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How dependent on mortals are the gods?


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Are they completely reliant on worship and sacrifice to keep them alive, a la American Gods and Discworld? Do they have completely separate existences like Forgotten Relms, say? Can people just make up new gods and have them pop into existence in the God Time having always been there, or are there no new gods after the Dawn? 

Edited by ZedAlpha
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I assume you mean "How dependent are the gods on mortals"?

The easiest (if a little monomythic and sorcerous) way to think about it is that the gods are how most Gloranthans see the variety of eternal forces of creation, like the Air, Sun, Stars, Earth, Underworld, the concept of Love, and so on. They don't need worship to keep them alive, per say, but they do need worship to be active. Because of the compromise, the only way in which gods can actively affect the world is through their worshippers. In a similar vein, nearly every god that ever existed in Glorantha is and always will be somewhere in the God Time, "nearly" because the Devil did permanently kill some gods when Chaos invaded, so there are some forces that simply don't exist (though some of their places were filled by others later during the Gods War). Many, if not most of the gods are relatively powerless though, as they don't exist beyond a handful of worshippers or as minor character's in some other gods myth. Mortals can't "create" gods, but they can "discover" them, tracking down a being in the God Time and beginning to worship them, which over time and the course of several heroquests will start to reveal the myths of that god to its worshippers, giving them more power and, by extension, giving the god more influence. Note that there may have been one case of a god actually being created from scratch. A god learner experiment involved preaching a completely fake religion to the population of some place in Pamaltela, however when that area revolted the god learners discovered that they actually were wielding powers from their supposedly fake god. We'll probably never know  the truth of what happened, but it's possible that either the worshippers stumbled across a god that was coincidentally similar enough to what the god learners were espousing, or they somehow brought an entire new power into the world from the void through sheer belief. In the end, YGMV on whether you can actually create new gods, though generally "new" gods are just older ones that have been rediscovered (EDIT: or mortals who have achieved apotheosis, like what Jap said).

Edited by Richard S.
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1 hour ago, ZedAlpha said:

Are they completely reliant on worship and sacrifice to keep them alive

Gods can be killed as the Great Winter shows, and even forgotten, but I don't think they live off of the mortal's worship in a sense they turn weaker if they are less worshipped. Yelmalio is not worshipped between the dawn and the Battle of Night and Day, then his cult is again forgotten for some time until it raises again because of the EWF, and all this time the powers of his physical manifestation (the Lightfore) don't seem to wane, AFAIK. Orlanth is much less worshipped in 1620 than it was 200 years prior (bc of lunar ban), and I don't think there's any mention of his powers having been weakened by that. Gods are not affected by time so they can't really react to and be affected by current events unless they break the Compromise, which they sometimes do.

1 hour ago, ZedAlpha said:

Do they have completely separate existences like Forgotten Relms, say?

They live in the Godsplane, a place beyond Time. This has many implications, as gods exist several times on this plane. I think it as a weird magical plane where every deed of the gods war is simultaneously taking place.  Of course living gods are different, Nysalor lived in Dorastor while he lived, for exemple.

1 hour ago, ZedAlpha said:

Can people just make up new gods and have them pop into existence in the God Time having always been there, or are there no new gods after the Dawn? 

There have been many new gods since time, and many ways to create them:

The Godlearners definitely tried, with mixed success. In Umathela they made up a cult and made people practice it, and then one day it suddenly started to manifest magics. They also created Zazistor/Zistor, the Machine God.

Arkat/Nysalor/Gbaji were born within time, but that is a very complicated topic. My understanding is that the Council discovered an object/place/something of pure Chaos, which is usually called the Pseudocosmic Egg, and decided to use it as well of power to create a perfect god. I think it connects with the draconic myth of Orxili, the Cosmic Egg, which is the source of all. If Orxili is the source of everything, then it must be Chaos.

Sedenya is created within time, but it could also be said that she's reconstructed, but I think there's more to Sedenya and his birth than just a reconstruction. The Seven Mothers are all gods who were born as mortals (well maybe barring Teelo Estara). Many of the lunar pantheon has been born within time really, like Moonson and his inspirations.

