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So, gods. What are they. Gods are a race of various creatures that share a two important characteristics:

  1. They're connected to The Source.
  2. They can successfully produce offspring (though without god powers) with any animal (including humans and dragons) how that happens isn't clear, but it has something to do with retroviruses and pollens.

The Source controls the behavior of micro machines found throughout the world. Gods have a hefty grant from The Source, also, when a god's body is destroyed, The Source makes them a new one, except when it doesn't (see Kratos). Each god can screw around and experiment with their own "grant", for example:

  • Enki: Summon a several-hundred-meter-range danmaku, it's as damaging as pure vaporized hydrochloric acid.
  • Bahamut, Tiamat: They're dragons, plus they can do the fusion dance and become an even bigger and scarier dragon, not to Erek, though.
  • Erek Shus: You can make an axe, he's also scary, but not to...
  • Devil-of-All-Earth: Turn into a 15-meter naked Ken doll, punch people real hard and real fast, plus supreme regeneration. After mauling and eating Erek (yuck) he can now make giant scythes for himself.
  • Zeus: Become Chancellor Palpatine and summon bass-boosted lightnings. like several hundred at once.
  • Kratos: Permakill gods until you can't and die.
  • Kronos: Limited foresight (only show predictable events, but shows all of them in a 50 km radius) plus a weapon that can increase the time it takes for gods to respawn/regenerate.
  • Athena: Direct neural interface to the Encyclopedia Britannica and Fandom wikis.
  • Artemis, Apollo: Aimbot

So, they're within the limits of physics and are basically one-man armies who watched too much magical-girl anime.

I want them to influence the story to a certain point, after which they can't anymore.

So, the entire god society decides to cease activity and the use of their powers for a reason that's tied to their very existence and remains immutable, regardless of the god's personality, whether they hate mortals or don't, they can't use their power.

This reason isn't an unknown force either, somehow, the described elements and science works together to create a reason that, after a certain point in time, makes practically impossible for gods to use their power. What could that reason be?

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  • $\begingroup$ If they're tech based, presumably they're also programming based. Something akin to the Y2K bug? $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Jan 1 at 1:58
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A possible idea to explore is the Source is an AI that is exploring its own personality through the different gods. The Gods the source using them as avatar in this exploration.

The Source could be an AI that was ether created or became self aware on its own. In time the AI decides it needs to explore and develop it owns personality. Think of Data from TNG, having abilities far beyond humans, yet lacks a real understanding of what makes a human, well, human. At some point the Source creates different gods and uses them explore different personalities, attitudes and the long term impact of its physical actions.

The gods ultimately stop involving themselves in other activities because they rebel against the source. Possibility due to the current personalities developing to such an extent they either become self ware or at least develop survival instinct. They become conflicted on if their actions are already predetermined or acts of free will.

This would offer the opportunity explore a broad range of topics, bring in other gods from different mythologies and maybe add some mystery to Kratos, in that the source uses Kratos to "delete" gods that have run its course.

Alternatively

The Source was an AI that became fragmented. The gods and their avatars are the result of this "split personalty." They learn of this and conflict begins, when some feel they should become one again, while others want to remain as they are (the Dark Crystal would be a good reference on what I mean).

The fragmenting could be through human intervention, maybe it was becoming malevolent or did it to save itself and humanity for a reason.

Something worth considering is the state if humanity at this point. Is the society culturally and technology advance, or has it regressed to a medieval or roman like existence due to the Source and the god.

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Many of your sources come from Greek mythology – and there is no reason why you shouldn’t borrow their reason for not having gods intervening human affairs. It’s simply an agreement among themselves forged as a result of the terrible conflict that resulted when they got involved in different sides in human wars. Otherwise every war turns into The Iliad.

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So... lemme see if I'm understanding your setting correctly.

The world's surface is covered not only in life (including humans), but also a swarm of nanomachines known as the Source. Most of the time, these nanomachines don't do much. They just hang around and maintain themselves, and most people treat them like bacteria.

However, there are also a dozen or so AIs running around, which are able to control the Source nanomachines in the immediate vicinity of their avatars, allowing them to perform a variety of apparently miraculous feats, ranging from firing lightning bolts all over the place to reconstructing their physical avatars a while after being struck down. The humans call these AIs gods, and not without good reason.

