Honorifics for a god

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this, but here goes...

I'm writing my first "serious"-ish campaign (one with proper lore and everything) and I've run across a problem. The PCs are high-tech-level space explorers making first contact with a low-tech-level planet and are stunned to find they are worshipped as gods. There are dark secrets behind this, of course, and plenty of space hijinks will ensue as they try to set the record straight.

On this planet, within the global religion, gods are not "nice". They are able to bring blessing, but they are just as willing to curse. They're capricious, they can be spiteful, and they really don't care about the lives of mere mortals in general. They're something like the Greek pantheon. My problem is this. How do native NPCs address my PCs?

"Your worship" and "Your holiness" immediately sprang to mind, but those already have different meanings. "Lord" or "Master" sound too generic, and "Father" or similar Christian-like honorifics don't really fit with the image of a god who has no fatherly feeling towards his worshippers. The PCs don't look like any particular gods the NPCs know, and are identified as gods based solely on their starship, technology, and strange uniforms, so the NPCs can't just give them names from their recorded pantheon.

Thoughts?

Comments

  • With capricious gods, there's probably an amount of pleading and cajoling in how their worshippers would address them, maybe flattery to stay on their good side, so maybe:
    Kind One
    Merciful One
    Wise One
    Most Perfect
    Most Wise
    Your Supremity
    My Shepherd
  • The Almighty
    The Divine
    Your Omnipotence
    My/Our Sovereign
  • These are great. Thanks! It would probably be something for the argumentative, cynicaal, and nasty cook to step out of the door and be met by someone calling him "Most Perfect", or for Ensign Newbie to be referred to as "Your Omnipotence".
  • edited March 2018
    You can also go with descriptive (intended to be flattering) epithets -- Ox-Eyed Hera, Rosey-Fingered Dawn, Thrice Greatest Hermes, and so on.

    http://www.theoi.com/ may have some useful ideas.
  • Not your worship which is used for mayors, or your holiness which is used for popes. Your grace and your eminence are for bishops and cardinals respectively.

    The NOUNer of NOUNs, The bringer of spring, The destroyer of worlds

    The most ADJECTIVE, The most beneficent, The most lovely

    Source of all NOUN, Source of all goodness, source of all joy

    All-NOUN, All-father, All-wave

    The NOUNer of NOUNers, The smith of smiths, the the weaver of weavers

    The NOUN of all things, the maker of all things, the weaver of all things
  • (People are knocking it out of the park on this one! Nice.)
  • Not your worship which is used for mayors, or your holiness which is used for popes. Your grace and your eminence are for bishops and cardinals respectively.

    The NOUNer of NOUNs, The bringer of spring, The destroyer of worlds

    The most ADJECTIVE, The most beneficent, The most lovely

    Source of all NOUN, Source of all goodness, source of all joy

    All-NOUN, All-father, All-wave

    The NOUNer of NOUNers, The smith of smiths, the the weaver of weavers

    The NOUN of all things, the maker of all things, the weaver of all things
    This is a treasure trove.
  • If the gods are not (by default) benevolent and don't fulfill any kind of parental role, honorifics probably have to do with their status & abilities, or their origin. Consider:

    Great One ("Yes, Great One," or "Welcome, Great Achilles.")
    Honored ("Welcome, Honored Bhima," or "Yes, Honored.")
    Supreme/Mighty ("Welcome, Mighty Gilgamesh," or "Yes, Most Supreme."
    Skylord ("Sky-Lord Bragi, welcome," or "Yes, Sky-Lord.")
    Starfarer ("Welcome, Starfarer Orion," or "Yes, Starfarer.")
    Lightbringer ("Lightbringer, welcome," or "Yes, Lightbringer Maui.")
    Sunbearer (Welcome, Sunbearer," or "Yes, Sunbearer Chulainn.")

    Also, have you considered a conlang? Making up words is always an option!
  • -sama I believe is the Japanese honorific for a deity.

