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What is the affect of Fate and Destiny?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by ArenRax, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. ArenRax

    ArenRax Sage

    Woohoo I'm back after two years! And I got questions aplenty.

    I need some help I sort of understand Fate and Destiny but not completely and well I could use a bit of an explanation. Whether it's something you created on your own or say something from mythology it still helps.

    Also what would happen if someone were Fateless?
    I do have some ideas for this the most obvious being that a Fateless person cannot be controlled by the whims of heaven or Fate herself and with thier power they can change if not sever the fates of others. And the have no foreseeable future/fate. By what is the power? Is it energy or magic power or something?
    And are there other perks to being Fateless or downsides?

    Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I think you've walking [run head first? :p] in to Philosophy 101...
    Are we responsible for our actions or are our lives predetermined?
    If you are alone in being fate-less then I would guess you are in for a REALLY hard time from every god around...
  3. ArenRax

    ArenRax Sage

    Hah. Well the gods/immortals in my universe are not omnipotent and fate is an actual Immortal being but I'm having trouble how to figure out how she does her role as well. Kinda like the Greek mythology with the crone s but not the whole snippping the thread and such. Like there's fate and then thers the being called fat whose job is to do something. Can't think of it but I am thinking either she's omnipotent or has helpers or fellow immortal beings to do the job with her.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    The two words mean essentially the same thing. Fate comes from a Latin word that means, roughly, to be spoken. Destiny also comes from the Latin, and it means to establish or make something solid, firm. In common usage, there's not a nickel's worth of difference between the two.

    In my world, there are no gods, though plenty of people believe there are, so I'm not much help there.

    As for being Fateless, that's a curious concept to me. My quick reaction is that most people have no fate. They have a condition--they might be born a peasant, but no god would take enough interest in them to assign them a fate, any more than ants or fish have a fate. Most people are just set dressing. Fate is for the few who play the role of hero and villain. So being Fateless would mean being, well, just another guy in the background.

    But it sounds like to you Fateless means someone who can defy the gods, over whom the gods have no power. An intriguing concept.
  5. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I wonder how subjective these two words might be, fate and destiny.

    Sometimes, one seems to be used to suggest a lack of personal control (fate), usually with a negative connotation, and seems to be almost backward-looking, in the sense that the endpoint is reaching back to control the individual. Whereas the other (destiny) may have a more positive connotation and seems forward-looking–even if the endpoint is predetermined! Heh.

    Then, there is the related word, destination. Again, a slightly forward-looking feel to it.

    Personally, the idea of a Fateless person conjures up someone or some being outside Time itself. Maybe he'd appear to be riding the whirlwind along with us, but he's actually unchained from the timeline. A totally free agent. But, paradoxically, I can imagine some Fateless person also having a destiny!
    ArenRax likes this.
  6. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    "No Fate but what we make." (There's no fate but what we make, She intends to change the future - terminator2 - YouTube)

    "I'm your density." (I am your density - YouTube)

    That's about all I know about the two. ;)

    In a world where everyone has a Fate except for a Fateless few, I guess they are the lucky ones with free will. By exercising that free will, if they counter some Fated person's Fate, doesn't that Fated one become Fateless? If this were done enough, wouldn't everyone eventually become Fateless? You'd have to lock the Fateless ones away and not let them interact with the Fated, if you wanted the Fates of the Fated to remain intact. Or let the Fateless have their own country, which doesn't do any trade or interact in any other way with the countries of the Fated.

    Or maybe the Fated are so set upon their paths that the intervention of the Fateless only throws them off course temporarily, and as soon as the Fateless leaves the vicinity, the Fated move back on course.

    But, yeah, the presence of a Fateless around a Fated can't have been predicted for the Fated, which throws off Fate for the Fated, unless you make portions of the Fated's timeline Fateless.
    ArenRax likes this.
  7. KC Trae Becker

    KC Trae Becker Troubadour

    Greek myths and plays act like fate is a mysterious force that works around what ever you do so that you still reach the fated end. Eg. Odeipus Rex

    Norse myths act like the future events of Ragnarok are unchangeable.

    Most common people are fated to live and die doing what their parents did, etc. the common lot.

    If someone were fateless, maybe the Fates lost their string. They were to have a powerful fate but the string was maybe even stolen. So then they can not die because there is no string to cut. Such a story could be intriguing and/or comical. I'd love to see where you go with this.
    ArenRax likes this.
  8. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Hm..... When it comes to Fate there's two table top RPGs that I take inspiration from.

    The first is Scion while the second is Exalted.

    Fate plays a big role in both of these games, though they play a pretty different role.

