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Imagine a world with many gods that have been in constant battle with each other. However, the gods are exactly equal in strength, the very nature of godhood enforces a sort of balance in their strength, meaning neither side has been able to defeat the other. The gods have been in a stalemate for a very long time.

This war is not just metaphysical. Actual physical entities exist, roughly equivalent to your demons and angels (though the gods are not divided by a clear good or evil division that would imply). These entities were originally created by their respective gods and are innately predisposed to following that gods demands, with the more powerful able to move between spiritual and physical planes.

The gods themselves also have a physical body that represents a portion of their strength and could in theory die if overwhelmed by enough angels/demons, though they are drastically stronger then your average demon. War has been fought using these entities and by the gods themselves on both physical and metaphysical planes.

Then humans appeared on earth, which is a very recent development compared to the long life of gods. Humans were not (directly) created by any specific god, indirectly human evolution was made possible by the power of the gods being so abundant that humans soaked up a small portion of the power. This was not an intentional action by the gods.

As a side effect of how humanity came about they are the first sapient creature that is not bound to any specific god's source of power. They are not forced by their very nature to side with one god or another, and have free reign to pick who they ally with. This makes them an outlier, and a possible kingmaker. If the majority of humanity sided with one set of gods their extra strength would be enough to give the gods an edge in the battle, breaking the tie and allowing one side to finally defeat the other.

The gods are now spending much of their time trying to court humanity, to draw humans to their side in hopes of tilting the balance in their favor. They still war, but the warring has slowed some as they focus on gaining allies within humanity.

My main question is: How can humans be a believable deciding factor in the gods war while still being appropriately limited in strength? That is to say most humans are tiny and pathetic compared to the power of a God. A trained human may be able to deal with the weakest of the gods' followers (think imps and the like), but most humans wouldn't stand a chance against your average demon, and gods have a vast number of followers. Some humans, the greatest of them, will grow to be strong enough to defeat demons, but few will grow strong enough to defeat even a moderate strength demon in battle. Even the rare few humans able to take on the stronger demons are still tiny in numbers compared to how many of these demons gods already command, making them seem minor compared to existing gods' strength.

Many humans never take sides in the war, and of those that do take sides many end up on opposite sides, counteracting each other. The final result seems to be that humanity is a minor resource compared to that which already follows the gods, making one wonder if the energy spent courting humanity is worth the minor extra strength they offer. Thus I'm trying to figure out how to better explain why gods care enough to be trying so hard to court humanity; and generally how to make the heroes of such a world have more impact.

Gods do not gain power through belief or worship; they want humans to fight directly in the war not be some metaphysical battery pack. Gods can bestow power on humans, which is efficient enough to be worth doing, but I need humans who are not gifted power from a god to be at least close to the strength of those that are, meaning that there is an effective cap on how much strength humans gain from the gods, and it's not enough to make them unstoppable war machines by itself.

This is your general sword & sorcery kind of story, so the classic roughly-medieval technology level for humans should be assumed. Magic exists, independent of gods' power, but it has upper bounds on its strength as well.

What else can be done to increase the importance of humans in the gods' war?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 1 '17 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ How are demons and angels "created"? Maybe the gods cannot create them anymore (there is no more "raw material" for them, or you can only breed angels with demons - and they can't since the start of the war), so every time an angel dies the god's followers decrease by one. Forever. So... Disposable pawns are extremely useful. If 1000 humans die to kill 1 demon, there will be 1000 more humans in 50 years, but no more demons... Or, if you prefer, creating (or breeding) angels & demons is a very long task (maybe thousands of years), while humans are much faster and, so, easily disposable $\endgroup$ – frarugi87 Sep 1 '17 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ Probably too tangential to be an answer, but my first thought was that there could be some parallels to how the three (finely-balanced) super-states of George Orwell's 1984 (Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia) fight their battles in the "disputed area" – roughly North Africa, the Middle East and India – at least partly to keep the war "elsewhere". In 1984, the war is fought with slave-labour, who (one assumes) have little-or-no influence on the outcome. However, it may be possible to posit that humans started as the Gods' slaves, but as they developed, they can now actively influence the war. $\endgroup$ – TripeHound Sep 1 '17 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @frarugi87 that is a very good idea, actually one I have been actively toying with since I first read secespitus' answer. If you were to post it as an actual answer I'd make sure to upvote it ;) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Sep 1 '17 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ Not detailed enough for it's own answer, but here's an idea. The humans aren't really all that important overall. However, just like in WWII when multiple theaters opened up, this is just another area of contention. Hopefully the other god spends too much time and resources there and over extends. Or ignores the humans and loses out on this potential source of soldiers. The gods are evenly matched everywhere else, so opening a new theater for conflict, no matter how potentially trivial, makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Zucce05 Feb 5 '18 at 18:48

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Gods think in time ranges normal humans can not even comprehend. Even if one god has only a few humans more on his side one of these humans might be able to defeat a single follower of an enemy god. This single follower might have an impact on a later battle, which in turn has an effect on other battles...

As gods are exactly equal in strength every difference can be felt by them in the long run. And I am talking about what these gods would define as "the long run". This is basically the butterfly effect.

Gods don't directly care about humans - they care about the slightest difference in power these humans might create.

Furthermore the gods may not know how powerful humans may become later. Again, gods are thinking about time ranges humans cannot even comprehend and these humans are not directly influenced by the gods. They can't know what weapons they might develop, what strategies they might develop, what other species might one day sprout from the remains of these humans.

If you were exactly as powerful as your opponent and there was no direct way of winning you would choose to rely on this unpredictable factor. After all you have a long time to wait for an opportunity and a long time to shape them in a way that no other god does. Uncertainty is the key here.

And uncertainty is also why you want them to be on your side. If they view you as the one mighty god above all of them they won't kill you, but your enemies. If they appear to be a threat one day it's far better to control them and maybe change the direction they are heading again to make sure that you will forever stay in control.

This is also a fun way to spend your eternity. Uncertainty is the best thing that can happen to an immortal creature to kill some time. You could also turn the war into a tournament - let your humans fight the humans of the other gods after a few centuries. See whether your tactics were better or the tactics from the other gods. Spending eternity alone without anything happening is dull - uncertain events and a task to perform is important.

Even gods need goals. For an eternity.

