Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Factions: Godless

On the street corner, you see a pair of preachers, each with a crowd of onlookers surrounding them. One speaks of the power of the Light, and Its benevolence. The other, oddly, asks their followers not to follow any god, but instead to think for themselves, to seek out knowledge and disdain all deities. As you look on, you realize this preacher is one of the Godless. These philosophers and scientists quest for information and think that the gods are pretenders at best, malevolent at worst...

Archetype: The Godless are questioners. they are eternally seeking new and unknown knowledge. I have images of the "academic" time of wizard that appear in Discworld, in The Name of the Wind, in Harry Potter. The "Tinker Gnomes" of Krynn. They're constantly inventing and coming up with new and strange theories of the world. Godless are intimately associated with knowledge: students, professors, scientists, and librarians.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Godless are based on two different types of people: scientists and philosophers. Both seek to understand the universe, but have different methods. This is not to say that all Godless are properly trained scientists or philosopher -- on the contrary, many if not most would be amateurs, the kind of young, inquisitive person who hangs around coffee shops debating the nature of God. This intense nature informs the Godless: They want to know, and nothing will stop them. And they have their own paths of knowledge, which will hold their attention above all else, though it may be abominably dull for everyone else -- like many a scientist in the real world.

One important facet of both scientist and Godless is their sense of wonder at the world. Despite -- or because of -- their disbelief in the divine, they see the world as filled with amazing feature and questions they itch to answer.

Theme: Part of the Godless theme is the old saw of "Things Man Was Not Meant To Know." The City of Lives is not Call of Cthulhu -- the Godless are not going to constantly go mad as they mount their investigations -- but it is dangerous work, both physically and mentally. What are the limits of the human mind? How much can we learn, how far can our mind twist around unnatural concepts before it snaps? These are the questions the Godless will explore.

Another theme to explore is the nature of atheism in a fantasy world. TVtropes.org writes of the "Flat Earth Atheist," who disbelieves in deities despite the obvious fact that they exist in their fantasy world, slinging miracles around: TVtropes paints these characters as silly, their head in the sand, ignoring the obvious truth. This is not quite the case in City of Lives: The gods exist, and no sane Godless would deny their power and existence. What the question is, then, is the gods' nature and position: Are the gods different from mortals in substance, or only in degree? Do they deserve worship? How can their powers be explained within the laws of physics? These are the kind of questions the Godless ask, that defines them. Interestingly enough, TVtropes also has the "NayTheist" trope listed to describe this kind of belief.

Twist: Oddly enough, for a faction called "Godless," divinity actually holds a tremendously strong focus for the Godless. Other factions might be unconcerned with religion, paying lip service and living their lives in a purely mundane manner -- the the Godless are defined by negation, by the strength of their disbelief. Were there no gods whatsoever, they would have very little to band them together.

Next, we will examine the revolutionary Faberists!