Adosian Cosmology, Part 2: The Great Game
This is the second part at our exploration of the Adosian cosmology. This is provided as backstory and additional details for the world of Ados that is the backdrop for many of our stories. It is not important that you understand this to enjoy our stories, but we thought that some readers would like to know a little more about how our world works. If you’ve not yet read Part 1, which discusses the Divine Realms and the Divine Order, please do so. This post looks at The Great Game played by the gods in detail.
The Great Game played by the gods is rooted in the earliest history of the planet. Long ago, before the first god, there was nothing more than a ball of water and rock floating in space. The land was ready for life, yet no life had taken hold. Then, the first god, Ados, arrived. Ados had been searching the Physical Realm for a planet to call his own, a place where he could create life in and where the people would worship Him. Ados set about crafting the land, creating one large continent on which He placed His people: the humans. The humans were thankful and worshipped Ados for his divine insight into giving them life, even naming the land and the world after Him.
The humans were grateful for the land Ados had given them, but they had nothing to eat. Not wanting His people to starve, Ados sowed the land with plants that the humans could harvest and gather for food and populated the land and sea with animals that the humans could hunt for meat. The humans were grateful for the food Ados had given them, but said they had nothing with which to shelter them from the storms and elements. Not wanting His people to suffer, Ados created trees and raised mountains of stone that the humans could use to build shelter and dwellings. The humans built the first cities and raised monuments to worship and praise Ados.
Ados was content with what He had created and basked in the worship of His people. But Ados became careless and His world was discovered by another god, Cralde. Taking human form, Cralde walked among the people of Ados and told them that Ados had deceived them, that He had not given them this land for their benefit, but for His own pleasure. Cralde told them that Ados had only provided food so he could watch the Humans toil in the fields to harvest it or risk their own lives to hunt for it. Cralde told the humans that Ados had only provided the things needed to make their shelters so he could watch the humans work hard to build them. Why must the humans continue to work, to build, hunt, grow food? Why couldn’t Ados have just given His people these things? Everything that Ados had claimed to do for the humans had actually been done for Ados’s own pleasure.
Many of the humans rejected Cralde’s claims, but others heard truth in Cralde’s words. Ados, furious by this interference from Cralde, demanded that Cralde leave His world or Cralde would be exiled by force. Cralde used this ultimatum against Ados, rallying more humans to His side.
Tensions between the followers of the two gods increased, quickly escalating into the planet’s first war. The battle was fierce and raged for years as both sides fought for their god, to prove that their god was superior. Seeing no end to the conflict, Cralde suggested that the issue be settled with single combat between Ados and Himself. Ados agreed, and both gods called for an end to what became known as the War of the Followers and began the War of the Gods.
The two gods took human form and met in the Physical Realm on the field of battle used during the War of the Followers. The two great armies witnessed the battle for their land, poised and ready to strike if their god fell. The combat raged for days, neither god able to gain an edge over the other. Finally, an end came to the battle, but not in a way any had foreseen.
On the sixth day of combat, Ados managed to gain the upper hand, and sought to end the contest with a quick overhead strike of His scimitar. Cralde saw the danger and sidestepped at the last second, causing Ados to lose His balance. Ados tumbled to the ground, His scimitar skidding out of reach. Cralde offered mercy to Ados, asking Him to yield the victory to Cralde, but Ados refused, and Cralde ran Ados through with His greatsword. As the human form of Ados lay dying, impaled upon Cralde’s blade, He cursed Cralde’s victory and poured His divine power into the land itself.
With a great clap of thunder, the land split, tearing from coast to coast, with the body of Ados and His followers on one half, and Cralde and His followers on the other. What had been one large continent was now split in two, and the great shockwave from this sundering carried the two continents away from each other. The continent of Ados drifted north and the continent of Cralde drifted south. With their armies unable to reach each other, the war was over, but was never concluded.
