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  1. Oopstrap

    Oopstrap New Member

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    Gods and Their Powers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Oopstrap, Dec 24, 2018.

    In a story where the "all powerful" beings use the humans to accomplish their goals, would it feel cheap or easy to have one of them destroy a city with fire? This would be the first act of it's kind within the story however, I have 3 more planned.
    I am writing a series that has taken some odd turns over the years and I am currently about to thwart the long-game of one of the god-like creatures I have created. They have spent the majority of the last 40+ years grooming a man to take the life of someone he knows well and practically raised. He obviously doesn't do this terrible deed and instead becomes a very handy weapon to the other side. At the point where he decides to forsake his own patron-goddess, she strikes the whole city in fire and the people that the story has hinged on for so long must escape with their lives.

    I personally think that this action would be in the nature of this god-like creature and having a show of such loss of control would be pertinent to the story. It shows the readers that this "goddess" has been manipulating this man and has tried to be something to him that she is not. It also serves the purpose of casting doubt on the divine within the story and the hand they have in actions around the world. However, I have read many books that just become to spectacular and ruin the story for me. I am no longer lost in the characters because it is too well scripted and neat. What I am trying to avoid is becoming too heavy handed with the divine help and hindrance.
    I'm also not quite sure how to deliver this bout of fire throughout the city and that has a large part to play in how to reader reacts. Things just bursting into flame all around them would be too easy. lightning would be an interesting thing to witness and would deliver the same results. multiple strikes of lightning all around the city at the exact moment he makes he pledge and filling the night with the glow of a thousand burning homes and businesses... I'm not quite sure. I would appreciate feedback. This story is my life's work.
     
  2. Lilith Fairen

    Lilith Fairen Member

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    If the gods are the antagonists, then naturally they would act to thwart plans which oppose them. You would want them to be a proactive threat to your protagonists, rather than merely existing until the protagonists stop them. And if it establishes the character of the goddess in question that she would create such destruction and chaos out of fury of the protagonist's defiance and establishes the extent of the goddess's power, that further helps the story.

    As for the means of the destruction, consider what kind of powers your goddess possesses. Is she a goddess of weather? Then lightning would be fitting. Can she sense the very moment the protagonist acts against her? Would she snap and immediately release destruction in retaliation? Or would the goddess only realize later, or would she need time to gather the power necessary to cause such destruction? Showing the power of your goddess and her willingness to use it will help the story, but if the goddess is nigh-omnipotent, you'd also need a good reason why the goddess doesn't just set the protagonist on fire whenever she feels like it.

    Don't worry about what didn't work for other stories—what matters is if it works for your story.
     
  3. Oopstrap

    Oopstrap New Member

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    Thank you for your feedback. I've found that explaining myself has been the best help in making a story that has real life in it.

    Most of the divine characters within the story cant outright kill anyone and the ones that can, would never do so. Until the very end of the story line, the divine are mostly unknown to the readers in any antagonist sense. They watch and act behind the scenes and the story we are reading is their game acted out by the characters. on rare occasions they interact directly with the world around them but are mostly silent and unseen. They send visions and through worship/manipulation, they affect the world.

    As for the demolition of the city, She definitely snaps and releases her fury in an instant. She's actually watching as he commits his act of treason(no one knows this, not even the readers until the very end). Simply by explaining this, I think I've come up with the best way to make the story come together and still destroy the city :D Thank you!! Plot twists for the win!
     
  4. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    The Sanderson laws of magic might be helpful for you. Take a look here:

    https://coppermind.net/wiki/Sanderson's_Laws_of_Magic
    The essence here is that divine intervention should never solve problems unless the reader understands the gods enough to see it coming. A good way to handle this is for the divine intervention to actually create more problems than it solves. For example, a god might try to help, but do so with intentions that aren't actually in the characters' best interests. Or the gods can be so restricted in what they can do that they aren't able to miraculously save the heroes whenever anything goes wrong. The bad guys have more of a free reign here, because they don't solve problems, they create them.

    Try to work in limitations and rules to what your gods can do. And stack the deck against the good guys, to keep the tension high.
     
