Created By: MasterGhandalf on June 28, 2011 Last Edited By: MasterGhandalf on January 18, 2013

Above the Gods

The setting features entities even more powerful than its gods.

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Trope
While gods are usually the most powerful forces/ entities in a given setting, this isn't always the case- sometimes there are beings out there that are so powerful, they are considered to be even greater than the gods. They may represent Big-G God in comparison to a Fantasy Pantheon of little-g gods, be Anthropomorphic Personifications of eternal concepts, or even abstractions of forces far too powerful for mortals to wrap their heads around. In other cases, they're even Eldritch Abominations. These sorts of beings usually don't interact much with our level of reality, though there are exceptions. Compare and contrast The Old Gods, for an older generation of deities who may or may not be more powerful than the current pantheon, but do not transcend the label of "god" completely.

Rolling Updates. ---

  • In The Silmarillion, the Valar are a pantheon of immensely powerful entities that can be considered gods, but Eru Iluvatar, Arda's true monotheistic deity, is far more powerful than them (and created them in the first place). Ungoliant might also be a manifestation of a higher dark power, or just a particularly unpleasant demon- Tolkien never really elaborated much on her origin.
  • The Highgod and Chaos from Dragonlance, as well as Ao from Forgotten Realms.
  • David Eddings really likes this one:
    • In The Belgariad, UL and the two opposing Destinies are much more powerful than the gods (the Destinies are exactly equal in power; how they stack up to UL isn't elaborated on).
    • In The Elenium, there's Bhelliom (bound in the form of the local McGuffin for most of the books) and its opposite number Klael.
    • The Dreamers has the original male and female creative powers embodied as the peasant couple Ara and Omago.
  • The Faerie Queens in The Dresden Files are as good as gods, but the Faerie Mothers (formally, the Queens Who Were) are an order of magnitude stronger, though they seem to be pretty restricted in how they can use their power, and don't do much during their one appearance other than offer some cryptic advice.
  • In the multiverse set-up of The Wizard Knight, beings are intended to worship the inhabitants of the world directly above theirs as their gods. Therefore, anything that's two or more levels above the observer would count as this.
  • In the Mithgar books, the Fates are said to be above the gods, and the Great Creator is above them. Whether or not any of these exist as discreet entities or just abstractions is left ambiguous.
  • Played with in The Death Gate Cycle. The Sartan and Patryn races ''aren't' 'technically gods, but consider themselves to be such- and get a nasty shock when they learn that there are things more powerful than them out there.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's multiverse, several works feature powerful physical beings worshipped as divine, but the Shards of Adonalsium are more powerful than any of them.
  • In Mortal Kombat, the Elder Gods existed along an entity known as the One Being, who constantly fed off of their essence in order to sustain itself. In order to save themselves, the Elder Gods cooperated to weaken its omnipotence and divided the One Being into the realms (and by proxy, the six Kamidogu as seen in Deception). Merging all of the known realms together will eventually reawaken the One Being and it's hinted in later games that the likes of Shao Kahn and Onaga are being influenced by it in their conquest of the realms.
  • Dungeons And Dragons
    • Basic D&D Immortals rules. The Immortals are the BD&D equivalent of deities. The Old Ones are a group of extremely powerful beings who as to the Immortals as the Immortals are to mortals. If someone becomes an Immortal and reaches the highest level of Immortality twice, they can join the Old Ones.
  • In The Sandman you're dealing with a Fantasy Kitchen Sink scenario, so there's gods to spare, including the monotheistic 'Christian' God. None of them can stack up to The Endless within their given purview, however, and most of them step rather carefully around them. Most of this comes from the fact that the gods are NOT, in fact, immortal - they can be destroyed, by various means. The Endless, meanwhile, are... ENDLESS - even if killed, which can only happen with the cooperation of one of their numbers, they are simply reborn with a new body within the hour. Mind, the gods tend to have much broader powers than the highly-specialized Endless, so the respect often goes both ways.
  • The Snarl, resident Eldritch Abomination from The Order of the Stick, is so much more powerful than the gods that it wiped out an entire pantheon in minutes. The remaining gods were able to beat it, but only because it's completely brainless in spite of its power.
  • In Roger Zelazny+Robert Sheckley's "Millenial Contest" series (Bring Me The Head of Prince Charming et seq), the two opposing sides are represented by stock angels and demons (I don't remember whether the Christian God or expy thereof headed up the angelic side; the demons, iirc, had a board of directors) but both are subject to "Ananke" (glossed "Necessity") and nobody knows whether Ananke is itself subject to anything.

Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • June 28, 2011
    X2X
  • June 28, 2011
    Deboss
    See Super Weight (I think).
  • June 28, 2011
    Ekuran
  • June 28, 2011
    MasterGhandalf
    ^There's overlap, but these guys aren't just an older/stronger generation of gods- they're an entirely different order of being, in most cases as far above the "regular" gods as they are above humans. For example, the Titans from Greek Mythology are The Old Gods, but they're not Above The Gods- the Olympians fought them pretty evenly and then won, after all. If they'd been this trope, Zeus would have had about as much chance of overthrowing Kronos and I'd have overthrowing him.
  • June 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Marvel Comics there are Greek gods and Norse gods (and others too); and then there's the One-Above-All.
  • June 29, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Basic D&D Immortals rules. The Immortals are the BD&D equivalent of deities. The Old Ones are a group of extremely powerful beings who as to the Immortals as the Immortals are to mortals. If someone becomes an Immortal and reaches the highest level of Immortality twice, they can join the Old Ones.
  • June 29, 2011
    BlackDragon
    In The Sandman you're dealing with a Fantasy Kitchen Sink scenario, so there's gods to spare, including the monotheistic 'Christian' God. None of them can stack up to The Endless within their given purview, however, and most of them step rather carefully around them. Most of this comes from the fact that the gods are NOT, in fact, immortal - they can be destroyed, by various means. The Endless, meanwhile, are... ENDLESS - even if killed, which can only happen with the cooperation of one of their numbers, they are simply reborn with a new body within the hour.

    Mind, the gods tend to have much broader powers than the highly-specialized Endless, so the respect often goes both ways.
  • June 29, 2011
    PaleHorse87
    • The Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons And Dragons has a large number of pantheons containing various deities of different power levels. Above all of these pantheons there is Ao, known as the Overgod. On one occasion when a god stole the Tablet of Fate from him he responded by stripping ALL gods of most of their divine powers, forcing them into their avatar forms on the material plane until the Tablet was returned.
  • June 29, 2011
    elwoz
    In Roger Zelazny+Robert Sheckley's "Millenial Contest" series (Bring Me The Head of Prince Charming et seq), the two opposing sides are represented by stock angels and demons (I don't remember whether the Christian God or expy thereof headed up the angelic side; the demons, iirc, had a board of directors) but both are subject to "Ananke" (glossed "Necessity") and nobody knows whether Ananke is itself subject to anything.
  • June 29, 2011
    elwoz
    God Of Gods should be in the compare-and-contrast list too (the difference being that Above The Gods entities are not gods, or at least, they're not worshipped).
  • June 29, 2011
    Ekuran
    I feel like an ass doing this (since I really hate to dismiss a possible trope), but The Old Gods doesn't only apply to "gods" as it refers to beings that are "either" above or came before the "normal" gods. It would be kind of redundant to have this trope as well.

    On the other hand, merging this with The Old Gods would probably be great, since the description and examples would fit perfectly within it. Above The Gods would be a great redirect as well.
  • June 29, 2011
    MasterGhandalf
    I read through The Old Gods, and I think that they're actually two seperate ideas- beings who are the forerunners of the gods, versus beings who are more powerful than the gods. For example, the Titans would be the former, but not the latter, while the Serpends and Dragons from The Death Gate Cycle, despite being higher than that 'verse's alleged gods, are actually younger (at least as discreet entities). In other words, I think that if this trope gets launched, The Old Gods should have its description edited, and probably some examples moved. They just seem like two different, but related, ideas that don't need to go together.

    EDIT: The Snarl from The Order Of The Stick is also Above The Gods, but younger than them. Can't believe I didn't have it on here from the beginning.
  • June 30, 2011
    Nomic
    In HP Lovecraft's Dream Quest to Unknown Kadath the Outer Gods and their messager Nyarlathotep are far more powerful than the gods of Dreamland (Nyarlathotep can instantly summon all the gods back to their proper place on mount Kadath with the snap of his fingers). The Outer Gods also appear in the Cthulhu Mythos and are also far more powerful than the Great Old Ones (the Old Ones aren't technically gods, but are worshipped as such by numerous cults). Cthulhu may be able to drive mankind to insanity and death when he wakes up, but the Outer Gods include beings that can create and unmake entire universes or exist in every point in space and time at once.
  • June 30, 2011
    Damr1990
    On Dragon ball Z, Kami is supposed to be god, Kaio-king is suposed to be Kami's god, and even he has his superiors... all of wich are eventually overshawoed in power by Goku and the enemies he faces
  • June 30, 2011
    TBeholder
    ^^^^^^^ In fact, Toril seems to have at least three of these, one per continent: Ao on Faerun, Fate on Zakhara and Maztica on, well, Maztica. Maybe another one for Kara-Tur, but with Celestial Bureaucracy it's hard to tell.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump with threat to launch.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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