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    $\begingroup$ 'I don't really care whether you live or die, but your great great grandchildren will be from excellent sparring stock' $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Aug 30 '17 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ If opponents are exactly matched, even a small imbalance can tip things. Think about chess, where everything is matched between the two sides, and all strategy is built on that fact. Now add a very small imbalance. For example, imagine only black can castle. Castling can only occur in a rather restricted set of circumstances, and the mechanics of the vast majority of the game are unaffected, but this would have a huge impact on chess strategy - entire books would be re-written to take advantage of the fact that black can castle and white cannot. $\endgroup$ – R.M. Aug 30 '17 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ I ran some rough numbers on this and even with a trivial increase in power for one god and in a simple 1v1 god match, in less than 100,000 years the side with the humans wins, because the slight advantage compounds. 100k years might be long to a human, but to a god that is nothing. Also any side that wastes resources in destroying humanity weakens their position enough that they eventually lose. $\endgroup$ – Anketam Aug 30 '17 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ I like this. Humans have a high ability to self-propagate. We grew from a few thousand to billions in just several tens of millennia and we developed planet-destroying weaponry in the meantime. Considering that the more exactly evenly matched the gods are, the more important each small external advantage will become, human seem fairly important already. Also: depending on the renewability of divine resources, a small advantage may allow grinding down the opponent over a long amount of time. $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Sep 13 '17 at 6:02
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The gods are evenly matched. Not only are the gods evenly matched, but everything over which they have direct power, which are essentially their creations, angels and demons, are also evenly matched. What conflict there is is stagnant.

Due to the nature of godhood, and partly because every god considers that it should be unthinkable anyway, the idea of a direct attack upon a god by anyone is unthinkable. Gods have enforced this upon themselves and upon all over which they have control. Those humans are a bit worrying though - they are small, weak, very mortal, but they think too much for anything to be unthinkable. Gods are a little afraid of humans - not because they are considered much of a threat, but because they are not subject to control, and are unpredictable. That is exciting for a god.

With a stalemate in the arenas over which they have direct control, exactly because all gods have direct and equal control, the conflict moves to other arenas where influence is limited, indirect, or sometimes not present at all.

It starts as spectatorship, watching as human battles are fought, as intrigues are laid, as plots are foiled. Gods start taking sides - not by exerting their powers, because so far that has been ineffectual anyway, and because this is more for relaxation, for entertainment. Instead the affairs of humans become like television soaps to the gods.

Then gods start supporting groups, individuals, countries like humans support football teams, but passively, at first, though they can see that vicariously through human activity they can gain small, but satisfying victories over other gods supporting other humans.

And then gods start actively interfering. They just can't help themselves. That's what gods do.

That is why gods court humanity. To a certain extent they have already decided who they want to support, and why, but victory over another god is so much sweeter if the winning team show their support for their biggest (literally) fan - prayers before a battle, a mention in a war-cry, all music to a god's ears, especially if another god can hear. Gods sure as hell like rubbing another gods nose in defeat, even if it is only symbolic, and on someone else's battlefield.

The symbolic victories become the only victories possible - therefore the human arena becomes the battleground for the gods, because inequality becomes possible.

Of course, the gods cannot stop interfering - which is their mistake, really, because the humans start thinking...

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Gods are not all-knowing. Sometimes, a minor threat can seem more significant if we have uncertainty about it. You, the author, know that there is no plausible scenario under which a human could threaten a god, but do THEY know that?

If god A sees god B actively courting humanity, there just might be this tiny seed of doubt...maybe god B is up to something. Maybe he knows something I don't know. Everything else is in balance, there's no other avenue for me to pursue that isn't equally likely to end badly for me, and god B is putting time and effort into this, so I'd probably better get involved as well, just in case.

Humanity may never actually make a difference, but as long as they're perceived as a potential factor, there will still be effort poured into trying to grab the only real wildcard up for grabs.

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  • $\begingroup$ welcome to world builders :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 30 '17 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ Not bad. Kind of like the ironic self-fulfilling prophecy. The god's think humans will matter, so they spend effort trying to win them over. The extra effort spent on humans leaves the gods with vulnerabilities that other gods could exploit. This could eventually lead to one side making a fatal decision, hoping humanity would pay off. The other side takes advantage of the situation, humanity never pays off, then gods die. Humanity ended up mattering after all. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ Also, one may think that humans are so weak that courting their favor is not worthwhile, "but if I don't win some of them, maybe my enemy will win enough of them to defeat me." $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Sep 1 '17 at 19:01
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Gods and their coorts are extremely powerful, but they radiate a God-essence of a specific "kind", easily felt by other Gods and their underlings, especially if they are of a different "kind".

Something akin to a cosmic smell likening all participants to a "faction" and making them very recognizable.

This means surprise attacks and behind-the-lines spying is not possible; Battles are always in open field, with bombastic provocations, duels and all associated folklore.

Humans do not radiate any specific "smell" so they can be used for stealthy tasks where physical strength is not all-important, but cleverness is.

Clarification:

The general idea this God-essence "smell" is pretty much impossible to ignore, at least if it's not the same you are radiating.

As a specific twist you can assume humans can feel it, but, not belonging to any God-essence, do not radiate any.

Gods and their underlings can use deception, but they are not able to use stealth (at least if someone is "reasonably near" to them).

The effect is similar to having each divine creature constantly radiating unstoppable (neutrino-like) particles (intensity decreasing with inverse square of distance) and living creatures can feel this flux; if very far (flux is low) you have to "look" to "see" it, but if source is near and powerful you just can't ignore it.

Humans stealth may be useful in many ways and details depend on plot. A short example list includes: reckoning, sabotage, intelligence, assassination and messaging.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this one. In the reverse direction, adept humans (e.g. priests) can sense gods and other beings, which is a further advantage on the human side. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ I like this one as well. It's the most innovative concept I have seen of the answers so far. Though it requires explaining why stealth is useful. This means either explaining how gods can watch humans but fail to see what other gods are doing without 'eyes on the ground', or a justification for how a stealthy human can do something with his stealth that is harmful enough to affect a battle. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 30 '17 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Depending on how easy this "faction smell" is to detect, it would still be possible to move forces subtly on a strategic level, feinting a strike at one fortress before unexpectedly seiging another for example. Said stealthy human could spy on the strategy meetings that make these sorts of decisions, providing their patron god with intelligence they would not otherwise have.A stealthy human could theoretically assassinate a demon/angel commander as well. $\endgroup$ – Kyyshak Aug 31 '17 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyyshak: I updated Answer to clarify. $\endgroup$ – ZioByte Aug 31 '17 at 21:06
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When in doubt about the need for a particular hero in a mythological event, you can always use a prophecy. In particular, in ancient Greek mythology there was a mortal who was a deciding factor in a war between immortals...

