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A sentient cosmic force is a form of BackgroundMagicField with a will of its own. Like a BackgroundMagicField, it is a pervasive form of AppliedPhlebotinum, existing on a planetary or universal scale, that acts as "fuel" for FunctionalMagic. It is generally not material, existing as an intangible energy or on a spiritual level, though it may have a physical manifestations in areas that act as a [[LeyLine nexus]] or [[PlaceOfPower wellspring]] for it. However, while BackgroundMagicField is simply an inanimate part of nature, a sentient cosmic force is capable of thinking and acting on its own.

It can favor some people or factions over others. It can communicate, or at least be communed with. It has goals, and can enact {{plan}}s to further those goals ([[TheChooserOfTheOne which may involve picking someone]] to be TheChosenOne). It is rarely described as actually "alive", however -- it is not something that can be spoken to directly. In this way, sentient cosmic forces are generally distinct from deities: while you may meditate and commune with it in a temple, it doesn't actively seek prayer or worship. More plainly, although a sentient cosmic force is aware of events and capable of influencing them, it is not a person.

If a sentient cosmic force is hostile, or even actively evil, then expect it to be a CrapsackWorld. Of course, it might be [[BlueAndOrangeMorality too alien to fit any notions of morality]] that we can understand. TheDarkSide exists when the will of a good or neutral cosmic force is corrupted, or as the EvilCounterpart to the good aspects as a [[BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil necessary counterbalance]].

A {{subtrope}} of BackgroundMagicField. May overlap with TheLifestream when it's created by life itself or when things become one with it after death.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The Counter Force in the ''{{Nasuverse}}''. It favors two sides, "Gaia", the will of the planet, and "Alaya", the will of humanity. If one becomes closer to destruction, the Counter Force will act towards saving the one closer to destruction, usually at the expense of the other. The form it can be communed with exists as "Counter Guardians", heroes who have formed a contract with the World to save it when it comes closer to destruction.
* In ''Manga/GetterRobo'', Getter Rays are eventually revealed to be a quasi-sentient entity with the power to accelerate evolution, which "chose" mankind over the dinosaurs. Getter Emperor can be considered an AnthropomorphicPersonification of the force (as can [[spoiler:its larval form]] Shin Getter, when at full power). Getter Rays are depicted variously as any combination of AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence, TheAssimilator, TheCorruption, CreepyGood and OmnicidalManiac, depending on continuity and how [[AxCrazy mentally stable]] their chosen heralds are at the time.

%%* The Source from JackKirby's ''NewGods.''
* [[ComicBook/{{X-Men}} The Phoenix Force]] and the [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Power Cosmic]] are two Marvel Universe examples, although the former [[ContinuitySnarl is hard to explain due to countless revisions]].

* The Force from the ''Franchise/StarWars'' universe. It's an energy field, it gives powers. It has a ChosenOne (and in-universe was believed to have caused his virgin birth, (though it was revealed [[ExpandedUniverse out-of-universe]] that he might have been the product of Sith meddling with life). It has a will of its own, but nobody fully understands it (and it might be impossible to do so). The Jedi and their [[EvilCounterpart evil counterparts]] the Sith, along with a variety of lesser groups from the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse, each have their own belief systems about the true nature of the Force, but out-of-universe it's generally presumed that the Jedi are closest to the truth. The Sith believe that the Force is something that can, and should be, controlled and exploited for all its worth. Given the horrible fates that befall nearly every Sith, the Force apparently disapproves.
** There are some cases in which it is less distant and more immediately helpful. In ''Rebel Force: Uprising'', when Luke is being tortured and put through brainwashing so bad that even Obi-Wan's spirit can't help him anymore, he hears an inner voice encouraging him on. He thinks it sounds like him but older, and assumes that it's his father's voice. [[LukeIAmYourFather We know it's not]].
** Tash Arranda in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: Eaten Alive'' finds something that horrifies her
---> Yet, at the same time, it triggered something else inside her, a powerful and comforting force that seemed to fight against her fear and give her strength.
*** Later in the book she's cornered by attackers and feels it again, calming and protecting her so that she is able to escape, and in general it helps her when things seem darkest. Sometimes this scares her because she feels like connecting to it makes her [[LossOfIdentity lose her identity]], sometimes it reminds her that YouAreNotAlone.
* Eywa in ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' is a GeniusLoci physically comprising the neural network between the various flora and fauna on Pandora, and comprising the memories of various creatures, but is sentient and can cause GaiasVengeance when required.
* While its motives are unclear, in ''Film/{{Excalibur}}'' a Force-like... force... is referred to as "The Dragon".
%%* This is thoroughly spoofed by ''Film/SpaceBalls'' with "da Schwartz!."

