Divine Rank and Privilege
While some gods arise spontaneously from the cosmos, most began as lesser beings. Hard-working outsiders may acquire the secrets to divinity, as can the souls of the particularly-persistent deceased. Divinity can also be imparted, rather than gained: a benevolent deity may “deptutize” one of its cherished minions to create a new divine ally, or a deity may create offspring and invest them with enough essence to awaken their divinity. It is even possible (if vanishingly rare) for ordinary mortals to obtain divinity within their brief lifetimes.
Even the vestigial remains of fallen gods can rise again to assume the mantle of divinity. If a vestige can build a broad enough power base in the mortal world, it may eventually claw its way back to a semblance of awareness, and even divinity.
An ordinary mortal or outsider can only ascend to divinity without a sponsor if the following criteria are met:
- The aspirant must know its personal truename.
- It must have obtained at least one key of invocation.
- It must have a means of storing essence, either by virtue of being an outsider, or through an epic-level magic item.
- It must invest enough essence in holy sites, servitors, and divine compensation (see Rank Mechanics) to attain the equivalent of a divine rank of 0.2.
A divine sponsor can make this process much easier. It can research and convey the character’s personal truename, and can grant or assist in the creation of keys of invocation. It can also channel essence into the character, or change the character into one of its servitor races. It also may provide insight into the divine condition and ascension, which are sorely lacking in the sphere of mortal knowledge. A divine sponsor may also use its priesthood and influence to spread stories about the aspirant, formulate rites, establish holy sites, inspire worshipers… and remit this essence to the aspirant as divine compensation.
Very rarely, a deity may mate with a mortal and produce offspring. While the offspring is almost indistinguishable from an ordinary mortal, such a character does enjoy several benefits:
- For the purposes of divination spells, the divinity is considered to be familiar with the offspring, even if it has never seen the character.
- The character receives the Truename Training feat for free; Truespeech is always a class skill for the character.
- At any point, the god may choose to invest some of its divine essence in the offspring, measured in divinity sparks.
- Each divinity spark bestows a +1d6 attribute boost. If at any point the offspring absorbs three divinity sparks (from the parent or another source), its type changes to outsider (native).
- Once the character becomes an outsider and knows its personal truename, it immediately becomes a quasi-deity. If not already the case, it knows that it had a divine parent, and has at least a vague idea of that parent’s identity.
Regardless of background, once an entity has absorbed enough divine essence and/ or invested essence in places of power, servitors, or other trappings of divinity, it achieves a divine rank of 0.
Quasi-deities (divine rank 0) are outsiders that do not have sufficient power to claim a portfolio. They may have been well-established animae, powerful outsiders, or the children of a deity that have collected (or have been given) enough divinity sparks to ascend. Their basic properties are covered in standard rules, except where noted here. They are outsiders (but considered native in all planes), they rarely age in a linear fashion, and they are not susceptible to the withering of old age. They do not die of natural causes, and often live long enough to become legendary figures. Their potent essence gives them a substantial attribute boost (typically 3d6 extra points), and many strive to acquire a portfolio and become full gods. Their forms often deviate substantially from that of their mundane brethren, being much larger, smaller, more brightly-colored, etc., and their features may change over time as they are shaped by the thoughts and dreams they inspire.
Death and Back Again
Even quasi-deities can be slain, but like a lich they tend not to stay down for long. If they have any servitors, holy places, divine keys, or similar tokens, their consciousness eventually stirs again, and they form a new body out of the ebb and flow of divine essence. Quasi-deities take 1d10 days to reform, and more potent deities can take hours or turns to reform. Deities without divine realms (or who choose not to reform there) come back to life in a region familiar to them, typically in one of their holy places or at the site of some important veneration rite. Those unfortunate gods without any such connections may simply awaken naked and alone within several hundred miles of a once-familiar place.
If a deity has a divine realm, it can reform to confront interlopers there in 1d4 rounds – and as long as it has essence, it can always reform to defend its inner sanctum. In these early-reform cases, however, it cannot leave its divine realm until its normal “cooling off period” has lapsed.
Proxies and Ascendance
If a deity makes a proxy, and the proxy develops its own power base, the proxy may discover how to invest its own sites/ casters, thereby becoming a god in its own right. The proxy may keep the “donated” divine essence (thus giving it head-start on its divine career), or may give it back to the patron deity. This may initiate a power struggle between the two gods, which can permanently sour the relationship.
The site surrounding a god’s demise (or where a god has suffered massive damage) is a disturbing place. Even if it is on the material plane, it is a place of wonder and majesty. In addition to divinity sparks, godsblood, and godflesh, the imprint of the deity’s struggle can manifest as energy wells and ambient domain-based effects for decades, which will slowly burn off much of the potency of the remains. The area is likely to suffer from mana fluctuations for centuries, if not millennia. Even if no other signs remain, deities and their servants will automatically recognize such a site for what it is. The fall of a deity scars the cosmos itself, and that wound never fully heals.
This effect applies only when a god’s actual body is destroyed. Avatars, possessed mortals, and other embodiments have dramatic effects on the environment, but on a much smaller scale. Energy wells and the like last for a few weeks, and mana fluctuations typically pass in several years.
When a god runs out of hit points, it turns to godsflesh and falls comatose for 1d10 days, after which time it reemerges fully healed. If confronted by the efforts of a deity of equal or greater rank, or the combined efforts of deities totaling three times its rank, it lies comatose for 1d12 months. During this time it can still grant spells, collect essence, and pay divine compensation, but is otherwise disabled. During this down time, the deity’s opponents typically imprison the body while they root out its power base.
If the deity has no remaining ties to the world (holy sites, priesthood, veneration rites, servitors, and divine compensation), its body cannot reanimate, and its consciousness slips into the Falling-Down Place. It can no longer grant spells to followers, but any binders who know its sigil can call it as a vestige. It is still a potent being, but is trapped in this transitive plane of entropy and subject to all of its rules. If it manages to collect enough essence to reclaim a portfolio it can return to terra firma, but such success is vanishingly rare. Even if it were to succeed, the deity’s protracted stay in the Falling-Down Place would likely change it beyond almost all recognition.
If a defeated deity retains any ties, even a single priest or secret holy site, its body will return to life. Because of the difficulty of rooting out a god’s power base, defeated deities are often entombed in carefully-warded crypts until their followers can be wiped from the planes.