Text Games: How do Gods and Mortals Co-Exist?
by Ben Gorlick and Christina Roper
Without mortals religion cannot exist. In real life you might not be a religious person but in a text game you might be a religious leader or even a prophet of your god. Ironic? I think so too. Religion in text games is the essence of the foundation that makes a text world possible because gods have various responsibilities that are both similar and different than gods in our world today. Gods in text games have many attributes that are similar to Greek and Roman mythology as well as Judeo-Christianity. However, there is a solidity in the gods in text games that is not seen in modern day religions. When looking at the similarities and differences some questions come to mind. What is the value of devotion to a religion? Do gods have their own ambitions? How do gods and mortals coexist?
To give a brief background of what the gods do in text games, you must first understand that the games are imagined, designed, and built by the gods. Because of the god’s creation of the game they have various responsibilities both public and behind the scenes. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to building new areas for mortals to explore, creation of skills, squashing bugs in the game, resolving mortal conflicts, creating and running global events, and maybe the biggest draw of them all, their personal interaction with mortals. Each god is given its own realm, for example, goddess of justice, god of war, and the god of oppression.
Within a god’s realm is a religious order of mortals. These mortals practice living according to a philosophy that is inspired by the god’s realm. Sometimes the god outlines the philosophy while in other realms the mortals might outline the philosophy. Usually to join one of these orders there is a pre-order clan where existing order members mentor and give direction to prospective members. Some call this education, others call it brainwashing, you pick. Within a god’s realm is a certain pecking order. The god must first pick a leader amongst their members who in some cases will act as the mortal voice of the god itself.
Gods much like some mortals can be very ambitious when it comes to carrying out and fulfilling their objectives. When gaining followers and acquiring popular vote is the goal, a god will provide incentives to lost mortals who are seeking guidance in life. They will unleash their true believers and existing order members to carry-out their religious propaganda and recruitment efforts. At times, multiple religions will be competing for a mortals application to their religion, and will put their knowledge and will against each other in order to convert. Conflicts don’t merely stop at that however. In text-games like Achaea, it’s commonplace to see a god instruct their followers to defile and destroy the wordly structures of another religion, primarily their shrines and at times, the inhabitants of the gods temple.
Mortals in text games can strengthen their gods by killing creatures and offering the corpses to the gods at a shrine location that they erected for their gods. Conversely, a gods followers defiling the shrines of another religion accomplish several goals: implications of dominance over the religion they are defiling, create a deficit of essence for that god, distract the gods followers from their work and create opportune locations to erect new shrines of their own religion. While the mortals fight it out amongst themselves, occasionally the war can escalate to such a point that the gods themselves battle it out for the world to see. Throughout history, there have been wars that have been started by differences in religions. Examples in our world, such as the Christian Crusaders, the Catholic Church during the middle ages and the modern day religious conflicts in the Middle East that stem back to biblical times.
Gods, if they are favored by mortals and if they so choose as well, can become the Patron of certain cities, guilds and houses. In such capacity, the gods assist in the development of the organization, adding to its depth, functionality and overall feel. Many gods in text games leave their marks, erecting permanent structures in cities or creating inhabitants and denizens that forever bear the distinct flavor of that gods impact. In Greek and Roman religions, gods patronned cities as well, for example Athens Greece by Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Warfare and Crafts and Olympia, by the Greek God Zues.
Sometimes, long after a God has departed a city, the remnants and history of that Gods influence has so much impacted the citizens that the changes are permanent, such as the longstanding influence of the former God of Evil Sartan left on the city of Mhaldor in Achaea or the creation and philosophy of houses like the Occultists of Ashtan left by the once known Goddess of Chaos, Eris. Long after these gods and goddesses are gone, their legacy lives on in oral stories and traditions that are still carried out by mortals.
Much like in our world, in text games a persons particular faith can rule their thoughts and control their actions. Examples include people dedicating their lives to missionary work with little or no financial reward, with hopes of merely spreading the gospel of their religion. Contrasts include people that will martyr themselves in the name of their religion. Some religions even make it so very difficult to marry outside of their religion, vowing to disown family member in some cases if they violate their religious upbringings.
Unlike our text games however, in our world it is no commonplace to see a public display by gods interacting with mortals and each other. Gods are not visible to the naked eye. In the game Achaea for example, for a particular god there will be one or maybe two temples for one god. But in our world there are hundreds of temples devoted to one god or multiple gods. In our world religion and gods are more thought to be both within us and part of us.
All of this leaves me with one final thought. If we choose to believe in a god, where does that god truly exist? Is it in our faith and devotion? Is it in our practice of philosophies? In our world, in the Judeo-Christian religion you can channel inside yourself to speak with god and some feel as though through them He speaks back. In a text-game world there is real concrete evidence that there is a direct communication between mortals and gods. Which brings to question if that is something that we’d really benefit from, given the implications that disobeying them might bring.
Ben Gorlick & Christina Roper are text game enthusiasts who enjoy the free roleplaying games at Iron Realms!