(The first Blackbloom challenge reached fruition yesterday. Slugbears! Forgotten gods! Indentured dead! Sentient cities! Check out the results, won’t you?)
Before I say anything else, let’s get an administrative issue out of the way: I’m going to start doing these every other week, alternating with flash fiction challenges. That way the worldbuilding won’t go stale and we’ll get more than just 12 major “sessions” in a given year. So, just a head’s up.
Now, let’s talk about the gods of Blackbloom.
Here’s all we know:
Blackbloom has gods. Plural. “Several,” if you care about the specific language.
They have power over given dominions. What this means is unclear, but that’s okay.
The gods walk among men but are forgotten and unrecognized. Nobody believes in them anymore.
And yet they retain power — “god-like power” — and cause chaos. To what purpose remains unclear.
That’s it. That’s all we know.
It’s time, then, to populate this pantheon.
Come up with a god or goddess of the world known as Blackbloom.
You have 100 words, and only that — I’m going to be strict and discount entries that go beyond that. In part because I don’t have time to read fifty 2,000-word entries. In part because brevity is its own powerful creative challenge.
Now, you should feel free to tie them to some of the other facts we already know. Writing a god in a way so that it further embellishes upon the other points is a winner.
That said, it’s also not necessary. Do as you see fit.
Write in a way as if you’re writing an encyclopedia entry. Pretend it’s fact, not fiction. We should also get a small but potent look at the characters of these gods — and characters, they most certainly are.
I will choose as many gods as I find fit into the pantheon. No less than three. But possibly many more if the entries strike the right mood and end up interlocking.
Go forth, then, and continue this mad genesis, world-builders.
90 responses to “Worldbuilding Challenge: The Gods Of Blackbloom”
Todd – like 🙂
Blackbloom gods are like minor nobility: a home estate and a place at court. Ashpuddle’s estate is at the bottom of the sandy ocean; that is, if something is lost anywhere in the sandy ocean, eventually currents in the sand will (thousands of years later) dump it in her domain. Everything there is worn smooth. A weakling goddes, her place at court is as guardian of the oft-Bloomed; she is said to be very small, dirty, shy, and an inveterate collector of things that are broken but still precious.
No-Faced Prushkin – god of greed and torment. Once a human; however, no records are available of this. The only information that was left behind was written by Olgida, who was consumed the same time he wrote the last word. Many think Olgida was the first chosen.
“Know this. All who bare the “bloom curse” are tormented by me.”
– The Book of Olgida
It is stated, that every 3 years, No-Face rides on burning wings that etch the skies or a dark train that tills the endless trenches.
Only the precious song of tilled earth will mark Prushkin’s coming.
Blackthorn is an ancient Blackbloom God who fell in love with a beautiful woman. However, she was in love with another of a lower caste. Ruled by jealousy, Blackthorn sent her lover to unlife.
She wept in a garden, because she knew her lover’s servitude would take him away. As she cried, she saw a beautiful flower and took it to her beloved. She placed the Bloom in his mouth, and was surprised when he awoke a free man.
Blackthorn cursed him with a mark and placed thorns on the plant. He hinders others who seek to acquire a Bloom.
Enidite tricked old Fate,
Stole the Destiny crown,
And made the world go mad and break.
Enidite trapped in a vase,
Watched the world pass by,
For ten thousand years, give or take.
Enidite, mean as can be.
Enidite, sad and deceived.
Enidite, now she’s free.
In the beginning there was only “The One”. Genderless, selfless and timeless it travelled the void, until it took portions of itself and created the gods. Each was gifted with unique abilities and influences, but were not all created equally. They soon took to fighting one another for power and during this struggle the universe was created. The One was forced to create dominions for each of its creations and the gates were created to keep them contained. As the gates have weakened, aspects of these gods walk upon a pivotal planet that holds the key to their release. Blackbloom…
The Unmaker is never spoken of, except through distant euphemisms (Blight being the most common). He alone possesses the authority and knowledge to bring about true destruction to the Bloomed. His is the province of the fall of cities, the waning of castes, the withering of peoples. When he is perceived, his corporeal form is always a dark reflection of whoever sees him. A small, secretive cult still worships him, though they have not unlocked the secret of unmaking their ancient forebears once wielded. For that, the Blight himself is needed.
(100 precisely! These words don’t count.)
