So predating the Engwithans we have Eora, adra (right?) and a natural soul cycle. Souls are energy that when embodied can have thoughts/experiences/personalities etc and these can either strengthen the soul or degrade it. In this sense it's a nice, healthy self-contained system into recycling. An implication here is that it really is self-contained, the energy/souls on Eora is what it's got, there isn't someone or something frequently creating it out of nothing and injecting it into the system. The Engwithans got a solid handle on how stuff works and got really bummed about there not being a great architect or engineer or own personal god to supply them a raison d'etre, finding a natural cycle to be too impersonal, too incidental of an explanation they decided that the best way to fix this existential angst is "Us! But MOAR!" And so the gods. Natural, working system vs ravenous overexploitation and the dangers thereof in the name of some abstract human need recurs elsewhere and invites some obvious parallels.
SSS show what the Wheel is to the gods now, I think. Galawain is your crazy survivalist uncle living in a shack in the woods but beneath the rickety shack he has a blast proof bunker with a generator. Kazuwari is the whole reincarnation cycle writ small, you can even call him out on this that he cycles the souls in Kazuwari and the struggles strengthen them meaning they get to be better snacks for him. You can eat more from a fat soul than a weak one and still have it be functional for recycling. And he'll even mention the Watcher would make a good snack based off what their soul has been through. It's easy to upscale this to the whole system, right? He called my Watcher a parasite for eating the souls when the opportunity arose and that's particularly funny since the gods so eloquently display that the only difference between a parasite and the gods is scale. We already know the gods have redundancies in the form of "In case of emergency break Godlike" but Galawain was being extra prepped which explains why he gets so very pissy despite being all about that seeking slaying and surviving supposedly. One interesting thing to consider is whether the natural cycle would have resulted in the continuity/cohesiveness of a soul through time as the current system has or whether that's a byproduct of the gods prepping the dinner table.
All of the gods are implicated passively in this out of necessity and most are active in this system which's only goal now is self-perpetuation. Berath's insistence on everything having an end is necessary because otherwise the gods can't eat, when Magran or Galawain throw down a challenge it's because either you die and they get an early lunch or you become more tasty later, when Wael obscures he ensures the venality of the system isn't common knowledge, when Hylea is all "OOOoooohhh humans cute!" she helps them thrive and by thriving they make for a better crop. Since they really do seem to just be upscaled humans I have zero doubt that they're not this honest with themselves, possibly they can't be this honest with themselves, and they've constructed a bunch of narratives about how they're actually helping, why what they're doing is necessary and actually good and the system they benefit from is what's best for everyone and not just fundamentally and inescapably self-serving. This may or may not also double for social commentary wrt certain systems.