Created By: zarpaulus on January 23, 2012 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on August 31, 2014
Troped

Precursor Worship

An Ancient and long-vanished race is revered as gods.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Shepard: "[The Hanar] worship your people as gods."
Javik (the last Prothean): "Pity we did not teach them to speak better."

So, an untold number of years ago a civilization with incredibly advanced technology arose, then for whatever reason vanished into thin air. But what happens when a younger race comes across their incredibly advanced technology or other signs of their presence. Often, religion.

If the adherents come across the name of one or more of the Precursors they will specifically invoke those names. And construct a pantheon if they discovered more than one.

Finding the ancient race is a frequent goal of these people, woe betide anyone who gets in their way.

It's not uncommon for such peoples to adopt the tech of their "gods".

Bonus points if the Precursors actually did create the species that worships them.

If these Ancient beings turn out to be still around Abusive Precursors tend to use these cults as pawns, if they didn't set them up themselves. Neglectful Precursors are often somewhat annoyed by them if they even bother to take notice. While Benevolent Precursors sometimes set up cults before leaving, then are disgusted by what has become of their followers when they return.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • The Saint Church in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise worships the last Saint King of Ancient Belka, a civilization that warred itself into non-existence about a century ago (it would have lasted longer if said King didn't put it out of its misery).
  • In Macross Zero, it's suggested that the natives of Mayan Island in the Pacific worship the Protoculture, now extinct, as divine beings. They were also responsible for the creation of the human race.
  • In Spriggan, the Mexican gods (especially Tezcatlipoca) are worshiped as Aztec gods when they first arrived on Earth as Ancient Astronauts.

Literature
  • Most of the patron-lines in the Uplift universe act like the mythical Progenitors that began the whole uplift tradition were gods. With many interpretations of why they vanished and resulting wars. Some of humanity's worst enemies are those who believe the Progenitors will return to cleanse the galaxy of "impure" species like those uppity wolflings in Earthclan.
  • Footfall. The alien Fithp (AKA "Snouts") gained all of their scientific knowledge from artifacts left by the Predecessors, a race that lived on their planet long ago. The Fithp worship the Predecessors as deities, with priests studying the artifacts to gain more information.
  • In Grand Central Arena, the Faith worship the Precursors who built the Arena as gods.
  • Discussed via thought experiment in Chariots Of The Gods?. von Daniken postulates a world where much of civilization has been destroyed. The older generation tell stories of how it used to be to their children, who write it down. Each story begins with "My father tells me..." After a few generations the context of "My father tells me..." is lost, and new translations/editions of the collected stories of the fathers use "My father says..." and eventually "Our Father says..." promoting the first generation to virtual (if not actual) godhood.

Live-Action TV
  • In Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis the Ancients are sometimes considered to be gods. They don't really care that much, however their evil counterparts the Ori demand worship.
  • An individual example of this was Knox on Angel, who worshipped the Old Ones and brought about Illyria's resurrection.
  • In the Farscape episode "Jeremiah Crichton" it turns out the indigenous people worshipped the Hynerian Dominar who left them on that planet, and since Rygel's a descendant of their "god" they bow down before him on sight.

Tabletop Games
  • The Lizardmen of Warhammer worship the Old Ones, who created the world and try to carry out their plan for the destruction of Chaos.
  • It is all but stated that the Adeptus Mechanicus of Warhammer 40K who keep humanity's machines running are in fact worshipping the Void Dragon, a C'tan star god who was imprisoned on Mars long ago.
  • In Myriad Song the Remanence reveres the Syndics and eagerly await their return, seeing how they are ruled by descendants of their genetically modified slave overseers.
  • Classic Traveller supplement Alien Module 8 Darrians. The ancestors of the Darrians were moved from Earth to their new planet by an Ancient named Onsorik. Not surprisingly they worshipped him as a god and passed down legends about him to their descendants.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition. Thousands of years ago the Atlanteans were masters of the Earth. They reached heights of technology so advanced that modern day scientists can't understand them. Before they disappeared, their human followers considered them to be gods and built temples to worship them.

