The Gods II

Chapter 5: Era Aleph - In the Beginning

by Scott Martin

Last updated 10/5/97


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The Earth Map
Divisions within Era Aleph
Creation Powers
Creating Mortal Races

In this session, the gods will create the Earth and its inhabitants. This is the great heyday of the elemental gods. Simultaneously, the gods will define the attributes and demesnes of Heaven, setting the stage for future interaction.

The Earth Map

The Earth is represented in The Gods by a map in the Window on the World. The map is divided into 600 squares, measuring 30 squares north to south and 20 squares east to west. For the sake of simplicity, the Earth is a flat rectangle. Gamemasters who wish to be more experimental can design alternate world shapes, as long as the map can be divided into approximately 600 squares (or hexagons or whatever). Many of the creation and history powers refer to the north and south edges of the map, which are considered (respectively) the "cold pole" and the "hot pole". Gamemasters without a northern hemisphere bias are free to reverse these distinctions!

Each square on the Earth map is defined as having a single base terrain type: plains, forest, desert, mountains, water, or ice. The term "land" is used to refer collectively to plains, forest, desert, and mountains (everything but water and ice). The term "coastal" is used to refer to land squares adjacent to water or water squares adjacent to land.

In addition to the base terrain, a square may have any number of terrain features (volcanoes, rivers, fertile lands, impregnable forests, etc.). During later eras, each square may also contain mortal populations and cities. However, during Era Aleph, the only population features present on the map are the starting positions of each newly developed sentient race (see below).

At the beginning of Era Aleph, the Earth is a featureless blank. All squares have no terrain yet and have to be filled before any other powers can be used that affect the Earth. This is done during the "Initial Terrain Creation" phase of Era Aleph, in which the elemental gods can use special free powers to fill in the blank squares. This phase ends when either all blank squares are filled or one hour has passed. If the squares are not all full by the end of the hour, the referees will fill in the remainder of the squares until the total Earth terrain is divided as follows:

   Desert: 5%, 30 squares
   Forest: 20%, 120 squares
   Mountains: 10%, 60 squares
   Plains: 15%, 90 squares
   Water: 50%, 300 squares

Note that there is no initial ice terrain; all ice terrain is made from other squares.

Physically Representing the Earth Map

The easiest way to physically represent the Earth map in this Era is simply with a very large sheet of paper divided into 600 squares. As the base terrains change, the gamemaster can simply mark them in with colored symbols. These symbols needs to be small, however, so they can be crossed out and replaced with other symbols as the terrains change. Alternatively, base terrain types can be represented by colored markers placed in the squares, though the gamemasters must be ready with a large supply of each color! Terrain features are best handled by simply writing them in on the map, since there are so many different types.

Adjacency versus Bordering

Two squares are considered adjacent if they touch on either the side or a corner; most squares have eight adjacent squares.

The term bordering is used in connection with the mortal races on the Earth. Bordering squares are those that an individual population unit or a race as a whole can reach through its normal movement, ie. within the race's Movement Range or Sea-faring Range. Since the concept of bordering is used mainly in relation to history powers, further details on bordering are described in Chapter Six.

Creating Mortal Races

The gods can bring a new race into existence through the use of any race creation power, those marked (Rc). However, most spheres have creation powers which grant a race certain abilities or disabilities collectively known as attributes. These powers can be used in one of two ways. First, they can be used simultaneously with a race creation power at the time the race is actually formed. Second, they can be used after the race's creation as a blessing or curse. (Note that while most racial attribute powers may be used in either fashion, some may only be used in or the other.)

Upon creation, a new race must be placed on the Earth map in any square. The base terrain and the terrain features in that square are locked until the end of Era Aleph; no further changes may be made. Each race starts with a population of five.

One special limitation: Races may only be created if there is a sun shining over the Earth, giving the sphere of Light the ability to limit the timing of race creation.

