Adosian Cosmology, Part 1
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
This is the first of two posts that will give a high-level overview of religion on Ados, the setting for our Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventures, as well as some future writings. It is not necessary for you to understand every nuance of faith and religion on our world – that’s our job, especially when a storyline focuses on religion (such as in our novel, Joy of the Widow’s Tears). While Reva and Ansee are not overtly religious, they inhabit a world that is dominated by religion, so we thought that give you’re a better understanding about the way our cosmology is set up, and some of the history might be helpful.
Ados is a planet dominated by religion. There are 46 different deities, and each is present, to one degree or another, in all aspects of life, even among those who profess no faith. The gods are real, in the same way that the Greeks and Romans believed their gods were real. The gods have molded and shaped the planet, the people, and civilizations all in an attempt to gain followers, and thus gain status among the gods, as part of The Great Game. (More on The Great Game in Part 2.) The inhabitants of the planet are pawns in this fight for dominance. A person’s profession of faith (or lack of) is often seen as an allegiance to “good” or “evil”, “law” or “chaos”. Fights among the followers of different gods are common, and religious warfare has dominated the history of the planet.
Despite the best efforts of the gods, most ordinary people pray to a variety of deities depending on their daily or seasonal needs. Some people see the gods as nothing more than the natural or mystical forces that exist on Ados. While they pray to the gods, their faith is limited to what they experience in their daily lives. The most devoted followers of the gods are found among the individual churches, temples, and other shrines dedicated to a specific deity. Places of worship are common, practically one on every corner in the larger cities. The truly devoted are found at the highest levels in the church hierarchy, as well as among the adventurers that explore the planet. These followers are often the most fanatical, preaching the word of their god to everyone, and caring little for others’ faith.
The Divine Realm
Ados is a planet, much like Earth, with its own continents, seasons, and life. It exists within a physical universe with many of the same physical laws that we experience on Earth. Ados (and the rest of the physical universe) exist within the Physical Realm. This is where people live their lives and the different Ados Land of Strife stories we write (such as the Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventures) take place. The gods and all the realms they control exist on an infinite plane known as the Divine Realm. The Divine Realm exists on many levels and has many faces. It exists above, below, and parallel to the Physical Realm. Many aspects of the Divine Realm are often mistakenly attributed to separate planes of existence. The land thought of as Hell, for example, is often regarded as a separate plane but in reality, it is merely one part of the Divine Realm.
The Physical Realm and the Divine Realm exist separate from each other and are connected by a limited number of doorways, referred to as Gates, which connect the Physical Realm to locations in the Divine Realm. The locations of these Gates are hidden and ruthlessly guarded by the gods. The Gates are one of the ways for mortals to move between the two Realms. The gods, their minions, and avatars can move freely between the two Realms though their contact with mortals on the Physical Realm is limited by the rules of The Great Game (not that that stops some gods from ignoring the rules).
Each god has their own region within the Divine Realm that is under their control. These areas reflect each individual gods’ unique vision and outlook, and are populated by many of the creatures, monsters, outsiders (devils, demons, angels, etc.) and general minions that hang around each deity. Some of the gods jealously guard and protect their areas, while others welcome the rare visitors they receive. When the gods are unable to achieve their goals on the Physical Realm, they often fight to control more areas in the Divine Realm.
At the center of the Divine Realm, and the location that travelers reach when using magic to reach the Divine Realm, is The Wastes. The Wastes are named because this region of the Divine Realm is a nearly featureless plane devoid of color and lit with a constant and ever present dull light that appears from everywhere and casts no shadow. The only feature in The Wastes is Mt. Jvexclatt (Jay-vex-klat). Atop this tall, conical mountain sits the Grand Pavilion, the place where the gods meet to discuss issues and resolve disputes. The Wastes are claimed by no single god and are neutral territory. No attacks can be made against another god in The Wastes and loyal outsiders and avatars are forbidden from stepping foot in The Wastes. Mortal travelers magically transported to the Divine Realm appear in The Wastes. Additional magic is required to travel to any of the other domains within the Divine Realm. Only a few select Gates on the Physical Realm connect directly to a deities’ specific domain.
Surrounding The Wastes and forming the inner border of the Divine Realm are the elemental planes of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Beyond these elemental planes are the different domains of the Divine Realm. There are nine domains in total, each controlled by one of the nine Major Deities of the pantheon. Within these domains the gods associated with the Major Deities sub-pantheon can be found, each with their own house or other dwelling, and having some control over the domain lands near them. The gods of the sub-pantheon generally defer to the Major Deity on all matters that effect the domain and the Divine Realm. (Some gods are more willing to build a consensus among their sub-pantheon than others are.) Each of the nine domains is infinite in size and scope, even though most drawings or illustrations of the Divine Realm depict them as being bordered by other domains. This is a simple convenience so that mortal minds can comprehend the domain lands.
The different domains, the Major Deity that is associated with them, and the color associated with that domain are detailed below:
Deity: (Domain, Color)
Jute: (The White Haven, White)
Ebas: (The Pits of Doom, Purple)
Cralde: (Tyorvic, Green)
Ados: (Darhall, Light Blue)
Volesk: (Harmony, Silver)
Lyzar: (The Golden Fields, Gold)
Tare: (Shadowlands, Black)
Xuran: (The Great Market, Yellow)
Telen: (The Barrens, Orange)
The Divine Order
Even if an individual God shows no interest in The Great Game, they all fall within a distinct hierarchy, known among the gods as The Divine Order. The number of worshipers a god has determines the gods’ rank in the Divine Order. Some gods are content with their place in the hierarchy, while others are compelled to rise in the ranks. The Divine Order is the main determinant in judging who is winning The Great Game. A gods’ powers and abilities are not limited by their place in the hierarchy.
There are three ranks in The Divine Order: Major Deity, Minor Deity, and Demigod. Major Deities are the gods worshiped by most of the population on Ados. The number of Major Deities is limited to nine and this is based on a matrix that measures a gods’ relationship between Law (order) and Chaos and Good and Evil. There is no limit to the number of gods found in the next two ranks. Minor Deities are worshiped by a large percentage of the population, but not as high as the Major Deities. The fewest number of individuals worship Demigods.
A Demigod can increase their rank in the hierarchy by increasing the number of followers who worship them. To an extent, the same holds true to Minor Deities, but to be considered a Major Deity, one of the sitting Major Deities must be unseated. Reducing the number of worshipers that are faithful to the Major Deity, either by conversion or extermination, is the only way to remove a Major Deity from power.
All but two of the Major Deities were mortal at one time, though their mortal lives have often been lost to legend. (Only Ados and Cralde can lay claim to a truly divine heritage.) Gods become divine through the spontaneous worship of mortals for their deeds or actions while they were mortal. Most mortals consider the gods to be immortal, but this is not accurate. The gods literally live and die by the number of worshipers that pray to them. They can “die” through the complete elimination of their followers. A god who is no longer worshiped ceases to exist. But, as long as one mortal continues to worship a god, that god will continue to exist. It is even possible for a god that previously “died” to be “resurrected” if a mortal person rediscovers the gods’ religion and begins to pray to and worship the god. For this reason, the followers of one god will attempt to eliminate all references to a rival god when converting or destroying their followers.
Hopefully this brief overview of the Divine Realms and the Divine Order give you a better understanding of faith and religion on Ados. In Part 2 we will look at The Great Game that the gods play in their attempt to become the One, True God on Ados.