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Theological Oddities (Full of Spoilers)

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A few story aspects of the game leave me confused. Maybe someone here can explain them to me better than the game did.

 

I will start with two issues for now.

 

 

 

 

- 1 -

 

The Engwithans around Thaos created immensely powerful beings (which apparently they knew how to do) because of two reasons:

  1. They found out the gods commonly worshipped during their time did not exist (how they could prove this negative is not explained)
  2. They thought gods are necessary to civilize and to morally guide kithkind

Thaos describes how depraved and barbaric the people were without his gods, engaging in human sacrifice, cannibalism, constant war etc.; he also makes it clear that he wanted to remedy this state of kithkind. He fancies himself a civilization builder.

 

Point of confusion: If you can turn "ideals" into "gods" and if you want to use these gods to inspire mortals to be civilized, moral and prosperous, then why are several (if not most) of the gods you create jerks? I mean, what positive behavior is Skaen supposed to inspire? Envy, secret hatred, cruelty, deception and resentment are disruptive of a healthy society, and Skaen's horrific rites are just as bad as the those heathen cults you complained about.

 

I admit, Eothas appears to represent wholesome ideals, but Magran and Galawain glorify violence, and Rymrgard celebrates famine and plague. How, um... inspiring?

 

 

 

 

- 2 -

 

Why is everyone in the end saying that the gods created by the Engwithans are not real? Obviously they are real. They talk and act and conspire and whatnot. Sure, their origin story is different from what you thought, but they are still real.

 

I mean, they were never worshipped as God with a capital G in the philosophical sense anyway, i.e. the eternal principle and origin of all being, omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. They were never "absolute", but rather thought of as finite (albeit immensely powerful) immortal beings that squabbled with each other but guided and cared for mortals and represented ideals and natural forces. And that's what they still are. Whether the origin story of Ondra is that she was born of sky **** thrown in the ocean or licked from a glacier by a god cow or whatever, or whether the origin story of Ondra is that an ancient civilization made her in a god machine does not really change anything essential about her. She is still real, she still tells people to make a big deal about throwing stuff away, she still protects sailors and so on. So why does Iovara's movement claim "there are no gods"?

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your response.

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Regarding the 2nd issue:

 

I think that the main reason here is that gods are not something that a mortal could be possible to create. It's the other way round, mortals are created by the gods, so the Engwithan gods are not gods per se, they just have divine powers. Sure, you can call them gods, that's an adequate title, but truth is that they are just as artificial as Pinokio was before turned to a real kid by the means of magic.

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It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air...

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Maybe some gods were created to prevent certain people to to wrong things. So they were not created to inspire, but to deter people from doing something bad. Skaen reminds nobles that they always should treat their peasants well, else...

 

I guess Rymrgand was necessary in order to grind souls and take away some of their essence. How else could the gods be nourished? 

 

Magran can inspire to invent and to accept the trials of live, Abydon inspires to work hard and so on.

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Having a god for the oppressed may lead to stability in that even they accept the Engwithan pantheon as worthy of worship. The gods are there to assure the people that some god is responsible for what's happening to them, and can be placated by worship or offerings. So there is a god associated with famine and plague - sacrificing to Rymrgand may end these events, and people generally accept the reality of the gods' influence on their lives. (They don't have to cover all possible aspects of life, just be broad enough for their worshippers to fill in the rest.)

 

Also, the Engwithans certainly didn't think that civilisation would be nice. Looking at the domains and aspects of the gods gives an interesting insight into the Engwithan world view:

There is no god explicitly associated with mercy, compassion, and altruism.

There is arts and creativity, but not science or knowledge. Instead, we have Wael who is all about obfuscation and secrecy.

Change and cyclical thinking plays large role. Engwithans apparently didn't believe that society would be static or that a long-lasting state could be achieved. There is a certain emphasis on stability, esp. with Woedica, but it is assumed that things will change with time, and that's where Skaen will play his role. Resentment is inevitable, rebellion will overturn the old order, a new one will be established, until the cycle begins anew.

 

As for the second question: in addition to what Messier said, the Engwithans weren't really advanced aliens. They were really good in manipulating souls, but in other areas, "current" society has them surpassed, and with certain advances in animancy, their secrets were in danger of being understood (though not yet replicated). These weren't god-machines created with incredibly advanced technology, compared to contemporary society; they were things created by an ancient society that had been surpassed already in other areas.

If the ancient Egyptians had placed a fusion reactor into the pyramids, that would be (vaguely :D) similar - our scientists generally understand how it works, we just can't build one, yet, but the most impressive thing about it would be that it's so ancient. We certainly wouldn't worship it. ;)

 

Although I agree that the general feeling of "god is dead" could be a bit too overstated at times.

