Steve from Twitter asked "How does one wake a slumbering god?"
We all come to a point in our adventuring career where we desire to mess with the gods. "Why not?" you might say, "I've slain dragons, what's the big deal?" Can you think of a Greek myth where a person messes with the gods and it goes well? Neither can I.
First Up: You're messing with Powers you Cannot Comprehend
Gods are, by their very nature, fickle creatures. They are awesome beings that lie beyond even the lore spouting know-it-all wizard's comprehension. We all have some ideas of good gods and bad ones, but they probably act outside any predetermined alignment all the time for ... good... reasons we cannot comprehend. Waking a god (presumably a powerful one) would have massive impacts all across the multiverse, and disastrous unforeseen consequences. Here are a few examples of how this can all go wrong:
- What if the god's outlook on life changed over the eons? Maybe the god of "justice" decides to be the god of "parties and wine" for a few centuries after being cooped up slumbering.
- What of the alignment of the universe changes? Waking a good god might allow the destruction of all the really bad evil in the world. What happens to all the people who were "good enough" to get by? They are now evil by comparison.
- What if the god wants revenge? Sure the people that put the god there are (probably) dead, but they had children, friends, and elven roommates that will need to be killed. What if a party member is distantly related?
- What if the information the world had about the god was wrong? Great sages lie. Some lie for good reasons. Sometimes information is lost, and merely guessed at by historians thousands of years from the actual event.
Part One: Gathering Information
You're still reading this? Fine. Whatever. Don't blame me when the god you wake up doesn't meet your expectations. The strange occult knowledge necessary to wake a slumbering god is hard to find. Oh sure, everyone may know the myth, but that doesn't have to be true, or even close to correct. But there is a Tome of Knowledge somewhere that contains the unmitigated, unadulterated truth (also possibly lies). It will tell you why the god is sleeping and, more importantly, how to wake it up again.
A cursory reading of the book will let the characters know that they need to gather a magic artifact or seven (each sold separately) to cast the god waking ritual.
Part Two: The Artifacts
The artifacts are either well protected in a fortified ancient monastery by a cult (see below) or lost in the ruins of the "Pit of a thousand torments". The artifacts are never found in hospitable locations, but are always on a mountain peak, deep in a jungle, or in the middle of a dessert. If there are multiple artifacts, they have been cautiously separated by ancient magi who are just itching for your current campaign to go another 6 weeks.
Part Three: Proper Place and Time
Deities do not wake because it is Tuesday and you happen to have a powerful artifact. Generally, you have to have a some astronomical phenomena that occur at least 100 years, although over a millenia is preferred. The characters have one shot to get it right. Upon receiving the Tome of Knowledge and doing some back of the envelope calculations, the characters should realize that the next alignment happens a couple of days fewer than one needs to comfortably complete all the other necessary tasks.
Gods are not woken up by rituals cast in basement bars, you have to have the right spot. The Tome should indicate a location of deep magic that can serve as the proper conduit.
Additional Trouble: Guardian Cults
Invariably, those that put the god to sleep set up some kind of emergency back up system. Otherwise why lose all those friends (or at least coworkers) if the next callow youth can undo all your hard work? Call them "Watchers", "Keepers", or "The secret order" they live to leave sleeping gods lie.
Since the characters are trying to wake up the god, that cult is going to be vigorous, informed, and well financed. The exact opposite occurs if the characters are trying to keep the god asleep, the guardian cult will be reduced to a single wizened old man who has forgotten more than the characters will ever know. He has so much to tell you, if you would only stay awhile and listen.
The leaders of the guardian cult will know the approximate location of all artifacts needed to wake the god, and the exact time and place they need to be used. Those locations will be fortified, or at least expeditions will be sent to find them if the cult gets wind of the characters' intentions.
The next campaign
Rest assured, several millennia after you "restored balance to the universe" by waking a god, another intrepid group of adventurers will rise to the occasion and quest to "re-restore balance to the universe" by lulling that god back to sleep.