TOUCHED BY THE GODS:  Beneath the Hundred Moons

Welcome to my quick little essay on the setting for Touched By the Gods.

First, let me make clear that this novel is not set in Ethshar or Eramma -- it's a wholly new work, unrelated to anything I've done previously.

Touched by the Gods is set in the Domdur Empire, beneath the Hundred Moons. Here we have a nation that believed that the gods were on their side not out of hubris, but because the gods said they were.

The history, religion, and cosmology of the Domdur Empire are all closely related, which makes it difficult to know where to start. Let's begin with the Hundred Moons.

First off, there are more than a hundred -- to be exact, there are 117. There are also 117 gods in the Domdur pantheon. This is not a coincidence -- each moon is home to one of the gods. Ba'el is the name of the god of war and conflict, and also the name of the largest and reddest of the moons in the Domdur sky; a greenish moon of almost equal size is Vedal, and Vedal is goddess of fertility and the earth; and so on, down to Baranmel, god of celebrations and a tiny, bright, golden moon.

Astrology would obviously be of great interest beneath the Hundred Moons -- if there weren't better methods of knowing the gods' will, and if it were possible to chart so fantastically complex a system.

So if the moons are the homes of the gods, what's the sun? Answer: Their workplace. Each god spends three days a year powering the sun with his own divine essence. (Yes, this means the year has 351 days, where ours has 365.25. So?)

These are very real gods, and they run the world directly. They take a very pragmatic interest in it, and unlike most gods they saw no reason to be aloof or cryptic. Long ago, something over a thousand years before the start of Touched by the Gods, it occurred to the gods that the existing situation, where the world was inhabited by hundreds of warring tribes and nations, was inefficient and wasteful, and they decided to do something about it. They selected one tribe, the Domdur, to be their chosen people, who would conquer the entire world and rule it wisely and well.

They didn't waste time with signs or portents; they got directly down to business, appointing an assortment of priests and oracles to inform the Domdur of their destiny as conquerors. For a thousand years, the gods spoke through the oracles and directed the Domdur Empire's growth from a quiet little city-state to world government.

It's hard to defeat people who really do have the gods advising them, and who are led into battle by a divinely-selected champion with supernatural abilities.

Eventually, however, the world has been conquered and is at peace, and the gods decide their job is done. The oracles fall silent. The gods largely withdraw from direct contact with mortals, though Baranmel will still turn up at certain weddings and celebrations to drink the best beer and dance a few turns with the prettiest girls.

Nobody needs the divine champion around any more. The gods still choose one anyway, just in case, but hardly anyone knows who or where.

And that's where the story begins...


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