“people invent gods to reassure themselves and then they make up legends to feel scared”
A saying attributed to the Japanese by the cultural reference book I wa....ok, I read it in The Time Spiral, a Belgian comic. But still, it very well expresses the explanation many of us have in this modern age. Whether you are religious or believe this 'scientific' explanation, in the end I think we will never know 'till we pass away or over to some other side.
The denizens of Gielinor however DO know; the huge battle at Lumbridge seems to leave little room for doubts. One person, the rather multifaceted 'world guardian', knows better then all others, having met a large part of the gods that rule over, or meddle in, the lives of the peoples of this plane, or if you are so inclined: inspire them. I wonder how meeting the gods will change the opinions and believes surrounding them.
Lets get back to our own existence for a bit, I have been raised with a Christian background and an interest in religion and culture, as such I know the Bible evolved, specially in the early ages. The interpretation of the text and rituals evolved even more, sometimes incorporating things from other cultures and religions. Think for instance of Christmas, Yuletide and the Winter solstice. I would imagine the same is true of most religions, but won't bore you with a long lecture. Instead I take it back to RuneScape, where it would be logical if the same where true. Gielinor has a long history of which much is lost to the people. As a side note I also point to Jagex slowly evolving and changing the lore and leaving large pieces open. This all lead to many religions, with a diverse group of beings following a pantheon of gods. Each of them seems to embody a part of human needs and characteristics.
- Saradomin went from the good god to one of order and wisdom. He also can be said to represent the peace, prosperity and yes also oppression that so often come with order.
A bit of a father figure.
- Zamorak, the traditional bad guy, wants chaos, because chaos and war leads to creativity and progress (unpleasant but probably true).
The rebellious teenager even though he rebelled against a different 'father': Zaros.
- Guthix the creator-god who in the end did not actually create Gielinor. Part environmentalist, part UN peacekeeper, was always mostly about balance.
'Mister mom', or does my comparison fail here?
- Armadyl is said to be about law and freedom. At first sight not a logical combination, since laws limit what is allowed. Taking a second look it can be claimed that the order created by laws allows for a lot of freedom from fear, arbitrary whims and uncertainty.
I see similarities with Saradomin, since law and order go together.
- Bandos wants war, but seemingly without Zamorak's possibly positive motive.
There we have a basic description of the mainstream religious beliefs, but at the least with Guthix we now know it's more difficult then to just shout 'balance'. In fact he seems more keen on free will and letting mortal beings evolve on their own, up to the point where his death spawned the 'Godless' faction. Not because they did not have a god anymore, but because he wants them to be able to live without godly interference. Is this a change of heart by Guthix, or was this emphasis on balance a broader misinterpretation of his wishes then the fact that he did not wish to be worshiped? Like so many times in real religions we also have the makings of a schism here. One between the 'New Guthixians' ( a.k.a. the godless) and the old ones (the seekers of balance).
Now back to meeting these colorful figures, did this change my view on them? For Guthix it did, he seems to not have been this callous thing only about his precious 'balance'. As for the rest of them: honestly, no...it reenforced it. The way they acted in the latest quests and events makes them seem more like a bunch of arguing warlords vying for power. Sliske's conniving plans do not help and it seems we will soon be plunged in to an even bigger and broader conflict to find out which warlord can call himself king of the hill.
I more then ever think these 'gods' are no more then very powerful and full of tricks we do not understand. It has become even more evident their power mostly comes from elder artifacts, the same way a modern man with a gun and a flashlight would be god to primitive people. I even wonder if our prayers actually work because of them, or because of elder powers beyond them. Elder powers, elder gods that also were created by something before them according to the ultimate power, Jagex, and with that possibly not true gods either.
On top of this Bandos came across as very one-dimensional, like a boxer who has been hit in the head one to many time to control his anger, a bully.
Saradomin's behavior makes it seem we mistook vanity for wisdom when describing him.
(Another quote from the same comic. Now you know where I get my 'wisdom'.)
I neglected to fully mention Zaros before , that is because I noticed something else. To explain let's first talk about Zaros.
- Zaros is the elusive shadowy god of fate and control. According to Jagex a 'true' god, who did not have to rely on elder artifacts and with origins unknown. A Machiavellian manipulator like his (former?) minion Sliske, but some sources claim not as evil, or maybe not evil at all. It is suggested he changed (for the better) because of his long isolation. He seems to want mortals to own their own world, rule their own existence...up to a point. He does interfere to keep things balanced.
Indeed: sounds like Guthix. The old and the new Guthix, the old one who wanted balance and the one who wants self-determination. The prominent Guthixian Juna already predicted a few years ago the return of Zaros would bring more balance. Coincidentally or not, Guthix also had a very long period of isolation and seemed to have changed.
But we have heard this key word 'balance' many times before, not in but about Runescape. Jagex themselves have vocally striven for it. Balanced game play, balance between the 3 combat styles, balanced prices on the GE, balance between new and veteran players, etc. They have not always succeeded but they have talked about it and worked on it. Maybe they themselves don't realize, but it seems Jagex developers are enamored with this concept, so much so that when they killed one changed god of balance, another was waiting in the wings. Kinda looks like they have a favorite direction doesn't it?
If I was to generalize this would leave us with 3 factions that roughly have the same goals:
Saradomin & Armadyl, Zamorak & Bandos and last, but not least, Guthix (r.i.p.) & Zaros.
I know which one I am rooting for to win, since these godly warlords leave a trail of death and destruction wherever they go. Ask the people living in the city of Forinthry about it... o wait you can't it does not exist anymore. So, possibly like Jagex, I root for team Guthix/Zaros. The team that as far as I can tell will mostly rid this world of 'warlords'!
PS - Don't tell Zaros, but after we get rid of all the warlord gods he will be the next one on the list...
PPS - All above was written about a week ago, well before I saw parts of the presentation at Runefest!!! I was now going to dance around screaming that I predicted many of the things they just announced, some in my earlier articles...until I realized I also predicted no god would truly win or lose. Oh, and Armadyl will win this next fight!