we do not have many examples of real societies that would be as technologically and culturally advanced as the Empire and practice polytheism in some of its major variants, so the question of realism might be invalid from the very start. However, when one looks at the Imperial pantheon of major deities, there are some glaring omissions:
- There is no real celestial, solar or heavenly deity. Sigmar, as an ascended human founder of the Empire, does not fill this role (being a culture hero instead, or a story of the power of mankind independent of or in defiance to gods), especially not in early 1e where he is more of a political deity related to the ideal of Imperial unity and legitimation of nobility. I guess one could elevate Ulric to this role...
- ... but Morrslieb presents another interesting problem. Although Morr is more or less a chthonic/lunar deity, Morrslieb seems to be the manifestation of a trickster deity - a deity not capable of crossing between life and death as Morr, but between worldly Order and otherworldly Chaos. (Mannslieb is rather the usual moon of dreams and death, Morrslieb on the other hand is the moon of Chaos, sorcery and warpstone, isn't it? Also, while Morr is conceptually in opposition to Ulric along the axis of celestial-chthonic or solar-lunar, there does not seem to be a mythological or practical opposition.) Ranald is the trickster deity in the Imperial pantheon and a natural candidate for being the patron of Morrslieb, but interestingly he does not seem to be an ambivalent character in occasional opposition to the good gods, and his aspects do not include toying with Chaos!
- There is no deity related to agriculture and material prosperity (earth, guardianship of the community, home and hearth, cattle) unless one counts Rhya which has, however, been somewhat sidelined by Taal in the earlier editions. Optionally there could be various local prosperity deities instead, but given the (relative) unity of the Empire and the need for its prosperity, this feels somewhat counterintuitive.
- Importantly, there is no maternal deity or a deity that is a catalyst for Marian devotion. I find this a serious omission. (Actually, a Ruinous Power emulating the maternal aspect such as the Goat with the Thousand Young would in this situation draw throngs of worshippers.)
- Also, unless one counts the Taal/Rhya relationship, there is no deity or a pair of deities for romantic affairs, love and family. (Interestingly, Old World deities do not seem to have familial or other mutual relationships in their mythology.) To whom do young people in love pray - I hope not Slaanesh?
- I am also not sure whether there is a real deity of rebirth, but perhaps in 2e or in some Sigmarite cults there is an expectation of a second coming which fulfils this need? Would then Sigmar conceivably become something like a Spring deity, symbolising the circular passage of the seasons? (Interestingly, the central role of Sigmar in later editions feels more realistic than the polytheism (or possibly henotheism and monolatrism) of 1e. The process of empire building usually requires a cultural, linguistic, economic and religious centralisation and it is hard to understand, how the smaller cults and churches resisted absorption into the larger Church of Sigmar. Even though it is hard to argue politically when the gods have actual, tangible manifestation in the world, conceivably the Empire would develop towards some sort of panentheistic monotheism, where all of the other deities would be understood as aspects of or directly subservient to Sigmar. Another dimension of such development, building on the conflict with the cult of Ulric, could lie in kathenoteism, where the official dogma of the crown and the church is that the Age of Ulric has come to an end with the founding of the Empire, to be replaced by the Age of Sigmar at the time of his leaving and assumed ascension to godhood, and at some vaguely defined point in the future even he is to be replaced by yet another supreme deity.)
- Deity of music and arts seem to be missing too.
- Where are the saints?
I am also missing a conflict between Protestant ethic (northern/western provinces?) and the more feudal and rural worldview of bacchanalia and YOLO so prevalent throughout the 16th and 17th century. Since I like the theme of the conflict between the cults of Sigmar and Ulric, I am also thinking of extending this conflict into this ethical realm: Sigmarites preach poverty, hard work and trade, whereas for Ulricans money is considered dirty and is supposed to be spent on drinks and merriment, let tomorrow be tomorrow.
Have any of you tried to adjust the pantheon, mythology and religious practice to cover the above aspects?