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I'm currently writing up a world where every thing and concept imaginable is represented by an immortal Being/God.

Assuming Gods don't grant powers to their worshipers, but may interact with them; why would people devote themselves around a clearly malevolent God of Murder?

What would cause organized worship of said malevolent God? Besides being deranged in the head.

Overpopulation?

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    $\begingroup$ God of murder, or god of homicide? In many cases there is a difference. For example, in the Old Testiment, the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was actually closer to "thou shalt not murder," where murder was an "unlawful killing." A god of murder would have to be inherently anarchistic. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 18 '17 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ Is he the only God around? $\endgroup$ – 絢瀬絵里 Jan 18 '17 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation, with suggestions for starting points (including the Thuggees), has been moved to chat. Please continue discussion there, not here. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 19 '17 at 2:58
  • $\begingroup$ In what ways is the god-follower relationship mutually beneficial? What is the incentive for worshiping such a god? It could be something more than just fear of being murdered. To what extent does the god require or exploit the help of the followers? And if every concept has a god, why would anybody worship the god of premature ejaculation? $\endgroup$ – nothingisnecessary Jan 22 '17 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ Others have touched on this in their answers, so I will mention it as a filter: You haven't specified why every concept has a personable deity behind it. Is this something like Aristotle's Noumenal or Ideal framework for the Phenomenal or Empirical world? Worshipping such a non–person ‘deity’ is simply a way of saying “I like such things, and watch how I say so.” Maybe your world is an artificial reality created by teams of designers, each of which decides to contribute a limited aspect to the backdrop of the world. How do they interact but not grant powers, then? $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 14 '17 at 19:08

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What is the difference between a god of murder and a god of war?

Is it scale, or just semantics*? You could say that one is the god of murder and the other is the god of mass murder. Murder has very negative connotations, but war, war is glorious. Your god of murder needs an image change, something to make the concept more acceptable.

Perhaps he's the god of assassins, though this is probably a side line of the god of death. The sailors get a lot of gods of the sea, the sea is a very dangerous place to be. There are also gods of fertility and farming for the more landbound peasantry. There are gods of just about every trade and assassination is as dangerous a trade as any.

There are endless gods of death, everybody has one (or more), after all, everybody dies. It's just a matter of encouraging said god to take the person sooner rather than later.

Maybe a god of vengeance, Adrestia (also known as Nemesis) was known to accompany her father Ares to war. Remember that Ares was himself the god of bloody violence in war:

"overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering." His sons Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) and his lover, or sister, Enyo (Discord) accompanied him on his war chariot.

Athena was the goddess of the just, controlled, tactical war. Politicians might call on Athena when sending the army to war, but the soldiers know that on the field they'll find only Ares. Place your offerings as appropriate and pray that he's on your side.

Perhaps this is a side role of the god of justice, execution is after all a standard acceptable method of punishment in most religions. Though perhaps you want Adikia the goddess of injustice to aid you, because you know you're in the wrong but you still want to be rid of your rival.

*It's semantics, a legal technicality. The difference between judicial execution and a revenge killing is the judicial part, the bit where society approves the action. War could be said to be government sanctioned mass murder. It's just point of view.


This could also go the other way, the negative connotations of murder used against a god.

He wasn't always a god of murder

The problem is that society has turned against this old god and the old traditions. Some new god has come along and now society disapproves of the occasional human sacrifice the old god demanded. Some stand by the old ways and make the sacrifices, but they're considered to worship the god of murder, not by themselves, unless they've taken it as a badge of pride, but by others. Though like the Thuggee they're likely to be cracked down on by the new order if they sacrifice too many people.

Estimates of the total number of victims vary widely, since no reliable source confirms the length of the Thugs' existence. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Thuggee cult was responsible for approximately two million deaths; British historian Mike Dash said that they killed a total of 50,000 people over an estimated 150 years. Political scientist David C. Rapoport estimated that 500,000 people were killed by the Thugs, making them the most destructive terrorist group in history.[9] According to other estimates, they murdered one million people.[10]

Whether it's human sacrifice, gladiators (to the death), duelling (to the death of course) or trial by combat (need I say it?), a god who encouraged/demanded these things could become known by outsiders as a god of murder.

This is classic us and them propaganda.

