Divinity, Faith, and the Divine Significance of the Materium
An explanation of gods; what they are, where they come from, how their power works, how they affect mortal life. Part of my main setting, first introduced in Primal Essence, Primals, and the Creation of the Realms.
When we hear the word 'gods', we typically think of vastly powerful
beings capable of immense acts of creation (or destruction.) The
Primals, original creators of everything in the universe, certainly fit
this bill. But the Primals are dead, their essence shattered into many,
many fragments, and it is from these fragments, these Godshards, that
When an intelligent living being (meaning anything that possesses a soul and is sentient) first touches a Godshard, they become imbued with a fragment of the creative power of the Primals. This power will stay with them until they die, because it directly alters the nature of their soul. It grants that being immortality and allows them to alter themselves to just about any form they wish.
A Godshard's power is akin to the power the Primals wielded, with a few limits. First, unlike the Primals, a Godshard is not capable of creating an entire cosmic Realm. It cannot create a new fundamental concept, such as Good/Evil, Order/Chaos, and thus it cannot create from scratch a being of the same inherent potential as Graces/Viles, Eminents/Dragons. However, it can create new forms of lesser life, hereafter referred to as mortals. (One of the critical differences between fundamental beings and mortals is, while fundamentals can be killed, they will never die of natural cell degeneration.) It can claim a Domain, a certain radius around the Godshard in which its powers are amplified, where souls aligned with that god will travel after death, where the very nature of the place is easily shapable to that god's will, and where other gods cannot exert their divine power. And lastly, it is capable of granting (and taking away) a fraction of its divine power to other beings, a bond that works no matter how far away they might travel.
A Godshard allows a god to enforce their will on reality itself to a degree that no other being in all of creation can match. However, it also means a god is, to an extent, subject to the will of lesser beings. This is called Faith, and it means everything to a god. When a mortal worships a god, it grants that god a constant trickle of power that adds to their divine potential. The more mortals who have faith in a god, the stronger that god becomes. With enough power gained from faith, a god can even manifest their will in another divine Domain, to the point where they could potentially overpower another of their kind. It is also the ONLY means by which any god can increase their divine power. For the most part, a god's agenda will revolve around gaining more faith, protecting what faith they have, and scheming to diminish the faith of their enemies.
The playing field for this game of Faith, for the most part, is the Materium. This is where the vast majority of mortal life resides. Gods are, however, greatly limited in their ability to operate on the Materium, because the presence of a god will cause the entire Realm to shudder, fracture, and ultimately explode. This is because of the inherent instability of the Materium, which was formed out of a gathering of cosmic detritus from the many, many proto-Realms lost in the Abyssal War. The only means by which a god may directly exert their will on the Materium without setting foot there is by using the extra power they gain through Faith, and even then it's incredibly difficult.
Instead, gods primarily act through their mortal servants, those mortals to whom the gods grant their power in exchange for loyal service. Souls that are drawn to a god's Domain after death by virtue of their strong devotion maintain that devotion upon reincarnation, and the gods have some control over which body one of these reincarnated devotees will be born to, so this is one of a god's best tools for cultivating Faith and building up new candidates for service as their divine agents in the mortal world. A soul powerful enough (through continuous reincarnation) can be converted into an immortal being, nearly akin to a fundamental in power, from which tales of angels and other such celestial emissaries are contrived.
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? Responses (6)
A good treatment of the subject - Faith as mentioned seems to be a fairly common mechanism. The need for physical avatars to act is a good one.
This chasing of faith has one side effect - it essentially predisposes gods to be selfish and capitalistic in nature, which somewhat precludes truly 'good' gods. Those gods which hold to 'good' principles will , barring some major change in humanity, be at a distinct disadvantages to those gods who will do anything they can to obtain Faith.
This is true, to an extent. As a (somewhat specific) example, Solaris is, despite his selfishness, considered more or less 'good'. He uses his immense power for the good of his sovereign nation, and as the primary god of the Positive Realm he does a lot to combat the necrotic arts (which aren't inherently evil, but are powerful tools for evil when used that way and thus frequently are.) He's able to focus on these goals because of his strong existing Faith powerbase, but it does show that even such a narcissistic god as he is capable of good.
Another balancing mechanism is the Graces and Viles, both of whom seek to draw mortal souls to their own Realm after death. For the gods to maintain the followers they already have they need to secure their devotion, and while some gods might use fear, the old adage about honey and vinegar comes to mind.
I think this is a great treatment of the supernatural, and is a good attempt to apply a consistent narrative frame work to the existing systems of fantasy RPG religion.
Is the realm of God's geographic? You write
'It can claim a Domain, a certain radius around the Godshard in which its powers are amplified, where souls aligned with that god will travel after death, where the very nature of the place is easily shapable to that god's will, and where other gods cannot exert their divine power.' But that sounds like extra dimensional area or another plane...whatever you want to call it.
What is the mechanic you are considering for the transference of power via Faith. Is the power of faith dependent on the faithful's soul? Does amount of power transferred to the God via the faithful increase as the strength of a person's south increases?
If this is true than certain faithful may be more valuable to the God. Might a God practice the 80:20 principle with regard to recruiting people to his religion; focusing on pulling in the super-faithful and treating them as more valuable then the others. (Kind of like what Tom Cruise is to Scientology)
What about the Fey and their relatioship to the gods?
The fact that this brings up so many questions is something I love about it. This is a great springboard for intellectual exploration in and out of game. It is like one big thought experiment, I would love to chat with you about it sometime.
I'm a goddamn chatterbox about my campaign stuff. Feel completely free to message me with any questions, and/or if you want to help me snowball ideas for things.
Domains are like... subrealms. Still subject to the dominant traits of that Realm, but malleable; subject to that god's whims. The size of the Domain physically depends on the power of the god, and politically on that Realm's masters/ruling class and/or that god's neighbors. Realms are not infinite, however large they may appear to be, so the size and number of Domains it can contain have a hard limit even without considering that Realm's other inhabitants.
Faith per soul has a minimum potency which is already pretty significant, but it could be possible for stronger souls to pour out more Faith for the same level of devotion.
Fey are evolved, unincarnated souls, covered in my article about the Aetherium (but you've already read that since, so I'm really explaining for others' benefit.)
So does the faith of the fey mean anything to the gods, besides the warm fuzzy that poltergeist love might give you?
I actually hoped for much more. That being said this is a great tool in digesting how the Universe, Realms, the Pantheon in general was formed. I love creation event stories, which is what this is to me to some degree.
One question I have. If they gain their initial abilities, powers, god hood (what have you) from touching a God Shard. What happens if they touch another? If they become stronger or more powerful, could their be some God or Gods that simply hunt these God Shards ignoring the Faith aspect and just using raw power? Just a thought.
I generally like this