Cosmic energies are plentiful, vast, and finite. Unraveling a focal point, aka killing a god, can free up a large amount of energy, leaving it unclaimed in the cosmos. There are some things that can only be achieved in the aftermath of such an event, making use of the rogue energy before it is absorbed by others.
This article is part of the Let’s Kill a God series. The series describes ways to undo different deities in roleplaying settings. This article describes some of the things that can be done once a huge amount of cosmic energy is available after the completion of one such plan. Here, you can find ideas and hooks for the aftermath.
When a God dies
Gods do not die as much as they unfocus. What mortals see as gods is actually a focal point for divine energiy imbued with something loosely resembling a personality. What that means on a metaphysical level is best left to philosophers and priests to discuss. They get paid for that. On a more mundane level it means that huge amounts of energy flow through these focal points.
If this divine singularity unravels, this energy is now without focus but not lost. There is no loss of energy on the cosmic scale, just loss of focus. The total sum of energy never changes. Over time, this energy is slowly absorbed by the remaining deities. But in the immediate aftermath, it can be grasped and used by anyone with the means and inclination to do so.
Keep in mind that your group does not necessarily have to be the one killing the god. They might just as well take advantage of the situation. Or they caught wind of a plot underway, and were ready with their own plan as soon as the focus point unravelled. Or they were hired by someone who did.
What a God can die for
Obviously, the main reason to kill a god is the urgent need to see them or what they stand for removed from the cosmos (although spoiler warning, it does not quite work that way). More often than not, there is a plot behind the god-killing that aims to make use of the surplus energy that becomes available afterwards. Here are a few ways that it can be put to use:
The most direct use of a freed-up chunk of divine energy is for someone to become a new god. It is a strenuous process, and nigh impossible most of the time. When there is a large amount of unused divine energy around, though, this becomes an option.
A proper apotheosis requires a complex ritual, and should be prepared way in advance of the actual unravelling of a focal point. It also needs to be kept secret, because the servants of the gods – all gods – do not look kindly upon ursurpers in their realm, and will do what they can to prevent the ritual – and the unravelling.
As an aside, cosmic energy is without denomination. Rising to godhood using the energies formerly associated with a specific god does not turn the new member of the pantheon into the same god. They can chose freely what they will focus on. It is even possible to chose a focus another deity has taken for themself, competing with them for the belief generated.
Apotheosis – Hooks
- An individual planning their apotheosis does not want to wait. They hire a group of capable individuals to set a plan into motion that will unravel a focal point for them. These adventurers might not even know that apotheosis is the goal.
- Someone biding their time has set up an apotheosis ritual ages ago and has been patiently waiting for a deity to lose focus. Now they need protection from hostile forces for the last leg of the ritual.
- After unravelling a focal point for whatever personal reason, a group of adventurers learns from a divine messanger that someone is trying to take the power for themselves – someone who needs to be stopped. And since they made the mess, they have been chosen to stop them.
Race for Apotheosis
If there was no long-term plan, and no ritual prepared for a chosen individual to make use of the focal point’s energy as soon as it is gone, a number of powerful groups and entities in the cosmos will rush into the process, trying to grab the power for themselves. This can dramatically change the cosmic power structure.
In terms of practical consequences, this will force all those participating more or less out in the open. There is no way to rush an apotheosis ritual without revealing yourself as a cosmic player, and show at least some of your proverbial cards in the process. Undoing a god to lure someone out into the open might be considered overkill. It might also be necessary for the greater good.
Race for Apotheosis – Hook
- After a focal point unravelled, an ancient entity, believed dead and gone, resurfaces and throws all their minions against the forces of good to keep them busy while they conduct their own apotheosis ritual.
- The leader of a good organisation decides that taking that power for themselves would be the best solution for the cosmos, asking a group of adventurers for help with the ritual. They might just forgo their ideals in the process.
- In terms of the end justifying the means, the plan was to lure an evil cult out of hiding by putting the option of apotheosis on the table. Only they are stronger than expected, and this option just became a huge threat.
Make a Fortune
Divine energy can be siphoned and turned into a solid with the right alchemistic rituals and machines. This, too, requires planning, but as soon as there is unclaimed surplus energy in the cosmos it can be harvested and turned into fist-sized crystals. These crystals are odd to look into, but otherwise innert and harmless to mortals.
To those capable of consuming their energy – mostly creatures old and malevolent – they provide a near limitless source of sustenance and energy. To powerful spellcasters they represent an ingredient that can elevate their arcane craft beyond their wildest dreams. To those capable of creating them, they amount to riches beyond anything a mortal could dream of.
This energy, once used, is released back into the cosmic pool, but generally in much smaller amounts as to not trigger another apotheosis event. It is possible, though, to amass enough divine crystals to eventually have enough to become a god – which would make the process much more stealthy.
Make a Fortune – Hooks
- A group of researchers found a new way to crystalise cosmic energy and preserve it for later use. When their research was being questioned as pointless and unethical, they decided to hire a capable group to free up a bunch of energy for them to cash in on their technology before their detractors got their way.
- When a deity’s energies are freed, an archfiend looking forward to their apotheosis suddenly finds the divine energies gone. Elsewhere, a young alchemist wakes up to a lab filled with crystals that dropped from an experimental siphon set-up of theirs. And the fiend’s minions are out to retrieve them.
