Let's discuss Dieties

After reading the somewhat recent posts in the pet peeve thread, I've been doing some thinking about Divines.
Severn has been targeted with this whole Sterion deal and His shrines have been dusted. From what I can understand, because He doesn't have an order, no one knows they are dusted unless they actively check, or ask Bamathis for information. This kinda sucks for those who actually follow Him. Severn is a pretty big deal in the game, so it still baffles me that He doesn't have an order at all. I understand it from an ooc pov, since the only one who can actually play Him is a paid coder and focuses on that, but like I said, it baffles me. I think there are plenty of people who would rather have His order and Him being absent a lot, rather than Him not having an order at all. He is a Divine patron for Spinesreach, Syssin and Sciomancers after all.

But enough ranting about that. This is the brain teaser I want to share with you.

Neutral Divines.

Now, I know what you're gonna say. There is no such thing as neutrality in the game, and I agree, there isn't one from a player point of view. But there are ways to make Divines neutral. Let's play with the thought with a few of them. I am not doing it to trample on any toes, these are just examples to show what I mean. Let's start with Dhar. He is the God of Death. Everyone, except the undead and consanguine, die. Everyone does. So why shouldn't a Spirean or Lochian be able to pay their respects to the one in charge of the Halls? And what about Bamathis? He is the God of War. There are combatants in both Spirit and Shadow. Should they not be able to offer to the God of War in order to boost their moral? There are more examples, but I would love to hear suggestions from you before airing more of my own ideas.

Now, how would this work?
This is what I am thinking. These Neutral Divines would not have Their own Congregation or Order. That means They wouldn't need an active volunteer to play Them. They would still have shrines, a set number across Sapience (perhaps one in each city, including Esterport, as well as some of the bigger hunting areas or central spots). Anyone can offer to them, but they cannot be defiled or destroyed. Each Divine would still have a temple of Their own with npc priests and priestesses, which can be rp'd with by people in the Pools if they would like to, just like any other npc. Anyone at Pools can also check who's been offering to them and hand out boons or blessings. And perhaps, to make Them more interesting and make people more inclined to actually offer to Them, a blessing from Them would give a buff of some sort, that is connected to Their area. For example, if you offer to Dhar, when you get a blessing, the time you spend at the Halls is shortened by X%. If you offer to Bamathis, you get a slight buff of protection. Of course this wouldn't be ALL Divines either. There are still a lot of Divines Who are important and very tether-bound, like Damariel and Severn and Haern and Ivoln and probably more, but I feel Some could go neutral better than Others.

I know these are all far-fetched ideas and most likely will not be implemented, but I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. If this actually would happen, which Divines could be neutral and what sort of boost would They offer in Their blessings? Let's play with the idea!
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Tetchta

Comments

  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    edited July 1
    A whole bunch of us have been advocating for de-tethering the Divine as a whole (probably as a first step toward de-tethering the game) for a while now. There's lots of reasons to consider doing this, not the least of which being that it would make conflict in the game and character expression more interesting. The general idea is that Gods are big chess pieces that have a moveset, ideologies, and goals, and there's lots of people who would be drawn to them regardless of "side."

    I will echo that I hate the term "neutral" for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that it encourages all sorts of atrocious mindsets, like "not taking a stance" among people who are in "neutral" organizations, and it also invites a really irritating type of conversation from irritating people. Probably non-affiliaited, or non-city-affiliated is better; alternatively, we can just start looking at Gods as a whole through a lens other than that of tether.

    We've had issues with attempts at this non-affiliation in the past, specifically with Bamathis and his presence in Duiran, and to a lesser degree Enorian. I think this put several people off of the idea of having tether-free deities, but I also think those people are taking the wrong message from why that failed. First of all, Bamathis wasn't presented with the intention of detethering literally anything. He was explicitly a shadow god. Also, he was given a pretty obnoxious carte blanche RP that really meant he was more of an imposition on orgs rather than someone who was allowed because he actually fit in. Duiran letting Bamathis in at the time was really becasue they were being occupied by someone who effectively went against their actual interests. With tweaks (that honestly seem like they've already been done, partially), Bamathis could very easily be a de-tethered Deity and integrate more smoothly into orgs he'd previously been in opposition to.

    At the moment, I will say it seems as though the administration is attempting to push and/or experiment with this idea with Lexadhra. Personally I think it was a blunder to put in the OOC announce that she was "spirit tethered" because that immediately colored a ton of people's in game opinion in spite of it being an OOC bit of information. That ship, however, sailed already and I think people have mostly gotten over their initial impressions...ish. But she's an example of this, and through no small degree of effort, I think she's probably likely going to be one of the first iterations of this detethered idea. It brings with it no shortage of drama (most of which is fun), and I think it's very likely we can see similar shifts from other Gods who seem to fit one way or another.