The war between Ados and Cralde, and its lack of resolution had dire consequences for the two gods. The proclivities of human nature caused many splits and ideas to form among the populations. Soon these people began to preach different ideas than what had previously been heard. As these ideas took hold, new gods were created. As the dust settled from the Great Sundering, Ados and Cralde noticed they were no longer alone in their Divine Realm. These new gods were not content with the humans Ados had created and began creating their own races – elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, goblins, and many others. Soon the two continents were filled with dozens of different races and, as each new race was created, the power of the new gods grew, while the power of Ados and Cralde lessened.
Ados and Cralde were still strong, but the die had been cast. Each new god strived to rise to the top and wear the mantle of the One, True God. It was only a matter of time before the desire to rule the planet turned to war. The Great Holy War raged across the planet for thousands of years. Many of the gods and their followers were unrelenting, slaughtering those of differing faiths. As entire populations were killed, their gods, too, ceased to exist while, at the same time, new gods came into being.
It was soon clear that the Holy War would not solve the problem. The nine most powerful gods agreed to a truce. The gods met and agreed that they had to find a different way of determining who would rule the planet. It was decided that the gods would create a game to decide the victor and soon the rules of The Great Game were drafted. Thus, The Great Game began, and forever changed the fate of the planet.
The Rules of The Great Game:
The rules of The Great Game were set down by Platida, the Lawmaker and agreed to, some willingly, and some reluctantly, by the other gods. The Rules set forth the requirements for declaring a winner in The Great Game and what actions the gods can take in playing the game.
It was realized that if a winner had to be declared when all people on Ados worshipped only one god that no winner would ever be declared. Despite their immortality even gods can be impatient, so the following conditions were set forth to declare a winner:
To be declared the winner in The Great Game at least 51% of the population of Ados must worship and pray to the winning god of their free will.
This balance of followers must be maintained for at least two centuries to ensure that a revolving door of winners cannot be declared.
Once a winner in The Great Game has been declared the other gods must cede their domains over to the winner.
Additional rules were set down by the gods to reduce the influence of the gods on the outcome of The Great Game.
Only a Major Deity can win The Great Game.
There can only be nine Major Deities at any one time.
No Major Deity or Minor Deity can visit the Physical Realm. (Demigods are exempt from this rule mostly because the other gods don’t see them as a threat in the game.)
Each god can send an avatar as a divine representative to the Physical Realm in times of great importance, as determined by the god. However, these times of great importance cannot exceed more than once per five centuries.
The gods cannot use their powers to force people to worship them. True followers are only counted if they worship the god of their own free will.
The gods are expected to control the outsiders (demons, devils, angels, etc.) aligned with them and not let them influence events on the Physical Realm.
Each god is given one Gate on the Physical Realm that can be used to access the gods’ domain on the Divine Realm. The locations of these Gates are to be kept secret from mortals except at times of great importance.
A Minor Deity can only become a Major Deity in one of two ways:
The Minor Deity must have worshipers that number at least 60% of the total number of worshipers that follow the Major Deity who the Minor Deity is trying to unseat. The Minor Deity must then present a challenge to the sitting Major Deity. This challenge can be in the form of combat, feat of intellect, or other appropriate contest. The challenge must be carried out in front of a conclave of all the gods who judge the outcome.
If, for some reason, a sitting Major Deity’s worshippers fall to the level of the next most powerful Minor Deity of the same alignment, then that Minor Deity automatically rises in the ranking while the former Major Deity drops to the level of a Minor Deity.
Demigods can become Minor Deities when the number of their worshippers grows to greater than 10 million people.
If a Minor Deities’ worshippers fall to below 10 million worshippers then that god falls in the ranking and becomes a Demigod.
There are many more aspects to The Great Game, but this will provide you with a general understanding. While the daily lives of the characters in our stories are usually not impacted by the gods, or by their Game, understanding the Game and how it influences the motivations of the gods gives you a better understanding of how religion impacts the world we have created.