If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha

Ever wondered how many hit points Buddha has? I came across this gem while reading Michael Dziesinski’s excellent Secrets of Japan sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu:

Granted, Buddha’s combat statistics are not entirely out of place in a Call of Cthulhu supplement, but I’m nevertheless amused to find a modern roleplaying game listing out stats for deities that people still actually, well, worship. Of course, Dungeons and Dragons started off the “stat blocks for your favorite deity” craze with Deities and Demigods way back when, but even that glorious book generally shied away from stat-blocking deities with much of a real-world following. (And no Judeo-Christian deity was ever reduced to a stat block; one can only imagine what Jack Chick would’ve said about that.)

In fact, with the exception of Secrets of Japan (which stats out a number of Buddhist and Shinto divine entities for inclusion in your next game), I’ve not seen much evidence that the classic “stat blocks of gods so your characters can kill them” tradition was still alive. (Recent iterations of Deities and Demigods have downplayed the “stat block” aspect and marketed themselves more as guides for incorporating religion into your D&D game–more practical perhaps, but less fun.)

It says something about the exuberance of the roleplaying community that TSR could at one time publish an entire “monster manual” full of deities from real human mythology for gamers to fight and kill. In fact, there is a long tradition in gaming of publishing “monster manuals” filled with creatures so ridiculously powerful that it’s almost impossible to imagine them being legitimately incorporated into any serious roleplaying game. Sure, it’s fun to find out how many hit points Quetzalcoatl and Osiris have, but can you look at their listed powers and tell me that any party of D&D adventurers would have a snowball’s chance in hell against them?

There’s just a sick pleasure in reading the stats of a being so powerful you’ll never, ever be able to actually use it in a roleplaying game. Iron Crown’s Lords of Middle-Earth probably marks the highwater mark of this trend; in it, we find the stats for such literary figures as Sauron and Morgoth laid out for us, as if our PCs will ever face them down in physical combat. In that tome, Morgoth the Dark Lord is statted out as–I kid you not–a 500th-level sorceror who knows every spell in the game and can warp Creation itself at will out to a range of 500 miles. This, in a roleplaying game where your character is quite likely to die of massive internal bleeding before reaching level 4!

And so I salute Secrets of Japan and its ilk for daring to go where few games tread in this age of political correctness and elitist roleplaying theory. Books like this are bravely statting out uber-powerful beings for your PCs to fight–and not just any uber-powerful beings, but ones that players in your game might actually worship in real life.

So happy hunting, my god-slaying friends. And once you’ve brought down the deities that stand in your path… just don’t forget to loot the bodies and take their stuff.

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