The Gigantomachy

When the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus, the Sky, with the sickle fashioned by his mother Gaia, the Earth, a few drops of blood fell on the ground and fertilized it; and from the fertilized earth grew the Giants. As sons of the Sky and the Earth, the Giants were immortals (with conditions), and they soon challenged the supremacy of the third-generation gods, the Olympians.

(Note that in this context "Giant" is simply the name of this particular race of immortals. They were not necessarily of a large size. The word changed its meaning in the late antiquity because it was used in the Greek and Latin translations of the Bible "to refer to men of extraordinary stature and strength"; so says the OED.)

The following summary is abstracted from Wikipedia, where links to additional reading material can be found. For another summary see "Hercules and the Giants" at Persesus; this one has a picture of Hercules sneaking up on the giant Alcyoneus.

The war between the Olympian gods and the Giants is known as the Gigantomachy, which is literally the "war of the Giants" in Greek. The direct cause of the war may have been the rape of Hera by the giant Eurymedon, or the theft of the cattle of Helios the Sun god by the giant Alcyoneus, or the very nature of the Giants as children conceived by the Earth when she was angry; mythographers are not in agreeement.

Apollodorus the Mythographer says that there was an ancient prophecy that the Olympian Gods could defeat the Giants only with the help of a mortal; and for this purpose Zeus the supreme Olympian God summoned Heracles, whom the Romans called Hercules, his own bastard son with the mortal woman Alcmene. Long story short, Heracles did his part, killing the giants Alcyoneus (using the knowledge Athena had about the conditions attached to the immortality of the Giants) and Porphyrion (with the help of a thunderbolt of Zeus). The Olympian gods won, which is not a spoiler because it was of course known from the beginning of the story given that they ruled the classical world.

Heracles fighting Alcyoneus

[Heracles (on his feet) fighting the giant Alcyoneus. Attic black-figured cup, ca. 520 BCE. Picture available on Wikimedia, by Bibi Saint-Pol, in the public domain.]

For his help in the Gigantomachy and for other contributions Hercules was eventually made immortal and took his place in Olympus; this clearly beats the Medal of Honor, the Victoria Cross and the Légion d'honneur.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like once again, "nothing is new under the Sun". $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 21:19
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Humans are poker chips. The god with the most humans at the end of the game wins.

There can be a few scenarios that can bring this about:

  1. The gods are bored and need something to do. They created a planet to play Dungeons and Dragons. We would if we could.
  2. The gods are in a MAD situation (Mutually Assured Destruction) and need to fight proxy battles so they don't start something suicidal (US & USSR).
  3. The gods are in power stalemate. One changes the world to its liking and another changes it back to the way they like it (repeat approaching infinity). So, they decide on a set of rules.
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I can think of a number of things, but only one is actually interesting to me: humans are more than they appear, but they don't realize it.

As you already said, angels and demon are bound to metaphysical rules that do not apply to humans. With knowledge of those metaphysical rules, humans stand to exploit weaknesses in angels and demons that those angels can't exploit in themselves. Likewise, gods also have metaphysical rules, but on a much more complicated scale.

In all great battles, the priest has a power that can cut sharper than any sword. This is a common story trope. The "action" hero is highly praised and idolized at first, but as the story goes on, you learn that his power is great, but cannot compare to the ultimate power of the priest. And preparation for each is proportional to their power. The priest spends hundreds of more hours studying and praying than the hero does practicing and sparing. And each can also only fight under the right circumstances, but the priest's is more versatile. The major difference is that once proficient, the hero ultimately ages into obscurity and weakness while the priest gets stronger and stronger with every decade he lives.

Some common elements in such stories include:

  • Free will is what makes humans different and ultimately the decider in every god's fate.
  • Knowing the true name of a demon or god gives you power over it.
  • Speaking the tongue of a demon will give you special attention from that demon (i.e. he will listen at least).
  • The celestial bodies hold a power of their own that can be utilized.
  • Meditative power can move real objects.
  • "Holiness" can grant you and your allies a god's favor.
  • An ancient knowledge known only by your cult has a strong power.
  • Magic is an extension of this priestly power, as evidenced by spells.
  • Prophecy, either known by the cult, or special revelation to a character.
  • Knowledge and use of powerful holy relics that connect the human realm with the other realms.

All of these can be used to make a compelling story that makes the readers contemplate the power of the mind over the sword. They make a story that shows humans can matter in such grand-scale things.

But if you just want a slasher (like the movie Immortals), I don't know what would be convincing that humans can actually matter in this war, and I don't think your readers would care, as the fans of Immortals didn't seem to mind.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like your idea, but taken to a slightly different angle. What if humans have power they don't know, and the god's can't or won't help them to master either. The Gods know the potential exists though, that humans may one day be able to wield powers far greater then they do now. Thus their goal is to win the loyalty of humanity now not because they consider the current humans much of an asset, but because one day humans may unlock their real potential and at that point it would behove gods to have mortals loyal to their side. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 30 '17 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @dsollen That is one thing a god could do. Another may not like that, and may set out to destroy humanity, making him de facto evil force that "hates" humanity. But in reality, neither god hates nor loves humanity. One of them wants to use them and the other doesn't want to take that risk (or leave it available for any other gods). $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 23:00
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The Gods have been locked in their stalemate for eons; the timeframe of the arrival of humanity is "a recent development". Currently, your average human loses to a demon but can maybe beat an imp. However, the Gods are used to operating on very large timeframes assuming little change. Human invention may rapidly outstrip the Gods abiilities to react and counter; for example, perhaps a Roman Centurion in 120 AD, armed with a spear, is outclassed by a demon, but a modern US Marine may be able to defeat several demons with his assault rifle.

The longer human development is allowed to continue, the more relatively powerful humanity gets with respect to the Gods' other followers, by virtue of the human tendency towards scientific and militaristic progress.