  • Our great god who loves and protects us, your god of murder who loves human sacrifice.
  • Our great god of war who aids us in our glorious battles, your savage god of bloody murder who loves nothing more than a field of corpses and keeps you in a constant state of war. Which way the god falls in this depends on where you stand.

Though perhaps like Ares and others, the god is both aid and terror even to their own side.

On the other hand

Some men just want to watch the world burn

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    $\begingroup$ One big difference: War is state-sanctioned (at least by one of the states involved). $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Jan 18 '17 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @T.E.D., state sanctioning is also what makes an execution justice rather than a revenge murder. Something I should expand on when I've had a think about it. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 18 '17 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. "state sanctioned" just means "the people (in power) around you are okay with this". It says nothing about the act, only of what the community thinks about that act. $\endgroup$ – Erik Jan 19 '17 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ Another difference between War and Murder is that in a war, you kill or get killed, whereas in many murders, the victim is not aware of the fact she will get killed and is taken by surprise. The notion of warrior evokes honor and martial prowess, whereas murder evokes deception, treachery and sometimes less honorable way of killing (poison,...). $\endgroup$ – Taladris Jan 19 '17 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Taladris, I'm pretty sure being hit from the air by 1000lbs of high explosive has none of the "kill or" part, just the "be killed". Asymmetric warfare Is all about ensuring that you have all the kill and none of the be killed, hence government sanctioned mass murder is a valid definition. Whether it's the Romans, Greeks or Apache Helicopter Gunships. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 19 '17 at 15:03
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  1. Because they are murderers and want the god of murder to bless their efforts or do their bidding.

  2. Because they want to appease the god of murder, in order to avoid being murdered themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ #2 - placate the god - was the first thing I thought of. It is also entirely possible that different elements of the society would have either reason: the majority might want to placate the god; a minority would want His blessing in their bloody work. (Either way, I don't think I want to vacation there.) $\endgroup$ – Ghotir Jan 18 '17 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly. In fact, no. 2 may actually ask for protection from no. 1 on the same society. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Jan 18 '17 at 16:11
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The reasons might be as numerous as the reasons for murder itself.

A well known fantasy example: There was an orphan boy in the world of Skyrim, who prayed to the Night Mother to send an assasin to kill the owner of the orphanage he ran away from, because the owner (known ironically as "Grelod the Kind") treated her children very badly.

Some hypothetical examples:

  • A cheated woman prays to the God of Murder to take revenge on her Ex-husband or his new love.

  • Some political extremists pray to the God of Murder to kill a
    political leader because of his political views.

And so on.

What would cause organized worship of said malevolent God?

Because the more people pray to him / her, the more powerful the deity gets.

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    $\begingroup$ And you do not mess with the flock of the God Of Gratuitously Brutal And Agonizing End To The Lives Of Any Target And Their Dog No Matter How Secure They Feel. Also, the flock tend to overestimate the worth of their devoutness, but all that does is inspire more of it in the survivors. A God Of Complacency doesn't get a tenth of that attention. $\endgroup$ – kaay Jan 18 '17 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ Leave out the dog and I'm into this cult :D $\endgroup$ – Alexander von Wernherr Jan 18 '17 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexandervonWernherr No problem. As an avid Skyrim fan I felt compelled to clear up the story. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Jan 20 '17 at 13:04
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Because its devotees have some measure of protection from random murder. Won't help with targeted hate, but an xx% reduced risk of being mugged and murdered is probably worth 5 minutes of worship?

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    $\begingroup$ Nice idea. Instead of using the prayer for murder, it's used to reduce the chance getting murdered $\endgroup$ – Alexander von Wernherr Jan 18 '17 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds very much like the worship of Sithrak in Olgaf's comics (I will not provide a link since Oglaf is NSFW). $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Jan 18 '17 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to say out of fear, but this nailed where I was going. $\endgroup$ – Anketam Jan 18 '17 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Could even be the opposite - some myths speak of deals you could make where both the target AND you die and go to hell. Yet think of the influence on society's higher classes: no matter your influence, being too much of a dick would be seen as suicidal. You'd be thankful to the deity just for existing. $\endgroup$ – kaay Jan 18 '17 at 13:31
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Why should the murdergod be malicious? There are a few situations where it makes perfect sense to truck with the faith and clergy of St. Stabs-a-lot.

