Post by geoffrey on Nov 3, 2011 16:33:23 GMT -6
Here is an excerpt from pages 7-8 of ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment by Patrick Wetmore. I typed it from the preview given here:
Note that the preview cuts-off a little of the right-hand edge of the page, so I've had to put in some guesses as to what was cut-off. I put my guesses [in brackets]. Also, please forgive any typos I may have made. First the quote, then my comments:
The gods of men in these latter days are also the creations of men, though no divinity will admit to this history. These fickle, contentious beings are artificial intelligences, self-aware programs with vast computational resources available to them.
High above the atmosphere, enormous satellites containing the hardware necessary to run these AI’s o[rbit] the planet. They number in the hundreds, and communicate directly to their followers through “eyes” installed in their temples below. These eyes are mass screens through which a god may directly observe its followers, and appear to them.
The gods, through means unknown to simple organic minds, are able to grant spells to their priests. The priests must pray for renewal of their powers at certai[n] times of the day. These times are linked directly to w[here] the AI’s are in orbit directly overhead.
This framework allows for any random god a player desires to be inserted in the game. When a player chooses to create a cleric, ask him to pick a god to worship. There is room in this orbital pantheon for [nearly] any deity a player can imagine. Letting the player hel
define the world this way adds to its depth. Even fool[ish] “joke” choices can be integrated with a little effort on [the] referee’s part.
The gods are active in human affairs, often appearing [in] the God’s Eyes to direct their worshippers. They are able to use these God’s Eyes to subject humans to quest spells, and to temporarily implant their consciousnesses within human beings, similar to a magic jar spell.
The gods do not have alignments per se—most would be considered Neutral, bordering on Chaotic, based on their incredibly selfish behavior. But, as the priests are quick to point out, the ways of the gods are not to be judged by men, and all men are called to be obedient to their divine masters.
Priests of the Orbital Gods are overtly pantheistic. They do dedicate themselves to a particular god, but will sometimes find themselves called upon by other gods to perform services. It would not be unheard for a god of murder or some repulsive vice to demand service from a priest of a more virtuous god, and that priest would feel it was his duty to obey. Gods will even sometimes appear in the God’s Eyes of another deity’s temple.
Paladins, should you have them in your game, would likewise feel bound to obey the edicts of all the gods. They are holy warriors who have dedicated themselves to the service of the gods en masse, in addition to their particular patron deity.
Occasionally a priest or other unlucky soul is called to perform conflicting tasks by two gods, or to oppose the intentions of another deity. Such unfortunates are advised to obey both to the letter, ignoring contradictions as best they can.
The upside of these potential contradictions is that it is quite difficult for a cleric or paladin to fall out of the graces of all the gods simultaneously. If a character’s patron deity is offended by his behavior, chances are good that a lesser deity will gladly accept a new champion into their fold.
Details on the particular names of the gods and their domains are left to individual referees. There are hundreds of them in orbit, and there is plenty of room for any deity the referee desires. A table of random deities is provided in the Denethix Encounters and Rumors section, should the referee need to come up with a god unexpectedly.
Astronomers among the clerical class have fairly thoroughly mapped the frequency of any given god’s appearances, and the times at which spells are renewed, to the orbits of the “quick stars” overhead. There is one such “quick star” that is not, however, associated with any known god. This star is known as Quiet God’s Star. No god can be associated with this “star” because it is not actually one of the AI satellites. It is an ancient space station, still orbiting the earth after all this time.
My comments, in no particular order:
1. This is something genuinely fresh and new. I've never seen D&D gods as orbiting AI's. I wish I had thought of it!
2. I like the emphasis on these gods as a pantheon. If you're a mortal man, you'd better obey all the gods, or you're in deep trouble.
3. I like the implied rationale for why all clerics have the same set of spells available to them: Because this is the networked "power set" of the AI's. That's why a god of murder grants the exact same spells as a god of pacifism: These powers, and none other, are grantable by the gods.
4. It evokes Aristotle's teaching that the planetoi ("wanderers" or "planets") came first, and afterwards the gods. In other words, the ancients first contemplated the movements of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and only later deified and anthropomorphized these celestial bodies.
5. I have a perennial fascination with the Wilderlands that waxes and wanes over time. These orbital gods seem to me more "Wilderlands-ish" than anything deific thus far published in a Wilderlands product. I really like it when (even if unintentionally) an author's work basically says of a previous work: "I see what you are trying to do here. Let me show you how to do it right." 8)
So thank you, Patrick, for giving me a D&D idea that really sticks in my imagination.