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Good Gods Gone Bad

If there’s one thing everyone has an opinion about, it’s how a Divine should behave.

You learn this almost immediately as an admin. Be aggressive and vocal in your org, but don’t be too commanding or too opinionated. Be friendly and encouraging, but don’t be too snuggly. Be a visible presence to prove that you’re active, but don’t shove your nose in where it’s not wanted. The paradoxes can be overwhelming, particularly when you just start out, but each god eventually gets a handle on what style and behaviour suits their particular god best.

For me, playing Isune meant wondering, “How am I supposed to handle conflict?”

There’s this misconception that all ‘good’ gods don’t get into brawls or arguments with mortals. They sip tea and laugh and waltz and when a mortal says something mouthy, well–then what? The god or goddess just nods, laughs, and moves on? That’s a fantastic go-to for petty one-liners, but sometimes it emboldens a mortal. They start boasting and bragging about how they dared to insult a god and somehow remained unscathed. “How pathetic,” the mortals chorus in agreement, and these remarks not only continue, they amplify.

You can see how this is problematic for playing a Divine.

Lusternia’s pantheon is famous for their fury, in both the Elder Wars and the modern era. Remember when Lisaera threw a tidal wave at Celest, or when Terentia threatened to uproot the Moonhart Mother tree? How Viravain, when possessed by Kethuru, slew just about every single mortal in the Basin of Life? These are grand and dramatic examples of the Divine standing Their ground.

But we can’t always go the grand and dramatic route.

In a lot of ways, the power play between a god and a mortal is obviously imbalanced in favour of the Divine. As admin, we have the power to orchestrate events and enact punishments that mortals can only dream of–and sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we prepare an army of paint-wielding falcons prepared to poo rainbows all over your forest, but more often than not, we try not to go that far.

For one thing? It’s a lot of work. If I wanted to actually unleash tons of rainbow falcon poo on Glomdoring, for example, I would have to build said poo factory, and then prepare and oversee the event where I cried out, “Fly, My pretties, fly!” Which could take hours. More than that, though, the work might not feel worth it. People will take to the forums and declare their outrage at this unfair imbalance between player and God (though sometimes you have a masochist or two who greatly enjoys the interaction). 

But sometimes the grand and the dramatic is the only way to show a mortal your god means business.

Like I said, the power play between a mortal and a Divine is imbalanced, but in some ways it gives too much confidence to the player. Lusternia is a game, after all, and as admin we are careful not to use our power to make players feel discouraged or beaten down on. At the same time, though, it’s necessary as a Divine to command power. And if a mortal continuously questions or belittles that power, there is only so much chuckling or flicking to Astral that you can do before you have to lose your godly temper.

Even though I’ve been haven-side several years, I don’t feel like a senior admin. Yet when I think back to the week of my release (and oh what a stressful week that was), I remember all the panic and the fear that fluttered up inside me when I roleplayed as Isune. It’s a fear and frustration I see too often in new gods, when facing their first brush of player-god conflict. Mysrai observed me interacting with players and offered some advice. “Why is Isune apologizing so much?” she asked me.

“What?”

“You’re a Divine,” she told me. “Who are these mortals to question you?”

And then it clicked. I wasn’t a mortal anymore. I was playing a goddess, a goddess who would never cow to the demands of a mortal. And even though Isune could be sympathetic to a mortal’s feelings, there were only so many insults and accusations I could let Her withstand.

If you’re going to pit yourself against a Divine, you’re going to lose. This doesn’t mean you can’t ICly dislike gods, or disagree with Them, or that you shouldn’t encourage conflict between Their order and yours. But it does mean, watch your step around Them. Watch what you say. And don’t take the niceness of a god or goddess for granted.

Because one day, we might stop laughing.

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