But the most common method of creating new gods is apotheosis. There have been many mortals who whave achieved godhood because of their deeds within time, the most famous of them might be Sartar, Dormal, Jonat, Pavis or Ompalam. This is done I think on death, so the Hero dies and is reconstructed as a god.

 

34 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

"nearly" because the Devil did permanently kill some gods when Chaos invaded, so there are some forces that simply don't exist

And we all thank him for killing Vadrus the Ill Wind.

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11 minutes ago, Jape_Vicho said:

They also created Zazistor/Zistor, the Machine God.

Ah yeah I forgot about Zistor, though it's debatable how much of a "god" he really was. He may have just been a giant machine they built to help fuck with the other side. 

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The thing that complicates this is that different communities may have fairly different takes on the same God; there's a kind of continuum from 'The Blue Sails think Elmal loves cheese but the Green Tigers think he hates it' to 'Orlanth is the King of the Gods and everything a man should be (SartarI vs 'Orlanth is basically worthless because he's male but Ernalda needs a body shield' (Esrolia) to 'This light in the sky is Elmal.  No, he's Yelmalio.'  to what is probably the same God but they're pretty different, like Torang and Shargash.

In one community, Humakt stabbed Orlanth to death in a drunken brawl and that's true for them, but in another, he's not dead.  

Gods exist whether worshipped or not, but Gods can't act in the world except through their worshippers or through whatever phenomenon they're tied to (but that phenomenon tie is more like the way the earth exerts gravity in the real world.)

Because the same god has different masks/faces/aspects, you may think you created a god when instead, you just accidentally latched onto one.

 

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I seem to recall that it takes a minimum of 1,000 regular worshipers to elevate a mortal into a capital H Hero, with a presence in the Hero Plane independent of any gods they worship, with more worshippers raising them to demigodhood, and ultimately apotheosis.

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6 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Ah yeah I forgot about Zistor, though it's debatable how much of a "god" he really was. He may have just been a giant machine they built to help fuck with the other side. 

Well it was god enough to make Orlanth be able to break the Compromise "legally" because the GL had broke it first by creating it and smack his ass into oblivion. 

It's difficult to avoid thinking it was some kind of Artificial Intelligence, but that surely can't be. 

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A couple of meandering, rambling thoughts about this topic: traditional religions in the RW are generally built on a deep base of empiricism. People in the depths of prehistory, struggling to survive, attempted to figure out what made survival more and less likely in terms of their actions. They built up a belief that the universe was filled with intelligent personalities, and connected their observations together in an attempt to determine what those personalities were. As a consequence, deep networks of taboos and appropriate sacrifices and means of prayer and symbolic representation built up. So for people in the antiquity of the RW, the need for sacrifice or offerings was something they understood from long tradition- sacrifice had, from their perspective, worked in the past, and more importantly, failure to sacrifice had failed in the past. And they would continue to work in the future.

Myth, then, emerges as people interact with this chaotic sea of tradition, attempting to put their understandings into some kind of sensible order.

Now, in Glorantha there are myths that explain why sacrifice is done- because it is what divides gods and mortals. Mortals sacrifice, gods receive sacrifices.

So we might offer one answer- sacrifice feeds gods. But let's dig a little deeper.

What are the gods without the mortals who assign mortal contexts upon them? What does Humakt look like when Death has been shorn of social meaning? How does one distinguish the many emanations of the greater gods from one another without someone who can say, "That's a high northern wind, that's the Humatala. She's one of the Thunder Brothers. The one with a sword. Yes, I know the Locaem say she's a he. You gonna listen to them?"

So what do gods need from mortals?

Meaning. Meaning created through sacrifice and prayer. Acknowledgement that this god, and not some other, did something or will do something, for you. Your people. Without meaning, the gods collapse back into their Runic interference pattern waveforms.

Why do mystic gods receive little worship?

Because they have complex relationships with meaning.

Can you make a god?

Yes. The god you make must have enough life to be a persona, a personality, though. It is usually easiest to do that by starting with an existing persona, a mortal one, and giving them sacrifices in accordance with those things which distinguish them from the world. Such as their heroic deeds.

Can you merge two gods together?

