So there I was, hanging out on Worldbuilding Stack Exchange, thinking about polytheistic societies. Sometimes in fiction and mythology these are set up with lots of “specialist” gods — you have your god of war, and your god of fertility, and your sun god, and your storm god, and several others, and probably your boss god, and people worship all of them to different degrees depending on their current needs. Sometimes there is strife among the gods, for example in the Norse pantheon the conflict that ends with the battle of Ragnarok. Other times you have different gods but they’ve carved up the world somehow — the god of this place, the god of that place, and so on. I wanted to explore a different idea: individually competing gods within a pantheon. And, because early ideas about gods often come from visible natural phenomena, why not a planet with a primitive people, several moons, and competing moon gods? (Or goddesses, I later decided.) The result: Sisters (or at least the first chapter, which is all I’ve written so far).
I wanted the moon gods to be central, which meant downplaying other areas. My world doesn’t have specialist gods — just the sun god and the moon gods (and maybe an earth god; haven’t decided yet). My moon gods need to have visible effects in the world, so that led me to thinking about tides and water, which led me to ask this question. Among the helpful answers there, Liath’s led me to a useful modeling tool that I could use to visualize the tidal patterns caused by multiple moons.
To make the impact as great as possible, I placed my people on a set of small islands. I don’t know if this part is realistic (I may have to ask on Worldbuilding), but I envisioned agriculture working sort of like in ancient Egypt along the Nile: not much in the way of man-made irrigation, but a very productive spring flood every year. Dal is the dominant moon and governs the tides behind this essential flooding.
That’s all setting. I started writing the story because I wanted to explore several interconnected themes: duty (to family and gods) and rebellion; castes and fairness and breaking free; religious certainty and disruption — disruption among the gods themselves and its effects on the people who worship them.
You might be wondering: do the gods really act, either independently or in response to priestly actions, or do primitive peoples just ascribe meaning to naturally-occurring phenomena? I’m trying to keep that question open for the reader right now, though WB regulars might suspect that I’ve tipped my hand.
I’ve left a lot of the details of my world unspecified so far. Some things I know but I’ll wait for them to come out naturally. Some things I’ve hinted at but don’t feel the need to say more about, like puberty being the signal to enter the priesthood. Some things I don’t yet know and let’s see where the plot pushes me. And some things I probably don’t yet know are important and someday I’ll be on the site seeking answers to get past a hurdle. Such is the way of worldbuilding and storytelling mingled together.