* Dust, from ''Literature/HisDarkMaterials'': while the "magic" element of it is subtle, it's observed to be attracted to children as they reach puberty, [[spoiler:is discovered to be to be the stuff which gives intelligent creatures sentience,]] and is the reason Lyra's truth-telling Alethiometer works. [[spoiler: It also speaks to a character from Will's world who is studying it through her computer and sends her on a quest.]]
* In ''Literature/{{Belgariad}}'', destiny/the will of the universe is both sentient and [[DeadpanSnarker rather snarky]].
* The god of Mijak[[note]]Or rather, the thing the Mijaki ''mistake'' for God[[/note]] from the ''Literature/GodspeakerTrilogy'' is a particularly evil variant. It never speaks in words to its worshipers, but influences their thoughts and desires and acts through its priests, the godspeakers, and through specific chosen ones like Hekat and later the Hammer. It demands constant sacrifice to sustain itself and very much wants to conquer the world. A character from outside the Mijaki culture at one point describes it as "a well of dark power".
* Creator/JRRTolkien's Middle-earth is created and sustained by the Flame Imperishable, which emanates from [[{{God}} Eru Ilúvatar]] himself.
* Magic in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' series is explicitly mentioned to be a little bit alive. It's the reason HEX seems to add or upgrade parts of its own accord, and part of the reason that not using magic is one of the most important skills a wizard can utilize.
* The True Source, which turns ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime.'' [[spoiler: [[GodOfEvil The Dark One]] itself turns out to be one of these in the last book as well, more a personification of evil, chaos, and entropy rather than a person. [[TheChosenOne Rand]] manages to reseal it by turning its own magic, [[BlackMagic the True Power]] back against it, ensuring that the harder the Dark One fought against being sealed, the more tightly it ''was'' sealed]].
* ''Literature/MistbornTheOriginalTrilogy'' has Ruin, the malevolent cosmic force that apparently has power over the mists, and can force them to block sunlight from crops. It was this power which originally threatened the world and was known as the Deepness.It is later revealed that [[spoiler:Ruin is the destructive god who is [[NiceJobBreakingItHero released]] at the end of "The Well of Ascension" when Vin releases the power at the [[PlaceOfPower Well of Ascension]]. Eons ago, Ruin was tricked by his brother, Preservation, who created life, which had more of Preservation than Ruin. They had made a [[EquivalentExchange deal]] that Ruin would eventually get to destroy all life, but Preservation sacrificed his mind to [[SealedEvilInACan bind Ruin's consciousness into a prison]], separate from his main strength, his atium body.]]
** WordOfGod and other works in Creator/BrandonSanderson's multiverse expand on this further- [[spoiler: Ruin and Preservation are only two of sixteen such forces, created when Adonalsium (implied to be God, though not confirmed)was somehow shattered. These forces are therefore called Shards, short for Shards of Adonalsium. Other Shards are Dominion and Devotion (''Literature/{{Elantris}}''), Endowment (''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}''), and Honor, Cultivation, and Odium (''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'')]].
* To an extent, [[CthulhuMythos Yog-Sothoth]] is this. Yog-Sothoth is often described as The Gate and The Key. It acts as a kind of manifestation, separate entity and integral part of the universe itself. It's two major actions of [[Creator/HPLovecraft Lovecraft's]] works are it [[spoiler: fathering Wilbur Whateley and the actual Dunwich Horror, Wilbur's twin brother]] and in the epic MindScrew that is Through The Gates of the Silver Key [[spoiler: we learn that not only is Yoggy it's own creature, it is part of a Super Archetype, of which ''every living thing in the universe'' is part of. Randolph Carter, all of the major human villains and heroes - ''even the reader'' - is part of this one Archetype, we are all facets of the same thing, even the hideous alien monsters.]] By traversing these gates, you gain the ability to travel through time and space.
* The magic from ''TheSoldierSon'' trilogy acts this way. It's not a living thing, but throughout the entire trilogy it is attempting to force Nevare's hand.
* In Fiona Patton's {{Branion}} series, this describes the Holy Triarchy, which represents three of the four elemental powers. The fourth, Flame, is implied to have been this at one point, but somehow the FounderOfTheKingdom made a pact with It, took It within herself, and became the first [[GodEmperor Aristok]] and [[GodInHumanForm Vessel of the Living Flame]]. Characters in the fourth book commit [[TheHeretic heresy]] by seeking to do the same with the Wind, Sea and Oaks.
* In S. M. Stirling's ''{{Emberverse}}'' it appears to be this that caused the Change.
* In Creator/DavidGemmell's ''Drenai'' novels, priests are dedicated to [[NamesTheSame the Source]], which imparts mystical powers.
* ''PerdidoStreetStation'' has the Torque, described by one character as a tumor that aborted itself from the womb that produced the forces of Birth and Death. Whilst not evil per-se, it is a natural force that is almost totally uncontrollable which warps and mutates matter and biology into horrifying things. Merely trying to research it can turn you into an EldritchAbomination. It was once used as a weapon; the results of the Torque Bomb were so awful even after a generous application of Magitek versions of nuclear weapons there's a country-sized region of the world which isn't going to be inhabitable by anything but abominations ever again.
* ''{{Literature/Dinoverse}}'' turns out to have one, though it's poorly described. The TimeMachine that Betram [[AchievementsInIgnorance accidentally]] built in the first book turns out to have been part of a pattern - people across the multiverse had started building similar machines, with similar lack of understanding, and activating them. At one point it's shown that the required parts for it to work are extremely simple, and it activates on its own. Later said character gets himself fused with this force and is said to be benign.