Policing their own

Think of Discworld and the various Guilds. Nobody wants to be murdered, but if the state was too weak to police its criminals, you'd at least want a check on them. The clergy of the Murder God do not take kindly to unsanctioned murderers, and their own members must obtain a blessing for every kill, train to slay quickly and cleanly, and obey a strict quota.

Every part of the buffalo

In a society where resources are scarce, cannibalism is common. Murderers could serve as butchers of humans, culling the old and weak, and putting their blood, flesh, and bone to good use. Nobody wants to be the guy that tells grandpapa "Sorry, you're too old to work and someone else needs the food you're eating" but if there's a dedicated murder guy with that job, it's a little less awkward.

Death with dignity

The incurably ill frequently seek a quick death, and followers of the murder god are just the people to give them one. You could even get a choice - poison and a painless death, or glorious death in battle against a murder Champion. And the justice system could also use this murder clergy as a source of remorseless executioners.

Blood sport

This can take either the form of straight-up gladiatorial combat, or the most exciting game of Assassin ever. Trained killers stalk each other in the night, and in the morning the press reports on the scores. People who lust for blood can sign up and work out their issues without threatening innocents.

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  • $\begingroup$ Goes along with comment by @CortAmmon asking for clarification. This seems like a clergy devoted to homicide moreso than murder. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 14 '17 at 18:42
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Lets look at mythological figures in our own which which have attracted worshipers. We've got figures like Shiva, entites of destruction and change, we've got various gods of war.

Balance

In most cases you find that the religion talks about some kind of balance, destruction allowing change, war ending tyranny, death ending pain.

Murder is normally bad but we could imagine worshipers who talk about when it's necessary.

Killing Tyrants

Murder is a specific type of homicide that is distinct from things like soldiers killing each other on the battlefield or criminals being executed within the law so this cult, these worshipers are going to be inherently about being outside the law.

But that doesn't mean they have to be entirely evil. They could be a particularly ruthless vigilante organization.

Less evil followers could hold that when a monster can't be touched within the law, when an emperor takes power and tortures his subjects for fun, when the mad senator tries to drag a state into war for his own ends, when a mob boss can't be touched because on paper he's only linked to his legitimate businesses, when those staying within the law are powerless to act... there can be a time for murder.

Assassins

As another answer suggests, there's also the "dark brotherhood" option with an organization of assassins who answer prayers to the god of murder... for a price. Indeed both could exist as opposing organizations worshiping the same god.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd suggest adding mention Kali to this, and the thugees to your last section. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Jan 18 '17 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ Re the last point, another would be the (legally sanctioned) Morag Tong in Chimer/Dunmer society. Their behavior very much followed the teachings of the deity Mephala, the idea being that the occasional "honorable execution" prevents more extensive bloodshed. $\endgroup$ – Klaus Draeger Jan 18 '17 at 15:19
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Consider an Olympic athlete. The public might look at one of them and say, "She is a great runner." But her family knows she is also a great accountant, a wonderful sibling, etc. Most people are more than our jobs. Why not gods?

Maybe there are simply gods. They have power, and they manage things. At any given moment, they manage some specific thing, and maybe they get known for managing it really well. So the God of Murder has a good reputation for inspiring particularly novel ways of killing... making her an idol for mystery writers. The God of Murder has to know about poisons, making her an ally of botanists and pharmacists. The God of Murder can instantly see the hole in any body guard setup, making her a friend and sometime drinking buddy of tacticians. "Yes, I manage all the serial killers. They generate a lot of headlines. But have you seen my garden?"

One can imagine the scene between a mother and daughter:

  • Mother: "How can you start worshiping that monster that let your father be killed like that?!"
  • Daughter: "We got to talking at Dad's funeral. She apologized about Dad, but she needed a poetic justice killing to balance out the world supply of ironic death. I got quite engrossed in the accounting. Did you know Brazil actually has an irony surplus? It's quite dangerous. I'm thinking of becoming an irony monitor for the Murder Church when I finish my accounting degree."
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Perhaps because it is the god of murder, and the people fear him because of that?

Think of it like the gameseries Black & White, where you play a god. you have the controll over your city and it's inhabitants. these people will worship you for two reasons:

  1. you're a benevolent god and people love all the good you do.
  2. you're an evil god and people worship you out of fear that you will sacrifice them for mana or kill them for sport.