  5. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Contributor Contributor

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    Hello, my friend :superhello:

    That depends on your goddess personality, or alignment if you like. If she is good, then making us readers think she is manipulating him is excellent, because, in reality maybe she is not and the character thinks she is. Maybe on his journey, he has to learn a valuable lesson? Or to remind an important duty? However, if she is evil then yes, by all means, make her using him until exhaustion. I will even suggest making your character blind faith to her until he realises he was being used from all his life. Plus, make your character being persecuted from her followers. I hope this helps. Keep on good work, and remember to have fun :superagree:
     
  6. LadyErica

    LadyErica Active Member

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    No offense, but I pretty much stopped reading here. Or to be precise, I did read the whole post, but this is where my main issue is. If the gods are all powerful, why do they even need the humans to do their dirty work? If you want to destroy the city in a blazing inferno, why not have one of the gods wipe it out in a blazing inferno? Where does the humans come into the picture? For that matter, why do the gods even care about the humans? Wouldn't the humans be to the gods, how ants are to us? We don't care about individual ants. They have their uses, but most people would easily destroy an entire anthill without a care in the world. I know that sounds terrible, and it is. But to most people, it's just ants. Who cares?

    My point is, before I even begin to think about a story, I would want to know as much as I can about the gods, how they work, what their hierarchy is like, what you mean with "all powerful", and so on. For instance, there are a lot of gods in Norse mythology, but Odin is the only one who's close to literally "all powerful". Same goes with the Greeks. There are tons of very powerful gods, but Zeus is the one and only "all powerful" one.

    As a huge fan of Dragonlance, I can use a good example how I like my gods. In very short, we have two "main" gods. Paladine is the good god, and Takhisis is the evil goddess. Both are very powerful, and I don't know if either of them have many limits to their powers. But at the same time, there is some cosmic laws in place (it's complicated), so one can't exist without the other. If Takhisis wants to come down to mortals, Paladine will be stuck here with her. If she were to be sent back, he would be sent back too. In fact, that was the only way they could possibly stop her for good. She would have to be turned into a mortal and killed, but by doing so, Paladine would also be turned into a mortal and die.

    Because of that, they are both extremely powerful gods, but there are severe limitations to what they can do anyway. Simply because you can't have good without evil. One can't exist without the other. What I'm thinking is that you can indeed have all powerful gods, but they need weaknesses and restrictions, too. If we have two gods, and both are literally all powerful, what happens when they disagree? If one wants to destroy the city, and one wants to spare it, how will they solve the problem, if both are literally all powerful? It would be the classic issue with an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Who would win?
     
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  7. Cod God

    Cod God New Member

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    Well, like others have already said, limitations are important. If a goddess can set fire to a whole city just like that, one might wonder why she doesn't just do this every time a mortal annoys her. You say even the readers know very little about the gods at this point, so I'd be careful with grandiose displays of power. If your readers start thinking this sort of thing can just come out of nowhere, that could ruin any sense of tension your story carries.

    Of course, it doesn't have to be as dramatic as a massive fireball. If the goddess has followers in the city, one of them could simply receive a vision (or a momentary case of possession) and fling a torch or lamp into an oil storehouse or a kitchen full of flour or similar. Heck, it could happen in several places in the city all at once. Or if you want her to be even more subtle about it, put in a passage about how somewhere in the city, someone carelessly moves an open flame too close to something flammable - at just that moment, the wind changes for no reason and blows the flame a minimal but fatal distance.
     
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  8. Oopstrap

    Oopstrap New Member

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    The Limitations are what I'm having problems with. I know that the gods in this story don't exactly exist within the same realm. They can only affect what is already happening, not make their own chain of events... But this kind of limitation is not just something that I've decided. Existing in a different realm is difficult even for a god. So along that train of thought, it would make sense to send visions or dreams to the followers within the city to make events transpire but it would not have the spectacle or emotional outburst I want to impress on the readers. This goddess is unstable and terrorizing the world around them with no one to stop her. Up until this point she is described as a gentle caretaker of their souls. This is the first inkling of the truth that we have at hand.

    2 things really stand out to me in this scenario: I think that in order to make the gods' will known in another realm, it would take an immense amount of energy. A goddess's uncontrolled outburst of rage would release the energy needed to affect this world. If I make this scenario look planned (as in she sends messages and her followers act) then it looks like she still has some control and forethought. If I release multiple lightning strikes into the city at the same time, it could be rationalized as her emotions created energy, energy is just electricity thus the goddess's presence was felt momentarily(more than just lightning will be involved in the scene.. a shriek or a a name said by the goddess and then the lightning strikes within a perimeter of the little group). If it's such an extreme act that caused the phenomenon, it couldn't be replicated on purpose or used again at an advantageous time for the divine. The tricky part would be to get all of this information across to the readers. It would be interesting to add the fear of the gods' retribution to the rest of their path too.

    Rereading this, it still sounds fantastical. I'd have to write out both scenarios and see how cheesy they really sound once I've added to the right language and set up for the readers. I'll post back once I have something of each.
     

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