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Sunday 23 March 2014

Lords of Olympus: Making Eris the Bad Guy

There are some old gods who have been given a bad name over the years, and there are others who have been given a vastly nicer interpretation than they ever got back in the old days.

Eris is one of the latter, largely thanks to the discordians in the 80s, and of course due to our decadent civilization’s idea that chaos is a really exciting and cool thing, and stick it to the man, and merry pranksters, and you can’t tell me what to do, and all that. So Eris was re-envisioned as a goddess of “chaos” in the sense of going to a college protest or writing a monty-python sketch, and not what she in fact was to the Greeks, and this has stuck ever since.

In Lords of Olympus, I’ve sometimes played along in my Deities section with the post-modern pop ideas about the gods (Morpheus is a bit of a goth, Heracles is known to hang out in superhero worlds sometimes), but with Eris there was just way too much potential for villainy to have her wasted on the sophomoric philosophical stupidities of the discordian bible.  Instead, I went all old-school on her: she is the Goddess of Discord, Strife and Hatred. She spreads conflict and woe wherever she goes. 
In the Olympian myth, all the gods are descended from Kaos, who is a primordial.  Eris is not quite the goddess of Chaos, she’s the goddess of Discord, and in fact has a very difficult relationship with the other gods. She is not seen as some kind of neutral figure, or a funny or liberating figure (like modern discordians want to imagine) or like some neil-gaiman-esque hipster; she was seen by the Greeks as an Evil.

On top of that, she has a whole family of villainous children to back her up: Dysnomia (spirit of Lawlessness), Ate (spirit of Ruin), Ponos (spirit of toil), Lethe (demigoddess of forgetfulness), Limos (spirit of Famine, mistress of the Scythian Plain), The Algea (spirits of Sorrow and Grief), Horkos (aka Orcus, Daemon who brings the strife caused by the breaking of oaths), and the Hysminai (Spirits of Brawl), Makhai (Spirits of Battle), Phonoi (Spirits of Murder), Androktasiai (Spirits of Manslaughter), Neikea (Spirits of Quarrel), Pseudologoi (Spirits of Lies), and Amphilogiai (Spirits of Disputes). She has used all of her children to spread discord on countless worlds.

Zeus dislikes Eris and her brood, and has even banished some of the children of Eris from Olympus, though Eris has alliances with Hades (who’s underworld is filled with the dead brought to him by Eris’ actions), Ares, and secretly Hera.

In Lords of Olympus, Eris gets a full treatment, and it would be easy to imagine an entire campaign built around the PCs as opponents to Eris’ villainy (or insanity, if you prefer). Opposing the evil that she brings to the world would certainly be a full-time or major theme for any Lords of Olympus game; just take my advice and don’t make her the cutesy-poo prankster modern interpretations want to make her out to be.  The Greeks didn’t see her that way; if anything, a much closer comparison would be to Heath Ledger’s Joker.  He’d have fit right into the discordian family.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Oversize + H&H’s Beverwyck

(originally posted February 15, 2013; on the old blog)

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