Parda- Goddess of politics
She is a ruthless, controlling goddess who wields her power on the unsuspecting. She can turn even the quietest citizen of Blackboom into a power-mad dictator, or destroy the peaceful reign of a benevolent sovereign. Many fear her power, because no one knows exactly what she will look like, and the only way her power works is through a physical encounter (not necessarily sexual). She can change her appearance at will, but all that is known for sure is that she is always female in appearance. She hates men, because she was rejected by the High God during the hierarchy.
(Piggy-backing off Sarah E. Olson – loved it!)
After Death was killed by his wrathful daughter, Jealousy, their once-mortal children on Blackbloom discovered a way to live for eternity with a Second Life, using the flowers that bloomed in Death’s blood.
With their new-found longevity, the humans ceased to believe in Gods; indeed, they began to perceive themselves as God-like entities. And so, without the strength of faith, the children of Life and Death became unrecognisable.
In their anger, Life’s children began to wreak havoc upon Blackbloom, while she herself withdrew, burdened by grief at the loss of her husband.
Fie on this Encyclopedia entry. I wan’t to use the voice of the god and I did. 100 words. If you like it feel free to use it.
My name’s Mistral and I’m the true god of Blackbloom; the rest are pretentious, quantum smears in the small clothes of reality. I flow through the veins of the living and unliving thing of this world alike, sweet filth. Only I am pure. Sword of the solider, shiv of the whore, noose of the gallows, the shaking hands of the father whose child lays cold. Justice isn’t blind, it’s an abstract lie. In Blackbloom Deaths hand can’t redress wrongs and balance the books of justice; and so beyond the grave all come to me, filled with a dark need. Revenge!
A comment on the comments rather than another entry:
Chuck you have some of the coolest readers on the web based on all of these comments. Very much loving the Blackbloom challenges, and so far resisting the urge to write stories set in this strange spinning three seasoned world.
Also a lot of people seem to be writing various interpretations of the god of death. I cannot help but imagine Gaiman’s as being very amused by this.
[…] The gods of Blackbloom <—- Writers who want a fun treat, go do this. […]
[…] The gods of Blackbloom <—- Writers who want a fun treat, go do this. […]
Oubliette is the first of the forgotten gods, the deposed Master of Death, destined to be abandoned by a world where “death” is no longer a mystery to be feared.
This forgotten dread of death is, perhaps, the reason the rest of the gods have fallen out of the memory of the people of Blackbloom, for what other reason has man to create and revere gods but to master their fear of the ultimate unknown?
Oubliette has never left Blackbloom completely, however – sustaining on the passing of lesser life forms – and now thriving on the passing of the gods themselves.
Yeah, I wrote my passage and then checked out the comments. Felt more exciting that way!
You make a good point – but it makes perfect sense to focus on some sort of god of death. Two big things we know so far:
1 Blackbloom has people that don’t die.
2. Blackbloom has gods, and no one remembers them.
My mind wants to link those two things together – and if you think about one of the biggest reasons men “create” gods, well… it sort of fell together.
Yasri the Dancer, Goddess of Disorder and Madness.
Her dance is constant but ever-changing; perpetually in motion, it is thought that when she stands still it will bring the end of all existence. She spreads Chaos to combat the stifling stagnation of Order, for only through change can life be renewed. Some say she created the Games to upset the caste system. Passionate emotion and obsession are her hallmarks. Artists are most likely to perceive her true nature, but to know her is to lose touch with reality. All whores are her cultists but not all her cultists are whores.
Tomtar – Most commonly seen as a pack of unruly children (species matters not) roaming the streets, looking into alleys and doorways, going up to strangers and posing odd questions about the state of reality with the unblinking innocence of a child but never waiting for an answer. Tomtar is the hermaphroditic god of the question. Associated with scholars, nomads and hobos when it was known as a god, it’s name has lost its significance only to be replaced as a slur directed towards the homeless and insane and even the foreign – tomtar.
Right on, Sparky.
Ansuth was the first. Many new Gods came later, but none could create.
The new Gods said: We need light!
And Ansuth created the sun.
The new Gods said: We need people!
And Ansuth created people.
The new Gods said: We need to stop our people dying!
And Ansuth created the Bloom.
When all was created, the new Gods banished Ansuth from the world.
And Ansuth created Oblivion so people would forget the Gods.
Now Ansuth wanders the world. Where he passes, ideas take on physical form, dreams come to life and wishes come true, for good or ill.
The Sleeping God, was once the master of death. However, he desired to relinquish his power. He created the Blackbloom and gifted the knowledge of its use to his followers. Some continued to worship him, but many others turned their backs. Revolution followed. With the loss of much of his supporters, the Sleeping God fell from the gods’ domain and became a “mortal” man. He lost his memory and cannot remember who he was, yet he gets visions, mere flashes of himself dying many times over.