Edited by Varana
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Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium. -W.B. Yeats

 

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

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"Subversion, the scapegoat cousin of justice" as said the Skaen Priest is probably one of the best line of the game.

 

Skaen might be seen as useful to the society when created.

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I would tend to say that the major flaw of Eora gods aren't the ideas that they embody, but rather the mere fact that they embody ideas.

 

Skaen betrays all the time because it is his Nature.

Why would he suggest you to aid the goddess of Law, in the epilogue, if it wan't for his bretrayer Nature urging him to advise you treason ?

 

Eothas was so obsessed by hope and goodness that he triggered a war, probably to purge the world of every Evil things... including the ones that didn't embrace goodness. That resulted in the creation of a theocracy.

 

Ondra was so obsessed by the idea that certain things shall be forgotten so she threw a moon on an entire civilization.

Abydon died because he couldn't cheat his nature of protector. Even if his intellect agreed with the gods decision, he still had to die for it.

 

Ideals lead to ideology, mother of all extremisms and lack of adaptability.

Edited by Elric Galad
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Point of confusion: If you can turn "ideals" into "gods" and if you want to use these gods to inspire mortals to be civilized, moral and prosperous, then why are several (if not most) of the gods you create jerks?

The same reasons many of our gods from ancient pantheons were jerks. Romans even made dead emperors 'gods' even though a lot of them were ****s. Aside from that if Thaos and his merry bunch created gods in order to bring order to the kith then these gods had to be somewhat inspired by what the kith already knew and from his description I take things that were worshiped earlier weren't ideals of justice and poetry etc.

Edited by zered
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For the first issue, better than human sacrifice and cannibalism is a pretty low bar to meet. I personally suspect that the two Druidic orders in Twin Elms are the remnants of pre-Engwithan belief systems, as they both engaged in human sacrifice to rejuvenate or prolong the lives of their leaders. If that's true, then the moral calculus is how many lives are you willing to sacrifice to preserve an artificial belief system that prevents the harvesting of souls en masse by pre-Engwithan belief systems? The Engwithans were clearly comfortable with the ends justifying the means in that regard.

 

As to how the Engwithans concluded that the gods they believed in did not exist, I suspect that was likely revealed while they researched the "in between" that souls pass through between lives. Hopefully we will find out for certain in Deadfire.

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Insteresting topic, and some (if not most) are the same doubts that I've had throughout the game.

 

Now I'll bring a new one:

 

 

If the engwifhans created the Gods, were they able to control them?

 

Also, how powerful are the Gods really? Are all of them omnipresent (to see everyone's actions)? Can they have mortal manifestations (like Waidwen)?

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Insteresting topic, and some (if not most) are the same doubts that I've had throughout the game.

 

Now I'll bring a new one:

 

 

If the engwifhans created the Gods, were they able to control them?

 

 

Doesn't seem so. Thaos didn't have power over Woedica and he was Engwithian no?

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Great topic here.

Ok, to start with a simple logic: in all RPG people can find something missing in the story or something not so smart OR even something not logical at all. For example, many haters of the mass effect ending said that it is retarded [cause it was like - ok,we create huge and smart robots to kill flesh civilizations so that they cannot create huge robots capable of killing the flesh creators... LOL] Do not walk around , thinking of weak points in the script of any RPG BECAUSE YOU WILL FIND SUCH. I mean, it is a game, and if it is kind of well -written, do not try to just find illogical stuff, this spoils the gaming experience. Of course, many people do not want to play stupid games, I get that. We are spoiled and look for meaning in any RPG, we expect A LOT, like it is a book by Dickens or Servantes. This is in fact nice - if we do not expect nice stories less developers would try hard to create great stories.


OK, so about the gods in here being some lunatics or selfish or evil. YES, Skaen is retarded and Magran is a whore, true - but this is something regulars which makes GODS more understandable and close to human kind. Remember that in the Greek myths for example Zeus cheats on his wife and behaves like a not so responsible guy even though he is THE FATHER OF ALL and the RULER OF heaven, using mighty lightning and so on. And for example Apollo laughs at Eros, tell him "You are a stupid little weak boy and I am a better archer... " Such a bully.


Obviously, gods here are dually behaving. The Monk has a skill duality of mortal presence but surely the gods have a skill Duality of our godly behavior - i.e. they can do good things and also be evil ... Anyway it is interesting to theoretize WHY THE HELL DID THE ENGWITHANS CREATE SUCH GODS?? Why didnt they make them better?
And about the gods who do not exist - it is a nice plot question and it works cause the gods surely exist but are no real gods , hence they do not exist, a kind of deeper philosophy and worth discussing .......

About Galawain - I do not think he is mainly evil or stupidly killing victims for no reason. Read more about him and check out his meaning in a broad sense , he is not so bad.

