In a thing I'm writing, the plot revolves around 'shards' fragments of a divine power that attach themselves to a rare few humans at birth- one in some many million. When that human hits a massive stress point, the shard and their body fuse together to transform them into a God/dess, able to discorporate at will. The new diety's purviews are the most important things in their life at that time- for example hurricane Katrina triggered the birth of both a storm goddess and a disease god. The gods have massive power in their field- that storm goddess could swamp north america for days, the disease god could wipe out europe in a few weeks. Given that, my questions are:

  • There is an equal spread between males and females who receive shards- how would that have impacted gender dynamics how and historically and what would medieval europeans have thought of war/destruction goddesses?
  • How would Abrahamic religions explain this? What happens if a pope or priest ascends- especially if they become a god of sex or corruption etc.?
  • Can you regulate beings of such power legally? What kind of laws would be needed to validate a new god's cult, or to stop divine wars?

Currently, about 200 gods exist, the 'old' gods- about 150 or so- only intervene at the behest of legally sanctioned high priests and otherwise just stay in 'heaven' or the underworld- humans get boring after a while and they find physical forms limiting. Younger ones tend to try and help the causes they supported in mortality. Human worship is equivalent to fancy foods- good to show off, makes them feel good- but not necessary. Pantheons are merely political alliances.

  • $\begingroup$ They are worshipped, but 'pantheons' are just political alliances and can fall through. People know that it's possible to ascend, but knowledge of shards is a university level thing. $\endgroup$
    – Titanide
    May 17, 2015 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ What can be done to influence these new "Gods?" Nothing is mentioned of their strength or weakness after fusion, so its hard to say how we would treat them. Also, is there a particular reason you believe the Abrahamic religions would form as is? Are to treat them as the "true religions," or perhaps they were just isolated enough to not experience a transformation until after the religion was written down? It is unlikely that a religion built around a book that contains everything true that matters would fail to have a few phrases on the topic. Are you wondering what those phrases might be? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    May 17, 2015 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to know what the phrases are, thanks for clarifying. I'm trying to veer away from 'true' religions, but as those three are the most prominent in the locale I wanted to know more about them. Given the answer from Murphy, it wouldn't be that unlikely for christians to go for a century or two before an Ascension occurred amongst them. I don't really see them as having many weaknesses though- god's are usually unbeatable. $\endgroup$
    – Titanide
    May 17, 2015 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ Would these "massive stress points" include the sorts of things people do to each other sometimes? If they do, sooner or later someone will have the bright idea, "Let's pick one of our oppressed group and get ourselves a new god to help us out" $\endgroup$ Jun 6 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


Younger ones tend to try and help the causes they supported in mortality.

This... is going to make a huge difference as long as it's actually fairly random. In our world 99% of medieval europeans were brutally oppressed constantly. So you have a 99% chance of a peasant god.

Currently there are 7 billion people alive. it's estimated that something like 100 billion of what could reasonably be called people have ever lived. If the 200 gods are culled from that number than only about 1 in 500 million people ever ascends. (if you want to boost that you might want to come up with some reason for the oldest ones to utterly lose interest in humanity)

Population of medieval europe was < 200 million so this is going to be a rare event.

So there's only going to be an ascension every couple of generations and odds are it's going to be someone who spent their life being treated like dirt by the local lord. Also they're likely to ascend at a moment of awful trauma...

If the ascended still care about the people and things they cared about before this does not end well for the aristocracy.

Every few generations an immortal god is likely to be born who likely wants to murder every lord, duke baron and king they can find.

So medieval history is likely going to look a lot different.

You talk of laws? What are laws that can't be enforced? Do the gods enforce some kind of law on each other? What leverage could any mortal have upon these gods? Remember that history doesn't look much different if you go back further, most of the older gods are also likely to be from the oppressed masses meaning the dominant force on this world is likely to be kinda in favour of treating serfs and peasants well.

  • $\begingroup$ This is good this is very good. 150 left-wings elder gods are exactly what I wanted. The older gods do try and keep the younger ones in line- they leave mostly out of the boredom and alienation that comes after a few centuries. $\endgroup$
    – Titanide
    May 17, 2015 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ I should note: if it's not utterly random, if it's genetic in any way, or if it's possible to increase your odds or if a god can help their descendants to ascend then you get a different pattern again as gods elevate their children to positions of power and attempt to maximise the odds of getting allies from their grandkids ascending and the percentage from poor backgrounds drops a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Murphy
    May 18, 2015 at 0:08

This makes for an interesting alternative reality.

Q: There is an equal spread between males and females who receive shards- how would that have impacted gender dynamics now and historically and what would medieval Europeans have thought of war/destruction goddesses?
A: Imagine Joan of Arc becoming Goddess of Fire...and burning down a cathedral. That I think would have further escalated the already very skewed gender relations. Women would have been oppressed even more. And possibly escaped into underground female goddess worship along the lines of witchcraft. Joan would be a very controversial figure but NOT in her face.

Q: How would Abrahamic religions explain this?
A: Obviously the devil tempting the faithful. It is all a test, ignore! Makes room both for real pure faith AND bigotry.

Q: What happens if a pope or priest ascends- especially if they become a god of sex or corruption etc.?
A: Fun! Huge scandal and see previous answer.

Q: Can you regulate beings of such power legally?
A: Humans cannot, so self-regulation it is. Job for the eldest/most powerful god(dess)? No matter it will be a messy situation.

Q: What kind of laws would be needed to validate a new god's cult, or to stop divine wars?
A: New religions have a history of conflict with the powers that be. So any law would be a paper tiger and any number of applicants would be faking it. Stopping a war of any kind is even harder. So what I see is chaos. And a God channel on TV.

Are gods able to grant wishes, convey powers on the worthy?

  • $\begingroup$ If you pray to them and kowtow enough, they'd probably grant wishes and they do take favourites. If you 'paid' them in sacrifices they'd give you powers- lighting flammable objects, water breathing etc. but they can be expensive- a cow for rainfall, a chicken for impossibly bright flowers. $\endgroup$
    – Titanide
    May 17, 2015 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Religion rules! I see a lot of prayer happening then, and people badgering others to provide sacrifices. If the shard principle is known there will be a movement going after that, as well. Meta-religion? $\endgroup$
    – Bookeater
    May 17, 2015 at 16:49

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