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Shortcut to awesome

This is going to make some assumptions, so bear with me. You mention that the stronger of the gods' minions are able to manifest themselves in the physical world. I would take that to mean that there is something about physicality that is difficult to achieve, and also desirable. Maybe it is like pushing through a metaphysical barrier and the weaker angels and demons simply don't have enough juice in them to accomplish this.

That is, until someone realizes that humans can act as a shortcut through the metaphysical barrier. Maybe instead of having the breach through all of reality, weaker angels and demons can simply posses a human, which requires much less effort. The possessed human acts as a kind of meat suit that the godly being could use to interact with the physical realm, maybe even allowing them to channel some/all of their powers.

Boots on the ground

The current metaphysical chessboard is at a stalemate. The gods are all balanced in power, and clearly their minions are as well. But once you have humanity enable more of the divine beings to enter the physical plane, you start shifting that power. Each human that can be possessed and turned into an avatar essentially acts as an upgrade for one of the lesser angels/demons since they can now manifest when previously they couldn't. The more human followers a side has, the stronger their position will potentially be on the physical side of things.

Analogies for the win

Think of the physical and spiritual realms as being two rooms in the great house we call reality. They are separated by a wall. Gods and their stronger minions are able to tear a hole in that wall and travel between the rooms. Now imagine humans as being a door between these two rooms. If the door is locked, then it might be possible to break in still and cross over, but it will require some more effort. If the door is unlocked though then it takes hardly any energy at all to go through it.

Losing the metaphor, this means that humans can act as either willing or unwilling hosts. An unwilling host takes more energy to possess and would probably be able to fight back, making it not too much better than the usual way of manifesting. But a willing human host would be like the open door above. Easier to posses means less energy spent manifesting and more energy available to throw around. Therefore it is probably in each god's interest to have as many devoted followers as possible simply because it maximizes their weapon potential.

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  • $\begingroup$ good idea from your presumption, but I'm afraid your presumption is wrong. god's have many minions on the physical realm, and spiritual, it's just that weak minions are limited to whichever realm the were created on. Stronger ones are free to move between either with ease. Still +1 for a good idea given a reasonable reading of my question :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 19:12
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Gods are fundamentally and causally evenly matched.

The notion is that, the Gods are inherently evenly matched, but humans are exempt from this matching.

For example, the action of a god to create a demon, intrinsically creates two demons. One on his side -- the the god actually wants, but also one for his enemy. (If the sides are not so clear cut, then say instead "One who is intrinsically opposed to the first).

When a demon kills another demon, it must sacrifice its own life to do so.

Direct actions in the war of the gods is futile. It is all about cunning strategies. Such as misdirecting your foe to go to the wrong place, or working out a way to imprison your enemies demons for a few millennia. Bold and direct actions are pointless, as the cosmic balance will simply counter them.

However, humans changed all this. Humans are except from the cosmic balance. When a human swears to your side, this does not cause one to swear to your enemy. When a human kills a demon, then the demon is dead, but the human still lives. Sure, hundreds of humans died in the attempt, but perhaps the important thing is, for the first time ever, your side now has more demons than your foe.

Humans are the only thing that can permanently change the balance.

When it comes to keeping them alive: yes a demon can slaughter them. Which is why it is generally worth keeping enough demons on hand to counter the enemy demons, giving the human the chance to take down just an extra 2 or 3 (out of dozens) demons than you lost.

When it comes to creating human champions, these yes are affected by the cosmic balance. When designating a hero allows the other side to designate a hero also. But here it comes down to strategy and information. Exalting a human into a champion at the right place and the right time to kill an arch-demon, can be far more effective than a champion just leading an army that is on garrison duty. Human champions still count as humans for purposes of the cosmic balance.
Which is why the gods can't make them too much stronger than normal humans -- otherwise they tick over into demons and are self-countering.

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  • $\begingroup$ Another note: while you may kill a whole bunch of humans -- humans are experts at making new humans very fast. $\endgroup$ – Clearer Sep 3 '17 at 8:27
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Numbers and intelligence

A single person may be able to defeat a medium-strength demon. But darn, there are a lot of humans. And just by their sheer force of numbers and wit they defeat even the biggest demon.

And before you know it, those lots of humans have evolved. Suddenly they're firing strange weapons, explosions, lasers, nukes. (A millennium is like a heart-beat time-wise for a god, right?)

In short: humans are very resourceful and there are a lot of them.

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Related to @Secespitus' answer, I did something similar.

I had a similar scenario (though less divine and more just two alien races in war so old, no one knows why they are fighting) where they are incredibly ancient and long lived races. One of the values of humans and their short lives are they are increadibly decisive by the alien's standards. The aliens are playing chess while the humans are playing hot potato. It confounds the aliens that humans can move so quickly and both races meddle in Earths affairs trying to harness this ability.

In terms of the species, humans have the best endurance of the animal kingdom. In a race over 100 miles in distance, humans win hands down... either they are faster than the animals, or can catch up because of less need of down time. We might not be strong or fast or dangerous on our own, but the longer the fights go the more likely the human is to win... if only cause they will win.

Also, we are intelligent and pack oriented. This is a dangerous combo as we are able to recognize patterns, communicate these patterns to others, and use them to outwit animals. Turning their own talents against them with whats avaible. Pack hunting means the group is quite important to us. If you kill my buddy, I will avenge him... but so will someone who I might not care for ordinarily. Our concept of the enemy of my enemy is quite advantageous in that it allows us to suspend our internal-competition for mutual benefit. In the modern age, it's believed that any two people are at most seperated by six individual connections... for each buddy that dies, you mobalize a near pyramide scheme like amount of people ready to avenge that connection... As one of my aliens observed of humanity, "You can fight a human in any possible area and you will always win. But you never fight a human. They come in packs. With each human you fell, the pack only grows larger. You will fight them all."

In Deep Space 9, we see the alien character Gul Dukat outline his belief in war: It isn't to take territory... it's to show your enemies that they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. Humanity doesn't fight wars (sucessfully) like this. They fight to eliminate the threat. Gul Dukat was fighting a war of Conquest. What he didn't count on was that you can't fight those wars with humans. They fight to end the threats, not to prove they are better than their foe.