Video Games
  • The Covenant of the Halo franchise are a coalition of species united in worship of the Forerunners. Too bad that humans unintentionally defiled some holy Forerunner ex-colonies.
    • They also mistakenly believe that the Halos will lead them to where the Forerunners left to. Instead of being superweapons that can destroy all complex life in the galaxy.
  • In Sword of the Stars the Zuul worship their Suul'ka creators and are determined to find them in Lords of Winter they succeed
  • In Mass Effect the Hanar believe the Protheans (whom they call the "Enkindlers") uplifted their species millenia ago. And the heretic Geth worship the Reapers of course they're still around
  • The Cassians of Wildstar believe that they were chosen by the Eldan to rule the Dominion as a shining example of strength and leadership... for the rest of the pathetic vermin that infest the galaxy.
  • Those Who Came Before/The First Civilization from Assassin's Creed were the inspiration for divine worship in many cultures after creating human beings in their image. They were the first Etruscan gods along with inspirations for many other pantheons.
  • StarCraft: The Xel'Naga began a series of experiment on the Protoss to speed their development, eventually revealing themselves to their subjects. For a time, the Protoss revered the elder race as gods, but began to grow suspicious of them after time, ultimately resulting in a war that drove the Xel'Naga off the Protoss homeworld.
    • The Tal'darim splinter faction continue to worship the Xel'Naga, viewing any interference with their sites as desecration. Specifically, the fallen Xel'Naga Amon.
  • In The Conduit and the Conduit 2, it's revealed most of the human race had worshipped the gods, who are actually aliens from another planet. And some of them have ruled ancient empires such as Babylonia and Rome.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Precursors are revered as divine god-like beings by many of the inhabitants of Jak and Daxter's universe. This makes The Reveal of them as Ottsels, like Daxter and latter Veger after being "blessed with the gift of evolution", quite surprising and humorous.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • January 23, 2012
    chicagomel
    An individual example of this was Knox on Angel, who worshipped the Old Ones and brought about Illyria's resurrection. I forget whether he said there were more like him, though. He did become her high priest...there's a word, but don't ask me how to spell it LOL... though.
  • January 23, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • January 24, 2012
    Chabal2
    The Lizardmen of Warhammer worship the Old Ones, who created the world and try to carry out their plan for the destruction of Chaos.
  • January 24, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I just know that there's more examples, why can't I think of them?
  • January 25, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Marvel2099 there's a cult which worships Bruce Banner.
  • January 25, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Footfall. The alien Fithp (AKA "Snouts") gained all of their scientific knowledge from artifacts left by the Predecessors, a race that lived on their planet long ago. The Fithp worship the Predecessors as deities, with priests studying the artifacts to gain more information.
  • January 25, 2012
    Koveras
    • Kinda: The Saint Church in Lyrical Nanoha franchise worships the last Saint King of Ancient Belka, a civilization that warred itself into non-existence about a century ago (it would have lasted longer if said King didn't put it out of its misery).
  • January 29, 2012
    PaulA
  • February 1, 2012
    Rognik
    I've never read H P Lovecraft, but doesn't this sum up nearly every one of his stories? There's a cult, they summon one of the old gods, everyone either goes crazy or dies?

  • February 1, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Yeah but most of the "Gods" are more along the lines of Eldritch Abomination than Precursors. The long vanished highly advanced alien races tend not to have very many followers. Though the cult at the beginning of the computer game Call Of Cthulhu Dark Corners Of The Earth had some connection to the Great Race of Yith
  • July 4, 2014
    zarpaulus
    I'm thinking of giving this another shot.
  • July 6, 2014
    Omnicron13
    Those Who Came Before/The First Civilization from Assassin's Creed were the inspiration for divine worship in many cultures after creating human beings in their image. They were the first Etruscan gods along with inspirations for many other pantheons.
  • July 6, 2014
    Tallens
    • Star Craft: The Xel'Naga began a series of experiment on the Protoss to speed their development, eventually revealing themselves to their subjects. For a time, the Protoss revered the elder race as gods, but began to grow suspicious of them after time, ultimately resulting in a war that drove the Xel'Naga off the Protoss homeworld.
  • July 6, 2014
    KTera
    ^^ IIRC, Assassins Creed implies that every god or divine being in human mythology is one of Those Who Came Before.
  • July 6, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    Lyrical Nanoha example doesn't qualify. That church focuses not on a race, but on an individual.

    What is "us" in Uplift example? It is not a forum so don't write in first person.
  • July 7, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ Some of humanity's worst enemies are those who believe the Progenitors will return to cleanse the galaxy of "impure" species like us uppity wolflings.

