The following was written by Haleh Amanpoor of a company called Opportunities Incorporated based in, Pakesh, Ursia, in 2476 for the company's clients and sub-contractors.
I am adding to these notes as I have the time. One day, when I have recorded enough of what I learned in my years on Olympia to make it worth while, I will find someone to arrange and compile what you find in the following pages. Until then, I hope you will forgive the scattered nature of my discourse.
Money is not all that interests the gods, but it pays for soldiers to defend their interests, and it supports their large and expensive cultural projects. We can say the same for our own city, and our own lives, I think, so in a sense, we all understand the importance of money, and the way it represents labor and the history of one's contribution to society, or one's exploitation of the same. When it comes to understanding the gods on any other basis, I have had little success, and what theories I have, I cannot defend well enough to earn the interest of a pragmatic reader. My employer has instructed me that these notes are to be strictly pragmatic, and that I must restrain my desire to record my more abstract conclusions. Therefore, as a rule to keep myself on the path prescribed for me, I will attempt to reduce the motives of every player in the interplanetary balance of power to that of obtaining and securing money, and I will use, as a currency, the Olympian dollar. At the time of writing, one Olympian dollar is of almost the same value as an Ursian dollar, so you can think of either when you follow my calculations. Most of my estimates, I freely admit, might be in error by as much as half or twice the value I write down. But I think my case remains convincing.
For fifteen years, before my return to Pakesh, my native city, I lived on Olympia. You may have heard that women are not allowed on Olympia. That is not strictly true. Only fertile women are banned from Olympia, or potentially fertile women. The only reason the gods restrict access to Olympia is to make sure that this one world, out of all the hundred or so worlds under their control, cannot be overrun by our fecund species. If there are no fertile women, there will be no children. I am not fertile. I have no uterus.
To tell the truth, there are not many sapien men on Olympia either. The planet is populated by elves, perhaps a million of them in all, I think. And if we talk of Olympia as the planet of the gods, we misrepresent it. It is the planet of the elves. Only a hundred or so of the thousand surviving gods are healthy enough to take part in government. The interests of the others are in the hands of the elves who represent them. But the hundred active gods are formidable and rich, and as a group, they are one of the three pillars upon which power in the open world rests: the active gods, the elves who represent the inactive gods, and the dragons.
The term 'Open World' refers to the laws that govern the interaction between the gods and the planet. Between such a world and Olympia, any form of transportation, be it people or goods, may take place, at the discretion of the god or gods who own it, and there are over-arching laws governing the treatment of gods upon all such worlds. There are no Olympian laws governing the treatment of the sapiens in open worlds, other than those that restrict the total population. The gods refer to the worlds as 'open' because they are free to come and go as they please, to gate (that is, to transfer by space bridge) whomever and whatever they please.
In contrast to the one hundred or so known Open Worlds in the Celesti Sector, there are four Free Worlds, of which Clarus is one. Upon the Free worlds, there are no rules governing the treatment of gods by sapiens, although there are strict laws, differing slightly from one Free World to another, restricting the transfer of goods and people into the Free Worlds, although none restricting the transfer of goods and people out of them. It is, for example, perfectly legal under Olympian Law for a sapien to destroy a god on a Free World, and there are several examples of this happening. Such a sapien could thereafter travel to Olympia and face no charges against them for their deed. But if the destruction took place on Olympia, the penalty would be death. So the term 'Free World' is appropriate from the perspective of the sapien inhabitants of such worlds.
You may have heard and believe that the Gods created sapiens. But I will tell you that in the Olympian libraries, the arrival of sapiens from another world called Terra is recorded in detail. Perhaps the gods created sapiens on Terra, and I have a mind to believe that this is so. But the gods themselves do not believe it. Their own theory is more far-fetched. They say that sapiens created themselves.
Our ancestors arrived several centuries after the elves, and soon after, a small fraction of them formed the nation of Endromis on our world. I will give dates, therefore, in a form convenient to us: from the foundation of Endromis.
In the first two centuries, on the Open Worlds, sapien nations were colonies with the gods working among the people closely, helping them establish towns and multiply their numbers. During this time, it appears, many of the gods worked the soil with their own hands, and all one thousand of them were active.
In the third to fifth centuries, the sapien nations of the Open Worlds grew into self-sustaining communities paying respect to the gods and often tribute as well. The gods were then free to work upon the administrative and technological apparatus they foresaw as necessary, in the long run, to control and profit from a large sapien population in the Open Worlds.
By administration, I mean networks of priests, spies, and inspectors for the Open Worlds, courts to settle disputes, and police to enforce the law. By technology I mean the laboratories in which they make the sapien-like bodies in which they reside, each for a century or two, laboratories in which they make medicine useful to sapiens, and apparatus for tuning molecular gates and making the transfer of goods and people inexpensive from one world to another.
