i dont know if anyone is familiar with the book american gods by neil gaiman, but im sure some of you are. I really think there's potential in the concept of present day america being populated by the long forgotten gods of pagan antiquity. In the book, gods are created by the simple fact that some shaman or tribal storyteller or other dreamt them up. They are sustained by belief and the rituals that their peoples attached to them. Since the gods were brought to north america by travellers through the ages-i.e. lief Ericcson brought Odin and Loki and Frigg with him, in his mind, 1000 years ago. The tragedy of the story is that the old believers died off or converted, leaving these deities to fend for themselves in todays society. some are con artists or beggars, others do well for themselves by finding small pockets of worshippers. The potential for an intersting game is obvious, and the more obscure the god the better.
The physical nature of the gods
The gods appear as human in the material world. They do have limited diefic abilities but, it would be easier for say, Thor, to use a pistol than hurl a thunder bolt. maybe the gods abilities could rely on belief. The gods cannot die of natural causes or even mild flesh wounds. Loki or Czernobog will never get lung cancer or syphyllis, nor would a wound become infected. But a bullet to the heart or brain would put them out. Possibly they could bleed to death from a severed limb. In accordance with the novel, if a god dies, and he is forgotten, then he dies for good. but if there is even the slightest belief left for that god, they will rise again.
In the novel continuum ( bear in mind that I am not implying that the book souldn't be deviated from at all, i just think the premise is enticing)
there is the material reality and there is "behind the scenes." A surreal desert expanse with a lavender starry sky. in this "dimension the gods appear as they truly are(i.e. Ra, the egyptian, would simply be a young middle eastern looking man in reality, but behind the scenes he has a hawk head). They also have full use of their godly attributes. Humans cannot linger behind the scenes for a long time without a tonic called Soma. Soma is pure belief distilled into a potent liquer. it sustains gods in the real world and sustains humans behind the scenes. its extremely rare.
The new gods
Almost any abstract concept can become a deity in the American Gods world. The internet is a god. A pudgy acne faced geek, filthy rich like some dot com tycoon. Media is a godess, a perfect hair and makeup news anchor-like women who speaks in the euphemistic jargon of newscasters. There are UFOs, not true aliens, but since people believe in them they're there. there are men in black/G-men who exist on the same premise. There are drugs that are gods. Heroin would look something like sid vicious while Ecstatsy would be some archetypical raver.do you grasp?
Im not sure how the system of a game like this would work but this is just a rough idea. feel free to add ideas....C Bog