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    Religion for the Enlightened
    Posted on Tue, October 20, 2020 by LordCeb
    longetalos writes "Listen to the sage Reaccus Sowodnen explain how the deities of Oerth interact with their followers and the rest of the population.

    Religion for the Enlightened

    Lecture 1: The nature of Deities

    “Welcome to your first lecture in Religion for the Enlightened. My name is Reaccus Sowodnen and I will be your professor for this course. I see that you come from many cultural backgrounds and thus have all been raised with a specific idea of what the gods are. Because of this, the first thing you all must do, in order to get the most out of my class, is to assume that everything you know is incorrect. The only thing that is correct is what I tell you is correct. If someone who is not me has given you different information, that person is wrong. I know that many of you are thinking that I am not the first, nor probably the last, person to tell you something of this sort concerning the gods. But let me make this very clear; I am always right."

    "The Grey college is the most renown teaching institute in the Flanaess and I have been teaching this class for the last 60 years. In my time as professor I have taught kings, emperors, mages, great warriors, and professors from other colleges. Every important individual anywhere in the Flanaess has been influenced by my teachings! When you stand in front of these people later on in your life, be assured that they will think as I told them to. Do you really want to look foolish and try to tell them otherwise? No? Good, let's get down to work then."

    "The first question that comes to mind when thinking of deities is 'where do they come from'. There are many possible answers to this question. Some say that the deities always existed. Others say there were some original deities that always existed and the original few created the rest of the deities. Another popular concept is that the deities are mortals that transcended to godhood via their efforts on the mortal planes. All of these are correct, in a way. Some of the younger deities are ascended mortals that existed between the age of the Suel Imperium and today. Most of these have taken the easier path to immortality by linking their fortunes with those of an existing deity that facilitated the mortal's ascendance. A very select few were able to find a raw source of power that only they could control and tapped into in order to ascend. As an interesting note, if a deity opposes the ascendance of a mortal it becomes almost impossible for him to attain godhood - he must find another deity as a patron that does not fear a religious war."

    "The older deities existed before the Suel Imperium and very little is known of how they gained their powers. Many philosophers theorize that in the distant past there were many sources of untapped power for mortals to grasp. As more and more deities ascended, less sources remained for other mortals to utilize. Eventually the situation reached its current state with only a few difficult to access sources remaining for today's mortals to find."

    "The deities have been classified by mortal beings in different levels of power or influence. Some have argued that the level of power of a deity denotes his status among them and his ability to control the other deities. This line of thought is garbage. The levels of power given to the deities come from our mortal interpretation of their sphere of influence. If you have decided that Beory, the goddess of nature, is more powerful than Delleb, the god of knowledge, then this arrogant mentality will lead you into trouble. Each god is absolute within his sphere of influence and can grant their followers the ability to invoke miracles in their name. The power of the miracle granted is solely dependant on the faith of the priest and not on the perceived power level of the deity."

    "In my treatise on deities, available in the library, I have linked the source of power to the sphere of influence of the deity. This link, besides providing the deity with power over their sphere, also influences the mentality or outlook the deity has towards different mortal behaviors. Continuing with the example of Beory, we can assume that she has existed for a very long time, as one of the easiest sources of power to tap would have been the force of nature. By tapping into that source to achieve godhood, she has "limited" herself to making certain that the force of nature continues to grow. Otherwise her source of power would stagnate or shrink." 

    "Now, having dispelled this common myth of mortal ratings indicating deity's powers, I will describe the standard levels of influence that mortals have given to the deities. The highest level of power is that of a Greater Deity. These deities are the oldest known and have usually tapped into the most obvious source of power. These sources include that of nature, the sun, death, disease, etc. The second level is that of intermediate deity. These deities are a further refining subset of the greater deities - such as war being a subset of death and light being a subset of the sun. The 3rd and final level of true deities is that of Lesser Deity. These deities have further increased the subset already begun by the intermediate deities. Typical deities include the subset of swords from war and flame from light. Below this level are several types of unformed deities including quasi-deities, hero-deities, and demi-deities. Each one has particular qualities that will be examined in depth later on in this course."