You also talked about Gods being omnipotent, well it is not true in the world of PoE, as we see Woedica was screwed up by the others, so we see it. The gods are NOT OVERPOWERRED as people expect, they are like superheroes - they got a power, but they got weaknesses and can be defeated. We can discuss this even more, it is a really great topic.

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Maybe some gods were created to prevent certain people to to wrong things. So they were not created to inspire, but to deter people from doing something bad. Skaen reminds nobles that they always should treat their peasants well, else...

It also steers the rebellious towards violent acts instead of true revolution.  Potentially-rebellious people see what rebellion brings (the Effigy etc) and decide it's too nasty for them.  Society keeps trundling on as the Engwithans want it.

 

 

- 2 -

 

Why is everyone in the end saying that the gods created by the Engwithans are not real? Obviously they are real. They talk and act and conspire and whatnot. Sure, their origin story is different from what you thought, but they are still real.

 

I mean, they were never worshipped as God with a capital G in the philosophical sense anyway, i.e. the eternal principle and origin of all being, omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. They were never "absolute", but rather thought of as finite (albeit immensely powerful) immortal beings that squabbled with each other but guided and cared for mortals and represented ideals and natural forces. And that's what they still are. Whether the origin story of Ondra is that she was born of sky **** thrown in the ocean or licked from a glacier by a god cow or whatever, or whether the origin story of Ondra is that an ancient civilization made her in a god machine does not really change anything essential about her. She is still real, she still tells people to make a big deal about throwing stuff away, she still protects sailors and so on. So why does Iovara's movement claim "there are no gods"?

Only Iovara says "the gods aren't real" and she immediately clarifies that she means they're not gods, they're powerful artificial intelligences constructed by mortals so that the world would run according to their desires.  

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Point of confusion: If you can turn "ideals" into "gods" and if you want to use these gods to inspire mortals to be civilized, moral and prosperous, then why are several (if not most) of the gods you create jerks? I mean, what positive behavior is Skaen supposed to inspire? Envy, secret hatred, cruelty, deception and resentment are disruptive of a healthy society, and Skaen's horrific rites are just as bad as the those heathen cults you complained about.

 

I admit, Eothas appears to represent wholesome ideals, but Magran and Galawain glorify violence, and Rymrgard celebrates famine and plague. How, um... inspiring?

 

 

 

It could also be remnant of the times, they were created. As far as we can Thaos trust the old times were barbaric, so maybe it was useful to have a goddess, that was more dangerous than all the other wimpy warriorgods? And maybe Galawain was one of the older gods, that was adapted into engwithan society (happened a lot in the real world)? 

 

As for the Jerk Parts: We don't know, if the gods had their personalities already when they started out or if they developed them over the time. Twothousand years is a long time, even for evil A.I.s :D.

 

And Skaen is actually brillant: he makes rebellions unattractive, since he only attracts psychopaths and radicals. He's also the Toady of the goddess of law, so in theory she could even control uprisings. The Engwithans seemed to have understand that a society as a homogeneous group doesn't exist, but that you can control people in other ways than laws (Ondra suppressing memories, Wael spreading false informations, Abydon making obedience looking cool etc.).

 

 

Why is everyone in the end saying that the gods created by the Engwithans are not real? Obviously they are real. They talk and act and conspire and whatnot. Sure, their origin story is different from what you thought, but they are still real.

 

 

They are real in the sence, that they exist, yes, but they aren't in control of kiths destiny. You have to choose, to serve one of them and most of the time they don't control how you are reborn (otherwise the same persons as before would always be in charge, I think). They are really powerful souls, something that maybe everyone could achieve. Strightly speaking they are the collective believe of thousand of souls, so the Kith are bullied by united mortals, who just happen to sit at the source of life. And for more souls they needed the machines (Woedica) or the devotion of their followers, until Eothas changed this with his Adrabody (the stuff, that connects the flow of souls).

 

They aren't supernatural, they are the proof that (pseudo-)science works ^^.

 

 

About Galawain - I do not think he is mainly evil or stupidly killing victims for no reason. Read more about him and check out his meaning in a broad sense , he is not so bad

 

 

He is even one of the nicer gods in my book. I mean Wael and Ondra suppress knowledge, Skaen is as a bastard through and through, Eothas was a pompous douchebag with a holier-than-thou attitude, Magran uses her believers for her own means and Woedica is as ruthless, as only a true tyrant can get.

 

Galawain seems just to be interested that you survive and grew stronger. He doesn't care how you do it, as long as you do. Hylea, Berath and Rhymgard just do their job and Abydon seems to be truly nice.

Edited by Harry Easter
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Also, how powerful are the Gods really? Are all of them omnipresent (to see everyone's actions)?

 

Durance's sidequest made it clear that they at least don't know everything and can be fooled (even if involuntarily).

