Creating Demi-Gods - The Art of World Building
Jan 072021

A chapter from Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1) covered the creation of gods and pantheons in detail, but here we’ll cover lesser beings: the demi-gods.

The term can mean many things, so for our purposes, we’re discussing any supernatural being that has less power than gods but is in some way related to them, and works with them in some capacity. They are often the offspring of gods or a human who has been given divine powers or rank. Some, like Hercules, are the result of a human (or another species, even an animal) mating with a god. The term would include angels and demons on Earth.

In mythology, demi-gods often serve a specific purpose, such as being a messenger of the gods. As world builders, this means we can invent someone when we need them for our story, though we may want a few of them in advance. Such a universally used character, as the messenger, might get more frequent use and mention by us and our world’s inhabitants. On the other hand, a figure like Cupid only comes up in love scenarios. For these beings, we need little more than a name and function until we show them in a tale. This means they’re easy to create and flesh out later. Decide if any are needed. Here are a few roles they can play:

  1. Harbinger of doom
  2. Harbinger of love
  3. Harbinger of good
  4. Messenger

Other figures can be invented when we need them, though it helps to hint at their existence beforehand so that it doesn’t seem too convenient that just the right one has popped up when our story needed it.

If we invent half-gods, meaning they have a mortal (i.e., human or other species) parent, too, we need to decide on their abilities, which don’t need to come directly from the divine parent. Deriving talent from the divine talent makes it easier to decide who their divine parent was, but there’s an idea that talent skips a generation, for example. I have musical talent and so does at least one of my kids, but neither of my parents do, though a grandparent had some. When we invent these half-gods, we are implying that deities have sexual relations with mortals. Does that conform to the view we’ve developed of their relations?


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