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Offline Dozus

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County Siogal
« on: October 29, 2012, 11:49:21 AM »
History
At the dawn of things, Siogal was a place of magic and creation. The gods created a spring where many beings first drew breath: faeries, clurichauns, foirmoiri, and many others had their origins here. Though they quickly spread to elsewhere in the world, many kept Siogal as their home, and the sacred spring as their holy place. Time went on and other races came: elves, dwarves, humans, and the rest. A few of the magic folk even settled with the younger races, passing their great magic into the blood of their human offspring.

As the world was settled, the scattered folk began to form kingdoms. Tir Siogal, a land still known for its magic, became kingdom under Káellugra, a human king with faerie blood. The land was prosperous, magic was commonplace, and many small villages and towns came under his reign willingly. A great keep was built, Dun Káellugra, so tall it could be seen throughout the small kingdom. After Káellugra's death, his daughter Aoifa succeeded him with the consent of the people, and the dynastic tradition continued for generations. The world slowly grew less young and innocent, magic was forgotten by some and institutionalized by others who created the magic schools and guilds. As the world aged and the younger races went to war with another, the significance of Tir Siogal faded from the minds of many, becoming a small, isolated, and - to many outside of the kingdom - backward place.

The first outside threat to Tir Siogal was an invading warlord kingdom, Makkar. The Makkarish were an upstart people from the south, haughty with wealth and steel. They invaded Tir Siogal after recalling legends of the sacred spring, imagining that they could wash themselves in powerful magic. Their invasion was unexpected, as the Siogalish had not been by nature warlike nor held much curiosity of those outside their lands. Several villages were burned, and many fled to the protection of Dun Káellugra. King Tharmoch, who would later be called the Warking, was determined not to submit to the Makkarish threat. He summoned his advisors and began to plot the raising of an army. With no steel in his realm, Tharmoch would need to be nontraditional in method. Playing to his people's strength, he called together the clans with the strongest magic in their veins to form the Warband of the Tir. Each clan used their own unique magic, and the incentive to protect their own lands, and formed an army capable of repelling Makkar's forces.

King Tharmoch was hailed as a savior; sadly, he became increasingly paranoid later in his reign. He disbanded the Warband, and selected advisors and generals from a handful of his own kin. They gave seething, whispered warnings of the other clans, their ambitions to overthrow him or invite rivals to invade the Tir. Tharmoch oppressed the Siogalish people, rounding up the young clan leaders and executing many for treason. He quickly went from being hailed as the Warking to derided as the Wrathking. Tharmoch's quick-thrown accusations made the clans wary, and distrust grew. When Brun Magfern accused Phelim M'Eudoch of betraying his father to the king, rivalry between the clans flared and the old unity was broken. Each clan began to plot against the other, and all against the contrivances of the king.

On Tharmoch's death, his sire, a 14-year-old whelp of a boy was placed on the throne by his uncle. The clans saw the opportunity to break the Káellugra dynasty, and the tensions of the Wrathking's reign erupted into a civil war. At first each clan was against the other, but Mathyalin M'Largrin, the youngest to lead the Largrin clan, allied himself with the smaller Siodratch clan. Combined, the two families took Sudhalin and gained both political and tactical traction. The embattered Káellugra clan were put to rout, Dun Káellugra was brought to ruin, and Mathyalin took the throne. Empowered by universal hatred of the Káellugra and his own political savvy, Mathyalin quelled the war and reunited Tir Siogal, even as the rivalries simmered.

Largrins ruled for the next twelve generations, calling together the Warband of the Tir to push back occasional intruders. The Largrin kings reformed the Warband, creating ranks of appointed officer-nobles, creating further competition between clan leaders to weed out unworthy captains. A new castle, Dun Mathyalin, was rebuilt over the old Dun Káellugra. Tir Siogal was prosperous, the clans at peace if still quarrelsome, and Tir Siogal entered a sort of second golden age. With their reliance on magic, however, technological development in Siogal stagnated, and as other nations developed war machines and advanced wizardry, the Siogalish world continued much as it had for centuries.

As the young races matured into empires and civilizations, their magic scholars took interest in the oldest stories, ones that told of a fantastic spring from which magic first came. Explorers searched the world for "Tor-Sho-Gael", this legendary fountain, and sailors' tales told of a wondrous far-off kingdom ruled by demigods. The true spring, of course, was in the tiny state of Tir Siogal, templed in a sacred grove near Fiodin town. A few scholars suggested this and, after visiting Siogal, wrote off the theory as no such glorious place could exist among these backward folk. However, their writings put Tir Siogal back on the common maps, and as empires rose and set and rose again, one empire marked the kingdom for expansion.