In the sixth to tenth centuries, the sapien population of the Open Worlds grew from several million to one hundred million. The gods passed laws to limit the populations, backed with fines imposed upon gods whose planets exceeded these limits. To guarantee Olympian control of the Open World population, the gods who owned an Open World were obliged to maintain autonomous armies in proportion to the world's population. A council of ten gods, known as the Olympian Council, became the ruling body on Olympia. Members of the council were elected for one-century terms, one member being elected every ten years.
The population of the Open Worlds during the second millennium remained, when taken as a whole, stable, as it remains today. Throughout these ten centuries there were a dozen or so notable bankruptcies among gods who mismanaged their populations, leading to massive fines and large-scale intervention by the Olympian Army to cut back eliminate the excess. That is to say, the army was brought in to kill millions of people. Most of the gods, during this time, were falling prey to senility, and the affairs of the majority came to be managed by elves on Olympia, who deplored the culling of sapien populations, and gave birth to the policy of stable population management called Peace and Prosperity.
In the last five hundred years the modern organization of the Open Worlds has emerged, with military nations separate from the food-producing nations. Farming nations are free to do what they like, but the over-seeing god must make sure that their population is at or below the legal limit at the time of the planetary census once every century, and the god must maintain the required number of troops, either directly upon another planet, or indirectly by paying tax to support the Olympian Army. With the separation of farming and military nations, the gods have more control. The farming nations cannot contest with trained and gated troops, while the military nations are kept on isolated continents or islands, their territorial ambitions impractical.
It is illegal on any Open World to carry a deadly weapon unless you are licensed to do so by Olympia, but it is up to the god who owns the planet to enforce this particular law. On many worlds the law is not enforced. It all depends upon the god who runs the planet.
The military nations of the Open worlds depend upon the gods for food. The farming nations are controlled by the soldiers of the military nations. Military nation population is always many times that which its food-producing capacity can support. They are therefore dependent upon their Olympian masters for their survival. Olympia has a near-monopoly upon molecular gates, and therefore is the only source from which the military nations can receive their food. Meanwhile, Olympia can move its soldiers anywhere at any time through such gates, and supply them, even when they are on the move, without effort. The molecular gate, therefore, is the cornerstone of Olympian control in the Open Worlds.
Most people in the Open Worlds work with hand tools and livestock. They have plenty of land. In fact, land is hardly ever a limitation for any citizen of the Open Worlds. They each have as much as they can farm. The forests are full of game, and the rivers are full of fish. The people trade food for metals and luxuries. They live in simple houses they make themselves. We judge their income in terms of hours worked multiplied by the amount they get paid when they act as hired hands, which is $5 an hour. An adult works 2000 hours a year for an income of $10k. Because of children, the average income per person is less than $10k, but let us assume it is, on average, $10k per person per year.
When a god keeps a population at equilibrium, he should be able to extract a tithe of 10% of its annual income, or $1k per person per year. He is required to provide one soldier per one hundred of the population under his control. He can obtain this soldier either by paying Olympia roughly $100k per year to maintain a soldier in the Olympian Army, or by maintaining a soldier in another, autonomous fighting force.
Soldiers cost $100k each per year, including their supporting administration, equipment, families, transport, bonus combat pay, and training. Twenty-five percent of the troops kept by the gods are adult male hellspawn living on Olympia.
With roughly one soldier per one hundred citizens, the Open Worlds' military expenditure equals its tithe. Nevertheless, the gods are able to extract approximately $100 per person per year in profit for themselves.
There are one thousand gods and one hundred million people in the Open Worlds. The average population controlled by each god is one hundred thousand, so the average income per god is this number of people multiplied by $100 per year, or $10M per year. With their long life, the gods might accumulate many years worth of their income in cash, but doing so would undermine the value currency, which is not based upon a gold standard, or so the theory goes. The idea is that if everyone has a lot of money saved up, prices go up, so the Olympian Dollar is worth less. Another way of looking at the problem is that the excess of saved dollars represent an excess of debt from the past, while at the same time there are not enough people to pay the debt.
Therefore, the gods do not tend to save their money, but instead spend it upon progressively more expensive mansions, gardens, public monuments, large numbers of servants, the best food and wine that money can buy, and works of art. The palace of Lucifer on Olympia was allegedly built with over a billion man-hours of labor. I have been lucky enough to visit a number of palaces on Olympia, and they are astonishing.
One expense a god must be able to afford every century or so is that of a new body. These cost anything from $1 billion for a giant one that can possess many different proxy bodies, down to $100 million for a combat body, and $10 million for a used or body. Old bodies don't lose their hair or have their hair turn white, but they do get wrinkly in the sun, and scarred by injuries, so that a sapien can guess their age. they look like they're sapiens aged twenty plus ten years per century.