I would say what the gods who court from humans is a follower that can endure things better than most, puts aside internal conflict when external conflict arises, and can swarm their enemies with superior tactics. A demon or an angel would be better on the one to one scale... but the humans will attack with superior numbers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Try to race sled dogs or horses and see who wins. The entire reason we keep horses is because they can travel faster then us over a day's walk, even with all that dead weight of a human rider on their back. Persistence hunting works with certain types of prey that are not well adapted for long distance travel, that doesn't make us better then all species. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 30 '17 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding horses that is wrong, horses need downtime too eat and drink while humans can eat on the march, Im uncertain regarding the sled dogs thou, our breading of them migh have made the surpass us in this area. (Also I think I have yet to see a trustworty comparison to kangaroos, another animal that can move efficiently over long distances) $\endgroup$ – lijat Aug 31 '17 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen: An ultra-marathon isn't a speed race, it's an endurance race. A horse may outrun a human in a short sprint... or a marathon... but in a race over 100 miles, it cannot. With Sled Dogs, I've only seen them in action in any detail on the Top Gear race to the North Pole special. If I recall correctly, the sled team had to make frequent stops for the dogs to rest. That said, dogs typically can keep up with humans but will tire out first due to panting vs sweating as a cooling mechanism. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Aug 31 '17 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ @hszmv sled dogs are better in colder climats, but get worse as it gets warmer. In warm climats as you said sweating and panting wears them out, when it's cold enough that heat dispates on it's own they surpass us. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ @hszmv I understand that, but the energy expenditure is less when less cooling is required. That difference in energy expenditure was enough to give dogs the edge. I actually read a through discussion on this once, I think it may even been somewhere on stack exchange, and from what I understood this was actually researched and concluded the sled dogs had an edge at certain temperatures in endurance travel. They took more breaks, but covered more ground between breaks. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:50
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You could try something more morbid depending on how dark you would like your universe to be. Perhaps the interesting factor of humanity is not that humans act independently but instead that they absorbed divine power without any god's desire that they do so. I can see this as a situation where the species continues to absorb divine energy while breeding and reproductively propagating the power that the species has already gathered. The whole species, altogether, is a baby god that is only growing more powerful. If humanity is able to find a way to harness all of its power to act as a unit, they will be able to do powerful things that will only become mightier as time passes. In a far distant future, humanity might not just become a kingmaker but could possibly become king.

This means that humanity is a threat that must be dealt with, but it also presents an opportunity. For the first time in history, the presence of divine power in the universe is growing. The creation of the servant creatures did not create new divine power, but the birth of humanity has. Whichever god can figure out how to direct humanity's further growth more into his power will find a new source of strength that he can seize for himself. Thus, the gods are now struggling not just to prevent humanity from becoming a god in itself but also to try to mold its power into a form that it can take. If humanity as a whole (or perhaps significant portion) ever reflects the nature of a given god, he can take those humans' lives into himself and become the most powerful god and finally win.

Such a setting would see gods - even ones who might thinking slaughtering main to take their strength as against their nature - taking an active hand in human history. It seems like you could take such a setting in many interesting directions. Maybe the world is almost falling apart because of the gods' maneuvers in the world to direct mankind toward himself. Maybe some gods are simply trying to exterminate mankind so the stalemate does not break. Maybe some gods are observing mankind to see if there is some way THEY can evolve and in effect become more like man instead of the other way around.

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  • $\begingroup$ this is close to, and a better explination for, the idea I had mentioned in response to fredsbend answer, before reading your own. I think I will likely use some part of this idea. I wasn't suggesting 'eating' the humans though, simply using them as fighters once they have built up enough strength to be more useful. I may keep the 'villian' dieties with the philosphy of 'eating' humans, with other's simply building them into demigods conducive to their side. It's not 100% of what I want, as I also want heros to feel useful in present day, but I likely will use some of this idea. Thank you $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 30 '17 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ The perception of the humans as to why what they're doing is useful does not need to match the god's. God A reads ahead that his fiercest opponent, God B, is making subtle inroads with a kingdom that will cause it and the divine nature of that kingdom to approach his within 300 years. He wants to stop this, but he needs to be subtle lest God B directly stop him. So he rallies a tortured people behind a hero to overthrow an oppressor. A camp follower tramples a sapling that would have prevented erosion in the future. The hero saves his people; a mudslide devastates B's kingdom. $\endgroup$ – sadakatsu Aug 31 '17 at 20:03
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Give the Gods direct links to the Earth. The gods have Bailiwicks, areas of control, which are the source of the Gods Power. If these areas of control are balanced on the planet where the humans are, humans become excellent proxies and should be courted because of this. There are bits that need to work together here.

The God of Ice has and the God of Heat are balanced, but the sphere of influence shifts north to South as the year progresses, it is always balanced. the God of Earth is balanced with the God of the Sea. Trees vs Grass, so on and so on and so on.

The gods are balanced, but clumsy. Direct Intervention could very well lead to some Mutually Assured Destruction scenarios (thank you @ShadoCat) so in order to fine tune the struggle, you need a way to impact the world, but with finesse and at arms length. This is where Human Proxies come in.

Humans are valuable because they can actually impact the world, but do it in slow and subtle ways. Humans can, through slash and burn agriculture, decrease the god of the Forest while elevating the god of the plains. building a Dam can have a massive impact on a river god. there are seemingly infinite ways that humans can impact the earth, and therefore the powers of the gods.

Even if they aren't metaphysical batteries, Humans are very important in the battle for more power.

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The final result seems to be that humanity is a minor resource compared to that which already follows the gods, barely worth the expenditure of effort required to recruit them.

Well, my thought is that you are going to have to have a formula as to power, for example, one normal human is equal in power to a god by .001 or somesuch. How it begins is like this--gods start out largely ignoring humanity. But one god, perhaps a minor one, begins to heavily recruit humans to destroy some of the lower "that which already follows the gods." You've established that humans are a match for the lesser demons/imps and such, which follow other gods, so the minor god begins helping humans, perhaps recruiting some charismatic folk to lead in specific areas. And 20 humans with the favor of a god might be a match for a demon. Even if they are powerful numbers are numbers.

If the tech level is Medieval, even staving off infection and adequate medical care would be enough to sway a community.

So, minor god begins his power play, gains human followers when no one else is doing it. Has those human followers/fanatics kill another god's lesser followers, and used his human cannon fodder to erode the other god's power base. Then, this minor god made the next play, and that was to kill this other god and take his power for himself.

The other gods may have, at that point, realized that humanity could swing things, and just began recruiting followers as a way to balance power.