The emperor's agents scouted the place, finding a rustic people who were nevertheless staunchly anti-foreign; settling these barbarous folk would be a tall task without inside help. They found it in the town of Torwyth: the small Kugrill clan, who had some old hatred of the Largrin dynasty, offered themselves as informants and Torwyth as a base of operations. The Kugrills were found to be suddenly wealthy, and before much suspicion could be roused, the last Largrin king - Mathyalin, the fifth of his name - fell to a sudden illness. Poison was blamed, and accusations abounded, but the chaos of the throne was quickly eclipsed by panic as the empire's forces swept through the kingdom. Torwyth fell incredibly quickly, then Dab and Sudhalin. Orodal rebelled and was put to the sword, and it was said the last of Fiodin fell defending the temple of the spring, which was put to ruin by the soldiers and abandoned. From Dun Mathyalin, the last of the Largrin lords saw little hope in resistance and signed a treaty, ending the ancient kingdom of Tir Siogal and agreeing to dismantle the Dun brick by brick, leaving nothing of the old glory.

As years went by, Siogal passed through the hands of kings and emperors, scarcely an afterthought in most treaties. The mine yieled but little tin, the forests were too small to trifle with but for some finer woods, and the Siogalish folk were a rascally bunch that scarce bothered to learn their betters' language, let alone learn the true faith or take the proper culture. They had a strange reputation, though, of being oddly good at their own magic: hedge wizards and cunning folk abounded, though the magic guilds bore them no honor, as it was mere "hereditary" rather than skilled magic.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 02:47:45 PM by Dozus »

Dozus the Windward
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Re: County Siogal
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 12:15:58 AM »
The Six Towns of Siogal

Athy

Athy is the oldest capital of the old Siogalish kingdom, and currently the second largest in population. To outsiders, it is an active if poor community. Most of its people are artisans: a few smiths, a handful of weavers, the odd cobbler. To the Siogalish, though, Athy is the cultural heart of the County, where some of its oldest clans and magical lineages reside and practice.

The town square is a large and vacant area where Dun Mathyalin once stood. Its first conquerers banished the castle from existance and even memory, ordering every stone be removed and the name banned. "Athy" is a corruption of Mathyalin, though most of the older folk still know what it really means. The stones that pave the lot are all that remains of the fortess, smuggled by the Siogalish folk who were forced to dismantle it and brought back in secret. It now serves as a small market for the local townsfolk.

The largest building in Athy is the Hall of Lannigan, the ancestral meeting place of the Lannigan clan. Built by Jeremey Lannigan forty years ago in memorial of his deceased father, it serves many purposes: a council of clan elders, a court for the town reeve, a party hall for the annual Lannigan's Ball. While simple in appearance, the hall is enchanted to be fire, water, pest, and void proof, and contains a number of hidden rooms and trap doors.

Athy's only tavern-inn is the Redbird, a decent establishment that serves its own brews and town gossip. The place is run by Cobhar Siodratch, a middle-aged man of good temper and strong arms.

Being the old capital, a number of prominent clans call Athy home. The greatest is clan Lannigan, whose patriarch Jeremey M'Lannigan rules Athy as reeve. The Lannigans claim their descent from the Largrin clan, whose lineage was broken and banned after the fall of Tir Siogal. As the head of Athy's dominant clan, Jeremey tries to maintain the status quo by keeping good relations with clan heads in the other towns, save Torwyth's Kugrills. The Siodratch are another old clan, considered a lieutenant family of the Lannigan line. Siodratches run most of the towns prominent businesses, including the Redbird. The Guaire clan is large, but doesn't hold much standing; subservient to the Lannigans, they've been known to do Jeremey's dirty work when he needs certain folk hushed up.

Sudhalin

Sudhalin is the largest town in County Siogal, positioned in a favorable location on the only highway into the county and close to both Athy and Dabh. The Sudhalin Market dominates the town, a (relatively) very large square where farmers and artisans bring their wares to sell to visitors and wagons haul of crates of goods to other parts of the empire. The clans in Sudhalin tend to be wealthier than most, though few object to their fortune as it helps fund the rest of the towns.

The Trout & Glove tavern ("the Fish & Fist" to locals) is the largest in Sudhalin, and serves the merchants who stay in Siogal for any period of time. It is well-appointed and overpriced, and owned by the Bairrch clan.

A few other smaller and seedier taverns are in Sudhalin, but the most well-known to locals is the Stag & Dog (coloquially, the "Buck and &^%$@"). The tavern itself is essentially a large shack with questionable whisky and unpleasant beds. The real draw, rather, is the bar's patrons: sorcerers banned from other towns for forbidden magics stay in the Sudhalin to semi-clandestically teach their arts to those who can offer favor or money. On the records of being owned by "the common folk of Sudhalin", it is in truth a possession of the Drugain family, a clan long out of graces for its breaking of clan laws.

