Before the ocean was, or earth, or heaven,
Nature was all alike, a shapelessness,
Chaos, so-called, all rude and lumpy matter,
Nothing but bulk, inert, in who confusion
Discordant atoms warred.
--- Ovid, Metamorphoses
In this episode, the gods come into being, forming out of the eternal void. Players require no preparation to participate. No combat, no special abilities. Players receive sphere cards at the door which they trade among themselves to define their abilities.
There's only room for so many greater gods in heaven, so the first twelve players to enter the door (and who want to play greater gods) get the roles. Please remember, by playing a greater god you are committing yourself to a major role in the game, which will suffer badly if you fail to show up at any of the games for the next three eras. Please do not accept this role unless you are sure you can fulfill this responsibility.
Each greater god will receive six different major sphere cards (ie, no duplicates) and 75 mana (see below). A player may request a specific major sphere that he particularly likes; if any cards of that sphere remain, he will be assured of receiving one card of that sphere.
The gods may trade or give sphere cards and mana among themselves in any fashion they desire. The mana has no actual uses in this era, but will be used for casting powers in later eras. Having multiple cards in a single sphere provides access to higher level powers and lower mana costs for the low level powers, at the expense of flexibility.
Owning a sixth card in a major sphere provides no extra powers, but instead confers the following special abilities:
All transactions are final at the end of the evening, at which time I will record each god's spheres and mana.
Any greater god may create a lesser god by giving a major sphere card to a willing player who is not already a god. Two or more greater gods may combine together to create more powerful lesser gods by each contributing a single card (of the same or different type) to the new deity.
Lesser gods (minions) are subordinate to the greater gods (lords) who created them in the following ways:
In return, the lord has an obligation to protect her minions; if a lord's minion is ever obliterated, the lord loses 50 mana or half of her current total, whichever is greater.
A newly created minion and his lord(s) must jointly decide upon the name of a new minor sphere. The precise powers associated with that minor sphere will be decided by me at a later time; they will be equal in power to the twelve major spheres, but of lesser scope. The lesser god will receive four cards in that minor sphere, plus 50 mana.
Lesser gods may not trade away the original major sphere card(s) given to them by their lord(s). However, they may freely give away, accept, or trade minor sphere cards and any additional major sphere cards with both lesser and greater gods.
GM's Note: You may wonder why greater gods would create lesser gods. A number of advantages to this situation have been built into the rules which may not be immediately obvious. First, and most importantly, the greater god gains an extra set of hands, eyes, and mouth at the games. Veteran gamers will immediately see the importance of this. In addition, the "loss" of a major sphere card is not that serious. As later rules detail, with the exception of personal powers, gods may combine their sphere cards to use the higher level powers. A lord thus still has access to her minions' spheres in most situations. Overall, a lord and minion working as a team are more effective than a greater god who kept all of her sphere cards.
At the end of the evening, any player who is not a god (ie, has no sphere cards) becomes a divine servitor. Divine servitors are free-willed entities with no ability to affect the Earth. They each have unique powers and means of gaining mana which operate in Heaven, allowing them to interact with the gods in a variety of ways. Each divine servitor gets to define his position in Heaven; I will create appropriate powers (somewhat less than those of a lesser god) to go with that position.
Below are some sample servitors, though players should feel free to make up their own:
Divine servitors will receive 25 mana at the end of the evening.
Note that players who wish to be divine servitors don't even really have to show up for this era, but can join the game at any point.
Mana is used in later eras to perform divine powers. In game terms, mana is represented by poker chips of various colors. White=1 mana, Red=5 mana, Blue=25 mana.
Gods and servitors are free to trade mana among themselves in exchange for services, promises, favors, or just for being nice. Mana may never be stolen, though a player can be forced to give some under certain conditions described in later eras.
So, now you're a god or divine servitor? At the end of Era Null your character is little more than a set of spheres or powers and a mana total. Now is the point where you get to define your character. This is done by writing myths. These myths should provide the following information:
Myths are due in my hand or inbox by October 26. If you have not submitted your myths at that time, I will make up myths for you.
Finally, your character receives mana from the following player contributions:
Eventually your character will end up with three personal goals, choosing one during each transition phase. These goals may be just about anything you want, but must define something your character can achieve within the game. All goals must be OK'd by me. Some sample goals are:
All personal goals should have a reason, which will be reflected in your ongoing myth, though the goals themselves remain secret. In addition, all gods (but not servitors) must name at least one immortal enemy, though they may save this up as their third personal goal.
In addition to their role-playing function, personal goals also have an effect on game mechanics. If you complete a personal goal you will receive 10-100 extra mana, the exact amount dependent on how difficult your goal was (in my opinion). If a personal goal has no possible completion (eg, the second and third examples above), you will receive 5-25 extra mana each time you perform an action which significantly advances that goal. Annihilating an immortal enemy is always worth 100 mana.