    Lesson 2 - Sharing Powers

    "I see that some of you are still around for this second class on religion. When we left off last, I had finished explaining how the different deities have tapped into various sources of power. If you missed last class, please leave now and return next month when I will begin teaching these classes again. I do not have the patience to bring you up to the level of knowledge that the rest of the class has."

    At these words, several of the students packed their scrolls and worked their way out of the classroom.

    "Yes, thank you for leaving. Don't disturb the rest of the students on your way out. Now we can commence the class without any unruly elements. Today's lecture is entitled "Sharing Power". In this lecture I will attempt to make you understand how and why the different deities share these sources of power."

    “As some of you are sure to have noticed many deities have similar if not identical spheres of influence. The most well-known example of this is the twin brothers Hextor and Heironeous. Both of these deities share the sphere of War among the Oeridian people. How this came to be had many different myths. Some scholars postulate that the two deities were actually mortal twins that ascended to godhood and shared the source of power. Others speculate that they are the twin children of one or more older deities.

    These minor details are best left for other courses later on in your studies, if you choose to pursue them."

    "What is known, is that when two deities share the same source of power a conflict will occur. This conflict may take centuries to manifest itself, but it WILL happen. There are many reasons why the conflict may be delayed. One of the possible reasons for this lack of conflict is onsignificance of the interloper deity. Suppose that a newly arisen deity becomes the spirit-god of a particular grove of trees. This deity would immediately come into conflict with Beory - goddess of all nature. Considering that Beory's influence spans multiple planes of existnce it would come as no surprise if the minor drain on her power source caused by the spirit-god were to go unnoticed by Beory for a long time."

    "Another possible reason for the lack of immediate conflict between deities is synergy. A good example of this are the deities Lendor and Cyndor who share the sphere of influence of Time. Originally, Lendor's followers on Oerth were predominantly Suel and they were the only ones contributing to the increase of the power source that he was tapping into. Lendor became aware of Cyndor, a new deity tapping into his source of power. Lendor approached Cyndor and threatened to destroy him for his arrogance. Cyndor responded by showing that he had influence among the non-Suel tribes - people that Lendor has not in any position to convert. Therefore, they agreed to share the source of power and with each deity seeking to increase the overall size of the source by means of their respective followers. This arrangement benefits both deities as their source of power has become larger and allows them to repel other deities. Similar synergies could have been achieved between Rao - a Flan deity - and Delleb - an Oeridian one."

    "Yet another possible reason for lack of immediate conflict between deities is fear. If a deity is in a precarious situation and a new deity begins to tap into its source of power it is possible that the older deity does not react immediately as the interloper may have a powerful cult following, strong alliances with other alliances, or otherwise be able to inflict severe damage upon the older deity's form or faithful. Fear of this threat prevents the deity from acting against the interloper until it has properly prepared itself and its faithful or found an alternative solution to the situation."  

    "The last possibility we will discuss in today's lecture is pre-occupation. If the older deity is already involved with other critical issues, it might not have the opportunity or resources to deal with the interloper. This is an extrmely rare situation as most deities are nearly omnipotent and omniscient in their domains. As such, new deities must move quickly to establish themselves in their domains as older deities will attempt to destroy them at the first oppurtunity."

    "This concludes today's lecture. In our next lecture, I will instruct you on the intricasies of deities vying for sources of power and what happens when a deity loses. If any of you have questions or comments you may leave a scroll in my office under the name of Reaccus Sowodnen. The college will ensure that I am made aware of your request."


    Lecture 3: Vying for power

    "Good day class, today's topic is entitled "Vying for Power" and will explain how the different deities contest for sources of power and the disadvantages of losing the conflict."