    In Scion fate is treated as a natural law, one that even the gods have to listen to. Actually, the stronger your legend the stronger the pull of fate. Actually a "pull" is a pretty good description of what it does. If your fate is to be a villain then you'll find that things just work easier for you if you play that role and harder if you try to avoid it. Maybe just no matter what you do coincidences will conspire to paint you as a villain? Say you just get finished beating someone that was trying to kill you, but as you stand over the body some bystander wanders in, sees you and starts screaming "Murderer!"

    Scion is a game where you naturally become gods when you get strong enough and becoming a god of fate is an option for that, so they have mechanics for what being a god of fate means. Ignoring that, going with the idea of fate as basically a form of supernatural gravity that pulls people towards certain situations, roles or relationships then I imagine a god of fate would be able to:
    >See what someone's fate is. (What role are they meant to play? Are two people fated to be together, etc and so on.)
    >See where the world as a whole is being pulled to form a prophecy
    >Change people's fates or give them a fate, though with fate meant to be a natural law greater than the gods, they shouldn't be able to do so freely.

    There's a lot you can do with this. Say there's a powerful rampaging monster, you could pick up a rock and "bind a strong fate to it" saying that rock will kill that monster. Or if you bind someone's fate to die when a certain stick finishes burning in a fire place and the stick is snatched out of the fireplace before it can finish burning, that guy could end up living for a long time indeed.

    In Exalted fate isn’t a natural law like in Scion. It’s something created whole-cloth by the gods. In fact, it takes an entire agency in the local celestial bureaucracy. They have committees to decide on fates, agents to ensure that things go according to plan and what amounts to basically a giant magical supercomputer that they can study to see the future. Now, this type of fate doesn’t have to go to all of that. It could be something like a single god writing in some sort of “book of destiny.”

    Ultimately the main thing is that they’re the ones writing the story instead of the other way where they just know where the story is going and are genre savvy enough to manipulate things.

    Deciding on what a god of fate can do in that case is a lot harder. They’re writing the story. Can they go back and edit it after the fact? Make it so that instead of being at the base of a mountain a certain town is and has always been by the seashore instead? Do they have to deal with willing suspension of disbelief or can they just have rocks fall & everyone dies on their enemies even if they’re in a wide open field?

    It’s tired old advice but I think it applies here, limitations are the important things. What can they do? What can’t they do? What’s easy? What’s difficult? For a god of fate, I think the Scion route is better. Thinking of it as a pull like gravity is easy and it leaves a lot of room to play with both going against fate or utilizing fate.

    Scion doesn’t really have something like being fateless. The closest I can think of is basically having one fate being overwhelmed by a stronger fate. For example, one character in it was fated to die at a certain battle in the future. He overwhelmed that fate by becoming part of a titan. Since the titan’s quite a bit heavier metaphysically speaking than the guy, its fate overwhelmed his own doom. Another trick you could play with fate, say you were hanging off of a cliff by a branch, if you knew the trick to it you could leave it up to fate to save you, which it would. A passing boyscout might come along and pull you up, but in exchange your fate becomes bound to his. (For a time at least, maybe it turns that his boyscout troop is being hunted down by angry bigfeet. Thanks to the binding of fate, it pulls you to help out with them.) So, instead of falling off the cliff, you take on a stronger fate to overwhelm that one.

    Exalted on the other hand has a lot of fateless people. Fae, demons, ghosts, robot communists, etc… Basically anything from outside reality. (Note: While all those guys are real easy to have as villains, the game also includes pretty extensive support to play as them.)

    In Exalted the parts of the local celestial bureaucracy has agents whose job (among other things) is to ensure things go as fated. They’re pretty much fate ninjas, but if you just think of them as the Men in Black then you have a pretty good idea what they’re about.

    Two of their biggest advantages is that people automatically forget about them not long after interacting with them, and they can don supernaturally powerful disguises so long as as they’re disguising themselves as a role. Say one of them disguises themselves as a gardener and gives someone the worldly advice they need to go on and achieve their destiny. That person would only ever remember them as “a gardener” and if they weren’t disguised they wouldn’t remember even that.

    Since this effect is based off of fate manipulation, those that are fateless are able to see right through it. Maybe they won’t recognize that the person doing that is an agent, but they would remember what the gardener looks like and could possibly recognize them when they show up later as the out of breath scout bringing word that the enemy army was on the horizon.

    Since they are fateless they can’t be seen by seers. Naturally this would mean that any prophecies would be based off of if they didn’t exist, but it also includes lesser horoscopes or “looking at the book of destiny” to get info on the present.

