In fiction? It could mean anything. There really aren't many similarities between gods. Lots of tropes go with gods and religion. A god might be the classical God of Ethical Monotheism: omnipotent, omniscient and infinitely good. That's on one scale. On the other side she might be an easily embarrassed teenage girl. Or he might be a Superhero that, despite his godhood, gets beaten up by people empowered by radioactive slime.
A general minimum requirement for a character to be considered divine, though, is that regardless of their power level and number and conviction of their followers (if any) the narrative should acknowledge them as an actual god at some point. Without that, "mere" sufficiently advanced aliens, eldritch abominations, physical gods of "lesser" pedigree, and of course mortal pretenders to the title do not usually qualify.
Another trait almost universally associated with gods is having a divine portfolio or sphere of influence — that is, the thing(s) they are the gods of. (The main exception would be in the case of a monotheist capital-G God, who can go without an explicit job description by virtue of lacking competition and generally already being the "god of everything" anyway.)
In some settings, gods are omnipotent, strange, or scary; in others, they are basically just people, and sometimes not even particularly powerful ones. In some, just thinking about them can drive you mad.
Basically, gods can be distinguished based on several criteria:
How powerful is the god? What can he or she achieve? This ranges from ...
- Omnipotence: Can do anything, although Aquinas would usually put in the limit "anything that it is possible to do."
- Omnipotence, but with some kind of rules in place; might even be self-imposed, but the point is that the god won't break them.
- Scarily powerful but still capable of being outwitted or even defeated using some kind of magical artifact.
- Above the power-level of "normal" people in whatever universe, but still capable of being defeated in mundane ways (generally the way of Physical Gods)
- Very powerful on home ground (either a specific region or anywhere they have worshippers) but weak outside it.
- Just an ordinary guy of the setting, who happens to be a god.
- Powers are useless or so very restricted that they are functionally useless: Many Odd Job Gods are like this.
Gods are almost always immortal. However, the meaning of "immortal" changes from context to context.
- Absolute Immortality with Agelessness and instant healing/invulnerability: can never die, is not affected by age, and either recovers instantly from anything, or is invincible.
- Absolute Immortality: can never die, under any circumstances, ever. However, sometimes get old.
- Advanced Immortality: cannot die of old age. However, can be killed under certain circumstances. Such as, beheading them with a sacred sword, during a certain cosmic event might kill them, but not fire, bullets, or being stabbed.
- Simple Immortality: don't die of old age, but can be killed by anyone with enough strength to bypass their defenses.
- Near Immortality: not truly immortal, but capable of living for millions of years or longer. May be combined with Eternal Recurrence, where the birth and death of gods is tied to that of universes.
- Dependence: immortality requires something to be sustained, perhaps a special food or drink, or prayers from mortal worshipers.
Gods have been known to need or not need certain things.
- Completely independent: does not need food, drink, sleep, air, or anything else to function.
- Sleep: requires sleep to function
- Sustenance and Sleep: requires food and drink (perhaps special food and drink), as well as sleep.
- Sustenance: needs food and drink to function, but not sleep.
- Prayers: requires prayers from mortal worshipers. May be a Blank Slate who gains whatever traits worshippers believe them to have, or may simply use them as a source of power.
- Sustenance and Prayers
- Prayers and Sleep
- Sustenance, Sleep, and Prayers: pretty much the bottom of the barrel. Needs them all.
How "Human" is the god? This deals more with emotion and personality rather than power. An omnipotent god can remain scarily human (such as Haruhi Suzumiya). A few possible variations:
- Overarching Cosmic Principle: Does not have a "mind" or "personality" as such, but is still somehow responsible for operating things. Might need an avatar (or some kind of lesser god) to communicate with people.
- Ineffable: God has a mind or personality but it is simply impossible for human beings to grasp or comprehend.
- Disembodied Mind: They have a mind and a personality, but not a body. They are just spirits — powerful spirits.
- Physical God: Human, but bigger in size, perhaps somewhat smarter, with big powers. Or with a greater knowledge of the universe. Have personality traits, anyway.
- More than human: God is mostly human but still possesses some traits that are distinctly inhuman. (As far as personality and not power, etc. goes, that is.) Usually this god is an avatar of some kind of principle and has a personality that matches.
- Just a guy: A god that is essentially a human being doing a job.
- Subhuman God: The god is more like an animal than a human being.
Gods can be moral or immoral or neither.
- Above Morality: The god is simply above that kind of stuff, or simply can't understand it.
- Paragon: God is the embodiment of Good and/or Evil. A common variation is that a Good God of this type cannot understand or fathom Evil, and vice versa.
- Exemplar: A god is strongly tied to morality in some fashion, but does not strictly embody it.
- Human: A god is essentially a bigger, badder human with no special morality status.
How many gods are there?
- Monotheism: There is one definite discrete God entity. And only one. She/He/They/It may or may not have agents around, who may or may not qualify for godhood in any other setting, but the god is definitely the only god.
- Dualism: There are two completely equal divine forces, usually one Good and the other Evil, but a male and a female god is relatively common as well. Other systems might also exist (trialism?).
- Henotheism: There are multiple gods, but one god is greater than the others. (usually the Creator God who is usually inaccessible) sometimes this is taken in such a way that there are distinct aspects of gods that are all aspects of one single god, but for all practical purposes they act as independent entities.
- Monolatrism: There are many gods, but we only worship one. This is either a form of henotheism (you guys can worship your lesser gods, but we worship the Big Guy) or polytheism (you have your god, we have ours).
- Polytheism: There are multiple gods, usually arranged in some kind of pantheon. There might be rankings between them, and one is usually considered the head of the pantheon, but he is only different in status and not in nature and might be overthrown.
- Animism: There are zillions of gods. Indeed, everything probably has a god, including individual blades of grass. The more gods there are the less powerful each individual god seems to be, for some reason.
- Pantheism: Overlaps with and occasionally reverts back to monotheism. God is singular and totally pervasive. All that exists is God, God is all that exists.
Place in the Universe
Where do gods come from and what do they do? This is a catch-all category for what gods do. Questions that can be raised are:
- Did the gods create the universe?
- Do the Gods Need Prayer Badly?
- What do they actually do?
- Can mortals ascend to godhood?
Etc, etc, etc.
- The Truth in Fullmetal Alchemist. It bears the knowledged of everything and imitates the voice and a bit of the appearance of the person it speaks to.
- The Digimon multiverse have different godlike characters, and how all-powerful they are or aren't varies; as all Digimon are data in our computer networks and play by the same rules, none of them are completely untouchable. Adventure and Tamers have Digimon versions of The Four Gods. Interestingly, the Adventure version has it that the Cosmic Keystones that are important to them are something that exists in every world, and the multiverse-destroying consequences of their destruction would be the same whether you broke the Digital World's "Destiny Stones," the Kyoto temples analogous to them in our world, or their counterparts in any other universe. Frontier has a trio of Mega-level angel Digimon; Seraphimon, Ophanimon, and Cherubimon. Their Adventure counterparts are the highest forms of Patamon and Kokomon, respectively (Ophanimon doesn't appear prior to Frontier) and they're so not gods; the rules are just different in the Frontier-verse. Also, before them, the position was held by the Ten Legendary Warriors that the heroes' Digimon forms are actually avatars of. Before them, the position was held by Lucemon, but he made a Face–Heel Turn and they were who kicked him out. We've seen great feats of power from everyone on that list. Multiple unrelated continuities have Yggdrasil/King Drasil, who isn't a Digimon but the computer that runs the digital world. Or rather, it's the persona taken on by the computer that runs the Digital World. So, within one franchise, the power level and nature of the characters treated as gods by others can vary.
- In Dragon Ball, there are many different types of gods, consisting of a henotheistic system. Almost all of them are Long-Lived, but at one point will have to retire, and are very powerful individuals that don't need any sort of prayer. At least some of them possess a secondary reserve of Ki called "divine ki", which is superior to the normal variety and cannot be detected by mortals without special training. While they are not completely explored, the pantheon works like this:
- First there are the guardians, referred to simply as kami (gods), who each serve a single planet and are recruited from pure-hearted mortals by the planet's previous guardian. Guardians have an extended lifespan, somewhat enhanced senses (including the ability to sense divine ki), and are capable of travelling between the worlds of the living and the dead, but otherwise do not seem to be any stronger than mortals - rather, the position tends to go to people who already have mystical powers that help in their role.
- Then there are the Shinjin ("pith people"), a race born from magical "world trees" on planet Kaishin, who are appointed to the more important roles. Most of them are not fighters, but unlike mortals their ki (both regular and godly) usually does not glow, remaining invisible to the naked eye. They are skilled at moving objects telekinetically, and have the abilities to create objects from thin air and sometimes to heal others.
- The Kaio ("world kings") or Kais. There are four for every part of the universe, and they have a boss in the form of the Dai-Kaio/Grand Kai. They have the ability to sense events going on in their sector with greater precision than mortals, and can communicate telepathically at unlimited range.
