When it comes to killing a god, all bets are off, right? While that might be the case for your particular “deicide”, I wanted to lay down some ground rules to put things in perspective. So these are the ground rules that govern all those plots to off a deity. Adopt them as you see fit, but feel free to replace or ignore them entirely, too. In my experience, you do not always need an explaination for everything. It is okay to say “this is how it is” and just roll with it.
If you are not sure how to take this – this is a series of articles related to killing gods in roleplaying settings, like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or Fate.
Activity is Worship
Every deity has an activity associated with them – planting crops, performing magic, dying or sleeping in. Whenever someone does this activity, whether they believe in the associated entity or not, it counts as worship for this entity.
Worship directs Energy
Any kind of worship – either performing the activity associated with that specific god or actually praying, thinking towards or about that being – directs an amount of cosmic energy towards that deity.
This is where organising a religion can be a beneficial move for an entity. It allows them to create a constant flow of energy without having to rely on activities that are seasonal or happen in short bursts.
Gods are Focal Points
Energy thus directed is focused in the associated deity, allowing them to move and shape it to their liking. Using it to further their associated activity is part of their nature, even though they do have consciousness and considerable leeway in interpreting that goal.
The God of Death for example does not necessarily seek to cause death on a massive scale. Instead, they might feel obliged to make sure that the dead move on in an orderly fashion.
No Net Gain of Energy
This is an important rule because it is the most likely one not to be entirely true. The cosmos contains a set amount of energy. Worship can set that energy into motion and direct it accordingly, but it cannot create energy. Gods can hold onto it, but even that vast amount of power is not enough to gain more than is available.
While the pool is tremendous and there should be enough for everyone, there is a limit to how powerful a deity can become before their gain has to result in another’s loss. Even gods can wax and wane over time, and those that fade away into oblivion return their energy to the cosmic pool, ready to be directed anew.
But what if there was a way to add to that energy? This can have interesting consequences for the setting in which people might seek to kill gods in order to benefit from their power. Maybe every living creature generates just a little bit of power themselves, adding to the sum total. Maybe there are ways to pierce the boundaries of the cosmos to siphon energy from sources outside, whatever consequences that might have. This is not within the scope of this article, but I think it would be an interesting idea to keep in mind just in case the need arises.
Additional Out-of-Play Rules
While the other rules apply inside the game world, there are some additional guidelines I wanted to lay down in order to keep these ideas as versatile as possible. You are of course free to bend or break any or all of these as you see fit. Maybe my decision not to include some of these options inspires you in ways unforseen!
- No Infighting – no other gods should get involved in these plots, neither to help nor to work against the godkillers. While some gods might not like each other or even feud, I do not want to use that as part of these ideas. Also, consider that no deity wants to remind the world that they, too, can be ended.
- No Godkiller Items – while there will certainly be items capable of killing a deity after they have been found and prepared in complex ways, I do not want to create an item that works on each and every divine entity. I believe the ground rules would allow for such a thing, and it might be a cool idea in the right context, but not here.
- No Easy Ways – these ideas, while not tied to specific levels or even systems, are meant for high level play. Players should be able to hold their own against aspects of gods if they endeavour to kill one. There should be no way that a low-level character stumbling upon something suddenly holds the power to end a god.
Ready to Kill a God?
With these ground rules set, we can move on to concrete plots and methods to deal with deities. You can find all available articles here, and I will add more over time. I would love to hear what you think – so join my Discord!
And as always, remember to Be Inspired!