Yes. You can insist they are one being, and you can do so for a very long time indeed. But the gods will push back against being merged. They might well force a divergence within your new cult, or worse things. It is worth looking at the Sedenya cult, which has merged many gods together into their Red Goddess, but always with clear separations that allow them to each be sacrificed to as defined Masks, rather than attempting to erase their names.

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1 hour ago, dumuzid said:

I seem to recall that it takes a minimum of 1,000 regular worshipers to elevate a mortal into a capital H Hero, with a presence in the Hero Plane independent of any gods they worship, with more worshippers raising them to demigodhood, and ultimately apotheosis.

I think someone described the danger of Herodom as that now you have to get worshiped. You bind yourself to your worshipers. Maybe you don't disappear if you don't get worshiped, but you won't have any fun. 

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all this talk of heroism and apotheosis is giving me ideas for a certain Humakti Duck in a campaign I'm running. His player has often (loudly) complained that the Durulz don't have any real deities of their own. 

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20 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think someone described the danger of Herodom as that now you have to get worshiped. You bind yourself to your worshipers. Maybe you don't disappear if you don't get worshiped, but you won't have any fun. 

Well you certainly can't get your Hero Points back, and that means you don't get to cast your cool spell again!  So, yes, you're going to be out there recruiting and getting people to at least provide worship for the deeds you did...  

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8 minutes ago, ZedAlpha said:

all this talk of heroism and apotheosis is giving me ideas for a certain Humakti Duck in a campaign I'm running. His player has often (loudly) complained that the Durulz don't have any real deities of their own. 

Hueymakt isn't the original? What fresh heresy is this!

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hey, in my headcanon Hueymakt is the original, but the player doesn't agree and thinks that's 'too silly.' 

he says this after reciting Old English insults in his best Donald Duck impression. 

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like, if you've never heard "I WILL ENJOY DRINKING YOUR BLOOD, LUNAR SCUM!" shouted through a crappy microphone in that voice, I'd seriously recommend the experience. It's the hardest I've ever laughed in any game.

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6 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

Are they completely reliant on worship and sacrifice to keep them alive, a la American Gods and Discworld? Do they have completely separate existences like Forgotten Relms, say? Can people just make up new gods and have them pop into existence in the God Time having always been there, or are there no new gods after the Dawn? 

I have a variant view of why and how the gods are dependent on mortals.

The god exists as an entity with attributes, areas of interests, patterns of behaviour, but without any agency or even will. A god with no worshippers cannot do anything. When mortals use a god's magic, they temporarily manifest and become the god. When they quest in the god's path, they manifest and become the god for longer periods. To achieve this, they must adhere to the attributes, areas of interests and patterns of behaviour of their god. Over time, their community (clan, tribe, kingdom, empire, continent, whatever's relevent) recognise them as the pre-eminent representative of their god. For my purposes, they have become the god. Divination is a means of tapping into the collective knowledge of a god's worshippers, and this puts strong constraints of what divination can achieve.

For a god to have any meaning and influence, they must have worshippers. Without worshippers, they are an empty husk.

People that become magically powerful may step away from the path of their god. If they remain dedicated to their god, they become heroes of the god, and their god potentially gets new powers for their worshippers to use. If they step further away from their god and gain sufficient adherents (worshippers), they may quest to become a new god. Sedenya is likely a new god that quested to take up the splintered powers of several dead moons and unite them into a new moon unlike any previous moon. Sartar is a new god that is quite unlike any other god of the Orlanthi. Pavis is another new god.

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The gods perform sacrifice, too - the Arming of ... myths include sacrifice, even when it is Orlanth being armed.

The Celestial Court or its local equivalents might be the obvious recipients of this sacrifice by deities, or a transcendent entity like Creator (Earthmaker), Ouroboros, or the Invisible God.

It may be more the act of sacrifice doing something to the sacrificer's magic than the recipient of the sacrifice pouring down magic from the Source, although all those entities are considered more Source adjacent than the deities being armed or otherwise magically pumped up.

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PS. Some mortals that ascended to godhood may not have died in the process, which might possibly leave them with some agency. The most plausible candidate is Sedenya, perhaps with the aid of Illumination and Chaos. I have my suspicions that Arkat did not die when he gave up his dark empire to ascend. Another lesser possibility is Pavis. Sartar died as part of the process of lighting his flame, and most other ascensions that I can think of too.

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