- Then, there are the Kaioshin ("world king gods") or Supreme Kai, the gods of creation. Their job is to create new planets and watch over mortals and guide them, but never intervene directly. They are normally a subspecies of Shinjin born from a rare golden fruit, with only one in existence at a time (sometimes with an inactive apprentice), though a normal Shinjin can also be appointed to the position if they show sufficient talent. At one point in Universe 7's past, five active Supreme Kai existed at once, with their leader holding the title of "Grand Supreme Kai". Supreme Kais are capable of teleporting anywhere in the universe instantly, and are the only beings capable of fully utilising the Time Rings (to travel through time) and the Potara Earrings (to fuse with another being permanently). Dragon Ball Xenoverse introduces another special position in the form of the Supreme Kai of Time, who monitors distortions in the timeline.
- The Supreme Kais' counterparts are the Gods of Destruction, whose job is to destroy planets to make room for new ones. Appointed from mortal stock like the guardians, their power far exceeds that of other gods, usually making them the most powerful being in their universe. They lack most of the Kais' more utilitarian powers, but can generate "the energy of destruction" in order to erase things from existence utterly. Also unlike other gods, they have very few restrictions on their behaviour, to the point where they are free to kill mortals on a whim. The life of a universe's God of Destruction is directly tied to that of its Supreme Kais, meaning that if every Supreme Kai in a universe is killed its God of Destruction will also die.
- Above the gods of destruction are the angels, whose origins are unclear. Their job is to guide and train the gods of destruction but, like the Supreme Kai, they must remain neutral. If their god of destruction is killed off, they will become inactive until a new god of destruction is appointed to them. While they do not possess the Supreme Kais' teleportation abilities, they can fly at extremely high speeds, have a limited ability to "undo" events, and at least some are actually stronger than the Gods of Destruction they support. Their boss is the Grand Priest, who is the father of most of them.
- Finally, there is the god above all of them, the Zen-O (Omni-King). He is a child-like entity who rules the entire multiverse and can destroy it in an instant if he pleases. The Grand Priest serves as his guardian.
- In Noragami, gods are numerous and born from the wishes of humans. They existto fufil theses wishes. The more followers they have, the more their godly status is cemented and they will be reincarnated if they die. However if a god dies while no human recognizes him anymore, he will disappear forever.
- In Princess Mononoke, gods are natural, seemingly physical beings that do not seem to be in any shape or form concerned with human worship (in fact, by the time the story rolls by most would rather preffer human beings to leave), down to being mortal and easily killed if you have guns. Most are animal shaped, making them essentially giant talking animals, though a few are more abstract beings. All are liable to turn into demonic dark spirits if sunk into fear or hatred.
- Apparently, really good Presidents become gods when they die. In The Apotheosis of Washington, an ascended Washington sits besides Victory and Liberty in a Fluffy Cloud Heaven looking down upon an Anthropomorphic Personification of Freedom and the Greek gods, who now seem to serve the Celestial-In-Chief.
- In Watchmen, God exists, and he's American. For those who haven't read the book, it's Dr. Manhattan.
- However, Dr. Manhattan doesn't believe he's a God, and in fact doesn't believe in God at all.
"I don't think there is a god. And if there is, I'm nothing like him"
- Then again, at the end he undergoes a shift in philosophy, realizing the "miracle" of every individual life and its value, and decides to go off elsewhere to create some on his own.
- However, Dr. Manhattan doesn't believe he's a God, and in fact doesn't believe in God at all.
- Marvel and DC tend to take the Henotheistic route, with one supreme God occasionally referred too (and, more rarely, seen) with a number of gods, demons and entities fulfilling various roles beneath him.
- Gods in the Marvel Universe tend to be fairly powerful, and may or may not be powered by belief Depending on the Writer.
- Asgardians, Olympians, Heliopolitans and others are extra-dimensional superhumans who exist as the gods of various Earth pantheons (Norse, Greek, Egyptian etc.). The average god is immortal (with subtle differences in mechanics depending on the pantheon), far stronger, faster and more durable than humans, and possesses greater magical potential. The more notable ones like Thor and Hercules are incredibly strong even by their races standards, while gods like Loki (who is actually a very small Frost Giant) and Set (the Egyptian one, different from the Elder God, see below) gain power through other means like magic and stealing power from other gods. Death Gods are members of each pantheon who have made a pact with the abstract cosmic entity Death that gives them the rights to claim souls according to certain conditions (eg. they worship a god/gods of the given pantheon, or died in the pantheons realm); the Death God rules a portion of the Splinter Realms (a shattered netherworld that used to be Hell) that represents their pantheon; the more souls a Death God rules, the stronger they become. Above all are the Skyfathers, the chieftains like Zeus and Odin, who wield nigh-omnipotent power that goes with their station, Odin being the strongest of them all with his Odinforce.
- Things are made even more complicated by the Abrahamic God, who tends to appear mainly in Ghost Rider, though it's implied he coordinates with the Skyfathers as well as being more powerful than them, including Odin.
- Some writers occasionally show a more metaphysical side to Earth's gods. Different stories have implied they were formed by mankind's beliefs, that as long as humans belief in them they can come back from death (though they don't need it to exist), to having some sort of link with Earth or the civilizations that worshiped them. Other writers treat them as just superpowered beings from another dimension (this tends to be the canon, and the former contradicts a few details, like some gods being around before humanity even existed).
- Current (at least 2010-) Loki stories paint a very meta picture: That gods are trope based lifeforms, literal living myth and metaphor. So they are immortal because ideas don't really die (worst case scenario: they remember themselves, but many have libraries for a reason). Also they are defined by their stories, and are literally rewritable/tellable if someone can find the right texts and tools (the manuscript of their authorized biography, or a legendary prophecy counts more than fanfic on the internet etc.). Take this Fiction Identity Postulate and MST3K Mantra and go in piece!
- The Elder Gods are magical entities born on Earth who, with two heroic exceptions, degenerated into demons as they began cannibalising each other. They are extraordinarily powerful creatures and Earth has numerous magical spells and barriers set up to prevent them returning, though they still exert influence where they can. The Elder Gods, along with various other demons like Dormammu and Shuma-Gorath, are all nigh-omnipotent, especially in their own dimensions, and are themselves worshipped as gods in their own right, as are magical entities like Cyttorak. Other demons like Mephisto who rule the other portions of the Splinter Realms are called Hell Lords; they likewise have a pact with Death, and all gain more power the more souls are in their death realm.
- Most are still lower on the totem-pole than the various entities that govern the universe- Galactus, Eternity, Death, Infinity, Oblivion, etc.- who are abstract beings that represent fundamental aspects of existence, e.g. Eternity personifies Time, Infinity personifies Space etc, and they are all aspects of beings that personify them across the multiverse, with each verse having it's counterpart for them note . The Phoenix Force, which is also worshipped in some places, guards the M'Krann Crystal and hence the Multiverse, and is stronger than Galactus, whose existence is necessary to keep imprisoning Omnicidal Maniac Abraxas, a nigh-omnipotent being that threatens the multiverse. Celestials and the Watchers are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that wield godlike power, the former so much that even supposed omnipotents feel beneath them. Random all-powerful beings like the Beyonder and the Stranger pop up from time to time. And of course, the Living Tribunal. The One Above All, however, is essentially analogous to God and is above and in charge of everyone and everything else else. Appropriately enough, he looks like Jack Kirby, and hints that he has a writing partner presumed to be Stan Lee.
- This trope was put to a more literal test during Secret Invasion, when a strike team of Earth gods went to kill the Skrull gods.
- Also Nick Fury's God has a hammer.
- Steve Gerber's run on Man-Thing featured a story arc (first appearance of Howard the Duck, incidentally) featuring a big epic struggle to protect the gods (later confirmed to be specifically "the gods of Therea") from a demonic invasion force, with several characters wondering why the gods can't just intervene and protect themselves. After the invasion force is finally defeated, the heroes go to the Realm of Therea and meet the gods, who are revealed to be... German Shepherds living in quiet contentment on a farm tended by kindly old folks.
- Gods in the Marvel Universe tend to be fairly powerful, and may or may not be powered by belief Depending on the Writer.
- In The DCU gods tend to range from being incredibly powerful superhuman individuals more akin to physical gods (Most of the New Gods, Onimar Syn, the classical gods, Lobo, etc.) to nigh omnipotent but still human minded individuals (Anansi and several classical gods, etc.) to basically omnipotent cosmic forces (The Endless, Lucifer, The Spectre, Michael, etc.) right up to a single Omnipotent God who may or may not be split into several aspects (The Presence, The Source, etc.). Then of course you have entities who are essentially Omnipotent for all purposes but are at best physical gods since they aren't really religious or worshipped individuals (Mr. Mxyzptlk and other denizens of the 5th dimension).
Jack Kirby's New Gods started as fairly similar to the Marvel gods (no surprise since he helped create most of them), but retcon has suggested that the aspects of them that mere mortals can see and interact with are only the tip of a vast metaphysical iceberg. Darkseid, in particular, is so powerful he is Top God in comparison to all the other New Gods he either rules or seeks to enslave or destroy. He achieved this power through various methods, including slaughtering the pantheons of other worlds and stealing the power of those gods for himself- he basically has the power of a hundred or so gods within himself.
- Clive Barker's Next Testament has Wick, Christ the Reconciler, and his Holy Spirit who have an Amazing Technicolor Population thing going for them.
- Black Moon Chronicles: There are said to be many different gods, although they're almost never seen. God and his angels occasionally help out the holy orders of knights who serve the empire but prefer to keep their distance from mortal affairs. The Oracle is another god, whose true form is a multi-headed Eldritch Abomination but is in fact a female Hot God.