This god may have established himself worldwide before any of the other gods even noticed, which might have given him an advantage that let him eliminate a lot of the players.

The minor upstart god may well have been long eliminated, but it's possible that the other gods learned from this--and they fear what humanity might do.

The real question isn't why humanity might matter, it's why a god or gods might not have decided to eliminate these wild cards altogether.

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Some possible ideas.

All of these ideas are takes on mythology. They're not meant to be authoritative in any way. Just possible interpretations of said mythology.

Idea number 1: An interpretation of norse mythology.

The ancient Norse Gods created the humans as bioweapons. This has influenced many myths of humans, which is why they beat up monsters, slay giants, etc. Humans are basically really, really scary in context of the other creatures in Norse mythology. Trolls may want to prey on humans, but they'll not push their luck and go into a village, because humans would apply guns to the problem until it goes away.

Humans on the other hand cannot easily kill these supernatural creatures. They'd need some form of magic to do that. The easy, over-the-counter kind of magic that any elf, nisse, hulder, subterranean, troll, etc. can do in a pinch. In other words, humans are this giant race of not-dangerous people. Unless you give them the weapons they need. Which to them is practically free. Imagine if dogs turned into superkiller robots if you fed them chocolate. And there were massive million strong dog colonies. And all stores stock Chocolate due to the Chocolate amendment.

Do you see the ticking time-bomb that humans are? On the other hand, most non-Jotnir seem to live in relative harmony with humans. The forest spirits help humans log so long as they plant new trees. The spirits of nature help hunters so long as the hunters respect the prey, etc. Because humans can push things back into balance if things go awry. Humans are stewards of nature, and have a very integrated role in doing so.

Humans are scary, but mostly benign and everyone wants to let sleeping dogs lie. However, the gods are warring, and one of them just bought a chocolate factory...

Idea number 2: An interpretation of Greek mythology

Most humans are weak. Most humans are frail. But sometimes amongst humans are born men who can challenge the greatest of monsters, gods, and titans. Achilles, Heracles, Jason, Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus, Atalanta and Bellerophon, and those are just the ones from Master of Olympus + Poseidon. These heroes are nothing to sneeze at. Another thing to note is that gods are embodiments of things that happen to humans. If you're the god of craftsmen and you control the humans, you can make war more or less go away. Bye, bye Ares. Note that their power is not bound by their power of worship, but by the emotions and experiences of the human soul. (This is also what Warhammer 40 000 does.)

Idea number 3: Idea based on, but in no way canonical to Christianity.

Human souls are noble and worthy. They're also filthy and sinful. If you get a follower you get their souls after they die. Humans who live lives in accordance to you and your pact with humanity will fuel you. This means that the gods who's pacts make humans live good lives, where they prosper and multiply will have the edge. Furthermore, if your rivals lose their followers, you'll gain relative to them.

So...

In all of these scenarios you'll have humans being worthwhile. Whether humanity is valuable for their souls, for their potential, for the gods being shaped by the human experience, or finally, because giving them a magic weapon turns them into unstoppable murdermachines that will grind up anything you throw at them to a fine fine dust and blow it in your face... There's plenty of possibilities.

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  • $\begingroup$ option 3 is a little too close to the metaphysical battery concept for me I'm afraid, but I do like option 1 so I will consider it. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:27
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Demigods ?

Some mythologies - the Greek one and the Christian one - involve gods mating with humans, giving birth to - usually - mortal offspring with special abilities.

Maybe your gods could make demigods in order to increase their presence among humans and eventually defend them against other gods demigods.

That concept is roughly the basis of the tabletop role playing game Scion where the gods of several pantheons - the Norses, Greeks, Japanese, Voodoo, etc... - united to fight their ennemies, powerful entities that try to invade the human's world like titans, giants, you name it.

The problem is that the gods can't face the threat themselves:

  • They would cause too much destruction, resulting in more to humans than they would protect them from
  • They have an agreement preventing them from directly interfering with mortal's business in order to garantee peace and to avoid having some gods dominating the humans.

So they came up with another plan: mating with humans to make children that are both gods and humans. They aren't demigods but scion, and can become demigods or even gods if they become powerful enough. Their deitic parent usually appear to them when they become adult to explain the war to them, help them figure out their powers a bit and eventually to offer them some divine gifts - usually weapons.

However, the gods-who-can't-intervene trope is pretty common and was even used by Tolkien: since the Valar destroyed and sank a whole continent when they defeated the Numenorean fleet, they decided it was too dangerous to use their powers directly and sent the Istari - like Gandalf and Saruman - to help the mortal races against Sauron instead.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Greek one does, but the Christian one involves angels, not gods - unless you mean JC, but I don't think that is a 'mating'. Other religions involving human/deity relations: Norse, Egyptian, Celtic ... it seems all the old gods were at it with people. $\endgroup$ – mcalex Aug 31 '17 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ I believe the Christians made their god impregnate JC's mother with something fancy and pure instead of semen because they shamed sex, but same thing otherwise. Most ancient civilizations had anthropomorphic deities, I'm not surprised that they pushed the similarities one step forward. $\endgroup$ – ksjohn Aug 31 '17 at 7:28
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Here's an idea

You said that the human race evolved in part with the help of ambient divine energy. This tells me that each human has a minute spark of power within them. My suggestion is to make a "God of Humans". Not as in having a human turn into a god, but rather a god that has manifested through the collective consciousness and divine power of the human race. Each human is unknowingly and passively contributing to a god's existence via their own, making the Human God an embodiment of humanity. This is a plausible, arguable explanation for the creation of said Human God, and it opens a few doors regarding influences in the war.

The first door that this scenario opens is that of a god with variable strength. Rather than being exactly matched to the strength of other gods, the Human God relies on the human population. This is different from using worship as a battery. Rather, think of each human as a cell, helping to constitute a larger being. Therefore, other gods can adjust the strength of the Human God by adjusting the human population. This god can be stronger or weaker than others, turning the tide of battle.

The second possibility provided by this god is possession. The Human God has no demons or angels or imps, but can bestow power upon willing humans to form an army at will. Due to the nature of this god, the human army also derives it's strength from the human population.

It's like an artificially intelligent mass of energy.

Just a suggestion. Let me know if you choose to not use it, as if you don't, I just might

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  • $\begingroup$ It is a good idea, so +1. but I'm afraid it's still too similar to what I already ruled out, humans being a power source for a god. It doesn't make the actions of specific humans feel meaningful, only their existance, which is a problem if I want specific humans (ie main characters) to feel impactful. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:21
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I can think of two potential reasons.

