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Why don't the gods intervene

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Prince of Spires, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    The spare processing power of my brain has decided to start its own world building project for a next story. I currently have a world which was originally created by a crazy chaos god. He kind of accidentally created the other gods while creating the world. Part of the history is that the chaos god and the other gods have battled it out a few times for control over the world, and to help them, they created several of the races inhabitting the world.

    Now, one of the stories I want to tell in this world is one about someone who is prophesied to become the dark lord. I think I have an interesting direction to take that story.

    However, while the story takes place in this grander setting, I don't want the gods to intervene too much (if at all) in the story. I'm just left to wonder why they wouldn't. There's a few cliche's out there. But many of them go out the window once you're dealing with a crazy god. Especially in a setting where the gods have battled it out a few times already. So, I'd love to hear people's ideas.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Maybe, if the big god is crazy, the other gods try to avoid interfering with the world in order to not remind him it exists.

    Like, the world itself is a vast cosmos, and the planet where the story takes place is just a small part of it. The big mad god is messing about all over the place, creating new galaxies and supernovas and who knows what. Meanwhile, the lesser gods are tony by comparison, and they stick with the planet they've been assigned to. They'll do anything to avoid drawing attention to themselves so their planet and their people just don't go poof.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    If you make the chaos god’s story too interesting readers will expect it to be part of the main story. I would suggest the chaos god just got bored with most of the world and is busy treating the distant kingdom of Pukementhal as his personal reality tv playground for holding a parade mocking him.
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Hmmmm.... Well, if you go with a D&D style Order vs Chaos thing then maybe the after the last time they fought the other gods bound the chaos god in chains of law, however that binding only lasts so long as the other gods abide by the laws created? Naturally one such law would prevent direct intervention in the world.
  5. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

    I used to play RuneScape, and the game had its own pantheon of gods. It's been awhile since I last played it, but IIRC, the gods had a war on the planet, and nearly destroyed it in the process, so they have a pact where they agree to avoid intervening as much as possible.

    If there is a chaos god, then the results of his creation can be pretty chaotic already, so he may not see a need to intervene when chaotic stuff is happening all the time on earth.

    Maybe the gods need worshipers to survive, and too much intervention could turn people against gods, thereby losing worshipers and eventually dying.
  6. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    Maybe the crazy god is just being dormant and the other gods dont want to draw his attention back to the world.

    in light of the discussion on blue/orange moraltiy, maybe hes not crazy but also not understood. If we knew his mind we would know his greater purpose is best served by non-intervention.

    i see my answer is similar to svrtnese above. I usually try to give a different perspective but i guess GMTA.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
  7. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    The universe (and perhaps even the multiverse) is a very big place, why would the chaos god care about this place and this point in time? Speaking of, time flows differently for beings like that. A war that might take a year for us mortals would be a picosecond for someone who sees things in the scale of millions, if not billions, of years. Maybe he made himself a shiny new toy in another corner of the galaxy and is too busy causing them problems to bother with what's going on in your story.
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    Thanks for all the replies. There's a lot of food for thought in here.

    I think the different gods are the kind of earth mythological gods (think greek or norse), in that they are not omnipresent or all powerful. They have a physical form in a sense and can't do everything all at once. They tire and need to rest. That sort of thing. That means that not being present at the moment or having attention focussed elsewhere would be a very valid answer. And the bigger and more complex the multiverse becomes the more valid an answer it is.

    It perhaps also creates room for agents of the different gods setting things in motion. Since you can't be everywhere, you can have an angelic beings around somewhere which influences things on your behalf. I think I can make that work with some of the other ideas I have.

    The origin story of the gods I have so far is that the chaos god creates the world(s). In the process he wounds himself and loses his arm (or something similar). From these remains, the other gods form. They are a lot smaller and a lot less powerful, but there's more of them. Extrapolating that further, the gods can figure out how to do this on purpose to create these agents for themselves. However, each time you do it, you lose a piece of yourself, effectively becoming smaller and weaker as you spread yourself further. I like that idea.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  9. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    The gods could see humans and the world as something fun to make, but leave behind when done- like a sand castle at the beach, you enjoy the process and the finished product, but don't care about it once you move one.

    Second option - the gods see humanity as their children. All parents know there comes a point when you need to let you child stand on their own. You help at critical points, otherwise you leave them to work things out.

    Third option - The gods have many worlds or universes they need to tend to. This divides their attention and influence and means they can only help when they are actually paying attention.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  10. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

    One thing to consider is that, being gods, they can see a lot more variables than mere mortals can, so they know how to affect things on a big scale with very small, mostly undetectable "nudges." Their interventions are subtle, in other words, so it's hard to be sure if something is directly related to them or not. Another thing to consider is that the gods do not interfere with free will, or at least only do so under very specific circumstances. Mortals may not have the power of the gods, but they are not powerless, either. Thus, they have a certain level or responsibility in regard to how they respond to situations. Further, when it comes to stuff like natural disasters, those could be viewed as just a component of how things work. If you live near a volcano, you have to live with the possibility of it erupting and killing you. If you live near the ocean, you have to accept the possibility of something like a hurricane or a tsunami striking the area where you reside. Finally, I think you could consider that the gods do not save people from the consequences of their own bad decisions. If you play with fire, it's not their fault if you get burned, is it? Why should they intervene if you're doing something stupid? There's a bit from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that I think is relevant:

  11. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    The gods that appear in my story are the gods of Limbo. So them directly interfering in the mortal world would basically be an act of war against the mortals’ gods. As a result, they have to operate subtly to avoid drawing attention from the mortals’ gods.
    So, there’s an idea: two groups of gods keeping each other in check.