- Presumed to be similar to, but more powerful than, the setting's demons, Gods (at least, but probably not limited to, those of Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythologies) did once exist in the Mansionverse, although they all appear to have disappeared at some point… leaving some of their minions like the One-Eyed Black Cat to roam free.
- The high spirits in Adam R. Brown's fantasy series, Astral Dawn, are powerful beings who served as the gods of the various pantheons throughout human history.
- The high spirits implanted the idea of themselves in the minds of a few people who later spread it to many others, creating polytheism.
- Using the psychic energy generated by worship, the high spirits who participated in the God Age became even more powerful.
- Simon and others developed a means of staying linked to a specific period of space-time. This allowed the gods and legends to retain their psychic connection and the power it brought them no matter where (or when) they were in space or time.
- The Aash Ra are also considered god-like beings. Even the spirits think of them as the original angels and demons.
- The "gods" of the H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos come in several varieties.
- The Great Old Ones - Cthulhu, Hastur, Tsathoggua, Ghatanothoa, etc, are more or less Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. They are usually immortal, of monstrous size and appearance, capable of producing swarms of spawn, and are powerfully psychic, but their influence is usually limited to a single planet and they are often consigned to hibernate through cosmic cycles for thousands or millions of years.
- The Outer Gods, of which Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep and Azathoth are chief, are more literal gods, who seem to rarely have any concern for human affairs. They are immensely powerful, though occasionally limited by the barriers between universes (Yog-Sothoth, though a four-dimensional being who lives beyond time, is still usually locked out of the mundane universe). Azathoth, for example, is a mindless demiurge responsible for creation of all of cosmos (which is far greater than our known universe). While Yog-Sothoth is locked out of the universe, it's also coterminous with all points of space and time, being the Living Multiverse.
- In no way anthropomorphic, often with frightening bizarre alien anatomy; amorphous swarming tentacles, animate slime, and glossy inter-dimensional bubbles of energy. They are often viewed as cosmic organisms, rather than traditional gods in any respect. A few Outer Gods may adopt quasi-human avatars to interact with us, or use mutated followers to the same effect.
- Both varieties are completely amoral, often animalistic forces of nature, though sometimes with very vaguely defined personalities. Some, like Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath, seem willing to reward followers who help them towards their inscrutable goals, while others, like Nyarlathotep, seem to exhibit deliberate malice for all civilized races. For the most part, however, humanity and earth has no real relevance to them.
- The Outer Gods seem to have always been, and often even have their own universes that they created and dwell in, while others were the creation of even greater outer gods. The Great Old ones are hinted to have evolved naturally, each on his own or with the help of a precursor species, though some writers have them reproducing like a single unified family. Some Great Old Ones (especially those with a family tree) can have an Outer God or two among their forebears, though whether such claims are factual or the delusions of crazed cultists is ambiguous.
- The Elder Gods, usually considered August Derleth's discontinuous insertion, have sometimes been Retcon'ed as a second group of Outer Gods who oppose the originals, but a less immediate threat to humanity.
- The Lovecraft story "The Cats of Ulthar" seems to hint at the existence of entities resembling the gods of ancient Egypt... in the Dreamlands where Ulthar is located according to The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, anyway.
- A number of stories also feature the "mild gods of Earth," suggested to be old standbys such as Zeus or Isis, but seldom referenced individually. They are also dangerous and unknowable, albeit slightly less so.
- The gods in The Belgariad are powerful immortal beings, they are however still bound by the Purpose of the Universe and cannot directly go against it. (It is usually handwaved as two gods confronting each other directly would annihilate the universe.)
- no, that's the two Purposes. The gods would only destroy the planet.
- Gods of Dora Wilk Series vary greatly. On one end of the scale you have fellows like Anubis who is "simply" immortal being with animal head and some powers, and on the other you've got God and Goddess, who can warp the reality, invade your dreams and don't have a material forms at all. Somewhere in the middle there are Badb and Loki, who look disturbingly inhuman and has some great superpowers, but are nowhere close to God's level of awesome. As a matter of fact, multiple, multiple gods of this series has powers and abilities that are reflection of how humans perceived them through the history.
- In El Conquistador every civilization in the novel thinks this of their own gods. Note that there are many similarities noted by Quetza between the gods that he despises in his own culture, and the gods in the other continent.
- The gods of The Elenium have wildly varied personalities, but they all appear to Need Prayer Badly. Aphriel assures herself a steady diet by always appearing as a cute child, so that she always gets love. The Elene God is much more stodgy and refuses to give out even his name, but is respected by other gods for his Popularity Power (which he never uses). Like The Belgariad, the Gods of this universe were created by, and can be bound by, even higher powers.
- The Gods in the Suggsverse are all absolutely omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and everything else related to absolute omnipotence.
- In the Young Wizards series the One made the Powers That Be and tasked them with creating reality. While most of them got busy with their task, one stood aloof, wishing to come up with a contribution that none of the others could have thought of. After all of the others had finished, It made Its unique contribution: Entropy and Death. It was cast out of Heaven for this, and came to be known as The Lone Power.
- The One is assumed to be all-powerful, but rarely does anything directly, possibly because acting directly would destroy reality (His name alone is so powerful that, if it were whole rather than kept in pieces, it would destroy universes). The Powers aren't all-powerful since, when acting inside of a physical universe, they are constrained by that universe's laws, which includes entropy, which means that the amount of energy they have available to expend is finite. However, the amount of power that they do have is still unimaginable by mere humans.
- Not much is known about the mind of the One, other than that He has a tacky sense of humor. The most powerful of the Powers exist mainly outside of time, inserting multiple fragments of themselves into the timestream, so the totality of their minds can't be comprehended by mere mortals; however, the inside-of-time fragments that the mortal characters interact with give the appearance of having human-like minds. The Powers which are small enough to fit inside of a single universe appear to have human like minds.
- The One is entirely good. Among the Powers all but the Lone Power are good (as the "Lone" in Its name suggests), though not all of the Bright Powers are still "active status" do-gooders: some of them became so attached to the things that they created that they retired so they could dwell amongst their work. There are morally ambiguous Powers as well; the Morrigan is mentioned as one in A Wizard Abroad.
- Brandon Sanderson has admitted up front that the idea of godhood fascinates him. As such, all of his major works feature some sort of gods.
- The Elantrians from Elantris are mortal wizards who are so powerful they are revered as divine in their home nation.
- The Lord Ruler from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is an immortal, seemingly invincible Evil Overlord worshipped in The Empire.
- The Returned from Warbreaker are humans who died in some significant manner and are returned to life with superhuman magical abilities. It's worth noting that Returned only have a few powers not available to mere mortal magic-users with enough power, they can heal a person at the cost of their lives, they can shapeshift, though the majority of them aren't aware of it, and as hinted in the story, and confirmed by Word of God, they get glimpses of the future.
- And then there's the Stormfather, in The Stormlight Archive: has the unforgiving mood of the Old Testament God, his physical form is a vast face in the clouds, he's responsible for the weather, spirits who help people do his bidding, and he sends visions of the future to a Chosen One. Sounds exactly like God, right? He denies being God when asked, and he is the biggest and oldest of those spirits and maybe their father but not actually a creator-figure for anyone else. As for the visions, the actual God required him to send them to the Chosen One when the circumstances were right.
- But none of these are the real gods. Long ago, a single god-like entity/force/power known as Adonalsium was "shattered." Its fragments, called Shards, are universal principles that form the bedrock of the books' magic systems. The Shards became bound to humans known as Shardbearers; the Shardbearers function as the personification of their Shard. Confirmed Shards are Ruin and Preservation from Mistborn, the being who creates Warbreaker's Returned (named in Word of God as Endowment), Cultivation, Honor (The Almighty's Shard), and Odium from The Stormlight Archive, and Devotion and Domination, the Shards held by Aona and Skai and named by Word of God, in Elantris. Needless to say, all of these works are part of the same universe.
- There are several levels of divine powers in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth 'verse, elaborated on in The Silmarillion. There is one single, all-powerful creator god: Eru Ilúvatar. He created other divine incorporeal spirits, the Ainur, which could be classified as angels or minor gods. The Ainur who entered the world are split into two categories: 1) the 14 Valar (a term that literally means "Powers" but can also be translated as little-g gods or archangels) and the (not-included in the counting) Vala Melkor Morgoth; and 2) the Maiar (approx. lesser angels or gods), whose ranks include such notables as Sauron, the five wizards, the Balrogs, and those who steer the ships of the Sun and Moon.
- The scope of a Ainu's power reflects their part in the great song that created the world. Manwe (whose aspect is air) and Ulmo (whose aspect is water) are particularly powerful because of how pervasive their domains are throughout the whole of creation. Lesser Ainur might represent clouds, or surf... powerful beings, but vastly less so than the greatest Valar. Melkor has his hand in just about everything, which is why he is so powerful and capable on his own.
- The Dragonlance universe has a fairly large pantheon with
eighteensixteen gods divided evenly between Light, Dark, and Neutral. Formerly, there was a tribunal of chief gods, Paladine, Takhisis, and Gilean, but then Paladine and Takhisis were made mortal and Takhisis died. Now it's a power struggle for who gets to rule the gods, as Gilean just sits with his nose in a book all day. There are also two beings as high above gods as the gods are above mortals, the High God and Chaos. These two are usually at war. However, the High God manipulated events such that Chaos would be taken out of the picture.