Player Instructions: To imbue a race with an attribute during its creation, you must use the appropriate power in conjunction with a race creation power at the Earth map. You may combine powers from many different gods by coming to the Earth map as a group. This is the one exception to the rule in which a god (or a group of gods) may only use one power per visit to the map. When creating a new race, you may use any number of race powers as long as they all contribute to the generation of the same race. Each god in your group must pay the full mana cost for any powers he contributes (though you may still combine cards as described under Creation Powers above). Each god involved in the creation receives an equal shared in the race's pantheon, no matter how many powers she contributes. (Pantheons are explained in detail in >A HREF="6-centr.htm#pantheons">Chapter Six.) You must all be in agreement on all powers used. For ease of play, use a "Racial Creation Worksheet". Tell the Earth Map referees in which square on Earth you wish to place your new race.

You may also grant a racial attribute after the race has already been created (though still only during Era Aleph). This reflects your ability to "bless" or "curse" a race. You do not become part of the race's pantheon. The new attribute applies only to that specific race, and not to any sub-races created before or after you cast the power.

Gamemaster Instructions: When a new race is created, place a marker of some kind on the map to indicate where the new race is located. Record all of the attributes which the race has and the gods who participated in its creation. (If the players used a Racial Creation Worksheet, then you should have all the information right there and can use that as the record.)

If a race is blessed or cursed, record the new attributes for the race. Keep separate track of bless/curse attributes, as they will not carry over to any sub-races which may be created.

Creation Powers

Creation powers are those which create the terrain and sentient races on Earth, build demesnes in Heaven, and make permanent changes to the underlying laws of both Heaven and Earth. Creation powers may only be used during Era Aleph and have no function in other eras of the game.

Gods may work together to combine their sphere cards in order to use higher level creation powers. Thus, three gods each with one card in the sphere of Sea may combine their cards to cast a third level Sea creation power. (Note that this ability to combine cards does not apply to personal powers.) The mana cost for a combined power may be split among the individual gods in any way they wish. Multiple gods may also work together to combine different spheres when creating a new race (see below). To combine sphere powers, all gods participating must be present at the required place at the same time.

The ability to combine in this fashion may be used even when it is not necessary. If two gods each have three cards in the Sea sphere, they may still combine their cards to cast a third level creation power, thus allowing them to share the mana cost. Celestial spirits who have borrowed sphere powers may not combine them with others in this fashion.

A variety of effects can modify the cost of a creation power. No combination of such effects can lower the cost below 25% of the normal mana cost. All fractional costs are rounded up. Except for demesne powers and heaven powers, all creation powers must be used at the Earth map. (See The Gods and the Earth in the Chapter Four.)

Divisions within Era Aleph

Note that most creation powers which affect the Earth cannot be used until the Initial Terrain Creation phase is complete, ie. all squares on the Earth have been filled with a base terrain type using the free initial terrain powers. If this has not been completed by the end of the first hour of Era Aleph, the referees will fill in the remainder of the squares up to the maximum amounts.

As an optional rule to simulate the passage of time, during the last hour of Era Aleph the following rule may be used: All base terrain powers cost double the normal mana cost during the final hour of Era Aleph. This also allows gods to create races near the end of the era with less chance of the surrounding terrain being "sabotaged" by unfriendly gods.

Base Terrain Powers (T)

Base terrain powers alter the base terrain of one or more squares on Earth. The caster may specify exactly which squares will be changed as long as they meet the criteria for a target. There are also history powers which are base terrain powers.

Note that when either terrain features or a race have been added to a square, then the base terrain is locked. If there are terrain features, the base terrain may only be changed to terrain types which could have been valid targets for the feature powers (see below). If there is a race, the base terrain may not be changed in any way.

Powers marked (Ti) are initial terrain powers and can only be used in the Initial Terrain Creation phase of Era Aleph. This phase lasts until all squares have been filled or one hour passes (at which time the referees will fill in the remaining squares). Initial terrain powers are always free, costing no mana, but cannot be used after the Earth receives a certain maximum amount of that terrain type.

Terrain Feature Powers (F)

Terrain feature powers add terrain features to one or more squares on Earth without changing the base terrain. The caster may specify exactly which squares will be changed as long as they meet the criteria for a target. Terrain features may not be added to a square which has a mortal race. There are also history powers which are terrain feature powers; unlike creation terrain feature powers, they may be targeted on inhabited squares.

