In August 2001, the Greek, Norse, and Egyptian pantheons return to earth and create "realms", areas where technology does not work, and magic does. The areas are marked on this map:

Realm location map

This throws the world into upheaval, and I'm trying to figure out a way to make a believable culture in the year 2025.

Gods are nearly immortal in the realms, and engage in press-gang tactics to bring humans who venture into them into line with their own agendas. That said, magic does not work outside realms; gods can be harmed or killed outside of them.

Some things I'd like to try and keep, if possible:

  • 9/11 happened
  • International relations with realm gods do exist, but each god is effectively its own nation and relations are tense.
  • Gods have created many mythical beings which now live and can travel the world.

If you have any questions, just ask! I'm sure I missed a bunch.

EDIT 1: In response to some questions.

The pink splotches are "occasional realm activity" and can be ignored for now. The Yellow zone is the Midgard realm with the Norse gods, and its boundaries. The red zone is the Hellenic realm with the Greek gods, and its boundaries. Note that this CLOSES the Bosporous. The Orange zone is the Kemetic realm with the Egyptian gods, and its boundaries.

The Gods want followers, because followers determines power, and they need to be able to compete with the other gods. Basically the gods themselves are their own level of politics and border wars.

Electricity other than lightning and bioelectricity doesn't flow. Artificial compounds decay at a rapid rate. Kinetic energy explosions don't happen.

Hope this helps, and thanks for the warm welcome!


closed as too broad by bowlturner, ArtOfCode, Burki, HDE 226868, JDługosz May 2 '15 at 20:01

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  • $\begingroup$ I've edited the image into your question and made a few other improvements. Could you explain what significance the colours of the regions on the map have? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 2 '15 at 11:35
  • $\begingroup$ May I ask what do gods want with us for? devoted worshippers? build them some temples to keep shades? or to witness their magnificent performance such as parting water oh wait I got confused that's a different God my apology. $\endgroup$ – user6760 May 2 '15 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by 'technology does not work, and magic does'? $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 2 '15 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ What is this, a map for ants? $\endgroup$ – o0'. May 2 '15 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ In this vein, you may find the "Age of [X] / Pantheon Series" (amazon.co.uk/s/…) by James Lovegrove an interesting read. $\endgroup$ – Rob May 2 '15 at 17:05

Here's a couple of consequences I foresee:

  • The governments of the world do not take this lightly. They consider it an annexation of sovereign land. There's not much they can do about it, but it turns into us vs. them. Old feuds are forgotten (especially since religious differences aren't that important anymore) and the rest of the world basically becomes one big nation, against the realms. All this power is consolidated in the UN, since it has decision-making protocols in place.
  • The old forms of religion are largely displaced by worship of the new gods. Or at the very least, people have to choose. Do they choose the visible gods, or the invisible. Those who choose the new travel to the realms, those who stay behind consider the invaders more as powerful aliens than gods. The churches of old persist outside the realms, and they must work very hard to change, but there is plenty of need for them, since people need to cope with these changes.
  • The gods may get worshippers, but they are not free. At heart, they are bound by the same rules of governance that mortals are. Treat your worshippers like slaves, and they'll get away from you, or at the very least not work as hard. Such realms exist, but they are run like totalitarian regimes. Especially information about the outside world is strictly controlled. Think scientology on a nationwide scale.
  • Science gets a whole new kind of reality to investigate, and the UN is more than happy to throw money at it. It's like the race for the atom bomb: fundamental science backed by a military budget. It may be magic, but you can still poke a stick at it and see what happens. Fieldwork will happen just at the border of the realms to figure out how all this new reality works.
  • Espionage: the UN will want to get inside the realms, and the Gods will want to know what it happening outside. In both directions they will send spies. At the low level, just to understand the rules of the realms, and to figure out how this "technology" works, at higher levels, they will try to infiltrate each other's militaries and governments. Both technology and magic have ways of detecting spies, so at the start many will be caught, until countermeasures are developed.
  • Aeronautics and space will become very important. Assuming that the realms end at some altitude, getting above it with a spy sattelite can be very helpful.
  • Strict border control. Since the border is the place to experiment with these things, and the borders are relatively small, moving in and out of the realms will be extremely difficult.
  • The realms would form uneasy alliances. Communication is difficult, but they need each other to face the human world.
  • Culture: Ultimately, outside the realms, people can live in relative peace, probably more so than now. The increased science spending benefits education and causes new non-military scientific advancements. The otherness of the realms creates togetherness in the rest of the world. However, there is great paranoia about infiltration from the realms. This is not a stable state. Sometimes the conservatives manage to instigate a witch hunt, sometimes the progressives manage to relax everybody. This is also not uniform: the old cultural and geographic differences still exist. At one time Asia might be progressive, while the Americas are conservative, while a generation later the roles might be reversed.
  • The mythical beings would work to the favor of the Human nation. Outside the realms, their magical properties are diminished, which means that they can be caught, bred, domesticated, etc. This advances human research, and enriches our zoos, but doesn't give the gods any practical advantage outside their borders. For every dragon they send into our space, we can send a flock of them to contain it. Although a few Apaches are probably more effective.
  • $\begingroup$ I think that a dragon would be cheaper to maintain than an Apache with current gas prices :P $\endgroup$ – HadesHerald May 14 '15 at 17:01