The town hall overlooks the marketplace, a well-built structure that mimics foreign royal style. Sudhalin's local governance is more democratic than the others (most of which could be described as oligarchic, if not outright dynastic). All citizens of the town, and a select group of influential merchants, vote for the maire biannually. The Bairrch clan has had a lock on the maireship for two decades, but the Luachain family has been rising in influence and could threaten Bairrch rule.

Torwyth

The seat of foreign occupation in County Siogal, Torwyth enjoys the same wealth as Sudhalin but none of its respect. To the occupiers, Torwyth is a successful venture of colonialism and assimilation, showing that even some of the Siogalish can be reasonable when given proper incentive and example. To the rest of Siogal, Torwyth is a den of betrayers and collaborators, their name whithered since the betrayal of the last King Mathyalin. The Kugrill clan is held most in contempt, claiming descent from the Káellugra, assocating them the old Wrathking's line. Their popularity is not helped by their close association with the occupiers, who have made the Kugrills local nobility (at least in their eyes).

The Torwyth Manor is the most significant structure here, built for by the occupation as their own administrative center. It's by far the most architecturally impressive of all buildings in the County, the Manor is modeled after the modern architectural style of the kingdom. It is a well-appointed stone structure with a great iron door and glass windows behind bars (Siogalish have been known to throw the occasional rock at the Manor).

Fiodin

Fiodin is the most rustic and traditional of Siogal's villages. On the edge of a sizeable forest, Fiodin is the county's lumber producers, sending whole trees down river to be picked up and sold in Sudhalin. Most of Fiodin's adult males are lumbermen, and even a few women. Historically, Fiodin holds religious importance for Siogalish because of its proximity to the temple of the sacred spring; the priests that tended the temple came from Fiodin stock and lived in the village.

Fiodin's people live today much as they did centuries ago. They still dress in traditional Siogalish garb: animal pelt kilts and leather vests, with a tonsure for high-ranking men. They live almost exclusively in wood-supported dugout lodges, with a few clan heads living above ground in circular wooden homes. All belong are Old Believers, worshipping the ancient deities of Siogal over newfound gods sent by the kingdom's missionaries (who rarely stay in Fiodin more than a week before they finally give up the "heathens"). The priesthood of the old faith still practices here - illegally, by the kingdom's laws - and guards the ruins of the temple, beneath which the ancient spring still flows and forms the river.

Clan Deaghaidh is dominant here, and Cormaic M'Deaghaidh rules as both clan head and town chieftain. He is formidable and gruff, but also understands the new way of things in the rest of Siogal, and can manage to talk his way through a trade negotiation in Sudhalin as fluently as a Bairrch, if only more direct and blunt.

Orodal

Orodal is an old town, its tin and copper mines being worked since the reign of Queen Aoifa. The whole town revolves around the mines, itself built into the side of the rocky hills. Orodal's residents have a reputation of being tough-as-nails folk, and it's said that they were hewn from the stone itself. A bar called only "the Pick" serves as both town hall and taproom, both being the exclusive domain of the mining men. Families that don't mine are subservient to those that do, and only keep their livelihoods as the miners' pleasure. The Tolairg clan is in charge, and Datrick M'Tolairg's many sons dare any to question him. While magic is in the blood of all Siogalish, Orodal folk are as likely to use their fists to solve their disputes as spells, and losers are thrown out of the Pick on a nightly basis. While the Tolairg's have a business relationship with the kingdom and merchants in Subhalin, it's whispered Datrick only just keeps his town's hatred of the occupiers in check, and the other mining clans have secret plans to raise their own army and drive out the enemy themselves.

Dab

Dab barely qualifies as a town, a small collection of farmer's huts and barns. More important are the fields beyond dab: rolling hills of barley and grazing land for goats. Dab is the breadbasket of Siogal, and while most of its produce is exported, more than enough stays behind to keep the Siogalish fed. Of the six towns, Dab is the most recent to gain recognition as such, mostly through the machinations of Torwyth's Kugrill clan. The dominant - and nearly only - clan in Dab is the Dorthainn family, led by the matriarch "Mother Morda" M'Dorthainn, a woman whose generosity to her kin is matched only by her ferocity in guarding their interests.