The same could be applied to your usiverse: this god of murder seeks out people and threatens to kill them or their loved ones if they won't worship him.

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  • $\begingroup$ Im a sucker for a Black & White reference, this is also what I was thinking of when I read the question .. "I want to make sure the God who is known for killing sees me as a devotee rather than someone against him/her" $\endgroup$ – Mr.Burns Jan 18 '17 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly this answer; kinda bummed I can't write it myself. Everyone assumes worship is done out of gratitude. Ancient peoples saw gods a little differently, I think. You don't have to LIKE Poseidon, but you damn well better sacrifice a goat to him before you begin your voyage, because if he notices you didn't while depending entirely on his mercy... $\endgroup$ – Adam Wykes Jan 19 '17 at 3:32
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The Jivaro did this.

I guess not literally, but effectively. They were the headhunters of Peru. They believed if you killed someone violently, their spirit would protect you. So they'd go off on a trip, murder someone, take the skin off his head, pour hot sand in it every night on the way home to shrink it and wear it as a protective totem.

The fresher and scarier your tsanza (murder totem) the less likely it is that someone will mess with you. (duh) There's no room for peace in this belief system, there's no room for wisdom and knowledge, there's only murder and a short violent life. They were feared warriors, but they had no writing and their oral history was understandably short. This tradition might have been beneficial when constant raiding and invasion threatened (the people of this area successfully fought off Spanish rule) But there's no play for the long game.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is similar to the Thugs of India. They worshiped a goddess of death and part of their observance was to find victims and kill them in a ritualistic way, then dispose of the body. They specialized in posing as regular travelers, befriending a fellow traveler who was alone and far from home, and strangling them with a knotted cloth. They were an under cover religion that kept their practices quiet from larger society. I think there was some motivation in the sense that the god of death "wanted" a sacrifice and it would be the worshipers or someone else. Both groups killed while traveling... $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Jan 20 '17 at 16:59
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It wouldn't without redefining murder

Religions of evil never existed in reality: they were imagined to justify the persecution of foreigners. A god of murder only makes sense if the "murder" is morally or socially justified (not necessarily at the same time). For example: vigilante justice, mercy killing and warfare.

Vigilantism

Murdering tyrants and criminals that escape justice is technically murder even if motivated by a good cause. To be fair, it doesn't actually make you morally superior to the ones you kill unless you receive the community's approval. The entire point of capital punishment is that it is socially approved murder.

Mercy killing

Mercy killing, assisted suicide and so forth is morally tricky. Unless you have oracular powers that allow you to determine whether killing someone now will spare them a lifetime of suffering, it is morally reprehensible to take the lives of innocents. Furthermore, this opens the door for situations where killing an innocent person destined for a long and happy life will result in less suffering for more people overall due to the vagaries of fate.

In which case the moral option is to murder the god of fate and replace them with a less sadistic and arbitrary god.

Warfare

Warfare is socially approved mass murder. Regardless of how it is justified, killing is still killing.

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Perhaps your god is actually a god of scheming, plotting and mind-games?

Planned murder requires motive, means and plan, finding the perpetrator requires deduction and meticulous search for clues, god of "murder" enjoys both. Break-ins and bank robberies have all the same elements, but since stakes are lower, god of "murder" prefers murder. He enjoys watching plots unfold, and favours those who can outsmart and outplay the other side.

As such, he's a god of thieves, detectives, diplomats, spies, strategists, cardsharps and gamers. He doesn't like the last group, though, he finds their games bland, they lack substance and proper stakes.

All in all, common people pray to him, begging to be spared from becoming back-story of another episode of his favourite police procedural. Criminals pray to for inspiration in scheming and luck in execution. Policemen pray to for acuity to find the clues and see through plots.

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Murder is such a loaded term. Why not rebrand as

God of (Violent) Justice

The reasons for worshipping said God could be an oppressed people wishing death upon their oppressors.

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Propitiation. It was very common in the ancient world (for example, in Rome) to offer prayers to a god in hopes of dissuading them from causing harm. So you might have a state position as priest of the god of murder, where your job is to ensure that as little murder is committed as possible. (Yes, 200 people were murdered, but if not for my ceaseless prayers it might have been 2000.) This could also be done on a private level: a person might offer prayers to the god of murder when going through a dangerous area, lest (s)he be murdered, or make offerings to such god before leaving for a long, dangerous journey.

