Not your daddy's deity
We all have them: those dark moments of hopelessness when all seems lost, and we reach out for something, anything to keep us going. Some of us turn to booze or drugs, some to art and music...and some call out for divine aid, a heavenly reprieve from the trials of mortal life.
Of course, sometimes the answer is a deadly bolt of lightning. While some deities are well equipped to offer comfort in our darkest moments, there are others more likely to boil the blood from our bodies and decorate their nightmarish lairs with our severed limbs. So beware, innocent supplicants. If the god you turn to in your hour of need appears on the following list, I strongly advise that you take your pleading elsewhere.
Sheogorath (Oblivion: The Shivering Isles)
Poor Sheogorath. He used to be called Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. Thing is, his sphere of influence grew so large that the other Daedric Princes grew jealous and banded together against him, cursing him to become what he loathed most: the embodiment of chaos. Among a host of other mental maladies, the king of the Shivering Isles is highly bipolar.
Sure, you might catch him on a gleeful, demented-court-jester kind of day. Maybe instead of the sword you desperately need to survive you'll find yourself wielding a cackling possum with an unquenchable hunger for human flesh. If so, you can bet it's Sheogorath's doing. Catch ol' Shaggy on a "skipping rope with your intestines" sort of afternoon, and in lieu of a weapon you may discover you're surrounded by a cloud of clown-faced flying centipedes whose only desire is to burrow deep inside you and feast on your succulent organs. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life, but if that's a coin you're willing to flip you probably deserve what you get.
Beliar is very straightforward about his ambitions. As the Gothic universe's patron of death, destruction, and mutation, he makes it abundantly clear that his only goal is the total annihilation of all things. If that isn't enough to dissuade you, let's take a closer look at what happens to those misguided souls foolish enough to worship him.
Yes, his adherents are initially granted power and wealth, but that's just the beginning of their Faustian pact. You see, over time, Beliar's faithful tend to undergo what could charitably be called "an evolution"--a patch of scales here, a sprinkling of radiant demon-fire there. And before long, the full blown transformation into a hideous half-demon, half-human abomination is complete. While on some level this may seem kind of awesome, I imagine it's a pretty tough sell to parents, friends, and lovers.
Raiden (Mortal Kombat)
On the surface, Raiden seems like a great guy. As the god of thunder and designated defender of Earthrealm, he's all about repelling invaders from Outworld and Netherrealm and safeguarding the future of humanity. Well, some of humanity.
He's also shown a certain predilection for blowing some unlucky humans' limbs to bloody gibs, or stuffing their own electrocuted organs back inside their bodies until they explode. Also he's apparently on equal footing power-wise with a Hollywood actor and a NYC cop. While I've got nothing against actors or cops, you also won't find me praying at the altar of Johnny Cage. Raiden isn't even the top dog in his pantheon--he worships a higher tier of entities called the Elder Gods. To be perfectly honest, the idea of a god that prays to other gods makes me think I might just be better off skipping the middle man.
The King of all Cosmos (Katamari)
Unlike a lot of the other evil bastards on this list, The King of all Cosmos wont afflict you with some terrible curse or violently murder you just for having the moxie to call on him for help. Sounds like a strong option so far, right? Not so much.
The King is a real bumbling dumbass. He's forgetful, whimsical, and suffers from a cosmic-scale case of bull-in-a-china-shop syndrome. While there's a slim chance that he might answer your prayer in some meaningful way, odds are that he'll erase every star in existence, wipe out all life on earth, or allow an errant sneeze to forever extinguish our sun while doing so. Before you start begging divine favors from the heaven's most incompetent goofball, ask yourself: is it worth emptying the universe of all life and matter?
Mantorok (Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem)
I know what you're thinking : how bad could that little sack of cute possibly be?
As it turns out, Mantorok is the "corpse god" and "god of chaos", an amorphous blob of flesh, spare limbs, eyes, and other juicy bits harvested from the dead. In his (its?) role as the "Keeper of the Ancients", this pulsating pile of fleshy ooze maintains order amongst a cabal of three other gods. While he's described as being fairly benevolent towards humanity, he's also the weakest of the pantheon. So unless you're desperately in need of some ineffectual, shambling zombies, and are willing to plead to a freakish corpse blob to acquire them, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.