Dozus the Windward
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Offline Dozus

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Re: County Siogal
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 11:50:40 AM »
Religion

Old Believers (Seanmuinín)

The "Old Faith" has deep roots in Siogal, and much of Siogalish culture is steeped in references to the old ways. While the religion was banned generations ago by Siogal's conquerers, it is still widely and openly practiced, most occupiers uncaring, unwilling, or unable to enforce the sanction.

The Old Believers hold that there are two worlds beyond ours: Tir Scáth, the Land of Shades; and Tir Anam, the Land of Spirits. Each person has two spiritual doubles (scáile) that live in either realm. The actions of a person determine which scáil is more influential, and at death, the person becomes the scáil he sided with most in life, and the other disappears.

Tir Scáth is found wherever darkness lies: in the night sky, in deep caverns and pools, even in shadows and stormclouds. It is associated with the wicked at one extreme, and the mischievous and self-serving at another. Tir Anam is found in the light, from the celestial bodies to the element of fire. Here eminates righteousness and generosity. Neither of these realms is seen as "good" or "evil", but rather two sides that always exist in balance to one another. Gods dwell in one or the other, a few in both.

The Old Believers say that magic comes from their ancestors' scáile, which interecede for the living members of their clans, and from their strong bloodlines. Ancestor veneration is prominent for Old Believers, as are talismans and household shrines to various gods. The older and larger clans are thought to have more powerful magic

Deities:
The Great Gods are the ones that rule both the shadow land and the place of light. Tied to neither realm nor the other, they have power over both.
- Creator god: Made both the light and the dark. When the two realms met in the physical world, the creator - who never intended this world to exist - split the creatures that arose from it in twain. They became the gods and spirits of the realms of Shade and Spirit. The children of those first beings remained, guarded by the scáile of their ancestors; only at death can the creator complete his task and remove someone from the physical world. The creator has a rather ambigous role in the Old Faith, neither worshipped nor feared but seen as an inevitable force of nature.
- Sky god: The sky stretches over all the realms, favoring none.
- Time god: ??? :?

The Dual Gods were the first to dwell in this world. When the creator saw this realm, which was not of his creation and beyond his direct control, he tried to force them into one of his two realms. Their power was too strong, though, and they were split, their both their scáile existing in shadow and light. These gods are worshipped individually, but their double in the opposite realm is recognized, even as the antithesis of the other. These gods are recognized by their mark on the world: the gods of Tir Scáth leave their form in caverns or watery depths, and the gods of Tir Anam are stars and constellations.
-The god of savagery and the god of nature: The aspects of the natural world are divided in these two gods. The god of savagery is everything fearsome of the wild: great beasts, storms, deep wood. The god of nature is nature's bounty, the hunt and sunlight and timber. Folk in Fiodin, on the edge of the sacred wood, revere both.
-The trickster god and the blessing god: Viewed as the embodiement of commerce and trade. The trickster is also the bargainer, who makes deals to those that need them, but usually at a high and hidden price. The blessing god is more lenient, granting favors to those that ask, also with a price but a fairer one.
-The destroyer and the protector: Once a great warrior, he now serves as two soldiers. One exists to ravage the lands, the other to preserve it.

New Believers (Unitism)

The various conquerers of Siogal over the years have tried to introduce their own brands of religion, the most popular in recent memory being a monotheistic faith. No missionaries stayed around very long, finding Siogalish to be hard-headed heathens, but some of the beliefs did seep into some towns and clans. They adopted aspects of the new beliefs and blended them with their own, creating a hybrid religion that was neither Seanmuinín nor the mission faith. Dubbed the New Believers, they attract some of the smaller clans who can't make the same claims to ancestry as the more powerful clans.

According to the New Believers, in the time before time, there were two worlds. One was blisteringly hot, full of fire and teeming with strange beings one couldn't truly call alive. The other was a dark, watery realm of coldness where nothing could dwell. A god, known as the Great Uniter, saw that these two realms should not exist alone. He brought them together, creating a single and unified world out of them - the world that became our own. This cosmology gives the New Believers their other name: Unitists.

The world as created by the Great Uniter is one that can be understood through proper education, study, and meditation. They hold that the whole of the universe is made of six opposing elements: air and earth, fire and water, life and death. Understanding how these elements interact strengthens one's knowledge of the world as the Great Uniter intended, and allows one to better unleash the power inherent to all things: magic. Gaining favor of the Great Uniter by worshipping him and gaining knowledge of the world is the goal of life. The Uniter's work is not done, as his own heavenly realm is separate from the earth. Those that die are divided too, soul from body. At the appointed time, the Great Uniter will finish his task, creating a heavenly earth and bringing souls back to their bodies.