Cult worship. Perhaps there is a god of murder but common people know little about him. Instead, there is a secret organization devoted to this god. Those who join learn a little about the god, learning more and more as they are initiated through levels of advancement. They might not know the true nature of their god until they are very highly placed in the cult. This model of worship was also very common in the Mediterranean world; examples include the cults of Mithras, Sol Invictus, Bacchus, Isis, IOM Dolichenus (a version of Jupiter/Zeus), and Magna Mater; the Eleusian Mysteries are another example. In fact, Christianity was considered a mystery religion in its early years.

Personal advancement. Perhaps unscrupulous people worship the god of murder in hopes of killing their rivals (Great god of murder, please kill my fellow nobleman Porcius who cursed my farm.), or perhaps assassins pray for general murder-related skills.

Warfare. Possibly the god isn't against a bit of wholesale slaughter now and then, or perhaps he can be persuaded to kill off enemy generals or kings. This could be a powerful political tool which could cause widespread organized worship (We, the King, entreat all of you to worship Moloch, and to pray for the downfall of our enemies.)

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There are many maniacs out there... Some of them might "enjoy" seeing others suffer and therefore like the idea of a "God of Murder". They hope to see society plunge into darkness by everyone killing each other.

Other than that: Maybe they want to distance themselves from other people. If everyone likes the "God of Love" I can make a "statement" by favoring the "God of Murder".

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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate that latter paragraph. It's something I really hadn't thought of. "Maybe they want to distance themselves from other people." would work wonderfully for a character I'm writing up. $\endgroup$ – Sword Knight Jan 18 '17 at 10:13
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Consider the example of historical religions that relied on human sacrifice. To them, taking the life out of a human being was a sacred act, something very serious and meaningful that could be used to commune with the divine.

Basically, that's how a devotee of the God of Murder would think. Murder is a special and frightening and horrid thing, and is feared by the rest of the population. Something like that is easy to become obsessed with, especially when there's an actual deity behind it.

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If in your world, there existed a stronger version of our separation of church and state, then murders committed under the command of the God of Murder could not be punished by the legal system. It would be religious persecution to arrest a person for obeying their god.

So, if you really, really hate someone... start worshiping the God of Murder and drop their name (wrapped in a healthy donation) in the collection plate each week. If your god favors you, you may see your enemy's name added to the list of martyrs (victims), and if you are truly blessed, you might be sent on a holy quest, to do the deed yourself.

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually, the non-punishment by the legal system would be MORE likely if there was no separation between the state and the church of the god of murder $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Jan 18 '17 at 18:18
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It depends on society and function of God of Murder. To make it's worship appealing it would need to blend into your image of society and setting especially definition of murder. For possible options of original believers in supposedly stable society we have:

  • professional killers, like church of assasins (probably non-official if the law restricts the act of murder), other less religious groups would make it less formal and therefore they would be less organized. Everybody likes to feel protected and most of deities does not approve nor support killers, which leads to demand for professional God of Murder respected for it's prowess and probably their cult is illegal (it would supposedly need special circumstances to make it legit).
  • avengers, justice by law and justice for victims are completely different ideas. There are people who will seek revenge for suffering and tragedy that have fallen on their loved ones or themselves and they will need a God who will support them on their path of demons. This origin would create bitter image of God of Murder and most of people would keep an eye of believers for any face that they have harmed in the past. This niche is especially vague as includes potentially any cheated/swindled/ridiculed/abused/mistreated/tortured/loving/hating individual.
  • meek, those who are unable to stand against injustice and oppression will surely seek for help of deity which will act in their stead or push somebody to change the fate of their world. Cult that would originate from here would show God of Murder as unstoppable heroic deity that goes above the rules and brings the end to oppression, possibly swift justice. Probably it would end with God of Murder as close close associate (or even lover) of Justice.
  • afraid ones, people who feel scared of being murdered would probably like to be protected from worst by a proper deity which holds reign over all murder. This opens a path for protective image of God of Murder as the One Who Tames the Evil. This kind of cult would probably keep own more or less official army that would seek dangerous individuals (other than themselves) and make the world a tad bit better.
  • swearers, as it was said by Pratchett, in the end all swears are also prayers. If only deity is known for not reacting swiftly on such acts, the name of god of murder may be easily incorporated in showing both anger and hatred for somebody. To be strict it is more sign of cult existence than origin, but it may be that bunch of people decided that it would be profitable to restore once forgotten cult or respond on demand of society.
  • broken ones, god of murder may bring swift and painless death and thus relieve people of their misery. There are people who would wish for it, to end their pain or keep own dignity. This niche could originate from times of some terrible disease that maimed it's victims or nobles who are in general both rich and expected to keep their stainless image.
  • civilians on battlefront, in any warlike time there would be some people that may by bad luck stand against any soldier and have to kill them. Probably cult that would originate from that niche was created in more dangerous times and probably demands it's followers to worship god of murder by training killing moves and quick assessment of danger imposed by met individuals.
  • occasional killers, some people feel urge to make it supposedly once in their life-time without specific reason and need support of some deities. As origin they will probably make worship of God of Murder some shady business mostly common in world of criminals.
  • sensible-killers, in some cases (mostly scarce resources or danger imposed) it may be better for some people to die so the others may live. Then cult would be essential for survival of population and it may be kept as chapter of it's glorious past.

