The world of Before the Sun Fades is a complicated place, filled with strange beings of all sorts. In one country, one religion may be followed; in another, something completely different — and yet, as Rakariel is all too aware, all are true. The key is belief: belief grants power; worship feeds a continual influx of power that might have been the worshipper’s, had they not gifted it to those they worshipped. Humans, individually, may be spiritually relatively weak in terms of the power they can exert unaided — but in concert, the power they can grant is great indeed.
The more who believe in any given god, the greater that god’s power becomes. Indeed, in the end, it can alter almost anything. Lower-rank gods often take imposing physical forms to intervene in world events, channelling their spiritual power through a piece of the material realm. Where belief is strong, these avatars are strong, but where it is weak, they quickly fade away.
In a religious war, the gods may do battle, either on their own plane of being or joining forces with their followers on the material plane. However, most of the time they prefer to posture, attempting to force one another to back down through manipulation rather than outright violence. The death of a god is a rare event that sends ripples through the surrounding pantheons: the domain of the god must be claimed swiftly, much of its power likely already absorbed by the enemy that slew it. Any afterlife depending on such a god, if not absorbed by the killer, begins to fade and weaken.
Afterlives, where present, depend on the god and pantheon. A god may devote part of its energy to maintaining a spiritual realm that its followers may inhabit after their physical death. These realms are entirely dependent on the whim of the god or gods creating them, as is the state of the spirits residing within. Gods may even consume their afterlives’ resident spirits for a boost in power, although this practice is little-known and less spoken of.
If freed from an afterlife, or never permitted to enter one, a human spirit will grow weaker over time until it fades away to nothing. Some enter the cycle of reincarnation, divesting themselves of the majority of their conscious identity in order to live again in the physical realm. This is a somewhat dangerous task if not aided by a god or other being of spiritual power, as a developing body without a fully-fledged spirit is a tempting target, and is likely to be protected by the deities of the parents. Other spirits remain as wraiths: some benevolent and often granted enough strength to continue their existence by those who know of them; others as mad, dangerous beings that suck the life from any unfortunate enough to enter their domain. Any spirit may become a god; any god may become a spirit, depending on the amount of strength they are able to obtain.
Demons, despite the difference in perception, are actually entirely identical to gods. Some demons, such as that fought by Rakariel in her past, are in fact fallen gods whose people were conquered and whose belief system was subdued. These angry, dangerous remnants are made even worse by the fact that many then continue to believe in the new religion’s propaganda of their negative forms, warping their justifiable anger at their usurpation into something truly evil. Some gods have not only created their own nemeses this way, but even on rare occasion been struck down by them. While it is possible to redeem any “fallen” god, it is not an easy task, for either an entire populace must be convinced to believe better of them while they are yet beings of horror, or else their nature must be altered swiftly using a massive focus of power.