* In ''{{Series/Lost}}'' this is what's said to [[spoiler:emanate from [[CosmicKeystone the Heart of the Island]]]].
--> Jacob: What's down there?
--> Mother: Life. Death. Rebirth.

* The Force from ''StarWars'' is based on UsefulNotes/{{Taoism}}, which teaches that there is a universal force called (but not named) the Tao that flows through all things, passively guiding the universe along a natural course. By living a certain meditative lifestyle, one can become "like an uncarved block" and then allow the Tao to shape them.
* Certain versions of UsefulNotes/{{Pandeism}} and UsefulNotes/{{Pantheism}} have this -- though 'sentient' varies and need not imply activity or sapience.
** {{Hinduism}}, in particular, has Brahman.
* Many people from a variety of major religions (Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others) view {{God}} this way, once they grow old enough to realize that God is probably not a literal man on a cloud.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Warp from ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' would be a rare evil version. It is malevolent (though was not always this way). It has, in fact, many wills (thanks to its chaotic nature), as its wills can be given identities in the form of Chaos Gods. Just like the Force from StarWars, it can give super powers.
* The Draconic Prophecy in ''{{Eberron}}'' can be this. It's left deliberately vague so that the DM can give it whatever nature he wants, but what has been confirmed about it fits: It gives people powers (Through Dragonmarks), it's pervasive and covers the material plane (leaving marks on the landscape, construction, etc). It has a will and a purpose, but those are so complex and long terms that no being can fully understand it. Dragons spend their whole lives trying to figure it out, only ever achieving small glimpses of the Prophecy's nature.
* ''{{Exalted}}'' has a lot of examples of this trope. The universe literally runs on RuleOfCool and is self-aware of this:
** Anyone, not just an Exalt, can channel virtue into actions to increase the chance to success, even if he fight the frickin' ''Ebon Dragon''.
** The more extreme an Exalt's Virtue, the more [[{{Mana}} Essence]] he has. The universe respond to your morality (both the Black-White kind and the [[BlueAndOrangeMorality Blue-Orange kind]]).
** And then there are the Pattern Spiders. They are god-machines who are responsible of causality in the Universe, they are sentient, and they can be affected in many ways. The aforementioned Ebon Dragon has Charms solely to screw them.
** The creators of the universe are also this. They were kind of cosmic douchebags[[note]]At least, that's what Heavens' propaganda tell you. However, Heaven is a sham and a scam.[[/note]], so the Exalts either killed them or imprisoned them. The Green Sun Prince can invoke their power, and the more he does so, the more universe around him works according to his patron's ideal vision. Which is not a nice place.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Light and the Darkness in KingdomHearts. Each has their own realm (along with a realm where they're mixed, and a realm that lacks either). They're mostly just a BackgroundMagicField each, but each seems to have a will of its own - the (rarely seen) realm of Darkness creates Heartless, and the (broken from an ancient war) realm of Light rebuilt itself using the pure light found in children's hearts, and will summon/swap around Keyblades depending (to some degree) on the intended wielder's balance of light and darkness. Neither of the forces seems directly opposed to the other, though - most of the reasons that the realm of Light suffers from darkness are due either to the previously mentioned war or to the series' BigBad, who seeks to disprove myths about Darkness and gain personal power with increasingly reckless and ''ruthless'' experiments.
* Apparently the Voodoo from ''TalesOfMonkeyIsland'' is this, according to the Voodoo Lady. Of course, [[HollywoodVoodoo real Voodoo has nothing to do with this]].