    Should probably have mentioned that just about all Galactics believe that the Progenitors were the only species to evolve to sapience naturally and regard those humans, whose Patrons remain unknown, that claim we were never uplifted as blasphemers.
  • July 7, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    (^ I read you. Did you read the Administrativia How To Write An Example?)
  • July 8, 2014
    Arivne
    If this is changed to include worship of individual Precursors (as it should):

    Tabletop Game
    • Classic Traveller supplement Alien Module 8 Darrians. The ancestors of the Darrians were moved from Earth to their new planet by an Ancient named Onsorik. Not surprisingly they worshipped him as a god and passed down legends about him to their descendants.
  • July 8, 2014
    DAN004
    I know of Sankt Kaiser of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, but I can't give enough context.
  • July 8, 2014
    zarpaulus
    I'm not sure why it can't be applied to individual member of a Precursor race as is.
  • July 9, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ All of the text in the Discussion and the Laconic refers to the entire race of Precursors being worshipped.

    That's why six posts up Nemuru Mae Ni stated that the Lyrical Nanoha example didn't count because they were only worshipping one being.

    If the Description isn't changed other tropers may delete "single being worship" examples for that reason after this is launched.
  • July 9, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ and Nemuru doesn't like being clear. :P
  • July 9, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    In the Farscape episode "Jeremiah Crichton" it turns out the indigenous people worshipped Hynerians, which leads to Rygel managing to save the day.
  • July 9, 2014
    zarpaulus
    If the adherents come across the name of one or more of the Precursors they will specifically invoke those names. And construct a pantheon if they discovered more than one.
  • July 11, 2014
    Ominae
    • In Macross Zero, it's suggested that the natives of Mayan Island in the Pacific worship the Protoculture, now extinct, as divine beings.

    • In Spriggan, the Mexican gods (especially Tezcatlipoca) are worshiped as Aztec gods when they first arrived on Earth as Ancient Astronauts.

  • July 11, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ Any links to those pages?
  • July 11, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ diving beings?
  • July 11, 2014
    Ominae
    @zar

    - Sure. Macross Zero and Spriggan pages are here.

    @DAN

    - Don't know. I mean, they are worshipped as gods. I tried to get something out and that came out. It can be changed later though.
  • July 11, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ Would have been more convenient if you included the links in the initial reply.

    And Dan's comment concerns your use of "diving" rather than what I assume was meant to be divine
  • July 11, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 11, 2014
    Ominae
    Sorry. Didn't see that. Must've been high on caffeine last night. Fixed.
  • July 12, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    ICBW, but aren't we supposed to not have spoiler tags in page quotes?
  • July 12, 2014
    Chabal2
    • Also from Starcraft (well, Starcraft II): the Tal'darim splinter faction continue to worship the Xel'Naga, viewing any interference with their sites as desecration. Specifically, the fallen Xel'Naga Amon.
    • It is all but stated that the Adeptus Mechanicus of Warhammer 40 K who keep humanity's machines running are in fact worshipping the Void Dragon, a C'tan star god who was imprisoned on Mars long ago.

  • July 12, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^ That's correct. According to Handling Spoilers:

    "No spoilers in the main body of the description, above the "Examples" line. Just don't do it."

    I have unspoilered it.
  • July 12, 2014
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Hollow Earth Expedition. Thousands of years ago the Atlanteans were masters of the Earth. They reached heights of technology so advanced that modern day (1930's) scientists can't understand them. Before they disappeared, their human followers considered them to be gods and built temples to worship them.
  • July 14, 2014
    Ominae
    • In The Conduit and the Conduit2, it's revealed most of the human race had worshipped the gods, who are actually aliens from another planet. And some of them have ruled ancient empires such as Babylonia and Rome.
  • July 20, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Discussed via though experiment in Chariots Of The Gods?. von Daniken posulates a world where much of civilization has been destroyed. The older generation tell stories of how it used to be to their children, who write it down. Each story begins with "My father tells me..." After a few generations the context of "My father tells me..." is lost, and new translations/editions of the collected stories of the fathers use "My father says..." and eventually "Our Father says..." promoting the first generation to virtual (if not actual) godhood.
  • July 25, 2014
    zarpaulus
    At this point I think I'd be asking for hats.
  • August 4, 2014
    JesseMB27
    Video Game
    • Jak And Daxter: The Precursors are revered as divine god-like beings by many of the inhabitants of Jak and Daxter's universe. This makes The Reveal of them as Ottsels, like Daxter and latter Veger after being "blessed with the gift of evolution", quite surprising and humorous.
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