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Reality of gods

Posted: Tue 24 Jul 2018, 00:51
by Klas
Heya. I am surely over-analyzing here but maybe someone likes the idea.

How "real" are the gods?

The pieces on Wyrm, Raven, Rust and Heme only describe what people believe. This is fine of course and GM fiat always applies anyway. But then the rest of the gods have factual descriptions. All of them. There is plenty of room for interpretation, but... It seems like no accident (hello Erik) that a shift in language splits the list in two, where one side is exclusively associated with the humans.

Plus, Rust Brothers revere a false idol, the Blood Mist. And that's a fact :)

The history of the creation of false gods makes good campaign material, for me at least. What do others think?

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Tue 24 Jul 2018, 11:35
by Brior
@Klas: Being a writer of novels as well as RPGs in the same fantasy setting I've always encountered the wish from GMs to know ”the truth”, for instance about magic and gods, while I in the role of storyteller want to hand out info along a dramatic curve on a ”need to know”-basis to be able to provide twists and retain the magic of the partly unknown and misunderstood.

I appreciate that GMs need to know more than players but at the same time I won't provide final answers to the nature of the gods. This is not primarily because I smugly want to be the only informed one. Instead, what hasn't been expressed yet isn't defined and thus can be molded, used and expanded upon as needed if we later want to do expansions and twists. It is simply good practice in story building in my very hands-on experience. I personally think what is said about the gods in the current material is as much as is needed right now. Any GM may of course add whatever background or expansion he/she wants, but a good idea might be to provide the info in the form ”it is claimed …” and keep the defined characteristics to a certain sect or branch of the religion that later might be challenged. I wrote a blog article (in Swedish) about the technique of placing information and hooks in suitable locations for later use that is not yet defined and doesn't have to be. Much like a chess player placing pieces in strong positions to build up possibilities.

The same goes for the history of Ravenland, where the reader may notice incompatibilities in what is told. Some ”historical facts” will indeed be challenged already during the Raven's purge campaign. For instance, the question of whether orcs were given to dwarves and elves as a servant kin by the raven god or were enslaved in early history remains open and should in my opinion remain so for now. The players and entire civilizations may still claim ”the truth” as they percieve it and act upon it in conflict with those of a different opinion. This is much like in our own world.

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Tue 24 Jul 2018, 12:55
by Brior
Incidently, the words of the monk Bonselmius from my Trachorian setting still applies:
God is a power whose actions may be predicted and affected only by grace

That is: any power sufficiently incomprehensible and strong may be called a god by lesser beings. What humans and other intelligent kins call gods may have nothing in common. Gods may, deliberately or not, be altogether something different than what worshiper think it is. Gods may, like in a classic panteon be related, but might just as well be indifferent or unaware of each other or their worshippers. One godly force may be claimed to be several different, sometimes conflicting gods. One god may be the god of other gods etc.

Some may of course be invented.

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Tue 24 Jul 2018, 23:42
by The1TrueFredrix
I love the doubt and contradictions that you have sewn into the setting. In fact I always marvel at GM’s that want to know “the truth” about a setting. There is only one truth and it’s what happens at your table. 

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Wed 25 Jul 2018, 08:22
by Brior
Thanks The1TrueFredrix! (I assume your name reflects a working hypothesis rather than a claim to THE truth ;-) )

I simply have found this a very useful approach in constructing fantasy worlds since it opens up for new views, connections and depth as you go along.

It also happens to reflect my somewhat postmodernistic view on reality. I know that postmodernism is hated by many and blamed for things like Trump's everchanging ”truths”, climate change denial, flat earth theories and the like. I do not endorse this nor relativize hard facts, but I firmly believe we can't talk about or interpret anything without choosing a relative, narrativistic framework even while choosing our language, priorities and methods of investigation. We can only reach the currently most adequate explanation rather than THE objective truth, a view I think is consistent even with hard science. These thoughts are reflected also in my novels. This said, I understand that GMs want to know and I try to be helpful within my view on how to describe fantasy worlds ;-).

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Wed 25 Jul 2018, 20:29
by Klas
Our non-Swedish readers might be interested to know that Erik has been writing in this, let's say, non-committal style for RPG's in the past too. This is what I like and also, by now, what I have come to expect. That is why I got a surprise out of reading the gods chapter again and noticed the change in semantics. I still read all of the descriptions as very open ended but suddenly had new interpretations to make. So +1 regardless of intentions :)

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Thu 26 Jul 2018, 22:06
by The1TrueFredrix
Ogpf course the know the so called gods of the Forbidden Lands don’t exist, not like the Icons of Coriolis. Prey to the icons and you get a re-roll. In the Forbidden Lands only your steel and your own attributes get you a re-roll.  ;)

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Fri 27 Jul 2018, 11:02
by Klas
Pray to re-roll doesn't sit right with me either. Some form of representation in the world would be useful though. Animal possession, dream-time, creepy visions, inexplicable changes, curses, oracles and messages from the dead all feel fine for a dark fantasy setting. Something more subtle than direct interaction anyway.

Any false gods would be easier to give a presence, assuming they have impersonator entities running the divinity show. That sort of thing might also be possible to go and visit (and slay).

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Fri 03 Aug 2018, 07:55
by Daarkh
I talked to my players about it, and we wanted the gods to be somewhat among us, like the tales in the norse mythology, where the gods travels Midgard and other realms for various reason. 
So I as a GM, have given the gods some kind of character traits and even some flaws, just to make them more intresting to meet and talk to. They can of course change their apperance and forms as they like, and rarely present themselves as actually gods. So you never know if you're talking to a a true god or just a lunatic with megalomania.

Re: Reality of gods

Posted: Fri 22 Feb 2019, 18:49
by Magnapocryphe
Yep, it's cool to have some liberty on this...

I consider Rust and Heme are fake gods imagined by Merigall to manipulate humans that are a weak kin, but a numerous one.

then he tried to control Alderland, but he failed, then concentrated on Ravenland.

My arguments are every so-called manifestation of Rust or Heme:
- Death of Terramalda in her own armour rised from the dead by Rust
- Revelation about the blood mist by Heme to Pyronax
To those, I add there war-like temper, they came to conquer Alderland strongly with Terramalda, and their link to Zygofer. Why have he chosen to recall such a religion that is unknown in the Ravenland at this time? Maybe because Merigall whipered him this... Maybe these gods are a fog he blows before him to hide his true movements...

Both are little magic that is in the reach of Merigall. He is to me the true antagonist in Ravenland. Maybe the new face of an old threat that elves and/or dwarves faced before the humans arrived... I can't tell... but it's in my mind...