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In my world, the gods great and small play an active role in the lives of mortals. Some would say too active. They are, for the most part, extremely self-interested, and provide magical aid to mortals in exchange for worship, favors, service, or specific rituals. The gods also play by somewhat different rules than mortals, and are not always bound by what we would term 'sanity'.

Examples:

  • One character has gained the ability to sense fear by sacrificing a black goat at dawn with a blade of buried bronze. However, he can only do it when the moon is less than half full, because he kind of timeshares the ability with someone else (this is a damn good deal)
  • One character has a god of darkness for a patron, granting him limited control over darkness. In return, he must behave according to a certain code, and do things when asked (this is a pretty standard deal).

However, this is not the preferred arrangement for gods. Although they get something in return, they have to sacrifice a portion of their power. Instead, gods prefer to grant mortals knowledge. Once a god has a valuable piece of knowledge, they can sell it to as many people as they want, and it is often more valuable than a supernatural ability. The gods also prefer that the information be a black box.

If a mortal can figure out how the knowledge works, they can create further advancements from it. This stops a god from selling additional knowledge, so gods don't like it. As such, the gods never explain the knowledge. Some people know how to make wine, but they have no clue why it works. (Teaching godly knowledge to others is also a pretty sure way to get smote).

Examples of this kind of useful but dead-end knowledge are:

  • How to make wine
  • Advanced metallurgic techniques
  • Blackmail information (who's sleeping with who, etc)
  • Verbal equivalent of a treasure map
  • All major astrological events for the next twenty years

So, I'm interested to hear what other ideas people have, because I'm close to running dry. What interesting information / technological advancements are mortals willing to pay for? Bonus points if it fits the 'black box' concept.

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closed as too broad by Aify, sphennings, L.Dutch, a CVn, Vylix Aug 23 '17 at 6:40

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ How to make glass. How to make colored glass. How to make clear glass. How to make glass sheets. How to make mirrors. How to grind lenses. How to make porcelain. How to make gunpowder. How to make a Jacquard loom... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 23 '17 at 2:21
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    $\begingroup$ "I'm interested to hear what other ideas" This triggers either an "off-topic" and "too broad" closure. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Aug 23 '17 at 6:41
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I don't know how much power and knowledge of the future your gods have, but in primitive societies people would be willing to pay A LOT for a weather forecast. Farmers, generals, travelers and all sort of people can gain or lose everything on an unpredicted storm or drought

Also, another field that can always use more information and powers without satisfying demand is war. A god can give information about the enemy troops, help with logistics or fighting itself, while providing the same help to the other party, which dearly needs it as their opponents seem to be having some kind of supernatural assistance. As it escalates gods can find endless demand from both parties which are in the conflict, with the lowest bidder probably losing the war. Also it means such a god can easily have a whole army doing his tasks if he wants it.

Another juicy market should also be medical treatment: when your wound is festering or your daughter is dying of smallpox, anyone with basic medical knowledge owns you. And since every medical case is different, the specific instructions given by the god will not necessarily be reappliable.

Those gods should also very keen on giving powers that give the user an advantage on others rather than on nature: it creates jealousy, and competitiveness: giving an edge-giving power actually brings in more demand, because people want to gain back the advantage on the guy who originally got the power, and they will overestimate how good the power is because they felt personally cheated. While creating power over nature makes people have what they want and not want more, and it doesn't create that much envy. I sense that's where you went with your fear detection and darkness manipulation.

I'd love to know more about how that works because those ideas are very interesting to explore.

Sorry for my bad English.

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