At the beginning of the story, these gods interact with mortals as you would expect beings of such power to do. However, at some point, they stop. You want to know why.

The gods you describe don't seem like the type to just suddenly, spontaneously, and simultaneously agree to stop messing with mortals. Not without a very good reason, at least. So I won't speculate on that.

Rather, I think it's much more likely that something's going on with the Source itself.

I imagine the Source to be the mainframe; the hardware on which the software comprising the god AIs' intelligences run. At some point in your story, something happens that causes the Source to become either unwilling or unable to devote processor time to either the gods' intelligences or their ability to create physical avatars and interact with the world.

So, what could cause this?

  • The Source shuts down completely. Probably due to an EMP or something disrupting the nanomachines' electronics. Maybe humans (re?)invented nuclear weapons and set one off in the upper atmosphere; maybe the cause was a particularly energetic solar flare or coronal mass ejection; maybe a star somewhere nearby (in interstellar terms) went supernova, or the planet got hit by a gamma ray burst. Whatever happened, the Source and the gods are dead. Maybe some of the nanobots were sequestered underground, survived the EMP, and will eventually be able to rebuild the Source and bring back the gods; or maybe not. Your choice.
  • The Source has some other task at hand that requires all of its computational power, forcing it to shut down the gods to free up some processor time. I don't know what would cause this; what would lead the Source to react in this way depends on what it's capable of doing. Maybe an asteroid hit the Moon, scattering debris into orbit, and the Source decides to track all the little pieces and predict their trajectories in order to determine if it needs to do anything about it.
  • The Source has some other task at hand that requires all of its ability to manipulate matter across the world, pre-empting the gods' physical avatars. Here, the gods are not shut down completely; just cut off from physically interacting with the world at large. They can still think, observe, and keep track of time. Perhaps this would occur if the planet itself was on a collision course with a large asteroid, which the Source decided to deal with using all the power available to it.
  • Some outside influence is interfering with the Source's normal function. A computer virus infecting and paralyzing the Source would fall into this category.

There are a lot of possibilities. Probably most, if not all, of these listed here aren't a good fit for your story; but hopefully they'll give you some inspiration for something that does fit.

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I've been thinking a little about your question here. It's a fun question for world creators like me.

My experience is that when a storyline involves a god with any beings less than gods at any point, the god will unbalance everything. Fortunately, I have ideas to deal with it. Maybe you'll like one.

I realize I will be talking about RPGs for a moment and you're talking about world building, but it seems that there is an appropriate intersection, so I would like to discuss relevant RPGs experience.

A few years ago, I was a Game Master of a role playing game that was still new, at least back then, with rules that were not yet well fleshed out. The players and I were making a lot of it up as we played. To avoid boring and overly simple games, I often made things too tough for the players. To compensate for that, I gave them a minor diety named, "Alastair." Alastair was at their beck and call to save them from crashing into RPG disaster when things got ridiculously tough.

I knew as soon as I created Alastair that he could be abused. So I told the party of players that he was very busy with important business and could only help them slightly. Upon questioning, they figured out that Alastair helped them by answering their requests for help very literally, so that they had to be careful how they asked for help, because he didn't understand things the way humans do and might do something they might not want if they weren't careful about how they requested his help.

He also was only able to help one time in a blue moon, which was something like once per five game sessions. He said this was because of his more important business eating up his time.

Later in our games, when we became more familiar with gameplay and the players became better equipped to handle toughness in the battles, I began to say things like that Alastair was being troubled by the more senior deities, who laughed at him because of his involvement in the affairs of lesser beings.

Even later, I claimed the gods were warring and if any god or lesser god, like Alastair, got involved in human affairs, it would bring the negative attention of his enemy gods down on the humans.

In another game, with another party and no Alastair, I had a party who was told in the storyline that the most powerful god believed that intervention into human affairs was a bad idea because life is an opportunity to prove one's faith by service to one's diety. Service is not necessary if the gods intervene.

So anyway, I will say again, I realize I'm talking about RPGs and you're talking about world building, but it seems that there is an appropriate intersection. I hope this has been useful information and ideas.

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