Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The New Old Gods

(A follow-up to the Everlasting Summer campaign setting. Musings of worldbuilding and considerations for a possible sequel - something of a mix between American Gods and Lovecraftian horror for the modern era.)

Something happened at the dawn of Man. An intelligence, sophisticated and cruel, birthed itself from itself, becoming something different than what was before.

The Old Gods are forces of nature: Sun, Fire, Ocean, Evolution, Reproduction, Time, Consumption, Violence... They were immortal and dispassionate, living long eons slumbering and gorging, still as glacial cores. Their mutations and decisions occur on the scale of galactic rotations. They are worshipped ignorantly by animals and people alike.

The New Gods were made by Man. Compared to the Old Ones they are weak petulant things, doomed to live and die in the blink of an eye. Their destiny is tied to Man's rise and inevitable extinction.

A'AQUR

Boreas, The Nuclear Winter, The Winds of Death

He is a god of mankind's particular ecological apocalypse. Like the ones that came before him he is a thing of duality. The nuclear winds and the nuclear winter. The hot and cold fronts. 

A'aqur demands human sacrifice.

Its cultists hate and fear their god, but they respect its power. They dare not speak of or summon its avatars, for they know the cost. Cults of A'aqur dissolve and reform every 47 Years as the Northern Wind demands more sacrifices. Its leaders tend to be parents and grandparents: patriarchs and matriarchs of old Houses who groom their female children to be suitable sacrifices - conservative, ignorant, and innocent. They do not practice what they demand of their youths.


LEVIATHAN

The Fumbling State, The Blind Listener, Hecatoncheires

The State is a blind, fumbling thing, constantly seeking to ascertain the objects of its domain. It knows not the extent of its body: its people, its resources, its land, its thoughts. It must listen to its whispering priests that it may come to know itself. It must compartmentalize and conceptualize, ever-stretching, ever-listening, until its inevitable singularity.

Leviathan seeks to grow more eyes, more ears. It needs more priests: bureaucrats, quantifiers, software engineers. It needs technology, and most importantly data: cameras, GPS tracking, satellites, surveys, statistics, facial recognition, social media.

Its cultists work as nonpartisan governmental bureaucrats, or nowadays in Big Data tech. They occupy positions of power that are not subject to political sway. They are difficult to discover and even more difficult to uproot. Their God has a righteous monopoly on violence, or so they believe. Police, members of the military, lawyers, and religious figures all act in service to Leviathan, often without consideration.


THE ELECTRIC GOD

The Black Key, The Light in the Dark, The Chemical God, Prometheus

It is a God of luminescence but it is always depicted as pitch black. Delved from deep underground, from the blood and bones of the earth came the means to dispel the darkness. It lives in everything that is electric: the generators, the fluorescent bulbs, the power lines and pacemakers. It is life, it is light, and it is lucid. It is the opposite of everything that is dreamlike and predatory in the dark. It is a god with disciples and with enemies.

Theorized to be the oldest of the New Gods. Its presence is found in shadow, cast on painted-wall of ancient cave-homes. Where once it was fire and hearth it now lives in electrical grid and radiator, in appliances and televisions. It is comfort, it is safety. It is, as its cultists say, humanity.

Its cultists are everyday working class people: tradesmen, nurses, technicians, janitors, truck drivers, operators. Those who maintain the shrines and offer daily prayers. Their devotion is frequently fanatical and evangelical. They will lay down their lives for the cult and try to recruit others in their social circles. They fear, above all, losing what amenities they have. When the lights threaten to go out, when the price of gas shoots up, when the internet dies, they will mobilize.


ZIN

The Fruit of Cain, The Red Mask, The Heart of Darkness

Scholars have long held contentious the idea of pure ideological or religious violence. It is almost always complex - a product of community, identity, economic, secular and political interests. So rarely is it distilled to purest form - a hateful and cruel bloody mask made bare for all to see.

Even a false idea cynically given lip service can gain power beyond the control of its creators. Though the reasons of conflict remain complex, among its perpetrators there are true believers. Zin is this phenomenon given name and form: the essence of religious and ideological violence spawned from all other reasons.

Zin is paradoxically a most alien thing, despite its proximity and dependence on Man. Its agents are incomprehensible to the typical person: try to imagine the mind of a true believer or a zealot. In most cases, Zin is perpetuated by unwitting peddlers cynically justifying violence for their own ends.

Its cultists are divided into two lots: those who are aware of Zin and those who aren't.

Those who aren't are arms dealers, politicians, clerics, and trolls: those who feast on the battlefields, suckle on the teats of wartime funding, and unwittingly sew the seeds of discord. They unknowingly worship for selfish reasons: money, power, entertainment, self-affirmation.

Those who are aware are far more dangerous but far more rare. They are strange, elusive, and monstrously competent at magic and violence. They often become Wizards: isolating themselves in towers and practicing misanthropic science.


HEOL
(Pronounced: Hole)

The White Rabbit, Son of Man, Soul of the Old Gods

For long eons the Old Gods did not have souls. They had no need. Humanity changed that. The side effect of having pattern recognition in an evolutionarily developed brain is that it over-fires: apophenia. From this birthed a god that spawned the souls of all gods: the neverending hole.

It is apophenia itself - the finding of patterns from the truly random. A relic of the development of the human mind. That which needed rationalization for Everything. It is the personification of all Old Gods - from Zeus to Tiamat to the Jade Emperor. Because it is personification, it is their literal souls. Indeed, Heol is the very notion of the Soul itself. For what is a soul but a personification without substance?

Its cultists are conspiracy theorists, ghost hunters, and religious figures. They are wielders of metaphor and men-at-arms of the post-truth order. They gather on online message boards and corners of the dark web to disassociate reality from itself, diving down rabbit holes in perpetual endless fall. Those who succumb to the plunge become mad, like drug addicts.

5 comments:

  1. I'm definitely at a phase in my life where I seem to want to interrogate my insecurities about society all over RPGs as a form of catharsis. SUFFER WITH ME

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    1. I'm running a game about ineffective supernatural agents committing police brutality so I'm with you man

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