The most co-operative god dominates, and very interesting things happen at the boundaries of these realms.

Basically it sounds like you have zones with different laws of physics, and while mythological magic can be self-consistent and balanced within their zones, if you have something very different a mile away, then you can do very cool stuff and take advantage of both the benefits of magic and of technology. For example, you could use magic to produce a high pressure jet of water, which then crosses a boundary into normal space and then drives a power station. Result: free energy! In turn, modern tech can offer advancements like good healthcare that aren't available in mythology. Stuff like good metal that ancient heroes had to quest for, you can import by the truckload. For warmaking against other realms, you can fit magic warheads onto ICBMs. Oh sure, the missiles stop working at a certain altitude, but the warheads still do...

Not every god would be wise enough to see how this would work, but there are certainly those with a history of working with mortals, or at least who want to disrupt the status quo. Loki, Athena and Hephestus would be some of the most likely candidates to prosper in this new world.

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    $\begingroup$ In turn, modern tech can offer advancements like good healthcare that aren't available in mythology. You kidding? Healing was one of the classic magical powers, and with all our modern science we've still got nothing on the ancient mythological figures in that area! $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler May 2 '15 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, but mythological healing has to be done with individual heroes! That's not efficient at all. Imagine the lame god, Hephaestus, with corrective surgery. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 2 '15 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Actually modern science can answer that one: he'd need more than surgery. The deformed bronze-age smith is a civilizational cliche that goes beyond Hephaestus or the Greeks in general. Much like hatters went mad due to chronic mercury poisoning, smiths became deformed because, when tin is in short supply, the next best thing to alloy with your copper to make bronze is arsenic! $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler May 2 '15 at 18:15

In military fields, the technological societies would place a greater emphasis on researching things like kinetic energy weapons (railguns &c), in an effort to find something that can reliably score kills on targets inside a god's realm from outside. There would be fewer drones, cruise missiles, fighters and other weapons that rely on continuously-active electronics in play, because most militaries around the world would be less able to afford to deploy multiple styles of weapon technology at once. This wouldn't be a blanket thing, and the biggest powers would still have the full range of weapons available (nuclear weapons might even work through the field, who knows?).

As soon as word got out about any successful tests of rock-dropping technology, the gods would also likely develop a magic-powered railgun equivalent in order to maintain their standoff. Depending on how much they can violate physical laws, they could probably retain the upper hand (oooh, a US Navy railgun can drop twenty-kilo tungsten rods on us? How cute, here's ten thousand tons of granite), but as long as they themselves remain killable, this wouldn't necessarily degenerate into a shooting war (at least, after the first rogue god gets sniped, at the cost of a few dozen human ships, and the others calm down), just a new flavour of cold.

One possible political consequence of a cold war: as soon as there's any hint that humans can break or question the hegemony of any given King of the Gods for a region, the gods within that region would split into multiple factions more concerned with each other than with the human realm outside their sphere of influence. e.g. the Titans would try to manipulate Zeus into a position of conflict with one or more major human military; the Vanir might break alignment with the Aesir and instead join the EU, because of their preference for peaceful applications of power, etc. Half of the gods of any given region would likely want to work with humans on peaceful technology, in the hope of toppling their dictatorial overlord.


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