Another expense gods frequently take upon themselves is subsidizing their favorite loss-making societies. And they must put money aside to pay for penalties if one of the population of one of their worlds gets out of control. Most gods have several hundred million dollars available in cash.
Of the one thousand gods, 700 are now senile with age, 200 are alert but lack energy, and 100 appear to be in possession of their full mental faculties. The 900 senile and lethargic gods undergo treatment to preserve themselves, which takes them out of action for ten years at a time. In between these treatments, they will be alert and able to enjoy themselves for only a few months to a year. At first, their elf servants took charge of their affairs and the gods awoke to vote in council elections according to the advice of their elves. Control of the Olympian Council was in the hands of the elves. The active gods succeeded, in 1800 AE, after centuries of trying, to pass a law that forbade voting within 10 years of a treatment, effectively banning all those who needed it from the process of government. But the other 900 still hold their share of the planets, and they can vote if they are willing to suffer ten years of lethargy and embarrassing senility. When they do vote in such a state, they do so in accordance to the instructions of their elf mentors. Furthermore, the elves are rich, and therefore influential. They retain control of their gods' property. The active one hundred are now pressing for the ten year limit to be extended to one hundred years, but so far they have failed.
Each Open World, and sometimes each continent on an Open World, has associated with it a permitted population, just as do the temple plots of Clarus. Every one hundred Olympian years the Olympian Council conducts a census of any given world, so that there is a census going on every year on one of the worlds. At the time of the census, the population of the world must be at or below its limit, or the divine owner of the world or continent upon which the excess exists will be fined $100 per year per person until the next census.
There are two schools of thought on how to make the most money and give the population the best life while operating under these restrictions. Most of the active gods are in favor of what they call Cultural Dynamism, in which they allow their populations to expand unmolested for the first eighty years or so, and then cut them back with war and plague to the level required by law. The elves who manage ninety percent of the Open Worlds, under the legal ownership of their senile employers, are in favor of what they call Peaceful Prosperity, and keep their populations in equilibrium, with frequent inspections by Divine Emissaries. These emissaries are elves who like to travel, and who understand sapiens well. Elves are cultivators at heart, and they look kindly upon sapiens and try to give them peaceful, contented lives. The Cultural Dynamists, however, assert that such a life is not what sapiens are made for, and that the cultivated populations are a stale mockery of true humanity.
I will say more about the contest between the Peaceful Prosperity and Cultural Dynamist camps after I digress upon the importance of the Free Words to the gods, and therefore to the politics of the Open Worlds.
The open worlds evolve culturally, and their wealth in terms of existing buildings, roads, and established farms, continues to grow. But the delight of the gods, when it comes to sapien cultures, remains with the Free Worlds, where sapiens struggle among themselves, guided loosely by the gods, if at all.
The attention of the gods during the second millennium was captured most by events upon the Free Worlds, such as Clarus, to which the black-orc Gelden, who was able to make molecular gates, transported himself and his armies from the Open World called Hell. Hell is a world managed by the gods who call themselves the Princes of Hell, and upon it they play their war-games, the combatants being creatures devised by the Princes, among them at that time, orcs, their black-orc masters, and many other debased species of a warlike and barbaric disposition. By disease and brutality, Gelden conquered most of Idonius on Clarus, and destroyed cultural work of centuries upon the planet (our planet). The Princes suffered for their carelessness, but so powerful was their lobby upon Olympia that they escaped the bankruptcy that they so rightly deserved for the suffering they had caused to millions of people.
The crisis upon Clarus was alarming to the gods for several reasons. First, it showed the vulnerability of a Free World where Olympian Armies could not, by Olympian Law, interfere. Nevertheless, the gods were not united enough in their alarm to make exception to the law and allow the Olympian Army to intervene. There was no legal mechanism whereby the funds for such an expedition could be extracted from the gods with interests on the planet, nor by which the Princes could be fined for their part in the disaster.
Second, the elves of Clarus revealed that they could work a form of magic, which they call sorcery, a secret they had kept from the gods for almost two thousand years. The extent and longevity of this deception shocked the gods. It transpired that, although the elves of Olympia were not sorcerers, they knew that the elves living upon Clarus, who were largely descendents of the first-borne elf Teliyatu, had such power.
Third, it was during the stress of the Dark Ages upon Clarus, during which time sapiens lived comparatively free from the guiding influence of the gods, that sapiens developed their own ability to use magic, in the form of wizardry. Although wizardry was primitive at the time, most gods concluded immediately that such technology, in the hands of free-thinking sapiens would eventually lead to their developing the molecular gate, and thus to the destabilization of Olympian power. Reports from the Pakesh School of Wizardry in recent years suggest that their fear might be close to coming true.
