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In my 'world', there is the three-dimensional 'real world', and the four-dimensional 'realm of the gods'. The 'real world' is much like a magical version of our own world, while the realm of the gods is organised quite differently, and it is populated with 'gods' who are four-dimensional versions of humans. The only real difference is that while the gods are conceived and develop to adulthood at around the same rate as humans, they can live much longer, often many thousands of years... or it may be that they just don't move through time the same way as the inhabitants of the real world.

The gods can take avatars in the 'real world' to improve their ability to interact with and understand the 'real world'.

Most of these avatars occur when a mature god links its consciousness to a suitable embryo (usually human) in-utero, so that when the child it born, it is an avatar of a god from the outset, a baby backed by the mind of a mature being, so such avatars appear unusually mature, and even when they play, these avatars are consciously playing for practise, not playing out of instinct. They may appear childish, but this generally occurs when the god is paying less attention to their avatar, allowing the avatar's instincts to take over, or is being childish deliberately.

Some avatars may rarely be created in the 'real world' as adults. This is rare as it takes a lot of energy for a god to create so much matter. Also rarely, a rare compatible normal person may choose to join with a god and become an avatar as an adult after a normal childhood.

The effects of being an avatar are that the avatar and the god share their minds and senses. Each can perceive the other's world and their thoughts and memories are shared, the god gives the avatar an increased ability to do magic, and since the four-dimensional god sees the three-dimensional 'real world' from 'above', they can see inside three-dimensional objects as easily as we might see inside a two-dimensional object drawn on a piece of paper. This higher-dimensional sight is available to the god's avatar. An avatar is much stronger and tougher than a normal member of its species, can be much faster or slower at need, is more intelligent as it shares its god's mind, and has a much better immune system to the point where an avatar won't ever become noticeably ill.

This covers most of the circumstances... except one. A female god with a female avatar may find that both god and avatar become pregnant at the same time. In such circumstances, it is common (though not certain) that the developing god and the developing 'real world' child become linked as god and avatar. Unlike most god-avatar relations, this doesn't occur deliberately, it is essentially accidental.

My question is: What developmental differences might occur when an infant human is the avatar of an infant god? I am interested primarily in how the human infant might act and how they would mature as the avatar of an infant god in comparison to a normal human infant and if the ordinary people around the infant avatar would notice any difference. The infant god is the child of two gods whose avatars are the parents of the infant god's avatar, will be raised by all of its parents, and the setting is bronze-age, in case it matters.

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  • $\begingroup$ I love this question... but if a Question could be a story in its own right, then it is not an appropriate question for here. And I feel the answer(s) absolutely could be an entire story - probably a really cracking one too. $\endgroup$ Apr 3 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Is "the infant god is the child of two gods whose avatars are the parents of the infant god's avatar" a requirement? What if an avatar gets pregnant by a mere mortal, while the god behind the avatar got pregnant by another god, perhaps even one without an avatar (currently)? Won't there simply be any specific bond between the fetuses? $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Apr 3 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Joachim Technically it doesn't matter. All that is really necessary for a linked pregnancy is a pregnant goddess with a pregnant avatar. I mentioned the parentage for the sake of the potential relevance of that fact during the baby's childhood. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Apr 4 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDemonLord It was hard to keep this concise, so if you have any suggestions, they'd be welcome. I'm primarily interested in the developmental aspects and the potential for social problems. I'll write the story myself. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Apr 4 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild - I think you have got to narrow it down to a specific scenario where being an infant god in an infant body would be a problem. I have not VTCd yet - as I think there is the possibility of a really great question here - but as is, 'what happens when...' on this sort of scale - it is too open ended. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 2:54

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Expect fatalities (other issues)

One of the key development milestones for children is impulse control. The "terrible twos" are well known as a problematic age where a child is typically walking and learning to interact with their environment, but with very little control over their temper and impulses. For an avatar infant who "is much stronger and tougher than a normal member of their species" and "can be much faster or slower at need" and who does not have a mature god mind exercising restraint from the god-realm dimension, they will probably kill other infants they are socialising with when they throw a tantrum. Alternatively, they will have all kinds of different developmental issues if they cannot be allowed to safely socialise with other children. So, the ordinary people will either note how weird it is that Mr and Mrs Avatar keep their child away from all the other children, or Bad Things will happen. (If there is a way for the parent avatars to use magic to restrict Little Goddy's super-strength then this may alleviate the problem, though it will then raise a separate issue of when to remove the magic restrictions and how Little Goddy will cope with suddenly having access to super strength.) Once they are old enough to understand that they need to be discreet then at least there is a possibility of behaving "normally".)

