Friday, March 17, 2017

Gods of the Fall - The Name of the Thing


We all know the name of the game, but have you considered what it really means? It's pretty clear from the game's art that there was an overt attempt to stand away from the Western & European classical religions. There's a less obvious lean toward the religions of Middle Eastern antiquity, and more classical and modern India. That's all subtext. It's all in the art and presentation. There's nothing over to direct somebody away from Thor and Hermes, but the subtle touches of names, artwork, and even the mechanics of the game suggest these things.

And then there's the title: Gods of the Fall. It's evocative and creates a certain expectation. Unfortunately it may not be the right expectation for some. Because "god" (note the lowercase "g") and "God" are not the same, and given the Eastern lean of the material I started to do some digging. Turns out that that the East may have contributed more than just a visual aesthetic, because there seems to be more than a little Hinduism in the gameplay and mechanics. Take a look at the following I dredged up from Wikipedia when researching "deities" recently:
Difference between deity and monotheistic God (from Wikipedia here
A typical deity in Hinduism, differs from the monotheistic concept of God in other major religions, in that the deity need not be omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, or a combination of these. 
A deity – god or goddess – is typically conceptualized in Hindu tradition as a "supernatural, divine" concept manifesting in various ideas and knowledge, in a form that combine excellence in some aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in their outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires.
I'd say that the Hindu model of deities fits Gods of the Fall rather well wouldn't you? I'd even go as far as to say that while "Deities of the Fall" isn't a better title, it is a more accurate one. The characters that the players control are gods but too often that gets mixed up and confused with Gods. The characters are deities, they have limited scope and very real vulnerabilities that balance out their impressive strengths. They are prone to human failings, as were the gods before them.

This isn't a condemnation of the game or the title. Gods of the Fall sounds better and it catches the eye and imagination better. It's the title the game needs and even if it isn't perfectly accurate of the intended play style it's the right title for the game.

All that said I think it bears understanding that the characters should be defined by their limits and their humanness as much as they are by their powers and dominions. Allowing fear and greed and other failings and weakness mix with their divine attributes will help yield a better story. Either through pure roleplay or by helping you as GM to define stories and enemies that compliment and contrast the characters.

Gods of the Fall is a game of deities striving to both transcend their humanity and also lift the world from darkness into light. Keeping in mind that darkness can come from within as well as without will only help tell a better story.