The Gods II
Introduction and How to Join the Game
by Scott Martin
Last updated 10/1/97
Create the Earth! Woo worshippers! Fight epic battles! Reward and punish mortals! Scheme in heavenly politics! Plague the world with natural disasters! Save or destroy the universe! Now's your chance to do all these fun things formerly reserved to deities! For gamers who have always wanted the ultimate power trip, this is it!
The Gods II is a mixture of a live-action role-playing game, a strategic board game, and a collective exercise in creative mythology. Players will interact simultaneously as individuals in Heaven (the live-action game), as remote powers manipulating the affairs of Earth (the board game), and as the authors of stories about the gods and their doings (the creative mythology), with each aspect of the game affecting the other.
For those familiar with the first Gods Game, you can skip to the end of this intro to see a summary of how The Gods II will differ from the original. Or go right to the section on how to join the game.
The Gods II will be played in four separate game sessions, each an evening live game, separated by three "transition phases". (Actually, some of those sessions will technically be two "game sessions" stuck together with an hour's break in between.) The first game session is set, the others have tentative dates.
* Era Null - From the Void
The transition phases serve not only as pauses between game play but also as periods of creativity for the players. All players are encouraged to write stories, make costumes and props, and otherwise add to the mythic world we're building. Players who do so will be rewarded with extra powers which can be used in the actual game sessions.
Though I've tried to make the game system as easy to use as possible, in order to represent all they myriad possibilities of divine activity The Gods II is still a complex game and as such has a lot of rules. Ideally, everyone will be fully conversant with all the rules and I'd like everyone to at least skim through them. However, since I don't expect people to memorize everything I'm also preparing "cheat sheets" for each era with quick summaries of the rules that apply.
Players can request printed copies of the rules or cheat sheets from me. All available rules sheets will also be available on the Gods Game web site
For the many people who were in the first Gods Game, here's a quick summary of the changes in the new version:
Much more emphasis on role-playing. Personal goals will be far more important. There are no set victory conditions; each player chooses his own personal objectives at the beginning of the game (and can modify them as the game progresses). Mythic backgrounds will be able to enhance your character's powers and goals. The "toll" (a 50% surcharge on all mana transfers between players) will encourage players to develop their own mana sources rather than simply pay others (though some spheres can bypass the toll).
Maximum limits on the total number of cards in each sphere, so players will have to compete for dominance in a sphere and high level powers will always be proprietary. Costs for new cards have also been increased. All of the spheres have been heavily re-written for better game balance. A lot of standardization has been added to the use of powers in order to eliminate conflicting rules.
Archetypes have been changed a bit and a new option, primal being, has been added for greater gods who get a monopoloy on a sphere. Divine servitors have been replaced with celestial spirits who are much more powerful and have a set of very useful common powers.
Simpler! While the rules are longer, they're actually much clearer. Actions at the Earth map are much more standardized and should make its use easier on both players and referees. All numbers (mana, populations, etc) have been reduced drastically.
Heaven has been re-arranged a bit. Demesnes are far more important and can be made by all gods. Anyone can now enter the Void, it's getting out that's the problem!
The Gods II allows for many different levels of player participation, depending on how much time and effort you want to put into the game. Unless you're a greater god you don't need to show up at all four game sessions and are free to put as much or as little time into the game as you desire.
The most powerful player characters are the twelve Greater Gods. These beings form the Council of Heaven, are the center of most activity on Heaven and Earth, and vie for the position of Supreme Deity. In order to be a greater god you must make a commitment to be at all four game sessions, though I'll try to schedule sessions to accomodate these players. If more than twelve people wish to be greater gods, then the twelve will be chosen by me based on how much game participation they've offered (see below under Joining the Game).
Serving as the lieutenants and aides of the greater gods are the Lesser Gods . Though subordinate to the greater gods, lesser gods are actually nearly their equal in power. Lesser gods are created by greater gods, but the greater gods have a lot to gain by recruiting assistants so potential minions can often pick and choose among possible masters, holding out for the best deal. Furthermore, in the course of the game it's possible for a lesser god to be promoted to greater godhood, so even a lesser god has a shot at becoming Supreme Deity!
At the base of the hierarchy are the Celestial Spirits . Though less powerful than the gods, celestial spirits have the advantage of complete independence; celestials need not serve any specific god and are free to offer their services to all comers. Most importantly, celestial spirits have a number of unique powers, including the ability to borrow powers from the gods, so they can be important figures in heavenly affairs. And, for the upwardly mobile celestial spirits, they can become lesser gods (with the possibility of even further promotion) later in the game.
One special character type is only available if you've played a god and your character is destroyed during the game. If you wind up in this position, instead of leaving the game you can play a Demon , a denizen of the Void bent on the destruction of all gods, Heaven, and Earth. This also serves as a form of life insurance for all characters; other players should be loathe to kill you off unless they're willing to deal with a new demon running around Heaven to mess with their plans!
Finally, for those who want a completely different game experience, the game also requires a number of Referees who will help run the mechanics of the game.
If you want to be in The Gods II from the start there's almost no preparation needed. Simply let me know you're coming and then show up at the first game session (to be held at my apartment). During Era Null you will be given sphere cards (the powers of the gods) and mana (the "energy" required to use powers) to trade among yourselves in order to try to create the character you want. At the end of the evening we'll record what powers you have and you'll be able to build a name and background for your character in the following weeks.
If you want to be a greater god there's a little more involved. I think that these special positions should go to those players who are going to put the most time and energy into making the game an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Thus, in addition to telling me of your desire to be a mover and shaker, you need to tell me what contributions you're willing to make to the game. Contributions can be almost anything. Some examples are: providing the site for the game sessions (definitely worth greater godhood all by itself, a blatant bribe for those of you with homes), coordinating refreshments, helping to create the Earth map after Era Aleph, coordinating or assisting other players in creating costumes, sets, and props, collecting and organizing all player-generated myth stories, writing a definitive history of the game, providing "entertainment" during the game sessions, or just about anything else that will add to everyone's enjoyment and help bring the game world to life. Even a sincere offer to help out wherever you're able is fine. If more than twelve people want to be greater gods, I'll use these statements to choose the twelve people who (in my opinion) seem to be willing to offer the most to the game. Since there's certain to be some overlap, after Era Null I'll let the greater gods actually sit down and decide among themselves who wants to do what.
For those who can't make the first game session on October 11, you're still able to play! Just let me know and I'll work with you to create a character for the next available game session. The only caveat is that if you join after Era Null you have to start as a celestial spirit and, if you want to increase in status, work your way up the ladder. Of course, new referees can join at any time as the greatest need for refs will be during Eras Centrum and Omega.