    There was this one fanfic I read which demonstrated the idea pretty well. In the original work it was based on the characters managed to capture a certain thief. In the fanfic, due to a character without a fate, they did not manage to capture that certain thief. However, when someone tried to use fortune telling to get more info on that thief, their fortune telling returned that the thief was captured. That’s because in the original work, the one that didn’t have the fateless character, they were captured.

    That does mean that a fateless person can be tracked down by comparing where things go differently than they were predicted to go.

    Finally, it’s not covered much in Exalted, but fate in it is connected with causality. When you introduce someone without fate to that, it can cause reality to basically glitch out. Examples for this include things like having it rain blood or someone standing over their own corpse when they both fall and don’t fall off a ladder to their death. Naturally it’s the fate Agent’s job to deal with things like that. (Note: seeing how some of the main things without fates are Demons and Undead, this mostly serves to justify having omens show up when there’s baddies out and about.)

    Also consider ways to go against or alter fate short of being fateless.

    Can Heroic Willpower let you defy fate? Can it go beyond that and let you change fate so that its pull switches to helping you do… whatever it is you’re doing? What about true love? Things like that.

    Are Geasa (evidently the plural of geas) a thing? Some taboo you can follow or magic you can do to have fate help you out?

    There’s lots of fun to be had with the subject. Good luck. ^^
    KC Trae Becker and ArenRax like this.
  9. staiger95

    staiger95 Scribe

    Consider a book—a complete unabridged biography of someone's life. You can read that book from start to finish, or jump ahead and back, skipping around chapter to chapter, however you decide to read it, but you know for a fact that every time you turn to page 112, the story will always be the same at the point, because that is how the book was written. That is fate, or destiny, or whichever equivalent word you use to describe the concept.

    Now consider a different book, a different biography. You could choose to read the book from beginning to end, or you could skip ahead to see what is coming, or jump back to see what had happened, but no matter which direction you go, there is no guarantee that the story will be the same. Each and every time you go to page 112, the story may be completely different, or perhaps the same, or possibly just similar. The fact is, the story is no longer set, and each jumping through the pages provides no certainty on what will be found, and to what direction the story may lead from that point onward. That is a fate-less narrative.

    Understand that fate and destiny have nothing whatsoever to do with free will. It makes no matter who is in control of the decisions being made—the individual or some external god-like force—only that those decisions and actions are established. The concept of pre-determination is simply the ability to be able to 'look ahead' into the book and comprehend what is going to happen before that section of the story is actually reached.

    Some of my favorite stories involve the concept of time-jumping and all the intricate dynamics of temporal manipulation and subsequent screwing with 'fate'.
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  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    There's an anime you can catch on Netflix called Magi which deals with a physical concept of fate, through a magic force called the Ruhk that flows through every person. When a character comes to curse their fate, their Ruhk become corrupted, and the villains can grant that person the horrible and corrupting powers of a dark djinn until that person can come to terms with their fate. They use the dark djinn to try and change their fate by force.

    ^ I think it's pretty cool.

    In a broad sense, without any context, I would echo others that destiny seems more positive and fulfilling, while fate is something that you struggle with until it happens. I also don't immediately connect fate/destiny to a lack of free will. But you can change these things easily enough when you shape it for your story.

    The idea that people can be fateless implies that everybody normally has a fate (not always a given). What immediately comes to mind is a giant tapestry representing world history with a big gap in it where this person is supposed to be represented. The weird thing is, that first thought strikes me as the same as a character with a destiny:

    Your fate is to slay the dark lord or be slain by him.

    You are fateless; in this prophecy, we can't see what you will do, whether you will kill the dark lord, or be killed by him.

    ^ I guess that's just a great big eye roll.

    But I do like what KC Trae Becker suggested, a character for whom the fates have lost his string, which reminds me of a kind of medieval Deadpool, a character who seems completely and utterly aware that everybody else is following the same boring life script, which gives him the power to disrupt it. Of course, that's kind of a common take on things right now, between Deadpool copycats and a number of genre-savvy / parody fantasy webcomics.

    Maybe a fateless person would be dislodged from reality, like he or she is in some kind of limbo, having had their fates stolen (as magical fuel?) and they're waiting for their fates to be restored. In the meantime they're almost like an undead robot, going through the motions.
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  11. RedAngel

    RedAngel Minstrel

    Destiny often in the old tales and myths seems to be the role or act that the character was not aware of or putting off until they had no other choice but to act and fulfull or deny that destiny. It also seems like an event or series of an overall events that adds to fate but does not typically encomapass an entire life.

