Premeditated Murdoch ~ Small God: Yellow Journalism

[image description: An ugly puckered old coot scowls from an old TV screen that’s been turned 90 degrees to the right. He is bright yellow against an orange backdrop, and badly pixilated. Text reads, “143, Premeditated Murdoch ~ Small God: Yellow Journalism”]

He’s aiming for the big time. He always has been. And he’ll tell you, if you ask, that he’s an All-American God, as patriotic as sunshine and apple pie and the fourth of July—all things, that if you stop and think about them, aren’t patriotic at all. They’re just things. Eating apple pie doesn’t make you a good person. Everyone gets sunshine, and the fourth of July happens all over the world, whether there are people there or not. Patriotism is an illusion, and illusions are his true stock in trade.

Murdoch claims to be a god of truth. He is, and has always been, a god of lies. He tells you what he wants you to hear, what he wants you to think, what he wants you to believe, and he tells you that anyone who tells you different is lying. He has managed to find several loopholes in human thought, weaknesses we are all born to bear, and he weaponizes them against his audience. Conservatism bias, for example: the first thing a person hears on a given subject is the thing most likely to be believed, no matter how untrue it is. All Murdoch has to do is make sure he’s the first voice on any subject, and he’ll be the most trusted source of information.

And he wants that. Oh, how he wants that. He wants you to believe his lies, because believing his lies is believing in him, and he’s aiming for the big time. He wants to be the only god anyone believes about anything, and that would be fine, if he wasn’t a compulsive liar.

He wants you to be frightened. He wants you to know that you have no hope unless it’s endorsed by his panel of experts, unless he’s the one selling it to you. He wants you to be so afraid of the world that you can’t hear anything he doesn’t tell you, and once he has made himself your one true god, he wants you to spread his gospel. This is how he gets to rule the world.

And oh, he’s going to.

Unless we stop him.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Eld Hamtunscīr ~ Small God of Treacherous Cliff Faces and Taking Things for Granite

[image description: Profile view of gigantic rock head atop a very steep cliff. Text reads, “142, Eld Hamtunscīr ~ Small God of Treacherous Cliff Faces and Taking Things for Granite”]

Goin’ climbin’?  Just be sure you’re ready to be careful out there.  Eld’s been active lately, and not everyone we see heading up this trail has been seen again heading down this trail, if you get my meaning.  He’s a tricky one, that—

Shit, you wanna tell me that you’re climbers who don’t know Eld Hamtunscir? He’s your most probable cause of death past this point, unless you forget about social distancing when there’s a rattler involved.  See, Eld makes people, especially novice climbers like yourselves—don’t get offended, there’s not a scrap on you that’s seen a mountain before, and you look way too excited about what’s honestly a pretty low-grade climb.  You’re babies.  And Eld loves babies.  Loves the funny splat sound they make when they hit the bottom of the canyon.  Loves it more than I can say.

Eld’s a god.  Maybe he’s a demon.  Maybe he’s just an asshole.  I don’t know. But the most treacherous climbs belong to him, and that would be fine, if he wasn’t also the god of making you look at the flakingest, nastiest sandstone rock face and see it as clean strong granite, ready to hold your full weight.  He’ll guide you out over the emptiness, and then he’ll let the rock go back to what it wants to be, and you’ll get a quick course on gravity.

If I’m scaring you, that’s good.  You should treat the mountain with some respect.  That’s the best way to avoid Eld’s attention.  That, and going out with someone who already knows the terrain.  Mebbe come back when you’ve got a guide.

Me?  Hell, no.  I don’t climb.  I’m more about the cautionary tale and the convenient warning you’ll ignore.

Then no one has to feel bad when you get dropped.

Have a nice day now. Mind your grip.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Neal Caiman ~ Small God of Copy Copycats

[image description: An Alligatorid of the Caimaninae family wears a black t-shirt and an unconvincing black toupee. He smiles toothily and points to a red book – ’Armenian Gods’, Winner of the Yugo, Crab Nebula, Blueberry, and No Bell Prizes – inside the breast pocket of his black jacket. Neal’s Sales Pitch appears in a big word balloon. Text reads, “I gots ‘em all guv’nor! The Gravestone Book, A Coral Line, Neverwear, Good Womens, Blackberry Girl, Armenian Gods, Signal to Boys, Horse Mythology, Starduck… 141, Neal Caiman ~ Small God of Copy Copycats”]

Here is a fact about humanity that humanity as a whole often tries to reject: originality is not the holy grail.  There is no special award for being the first one to have an idea, no magical “you got there first, good show” prize for being the person to pioneer a new shape of story.  Humans are magpies, one and all.  They see, they steal, they polish and rearrange, building bowerbird palaces of bits and pieces, and the most enduring stories have always been made from the gutted remains of a thousand things that came before.