    It definitely would require some ideological tweaking on the side of traditionally spirit-tethered gods, though, and we all know how much people love and adore changes to the status quo. Basically every Spirit God has been hamfistedly shoved into a box where they hate undeath, for example, which they'd have to probably abandon in some form or another if they were to be de-associated. This obviously could never work for Gods of the Cyle, for whom hating undeath is sexy and good. Ethne I wouldn't see budging on that. Damariel could, however, for example, though I don't think overall he'd find many supporters in traditionally shadow-sided orgs. Slyphe could fit pretty easily with a few minor tweaks, as could Omei. On the other end of it all, Chakrasul, Bamathis, Iosyne, Severn, and even Tanix could work very well if they were to spread in one form or another across the entire game.

    The main hurdle, I've found, is overcoming the Dual Faction mindset that has ingrained itself within the playerbase pretty solidly. This is, at least partially, an OOC problem, but it's one that can be dealt with ICly; it's one of those things where consistent leading by example eventually softens the solid demarcations people have put in their head on the issue. A lot of it involves accepting that some orgs and some gods will be inherently incompatible, and understanding your character choices and how they interlock with your primary orgs. People have kinda internalized Guild = City = Order as generally interchangeable ideologies, when in reality they're puzzle pieces that lock together with compatible(ish) joints. A detethered pantheon works fine as long as you accept that you'll never, ever see a Teradrim follower of Lexadhra, or a Bloodlochian follower of Damariel, etc etc.

    I guess that's a lot of words to say "yeah I agree that we need to detether the gods because it'd be more intesting and fun." I don't like this idea of "neutral gods" without volunteers, however. I think we should just free up the gods from their RP confines.

    TeramasceLegynSessizlikKurak
  • SessizlikSessizlik Muffin Mage
    I think what is keeping Dieties from being un-tethered is the whole Order thing, which is why I wanted to play with that thought. If you have an Order with Shadow people in it, Spirit will automatically insist it is a Shadow Order. It cannot be neutral, or un-tethered, and because of that, they will be a no-no for Spirit players to join. If the Diety have no order and you just offer essence to them for boons, if you don't have mechanics where other Orders can start wars and you don't have a clash of player tethering, I think that's as close as you can get to being open to all.

    There will most likely be a lot of scattered thoughts on who the Dieties should be to become these un-tethered ones, but I think that my two examples are rather good ones. Bamathis could be open to all combatants. Dhar could be open to all living. Tanixalthas could most likely be un-tethered as well, though I would honestly see more Spirit Dieties go down, since there are seven of them and only five Shadow Dieties (not counting Severn who doesn't have an order, though I would love to see Him get one again.)

    The un-tethering would also lessen the burden of finding volunteers to play the Divines. While I don't know how many are currently being played, I know there's been troubles finding players to play all Gods. I can't remember when, if ever, all Gods had an active player all at once.

    It's good to see this is something that's actually been discussed among players and I would love to hear more views on how to do this or why this would be a great thing to do!
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  • Tetchta said:



    At the moment, I will say it seems as though the administration is attempting to push and/or experiment with this idea with Lexadhra. Personally I think it was a blunder to put in the OOC announce that she was "spirit tethered" because that immediately colored a ton of people's in game opinion in spite of it being an OOC bit of information. That ship, however, sailed already and I think people have mostly gotten over their initial impressions...ish. But she's an example of this, and through no small degree of effort, I think she's probably likely going to be one of the first iterations of this detethered idea. It brings with it no shortage of drama (most of which is fun), and I think it's very likely we can see similar shifts from other Gods who seem to fit one way or another.

    I think if it was the admins trying to experiment with "de-tethering" gods, they would have marked Lexadhra in the announce post as "spirit tethered". It definitely did not help any intention, if there were any, on this front. This being said, re-defining any established lines or norms is going to take a long while, mostly because mindsets are hard to shift and you need a lot of effort from both the players as well as the person playing the god to ensure these shifts make sense in the overarching story plot. If the players don't want to see it from the Divine's view of things or the stance they are trying to establish, you can't force them etc.

  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    I don't agree that orders are a barrier to detethering. Player mindsets, character mindsets, and innavigable RP scenarios are the main barriers to detethering gods. While God Organizations probably could use a hefty critical eye tossed their way, that's a separate problem to creating a divine melting pot. As for divine activity and volunteers, I think the fun and benefits people get from Divine RP outweigh there occasionally being nobody to play said gods.