He is being tracked by a mysterious cult. But what do they really want?
In a world where the dead surely outnumber the living (actually that is mundane worlds as well, the notable thing is that the dead are somewhat free and do stuff), it’d be understandable that there are many gods whose dominion is over death and the dead. Similarly with the Blackbloom flower being such an important aspect to the world, it’d be tempting as a god with all that hubris and ego that comes with god-like power to claim credit for the Blackbloom. I am loving all the takes on the ideas and interesting things being produced. You guys all rock.
Actually darnations are afoot because just talking about it has started a new chain of thought concerning gods. If it is one idea per brain ignore the following but I might as well expunge the idea.
Of all the black gods whose dominion is over the dead Necryls despises the Blackbloom the most. A world where being dead is little worse than life and can be better is a world insane so Necryls seeks to restrain the madness with his favoured weapons the blade ‘Necrosis” and the Bow of Decay, insuring the dead shall never rise too far. His determination to this cause cannot be questioned and has made him a pariah for he committed fratricide in order to bring about the ruination of the Dead King Solomon.
One parts mischief and two parts malice is Maldred, thief of the flowers. Misdirecting the traveling infirm, he does everything he can to see no more are Bloomed, out of jealousy and rage for the past. And so he wanders and spreads his chaos, hoping there will come a time when the people of Blackbloom tremble in fear and worship him once again. Now, only the families of the recently diseased remember indirectly through rituals of guarding the bodies of their Blooming loved ones.
The God of Death is a long forgotten god, and only a handful believe in its lingering ghost. Only those in their first life cycle have ever reported seeing the ghost. It is rumored to haunt the places it was worshipped and the lands it once reaped. Angry and bitter at the betrayal of its followers it lashes out causing chaos where it roams. These incidents are usually explained as coincidence, chance, or the runoff of illegal magics. One theory for the lingering god spirit claims the Cities still believe in the god and root it to Blackbloom.
Diome, god of apathy. Bastard son of Pasone, outlawed love god, and Torrda, low level goddess of fertility, he takes two forms: human and wind.
Diome creates apathy and/or impotence at will. He is rooted in spite and ruin. He detests children. In human form he is handsome, charming, and conniving. As wind he can pass through a living being’s soul, and replace human desire with torpor and lethargy.
Ambitious to rule Blackbloom, Diome is a highly dangerous god. His pleasure comes not from causing death but in creating malleable subjects with long lives made empty and meaningless.
Morgan is the goddess of righteous retribution. She dresses simply, though always in black, and often seeks out mortals for company, to lose herself in small details and mundane goings-on.
But there are always grounds for righteous retribution, always petitioners, always the needful villains to punish.
She drinks. A lot.
“I don’t wanna be a god!” Fil screamed. The ritual was clear, even if the rules were not. He was sent over the sand waterfall, and in the null space where The Sand and Water Do Not Mix, his flesh was torn from his bone and re-assembled. He looked the same.
Fil had a business to run, even as The God of Smuggling. He never wanted to choose sides– the choice had been made for him. Instead of the comfortable gray area he used to live in, Fil’s gDNA would forever drive him to steal.
He was good at it.
According to The Young Slugbears’s Field Guide to the Forgotten Gods:
SUDSWALLER is a deity particularly overlooked by adults, though still recognized by lower caste smallings who are forced to wash after-dinner dishes for their spending coins.
Short and crusty in appearance, and somewhat foul smelling if ignored for long, this demi-god holds dominion over kitchen sinks and drains, and is appeased by anointments of soapy water and lemon oil. Prayers should be spoken in Sewer-tongue.
The Sandsailor’s Lament refers to the god in the 103rd haiku:
The galley grumbles
When Suds wont clean the trenchers
In Dark Season’s moon.
Rhea-fora is the Goddess of the Breath. She goes where she is called for she is the one who grants The Breath in all it’s forms. Granting everything from the breath of life to a newborn child to the breath of inspiration to an artist. She is the one who gave life to the cities long ago. The problem, and she is unaware of what occurs in her passing, is that she must steal the breath from one before she can grant it to another.
Following: god of what-comes-after. When humans still believed, she listened to the prayers addressed to other gods, and followed in their wake. “Be careful what you wish for,” the old people said; “always pray softly.” Not because the god you entreated was cruel or capricious, but because Following might hear. Pray for a baby, and she might smother it in the cradle, or bless it with perfect beauty, on a whim. But nobody believes in grandmothers’ stories or gods anymore, and they wish as loudly as they please. Surely no one is listening.