- Harry Dresden lives in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink world, and he states at one point that many if not all gods and godlike beings from myth are all out there as well. Faith has a sort of magical power and something like the Christian God exists, but Harry has also met Odin, and the Faerie Queens and the Erlking are very nearly godlike in power. It's theoretically possible to ascend to nigh-godlike power, but that might have never actually happened. Because of their strong magic, gods (and beings powerful enough to pose as gods, such as the Red King and the "Lords of Outer Night") are also defined by an "aura" or "willpower" that can force mortals to their knees in pain with a thought.
- However, in "Changes" we see that, when the Knights of the Cross are on a direct mission from the Christian God, they can ignore their 'willpower' and slaughter the Lords of the Outer Night. This makes very clear that whatever being is like the Christian God is far more powerful than at least those gods.
- For some perspective on the sheer power of "the White God" compared to the other godlike beings, Harry believes that one of his archangels, Uriel, could "probably take apart all the planets. Like, all of them. Everywhere."
- Harry himself seems to distinguish between the Judeo-Christian God and the other deities. In Proven Guilty, Charity, Knight of the Cross Michael Carpenter's wife, objects to Harry calling the other deities gods, and he explains that he's referring to them as "little-g" gods. Harry also refers to the Judeo-Christian God as the "Almighty", despite not being one of His followers. Finally, according to Volume 2 of the guidebook to the tabletop game, which had Jim Butcher as one of its co-authors, the Almighty is in the highest tier of power, a tier He alone occupies. The Faerie Mothers and the archangels occupy the tier below him.
- The more famous of the Pagan Gods seem to be somewhere between the above two levels. Butcher has mentioned in his various interviews and AMAs that the majority of the Pagan Gods agreed to stop interfering in the mortal world a long time ago. One major exception was Odin aka Donar Vadderung aka Kringle, who, according to Butcher, had to give up the majority of his power in order to do so. Even so, he's still one of the most powerful characters in the series, being explicitly ranked at the same level as the Faerie Queens!
- Discworld gods run the gamut. However, it's shown as gods need (and are shaped by) belief: The more belief, the stronger the god. If you only have one believer, well you might be able to summon a minor thunderstorm over one person's head. The other end is Death, whom everything believes in. One god seems to get by believing in his own work. There are other cosmic forces at work, like the Auditors, but they are not the subject of worship and have no need for it.
- There also are eight entities that inverts the usual relationship, as the universe exists because they believe in it. One of them appeared, the multiversal Death, of wich the aformentioned Death of the Discworld is merely an aspect. It's clock tells time what time is, and it's so awesome its "YES" fills a whole page.
- In the Nightside, an entire street is devoted to beings that can be worshiped, and worship is a path to power. That said, worship isn't the only way to gain power - Razor Eddie tolerates no worshipers of John Taylor, but the latter could end the world. God in an Abrahamic sense (and specifically Christian) also exists akin to the Dresden Files - sympathetically portrayed, but relatively indirect in acting (His angels are a different story).
- The entire point of American Gods. All gods are fueled and in-part defined-by belief in them and sacrifices made in their name. It's basically the new gods (of Media, the Internet, Cars, etc. all the things modern people put their faith in and "worship") and the old Gods (from Asian, European, Native American, and African pantheons), or rather, American versions of them created by the belief of settlers and immigrants. Odin appears as does, Anansi, Kali, Czernobog, Jesus (mentioned in passing, though not appearing in the book itself), Anubis, Thoth and a whole lot of others. Oh yes and Loki. Who is, along with Odin, the Big Bad planning on getting all the old and new gods killed in their names in order to reap the power of a massive divine sacrifice. There are also indications of someone (relatively benign and unthreatening) who is much much older than any of the gods still remembered today. It seems unconcerned with the conflict(s) of the book, viewing even the old gods as mayflies.
- The Book of All Hours - the Unkin. humans that experienced a unique event in their life that allowed them to touch the Vellum underneath reality. In the multiverse inscribed on the surface of the Vellum, these meta-humans have long since taken up different roles, presenting themselves to mortal humans in different ways in pursuit of power.
- In Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East and Book of Swords trilogies, there are several different levels of beings who are worshiped at various points:
- ARDNEH, who is initially worshiped by the West and is later worshiped as a god of justice, healing, mercy, and redemption throughout the world, although he was actually a very advanced and powerful artificial intelligence and denied that he was a god or should be worshiped, and died at the end of Empire.
- Orcus, King of all Demons, who founded The Empire of the East, and was ARDNEH's archenemy. In reality, he was just the most powerful demon, and like all demons was really a nuclear bomb that had been altered by ARDNEH.
- Draffut, who was eventually worshiped as a god of healing, even though he denied being a god, and was actually a highly evolved dog, although his healing powers were quite real. He was powerful enough to face Mars, god of war, in single combat, twice, and win once.
- The gods, who made the Swords and played the Game. They were very powerful, and could defeat demons with ease. They were, however not really gods, but actually the product of the dreams of men, and could be killed by the Swords they had made. They all eventually died when men stopped believing in them.
- The Emperor, a mysterious man who is believed by many to be a myth, and by others to be a simple clown or wandering jester, or perhaps a con-man or mountebank. A few know him to be a very powerful wizard. In reality he is the real God.
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series there are two godlike creatures. The Creator and The Dark One respectively. They both seem to exist outside of known reality and it is implied that they might be incarnations of Order and Chaos. However it is shown that in this universe human beings are capable of reaching this level of power as well through the proper tools.
- Geoph Essex's Jackrabbit Messiah appears to run on this trope: the few gods we get to see in action appear just as desperate and fallible as the humans. Several characters discuss the possibility that the gods are actually less powerful, in certain ways, than mortals.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen is filled with gods of varying levels of power and influence. There are two main categories of them:
- The Elder Gods embody primal forces of nature and vastly predate most everything else in the setting. Some are said to be responsible for the creation of various races. As of the time of the main series, most of the Elder Gods are no longer active owing to their worship having been forgotten, but a few are still around.
- The second group is composed of deities who were once mortal; mortals can become Ascendants (superhuman immortals) through a process that is poorly-understood in-universe but typically involves proving oneself truly exceptional in some way, and Ascendants can in turn become gods by being worshipped and/or taking over a divine position that was vacant at the time. And there are at least a couple of Ascendants, like Anomander Rake, who are worshipped but voluntarily choose not to claim full godhood. The majority of the modern pantheon are Ascendants.
- Then there's the Crippled God, an interloper from another world who doesn't follow the usual rules and makes quite a lot of trouble as a result.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glorificus ("Glory" for short), was one of three gods who ruled a hell dimension, but was cast out by the other two when it appeared she'd become more powerful than them both. On Earth, she was trapped in the body of a human male, and had to exist in human form even when she was manifested; she also had to periodically drain people's sanity to keep from going more nuts. Her main superhuman attributes were immense strength and Nigh-Invulnerability. We also heard vaguely about "Higher Powers" and "Spirit Guides", who may be the same as Angel's Powers That Be.
- Angel featured the nebulous "Powers That Be", who were never seen, but who used various means to pass information to Team Angel, most notably painful visions. They were apparently on the side of good, but were often referred to as the "Powers That Screw You".
- One exception to the "unseen" rule was the rogue Power Jasmine. Jasmine herself is never referred to as a god, but her former role suggests that status, and she mind-controls anyone she encounters into worshipping her. She's also super-strong, but has to eat people to survive.
- In the last half of season 5 we were introduced to Illyria, an Old One in human form, who frequently refers to her/itself as a god (and once, "God to a god"). Initially she could manipulate the flow of time and was Nigh Invulnerable as well as super-strong, and could talk to plants, but her powers nearly killed her and had to be greatly reduced. It was never made clear precisely what relationship the various "gods", "Powers", and "Old Ones" had to each other, although Glorificus was explicitly said not to be a demon.
- Then there's Wolfram & Hart's "Senior Partners", otherwise known as "the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart", who were bit players on the cosmic scene in Illyria's day, until humanity came around and they learned to feed off of our darker emotions, which fuel them.
- Supernatural seems to be based on Henotheism - there are multiple pagan gods (who are scarily powerful but can still be defeated and killed), with the Judeo-Christian Creator God as the one that is actually omnipotent but inaccessible. Appropriately enough "Word of God" confirms American Gods, mentioned above, was a major influence on Supernatural, so it likely works on similar rules. Therefore, Kali and Ganesh were simply versions of the gods brought over by settlers. In America, a largely Christian country, an Judeo-Christian angel is more powerful. Had the fight taken place in India, it would have been a different result.
- And then Season 11 comes along and introduces the Darkness, an Anti-God who has existed as long as God has and is His sister.
- Transformers has two canonically existing deities. Primus is the god of the Transformers, and embodies goodness and order; his body is the planet Cybertron. Unicron is his Evil Counterpart, a Planet Eater who embodies evil, chaos, and destruction. The two previously existed as The One, who made up the "sentient core of the universe". Other gods are present, but rarely mentioned; one of the known ones is the Chronarchitect, who exists outside of time and occasionally intervenes in order to steer events toward a Grand Plan.
