Idea Guild > Sagely Advice

Manmade gods

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Shadoweagle:
This is a thought sparked from the Good and Evil thread.

Ok, thinking more radically, what about this statement for a fantasy world? We made the gods.
What if, in a world, gods are actually created by HUMANS, not the other way around: If a belief in something is so strong throughout many people, the belief acts as an essence of creation which manifests in the heavens, creating a divine bieng which governs over that (kind of like electing a leader for something you believe in). That god can then boost the powers of those who believe in it and practice it, or wreak havoc on the world as they see fit.

This means all the basic beliefs would have a good: Good, evil, Wind, water, nature, fire, chaos, order, luck, despair, compassion, love, lust, pain, jealousy, awe, fear, Magic, Strength, Frailty and so on.

Some emotions which are an offset of a major belief (such as despair bieng an offset of pain) will create minor deities which would be governed by the major one.

The gods may act like they are the powerful biengs - and they are, for they possess power to kill or sway thousands of people with a wave of a fingertip - but in actuality, if the humans stopped believing in them, they would disappear, fade out of existence. So All gods, even the malevolantly evil ones, would cherish those who worship them, and dispise the others. Godly alliances may be made, conspiring to take out different gods by stopping others believing in them.

Perhaps gods are able to pick out one champion (usually the person who believed in them first, or believes the strongest in them) and give them extraordinary powers to do their bidding (god of evil may make an evil champion to break the good worshipping peoples' morals, whilst the god of good may make a good champion to defend against this and bolster the morale. If this champion dies, the god may choose a new champion after a certain amount of time (perhaps a year, perhaps instantly), but only one champion for each god may be made at the one time.

-- Plot/campaign.

From an alien world has come an alien race, and with them an almighty god. To save their world, the people and gods, once enemies, must now band together and try to defeat this threat! (Can you imagine the Champion of despair and the champion of hope working together? Good luck ;) ) If they do defeat the threat, what will happen? Will some alliances stay, where others fall?

I think the gods of this world would take a flesh form and walk around the world (either in disguise, like fear would[imagine a hunched over figure walking along a dark alleyway, cats hissing at him and people feeling terror bieng near him], or in the open, like hope would.) but if their form dies, they would simply be able to create another form, which would take a few hours. Either way, people seeing their god die would be a major morale breaker.

Working on that alien thought - a race with weapons and machines, strange gadgets and the like. Their god? Technology. I see a figure dressed in metal plated gear, a visor, metallic helm and so on.

Thats all I can think of for now - any thoughts?

CaptainPenguin:
How weird it would be to have aliens popping in!
Reminds me of the alien starship from my ninja game, and that one old Comet adventure that they made for original D&D.

Iain:
A big question here is whether just belief is required to empower the god, or is worship necessary? Either way could be interesting. With worship, it is relatively easy for gods to reduce the power of other gods: convert their believers, destroy their temples, kill their priests. On the other hand, if belief (and presumably the strength of that belief makes a difference), an evil god who was wreaking havoc (with his worshippers) could find his power boosted by the fear and terror he was creating in the good-worshippers: they may worship their own good god, but they certainly believe in the evil one, perhaps more strongly.

Another twist would be if the gods remained static, even as beliefs changed around them. For example, the concept of what "good" is has changed quite a lot since the stone age. If the mortal conception of an idea changed sufficiently, a new god could be spawned; however, in the period before things changed this much people might find themselves worshipping a god of justice, or of truth, or of war, whose standards differed significantly from that of his worshippers (and usually not in the classically "better" way); you might find a situation in which the priests of Justice invoked their god, but then were appalled at the justice which he meted out.

Shadoweagle:
I believe that belief in something is enough to spawn the god, but for the god to become more powerful, it must be worshipped. In this way, it means that new gods are created and dispelled, and that weak god while in existence, can walk around trying to pursuade others to his way.

manfred:

--- Quote from: "Shadoweagle" ---I believe that belief in something is enough to spawn the god, but for the god to become more powerful, it must be worshipped. In this way, it means that new gods are created and dispelled, and that weak god while in existence, can walk around trying to pursuade others to his way.
--- End quote ---


Now, how would this in reality affect a game world?

The Greek gods walked on occassion among mortals, mostly to inspire them, or to have fun. But in how many setting would you encounter a god telling you: "Please, worship me! I will grant you holy powers, and be your moral support! So, do we have a deal?"


OK, may not be _that_ extreme, but you get the idea. I think that true belief in such gods would be a much rarer thing. If you know that your faith, and the things you recieve are parts of a deal, it is hard to get not sceptical, and faith would be a weaker thing. There could be a mutual agreement between gods, of keeping this thing secret (another kind of Masquerade).

So I imagine that gods, if acting in their own role is not that profitable, might instead play their own messiahs, prophets or high priests. Miracles can be easier performed by a god himself! This could lead to another way of converting people: get into an existing religion (if compatible with your own principles), and play the new, reforming power inspired by the original god. While this may not convert the whole religion, it can easily bring a part the believers into your fold. It can also start a holy war, as the challenged god tries to defend his "territory", his believers. But then again, if it were people that produced the new god (in changing their beliefs), it is likely the split be successful, and they will follow the new deity.

(Reminds me of the "Small Gods" from Terry Pratchett. Especially those parts about gods, that have lost all of their believers.)

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