    Free will is the choice to accpet ones destiny. Mortal beings seem to have choice like some minions do. Celestial beings often lack the ability to chose. The gods have free will as well.

    Fate is often described as predestined events that will happen no matter how you try to avoid them. Every route you could possibly take will still lead to the outcome. Typically encompassing a lifespan or the events leading up to the moment of death.

    Grand design is the current that forces all fates to transpire in the overarching theme that gods cannot even escape.

    Divine intervention can serve to save or curse someone to a fate that was not their own.

    Oracles are often tied to being able to see an overall future where Seers or Clairvoiants can see the future of a person but little of the overall future.

    Muses are often used to inspire someone to do something they would never have thought of or done.
  12. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    When it comes to free will, it's impossible to prove whether we have it or not. You may think you do, but how do you know that your every move and thought is not a direct consequence of everything that has come before? Perhaps any experiment you perform and its results and your interpretation of it were determined before you were born, and you are just going with the flow, like water following the path of least resistance and unable to do otherwise. Your path in life may not necessarily have been set by an omnipotent, omniscient deity, but perhaps is merely obeying the laws of nature, the true and full extent of which you don't understand because no one does, as none of us are able to look upon reality from outside reality.

    If you look at Fate as a riverbed and our lives as the water flowing through it, each individual equal to a molecule of water, then we will go where the riverbed leads, perhaps making a little unexpected splash here or there, but unable to leave the river or alter our destination. The riverbed may become eroded by our efforts, modified so that it leads elsewhere, but for any given one of us, any erosion that could impact us is done by those who went before us. Any erosion we are responsible for only impacts those who come behind us. But even the erosion we cause was fated to be so, because even erosion is subject to the laws of nature.

    We are all free to imagine that the river takes us where we have chosen to go, even though it was not by our choice that we ride this particular river at this particular time.
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I tend to think of that ignorance as being the origin of free will. Even if free will is an illusion, we can't know this to be the case, so why bother with worrying over it? Plus, not knowing means that, in our own frame of reference (however limited or illusory), we do have free will, or as good as. Might as well roll with it.

    Nietzsche had a couple or three observations that come to mind when I think of this.

    First, he said that (paraphrasing), if anyone ever became omniscient, he'd probably be incapable of doing anything at all, become basically paralyzed. I suppose—I'm adding this bit—that'd be like some massively complex Buridan's ass problem.

    Second, he said that all human progress was due to 3 or 4 major errors in human thinking. (He gave 3 once, and 4 once, in different books, and they don't perfectly overlap from what I remember.) But his general point, especially when combining this with the first thing above, was that erroneous thinking and ignorance have been necessary to human progress.

    Third—and my favorite of these three—is this:

    "The whole attitude of 'man against the world', of man as a 'world-negating' principle, of man as the measure of the value of things, as judge of the world who finally places existence itself on his scales and finds it too light - the monstrous stupidity of this attitude has finally dawned on us and we are sick of it; we laugh as soon as we encounter the juxtaposition of 'man and world', separated by the sublime presumptuousness of the little word 'and!' "​

    That emphasized part: Basically, he's saying that the notion that we humans are somehow separate from the world, not a part of the world ourselves, is preposterous. This reminds me a bit of your riverbed/stream metaphor. But everything is the river water, not just us, tumbling along in some chaotic pattern that may well be a sublimely complex order—who knows?

    Edit: Incidentally, when applying this to the idea of a Fateless one and the, er, fateful ones...How are they going to be able to tell one another apart? Heh. Sure, an omniscient narrator could do that, maybe. But if those who are not Fateless can't know they aren't, and if the Fateless aren't omniscient....how will one look at the world differently than the other would be looking at the world and their place within it? Of course, there are workarounds for this perhaps, like a manifestation of the Fates and various declarations by Them to the characters....
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  14. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    Did you just call my theory ignorance? I think you did. I will forgive you. Primarily because it was destined you would respond as you did to my post, as it was also destined that I would forgive you. So be it.

    Because you have no choice but to roll with it. Even as you have no choice as to whether you worry about it or not.

    Ah, Nietzsche. Why should what he has to say bear any more weight than what I have to say? He said what he was fated to say, and I say what I'm fated to say. You will believe what you're fated to believe. And it's all irrelevant because none of it matters anyway.

    "P implies Q" is true when P is false, regardless of whether Q is true or false. When talking about the empty set, one can make any sort of wild claims, and no one can contradict them. If anyone ever became omniscient, they would turn pink with blue stripes. True, I tell you. Prove me wrong.