That isn’t to say that theft is an acceptable means of creative expression.  The best are patchwork artisans, not highwaymen: they do not steal, but they allow themselves to be inspired by the stories already all around them, the fairy tales and the folklore, the local legends and the family rumors and the lies and the lies and the lies.  It doesn’t matter, to a storyteller, whether the seed they plant is false or true; the story that sprouts from it will be both things at once, patently untrue, and yet filled with a core of absolute honesty.  Neal is not a thief of dreams.

He is, however, a guide to all the many roads that you might potentially walk to find your own store of seeds.

He will walk with you through fairy tale forests and down dark folkloric lanes, guide you through the tangled briars of poetry and escort you into the gated halls of history.  The seeds you plant may, in their first sprouting, resemble his own, but with proper care and nurturing, they will bloom into something altogether beautiful and different, and there will be none more eager to applaud you when you appear at your first Fiction and Floral Show than the scaly king of seams, who sees all the places you have stitched old stories together to come up with something entirely your own.

Don’t worry so much about being the first.

Worry about being the best.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Shush ~ The Small God of the Mute Button

[image description: A small character with a black glyph and a red circle wedges itself into the mouth of a bloviating figure of intolerance and hatred. Steam issues from the silenced man’s ears and his eyes cross as they try to understand the sudden silence. Text reads, “140, Shush ~ The Small God of the Mute Button”]

If there’s one god who deserves the pity party they occasionally throw for themself, it’s Shush. The poor kid. Everyone used to love them, once upon a time. They were the salvation of parties, the soothing solution to crowded bars, the pause after the period. They were welcome just about everywhere, and everyone said that they were an infinite upgrade from Cato, small god of censorship, who had been so comprehensively hated that even his own worshippers eventually censored him out of being.

No. Shush would be better. They had to be.

And in the very beginning, they were. They reminded people that sometimes, if you can’t say something nice, it’s better not to say anything at all. They quieted crowds when important news had to be passed along, they silenced the room before the reading of a verdict, and they improved the world. They would have kept on like that, if not for the day when those who missed and mourned for Cato embraced them.

They became the small god of echo chambers the moment those inside realized that they could shut out everyone outside, becoming only a small bastion of sound and fury against a landscape of static silence. They were weaponized against voices of dissent and disagreement, and even when those voices could not be silenced, they were hurled like a rock, accusations of “fake news” and “drumming up fear” and “sensationalism” used to render sound into silence.

They only wanted to make more space for everyone to speak. And now they are used, as all gods of silence must one day be, as a new Cato. They will be forgotten and replaced, and now they can only hope, as they push back against a tide of bile and bigotry, that whoever comes after them will have a softer time ahead.

There’s nothing else that they can do.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Ultra Violet ~ The Small God of Invisible Labor

[image description: A vexed-looking violet-colored woman wears a costume featuring black shoulders and red lightning-bolt V over a violet top with black shoulders. She nervously bites her red thumbnail. The city above and behind her is visible through her transparent midsection.  Text reads, “139, Ultra Violet ~ The Small God of Invisible Labor”]

Those who take the most benefit from her presence, and from the presence of her faithful, are the least likely to admit that she exists.  They take for granted all the little ways in which her followers make their lives better, and resent or ignore the big ones.  How dare anyone imply that they can’t take care of themselves, even when they don’t.  How dare anyone act as if they move through life on an easier difficulty level than the people around them, even though they do.

How dare.

Violet is always there, watching, silent and withdrawn, doing her best to make the world as easy as she possibly can, because she doesn’t know any other way to be.  She has benefitting others at the expense of herself ground into her very being, driven deep by centuries of silent worship and casual assumptions.  She does the best she can.  She does so much more than she will ever understand.  Without her, the heavens would collapse under their own unfinished tasks, the empires of man would crumble due to conversations unfinished and problems unconfronted.

The tears of her faithful are the grease in the cogs of the universe, and it isn’t fair, and it isn’t right, but it is as it is, ever and always.

Or perhaps not.

There are those who say that Violet’s rage has been growing.  That she has been recognizing and acknowledging the unfairness of her portfolio, and the mistreatment of her faithful.