It is all what comes to mind, however there are other possibilities for source of such a cult like:

  • social Darwinism, elimination of weak and ill ones. Believers are expected to keep themselves strong and healthy.
  • duelist/warlike society, murder of enemy in fight however perceived as illegal still is seen as honorable thing to do. Eventually would be welcomed in society of slaughters.
  • unusual definition of murder, as it was told already, maybe we are talking about society that do not call a murder just "unlawful killing". Potentially all executioners, soldiers, slaughters and even unlucky surgeons are just murderers and that only when we stretch definition of "murder". In some cultures (like Celtic) cutting down specific trees was considered murder which provides us more examples on possible variations of definition.
  • branching, God of Murder may be more bounded with other activities. It's just that he/she is not well perceived in some circles (which branded it as "God of Murder") or has some shady cell that "helps" other believers with their troubles.
  • decision of ruler, there are no specific reasons to make worship appealing to believers. It was just an order.
  • political/social, some of dignitaries started to worship a God of Murder. They tended to help other believers which made others join them to get special treatment. That is how have formed a political faction centered around the cult, which celebrations are occasion for believers to interact with each other in their circles.

There are for sure many more other options but I'm unable to describe them all.

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The one thing that's difficult to imagine is a god of wanton murder. When we hear the word "murder", we imagine carjacking, burglaries, senseless serial killings and mass murders, etc. A society based on glorifying random killings wouldn't last a year. The obvious alternative is to replace "god of murder" with "god of war", but that seems like dodging the question. I think there's a middle ground - a society that worships the act of killing a specific person, without also worship skill at martial arts, strategy, weaponry, warrior ethics, and all of the other concepts that come along for the ride when you worship a god of war rather than just murder.

Murder is a fascinating, awe-inspiring concept. The fact that it's possible for one stream of consciousness to deliberately end another stream of consciousness is an important property of our universe, at least from our perspective. In some sense, murder is the basis of civil society, being a sort of counterbalance to free will. Anyone can get up in the morning and simply decide to cause problems for society. Laws are ultimately only meaningful because of the threat of violence. If you break the law, and continue to resist the police and the legal system for long enough, that path eventually ends with you being physically subjugated and dragged into a cell. Now, we don't consider it necessary to actually kill criminals, but you can imagine some martially-minded philosopher, maybe this society's equivalent of Confucious or Buddha, taking an extra step and deciding that until you murder the troublemaker, the arms race between physical violence and free will is incomplete, that it's always possible for them to find a way to resist you.

You can deepen and embroider this basic philosophy as much as you like, but I imagine any society based on a worldview like this would have some of the following features:

  1. A clear, maybe religiously based, distinction between wanton, anti-social murder, and justified murder. Perhaps the priesthood would have to consult God in order to determine when a killing is justified.
  2. A justice system based squarely on the death penalty.
  3. Codified, legal duels to the death to settle citizen's disputes.
  4. Religious "sacrifice" of people like criminals and prisoners of war.