    No one "becomes" omniscient. What an absurd idea. You either are or you aren't. There's no "becoming".

    There are no errors in human thinking. Everyone thinks what they are supposed to think, when they are supposed to think it. The above is an example of an error in Nietzshe's thinking. This post is an example of an error in my thinking. Your post is an example of an error in your thinking. But they aren't actual errors. They were destined to be what they are. Oops, I mean, fated.

    Almost. The riverbed represents the laws of nature, to which the river must bow. And the bough break. And the world turn, the sun rise and set, the universe explode. It doesn't matter if you totally understand or agree. You'll understand or misunderstand or agree or disagree as you're fated to. You can't help it. It's okay.

    The Fateless ones would not be subject to the laws of nature to some degree, so they must exist at least in part outside the realm of nature. Call them hypernatural, or supernatural. These are the ones in the river who have the ability to go of their own volition against the flow, if they have sufficient strength to overcome the deluge.
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    ^ I don't know what's happening in this thread anymore, and that's making me nervous. Please let's straighten up the tone.
  16. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    Sorry, Devor. I know you couldn't help but say something, because you were fated to. :)

    I saw an opportunity to exercise philosophical with someone who seemed capable of holding their own, and took it. I intended no offense and took none.
  17. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Michael, I took your comment as possibly being an exercise in humor, or perhaps a bit of reductio ad absurdum in pursuit of fun–who says philosophy can't be fun? Or rather, who is destined to say such a thing?

    But apropos for this topic, the inherent absurdity of the situation might allow a different interpretation.

    In case the recent line of commentary might have been confusing to anyone reading this thread, particularly my own commentary, I'll try to clarify by saying that my reference to "that ignorance" was not a reference to your personal ignorance but rather to that universal ignorance which the rest of us share with you. Namely, our inability to know and prove the existence or absence of free will, which you seemed to have outlined in that paragraph I quoted.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Incidentally Michael, I should clarify further that by addressing you, I may be addressing the Universe or the Fates in truth, since they directed your words.

    And since they have also directed my own, I am not the one addressing them, but rather they are addressing themselves.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  19. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    I indeed was having fun. I've missed being able to talk with anyone in this vein, and may have gone overboard.
    FifthView likes this.
  20. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    You could design a world that has many different gods, all of them gods of fate, each has total control over the fate of only a portion of the populace, and they divvy up the populace amongst themselves.

    So for instance, if you had five of these gods, then each god would control the fate of only approximately 1/5 of the populace.

    Maybe each has hundreds of Procurers working for him. Whenever a new baby is born, the gods send their Procurers to a type of auction or meeting, trying to determine which god gets that new person to control. Maybe if that baby is born to a family already controlled by a god, that god gets a +1 in that auction, heh. But maybe the gods sometimes make alliances and marry two humans between them, and they have to haggle over who gets the babe to control. Lots of other ways to make the process interesting.

    Once the winning god has been determined, then the Procurers of that god notify one of that god's Binders. That Binder is the one who connects that human to the god, after which the god has absolute control over that person's fate.

    The people are completed fated, with everything that happens in their lives controlled by the particular god of fate who has domain over them, although they may or may not know this.

    The five gods, their Procurers and Binders (who are not human but spirits/demons/celestials/whatever) are the only ones who have true free will.

    The gods battle one another through the humans, seeking to gain a larger stable of humans vs the other gods, and for amusement. (So maybe it's not an even 1/5 split.)

    Then one day a Fateless is born among the humans.

    This could be done in at least two different ways.

    Perhaps that Fateless human's birth goes entirely undetected, so there's never a chance for the Procurers to bid on him and a Binder to bind him. But he's going around causing havoc amongst the human population. So naturally, if a god's population is experiencing that havoc, he's going to be suspicious: Which god is targeting me? The idea of a Fateless human is entirely beyond his imagination. This could lead to a lot of intrigue amongst the gods. Eventually, I'd imagine that the truth would come out, but maybe not for a long time.

    But perhaps instead that Fateless human's birth is detected, the Procurers meet to haggle, and whenever a god's Procurers win, they send this human's name to the Binder. But—whoa!—the Binder can't connect that human to his god for some reason. The human is immune. Instant panic ensues, as the gods freak out.

    Just an idea.


    Edit: The general idea is that...We might debate what fate and destiny mean or the consequences of having neither, but your world can be a fantasy world and these things can work in whatever way you want as long as a) your ideas for them don't stray too far from a general common understand, and/or b) you communicate the various features of your own system clearly to the reader. So I wouldn't become too bogged down in trying to determine precisely what these mean, whether they exist, in our own world.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017

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