Despite these concerns, as I have said, the gods did not send the Olympian Army in to stamp out the sorcerer elves, or the wizards. On the one hand, the elf lobby on Olympia was too strong to allow any such callous policy to pass the Olympian Council, and on the other hand, the most active gods were, and remain, of the opinion that the strength of the gods should rest upon its mastery of a strong sapien population, not upon its domination of a weak one. This last school of thought, being that of Cultural Dynamism, bases itself not only upon the role the gods played upon Terra before they moved to live a life of their own in the Celesti Sector, but also upon a fear that the Illuminati, the mythical creators of the gods, will one day find the Celesti Sector and invade it. How better to defend themselves against their creators, than to live among an advanced and numerous sapien confederation of planets?
The gods' concern with respect to Feras was the size of its population. In the fifteenth century, the population of Feras was believed by the gods to be equal to the population of all the Open Worlds combined. Now its population is probably several hundred million. But it turned out that, as the population grew, its sheer size placed such a burden upon the resources of the planet that its people came to contest with disease and hunger, and in this unfavorable environment, the military and technological threats to Olympia anticipated by the gods did not materialize.
The second millennium was the era of the dominance of the Peaceful Prosperity school of thinking among the gods, a policy fostered by the elves. In the aftermath of Open World bankruptcies and population culling, and with the distraction of events upon the Free Worlds, the active gods had little chance and little interest in pursuing their more dynamic designs in the Open Worlds.
In the five centuries leading up to today, however, following the Reconciliation on Clarus in the year 2000, the Cultural Dynamists have emerged as a new and growing force upon Olympia. The Free Worlds appear stable and unthreatening (although that may change if wizards here have indeed discovered the molecular bridge). In particular, a number of daring experiments by the Cultural Dynamists (CD) have shown that their system for managing planets can be both immensely profitable and more culturally intriguing than that of Peaceful Prosperity (PP). The CD principle is to allow the population of an Open World to double or triple between one census and the next, and to reduce it below the limit in the last decade. The god or gods managing the planet perform the reduction with plague, war, and starvation. The PP school abhors the brutality of the system, but Olympian Law does not forbid it, and the wealth such a system yields brings power and influence.
The taxes paid by the gods upon a world are calculated from the population on the previous census. Let us suppose, for example, that the permitted population of a world is one million. The gods' revenue from the planet is something like $1000 per person, and his tax, or the cost of supporting the required ten thousand soldiers, is close to $1000 per person. But when the population stands at two million, the revenue might double, while the cost of revenue remains the same.
The financial arguments for Cultural Dynamism have always been clear to see, but what is new over the last five hundred years is the success the CD gods have had in demonstrating the vulnerability of the PP system to disruption by the rise of a formidable military leader upon an Open World. In 2010 AE, the goddess Athena advised a sapien called Heraklese (not to be confused with the now-senile god of the same name) during his rise to domination of a continent upon the planet Grauniad. Grauniad is a planet controlled by elves on behalf of a number of senile gods. The growth of Herklese' population, despite the belated efforts of the Olympian Army, brought these gods near to bankruptcy.
Then, in 2220, the god Aries went personally to Corfu, a planet owned by an Olympian corporation called Stable Way. Somehow, Aries made himself king of a remote country on Corfu, hid the fact from Stable Way, and built up an army big enough to set forth and take control of all the conjunctions upon the continent. He also had with him at least one magical device that prevented the tuning of molecular gates anywhere upon the continent upon which he was based, a bridge suppressor so powerful that it was beyond Olympia to provide, and which the gods suspect he obtained from the wizards of Pakesh, with whom Aries is known to have close relations. Others claim that he obtained this device from the dragons, and has since returned it. Either way, Aries has said nothing about the device in public, nor has he made any public statement about his time on Corfu. The upshot, however was that Stable Way had no access to its planet for over a century, during which time the population swelled from the legal million to sixteen million when Aries allowed the Olympian Censors to enter in 2390. Twenty years later, still without access to the planet either through conjunctions or bridges, Stable Way, the largest planet-managing corporation on Olympia, was bankrupt. Aries left the planet in 2420, taking his bridge suppressor with him, and it took the Olympian Army ten years of hard fighting to conquer the Arian Empire he left behind. In 2440, the Olympian Council, now in possession of Corfu, began sterilizing (rendering infertile) the entire population. As I write, there have been no children on that world for forty years. You can imagine what it must be like for those who survive.
Aries was fined heavily upon his eventual return to Olympia in 2476, my last year there. But his return was triumphant all the same. Despite being bankrupted by the fines, he shows no remorse. He did it, he says, for the greater good. At the moment, you might be interested to know, he owns many Ursian temple plots. How he retained them in the face of his bankruptcy, I cannot tell you, but he has owned some of them for centuries.