[image description: A faux woodcut of a medieval burgher with a twelve-sided die with strange symbols for a head. Text reads, “ #1D12, Sir Tunty of Chants, the small god of Custom Game Dice”]
Small gods are not like large gods in power or potency, but they are exactly like them in the same way they are exactly like poison ivy, or like mushrooms: there is no point at which they decide who they are going to be. They find a source of nourishment and grow from there, feeding on fertile soil. They can remain small for centuries, if not millennia, until their circumstances change. Like all other things, they grow according to their environment and the resources it contains.
Sir Tunty came into being four thousand years before the beginning of the current calendar, his temples sculpted from bone and rock, his symbols etched by hand, and for a very long time, it seemed he was destined to be a very small god indeed.
And then in 1974, the Great Guy Gax appeared as some small gods do: all at once, already in the height of his power, calling forth his creations from the firmament. He built of earth a dungeon, and filled it with such great beasts as he could summon out of his imagination, dragons and more. And he invited all the people into his temple, and so many of them came that they overflowed the halls and spilled off to form temples of their own, temples of starships and vampires and beloved television properties and superheroes and cartoons.
And in all those temples, Sir Tunty was present, ready to roll, ready to give his gifts and his misfortunes to the faithful.
The Great Guy Gax waned, as those who make the biggest of entrances must often do, and in his place rose other gods, and when the vasty Bee Yawned appeared, Sir Tunty rose to his greatest prominence yet, crafted in thousands of homes, coveted and pursued, random and rolled as ever. He is proud of what he has done, and will always remain so, but he takes nothing for granted.
After all, as his acolytes will gladly remind any who asks, anyone can roll a one.
Artist Lee Moyer (The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, Starstruck) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.
Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: