Gods

Gods: The common term for the Spiritus Omnis, the highest form of spirit that inhabits the mystical regions surrounding the Earth. Unlike many of the lower forms of spirits, gods require a massive influx of both psionic and mystical energy to form, and thus there have been very few of them throughout recorded history. Most of those who have existed are now deceased.

Although they are not “gods” in the most literal sense, lacking a metaphysical origin predating that of the universe, all of these spirits soon learned that, also unlike other forms of spirits, they could be empowered by human devotion or attention, and thus quickly formed cults and religions that spread across the world. Most pre-modern pantheonic religions owe their origin to the gods.

Classifications

Generally speaking, the gods themselves classify their ranks according to the times and circumstances in which they awoke. Humans have, for ease of reference, adopted these classifications, since any other attempt seems doomed to end in failure.

The Elder Gods

The Elder Gods were formed in the eons before humanity walked the Earth, awakened by the early mystical forces swirling across the world and the psionic desires and passions of the plants and animals that inhabited it. No one knows exactly how old the eldest of the elder gods is, because they are not sentient – instead, they are simple masses of passion and desire with terrible power and no reason to back their efforts. The later elder gods are capable of basic thought and communication, but fall short of humans in rational thought – however, they are still very powerful, usually taking the form of chimeric amalgams of the eras they hail from. Modern estimates state that there were once close to sixty elder gods, with the oldest growing from billions of years of evolution and the youngest spanning millions. The vast majority of these gods are now dead, having fallen in the Great Twilight.

The Enlightened Gods

Formerly the greatest of the divinities, the Enlightened Gods were the gods who formed between humanity's first rise into civilization and the rise of Atlantis. Powered by human conception and the raw reserves of Earth's Psychic resevoir, they had power equal to that of the greatest modern superhumans, power that was only bolstered when they learned that sufficient human attention could strengthen their abilities. The Enlightened Gods are those who formed most of the ancient world's religions, patterning them off those that humanity developed naturally. Exactly how many Enlightened Gods there were is not known. The gods themselves have given dozens of contradictory accounts of their total numbers, ranging from as few as 27 members to as many as 108. It is generally agreed by scholars that the latter figure is grossly exaggerated, and that the number of Enlightened Gods that have ever existed falls somewhere between 30 and 40. At this time, it is unknown if any Enlightened Gods still live.

Because of their activity, most of the Enlightened Gods had several names, in several pantheons. For example, the god known as Lugh to the Celts was also Marduk to the Sumerians, Hyperion to the Greeks, and Yu to the Chinese. Individual mythologies typically painted highly inaccurate views of each god's abilities, dispositions, and relations with other gods, based entirely on what they had gleaned from observing a few engagements between gods or hearing a third-hand tale.

The Lesser Gods

Empowered after Atlantis sapped the world's psychic resevoir, the Lesser Gods are far less impressive than their peers. In addition, they are young by godly standards, with the eldest barely 2500 years old. Furthermore, despite humanity's rapid growth in numbers and potential, the lesser gods remain few in number – no more than sixty have been documented throughout history. In modern days, many lesser gods are content to mask themselves as ordinary supers, since their powers are limited enough to fit in perfectly with standard superhumans, and to use their celebrity as a form of worship. Even with such worship, they rarely match even most high-tier supers, and are less powerful than many technically lower tiers of spirit.

Capabilities

Gods are powerful Mysticism-based beings, able to work a staggering variety of spells in order to enhance their capabilities and reshape the world around them. Most have power in only a few areas of expertise, and exactly how much power they have is typically based on their age, the power of the world at the time of their birth, and the worship that they receive. Because of this, the primal Eldest are the most powerful of the gods, while the Enlightened are typically the most dangerous.

Gods are also fundamentally immortal. They do not age, they are immune to sickness and fatigue, and do not require food, drink, or breath (although they generally enjoy all three, and must breathe to speak). Physical or energy-based attacks are not very effective against them – even the weakest can shrug off fire or bullets, while the strongest are immune to anything short of a nuclear detonation. Even then, gods can dissolve their physical forms and escape to the mystical plane – this is very painful, and it takes them time to construct a new form, but it makes them effectively invincible against such attacks. On the other hand, they have no such resistance against mystical or psychic attacks, which tear through their souls instead of their bodies and leave them permanently damaged. Most are, however, extremely skilled at resisting such effects, meaning that only a mystic or psychic on a similar power tier to the god has a reasonable chance of hurting them badly.

Finally, as beings formed from a mixture of psychic and mystical energy, gods can siphon off psychic power that is directed at them, using it to power their abilities. Worship is the most common way that gods expressed this power traditionally, but any form of strong attention from ordinary humans is technically sufficient.

History

The history of the Eldest is difficult to ascertain, as they have only the poorest grasp of time or memory. As far as they are concerned, they have always existed and hunted, and the present is the same as the past. The Enlightened are much more interested in history, but have never been forthcoming or reliable about their inner struggles and organization. Instead, most such information must be gathered second-hand.

Formation of the Pantheon

The ancient history of the Enlightened began as they first appeared in the world, at which time they were promptly set upon by the Eldest, who considered the newcomers to be simply stronger prey or predators, and reacted instinctively to this new threat. Fortunately for the new gods, it was difficult to destroy them with straightforward attacks, and they banded together, forging weapons to fight the older gods and alliances to stand against them. The Divinity War is believed to have lasted over a thousand years, during which time the gods were too preoccupied to pay much attention to the mortal races of the Earth. By its end, the Eldest were driven out from the regions of the world that the Enlightened called home – which had the secondary benefit of driving them away from the human populations that they had hunted, something that the gods had not intended but humanity appreciated.

Humanity first encountered the Enlightened roughly in the years 5000-4500 BCE, at the height of the Divinity War. During this time, the gods did not yet realize that humans mattered, and as such mainly ignored them except when one was vaguely curious or wished to enjoy themselves. Humans, however, saw the gods battling the monsters that they already feared, and witnessed some of their interactions, and began to tell these stories to one another. The gods soon noticed that those who humans could accurately (or at least mostly) identify were growing stronger, and it did not take them long to realize that they had some sort of mystical tie to humanity. The result was an explosion of faith, as the gods spread out through the world to tell grossly exaggerated stories of their own importance, to belittle rivals, or to claim dominion over entire regions.

The spread of religion also led to increased strife between the gods, and finally they agreed to stop directly attacking one anothers' worshippers and to only work their powers within certain guidelines. These rules were frequently broken by individual gods, but by and large created the pattern that they operated under for the next thousand-plus years.

Atlantis

The great nation of Atlantis, however, disrupted the gods' carefully constructed scheme. Atlantis drew on the world's psychic resevoir with reckless abandon, and the gods did not recognize the threat that posed until it was done. From the moment that Atlantis began its meteoric rise, new gods were born stunted and weakened, and the Enlightened found themselves confronting the fact that humanity's numbers were rising, and theirs were not any longer. Furthermore, as more and more humans appeared, the number of superhumans in the world began to drastically increase – again, led by the psychic technology of Atlantis. When one of the gods attempted to wipe Atlantis from existence, and was promptly obliterated by psychic assault, the others were horrified, and drew away from the empire, recognizing that it had the power to destroy them. As such, they had little influence over the spread of Atlantis, hiding in the corners of the world until they felt the nation fall.

Decline

After Atlantis, the gods attempted to regain their prominence, but they had lost much of their momentum. They could cow most people into submission, but there were more human heroes than ever, and many of them had the tools necessary to fight the gods on an equal footing. Rather than risk having stories spread of their weakness and vunerability, the gods chose to retreat into the shadows, fostering their cults and memories in secret instead of in the open, and using their potent magics mainly to keep a small measure of belief. Many of them (possibly even all of them) managed to insinuate themselves into the records of the saints of Christianity, claiming as divine their own powers, and thus kept power even as the Church obliterated their former worshippers.

Fall of the Gods

The end of the gods came during the Great Twilight, as a cabal of them attempted to use the chaos in the world following the defeat of the first Rex Mundi to destroy vast amounts of Atlantean gear and revitalize the world's psychic resevoir, creating new gods to bolster their ranks and regain control over humanity. Other gods opposed the attempt, and the cabal was forced to unleash the Eldest to support their goals – in the process, they discovered that they could reshape the energies left by dying gods to grow stronger, and began a purge against those gods not loyal to them. The Great Twilight lasted two years, from 1881-1882, and ended when Alistair Midnight, the mystic defender of England, was recruited by the few remaining minor gods opposed to the cabal to prevent their final plan. The entire cabal was destroyed, as were most of the Eldest that they had unleashed and many of the Lesser that had served them. It is unknown whether any of the Enlightened enemies of the cabal survived the Twilight. If they did, they have remained secret ever since – not surprising, considering the depth of the betrayal they faced.

Modern Day

Following the end of the Victorian era, the gods effectively faded away. A few dozen of the Lesser who had survived the purge – being not powerful enough or important enough to draw the cabal's attention – were able to continue, scattering around the world and generally integrating themselves into society. In addition, there are three Lesser Gods known to have been born since the end of the Great Twilight, each of whom is slightly more powerful than the one before. As the human population grows, and our psychic output increases, it seems more and more likely that new Enlightened will appear within the next few hundred years.

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