    Currently, the biggest issue that exists are lines like "They are aligned with Shadow/Spirit" in the honors of various gods, the hard-cast RP of some of the deities (see: anti-undeath as a fairly arbitrary consideration for a good portion of them), and whatever biases and resistance players bring to the table. As far as "which divine should be untethered" goes, I don't think it's something that should really be debated at all. It's not a "select which Divine you want to detether" situation, it's a "detether them all, and let their RP and the RP of the 20 or so orgs in the game determine where they fall as far as acceptance goes." You don't need tethers to keep Ethne in an anti-Bloodloch, anti-Undead position. Her RP already does that for her.

    Note: "detethering" isn't synonymous with "anybody in any org should be able to worship them without consequences and be protected for it." It simply means that the main limitation for which Divine you follow wouldn't be determined by whatever tether you belong to, but rather your organizational affiliations and individual RP.

  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    edited July 1
    Elene said:

    I think if it was the admins trying to experiment with "de-tethering" gods, they would have marked Lexadhra in the announce post as "spirit tethered".

    Double posting, don't care. I'm going to presume you meant to say "they wouldn't have marked her as blah blah blah." I said I thought it was a mistake in the part you quoted. The metanarrative of hers, as well as how she's framed ICly, makes it pretty clear that she's at the very least intended to flex the predetermined boundaries of Spirit/Shadow as a concept. I otherwise agree with what you're saying.

    edit: that said I don't want this thread to devolve into an argument about Lexadhra and how she falls into the context of the metanarrative, 'cause I'm already pretty tired of that; I was just presenting her as an example.

  • TeaniTeani Shadow Mistress Sweden
    While I agree that some deities might become unaffiliated completely, others might only be able to partially break free from previous connections as there is a heavy amount of lore to consider. I know there was a comment about tying gods to orgs being bad in the other thread, but in some cases that connection can be very difficult to break from, since it exists on such a core level. Shamans and their connection to Dendara ties them to Haern, as Dendara is his charge. Syssin have orders from and Sciomancers have access to power thanks to Severn, who has been connected to Spinesreach since the Ankyrean age. Teradrim are likewise connected rather firmly to Ivoln with the charges they have in Azvosh and through Undeath.

    I could definitely see some deities as unaffiliated (Bamathis, Slyphe, Omei, Lexadhra, Tanixalthas immediately spring to mind), while others would have more difficulties.
    Elene said:


    I think if it was the admins trying to experiment with "de-tethering" gods, they would [not] have marked Lexadhra in the announce post as "spirit tethered".

    I have to agree with this. If they wanted to experiment, they should not have added any labels at all and allowed characters to do what characters do. That would have been the best way to experiment and see which way the wind blows. The moment something is labeled either Shadow or Spirit, there will always be a part of the game, who have grown used to hearing "no neutrals!" for years and years, that will put things in a box and close the lid. Better, then, if they go straight out and whack people in the face with it and say "Testing something, don't freak out! We know it goes against what's been said before, but here's an unaffiliated deity! If it doesn't work out, well, back to the drawing board."



  • Sessizlik said:

    I think what is keeping Dieties from being un-tethered is the whole Order thing, which is why I wanted to play with that thought. If you have an Order with Shadow people in it, Spirit will automatically insist it is a Shadow Order. It cannot be neutral, or un-tethered, and because of that, they will be a no-no for Spirit players to join. If the Diety have no order and you just offer essence to them for boons, if you don't have mechanics where other Orders can start wars and you don't have a clash of player tethering, I think that's as close as you can get to being open to all.

    What you just described is not a problem with orders, but with the mindset that surrounds orders. Organizations (and their leaders) are responsible for the degree of 'purity tests' that they subject their citizenry to when enforcing their organization's roleplay direction. Too many of them and the RP environment becomes unbearable stale, too little and we forget what the organization's actual mission is or what our red lines are. It is my opinion that some organizations suffer far more than others when it comes to this sticking point - policing who you can and cannot hang around with, for instance. There is a deep lack of trust between leaders and citizens or guild members when it comes to this behavior and I'm not quite sure - it is as if some people do not trust others to hold their role or 'do the right thing' by City RP standards, et cetera. Instead of allowing a character to grow and demonstrate their buy-in to the organizations they are a part of, I think 'association-based' tests like this stifles that and replaces it with fear and very 'cookie cutter' roleplay that just checks generic patriotism boxes ('Strength in Earth'/'For the Light'/'Dendara Eternal'/'HROAGH') instead of actually creating genuine or interesting characters.