- Also, each retelling of the Primus and Unicron story downplays the idea of others like them a bit more; Primus goes from one of a pantheon, to the last of his pantheon, to him and Unicron being all there is. What "The One" is and how it relates to Primus and Unicron varies with the retelling (it did create at least one of them, though.) The Chronarchitect is one of Primus and Unicron's kin... if they have kin. Confused yet?
- Greek Mythology has three levels of gods. The Protogenoi are the consciousnesses of substances and abstract concepts, such as sky (Oranos), light (Aether), earth (Gaia), and destiny (Aithir). From the Protogenoi were born the Titans, who in turn were overthrown by their own offspring, the Olympians. It should be noted that there are other different families of gods too, Daimones embody concepts like justice or happines, while a whole host of rustic spirits, Satyrs and Nymphs of all types, Harpies, Gorgons, Erinies and the Old Sea Deities (Thaumas, Nereus, Cetus) count as particular families of deities. On the other hand, many of these families have no more than three gods.
- Norse Mythology is rather vague on what the difference between a god and a giant is. The main rule of thumb appears to have been that gods were associated with the Aesir or Vanir familial groups, while non-god giantsnote weren't. It gets better: some sources list the elves and even the dwarves as families of the same sort of beings as the Aesir, Vanir and Jötnar (giants). One triptych goes: the Aesir have power, the Álfar (elves) have skill and the Vanir have knowledge.
- Japanese Mythology is an animism in which anything can be a god since everything houses a spirit. Collectively the gods are known as the Yaoyorozu, the eight-million gods, and generally speaking there are three categories of gods: The Amatsukami, the Heavenly gods, the big-wigs of the Shinto pantheon who created the world and are, on a whole, pretty much omnipresent in nature. Some notable names among them are Amenominakanushi, the supreme god that is all of creation including all other gods, Izanagi, god of creation and life, Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, Tsukuyomi, god of the moon, and Susanoo, god of storms. The second category is the Kunitsukami, the Earthly gods, who are the recognisably most numerous group. They include native and local deities as well as distinguished humans and ancestors. To certain extents, youkai and vengeful spirits, which is what happens when the spirit within someone or something gets pissed off, can also be sorted into this category. The third category is the Yomotsukami, the gods of the dead... aside from Izanami, the goddess of death, they're never talked about.
- YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovahnote of The Bible, who spends a large chunk of the Door Stopper trying to convince everyone and their mother that not only is he greater than all other gods, but that almost all of the "gods" he competes for worship with don't even exist in the first place.
"You are my witnesses," is the utterance of Jehovah, "even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior." - Isaiah 43:10-11
- In Zoroastrianism gods (yazatas) are "sparks" from Ahura Mazda. There are good gods (ahuras) and evil ones (daevas); if it sounds familiar, judaeo-christian theology was heavily influenced by it.
- George Carlin boils down religious strife to one sentence.
George Carlin: My God has a bigger dick than your God!
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- In general, the status of gods varies depending on world: most of them Need Prayer Badly in some fashion or another, although not all do. Gods are powerful but killable, either by MacGuffin or by the sufficiently powerful (still no easy task though). In some campaign settings like the Forgotten Realms, there is also an Overgod who oversees the pantheon, and appoints people to the various divine positions when necessary.
- The Classic D&D game, conversely, avoided the terms "god" or "deity" to placate Moral Guardians and set it apart from AD&D. Its "Immortals" were nearly all former mortals who'd managed to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and senior Immortals who didn't admit to such a past were so mind-bogglingly ancient that it was implied they just couldn't remember their mortal days. Once Immortal, they didn't technically need to be worshipped, but having devoted followers increased their influence over the world and status among their own kind, and some needed believers to become Immortal in the first place. Notably, the CD&D rules allowed for player character Immortals, so their powers and limitations were laid out explicitly by experience level.
- An even higher rank of beings was implied to exist, and to be as far beyond Immortals as the Immortals are beyond mortals. Their existence was never confirmed in-universe, only speculated about by Immortals who wondered why some of the greatest among their own number had gone away.
- The final scenario of the Wrath of the Immortals campaign featured one of those beings actually showing up very briefly. But there were never any game rules for them; there was theoretically a process for becoming one and thereby effectively "winning the game" after all (by going all the way from first-level mortal to highest-possible Immortal level twice with the same character), but the playing time requirements for actually doing so would have been prohibitive and the chance of success fairly low due to the obvious risk involved. Not to forget that as far as the Immortals know in-universe the only two of them who ever managed that feat anyway were promptly annihilated by blackballs...
- In Exalted, the gods were a slave race created by the even more powerful and ancient Primordials to keep Creation running while they played games. The gods were extremely unhappy with this arrangement, but were unable to attack the Primordials, so they granted power to mortals (the titular "Exalted") to fight them instead. The most powerful of gods, the Incarnae, represent celestial bodies — the Unconquered Sun, Luna, and the Five Maidens (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). But there are gods for everything, including individual grains of rice, and a lot of them are low-level bureaucrats trying to gather enough worship to live.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000
- Khorne, Slaanesh, Nurgle and Tzeentch, the Great Gods of Chaos are nearly omnipotent in their own plane of existence (the Winds of Magic in Warhammer and the Warp in 40k), their power kept in check only by each other; but their influence on the mortal realm is somewhat more limited. Partly because the rules say they can't get involved directly, and partly because they are in fact so powerful that they cannot manifest themselves in the mortal realms. Despite this, they are still capable of leaving their mark on the world of men and are perhaps the most powerful beings in both settings to be given the divine moniker. In 40K, their description varies from enormous sentient vortices of Warp energy to actual (meta)physical beings who live in their realms in the Warp, sit on their thrones and generally act either like up-scaled humans or beings whose schemes and actions are inscrutable to mortals. It's mentioned that since it's impossible for mortals to truly perceive the Warp or the Winds of Magic (what they see is an analogy created by their mind and different from person to person), both and neither of these descriptions are true.
- While those are the big four, the existence of other, lesser Chaos Gods have been hinted at, especially in 40k. There was Malal/Malice, a lesser, renegade Chaos god of Anarchy, born from Chaos's tendency to fight against itself, who was Exiled from Continuity due to confusion about who owned the IP. To round out to eight (Chaos is generally represented by a star of 8 arrows pointing in different directions) in Fantasy, there was Belakor (who had originally been a god demoted to Demon Prince, but has been updated to always have been one), as well as: Hashut, god of Chaos Dwarves; Necoho, god of atheism; and Zuvassin, the Great Undoer. In 40k, there was the in-name-only Ans'l, Mo'rcck, and Phraz-Etar, who had been mentioned once in 1999, and never brought up again.
- In both settings, the Greenskins' twin gods of Gork and Mork are present, though don't really contribute much beyond flavor. One is the God of brutal cunning, the other god of cunning brutality (one hits you when you aren't looking, the other hits you really hard when you are). Arguably, the cunning one is apparently the patron of any Orc/Ork who might take up a trade or show a degree of shrewdness, the other is patron of any who simply prioritizes brute strength. Though the consensus is in the order of description, they're essentially identical, and confusing them is just another reason for the greenskins to fight amongst themselves.
- In Fantasy, the two Elven pantheons exist, one for the Overworld gods and one for the Underworld. In 40k, there's one Eldar almost identical to Fantasy's Overworld pantheon with a few gods from the Elven Underworld inserted in and one unique analogue of another Elven god inserted in. The 40k Pantheon is essentially dead, most gods killed or eaten by Slaanesh when the Eldar brought It into existence. The three still alive are Khaine, who escaped into the realspace by breaking into pieces; Isha, the Matron, who was taken as a trophy and then "liberated" by Nurgle; and Cegorach, who literally fled into the Webway.
- It may be possible for mortals to become lesser gods: large groups of people with similar mindsets may commit mass suicide and have their souls fuse together in the Warp to create a small-scale version of whatever the Chaos Gods are. It's hinted that the Emperor of Mankind was born this way, by many powerful psykers committing mass suicide and having their souls transferred into a human body. Likewise, the souls of dead Eldar stored in the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds are thought by their race (well, hoped, anyway) to be slowly coalescing into Ynnead, the prophesied Eldar God of Death who will destroy Slaanesh and avenge the Eldar race.
- Similarly, there are gods who seem to represent the psychic projections in the Warp of races as a whole, rather than emotions in general, and who are on the whole rather weaker than the big four. An example would be the rest of the Eldar pantheon, each god supposedly representing a different aspect of their people. Another would be the Ork gods Gork and Mork. Each seems to represnt the race as a whole fairly well by himself, but an Ork's hardly an Ork without someone to have a good fight with.
- Warhammer also has the Chaos God of Atheism, who gets weaker the more believers he has.
- There's also the gods of law/order; their victory is about as undesirable as that of the forces of chaos. Perhaps luckily, their obsession with order and stasis means they rarely do much of anything. Other deities also exist, generally siding against chaos.
- In 40k, acting originally as rough analogues for the Gods of Order but having developed down their own path since, there are the C'tan Star-Gods, beings literally as old as the universe itself and far older than the Chaos Gods, not having required the appearance of emotive beings to come into existence. Originally diffuse Energy Beings the size of solar systems who were given bodies of living metal by a mortal race they later enslaved and turned into the Necrons, they used to eat stars but later switched to mortal souls, and whole worlds were fed to their hunger. They aren't gods in the same sense as the Chaos Gods — their existence is completely divorced from mortal emotions and belief, to begin with — but they're obscenely powerful beings, were actively worshiped by at least one species, are effectively unkillable (the best the Necrons could do when they rebelled was shatter them into pieces), and used to serve as a sort of foil to the Chaos Gods — where the Chaos Gods were beings entirely of the Immaterium who could not project directly in the physical world, the C'tan were entirely of the Materium and had no power over the Warp.