Firstly, maybe humans are just more imaginative than the created Champions of the Gods. I can imagine that an angel or demon created to be a great warrior with absolute loyalty would be good at fighting and not much else. Perhaps creating something to be utterly loyal invariably detracts from its ability to think outside the box. If a God were to teach this being a powerful spell, it would use the spell only for its intended purpose. But... gain a human's loyalty by teaching her the same magic, and she might take it home and play with it and possibly come up with modifications and unexpected new applications that would never have occurred to the Champion. Or even to the God itself. The occasional powerful human that can rival a Champion is nice to have, but perhaps the true benefit of the humans is as tinkerers and experimenters.

Secondly, Gods and Champions probably have no need to eat. Humans do, which means humans need to understand how and where to hunt and farm for food. With that comes great understanding of terrain, and all the wartime benefits that go with that. A tactically minded human advising an army exactly where to burst out of a forest to overwhelm the enemy's flank, or how best to lure the enemy's chariots into muddy marshes, could be the difference between two evenly matched armies.

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    $\begingroup$ welcome to world builders! I'm not sure I buy farming making one better at tactical use of lands, but I do very much like your first idea so +1 for it. I hope you stick around our little site :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:29
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Perhaps humans are the only intelligent beings capable of designing machines. While a single average human may never take on a demon in a 1on1 fight, she may design ballistas, catapults, explosives and more advanced war machines to level the gap. Further, demons and gods have a crystallized knowledge, which is innate and vast, but static. They either cannot learn or they learn even the simplest notions very slowly.

This could be expanded by allowing humans to scientifically explore and analyze the spiritual plane, designing contraptions to bring damage and trap beings across planes of existence.

Afterall, that is the true skill of mankind compared to our wannabe predators in the animal kingdom.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WB site! thank you for the good answer. It's actually an idea I had already been toying with and may use. I'm surprised it took this long for someone else to mention it :). hope you stick around and participate in other questions/answers :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 31 '17 at 13:22
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Well, the simple answer is practically stated in your question. Prior to the appearance of humans, the gods were exactly evenly matched. Given that the gods are immortal, it doesn't matter how tiny the advantage humans grant is, if one side has it and the other does not, the side with it will win in the next trillion years or so. It will take long enough that the humans involved might not realise the difference they are making, and almost certainly won't care even if they do.

Now, how could you make it a more pressing advantage? Well, you said the war was at least partly physical, and that it's fought by angels/daemons created by the power of the gods. Presumably they use powerful weapons in their fights. So, the question is what portion of the God's power goes to making the equipment, and what portion goes to creating the intelligence and physical accouterments. It would be easy to justify the intelligence being more expensive given the time gap in our own technology between the development of powerful weapons and the development of "smart" weapons. And our "smart" weapons still aren't as smart as a human.

So, the first god to stop making angels and start just churning out massive quantities of god-killer weapons and handing them to sympathetic mortals would have gained a big advantage in the physical realm, thus freeing up his power to focus on combat in the spirit realm. The other gods would have had to choose between following suit, or perishing, until finally the physical wars are fought almost entirely by human zealots equipped with personal-size weapons of phenomenal power, and everyone wonders if Angels and Daemons are simply myths since their fighting is confined, by necessity, mostly to the spiritual realm.

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Note: This answer was originally a comment, but since the OP found it interesting and asked me to post it as an answer, I'm going to clarify it a bit more.

I think the main point here is: why do you need humans if you have angels and demons (A&D from now on, since I'm lazy)? The first answer that came to my mind is the one found in other works (or videogames, such as Black and White): humans worship you and this gives you power. This answer, however was explicitely forbidden by the OP.

So, there should be a way humans are better than A&D and make them more suitable for some tasks.

My idea: the A&D are "non renewable" resources. At creation the gods created 1000 A|D each, and now they cannot create them anymore. This is because

  1. There is no more "raw material" (Angelium or Demonium) to create more A&D
  2. The A&D were not created BY the gods, but WITH the gods (at the same time). At the beginning there was only chaos. Then the chaos divided in and and their henchmen, A&D. So gods have no power to create them
  3. (my favourite) New angels or demons are created when an angel and a demon breed together. But since year 0, when the gods started war, they were forbidden to mate again, so no more A&D born since then. This gives some subplots like capturing one of the other entity to use as a "reproductive cow", or some forbidden society of fallen angels and demons which do not obey to the gods, or something more

In all these cases, the inability to "produce" more A&D makes disposable pawns like humans very useful, since if you are able to trade 1M humans for one A&D you gain an advantage (let some years pass and you will have 1M humans again, but the other has no way to recover the A&D).

Other ways to use this idea is not to prevent A&D creation, but to make it very long or difficult.

  1. Maybe the god should "lose" a part of itself to create a A&D; the high cost of creating it can be a good push to find alternative ways to have henchmen
  2. The creation or growth of a A&D is very long. Maybe you have to incubate the "eggs" for 1000 years, or they reach maturity after a lot of centuries, while humans are much faster (in 15 years they are "ready" for combat). Weak but easy to train. This makes losing them much less of a problem

Hope to have given you some ideas to work with ;)

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    $\begingroup$ The version I was playing with was that gods can create new A/D, but it's time consuming and requires a focus of energy while done, the huge number of A/D is due to gods being around for a long time giving them time to create them. This means a lose to humans is not permanent, and is small in raw numbers, but is difficult to replace and thus is a non-trivial opportunity cost to lose regularly. Still, this is similar, and worthy of an upvote as I promised :) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Sep 5 '17 at 16:21
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First of all, as you said, Humans aren't directly linked to the power of a specific god. This means that unlike all of the other minions of gods, they do not need to draw power from them. And since each god is exactly as powerful as the other, having a minion on their side that doesn't draw power from them may just be the edge that they need.

They also make excellent workers. Why waste demons who could be on the battlefield to make arms and armor, when a skilled human can make these just as well.

Also every army can use some additional cannon fodder. Yes, humans are weak, but we can also be very loyal, and (Stupidly) brave. We may not be the best but by the gods do we try, and we may just provide the distraction that the army needs. (Think in boxing terms, you throw a weaker punch so that your opponent blocks that, opening himself up for a stronger attack right after)

And finally, just as Secespitus said, God's think in a much longer term than us mortals, and so who knows how humans may rise in power, and possibly become powerful minions/allies from all the generations born in war?