The second problem is how Little Goddy handles having their attention split between two different realities that they are existing in simultaneously (maybe). It says that when the god is paying less attention to the avatar then it will act more instinctively - depending on how this works for a developing child it may be that the infant avatar "spaces out" and does very little while their attention is focused on the god realm, or it may be that the infant avatar seems to have a dual personality, the "god attention" one and the "avatar instinctive" one. This may be critical around the time of birth - if Little Goddy's attention is totally on the god realm as Little Goddy's avatar is supposed to be taking their first breath then things may not go well, partly because...

The third problem may or may not be a problem, since we are told in the first paragraph that "it may be that they just don't move through time the same way as the inhabitants of the real world". At the very least, there is the question of how childbirth happens for a god and will it happen exactly simultaneously with the avatar being born? Since we have no more information on differential time flow or godly childbirth, all that can be done is to tag different rates of maturation as possible issues.

The fourth point is more a curiosity than anything else. "Object permanency" is a key developmental milestone, that is, understanding that even when an object is no longer in the infant's field of view that it still exists. Given that gods can see inside (and presumably through) three dimensional objects, Little Goddy may appear to hit that milestone faster, but without needing to form the mental understanding of object permanency because they can see everything all the time. (It may also be a dead giveaway to other people that Little Goddy has superpowers - Person A comes bearing a treat that they have hidden behind their back - or are just carrying in a bag - and Little Goddy says "Me want that honeycake now!") So Little Goddy may have more or less trouble forming the concept of object permanency.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is exactly what I wanted. I probably should have explained how the extra strength thing works, that it would be related to the strength of the god, so an infant god wouldn't add as much strength, so while fatalities are unlikely, injuries are likely. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Apr 4 at 2:37
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To piggyback on KerrAvon2055's answer, I think taking the setting into account is important, as well. All the things mentioned there, but against a Bronze Age backdrop creates significant societal problems, I could imagine. Since these gods develop from infancy like humans, the question must be: when do the little tykes parents tell them they are a god? Children struggle to understand their place in the world, and that means physically, as well. Early childhood development, in a time and place before we had created sciences arounds it, would have to be through trial-and-error and observation. But they cannot be allowed to "try out" their strength, and by observation, I would assume even their god parents in avatar form would mostly spend their time behaving as humans, meaning our little godling might have some pretty confused ideas.

Taking this even a step further, imagine if the avatar parents kept this information from them even longer, into their teenage years? Imagine all those human emotions and the struggle to fit in to society. This situation seems ripe for leading to leaving home to try to find their place. The human side of our little avatar might even misinterpret the "voice" of the god within them, and the experiences of the gods' realm. This could manifest in several ways, I would think, but mostly like what we would today classify as a psychosis. A collection of "symptoms" like that can lead people in our modern era to messianic ideation, so imagine the possible outcome here: perhaps they end up unable to cope entirely with reality, but perhaps they end up a charismatic leader of others. And with powers as you have described in a highly superstitious society, I think you have the makings of a faith around the avatar child.

Of course, this is largely predicated on how the avatar parents handle the situation, I suppose. Given their relationship to time, perhaps they would know better how exactly to handle this, negating a fair piece of all of this. But if not, if they struggle with how to handle a near-unique situation, besides the simple carnage of an overpowered avatar, but possibly the complete carnage of a nascent religion coming into being as well.

TL;DR Without significant oversight and intervention from parents who are ready to handle the situation, through either knowledge or some time-induced foresight, the mind of the avatar child might look like what we would call psychosis today and any number of things during the Bronze Age.

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