Building Better Gods

“I’m the god of fire. I have fire powers”
“Fire powers? What are you, a superhero?”

We’re in the middle of a game and you need to make up a god. Because you know, we’re gamers, we have to create whole worlds, gods, civilizations on the fly. What do you do? The number one approach I see is to say “ah yes, they are the god of X”. Fire, medicine, poetry, death, rainbows, whatever. They are the god of That, capital T. Which is… fine? I guess? But boring. Literally one-dimensional.

Gods deserve to be more than just superheroes. Heck, superheroes deserve more than just being defined by a single power.

But there’s an easy fix. Because have I ever brought a problem to you without including a solution? That’s not how I roll.

Instead of saying they’re god of one thing, list at least three different things. And don’t just pick three related concepts. Spread out and pick things that seem like an odd mix: Fire, Swords, and Matrimony. The Sea, Cities, and Dreams. Theft, Pottery, and Roads.

Sure three things is three times as many as one thing. But it’s not just triple the concept. With three things the imagination starts to fill in the blanks and draw unspoken connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. Death, Wind, and Poetry? Why those three? What does it mean? What does that say about poetry? Or death? Or wind? What’s the philosophy or origin myth there?!?!

Students of the classics will notice this is a lot like mythological gods of our world. Just ask Apollo, god of the sun, music, and medicine (and about seven other things). Because a real religion is complex with lots of nooks and crannies, even contradictions. Only a made-up religion is clean and simple.

    Ben Robbins | November 17th, 2021 | , , | show 2 comments