18
\$\begingroup\$

Out-of-universe, I gather that the primordials were introduced to the FR in 4e, and the elemental lords - Akadi, Grumbar, Kossuth and Istishia - were retconned as primordials. Information on the primordials is fairly scant in the core 5e rules, and my other sources are mostly 2e (before they were added) so I'm trying to work out how they fit in.

In-universe, as far as I can tell the primordials predated the formation of Realmspace by Ao and the spontaneous generation of the first gods, Shar and Selune. The gods and primordials have subsequently been at war (the Dawn War).

It therefore sounds like primordials and gods are mutually exclusive definitions. However, I noticed Asgorath/Io is variously referred to as a god (of dragons) and a primordial. In FR the dragons were created by the primordials. Does this mean many/most/all dragon gods are also primordials, as aspects/fragments of Io? Can a primordial also be (or somehow become) a god?

Do primordials need, desire or benefit from followers? If the primordials predated the gods, presumably they don't need them - but then if I remember correctly neither did the gods until after the Time of Troubles. Do surviving primordials have significant religions associated with them, either in Abeir or in Toril?

Do primordials grant spells in the same way as gods? Can they be warlock patrons?

Is there any obvious difference in the portfolios of primordials versus gods? I would have assumed that since they predate mortals they tend to represent more fundamental forces (like the elements) rather than human concepts like law, love, luck, agriculture. Is this assumption correct? A fair few gods seems to have portfolios that superficially seem more appropriate to primordials - Auril, for example.

In short, what is the difference between a god and a primordial? Are they fundamentally the same (just different lineages) or are there fundamental differences?

I found this related question about gods versus 'non-god powers', but neither the question nor the answer mentions primordials, which are the core of my question.

I also found this fantastically detailed post on Candlekeep which defines and differentiates primordials, deities, vestiges, cosmic entities and sentient artifacts with respect to most of the aspects I asked about above (and some that didn't even occur to me, like which can create avatars), but it doesn't cite any sources and is pre-5e (I'm guessing 4e).

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm assuming that if some human can become a God, so can an unfathomably old creature of godlike power? \$\endgroup\$ – Frezak Dec 30 '16 at 0:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Frezak I can see why it would seem reasonable to think so, but it's arguably equally reasonable to assume that just because the two classes are similar power they're not interchangeable. The Candlekeep thread I linked above specifically mentions that several (unnamed) designers felt that primordials wanting to become a god should need to fuse with a mortal soul first, partially because a capacity to empathise with mortals is part of the job description (even more so since the Time of Troubles) and primordials don't really understand mortals very well. It's not canon though. \$\endgroup\$ – tardigrade Dec 30 '16 at 17:47
13
\$\begingroup\$

In FR the dragons were created by the primordials. Does this mean many/most/all dragon gods are also primordials, as aspects/fragments of Io?

The Dragon Gods are presented as actual gods rather than primordials (DMG p. 10, PHB p. 296, & SCAG p. 113).

Can a primordial also be (or somehow become) a god?

I'm unaware of this occurring, but I wouldn't rule it out:

  • Asgorath/Io is both, but (as creator of the universe) doesn't count.
  • Tharizdun is close, but is not a Primordial.
  • Kossuth is also close, but he's "not a true god but actually an elemental primordial".

Do primordials need, desire or benefit from followers?

Not normally, but Kossuth is an example of a primordial that benefits from extensive worship.

Do surviving primordials have significant religions associated with them, either in Abeir or in Toril?

On Toril the five Elemental Lords have followings, while The Seven Lost Gods were once worshiped. I believe Abeir would have more significant Primodial worship, but that setting was never detailed.

Do primordials grant spells in the same way as gods?

Not normally, but again: Kossuth is an example of a primordial that both grants spells and has extensive followings.

Can they be warlock patrons?

I don't see anything preventing this. A few homebrewed examples of this can be found here and here.

Is there any obvious difference in the portfolios of primordials versus gods? I would have assumed that since they predate mortals they tend to represent more fundamental forces (like the elements) rather than human concepts like law, love, luck, agriculture.

That might be one way to view it, but 4e's creation myth (Worlds and Monsters p.56, cited below) has the Gods being created at the same time as the Primordials. Another way to view it might be that the Primordials are composed of elemental "physical-matter" while the Gods (and Astral Sea) are more composed of thought (mental-matter).

In short, what is the difference between a god and a primordial? Are they fundamentally the same (just different lineages) or are there fundamental differences?

They are consistently presented as having fundamental differences. From 4e's Worlds and Monsters (p.56): "The gods, beings of divine power, appeared in the Astral Sea, while in the Elemental Chaos arose the primordials, incarnations of tremendous elemental might"... "composed partially of creation-stuff".

I also found this fantastically detailed post on Candlekeep...

That still seems like as good a guide as any.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Some (any) references would greatly assist this answer - as is it reads as the author's opinion \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Dec 30 '16 at 20:54
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ [Kossuth](forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Kossuth) is a primordial revered as a god. He granted spells, held a domain, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Carpe CM Dec 31 '16 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are specifically mentioned as Warlock patrons in the newest UA. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Sep 6 at 15:31
3
\$\begingroup\$

Gods are in some way a newer invention. They are directly dependent on worship of some creature to even exist. Primordials, on the other hand, used to rule Abeir-Toril (a single planet) before the gods became stronger (they already existed, but they were no threat yet). Then, at the end of the Dawn War, they decided between gods and primordials to create a parallel dimension, very hard to reach, and each one would rule one world (now Abeir and Toril, 2 worlds).

They are very diferent in nature, but since anything can became a god (good examples are Veccna, Cyric, Azuth, Bane) then so can the Primordials - actually it's easier since they are so powerful.

I've also seen in some website that primordials are to gods as demons are to devils, but I don't see it as a good metaphor. Demons and devils are much more similar in the way that they are inhabitants of other planes, representing an alignment.

  • They can benefit from followers, by becoming gods, but I don't hear about that very often.
  • Again, I don't hear about Primordials having religions and worshippers. Here you can find Lots of information about where Dragonborn came, and what where in there, lot's of information overlap with this theme.
  • They can, the way I see it, be patrons, just as some aberrations can, Great Old One fit very well in my opinion. They could grant cleric spells if they are Gods as well (or even not being gods, at the DM's discretion, but I'm kinda permissive).
  • About portfolios I had never thought about it, but even when it makes sense, they don't really have specific portfolios - they are overpowered beings who existed before humans or the gods existed several as Asmodeus And Jazirian existed even before the world, maybe even at the time of the Elemental Chaos.
  • The post on Candlekeep sounds good, but I think the Primordial definition sounds different from what I'm used to, I would say:
    • Single body, it exists in one form, not multiple manifestations, no avatars.
    • Primordials cannot come from the Outer Planes(most probably).
    • Mortal. When their body is killed they are dead (exceptions occur of course and they can also be resurrected like normal creatures).
    • Can grant spells (Not seen in the cannon, except when the Primordial is also a god, such as Kossuth, but reasonable for me to allow it).
    • Worship independent. Neither their power level nor their existence is tied to the number of worshippers.

All kind's of information about Primordials: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Primordial

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! You can take the tour as an introduction to the site and check the help center if you need further guidance. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Sep 6 at 14:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.