* TheLifestream of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', used as a fuel by the [[MegaCorp Shinra Electric Power Company]]. In its solidified form it is [[PowersAsPrograms the materia that allows the use of magic]], and is the combined spirit of all living things of the Planet, and when you piss it off enough it [[GaiasVengeance releases a whole bunch of monsters to get rid of whatever is annoying it]].
* It was recently revealed that ''CityOfHeroes''' myterious "Well of the Furies" is actually a SentientCosmicForce. To date, its exact goals are poorly-eludicated, but seem to involve trying to take control of its [[TheChosenMany Chosen Many]], the "Incarnates."
* In ''{{Starhawk}}'', Rift energy, AKA "blue gold", is an efficient power source and spews out of the ground. Direct exposure turns people into exoskeletal, mutant zealots that worship the Rift and attack anyone who tries to harvest it. Sometimes, it grabs people and pulls them into itself.
* In ''TalesOfTheAbyss'', each fonon has an aggregate sentience (most are named after the summon spirits of previous games), but the one that's most important to the storyline is Lorelei, the aggregate sentience of the seventh fonon of sound.
* The Aedra and Daedra of VideoGame/TheElderScrolls are the physical embodiments of concepts created when the universe was. For instance, when someone breaks the dragon by causing time to flow in a nonlinear fashion, they've literally shattered Akatosh, the Dragon God of Time. With him out of commission, any timeline is meaningless.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', Skaia is described as something like this.
** The characters talk about Paradox Space as though it was this trope, but [[UnreliableExpositor looking at the story itself]] it seems Paradox Space is about as sentient as gravity or destiny. It's also a term that describes everything that exists ever.
* In the highly meta fancomic ''{{Webcomic/Roommates}}'' the [[TheoryOfNarrativeCausality Story]] and [[PanderingToTheBase Fanservice]] are referred to as such by [[FourthWallObserver Azira and Crowley]], [[TheFairFolk Jareth]] and narration. In its SpinOff ''{{Webcomic/GirlsNextDoor}}'' at least Sarah and Sophie think this too. Because these are basically the in-universe representations of AuthorPowers and ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve (of the fandom; "{{Fangirl}}s masquerading as fate".) respectively this may be very very literally true. They also obviously have humor and an agenda (like [[ShipperOnDeck not even subtly ship Jareth / Sarah]]). Oh. And also [[WildMagic power magic]].
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', magic has [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=1832 a will and objectives of its own]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Literature/{{Phaeton}}'' the universe itself is implied to be this.
* The WhateleyUniverse has its own take on the Tao (see Religion above) that seems to take a somewhat more active role by empowering the occasional ChosenOne when it serves its purposes and is generally credited with an OmniscientMoralityLicense by its followers at least. Its current chosen Handmaid is Bladedancer -- by all accounts potentially unstoppable if the Tao wills it so, yet "merely" a BadassNormal otherwise (which is most of the time).

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'', Candace believes that it's something like this that prevents her from busting her brothers (and probably preventing their mom from noticing anything odd). Whether this is so is ambiguous.