The Master Hand (Super Smash Bros.)
The subject of more speculation and internet rumor-mongering over the years than almost any peripheral Mario character, The Master Hand is the god-creator of the Smash Brothers Universe and also one of the franchise's most annoying antagonists.
While Master Hand is clearly capable of incredible feats of creation, his main interaction with humans (and dinosaurs, gorillas, Pokemon, and whatever the hell Kirby is) is mercilessly slapping them around. While a firm smack might be occasionally refreshing, being slapped every time you kneel in prayer might end up being a bit of a faith-deterrent. Also, any god that builds hellish battle arenas so that it can silently watch its mortal pawns battle to the death isn't real likely to help you out when your car stalls on the freeway.
On the surface Ymir sounds like a great candidate for worship. His resume includes bullet points like "battles the mighty gods of Asgard" and "creates universes". He's a primeval entity from which the other Norse gods are spawned and, bonus, as a Frost Giant he'd be great for icing up your cocktails. Sadly, all these advantages come with a few marginal downsides.
As a being of eternal evil, your old pal Ymir will stop at nothing to see you and everyone you love destroyed and consumed in service to his immortal hunger. Also, there's the small issue of his campaign to conquer all of the known realms and subjugate them beneath the massive feet of his frost giant brethren. The only conceivable reason a monster like Ymir might stoop to the aid of a mortal is if doing so somehow plays into his designs for total conquest. And unless you're a nihilist, I think you'd agree that he's not the sort of guy you want eternally steering the destiny of the universe.
Kratos (God of War)
One of the most recognizable faces on our list, Kratos might at first glance seem like a great choice for those craving retribution. Sony's famous deity-usurping Spartan/Greek god blazes a trail of carnage any vengeance-minded individual can't help but admire. But before you get all knee-bent, let's take a closer look at this "hero of the downtrodden."
In fairness to Kratos, one of the main reasons he wouldnt make a great patron isnt really his fault. Its politics, plain and simple, the sort of thing the Greek pantheon is famous for. Even when Kratos manages to vacuum up another gods powers, hes so busy dealing with other back-stabbing deities to do much with it. Its hard to find time to answer the pleas of mortals when youre brawling with Titans, being repeatedly stabbed by Zeus, or slaughtering the three Sisters of Fate. Take it from the butchered Greek heroes, scholars, and other unfortunate specimens of humanity unlucky enough to have gotten tangled up with Kratos: hes not the sort of god you want to turn to in your hour of need.
Between ushering in the apocalypse, battling the forces of both heaven and hell, and unraveling angelic conspiracies, War is a demigod without a lot of spare time on his hands.
Despite his comically huge blade and sweet flaming hellsteed, his odd position as ambassador of the Charred Council (the assemblage created to maintain balance between heaven and hell) means that even if he wanted to answer your prayers, he probably wouldn't be allowed to. In fact, with one of his central roles being the master of ceremonies at the destruction of the kingdom of man, he's probably just as likely to dispatch you to the pits of hell as lend a friendly hand.
You (Black and White)
Peter Molyneux's genre-defining epic, Black and White, nominally gives you the option to play as a benevolent deity. You could spend your days coddling villagers, sprinkling rain onto their thirsty crops, and making the sun shine brightly upon their grateful little faces. But that's not actually what happens, is it?
Instead, you spend your time shattering the crust of the earth with jagged lightning and scorching it with fireballs, hurling villagers' fragile bodies across your island with savage abandon, and having your monstrous tiger show the unfaithful the fatal price of their blasphemy. In reality, all those heaven-sent prayers were more an annoyance than anything, and rather than fill your heart with empathy, they made you want to wipe the needy looks off of those smug faces. Wrath is always more fun than responsibility, so before you're too hard on the other bastards on this list, remember that you yourself would make for a terrible, vengeful god.
"As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport."
So have we affirmed your atheism? Or maybe you've got a god in mind even worse than these dastardly monsters. Hit us up in the comments and let us know who your favorite divine abominations are! But keep your voices down, they're probably listening...and they're probably angry.
Still rather play a god than pray to one? Check out our features on how Civilization: Beyond Earth could be a blueprint for saving our planet and Peter Molyneux spitting game about Godus.