The Great Uniter is worshipped in small temples, attended to by schooled clergymen. Worshippers can be identified by an open locket they wear, a soul-socket, believed to anchor their souls after death that they might be more quickly reunited with their bodies in the time to come. New Believer clan heads often display their ancestors' soul-sockets in their home as a sign of honor. Temples to the faith exist in Sudhalin, Dabh, and Torwyth; the Lannigans of Athy have refused permission to build one in their ancient town, and the other towns pay it no heed. Both Sudhalin and Torwyth have seminaries, with the former being the more greatly respected. While the New Belief is more associated with clans influenced by the occupiers, many have no ties to foreign forces.

Competition or Ecumenism?

While the two faith systems are on their face incompatible, it's not unusual to see them practiced side-by-side or even by the same person. While superstitious as a whole, most Siogalish are not doggedly religious, and conflict between the two beliefs is typically no worse than the occasional bar room brawl. There are is a spectrum of dogmatism: those in Fiodin are fiercely Old Believers, and Torwyth follows almost exclusively Unitism, but towns and clans in between are far less rigid. Some consider the Great Uniter's work unfinished, and pray to the gods of Tir Scath and Tir Anam alongside their chief god.

I need to do some clarifying & fleshing work on the Old Belief. Ideas? Suggestions?

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Re: County Siogal
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2012, 01:23:13 PM »
Clan Badges

Clans can be identified by their badge, an insignia associated with the clan name. Their usage dates back ages, and as such they are usually very simple in design. A clan badge consists of three basic parts:
  • Mounting: Usually an easily-found material, such as wood, leather, or pelt, more rarely stone or metal.
  • Plant: An attached piece of a plant. Flowers, leaves, bunches of grasses, a sprig of a shrub. These are usually enchanted to be kept in their proper state, either alive or in autumn display.
  • Shape: A designation for certain individuals in a clan, or separate branches and lines. The standard shape is a square or circle; the more complicated the design, the less important the branch.

Badges are displayed regularly and proudly. They are worn over belts or cloak brooches, displayed on wreathes on doors. They are traditionally all-natural, their sprigs changed regularly and with care. A few richer clans in Torwyth began the practice permanent badges, made from metal and enameled or jeweled to resemble their origin. Folk in Athy frown on this, as they do all things Torwyth, but such badges can be found in Sudhalin as well.

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Offline axlerowes

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Re: County Siogal
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 08:49:54 PM »
Okay, I think this is great thanks for sharing, I am really excited about being able to comment on it.  But lets do it like a book report.  First I will summarize what I read.  I hope this way you can get an idea how a typical reader may understand and respond to your work.   


Summary:  The county of Siogal is centered about an ancient and perhaps mystical spring.  In the pre-historic days magical beings evolved or manifested at or near the sight of the spring.   As the area became settled by humanity, these early humans were affected by this magical source.  They interbred with the mystical beings associated with the spring and developed humanity developed magical talents.  I imagine these people are much like sorcerer classes in third edition D&D.

Around this spring a culture begin to form and the people of what will someday be Siogal county began to develop a novel and local ethnicity.  Eventually a Kingdom was formed with the people that identified themselves as Siogal.  From the write up it appears that the Kingdom and the sphere of cultural influences were one and the same. The Kingdom was technologically backwards compared with other human kingdom and was marked by a staunch system of family loyalty, a lack of interest in foreign affairs or trends, intrigue and clan warfare.  As people they a sentimental lot (secretly paving a town square with the ruins of their outlawed castle) and secretive bordering of xenophobic people (gossip and rumors have been powerful forces in the clan warfare, gossip and rumors may grow from secretive or repressive culture, xenophobic based on what others have said to them). The Siogal have system of nobility but it does not seem to be strict as other caste systems in history or literature.  Clans, which seem to be the central unit of the culture, appear to via for social position. As far as I can tell everyone is in a Clan thus all Siogol have at least the belief that they have a right to title and privilege. Thus possession of a title seems to be 9/10ths of that title.   Several institutions have come and gone over the history of a Kingdom call Tir Siogal, but eventually the Kingdom is conquered. The fall of the Kingdom seems to predicated by some of the Siogal’s traditional social ills: specifically clan rivalry and intrigue.  Yet today magic is still practiced in Siogal and the clans still exists.   The Siogal have not relinquished their cultural identity. Though the fate of the county resembles that of classic and medieval Egypt; it has been traded by empires for centuries. 

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Re: County Siogal
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2012, 08:57:02 PM »
Religion:  I love this idea of the old faith and that you have two souls, but only one lives after you.  I think it is fines to write up the religion is vague fashion. But how the metaphysics of the world going to work?  Are the Gods going to be real?   Will they exist even if nobody believes in them?  Do the gods have agendas?