    ...however, scrolling back up through the rest of this thread, that might not have been what you were looking for.
  • Not your worship which is used for mayors, or your holiness which is used for popes. Your grace and your eminence are for bishops and cardinals respectively.

    The NOUNer of NOUNs, The bringer of spring, The destroyer of worlds

    The most ADJECTIVE, The most beneficent, The most lovely

    Source of all NOUN, Source of all goodness, source of all joy

    All-NOUN, All-father, All-wave

    The NOUNer of NOUNers, The smith of smiths, the the weaver of weavers

    The NOUN of all things, the maker of all things, the weaver of all things
    I love doing things like this, I always have to be a bit more extra though, can't help myself, whoops. I tend to give them a bunch of titles too, and have them known by different titles in different areas, here's one from my current setting
    Seyjonne, Sovereign of the Seven Silent Swords, Premier of the Wild Call and Charging Herds, Mistress of the Bloodied Arrow, Queen of all Predators, and Reveler in the Running Death
  • It's true that most gods/godesses will have a multitude of titles, and may be known by different names in different places. The Greeks and Romans shared many. So did the various cultural groups speaking Germanic languages. As just two example. They will also have regularly-patterned descriptive attributes epithets as @Lisa Padol mentioned above. Some language also have an affix or free morpheme that is attached to the god/godess's name as @EmmatheExcrucian mentioned. In Malay and other language of the area, the the particle is Sang or a variation of it, Sang Kancil, Sang Buaya, etc. Many god/godess have long trains of names that are a kind of raphsody as @Quasipun mentioned.
  • A different title is not only from a different group of people. It refers to different avatar of a god.
  • Personally, I'm kind of in love with the idea that nobody in the world knows quite how to address their gods either. Not just a cultural thing, but with varieties down to the individual or even situational level; the gods themselves never out and out say, "Thou shalt referest unto me by such-and-such appellation!" and so people just become obsequiously title-barfing. Heck, the more honorifics you can bark out, the better, right?

    Might be a little too humorous for a serious treatment of the idea.
  • ...the gods themselves never out and out say, "Thou shalt referest unto me by such-and-such appellation!" and so people just become obsequiously title-barfing. Heck, the more honorifics you can bark out, the better, right?

    Might be a little too humorous for a serious treatment of the idea.
    I'm pretty sure (memory may fail me here) that this was a running gag in the British TV series "Whoops, Apocalypse," with one very privileged character's servant referring to them by a different appellation each time they accepted an order. By the end of the series, these were becoming pretty ridiculous, leading to pronouncements like "I shall do so at once, oh Phantom of the Opera!"
  • Personally, I'm kind of in love with the idea that nobody in the world knows quite how to address their gods either. Not just a cultural thing, but with varieties down to the individual or even situational level; the gods themselves never out and out say, "Thou shalt referest unto me by such-and-such appellation!" and so people just become obsequiously title-barfing. Heck, the more honorifics you can bark out, the better, right?

    Might be a little too humorous for a serious treatment of the idea.
    This could probably be played for pathos just as much as for comedy. Imagine the state of mind of someone confronted with ultimate power that he believes is inches away from wiping him off the face of the earth, and all he can do is try desperately to prove his loyalty and adoration...
  • edited March 2018
    You probably want to liberally bury everything you say in praise and petitions for mercy.

    "Oh mighty one (may your glory endure forever), please condescend to hear my plea. Would it please you in your mercy (may the tale of your kindness spread throughout the generations) to hear the words of an insignificant mortal?"

    Thinking about how to address terrifying godly beings, I am reminded of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, where a being called the Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL) serves on the school board. Whenever the other characters talk about the Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL. PROSTRATE YOURSELVES AND SACRIFICE TO THE OMNIPOTENT CLOUD) or address it, they pause and add something like that, before continuing on with whatever they were saying.
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