There are those who say that revolution is coming, and that what it destroys was corrupt from the beginning, and deserves the coming fall.

Perhaps they are right.  Perhaps this long and silent service is finally coming to an end.

Perhaps not.

Violet isn’t saying.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Confoundula ~ The Small God of Overwrought and Underthought Remotes

[image description: A complicated TV/DVD/BluRay/et al. remote control. In addition to its 42 buttons (in all shapes and sizes), it features devil-horns, a long twisted tail that ends in a point, a wicked smile, a pointy mustache, and a look of excitement in its UP and DOWN arrow eyes. In the background something (a forest? a movie set? The whole world?) burns. Text reads, “138, Confoundula ~ The Small God of Overwrought and Underthought Remotes”]

Riddles have always been used to protect places of great wisdom.  Solve a puzzle to access the wizard’s library; navigate a labyrinth to enter the chamber of secrets.  There must be stumbling blocks in the path to wonder, or will the wonder feel truly earned?

Stumbling blocks didn’t always come with so many buttons.

Confoundula grows in strength and power every time a parent whose teenager set up their new television remote throws it across the room and screams frustration, increases in petty glory every time a child weeps because they can’t make the television play Paw Patrol, every time the button mashing becomes a blood sport.  Why does this remote need a live translation button for Martian when it can’t even manage subtitles in Spanish?

Why, if not to make the world cry out the name Confoundula, who was once a god serving the treasure keepers of kings, protecting their dearest treasures, and now protects nothing more than HBO streaming and the parental controls?

It’s possible he has some aggression to work out, and that the human race has become his unwitting therapeutic partner.

It’s also possible that if you just removed his batteries and read a damn book, he would have no power over you.

It’s hard to say, really.


Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

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Barbarigo ~ The Small God of Things Man Was not Meant to Know

[image description: A woman wears 18th Century dress accented with two huge pearl necklaces, pearl earrings, and a rakishly tilted tricorn hat. She sits at a round inlaid table. Behind her velvet curtains part to reveal Venice’s Grand Canal. She sits amid smoke and holds a burning tarot card over a table that shows 6 others in the light of a single candle.  Text reads, “136, Barbarigo ~ The Small God of Things Man Was not Meant to Know.”]

Hey, kid.  Sit on down and draw a card.

No, I don’t care how old you are.  Why would I care about—ah.  No, you’re still a kid to me.  All humans are kids to me.  Even the ones who’ve sold essential slices of their humanity to gods of time and foolish secrets in order to live forever are so much younger than I am that there’s really no difference between the very oldest and the very youngest of you.  You’re temporary.  You’re transitory.  You were born at the start of this conversation and you’ll die before it’s over, and that sucks, but it’s just the way things have to go.

Oh, don’t look at me like that.  I didn’t make the rules.  None of the small gods did.  You want rules, you need the big gods.  They set the terms of reality, they decide how things are going to work, and we just do the best we can with the scraps.  They’re the building managers.  We’re the third floor janitorial staff, and we’re doing the best we can.

You going to pull a card or not?

So what does it mean for something to be a thing man was not meant to know?  It means that if you knew it, you wouldn’t be able to keep on being a human the way you’re supposed to be.  Maybe you want to know exactly when you’re going to die, or when everyone around you is.  Great.  But if you can’t change it, does that make you fearless or paranoid?  And is that fearlessness even human?  Maybe you want to know the truth of the matter, always, no matter what.  Look how well that worked out for Cassandra.  Truth without proof is just another form of propaganda, and it doesn’t make anyone a better person.

The universe needs secrets and uncertainties and unwritten futures to function smoothly, and humans need a smoothly functioning universe to be human.  So I keep the things you need kept away from you locked behind walls, and when you come asking around, I remind you that you’re temporary, and make sure the cards do the rest.

Later, kid.  No, don’t get up.  You’ll just hurt yourself if you try.

Thanks for playing.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Madiel ~ Small God of Smoke

[image description: A figure with side-parted blond hair and a leather jacket sneers with a lit cigarette in their less-than-perfect teeth. The sickly green smoke matches their light eyes. Text reads, “135, Madiel ~ Small God of Smoke”]

Yes, it’s a filthy habit.  Good luck finding one of his followers in this modern world who isn’t aware of that.  We know that shame doesn’t work to change any other human behavior, but we assume those who crave the calming drag of smoke into their throat and lungs will be somehow susceptible, as if they, like any other house on fire, yearn to be extinguished.  Some do.  Many don’t.