    "This portion of the course is one that is hardest for students to learn as well as the hardest subject for me to teach. Explaining how deities fight among themselves is similar to trying to explain the casting of magic to a peasant. You can explain the outcome of the spell, the material components used, and the gestures involved but none of that really imparts the true use of magic. Therefore, pay close attention to what I say and try to expand your intellect to encompass the realm of the deities. I will be using a cloud similitude to link what really occurs with what can be comprehended by mortals."

    "When a deity takes control of a source of power, he extends tendrils throughout the source. The source can be imagined as a cloud. These tendrils can be imagined as roots that funnel the power into the deity and can be manipulated by his will. As a deity gains more experience, he can increase the size of his tendrils and control more of the cloud. This takes time and concentration on the part of the deity. But once the tendrils are in place it becomes extremely difficult to remove them against the deity's wishes. With this concept in mind, I will explain the conflicts that occur between deities."

    "The first kind of conflict is one where two deities compete for the same source of power. A deity controls a fixed volume of the cloud that expands and contracts based on the actions of their followers and the power the deity expends. Regardless of the power differences between the two deities, there are only three options for them to use as a means of resolving this kind of conflict."

    "The first option is to split the cloud into two distinct parts. This is a difficult and dangerous process with severe disadvantages. Some of the volume of the cloud is destroyed in the process of splitting and this can weaken both deities. The amount of destruction varies and cannot be predicted which leads to a hesitancy to use exercise this option. If both deities work together to split the source of power the amount of destruction is reduced. When a source is unilaterally split, the backlash of destruction can greatly exceed the volume of the acting deity. Perhaps an example is in order. Suppose that one deity's share of the cloud is worth 200 coppers. The second deity's portion is worth 30 coppers. If both deities work together to split the cloud it might cost the more powerful deity 20 coppers and the weaker deity 5 coppers. If the weaker deity decides to unilaterally split the source, it might cost the weaker deity his full 30 coppers but cost the more powerful deity 80 coppers or even, in the case of a severe backlash, the full 200 coppers. This will completely eliminate the weaker deity as well as causing a large amount of damage to the more powerful deity. Alternatively, the effect of a unilateral split can be that the weaker deity loses 2 coppers and the more powerful deity loses 10 coppers. Thus, this is an unpredictable option. This unpredictability is a concern that has caused some powerful deities to voluntarily split off a portion of their source of power to a weaker deity even though they could have won a prolonged conflict."

    "The second option is to burn up a portion of the cloud under the deity's control and strike at his opponent with that power. The opponent must use up an equivalent amount of the cloud under his control to counter this attack. Eventually one of the two deities run out of power and fades away. To use this option, the attacking deity must act quickly and decisively so as to prevent his opponent the time to resort to the first option and unilaterally split the cloud. The interesting factor in this option is that the attacking deity does not always know the exact power of his opponent. Therefore, it is possible that he burns up more power than required to destroy his opponent. Alternatively, if he doesn't burn up enough power for the first strike his opponent might gain enough time to resort to a unilateral split."

    "Their third option is to start a war on the mortal planes, hoping that by eliminating their opponent's followers it will limit that deity from expanding his share of the source. Once that is accomplished, the winning deity can then expand only his portion of the source of power using the techniques discussed in the second lecture. In addition, the losing deity's volume of control will slowly decrease as he uses power from his share of the source to remain alive. At one point the winning deity will decide that he has amassed enough volume so that he can eliminate his opponent and still survive. Hextor and Heironeous are presumably in this process at this time."

    "The second kind of conflict is one between deities of different sources of power. This will be discussed after a short pause."

    "I am happy to note that at least some of you returned after the break. I guess those that are not here are wasting their time at the festival on the streets of Clerksburg. According to the calendar, Brewfest only lasts for one week. Why the city officials allow you young hooligans to start celebrating early is beyond me. It must be due to the libertarian policies of that new mayor Nerof."

