Gods Need Prayer Badly
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Basic Information

Gods Need Prayer Badly is a Religion Trope. According to it, the power of gods is proportional to the amount of prayer and worship they receive.

This concept is actually pretty old. In the Babylonian version of the Deluge story, after the gods destroy humanity in a colossal flood, they realize that they now have no worshipers and will starve to death. Fortunately, the righteous Ut-Napishtim has survived the flood by building an enormous boat. When he offers a burnt sacrifice after the flood recedes, the gods gather around it "like flies".

The Aztecs took this a step further and considered that their gods needed (high volumes of) human sacrifice to keep creation running. This didn't end well for anyone.



Game and Story Use

  • In a campaign where this trope is true, it is possible to fight and seriously weaken a god - by attacking his places of worship, or by killing or converting his followers.
    • The PCs could play a "religious hit squad" which either tries to stamp out specific (hopefully evil) religions.
      • They need to be subtle enough in their approach to avoid divine wrath.
      • …or have the protection of their own deity.
  • An interesting campaign could be one where the PCs represent an up-and-coming pantheon whose members need to poach followers from other gods to prosper and grow more powerful. Successes at converting others will result in a direct increase in the abilities of the divine player characters.
  • In some campaigns, even humans might become more powerful through worship.
    • This is the default assumption of Exalted.
    • Accumulate enough worshipers, and you might even turn into a god yourself - resulting in divine apotheosis.
  • This might be the answer to the question of "Why does God need a spaceship?" The gods have a task they need accomplished, but doing so requires entering a sphere where their power is lessened due to a lack of believers. Therefore, they recruit the PCs to perform the mission for them.
  • It also provides an explanation for why the Old Gods haven't been doing much lately; as their followers have dwindled, so has their power.
  • Some RPG systems have specific rituals in which a worshiper sacrifices specific attributes to their deity as part of worship (Runequest and Call of Cthulu did this quite a bit), usually in return for specific gifts. This would be particularly appropriate for a religion with small, weak deities (such as shamanism) for which the energy available to a single human would be significant - sacrificing a quantity of life energy to them might well be part of a bargain.
    • Model this by draining a character's mana (permanently for major boons, as per CoC's POW sacrifices) or hit points (as a blood sacrifice) … or even by draining other attributes, XP or a level or two or aging the character.
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