This is part of a series examining the gods and powers that shape life on Arth. If you’re new to the series, get started with an overview.
Arth’s pantheon was essentially a celestial administration that the Creator had left in charge once He decided that His work was good, or at least good enough. Like middle management everywhere, the gods seemed to be mostly concerned with petty conflicts and power struggles. They fought endlessly over believers, and money, and status, and the best temples, and anything else that gods typically want.
— Orconomics, Chapter 3
The First Age: The Age of Creation
According to the Agekeepers, the gods have been around since the First Age, the Age of Creation. In that age, the Creator, the Great Weaver, spun Arth into being. It was empty, so He created the plants and beasts of the world. They were good, but the Creator was lonely. He elevated some of the beasts by granting teaching them to weave magic. They became the Eldest, the great spirits such as the dragons and the titans. The Eldest asked the Creator for servants, and in response He created the four Elemental Spirits — the Undines, the Sylphs, the Dryads, and the Djinn.
By now Arth was getting a little crowded, so the Creator recruited some help. He raised up some of the titans, pulling them from the weave to sit beside him at the loom. He taught them how to weave as he wove, and gave them dominion over the realms of his creation. They became the gods of Arth, and each made a paradise for him or herself in the space beyond the weave.
Under the Creator’s direction, the new gods created the four races of Man. At that point, the Almighty seems to have reconsidered what he was doing, because He stopped setting new types of people on Arth. Perhaps He was satisfied with His work. Perhaps He saw the flaws in Man. Perhaps He was merely weary, or yearned to start over and do a better job, or He needed to step out for a bit, as Arth had grown crowded. Whatever His reason, the Creator charged the gods to guard his work against destruction and vanished.
The Great Weaver left behind something close to a utopia. Arth was a world full of peaceful-but-ambitious beings sharing a finite bounty. There was happiness and love, but there was also desire and want. It was a world ripe for demons, and at some point they entered the weave and challenged the gods for it.
The First War
Not much is known about the first war. Some say it was Mannon’s work, and others say that Mannon had an old master before he killed her and took her place. Whoever willed it, evil entered Arth, and set about starting a great war the likes of which have never been seen again.
The gods alone know what was lost on those battlefields. Most of the Eldest were gone. Most of the races of Man were mortal, and a new god, Mordo Ogg, rose to guide them out of the weave and into the paradises of the gods. Corruption began to twist Arth, and some gods gave themselves over to the purpose of destruction. The Age of Creation was over. The Age of Legends began.
The Following Ages
In the Age of Legends, Al’Thadan and Al’Matra rallied most of Arth’s Pantheon and forged a new order from the ruins of the old world. Mannon revealed himself, and made his subjects into the Shadowkin and birthed many of the monstrous races to make war on Al’Thadan and Al’Matra. They were rebuffed, and Mannon was struck down.
But the All Father’s service was revealed as an act in the Third Age, when Mannon’s dark power was revealed to have been stronger than anyone imagined. The Shadowkin and their armies returned, and Al’Thadan and the Sten betrayed the people of Light. Tandos struck his father down and banished Mannon again. The gods were barely victorious, and the world was all but ruined. The Fourth Age began.
In the Age of Darkness, when the truth was concealed by Mannon and many competing belief systems spread over Arth, most people thought that religious conflict would end if the world could be converted to one faith. Then Arth’s gods and goddesses revealed themselves once more and united the world in the worship of one consistent pantheon. Religious conflicts resumed the next day.
— Orconomics, Chapter 3
In the Fourth Age, Mannon rose once more, this time in Nagarok. His chief servant, the Archfiend Nephan, spread lies about false gods and set up temples to Mannon’s demons. Tandos rallied the gods once more. A grand coalition of Dwarves and Elves, led by avatars of the gods, defeated Nephan and scattered his dark relics across Arth. The avatar of Tandos himself struck down Mannon, and the lord of evil was finally banished from Arth. The temples and shrines of the false gods were destroyed, and never rebuilt.
But within a century, Al’Matra’s priesthood declared a holy war on the temple of Tandos. Fengelde’s druids murdered the High Priestess of Maeneth shortly thereafter. The gods were as they are today: a shattered pantheon, as much at odds with each other as they are with the demons.
That’s it for this section of Arth’s Pantheon. You can get a good overview of the gods of Arth here. There’s more Arth Lore available on the blog as well. And in case you haven’t journeyed to Arth yourself yet, check out my books for some fantasy adventure that’s so funny, it’s epic.