Pretty grim, all in all. Maybe a society like this could only really flourish in a dangerous environment (lots of disease and/or war) in which there's a strong desire to codify and understand death, and more importantly, in which citizens don't have a more peaceful, non-violent alternative anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ look at Kali and the Jagannath temple. anyway, interesting analysis. remember that most societies in the past have relied heavily on terminal punishment as an end–all to criminal activity — not unlike what you describe, though perhaps by fewer degrees. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 14 '17 at 18:50
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Same reason people would worship an owl. To get an advantage. Make it a small group of people. Perhaps these are emperor or people who want to be monarchs. Perhaps this is an Aztec thing where the god WILL destroy you and the only thing that can be done is buying everyone more time by killing people repeatedly.

Or perhaps this murder god is just the god of hunting. There's a lot of killing in nature. It would make total sense for a murder god to be involved in the circle of life, along with a death god and a birth god.

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Maybe the civilian population wants to be granted mercy from an all-powerful god for reasons of fear and self-preservation, especially if the god does other godly things aside from murder (just as prophets allegedly performed miracles). And maybe the ruling class exploit this fear with speeches of "fire and brimstone" for political reasons.

Or maybe this god is taking sides in a civilian conflict. A terrorist in one frame can be a freedom fighter in another frame.

Maybe god cited 'mysterious ways' with the promise of a better tomorrow.

Many potential reasons..

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I think that the best way to approach this question, is to answer the more abstract issue that is making this question so hard to answer.

Why do people worship Gods?

If we look back into history, almost every religion has came to existence to explain the unexplainable. In the era of Roman and Greek society, the Gods were used to explain why lighting would strike and where it came from, or how we fell in love. Later on, in the Medieval era, God was used to explain what would happen after one passed away, or why one had to live a virtuous life.

In short, Gods were used to make inexplicable things less scary and explainable.

So why would you worship a God of Murder?

To put it simply, murder is scary and not always explainable. Even in modern society, psychopaths are still humans which we find hard to understand and therefore are often the main protagonist in horror movies. Because of that, one could argue that in a society where murder is abundant and often feels random, people would feel inclined to move towards the belief that there is something bigger than them motivating these specific acts and, in hopes of stopping these acts, might start to worship this God of Murder.

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Read most of the other replies here are my ideas:

Maybe they have a "warrior" based society in which the strongest man rules, sure this could lead to too many casualties before people got old enough to birth children, however this we can fix by stating a limit such as all men above the age of 20/30/40 summers may challenge the king/leader, should they triumph in killing him they would take his place as king. (There would probably be a lot of rules of conduct for this, such as no poison as that is dishonorable)

In addition to/instead of this a different view of life and death perhaps? Maybe getting killed is a great honor, in this way killing would be a rite of passage from this life to the next (seen in a good way), also to keep murder rates up, kids may have to prove themselves through murder to achieve "adulthood"

Or maybe they do so as part of a ritualistic sacrifice to their god in exchange for aid. Though in order to be murder it has to be unlawful, so make it so that their nation as a whole is without support of this practice

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Falandysz! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 5 '18 at 22:53
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Frequently, evil is done with the idea that, if it isn't, something worse will happen. It's a bit dark, but...

Consider a world where a powerful god of utter destruction could only be held at bay by the god of murder... and only if the god of murder is supplied with enough power. In order to supply the god of murder with the power to hold off utter destruction, what do mortals do? They commit murder as a form of prayer. At least some of them do, and on a regular basis.

This could easily lead to very legitimate questions regarding exactly how much murder is really necessary, which especially if there are other gods in existence as well could easily lead to religious wars.

The fun bit here would be figuring out whether the god of murder is actually being truthful about the world's need for him.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Dave! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 5 '18 at 22:53
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I only skimmed the other answers, so this may have been suggested already.

If you have ever read any of the Greek Epic poems (Iliad, Odyssey, etc) the primary motivations for the gods weren't the wants/needs of their followers. They were only concerned with making sure they HAD followers. As such, they wanted to kill anyone who didn't show them (what they felt were) the proper respects and sacrifices, and tried to protect those who did. They were far more willing to let a good worshiper die though.

The reason? If you didn't worship all the gods properly, then you were thought to be less likely to worship any god properly. They also had the opinion that, if you weren't showing the proper worships, then those around you would see that the gods weren't punishing you for not worshiping them. If you weren't punished, then those around you didn't need to worry about worshiping that god either.

