[Partly developed by Alexis Harding]
The exact origin of the Gods (Old and New) is lost somewhere in the time of legends. What can be said with reasonable certainty is that the Gods are mostly embodiments of concepts, which shapes them as they shape humanity. By now, most of the Gods have retreated to a higher plane, only interfering with humanity through dreams, visions and occasional intervention. Worship of Gods exists throughout the world, with several places dedicated to more than one God. According to legend, to speak the true name of a God is to draw his or her attention. Citizens will rarely swear by a particular God’s name unless desperately trying to convince their audience of their sincerity.
It is impossible to provide a precise list of Gods, but the following are the most important as of the present time.
Vasilios, also known as the Holy Tyrant and the Lord of Order, is the embodiment of reason, hierarchy and naked dominance. Everything must be in order, from the highest to the lowest, with rebellion and disobedience being sins against Him. When depicted by humans, he takes the form of a gigantic figure, glowing from within with a golden light, bearing a sword and a rod of iron, clad in flowing golden armour. His servants, the Leaders of Men, ape his form – they are winged, powerful giants of men in baroque gold armour, bearing swords that burn with gold fire. The Leaders of Men have the capability to control men’s minds with their words, projecting an aura of awe and terror that forces all nearby to submit in a mixture of awe and fear and adoration. Vasilios is generally regarded as the foremost among the Gods, although various sects oppose his position. He especially hates Pax, the god of rebellion.
According to legend, he once had an encounter with the Goddess Entyzla that ended badly for Vasilios. This explains the strictly patriarchal nature of religions founded around Vasilios, with women expected to know their place and stick to it. However, Vasilios fears The Crone and will generally avoid her gaze.
Pax, also known as the Discordance or the Huddled Mass, is the exact opposite of Vasilios. He is the embodiment of chaos and rebellion against order – any order. As one may expect, he is the patron of rebels and rebellions, of guerrillas and malcontents, of everybody who dislikes the well-established order. He takes gleeful joy at subverting and destroying the hierarchies that Vasilios creates, joy at tearing apart societies in revolutions, happiness in the executions of leaders. His divine servants are the Voices of Discord, immaterial spirits that drive men to upset and destroy established order, leading revolutions and civil wars. Taken to the extreme, Pax is just as dangerous as Vasilios, but he is also far less socially acceptable. Pax is never depicted by humans. No one wants to attract his attention.
Promache is fundamentally a planner. Vasilios’ divine consort in a thousand mythologies, she is a goddess of artifice – whether that artifice is physical, as in the creation of a weapon, or insubstantial, as in a stratagem or conspiracy. Her servants are the insubstantial Kyklopes, great forgers, manipulators of magic, and supreme planners. They inspire the creation of things great and terrible, and are known to make their presence known before major events begin. Her voice is feared, for she rarely if ever speaks, except to make great pronouncements or to set something grand into motion.
Belisarion is war. He is all of its facets, from the law of the jungle in which all struggle against all to the murder, from the great battles that decide the fate of nations to the petty skirmishes of gangs in the depths of great cities. He likes to take the form of a rider on a red horse, clad in bronze armour and bearing a great sword. He is life struggling against itself, from the microbial level up; he is the savage engine of war that daily claims thousands of lives. Warriors pray to him for success in battle, murder-cults venerate him as a god of killing, and he is worshipped in a thousand other ways every single day.
Null is one of the most feared of the gods. He is despair, he is terror, he is the ultimate realisation that all life leads inevitably to death. He is entropy, and he is the chill of the void. He is commonly depicted as a pale-skinned figure covered in a black shroud and bearing a great scythe of flowing darkness, for that is what his Advocates are. But in a manner unlike most of the other gods, Null particularly chooses to manifest himself in dreams and visions as a formless, empty darkness contained within black robes, his eyes glaring a sickly green. His divine servants are the Advocates, great figures that seem to impossibly float above the ground, pale skin clad in black robes, hooded like the Grim Reaper in so many legends, bearing scythes capable of cutting soul from body without causing physical harm, and with the power to unleash an entopic wind that reduces all flesh to dust.
Null is angered by the thought that a dead soul might be capable of returning to life, and thus hates the undead, those who reanimate corpses and all those charlatans that claim to be capable of true resurrection. He also loathes the idea of something not dying at its appointed (by himself) time, and thus sometimes will, in a rare show of mercy, allow a soul that dies too early to return to its body. However, this has a flip side – he loathes those who extend their lives unnaturally, such as the Stygioi that rule the Corpse-Kingdom of Erebus. However, he knows that eventually even they will pass, and thus, while he is greatly feared by them, rarely moves against them.
Entyzla is lust, the ultimate culmination of the animal instinct that seeks pleasure and avoids pain. But she is also a thousand other things as well. Drugs, music, anything that induces pleasure is in her domain. She most often appears in dreams and visions as a form tailored to the viewer’s desires – otherwise, what would be the fun? Her servants are similar, and have no names, either in the collective or singular sense – they are pleasure and lust and addiction incarnate.
The Crone is the embodiment of womanhood. According to legend, she is born every morning as a maiden, becomes a mother in the afternoon and grows into a wise old crone at night, before beginning the great cycle again. The Crone is the mistress of feminine magic, from the evil eye to out and out witchcraft, and she often acts to assist women who have been brutalised by men. Cults dedicated to The Crone are often banned, although they are feared as well. The Crone is rarely depicted by humans, but when she is she appears as a wise old woman, but with sharp dark eyes and a manipulative smile. She takes delight in manipulating sinners to their doom and her plots and schemes are greatly feared, even by her peers among the Gods. Her true name is never spoken aloud.
Malice is the one God who can justly be called evil, insofar as the term has any meaning to the Gods. Unlike Pax, Malice’s prime goal is to increase suffering among the human race and he will do whatever he can to ensure that suffering grows ever worse. He is the God of murderers, rapists, sinners and corrupted armies. His greatest joy is slowly warping cults venerating the other Gods into nightmarish horrors.