    The mortal gods (who don’t appear in the story) don’t involve themselves in the plot for 2 reasons:
    1. There was a historic covenant between the gods and mortals that keep them from getting involved in mortal vs. mortal arguments. As far as they’re concerned, it’s the mortal authorities (such as governments) who are responsible for dealing with the story events. If the gods got involved, it would break the covenant and delegitimize their authority over mortals.
    2. Any way the story concludes, it won’t destroy the mortal world. People will die but for the gods, that’s not a huge deal - definitely not worth risking the balance of power in the world for. It would ultimately be more trouble than it’s worth for them to get involved.

    And I guess I should point out that the original creator god was a lunatic so the other gods (or half of them anyways) got rid of him, as you do. After all, the universe wouldn’t get very far with a crazy person at the helm.

    For your story: perhaps the gods want a dark lord to come into being for a “destruction is needed for creation/progress” kind of thing. Or perhaps there could be a late-story reveal of a heroic prophecy and the dark lord is needed to fulfill that one. So the gods would just be letting the two prophecies play-out one after another.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  12. if the gods are eternal etc then the time that is covered in your story could go unnoticed - perhaps until it is too late. For them years can pass before they even really check in and this time when they do its like: Dammit! When did this Dark Lord arrise? I mean look away for a couple years and the whole things goes to shit.
  13. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    Some great points here. I can definitely imagine that if you're an immortal god you percieve time differently. Especially if you're not omnipotent / omniscient then it's easy to miss things.

    WooHooManWooHooMan You just gave me the idea that maybe I should look at it from another perspective. It's very likely that the Gods, if there this plentiful, aren't a cohesive group or even a dual group, but rather they've split and split again into multiple different groups and factions. There can be "nations" and internal politics. Just like not all dwarves being miners or all orc's being violent fighters. Lot's to consider.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  14. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    Perhaps they spend so much time trying to keep the chaos god at bay that they usually just don't have time to deal with humanity.
    Patrick-Leigh and S.T. Ockenner like this.
  15. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    That's the biggest question in any story that has an infinite, all-powerful supernatural entity. It's even a question we could ask ourselves about the multitude of Gods we humans believe in. Why do none of these Gods get involved when good people in this world are serve a real dose of injustice. Why is it important for us humans to see other suffer? Does it help create compassion in us? Would we be less compassionate if we never saw suffering and sick people just died suddenly and no wars ever happened because Gods stopped them?

    Try to look at what your Gods should stop and try to find the down side of them getting involved. What problems could arise from their involvement. Ask people who believe in Gods what they think about their Gods allowing so much suffering in the world and doing nothing about it. Depending on whether your Gods our like ours (fact or myth dilemma) you could have people come up with their own conclusion. If Gods are fact, maybe the gods have explained why their absence is necessary.

    Hope this helped
  16. gertegan

    gertegan New Member

    The gods could simply not be interested. Gods, being beings of power beyond our understanding, may not find interest in the occurrences of the world.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  17. Toby Johnson

    Toby Johnson Minstrel

    gods be powerful beings, mines a cat that one day just knocked some space soup off the table and created a galaxy
    gertegan, Snowpoint and S.T. Ockenner like this.
  18. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    I think this is a winning idea. It’s simple: in maybe two lines of exposition you can both explain the whole thing with the chaos creator god while simultaneously explaining why the gods aren’t involved with the plot.
    It also gives the impression that there’s more (and bigger) events going on in your setting beyond what’s happening in the book which is a valuable (and, frankly, underutilized) tool when trying to give your setting depth.
  19. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Scribe

    The gods you created are already meddlers. They battle for control of the world, they create races to directly serve them in their battles- It makes no sense for them to not only to interfere, but take charge.

    The direction I see this going is, whatever reasons the gods are absent, it's temporary. The reality is, whoever these gods are, they are petty and cruel and the various races are better off without them. There is a faction that fears the Dark One's activities will get the unwanted attention of these gods or actively seeks their return. So, it's a race to stop the Dark One before he brings back the gods.

    Of course, this faction has to overcome the usual institutional inertia to gain the support needed to save the world.

    "For a thousand generations, your sect has predicted doom and gloom at the return of the Unwanted Gods. There is no evidence the Unwanted gods are anything more than night stories told to frighten little children. Now, remove your presence form these chambers at once. Bailiff, show these...'scholars' the way out."

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