I envisage that the universe is a kind of heat exchange engine between the positive and negative energy planes.
Many people believe that the universe itself is a kind of god; a Cthulian denizen of the far planes if you will. Nobody really knows for certain and no one is sure they want to actually find out.
The war between good and evil is more about resources and ideology than it is about dominion and so forth. Its also more of a shifting cold war with border skirmishes and proxy wars that an all out blood war.
Good and evil (objective) do not necessarily equate to righteousness and wickedness (subjective).
There is no forces of order or chaos.
How was the Universe created. Are the goods creators or creatures (i.e., did they create the universe or did it create them?)
The old wars
In the old world of the before the world was inhabited by a plethora of races. A huge diversity of aberrant races of which humans where only one. Each race wielded one of the great magics; humanities magic was faith, their gods where physical beings that walked the earth.
The race wars that followed where a series of protracted conflicts to determine the dominion of the world. It destroyed the aberrant species one by one as they where driven to near (or absolute) extinction, exiled from the earth or sealed away. In the end humanity won.
Using the secrets we had won we built a tippyverse (sans golems) and for an age of the world it was good. But the world is cyclic, the powers that sustain it periodically destroy and remake it. Humanity wasn't going to just let this happen; not after sacrificing so much, not after coming so far.
We attempted to use (abuse) true naming to change the nature of humanity, change the fate of the world. It went disastrously wrong. Eldrich energy flooded into the world through the teleportal networks remaking the world as it was.
- The space time of the landscape was changed into a shifting and twisting taffy (kind of fae wild).
- The gods where pulled apart; the bodies becoming the titans and the mandates becoming the patrons.
- The mages of the city became Alfar (insane immortal elves and living demi-gods)
- The surviving peoples of the city became trow (immortal baby trolls) or worse.
- Humanity (and all humans) lost its truname
Something else to think about. Is the power of a god separate from the being? Do they have mantles of power that others can take up? Say the God of War was slain, can another take up the mantle & become the new God of War? If the God of Vigilance wants to step down & become a mortal, can she give her mantle of power to a worthy mortal? Can another god steal another god's mantle?
Since their "mantle" is part and parcel of a gods soul technically yes but it won't be pretty.
Do people know about this? This is a pretty strong argument for not worshiping them.
Some people are aware but their are reasons to worship in-spite (or because) of this.
- Its a wild ride whilst it lasts
- Priests (and living but not celestial gods) draw power from the faith and worship of the faithful.
- Unclaimed souls are drawn into the positive or negative energy planes never to be seen or heard of again. It is generally assumed that the are destroyed but very few people want to find out personally; of those that have none are in any position to tell about it.
- Because the world is an extremely dangerous place for mortals and any spiritual protection (at almost any price) is welcomed.
Of course some people have had more than enough of the gods and the fae and have developed their own counter argument (see sig for a sub-setting of the overall work I am progressing on)
Have more gods that normal people would worship, not just adventurers looking for the best domains and secret cults that make messes even the most laid back janitor might take issue with.
I like the idea that there are about a dozen or so patrons an equal number of titans (a kind of skeksis thing if you follow but with man/nature rather than good/evil).
The exarchs are kind of like regional saints or kami. Every region, people and individual have their favorites though some are wider known than others. The could be thousands of them both real and imagined.
Gobliniods interpret it differently; as stories and character archetypes.
Reward/Torment afterlives may be a bit black & white. You could have it that the mortal soul goes to serve the god they worshiped/owed allegiance to/most identified with, & they continue to serve them in death. So the Reaper god has you till his field, the War god drafts you into his/her glorious army, evil gods make you their torture slaves. You could also apply a metaphysical surrealism to it. The Eternal Scribe might use your soul to like paper, writing upon you like you were a stickynote, or you are transformed into a book containing everything you know, & placed on a shelf in his Endless Archive, to be used by those seeking the Eternal Scribe's assistance & asking for divine aid. Maybe your are forced to remember an array of obscure facts & continuously repeat, the number of pi, or how many steps the Temple of the West King has, or the lineage of a lowly farmer, or to describe & quantify the number of hairs on the back of a stray cat in some little coastal village.
Now that is good; I like.
Patrons (a better name for the cultural achetypes) I have good fleshout concept of are:
The patron of fools and parents. All about growing up, the mistakes we make
and the lessons it that teaches us. Symbol is the circle/ring.
Trickster and teacher. At bet benevolent and fun loving, at worst manipulative and destructive. Symbol is the quill
Protector (guardian) and destroyer (reaver). Symbols are the shield and spear respectively.
The Balance: (the judge)
All about fairness and justice. About judgement and forgiveness, vengeance and mercy, duty and charity. Symbol are the scales and cudgel.
About the planting (plowman) and the harvest (reaper). Fertility, death and fatherhood. The symbol is grain.
This one is all about looking after (herdsman) and standing judgement over (butcher) the flock. Is a metaphor for leadership (also known as the steward/tyrant). The symbols are the crook / brand.
Others I have a basic concept of/need help with:
The hunter: Hunting/watching/tracking/stealth. Patron of thieves and police.
The artisan: Craft/art. Education and inspiration