[…] ran with it along with my affinity for trickster spirits, and came up with the following for his latest challenge. Men may have forgotten his name, but once they called him Brightflower, Smirk or simply the […]
Urbino (god) – The youngest in the pantheon, his lineage is unclear. A minor trickster figure in Bloomian myth, Urbino is worshipped at the fire festivals across the planet.
The cities speak of Urbino with reverence. The cities worship him as their chief deity.
Urbino is a problematic figure for the planet. He is largely unconcerned with the Bloomed, and tends to play tricks on them. It is said that he can be observed at the destruction of any building, in the dust.
See also: Urvi, Reos, Gerini.
The Old Man goes by many names though this is the most common. It is said he was the first mortal to take the bloom. His skin is black as the darkest flower in the depths of the long night, a moving silhouette cut from the fabric of reality. They say he passes judgement over you when you first take the Bloom. No one has any memory of the three days that pass between lives. No one has failed to awaken, yet.
Marriri, goddess of passion and violent acts. Fallen from worship with the rest of the gods, she now travels throughout Blackbloom, encouraging fights, inciting riots, and acting as a catalyst for romantic affairs. Depicted as an ivory maiden with bloody fingertips, Marriri is the reason why it’s customary to wear white in a duel, or any overtly passionate activity.
Has a romantic entanglement with the Pantheon’s death equivalent- as her domain is known to cause irreversible deaths which give the slighted god his dues.
Nixandra is the Goddess of Moving Water. She can introduce sickness or health to standing water, whether puddles, ponds, or reservoirs deep below the ground. Unless angered, she is inclined to help the lower caste. During the rainy season when the previously dry creek beds run full, she rises from her bed to walk the planet. During the dry season, she sleeps as if dead in her warren of rock beneath the only waterfall not to run dry. The waterfall is called Black Falls, after the color of granite when wet.
Here I know how to be chosen!!
Lectria is the Goddess of light and energy, who travels the world assisting poets and bards who are suffering through darkness that has been bought on by powerful storms. It is said that she grants them both light and inspiration through her erotic dances, which often hold so much sexual power that it literally spills into other nearby women, who ALSO begin to dance and frolic together. Everywhere Lectrica goes, she bears with her the flagon of never-ending whiskey…
Immrian is the God of Sorrow and Tears. One of the younger gods, he was once a source of comfort to the grieving and the forlorn. He drew his power from them and accepted only their fallen tears as offering. However, after the falling of the gods, he gathered up all the remaining tears from the weeping fountains and with them he forged the Tear Blade. Now he stalks the streets, not asking, but demanding tears.
Gloss is the god of language. He is seen on the streets, begging in bloody rags and murmuring to himself in tongues. All who meet the skinny wretch assume him mad, but in secret he speaks directly to the cities, and moves between them, exchanging plans.
Maratuk, God of War.
Maratuk breaks the typical mold for a war god. He walks Blackbloom as a nondescript male, going about a highly complex but ritualistic daily routine. For the Unbloomed, he is a hidden cancer. Even a passing touch will eventually cause your first death. His goal: to raise an army of the Bloomed to devour the rest of the universe at the end of days. The annual Games amuse him, as his latent army grows without his direct intervention. He knows not of the other gods, for he views himself as singular and supreme.
(OK, now that I know what Blackbloom is… 99 words:)
Tatamiri, the Book-Keeper. She is the vagrant lady from the Veleto caste (the beggars) who sits on your doorsteps every evening, spreading all around her papers, records, datapads and what have you, items that she had gathered from trashcans, gutters and dumpsters. And she stays there for hours, crunching numbers and figures, speaking them under her breath. Tatamiri is keeping tabs on every soul the Blackbloom has robbed from Death. The ancients say that whenever her figures amount to nine billion, the Bloomed wither and their desiccated remains are scattered to the winds. And Tatamiri starts all over again.
[…] week’s worldbuilding challenge –”The Gods of Blackbloom!” — is still open. Going to leave it open until 12:01AM on Friday, so when I wake up, I […]
Many of the Elder Gods of Blackbloom have been long forgotten. However, the name of Arifur, once known as the Celestial Accountant, former bearer of the Abacus of the Spheres, is still spoken on the world of Blackbloom. It is invoked by those dying the first death, in hopes and supplication that their accounts are in order, so that their time of servitude during their second life is minimized if not outright eliminated.
If you seek Arifur’s physical manifestation, it is said he keeps shop in the back of a men’s clothing store in one of the major cities.