    "Anyway, let us continue with our lecture. As I stated before the break, when two deities share a source of power they can combat directly. The mortal mind can imagine it as two massive armies, composed of minions from each side, charging across a landscape and crashing together in a loud display of combat. This landscape is what mortals routinely refer to as planes of existence. Unfortunately, when two deities using different source of power wish to do combat, they do not have a common landscape or plane to fight on. Therefore, they have three options - to either combat on each other's plane, to combat on a neutral plane, or to create a temporary plane to combat on."

    "Before going into these three options, a brief note on the planes of existence is in order. As was stated previously a source of power can be perceived as a cloud. It can also be perceived as an infinite flat surface or plane. Both of these concepts are inaccurate when describing what a source of power actually is but suits our purposes for teaching. Therefore, when visiting these planes of existence, it is not a physical location but one that gives the illusion of being physical so that our mortal minds can understand and function in the plane. Deities are not bound by this and thus can see the source of power for what it truly is."

    "The first option gives the advantage to the deity whose home plane is used as the war zone. The home deity can adjust the plane's geography and rules to hinder his opponent. The second advantage is that the home plane deity can bring to bear his full power whereas the attacking deity must retain a conduit to his source of power. The conduit must also be protected so that it is not severed during the combat."

    "There are some consequences to the inhabitants of the plane on which deities battle. The unleashing of that kind of power will certainly cause a large amount of damage to the plane. This is what prevents good deities from coming to Oerth to combat the Old One."

    "The second option is to combat on a neutral plane. This removes the advantages of giving one deity their home plane. Unfortunately, this means both deities must create and protect conduits leading from their home plane to the neutral plane. In addition, a deity cannot be fully destroyed on a neutral plane as he must retain a certain amount of power on his home plane to keep the conduit attached at that end. The benefit this gives a deity is that they can remove themselves from the conflict at any time as well as not committing their full power. Unfortunately, the opponent can follow the retreating or losing deity back to his home plane via the open conduit. This eliminates some of the penalties for fighting a deity incurs for fighting on another deity's home plane."

    "Much like option one, when two deities battle on a neutral plane, the unleashing of that kind of power will cause a large amount of damage to the plane. This can adversely impact any residents of that plane. For this reason, many deities will actively prevent other deities from fighting on a plane that they have interests in."

    "The final option is to create a temporary plane to do battle on. This is preferred method of combat for two deities that do not wish to conduct a complete campaign of destruction on each other. This allows two deities to meet to settle their differences in a smaller scale. One or both deities invest some power to create a temporary plane. They then open up a partial conduit and transfer a fixed amount of power to the temporary plane. The conduit is then closed. Both deities then resolve the conflict and limit the affects to the temporary plane. At the end of the conflict the residual power is lost once the temporary plane ceases to exist. This method allows each deity to perform a show of force to try and intimidate the other into surrendering on an issue of importance. Of course, even if a deity loses this particular encounter he does not need to accede to the request of the victor."

    "A particular interesting twist on the third option of combat is how it was used to defeat the Dark God. The other gods created a temporary plane as a lure to do battle with the Dark God. In his vanity, the Dark God sent a substantial amount of power onto the plane to intimidate his foes. This was exactly as predicted. While a small portion of the opponent gods' power was used to occupy the Dark God on the temporary plane, a massive strike was sent against his home plane. The home plane was destroyed and the Dark God was defeated. Or so it seemed. Some whisper that the Dark God corrupted the temporary plane and took partial control over it due to the large amount of power he transferred to the plane. The other gods could not destroy the Dark God on the temporary plane but were only able to contain him. Without access to his source of power, the Dark God is slowly weakening."  

    "This concludes this lecture on Vying for Power. Next lecture will be on what happens to the losing deities." 

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    Re: Religion for the Enlightened (Score: 1)
    by Mystic-Scholar on Tue, October 20, 2020
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    The losing deities are eaten, of course. How else does one grow? Mwahahahahahahahaha!

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