EDIT: After all of the new questions on my answer, I Decided to add a few more details to what COULD be the case.

Unlike most creatures, humans can do things autonomously. and do way more than dogs for example. Since we are so smart, we can be given commands and trusted to carry out tasks that normally would require a special minion, once again saving power.

To answer why humans would want to help: who WOULDN'T want an immensely powerful being on their side. Yes you will be fighting against other all powerful beings, but you have on in your ring, and they can offer you just about anything if you prove your worth, such as an afterlife... (And even if they can't who would call them out on it? The other Gods? Because how do we know they aren't lying about your god's power?)

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  • $\begingroup$ I got the drawing power backwards. I always thought it was the god who gained power from their worshippers. $\endgroup$ – mathreadler Aug 30 '17 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @mathreadler I've seen both in stories (and in real religions too), but the OP specifically says gods do not gain some kind of metaphysical power from humans. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @mathreadler If the gods do not gain power from humans, then humans must have a power of their own that the gods cannot take by force. The gods only have two options: 1) Keep the stalemate and destroy all humans, 2) Get the humans to devote their power to the gods. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ @mathreadler "Why should humans care about gods?" That's a different problem. In this story, maybe a quid pro quo seems fair to the humans. But there doesn't need to be a reason the humans will join a god's side. Human naivety and divine deception is enough reason for any story. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @mathreadler If a demi-god is basically an extra strong human, then the gods still need to convince the demi-god to their side. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Aug 30 '17 at 21:16
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Fear.....you stated humans are not bound to either side which means there is always the possibility however remote that humanity maybe at some point unite behind the other side and become the kingmaker . As long as that possibility exists the gods, previously safe by being exactly equal are vulnerable. This new vulnerability/uncertainty terrifies them and explains why the gods are so interested in humanity despite the insignificant nature of the power humanity has.

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I didn't read your full question because you were overthinking things. "How can humans be believable as a kingmaker in a war between gods?" Nukes. Science. Technology. Scifi. Human lategame. That's how humans make a believable kingmaker. Poseidon being a prick? Evaporate all of his oceans and start synthesizing your own water, or maybe just light the tops of his oceans on fire - Byzantium actually figured out how to do that. You gotta remember that humans have a lot of weight to throw around when a bunch of them act together. We're literally making the planet warmer right now. Why not murder Zeus while we're at it? If we can't actually pull that off, maybe we give Zeus a cold.

I skimmed the rest of your question. Humans could probably figure out how to hunt demons for fun by using specially made tools. We figured out a way to hunt pretty much everything else we can see. Why not imps and stuff. Consider guerrilla warfare.

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I would question if humans would get involved at all unless they had a self-centred reason to. A bit like 'Pascal's wager', but what if they get on the wrong side?

Being able to tip the balance in an even fight would likely result in a massive loss of life/destruction of their civilisation. Think of two evenly matched boxers and a million ants ... yes, the ants might tip the balance, but a lot are getting squashed!

My feeling is that the humans would fight if:

  • they felt that not to pick a particular side would lead to a worse consequence than if they do pick a side
  • they were pretty sure they could assist in an easy win without much in the way of collateral damage (seems unlikely)
  • they had some special ability/facility that would effectively allow them to tip the balance without incurring substantial damage (e.g. a hero; a special object; etc.)

It is also worth noting that it is not clear that every human would choose the same god (where have we seen that before :-) ). Kind of like ant vs ant in the above example.

In most cases wouldn't the human wait it out and see who wins and either fight the weakened god or accept him if he's benevolent?

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  1. I'm sure everybody heard such a sentence as "God is inside of everybody of us". But how do you think, is it correct to say "Everybody of us is inside of God"?

  2. Try to use an analogy of microbes - human Earth inhabitants - God.

  3. Amount of people means nothing. The quality of group is everything. To continue analogy - there can be millions of microbes in our intestines, but if it is a bad balance - your body starts to ill and feel weak.

  4. Who are you - bad or good microbe for Humanity? Or you are God? Or both?

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Humans that ally themselves with a particular god actually provide that god with the energy of their will-to-fight/aggressiveness, making that god slightly stronger.

While a god without followers is still a god, a god becomes increasingly stronger the more followers, that fight for him, he gains.

The more aggressiveness/will-to-fight a human harbors, the stronger it will make the god he fights for. It's only logical that gods will try to convince or force (fear?) humans to fight with fervor for them by the millions, to exponentially increase their powers.

One could go so far and say that this concept is real. Athletes are influenced by a cheering crowd, why wouldn't a god?

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    $\begingroup$ The question states Gods do not gain power through belief or worship, they want humans to fight directly in the war not be some metaphysical battery pack. so making humans a battery that only gods can access doesn't sound like a viable answer. Could you edit your answer to explain why this is different from the case I cited? $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Sep 1 '17 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Edited the answer to align it with that requirement. $\endgroup$ – r41n Sep 1 '17 at 13:16
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Some communities, in real life, hold the belief, often considered apocryphal, that - I try to use your language here, even if it may be considered "disrespectful" by some - "some gods" made a deal that is fulfilled by maintaining or derelicting humanity - or, according to your wording, using some sense of virtual balance, "win them over" - over an unspecified period of time (whether it be physical or virtual).

Taking it as granted, it is not the power of humanity, if any, but their (the "gods'") agreement and the outcome of that is binding and may have dire consequences for them. That would totally address the part of your question (to me, the essence), that is, "why gods care enough to be trying so hard to court humanity", if they have to win their own bet in which humans are the players.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – Vincent Sep 5 '17 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ Now, after reading it once again, it does provide an answer, it is just that one should read with understanding. Still, edited to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Victor Sep 6 '17 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Victor. I do not see an explanation of how this impacts a deity level conflict which is the ask of the OP. Beyond that the formatting and wording is difficult to digest. I would suggest doing some intensive editing to ensure you 1) Address the question specifically 2) Improve ease of read. Check out the help center and tour to get a better idea of how the site works and let us know if you have any questions. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 8 '17 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, given the wording and complexity of the original question, I did not come to the realization that I shall write in Simple English or similar. $\endgroup$ – Victor Sep 12 '17 at 18:53

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