Caverns beneath the palace lead to the petrified heart of the faded god, which contains chambers perfused with emotion, ectoplasmic residues, and in one place the "breath" of the dead god, which provides a one-time permanent benefit to characters encountering it.

...but not in terms of the material

If you're looking for uses for god-rock or god-dust or what have you... that I can't help with. The unique properties of the Lich-Queens palace come from the obsidian-like material she built it from and the huge number of spells she laid down on it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 5e readers might not be familiar with Dungeon--do you think it's worth a note (parenthetical or otherwise?) on the "status" of Dungeon submissions when one thinks about D&D lore? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jan 26 at 4:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Tu'narath in particular also appears in several official sourcebooks: the Planescape Index notes A Guide to the Astral Plane (1996) and On Hallowed Ground, but there are also references in the third edition Manual of the Planes, Planar Handbook, and Dragon #355. The githyanki building cities on the husks of dead gods in the Astral plane is well-established, although I believe the details on the heart of the god whose corpse hosts Tu'narath is specific to Dungeon #100. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jan 26 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Note that the cover of Dungeon #100 does include the tagline "Official Dungeons & Dragons adventures". I've generally considered lore presented in magazines of this era "canonical". \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jan 27 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard and in that era they were submitted, curated, reviewed, &c. I'm imagining (perhaps too cautiously?) a reader coming from the paradigm of 5e's everything-goes publishing on DMsGuild who may not know that Dungeon was pretty reputable. That may be understating it. Dungeon was cream of the crop. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jan 27 at 17:42
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A potential use?

Creating an entire world

To the extent that Norse mythology has been included in DnD (at least the pantheon is part of the PHB), you could consider the Norse story of creation, particularly what happened when the mighty Ymir [1] died:

Odin and his brothers slew Ymir and set about constructing the world from his corpse. They fashioned the oceans from his blood, the soil from his skin and muscles, vegetation from his hair, clouds from his brains, and the sky from his skull. Four dwarves, corresponding to the four cardinal points, held Ymir’s skull aloft above the earth.

From https://norse-mythology.org/tales/norse-creation-myth/

[1] While never worshipped as a god, he was certainly god-tier.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The D&D third edition product Deities and Demigods (2002) also canonically defines in D&D lore that Odin and his brothers slew their progenitor Ymir. He's technically a giant, and not definitively stated to be a god in that book, but the D&D 3.5 update clarifies that Asgardian giants are generally at least quasi-deities, so it's not unreasonable to assume Ymir was a deity or godlike being. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jan 27 at 14:23
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They can be mined for resources

According to A Guide to the Astral Plane, p.38, a dead god's corpse can be mined for a variety of things, including:

  • Mineral resources, including gemstones, adamantine, mithral, rare magical ores, and other metals
  • Unique plants, fungi, and grubs which grow on the corpse
  • Godsblood, a rare curative substance
  • Strange forms of energy, which the githyanki collect for unknown purposes, suspected to involve the creation of magic items

Dragon #240 provides some suggestions for what might be found in a god's corpse, ranging from the mundane (fresh water, normal blood, normal plants of rare color) to the magical (liquid potions, energy fields which restore memories or dispel magic, minerals which absorb psionic energy, sentient plant creatures, ingredients of ink which can only be seen by elves, etc).

They contain thoughts and memories

A Guide to the Astral Plane, p.36, defines that what we think of as a "dead god" is not its original body—a deity's body is really just a vehicle or tool. Its true essence, the part that solidifies into a stone island in the Astral, is its thoughts:

"...The corpse of a god is not flesh. Flesh is inconsequential to divinity. The corse of a god is memories, wars, heroes, regrets, sacrifices, prayers – the stuff of significance."

Those who stand on the god's corpse occasionally find themselves experiencing memories or emotions associated with the deity. If strong enough, the dead god's memories can even temporarily create entire real landscapes, cities, or creatures. A god's corpse can also have its own gravity, and the passage of time may continue normally there (a rare phenomenon in the Astral).

Sometimes they create undead

A side-effect of the death of a deity is the Hunefer (Epic Level Handbook p.199), a slain demigod's abandoned physical body which raises as an undead and seeks to rejoin with the original deity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, does A Guide to the Astral Plane cover Anubis here? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 27 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes, on pages 38-39. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jan 27 at 16:19
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You can raise them

Every edition of D&D has spells for raising the dead. You might not be able to do anything in particular with bits of god corpse as materials, but you could also raise dead (or, more likely, appropriate other spell that raises ancient dead deities instead of peasant victims of local sawmill accidents) and then you have a live god.

Bringing dead gods back to life often causes a lot of trouble, though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there precedent anywhere that Raise Dead would or wouldn't work on a God? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Jan 30 at 17:52

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