Once a terrain feature is placed on a square, the base terrain of that square is locked for the duration of Era Aleph; the base terrain may only be changed if the new terrain type is consistent with all terrain features already in the square (ie, the terrain features could have been placed on that base terrain). For example, if a square contains a river source the base terrain cannot be changed to water or ice, since river sources can only exist on land squares.

Feature "locks" only last through Era Aleph. The way in which a terrain feature will respond to changes in the base terrain during later eras is determined by the sub-category of feature involved. Note that these sub-categories do not actually affect anything during Era Aleph. Instead, they affect the use of history powers (or the effects of mortal races) during Eras Centrum and Omega.

Powers marked (Fp) define permanent terrain features. They will remain in the square throughout later eras no matter how the base terrain changes.

Powers marked (Fl) define land terrain features. They will remain in the square as long as the base terrain remains plains, forest, desert, or mountain. However, if a history power changes the base terrain to water or ice, then the feature is permanently destroyed.

Powers marked (Ft) define terrain-specific terrain features. They will remain in the square only so long as the base terrain remains the same. If a history power changes the base terrain in any fashion, then the feature is permanently destroyed.

Powers marked (Fr) define resistant terrain features. The base terrain under these features cannot be changed by any history power.

Global Powers (G)

Global powers affect the entire Earth, permanently changing the rules of how things work in some fashion. There are also global powers which are history powers; unlike global creation powers these are usually not permanent, having only immediate or short-term effects.

Race Powers (R)

Race powers are used to create the mortal races which inhabit the Earth. Unlike other creation powers, any number of race powers can be cast at the same time, either by one god or many gods working together, as long as all are used in conjunction with a single race creation power. More detail on race powers is provided in the rules on Creating Mortal Races.

Powers marked (Rc) are race creation powers, the basic powers used to actually form a new race. Only one race creation power can be used at any one time.

Powers marked (Ra) are racial attribute powers. They add the named attribute to the race, giving it special characteristics which will affect its abilities and actions during Eras Centrum and Omega. Racial attribute powers may be used either simultaneously with a race creation power or as a racial blessing/curse after the race has been created.

Powers marked (Ri) are inherent racial attribute powers. They add the named attribute to the race but may only be used in conjunction with a race creation power at the time the race is formed. They may not be used as racial blessings/curses.

Powers marked (Rb) are blessing/curse attribute powers. They add the named attribute to the race, but may only be used after the race is formed, not at the point of creation.

Demesne Powers (D)

Demesne powers are cast on demesnes in Heaven, rather than on Earth. Unless otherwise noted, the caster must be inside the target demesne to use a demesne power on it. The caster should write the name of the power and its effects on the demesne marker. The effects of creation demesne powers are permanent. Each demesne power may only be used once on any one demesne. There are also demesne powers which are personal powers; unlike creation demesne powers, these are usually not permanent.

Demesne powers take five minutes to cast. Throughout this period the caster is obviously casting the power; the player should role-play the casting appropriately and must tell anyone who asks what he is doing. The casting is interrupted (and the mana cost lost) if the caster or the demesne is attacked or made the target of another power during this period.

Heaven Powers (H)

Heaven powers are usually very powerful as they basically effect the rules of Heaven in some fashion. Unless otherwise noted, heaven powers are permanent. To use a heaven power, the caster must spend ten minutes in a specific locale (named in the power description). Half of the mana cost (rounded down) must be spent at the beginning of this period; that amount will be lost even if the power is not completed. The other half is spent at the end when the casting is complete. Throughout the ten minute period, the caster is obviously casting the power; the player should role-play the casting appropriately and must tell anyone who asks what he is doing. If the character enters combat, leaves the locale, or uses any other power before the heaven power is complete, then it fails and has no effect. When complete, the caster should inform a referee as soon as possible so that the effects can be announced to all players.

Miscellaneous Powers (X)

This category includes all powers which don't fall into one of the above categories. Any special rules or restrictions that apply to the power are included in the description.