    Our solution to this problem should never be 'buy into the lack of trust by removing one of the most important social aspects of order membership'.

    I think everyone obsesses about labels a little much, frankly, but the real problem is the logic I have outlined above. I have some personal experience here from Spirit's reception of Lexadhra but I agree that it's a bit of a tired topic at this point and would rather see what general thoughts people have.
    TetchtaNipsy
  • edited July 1
    Skimmed through this on mobile, so I apologize if someone already brought up this point, but... I really liked what they did with the Divine in Midkemia, where several (all?) of the pantheon had more than one aspect and there were cults/sects within a God's order. A "Fire" God might have a sect devoted to purity and renewal, whereas another sect was more focused on the destructive nature of fire.

    I don't know that this would apply to ALL of our Pantheon, but it would be an interesting experiment to try with one or two. If I recall, sects in MKO had their own shrines and essence pools.

    All that being said, one reason why it may have worked better in MKO was because the Pantheon there was far less visible and involved in mortal affairs. I think in all of the time I played I may have only witnessed a God speaking on public channels once or twice, and I don't think I ever remember seeing them appear to mortals - but it's been a while, so I may be misremembering.

    A potential pitfall to this system would be that every God that participated just had a Shadow and a Spirit Sect, so some thought would need to be put into the different aspects to make them appealing to players from all walks of life... unless I'm misunderstanding the entire point of this topic and what the OP is interested in is a variety of Gods that are split between Spirit and Shadow.
  • I can confirm that building Lexadhra up as the Goddess of Dramatic Chaos Energy and then explicitly putting her in the Spirit tether made it hard to understand where she fits in the game, both OOC and IC. Tetchta has been immensely helpful with that, at least as far as I'm concerned, but it's a difficult first impression to get over. Since the people who are directly involved with Lexadhra don't want to stick to the topic, I'll leave it to that.

    The way the tethers overshadow has been rehashed a lot and I do think it takes away from more interesting forms of conflict. For gods specifically, I find that a lot of them are really hard to "get" from public sources. Unless you're in the congregation/order, there's a lot of nuance doesn't come through. I'd like to see god-related conflict that isn't framed by Shadow vs Spirit.


    Tetchta
  • SessizlikSessizlik Muffin Mage
    Having read all your comments so far, I agree completely with what you say. It's a whole mindset thing and it's a shame that it kills off what could be some really awesome rp. There is a lot of distrust and I remember experiencing it myself when I was a young gr2 Ascendril, being kicked from the guild because I "associated with the enemy", when I was in fact getting information that no one else was able to get. If leadership of different organisations could be more open towards trusting characters, and being willing to gamble a bit, since there will be those who might deceive, then Orders could be a whole lot more fun. Even if Shadow and Spirit follow the same Divine, that doesn't mean they will betray their city or guild.

    I love this discussion! Keep it coming. What could be done to change the mindset? How deeply routed is it and do you think it would be possible to actually make a change, even if it takes a long time?
    image
  • I think the first step to decoupling Divine from tethers is exactly that, for the Admin to consider the dissolution of tethers as a guiding identity to the Divine, and allow RP to determine what a God/Goddess desires to incline towards. I think it gives more freedom and allows more unique stories to flourish, and I am sure the players will follow suit.

    I 100% agree that with the way tethers restrict Divine worship now, orgs are stuck in this trap where leaders are paranoid that allowing worship of any nuanced Divine will dilute or destroy org identity. I can understand the fear associated with this- we do see that people very often would prefer to listen to what their Divine says and asks them to do (aka RPing blind zealotry), but I recently posted in-game about stances related to this: being able to balancing religious sentiment and city identity might be difficult, but it is a necessary act.
    SryaenSessizlikTetchta
  • SibattiSibatti Mamba dur Naya Amidst vibrant flora and trees
    The game would need to heavily rethink shrines for this to work. There are too many mechanics associated with shrine that support conflicts that run in parallel.

    As it is, there's no reason to risk entertaining a shrine to a God that is, at best, an unknown quantity, and capable of exploiting that vulnerability.
    Sryaen
  • Imo, I think that's still something that orgs can decide how they want to settle. If it's security we're worried about, then I think orgs can always come up with clauses that restrict its usage or presence. As it is, Orders stand to benefit if their worship is taken up by an org, so to have that revoked or outright banned by orgs surely isn't something I think they'll want to risk on behalf of their Divine.

    I understand the concern though, and it is valid because I've felt the same.
  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    All shrines must be raised in Elene's bedroom from now on.

    TeramasceEleneAlela
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