A god of murder seems like it could have similar motivations. Particularly if they're only one in a multi-god pantheon.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Eric! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 5 '18 at 22:52
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Organized religion around a malevolent god of murder would happen because malevolent people congregate, and would idolize powerful beings that share their values.

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I'd like to answer with an example:

In the quite famous manga and anime Death Note the main character is given the godlike powers to kill people by only writing down their name (technical details omitted).

He uses this power to only kill criminals and so "purge the world from all evil activities". After the population finds out that there is someone actively killing criminals many start to "worship" him. Because they don't know who or what he is, they name him kira (or kirā). Depending on the pronunciation this means "killer".

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, TheJP! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 5 '18 at 22:52
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Here are a couple of reasons I could imagine:

  1. The society, or a part of it, values more intelligence than morality and loyalty. For the these people, solving a problem in a indirect and smart way is highly considered. This includes eliminating an opponent by outsmarting him, or deceiving him. Manipulating an ennemy to make him meet his fate is acceptable for the most radical elements, as soon as it helps strengthen your position in the society. Manipulation and schemes are often a risky business, and may backfire easily because of an unpredicted, random event, so these people would naturally worship a God of Murder, believing he would intervene and help their schemes.
  2. (Inspired by @Pedro Gabriel's answer). The worshipers are people that already committed a murder and they believe that murderers go to some equivalent to purgatory to be tortured. They believe that worshiping the God of Murder would protect them to some extent to these tortures. For example, the tortures are conducted by the Goddess of Justice as a punishment to teach them the right way, but the God of Murder is her lover and may distract her from her duty on the behalf of the worshiper.
  3. Thar's kind of a non-answer but in many polytheist societies, people were worshiping more than one god at a time, and were not worshiping a given god for all their life. So it would be natural to worship the God of Murder when you plan to commit one.
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I think, that you said it in the question - because the God of Murder really exists (and is immortal Being/God).

If other gods have some workshipers, there should be reason for that. You say, that the Gods does not grant powers but they do interract with their workshipers. So they may sometimes give something to their workshipers anyway.

Maybe they not grant powers for sure, but on a whim and only sometimes? Still good to take the chance.

Maybe they give at least knowledge (of future, present and history).

Or even only because the Gods are immortal and probably really old and so they have a lot of knowledge and experience acquired just by beign here for so long and seing a lot of events.

Even so weak Gods (just immortal humans, nothing more) would get followers in real world. And Murder is as valuable skill as Combat (even if not so publically praised). See any HongKong Kung-Fu film - there is old master with great knowledge of some kind and he have aprentices. And it makes perfect sence (in the genre). The same apply for poetry, singing, dancing, just anything. For murder too.

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Well, actually you have a real case of murder-divinity cult: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Muerte

The worship of Santa Muerte also attracts those who are not inclined to seek the traditional Catholic Church for spiritual solace, as it is part of the "legitimate" sector of society. Many followers of Santa Muerte live on the margins of the law or outside it entirely. Many street vendors, taxi drivers, vendors of counterfeit merchandise, street people, prostitutes, pickpockets, petty drug traffickers and gang members are not practicing Catholics or Protestants, but neither are they atheists.

In essence they have created their own new religion that reflects their realities, identity, and practices, especially since it speaks to the violence and struggles for life that many of these people face. Conversely both police and military in Mexico can be counted among the faithful who ask for blessings on their weapons and ammunition.

Reality beats fiction one more time..O_O

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  • $\begingroup$ Saint Death, the cult of a group who live short hard lives and their only hope is for an easy passage to the afterlife. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 6 '18 at 6:55
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People worship to be loved by a higher being they see as perfect. It does not matter how this love is obtained people will always want any god to love them.

Just make it so this god speak to his worshippers and explains to them how he loves them and how they are like his children.

Like how organised religions in the world today operate, they say outlandish things and encourage some ridiculous/awful things but it is OK because "God still loves you and God knows what is best."

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  • $\begingroup$ Most gods were far from perfect, that they might be is so a very modern attitude. Even the Judeo-Christian god is a jealous god. I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; We wouldn't call that attitude fair under a modern human justice system, it's certainly far from perfect. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 6 '18 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ Yes but you think people saw that as a flaw? The majority of worshipers would have conveniently "forgotten" that quote. $\endgroup$ – P.Lord Jul 6 '18 at 13:23

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