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Like nature itself, Galawain to me seems to have a very Darwinian aspect to his ideals. The strong survive, the weak get culled, life is a constant competition. (As can be seen in Galawain's trial, that doesn't necessarily mean physical strength. In nature, it's rather "better adapted to a specific environment", and that seems to be Galawain's view of things, as well.)

That's often not really nice but it can be crucial to survival in harsh environments. People probably follow him less in urban or highly developed societies where there is more room for activities not directly related to survival of yourself or your tribe.

 

And as others have pointed out, as well: Gods don't need to stand for an ideal, or a paradigm to follow. That is a very abrahamitic view of religion (even though it's become a fantasy trope). The Engwithan gods (as most gods of polytheistic religions) are highly personalised. They are actors, not concepts. If you want to avert famine, you can sacrifice to Hylea or Eothas (the closest to a fertility deity the pantheon has, I think) - and you can sacrifice to Rymrgand to spare you and not send famine.

 

(Come to think of it, it's really very curious that the Engwithan pantheon lacks a fertility deity. Usually, those are the ubiquitous and really popular ones, and many religions have several of them at the same time.)

 

 

Ondra suppressing memories, Wael spreading false informations, Abydon making obedience looking cool...

That is an important observation, I think. The Engwithans didn't want to foster science and research in future societies in order to keep their tinkering with the gods a secret. So they installed gods who discouraged scientific progress, ordered the Glanfathans to protect their ruins and keep prying noses out, and entrusted Thaos with ultimately destroying those societies that could pose a threat to their plans.
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Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium. -W.B. Yeats

 

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

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(Come to think of it, it's really very curious that the Engwithan pantheon lacks a fertility deity. Usually, those are the ubiquitous and really popular ones, and many religions have several of them at the same time.)

 

 

Hylea is the goddess of motherhood and all about it, besides art, life in general and birds. Oh and Eothas is the god of redemption, so at least those aspects are covered^^.

 

 

That is an important observation, I think. The Engwithans didn't want to foster science and research in future societies in order to keep their tinkering with the gods a secret. So they installed gods who discouraged scientific progress, ordered the Glanfathans to protect their ruins and keep prying noses out, and entrusted Thaos with ultimately destroying those societies that could pose a threat to their plans. 

 

 

Yes, that's the whole point of Thaos existence and I believe we can presume, that he got sloopy over the time. I mean, he seems to have brought bigger civilisations than the Dyrwood to fall, but compared to that what he does in the mainstory-line it's so small. And the game shows, that he can't do it forever, so he has to be the most depressed person in all of Eora. 

 

Funny thing is: his plan could work bette, if he would share his secrets with anyone. But this is not the case, as far as I see it (otherwise there wouldn't be a reason why he entered Sun in Shadow alone). He screwed up, because he was to tied up about everything.

 

And I found it always funny, that he is stright against Animancy, while beeing it's greatest iving user. He is proof, that the kith could do so much with Animancy and also the best example how dangerous it can be.  

 

 

Also, how powerful are the Gods really? Are all of them omnipresent (to see everyone's actions)? Can they have mortal manifestations (like Waidwen)? 

 

 

1. Powerful enough, to strengthen your soul abilities and influence the environment (famine, Storms and all that), but not powerful enough, to just reincarnate their most powerful followers again and again (Thaos was sent back into the cycle by Woedica, but not reborn fully developed, as far as I understood his deaths before).

 

2. Already answered: nope, otherwise, you couldn't betray them or dope them. I guess, you have to be a priest or really believe in them, to be connected with them, so they may read your soul.

 

3. They have their Avatars and they have mortal manifestations, if you read the Guide Book. Skaen has a big killer as his Avatar for example and Woedica has an assassin, that chokes you to death (and sometines there is more than one).

 

Edit: Just came to my mind: that the gods have such flawed personalities, could make them more relatable, since they also have positive traits (Woedica stays to her word, Hylea is motherly, Galawain is kinda relaxed and Eothas forgives, even if he's a pompous douchebag). Compare this with the monotheistic god of the old Testament, who became more an ideal, than his old bloodthirsty self (which was useful to show, that you don't anger this fella, especially if you are a non-believer). I think you feel more close to your god, if you can UNDERSTAND some of his quirks. See Berath, who is cold and distant and has small following.

Edited by Harry Easter

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 I like Rymrgand best. He is so coooooooooooold ! And he wants to ****in kill you. Great writing here, cause the game creators made it all even more confusing when one god has a function that another one also covers. I.e. Rymrgand sends death but Berath also is a god of death. Magran is the goddess of war but Galawain is also kind of war-loving and he likes conflict. Skaen covers secrets plans of revenge and hating but Woedica also is very very vengeful... So Gods in this game are a little complicated. Just as they have to be.

Edited by IamNOOB

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