- In the Brazilian setting Tormenta, there are essentially 3 kinds of "gods": the first ones, Nothingness and Hollowness, which aren't considered gods, but created the world and possess great power. Below them is The Pantheon, composed by 20 deities considered the "true" gods. Each of them has a private plane in which they are invincible, but they can also create an avatar in other planes. Bellow them are "minor deities", who can be anyone with enough power (level 20+) and enough worshippers (there is actually a minor NPC who aims to become one by creating his own church). Both True and Minor gods need prayer to maintain they powers, and after a genocidal war the Elven Goddess ended up falling to minor deity status.
- In the White Wolf game line of Scion the parents of the PCs (and eventually the PCs themselves) are literally gods of various pantheons. They have removed themselves from the world of mortals and placed heavy rules regarding their involvement with it, for the sole reason that the more they spent time doing crazy shit that broke the rules of reality, the more they were bound into specific roles and personalities; the more power they used, the more people thought of them a certain way, the more they became that certain way. Also, those gods are now under siege by the Titans, vast incomprehensible realms of sheer conceptual power (such as Light, or Water, or Chaos) that are so immensely powerful and alien, they must manifest themselves in significantly less powerful (but still capable of laying siege to multiple pantheons of gods) avatars, just to have some kind of mind that could understand things like "winning" or "goals" or "death." (As a side note, killing an avatar of a titan is a BAD idea. When Odin killed Ymir, the titan of winter, the Ice Age ended instantly and most of the earth got flooded.).
- In the RuneQuest setting of Glorantha, the gods are/were powerful beings who arose before Time. After a massive war which created Death, killed many gods, let Chaos loose, and nearly destroyed the world, the Great Compromise created Time, which sealed away the gods and allowed mortal races to flourish. Mortals can gain magic from the gods, and even ritually "hero quest" through the acts of the gods prior to the Dawn of Time. Unless you're a monotheist from the west, in which case the Kingdom of Logic fell apart under the onslaught of Chaos, and the Prophet Malkion unified with the Creator to create Time and restore the universe. Unfortunately, Malkion's followers ended up in the same world as the pagans and their false gods. Or unless you're a dwarf, in which case Mostal the World Machine was destroyed ... you get the idea. Glorantha's that sort of place.
- In Nobilis, you play as a god. There are also several classes and categories of things that might be considered gods.
- Imperators (which come in a variety of classes, be it Angels, The Fallen, Aaron's Serpents or some other extremely powerful being), are powerful entities which carry different aspects of Creation with them. Their nature makes them the embodiment of parts of the universe that they have "domains" or control over.
- Nobles, who are ordinary mortals who have had a shard of an Imperator's soul imbued into their own. They have more limited control over certain domains, but that's still enough to let them reshape the world. The PCs will generally play as these.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- There are a handful of beings that are mentioned as being "gods", such as Karona and the Eldrazi, as well as avatars from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor and occasionally angels.
- Yawgmoth, known as the Ineffable by his followers, was also known as the God of Phyrexia.
- Old planeswalkers were nothing short of Physical Gods themselves. Some, such as Serra, were worshiped by their followers as such.
- The Greek Mythology-inspired Theros expansion features a pantheon of fifteen gods; one major god for each color overseeing a broad field of power — such Erebos, God of the Dead and Thassa, God of the Sea — and one minor god for each color pair, overseeing something more specialized — such as Keranos, God of Storms and Karametra, God of Harvests. They are noted for featuring Gods Need Prayer Badly as a game mechanic: they are enchantment creatures, meaning they are effectively living, sapient spells. If your devotion to their color (the number of mana symbols on your permanent cards) drops below a certain level, they stop being creatures and become enchantments only.
- The Amonkhet expansion, inspired by Egyptian Mythology, also had gods. These ones are somewhat different from the Theros gods: besides each having an animal head, they are simply creatures instead of enchantment creatures, and live among and mingle freely with mortals in the city of Naktamun, unlike the distant gods of Theros. There is also the planes walker Nicol Bolas, worshipped in Amonkhet as the God-Pharaoh, who is believed to have created the plane.
- Maro-Sorcerers, each the embodiment of a forest in Dominaria, are frequently worshipped as deities (Titania of Argoth being an early example), although they are subservient to Gaea, the world soul of Dominaria, who would be more fitting were she present.
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy has on the top C'iel and Gaira, the goddess of light and the god of darkness respectively and below them fourteen entities, seven of them spirits of light (Beryls), who serve C'iel, and the other seven spirits of darkness (Shajads), who serve Gaira. Word of God, however, estates that all of them are above what is a god there, existing minor, god-like, powers in the settingnote and being unclear what's a god in Anima.
- In the Fate setting of Gods and Monsters, the gods are the remnants of the primordial mind that arose from chaos, thought everything into existence, then stopped for a moment to consider itself and promptly shattered into a million pieces. (The setting correspondingly aims for a world that is still very young and in which all the myths people will one day tell each other are still in the making.) They don't need prayer badly as such, but they do need anchors to the world in the form of holy places and communities of worshippers in order to safely manage their power without their every whim potentially warping either themselves (gods grow actively more powerful by playing to their strengths and going to extremes, but this also exaggerates their corresponding weaknesses and if they cross a certain threshold they irrevocably lose their identity and become the monsters the title also alludes to) or else the world around them without their necessarily meaning to. Oh, and the player characters are among them, of course.
- Puzzle & Dragons: Some of the mons are literally gods, which you may defeat and capture. Because of how the game works, though, you don't get much backstory on them besides 'they are gods'. Mons in the God category tend to be powerful but hard to level and maintain, and it's advised that when you get a God monster that you treat it with a 'grind now, profit later' mindset. Many of the god monsters in this game are named and modeled after actual classical gods, from the Roman, Egyptian, and Hindu pantheons, among others.
- The Elder Scrolls: The series has several varieties of "divine" entities. While every race and religion has their own Creation Myths and names/personalities/powers for these entities, there are enough similarities to paint a general picture. For the sake of quick summaries (using their most commonly recognized names):
- In the beginning, there were Anu and Padomay, the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. Their interplay in the great "void" of pre-creation led to creation itself. Creation, sometimes anthropomorphized as the female entity "Nir", favored Anu, which angered Padomay. Padomay killed Nir and shattered the twelve worlds she gave birth to. Anu wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the twelve world to create one world: Nirn. Padomay returned and wounded Anu, seeking to destroy Nirn. Anu then pulled Padomay and himself outside of time, ending Padomay's threat to creation "forever". From the intermingling of their spilled blood came the "et'Ada", or "original spirits", who would go on to become either the Aedra or the Daedra depending on their actions during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. (Some myths state that the Aedra come from the mixed blood of Anu and Padomay, while the Daedra come purely from the blood of Padomay).
- One of these spirits, said to have been "begat" by Padomay, was Lorkhan. Depending on the version of the myth, he convinced/tricked some of the other et'Ada into helping him create the mortal plane, known as Mundus. (The races of Mer, or Elves, generally believe this was a cruel trick that robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation divinity while the races of Men believe it was a good thing.) Those et'Ada who sacrificed large parts of their being to create Mundus became known as the Aedra, while those that did not participate became the Daedra. For his treachery, the Aedra "killed" Lorkhan and tore out his "divine center" (heart), which they cast down into the mortal world he helped to create. His spirit then wandered Mundus, occasionally taking physical mortal forms, known as "Shezarrines" after Lorkhan's Imperial name, Shezarr. Nirn's two moons are said to be his sundered "flesh divinity" and he also may have re-ascended to godhood as part of the deity Talos (see below).
- The Aedra, meaning "Our Ancestors" in the old Aldmeri language, sacrificed a large portion of their divine power in order to create the mortal world. They were originally many in number, but only 8 survived the creation of Mundus. (And depending on the story, even they did not truly "survive," but they are dead and "dreaming the are alive.") These 8 are known as the "Divines" and would become the primary deities worshiped by the Church of the Divines. Their sacrifice has left them weak, and thus they prefer a lighter touch in dealing with the mortal world, at most typically acting through mortal agents. Any instances of direct Divine Intervention are typically reserved for dire circumstances, such as averting The End of the World as We Know It. As such, the primary view of the Divines to most mortals is as impersonal, generally benevolent spirits, worthy of worship and reverence but without any strong direct relationship.
- Some of the lesser et'Ada who aided in the creation of Mundus would become the Ehlnofey. They chose to remain on Mundus and populate it, becoming the progenitors of the modern mortal races. Others would sacrifice themselves further to become the "Earth Bones," the laws of nature and physics required to make the world function.
- Other lesser Aedric beings have been known throughout history. The most famous is perhaps Morihaus, a "winged man-bull", said to be the demi-god son of Kynareth, one of the Divines. The dragons, servants/fragments of Akatosh, the draconic god of time and chief deity of the Divines pantheon, are another. These beings are typically considered by many in-universe to be the equivalent of angelic beings.