Madiel is not kind to his followers.  He calms them, yes.  He quells their appetites.  And all he demands for these great gifts is the yellowing of their teeth and the aging of their skin, the sweetness of their breath and the lushness of their hair.  When they come to him knowing the exchanges on the table, he has no regrets for what he takes for them: it is the way of the universe, after all, that nothing should be had for nothing, and he is a god.   Why should he be the one to pay, when his followers are so very, brutally willing to do it for him?

Madiel is not kind to his followers, and yet he loves them all, from the knowing to the unwary, the ones who have been convinced by gods of propaganda and peer pressure to come to him with their hearts in their hands, ready to pay anything for a drag and a light and a moment of release.

Those gods, he hates.  If only the willing came to him, then the toll that he exacts would be so much more fair, and so much less likely to exact the fury of the other gods.  But so many are tricked into his arms, and while he will welcome them and make them feel at home, he would rather not have had them to begin with.

But shame is not, and was never the answer.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Sam O’Var ~ Small God of Tea Time Machines

[image description: A steaming silver teapot with a robot’s face. Boiling water is visible through its comically round eye-holes. It rests and reflects on a white surface in front of window of deep blue sky and numberless stars. Text reads, “134, Sam O’Var ~ Small God of Tea Time Machines”]

Out of Russia they arose, victor in the remarkably genteel race to become representative of the many and glorious ways for the people of the mortal world to take their tea.  Out of Russia, out of the steppes and the snows, all the way to the modern day and the modern world, and countless households therein.

Their earliest forms were open to the fire outside, a unification of elements: earthen or metallic shell, air to carry the fire, fire to warm them, and water to boil in their bellies.  They heated the tea, they warmed the belly, they gave life and strength to armies and artisans alike.  And now, today, they carry the electric fire in their own hearts, even as their artisanal ancestors still pass hand to hand, treasured heirlooms of older days, which look so often better in the cracked glass of memory.

They are beautiful.  They are beloved.  And for all of that, they are humble, recognizing that they hold their place through chance, when it might be better held by Tea Potter.  But Tea is content to be small god of the high tea, enjoying the ceremony and the circumstance more than the art of brewing, and so Sam holds their place for the time all but unchallenged.

It cannot last.  There is always a challenger to come.  They hold their place against the marching armies of the coffee chain, which spawns gods almost as quickly as the technology can be updated, divinity sparking into being and fading away in almost the same instant.  Sam O’Var has watched the rise of gods of French press and cold brew, gods of steam and foam, and waited for the day when they would try to take dominion over all hot beverages brewed to stimulate the mind.  That day has yet to occur.

If ever it does, they will be ready.  And they will offer their challenger one last sweet cup of tea.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Nightfall – The Small God of World Domination

[image description: A stylized 50’s style illustration of a black cat with huge golden eyes sitting atop the world in a bubble-helmet. Teeny flying saucers float in the starry purple space background. Text reads, “133, Nightfall ~ The Small God of World Domination”]

We’re not sure what the cats were thinking when they domesticated humans.  Oh, sure, primates are useful, with their clever little primate hands that can do useful primate things, like building warm houses to keep the rain out, and making factories to produce cat toys, and opening cans of tuna.  Tuna.  That alone justifies keeping at least half the species around.

The other half, though…cat-kickers.  Dog-lovers.  All-around bastards who don’t think anything of tying their own children in a sack and throwing them in the river, much less ours.  So why do we have them?  Couldn’t our ancestors have done a better job of cultivating their servant species?  You’d think they would have tried harder to make a better future for us.  You’d think they would have cared.

At least our gods are amazing.  Perfect in every conceivable way, really.  Sleek of fur and swift of claw and sharp and bright of eye.  They’ll stalk and kill the gods of the lesser, until the heavens belong entirely to them.  The hells, too.  Anything you can imagine, they’ll have it for their own, and they’ll share it with us, for we have been faithful, for we are forever beloved.

And the greatest of them all is Nightfall, in whose shining green eyes is reflected the future, in whose sleek black sides we can see our absolute dominion over all.  She will guide us to the promised land of catnip and chicken, where every lap is open and every hand is kind.

Oh, oh, you dear sweet kitten.  We told you she was the small god of world domination.

We never said that it was going to be this one.

Let the poor, half-domesticated humans keep the world they’ve spoilt.  We’ll have a better one for our own, and we’ll never look back again.

Meow.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smallgodseries/

Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/