Old and New Gods - Part I.

‘Because what are gods, really? Did they create us or did we create them? Is there something truly divine out there or all the gods are merely mortals who achieved apotheosis through the mysteries and energies of the universe? These questions have always intrigued Men of this modern age as well as past eras. Yet, these are not the questions one should be asking. What one should be asking instead is: what is the reason for our need to be governed and guided by omnipotent beings?’

- From the lecture of the scholar Ludvinius Cadvo

Although the Riven Realms are often referred to as ‘godless’, the truth is quite the opposite. With the departure of the Elder Gods, new deities took up the reins and have led mortals in their endeavours ever since the Calamity. Many of these New Gods are not real gods but extremely powerful beings who had found a way to provide magical power to their following. Yet that does not make them so much different from their predecessors, nor does the fact that almost all of them has some divine agenda that few can truly comprehend.

The Elder Gods

‘If you pluck a simple spider from its web and hold it in your palm, how much do you think it understands of what is happening? Perhaps it has some vague concept of a greater being but it utterly fails to comprehend just how vast the difference in complexity is between it and you. This frame of reference is most appropriate when we consider the relationship of mortals and the Elder Gods. It would be foolish to appropriate them any human traits or mindset. But mortals do it nonetheless to soften the blow of what the spider on the palm feels. Which is abject terror.’

- The sorcerer Remenar, Magister Primus of the Crimson Order

The Elder Gods of the world were a pantheon of nearly thirty gods and goddesses, worshipped by many cultures prior to the Calamity, albeit under different names. The Old Empire was chief among the followers of the pantheon of these deities and Imperials used to believe that the rise of their culture to prominence was largely thanks to the wisdom and guidance of the Elder Gods. Yet few know these days that the original pantheon was made up of several smaller clans of gods (most importantly the Xyneans, the Xuneans, and the Tanatians). The indisputable leader of the pantheon was Xyn, King of the Gods who ruled alongside his wife, Xuna. Each god was responsible for a variety of spheres and had their own priesthoods as well as religious practices, but Xyn and Xuna were revered above all others. All Emperors were thought to have a dash of divine in their bloodline, being descendants of the King of Gods.

According to myth and legend, the Elder Gods created the universe and most of the races that inhabit it. Naturally, the account of this genesys differs greatly for each race, typically placing said race to the center of creation. Most of the gods made their abode and on the peak of Mount Xyn, the tallest mountain in the known world, but those who climbed the perilous mountain in recent memory found no evidence of a divine presence ever having been there. The myths also speak of the wars between the Elder Gods and their various factions that almost destroyed the whole of creation before Xyn made the gods swear an oath never to directly interfere with the realms of mortals. Called the Pact, this agreement was in fact held up until the Elder Gods could not abide the atrocities committed in their name any longer and Xyn broke the Pact to let the gods punish the Empire, which culminated in the Calamity.

Everything changed with that, of course. The few surviving source materials point to both divine omens and to a cataclysm of magical nature with the magnitude that make the Elder Gods the only viable culprits. Those who lived to see the devastated world after this apocalypse rightly felt that the gods have abandoned them and when they ceased to answer their prayers or give their priests divine magic, the remnant of the Empire concluded that the Elder Gods were to blame for the catastrophe. Nobody has found out what happened to them after the carnage they visited upon the Riven Realms. The Elder Gods no longer answer prayers or provide powers and their ancient shrines have all been destroyed. Imperial law severely punishes all who revere the old gods and a millenium of propaganda resulted in demonizing them to an absurd degree. Today their names are forgotten and the only time anyone refers to them is in curses.

Both major Elder Races reacted with a certain kind of apathy to the disappearance of the Elder Gods. Elves have never worshipped gods as Men do, living a life of balance with nature itself whom they sometimes personify as Allmother. Following the cataclysm, the surviving Elves fell from grace and became shadows of their former selves. They never discuss beliefs, so it is anyone’s guess if they have a religion at all in this new age. Dwarves seem to have abandoned their gods when they became wandering loners after the Calamity, but in truth, they had held technology and an inventive spirit in much higher regard than their trio of Elder Gods and their wisdom - even to the point of fanaticism that is so typically characterizes their race.

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