The Generic Villain Feigns Godhood

While this is a continuation of my discussion of acquiring cultists as minions, and does potentially serve as an alternative to either finding or making up something for said cultists to worship, let me put on the record right now that this title is an artifact of the Management’s title creation process. I don’t do feigning godhood. There are far too many things that can go wrong, and they tend to go wrong more horribly than most other plots. The ego-boost and the possible metaphysical power boost, as far as I’m concerned, aren’t worth invoking that rule about the direct proportion between size and force of impact when falling. That being said, there might be a circumstance under which you decide that the best way to acquire cultists and keep them in line is to claim divinity—and if there is, there are a few major issues you will want to take into consideration.

First, how easy is it for them to prove you wrong? A lot of Hands of Darkness aspiring to divinity have in the end been overthrown by their own cultists, who in turn were incensed by the discovery (helpfully provided by the Designated Protagonist) that said Hands of Darkness were not, in fact, divine. Let’s face it, they’re fanatics, and you don’t want to be standing in front of a bunch of upset fanatics, particularly not when they’re upset at you. If it’s easy to figure out that you’re as human as they are, it won’t end we—strike that, it rarely ends well for us, let’s say instead that it will end even more horribly than usual.

Second, is something larger going to take offense? Just because we’re the villains of the piece, the grand conflict, and the real focus of the story doesn’t mean that we’re the biggest fish in the pond. (Heck, if one of us dies in a sanitized ‘verse with Thou Shalt Not Kill heroes, there’s a 45% chance that the Principle of Bigger Fish is directly responsible.) The thing about declaring oneself a god is that if it gets the attention of a legitimate god, said legitimate god is likely to take offense—and we can’t even get around this with Protection from Fire and Brimstone, since most vengeful gods these days are a lot more creative. (Honestly, given there are precedents for Divine Vengeance By Frog Swarm, I’m surprised anyone even bothers assuming protecting from fire and brimstone does a jot of good.)

Third, can you live up to the pressure? We don’t really care about that whole power/responsibility thing, I know, but we do tend to be more directly concerned with the fact that great deceptions produce great pressure. You have to live up to the expectations of being a Godly Thing: the displays of power and knowledge beyond human ken, the miracles that clearly weren’t some sort of clever staged event (heh, heh), the recognition of concepts beyond the human mind, so on and so forth. Not only that, the only way you can be sure if you’ve succeeded or failed is a clear sign of failure as demonstrated by the shouts of “impostor!”, the knife sticking out of your back or the realization that somebody’s neatly maneuvered you into being one of those gods who needs to symbolically (but still literally) die in order for the blessing spigot to turn on right. If you think you’ve succeeded, after all, they might just be biding their time.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s far too much trouble—but if you’re going to try to be a God for a Day anyway, you may as well do it right.


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