- To conceal their bid for godhood, an arcanist has gathered and crystalised divine energies for centuries. With them locked away in their vault, they wait for the right moment. Their apprentice, though, is looking for someone to help them free that fortune.
Poor Person’s Apotheosis
To those present when a focal point is destroyed, there is another option available that might sound sensible at the time. The process varies from god to god, but the general idea is to pick up where they left and assume the role of focal point for that particular swath of cosmic energy. It is not as easy as it sounds, though.
Every deicide has a loophole that allows a person to make a bid for the power that was unleashed. The first caveat is that if they manage it, they will become akin to the deity that perished, with the same responsibility. If you just killed the goddess of agriculture, you cannot become deity of war.
The second caveat is that holding the divine energy without proper planning and rituals is very taxing for bodies of any kind. While it is possible to use the same energy to sustain one’s mind as it wields them, the same is not possible for the body. Thus, after a few days at best, the mortal form of a haphazardly elevated being will not be an an option to return to any longer.
And last but not least, holding such an amount of energy requires a huge amount of focus and concentration. The longer a mortal holds on to these energies, the harder it will get to maintain control. Within weeks, months at best, the would-be deity will unravel again, with the raised individual vanishing for good, leaving no trace of their physical existance.
The good news is that these energies can be given up willingly at any time. What remains from the person depends on how long they held the divine powers, and how much of their body and their mind is still around.
Aftermath beyond Energy
There are reasons for comitting deicide that have nothing to do with the released energies or how they can be put to good (or bad) use. Instead, the vanishing of a focal point has some consequences in itself that can be desirable for some individuals or factions in the cosmos.
Pass the Seal
Deities, especially the more active ones, tend to make enemies. And sometimes, these enemies pose enough of a threat either to the gods themselves or to the cosmos in general to justify locking them away through divine means. That usually takes the form of a physical prison (or prison plane) strengthened with a divine seal.
Such a seal works by knotting the flow of divine energies. It does not actively consume that energy, but it needs to be directed. If the source of that power loses focus, the seal itself dissipates, leaving physical locking mechanisms and arcane protections behind that will be no match for something powerful trying to get out – or someone determined seeking to break in.
Pass the Seal – Hooks
- A primordial demon has been sealed by several gods into a prison hidden away in the astral sea. Through hidden whispers, they fueled the ambitions of a lich that seeks godhood, but as soon as the first focal point unravels the demon hordes stand ready to tear the prison apart.
- The ancient city of the gods, long since abandoned as a mistake, has been sealed by each and every deity. But a single god falling will leave one entrance unprotected – and there are rumors of untold riches and powerful artefacts hidden within the city limits.
- As the divine energies dissipate, something begins to seep through a forgotten seal near a large city. The dilapidating effect spreads slowly at first, but can be felt from far away to those attuned to evil. The region becomes a beacon to wretched creatures looking for a master, and heros trying to do something about that.
Enter the Sanctum
Most deities do have a center of power on the material plane, be it a well-organized church or a hidden cult doing things the goddess themself can not. Akin to the seal above, the unraveling of a focal point can weaken or even remove all protections placed upon such a location. In turn, vast riches or dangerous artifacts can be obtained by anyone willing to brave what remains in terms of defenses and followers.
Enter the Sanctum – Hooks
- The deity in question has taken it upon themselves to rid the world of certain artefacts. One of them is of great import to someone who will stop at nothing to get it back. That includes orchestrating the demise of that deity, and sending a crew in to obtain the artefact. While brute force against the bereft minions of a god is fine, a heist to keep things secret would be even more fun.
- There is a ledger hidden deep in the sanctum of a god’s central church complex, detailing transactions on the cosmic scale. The comodity being traded are souls, but the intention is not to steal it. A group has been hired to infiltrate the compound and change a few lines in the ledger before someone else can take public control of the document. The repercussions – or gains – will warrant killing a god.
Take over the Church
Even more daring is the attempt to take over a deity’s clergy in their absence. While a focal point is still in play, they will protect their follower structure from most threats, even though they might not be willing or able to do that for every single follower. Once a god is gone, and preferrably before the news can spread, a clergy is vulnerable to a well-orchestrated con.
There needs to be an explanation for the sudden absence of their deity, possibly based upon scripture and prophecies. While such a scheme might not be able to hold the followers of a god forever, it can be used in a wide variety of ways to achieve other goals.
Take over the Church – Hook
- A prophecy speaks of the deity having to battle their nemesis at some point. Using a series of colorful displays orchestrated all over the world, a dedicated group can convince the clergy that the time is upon them – and that someone who matches a foretold savior just happened to appear at the same time to lead them until that battle is won.
- Every church has one enigmatic figure that holds the rest together in times of strife. Singeling out that person and taking control of them – either via magic, or by impersonating them – can go a long way to keep an unfocussed deity’s church playing along, to whatever end.
- Subtly altering a church’s doctrine can go a long way in redirecting the belief their followers generate. With a little finesse, that cosmic energy can be aimed at something else, creating a new focal point from scratch, without the need for a messy apotheosis.
After the Aftermath
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