July 29, 2011
On Earth, origin stories evolved from a lack of understanding of the world around us, followed by tradition and the education-corrupting influence of religion. On Avbaroy, there are actual gods who are actually responsible for things. As a huge science geek, these may seem tricky for me to reconcile.
The Empire of Mann believed they were created and descended from a solitary masculine deity, the Elves that they were brought forth from the golden wood of their god’s bow, the Dwarves believe they were originally crafted in a furnace and upon an anvil of their deity, deep within the mountains. All of these species of course have more trouble explaining the existence of other intelligent life than their own, but can all of them be true? Certainly with all that they have in common, biologically, it would seem more logical to assume that they come from a same or similar source, according to our extant ideas regarding speciation in the grand scheme of evolution, but then these creatures can also point directly, and with incontrovertible evidence, to the actual existence of their gods. So are the gods responsible at all or did the creatures dream them up to explain their gap in knowledge?
In actuality, the polytheism of Avbaroy really helps here. It might seem like it’d make more sense to just have one god, but then you inevitably run into problems when the actions of nature fall outside the perceived behaviour of the deity in question. For example, reconciling animals hunting one another when a god is meant to protect and savour all life.
So Avbaroy has gods of nature, magic, water, sun, etc. almost all of whom are more retroactive than actual, in that people had to exist before those gods could come into being since they are for the most part powered by, in Pratchett-esque manners, belief. A lot of national deities tend to be this special kind of “fictional”, and whilst they themselves are entirely aware of their true origins they are also greatly tied to the original dogma and feelings that conjured them (confusion often follows a deity with lots of revisionist followers). Strictly speaking, the only difference between “fictional” deities and “actual” deities is their origin, power-wise they’re no different save the volume of their worshippers.
Boccob, Arcania’s god of magic, is a natural deity, who came into being with the first leaks of Incarnum interacting with the mundane matter of the Avbaroy universe. As such, he predates most intelligent life and indeed most practise of magic throughout it, and as he is tied to a direct natural force he has less of a reliance on worshippers and is also known as “the uncaring”. In truth, he very much cares for his followers, having watched them grow from microbial life to complex organisms, and invites them to solve their problems with wisdom and intelligence rather than relying on his abilities.
So, most deities are man-made artificial sorts, and for them we can still go to Earth’s lack-of-understanding origin stories to explain them. But then we have people like Boccob and Lyplocea (a sea deity, tied to chemical reaction), who predate organic intelligence by many millennia, and who may well have had a hand in its creation. The ultimate fact however is that whilst there is a plethora of intelligent species on Avbaroy, and that we know of in the surrounding galaxies, intelligent life itself is still very rare, and its likely that where deific intervention has occurred it is in isolated occasions, giving life a nudge here and there. Perhaps there is a species descended from a great egg conjured forth by a donkey-eared god, and perhaps this is also the story conjured up by that same species to explain where they came from and the god is donkey-eared because of their imaginings.
The truth then is less in what I think and more in the archaeology and teasing things apart rationally and logically.