- The Daedra, meaning "Not Our Ancestors," did not sacrifice any of their power during the creation of Mundus and remain truly immortal. The 16 (17 following the events of The Shivering Isles) of the most powerful Daedra are known as the Daedric Princes. Each governs a particular "sphere" of influence, and rules from their own plane of Oblivion, the infinite void between worlds. Unlike the Aedra, they are much more active in directly influencing the mortal world, with several have made attempts to take it over at different points in history. Most of the Daedric Princes are seen as evil or demonic, but in-universe scholars are quick to point out that they are really beings Above Good and Evil who operate on their own scale of Blue and Orange Morality, where how "good" or "evil" they seem is dictated by how benevolent or malevolent their actions toward mortals are. Additional details on the Daedra can be found on the series' Daedra sub-page.
- There are many other Daedric spirits below the Princes, collectively referred to as "Lesser Daedra". Like the Princes, they are technically immortal and cannot be truly "killed". If their mortal form is slain on Mundus, their spirit returns to Oblivion to reform. The lesser Daedra are often found in service to one of the Princes and are also favored summons of mortal conjurers. They are typically considered by many in-universe to be the equivalent of demonic beings.
- Talos, the ascended divine form of Emperor Tiber Septim, became the Ninth Divine after his death in the early 3rd era. There are many theories explaining how he accomplished this feat, but it is most commonly accepted that he in some way "mantled" Lorkhan, and the fused being ascended (or reascended in Lorkhan's case) to his station amongst the Aedra.
- Magnus was one of the et'Ada who originally aided Lorkhan in creating Mundus, serving as the chief architect. However, as the architect of Mundus, he eventually realized that in order to create it, the Aedra would become forever bound to the world he was designing and abandoned the project. He and his followers, the Magna-Ge, fled Mundus for Aetherius, the realm of magic. In the process, they punched holes in between the realms that would become the sun and stars, and through which light and magic flows into Mundus from Aetherius.
- For thousands of years, the Dunmer (Dark Elves) worshiped the Tribunal, a trio of Physical God Deities of Mortal Origin. The three of them (Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil), along with their former ally turned rival, Voryn Dagoth, tapped into the power of the aformentioned Heart of Lorkhan to obtain their divine power. As a result of the events of Morrowind, they are cut off from their source of power and all but Vivec are killed. The Dunmer people later revert to their traditional ancestor veneration and worship of the "good" Daedra.
- While some more-Imperialized Argonians may recognize the Aedra and Daedra, their race primarily worships the Hist - a race of sentient, ancientnote , and possibly Omniscient spore-reproducing trees. They can communicate with each other via deep, interconnected root systems and can communicate with the Argonians via visions transmitted in their sap, which the Argonians drink to learn and grow.
- In Touhou the word "God" (well, OK, "Goddess") doesn't carry too much weight. Thanks to the fact that monsters and even humans are practically Physical Gods, anyway, the Odd Job Gods are little more than Butt Monkeys of the game universe. Even the truly powerful goddesses can merely go toe-to-toe with some of the more powerful youkai, and Reimu canonically kicks in the door of The Rival Moriya Shrine, defeats its Shrine Maiden, and its Live-in Goddesses. You'd think that would hurt the ol' donation drive, to have your deity publicly beaten in her own temple by a rival deity's priestess? That said, this seems to mostly apply to the "lower gods"; the ones that inhabit the Earth and are part of the Myriad Gods. Yorihime is such an overpowered character because she's capable of summoning gods of far greater power than previously shown, which allowed her to effortlessly defeat every single character that went against her (including Reimu). Also, one must bear in mind that the Spell Card rules that everyone follows specifically limits how much power the characters can use in a fight, and it's always non-lethal.
- Huge variable in World of Warcraft. Troll Gods tend to be primal forces of nature made manifest and evil sort of things. The Old Gods are straight up Eldritch Abomination with some dead, some near dead like C'thun, and others more powerful. You can kill 2 of the 4 remaining ones, but it's hinted that the life force of the world is linked to them in a fundamental way that the entire world is now doomed. Dragon Aspects have god like powers, but are not gods. The Titans are more or less gods, with heavy Norse aspects. The Big Bad Saergas was their greatest warrior and led their mission of Ordering until he broke off. The Good Versus Evil is now becoming Order Versus Chaos suggesting they are not so different. The list of different gods could go on for a few more pages. Pretty much every species has a few of them, and there are a heck of a lot of them. Except humans and dwarves, who worship the Light, and Night elves who worship a single moon goddess.
- and then there are the Demigods...
- Night Elves actually believe in a spirit for every aspect of nature (think Shinto), Elune is just the spirit of the moon and is considered the most powerful one. Night Elf druids worship Cenarius and High/Blood Elves revere the sun god, probably named Belore.
- The RPG has Elune as by far the most powerful character in the setting, with a challenge rating set over 80. Since specifics about Elune are unknown, it's a mystery whether she has influence in any other part of the universe.
- Sinnoh's pantheon in Pokémon fits the description for henotheism to a T; Arceus is said to have created the universe and shaped everything in it, by creating the aspects and embodiments of Time (Dialga), Space (Palkia), Antimatter (Giratina), Willpower (Azelf), Emotion (Mesprit), and Knowledge/Memory (Uxie).
- Not just Sinnoh, but every region's legendary Pokemon. You have the creators of the land, oceans, and sky (Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza), the gods of the seasons (Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres), the new moon/dreams and the full moon/nightmare (Darkrai and Cresselia), volcanos (Heatran), victory (Victini), wind, storms, and fertility (Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus), balance (Reshiram representing Yang, Zekrom representing Yin, and Kyurem representing Wuji) and Life, Death, and Order (Xerneas, Yveltal, and Zygarde).
- In God of War the Gods are superpowered individuals that are not quite immortal, as Kratos is quite willing to prove. In a way this is consistent with Classical Mythology, in which the god's immortality was dependent on who was telling the story.
- In the Disciples series, each major race has their own deity. For humans, it's a little more complex, as they were created by Bethrezen, the favored angel of Highfather. However, after the fall of Bethrezen (he was set up by other angels), Highfather took over as the deity of humans. He is more often referred to as the Celestial Lord in Disciples III. The dwarves were created by and worship Wotan, who gets pissed off at the drop of a horned helmet and teaches his "children" Steam Punk-level technology and runic magic. The elves were created by Gallean, and they used to worship him and his girlfriend Solonielle, who also created the merfolk. That is, until Wotan killed Gallean, and Solonielle's attempts to save her lover resulted in her becoming the goddess of the undead. Bethrezen, driven mad by the hate and imprisonment, created demons and sent them to destroy the world. Other lesser gods are mentioned, such as the creator of the greenskins.
- In the Civilization IV mod Fall from Heaven II, there is only one God responsible for the creation of Erebus (the world). However, he is absent for the most part, letting his angels run around, call themselves gods, and generally screw up he lives of mortals in their endless wars with one another. There are, however, other religions which worship, for example, octopi. Oh, and The Devil is a former angel.
- In the Mardekverse, there are several classes of god (their names are always written in all caps, by the way). They are nonphysical entities who keep the balance and make sure the universe works out. They tend to take A Form You Are Comfortable With.
- Higher Creator Deities, such as YALORT, who create planets and invent lifeforms. YALORTnote is the creator of Belfan and Anshar, among others.
- Midlevel Elemental Deities, who each control one of the eight elements: KROGHMMnote for earth, CRYSOOSUNAnote for water, HWOUKnote for air, VOLKOSnote for fire, ONEIROSnote for aether, an unknown one for fignote , AREINDEEN for light and SHUMBRAnote for dark. They forge the Elemental Crystals that a Higher Creator requires to form a planet.
- The Lesser Archetype Deities represent the acme of a profession, skill, or facet of personality. They include AACIUPHInote , goddess of love, friendship and joy, LUTINUETnote , the deity of music, and PLOMHARGnote , the farmers' god.
- Overseer Deities such as GALARISnote , who is the god of death and who runs the Antilifenote , or SOLAK, the god of suns and stars.
- To create a world, a Higher Creation Deity must get the cooperation of SOLAK (for the star) and all of the Elemental Deities (for the Great Crystals; however, the Moral and Spiritual Element Crystals are unnecessary for non-life-bearing planets).
- There are no penalties for not worshipping any god, but the gods do appreciate prayer, and reward sincere followers with good fortune, natural skill and even magical abilities.
- Extra magical abilities.
- One amusing reference: ABOMONOTOROSnote , goddess of hatred and dislike, is used as an interjection of extreme dislike, as in "May ABOMONOTOROS glare at you!"
- Dragon Age: Origins has The Maker, the supreme deity that married the mortal Andraste, and allegedly "cast down the false gods". Other deities are also present, mainly the Old Gods, dragon gods that were worshiped by the Tevinter Imperium, trapped in the Deep Roads, but are currently zombified and leading the Darkspawn Horde.
- Notably, the game's theology is quite ambiguous. The Church of Andraste doesn't have any more genuine evidence for the existence of their deity than the religions of Real Life, leaving room for religious faith rather than any sort of certainty. The Old Gods are definitely real, but their true nature is unknown, and it's unclear whether they really deserve the title of gods or not. The same goes for the Dalish pantheon that may or may not somehow relate to the Old Gods, which seem to parallel the Dalish Forgotten Ones. Dragon Age: Inquisition reveals that the Dalish gods were "merely" incredibly powerful elven mages. Solas explains that they went from being respected as powerful leaders to being revered as gods, and the truth was forgotten after elven civilization collapsed and elves lost their immortality.
- The DLC for Dragon Age II reveals that the Golden City was real - and the powerful Tevinter Magisters were probably tricked into entering it by their Dragon god pals. Whether or not the Maker is real is up for debate, but SOMETHING imprisoned those intelligent blood magic using dragons. However the same DLC says that the "Golden City" was the Black City before the Magisters got there, which contradicts the standard mythology as much as it confirms and casts serious doubt on the normal interpretation of the Maker. In short, religion in the Dragon Age world is scary as hell. The few concrete facts about the remaining deific forces in the world are wildly contradictory, even if they're independently confirm-able, and the only Creator forces in the world any protagonist has ever seen is the Titan in the undercroft of the Deep Roads that may have created the Dwarves. Absolutely nobody left in the world knows the exact relation between the Titans, Lyrium, Dwarves, Darkspawn, and the Old Gods, and more disturbingly, why the entire Dwarven empire seems to have, slowly but inexorably, migrated surfacewards over the course of the last few thousand years.
- Ōkami's gods are a pantheon, with protagonist Amaterasu as the chief goddess of the sun. They don't age, and if they are killed, they can be still reincarnated a hundred years after if a wood sprite offers their power or a divine weapon (judging from the introduction, it could be either). They take the form of the twelve animals from the Chinese Zodiac plus a cat, all of them white with red markings. Their power is tied directly to prayer, and Amaterasu can use some of the abilities of any of the other gods. As of the DS Sequel Ōkamiden, the replacement/reincarnation is changed into all of the gods having children. Chibiterasu, the protagonist who is stated to be the kid of Amaterasu is much weaker and smaller (even lacking freedom like swimming and wall jumping) than his mother despite Amaterasu not being any smaller than Shiranui "at birth".
- Hyperdimension Neptunia has its residents from the four worlds worship their goddesses fervently. The catch? Three of the goddesses are caricatures of the three consoles and the fourth one is a Sega console that never got released (Sega Neptune).
- Shin Megami Tensei: Like Discworld and American Gods, all supernatural beings seem to exist on and draw power from the principals of Clap Your Hands If You Believe and Gods Need Prayer Badly. That said, most if not all can be taken down with a good old-fashioned ass-beating, though the belief of their followers can still bring them back. Certain evidence likewise implies that YHVH and Lucifer are the paragons of Law and Chaos insofar as they don't need worship explicitly to exist - neither can truly die as long as there are people who yearn for salvation or freedom.
- In the Persona sub-series, the greatest true gods seem to be Philemon and Nyarlathotep, and both are born from the human collective unconscious. Specifically, Philemon is the embodiment of all humanity's creative, exalting, and positive urges; while Nyarlathotep is the embodiment of humanity's most violent, degrading, and self-destructive urges. Their physical incarnations can be defeated but they can never be truly slain, merely weakened and discorporated for a time. Meanwhile, Persona 3 and Persona 4 kind of muddy the theological waters with other gods being behind the main conflicts, despite Word of God maintaining that Philemon (and presumably Nyarlathotep) is still around and watching over the characters.
- Tears to Tiara 2: Expanded on from the first game. Powerful lineages of the precursor races are worshiped as gods by humans. The people of Hispania mainly, tho not exclusively, worship the gods of Ba'al, of which Ashtarte is one. They appear on earth to teach and guide the people. They need prayer to be powerful. Watos is still missing.
- Master Hand and Crazy Hand from the Super Smash Bros. series are said to be the personifications of humanity's creativity (Master Hand) and destructiveness (Crazy Hand). Though any fighter in the roster can beat them in combat if the player is good enough. There's also Master Core, apparently the true form of one or both of the Hands, and Tabuu, who is some kind of god of another dimension who defeated and imprisoned Master Hand. The fourth game escalates this by including Palutena and Rosalina, though they are not stronger than any other character.
- The nine Elder Powers from Nexus War games got their divinity by getting control of the Source of Creation and shaping worlds in the image of the ideas or beliefs they represent. Whenever the cracks in the latest winner's ideology cause their world to fall apart (and it inevitably will) the player characters pick sides and fight it out to to determine who controls the Source next.
- In the Diablo universe (though not becoming relevant until Diablo III), different cultures worship different gods, and their existence is confirmed in-game what with Covetous Shen being a Trickster God. But in the grand scheme of things, it seems the gods are actually lower ranked than either Angels or Demons.details
- In Sluggy Freelance, the most prominent are the gods of the Mokhadunese, ancestors of the Egyptians, who after a Götterdämmerung that Gwynn witness in a time travel arc, reinvent themselves into various figures previously seen in the present day, not least of them Bun-bun, the name under which the audience had known the now freelance Sluggy. There's also a reference in the backstory of an Artifact of Doom to Zeus reigning in Greek times. Finally, the Dimension of Pain has a Goddess of Goodness, a Physical God powered by the amount of goodness in the world she's in. Too bad she lives in a world populated entirely by incredibly sadistic demons.
- Vanadys: Tales of a Fallen Goddess has a fallen goddess as its titular caracter. While she is immortal, older than the world itself, and has great power, her status as a "fallen" means she's not as great or powerful as the other gods, some of whom she has a rather antagonistic relationship with. Apart from the outcast Vanadys, the gods have a distinct hierachy: The humanoid gods, who each have their area of responsibility (God of the Sun, Goddess of the Sea, Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge, and so on) are all subject to the two highest gods, the Dragon and the Serpent. They themselves are subject to the being called "The Light," who is the creator of the gods and whom nobody knows much about.
- The backstory of the quest in The Order of the Stick is that the world was created by four pantheons of equal power but wildly different viewpoints. When they couldn't agree on the various ways that their monsters would be different, their divine powers accidentally created the Snarl, a being of pure divine anger (which wiped out one of the pantheons). Afterwards, the three remaining groups set up strict rules on what parts of the world they could each directly affect, resulting in the Northern, Southern, and Western Gods. To be specific, the pantheons were the Aesir, North, Babylonian Pantheon, West, Olympians, East (the ones wiped out by the Snarl) and Twelve Earthly Branches, South.
- On the other hand, other gods can be created, and gain power proportionate to their believers. As an example, Elan's puppet god Banjo gains enough power from his one believer to create a small thundercloud and harmless lightning bolt.
- The gods of Wildlife are determined to destroy or seal away the Eldritch Abomination A'zi, who just happens to be the protagonist of the story.
- The Old Gods of Cthulhu Slippers are vastly powerful and have taken over the world despite being terrible morons. They are actively worshipped as gods by their employees at Cthulhu Corp.
- Several gods have been mentioned in Beaches And Basilisks, ranging from Drooch, god of alcohol to Krysavi the dragon-god who created the islands in which the story takes place and who is revealed to be a giant robot.
- The LaRaGa setting is ruled first by the "creation triad" of Luna, Sola, and Gaea, whose interactions with mortals are mostly limited to the forms their names suggest, but the former two have lines of empowered mortals fighting an eternal war, and the third's own magic persists in a number of forms separate from the magic gods. After them come the nine/eight magic gods, creations of Gaea: the three elemental gods, Phoenix (fire), Ceraph (wind), and Leviathan (water); the three movement gods, Emelia (time), Clyde (change), and Altair (travel and death); and the three perception gods, Marie (truth), Jude (knowledge), and Jake (lies). The lattermost is anathema to all the others, and his worship is a capital offense in most of the mortal world. Beneath them are a number of lesser gods, most prominently the twin Fels (luck), and the deities, a distinct category of being from gods, who serve the gods.
- Successful players of Sburb eventually reach the "God Tiers," the highest character levels available. These fully realize a player's strength and Elemental Powers while also granting them Resurrective Immortality so long as they don't die heroically or justly. The condition for ascension is steep though: the player must first die on their Quest Bed.
- The Gods of the Furthest Rings are stereotypical monsters of the H.P. Lovecraft variety, residing in the dark abyss between universes where time, space, and all other aspects of existence fail to act consistently. Its impossible to place their morality, but their mortality is made explicit once the Greater-Scope Villain gets to them.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the two seemingly-immortal Winged Unicorn princesses who raise the sun by day and the moon by night, respectively, and have ruled Equestria since time out of mind, are treated as gods and as royalty at various times by the other ponies; they have chariots and royal guards and a castle... and we get phrases like "Thank Celestia!" or "For Celestia's sake!" It gets better: Tartarus exists, and when Cerberus went missing once, Princess Celestia sent lost dog flyers. However, there was definitely a time before their rule, they're not all-knowing or all-powerful, and season premiere/finale villains are always more than they can dispose of with a wave of their horn, even if they're who put them in the can thousands of years ago.
- In Gargoyles it seems All Myths Are True. The most powerful of The Fair Folk are absolute rulers of the others with Reality Warper abilities but aren't quite worshipped, and a lot of mythological creatures who are unrelated in Real Life mythology are "Oberon's Children" in this show. However, once, a man figured out how to summon Anubis in hopes of getting his dead son back. We avert Everybody Hates Hades here; Anubis is a neutral Psychopomp figure. He's also everyone's lord of the dead; apparently, the Egyptians just happened to be the only people to get his name and look right.